Adamant that my form's been off since the Ben Nevis debacle, I travelled up to Livingston to the East of Scotland Cross Country Championships to prove a point. The race registration was one of these new fangled schools with fences like Fort Knox and better facilities than a posh hotel. As they say in Jazz Club....nice!
The women and youths had been out earlier and sections of the course had been mangled up so badly that they had to re-check the Mens course using dental records.
At the appointed hour, 230 club seniors and old timers set off from the start for 3 laps of torture. No fun runners or unattached joe publics here. It was strictly club vests, head down and get on with it (Strictly club vests..mmm, that gives me an idea for a t.v. running dance programme).
I felt reasonable despite my recent bout of lurgy and I made my way with the bunch across the squidgy, thick and luxurious grass that circled the park. It was then north around Dechmont Law through the dark woods onto tracks covered in pine needles; I remarked to myself that it was an atmospheric, scenic and interesting course. Running through the woods I spluttered a few bronchial notes and wondered if this qualified as a 'rumble in the jungle' - I was passed by clubmates Des Crowe at the end of the first lap and then Stevie Mason at the end of the 2nd lap. Steve pointed out later that it wasn't a case of him speeding up, more to do with me slowing down (-yes, I thought that too, but its always nice to have it confirmed!)
I dragged my weary body round the last lap to eek out a sub 40minute time for 9.8km and an utterly bodacious 109th position.
The showers were tip-top though. They remained hot throughout the wash down; although, with all the clag, the floor looked like a scene from a John Carpenter film. As I made my way out I half expected to see 'the thing' start to form within the mud that had gathered on the previously immaculate floor from runners discarded clothes.
Tea in the modern school cafe was quite adequate, thank you and, on the way home, I celebrated with a kebab in Dalkeith (It didn't have much conversation). As I guiltily guzzled down the amorphous jalapeno strewn chilli treat, I could hear the coaches voice in my head saying 'are your opponents eating this, eh?) I know I must be weak.
Alistair Hay (Central) won in 31:54 from Smith of Aberdeen and Strain of HBT; I never saw any of them. I didn't even manage to figure as a counter for the club team event. Next time I might have the kebab before the run; see if that perks me up.