A short lung burster this week. A bit over 3 miles, on a there and back course. How had could it be?
Oh. That hard.
Having not really run since the last race 2 weeks ago I decided to head out for a run last night, which you can read about on my other blog. It was only a 1 hour little run, but I think it took enough out of me to make me really feel it on the race.
It was a beautiful evening, sun in the blue sky, not too hot, not too cold, a good field of runners, no midges, and a route that was going to hurt. Fantastic. We turned up and there were already a number of Glossopdaleans kicking around, all talking down the amount of running they had done in the past week, and each and every one of us saying “oooh, feeling a bit tired today… not sure about this one”, I suppose in a feeble attempt to out-psyche each other.
I went off for the customary jog with Gwyn (so that I can at least pretend that I can keep up with him) just around the beginning bit of the course, and then went back to the start. The crowd started to gather, and it was evident that a fast start was needed to get across the field and around the first corner without getting trampled on by the rest of the pack.
The starting crowd continued to build, but there was no starter around to tell us to go… I suggested to a couple of guys around me that I should be the starter, and all times would go by my watch, therefore, anyone who finished before me wouldn’t count as a finisher… but that idea was shelved pretty quickly.
Eventually the starter arrived in a car, driving down the field like something out of Blues Brothers, wandered around with a megaphone and generally apologised for the lack of startingness of the race, and very soon, proceeded to get us underway.
Panic run across the field with 120 other people, (its quite fun, all we needed was a load of swords and shields, and it would have made it a whole lot more exciting, but I digress).
|Stevie overtaking me|
I got to the end of the field near the front of the pack, and I saw John hoof it up through a load of long grass and he got a 10 metre jump on me going around the outside. Well, at least I was somewhere near the front now, and past the first pinch point, now a nasty little run down a road (I can see Paul Stitt in front of me as well, always good on the road- and Gwyn floating along like he has springs in his feet right up at the front), and I lumber after them. Down and left past the pub, along and through the carpark, and Stevie from Pennine cruises past me with a quick “hello there”. Flipping heck, I think the only time I’ve seen Stevie on a race before was during Wormstones when he was a marshall… he’s normally way ahead of me- must have got a bad start.
Up and over the twisty turny bridge over the dual carriageway, and my lungs are beginning to burn.
oh dear. I can see John up ahead, so I’ll just try and stay in touch with him, see how far we get. Up onto the football pitch, overtaken by the eventual First Woman, up right, more damn tarmac. I lose another couple of places, left, and up a hill which goes into a track, and I make the places back.
Left and into a field, and the front of the pack is strung out in front of me, I can see Gwyn and the leaders already going up the hill on the other side of the “valley”. As ever I am astonished at just how damn fast they run. Seriously. Thats a ridiculous speed. I can’t see Stevie. He’s probably teleported.
Down the hill, through a bog, and up the hill, chasing John. I’m not feeling great, but I dig in a bit, keep the legs going, this isnt really a hill, its a minor slope. Fight up the hill, legs pumping, and emphatically not looking behind me. My heart is already beating hard, and I’m not entirely sure how long I can keep this speed up. Over a stile, onto a track and the pace is relentless, I think I get overtaken by a couple of people, and then one more, but I can still see John and Paul, still not quite in touching distance, but a realistic enough distance away to make up. Grit teeth and keep going. The pace is starting to hurt now as the ground levels out and the speed increases. Stride out and keep breathing, thats the key. I know we aren’t yet half way through and we have the real kicker coming, but I’ve been running above the redline for the entire race so far, whats another little bit? Through a gate with someone encouraging me on- “go on Glossopdale!”, I get overtaken by 2 more people, hard right and UP.
I take the 2 places back as they falter and slow to a walk. Thanks for that, I’ll have those places. Keep the pace going, keep the legs moving, fool the body into thinking that its still running. I can see John up ahead, he’s still running. Or at least, he looks like he is, he’s probably making as much headway as I’m not.
Dammit, stop running John, give me an excuse to walk!
Nope, he’s still going, as are a number of other hardy souls up ahead. Right, nothing for it, but to keep “running”. Argh. The hill gets steeper. Concentrate on springing UP the hill, not plodding DOWN into it. Up, up, up. I’m catching Paul and John. Time to walk, as it gets ridiculous, not far to the top.
This is the first race since… oh, Kinder Trog where I’ve actually resorted to not running up a hill. I MUST be tired. Gritting the teeth I see the guys head over the top, and then I’m there, with Geoff cheerfully at the side going “smile Tim”. Click. “thats one for yer blog”. Just manage to get a thumb up, but the pace at the beginning of the race has exhausted me, followed by the climb, and now its back down, and back along the way we came.
