Sunday, 29 November 2015

Peebles XC

Nothing looked very promising about this race. The weather forecast was dire; a black cloud with two drops and a gusty wind. Kate Jenkins had posted on the "book" that the course was water-logged - that it was hard, at points, to distinguish the course from the river. I didn't give myself any time to think about it because I couldn't see what I might think that would do me any good.

Steve and Willie had both run the WOL half yesterday and so were suffering before the race. Peter was pretty fresh and had loaded up with Red Bull before getting in the van so there followed a torrent of passionate opinions. I like having Steve in the car because he helps me navigate. Usually it's all up to me. It was even wet in the van. I think the seal must have gone on the passenger side window. Peter's side had a good sized pool of water anyway.

I had the wind-screen wipers on "double" at times and the wind was shaking the van. I remembered how back in the Citroen AX the single windscreen wiper broke one day on the way back from a race on the motorway from Stirling. It was in the middle of a deluge and in seconds I couldn't see a damn thing.  Scott Ferguson was in the car and I thought "I bet he won't want to travel with me again", even though he didn't complain. Luckily we were near the turn off for the service station. Damn, it's amazing what you survive. The next time Scott came in the car it was icy outside and the heater had broken so we had to drive with the windows wide-open to stop the windscreen from steaming up.

Nothing like that today. I thought our timing was pretty nice. No point in being too early - conditions were too extreme - but there was plenty of time for a pee and a warm up - the essentials of country life.

So, fast-forward. The boys went off to warm up and I sat and finished the coffee in my flask in peace. A big flurry of rain blew over and I realised that I'd forgotten to bring a rain-coat. What a twit. I'd been about to, and I'd been swithering about which one to take. I recently bought a new waterproof and I still love it too much to stink it up! So I was considering my options and then something happened and I forgot all about it.

When I got out the van I was stiff as cardboard but a wee run about loosened me off. As is often the way with extreme weather, it was really daunting going into it and then being out in it was enlivening. To my surprise I found I was enjoying myself.
The start was hectic as I hadn't really left enough time to get my layers off and then everyone's kit was getting blown away by huge gusts of wind. Ian Nimmo of Carnethy jammed his kit in the roots of a tree along-side mine and I weighed them down with a big stone. Then I had to go as it was off time. I didn't hear the safety talk, or the start. Off we jolly well went into the teeth of a gale.

And yet I was warm and happy. I'd worn two vests as a concession to the weather and I had my buff jammed over my head. I wondered how long I was going to stay cheerful like that, but it lasted. Turning around in the park was delightful. All you had to do was stay in the air as long as possible and the wind was doing the work. I felt like I was flying along and yet very comfortable. The second time into the wind was fine, I won't bore you. It was all good. I was enjoying myself and I relaxed into it. Joy Division was playing away in my head...."What you going to do when the novelty is gone?" Thrashing guitars. I toyed with the idea of a few Ian Curtis dance moves. Maybe at the end.

Before I knew it we were on the climb up through the trees on the far side of the river. And then before I knew much more we were climbing up that short, sharp hill. And then it isn't far to the end. And so it went all the way. Ya-hey!

The team seemed to be in good spirits at the end. Steve's legs were set concrete after yesterday's half. Willie had a niggle which was worrying him. Richard had an impressive gash out his leg although I didn't hear the story of it. I think a branch came down on Steve's head. Peter had had a good run and was buoyant. I needed to make up my weekly mileage to 30 miles for my OCD so Peter and Steve came a run with me.

And now we are home. And I am still in my duvet jacket and muddy know the story...

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