OK, so in the end we took a wrong turn, so it wasn’t the planned 28 miles, but it still tipped over the marathon distance into 26.51 miles, which I am totally taking.
I awoke on Saturday morning (some would argue, however, that the time I was stirring could still be classified as Friday night), and got my things together for the day’s long run – my third and final run with the Stonehaven running club’s Saturday long run crew, before attempting to run my first ultra, in just under three weeks time. Annoyingly, the cold that had been bugging me for the past two weeks hadn’t quite gone away, and the familiar stuffy nose, sore throat, and achey body kept me company during my breakfast. I questioned whether or not it was wise to attempt such a long run, but figured if it all went wrong, the run would be on roads, and I could hitch a lift back to anywhere that had a train station or bus stop.
And so, at 6:45, I was picked up by Dave, who thankfully did not turn out to be an axe-murderer, but a pleasant Irishman, with Mike (though casually dropping in his name here, I had also never met him in person until this point) in the passenger seat, and we set off on our merry way to Stonehaven, where we met up with the locals at a gas station at 7:20.
Once (nearly) everyone had made it to the start location, we set off through Dunnottar woods, and then onto quiet, undulating back roads. The skies were blue! The sun was out! The temperature was ‘mild’ (for February in Scotland)! The only gripe I had about the weather was the headwind, which, as we were doing an A to B run, would blast into our faces for, oooooooh, the entire day. So that was nice.
The first 5 or 6 miles felt horrendous. We were slogging uphill, there was wind in my face, there was snot blocking my airways, and I longed for the cosiness of my bed. But after about an hour I started to feel….. almost good. After about 11 miles, we waited for everyone to catch up before taking a group shot. By this point, I felt practically normal (and especially smug for coming along). Look at the blue sky!
After the group shot, it was less than two miles (downhill) into Inverbervie, where a number of us made use of the public toilets, before the ascent out of the town.
Leaving the coast involved a bit of powerwalking uphill, and running the flats and downhill sections, which became more frequent as we approached our finishing point, the Balmakewan cafe. Some of the guys had gone on ahead, and those of us in the middle section took a different route on the final descent, which caused a bit of confusion when we reached the cafe first.
I had a hot stone massage booked for 15:30, and we made it to the cafe just after 13:00. Ronnie had kindly agreed to pick me up at the end and drive me back so that I would make my appointment, but it would have also been nice to stay for lunch; it was pretty hard watching juicy, delicious burgers arrive at the table for others knowing I’d have to wait another few hours for a hot meal. On the plus side, I felt great! I guess running for 5 hours cures the common cold.
When Ronnie did arrive, he took me, Dave, and Mike back to Dave’s car in Stonehaven to pick up our warm clothes, then Ronnie drove me home using the ‘scenic route’ (translation: he took a few wrong turns), and Dave drove Mike home.
I made it home with enough time to throw myself into the shower, put on clean clothes, and scrape my hair back, before semi-jogging to my massage with 4 minutes to spare (not great fun).
The massage was delightful, but I was horrified to discover, when I got home, that my big toenail on my right foot was missing (it had taken a battering during the Texas marathon, and I honestly thought I’d lose it a lot sooner). It must have come off during the foot scrub, which means the poor girl pampering me would have had to clean an entire toenail out of the foot-spa-bowl-thing she was using.
I phoned Ian on the way home and croaked something about, “Oven on…. Food in… On way,” and was delighted to have cajun chicken and rice in front of me half an hour later. And that’s when the day’s exertion caught up with me, and my symptoms developed into the plague.
I was in bed and sleeping by 20:30.