A year ago today, I stood in the Highlands and watched my first ultra.
In no particular order, these are the things I've learnt from runners and running.
Falling over hurts.
Getting back up hurts more.
Getting back up and running again hurts less.
Everybody has bad days and bad races.
Upright, outside and running is a damn good place to be.
Running through puddles doesn't stop being fun past the age of 5.
Ex-boyfriends are like jellyfish.
Good shoes are not a luxury.
Midgies are evil.
Sore legs are not a reason not to go running.
Don't ask an ultra runner to decide if you're hurt or have a whingery. They don't understand hurt.
The human body is capable of impossible things.
Running 3 minutes for the first time is harder than running 30 minutes for the first time.
Rain is a reason to go out running, not a reason to stay in.
It doesn't matter how long or short you run; sooner or later your bowels will catch you out.
Runners want other runners to do well.
The inside seam of your leggings will give way at the furthest point from home.
Only normal people have ten toenails.
It's possible to start running with tears pouring down your face.
It's not possible to keep crying when you're running.
Learning to stretch is not optional.
Being hugged by a hot and sweaty friend at the end of their race is wonderful.
A race has a winner but never a loser.
Never say never again.
Adrenalin and joy will keep you awake for a whole weekend.
Running is addictive.
Despite being an incredibly selfish sport (in terms of time and effort committed to training and racing), ultra runners are generous and open-hearted. Mostly. I'm sure there must be the odd bad egg.
A mile is a very long way.
Second place to Lucy counts as a win.
Legends work in supermarkets.
True love will climb Conic Hill to deliver blueberries.
Your soulmate will walk you across the Lharig Mor in the dark and cold.
It helps to be able to see where your feet are going.
Stopping and restarting is much harder than keeping going.
Here's to the Dreamers - God bless us all!
Run as fast as you can for as long as you can may work for Stu Mills; for most of us, negative splits are the way to go.
The longer the race, the less you compete against others and more against yourself.
A good support crew is priceless.
Too much water is more lethal than too little.
Some people race and some people run.
Being sick when you run is not a big deal, continuing to be sick when you stop is.
There is at least one person who can run 90 miles on a broken ankle.
There is at least one person who can run 15 miles while having a heart attack.
Runners don't stop because they get old.
Sometimes you run away, sometimes you run home, and sometimes you run in circles.
Jelly babies are a recognised food group.
Dates and crisps are not.
Keep putting one foot in front of the other and you'll get to the end.
There are more uses for vaseline than you really want to think about.
Ultra runners have an inordinate capacity for food and alcohol.
Hazel McFarlane runs ultras. She's also blind.
Only yoofs and wannabe rappers have white trainers.
The body can't remember pain. The mind will rationalise it.
There will always be someone who can run faster or further than you.
But maybe not both.
And maybe not today.
Finishing last is better than not starting.
Always run from the heart.