Wednesday, 26 May 2010

A bit of this and that

It’s been a busy few weeks on the athletics front. It all started when I went along to the Dunbar running club and had a good run up Doon Hill. It’s nice to have a change of scenery from the  usual HELP routes and the clear, bright evenings make up for the long, cold winter runs.

On Sunday, 9 May, I got up early and drove over to Selkirk for a triathlon. On the way over I wondered what it would be like to compete in my new status of ‘Vintage’ triathlete (in the tri world they go by your age on 31 December and by then I will have my bus pass.)

I was confident it was a Sprint distance and had told Becky from the tri club that the Kelso tri and not Selkirk was the Standard distance. The first thing they ask you when you register is your swim time…’15 minutes,’ I said. Quite a few heads turned to look at me. ‘Are you sure,’ the lady taking names said, ‘you know this is Standard distance, don’t you?’ It only goes to show that you should read the blurb on the entry form properly and make sure you put it in the diary. I had not only got the distance wrong, but  the town as well!
‘Never mind, we will get you a place,’ she said.
But did I want it? Instead of swimming 30 lengths, cycling 20kms and running 5kms, I would have to swim 60 lengths, cycle 40kms and run 10kms. I decided to do it. The swim went well and the big surprise was the bike ride. I thought it would be hilly, but it was just as well, I didn’t know it would be over Ettrick and Yarrow mountains! The run presented a few problems because my feet were completely numb from the bike ride. It’s a strange feeling running on numb feet… however, as the run progressed, I felt better and my feet thawed out. I was quite pleased with the race and ended up with a time of 3.04.37 made up of 30.52 swim, 1.38.03 bike and 51.58 run.

On 16 May, I was going to have a week off, but Frank persuaded me to go along to Loch Leven half marathon. My memories of the previous year were of feeling good to start with and the wheels falling off at Scotlandwell hill, followed by a drenching for the rest of the way home. This year I was determined to set off at a sensible pace and conquer the dreaded hill and it worked! I had a steady paced run and felt good throughout the whole race. Even the dreaded hill went well. My time of 1.44.57 was 3.30 faster than the previous year… so starting off sensibly paid dividends.

All this set me up nicely for the trip up to Cape Wrath and the marathon. I hadn’t been as far north as this before. The mountain and coastline scenery is stunning and the organisation of the race is second to none. The marathon race is quite complicated with a combination of runners including, individuals and teams of two, three or five people. HELP had two – two man teams comprising of Eddie and Mike and Frank and me. Eddie and Frank did the 15 mile leg from the lighthouse at Cape Wrath to the ferry and Mike and I ran from the ferry to the lighthouse. The logistics of the race focused on the need to get everyone over the Kyle of Durness on the ferry at 16 people a time. This meant that Eddie and Frank had to be at the community centre and ready to go at 5.45 am. While Mike and I had a much more relaxed 9.45 start. We were on the bus and about to head for the ferry when Eddie and Frank arrived home, having finished their leg before we had started ours. I reckon this is the hilliest marathon I have come across. It runs through some wild country and I loved it.
The two HELP teams ran well with Eddie and Mike being placed second (out of 16 teams) in a time of 3.29.32 (Eddie 1.49.32; Mike 1.40.00) Frank and Ray were third team in 3.35.56 (Frank 1.58.56; Ray 1.37.00)
The only other thing to say is that the meal was fabulous, comprising of local seafood produce and deserts to die for, and we finished it all off with a bit of ceildh dancing… roll on next year.

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