Sunday, 31 July 2011

Tour of Fife Day 5 - the twisted twisted chicken run

I pulled a number of funny faces today

This being another of them

But this being the strangest - what expression is this?

Last day of the Tour of Fife. I felt more relaxed right from the start. Not so Peter who had a margin of just 7 seconds between himself and Patrick O'Kane in the competition for the V45 prize. I tried to amuse him by singing the "7 seconds away" song (still don't know what its about)  but he didn't seem to find this as funny as me and went about scowling and muttering.

Ruth and Willie arrived at the flat for 1 pm and we set off in the Porty bus together. The Berlingo knew the way by now and it took very little attention or thought to get to Strathmiglo. We arrived with over an hour to spare so all went our separate ways to pass the time until race time. I went a run a mile up the course and then back. It was a sultry kind of day and everything was looking superb. The crops were lush and golden and there were giant pink flowers and grasses lining the cycle path. I decided to just live in the present and enjoy the day.

Back down at the car Ruth was getting ready and her nemesis Brian came and told us the most alarming story of Melanie Sinclair falling in the river in the winter and getting pulled under by the currents and swept away to under the bridge where she just managed to hold on and the runners that were with her just managing to grab her hands and haul her out. It was a sobering tale.

Up the road I caught up with Judith Dobson and had a chat with her til it was nearly time for the off.

Julia arrived looking lean and mean but nervous having come in second yesterday. We didn't help - pouring the pressure on!

Pretty soon we were lined up in the field and we were off. I felt good this race and felt better as the race went on. I was finding the uphills do-able and I was mercifully free of any kind of tummy pain which was a pleasure in itself. I didn't have anyone I needed to beat particularly being a good ways ahead in my category and no competition for the FV45s. There was just the enjoyable swapping places with people who I'd come to look for over the week. Helena Sim went past me at about the 1st mile and said she'd see me later on - which was possible but I wouldn't have put money on it. She is quite clear about not liking going up hill, but even if I caught her I knew she would catch back up on the downhills. I was interested to see what Jonathon Whitehead would do as well having been around him all week.... I did catch up to Helena but didn't draw any conclusions about it having been in this position before. As the leaders started to race back down towards me I got involved in shouting and cheering people on. It was great fun and really very exciting and I found I'd forgotten the pain of climbing and given myself a big boost by the turn around at the half way post.
I was right behind Jonathon Whitehead and bellowed at him - "Right then Jonathon, show me how its done!" a bit loudly and intensely I think in retrospect - its just I'd got hyped up seeing the leaders fly downhill. My thinking was that I have been catching him on the ups but he's been better than me on the downhills and the flat so maybe he could show me what he's been doing....

I was still feeling good and still didn't have a sore tummy running downhill which was just so relaxing. I found myself edging away from Jonathon and catching up to another guy in yellow. Helena and a girl in blue came past and I tried not to let them get too far ahead - there was after all one more short hill on the cycle path before the last downhills to the finish. I did catch up on the uphills, but not enough - still I was pleased with myself and although breathing wildly and very hot, enjoying the excitement of the whole thing. I got a bit held up on the path on the way down - wanting to hop over to the other lane before the bottom of the field but some chap was running in parallel and I couldn't cross without knocking into him. At the same time I couldn't run faster than him so I had to slow up marginally to fit in behind him. My side of the path had run out and gone under some trees. As I reached the bottom turn, someone (Alan?) drew even with me and it was clear it was going to be an all out sprint for the line. I did everything I could think of to get myself to the finish line as fast as I could. I'm sure it looked bizarre. I think he just pipped me but I didn't care - it was just great fun and good to feel that I was competing.

And on to the cake eating, speeches and prize giving. It was a great end to the tour. Chris Russell did a great job of thanking everyone and there was a buzz of warmth in the hall. When he said he wanted to say something serious now my stomach turned over. I was pretty sure he was going to speak about Andrew Henderson and I wanted him to and I also didn't want him to. I've certainly been thinking about him all week. Its impossible not to. Andrew was a big part of our last two tours and you expected to see him at every race. It was almost like he was nearly there but just not quite. And it was just so good to see Julia there and running so fiercely and determinedly and knowing Andrew would be so proud of her. There was massive applause in the room and then a deep silence and Chris managed to pull us all back together somehow. I think he slagged someone off so we could all laugh and move on from the poignancy and sadness.

The prizes came thick and fast, and Porty were in line for a few of them! Peter had held off Patrick O'Kane to retain his lead and his V45 prize. Willie was more comfortably 1st over 50. I got the ladies' V40 prize. It wasn't fair for Ruth as we all got prizes and she didn't and she'd run much better than me. In retrospect I wish I'd given her one of my caramel eggs! Sorry Ruth! The men's winner was the swift and light Lewis Millar and the lady winner was - hurray! - Julia. She got a massive round of applause.

Brian Cruickshank had made some Andrew Henderson fridge magnets for the people he knew that would be missing Andrew. It was such a lovely gesture. If I'm ever hating the human race - which I do from time to time - I'm going to think about being in that village hall and the sense of kindness that was around. I'm very impressed with Chris Russell for having the courage to speak about what isn't easy to speak about but was in the room anyway.

One last thing...the prizes were great!!!! I got a mug with my own lovely self on (among other things) - heaps of chocolate, miniatures of drink!!and oats so simple -the staple of any runner. Thanks so much to BC and all the organisers of the tour. I'm exhausted and I think I should have a shower...


Billy said...

Great Tour reports and expressions Mary. Well done on your victory. Congrats to Peter too. Never done a "Tour" but sounds like a good crack. Liked Brian's idea of the Andrew fridge magnets.

Helpdesk said...

Hi Mary,
I have really enjoyed reading your blog on the tour. We didn't know Andy personally, only by sight from the previous tour, but we too have thought about him throughout this week.
Congratulations to you and Peter on your well earned prizes
and hope to see you all back suffering in the tour next year again.

Lorraine Brown FAC

Yak Hunter said...

Billy - someone was just saying its surprising the lack of HBTs at the tour as it all has an HBTish feel - except possibly less beer. Its a good antidote to long, longer and super-long training.

Lorraine - thank you. We've never planned to do it again, yet that's 3 years in a row now so...Really enjoyed it!