2nd picture by Allan Harley featuring me with Susan coming to get me!
3rd picture by Westie John G. Donnelly
It was the 2nd running of the Run of the Mill Hill Race today. Myself, Peter and Andrew Stavert set off at 10 am for Alva. There was some squabbling about route choice and some aspersions were cast about my driving! Honestly, its lucky I'm a patient person. Some woman in a BMW who undertook me got flashed by the speed camera - Yes, justice at last. Andrew thought I was being a bit of a fascist. Maybe I was.
We arrived at Alva without any major incidents or anymore getting lost. I had to protest about my passengers who were suggesting I might be going the wrong way without having done any concrete research themselves. As it happened I found a very neat little way to Alva. It wasn't rocket-science, it was sign-posted Alva. People think this weekend adventuring is light-hearted fun but it takes a firm resolve and a steady hand sometimes.
Anyway, there was an impressive array of Porties collecting in the glen. As a championship race there were points up for grabs. The senior male, vet male and female vet positions were to be hotly contested. Lets focus on the female vets as I am still (but only just) one of them. (Soon I'm going to be super). In it to win it were Ruth Johnstone - not mad about the hills but always tough. Emily Ramsay - will beat my ass at any distance on the road - also beat my ass at the 7 hills and at Crieff 10K....could she get me on those uphills? Probably more at home off-road, the limber and fast Shery Johnston...but I beat her at Carnethy...just. Could I do the same again and get far enough away on the uphills so's she couldn't catch back up to me? Only time would tell...
I remembered from last year the nasty stony road which I thought was a bit of an ankle twister. I tried to keep it steady here, ready to put in a real fight on the uphills. The weather forecast hadn't been very promising so I was wearing 2 vests, but I was already heating up uncomfortably. Shery was away out in front. Emily put in a determined move up the hill and I stuck behind and we went past Ruth. Then further up, and onto the hill, I went past Emily and (I'll never get to say this again so I'll "drop" it in here) her friend Nathalie Christie-Cooper.
Now I had to keep ploughing on if I meant it so tried to run up the hill to the next clump of folk, have a bit of a walking breather and then run past to the next clump. I repeated this over and over, sweat pouring out my pony tail and dripping down the backs of my legs. I had to do something about the heat I was generating so when I got stuck in a queue of people walking at a narrow bit took off both vests, got the under one out and put the top one with the number back on. That was better. A little further up the way I passed Shery who was in a bunch with a few good runners - I think Alayne Findlay, Susan Harley from Fife, a Carnethy runner I didn't recognise and Susan Johnston of Corstorphine.
I felt surprisingly good so I kept pressing on - into a part of the field where I didn't really belong - but you can't think like that. Eventually the steep climbing was over and we were on the more undulating stuff at the top. There's not much to say about the next few miles. It was a repeat over and over again of the same thing. At first it was good not to be going uphill but then I'd find the going tricky and I'd be fighting to keep a rhythm and not slow down but all the while feeling people closing in on me. Then I'd hear them, then they'd go past me, then we'd come to a hill and I'd make up some ground again. Repeat times 3.
Eventually we were topping out on the last hill and I turned around and tried to have a good look and see if I could see where Shery was. I saw someone a bit away that I thought might be her as they were wearing a white vest over a flouro yellow top. That was enough information for me! I wished I hadn't looked. I hared off as quickly as I was able.
Down the hill people went by in dribs and drabs. I wasn't doing terribly but I was losing ground and the only approach I could think of was to not let it get to me, keep going as fast as I could and not give up. So that's what I did. Down the grass, down the road, - someone went past in a vest and flouro top and it wasn't Shery - down the steep grass and rocks (on my arse for safety) and then down the gravel path, all the time running from the spectre of Shery. Did I dare hope I could finally capture 10 points in a championship race? I was DELIGHTED to cross the line first Porty lady. The people at the end must have wondered just what I thought I had to celebrate, but that didn't matter.
Shortly after Shery appeared, and shortly after that Emily. I was glad I hadn't dawdled! Not long after that came Ruth.
Derek Jablonski had snuck past in the latter stages again - this time not giving me as much warning as usual.
After a bit of post-race analysis (Gareth Greene came in 1st Porty, Michael Geggs came in 2nd...after that I'm not sure) we squeezed into the no.5 Inn for salty soup and prize-giving.
And then home. Better have a shower. Great day out.