Sunday, 23 September 2012


Yesterday I  *cough* "ran" what can only be described as the worst race in my life. I put my body through 4 hours 15 minutes of absolute hellish pain and have no intention of ever repeating the experience.

I am not built or "conditioned" to hill running. I've tried but I'm just no good (and I'll probably try again).
It's not that I don't appreciate the skills and determination and the training of those who do "get it" and are who are good at it. Honestly...good for them. It just isn't my "thing".
Break me in two and I'd be like a bit of Blackpool rock, but with the word "road" running through me. I will probably train in the hills, off road, and have the odd wee "flirt" with hill running - but the road is where it's at for me.

In retrospect the Two Breweries probably wasn't the one to go for. Even among hill runners it seems to have a pretty tough reputation.
I'd love to be able to take you through my experience but my brain appears to have blanked huge sections of it to save me from reliving it.

Despite my previous post I actually went into the race feeling quite good and, dare I say, looking forward to it.
Listening to the banter on the bus from Broughton to Traquair was good fun, and the setting for the start itself was beautiful (can't be many runs that have such as nice backdrop for the start).
We met up with the other runners from Dunbar and had a coffee and a natter. Maybe the jovial banter was simply everyone trying to mask their nerves (I don't know).
Anyway, we went through the kit check had a talking to.... and we were off.

First mile and a bit was lovely - all on the road.
In fact the first couple of climbs weren't too bad. It was probably when we got to Stob Law that my will to live started to ebb. There was one section - a sort of narrow sheep path that traversed the side of the hill where I would have expected to be able to "run". But thanks to the wet summer it was little more than a collection of peaty, boggy, swamps that you had to clamber through and stumble over.

The climb through the woods towards Whitelaw hill started fairly well but soon curved upwards into a gradient that I was never going to "run" up and I was again reduced to using my hands to try and exert a little more power to my legs as I walked/climbed up.
Graeme Henry had passed me before this hill and assured me that after Whitelaw there is a bit where you can run before the last climb. I assume he meant the section between Stobo and Tarcreish.
Wouldn't go as far as say I ran, but I could at least jog a wee bit of this. But all the while, lurking in the back of my mind there loomed ..... "Trahenna".

And there it was. No path or identifiable route up (that I could find), just an interminable, never ending, back breaking climb through gorse and heather. On and on and bloody on it went.
God knows why I chose to wear my Garmin, but when it beeped to inform me that I'd covered a mile in 21 minutes I could have wept.

The descent was always going to be tricky and it didn't help that me and a bloke from Carnethy took the wrong path at one point. By the time we doubled back we'd probably really only added about 400m on to our overall route, but when you feel as bad as I did that's more than enough.

When I did finally get to the end I would happily have thrown my shoes in a bin. But I was unable to bend down to untie them. I have never felt that disconsolate about a race in a long long time.

The organisation was fantastic. It might be one of the toughest things I've ever done, but it was also one of the friendliest. The food at the end in the village hall was fantastic and the prize giving was quick and efficient (that said. Dunbar couldn't even win a feckin' spot prize!)

I honestly do not want to be disparaging of hill running (or "dis" it as the yoof of today are want to say). It's just not for me.
I had at one point thought about the Jedburgh "ultra" at the end of October. Now? There is no way!
There's a half on the same day...might do that.

Did a four and a half mile recovery run this morning .... on the road.

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