The whiteout from the window at 7am wasn't reassuring. Ah bugger it I thought, worst case scenario I waste a few quid in fuel.
I arrived at Balmaha in perfect conditions. What was all the fuss about?? Snow? Not here! I got myself organised and set off walking, reminding myself that this was an exercise in time rather than distance, but within a few minutes I was trotting along feeling good.
On my last venture on the WHW it was like Princes St on a Saturday afternoon but today it looked like I had the place to myself. I was definitely going to enjoy this.
During the climb up Craigie Fort I was worried how much of my route would be like this but after the climb down running through the woodland was fabulous. I continued on towards Rowardenen then people! Damn, I was enjoying the solitude. Still, they were only walking and I soon lost then. I caught up with some old biddies who were out walking. They were impressed that I had caught them as they had passed me in the car as I ran through Balmaha (they started at Rowardenen). I said I was going to Inversnaid. They thought that was a long walk. I said I was running. When I said I was coming back to Balmaha they said that was a really long walk. I ran away.
Further along and Alan, a fellow first-time flinger who was also doing same section as me today but considerably faster, caught me up. After a brief chat I let him go on ahead. This section was fantastic and I was finding running easy. As I was heading down into Inversnaid, I met Alan again who decided to run on with me another 20mins past Inversnaid (I wasn't shirking on the 8 hours.) We met 3 ladies who had been going to Crainlarich but were advised against it! Good plan!! Last spotted heading for soup.....
After 20minutes of scrambling among the rocks and getting nowhere fast, we headed back but a couple of miles in despite how runable the section was, I was shocked to see we were doing 9min mile pace. Oh no no no . This was too fast for me. I had already missed 2 fuel breaks and while Alan's fuelling consisted of a slurp of water and a piece of malt loaf from his pocket, mine was a more casual rumage through my rucksack to see what looked appealing, a look about for a photo opportunity, an excuse to walk a few minutes, send random text messages. I let him go.....
A few folk, mostly schmoosing couples, the odd dog, were walking but that was it. Still all mine. In the more challenging uphill sections I kept myself entertained by DJing in my head. It's a rare talent and what a soundtrack! It's a mix of the Throwing Muses, Elbow, Bon Iver, Housemartins, Midlake, Miike Snow, Velvet Underground and the Archers and Pink Panther themes. Pah, who needs ipods.
I met a group of 4 guys at Rowardenen who had heard about this "lone female" from the WHW forum. They were just setting out for Crainlarich. I assured them that conditions towards Inversnaid were fine but didn't fancy their chances further north! They looked like they knew what they were doing tho.
I had a wee dip as I approached Cashel (which I always thought was in Ireland.....) and decided it was time for some more paracetamol. My feet were really aching. My trail shoes have never been out this long and because no training run would be complete without me getting lost, I missed a post and ended up doubling back on myself before realising I was heading north. Once I figured this out and get back on track I start storming along. Oh yes, the painkillers have taken effect.
I stayed on the road too long and had to climb the gate at Milarrochy Bay. Cross training? Balmaha though seems to be a lot further away on the way back and the climb up Craigie Fort takes the life out of me. The Archers/Bon Iver remix provided a welcome distraction and before long Balmaha was in sight. The sun over the Loch Lomond was low and breaking through the clouds between the trees providing another photo opportunity but before I became too complacent I broke into a run along the road then up the hill to the car park to see that I was 20 minutes ahead of schedule. I momentarily contemplated running on then thought that perhaps 33 miles was enough for one day!!
- I am pleased to report that my imaginary running stalker(s) have made a reappearance (oxymoron??) They tend to follow me on training runs making sure I keep moving and giving me a kick up the backside when I start flagging.
- Today I consumed 1 double decker, half a boost bar, 1 raisin tracker bar (boak....), 1 banana, 1 pkt mini cheddars, 1.5l watery juice and 4 caffeine enriched paracetamol.
- Running on hardcore sucks.
- My sense of direction also sucks.
- I'm far too entertained in my own company. I should get out more :o)