Well… what can I say about the Barrathon? What a well organised and great event. There were 250 finishers this year and I knew 15 of them, and had good chats with another 6 who I didn’t know on the run itself. It was a record breaking amount of people, and the event sold out in less than an hour I think…. I’m glad I managed to get my entry in!
I left Glasgow on the Friday, got in the car with 3 crazy ladies (Jackie, Tina and Cat) and a small boy (Cat’s son Lee) and got driven to Oban. On the Ferry from Oban we met up with others we knew who were travelling there. All in all I knew about 20 people on the boat and about 16 of us were there to run! 7 hours travelling, 2 in the car and 5 on the boat.
THE FERRY RIDE THERE
The Ferry from Oban to Barra goes up the Sound of Mull. Special to me as it’s where my Granny lived (Lochaline, looking over to Mull) and where she is buried now. Even though the weather wasn’t the best it was nice to sail up the Sound and look over to where she’s resting. To get to my Granny’s you need to go to Fort William and then travel another hour or so on single track roads, so it’s a bit of a journey. A journey I haven’t taken for many years.
My best friend Rhona’s parents Tony and Libby were on the boat (Tony was doing the run, as was Rhona and her brother Sandy) and they know the area well. So Libby was able to point out Lochaline to me. The weather wasn’t the best on Friday, but I was able to see my Granny’s house and where she was buried. I phoned my Aunt who still lives there as I was sailing past. A nice wee start to the trip.
On race day, the weather threatened to be horrible. It looked hellish from the window of where we were staying. We were booked into the hostel which lucky for us was right on the start line! By the race start time of 10:30am it had brightened up and it wasn’t as bad as we feared it might be.
At 10:30am we all went outside for a group photo before the start:
I wore my Scotland flag cape and was dressed up like I don’t know what… a vision of purple, blue and white. I carried my water pack under the flag and wore my arm warmers and a couple of sweat bands too. I wore my Saucony Paramounts and my white cap to keep any rain off.
My flag got a few comments… one of which was a question asking if I supported the SNP… no… I’m just wearing the Scotland flag to be patriotic… why do people bring politics in? And another guy asked if he could hang on for me to pull him up a hill. I enjoyed wearing it anyway and it wasn’t too annoying in the wind.
MY RACE STRATEGY
My idea for a race strategy was to ‘run and have fun’ – and I did. I started at the back with my friends, Jackie, Tina, Cat, Shona and Hazel among others… and after we started I dropped back to run with Rhona for a bit, and with her Dad Tony for a bit. The plan was to hang back with my friends and have a laugh, but after a first mile at 9:30… my legs decided I wanted a bit more.
Before the start I’d taken 2 pro plus so perhaps they were kicking in… but as the inspirational (66 year old and still running) Shona described I ‘changed gear and took off’.
My strategy changed from ‘run to have fun’, to ‘run to have fun and run comfortably fast’. I was aware of my heart rate which was hovering around 170 or so (90%), and it was creeping up each hill I climbed up.
I started passing lots of people and before I knew it I was at the start of the first big hill at mile 5. I passed a few people I knew, then met up with Steve and his wife Vanessa (from Dundee) I had a good chat with them, then ploughed on ahead.
I was conscious to be careful and not overdo it so at mile 6 as I caught up with a lady called Rhonda, I decided I would hang with her for a bit and chat to her. At mile 7 I pushed on and spoke to a guy called Tom. He’d done it last year and he said there were no more hills until the last big one.
Believing him, I pushed on again, only to find a bit of a steep hill at mile 8. I chewed it up and spat it out before catching up with Wallace and Louise at around mile 9 or 10 just before the big hill. I started the long climb up the last hill which was a killer!
I took on a SIS caffeine gel at 5 miles and 9 miles in and felt that my energy and hydration plan worked well. I only took water from a station once where I filled my cap up and put it back on my head … what a relief for a warm head!
The route is good, a single and dual track road, undulating with around 3 big hills on it. What goes up must come down so as much as the hills were hard the coming down the other side was great fun!
The first hill was at 5 miles in, then 8, then 10.5 miles in. I met a guy called Charlie on the first hill and I joked with him that he could push me up the hill.
Whilst he didn’t physically push me up the hill, we ran together and seemed to help each other up it I think. Charlie went off ahead and I met him again at the last hill, where we did the same. He managed to keep his pace a bit more than I did at the top and he went over the brow of the hill ahead of me.
I managed to run almost at the top, then with my heart rate at 184 (97%), I felt a very odd sensation and heard an odd sound from my throat like there was a frog living in it…so I decided it would be sensible to walk the last 30 seconds or so of the hill. I’ve no idea what it was, but my body was clearly telling me to take it a bit easier than I was!
I recovered a little, then started my descent… 5 minute mile pace down the hill into Castlebay. It was great fun. I just let go and let my body relax and my legs stretch out in front of me… letting gravity take me.
Charlie on the other hand seemed to be holding back so I flew passed him and said hello again. Near the bottom of the hill I felt a slight cramp in my calf so I decided to calm it a little. One more small hill into the village and I was nearly home.
I finished in 1:45:51 on my Garmin… and I was surprised to find that I was 5th lady and 2nd in my age group! I’d started at the back with no clear strategy, then decided to pick up the pace a bit and finished strongly. I even managed a negative split: 8:10 for the first half, 8:00 for the second half (with the big hill)!
