Sunday, 21 February 2010

The Nationals

Yesterday was the National XC at Callendar Park in Falkirk. We had a full lady's and men's team this time and most of the ladies came with me and Peter in the car.

I'm still not quite back in the way of racing and so was nervous on the way out. It was a beautiful day but really cold.

We got our numbers at the school at Falkirk in plenty of time and Amanda, who was making her own way there arrived shortly after. The ladies were up 1st so we went and got ourselves to the start of the course and had a bit of a warm up and I gave a (sadly inaccurate) route description.
Pretty soon we were off and despite all warnings to myself to not take off like a bat out of hell the levels of excitement generated at the nationals seem to be such that I cannot help runnning faster than I should. Up and over the 1st hill and round and down to the frozen loch and some of the realities of life start to reassert themselves - in the form of better runners going past! Oh well. 10 minutes in I was in a horrible place, the 1st excitement having worn off and nothing coming in to replace it. I hung in as best I could but felt rubbish and frankly scared of the amount of distance to still be covered. Ann Hay passed me early doors and then receded further and further away into the distance...and there was nothing I could do about it! I'm hoping this means a return to form for Ann, as she's been injured, rather than that I was just pants. I worked hard. I know I've gone better but really I felt I made not too bad a job of it. In the 2nd lap I started to feel a bit more hearty, I guess some kind of endurance engine kicking in , and I picked off a couple of people on my way to the end. There was great support all the way round the course.

At the end I was greeted by Lynn and Amanda. Amanda ran a stormer coming in at, I think, 37th place. Delightful to see her starting to regain some confidence after her last year of setbacks and illness. You could see she was starting to lose the faith. I think Lynn ran a stormer too, obviously, because she substantially kicked my sorry ass, but I think she felt she hadn't really warmed up enough and suffered as a result. I think I would also have done better to have worked harder on a proper long warm up. I've found in the past that when I'm doing longer training I start needing about 3 miles in my legs until I can really get going. Lynsey came in not long after me. I hadn't met Lynsey before, but she was very good company and a good 4th member of the team. She's been having children and exercise has had to be on the back burner but her running style looks good and I'm hoping she'll be up for more off-roady adventures.

Porty lady's team came in 12th of 20 teams beating the likes of Carnethy HRC and Carnegie. Go ON PORTY!

I don't think the men were quite as organised as the women but they got there. Graham had cycled there but took a rain check as he was not on his usual form and wasn't needed for the team. Lovely Tony Stapley was there applying his new principles for preserving the last of his knee joints - he's only racing now, not bothering to train in between. It must gall him as his Fife cronies have managed to get a bit ahead of him as he can't train - but he hides any frustration well.

I was on photo duty so had to get into my warm kit quickly after my race so I'd be ready for action. I pretty soon ran into ex-Porty Gerry Scullion who had a bit of a cold so had decided to spectate instead of run. (He's gone to the dark side now...Bellahouston.) Gerry LOVES the cross country so it was fun to try and keep up with him as he darted from position to position to cheer the field on. He left before I was ready at the back of the course on the hill but I found myself beside him again further round the course. Peter had been speculating as to Gerry's form during the week, anticipating a bit of a battle with him.
In the 1st lap of the men, Peter was ahead, and then Gareth Green and Willie were close to each other a bit back, then Ricky, Scott, Steve and Tony. I thought I could tell from the look of Peter that all wasn't well in his world, and he slipped slowly backwards as I made my way from point to point around the course. The field spread out a great deal as the front runners were absolutely flying. I would have liked to have seen it filmed from above. I can't find any old results to check but it seemed to me that the senior male field was absolutely enormous.

I can't remember at what point Peter was no longer 1st Porty but he continued his backward trend despite clearly working hard. Gareth Greene got well ahead and then Peter was being tracked quite closely by Willie.

I thought my camera had stopped working as as I tried to take pictures of the guys working up the hill while chatting to Sarah legge it told me that the memory was full. As it had a 2GB card in I thought that most likely I'd been forgetting to delete old photos. I vainly tried to figure out how to start deleting photos but wasn't getting anywhere so I thought it best to run and get Peter's camera as I really didn't want to miss the end of the race.

It turned out later on that I had indeed filled up the whole of the memory card - in my excitement taking burst shot after burst shot of the whole field. A ton of poor quality photos! I've been doing a lot of deleting at home since...and I nearly filled up the memory card of the other one as well.

I was at the finish in plenty of time to catch the leaders and it was tremendously exciting as they flew in. My finger must have got stuck down again. They were throwing up huge gobbits of mud as they flew past but I think missed the camera lens.

It seemed a long time til the Porties came in, the front guys having gone so fast. First in by a good margin was Gareth Greene. Then...Peter and Willie came onto the track together! Aaaah. Willie is so good at sneaking past at the last moment we call it the Jarvie manoeuvre and that's exactly what he did. I've got photographic evidence that as Willie went past Peter actually smiled. You have to hand it to him. Then in zoomed Ricky, (having also done the Parkrun in the morning, we later learned!), then a bit back Scott, further back Steve - and I caught Tony on his way out for his 3rd lap and he is a brave man! I think its an unfortunate part of the course that one end of the field are just setting out on their 3rd lap as the other end are finishing. Thats got to hurt, but happily they don't let it put them off.

SO. Its a beautiful game, we all had a good time and went home!

Janet Dunbar ran the Park run yesterday and was 1st lady by a good margin in a time of 18.48. That's going to be a bit of a stretch for me in terms of championship points. (Sigh)

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