Well, I did it and have the medal and a lovely T shirt to prove it. However, it was much, much tougher than I expected.
The Friday before last all the Snails gathered at the airport ready for our flight to Inverness. We were all wearing our Snails T shirts but then Emma surprised me with a special one she had had made for me. It was lovely, all the club info and a picture of Nessie done in little sparkly gems.
The flight was delayed a while but eventually we arrived in Inverness, collected the hire cars and drove into the city. After settling into the Youth Hostel we walked into the city centre to explore and have an early supper and a glass of wine.
On the Saturday morning we were up bright and early to drive out along the loch to explore most of the marathon route. It was a little daunting to see how far I had to run, it seemed further as it was all more or less one road rather than running around city streets.
After coffee and cakes in a lovely tea shop at Foyers, a walk to view a waterfall and a bit of wild swimming in the loch it was back into the city to register for the race, visit the marathon expo and get some supper. Almost before I knew it was time for me to get an early night.
I didn’t sleep very well so I was up even before my alarm went off at 5.45. Emma knocked on my door at 6.30 and we went downstairs to meet Kia who was going to drive me to the bus pick-up point while Emma came along to give me a pep talk. They dropped me off fifteen minutes later just around the corner from the bus queue and I must admit that I did feel a little lost and lonely when they drove away. Fortunately I was quite close to the front of the queue so was soon sitting down on the fourth bus out of the many that had come from all over the Highlands to take us to the start. We finally headed off at 07.30, along the opposite side of the loch to the marathon route to Fort Augustus. Then we drove up a steep hill and after a few miles we were all dropped off in what felt like the middle of nowhere.
There were plenty of portaloos as well as some volunteers serving tea and coffee which was very welcome as there was a really cold wind blowing – straight from Siberia! I put on my emergency jumper and a tatty fleece that I intended to abandon at the start ( I was pleased to discover some gloves in the pocket of the fleece) and sat down on a bin bag by a big lump of heather to try and stay out of the wind. Finally it was time to head down to the start where after a quick warm up we began to run, serenaded on our way by a pipe band which was a nice touch.
The first five miles or so was all downhill. I had known this but it was in places a lot steeper than I had expected and certainly my legs were feeling it quite quickly. The first part was fairly open and the sun was warm enough to counteract the cold wind but by the time we were down by the side of the loch I was starting feel quite cold.
The wind was coming off the loch and we were running in the shade so my legs were starting to feel quite cold. I was glad I had gloves to put on and for a time even put my jumper on to warm up a bit.
By the time I reached the halfway point I felt in trouble so really had to dig deep in the second part of the race. My legs felt like lead and my heart sunk into my shoes when I was faced with the really long hill that starts just after the mile 17 marker.
It seemed to take forever to get up it and I was overjoyed to finally reach the top, however it was immediately followed by a steep downhill section which was the last thing my legs needed. It didn’t help that it rained on and off for the final few miles. The other Snails had all finished their 10k race and were sending me supportive text messages to try and encourage me through the final few miles but I was fading fast. For the first time ever I had a huge blister on the side of my left foot and the soles of both feet felt like they were on fire. I had to keep stopping every ten minutes or so to try and stretch out my painful quads and calves. I was not going to give up though and was eventually rewarded by the sight of Emma and Kia who had come out to meet me at about the mile 24 point. It was lovely to see friendly faces and they ran with me for a little while. Then the others appeared to give me a cheer before running over a footbridge over the river so they could see me at the finish. I had to run a little further into the centre of the city, across a bridge and then down the other side of the river to the finish line. As I was approaching the bridge there was a real cloudburst and I was totally drenched. Just what I needed!
Finally, finally I made it to the finish and was rewarded with my medal.
Kia had also arranged a bacon roll and a gin and tonic for me which was wonderful.
The gin is Heather Rose gin by Strathearn distillery. It’s fabulous, it’s brown in the bottle but when tonic is added it turns pink.