Sunday, 29 November 2015

Borders Series XC #3 Peebles

I'm not sure whether I was lighthearted because the WoL Half was behind me (and nobody died) or just because I had had a large glass of caffeine pop. It was the latter that had me shouting about the finer points of yesterday's event in the Porty wagon. And stripping down to vest and shorts for today's mudfest. Re the weather I can't put it better than Mary who said in her blog, "As is often the way with extreme weather, it was daunting going into it and then being out in it was enlivening. To my surprise I found I was enjoying myself." Really that nails it. Horrible out. (Although every 20 mins it changed from sunny to howling wind and sleet, to rain and dark clouds then sun again. But horribly brilliant to be sploshing through the overflowing rivers and round muddy fields. 

I didn't hang around to watch the juniors. Went instead to check out the riverside trails of the middle section. Then 10mins before the off I took off the top layers and hung them at the finish line with my camera in a carrier bag high in a tree so the bears couldn't reach it.

high tide

bulging Tweed

I had considered wearing short spikes but a lot of the initial riverside path is over blocky solid stone. All the same I was well jell when Diane went past last year sparks flying off her spikes. 

photo Mary (and below)

I have been reluctant to get a haircut of late as it would be like taking off a woolly hat, and there never seemed to be the right moment. Trouble is it is getting woollier by the day.

photo Danielle

The start was hilarious. The starter's bunnet blew off and nobody except those immediately beside him could hear his instructions. The gale was howling in our ears and eventually the starter gave up and wandered over to the line where we stood for a moment shaking in the cold wind and hail. It was grim and there seemed a reluctance to take the lead as everyone wanted to shelter behind the guys ahead. I quite enjoyed the lack of higher climb in the playing fields. I felt I was doing well and far too far up the field when Adam F came past. Oh right. I hadn't seen Stewart so thought it would between us 2 for high m50 scores today. We jockeyed for place until the far end when he went up the embankment first and I struggled to stick with the pack - desperate to find someone to shelter behind as the horizontal hail was pinging off our faces. Adam seemed to pull away and I thought my spot was going to be 2nd m50. Until Stewart came past. Oh right. I'm not sure if that's good or bad. Actually I don't think it makes any difference as long as you hop up the queue and overtake Mr. Fletcher there. Which he kindly did as we made our way along the riverside trails. I got some wind shade behind David W as he came past, then from Keith H who I was surprised wasn't further ahead already. He did move forward convincingly and I tried to stick with him for a few places.

This photo just in! Thanks to Syd Woods, dad of David in the red shorts. Photos of me ahead of Stewart W, David W, David L and Keith H are rarer that hens' teeth. In fact this is the only one. Ever. And the positions changed rapidly. 

After we got to the far end and turned around Adam F started coming back towards me. I enjoyed the wind being to our backs and was reluctant to hurry past in case it inspired an immediate response. I gathered myself for the run through the trees and the big hill beyond that, knowing those would be the crux of today. I overtook Adam just before the turn up the hill into the woods and he didn't seem to mount an immediate response and I felt he might have drifted back by the time we went round Kate Jenkins at the start of the BIG HILL. 

photo Danielle
Bit of splosh on the final flat straights.

I think 2 years of wintervals has improved my short blast up-hill-abilities and I determined not to slow to a walk for the duration. When I got to the top and crowds hadn't gone past I felt that maybe I was beginning to have a good day. I was certainly breathing very hard over the flattish summit and then rolling down into the next fields but my lungs felt better than they have of late and legs were not bad. (I could even see Stewart W up ahead!) A sneaky peak over my shoulder at the next 2 corners let me know I wasn't safe, but all the same I was glad to be maybe 20s ahead of the next dudes. David L had gone past around the beginning of the hill and had opened up a decent gap but on the descent over the steep and treacherous ground to the finishing loop I caught right up to him and he was clearly concerned about his lack of grip on the slippery ground. I waited till I could overtake without pushing past and hit the flat about one step ahead. David quickly went past again but didn't pull away as we did the out and back of the finishing straights. About 50 yards from the line I felt a surge of relief and adrenaline and lifted the pace to nip ahead of David for the line. All the time thinking "so this is how you say thanks to someone who gave up their time willingly to help out at your race yesterday." I apologised but felt it was more of an honour than a regret to finish ahead of Dave who has had a great year of racing and results.

In with the Bella Boys.
photo Danielle

Heard afterwards that Steve got hit by a branch, blown down while we were running. Is that bad luck to be singled out by the elements, or good luck it didn't do considerably more damage?

Richard drew blood

Shame I never got a better photo of Mary. She arrived at the finish, hair wild, head wild having enjoyed the madness of being out in the weather running like blazes. It certainly clears your mind. There was a real buzz from the runners afterwards. Everyone was high as kites.

Home for cheese on toast and mugs of hot tea. FAB!

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