Written by Martin Bell - http://thedeterminedrunner.wordpress.com
After spending the night at a friend’s house in Dunblane, I had a short drive to Immervoulin campsite to register.
I had spent a while deciding on shorts or tights, as I much prefer running in shorts but due to the forecast & my dislike of freezing my nuts off, I decided on tights.
Upon arriving at the campsite I saw a few familiar looking faces & had a quick hello with Bill at registration. The runners all looked a bit on the chilly side & pretty much ready to get moving, so after a race brief, we all set off across the road to the start.
I was pleasantly surprised with a hill start & thought to myself ‘take it easy, it’s a long way’, so off I went in the middle of the pack. Lots of folk were walking the uphill, but I shuffled up determined not to start with a walk, things were going well & I’d warmed up a little.
At about mile 7 John Duncan appeared at my side & as i’d been wanting to ask a question or two about next years ‘Fling’, I ran the next few miles with him, I did feel slightly overdressed compared to his shorts & vest, whilst I had my tights, long sleeved top, windshirt, hat & gloves on! After a while I told him I was going to ‘ease off’ a little & watched him slowly disappear into the distance.
My grand plan had been reach 1/2 way running approx 9 min miles, then see how i felt & finish strong, well that plan went out the window! By mile 15 i was feeling the cold (partly due to having Raynaud’s) & struggled with the ups & downs that the next few miles threw at me. By this point the weather was getting colder, wetter & windy. It was at about mile 21 i decided it was time to lose the windshirt & get out the waterproof jacket (what’s the point of carrying it if i wasn’t going to use it?), so i stopped running & thought ‘let’s get this changed quickly & take on some food & get a shift on’ as i’d realized i’d been slowing down for the past few miles. That’s not how it panned out :( Firstly i stood there in disbelief as i couldn’t even unclip the straps from my pack! My hands were like blocks of ice! I eventually managed to remove my pack to then struggle with the zip, after plenty of fannying around i was wearing a waterproof, then came several minutes to change ONE glove before i gave up & put the pack back on & in rather a bad mood continued to run. It felt like torture at this point & the one new glove i had put on was soaked within about a minute.
I couldn’t get any food into me due to fingers that seemed to be frozen solid & i realised later that i hadn’t eaten since mile 16, so i was the coldest & wettest that i’d ever been & running on empty.
I knew that at the last checkpoint i had my bag with my winter waterproof full on mitts waiting for me & it was a case of telling myself survive till then & get some warmth back in my hands. I reached the checkpoint after having been following 3 other runners for the last mile or 2, they ran on (& finished 7 min quicker) & i struggled to open my bag & change gloves. I remember trying for a couple of minutes to get a single shotbloc into my mouth & failed miserably & headed off thinking ‘it’s only another 10kish’.
In the last few miles i remember someone asking how i was doing & i couldn’t even speak, my face & mouth had frozen, leaving me trying to mutter ‘how much further?’ I forgot to mention in my effort to get my mitts on, i’d pressed a button on my Garmin that meant i had no idea how far i was, Man it was depressing!
After cursing to myself on the last few ups & downs near the end, a guy at the side of the road said ‘only 100 meters to go’ & all i could think of was ‘lift your f***ing legs up & smile, there’s a camera somewhere!’
I crossed the line in 5hr 4min, was handed my goody bag & headed straight to the car, shaking like i’ve never shaken before. It took about 30 mins to get changed in the back seat with my body going into spasm. After putting on as much dry clothing as i could, i headed off to eat the best soup imaginable followed by several rolls & coffee & i felt alive again :) I had a chat with another runner whilst drinking my free 1/2 pint, wearing my medal with a smile on my face.
I was already thinking of my next race, pain is temporary after all :)