Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Supporting A Pirate

December 2012 with the aid of Dale Jamieson DW decides to set about doing some proper training. This is a bit of a revelation, as in all the time we've been together he's managed the sum total of three 20 mile training runs and reaching The Devils and 2 twenty mile training runs reaching Bridge of Orchy.
Most people will know that we met on this race. Our virgin years no less. Me a lowly marshal him a strapping London Fire Fighter. Well, being late for the checkpoint won't endear you to the marshal and most likely get kicked out the race, right? OK I was a soft touch and let him carry on. He finished that year. Supported by a bevy of equally strapping London Fire Fighters who had all been well bevied the night before. He has two more finishes under his belt to boot.

The training consisted of a mixed bag of running, core work and stretching. Christmas brought gifts of thera bands, foam roller and all sorts of weird and wonderful accessories mentioned in the 'Plan'

Winter turned to spring and the training continued. Long runs on days off and rendezvous with Martin Hooper the Para Trooper were regular occurrences. Things were looking good. The occasional bout of dodgy back weren't a great worry as there was loads in the bank already.
My birthday celebrations got in the way of training for a bit. But if motivation was needed it was about to kick in with boots on. The night of my 40th bash (thank you everyone) I had a guest of honour. Fiona Rennie had only recently been discharged from hospital following surgery to treat her cancer. That night she asked DW if he would wear her number on race day. Mild panic set in and to say he was apprehensive doesn't come close. Fiona is a legend in her own lifetime and a very good friend. Motivation? Absolutely. Pressure to succeed? you betcha. That was just me, DW had to do the running. I felt it was my responsibility to look after him to the best of my ability to ensure that he hit that leisure centre door.
D33 had proved tough, and DW was disappointed that the training didn't appear to be paying off. For him an equally disappointing performance at the Fling. All the while I could see how much better he was coping after these big races. He was defiantly fitter and while not happy with himself I could see there was a positive difference.
Andy Dubois joins the team and an updated plan and constant stream of advice flows from Down Under.
The plan is coming together.
In the taper period, following a family wedding, a reduction in caffeine and alcohol and an increase in sleep is promised. Not all achieved but at least attempted.
Day of the race should be drama free, but this is DW's race tale and anyone who knows him will attest that drama follows him around. The original support vehicle proves too small for 3 strapping fire fighters. A 6 foot 2 man mountain, Mrs Mac, Mini Me and Mason Dog. Race bus is hired and he doesn't know this but nearly didn't make it coz I couldn't find my part 2 :-)
Hoopers arrive from London and set up home for a couple of hours. I depart to collect 2 support crew, one of whom is delayed as someone has jumped in front of his train.

No wine fuelled lunch as there has been in the past and it's off to bed for a couple of hours. No wine was a mistake as he just tossed and turned for 2 hours. Two of the crew has nipped off down the boozer and as we loaded the bus they were nowhere to be seen.

Finally fully loaded we arrive at Milngavie, register, weigh in and say our hellos. Fiona and Pauline meet us in the car park and hand over a wee gift to be shared with Dario. They have pirate hat's and badges. I am touched (so is DW)

And they're off.
Good progress is made through the first few checkpoints....ahead of time. We had a plan this year!! I was beginning to feel more settled as I could see just how well he was doing. On approach to Rowardennan I knew something wasn't right. Time was slipping back and I began to worry for the first time that day. Martin Hooper arrived first ' his back is done in, he's in a bad way' I walked out to see him. Taking painkillers with me. Sooner than expected I met up with him, not as bad as I was expecting, but not a happy bunny. Patched up and sent off to be met at BGF. A Wee half was shared with Dario and although tired DW and Martin seemed in good spirits. We headed to Auchtertyre, met up with my family who man the checkpoint and set up for their arrival. Weighed in and I get a shock, a significant amount of weigh has been lost. We look at each other that look that goes unsaid that we both knew it wasn't good. Tried to feed him up here and agreed to meet at Brodies. Looking a bit grey by now. As I walked up the hill (at the top) he asked does no one want to run with me?? Bloody hell they were champing at the bit but didn't want to impose. I sprinted back down to crew yelling he wants you to catch him up!! Frantic change of clothes and Egan is off up the hill like a rat up a drain pipe.

BoO and four of them cross the bridge. It makes me smile to see them coming over the brow. We are ready, only just. I had spilled all the dinner that Darrell had loving prepared, from scratch I may add all over the road. I hung my head in shame and promptly scooped it back into the pot. DW was looking forward to real mash and gravy.....but someone put butter in it.....not good for the lactose intolerant one :-( Lactofee custard and baby food go down a treat but I fear it's not enough.
I was right to be worried. In and out of Vicky Bridge and off to Glen Coe. Gear was all set up and ready to go, but coming in 15 mins ahead of time put us on the back foot. A planned 10 minute kip was on the cards. A quiet kip was wished for, but the speed of his arrival meant trying to sort kit and be quiet. Not really doable is it? It was here that the earlier problems of too much weigh loss and dehydration began to kick in. Cue an hour and a half of vomiting. At this point and on any other day I would have pulled him there and then. But he was wearing number 2. Fiona can't quit so how can he? Sweepers hung around.....waiting. They must have been getting cold. I asked someone to shift them from the van it wasn't doing morale any good. Darrell was pretty diplomatic I think. Just before midnight they were off. Met at Kingshouse, and looking better. And at the foot of the Devils, again better and making good time. Food was of the menu now. I instructed Egan to make him drink.

