Thursday, 31 March 2016

Newtonmore minus the race

The weekend really didn’t go as planned. Simon’s foot operation was bought forward to the Friday of the Newtonmore race and entailed a long day in Edinburgh. I did manged to snatch a short run on the hills while he was under the knife in the afternoon (well, it’s not as though the surgeon was going to let me help was it?) but the actual quality of the run was debatable as I hadn’t eaten since before leaving Aberdeen that morning and so I spent the first hill cramming bananas and packets of crisps into my face and then the next 3 hills regretting that big time so I use the term “run” in its loosest possible sense. Still, it was nice to be away from the hot bright hospital ward and to get some fresh air and a little bit of adrenaline as 3 huge hairy highland cows lay across my path on the ridge. I’ve no idea how friendly these beasts are but I certainly did not want to annoy one, of course the problem being that I don’t actually know what would annoy one. I even resorted to asking one if I could take its photo. Yes, really. I hope to God that no one heard me.
Overlooking the Carnethy 5 route
The Firth of Forth
 Discretion being the better part of valour I skirted around the path from the safety of the other side of the fence although I was probably kidding myself that the thin wire fence would really provide any form of safety should I have inadvertently annoyed one of them. 
He was enjoying the view too
I was hoping that they were friendly....
On returning to the hospital I found Simon sat up in bed doing battle with a panini which he immediately tried to persuade me to eat on his behalf. I think he may have been missing the point and although I was pretty hungry again by then I did refrain from stealing the patient’s food. That would have just been plain wrong. 
The patient post-op
After another long wait and examinations by nurses and physios we were free to go, not getting to Aberdeen until nearly midnight. During the drive my legs had stiffened up probably from a mixture of tiredness, the run and dehydration so consequently by the time we reached Aberdeen we were both incapable of getting out the car. Not a good advertisement for running really.

I woke up bright and early the next morning still ever so slightly hopeful of making it to the race but a very long convoluted conversation with Simon about pasta sauce convinced me that he was still ever-so-slightly-teensy-weensy-post-anaesthetic and thus probably shouldn’t be left alone for now. Besides there was nothing in the house to eat anyway so I went and got supplies leaving everything out on the kitchen surface including the biggest array of pasta sauce imaginable, basically everything that Sainsburys stocked, just so all eventualities were covered…

By early afternoon Simon was up and about and Darcey was around to keep an eye on him so I took off for Newtonmore. Knowing that if I went straight to the hotel and checked in it would be unlikely that I would get out for a run, the temptation of the hotel bar would prove too strong, I headed for Glen Banchor. Again the first 10 minutes of the run was spent consuming food, as I hadn’t eaten since breakfast and it was now after 4pm, and the rest of the run was spent regretting it (this time it was banana and cold pizza. It’s better than it sounds) 
Glen Banchor
It felt like a long road back
I gave up after an hour of very slow running and headed back to the hotel where the others were already happily ensconced in the bar. My enquiry as to what time dinner was booked for and whether I would have time for a shower was met with blank looks and Geoff’s reply of “you weren’t here to organise us so we haven’t planned anything”. Right. Ok. I’m not sure what that says about me? Bossy cow maybe? Whatever, but the look on their poor lost wee faces was enough to bring a tear to a glass eye. A quick phone call to the local Indian carry out and everything was sorted. They had a table in their premises that could seat us all and it was a BYOB. Result! It was there that my gradual deterioration started. Hitting the red wine immediately may, in hindsight, have been a mistake. Following it up with a skin full of whisky an even bigger mistake. It certainly didn’t improve my abilities at pool nor my choice of music from the jukebox.
In the local Indian takeaway
Fierce competition.
Now its getting serious...
An instrument used for torturing Mike
I vaguely remember getting back to my room and finding water coming through the ceiling. I wasn’t so drunk as to not be able to work out from the large tour bus parked outside that the hotel was probably full and that a room change would be unlikely. I also worked out that I was probably too drunk to manage to pack everything away and move rooms should the opportunity present itself. And besides, I couldn’t be arsed. I went for the next best solution and stuck a pile of towels under the vague location of where the drip was coming from and promptly fell asleep or, more accurately, passed out fully expecting to wake up covered in a heap of soggy plaster ceiling.

The next morning having peeled my tongue from the roof of my mouth and my eyelids from my eyeballs I was delighted to find I didn’t have to peel gypsum plaster from my head and I made it out to the start of the hangover mile. I was over qualified and so my participation was limited to spectating and shouting abuse at Bert. As was most other peoples. And we call ourselves a running club?  The epic dual between Hamish and Bert, both who looked fit to die on the spot, added to the spice of the race and general hilarity. I lasted as long as it took for a fit of alcohol withdrawal shivers to set in and promptly bolted back to the hotel for a hangover busting fry up.
The condemned man...
The sick, injured and can't be arsed...
An interesting mid race obstacle
Heading to the finish
I didn’t quite feel in a competent enough state to actually drive home after breakfast and so Bert and I ventured up to the summit of a nearby hill Geal Charn (not to be confused with the Munro of the same name in the same mountain range) At 2916ft it is just shy of being a Munro but I suspect whether it is a Corbett or not depends of the amount of drop around each side so I’ve no idea if this one is classed as a Corbett but combined with the soggy terrain, the previous night’s alcohol and general fatigue it felt like Mount Everest at times.  It was a bit of a soggy, cold slog underfoot most of the way broken up by even soggier river crossings and even colder falls through patches of snow until the summit was reached and I know it really is the oldest cliché in the book but it really was worth it for the view. We had lunch at a spot sheltered by a pile of rocks overlooking Newtonmore from high above and after discussing various route options we decided to play it safe and go back the way we had come but not without looking slightly wistfully at the surrounding hills and the opportunities presented by them but all to be saved for another day.

Frog! There were loads of them all over the path in the valley
A room with a view
Signing the visitors book
The bothy

Lunch spot over looked Newtonmore....

and Glen Banchor

The snow was deep in patches. Maybe i should have offered to help him out...?

There was lots of green swampy stuff
He bought 3 suitcases of clothes yet no gaiters or walking trousers..