Loch Ness Marathon and October running update

Loch Ness marathon has been on my bucket list for some time and when the entries opened for this year I was one of the first to sign up. We made a weekend of it and traveled to Inverness on the Friday night. 

Staying a short walk from the finish line, which is also the park for the local parkrun meant Saturday morning my daughter and I collected our letter I on one of the flattest parkruns I think I have ever done before collecting my race number.

An early start on Sunday morning for race day. The race is a point to point race so the start line is 26 miles away and as a result coaches are arranged to transport you to the start. There are plenty of porta loos at the finish line, which is where you collect the bus from, and getting on the bus was straight forward. Once on you instantly try to get a little bit of sleep or rest as the early morning and windy roads begin to take their toll on all the runners.

We arrived in what can only be described as the middle of no where. Open Scottish highland, the wind blowing and the rain coming down. It was freezing. We joined a queue, turned out it was a queue for free tea. We joined another queue, this one was for the toilet. Just over an hour of queuing in the cold and all our joints had frozen but it was finally time to start. 

The bagpipes played and the race was underway, the Proclaimers playing 500 miles started pouring out the sound system and I crossed the start line. The pace was comfy but it was ever so crowded that it was difficult to get into a proper stride and relax into it. A downhill came but it was hard to capitalise on it and instead I just held back and ran as best I could.

The course profile on line looks to be downhill for the first half, then flat with a few bumps followed by a hill at mile 18 before descending into Inverness at mile 21. I can tell you now that this is all lies. The whole course is undulating and by that I mean hilly. Short sharp and little nasty hills that just zap your energy. Just as you have recovered another one approaches. My legs ached, but my word the scenery was beautiful.

Mile 17 and we hit a beautiful village with loads of support and I knew the big hill was coming. My right leg was cramping up and it was beginning to feel very tight, almost like a rubber band about to snap. I stopped to stretch and try and ease it off. It worked but then the hill came, and the hill kept going and this did not help. Instead my leg got more and more painful and so I knew I had to run and walk so as to not cause myself injury.

Not the race I had wanted but I knew that even doing this I was on for a PB, and figured this was a great achievement. The last few miles once you hit the Tesco feel like they go on forever. The support from here is fantastic and the worst part is you run past the finish on the other side of the River Ness. 

Crossing that bridge and coming into the home straight was such a relief. A PB was on the cards and a sub 4.30. My kids were in the crowd cheering me on and as I crossed the line I felt so much relief. I had finished.

Loch Ness marathon is incredibly well organised and there are sections of support which are fantastic. I can safely say it is the most beautiful marathon I have ever done and would love to do it again. I would however train more on the hills to get used to the undulation of the course and I would highly recommend taking some warm trousers and a top which you can leave at the start line as it is a long wait early in the morning on the exposed Scottish Highlands!

After the marathon my right leg was incredibly sore and my left ankle. I attempted a recovery run the week after but both my ankle and leg were far too painful so I abandoned the run. Another run a week later resulted in even more pain so I decided the best plan was to rest before New York and not attempt to run again in October. 

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