I had thought about going to the race as photographer but then decided against that idea as there would surely be only 60-70 runners so little chance of many sales. I decided to run the race, my first since the Rydal Round two days before I got married in July. (yes, those paying attention will recall I also ran the Brampton to Carlisle in November but that was just to keep up my attendance record and I only jogged round)
Penrith Stu was competing and insisted on perpetuating the ridiculous idea that, despite missing 8 weeks of training, I would be way ahead of him somehow. Dismissing his crazy talk I lined up nowhere near my usual spot at the front and as the gun went I made no attempt to jump clear of the crowd as people jostled to get through the narrow gates, alleyways, tight turns, bridges and steps as the race wound it's way out of the town and onto the quiet country lanes. I genuinely thought I would do no better than finish halfway down the field and would probably struggle with racing the 8 mile distance, so a mid pack start seemed acceptable.
Once we were on the wider road though I found the pace much too slow and set about steadily moving up the field. It was quite a steep hill and after a mile the leaders were still clearly in sight. Penrith Stu was about 10th and I was about 20th. I gradually picked off those ahead of me and left behind those I had been running with as the route climbed ever higher. After about 2 miles the tarmac ended and the fell road began with large patches of snow and ice to be negotiated.
|Penrith Stu - he beat me fair and square|
Once we began descending it was Stu who left me behind, his superior skill at 'dropping' off a fell far outshining my own. At the tarmac again, about 2 miles to go, I was perhaps 250metres behind Stu. I'd passed two runners on the fell descent and got one more on the road descent and was in 9th position. A lad dropped out for some reason so I was in 8th. Finishing about 15 seconds and 2 places behind Stu - I needed another mile of tarmac to have caught him.
To finish inside the top 10 in a field of about 90 was a huge surprise to me. I still can scarcely believe it in fact. I think Stu was equally surprised, as despite his pre race spouting I think he was hoping to give me a several minute drubbing.
The next day was Sunday and a 15 miler was due to be completed. Work in the morning dragged on a bit and by 11oclock I still had Scamp to walk. I decided to bin off the 15 miler and go for a jog through the park which would allow Scamp to join me thus killing two birds with a single stone (an unlikely scenario with the odds clearly stacked against it ever happening but then who would have placed a wager on six double yolkers in one pack of eggs?) By mile 5 of my jog, which had included stopping to throw sticks and chat to folk I know, my legs were complaining in a big way. Missing the 15 was a good plan!
Today I ran the 15 miler. Penrith Stu joined me. We set off a bit too fast for an 'easy long run'. A time check two miles in revealed we were doing 6:45 per mile - 30 seconds per mile faster than I ran last week -definitely too fast! Stu was constantly edging ahead of me. I was constantly telling him to ease up. With just a couple of miles to go Stu insisted we push on to try to beat 1hr 30 mins. With a mile to go Stu initiated a racing effort to ensure we were WELL UNDER 1hr 30mins.
Final result 1:28 and some seconds, or 6:48 per mile. Much too fast. This kind of pace is as fast a me and Milly ever ran for our long ones (admittedly we ran 20 + miles) Next time I will be on my own and the pace will be more sensible. The good news is that again I felt better than last week and the week before despite adding a mile to the distance.
Tomorrow is the first full day at work so I mightn't be arsed to run in the evening. I think a day off is due anyway, will be the first in three weeks or more.
Forgot to say in original writing of post
Many thanks to the chap who approached me before the race in Kirkby Stephen to say how much he enjoyed reading this blog. I should have asked your name, sorry. Hope you are enjoying the latest drivel to trip off my tongue (fingers)