Off, down the side of the hill, catching up with someone, and John and Paul are further down the hill, duking it out. I can’t get past this guy as we hurtle down the hill, as the rest of the pack are making their way up it. I see LuvShack making his way up, and have time to say a jaunty “hi”. (I think it was jaunty, but considering how I was feeling at the time, it probably came out as more of a groan) Hit the bottom and I don’t think my heart rate has gone down in the slightest from how it felt getting to the top, my legs are fit to blow out, but there is still just under half the distance left to run. I hammer along the undulating section, passing runners going the otherway, squinting into the sun. I hear other Glossopdaleans shouting encouragement, but I couldn’t tell you who they were. I was too busy looking at the floor trying not to take myself out on the rocks. I’m gaining on John and Paul, but at great cost. I can feel myself getting weaker, but I have to keep on going.
Bust through a gate, and I take out a runner in front of me by accidentally treading on his shoe and it comes off…. damn, sorry mate- I know that he is up and running really quickly however, and at the next stile, I turn and see him right behind me, as he comes up I gesture to let him go over first, but he says “nah, twas an accident mate”, so I leap over, and plunge down the hill… but not fast enough, my legs are faltering, and I can feel the fatigue. He overtakes me. saying “I was talking to the sheep….”
I was overtaken on a descent. This cannot be good. Grit teeth, dig in. I know that John has seen me behind him, and he is beginning to really give it some, legs pumping, and he is gaining distance on me. Through the bog and Paul gets caught up in a bit of fence, but he’s ok. Taking a different line, I overtake him and am 1 place behind John, up and over the field, and down the path, hang a sharp right and we’re back on the road again.
Almost immediately someone cruises past, hang a left, my legs are shot and I push myself down the side of the football pitch to the bridge, down the bridge and I’m flagging desperately. I know we have 400 metres or so left, but my legs are stopping working, 3 others effortlessly overtake me in the carpark, one of them is Paul.
And another. I have nothing to respond with.
Its not because of lack of fuel, its lack of… anything. My legs just won’t go faster. My lungs just won’t work harder, its all I can do to carry on going in some kind of semblance of a run. I can see the 5 people who just overtook me disappear up the final incline and I struggle on in their wake. All I can do is hope that there isn’t someone else behind me, I’m as helpless as a little fluffy duckling, and struggling to finish.
Up the slope. and up. and up and up. I swear this is harder than the final haul up that hill we did halfway through the race. My legs are like lead and my heart rate must be going through the roof.
Finally the right turn, down the slope and my legs aren’t entirely responding like they should. I’m entrusting all decision making to them, not trusting my head to put the feet in the right places.
A hard right and there is the field and the funnel, one person ahead that I might just catch, he is 3/4 of the way across the field. I push off hard, knowing this is the final 40 metres, harder, and harder, I see him closing in on the finish as I close in on him. Visions of sliding through like a suicidal football tackle, all out sprint as a last ditch effort to salvage a place.
But not quite. Nearly slamming into the back of him as we go into the funnel, I’m gasping so hard that I can barely speak. People standing around who have already finished are steaming gently in the evening dew.
|last ditch final effort|
After about 40 seconds I can see again, and am wandering around in a daze of complete exhaustion. 50 seconds.
And THEN the next runner comes in. (Another Glossopdaler, Chris, who, had he known the trouble I was in, would quite gladly have joined in the overtaking at the end!)
Had I looked back, I would have known that I would have been able to slow down. Had I looked back, I would have known that I could slow down, and not worry too much.
But thats not the point. I didn’t look back. I didn’t know. I just gritted my teeth and dug in. Thats what racing is to me.
This race hurt. It hurt more than any other race I have done so far. If you look at the stats, my HR was up there, but not from the very beginning. I haven’t run a race like that before, generally I have held back for a while, not gone all out, and had a bit left for the end. This time it was an all out effort from the start. I didn’t get the position I wanted, and I felt pretty beat up at the end of it as well. Gutted that I was destroyed on the last 400 metres by at least 5 others.
I came 26th out of 120, so actually not a bad result. I just can’t help thinking that with a bit more oomph, and a bit more determination, could I have caught John? Could I have got 20th? or even 19th?
What to learn from this race? I need to learn to run faster. Especially along the flat. I need to run faster at the end of a race, I need to be able to keep a high tempo right the way through. Although it was an ok result, I’m a bit annoyed not to do better. I was waiting for this feeling to kick in. When I started racing this year, I was happy to be running. Just plain happy. I was ecstatic with any result, anywhere in the field. Now I appear to have become competitive. Where did that come from?! I prefer running for pleasure, but racing appears to make me faster, and makes me look at mistakes and places in which I can become better, so thats a good thing. I just need to stop dwelling on it.
Me? Competitive? No, I think I just over think things. And there is the proof!
Well done to Gwyn for 3rd place, John, Paul and Chris in the top 20, Charlie put in a fine show coming at at 30, beyond that I’m afraid I have no idea as my brain can’t hold all the results at once, and again well done to Beryl for winning her catagory as well.
For the record, I don’t think Stevie teleported, but I can’t be sure… I think he came in 15th anyway.