Monday, 25 May 2015

A Cautionary Tale

It was a fine sunny day for a hilly 10 miler today. The temperature was definitely up. "Just in time for the marathon" I reflected. "That reminds me of the first time I did a 50K race".

"What happened the first time you did a 50K race?"

"Oh you don't want to hear your old grandma's tales of many years ago do you?"

"Oh yes grandma, we doooooo."

Oh alright then.

So it was 2007 and we'd signed up for the Everest Marathon. It felt like the pressure was on for us to up our game. As training we would have to do awesome things. So when our friends Ian and Emma asked us over to Maine to run a trail 50K race Ian was organising, that seemed like exactly the kind of thing we should be saying yes to.

It was to be our first venture over the marathon distance. We didn't train by going over the marathon distance, we had no idea how to train for it really, so we did what might be termed a bunch of stuff, including doing the Lochaber Marathon and Stuc a Chroin the week after.

Maine has long, cold, snowy winters but then, round about the end of May, can suddenly get hot.
And that's what happened. So when Buchanan and I arrived in Portland, Maine, still swaddled in our winter fat, there were temperatures in the high 80s and 90% humidity, whatever that means. If these numbers are wrong, it doesn't mean your old grandma is a liar, it just means she can't remember so good.

We arrived in the dark, and the next morning Ian and Emma had us up sharp for route setting. I was a bit lost given the lack of sleep and the sudden heat and being in America. I had difficulty crossing the road and putting the lights on and I confess I never did understand the course. One of the way-stations was the yurt, pictured above.

I felt kind of bloated and fuzzy on race morning. I knew I wasn't going to run that well but the day was going to be an experience. There were big tables of food at the aid stations - an alien concept to my road runner's mind. I'd never eaten and run at the same time. I thought it would be churlish, however, not to give it a go. So I did. I had big slices of melon and chocolate and other stuff. It didn't sit that well. I drank a lot of sticky Gatorade too, to try to combat the heat and keep me hydrated. My mouth was a vile, dry sticky mess and my tummy was uncomfortable. I didn't know what I needed. At the end of the first loop I dodged into the portaloo to see if anything needed to happen that might make me feel lighter and better. But nothing did. It was hot in there...and when I came out I ran off in the opposite direction. Happily I noticed my mistake before too long, maybe the runners coming towards me should have been a clue.

Anyway, it wasn't my finest performance, but I did finish, and I won a plaque for 2nd Yard Lady. It was a category my friends made up in order to give me a prize! But I don't know what you're judging me for. Once you have been a Yard Lady, then you can judge.

The free beers afterwards were mighty good, and the atmosphere of runners sitting around, happy and relaxed, chatting and drinking beer in the afternoon sun was superb. The Pineland Farm trail events have grown and grown since then and there are now a whole series of them.

My tummy didn't feel right though, just not comfortable. And over the next couple of days developed a deep crampiness and some of the foulest wind I have ever countenanced ever. Not even Seafield on a still day after a heavy rain could compete. This was unfortunate as I was staying with friends and I wanted to keep them, so I had to try to keep it all under control somehow.

We'd happened to speak to a lady at the races and told her what we were doing and she, with massive generosity, offered to let us use her holiday home on one of the islands that are near to Portland. We took her up on her offer and once there I went to bed for 24 hours and finally began to mend internally. Peter took it all philosophically.

So that's the end of my story.

"But what else happened?" Well, Peter might have been 4th in the race, which was really not bad for his first ultra. Emma did the 25K trail race and she was first lady.
On our last night in America, Peter made an utter beast of himself. I've told the story here.

Here's to a lovely hot marathon! I would marginally prefer that to a windy marathon. But it may well be both.

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