Skip to main content

Fort William Marathon: The Best Kept Secret in Racing

Earlier this year I had been training hard for the Limassol Marathon, through ice and sleet and snow, only to have what I considered a disappointing race. I struggled to recover mentally, but I knew I had another race on the horizon...the Fort William Marathon. This event was my first marathon back in July 2015, shortly after the family made the move to London. The main difference this time, though, was that we're three kids lighter with Michael and the twins all back in the US for some time with their friends.

I hadn't thought much about running this race again until Chris, the race organizer, reached out to me to offer me a complimentary spot. This was incredibly generous and given how much I liked the race the first time, there was no way I was going to refuse. Granted, Chris made this offer well before the race in Cyprus.

The posts-Limassol blues stuck around for much longer than I'd expected. I was really down on myself, questioning why I put in the effort and the training and the time. I've been fortunate to have done well achieving my athletic goals throughout my life, and Cyprus was the first massive let down I'd had in a long time.

I trudged on with training anyway, hating every day of it. The physical part of the training was going just fine, in fact, I was getting faster, yet mentally I just couldn't shake my disappointment. On May 27, I had a 150 minute long run on the plan and headed out before 9am for a loop down to Walton Bridge and back. The route down to Walton Bridge is mind-numbing. Long, boring stretch of road, especially when it's hot and your headphones die. I made it down to the bridge, stopped to fill up my water and headed back along the river. I was struggling, badly. I had to stop a few times, then before I got back to Hampton Court, I had a seizure.

I'm used to these by now, so I wasn't terribly alarmed. This one really took the juice out of me though. I stopped to let it pass, then slowly started again, making it to Bushy Park before calling it quits and walking the remaining two miles to home. Sad, dejected, unmotivated, I considered skipping the Fort William Marathon. Before making that decision, I knew I had to take a break. Finally I convinced myself to get the much needed rest my body was asking for.

For the next couple of weeks, I substituted cycling for running to keep up my fitness. That helped and I was able to get back into some form of training; I never got fully back into the swing of marathon training. I was enjoying the cross-training and kept with it. I still did my long runs, knowing that this wouldn't be a PB course and that I could finish with minimal training. I was ready when race day came around.

Having been here three years ago, I was familiar with the course. It's mostly trail running, but not too technical, with some road running mixed in. This year there were probably around 500 runner taking place (there were about 300 in 2015 if I recall correctly).

Waiting to start
The course will always be my favorite, despite it's difficulty. The views are simply spectacular and provide excellent distraction from the pain of running a marathon.

The first three miles are pretty much all uphill, so pacing is critical at the start. Go out too fast, and this course will eat you alive!

When you finally hit some roads, it's mostly a long, steady downhill passing sheep and staring at Scotland's beauty.

Then it's back on the trails before arriving at Spean Bridge, where we were staying and Beth and Henry were waiting for a hug and a high-five!

After exiting the trails at the Commando Memorial, you head back onto the roads until you get to River Lochy.

The route follows River Lochy for what seems forever (it's a long, straight river with not much to look at) and this is when it started to rain, but at least it wasn't hot.

After passing Neptune's Staircase, you get to hang out with the Hairy Coos...they make me smile every time I see them.

The most brutal part of the course is the last 4.5 miles, back up the hill to the starting point at Nevis Range. While brutal, at least you're back to enjoying the views, all the while trying to ignore the pain in your hips and quads.

I made it! 3:44:48 (unofficial) with a new course PB. Most importantly, I enjoyed it! It's absolutely a race I would do again. I would like to thank Chris and all of the race staff and volunteers for another fantastic experience. You know how to make every runner feel like they're the most important person there.


Popular posts from this blog

No more trips to Vietnam

Well, last week was a big week for me. I decided to leave FCG and return to work for Coca-Cola Enterprises. I had been talking with the people I know at CCE since late last year about working with them and they finally had a position open up a couple of weeks ago. I'm excited to go back there and work on the business side of the company versus the IT side. I start on Apri l16. I will be working in the Revenue Management Department as the Forecasting & Planning Manager. Essentially I will be the business process owner, facilitator, and coordinator of all forecasting and planning activities within the company. That involves working with all of the regional and corporate business units to ensure that the tools and related processes are thoroughly integrated across finance, revenue management, supply chain, logistics and sales. I will also be responsible for managing all of the support tools and solutions, so I still get to be a Project Manager. This is a big job with lo

Saigon Walking Tour

I was going to put the picture of me with the two Thai twins here, but I thought that'd probably not be the best idea. David, Jeff, Scott & I went on a walking tour of Saigon Saturday. Our goal was to hit as many of the historical places as possible. This will probably come as no shock to most of you, but I was the tour organizer. The pictures from our tour can be see here . - Hotel Continental: Built in the French colonial days, this was a common meeting place for journals and diplomats during the Vietnam War. - Nha Hat Thanh Pho (Municipal Theatre): Built in 1899 as Saigon's Opera House, it later served as the National Assembly (Congress) of South Vietnam until 1975 when it became a theatre again. - Nha Tho Duc Ba (Notre Dame Cathedral): Built in 1880 by the French on the site of an old fort, this is still an active Catholic church. - The Virgin Mary: This is the statue of that was reportedly seen crying. - Buu Dien Trung Tam (Central Post Office): Built by the F

Double Chocolate Chip Dream Cookies

If you love chocolate, these are the cookies for you. The name says it all...Double Chocolate Chip Dream Cookies. Indeed, they are a dream! It takes about 10 minutes to make the batter, then eight minutes to cook. You can be eating these in less time than it takes to watch an episode of The Office. To make them vegan:  Use 1/4 cup of applesauce (from Whole Foods in the UK) for each egg Replace the butter with margarine (make sure it's stick margarine) Use dark chocolate chips (you can get a 2KG bag of chocolate chips at Costco).  Unlike last time, when I used tub margarine and melted it too much, use stick margarine and let it come to room temperature to soften. This made a HUGE difference.  They're super delicious! Enjoy!