Friday, 14 August 2009

Turning 40 - An Alternative Party

My bit

I had this mad crazy idea to celebrate my 40th Birthday; not a party, not a fancy holiday, but a 40 mile run. My non-running friends thought I was insane. I had to agree. When I thought about it some more the sensible option was to run 20 miles and cycle 20 miles to cover the distance. Then I spoke to Fiona……………

And so at 8am on Saturday 31st January 2009 Fiona, Pauline, Sue, Gillian, Julie and I set off from Dalgety Bay into the unknown and made our way to Kincardine. The day started out as it would end, with much hilarity and entertainment, the first source of which was a chap doing a sustrans survey in Inverkeithing. The poor man wasn’t expecting the wrong answers to his questions “Are you coming back this way?” Yeah, via Kincardine. “Will you be out for more than half an hour?” Oh yes, most likely!!! “How far approximately will you be going today?” Oh about 40 miles. I’m sure he didn’t believe a word of it!!

We continued along the coast enjoying the scenery and were soon joined at Culross by my buddy Karen, who ran with us towards Grangemouth before turning back for home. The road to Grangemouth marked the first huge milestone – 20 miles. Given that Gillian had never covered more than 10 miles, and Julie and I no more than half marathon distance, this was remarkable. Our next achievement was the 40k mark followed shortly thereafter by the marathon distance. We celebrated with whoops of joy, and a stop for more photos.

Bo’ness to Blackness was fantastic, an opportunity to get off the tarmac. It felt like running on carpet with cosy slippers on by comparison. At Blackness I had a much-needed painkiller stop then onwards through Hopetoun estate where a ‘nice’ man with a gun informed us the grounds were closed. Oops!!

I don’t seem to remember 30 miles; I guess we were around Blackness at that point. I do remember 33 however, 7 miles to go or as Gillian said a Donkey Brae! Then it was a 10k, a Cupar 5 and finally towards the Forth Road Bridge a mere 5k!!! This was not the time for a PB tho…..

The final mile across the bridge was hard going but we weren’t walking any part of this despite the undulation. With half a mile to go we dug deep and picked up the pace to the finish. 40 miles…….we did it, we actually ran 40 miles!!!! Jubilation, whoops of excitement and photos followed but the journey wasn’t quite over. We still had to get to the Park & Ride where Ken was waiting to transport us back to Dalgety Bay but hey we had just run 40 miles, we could float the other 0.8!!!!!

I personally have to thank all of the wonderful ladies who ran with me. Rest assured I could not have done this alone! From Sue’s perfectly planned route plan, to Pauline & Fiona’s expertise and Julie & Gillian’s gutsy determination and to Karen for keeping us entertained with her sense of direction (how that girl’s getting round the WHW worries me). Huge thanks to Ken for driving us home, being a friendly face at various points along the route and providing much needed supplies. And final thanks to my hubby Glenn for providing bacon butties and champagne at the end. I’ve never had such a laugh, Julie on the phone to Pete telling him Ken was just filling her bladder was just about the end of me. We had an incredibly special day and I could not have shared it with better people. Well I could, they just weren’t available. Raspberry!

Fiona’s Bit

Yesterday was an amazing day watching four runners taking on a challenge into the unknown. With quiet tenacity and lots of blether and laughter, every step taken confidence grew and nobody was going to bail. It was a privilege to be part of this adventure and the final bridge crossing will be something I'll remember with pride. Thank you all for a special day.

Pauline’s Bit

A wee whilst ago Lesley had expressed a desire to celebrate her birthday by running 40 miles so at dawn on Saturday 31st January 2009 Fiona, Sue, Julie, Gillian and myself were at Lesley’s house setting off on an adventure with the pink sunrise at our backs as we headed west.

With military precision Sue had mapped out our route and by using a combination of coast paths, cycle ways, forest trails and footpaths we followed the direction of the classic Two Bridges race (the original road route would have been too dodgy and also a bit boring!)

Within ten minutes of starting we had baffled a chappy conducting a road usage survey, we left him scratching his head as to how to complete his tick boxes with our answers. We made it clear that we were not recreational joggers but athletes on a mission and when asked if we were “working girls” Julie put him right in that we were employed in respectable law-abiding activities.

