25 April 2010

highland fling

finally home after a bus, train, car, coffee, car, coffee, car combination. feeling very broken and a bit deflated. please don't let the following colour opinion of a an extremely friendly and very well organised event. every runner, marshall and associated fling person was absolutely lovely and made a disappointing weekend slightly less painful.

first 20 miles were pretty uneventful. a bit of chat and a bit of a hill. despite slipping on the downs my knees were grateful for the road shoes. i was eating and drinking well(ish). reloaded at the bag drop and ready for the next 7m.

again, nothing much happened. felt ok, no knee pain but hamstrings starting to feel very tight. just podding along really. next drop bag. over an hour up on schedule. ooops. start the next 7m.

going a bit slower now. how long should 7m take? an hour? hour and half? my mind starts to wonder to the 'big one'. if i'm feeling tired now, how am i going to manage the full length of the whw? it's hot. i'm probably not drinking enough. time passes slowly, unlike the runners going past. eventually i reach the drop bag.

the views across the loch are stunning. but i don't care, it's a bloody long loch and i've still got to follow the shore line for another 6m. this is where the wheels (trainers/legs) fell off. 2 hours, that's how long it took to cover those 6m! folks say this is the most technical and difficult section. it was the longest 6m of my life.

and what better way to follow this soul sapping leg but a wee 12m to the finish line. i'd completely lost it by now. i walked for most of it. i don't know what happened. the only way i can describe my feelings is apathetic. i kept waiting for a second wind but it never came. i think the only reason i kept going was the knowledge that my car keys were in my kit bag at the finish! it took me 11 hours and 55 minutes to grovel along the 53m route. i was hoping for sub 12hrs but i was also hoping to be feeling a lot better at the end as well.

one of the reasons i love long days out is the feeling of freedom, a sense of weight being lifted, realising how luckily i am to be able to do such things. sometimes this is just fleeting but usually it lasts days. this didn't happen during the whole day. after an emotional phone call to jane after i'd finished, she explained that i always say these things immediately after. but honestly this time it's different.

this race has just scared the living daylights out of me. it's clear to see what effect all those missed sessions have had on my strength and fitness. but most importantly i need to do some kind of mental training. right now the whw seems an impossible feat.

i was really looking forward to meeting up fellow blogger-flingers but i was so broken at the end that no booze passed my lips and a ceilidh was totally out of the question. i even carried some choco twist chews for charlie... next time...

gratuitous foot shot...


John Kynaston said...

Sorry to miss you Kate. I probably saw you at the end without realising it.

I think it would be best for you to have a week off even thinking about the whw race.

It is very different. You start with a different attitude and you will have two months more training done.

This will be a really important learning curve. If you can do in the Fling in under 12hrs feeling as bad as you did then you will be able to complete the whw.

Stay positive and learn as much as you can from this race that will help you in June.

Well done on finishing! There are not many people in the world who could run 53miles in under 12hrs.

stustod said...

Like John says 53miles in under 12 hrs is a bloody good effort. Chin up you should be proud of yourself of going through the pain and finishing!
A massive well from me.

PS wow! that's a proper blister!!!!

stustod said...

oops! that should say well done

Julbags said...

" it's a bloody long loch", amen to that sister and I only walked it.

You travelled 53 miles on foot in less than 12 hours...don't you dare take that away from yourself.

An event as long and tough as the WHW race is going to have very low points in it, this race proves that you can deal with them and finish. You've banked that misery and it's now a weapon in your armoury. I'd be more worried if you were flippantly optimistic about the challenge you'd taken on.

lesleyh said...

Kate, what a brilliant effort. Don't knock doing that under 12 hours - it's no mean feat!! I'm wondering if I saw you at all but it's hard to know?? Unfortunately I started the day on a tummy bug so puked (among other things...) my way around to Inversnaid where I called it a day (or quit as the "helpful" marshall like to call it - he's lucky he's still sporting teeth!) so good on you for coming all that way on your lonesome. You should take great confidence from this for the full thing in June. Chin up, great job xx

Groover said...

