I thought I'd try a bit of subterfuge for this one. Given Ruth's almost uncanny ability to lock onto me in the 1st couple of miles and then go past, I thought if I was unrecognisable, she might lose me and I might sneak past. At first I thought I could maybe dress up AS sand but upon reflection that seemed a bit ambitious, so I wore my Pineland Farms 50K race t-shirt instead.
I honestly thought it might work until Ruth came and found me where I was hiding at the back of the pack on the start line and told me that a. she'd already seen me and b. she'd recognise my run anywhere! Pretty soon we were up and running and I discovered early on that I wished I'd worn a vest as it was a lot warmer than I'd thought. I caught up to the back of Ruth and she recognised my breathing. We went off for a quick 1st mile - albeit the wind was behind us - too quick for my current form at 7.05 pace and I quite soon had to let go a bit. There was another full mile down the beach but this time in sinky sands and seaweed where you had to pick your route with care, and then another wee bit yet to the turnaround. Last year's race was a bit short so for punishment we got some extra this time.
When we turned around the headwind wasn't as bad as I'd been expecting but I was pretty crocked anyway and got a stitch that I just couldn't shift, no doubt from the quick 1st mile and the odd kind of shambling I'd made to get through the deeper sands. A hateful 3rd mile ensued. I think I took quite a clever line down the middle of the beach. There was a thin line of green weed which actually gave quite good grip under foot and bisected the beach nicely. Most people had gone right down to the shoreline, which you could see was a longer curve to the finish. I was in no shape to take advantage of my clever line though- you still have to run fast!
"Why are you killing yourself? Just ease up and save yourself for tomorrow!" whispered Satan in my left ear. But then a few folk started coming past and Pride kicked in (although Pride is not traditionally the adversary of Satan) and I got back running a bit harder. My stitch melted away and then there was just the usual problem of trying to move faster when you're hot and exhausted and all your horse sense ( and Satan!) is telling you to slow down.
A few others came with me as I sped up for the line, cunningly tucking in and then flying past - but I was glad I'd made an effort and got out of the misery I'd been in.
I'd seen Amanda at the turn around with a female adversary not far behind - but Amanda had looked the stronger of the two so I felt fairly confident that she would have taken 1st lady again - and she had.
We had a cool down jog and got our legs in the sea in the hope that that would help restore them for today's race. It was a lovely evening in the low sunlight on the beach.
Gareth Mayze, who was travelling with us, had had an unsuccessful hunt for a "decent" chip shop in St Andrews so we stopped off on our way back (Might have been Cupar, I'm not sure now.) where we found a whole batch of Carnegie Harriers also refuelling.
It was getting late and the team were tired so we were bewildered to be suddenly diverted off the motorway by the police and set free in Fife to find some other way to get over the bridge. Amanda and Gareth hastily threw together an alternative route from the road atlas in the back and we did a small, after-hours tour of Fife that was all our own. I'm fascinated by the no.1 Goth Bar in Cowdenbeath. I feel I have to go there.
So, long story short. By the time we got back into Edinburgh the waning moon was high in the sky. Gareth stepped out of the car at Crewe Toll Roundabout meaning to run the couple of miles home. Hope the foxes didn't get him. Amanda travelled onwards to Musselburgh to cold pizza but with the warm side-dish of SUCCESS! and we had our tea at 11.45pm. I honestly thought I'd been out drinking last night when I woke up this morning with a dry mouth and pains all over until the real truth came back to me...
Tonight is the uphill time trial, the most hideous, intense and exciting race of the tour...
Thanks to Roadrunpics for the photos.