When I first entered this race it was by snail mail and required a cheque book! This year it sold out within minutes and I ended up on the waiting list. I thought maybe this year was the year I’d try out Lasswade 10 or one of the ‘can you keep count of your laps’ races round the Meadows. I was almost disappointed the following day when they’d obviously released some further places and I was offered a spot.
A bunch of us had managed to get signed up and Wendy had the car shares sorted weeks in advance so we all prepped and ready come race day. The two hour drive went really quickly with Megan to chat to and we arrived before 10am giving us plenty of time to register and take loo breaks. Club mates were greeted, decisions on layers of clothing to wear were made and bags dumped in sports hall or cars.
This year we had our very own photographer, Sheila, who wasn’t fit training wise to do the actual race, but had agreed to come along and support us and take our photos with professional aplomb.
Due to some road works they’d changed the course slightly, so the walk to the start wasn’t as long and we’d be finishing with a run across the rugby pitch. I wasn’t sure if this would mess with my attempt to race against last year’s time, but wanted to give it a go in my challenge this year not to get any personal worsts.
It was a beautiful day with blue skies and skudding clouds. For most of the race there was just enough breeze to keep us cool, although it did warm up a bit in the last stretch. All the ERNies started at the back, but the others continued at a faster pace and I was bumbling along towards the rear with several run/walkers including one lady who kept giving me encouragement every time we passed each other saying ‘You can tell I’m a jogscotland leader, I can’t stop the motivational chat’.
It soon became evident to me that I wasn’t going to match previous year’s pace, but it was such a beautiful day and I was feeling the love even if the legs weren’t working quite as hard as I would have liked. The first two miles or so are flat and then it’s the hill, but it’s the kind of hill I like where you dig in deep to get up to the top, preferably without stopping, and then get some undulations to roller coaster along. There had obviously been rain recently as there were quite a few puddles at the side of the road which kept the runners more in the middle of the road and slowed down cars more as they didn’t have space to overtake. I never felt unsafe though, and there was a police car doing a turn up and down the road to keep an eye on us and make sure there were no boy racers.
Half way seemed to arrive quite quickly and there were some lovely downhill stretches where I had a grin on my face. The steepest sections were a bit much for my knees, so I wasn’t able to hurtle down at the speed I’ve done in the past, but I figured enjoying a race was more important than beating myself up about lack of pace.
It was strange not having the little out and back side stretch that they normally have. Previously I’ve used it for spotting how many people were behind me, but that wasn’t an option this time. There was one long section where I remembered running with a friend a couple of years ago when she was doing it as a training run rather than a race, and she kept jumping up to see things over the hedges and giving me a running commentary of sights she could see. This year I noticed that the hedges were considerably grown in height and only a giraffe would have been able to see to the fields beyond. The views over towards the sea were still there and as stunning as ever particularly in the sunshine. The one downside of racing, as I just want to stop and get the camera out to snap the moment.
I find the last few miles of any race a mental struggle. From 6 miles onwards I started chanting ‘less than 4 miles to go’, ‘less than 3 miles to go’ etc. but was pleased to be able to add ‘with a smile on my face’ which isn’t a statement/emotion I’m usually capable of at this point.
The final stretch of road finished with a welcome shout from Sheila who managed to take some fab photos of me (and the others too, when I came to upload them to the website). I thought the ‘finish at the rugby club’ meant we’d finish before reaching the sports centre, but oh no. They meant you turn off onto the rugby ground and then had to consider (and in my case reject) sprinting across slightly soggy grass and up a slope to finally reach the normal finish line out the back of the sports centre, where I had the rest of the ERNies cheering me on.
I didn’t manage to avoid a personal worst, being a couple of minutes slower than my slowest time, but had thoroughly enjoyed the race and as usual the fantastic spread they put on. Fab sausage rolls, sandwiches and a tart/pudding thing which contained about half a jar’s worth of mincemeat, yum. We cheered and clapped as the prizes were handed out and then not 1, not 2 but 3 of us got spot prizes! Lucky ERNies. A change of clothes, settling aching body into car for the drive back (ow) and another couple of hours chatting away to Megan. Great way to spend a Sunday.
Photos and captions courtesy of Sheila Masson:
And a video courtesy of Derek Johnstone