Pre Race Nerves

Saturday, 16 June 2012

The following is the written draft of my latest podcast. Yes it's lazy but I'm known to be lazy occassionally.

As I sit here and prepare to witter on it's just over a week to go until the West Highland Way Race. A quick check of the forum or Facebook group shows that the usual queries regarding what shoes to wear, what food to eat and whether Mike Mason really is safely ensconced somewhere in Eastern Europe and not likely to offend runners' sensibilities by being discovered performing like a bear in the woods, have all given way to one subject.

Pre race nerves.

I believe I can probably claim West Highland Way Race veteran status now, this being my seventh year of involvement, and this makes me able to comment with some authority on the subject of pre race nerves.......sigh.....

Seven years.......

That's longer than I served in the British army.....

....longer than it took to study for a degree with the Open University...

...longer than my second marriage......

..... longer than the Jeremy Kyle show's been on the air...although to be fair it feels like it's been around forever and proof positive that I'm not as much of a lowlife as some might suggest. Because despite me being the sole cause of the collapse in house prices in my area, Jezza still hasn't got round to sending me an invitation for the show.

Anyway, I don't think there's any reason for me being subjected to another paternity test anytime soon, so we'll forget about Jezza Kyle and refocus our thoughts on pre race nerves.

Pre race nerves.....I've never really suffered from them. I had a discussion with Lee Maclean about why this might be. I proffered the musing that as a former soldier and current firefighter my life has been touched by all manner of critical incidents and I've been first-hand witness to the vagaries of human existence.....but she pointed out that it's got nothing to do with that and the reason is far simpler. Mainly that I'm an arse....

Anyway, my fifty percent failure rate in the race is probably an indicator that a lack of pre race nerves is not such a good thing, and possibly that I really am an arse. To stand on the start line of the race with your main thought being whether your projected timings mean you'll pass through Kinlochleven while the Tailrace Inn is still serving is definitely not normal.

So if you're one of the many that's listening to this while you're sleep is being interrupted by cold fear. Or that the starting gun sound of a backfiring car has you all in a tizz, try to see those nerves as a good thing.

Use those nerves wisely to ensure your last minute preparations are all taken care of. That your support crew is fully briefed and are aware that their role in this could be the make or break for their runner.

Use those nerves to do as the Caledonian based Aussie, Keith 'Corned Beef' Hughes has suggested and make sure you're familiar with the route and imagine yourself passing through the various stages. History demonstrates that even those with a reasonable knowledge of the area have been known to take a wrong turn....I knew it wouldn't be long before Mike Mason got another mention....

Use those nerves wisely and they'll make you sharp on the day.

Of course for the first time in seven years I won't be joining you on the start line of the race so you might argue that this is all very easy for me to say. But I have many friends that will be in Milngavie on the 23rd June dressed like a malnourished Max Wall and I'll mention just two of them now.

The first is Big David Ross from Strathaven. David's a lovely fella but he's the size of a Kodiak bear and the last person you'd like to meet in the role of door person when you're giving it large in a nightclub. Despite his intimidating physicality Big David is more nervous than a gerbil in a gay bar so at the very least if you too are this nervous at least you know you're not alone.

The second is Martin Antoninus Horatio Hooper. Martin's nervousness is jndicated by the fact that he was happy for his lovely wife to post a pre race picture of him on Facebook. The nature of this vocal medium makes it impossible for me to show you this picture so I'll describe it: It shows our Kent based hero limbering up in a position he seems to have acquired from a ballerina; (note well, this is probably the only time you'll ever hear the words Martin Hooper and ballerina in the same sentence); he's dressed in running garb that seems to be inspired by Batman; and he's pouting like a post-operative Leslie Ash at midnight on New Years Eve. So if you feel really nervous and in need of some light relief come and have a gander at Martin just prior to the race and you'll be chuckling all the way to Fort William.

This is Waterman's Piratical Ramblings signing off before the big day and wishing everyone, organisers, marshalls, support crews and especially runners, the very best of luck.