Tuesday, 17 March 2015

A Run Too Far???

It does make me smile to think that, having said that I wanted to get away from racing and chasing times, and just enjoy my running, I've actually run 3 races in as many weeks. Well, 4 actually, if you include the marathon!!! It wasn't planned like that, but things sometimes change at short notice.

The XC social chat
The Saturday after Seville was the date chosen for our club's cross-country championships. I didn't really think that I would have recovered sufficiently to race it, so I was going to go along and help marshal, as it was a new event purely for club members. I felt really lethargic jogging down there, so thought I'd made the right decision, but on arrival, I was convinced to take part - in part to show some of the other ladies the route for the first couple of corners, but also to boost numbers. I thought my legs might give up partway round, so although I started out fairly strongly, I decided that nobody would question a dignified retiral when I was overtaken. As it happened, it wasn't anyone else's day that day either, so I finished the first lap in the lead, which I somehow managed to extend over the next lap (which meant that I got back first for the homemade coffee and cakes!!). It may not have been the plan when I left home, but it was nice to be the first finisher on that course (the men raced after the ladies), and to hang out with the girls afterwards cheering the men on!

I was in London the next weekend - a lucky coincidence for me that a friend was getting married on the Saturday, and my cousin's daughter was being christened on the Sunday. In between times, I made the most of my brief sojourn south by catching up with Emily, one of my Doha 100K teammates for a Sunday morning run. As it turned out, the run we were going to do was her club's 10mile championships, but luckily no-one would know/recognise me, so I wasn't worried about only having had 4 hours sleep post-wedding before jumping on the train across London.

As it turned out, it was also the British Masters' 10 Mile Championships so I also saw 
Team GB subdivision Sidcup
Walter (our GB 100K team manager) in his British Masters' capacity, as he gave me a lovely "35" to pin to my back. The route was an undulating 3+laps, so I used the first lap to settle in (as usual, some people set off rather fast and so it took a while to reel them in and work my way up the field). Roads were not closed for the event so we ran on pavements for most of the time (well up and down kerbs and into the road when necessary round cars, bollards, gas/electricity meters, bins etc) but that just added to the interest. I had company for the first lap (mainly a group of men from Emily's club Dulwich), but by the next lap the field had become more strung out, and by the end of it, we were actually starting to lap people. I hadn't realised that there was a decent breeze until I was running alone, but I could certainly feel the heat (over 10 degrees warmer than it was in Scotland!!). It was inspiring to pass runners with "70" and "80" pinned to their vests - I just hope that I'm still able to get out and run when I'm in that age group. Having moved into the lead after 2 miles, I was happy to maintain that position right to the end, which meant that I could watch Emily's brilliant finish, where she caught another girl in a sprint for the line!!

Sidcup 10 and Masters medals

Last weekend was quite a sociable weekend, as I started off by visiting a friend from my GP training days, his wife and their wee one on the Friday night (fantastic to have a proper catch up with them, as I'd last "seen" them waving a banner at me on the streets of Glasgow as I ran past!!). I was then going over to catch up with some other friends in the Yorkshire Dales on the Saturday night - and in between (well, it would have been rude not to, as it was almost directly en route) I ran the first race of my club's Grand Prix.
Dentdale is an unusual road race in that it covers 14.2 very hilly miles. I last ran it 4 years ago (when unfortunately I developed post tib tendonitis and so, although I managed to cross the Finish Line, I then could only hop for the rest of the weekend, and had to take 4 weeks off from running) and had forgotten just how steep the hills where, until I found myself driving along some of the race route into the village of Dent to registration. It was rather a cold day (with snow on the surrounding hills), but stripping down to stand arouind shivering in club vest and shorts does help to get you into a race midset. I did wear some old gloves, as I was planning to discard them as I warmed up, but was in fact still wearing them as I finished the race!
As soon as we started, I saw Alan (one of my clubmates) disappearing off down the road, but I knew he was in good shape (he ran a 5:35 second mile) so it didn't even cross my mind to try to stick with him. Instead, I tried to keep tabs on a very slim lady from a fell running club, who also set off like a bat out of hell. I gradually reeled her back in over the first couple of miles, along with some other fast starting "youngsters" and settled into my run.
Dentdale (invisible) glass trophies
I was so relieved to pass the point where my ankle had started to hurt in 2011, that I almost missed my shoelace becoming undone. The problem with all the hills and twists/turns of the narrow road (a typical scenic Yorkshire Dales road) is that I wasn't sure whether I had much of a gap on the other lady, and so didn't dare stop to retie my lace. A mental compromise was to decide to stop if I felt any sense of impending fall (as I know how clumsy I can be) but somehow the miles just ticked along without incident. The stiff headwind became a welcome tailwind as we turned at the head of the valley, so it felt like it was actually going to be a pleasant final 4 miles. Unfortunately, those 4 miles contained rather a lot of steep hills (though there were llamas in a field to distract you from the effort) - some of which had a photographer nicely situated at the top!! I managed my usual unplanned technique of closing up gaps on the uphills but seeing people run away on the downhills so actually spent most of the run alone in no-man's land. The final turn suddenly sees you crossing cobbles and running round the village green, but you know there will be a hot shower and cream tea (or two) waiting for you, so the thought of this spurred me to keep going so I actually finished only 1 position behind Alan!

After a lovely evening in a cosy Dales pub, we headed out the next morning for a long run-walk in the hills. An overcast night had made the air temperature feel warmer as we set out, but we soon encountered a mixture of snow and ice on the tops, so spotting a van serving hot tea at a random road junction was a huge bonus! I was quite tired from the race the day before and so, although I'd managed a good 6 miles of race with an undone shoelace, I failed to lift my foot up high enough to clear a rock while looking at the view in the early afternoon. It became one of those comedy slow motion falls that feels like it lasts for minutes as you pitch forward with arms flailing. There didn't seem to be any way of saving myself faceplanting on the rocky path in front of me, so instinct made me put out my left hand. It felt like I had bent my wrist backwards as the pain was so sharp, but there was little to do but get up and carry on down the hill, as we were still about 3 miles from our cars. I thought that it was probably just shock but the pain moved from my wrist to my fingers and they felt cold, numb and swollen. I refused to look at them as I knew that whatever I'd done, I just wanted to get back to my car. After a couple of miles, my fingers seemed to warm up and the pain ebbed, but then, as I put my hand out to open a gate it shot back through my hand and I nearly screamed. By the time we got back to the pub carpark, I couldn't move the fingers at all. It was an interesting drive home as I was trying to elevate my hand to minimise the swelling, but I still had to work out a way to change gears. It was clear by the time I got back to Dumfries that Calamity Jo had struck again, and I had to go home via A&E who xrayed, cleaned and dressed it! I thought that it was a clear sign to me to avoid hills big time, but it might actually have just been a sign that I'd done a run too far and should have been at home on the sofa watching the TV (I'm certainly doing that now!!).

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