Sunday, 14 February 2016

Snowy Race Weekend

Yeah I know, it's not a very good title. It's the best I can do. I'm tired. I need a shower. The dishes fairy hasn't been. Very unpredictable that particular sprite. Let me tell you about my racy Valentine weekend while I still have the strength.

Day 1. Carnethy.

OMG. The Carnethy. But it's snowing heavily in Penicuik. Maybe it'll be cancelled. Dream on.
This was my 12th Carnethy 5. I went back over all the results to see.
I did a bit of training for this - a couple of weekends out in the snowy Pentlands and some runs up Arthur's Seat and I'm glad I did. It was white out conditions all the way round and I thought I did okay considering even if it wasn't the best "time". I found it pretty slippy on the ice and there were bits where I wanted to run but couldn't get any grip.

The sleet slicing into your face was a bit uncomfortable - particularly coming down to the Howe. I still have a twitch in my right eye today. I felt warm enough though and it was only after I'd finished I started an impressive full-body shiver which was a bit embarrassing on the bus on the way back to the school. I knew the woman sitting next to me must be able to feel it though her seat.

The Finish. Photo: Digby Maas, pinched from Carnethy website. Tak!

Back at Beeslack school I found my friend Jane in the dining hall. It was nice to see her even though I think the cold and exertion had knocked my brain off-line. It really was a tiring day. We had to do a Tesco's shop before we got home and we got in at 7pm, got dinner ready and I was away to bed by about 9. Peter stayed up later thinking of ways to complain about the race for his blog. The trouble is people are egging him on and his Victor Meldrew reputation is spreading far and wide. He is going to have to dig deep if he wants to build to a crescendo of denigration of the much loved Carnethy 5 race for his 21st race. He has 5 to go until he gets a quaich and can retire.

Truth be told I don't really know what a quaich is, or how to say it. And neither does he. And I pointed out that...I can't remember how much the Carnethy cost in the early days of doing it...but say it was £5 for the 1st 7 years and then £10 for the 2nd 7 years and it's £15 for the 3rd 7 years then...well that's £210. I think he could buy a pretty handsome quaich for that.

Actually there's no excuse for not knowing something in this age of the internet....

Anyway, I think this proves that he's doing the Carnethy 5 because he likes it. I think you can see my logic.

Day 2. Borders XC Final Leg - Galashiels.
There's been a lot of snow. Maybe it'll be cancelled? Dream on.
I was hungry as hell this morning. I had my normal breakfast and less than 2 hours later I was going back for more. With my belly full I felt like going back for another sleep. What's that you say? An XC race in the Borders? Are you sure?

The car (we have a sympathetic bond. It's my car.) didn't want to start. We have the automobile equivalent of a defib we keep in the back though. Peter attached the wires to the battery. The patient was shocked back into action. We set off down the road. It started to snow quite earnestly for a while. Would we really make it in one piece to Gala? Would it be so bad if we didn't make it there in time? The snow stopped.

We made it in plenty of time. There were a huddle of Porties in the swimming pool building drinking lukewarm coffees out the vending machine. We joined them. Slightly tubby children in swim suits were playing on large floating fun know...animal the pool. It looked warm and cosy. I was pretty sure I have a swim suit in the back of the car from last winter's sea swimming adventures and I did consider it. Maybe I'd just do a few laps in the nice warm pool and play on a big duck, leaving the other Porties to exert themselves outside in the snowy conditions....

Oh come on, get on with it.

Okay. Back outside, after I'd run a mile with my duvet jacket still on I felt a bit warmer.

Shortly after that we were "off".
It wasn't too bad to start with but then the rot kind of set in. Or it wasn't really rot, but enthusiasm it was not. Starting up hill my legs complained. "You're having us on." "Come on, keep moving, I'm not asking you to sprint!" "Well as long as you aren't." My brain and body came to a workable agreement. Towards the top of the hill the sun came out and the scenery was nice. Some very pristine looking white iced hills in the distance. Running down through the field in the snow was a pleasure and I stretched out a bit, grateful that there was no-one to catch and no-one was catching up on me so I could just stay in my own rhythm. Back in the woods it started to snow again and it was fun. Not bad under foot. A river crossing and I picked my way through carefully. No heroics. No splashes. I got to the finish line. The end. Of the race anyway.

Dr Jones put in quite a heroic effort to sweep me off my feet! I was impressed. He must have been going to the gym or something.

Peter was in quite a good mood. "Mr Whittle" as Stewart Whitlie was called at the prize-giving wasn't there today, having already won the over-all O50 male category. That gave Peter another shot at winning that category today, if he could just beat Adam Fletcher. Could he do it? I got a blow by blow account in the car on the way home. It turns out he could. So he got 2nd place in his category overall. Willie picked up the 8 - 10 year old girls' trophy. No other Porties got any special prizes but, you know, we were all winners.

Next up, the Foxtrail 20K next weekend, which I'm sure will be good training for something else...

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