The above photo was taken by Stuart Hay of Dunbar Running Club.
No photos of today from us as Buchanan was having a bad day and thought the weather was too miserably grim to even bother taking photos -which was a pity. When I'm having a grim time and running in deep mud under glowering skies I want documentary evidence. Plus there was a really good turn out of Porties. Our hearts were gladdened when we arrived to find Johnny, James Harrison and Rachel already there. Also there and fast becoming an honorary Porty, definitely a fellow race-addict, was Alex, man of Rachel.
The weather forecast was pretty terrible; 30 mph winds and metcheck cheerily predicted it would be 3 'C but windchill would take it down to the equivalent of - 3 or 4'C. Reluctantly decided a long-sleeved top was a necessity despite being against the spirit of the Cross-Country.
(Rachel, however, still ran in a vest!)
I was weirdly up for this. I don't know where it came from. I was so exhausted from the half marathon yesterday that I was in bed by about 9.30 and I tried to read for a while but passed out without ceremony, head in book. (It is a good book, Mark Beaumont's cycle round the world, and he's nearly made it back to Paris so I wanted to read it but couldn't.)
Peter was over-tired and was carping about the weather in a miserable way as we drove out, windscreen wipers on double-time, the wind bashing our wagon about...to Lauder!
All we could discern from the Borders XC website was that Lauder was liable to be hilly - and hilly it was. As yesterday's shennigans was largely downhill my uphill legs were still firing and after a flattish first mile we set off up the Southern Uplands. This played to my strengths and I passed a few ladies I'd been sitting behind on the flat. Running over the tops was lovely (once the oxygen deficit eased) and the wind was pretty much behind us. It was reminiscent of the tops at Yetholm Hill Race, which I also don't have a photo of, but its good running on short grass, on gently undulating ground up the top of round green hills. Out taking photos was a man in a Russian hat and great coat who shouted me on using the voice of Stuart Hay. Peter tells me that he has remained injured since becoming ensnared in the wire at Norham, leaving us feeling saddened and guilty; Peter because he used Stuart's misfortune to get ahead of him at Norham and me because I used the hanged man in the Tarot to depict him on my blog. Did I jinx him in some way? Anyway, returning to the present day...
Amongst the ladies I had fixated on early in the race were a woman in a Carnethy vest and also a slim runner with long dark hair wearing what looked to be a plain red vest. I'd passed both of them and wanted to retain my lead. I lost focus a bit crossing a hill-side on a path with a steep camber. This reawakened my ever present left knee trouble. Ever after a marathon in 2004 when I jiggered it that knee is apt to start tracking wrong. I picked my way rather carefully down a steep ferny, muddy drop. By this time a number of runners had caught up with me giving me impetus to try and get going again. A man from Penicuik Harriers hailed me and said he liked the downhill but did I plan to get ahead of him on the flat again? I told him that was my plan and set off as hard as I could. He sat in comfortably behind me and as there was a head-wind I realised he was running a cleverer race than me. I had a good head of steam up again though and wasn't thinking all that well so went the wrong way after not one but two stream crossings, losing me time and ground. I determinedly shot to the front of the group that had passed me again; which included the Carnethy lady. I then led us through some weird diversion...there was a yellow sign pointing left and next to it a hole in the wall so I took us through the hole in the wall. The minute we were through it felt wrong. There was no obvious path or markings and we had to dodge through young trees til we arrived at another hole in the wall which we jumped back out of. I was heartened as we got back on the main path to see a trail of people following the same route we took. I don't think it was really the route. Peter certainly said he never saw anything like that! Then there was just a short, very muddy, very rocky path to run down, then a sprint round the grass to the finish. I was very worried that the Carnethy lady would get me right at the end so I kept up as much pressure as I could. The man from Penicuik passed me easily but it wasn't him I was worried about so I kept focused and going. And then we were finished. Now that I'm writing about this I think people were shouting "Come on Pamela" which means it could have been Pamela Whitlie. The results will tell all. Shortly after Rachel came in. She looked a bit down. I never got a proper race analysis from her but I'm guessing she didn't like the downhills. Don't know though. She said she nearly got me in the middle but then I got away again. Alex was extremely muddy. James H. looked very chipper. (Turns out he was 4th overall!)
Once all the Porties were in we made off quickly to try and get the best shot at getting one of the two showers. These, disconcertingly, periodically ran icy cold - I think when the men's showers were on the women's went cold. You had to be ready and jump backwards out the water to avoid the cold.
The cafe was shut and we were all clearly cold and tired so we went our separate ways pretty much right away. Peter and I stopped at the garage just down the road and had sandwiches and Pecan pastries of a calorific value higher than anything we burned off in today's hills. They were good though. Particularly the pastries. I felt my sandwiches were just a rather dull preamble to the main business.
So, back to work again tomorrow. The dishes are not done. My laundry is not done. I am a little more tired than I was on Friday. No races next weekend after doing 6 in 3 weeks. I think it will be relaxing but rather empty.