When I awoke on Saturday to get my porridge in ahead of the afternoon’s race, I did not even need to open my curtains to know that it was going to be run in miserable conditions. The wind and rain battered my window and I spent a good few minutes sitting on my sofa, cradling my hot cup of coffee, before bracing myself to have a look at the state of the weather. A quick glance was enough to confirm my suspicions and I made my way slowly back to the sofa and my steaming mug, half-convinced in my sleepy state that if I sat and took my time over breakfast it might all go away in time for the race – it was a 2pm start after all!
My quiet morning of ignorance flew by and before I knew it I was getting a lift over to the other side of the city and the rain continued to fall. One saving grace became clear as we arrived for race registration and discovered that there would actually be quite nice facilities to change in – a definite step up from the level of comfort we had experienced in a Winter season dominated by cross-country where the only ‘changing space’ was under a golf umbrella shared by half a dozen other muddy runners. Huddled around the ‘tea and coffee area’ wrapped up in my new Southside Six beanie and thick knitted gloves, it would have been easy to ignore the race and simply enjoy the warmth and a chat about the evening’s Christmas night out. It was not to be however and before we could get too comfortable it was time to make our way to the start line.
The five minute jog to the start area was a definite low point – having abandoned my nice warm layers it was a bit of a shock to step out into the driving rain and jog through the muddy puddles in vest and (far too short) shorts. It was in this moment that I envied Paul who had received a bit of stick about the latest addition to his running wardrobe – a fetching set of ‘Bella-Blue’ running sleeves. He definitely had the last laugh as we huddled under a tree to keep warm.
Fortunately we were not kept waiting for long and we lined up for the start of the race which had a surprisingly good turnout given the conditions. After a moment of confusion involving a false-start, we were off racing and the pace was lightning from the gun. I found myself settled in behind a lead group fairly early on however most of these soon pushed ahead and I found myself running side-by-side with a guy from Herriot Watt University.
The race itself wound its way around the Garscube Sports Site and included one particularly sharp climb which stretched away from the river. Once this climb was conquered however it was a generous route with long, sweeping downhill sections and by the half way stage I found myself ticking along at a decent pace and feeling strong. I was still alongside my yellow-vested rival and the second half of the race saw us pass several runners as we both tried to pick up the pace and shake the other off. The battle which ensued was pretty horrific as we switched places four or five times over the course of the last mile. As we approached the turn back into the sports complex, my rival pulled away and I couldn’t quite match his finishing pace. He finished a few seconds ahead of me which was a little frustrating but I was also really grateful to have had someone pushing me for the entire race. Being put under pressure for a full 5 miles ensured that I ran the whole race hard – there was no hiding place. Whilst this was not a PB I definitely felt it was one of my best performances of the year given the conditions and the route.
Post-race it was great to get back in the warm nice and quickly and while none of the Harriers picked up prizes it was nice to see some familiar faces take home a variety of rewards. Once we had thawed out it was time to head home and get ready for the Harriers’ Christmas Party – a phenomenal night, but what happened in LOKS stays in LOKS…