After a great night's sleep, I was woken at 5am to the sound of torrential rain and howling winds. Oh joy. I thought I was really lucky yesterday to escape the forecast. Actually yesterday was glorious, until I sat in the car and there was a downpour. How's that for good timing?
Thankfully by the time I set off at 8am the weather had cleared. Don't get me wrong, I love running in the rain. I'll take rain over heat any day. But raining when I'm running at a slow pace on steep ascents is just unnecessary and downright cruel.
My legs were a little stiff for the first half mile, but then warmed up OK. I felt my breathing was difficult over of the first three miles to the bottom of the devil's staircase. Excuse this, but I felt like there was something to cough up. Ian - there may be reports of you on Way today ;-) I always find my breathing suffers the most when I tired. I would have mugged a walker for a menthol sweet. Note to self: pack menthol sweets for race day.
I was relieved to get to the Devil's Staircase, so I could start walking. I actually always welcome the ascent. The slog from Kingshouse is one of my least favourite parts. Even though the Kinghouse to Fort William section is my favourite part of the WHW.
Up and over the summit, I felt great all the way to Kinlochleven. The track down into the town has been completely flattened. Even more so since I last did the route five weeks ago. It's more like a road now. Made from some gravel that kicks up into your shoes. The steep descents are also quite slippy. Heaven help the cyclist (you know the ones who ignore the "cyclists dismount" signs) who tear down into some walkers.
I reached the ascent out of Kinlochleven five minutes faster than the previous run. I really expected yesterday's run to have taken it's toll. Actually I was looking at running today 20-30 minutes slower. So I pleased at how good I felt. Had another Go Bar on the way up to Lairig Mor. Again, so chewy I got some mileage out of it. I passed four blokes on the way up. One of them got quite competitive, left his pals and started upping the pace behind me. Aye that'll be right. I put him in his place when I picked up and took off at the summit. That's the martyr in me. I could have done with a short breather first, but needs must. Passed (and startled) lots of walkers on the way over. There was even a large group of Spanish (I think!) folks cheering me on with one woman shouting and giggling "we be your support". That's the best thing about the WHW, it's one big global party.
Got to Lundarva, still feeling good. And then as if by magic, started to fade a bit. Nothing to dramatic though. There's just something about this section. That's why I call Lundarva the Bermuda Triangle - because of it's soul sucking ability. Generally my legs felt OK, but my quads were aching a bit. And I knew I was cultivating a few nasty blisters under my damp socks. It was a just a game of peaks and troughs to the end. Through the forest I passed two (army-type) blokes that I passed yesterday on the road to Tyndrum. I don't know who was more shocked to see who. The must have covered a lot of ground in a very short time. Bet they were gutted to see a girl in pigtails pip them to the post again ;-)
As usual the road to Fort William took what was left of me. Finished the whole route in 4:52 (1.47 to Kinlochleven, 1.55 on ascent out, 3.34 to Lundarva and 4.52 to the end). Only one minute faster than March's run, but much better than expected.
I hope I don't have to run when supporting Sonic and Neal tomorrow. Mind you, I couldn't catch up with them even if I was in peak condition. Well, maybe after Beinglas. I'm really looking forward to helping them out tomorrow. Sonic was fabulous as support for me over the weekend. Just a shame he's running the race too. Not much chance of me getting him pregnant...