In the run up to the 2012 West Highland Way Race I was pretty stressed, from the daunting prospect of completing the 96 miles of the West Highland Way in one go and under the 35 hour cut-off, to the prospect of sleep deprivation, chaffing, blisters and, well, basically all manner of things.
Having previously completed both the Highland Fling (first 53 miles) and Devil O’ The Highlands (last 43 miles) races, I was all too aware of what lay ahead. The mixture of stress, nerves and excitement in the weeks leading up to the race made it almost impossible for me to give much thought to much else.
Like everyone else connected with the race, I experienced a focus, a ‘tunnel vision’ if you like, with the single focus of covering the miles, arriving in Fort William, picking up the much sought after goblet, and becoming ‘one of the family’.
And then, just a few days before the race, Leanne announced that she was pregnant.
Having been together for over 8 years, and having been married since July 2010, we had not long decided that it was finally time to start a family. Neither of us expected it to happen quite so soon and, in the run up to the West Highland Way Race, it was most unexpected news, but also most welcome news.
My only concern was the thought of putting Leanne through the stress of a West Highland Way Race weekend, especially so early in the pregnancy. Little did I realise that it was going to turn into one of the THE most stressful weekends of my life.
Actually, thinking back, I don’t think it was actually that stressful for me as such. I ran. I also dealt with ‘stomach issues’ for a lot of the route, and projectile vomit at mile 50. But, mostly, I ran. And that’s all there really was to it for me, getting from point A, in Milngavie, to point B, in Fort William.
It was probably a great deal more stressful for those around me, including Leanne, Minty, John and Sandra, the support crew who saw me at my worst, hitting absolute rock bottom, and yet never once suggested that I quit.
As is normal for the early stages of a pregnancy, we told no one and it was quite some time before we were able to share the news with the support crew. I have to admit that, during the race, I wanted to tell my crew and especially Minty, a running acquaintance who became a close friend and who guided me to the end of the race despite all the obstacles that we faced.
So, from probably THE defining moment of 2012 to one of THE defining moments of my life. The mini Mac, or Bubba, as he/she has been named, will arrive at some point towards the end of February all things going to plan.
We can’t wait to welcome Bubba into our lives and, already, there is a new sense of direction. I expect that Bubba is going to change our lives in so many ways and that certain aspects of the lives that we enjoyed up until now will be challenged. While my early morning training runs fitted nicely into Mrs Mac’s calendar, leaving her to enjoy a long lie, I am not so sure that Bubba will appreciate the need for training.
However, at this point, my plans are to continue running and, hopefully, to still complete a number of ultramarathons in 2013, including the West Highland Way Race again, assuming I can get a starting place.
In this largely sedentary age, I want to set an example for Bubba. I want Bubba to experience the running community and, in particular, the ultra community. I want Bubba to see the camaraderie, the perseverance, grit and determination that is part and parcel of ultras, to show he/she that the best things in life, the best achievements and successes don’t necessarily come easily, and that life’s true ‘celebrities’ are the ones that overcome all manner of adversity to get to the start of a race and, hopefully, also to the end.
The thought of one day crossing the finish line with my son or daughter fills me with joy and would, I am sure, only serve to add to the feeling of accomplishment. The thought that, regardless of time or position, I would hopefully be setting a good example and perhaps even inspiring them, not necessarily to run ultras, but to see sport as a worthwhile pastime that brings joy to life along with the many other benefits.
But then, perhaps, I am thinking too far ahead already!