I wasn't super keen to do the Relays at Peebles as it seemed a long day out for less than 20minutes running. However the thought that I'd probably have to do the Skyline if I didn't have a good excuse, prompted me to sign up for Peebles. Lacking a big target in the next few months, a reason to get out in the dull weather and get fit, I decided to focus on the cross country season and see if that can inspire a bit of hectic off road training. I need to drop a few pounds and get out in the dark evenings rather than sit at home drinking wine.
high point of the undulating course
Talking of wine, I have just spent a week doing harsh cold turkey. 2 weeks ago I bought 2 bottles of Tesco's Finest Chianti (£6.50) one for me, one for a friend and when I tasted it thought I can't give such vinegar to a friend. It wasn't undrinkable but it was pretty rough. So after I drank my way through the first bottle the second sat on the kitchen table with receipt attached waiting to be returned to Tesco's. I was really gagging on a glass of red and this 2nd bottle was calling out to me all week. I managed to resist the siren song and after looking longingly at bottle number 2 for several nights wondering if it would taste the same as bottle number 1, I eventually took it back to the shop for a refund and some feedback. (For the same price I would recommend Scotmid's Ventoux,) although the experience of doing without for a few nights was sufficient to break the addiction of wine-fever I tend to get at this time of the year. I know an occasional glass does next to no harm, but it piles on the belly fat quicker than just about anything else.
Steve drove us down, much obliged, and we arrived in time to see the women's event. I couldn't really tell you why they have relay races rather than just everyone runs together and they have team prizes afterwards. But it does make the runners space out more and so courses that might suffer from everyone running together are possible. However it means courses have to be short or we'd be there all day waiting on the last runners finishing. It was good to speak to Janet (ex-Porty in the red shorts above) who recommended spikes over hill-shoes which was indeed the right choice on the wet grass.
The course appeared to follow a horse-riding cross country event but didn't utilise quite as many of the jumps and hurdles as I thought they might have. And they only used the shallow end of the water feature. (Although Shery managed to run through the line of cones diagonally into the deep end hoping to get a bit of swimming in.)
While the women were running I warmed up. I had had a coffee before leaving Edinburgh and I think it was a combination of that and the soft Autumn vibes along with a rolling course that was making me feel totally up for this. I ran round the course about the same time as Edel (below) although I was cutting across fields while she ran round the edges. She was looking super fit and I was glad we weren't racing at the same time. She was also smiling as she zoomed past. It was more cloudy than sunny but pretty much perfect running conditions. The course looked challenging but less hilly than a hill race, and the grass underfoot was fairly smooth and not rutted with hoof prints. Ideal way to kick off the XC season.
Then it was the men's turn. Steve and I had had to pick an order of running when we registered and we went for a fastest last approach. I felt it worked out well. Steve possibly had the hardest leg, starting with the fast boys on the gun, but for Willie, myself and Johnny it meant trying to catch and overtake the runners just ahead - a incentive to push the pace for the whole circuit.
My biggest worry was staying warmed up but not missing my handover from Willie. I had put the camera away after Steve came in, knowing there would be less than 20 minutes before I ran. I tried to keep note of where Willie was on the course before lining up nervously at the start/finish. 3 dudes came in just ahead of Willie so the marshals had their hands full setting off the matching leg 3-ers in the correct order as the leg 2-ers tried to out-sprint each other to the hand-over. I set off just behind them but overtook all 3 before the 80 yards of flat turned into the longest climb of the course up to the top of the hill. I was concerned I might not be able to hold the place on the climb but as I say it wasn't as sustained as a hill race and although one guy came past I struggled on and won back the place.
Johnny chasing down an HBT
Once over the hill there was a smooth descent round a field on the other side of the hill before the course looped back and did a tough diagonal back up and round a tree. Then a pleasant descent - I say pleasant but really the whole thing was done at parkrun flat out pace - before a turn or 2 round the bottom field followed by the watersplash and a dash for home. I spent the whole loop reeling in the next runner ahead and thought I counted 12 overtaken, although the results said 11 and I realised I must have counted the guy I overtook at the beginning twice. I hadn't pressed my watch at the right moment (being more concerned with the handover at the start) but reckoned it was about 15 minutes dead.
Man of the Match Fergus who had run the Skyline as a warm up before the Relays!
This didn't even occur to me as possible. His comment afterwards, "Never again!"
Johnny put in an excellent lap
Martin F giving it 100%
I was pleased with my run but rather than complacent I did note than Edel was 30s faster - a considerable advantage on such a short event. Also noted David Cross (EAC and first 50) was ahead by a similar margin and Martin F was hot on my heels.
Many thanks to Alex J and his team and the local clubs who marked the course out very well and utilised every corner of the half dozen splendid fields we ran round. A superb course on a rather lovely windless day with some great autumnal trees as background colour. Not huge mileage but a great day out. I think Porty blokes were fourth vet team which is pretty good going given only Johnny is a v40 with Steve, Willie and I in our 50s. Good running team!