Saturday, 30 July 2011

Tour of Fife Day 3 - The Uphill Time Trial (Night of the Underdog)

Feeling nasty, looking nasty...

Friday night was uphill time trial night. Still suffering from some kind of mild tummy thing I could hear my insides swoshing as I jogged to the top of East Lothian behind Peter and Willie to get a warm-up. Ruth had declined the warm up, thinking she was going to be running far enough uphill soon enough. While we were checking out the views on the top, Ruth was transforming herself into supergirl and checking out the opposition.

We mucked about on top for a while, putting off the evil moment and then it was time to jog downhill to the start. Ruth and I had left ourselves about 10 minutes of standing getting terrified time, as the competitors were called up to the line and set off in pairs. The conditions were about as perfect as they could get. It was sunny and bright but a small wind was cooling things down.

Ruth and I were paired off to set off together which had filled me full of dread. I was afraid it would get competitive and I wouldn't judge the hill well. We chatted about it beforehand though, which helped.

We set off and I initially took the lead. Before long Ruth caught up to me and overtook and the temptation to try and stay with her was mighty strong but I resisted it. It was too early to be pushing too hard and I stayed with what was going on inside. To be honest, at that point I pretty much thought Ruth had it and without wanting to be defeatist I was okay with that. Despite having a marked dislike for hills she has been doing very well on them recently and although I nearly got her at Traprain Law, I never got anywhere near at Crieff. You can't write Ruth off as she's tough and determined and very strong! There was little to take your mind off the pain. The piper was playing particularly badly as we rounded that corner. Ruth says she thinks he was trying not to laugh as Supergirl charged up the road followed by Puffing Billy.

Ruth was ahead but together we were making progress through the field. We overtook a few of our competitors that had taken off before us. Finally, (I think it was about the mile mark) I realised that now I was catching up to Ruth and if I wanted to make my move I should do it soon. I went past Ruth who immediately started walking! (But not for long) and I don't know if it was before or after but I went past Judith Dobson who has been running excellently. Both urged me onwards and I tried to reply but there wasn't any spare breath for fully formed words.

I'd forgotten how hard the last bit of this race is. Its relentlessly uphill. I couldn't see the finish per se but could see the 200m to go sign, still looking tiny up ahead. I've never seen a 200m to go sign and thought that 200m was a short distance! And last night was no exception. Time slowed down, my legs moved in slow-motion, pushing through treacle, and all I could hear was my wheezing lungs. Brian Cruickshank, aka the devil, got me full face with his water gun, which was a helpful distraction. And at last I was over the line. I looked at my watch and it ticked over from 14.08 to 14.09. Just 1 second shy of my time 2 years ago then - and although I'd have like to have dipped under 14 minutes I was pretty pleased with that.

About 30 seconds later Ruth came in with a deal more aplomb than me. I was under strict instructions to go and get the camera and get some photos - which I did - but it was a while til there was enough oxygen in my brain so they're not very good and I've used mostly roadrunpics instead. He had the sense to take pictures of the runners in the sun with the stunning views behind them - but I couldn't work any of this out.

There is little more peaceful than standing at the side of the road watching people finishing the uphill time trial once you've finished it yourself. My brain was quiet and happy. Beside me was a small batch of Fifers who offered me tea, juice and jaffa cakes. It was too soon to take anything on but it was nice to be included in such a friendly way. I had a bit of a chat with Judith too. There were some very strong runners out last night. Most people seem to kind of jog the uphill time trial and so its always noticeable when someone's really running it. Julia H. powered up the road looking totally focused in a fabulous time of 12.13 and ahead, at last, of brother Adam.

An age seemed to pass til I caught sight of Peter and Willie coming up the road. They, like Ruth and I, had been set off together, and were still nearly together quite near the end. When I first saw them Willie was just on Peter's shoulder but of the two of them you would say Willie definitely looked fresher - and just at that point Willie set off the booster rockets and powered up to the line 3 seconds ahead of the hapless Buchanan who clearly could not respond.

"Its good it was someone he loved who did that to him!" I quipped to Judith beside me - and that was pretty much Peter's sentiment. If it had to be anyone it was best if it was Willie Jarvie.

So tonight's "fun" is the beach race - this is the one I dread the most! Acres of flat sands! Mirages! Endless distances! A finishing line you can see from well over a mile away and never gets any closer! Oh holy cow...

Photos; Roadrunpics, Peter, me

Tour blog by Lady Tour Leader Julia Henderson here

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