Well. Here endeth a busy but enjoyable weekend.
Saturday saw our club host one of its annual races - The "Doon Hill" race. That saw us both pretty much occupied for Saturday morning/early afternoon.
Must say, the weather was far kinder to the runners (and marshals) this year than it has been for a wee while.
Race went well. Good times were posted by the winners. Results were calculated. Trophies handed out....
.... then it was off to the main event (for us, anyway). Up to Inverness for the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon.
The journey up there was easy going and uneventful. Right up until the last mile and half round the outskirts of Inverness along to the stadium where we had to pick up our numbers for the following day. Then the traffic came to a gridlock. I think it was all down to a "soccer game" being played at a nearby "soccer field" having just ended and the police having to attempt to keep one crowd of sheep worriers away from another crowd of sheep worriers.
Anyway. Got there with about 25 minutes to spare and picked up the numbers and all important compuchip thingummies.
Got booked into our hotel (the same one as Lenny Henry uses - so it must be good) and then we actually went out for a three mile jog at about 7pm. Now. Don't mormaly go for a gentle run so close to a marathon but there were a couple of good reasons for us doing it this time. (A) - we had been stuck in a car for about 5 hours and our legs were stiff and (B) up until then Anne didn't even know if she would be running!
On the Sunday previously Anne had got stung on her foot by a wasp. Painful enough. But, within about half an hour or so her foot had started to swell quite dramatically, and within a couple of hours the swelling had gone up her leg (think of the things you see in kebab shops).
By Tuesday it was no better so a trip to the doctor was in order. Antibiotics prescribed and the recommendation that "no running for 10 days" be tried.... Loch Ness was a goner... or so it seemed.
One of the club members (himself a medical man) described the earlier GP's diagnosis as "bollocks" and recommended "go for it". And hence we were out gently bimbling round the back streets of Inverness on Saturday evening.
Then a pleasant, though fairly uninspiring, meal in the hotel later and it was off to bed for an early night and a bit of rest.
Race day itself dawned. I'd been looking at the weather forecast all week and had watched as it changed from "rainy with an easterly wind" to "dry with a stiff southerly breeze". As it was, it was drizzle with no wind at all - crap for tourists - great for runners!
The end of the marathon had been changed. You no longer finish at the stadium, but on the road outside the park. Accordingly the start has been moved back another mile away from Inverness, but is still located "in the middle of nowhere" only this time further up the hill in downtown "nowhere" meaning that the start of this marathon is very, very fast (I clocked a 6 minute mile for my first mile).
I knew this course was "lumpy" to say the least and I'd decided a tactic. I was going to try and take advantage of the downhill sections as much as possible. So, I tried to not hold back, but to go for it without exerting myself too much (make sense?).
I wasn't aware how far up the field I was, but I found myself in the company of two guys from Belahouston who seemed to know what they were doing and just hung in with them for a bit of the race.
At every water station I took a little and at every energy drink station I took a little. I knew the hill just after Dorres at about 17 miles would be a tough one so I took an energy gel just before it.
As it was the hill wasn't too bad and while it was one of my slowest miles I didn't lose anywhere nearly as much time on it as I thought I might.
By about mile 23 I knew that a sub 3 was in the bag and unless the wheels really came off a PB was likely. So it was a case of "head down, keep working, and let's get this over with". And all went well.
Over the moon with my time 2:52:22 and really pleased to discover I was 28th overall.
Got my goody bag etc and went off to stand and watch other runners come in. Didn't know many peoples names so just shouted out the club's name when I recognised a vest (Gala', Porty', Fife etc...). Watched Anne coming over the line (3:53) and then went round to meet her. Not a bad time considering she hadn't been intending running.
Bit of a look around the new tented "village" then the slow limp back to the hotel.
Went out for another meal last night. And this morning? Well unlike every other runner staying in our hotel (and I think almost every guest was) we went out for a three mile "recovery run" this morning before breakfast.
Will I do Inverness again? "Yes". Will it be next year? "Hell no".
East District Cross Country Relays this Saturday. Need to get the legs back in shape for that.