The first of the Portobello Championship races for 2012 kicked off in style. Now in a new category, the Super Ladies, it was all new and fresh and shiny to me. My chief fears were about Shelagh McLeish, but I was not not worried about Aileen Ross who beat me at my last Park Run and Gillian McKelvie who can be swift and get by me too... There was no sign of Shelagh, although Yana said she thought she'd seen her, but Yana's quite new to the club so I thought maybe she was thinking of someone else. My first clue that I may have a problem was when Graham Henry, on marshaling duties, shouted "Watch your back!" and then "Well done Portobello!" 1.5 miles into a 4 mile race its too early to be watching your back!
The first mile seemed easy and then it all started to settle in. I was a lot slower at mile 2 and never bothered to look at my watch again after that. I still seemed to be moving through the field but was hearing the unmistakable "slap, slap, slap" tread of Shelagh just behind me. Now Shelagh has some kind of power that I just don't have - if she has you in her sights she can stick with you! I know this chiefly from watching her do it to others because she has beaten me on many occasions and I've often felt that part of the reason for her beating me was that she was able to be more determined and suffer more for longer. Oh crikey. I hadn't given this race much thought and I hadn't anticipated it turning into a suffer-fest. Still, the cosmic waiter ran up alongside me and said "Your suffer-fest madame?" and I grimly accepted it.
Mile 3 was all about my mind coming unstuck, trying to keep the self-pity at bay, denying what I knew about the distances involved and the distance still to do. Hang in there, hang in there, hang in there. At about the mile 3 mark I think Shelagh drew about even and went ahead for a bit - but not very far ahead. And slowly my brain was working out, "if you went past the 3 mile marker...quite a while ago...then there can't be that far to go." Graham shouted on me again and I felt ashamed to just give up, which is what I wanted to do. I don't know what prompted me to pick up the pace and go past Shelagh again - "too soon" my lungs screamed, "too soon" my heart sank, the self-pity was winning - and then, suddenly, Melanie Sinclair came alongside and I felt strangely comforted and I knew I was going to get to the finish ahead of Shelagh. YeY! 10 points thanks!
Shelagh hadn't realised I had jumped up into her category until I told her. She had run herself into that place where "the dry boak" takes hold. I had felt warning rumbles further down. Lucky to cross the finish line without the spillage of any body fluids.
Our times weren't that fast. I have run it faster, in fact I think it was a PW. And I'm sure Shelagh has run it much, much faster. But I have never pushed myself further into the red, and I think that's what makes a really good race.
Now, we somehow hadn't managed to let go of the idea that we were going to go into the sea afterwards, an idea that I think came from Joanne Thom of Edinburgh AC - that the runners should have a Loony Dook of their own but without the cost or the crowd control. Somehow or other Michael, Richard, Yana, Peter and I talked ourselves into thinking it was a good idea and before we knew it we were beside the Portobello Baths and the first wave of bathers were already running into the sea. I had a nice surprise meeting old friends Caroline and Johnny who I haven't seen for years and we tried to catch up in 3 minutes flat before I had to run off to catch my swimming crew. And then we went in. The hard bit is getting out of wet running kit afterwards in a cold breeze on an exposed prom with nowhere to hide. Next year we need a Porty Bathing Tent.
Tomorrow we were going to go to Fife to do the tortoise and hare race again but a number of excellent Porties are away down to Broughton to do the Greenmantle Dash and we can't bear to be left out...so its 3.3kms of wall-jumping, river crossing, steep ups and downs.