Monday, 31 May 2010

Stornoway Half Marathon

The weather forecast looked promising as we drove NW on Friday to Ullapool to catch the ferry for Stornoway. We had Richard aboard the Berlingo, also heading to the Stornoway half, but from there planning to run daily and in stages to the next race in the series - the Benbecula half.

We met up with Andrew Henderson on the boat, who was also camping and running the next day so we headed together up to the now well known Laxdale campsite. There we pitched our tents in the rain and said an early goodnight to each other.

All weather reports had suggested that we would be basking in fine sunshine the next day as the rest of the country shivered in the rain. There was no wind however and so the rain clouds sat tight where they were and emptied their contents sporadically on our chastened heads.

The team were going into battle in odd form. Peter's been doing well since the Fling and has had some good results but his training has been a mish-mash of long days in the hills and club training and races. I haven't made it to club in a long time and hopes to do some speed sharpening pre-Stornoway were dashed when I was held up with injury for a couple of weeks post-Fling. Despite efforts not to I've also managed to pork up a bit since the Fling. Sad days when us athletes are a bit under par.


Saturday dawned rainy. It could have been worse. It wasn't very midgy and it wasn't all that cold.
We'd got ready to go in a rush on Friday morning, work commitments having held both our attentions right up until Thurday night/Friday morning. In the camping box which lives above the washing machine I found a jar of coffee from a previous camping trip so decided just to take that along because it still smelled alright. It produced the most evil bitterest cup of coffee I've ever had in my life. The caffeine content was still there - you could feel it, but it left me feeling a bit sick -so much so that I never dared drink until mile 9 in case it went wrong on me.

We met Richard and other Hebbers known from other years at the start and pretty soon were heading off into town for another Storno half. (My 3rd - it must be Peter's 5th or so) The first mile is always quick as its nearly all downhill so I got a satisfying 6.59 mile in. Then my speed steadied to a more cautious 7.36 pace for the next few miles and then we went up into the 8s and continued so for the rest of the race. Try as I might I could not generate anything more although the strength was there and I could have gone on and on. I was chasing Maureen Mcleod, who I knew was in my category and who I'd beaten by a small margin the year before. At mile 11 I thought realistically I'd be looking at 1.43 although I was still trying hard to go quicker - and the sight of Deborah MacDonald not far behind was incentive to keep doing what I could.

The sad reality was 1.44 at the end, never catching Maureen nor allowing Deborah to catch me.
The good things were that I had no problems with niggles or injuries - just a generalised sluggishness.

At the end I thought that I could at least win the race to the showers, so this I did, being 1st lady overall and getting the room to myself. The showers in the Bridge centre were powerful and hot and the shower  rooms spacious so I amused myself by getting some stretching in as the water hammered down on my tired muscles and sweaty head.

I was an age in there and worried that the others would wonder what had happened to me but we'd been hurrying all week and all day the day before so I took my time.

Back out amongst the post-racers there was a soup, sandwich and cake bonanza in full swing. There were 160+ people for the half and a similar number for the 10K which ran at the same time so there were a lot of hungry people in the hall, elbows out. I met up with Richard and Andrew, both having met their targets - Andrew sub 2hrs, Rischard sub 1.30, so they were both pretty chipper. Peter arrived a while later having stood in the rain waiting for me because he'd forgotten that the womens' showers were at a different venue from the mens'. He had taken a bit of a beating out there and was resigned and rather forlorn.

At prize-giving the 1st places went to the Dave Wright and Megan Wright husband and wife team. The HBTs were out in force and were growling HBT and cheering wildly as the £300 cash team prize went also to HBT. Peter thought he was well out the vet prizes so was pleased to get in at 3rd MV and so got a Lewis chess man and a black pudding to compensate for his feelings of defeat.

Then we wished Richard good luck with his odyssey to Benbecula and Peter and Andrew and I headed up the road to the campsite. We fancied a beer but we did not fancy wandering about Stornoway on a wet Satuday so we bought a beer each at Tesco's and sat in the camper's cooking hut at the campsite and drank our beers and told stories as the rain hammered down outside. It brought back many a bored, teenage island weekend with grey skies, nothing to do and nowhere to go. No wonder islanders drink.

The rest of the day passed pleasantly enough. We had a sleep and then went out for dinner - met up with an old friend of Peter's and later went to the race ceilidh where HBT were putting on a good show. Back to the campsite just about 1 am. under skies that had now cleared - the good weather having only been delayed, not cancelled. Sunday morning we went and had a big lunch in one of the only places open while waiting for the 2.30 ferry departure and we then had a 5hr drive back down the road to Edinburgh, getting here about 10pm, a little crumpled and a bit heavier than when I left due to all the meals I had over the course of the weekend.

So I better get training hard because its the Benbecula half this coming Saturday and I'd like to do better there...

1 comment:

Climbingmandy said...

awww gees, I'm so jealous of your adventures in Stornoway. I've been floored by my trade show in Frankfurt. Might be able to make Skye and Harris... watch this space...