Loch Ness Marathon

Loch Ness Marathon

27th September 2015

This was my 4th time running Loch Ness and I can safely say it won’t be my last! I just love this event.

Hugh, myself and Shauney travelled up on the Saturday and after registering at the Expo, chatting with LOTS of my running friends from far afield, I then made my way to the Rocktape man! My legs have had heavy mileage this year, having already run 4 Ultras and 1 marathon, not to mention the various cycling and shorter running events too. However, it was my bike pedals that caused my latest flare up in my right Achilles, having whacked the back of my ankle 1 week before causing a fair bit of bruising and swelling. Having had total rest in the week leading up to Loch Ness, I was hopeful that my injury would behave for the event. Professionally taped up I felt ready for the race.

We carbed up with a lovely meal at Ferndale, home of my sister in law, Seona. She was running her first marathon at Loch Ness. My brother in law, Derek, was running the 10k as was my other sister in law, Imogen, and her son Duncan. It was a proper family affair!

In the morning Hugh, Shauney, Seona and myself met up with Diane and Andy Wilmshurst at the Bught Park and joined in the big queue for one of the many buses. We were dropped at the top of the hill near Fort Augustus in clear blue sky and calm weather.

The biggest trauma of the morning came as I switched my Garmin on only to realise the battery was completely flat! I had charged it up on Friday night but can only assume the connection was not on properly and it had instead discharged it. I could have cried! I was looking for a 4hr marathon and had my pacer cards planned and now I had no watch. I had given Shauney my basic sport watch as she had forgotten her own and with much persuasion she insisted I wear it so that at least I had an idea of time (thank you Shauney!)

After the pipe band marched and played through the crowds we were started by a gun shot rather than a horn this year. Previously I had been at the very back of the crowd, but this year I was placed at the 4hr mark alongside Hugh. He had been uncertain about running it due to recent injury but decided to do it as a training run for Venice, rather than racing it.

As soon as the race started I was off, weaving my way through some very slow runners! I had no idea of my pace so just kept running but not pushing too hard, keeping my breathing steady. With the first few miles easy downhill I passed the 3 mile mark at 23:45 and was through 6 miles in 49:10 and this is where my Achilles started to give me slight niggles. From then on I had to power walk the steeper parts of any hills as my Achilles was too tight and painful. I was still doing really well pace wise and was through the half marathon timing mat at 1:52:00. From 12 miles my Achilles was more of a pain than a niggle but I made the best of the flatter parts and at 18 miles I was still on track for a sub 4hr. Hugh had passed me at 16 miles, doing much better than he had hoped. Just 4 miles on I was passing him, although a mile later I was beginning to really struggle with my Achilles and popped a painkiller (should have done it a lot earlier!!) I had to stop and stretch a couple of times and got a fright at 23 miles with a severe twinge up my leg so I walked a short bit and stretched some more. Glad that the last 4 miles were easy downhill and boosted by some cheers from my in-laws, who had completed their 10k and were waiting near their house to cheer us all on, I pushed on as much as I could, but was gritting my teeth and trying to smile for the crowds who were so supportive. The last 2 miles seemed longer than ever before and I was aware of my uneven gait as I tried to keep the pressure off my right leg. Coming along the final straight I gave it all I could as the crowd cheered my name and I hobbled across the line to finish in an amazing 8 minute PB, 4:01:42. I was delighted with my time but no point pretending that I wasn’t disappointed to have missed out on a sub 4hr marathon, which was within my reach. So many of my friends consoled me by saying “don’t worry, sub 4 at Venice”. However, Venice marathon will be my 50th birthday and I plan to soak up the atmosphere, take lots of photos and enjoy this race with my buddy Karen Fletcher. We will leave Hugh to do the racing that day!

Hugh finished in 4:07:23 having faded a bit due to groin strain in the later stages. We all kept a close eye on him this year, making sure he fuelled, changed into warm clothes and didn’t have any repeat of last years first aid tent visit.

Shauney did amazing to finish her first marathon in 4:13: and was followed by Seona in 4:38 and then Diane in 4:43. Very well done ladies! Andy Wilmshurst was in much earlier having finished in around 3:10.

A great event enjoyed by us all.