The West Highland Way Race 2018
So in 4 weeks time it’ll all be over!! The West Highland Way is an iconic long distance walk from Milngavie; just outside Glasgow, to Fort William on the west coast of Scotland. It winds its way through some of the most epic, awe inspiring scenery in Scotland and the 96 mile route usually takes a leisurely 5-7 days. I grew up in a place called Kinlochleven which lies 14 miles form the end of the route and so have many memories of walkers coming through the village hobbling and looking (often) very cold and wet. On a good day though the scenery is breathtaking. Sadly if you’ve ever been to Scotland you know that the weather is notoriously bad and on the good days you’ll often be eaten alive by the dreaded midge!! Last year I completed the race in just over 30 hours in one of the worst years weather wise they’ve ever had. Never mind the sun screen and midge repellent we needed full wet weather gear and weighted shoes!! At one point we faced 40mph winds and near zero temperatures. To say it was tough was an understatement. However through sheer grit and lots of support from my amazing crew I made it to the finishing line. There was no blaze of glory or feeling of exhilaration when I crossed the line, just sheer exhaustion, mild hypothermia and a promise that I would never put myself or my family and friends through it again.
Unfortunately that’s not me!! On the drive home with swollen ankles wedged against the dash board Steve and I discussed where we’d gone wrong and that little seed was planted. Roll forward 11 months and here I am again feeling nervous/sick/excited/worried and slightly miffed that no one stopped me entering the ballot.
To say I was a little bit broken after last years event is an understatement. My body was pretty wrecked and I felt pretty low in mood. I didnt want to run so set my sights on getting fitter and stronger. I set out on my ‘wonder woman’ project and signed up with Challenge Life Fitness for one to one PT sessions. I had developed left patella tendinopathy and it hurt even just getting up in the morning.
Over the last 11 months I’ve worked hard to get stronger, my knee pain has gone and if I’m honest it probably took a good 7/8 months for it to settle. I’ve done some fantastic events with the highlight being the Arran Ultra which was a 2 day ultra event. I felt strong and recovered really well after the first day (29 miles) to face the 2nd day (3o miles). So in the last 4 weeks leading up to the WHW I’m feeling quietly confident (no overly so though)
I feel strong, I’m injury free, life is ticking along nicely and in the back of my mind I sort of thinking ‘it cant be as bad as last year’ (can it). I’ve got the same amazing support crew and we learnt a lot from last year. My best friend who has MS has taken up trail running (yes she is an amazing lady) so is hoping to run a short section with me from Tyndrum. Rob her husband is completing his first half marathon in Glencoe the weekend before which includes going up over the Devils Staircase. Steve my ever patient partner knows the mistakes we made last year and we’ve worked hard to correct them. He’ll hopefully be buddy running with me for the last section which last year nearly floored me and without him I would categorically have not got through. My parents as always will also be there supporting and looking on with pride.
The next 4 weeks will be focused on eating well and being better at taking on water during the day. I’m still doing circuits and boot camp and try to get to the gym in the week as well. I’ve got 2 weekends of long running left so I’ll use these to test out my kit, my hydration and nutrition and the new Saucony peregrines I bought from Up & Running. I’m still not 100% sure what I’ll be running in yet but its nice to have options.
As for the self doubt that creeps in daily I’m trying to keep it at bay with positive thoughts. ‘I can do this’ runs through my head regularly (along with a shiver of anticipation) and Steve is as always very positive and focused.
If you want to have have a look at the race details or find out more about the west highland way take a look here https://westhighlandwayrace.org/