It’s become a bit of a balancing act of late – fitting in all of the short races, but still compiling the sort of overall mileage required for an impending marathon. A tiddler of a race at the weekend, especially if on a Sunday, can put a big hole in your total distance for the week – the race itself is neither here nor there, and you don’t want to do too much the day before or else you might spike your guns.
And I began the period since my last post with shredded legs from the Carfraemill to Gifford run. Although only around 10 miles, it includes a fast rocky descent down off of Lammer Law, which is a bit like jumping off a low wall at every step. Quite a lot of stress is put on the muscles, and I am convinced (admittedly with no real evidence or research to support the theory) that I ended up with a bunch of micro-tears in my quads. Thursday’s intervals were tough, and I could barely walk downstairs by the time that Friday came around.
So I made my way along to the Oldhamstocks Flower Show Hill Race on Saturday the 15th of August, with a dash of pessimism and lashings of compression wear.
|(photo: Syd Woods)|
Scanning the entrants on the line, it looked like being pretty much a straight fight amongst the Dunbar boys (albeit David was wearing his Haddington vest) – Graham Nash of Carnethy was unable to defend his title due to injury.
Following my usual plan for short hill races (see this race last year, Oxton, etc), I charged off up the valley, trying to build a lead that I might have a chance of holding when I walked up the hill. I am not a fan of this hill as it is just the wrong type for me. You could say that it falls right into my “sour spot” – if it was tarmac’d, or equally rough but slightly less steep, then I might manage to run it. But the combination of the two variables is enough to do for me. And it is not so insanely steep that it forces everyone to walk, so puts me at a disadvantage. The plan was actually more successful than normal though in that I managed to get to the foot of the hill first, and was only passed by Stuart and David towards the top. Indeed, I was able to pass David again immediately while his legs were recalibrating to the flat, and Stuart was only about 20 metres ahead. Now for the next part of the plan to kick in – the really fast downhill section back towards the village that Strava reckons is my fastest mile ever, and where I could put the hammer down having saved myself on the climb. Except that my ruined quads hadn't got that memo and Stuart and David ran away from me. Bah!
|(photo: Syd Woods)|
David won his private battle with Stuart to claim a very handsome silver cup, and in fairness Stuart didn't seem too upset with second IN A HILL RACE! I consoled myself by focussing on my bravura performance in the (secret, only existing in my head) Oldhamstocks Flower Show 1 Mile Valley Race…
|(photo: Ethan Lee)|
It turns out I was about 30 seconds quicker than last year, which is something I suppose, although I think that can be explained by benign wind conditions – last year it was “blowin’ a hooly” down the valley.
I got to the end of the week having run every day other than Friday, with the log revealing a nice round total of 60 miles.
Next up race-wise was the East Lothian Summer Series race at Musselburgh on Tuesday the 18th. For a change (every other race I've done in the series having had a sunny night) we were treated to a light drizzle at the start. Which meant that numbers were down slightly from usual. The course is like a truncated version of the Musselburgh Festival 10k, except that we start and finish near the Yacht Club at Fisherrow. Ali Wilson (unattached!), this year’s revelation, jumped out to an immediate (and ultimately decisive) lead, with Mike Jones of Musselburgh making an early secondary move which David was quick to try and cover. Leaving me to simply hang on behind in fourth. At least my legs were feeling better.
By the turn, David had managed to stretch out a gap of about 30 metres over Mike, with me still tucked in behind. Coming back along the road towards the Electric Bridge, David let out a blood-curdling roar which gave me a fright and confused me at the same time. I wondered if he might be calling out to someone to clear a path on the footbridge. When he let out another cry a minute or so later, I realised that he was actually simply trying to gee himself up. Now I know this wasn't Bond spotting Le Chiffre weeping blood at the poker table, but recognising a “tell” gave me a real boost – maybe I wasn't the only one suffering? Maybe, instead of hanging on for fourth, a punt at second would be worth a try?
And happily so it transpired – I had enough of a kick left that I came home second, with Mike third and David fourth. But no handsome silver cup to be collected tonight, and certainly not for second.
But strangely, a 5k, and particularly the ParkRun at Cramond, still has the power to get the butterflies flapping up a storm in my stomach. Because it is just so unremittingly awful. I go so infrequently that when I do, I am determined to make it count. Add in perfect weather conditions (the Forth looked like someone had laid a mirror between Edinburgh and Fife), and you have no excuses for not making it count.
So when the “gun” goes you've got to pretty much immediately turn all of the dials up to 11, and keep them there. 100 metres in and I'm already gasping for breath, with arms and legs flailing beyond the point of comfort. And that is as good as it is going to get until I've finished. Still to come are the gradually increasing stomach cramps. And the less said the better about the wee invisible man who follows me adding 100gram weights to the backs of my legs every minute.
As it is not a race in the truest sense, position doesn't really matter, only the time. My first mile was fast for me, the middle mile was typically slower, and for the final one I managed to use a Moorfoot runner as a hare – chasing him down to finish in under 18 minutes, around 30 seconds down on my best. Not a bad outcome though, as I reckon you need to do a few in a row to find the right pacing/rhythm. Damn, I guess that means I'm going back this weekend!
At least there are only a few more weeks of this before the taper begins.