Hayley Haining runs the Frankfurt Marathon tomorrow, appetite unquenched after more than 30 years in the sport. She is driven by a magnificent dream, fulfilment of which would pen her own personal chapter in Scottish sporting history.
Dr Haining won her first UK honour ahead of Fergie when she captured the UK Schools Under-13 cross-country title. He was at Pittodrie, steering Aberdeen to the 1984-'85 league title, and had still yet to set foot at Old Trafford when the Nithsdale teenager broke the UK 1000 metres age-group record the following year.
Now a Glasgow veterinary academic, her athletics career is flourishing with a durability which beggars belief. She is fastest European in Frankfurt ahead of 10 Ethiopian and Kenyan-born runners, while a formidable men's field will have the world best in their sights if the wind is calm.
Haining has out-lasted world 10,000m champion Liz McColgan and world marathon record-holder Paula Radcliffe whom she beat as a teenager, and to whom she was 2008 Olympic reserve.
Despite a potentially catastrophic confrontation with two horses, and prolonged absences through injury, Haining has the marathon qualifying standard for Glasgow 2014, and she and Kilbarchan coach Derek Parker are preparing to defy challengers intent on denying her a record-breaking Commonwealth vest at the age of 42.
Haining won World Cup marathon bronze with Radcliffe and Mara Yamauchi (now also retired). She has already been ninth in a Commonwealth marathon, has enjoyed a top-10 world cross-country finish and is such a prolific Scottish and GB championship medallist that not even the official UK website has kept tabs on them.
She won the mass participation division of this year's London marathon and is among the contenders tonight for the Masters Athlete of the Year award at scottishathletics' award ceremony in Glasgow.
Her inspiration is to have her son, Elliott (four come the Games) at Hampden next year to witness her.
Susan Partridge, leading UK finisher in London (2:30.46) and 10th at the World Championships, is pre-selected. Haining, the only other Scot with a qualifying time, says: "I'm not counting my chickens. Freya [Ross, who has been injured] has so much ability that she's a dead cert when she does her next marathon."
Ross ran 2:28.10 last year, gaining Olympic selection. "So logic tells you there's just one place left," says Haining.
Glasgow's qualifying mark is 2:40. While Haining clocked 2:36.53 in London, her best is 2:29.18. "I'm taking nothing for granted. Other girls are really keen on getting that place and have the potential to improve a lot. Joasia Zakrzewski (2:41.21), Gemma Rankin (Haining's clubmate, who accompanies her tomorrow, best 2.41.50), Shona McIntosh (2:42.17) and Issy Menzies (2:42.23) are all close to the mark. One good run, in the right weather . . . So I am prepared to go back to London next April, ready to face all challengers."
Scotland's 2014 marathon selection is two days later.
Haining suffered a horrific injury at 15, which might have ended veterinary and athletics ambitions. She was knocked down by a horse at Dumfries agricultural show and trampled so violently by another that her hamstring might have been torn from the bone but for the crisp, tight, new jeans she wore. The scars remain, and she has limited sensation as a result.
Recurring muscle problems in her leg and foot have been the biggest issue. She once spent almost four years out of action, but has learned how to manage things from treatment by Ger Hartmann and Alison Rose, physiotherapists credited with prolonging the careers of both McColgan and Radcliffe. "I do a lot of 'housekeeping' myself, working down the muscles, and now I rely on Annette Weir, an osteopath specialising in biomechanics. She's wonderful - helped me back after I'd had Eliott. I was thrashed. I'd a lot of postural problems, standing over a microscope most of the day.
"For all the fast stuff I did [starting at 800m aged 13] I was not really built for it. And for the first 20 years I did not understand what was causing my problems. Apart from a stress fracture as a teenager, I never had a real injury. It has been dysfunction - muscles so tired and bunged up with waste products that they stopped contracting. I was getting lots of micro-tears in the muscles and they couldn't contract properly. Finding out how to treat myself made a massive difference.
"I now know to back off for a day or two after a hard session, then after a couple of days I get my thumbs into the muscles and sort of ease all the stuff out. Getting the muscles functioning is not about strengthening - it's just reminding them what their job is."
Now she can tackle ferocious sessions beyond most women half her age. One work-out in preparation for tomorrow was 20 x 400m, each in 72 seconds with a 30-second recovery. This with almost 100 miles per week in her legs. "Not bad for an old bird," she laughs, quoting what one of her clubmates joked to her. That, you can take it, was in awe and respect.
"The marathon is not about speed. It's about consistency, staying healthy, and doing the miles," she says. Despite her demanding job, she insists it suits her lifestyle. "I could not be a full-time athlete. I really enjoy my work, though at times it's stressful because I'm really busy. Yet they complement each other. I go for a run and blow it all away.
"That's my time. Quality time. I try not to think about work, or things I need to organise. Yet when I get back, the answer to something that's been troubling me is often there.
"The Games, if I make the team, won't be the end. I will run as long as I stay injury free and healthy, because it is what I've always done, even before I was with an athletics club. I will still be going to the club.
"I will run most days. Life does not revolve around my run. It's part of my day, just like brushing my teeth."