“Enjoy it and don’t over do it.”
Oh well. One out of two ain’t bad.
Today was always going to be long. 21 miles long, including the section of the way that is generally acknowledged to be the hardest. Those 21 miles split neatly into three pretty much equal sections: Balmaha to Rowardennan, Rowardennan to Inversnaid and Inversnaid to Inverarnen.
Balmaha to Rowardennan was lovely. Lots of runnable flats and downs, easily hikeable ups, trees, glimpses of the loch, and lots of wiggles to keep it interesting. It also had the benefit of a couple of familiar faces, as I overhauled two groups who’d been staying at the same place in Balmaha.
In fact, it was so lovely, that by Rowardennan, I was utterly convinced that I was a super-fit running goddess …
… and I decided to stick in a teeny weeny little detour up Ben Lomond.
Eight miles and three and a half hours later, with a few spectacular views committed to memory, I was a teeny weeny little bit less convinced about my super-fit running goddessness.
After a short break in Rowardennan, primarily to recharge my Garmin, I headed on. The winding path was replaced with a vehicle track, long drags up, long runnable downs, a yet another face from the previous evening. And then, three miles on from Rowardennan, the runnable terrain evaporated. Benign tracks morphed into misshapen rocks, trip hazards proliferated and runnable stretches came in ten second bites. Run a bit, pause to cross a stream, run a bit, stop to squeeze around a tree, run a bit, stop to pick your way over a rocky section, run a bit, walk a steep up, run a bit, pick your way down a perilous down. By the time I reached the waterfall at Inversnaid, I’d have paid good money for a teleport button. Unfortunately, the hotel was all out of stock, so I had to content myself with two cold drinks and a veggie burger.
By the time I’d regrouped, it was half four, and I still had seven miles ahead of me. I set off, thinking that wasn’t too bad – twenty minute miling would have me at the hotel before seven. I hadn’t bargained on the terrain. I don’t think I managed to run a step for the next four miles. I barely managed to walk a step, to be honest. My hands became acquainted with rocks and trees, my backside was pressed into service on more than a couple of the steeper, rockier descents, and I began to wonder whether I’d have to retrieve my head torch from my backpack.
Not quite. The final three miles eased off, though runnable stretches were still only seconds long, and I finally made it to the hotel at half past seven.
Did I over do it? Possibly.
Am I an idiot? Probably.
Did I enjoy it? Definitely. Especially when I discovered that the hotel served the very meal that I’d spent the last couple of miles dreaming of, and a sticky toffee pudding the size of a house.