Crap!? Is that a blister? If that's what I think it is then it is the biggest bloody monster blister I've ever seen in my life. Crazy to even do just one step with that. How far did you walk with it?

ultra collie said...

kate sorry we missed..especially charlie ;-)
we looked out for you but you must have been long gone
i forget each time i do the fling just how brutal it is in parts..and warm too on saturday. well done on your efforts and time..nothing to be disheartened about..lots of positives to take from..and learnings i guess too. hope you managed the real food cafe.keep on smiling..we know you can do it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Andy Cole said...

Hi Kate, don't be so hard on yourself! A 12 hour Fling will get you through the WHW - you can take much longer than this in June and still get a good time overall. You know what the hard bit is like now, the track further north gets much easier. Well done.

Red Bike said...

I don't know what to put. Impressive doesn't really cover it. This time mental isn't even close!


Charlie said...

Halfway through reading your blog I thought you were not going to finish....but you did, and within your target time! Well done!

Chris said...

Well done Kate!

See you tues for steady pedaling, recovery whisky and foam fruit :-)

swiss said...

as all the above. i couldn't run for twelve minutes far less twelve hours! plus you solo'd it. if you're used to doing these things in company that's always going to be a tough call, squeeze out the demons etc, as you'll have noticed in my efforts! lol. but you made it, despite that horrendous blister. and that's a winner in my book.

Fat Lad said...

bloody good effort though! I'd struggle to pedal that distance :)

Still up for a Leeds pootle Wednesday?


Fiona Rennie said...

Well done Kate that was a quality run. I echo John’s comments the WHW is a different race and a different head. Even that blister is perfect, it’ll be just what you need when you’re heading into the second night with no sleep and 20 miles still to go. (No falling asleep on your feet, with that to keep you awake!) Find the positive in everything!! Pain is a luxury for the living! Accept and enjoy!

kate said...

john- thanks again for your advice. you're completely right, i need to learn from this. it was just a 'training' run after all ;)

stustod- cheers! i'm always very proud of my feet ;)

julbags- i like that idea about banked misery, thanks :)

lesleyh- sorry you had such a pukey time. maybe you should have puked on the marshal ;)

groover- to be honest i didn't even know i had it until i took my shoe off. i think everything else hurt more!

uc- likewise about the missing. no, i didn't even look in my 'goodie bag' til i got home. jane has nabbed the voucher for support on the whw-the cheek!!! thanks to for the vote of confidence.

andy- thanks! i hope what you say is true. i may hunt you down if not ;)

red- many thanks :)

charlie- cheers. don't know why i feel so fed up though. how did the 3P go?

chris- thank you. i might eat all of your foam friuts!

swiss- haha. i need to find something to occupy my mind i think.

fat lad- thanks, and yes...god willing!

fiona- i might have to get that tattooed on my arm!! thanks though, i know you're right. probably just some 'post run blues'

Elizabeth A said...

Well done surviving it Kate - you're all the tougher and stronger. Now spend a few days doing something really fun and different (go to a gig, plant some strawberries, paint...). You'll come back to running all the more motivated. I don't think I could have done a race like that so soon after the Highlander, especially not with all the travelling you had.

Davie said...

Kate, no-one has mentioned your statement that you were about an hour ahead of your schedule!
Think about that when the pain disappears. An hour ahead is a lot of energy expended too soon and would eventually result in your struggling to finish. I presume that was your first time along the Rowardennan to Beinn Glas section. Now you know that awaits you, you will be more cautious in the early part of the race. I made a mistake in the WHW race last year that almost did for my chances in that I was not familiar with the Devils Staircase. To be more exact I was not prepared for the descent, neither it's length or the terrain.
If you can, try and familiarise yourself with the top half so that you are prepared for anything.
No shame in withdrawing from this years race, but don't do so as a knee jerk to your experience on Saturday. Remember that if it didn't kill you it made you stronger. And in the big one .... slow down!

Yak Hunter said...

Kate, were you wearing a red hat? If so I chatted with you a couple of times along the way. I suffered most for the last 7 or 8 miles and thought about hitch-hiking but vaguely realised that I would have done nearly all the work then for none of the glory...Hope you feel better in a few days. I think it is dawning on me slowly that I really have "run" 53 miles. My name is Mary, not "Yak" and I finished just a wee bit ahead of you. You were closing on my fast by the look of the splits. I'm supporting the WHW so might see you then and will give you a big cheer!

