Yesterday's Hip Test
It's the kind of thing you could only do after a race. Sitting around, feeling smug, surfing around on the internet. I counted up how many times I've done the 7 Hills, and it's 10. 7 races, 3 challenges.
The prospects for today weren't good. My hip has been giving me jip. Such bad jip that when it woke me up in the middle of the night last week I had myself nearly talked into having a fracture. Ask NHS 24. A cause of sudden hip and leg pain in older adults. Mind you I can be a bit of a hypochondriac. When Peter caught me googling the symptoms of shingles the other day he swore at me. Can you imagine? "You've got to be f**king kidding me!" He expostulated. Shame on him. It's just I'm covered in little red dots. "Bed bugs" was his opinion. Bed bugs???
Yesterday I went out for a run with PB and my hip was no worse after the run than beforehand. I thought I might as well do the race and carry some money. If I had to drop out, I'd drop out. I'd be going out a run if I possibly could anyway.
So it was with no hopes and no expectations that I set off up the road for the race today. I say the race but I asked Alan the organizer to switch me to the challenge, about a month ago. Sick of having horrible races I suddenly realised that doing the Challenge would be less pressure and much more enjoyable. It's still a race, don't let anyone tell you anything different.
I set off steadily and was resolved to keep it that way. Nothing worse than feeling tired in this race early. Despite having climbed a few stairs recently, I haven't been doing any hill training. I kind of meant to, but then real life took over. I thought I might well be struggling by the end. Back in 2013 I was in a right old state by Arthur's Seat, which was particularly painful because I used to be able to romp it.
Today went well. It started off okay and then just got better. My highlights were taking the best line off Corstorphine Hill ever. (I don't think I could reproduce it.) Going up Craiglockhart I found truly terrifying. My Hokas weren't getting any grip on the ball-bearing dry earth on the steep slope, so I had to plan my ascent of the bank like a climb - deciding in advance where I was going to put my feet and which roots I would cling to. I had a massive rush of adrenaline from this and was quite shouty at the top. Shouty and sweary. I couldn't help it.
Going up the grassy bit of Craiglockhart the sight and sound of Michael G had me run all the way instead of the half and half I had planned.
It was lovely being passed by the leaders and being greeted by name, by Mike Reid and Dessie Flanagan and then later Stewart Whitlie on Blackford Hill. What other sport would that happen in? On Blacket Avenue Peter came past. I kept him in sight and I took the best line through the halls I have yet. By the foot of Arthur's Seat I was in a really good mood. I still had the energy to get running for most of the way up. Tony Stapley gave me a heroes welcome at the top and Willie was taking photographs. I was a floundering fool by then and came down much of the steep upper half on my arse. I was grateful to the guy in front who did this and showed me the way.
Then it was not far to go. I saw from my watch that 2.30 was possible. I'd have preferred sub 2.30 but 2.30.13 was beyond the wildest imaginings I'd had pre-race. Yahoo! A happy race! A happy ending!
In the post-race euphoria Kathy Henly somehow convinced me that what I should do was the Craggy Island Triathlon at the other end of the summer. An open-water sea swim, a mountain bike and then a hilly race to finish. Actually it's a great idea. So I've signed up. There's the summer's agenda set right there.