Monday, 22 June 2015

seven hills race 21/06/15

I am suffering from post holiday blues. A bit wiped out from all that travel, sunshine and exertion. And returning to a mid-summer that is cold, grim and dull. Nothing to light my candle. Mary allowed me to come along on her Saturday run and I cheered up just getting out and it was quite warm once we got going. And the activity stirs the sludge in the bottom of your cage, gets things moving. Then the following day I nearly woke up feeling chipper for the 7 Hills. Not super-keen but ok-lets-get-this-race-done.

On the way up the road I bought a large can of Red Bull thinking Mary would share it. However she was already maxed out on coffee so I drank a little too much before pouring the rest away. There's always a huge crowd for this race. Looking back at previous years it's hard to believe less than 100 did it in the early days. Mary had opted for the Challenge rather than the race, since it has been a long time since she has been near 1.40 for a half. She would be a fun target for me to try to catch before the end.

I had thought I would start moderately and try to pace myself. However the Red Bull insisted I leg it and it is fun to gallop up the High St to the surprise of the traffic and tourists. I was just in touch with the leaders and saw Iain and Mike head back down Johnston Terrace, (heading towards Morrison St) whereas David L and Stewart went through into Princes St Gardens heading towards the West End. I had thought I would go down Johnston Terrace and then Castle Terrace, Lothian Rd and through the West End. Nick was just ahead and this route pays out the altitude much more efficiently than dropping into Princes St. Gdns. down some hideous grass slides (Paul E cracked a rib or 2 here in a previous year,) before climbing back up to the West End. Johnston Terr makes for a long gradual downhill all the way to Lothian Rd where after dodging through the cars I looked to see how far ahead Mr Limmer and Mr Whitlie were. They were behind. I can count the times I have overtaken Stewart in a race on, er, one finger.

challenge start

Mary only realised this year that Ravelston Dykes road is an uphill. Having run it the opposite direction with GH a while back, it is v apparent it has a gradient. And being long and straight seems never ending. And when it does end it does so with a steep trail into Corstorphine Woods, which is no relief. Stewart began to pull away here. I can't remember who was in front but all of a sudden we are looking around, and having just been blindly following the person ahead into the trees after the water table, we have gone the wrong way. Usually I mess up the exit but this is a new one. Davids Limmer and Fulton are there. We manage to get the right line across to the check point then Stewart follows Megan off the sharp right, down tarmac while I return towards the water tables and take a good line back out to the clearing then sharp right down the dirt trail parallel to Kaimes Rd. I am hoping others are lost in the trees (David F went wrong here.) But Megan and Stewart bomb down the main road 30yards before I reach it. Well there goes the m50 trophy. (Actually short of an RTA I realistically waved bye-bye to the trip to the engravers when I saw Stewart in the queue to pick up numbers.)

However I hadn't thrown in the towel and kept the two of them in sight for over 40minutes, definitely a during-race record. We overtook challengers 36 minutes into the race. How is it possible to make up 30 minutes in 36 minutes??? Over the tram tracks – I wondered if anyone would have a run in with a tram. I crossed all the roads without incident however going across Gorgie Rd before Chesser Ave someone did shout loudly out the passenger window. Whether it was words of encouragement from a spectator or words of discouragement (I had just dodged between moving vehicles as there wasn't any substantial gaps in the traffic) from an irate motorist, I never found out.

photo thanks to Cat M

Craiglockhart hill was dry and dusty and very slippy. I was wearing Hoka Trail shoes and they were good although the sand pits of beech nut shells and dry dirt provided no traction for poorly placed feet. Olly went past. Last year I got to Arthur Seat before he overhauled me. Great to see Michael G and Martin cheering us on, although sad that neither were fit to run. On the downhill I made some ground on Olly and then the long haul up to the Braids I seemed to be getting a bit closer. Passed Doug Runner here. Olly asked me to tell him about my childhood as we set off across the golf course.”Brief” was my answer. He was ahead again by the Lang Linn path which I was glad about as I suspect I know a better line through the Hermitage. I called to David Limmer to follow me but he seemed intent on taking as many long cuts as possible racking up an extra mile more than some folk. Olly went left which is the right way but then headed down too soon which (in an unsporting manner) pleased me. I followed the path which zig-zags down to the stream but crosses the bridge and keeps feet dry. Up the near vertical dirt immediately and along the top to the stile. 50 yards ahead of Olly. Nick was just ahead and I was shouting encouragement to him (charge the sleepers!) as we jogged up the terrible steps to Blackford Hill. Cat and friends gave us a welcome.

