This post should really be entitled ‘My preparations for running the West Highland Way’ but ’96 miles of madness’ seems more apt somehow. It is a long way, as everyone I mention it to points out. And it’s a bit disconcerting when people gasp and/or grimace, even more so when they say things like ‘Are you INSANE?!’
Ho-hum, what can I say? I’ve committed to doing this or, as my darling brother (see below) used to say, you should be committed… It’s for a good cause and, all being well, it won’t do me any harm either.
I’ve trained as well as I can. I’ve ran a LOT, building up my mileage and stamina week on week (occasionally to the chagrin of my partner, who says things like ‘What, you’re running again?’) I’ve bored my friends with my one-track mind – apologies, lovely pals, normal service and champagne consumption will resume soon. Hell, I’ve made my own eyes glaze over obsessing about trail shoes, water bladders, minimizing weight (to carry), maximizing weight (my own as a reserve to burn off on the run) and generally stressing about whether I can actually do this.
I can, I can, I can, I think most of the time. Except for those times when I imagine every one of those 96 miles and get sort of rigid with fear. It was only when I felt my breathing grew shallow when I was out (running, of course – ‘feet on the ground time’ as a former athlete friend calls it), that I realized the stress was getting to me. But it’s just a run, I decided. A long one, for sure (OK, a very, very long one) but we’ve given ourselves time to complete it. It’s more or less a marathon a day but that’s OK. If Eddie Izzard can do it, so can I. Probably.
Now that I’m tapering (running less, eating right, preparing psychologically), I’m starting to look forward it. I’m running with my friend, Sarah, a West Highland forager, who’s well used to the rigours of west coast running (plus, given her talents we shouldn’t go short of food if we run out of energy gels).
I say, ‘Do we have sunscreen?’
Sarah laughs. ‘It’s Scotland!’ she says.
‘OK, do we have insect repellent.’
‘We can outrun the midges.’
I pay a sneaky visit to Boots for supplies before I set off for her place.
The run will take four days. Our three overnight stops are booked in advance (two hostels and friend of Sarah’s). We’ve posted supplies ahead so we don’t have to carry too much. At each stop we’ll each find:
1 pair of knickers
1 Poundshop toothbrush
1 face cream sample
1 old t-shirt to sleep in
1 pack of instant porridge
1 caffeine kick (coffee for me, tea for Sarah)
4 energy gels
2 protein bars
1 hydrating drink powders (these last 3 items all for the next day’s running)
We won’t have a scrap of make up with us, which feels strangely liberating (though I suspect Sarah will have stashed some red lipstick for the home straight).
I’ll be tweeting en route from @veggierunnersUK when I have a signal and blogging here when I have the energy. In the meantime, you should know why I’m doing this. Every penny, cent, dollar or dime helps and will make me feel less alone/unhinged. Thank you
You can donate to Macmillan Cancer Care here.
It’s almost 20 years since Mark, lovely brother to me, wonderful uncle to Bibi, died of cancer. Our family coped with the trauma of his death with the support of Macmillan nurses, who cared for him – and us – at home.
We’re running lots this year to remember Mark and to say thank you to Macmillan. First up, I’m running the West Highland Way, a 96-mile run that starts near Ben Nevis and ends up in Glasgow (no one can say I don’t like a challenge!) It will take four days and three nights – the mini-break from hell, or heaven, depending on how it goes…
Life’s not tidy so, if you can, please donate in random sums – get the kids to calculate 7p a mile, empty your piggy bank and send that with no rounding up, give the first figure that comes into your head… I’m not setting a target (except for surviving 96 miles!) – I’ll just be glad to know that you spared some change to help Macmillan continue their fantastic work.
Here’s the donations link again in case you missed it earlier.