A not so serious reflection on 2014

As I coast through the festive season, with training in a hold and maintenance plan it seems appropriate to take a look back over the year. Here are some serious and not so serious reflections.

Who the hell thought running a marathon on a volcano was a good idea?

photo: mike king copyright www.volcanomarathon.com

photo: mike king copyright www.volcanomarathon.com

I know I said this last year but; my madness would seem to know no bounds, and I have finally accepted, as have my poor husband and daughters that we are not really a conventional family unit and that eccentricity is what the McIntosh clan seems to thrive on.

I need a shelf for my bling! Who would have thought it, certainly not me.

Never, ever say ‘it is only a marathon’. It will come back to bite you.

By the way folks, just because a race is along a loch side it does not mean that it is flat. Loch Katrine entrants, be warned.

photo: colin smith photography

photo: colin smith photography

Contrary to many of my fellow runners I am not of the opinion that toe nails are overrated. Indeed they are highly underrated.  Having recklessly lost the nails off both my big toes I can categorically say that they do have a purpose in life, and I will be looking after the replacements, that have only just grown back in.

Being a race director had worked wonders for my patience. There is no limit or bounds to the bizarre and stupid questions that are asked. Take a breath and count to 10. The scary thing is, I have probably at some point asked equally stupid questions, for which I repent and apologise profusely.

I am really, really shit at predicting times: cue some interesting phone calls and discussions with race support.

Oh shit, I forgot my drop bags!

The Highland Fling is a pig of a race (sorry John). I did manage to knock an hour off my time this year, but was still in bits at Beinglas and my progress from there to the finish was not exactly a stellar performance, although on the plus I did manage to run more of the last 12 miles this year than in 2013.

My chimp apparently likes to wear red trousers and fling pine cones at people.

Carrying the Commonwealth Baton was brilliant.

I can run (sort of) for 24 hours.

Don’t shoot out at 8.30 minute miles on a marathon. Especially when it is questionable if you have ever been able to run at or sustain that pace in the first place, and especially not just 3 weeks after running 95 miles.

I apparently, really know how to show a guy a good time. Alasdair just loved hanging around a muddy field with the midges in the pouring rain, hail and thunder; and he especially liked the walking portaloos.

It is possible to use a credit card whilst asleep.

Rest and recovery are still a necessary part of the process.

That long haul flight to Chile is just as long as it was in 2013.

Air France is far superior to Iberia: champagne and the lovely Nicholas to serve it with a smile.

I did not truly know the meaning of being completely and utterly spent until a few weeks ago.

Three facts about altitude:

  • Running at altitude is incredibly hard, even if you have done some acclimatisation.

  • Hydration is a good thing especially in the desert and at altitude, and do not be surprised when you get altitude sickness if you don’t hydrate.

  • Altitude induced euphoria is the crack cocaine of endurance running. The come-down is truly horrible though.

I can survive and still function after 56 hours without sleep, but suspect that my driving skills were slightly impaired. Cue the 30 mph drive from Kinlochleven to Fort William where I was convinced I was doing about 60.

Running for 24 hours is perhaps an extreme to way to achieve the best night’s kip ever.

Never believe a runner who says ‘never again’. I am really looking forward to that kip again.

According to a recent conversation with a fellow endurance runner, we are all in fact sociopaths and if we were not out running we would probably be killing people: Alasdair would like me to keep running.

Naked Ice Bucket Challenge anyone?

I can honestly say that I can’t think of a better way to spend my non-working hours than making new friends and running around the hills and trails with them and the rest of my race family.

It has been a good year for me and in no way an anti-climax after the Antarctic achievements of 2013. I have been able to use the confidence and base fitness that gave me to increase my endurance and mileage set and reach new goals; not to mention run the hardest race ever.

Alasdair’s take on why we run: it is like banging your head off a brick wall, it is so lovely when it stops.

Happy New Year, and may 2015 see you fleet of foot and injury free to reach the goals you set yourself.