Thursday evening. 9pm. Tminus 33 hours ’til the starters’ gun in Milngavie.
I did not need to know that…
…but never mind. The clock is ticking!
This evening I’ve been planning and packing my drop bags for the race and thinking carefully about what I’m going to take in order to fuel my 53 mile journey. I also need to plan what I’m going to be wearing throughout the race and what I’ll need at the start and the finish. As someone who lives to plan and loves a good list I should be in my element here, but since so much of this race is venturing into unknown territory for me (both figuratively and literally) it is proving quite hard to make decisions so far.
What I’m Wearing
This is kind of the easy part, until you look at the ever-changing weather forecast. It seems to vary by the hour and by which website you look at. Currently the BBC is displaying the following for the start at Milngavie:
53 miles up the road and Tyndrum on the other hand, is looking like this:
A heady high of 1C! At least it would appear to be dry throughout the day.
Ideally I would like to be wearing a base layer under my club vest, with a light shell jacket in my bag. Shorts on the bottom and my new Compress Sport calf sleeves that I got at the Paris Marathon expo. I think I will probably need some gloves for the first stages, but they and hopefully my baselayer, can be discarded at the first checkpoint with Kynon. I need to keep myself warm for the whole day however and realistically I could spend a lot of the latter miles of the race walking – a vest and shorts will not cut it if the mercury is struggling to reach beyond zero and I’m not keeping myself warm by moving fast.
What will I be putting on my feet? A very hot topic amongst Flingers online just now. I had assumed that the obvious choice would be my trail shoe (Inov8 Flyroc 310, above) but reports are circulating that the course is very dry so road shoes could be equally suitable. My trail shoes are comfortable but nowhere near as smooth a ride as my road shoes (I would wear my Saucony Guide 5’s for this). I am worried that my feet will suffer in the trail shoes as I’ve never worn them for such a length of time, on the other hand in the road shoes I am concerned that the rocks on the West Highland Way may cripple me after 40 miles. I remember how much they hurt me after only 28 with Vicki in June…
Another decision to make on the day I think. Footwear is such a personal thing and I really wish someone could tell me what to do, but I’m on my own on this one.
Timing and Pacing
The way I am approaching this mentally, is that Saturday’s race is a day out in the hills. A journey, and an adventure. I am not capable of ‘racing’ this by any stretch of anyone’s imagination and I don’t have a time to beat, so my one aim is to finish by the cut off time of 15 hours which, all being well, is more than achievable.
That said, I have had to think about how long each stage might take me so that I can plan my food and fuel. I had a play with this calculator tool, but some people were suggesting it wasn’t based on the best information available so the times being produced weren’t reflecting a well-run race. I had some help from Mike who has devised his own calculator which produced the following splits for a 12.5hr race:
With the race starting at 6am, this would have me home at 6:20pm. I think this is realistic, but like everything else…who knows. I don’t think splits as we pass over timing mats are being updated anywhere, but you can follow along on Twitter using the hashtags #flingrace and #highlandfling – there isn’t an official one and people seem to be posting using both. Kynon will also be updating when he can – you can follow user @mr_kynon to get updates from him, but due to the remoteness of the course, 3G signal is very patchy.
Food and Fuel
The most important part of the day! In my months of training I have been eating lots of different things and have discovered that luckily, my stomach is as strong as my legs and can take everything I’ve been throwing at it. I eat a little something every 45 minutes and will restock my pockets at each checkpoint. I’m obviously not going for anything new on race day though, and have created drop “bags” for the check point locations.
Start of Race – Camelbak contents
500ml High5 Electrolyte drink
2 High5 gels, salted hula hoops, Jaffa cake bar, Galaxy Caramel cake bar (approx 500 calories)
Also in there is a space blanket, blister repair kit, paracetamol, immodium, emergency whistle and phone.
Check Point 1 – Balmaha – 19.8 miles
To eat at checkpoint – Strawberry rice pudding and a bottle of lucozade
To take away – Salt n vinegar crisps, cake bars, raisins and gels
Approximately 880 calories
Check Point 2 – Rowardennan – 27.2 miles
To eat at checkpoint – Fruit cup, custard, Dr Pepper
To take away – Salted crisps, cake bars, 2 gels, flapjack
Approximately 825 calories
Checkpoint 3 – Inversnaid – 34.3 miles
To eat at checkpoint – Rice pudding, coke
To take away – Salt n vinegar squares, cake bars, 2 caffeinated gels, flapjack
Approximately 740 calories
Checkpoint 4 – Beinglas Farm – 40.9
To eat at checkpoint – custard and fruit cup, gin (blame Vicki and Sandra for that)!
To take away – salted crisps, caffeinated gels, cake cars, flapjack.
Approximately 698 calories
In total over the day at my usual metabolic rate I will burn 5830 calories, and in total I ‘m replacing that on the run with 3647 if I consume everything (which I doubt I will). I’m sure a lot of people will be quick to say I’ve got far too much stuff and all I need is some water and a pocket full of peanuts, but I have no idea how I’m going to feel or cope during this adventure (which could be 15 hours long…) so I’d rather be presented with the choice than have nothing to look forward to.
So that’s about it. Everything is prepared and I just have a long day at work to go before we can get on the road to Milngavie. I had one last physio appointment today where I got my knee re-taped and some ultrasound treatment, and it is feeling good to go. I am so ready to get out there and run!
I can’t wait to reap the benefits of all the work I’ve put in this year so far. It has been a long slog, but I dearly hope it will be worth it. The hard part is over – all I need to do now is show up at 6am on Saturday morning and start running at the start…and stop running when I get to the finish. Easy.
Before I go, a quick mention and huge vote of thanks to Kynon and the masses of other marshals who are giving up their entire Saturday to be out there in the middle of nowhere so we can run this race. From time to time I’ve moaned about the stuff I’ve had to give up to train for this event, but this weekend Kynon ought to be in Whitby captaining Real Gothic FC for their biannual football match against Athletico Gazette, which is part of the Whitby Goth Weekend. It’s the first time he’s missed a match since 2006 so I am hugely appreciative of what he’s given up to support me in my endeavours this weekend. I hope the Gothic can forgive me for stealing their Captain…I doubt I’ll get away with this more than once, so you can be assured he’ll be back next time…
See you on the other side…