September's club championship race and there was sufficient interest to justify a coach down to Dumfries. It's not that far but the roads are slow and so it made good sense. Having been involved behind the scenes I had my fingers crossed it would all go fine: that the coach (and all runners) would turn up at the right time and we wouldn't leave anyone behind at the other end. Thankfully it all went very smoothly. The weather was (in my opinion) perfect for running, and my training had been going well. All in all it was lining up to be a grand day out.
A while ago I had been discussing this weekend with Michael G, and cursing that the half was the day after a boozy evening trip with some Carnethy runners involving pubs, strong drink and a few miles running over the Pentlands. He couldn't believe I was considering doing this. He pointed out I had run just over 1.20 for Haddington and that I might well manage under 1.20 if Dumfries was a faster course. What was I thinking? Right enough there are few times when fitness, training, weather and a reasonable course make for a potential pb, and that those occasions should be respected rather than squandered with a night of boozing.
Suitably chastised I emailed Jim H to quit (with reluctance) the team for the Equinox / Harvest run. It hurt, but not as much as running 13.1 miles with a dry mouth and pounding head. I even resisted the temptation of Mary's 18 miler on Saturday and had a leisurely 8 miles with AGH rendezvousing with Mary afterwards.
Porty Party Bus
I had a bad night's sleep Saturday: not due to booze, but a tooth which has been hurting. I was up every 1 or 2 hours and felt a bit tired rising at 6.30am to ready myself for Andrew's kind offer of a lift along to Portobello to catch the bus. The last 2 weeks have been quite full-on at work. So much so that I have only run 7 days in 14. That may have produced a taper effect to my benefit. I certainly felt fine as soon as the race got underway.
This is 2 photos joined together.
The event was captured by http://www.athletesinaction.co.uk/ who are charging a relatively modest price (£6) for digital copies of the action photos taken on the day. (See first and last pic of myself.) The pre-event pics (as above) are free to download - a nice touch.
We arrived in sunshine at a modern looking college campus and warmed up, running around and about the various buildings, some modern, some old. We bumped into a Dumfries club runner and asked him about the course. He gave us the lowdown – hills (up) at miles 2, 5 and 10 though generally a downhill course. The hills were big enough to notice but not to stop you in your tracks. The downhill aspect was less obvious. Similar to Haddington, on quiet country roads between fields of crops. Some nice views along the way as well. I enjoyed Yana saying she could be running through housing estates for all the scenery she takes in. I quite enjoyed the scenery and find that if my heart is light, the miles pass by quicker.
It was such nice weather I decided to carry the camera.
Robert Turner (in the shades) came on the Porty bus.
And ran a very impressive 1.15 for first v40.
There was quite a good sized crowd at the start. I think it was Gareth who advised through Michael F's phone, not to start too quickly. I had heard Nicola rate the benefits of a slower start and felt I should give it a whirl – try NOT to get caught up in the excitement and set off at 10k pace (Mr. Limmer!), only to crash in the last couple of miles. I decided to stick near Michael as he usually sets off steadily and almost always surges late on. Surely a much better tactic.
Anyway it set us up for a good chance to go under 1.20 for the Half. As long as the hill at 10 wasn't too bad. It wasn't. Perhaps the shortest and shallowest of the 3 climbs I was past it and hardly slowed. Up ahead a Bella was walking. I tried to telepathically post DNF messages in his direction as they looked likely for the team prize. I know that's unsporting. It's also not very effective, and the dude started running again, and at a respectable pace, more's the pity.
The goes-on-forever last mile alongside the river.
Spartan Johnny – on his triumphant return home from a win at the Langdale Half called past to cheer us on after the top of the ten mile hill. It was a great boost to see him there although I may have been confused by his shouted orders to go faster and given him the wrong hand signals.
WJ approaching the finish line to get first v55
I noticed the camera's settings had got changed and I think this was the reason for some lost photos between 6 and 12. I took a couple on the steep downhill to the riverside and along the goes-on-forever last mile. Two photographers and then a large crowd and finish line. I managed to keep the pace going and nobody overtook. In fact I think nobody overtook after the first mile except Michael who swapped places with me a few times. I didn't see him again from mile 10 and think it wasn't his day, as his last few races have been considerably stronger.
Ann was another stowaway on the PRC bus.
I could hear Dumfries Alan behind which kept me focussed and I crossed the line in 1.19.19 – a forty second pb. I have Mr Geoghegan to thank for that. He reminded me to approach the race sober and he was right. A drink is fun but a pb is for life. Or until the next set of ideal conditions. And once you are into your fifties those opportunities come round less often. Some races I nearly kill myself or get into a huge battle with other runners or the watch – today's race, although solid hard work, was relatively plain sailing and passed along without any near death experiences or leg trashing sprints to get over the line in time. And it is greatly reassuring to go faster than ever before at an age when some find themselves on the slippery slope of age related depreciation.
Top marks to the organisers. The route was scenic, well marked and marshalled. The mile markers were accurate and there was plenty to drink along the way. We got great weather (although some prefer cooler) and the showers were (after a while) warm. There was tea and biscuits and a great prize list. And a fab goody bag – putting some big city events to shame, with yoghurts, a yoghurt drink, crisps, a large block of chocolate, a tech t-shirt, a medal, a choccy biscuit bar, a wrist sweat band, drinks bottle, bottle of water etc. Not just three leaflets and a banana.
Nice even splits. Undulating course but overall downhill profile.
The prize giving was really generous and Porty just about did the clean sweep. Age group prizes were in 5 year groups. And there were 2 male and 2 female team prizes. 3 out of the 4 of them coming back on the PRC bus! Though the Bella boys resisted the thought transfer and won first male team. However, prizes for 2 teams of Porty girls, which was brilliant! I am not going to name individual age group prizes because I'll remember some and forget others. Well maybe I'll mention Nicola who came first lady, 6th overall and got a pb with 1.16.29, an outstanding performance and first Porty home.
View out the coach windscreen on the way home.
Wonder what the road sign means?
Everyone got back on the coach and although there were rumours of strong drink being passed around, the behaviour didn't deteriorate too much and we all returned to base without incident. A great day out and most seemed to feel it was a really worthwhile choice of outing for the club championship. Great race!
Rather good photo from athletes-in-action taken in last half mile.
(I paid for it so I'm using it. Twice!)
Dumfries website and results here
Dumfries website and results here