We followed the tactic of “West Highland Way rules” ie if it goes up we walk plus a five minute walk every half hour which worked extremely well. We also stopped at Sue’s house at Limekilns for a “comfort break” which was wonderfully civilised for ultra running. It was not long before we reached Torryburn and heading into Culross we met Karen Donoghue (one of Lesley’s chums) who ran with us over the Kincardine Bridge and on for a good few miles before heading back to try and find her car which she had abandoned somewhere in Culross. From Kincardine we were running into a stiff headwind so employed the tactic of running in single file taking turns at being the poor sod in front acting as windbreak. We were also met by Ken at various intervals who offered glugs of coffee and drinks top ups. I was a bit suspicious of Lesley who appeared to be drinking cider and wasn’t sharing!

We ticked off the milestones at regular intervals, the first Bridge, halfway, 40K, marathon - Fiona and I were impressed - these girls were now in unknown territory and were making it all look very easy indeed! I particularly enjoyed the coast path section from Bo’ness to Hopetoun House (although we were politely advised that the grounds are closed until Good Friday!) Oops!

It was now dark and with the second Bridge and end in sight we continued to “tootle on” and closing on the 40 mile mark at the end of the Bridge there was a distinct bunching ready for a sprint finish with Lesley nudging ahead with arms raised and a “woooohoooooo” we made it. There were hugs, photos and phone calls to broadcast the news. However we were not quite finished, although we had reached 40 miles our finish line was the Park and Ride (where Ken was parked with the car!) we resumed our happy trot and on a cloud of adrenalin and sense of achievement we floated along to the car and officially declared our mission accomplished.

We headed back to Lesley’s house for bacon butties and bubbly – what a marvellous combination! Lesley presented us all with a party bag which contained a survivor’s tee shirt, a medal and other goodies. Glenn, Pete and Ken put up with our hilarious babbling as we were as hyper as bunch of five year olds on red smarties.

What a brilliant day out, what a buzz and what a way to celebrate your 40th birthday!

Gillian’s bit

I remember when Lesley first mentioned her mad idea a few months ago and I said yes I would love to take part - maybe I would even manage to do 10 miles......

Roll on to 31 January at 8am and I still didn't know if I would manage more than 10 miles!! But, with the help of our inspiration - Lesley, our experts - Fiona and Pauline, our organiser extraordinaire - Sue, my fellow rooky - Julie, Karen, a fresh face! and the very welcome support - Ken, we ALL did it.

It's certainly one of my biggest achievements - ever. Better start training then for those 50th birthdays - how long have we got?!

Sue’s bit

Highlights for me were:- the company which was great, the comfortable pace we covered the distance in, the laughs, correcting the survey man that we were recreational runners not joggers and that yes we were all working girls(!), running over Kincardine bridge for the first time, seeing lots of houses behind Skinflats when I thought there were only 2 farms, being industrial tourists around the central belt(!), Ken appearing to offer support, the lovely running between Bo’ness and Hopetoun, not getting shot by the Hopetoun gamekeeper, running just about our fastest mile as we ran over the Forth Road Bridge in the dark with Lesley forging ahead like she was a woman with a goal in mind(!!!), getting my first ever party bag, and once again the company. I had a ball.

Julie’s bit

My highlights - the cyclist and pedestrian survey - "Are you Working girls?". Lesley saying in Bo'ness that she felt like she was walking like John Wayne and me on closer observation noticed she actually was! Nearly being shot by the gamekeeper and really feeling I should keep quite as he may have licence to shoot the English. Having the best bacon and egg butty ever - thank you so much Glenn. Meeting Karen, good company and a welcome reunion pit stop. Thanks to Fiona and Pauline the most generous and kind spirited people I have ever met. Sue the most determined and organised friend you would want on any expedition. Reliable Ken - my bladder fill and cheesy cheddars another highlight. Gillian and Lesley - I want to thank you for taking me on this journey – love and thanks to you all XXX

Karen’s bit

I had a ball doing a section with you lot and I'll always laugh at how a group of women running together can chat about vibrators, orange squash and superdrug in the same sentence!!! I had no idea some of the other girls weren't mad ultra runners as well from the dark side, they did fantastic too!!

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