Running long 4:52:16 28.48 km (10:16 / km) +2589m7:03 / km ahr:167 max:177
Ring of Steall Skyrace.
I decided to enter this race a long time ago, knowing that I like something else to think about after WOC that's not orienteering! I love reading about all the amazing ladies that run in all the crazy races around the world and thought I'd like to see them race and have a go at a shorter version myself! After persuading (pretty easily!) Hollie to enter as well, I was looking forward to the weekend even more. The whole week before I was pretty nervous as I felt like I was fighting off a cold. Not ideal, but at least it forced me to rest by legs for 5 days :)
Hollie and I were nervously discussing tactics to be able to survive the race. Neither of us really knew what would happen to our bodies after the steep gradients and long distances. We planned to not get too carried away up the first climb and hopefully have legs for the 2nd.
The countdown was on and it was time to set off up into the hills. I tucked in behind a girl up through the woods, thinking it was a nice steady pace, but out into the open I could tell she was slowing up already, so I pushed on ahead. the first big climb wasn't too bad (in hindsight!!), plugging away, able to jog most of it. I forced myself to drink and have a wee bit to eat, although porridge was still sitting heavily in my stomach. I could see at least 2 girls ahead of me, 1 of whom was Georgia who was looking really strong and gradually pulling away. Towards the top of the climb, I realised I was slowly reeling in the girl infront, but a quick glance behind and there was a girl (Emily) and Hollie not far away. The first short descents changed the positions, with Emily being an incredible descender and the girl infront not so much. I think Hollie and I stayed a similar distance apart. My parents were up on the ridge here, always such great supporters! I felt really buoyed on by them as they sounded surprised/delighted to see me already! This was when I realised that there weren't any more girls ahead and i was sitting in 3rd. Emily descended like a demon down to Glen Nevis, whilst I was wishing it was all over. At the bottom I had maintained my minute or so gap over Hollie, but my sights were ahead. If I could climb well and put enough time into Emily then she wouldn't catch me on the descent. Loads of supporters at the bottom, including the Barr's - thanks for the cheers!! The route was diverted to avoid a closed path due to a landslide earlier in the week, which meant a rough and boggy couple of km. I caught Emily at the base of the climb (think she lost the route for a minute ish), but I heard the familiar Glaswegian voice not far behind! Game on for a top 3 finish.
Setting off up the climb I realised I was knackered. I took on plenty of food here and also topped up my water bottle (relieved after finding that there were no more options to fill up water until the final descent - a lot of people misjudged this and came into some difficulties). As I was climbing the switchbacks, Hollie was gaining fairly quickly - 3 switchbacks away, 2, 1...and the inevitable catch. We pushed on together for a bit and had our first chat of the race. I wasn't going to be able to keep up the pace so we said our goodbyes, after warning each other about the fast descender behind. I was forcing my mind to think positive thoughts and jelly babies got me up this climb. Every now and then a fellow competitor would remark about the stunning view, which was handy as I was spending most of the day staring at my feet!! Coming over one of the first summits of the ridge and I could hear cheering - mum and dad again! I can't say it made me go any faster - think my legs needed more than encouragement at this point!! Great to see them though and it took my mind off the pain for a few minutes :) Spectators were all being encouraging, saying I was only a couple of minutes behind. I'm afraid I'd stopped thinking about catching Hollie and was just nervous about keeping my 3rd place!!
Finally the descent began and it was such a good feeling knowing that the finish was at the bottom! Thankfully it wasn't anywhere near as steep as the first big descent and although painful, I got down it ok. Towards the bottom various spectators were indicating that I was closing in on Hollie. I wasn't sure if this was just them being nice, but kept trying to push on just in case! Hitting the road I just felt like I wanted to walk, but knew I'd never get running again. Turning the corner I couldn't believe that there was Hollie not that far ahead, looking like she was struggling even more than me. I wasn't gaining on her quickly enough to catch her, but it at least felt good that we'd done a really similar time and would be on the podium together :)
The next half hour went by in a blur of trying to move and eat and drink. We couldn't believe that the next day people would run nearly twice the distance with nearly twice the climb. Nuts.
A great day out, although I was hurting too much to go out and spectate the next day's race. Maybe another time!