Monday, 17 November 2014

Gala XC and other stuff

There's something beautifully old-fashioned about this photo of the rest of the Porties. Me and Peter were still out in the woods. Photo - David Limmer.

All my atoms were shook  up by the end. Photo Mary Lye.

Julie Oswald found the race far too short.

Arthur's Seat!

The weather is so dismal today that even the houses look sad.

I'm having a terrible time getting anything done at all today so I might as well blog! 

After 6 months race free, I just did my 2nd race in 3 weeks yesterday. Not that it felt strange, it didn't. It's 2nd nature to get up and into race kit, find my safety pins and go!
We had a newbie to the Berlingo bus in the form of Mike Lynch who got to witness first hand the usual high level of expressed emotion as we established the exact route to get onto the A7 and down into the borders. You wouldn't think this would be hard. My sister used to live in Stow, so we've cycled that road manys the time, and yet we went the wrong way and it took some swearing and sarcasm to correct our route. We had bags of time anyway - and it was lucky we did really, because a thick fog had formed and driving was slow.

Arriving in Galashiels there was yet more driving around and shouting until we followed the signs for the swimming pool (which I, ahem, had been saying all along) and got parked nearby.
It was cold and I'd put on a t-shirt under my race vest thinking I could always take it off if it seemed like I should. I had a fleece on over this and a hat and gloves as we set off on a bit of a recce.

The course was full of interest and we were out warming up and recceing longer than we meant to be so we had an unwelcome sprint just before the start. I was roasting by this time and had time to bundle my fleece and hat and gloves up and chuck them by the side of the road, but there was no time for taking my t-shirt off from under my vest. I started right at the back, which I thought might have doomed me due to the narrow trails, but actually it was fine and worked quite well for pacing. I could see the vest of club-mate Shery up ahead, so focused on making my way up to her. She has been off for about a year with a knee injury and is just coming back or I wouldn't have been near her.

As we came to the hilly bits I started to gain more places and this was very pleasing. For quite a long time it seemed like I'd never feel comfortable on the hills again, but I've regained some of my old steady pace. Nothing exciting, just the ability to keep jogging on when other people have stopped to walk. And on the downhills I could see I was more comfortable with just letting go and letting gravity do the work than those around me too, so for quite a while nobody caught me and I picked off people one by one. I wasn't complacent by the time I got to the 2nd (deep) river crossing but maybe I had relaxed. I was entirely surprised by the sudden appearance of Mark Fry who overtook me at this point. That didn't seem quite right so I did my very best to haul him back in, but he was quite at home on the fast downhill stretch to the finish and I just couldn't get him. Oh well.

The gala marshals were some of the most encouraging I have ever encountered, shouting "You're doing really, really well!". The course was truly amazing. Best ever, with a little bit of everything you could ask for. River crossings, hill-side, long swooping downhills, carpeted forest paths, the lovely smell of pine, stiles, more river crossings....

And so off we went back home again. An 80 mile round trip for less than 4 miles running! This racing malarkey is a drug, it must be. 

Today I planned to get out a run at 8am but only hauled my sorry arse out the door at 1pm. I had to trick myself that it would be "just a short one", but actually it turned out to be a 10 miler. It was nice once I was out. Much warmer than yesterday and some very subtle autumn colours happening around Arthur's seat. I like the trees with the very last bright, bright yellow leaves clinging on, and the hedges with blood red berries.

Okay, as always, I must do stuff. I notice from the results that I have fallen from 8th in my category last time to 13th in my category this race, but I can't be disappointed about it. My heart took a damn good thrashing - I had an average rate of 167. I couldn't have worked any harder and running 10 easy miles today felt fine, except I was hungry.

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