Done: Race #8 of the LauranDoes179 ALS Challenge!

Sligachan bridge with the fantastic Cuillin beyond
Sligachan bridge with the fantastic Cuillin range beyond on the glorious Isle of Skye

Evening all. Just stopping by to let everyone know I finished the 8th race of the LauranDoes179 Challenge this Saturday in hopes of raising as much money as possible for the Blazeman Foundation for ALS research as part of the TeamDrea challenge.

You get a big ass medal for running this one 'cause it's a big ass race.
You get a big ass medal for running this one ’cause it’s a big ass race.

The Isle of Skye Half Marathon was defeated on Saturday the 13th of June in quite some style if I do say so myself. My victory was (not) swift, no prisoners were taken…I smote it if you will. As I toed the start line that fateful morning, the half marathon goddess appeared to me and bellowed, ‘you shall not pass!!!’ My answer in return? ‘Bitch be trippin!’

Here's me post smote
Here’s me post smote

I stand (digitally…it makes me look taller) before you as a champion of the Highland hills I was so worried about a few days ago. I killed it.  Okay, I killed it reaaaaallllly slowly, but kill it I did and I’m dang well pleased with myself.

Putting my game face on pre-race.
Putting my game face on pre-race.

Alright, seriously now. Let’s get busy with the race report. My husband and friends were all predisposed this weekend so Georgie and I made our way up to the splendid Isle of Skye for a girls’ weekend of brushing each other’s hair, drinking rosé, and running a half marathon.

Georgie did the driving
Georgie did the driving

We checked into our digs, the lovely Greshornish House Hotel, on Friday evening and had an early night as the race started at 10:30am on Saturday in central Portree.

Greshornish House...sublime
Greshornish House…sublime

Saturday morning dawned chilly and cloudy but I was too nervous to take much notice of the weather conditions. I gulped down the contents of my lovely breakfast tray provided by the hotel and got ready to make the half hour drive to Portree for the race. However, Georgie decided she wanted no part in being left in the hotel room by herself and raised a racket every time I tried to leave. Close to tears, I ran into one of the hotel owners, Neil, and told him I didn’t think I could do the race as I didn’t want Georgie bothering the other guests with her carrying on. He took matters into his own hands and sent me on my way with a promise that he would look after Georgie that morning so I could run. Such a lovely act of kindness in aid of me and my challenge.

I arrived at Portree High School, race HQ, and got myself registered and did my warm up. As the start time drew near, the 600-odd field of runners was piped to the start line by the local pipe and drum corps (so cool). The starting gun went off and the pipes played as all the runners began the course.

Me with the pipe and drum corps before they marched us to the start line
Me with the pipe and drum corps before they marched us to the start line

The route was hilly from the start. The first third of the race was fully of sharp, often protracted inclines punctuated by little dips in the landscape. The middle third was flattish. The final third was a truly gruelling slog up a long, gradual incline until Portree came back in sight and a steep two miles of jarring decline brought me to the finish. Despite running through some pretty isolated terrain, the support on the course was awesome. I ran about half the race with a bride to be who was running with her hens as part of her bachelorette party and the crowd went nuts for her so the support by proxy was very helpful.

Bride on the run...the crowd loved her!
Bride on the run…the crowd loved her!

This race was probably the hardest I have ever run. The multiple mile climb followed by the unforgiving decline at the end was a real struggle and I was seriously hurting, no doubt about that. I was mad I didn’t train more, I did some bargaining with the running gods, and I did my fair share of cursing. But I also beamed with pride at what I was accomplishing (I ran up all those hills!), gave lots of high fives, encouraged others, and didn’t water board myself at the hydration stations. I earned that giant weird blue medal and I accepted it from the tiny child proferring it at the finish line with a huge amount of appreciation for what I was lucky enough to suffer through and accomplish. I didn’t even look at the time clock. My legs did their job and I was thrilled with that.

I returned back to Greshornish House to find out that Georgie, that madam, had been walked twice by the lovely Neil and was reclining in her chamber waiting for my return. I had a lovely meal that evening in the hotel’s cosy dining room and feasted on Isle of Skye mussels….enjoying a little moment in celebration of all that I my body is capable of and quiet thanks for all the people who have helped me this year during my challenge.

Oooooooohhhhh yyeeeaaaasssss
Oooooooohhhhh yyeeeaaaasssss

I should say a note about Skye and why I chose to do this race. Skye is a big, beautiful, wild, and rough-round-the-edges sort of Island up off the Northwest coast of Scotland. It’s overwhelmingly beautiful in a way that’s difficult to describe. Barren but so alive in its greens and grays and browns and looking all the more lovely when it is full of wind and rain. They don’t call it the Fairy Isle for nothing. It is my home place…..the place I feel most comfortable and ‘okay’ in this entire world. The place where, as the introvert to end all introverts, being on my own isn’t a sad state of affairs but a rich celebration of who I am and what makes me happy and contented. I knew I wanted to race there the moment I decided to undertake my 179 mile challenge. I know this sounds strange, but it was such an honour to undertake such a punishing challenge in a place that means so much to me. Everything was so distilled in those two hours – all the beauty, the pushing myself, the other runners – in a way I’d never experienced before. Thank you, Skye, for holding my heart, giving me a true home, and being part of my TeamDrea challenge. Some further photos of Skye are below…both taken by Mikey on our previous trips.

The Fairy Pools...site of my one and only skinny dipping experience (photo by Mikey)
The Fairy Pools…site of my one and only skinny dipping experience (photo by Mikey)
The Old Man of Storr (photo by Mikey)
The Old Man of Storr (photo by Mikey)

Please do consider donating to support my LauranDoes179 Challenge if you haven’t already done so by using the ‘donate’ button in my menu bar at the top of the page. Many thanks in advance. That’s all from me for now.  I’m now 62.93 miles into my challenge with 116.07 miles to go.  Next race is the Hadrian’s Wall Half Marathon in Northumbria, England on the 28th of June.

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