I honestly love the Skyline race, I’ve done it 3 times before and really enjoyed it. But it is a bit of an unforgiving beast and on Sunday it chewed me up and spat me out before I was even half way round. This was a shame as I had trained hard and was hoping to better my PB of 2 years ago and get around in 3.45 or so. Maybe that was one of the issues – having a fairly fixed idea in my head of how I wanted the race to go.
The night before I was wracked by anxiety dreams. These involved running a strange version of Glen Ogle ultra where I slogged up endless long ascents while having a massive fight with my husband and frantically searching for my missing son. I woke up completely baffled and in a pool of sweat. Being peri-menopausal really is the gift that keeps on giving.
I was chatting to another runner while we were waiting before the start about the joys of PMS and how much of an impact it can have on one’s running. I think I was grumbling a bit about it being difficult nowadays to even predict where I might be in my increasingly erratic cycle and she mentioned that she usually knows that that special monthly time is approaching when she starts planning to divorce her husband.
“That’s funny” I thought “I really wanted to divorce Mark only last weekend”. I’ll point out here don’t really want to divorce my poor husband and in fact I think he probably deserves some kind of long service award for putting up with me. However I confess that the dark thoughts had entered my mind while we were having a faintly disastrous attempt at Child Free Time (why on earth did we think 4 days away camping in Glencoe together would work anyway?). The planned 4 days were curtailed to 2 after a hysterical phone call from the son on our first night. Day 2 we embarked on a walk which due to my total over-estimation of my husband’s physical condition resulted in his losing his balance repeatedly on a slippery descent into Glen Etive in torrential rain (he loathes walking in the rain), falling over several times, breaking his brand new walking poles and having a massive sense of humour failure. I probably shouldn’t have laughed at him when he fell over for the final time.
So anyway, back to the Skyline where I optimistically started further up the pack than usual to try and avoid being caught up in the log jam going up Caerketton. This worked a treat and Strava informs me that this was the fastest that I have ever gone up that particular hill. I was rewarded by an overwhelming sense of impending doom, screaming legs, shortness of breath and a massive attack of The Boak. Still the first mile of a hill race is usually ghastly but things ease off once you are into your stride. Except they didn’t. I carried on, feeling nauseous and my legs seemed to belong to a ninety year old. It all felt like incredibly hard work to maintain a pace that I would normally find reasonably bearable. By Flotterstone I was starting to feel very ticked off and the prospect of going up Turnhouse didn’t improve my mood. Cathy Henly overtook me, looking as cheerful as always. “I feel DREADFUL” I moaned at her and she gave me the very good advice that I should maybe ease back and concentrate on just getting round and having fun. But things had progressed way beyond that and my mood was past the stage of being salvaged by positive thinking.
I tried to eat going up Turnhouse but couldn’t keep anything down, started having cold sweats and my internal dialogue was getting very sweary indeed. Thoughts of giving up crystalised and took a hold of my mind. “F*ck this shit” I muttered to myself “I want to go home”. Another runner that I would normally beat easily bounced past and I had an overwhelming urge to wrestle him to the ground and beat his happy smiling cheerful face to a pulp.
Going up Carnethy the game was over and all I could think about was sitting down on the cairn at the top and ending this misery. The final straw was near the summit when a couple of young sprightly lasses from the Edinburgh Uni runners came leaping down with swishy pony tails giving all of us words of encouragement. They were going pretty fast so i am sure that they were safely out of earshot when I venomously replied “Just f*cking f*ck the f*ck off the pair of you”.
I retired at the top of Carnethy and had a nice wee lie down for a bit. The marshal there very kindly leant me a spare top to put on and offered me a lift back to the start. What a gent. I handed myself in back at the start and had my wristband removed, then drove home, hoovered up all the chocolate I could find then went to bed and slept for two hours. My period started the next day.