After I finished I took on some more water and had a mars bar and banana. I stretched, walked about and hung around with my camera and got snaps of everyone coming in. I stood about a quarter of a mile away from the finish line and ran each one of my friends in before they went down the slight hill to the finish line.
Then after a few more photos, I went and got a (cold!) shower and a change. I couldn’t get the shower to go hot, so I had to suffer a cold one! Arg! A quick change and I went off to the well renowned BUFFET! But I couldn’t face it!
It was around 2 or 3pm and I just couldn’t face eating. So I got myself a big carton of chocolate milk and some water to see if I could maybe stave off any pain I might get.
After the buffet there was a prize giving in the hall. As I had managed to come in 2nd in my age group I was one of the first women to go up. I got a nice crystal glass with the Barrathon and castle in the bay engraved on it. I also got a bottle of red wine… wasted on me so I gave it to Jackie for being her.
I felt quite overwhelmed by it all and went to take a bit of time out on my own to reflect and relax before the evening kicked in. I wrapped up warm, lay down at the waters edge and looked at some of my photos. It really was a great day and a great event.
We didn’t get t-shirts, but we did get an individual race report which was good – a really good momento of the weekend. And there was the option to buy Barrathon gear (t-shirts and sweatshirts) if we wanted.
My friend Rhona had arranged that we (12 of us) went along to one of the only Restaurants in Castlebay for 6pm. It was an Indian / Italian… and I was in a bit of a quandary about what to have. The last time I had an Indian it didn’t agree with me and I said I’d never have one again… but then I didn’t really fancy pasta which was the only other option on the menu. I really fancied a steak but they didn’t have any. So I opted for Lamb Korma… and had some ice cream for afters.
The ceilidh was great fun, and whilst I’m afraid I didn’t go up to dance… it was nice seeing everyone enjoying themselves and seeing all of my friends up dancing, drinking and having fun. I caught up with friends and had some good chats. It was a really good end to the night. I stayed up until 2:30am chatting and really enjoyed myself. Happy Lorn.
THE TRIP HOME
I was up early on Sunday, after only around 4 hours of sleep, but I felt fine. No hangover of course, and my legs were ok too. I think the euphoria of the day before hadn’t worn off yet so I was feeling good. The weather was better than it had been, less cloud and no rain for once.
We got on the ferry just after 9am and once again I dotted between people I knew, chatting through our experience. I also chatted to some people I’d met on the day and didn’t really take any time to chill out. It was good to be chatting so many friends, old and new.
Before we left I had some Weetabix, then on the boat I decided a full breakfast would be a good idea. I think I felt hungover in fact! Although not as hung over as some of my friends! And I didn’t seem to be as sore as them either – result!
I chatted with Steve who I’d met on the run for a bit, and when I left him, I realised we would be coming up towards Lochaline again (where my Granny is). I went up top deck to have a look. The sun was warm up there, and it was much clearer than it had been on Friday. I borrowed someone’s binoculars and could clearly see my Granny’s house and where she’s at rest. I could look over at Mull and the view she had from her house. The sky was blue with massive clouds coming over Mull. Very moving and I hope I made my Granny proud.
The cost of the actual event wasn’t too much: £22 (incl Runnersworld fee of £2) plus £6 for the Ceilidh. Excellent value for money.
However there were costs on top, but it wasn’t too bad as we all chipped in:
Ferry return: £27.20
Accommodation: £35 (Hostel for two nights)
Around £130 all in all, and well worth it.
THE RECOERY AND THE PAIN
Two days later, my calves are still sore. I seemed ok on Sunday and was still full of energy. Then on Monday the DOMS kicked in and I was almost falling asleep during the day! I got a good sleep on Monday night and by Tuesday I was getting back to normal. I didn’t really do much speedwork before the half, and did a few long runs before it, hence the reason I think my legs were a bit sore afterwards.
I’m going to take around 2 weeks off any specific training and only do my running coaching and perhaps a few other activities next week. I don’t have anything specific to train for so I might just try and see about getting a good balance between running, gym work, circuits, swimming and rest days. The next few weeks I’m going to try to ‘eat smart’ and see what happens.
Here are my stats for the Barrathon 2012:
Barrathon: 13.1 miles, 1:45:51, Pace: 8:05, Calories:
Ave HR: 170 (90%), Max HR: 185 (97% at the top of the last hill), Garmin Training Effect: 5.0
Garmin Time: 1:45:51
Official Race Result time (started at the back): 1:46:23
Garmin Stats: http://connect.garmin.com/player/194724758
Place out of 250 runners: 50th (top 20%)
Place out of 96 women: 5th (top 5%)
Place in my age group (17-34): 2nd (top 7%)
Average Pace: 8:05
First half Pace: 8:10
Second half Pace: 8:00
Negative split details: first half: 53:28, second half: 52:23
Best Pace: 5:18 (down the last hill…weeeeeeeee!)
3 big hills: 5 miles, 8 miles, 12 miles! (monster!)
I had so much fun I think I’d like to go back next year – infact I might just make it my event of the year next year. The uphills were challenging, and the downhills were great fun. The crowd of people who were there with me really did make it special and the event was brilliant: small, well organised and a full weekend on one of Scotland’s lovely islands.
You can see some more photos here: Facebook Photos of Barrathon 2012