Photo: Michael Nowicki
Another Porty championship race yesterday - the Crieff 10K. Peter and I had done this one in 2004 and 2005 and not since as it tends to clash with the weekend of the Harris Half Marathon each year.
It was interesting to see both how our form would compare with 6 and 7 years ago and also how much my memory had edited about the race in that time.
Its becoming a bit of a theme but come Sunday morning at 7am when my alarm went off the last thing I wanted to be doing was getting up and racing. Emily and Jim Ramsay were coming with us though which helps with the discipline of getting up.
The journey through in the car raised my spirits as Emily and Jim soon had me laughing. The roads were pretty empty and with only a few moments of uncertainty we found our way there with bags of time to spare.
There was a large turnout in general and of Porties in particular. It was hot and humid and blackish clouds boiled up in the sky but it did not rain til afterwards when we were sitting on the grass eating cake.
In my memory the race was pretty much triangular - up a hill, down the other side along a flat bit by the river and finish. The reality was ever so much more complex and confusing. There was a long up on muddy forest paths which I liked and was doing relatively well at. It was very busy where I was but it was still feasible to get past people if need be. Then a long down where I did less well. There were so many people that you couldn't see what was coming up under your feet. There were quite a lot of rocks and roots so care was needed not to trip or bend an ankle too far. The path turned and evened out for a while on forest trail. On the flatter bits I was suffering from a lack of oomph, trying instead just to hold steady. Another winding single track downhill needed concentration again and there was a chap right behind me who probably wanted past but there was not much I could do as we were hemmed in with gorse on either side. Out the bottom onto a path and into the field of humidity. I suddenly remembered this from 2005! Not that remembering it would do me any good. A path took us along the side of a field and the heat was intense and it was incredibly humid. I had the feeling that the people around me were making heavy weather of this as was I...
Back down beside the river the temptation would have been to go for a swim. The trees provided welcome shade but it was still very warm. Here the road runners came into their own and quite a few men went by me, albeit giving kind encouragement as they passed. Up ahead in 70s Bjorn Borg sweat-band tennis-chic head-dress I saw Andrew Stavert. He's been improving a lot in the last wee while so in a way it was encouraging to see him although I suspected it meant that he was having a bad day rather than that I was having a good day...He gave me a point of reference in this endless battle to keep going in the heat so I mentally hung onto him...
The usual mental chatter was keeping me company. "I hate this. I can't go any faster and its taking forever. Its too hot and it hurts and I want it to end." "But love is meant to be stronger than hate, what do you love?" "The river is, erm, nice and shiny..."
At last we were beyond the nice, shiny river and nearing the end. \It was a series of searing twists and turns where the hope that the last bit was just round the corner turned into the realisation that there was still further to go. I was closing on Andrew Stavert and fearful that we'd end up having some god-awful battle for the line across the 3rd of a mile of playing field to the finish I gave away my position and shouted to him "Go ON Andrew YOU'RE NEARLY THERE!"
I'm not sure but I think he swore and he did indeed raise his pace considerably and overtook quite a few other men on the last stretch to the finishing line. Nothing for me to do then but make my own, solitary way over that vast carpet of green with the air getting drier and the heat intensifying.
Just as at Haddington 10K, just after the finishing funnel, collapsed on the grass was Kevin Clark - so just as at Haddington I joined him to recover myself.
I then had a peep at my watch and discovered my time was 50.14 - Crieff isn't a normal 10K so usual times don't apply! My time was 2 seconds slower than in 2005 which in a way is heartening as I'm 6 years older...I was trying to remember what was happening in 2005 - I think I was a bit knackered having run the Edinburgh Marathon in the middle of June and then the 7 Hills the week after that. I was taking a while to recover.
In 2004 I ran the course in 47.59 - and at the time was in a good mood because I was coming back from a knee injury I had from April to June. I didn't have much training behind me - and I wasn't even in Portobello then so it must have been the love of running that got me round.
After the race there was an amazing array of cake and we lay around on the grass eating cake and talking until the rain came on. Then Emily and Jim made me laugh again on the way home. Emily was trying to make me think about what I need to do to get my basic speed back up a bit and I was trying not to think about it. I think its suffering that gets your speed up isn't it?