Saturday, 27 February 2010

I'm the common denominator

When it comes to drama, guaranteed I'll be at the root of it. And today's run took it to a whole new level.

According to my training schedule, a 35-mile run was on the cards. The original plan was to run from Bridge of Orchy to Fort William, but recent snow storms across Scotland forced us to change plans to lower-lying grounds.

Cairn was staying at my Mum's last night, so we could both run today. I left the house with the view to running onto the WHW, taking the road round to Balmaha and then back on the WHW up Conic Hill and onto Milngavie. Sonic was doing the similar route, but leaving after me to catch up.

All was going well until I started going up Conic Hill. The further I went up, the deeper the snow got. In hindsight I was ill prepared for the conditions. The temperature was close to freezing, but the wind-chill factor would have taken it well below that. Some kind soul had kicked most of the steps, so I followed them. If I had half a brain cell I would turned back, but I was committed (oh and a little bit stubborn) and was moving closer to the summit. I called Sonic to explain the situation (mini-tantrum) who informed me he was at the bottom of hill. Descending the other side was when I got myself into a real pickle. I was waist-deep in thick snow, soaking wet and freezing my ass off. There was a layer of ice on top of snow, which was shredding my legs. Despite knowing this route like the back of my hand, the path was non-existent and I felt as if I was (literally) rolling about aimlessly. I was a blubbering, snottering wreck. As dramatic as it sounds, I honestly feared for my life.

Panic calls to Sonic (mega-tantrum), who tried to calm me and find out where I was. He informed me he was down at the bridge (after going from Drymen). "WTF? You mean you're not on this hill". I was expecting him to appear behind, like a knight in shining armour. "F*ck no, it's waist-deep up there", was the reply. After what seemed like an eternity of trudging through snow, he appeared in the distance. Given the way I had previously acted he would have been forgiven for just leaving me there!!

Sonic was a little more prepared (from his mountain rescue training) than me, and piled me up with a fleece sweater and a wind-proof jacket. My survival kit consisted of some sweets, a cap, babywipes and an ipod! He later informed me that I was gibbering rubbish and shaking uncontrollably. I must admit being that cold and that disorientated - it's amazing that a route you know so well becomes unrecognisable in different conditions - was very scary. What would normally take 30 minutes, took over two hours. And I would probably take the prize for being the most ill equipped/prepared runner on the hills.

Although, at a lower level - the snow-depth had shrunk to a more manageable knee-deep, it was a few miles on the route to Drymen before we could start running. There were a few walkers out enjoying - what was then - as lovely snow-covered path. I had piled the layers of clothing on top of my backpack, so I must have looked like a Ninja turtle approaching.

We met another runner - Sarah who was training for the Fling - just outside of Drymen. She must have thought I was slightly unhinged, given the ensemble and the gibbering story of my Conic Hill adventure.

Anyway, the show must go on. Although If I was given the option of airlift of the hill to never run again, I would have taken it. Back in the land of normality (or at least normal body temperature) I had waved off the notion of hitching a lift and changed the route to running back over the Balloch Horseshoe home. 33 miles in total. If good ultra-running training is about time of feet, then that was a quality run. Although it's not an experience I would want to repeat, EVER.

Sitting of the comfort of my sofa with a chilled glass of wine (for medicinal reasons, obviously) I probably did act a little OTT. When I told Sonic I thought Cairn was going to be orphaned, he said "but he would still have me". Really, it's two of the same thing. I would just leave two boys without responsible guidance and care. Although Sonic has had the satisfaction of referring to me as a "fking idiot" more often than absolutely necessary this afternoon. Next time, I'll pack more appropriately. Well, maybe. It has given me something to blog about :-)

18 comments:

Fiona Rennie said...

Scary stuff! All you can say about that run is...
What doesnae kill you makes you stronger.

Happy Days said...

Your safe and well , thats the main thing, lesson learned.

Keith Hughes said...

Wow - an interesting day then.. You sure did TTFU and then some and am sure next time you will RTFU (Rug the .... up !!)

WHW Runner said...

Glad you're ok. A lot of lessons here, I think - there have been quite a few incidents this year with people attempting Conic Hill when the weather (and common sense) would suggest it isn't the best idea. I was up there last year on a cold day - it was lovely at the bottom but really icy at the top. My legs cramped and I had real worries about how I would get back down. Fortunately I made it ok but it was a lesson learned.

lesleyh said...

Wow, glad I gave Conic Hill a huge bodyswerve! You survived, well done!
Lesley
BTW The gravitational pull increases with every one you have!!

John Kynaston said...

What an adventure! The things you'll do for a good blog post!

Seriously I'm glad you are okay and survived to tell the tale. It is worrying to think how easily we runners can get caught out. It will make me think twice about what I take with me in bad weather.

So well done and enjoy your easy week.

JK

Kaz said...

Glad you've warmed up. Getting that cold is so unpleasant. Snow can be so disorientating and once out of it you wonder what you were ever in a panic about, but at the time can be terrifying. Having had quite a substantial amount of experience in snowy conditions I can usually keep a clear head; get me in a lightning storm however (especially in the Alps) and I'm pretty sure I could rival any histrionics!

FYI you must be doing something wrong when commenting on my blog as I've not been offended yet. Thanks for the top tip about the Gaviscon. Shall give it a go.

Kaz.

Anonymous said...

I was up Conic a week ago (hence my flagged-up warning on the whw forum). It was bloomin' cold, but fabby clear views from the upper reaches of the hill on the west side looking down to the the frozen and not-quite-frozen ice patterns on the Loch below. Stunning. There was no ice at all on the steep west side of the hill, but I was quite surprised by how much there was (and how thick) on the east side. The ground was all frozen solid, so I could skitter along the normally dark boggy bits with nice dry feet.

I'm very pleased that you're okay from the ordeal. Many thanks for flagging it up so loud and clear for all to read. Hopefully folk will take it on board.

Stange to think that Conic is just a wee pimple of a hill compared to many others, but that it can be host to such wild weather conditions.

Murdo

Peter Duggan said...

It's winter, Debs... but I'm glad you're OK! :-)

Thomas said...

I have to agree with some of what your husband said. Not quoting him though ;-)
Why did you not change your plan after it became dangerous? Why, Why?
But there is too much human nature working here. Determination. Fate, optimism. Jadajada.
Anyway, I am glad you are ok!

N.D. said...

Oh man - I would have turned around (had I even set out). haha.

Brian Mc said...

Glad to hear you are OK. For running in those kinds of conditions you've got have as good a sense of the mountains and your body's response as a mountaineer. Running in snow can be done, but the clothes have got to be right. Last january I was running in -17C over and through metre thick snow on mountains in arctic Sweden and was fine, but I double socks, thermal leggings, almost full face covering ...

Billy said...

I've done similar Debbie, so I can't criticise. Glad you made it back - we'd all miss your blog.

Anonymous said...

Steady there now.
Slightly.

Lee Maclean said...

If ever I could go fast enough to keep up I would still never run with you ya crazy burd!! Yer a liability ;-)

Mrs Mac x

emmarathon said...

"the most ill equipped/prepared runner on the hills"... Debs I'd have thought you'd have been the only runner up there?? Your mad! Still well done for completing 33 - I'd have resorted to the sofa after the dramatic rescue operation! xx

karinsmiles said...

You could run on pavements and do nothing more exciting than a parkrun but what would be the fun in that. I suspect we all have an 'I got away with it that time' story but you tell them better than most of us. Your blog's always entertaining - you don't need to go to extremes to get an audience, honest ;o)

prashant said...

Your safe and well , thats the main thing, lesson learned.
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