Sunday, 9 January 2011
It was a bit of a cliffhanger waiting for this race. Would I be able to run or would my heel be too sore? Then it started to snow again and the severe weather warnings started. In a way we're used to it and know the drill. We got up this morning not entirely sure if the roads would be okay or if the race would be on.
8am everything was looking okay. Not much had happened overnight except the ice had hardened. At 9.30 we were ready to go and Andrew Stavert and Michael Geoghegan pitched up for a lift and we were off...
The roads seemed really okay and I got a bit of a fright when I pulled off the A1 onto a parking bit to go for a surreptitious pee in the bushes. (That's what the P means isn't it?) and stepping out the car onto the road realised there was a layer of ice all over the road. I had given no thought to this as I stopped but had come to no harm.
We arrived at Paxton House in good time (having crossed the border over into England and then back into Scotland again) and got registered. Other Porties turned up in the shape of Lynn Morrice and James Harrison. The word in the queue was that there were long icy stretches on the course and there was a deal of fearful anticipation and discussion of broken legs etc. Hmmmm. I wondered how our recent frequent excursions into the snow would serve us today and I think the answer was it helped a great deal. There were some very icy bits, and there were other bits where choosing your surface was a pretty important factor in how fast you could go. As I discovered that a lot of the snow was firm on top I got the mantra "trust the crust" in my head. I don't know how this worked for people heavier than me but I am not the lightest of people and found I could run over the top of the foot deep snow with ease. At the side there was a path but this was lumpy and hard making for an unpleasant surface that threw your feet about.
There was a stretch of field that had been churned up by cattle hooves where the best technique seemed to be jumping from one flat bit to another rather than trying to keep a running rhythm. There were a couple of sharp downhills and uphills. Hey there was even a hay bail jump! I think this was more to stop people from tripping over the low wire than to provide an obstacle a la the International Cross-Country yesterday.
All in all it was great fun. The sun came out and shone on the snowy fields and woodlands and the course was so absorbing in its complexities that there wasn't much time to think about how far it was to go or how long it was taking. I made an extra special effort to keep a very tall chap behind me to the last, feeling that if he'd sat behind me this long I wasn't letting him past at the end without a fight. Job done!
Nice to see George Armstrong spectating. He is just getting back into running tentatively after last year's health worries.
We went for a warm down and missed hearing how Lynn and James got on, but our crew all seemed to have similar experiences of enjoying themselves. We went into the tea-room at Paxton House afterwards and had soup. Its a very nice relaxing setting. They have slate floors so weren't fussed about having runners in. I only realise now having had a look at the Paxton House website that we would normally pay £4 each for using the grounds of Paxton House - or £7 if we wanted a tour of the house, so the Borders XC is already proving excellent value. As the 1st 3 of the series had to be called off it was only £10 to enter today, so subtracting the £4 we would have had to pay to get into Paxton House that makes £6 for 4 races (possibly more if any or all of the 3 missed races can re-schedule). Not to labour the point but if all 7 races were to go ahead that would make 86p a race! Compare that to yesterday's Great Winter Run 5K which I hear was £20 a head....
And finally, my heel,...well its a bit sore now, but I'm icing it. I THINK that its not as bad as it was after the Tortoise and Hare relay last week. I guess I'll really know when I get out of bed tomorrow morning what damage I've done. I could do with being fixed up fast because being in a car with all runners for 120 miles has whipped up my enthusiasm for a whole load of races in the year to come.