The sheep left and right of the road were mostly still asleep, when I made my way to Portree today at dawn.
I arrived in good time to get the registration done and do some warming up, before 700 people walked behind the pipe band towards the start. That band later, but not much later, appeared on the roadside around mile five, how they could run that fast with their kilts and instruments had me in awe for a split second.
Right before the start I had heard someone say “Oh aye, that one’s gonne be brutal” to acknoledging nods from his friends. When the signal came a few teams in matching kit took the lead and dashed off. The first few km were steady uphill, not too steep though. The conditions were great, barely any wind and cloudy skies, not too hot and mostly dry.
I managed to hold a good pace without exhausing myself for the first 10k. After that I thought it possible to finish under 90mins and found a challenging few guys to chase. At one point I remembered “If you’re suffering, the others are too, it’s about who can handle that better”, a good old cp piece of wisdom. And it worked. I overtook quite a few runners on the final 5k and in all modesty will admit that it feals great to chase a pack of team-kit athlethes and manage to outrun them and leave them behind for good.
Later the certainty of getting a great time fired me up even more. The final 3k were mainly downhill, I held a pace of around 3:45 until the finish line, where the pipe band had rematerialized, claps and cheers and good few dozen high fives over the fence on the last 200m helped overcome aching legs and a racing heart pretty well. After little to no dedicated training sessions lately, I’m more than chuffed with how it went (22nd in 86min), and I really enjoyed it.
I arrived home just after three, with one last part missing in my highland Triathlon of the day*. I would have much preferred to just stay in, but as I had a ticket already, I went to Inverness after dinner.
The few times I’ve been to the Ironworks before it has never been that full. The audience was a good mix of people, with the majority way beyond their teens (in fact closer to centenary for many). What had been kilts and daggers a few weeks ago, now was Converse, Doc Martens and the odd Mohican.
I won’t fully blame it on the day, but being squashed and trapped between bad breath from the left (sometimes in stereo) and elbows from the right, while tired and completely sober, was no joy. The band went on just after nine. On a different night I might have stayed and jumped around a bit. The songs were unfamiliar, the music was good enough though, but for some reason the performance did not catch me, either I was not “in the flow”, or it was really completely unauthentic. Half and hour in and I was back out in the fresh air again, not before I finished my Irn Bru to keep me going back across the firths.
* 6hrs in the car, 90mins on the run, 30mins at the gig
PS: I found a pic of meself flying past the finish line in this article (5th from the bottom).