We headed up to Skye on Friday, Pauline did all the driving and what a gorgeous day, brilliant blue skies all the way and that was the forecast for the whole weekend.
We picked up our numbers and met up with the Sheffield crew, lovely to see them, we only see them at the Skye Half and they didn't manage up last year, also Joss and Irma, a Dutch couple that just happened to be in the pub after the race over ten years ago, Joss has now ran the race around four times although he'd never ran before or any other race for that matter.
Saturday morning for the first time in over a week I managed to eat real food, a small bowl of porridge, I hoped this is the turning point and my mouth and throat was starting to heal. Although it was going to be a warm and sunny day I decided to wear my 2XU compression tights as worn by top class athletes and eejits that have done naff all running since March 6th and plan to run a half marathon on memory and would like their legs to stay in motion and in the upright position! With it being sunny I better wear my big hat too, I have to keep my radiation burnt skin out of the sun, also a Buff scarf, I tucked it under the cord of my hat to stop it rubbing the tender skin under my chin. Not normal running gear I know but if it protected me I didn't care what I looked like. Also for luck I pinned my number on with my little humming bird brooch and my boxing gloves. I did originally attached the boxing gloves to my bumbag, I planned to carry ginger beer and my syringe if I couldn't manage to swallow, but my bumbag wasn't comfy, it pushed the feeding tube into my tummy so Pauline said she would carry it for me.
I wasn't nervous before the start I just wanted to get going, I had no doubt I'd finish, I've never DNF'd and I never will, it would just take a long time. We were walked to the start by the Pipe Band and then we were off. My legs were running! It felt fine, nothing wobbled due to the compression tights but they had no energy or bounce that you would normally feel at the start of a race but that was ok, I went straight into ultra shuffle and energy conservation, as soon as we rounded the corner and started up the hill we walked. West Highland Way race rules, walk the hills, run the flats and downs. It was great to be running, the pace was irrelevant, I was running!
My mouth felt not too bad, I manage to drink at the water stations and have small sips of my flat ginger beer, I was so glad it didn't nip. After half way, my energy level was the same as if I'd been running for around twenty hours, luckily I've had a fair bit of practice at that, just relax and keep moving forward as best as I can. At least it was just my muscles that felt that tired, my guts were fine, and so was my head, they usually start to get a bit dozy when you've been running for around a day!
We had a lovely surprise at the turn just after seven miles, we heard someone shouting to us, they were too faraway to recognise but it sounded like Jackie Baxter, (also from Dunfermline) it was Jackie! What was she doing here? I received hug and a brilliant boost, she was here with Martin, he was meant to run but was injured, they still came up for the weekend.
The next couple of miles are not what you'd call a hill but it gradually goes up, not steep enough to walk but too hard for me to keep running, so Pauline started to time thirty seconds run, thirty seconds walk until the start of the hill proper, I was still managing to swallow my ginger beer even though it was small mouthfuls. At the top of the hill, we ran all the way down, Stevie Hards came back to meet us, I did have to have a few wee walks heading into Portree, once back into the town I kept it running, there was nothing left in my legs, I panicked for a second when I had to step up a kerb, I nearly didn't make it, if I'd fallen would I be able to get back up? Hang on, and keep moving forward was my only thought, there's a wee hill up to the finish, will I manage to keep running?
I did! 2hrs 55mis 57secs. I bent forward with my hands on my knees, I felt ok, but I didn't want to take a funny turn and my big hat kept my emotion under wraps until I could gather my face into a smile.
The bastard was decked!
The Skye Half has one of the best race mementos ever, a specially engraved shot glass and a miniature of Talisker. I'll keep mine for later and savour it when my mouth is better.
(this was last year, we drank it at the coral beach)
A slow walk back to our B&B, Pauline had her shower first, I had a wee lie down. We just had a quiet afternoon but managed out to the Tongadale in the evening, the walk would do me good, also had some medicinal Guinness, except it nipped my mouth, but I had a syringe and I wasn't afraid to use it! The company was good and we were the last out the pub! Same time next year folks!
On Sunday every muscle was sore, my shoulders, my arms, and my legs were as stiff as if I'd ran a big ultra but I was happy. It might have just been thirteen miles but on my road to recovery it was over a hundred! I still have clinics and stuff but that is it, I am getting back to being me.
The daft thing is on Sunday I felt as if my mouth was going to heal quickly, it wasn't too sore and I was looking forward to getting back to eating but by Monday night it was quite sore again, I think my body's own endorphins had worn off. Gonna have to get me some more of them, they work better than prescription painkillers!
I will be sensible for a wee bit, gather my strength slowly, my next race isn't until August, the 48 hour at the British Ultra Fest. Pick your chin up off the floor! It will be my 48 hours to do as much or as little as I like, no pressure for any distance. Run a bit, walk a bit, sit down for a bit. I'll even do a Knoxy (a technical term for having a seven hour kip during a race!)
I'm not kidding anyone here am I? Ok, I have a goal, and I have adjusted it from when I entered the race at the end of last year and it takes into account my lack of training and assault on my health, and there will be no pressure... 200km. Just 100km a day, that's do-able right?