Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Black Rock, Eildon and Dollar

I have been very remiss in posting recently. I have given myself a good telling off. However, that said, I recall my stifling eagerness in 2007 for running, when I started blogging. The blog was really a diary for my running. With age, 12 years of club running and many thousands of miles under my belt, I have allowed myself a bit of slack as I begin to accept that in order to keep myself in one piece, I might have to cut my cloth (as they say) and learn to enjoy events, rather than beat myself up trying to compete. Its a slow transition, but I'm working on it. If I keep telling myself to enjoy the run as I run out of puff, I might start believing it...sometime. In the meantime...

Three weeks ago I strained my right hamstring  a week before my second karate competition. I still took part and got a good mashing by a national team member. He was good. I hobbled off home to recover and ducked out of a club training run a week later after half a mile.

We took off on the Friday (23rd June) to Kinghorn, pitched the tent and, after tea at Burntisland, met up with speedy joe, the daughter, at the railway station. I was on camera duty. As the whole village began to jump to the annual sound of the Black Rock 5, the village population swelled with 1500 runners. It was bouncing in the midsummer heat. I half walked, half jogged down the street and across the sand and took a position on a rocky promontory.

After an age they came galloping down the road and across the sand and I clicked away for a good wee while before jumping down and running into the snake of runners, clicking as I went. I then jogged halfway back along the street and continued taking snaps as they returned.

Afterwards, I retired to the Auld Hoose pub and waited for the missus and speedy J. They returned via the showers and the chip shop which had apparently run out of fish and chips. Some beer was supped. During the evening I admitted that I may as well have run the race as I had jogged most of the course (well, some of it). We wandered back to the tent around 11:30.

The next day after breakies we took off home, but deviated across to the A68 and to Melrose, where the Eildon 3 Hills Race was on. It was hot and the town was in full gala mode, and after some chin scratching, I thought I might test the hamstring. I took the Canon with me as a crutch more than anything, thinking that if I had to stop early into the race, at least I could get some snaps. As it was, I grafted up and over the hills and passed speedy on the way down as she tip-toed her way over the scree. I shouted that she needed to 'trust her studs on the way down'.  I finished some way down the field, but not a disaster by any means and more importantly, without any serious aches. Mrs Mac, who also entered was nearly last, cursing us for persuading her to run this Borders Bonanza. We did enjoy the chat, tea and cakes afterwards.

Training last week was patchy but come Saturday morning, I committed myself to the Dollar Hill Race, and took off up the road arriving in good time for the start in the rarefied grounds of the Academy. It was vest only, long shorts and compression socks, partly to try and avoid injury and partly to cover up from tick-central. I hate those blighters. There were about 10 or 12 runners from a French running club (plus some cheery hangers on) which boosted the numbers and gave the race a continental flavour.

Eildon Hill Race Start
The last time I did this race was in 2010 when it was a UK fell running championship counter. I forgot about the punishing start, this time reverting to a spider like crawl up toward the crest of Saddle Hill.  I was wearing a nylon cap  and near the top I was enveloped in my own little rainforest monsoon, a regular series of salty drips discharging across my face. Over the top I was around 20th and just behind a Kinross runner. However, the cloud was down and visibility was around 50m, and after putting on my waterproof on the move, I clung to him as he ran on with purpose. I hung on with him around 10-15 seconds ahead for a while, seemingly wandering around the tussocky and undulating ridges for a long time with hardly anyone else in sight. On the climb up to the last rise, Andrew Gannel Hill, a Penecuik runner who had been shadowing me, passed me and took up the chase with Kinross, who was well away.
I found the descent hard and wasn't sure if the compression socks were the reason I had begun cramping up. I ended up walking a little way at the end and losing a few more places before those cheery continentals gave me some reason to pick it up and 'Allez' to the finish line. Nice chat with a couple of lads, 20 minutes with the masseur and great cake layout with tea galore. Home via the Dalkeith kebab shop and spent an hour in the bath, partly reading and partly obsessing about the days race, re-running parts in my head.  I loaded up the snaps of Eildon on Flickr with a link from the Scottish Hill Racing Facebook Site. Still got another 80 snaps from the Black Rock to load up, but it takes an age. Maybe find time tomorrow. Upwards and onwards.


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