So, armed with my race banana, I was ferried by Helen to Digby's very lovely cottage. He was leaping about in a state of pre-race excitation. Unnerving. After a false start (OCD door-checking) we made our way to Menstrie, to uplifting strains from the Maass iPod such as "Deep Paranoia 7" and "Death Prod". A swift registration allowed for leisurely banana/caffeine consumption in the comfort and warmth of Digby's car, and we dolefully watched athletic types running around. I never usually warm up at races. I'm usually too late. Or in such a state of anguish that I just need to pace fretfully at the start line fiddling with laces and my Garmin. But this time, bolstered by Helen's enthusiasm, we jogged up the gravel path and assessed where it was best to take the (steep slippery) short cuts through the zigzags and where it was best to stick to the runnable path. This proved to be a soothing pre-race activity, and I joined the starting crowd with less angst than usual.
|Graham's Pointy Finger™. All photos courtesy of Digby!|
Realising that I was going to find the return leg of this there-and-back section a struggle (too steep, muddy and rugged for my courage-levels), I pushed myself to overtake a couple of runners on the way up. My legs felt pleasingly boingy, which I can only put down to the cycling and RPMing. By about half-way up, I passed the leaders on their way down. An awe-inspiring sight. I noted that the steepest, craggy, pull-myself-up-by-my-hands section could be avoided by bearing to the more runnable-looking left on the way down. The top of Dumyat was bleak, windy and freezing. Poor marshal! The descent was into a bitterly cold wind, with whipping rain (or maybe sleet? It was hard to tell.). The leftward, more runnable line was definitely a good choice, and the terrain was slightly easier than anticipated. I overtook a couple of runners, and was overtaken by a couple of others. The last section of the descent was a bit of a skid-fest and I dithered between leaping down and tentatively hobbling.
|Caught between a rock and a hard place.|
|I thought my descent might look bolder than this :-(|
I staggered about for a bit enjoying my endorphine high, and cheering Joan and Colin into the finish, before realising that I was suddenly very, very cold. And at this point things started to go A Bit Wrong. Putting on my waterproof jacket was an impossible tangly challenge, and I couldn't seem to string a sentence together while chatting to Joan. I decided to run back into the warmth of the Leisure Centre until Digby came back with his car keys.
I staggered about in the main room for a minute and with wildly shaking hands tried to drink a cup of tea. Harry Gilmore looked askance at me and offered me his towel to dry off. Graham Nash looked similarly concerned and donated his pre-warmed hoodie. I tried to reassure them I was okay, but couldn't manage anything other than teeth-chattery gibbering. I made my way to the changing room, bumping into another runner and spilling his tea, and fumbled with the doors. I stripped off my wet tops, got Graham's hoodie on and wrapped myself in Harry's towel. I tried my best to drink the tea, but my teeth kept clenching on the polystyrene. After a few minutes (by which time I was standing in a slightly bewildered state by the coffee) Helen came to rescue, ushered me to the showers and like a kindly, bossy matron generally sorted me out. Thank you Helen...you were lovely :-)
|Helen racing to rescue me.|
As always, HUGE thanks to the race marshals who braved the freezing, wet hill-sides. It was a fantastic race, with a little bit of everything (and a lot of mud!).