Down to the allotments and past Johnny who was saving himself for the remaining Heb Halves. David L would catch Nick and I on the road running sections, get a bit ahead, and then take a terrible route. Then 10 minutes later would overtake again. He was also suffering from the cold. Despite all this he really seemed to be enjoying himself. As we ran up Ratcliffe Terrace turning right at Duncan St we watched as David continued along Causewayside, too far ahead to shout back. No doubt we would see him again soon.

Then the highlight of the run, I saw Mary just ahead. I crossed Minto St with no real memory of traffic or how I got through it, then started shouting stuff at Mary and how we were coming for her. She was shouting abuse back and in very high spirits. I knew from the good runners in the challenge I had already passed that Mary was running well. She was just behind as we all went into Pollock Halls and was able to follow the smartest line through to the limbo at the turnstile. Unfortunately Olly was just ahead and also took this best line. I knew if he was ahead here he would be ahead at the finish. I could feel twinges of cramp in my legs meaning I couldn't afford to race flat out in the descent from the summit.

As Willie J who took these photos put it...
a former Porty legend (Tony) meets a current one (Johnny)
with Portobello in the background

Last year I took the Gutted Haddie. This year I returned to the usual sleeper-steps going up Nether Hill then taking the line around to the left and up the wee gully to the summit. Getting through all the challengers was challenging and I found I was shouting COMING THROUGH and pushing folk (metaphorically) out the way. In my defence I did say thanks a lot and other encouraging things. Towards the top I could hear the dulcet tones of Tony the Tiger who likes to use your first and second names so everyone around can hear. Great support from him and Willie J who was cruelly taking photos of the battered corpses as we struggled up the last hill.

Off the top I chose the less vertical path (sort of tourist route) down to the first shoulder but then left to the steps and single track down to the Dasses and across the end of the bog to the tarmac track that leads to Holyrood Car Park. Cruella De Cramp is always waiting for me here and in the past I have been reduced to stopping and slapping my wooden legs. This year I was running beside Nick and had to reduce my stride and shout the f word loud and long while I wrestled with the iron snakes constricting my calves. I managed to keep going but dropped 30secs behind Nick. An EAC dude who had been with us for a few miles was stretching his legs in the car park and I commiserated. Unfortunately he recovered in time to get between Nick and I on the last ascent to the finish. I crossed the line 10th in 1.53.58 although I stopped my watch on 1.54 exactly. (Faster than the last 2 years by less than a minute both times.) Another beer mat. Stewart W had accelerated 7+ minutes or more away to place third in 1.46.32! Megan had dropped back a bit to just a couple of mins ahead and first lady in an impressive 1.52.36. Dessie had an amazing run and came first in 1.38.31. Iain dropped out leaving Mike in second place just seconds behind Dessie. There was never going to be any doubt about Carnethy getting first team but I was proud that Porty came second and got towels and beers despite David doing the 8 Hills of Edinburgh. (Joke on loan from Willie J) Well done to Dougie leading Porty home in 1.51.09 just 3 secs behind David Fulton in fourth and one place ahead of Megan. I was second m50 and got a more generous envelope than many first50 prizes. And a beer. The best news of the day was that Mary had found a form she hasn't really displayed since her procedure for Atrial Fibrillation. I suspect this was because she got caught up in the challenge of the event (she used to enjoy (up)hills more than anything although we haven't been training for them other than 10 flights of hotel stairs) rather than having suddenly mended. Great to see. It is an event that really grabs you. The daft nature of the course and the mix of challengers and racers all running about the city with enough dirt and hazards to keep your attention makes the couple of hours whiz by. Great fun!

(If you can do the thing in under 2.10 you should really be in the Race not the Challenge.)

It was tempting to go to the pub but after standing around chatting till nearly everyone had left we went home. But not before Kathy had talked an ebullient Mary and I into signing up for Craggy Island Tri. So that gives us something to train for. A couple of months to hone the open water swimming and mtb-ing. Fingers crossed for better weather.

swim from here to there? (Then cycle and run over the hills.)
pic: thanks to boardinbob (flickr) linked off the Craggy Island Tri site.

No comments:

Post a Comment