This year, rather than the Hexham to Ovingham point to point, a new course had been devised by Tynedale Harriers. The race HQ was Hexham race course. I'd been there a few weeks earlier to do the Wiggle 'Hell of the North' cycle sportive. Properly described.
As I drove the athletes to the course, the sun was rising and it was looking like a really nice day. Not much wind either. I was aware that the course was likely to be hilly, but I assumed that whatever sharp rises that were encountered on the course would be offset by low slow downhills that we could get the time back on. This is an unwritten understanding between organisers and runners.
There was a good crowd finding their numbers among the 600 or so that had pre-entered. Some of the roads were closed, and I thought anything below a 1:08 might be good, given my patchy training of late. There was chip timing and as we lined up, clubmate Jim A. lifted the tape and invited me to slip in near the front.
I knew the first mile would be a steady downhill, but the subsequent downslope steepened from mile one to mile two and I was soon up with Paul Redman of Sunderland. We were still going down and down and struggling to keep up with our legs. We had a brief exchange, some garbled words and then I dropped my gel, so had to come to a halt, which took several metres and then nip back and pick it up, by which time the group I was in was away doon the hill chasing after their legs and looking for the anchors.
The first 2 miles were too fast, but then, as we reached the valley, we hung a sharp right and then began a climb for 2 miles. Rather than carrying my gel, I decided after 3 miles to consume it. However, I was puffing so heavily that the goo sat in my slack jaw and after a while I was aware that it had begun to dribble out of my gaping mouth as the hill went on and on. I was too busy looking for oxygen and checking my medical records. My eyes had glazed over and my lungs were mush.
By the first drinks station I was puggled, realising that the gradients were unusually steep and the climbs long. I was passed periodically by runners. I saw one girl heave at the side of the road and another faster clubmate up ahead stopping and starting, clearly feeling out of sorts. The road dived again, then we reached a ford. If you reach a ford, you know the road out in any direction is precipitous and so it was. Up and up and up. By 6 miles I had begun to generate a reaction, a feeling of resentment that I was too far in to bail out. I would have packed in, I think.
At 7 miles another water stop provided a much needed drink. By 8 miles as we dropped down again I knew there was the same 2 mile rise to the finish that we had previously come down, but at the arrival of the start of the rise, marked by a sharp incline, I shook my head as I watched the two guys up ahead walking up the crest of the hill. I was in survival mode, but had slowed to a shuffle. Quite an unusual course selection, I mused.
I finished in 1:14. One marshall asked me at the end if I'd do it again.
perhaps...with a jet pack or perhaps on a milk float.
Later, as I tried to rationalise the day, I wondered if the organisers had found a good HQ and then tried to find a course to fit a 10 mile route. When I got home I had to have a lie down for an hour. Maybe, in the words of Viper from Top Gun, I'd been 'holding on too tight'.....maybe I need a chill pill. Need to chillax. Aunt Aggie had a laugh when she heard and suggested I might like to take up baking or perhaps chess, but then adding that I didn't have the intellect for either.
Six beat the hour. Stars. The winner admitted it was the hardest 10 mile race he'd ever run. What a daft carry on.
|course profile or heart rate monitor printout ?|