Ben said...

53 miles in 12 hours!! In my dreams. Well done for carrying on when you felt so bad, thats guts that is. I sometimes find it difficult to find the motivation when it i not "the thing" you are training for. The WHW is going to be a peice of you know what. Welll done.

trio said...

Well Done!

I had some of the feelings you have described during kielder! But in a couple of days you will be on a high! Sometimes things are more fun after the event.

Still there must be something certifiable about running that far....

vdubber67 said...

Blimey. You RAN 53 miles?! That's bloody amazing! :)

Re the mental stuff - you need a copy of this:


DM me a postal address on twitter or something (or rtedgeAThotmailDOTcom) and I'll post you my copy on long term loan if you're interested?


Anthony said...

Ah shit happens! Sometimes you turn up sometimes you don't. Sometimes it's in a race sometimes its in training.

Thinng is, if it's in a race you doubt yourself and it knocks your confidence, but then you put things into perspective.

You managed your goal, you managed your goal despite being injured, been told by the physio it was make or break, and despite lack of training. can't wing 53 miles (well you can but it hurts doesn't it ;o)

Charlie said...

Hi Kate. Only a thought but maybe you are more deeply tired than you think? You've not exactly been slacking around in the past couple of weeks have you? Perhaps rest is what is needed? Hope you feel better about stuff soon. John K seems to be talking sense.(3ps was tough, but all went to plan).

Simon Lewis said...

Amazing. 53 miles. Top effort. I love reports that include "first 20 miles were pretty uneventful". Not many people who will ever write that.

jumbly said...

Holy shit that blister takes your gratuitous foot photos to whole new levels! Well done for keeping going even when it got really nasty. You're bloody amazing!

Daz H said...

well done Kate
thats a great effort
53miles , err been there done that, not tempted .
Once again , brilliant performance.
There aint many of us down here but we are here.

kate said...

elizabeth- thank you and what a great idea about doing something completely different. i feel a trip to the pub coming on :)

davie- hi there! you're so right. too fast too soon. we backpacked the whw last year but despite that, i don't remember it being so undulating and difficult!! i promise to start slower :)

mary/yak- hello again. yes that was me in my so called 'lucky red hat'-i'll get a new one for the whw ;) you certain 'ran' 53m, you looked really strong. i was so jealous!! see you in june...

ben- thanks! starting to feel more human now ;)

trio- cheers mate. i'll let you when i start 'enjoying' this one ;)

vdubber/rich- thank you!! will DM :)

anthony- thanks, i knew you'd understand ;) what i'm scared about is how much winging the whw is going to hurt!!!

charlie- think you're right. just done 2 long days and had to leave early on monday as i just couldn't concentrate. more sleep please. glad 3P went to plan :)

simon- yeh, never thought about it like that. thanks!

jumbly- thanks mate. i fear you may have your work cut out 'supporting' me on the biggie. sorry!

daz- thanks! don't we all say never again....well i mean it. certainly about the fling anyway ;)

sbrt said...

Well flung Kate.

I recomend more chocolate cake
sounds like your Cake/running balance could have been out.

Ian Charters said...

Finishing matters, even more when you feel crap and dig deep to get to the end - car keys are just an excuse to dig deep and you did. Well done!

Days like these happen, to everyone, sometimes when it really matters but you had a good plan; scheduling a bad day on a training run. (-:

The German said...


Firstly it was great to see you again.

There is very little I can add to what has been written above but I am positive that anyone who runs ultras (or pushes physical limits in other endurance sport) gets to visit some dark places in the head. Was once told the key requirement for such events was nit fitness but actually a defective short term memory !

Remember that training = work AND rest. You have done the work over the last month ...now rest up :-)

Looking forward to seeing you in Milngavie in June (if not on some random hillside before).

Graham K

kate said...

sbrt- cheers! that was probably the problem. not one piece of cake was eaten on the whole route!

ian- yeh, hoping that i can bank the 'boring/miserable' bits for the whw

graham- hola!! guess what, i'm already planning on doing it next year :) see you soon.