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  • Stacey McGowan Holloway

Ding Ding! The Highland Fling!

Back in Glasgow and the past 3 days have been devoted to the taper, race preparation and recovering from our final Scotland adventure (camper-vanning around Skye). Here we will go over the race preparation we have undergone for the Fling. Bare in mind this is our fist ultramarathon so we are not sure what will work for us.

The basis of the preparation is from my past experience as a coxswain preparing for regattas. Some nutrition tips I have picked up from coxing lightweight rowers and the rest is what we know works for us from experience cycling long bike rides and Max’s experience as an athlete.

Timeline

I do not leave anything to chance! As a coxswain there are two reasons to have a timeline from the moment you meet to travel to your destination, to race de-brief. First, knowing what is expected will minimize misunderstanding, indecision and confrontation (tensions can get tight in the lead up to race and limiting possible confrontations is important – we have been experiencing this!!) and second, the timeline can be a useful tool for visualization. A race timeline should include:

  1. Plan every step from the day before to the day after the race

  2. Know public transport and alternative routes

  3. Check the weather and plan accordingly

  4. Plan check in and check out of accommodation and know where and when food is available. Ask your hotel if you need something.

  5. Know race registration requirements and times, know race numbers and have mandatory kit.

  6. Plan how to get to the start and how the race will start

  7. Organize food and plan food you know works for you

  8. Do not try anything new

Drop bags

Kit and nutrition, all in a mess!


The Fling has four checkpoints where we can pick up drop bags.

Water

All the checkpoints have water available. We will both carry at least 600ml of water with us and pick up an extra disposable drink at each checkpoint with either electrolytes added or with a pre-mixed protein powder (we have found consuming protein during pro-longed exercise as well as after helps recovery). The final checkpoint is 12 miles from the finish so we have extra bottles to pick up at this point.

Food

The 3 days prior to race day we have changed our diet, Stacey is dairy free for these 3 days and we both switch to eating white foods instead of wholemeal. We have taken iron supplements and are making sure we eat enough so we do not need to stuff ourselves full the day before! It can be a struggle to eat during the taper, so we are subtly adding calories to our meals through adding seeds, nuts and fruit to meals.

Breakfast at 4.30am on race day is going to be a struggle. Stacey is planning a Trek bar, chocolate soya milk and a banana. Max will try eat the same, but also an instant porridge with nut butter.

We have planned to eat every hour to hour and a half in the race, with an average calorie intake of 200kcals, but up to 400kcals at checkpoints. This food is mostly ‘real’ food (bean burritos, jam sandwiches, Ryvitta with cashew nut butter and Max’s homemade energy bars) until the last 16 miles where it is predominately gels as we anticipate struggling to eat at this point. In the final 12 miles I will have gels with caffeine, however, she is mentally prepared for them to disrupt her sleep. Max has a strict caffeine ban currently.

Race plan

Stacey hopes to finish the race in around 13 hours and to make the first check point cutoff she needs to average 4 miles an hour. Below is her rough time plan, though it is more for peace of mind and to know where she is throughout the day (BOLD = checkpoints). As we have walked the entire course we have a much better insight into where we will be slower and where our demons are likely to set in.MileMarkerTimeNotes0Start6.15amApprox. time7Distillery10Road b4 Drymen8.15amIf early, slow down13DRYMEN 20BALMAHA11am 27ROWARDENNAN12.30pmCut off = 1pm31Low road rejoins34INVERSNAID2.30pmPositive thoughts here38DuoneMusic if needed41BEINGLAS4.30pmCut off = 5.30pm50A827pmCut off = 8.30pm53TYNDRUM7.30pmBus home @9pm

As long as Max has no problems from his previous foot injury it is anticipated he can run a sub 12 hour race. Though he will have similar time goals as Stacey up to Conic hill at around 10am.

Recovery

Firstly, CELEBRATE! It is so easy to focus on the negative things that happen in our lives and forget to celebrate the positive. So we will take the time to celebrate the moment and the achievement.

Finisher bags

We get food on the finish line (as well as beer and a bottle of champagne), but in our bags we will also have,

  1. Protein shakes

  2. Ice spray

  3. Compression clothing

  4. Warm clothing

  5. Bin bag

  6. Trainers

  7. Towel and shower gel

  8. Charger packs to re-charge our phones

  9. FOOD (Stacey has a pizza)

We plan to de-brief together on the bus – carry the positives, acknowledge and then forget the negatives.

Anyway that is our plan! We had our last run on Monday, 10km on the racecourse. Mainly just banking sleep as do not expect to sleep much after tonight until Sunday night. All to do now is to run.

Good luck to all the runners, and a pre-emptive thank you to all the marshals.

Ding Ding!

#westhighlandway #running #HighlandFling #Scotland #planning #race #nutrition #ultrarunning #raceprep