Sunday, 8 May 2016
E2NB Race 2016
But there's nothing happening in these photos!
What are you talking about? There's plenty happening.
There is a camber at the side of the road. It is hurting my feet and ankles but to run further out into the road is to risk a messy death. It wouldn't be fair on the organisers.
There is a relentless head-wind. The bushes at the side of the road are providing some cover, but not as much as you might have hoped.
That person behind me? They are going to beat me by a lot.
They are going to go past me and I am going to think, as I always think, "Who are you kidding?" and I will pick up my pace for a while until my insides put the counter-argument, which is essentially "fuck it" and I slow down again.
You know the first few miles of this race were not too bad. It was perfectly clear, first from the weather report and then from the sight of the grey choppy sea at Portobello that it was going to be a grey, cold day with a nasty wind. Understood. I thought about not doing it at all, which made me think about what else I would do instead, and essentially what I was going to want to do was a 20 miler. We have a marathon in July and it's time for the regular long runs to begin. So why not just do a nasty 20 miler into a head-wind and call it good training.
In the first few miles I was nearer to 8 minute pace than 9. I had no idea what I could expect out of my body so I tried to relax and not be dogmatic about it. People started going past me in predictable clumps from Musselburgh on as I slowed. But I didn't feel physically bad or anything. I had the problem of what to do with my thoughts on a route with no surprises in a race without hope of triumphs. The first 7 miles went by in about an hour and I knew I couldn't sustain that as an average pace, - which meant it was going to be close to 3 hours at best. Another 2 hours. Of this...
At least on the trails there are obstacles. Things to go over and get round and routes to get anxious about following. It gives your mind something to do as your feet plod on.
Earlier in the race I had tried a bit of drafting for a while. It made me think about Catherine Ndereba who was most famous for getting too close behind other runners and clipping the runner in front's heels. I think she ran a 2.17 marathon, but that amazing feat was kind of eclipsed by the fact that Paula was there and running better, and that Catherine ran at other people's expense. Or at least that's what I remember about her. I didn't want my 2.17 marathon effort to be eclipsed by my reputation for riding the backs of other runners so I dropped back. Either that or I got tired.
About the middle of the race I was in a groove of running about 9.30 pace. I rationalised. Who was I to say what my body should be able to do? If it wanted to run at 9.30 pace who was I to argue.
Further down the road and up the hill to Gullane, 9.30 pace was a distant dream - an old man's day-dreams of his youth. Anne Rutherford came past but didn't draw away so I stuck behind her and then even overtook, with half an idea that we could help each other. The wind seemed to be stronger, colder and more omnipresent. It didn't seem to be coming from any particular direction - just against. Anne and I did run together for a while and then she disappeared off forwards.. Something was starting to happen in my innards. Maybe the trees up ahead would provide some shelter from the evil wind.
I had a gel which I thought was one of those gels that has enough fluid in it so you don't need a drink with it. I quickly realised my mistake but thought it would be okay anyway - but it started off a stitch in my side. My insides had been threatening to cramp up for some time anyway and I think, looking back, that this was the trigger for things to really get going. I started having that feeling that I need to eliminate something. I didn't know what! There is a book by Giulia Enders called Gut which I have read about one third of. She starts off with the notion that we are essentially made out of three tubes
Oh I've found an excerpt -
If we could see more than meets the eye, we could watch as a clump of cells grows into a human being in a woman’s belly. We would suddenly see how we develop, roughly speaking, from three tubes. The first tube runs right the way through us, with a knot in the middle. This is our cardiovascular system, and the central knot is what develops into our heart. The second tube develops more or less parallel to the first along our back. Then it forms a bubble that migrates to the top end of our body, where it stays put. This tube is our nervous system, with the spinal cord, including the brain, at the top and myriad nerves branching out into every part of our body. The third tube runs through us from end to end. This is our intestinal tube—the gut. (from chapter one).
Anyway, I was thinking about this and trying to remember which tube turns into what in our body. For myself I wasn't exactly sure exactly what wanted to come out of which tube but I knew some kind of 'throwing' off wanted to happen at some end of the tube. It was a miserable feeling. The cold wind was definitely making it worse but there was nowhere to hide. I thought that the two vests and big pants I had on under my shorts were ample to keep me warm enough, if not too warm, for this race, so I had nothing extra to pull on. I don't know if it would have helped if I had.
I had the sense that walking was not going to make me feel better, in fact it would leave me out in the cold longer, and it would just add an extra serving of defeat to the plate of pointlessness and failure I would be eating later. (I know, I'm stretching it.) So I kept running. "Running". My last two miles were at 11+ minute pace - okay on the trails in a 30 miler...but on the road?? Feck. But I had greater worries. Immediate worries of what might happen. Even running downhill into North Berwick we were not ducking under 11 minute pace. I couldn't risk breathing much or making any sudden moves. It might happen. Nice Megan Wright was coming up the hill and she must have primed her cute looking children to cheer me on because they said "Well done Mary". "Oh dear I am going to shit myself in front of these sweet children" I thought. (and I'm now thinking, maybe the right thing would be to shout "HBT!!" if it happened. I'm not sure of the etiquette.)
It wasn't just that end though. I was getting mouthfuls of spit. The marshals at the bottom of the road looked sympathetic and were nice and quiet as I went by.
And then...over the line....
A silver blanket and a hug from Anne Rutherford helped a bit. Andrew Stavert chummed me up the road. He was bluff and cheery as usual, asking me questions I couldn't possibly know the answers to. I was not feeling right at all and I started to pour with sweat inside my roasting foil, although I was still frozen cold. I felt I couldn't breathe properly and I wondered if I was maybe actually going to faint. Things did not seem real.
We were joined by a girl from Fife who had been out in the wind on her own so long she was shouting without realising it. She and Andrew diverted each other's attention which I found helpful as I was free to try and somehow find a balance in this yawing ship of mine. I saw Roly and some other friendly faces looking rueful and I waved but couldn't stop. Something still needed to happen. Big pools of spit were pouring into my mouth and I'm ashamed to say I spat on a tree. I didn't know if I was going to heave or what...I got my rucksack off the bus and got in to the sport's centre and got into the bathroom and took a seat. I stupidly put my warm top on before I realised that I was still wearing my rucksack and had to take it off again. I'd stopped feeling sick now. All the tension had moved to the other end. Nothing too dramatic happened. Except I have given myself piles again. Ouch. Apparently 40% of the population have them, and I'd bet runners and especially long distance runners are in that number, so I'm just saying.
It all wore off once I got warm and once Peter gave me his paracetamol, and once I'd sipped a cup of tea and then more courageously had a sausage roll. Feeling ill came in waves of crampy horror and then eased off. Porties won prizes. Rona of Dunbar was third lady! She just seems to keep getting better. Anne Rutherford won..was it 2nd 50? I was glad about that because she was nice to me. There should be a prize for that. Peter won 2nd 50 too. He was nice to me too. There's a theme here. David Limmer was 2nd, the madman. He wasn't even feeling well at the start. He has always been nice to me. As usual I am just saying. That's what blogging is all about.
And then it was time to go home. My legs felt okay. Partly the paracetamol and partly running so slowly in the last few miles I suspect. I never take pain-killers unless I absolutely have to, so when I do they seem to work well.
My arse, however, is a disaster.
What's it all about?