Sunday, 27 November 2011
Borders XC - Galashiels leg
Phew! Helping with the WOL half marathon duties are over and I was back out to race again today. I spent hours yesterday evening tussling with the spreadsheet on Open Office. I know there must be a way to get a whole column to carry a function but I couldn't figure out how. In the end I did all sums in my head for the results.
Today was the Galashiels leg of the Border XC.
I think fate wanted us not to make it there today but we did get there. First of all we were going to be picking up Ally Robertson but then he phoned to say his train from Livingston had been cancelled so that was his race over there and then. Because we didn't have to be up the road to meet him we relaxed and before we knew it we were leaving kind of late.
At Sherriffhall we took the wrong turn off the roundabout and were heading off to Dalkeith. A bit of guesswork on B roads took us back where we needed to be but it added a little time on the journey. Likewise, just after Newtongrange, there was a traffic light stuck on red. Eventually the cars ahead of us went through anyway. Still the clock was ticking.
As we went into Galashiels we weren't allowed to go the way we'd planned to go so we did a bit of headless chicken up and down streets looking for the swimming pool. When we got there, there really wasn't very much time to get stripped off and get going - which was maybe a good thing. The wind was very sharp.
Graham Henry (en bicyclette) got us in the mood by telling us how it was likely to be the longest and hardest of the cross-country season. There was just time for a trot up and down the road to warm up before the off.
At the back we couldn't hear a word of the race preamble so we went into it blind.
There was an East District XC at Galashiels years ago - which was notable for being very hilly. Some of the faster runners weren't best pleased and I did a bit better than usual. I had in mind it might be a bit like that. I think ultimately we were in the same hilly field - but I'm not sure. The course started off kind of flat on good paths, which would normally be a bit of a nightmare for me as all the swift people pulled off but for some reason everyone seemed to go off quite slowly. I discovered it was an easy matter just to run up the left hand side a bit quicker and I must have passed hordes of people this way. The track took us here and there and was quite interesting. After a while we started climbing and before long found ourselves entering a field. The ground was wet but not too bad. There was no indication of how very muddy it was going to get.
There was a longish hill and a few people started walking. This gave me heart and I kept going steadily at it. I kind of thought a woman was just behind me but I wasn't sure. As we topped out we went through the deepest smelliest mud you could hope for. "Lovely" I said. "Beauty treatment" said Anne Hay from right beside me. Yikes!!! another FV45!!! I tried to keep moving.
Ahead of me was the forlorn looking form of Kathy Henley. She'd usually be miles ahead but she was not relishing the "surface" (tussocky grass and muddy puddles) and after a while I eased past her. For a little while it seemed like she was going to wear this as an option. I got away down the hill ahead of her but then made rather a pig's ear of going through a woody bit - seeming to pick the deepest mud troughs available and having to jump over the enormous roots of a giant tree. We then went over a wall and onto a hideous path of mud and boulders and I knew she was right behind me...then over the carpeted stile and down a hill - she was still there. We went down a nicer but narrow path where we were stuck behind triathlon guy and another guy who were CHATTING!!!! I tried to get round them but started slipping around and remembered last week's twisted ankles and opted for biding my time.
As soon as we hit a more reasonable kind of path Kathy went by me. I hoped she would make the triathlete and the other guy try a bit harder and be quiet and that was what happened. She pulled surely and steadily ahead. Pretty soon Peter was shouting at me "Go! Go Now!" I knew he meant "Go now and you can catch Kathy", but the thing is I had already gone. This was me after having gone! I didn't have the breath to say so though.
Quite pleased all in all. There were rumours at the end that the course was shorter than intended - but I thought it was fine!
Scott, who had been out on the course spectating said a lot of people lost their shoes there. I had to scrunch up my toes to keep mine on in some of the deeper, suckier bits.
Peter, Amanda, Horatio and I went for a "cool down" or a warm up...whatever you care to call it afterwards. It really was very nice running in the woods.
We stopped in Stow at a cafe for some cake and post-race reflection, thus passing the indefatigable Graham Henry, cycling into the wind, not once but twice on our way back to Edinburgh.
Well its evening and the results are up already on the excellent Borders XC site . I'm a bit further down the field than I'd hoped but I think there was a top turn out today and I refuse to be discouraged. Looking forwards to next week at Peebles already.
Peter and I are both feeling we need to get out and do something longer during the week, if only to burn some calories. We're both chubbing up.