Monday, 26 January 2015

feel the burns

I am a bit of a charlie.

Turned on the news a while back and the top stories were all about religions. Was it an appreciation of how great they were and how full of spirituality the world is? Well not entirely. It would seem that stupid young men who like to wave assault weapons and shout about revenge, were doing so under the guise of religion, whereas it was apparent they were just bloodthirsty simpletons with a penchant for murder. The general response has been (mostly) measured and rational which is about the only decent thing to have been on the news of late.

Then the Pope was visiting the Philippines. Estimated crowds of 6 million attended. I was surprised to hear there were that many Catholics, never mind that many who would stand in the approaching path of tropical storm Mekkhala just to see a dude in a hat and gown. Instead of having a word with his contact(s) upstairs about the imminent storm, the infallible pontiff cut his tour short. Nobody among the 6 million appeared to see any contradiction there.

Meanwhile the heavenly Graham Henry proved he has a better relationship with the firmament by providing a splendid day's weather for the third running of the Feel the Burns hill race. Recalling the first year it was held, the day was blue sky-ed and snowy underfoot, a perfect aspect for a near perfect race.

I was feeling a bit below par. And concerned that my current 12~15 miles weekly may not be sufficient. (Must get out there in the dark evenings instead of falling asleep in front of the idiots lantern when I get home.) This was a difficult one to dress for: a lot of ascent at the start means overdress and you'll overcook. Not enough and you'll freeze on the hill tops. I went fairly minimal - just one long sleeved top and not a thick one. It was absolutely fine and the effort kept me plenty warm. Also I had a race vest pack on (containing waterproofs) which added insulation.

The start and finish were in the same field as last year. We jogged there after the traditional speech by Mr. Henry which was full of amusements and misinformation. Unusually I paced myself at the start, knowing there was not unlimited juice in the tank. Talking of liquids I carried only one gel and consumed it shortly before the water table. I didn't bother with a drink at the water table.

Note: the sharp right, up into the hills.

I was near Matt C as we left the forestry trails and headed more directly into the hills. Mike Moorfoot went past on the climb and took 2 friends with him, one being Wull H who I kept close to as he is in my age group. Wull later told me he was not enjoying the amount of slip in his footwear. It was maybe this slippage that allowed me to get past before the first top and I headed down the gentle angle over the heathery moors to catch up with Mike and Nick W just ahead.

I was watching Nick on the heels of a guy whose ego was troubling him - every time Nick or I got close he raised his game and fought for the place, but would then slow to a walk later. Thinking vaguely I should teach him a lesson I pushed on past and Nick came too. In fact I enjoyed the climbs of the first half more than the descents. On the next one up to the halfway point there was a Westie about 60 yards ahead and I mentally targetted him although it took till beyond the summit stile to catch him and I can't remember if he took the place back or not. Mike M caught back up and (somewhat hypocritically) I raised the pace to stay with him to the summit. There were snow covered icy patches looking to deck the unwary. Nick had faded a bit from what I could see and I hoped he was managing ok. The next time I was aware of him was on the fast descent and he was one of the 2 on my shoulder for the mile long descent and probably wondering why I wasn't going faster.

Wull on the first hull 

Three Brethren

chasing the Westie

The marshals at the turn around - long descent from here.

I have run this section too fast in the past and found myself spent by the burn at the bottom. This time I paced the downhill but was still spent by then. In fact Nick and Mike went past a few hundred yards before the stream and I was feeling a bit like the best part of my race was behind me. Round the diversion path at the old Hostel (now privately owned) then up the back to the muddy bit (VERY muddy) and on to the last climb. I saw Nick go down for a close inspection of the tussocky heather but he got back up undamaged and made his way up the near vertical ascent of the aptly named Foulshiels Hill.

Nick goes past. To the left, the last climb.

 Now from this point everything goes to hell. I must have accidentally turned the dial on the camera to "artistic" mode which resulted in all the rest of the photos being crap. A second rate instagram type setting. Makes the images look like they were taken, badly, in the 1970s. And not much I can do in photoshop improves matters. It aptly reflects my race also falling to pieces, and I struggled from this point. I had a gel near the water station but no water. Unfortunately it didn't compensate for the lack of training miles and as I climbed the last big hill slowly, I watched Jim H and a number of other runners close the gap. Happily none was over 50 but like the deteriorating photos it was not a fine finish to a very fine day out.

finishing as the start - near Matt C

Just about everyone in this photo incl. a few who hadn't come over the hill yet, finished ahead of me. I found this ground difficult and although I don't remember walking I can't have been going much faster judging by the places dropped. Just checked the results and the Westie I got ahead of must have finished ahead as did Jim H who cruised past, and Richard L looking very confident over the rough ground around here. (He was racing Tom M not myself and beat both, well done!) Matt had the decency to stay 2 seconds behind but a lot of people quite a few photos behind at the water jump (Selkirk Fund Runners fb page) made up a LOT of ground. Oh well, point taken, and will try hardier. 

Graeme (and Kathy) were wearing odd vests!

A rather lovely sunset slightly ruined by artistic mode.

I felt I just about got away with it. First 50 by 23 seconds. A good incentive to quit the messing about (filling the week with too much work) and start getting serious (filling the week with more running, biking and working out.)

Top marks to Sheila and Graham for organising a really splendid day out. Not just a terrific and testing route but the soup, haggis-neeps-and-tatties afterwards, and all for a tenner, is GREAT value for money. And somehow they manage to raise £1000 for Mountain Rescue at the same time. Much as I love the C5 this is now THE race that marks the start of the hill running year. (Not counting Greenmantle Dash). Big big thanks to all who stood outside in the cold so we could have fun!

If you are not doing the Borders XC final race on 15th Feb (day after C5) then have a look on Selkirk Fund Runners facebook page for details of a hilly 10k pay-on-the-day race Sheila is organising over similar ground. 

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