Thursday, 1 June 2017

Back in the soggy Scottish hills

I knew that I would need a bit of recovery time after the runs in Poland, but I'd been asked to run for the West of Scotland team in the British Intercounties fell running championships the weekend after. I'd agreed to it on the condition that I wasn't taking someone else's place on the team, whose legs might be fresher and up for racing.

Broughton Heights on a better day

It appeared to have been beautiful sunny weather in Scotland for the whole time I was away in cool, rainy Poland, but as the weekend arrived, the weather took a turn for the worse.

By the start/finish

This year's Intercounties was (relatively) local to me, being held in Broughton (in the Borders).....but the hour-long drive there still took me through fog, wind and torrential rain. The rain had stopped by the time I registered which was good news for the runners, but bad news for me, as it meant that there might be spectators out (and I really didn't want anyone seeing me if I was trailing off the back of the field).

A rough plan of the route

The race started on an undulating track up the valley across a ford, and then we cut away off it down to a stream and started the climb up to the ridge line. As usual, I'd started close to the back, but at least this meant I wasn't disheartened by being passed on the descent to the stream. The climb up felt tough but no one was able to run it, and I gradually worked my way up the field, even passing one of my Westie teammates.

Crossing the stream to start the second climb
I had thought that the ridge top run might suit me as, although there were several undulations, nothing was too steep or too long, but for some reason my legs didn't seem to agree with me. I prepared for the worst as I reached the top of the first real descent.....and sure enough about 14 ladies shot past me before I got to the bottom. I tried to relax into it but my quads just felt rather wobbly and as if they wouldn't support my weight.

It was nice to see some familiar faces as I passed by near to the start and finish area and, although I didn't feel especially strong as I climbed back up the far side of the valley, I must've been going better than I thought as I clawed back about 10 places and was soon just behind my team mates. The descent off this ridge was slightly shorter and so only 4 ladies passed me this time, and I was hoping to reel some of them back in over the final couple of kilometres.

Just prior to the downhill finish
This final stretch was still mainly downhill (back to the original ford we'd crossed) but on a runnable track. It did, however, seem more runnable to others rather than me as my legs wouldn't respond to me. Having crossed the ford there was a final climb and so I did pass another couple of ladies again, and managed a final sprint to ensure I kept that position into the finish.

Team West!!

As it turned out I was the 24th lady (with my Westie teammates finishing 7th, 20th and 22nd to put us into 5th place in the team rankings with Yorkshire and Cumbria taking the top spots), though if I'd known I was going to be 98th overall in the race, I'd have let one of the other ladies go ahead at the end, as it meant I failed the "number bingo" having had race number 99!

Time for a definite rest!

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