So this is happening...
Its early October, which to most people just means the start of a new month, but right now to me this means only one thing: Glencoe Mountain marathon. How does one enter such a race? That said I am not sure that’s even the correct question, more like why would someone enter such a race? Is 26.2 miles on a relatively flat and even surface not already challenging enough without throwing in big hills, rocky and often marshy terrain? Apparently not. At some point at the start of this year I must have thought that it was a great idea to enter a race like this. I must have been on the race organisers website and drooled over the mountain imagery and the route, without for a moment thinking of the training required or the sheer monumental madness of it.
However, all of that was a very long time ago. I’ll wager that a lot of runners go through exactly the same process. Getting to payday, scouring the internet for a cool races, then BOOM! The deed is done, and some random race or other is booked, a small marker put on the kitchen calendar, to be forgotten about for some time to come. I even know of some that have turned up to support fellow runners at a race and forgotten that they themselves had the very same event booked in their own diary, such is the instant euphoria upon booking, preceding the process of forgetting all about it.
But not me. I’ve been looking at this race like a deer caught in the headlights, fixed on the scale of it, and the running adjustments required just to get round it and constantly thinking when do I realistically have to start this? Eventually the training started early in the summer by ditching road running almost completely in favour of trails and trying to gradually factor in more and more hill work. This is about as good as you can get when you live in Bedfordshire, devoid as it is, of anything resembling a mountain. The saying goes ‘always take a knife to a knife fight’ and that applies to running a mountain marathon; always train on a mountain, for a mountain marathon! Well, that was certainly the plan. I’d put two mountain runs into the training plan, both in Wales, but both plans fell through, the first when I developed an achilles issue, probably as a result of the increased load of hill training, and the second when others had their own issues and the even was abandoned. The Achilles and calf muscles are paramount for getting up hills and an injury like this made me think twice about the requirements of the challenge. Then came the issues with lower back pains, a sad consequence of heel striking when running downhill with poor technique. Apparently this jars the back each time you land, which eventually takes its toll in the form of inflammation, pain, and temporary cessation from hill training. Some might cheer at this, understandably, but it was another obstacle to overcome.
But all of that has now come to pass: The race booking euphoria, the much-interrupted training plan, the injuries. Now its here. Now is excitement-time again. That feeling when you are staring down the barrel of a race start and loving every second. Its the feeling that brings us back again and again to race. I drove through the Glencoe mountains to get here, and the breath-taking brutality of them was awe-inspiring. All I could think about was that come Sunday morning I’d be up there, somewhere, having the time of my life. The same applies to all races. We enter, we try our best to train, we overcome obstacles to get to the start line, and we all feel that buzz. This is what its about, the pre-race blood rush. Bring it on!