Gina said : It all started with a passing comment on Facebook. I’d heard about the North Berwick Law race before and thought that looks interesting… I hadn’t really given it an awful lot more thought than that and hadn’t realised it was even this time of year so when I saw a comment saying that the race was the same evening I thought it’s a bit last-minute but why the hell not, I’ll just do it.
Preregistration wasn’t even available it was just a case of rock up, register and run. I’d heard that the queue for registration could get very long so I got there about five to six as registration opened at six and I was the first one there. Registration was down by the harbour inside the RNLI lifeboat station which was quite quaint, some folk were also busy preparing a barbecue for reasons which remain unclear as I’m quite sure nobody would want a huge hunk of meat in a bun prior to running up the law!
Registration itself involved a couple of little ladies hand writing your details in what looked like an old school accounting book and handing out numbers. Even though I was first, I was, somewhat strangely, allocated number six; the numbers appeared to have no logic at all and I think they were probably just using numbers left over from the previous year. The entry fee itself was an absolute bargain, 8 pounds standard entry, minus 2 pounds for affiliated minus another 2 pounds if you have Scottish Athletics membership so 4 pounds for me, bonus!
Anyway after an hour and a half of milling around and gratuitous eating of jelly babies (RIP babies, your lives were not sacrificed in vain) it was nearly time for the race to start, somebody shouted some words and the runners congregated at the harbour ready to go, somebody shouted some more words which I couldn’t really hear, all that became clear was that there were actually medals for all finishers which is great because I really am a sucker for a bit of bling. In retrospect I wish there hadn’t been medals at all because then I might have done the sensible thing and DNFd.
After an ear shattering bang from what a gun that was so loud it sounded like it would be better used to start an international yacht race, off we go from the harbour up towards where the restaurants and chip shop are.
I should mention at this point that I’d had a bad feeling about my shoes before I even started, I had bought some new trail shoes a couple of weeks ago for my upcoming ultra and I was over pronating quite badly in one so I had subsequently bought some insoles which I popped in before the race, what I hadn’t factored in was that they were quite thick and my foot was sitting much higher up in the shoe than normal, wasn’t supported properly and was moving about quite a lot inside the shoe, I think this probably contributed to the extent of my *spoiler alert* injuries…
We got 200 m into the race, just outside the chip shop where the crowd support was the greatest, when I must have caught my toe in a virtually non-existent hole in the road. Under normal circumstances everything probably would’ve been fine however given things was complicated somewhat by my shoe situation it all went very pear-shaped. Everything then went in slow motion for a few seconds, I fell forwards but then almost managed to regain my balance but my centre of gravity was, by then, just at tipping point so there was actually no coming back from it, however because I nearly managed to right myself, the fall took longer than it should have done which, I imagine, made it far more spectacular for the spectators!
So, inevitably, down I went, skinned my knee, my palm and even my shoulder (which I still don’t understand) but the main concern was that I also went over on my ankle. I got up very embarrassedly especially as I had wiped out in front of so many people (it couldn’t have been in a worse place) and managed to hobble to the end of the road where I was met by the lovely Red Cross ambulance people. They asked me if I was OK and I said I really wasn’t sure, I was struggling to put any weight on my ankle and there was blood running down my leg so I thought it was probably sensible to stop however whoever did what was sensible when it comes to running!?
By then I had that elusive wee piece of plastic bling firmly in my sights and certainly wouldn’t be defeated by something as insignificant as a knackered ankle! So, I hobbled off on my merry way accompanied by the sound of many cheers from the crowd. A few metres on in the race, I entered the park, away from the crowds and thought ‘this really hurts quite a lot’ I really shouldn’t be carrying on but ‘I’ll see how it goes…’. Things actually got a wee bit better after that, I was kind of running albeit very slowly and lopsidedly; needless to say I was last by a country mile too.
I had never actually climbed the law before although I had been up the other one in East Lothian and rather stupidity, made the assumption that this one was similar… haha…
The Law itself was way too steep for me to run-hobble (a new type of competitive running, invented by myself) up and things were also complicated by the fact that when I got to the bottom of the law the front runners were coming down just as I was about ascend! It was a ‘single track path’ and, of course, I didn’t want to get in anyone’s way, particularly the very serious looking front runners, so there was lots of waiting on my part for runners to go by which meant I was then last by a large number of country miles.
I forgot to mention that my initial problem of feet moving around too much in my shoes was still current, my feet were sliding around all over the place and at one point I nearly lost a shoe to the land. It was ridiculously hard to climb the law with a sprained ankle and my trainers not fitting properly but needless to say I made it eventually, I even managed to overtake three teenage girls that were running the kids race. 🙂 HA!
I reached the checkpoint at the summit, collected my wrist band and headed back down again. There isn’t a particular path that has to be followed to comply with race rules however there is most definitely a best way up and a best way down, unfortunately given there was no one left for me to follow at this point I didn’t know what the best way down was! I then spotted someone in front with high viz on so assumed they were Marshall (stupid mistake), it wasn’t until I’d committed to my route of decent that I realised she was in fact a dog walker and she had decided to descend using the steepest, most thoroughly ankle unfriendly route there was. I was very near to tears at this point.
At least the worst bit was over by then and I slowly hobbled back through town to be greeted with lots of support from the marshals, who were, by the way, absolutely fabulous and so supportive, thank you guys!
I was pretty nervous coming back through the park as I had no idea what to expect at the finish. I wasn’t sure if any supporters would be left (I was secretly hoping there wouldn’t be) or if the road sweepers would be out or if the finish line would even still be there; what I actually found was truly remarkable! As I exited the park I was greeted with a roar of cheers and enormous rounds of applause, even the piper started piping again for me and the kids came out into middle-of-the-road and were high-fiving me. Now I’m not an emotional person when it comes to all that achievement type malarkey but this certainly brought a tear to my eye, it really was incredible, it was like one of those ‘underdog does OK in the end’ moments from the end of a Hollywood feel good movie! I almost expected Kevin Costner to jump out from the crowd and high five me!
Anyway, the finish line was thankfully still there and I claimed my prize *bling bling*, I checked my Garmin and I’d run 2.8 miles in 48 minutes (the course is actually 3 miles so this gives you an indication of the nature of my ‘shortcut’ down the hill ). That little piece of plastic bling is by far the most deserved medal I’ve ever received!
After the race, I received a ridiculous amount of ‘well dones’ from people just milling around which was fabulous and I also managed to track down the Red Cross ambulance for an ice pack before hobbling up to the Berwick Fish Fry for a fish supper. To top it all off there were bones in my fish and it started raining quite heavily. Now, I’m not one to wish my life away, however I was very glad when the day was over, the one good thing was that everyone with the race number got a free ice cream at the end… I’m still undecided as to whether or not that made it all worth it…
So, the next day I’m still swollen and sore 🙁 I’ve emailed my boss and said I’m working from home so will be able to rest it all day :-). Looks like I’ll be a DNS at the Forth Road Bridge 10k on Sunday, I’ll be going anyway though as my other half is running it so I can do lots of cheering! I just hope I’ve repaired myself sufficiently for my first ultra at the end of the month!
PS if you’ve ever seen ‘Run, Fat Boy, run’ well that was so me (with the notable exception that I am a girl… clearly…!)
See you next year!
Update: fortunately, I healed very quickly and went on to complete the Forth Road Bridge 10k and am happy to be in receipt of further bling!