KLL, it's the first time I've been there for my boy. Last year it was the point where Martin has to end his race. It felt odd being back. Had a power nap in the bus. Then did quite a bit of faffing getting all manner of things ready to try and force feed him something. By now the time was really slipping. I just stood at the door looking skyward having a conversation in my head with Dario. 'Just get him here safely, I'll do the rest.' George Reid texted. 'It's going to be tight, but he can do it'. It lifted me to know that George and Karen were with him. The sweepers were doing a great job, But G & K really know him, what makes him tick. Another text, 'I don't think he wants it any more'. I sobbed, quietly, looking to the sky and wishing him here. A sudden rush when Karen and Rhona arrived in a flurry. False alarm. An endless wait and then at seconds after 5 George appears around the bend. A very emotional few minutes and he's here with me in the centre. He is tired but appears well, surprisingly well. He sits chatting to those around us while we fuss and try to feed him. No soup, no, roll, no custard. I know that coffee and coke are not enough. He wants to continue. My heart is beating out of my chest. Partly from coffee but apprehension mainly. Me, Egan and Darrell walk with him to the edge of the village and set him off up the trail. I cant believe it, it's actually happening. He's done it. Before we left he said to me, 'I'm not there yet'.

Darrell and I packed up and drove to Lundavra. I'd never been there before. By now I was following Mrs Hooper as Martin had quite a lead on DW. As we approached the checkpoint at 6.30 am my phone rang. DW face was staring back at me from the screen. My heart sank. I told him to keep his phone off during the race to avoid any calls about, work, life, or someother external shit that would mess with his head during the race. I knew it wasn't going to be good news. 'Im at the top of the hill, I can't carry on. Come back for me please' I asked only once, are you sure. Not that I didn't think that he wasn't but that I need to ask for myself. The bus was silent as we drove back to KLL. We waited a the spot where a couple of hours previous we'd sent them off full of hope. Got DW stripped and packaged up into a sleeping bag and eventually made it to the leisure centre. Taking the chip tag inside to withdraw him was very emotional. So many people asking how he was doing. He gave everything he had. Everything and more. I was gutted for him. We all were. Are. I saw Fiona, I'm embarrassed to say I couldn't speak to her straight away.

I left him sleeping for a while, but soon enough it was time for Martin. I was very proud to see him finish and DW stood clapping his big mate as he crossed the line. More emotion (tears!!!)
Fiona gifted him a beautiful hip flask for carrying her number for her. Something I know he will treasure. I'm sure we'll be making a visit to Darios post soon and it will be filled to the brim with something suitable.

He says he's finished with the race, Well if I have my way he's got at least one more go left in him. Not next year, I've got the small matter of the Commonwealth Games to attend to. But maybe 2015. Martin Hooper says he'll be back. And Egan....they'll be supporting him!!
One more go. No parties, no boozy lunches and no all day cooking sessions. You owe it to yourself David Waterman xox


Santababy said...

was gutted for him, one last go. He will. x

Julie said...

Aaah, DW made me cry that night and you've just done it again. None of you should be ashamed. Ever. One more time, it'll be waiting for MacPirates, all the way to Fort Bill. xx

Subversive Runner said...

Thanks babe. Like I was told of Battersea fire station in 2011, I think I've given too much of myself to the race. It has become a focal point in my life, like Christmas. But it's where we met so the Christmas analogy is understandable. I suggest a trip down to the Angel's Playground in the next few weeks with Mason and a new hip flask to toast Dario. Let's talk about the likelihood of another race start then. Love you.xoxoxox

Fiona Rennie said...

I'm sorry, I only meant No.2 to be a bit of encouragement not the pressure to run yourself into the ground. Be very proud, of all the tremendous efforts made over the weekend I doubt anyone else put up the fight you did.
Love Fiona xxx

rhona @ redwinerunner.com said...

I think there's something in my eye :(
It's interesting to read about the rest of DWs race since we only saw a small part of it. I hadn't realised there was so much at stake and only now reading the blogs, have i found out that he was carrying Fiona's number. I'm so sorry he wasn't able to get the race he set out for; i'm now going over and over the events of early Sunday morning in paranoia in case there was something we could have done more of, or done better to help him finish.
I hope he's recovering well; see you guys at another race soon I hope xxx

The Sunday Adventure Club said...

A dnf means everything and nothing. Failure is having no aspirations, no ambition and no idea of what it feels like to dig so deep. You've got all those things, you just had a bit of bad luck this year, I know because it was me last year. Wear your blouse with pride DW then come back and kick it's ass! :-)

Keith M said...

In the words of Roosevelt, "the credit lies not with the critic who points out where the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could've done better. The credit lies with man in the arena, whose face is marred by blood and sweat and dust, who if he fails, fails whilst daring greatly......". The race will be waiting for another year!

Keith Hughes said...

Great report Lee.. What Richie said !! You worked for this mate and left it all out o the track.. You"ll be back..

ian.minty said...

What a battle! What a tough guy! The next episode of Piranha Rattlings is going to be juicy! great report Lee and all the best for your recovery DW