Saturday, 6 December 2014

Borders Series XC #3: Peebles

With the weight of the WoL off my shoulders from the day previous, I felt light and jolly. And the sunshine only increased my buoyant mood. I do worry that I am not doing enough training currently. Laughably I failed the Marcothon on the first (although I did run to Fight Club, and on the treadmill once there for a few minutes, and then back home) but I like to think there are more intelligent training schedules than running a paltry amount each day. I just have to employ them.

I am looking forward to work becoming slacker although there's not much sign of that for a few weeks. Also Graham H has several outlandish plans from the 21st onwards, to keep those who like going long, going long. Fingers crossed for good weather. If you are unfamiliar with this but fancy an alternative to the mindless Christmas shopping and gluttony drop me a line and I'll let you know dates and distances. All (who can run 5 miles an hour for 6 hrs) welcome. 

Anyway Peebles it was, and it was very fine. I had missed this event last time (away at XC at Cardiff?) but recalled (horrifically) clearly the long steep hill up after the viaduct and so formulated a race plan accordingly. Start at max speed to get a good spot on the thin riverside path after the circuits of the fields at kick-off. Then rein it in crossing the viaduct and climbing through the trees to arrive at the long climb NOT gasping. Surge up the hill hoping that months of Wintervals has put a tiger in my tank, then hold on till the finish. Amazingly this all panned out better than I was anticipating. I should have been flailing and spluttering with so few miles in my legs these days: I am waiting for the crash and burn every event I do, but whether it is the cycling to work or just residual fitness, I am unclear. I think I may be channeling Stuart Hay's mojo as he does lots of quality training but with so few signs of improvement, he was asking facebook Santa for EPO.

We arrived in plenty of time for a warm up while the juniors did their race. I took the camera and snapped some of the lovely scenery along the riverside trails section. I must admit I never see any of this while running (the castle just above the trails (^ above) was a big surprise!) as I am too busy watching where feet are about to be placed. I decided not to carry the camera while racing as there was too much in the way of dangerous ground and I might well be hands-on-knees up the climb.


So we set off and I try to speed forwards. Johnny is ahead and doing good work keeping up with the front runners. This is crazy good as he won the tri-trail half marathon yesterday. I am at the limit of legs-and-lungs as we come down the steep grassy hill at the riverside end on lap 1 and have to windmill furiously to avoid drifting off course or slip sliding away. It costs a dozen places and I curse the sticky mud that fills the treads on my 190s. I chose them over the Speedcross for lightness on hills and although the grip is fine it is slippy once the treads are polyfilla-ed with sticky mud. After a short sharp climb which I manage ok at the other end we return to the riverside trails and I am shoulder to shoulder with Charlotte who is first lady. In the previous 2 races she has gained ground but each time less. She moves a couple of places ahead and shortly after Diane appears hot on her tail. From the clacking noise I reckon Diane is wearing spikes. Bold move on rocky rooty paths but instantly I am jealous. I love my spikes and hardly ever get the chance to wear them. I am unsure if I would have managed over the rocky stuff as well as Diane was managing though. I wondered if she would wait till the hill, the crux, before taking on Charlotte but from what I could see went past before even the viaduct. Her confidence was high after a win at Number 2. 

First we run under the bridge and then turn back to go over. As planned I gather myself on the short rise through the trees in preparation for the hill. In a slight change to normal, we drop down and cross the burn before the ascent. I took a sneaky peak to see if any v50s are on my heels. It's possible but not certain that I may be first v50. I felt Stuart H might do some damage on the hill climb but no sign. Also no sign of Michael G who was feeling below par before the off. Otherwise he would have come steaming past about halfway up the hill. About there I make a vow to keep running the whole way. I notice even the 2 leading ladies take a few walking steps recovery. I am not going massively faster than those around me but I am going forwards rather than backwards and this spurs me on. After we go through the gate/wall/boundary(?) I pass a guy in black compression gear who says well done or some such and it sounds like Hugh's voice. I have hard-breathed myself into another dimension and so can't actually see who it might be, but make a note, fold the corner of that page, with a view to checking it out when he comes past later. 

As I slowly return to planet earth I enjoy the downhilly bits until we turn back towards from where we just came. This is slightly different to what I remember but I do remember that it is not far to the end and comparatively I seem to be doing ok. By which I mean I just overtook Charlotte. She returns the compliment on the technical descent out the field down the narrow ridge before the muddy bits. The marshals are encouraging us to be careful as it is steep and slippy and I am unsure of how much traction and what thickness of mud remains on the soles of my shoes. So I am running like a ....I was going to say girl but in fact Charlotte came zipping past going too fast to slow down, (she might have even said sorry!) overtaking perilously close to the steep drop off and with considerably more gusto than my pussyfooting. Thus challenged, I picked it up and tried to stay close, hitting the wet ground below with a splash. The course goes past the finish at a higher level then drops down at the far corner before doing a last straight along to the tape. I, with considerable effort, got past Charlotte again and crossed the line ahead, for the first time in what seems like a long time. 

JoTho, out of focus.
(I took this photo standing beside Hugh and it was him I overtook at the top of the hill. And I stayed in front. Another confirmation that I had a good run today.)

We washed our shoes and legs in the river. I had half thought about doing a quick submerge in here but took too long between finishing and getting there. Also it was VERY cold water.

Lovely skies over the Pentlands on the way home.

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