hubris; n. Overbearing pride or presumption; arrogance
So what if I haven’t raced all summer? What’s it to anyone if I can count the number of +90min runs I’ve done this summer on the fingers of one hand? What does it matter that my training schedule has been of the sporadic, sketchy, specious sort? It’s a nice day, it looks like a nice course and I’ve got youth and vigour to power me through. Intent, vaulting ambition, nae spurs.My girlfriend was off for a hill run of her own and as I kissed her goodbye I gallantly told her to be back in 2hrs 20mins so that she could definitely see me finish. What a fanny.
I shot off and went quickly up Crookhead. I’d started at the back of the pack (was at the toilet when everyone was moving up to start line) and I savoured clawing my way up to 6th place, wishing JD a pleasant run as I passed. I held on to that position for the first descent, going fast, feeling strong, impressed with my new muclaws and thoroughly enjoying myself. Calves were burning and throat was grasping up Glenloco hill – but that’s what it’s all about right? I glanced at my watch; we’d only been going 16 mins, that isn’t very long at all, maybe I’ve gone off a bit fast, I thought, right slow it down a little, there’s a long way to go and I’ve got t-Wait! What?! They just passed me! Both of them! [Sarah O’Neil of HBT & of the many Carnethy fellas about] Right, it’s downhill, get them, get them NOW! So I upped the pace down and managed to win back those places recently lost in what turned out to be my final flash of bravado.
I hit the glen to find myself already feeling a little worn out and the mass of Chapelgill rearing up before me was an intimidating to say the least. The climb up was character-forming; legs on fire, throat parched, blazing sun above. I got passed by at least 7 runners; trying to up the pace and stay at the head of the pack didn’t seem to be working. At the top it took a couple of false-starts and a lot of effort to get running again. I dropped a two places to Laurie Anderson of Lomond and Neil Gilmore of Carnethy but couldn’t find the gumption to do anything about it.
By this time I wasn’t feeling good and I’d realised two important things; the race was bigger and I was smaller than I’d thought. It was about holding on now.
In other circumstances the run along the Culter Fell ridge on a sunny day would have been a delight, but it was a brutal slog. Form and rhythm seemed beyond me and going fast didn’t seem like an option. Twice I ended up waist-deep in a bog. The tank was close to empty coming down Moss Law but the wheels really came off on the ascent to Coomb hill, every step my legs threatened to cramp up, I was pretty dehydrated by this point and the fact that I knew I’d done most of the work didn’t bring much joy. The only consolation was the everyone who passed me looked just as dejected as I felt.
I took a diagonal line on the steep descent down Coomb and straight across the track to begin the final up ‘n’ over in a slow, zombie-trot, just keeping moving and no more. I caught up with Neil Gilmore of Carnethy who’d passed me ages ago who had stopped and was rubbing his legs to aleviate cramps; at least I wasn’t the only one finding it tough. My GF shouting ‘Go James!’ goaded me in to half-hearted burst of speed on the final descent. Afterwards it was all I could do stagger to her car and collapse in the front seat, legs cramping all over.
All in all, a bit of a shock to the system. Sure the race was hard (that’s what it’s about right?) and I didn’t do all that badly in the end but in all my sporting experiences I’ve never had such gap between expectations and performance. Definitely need to approach these sorts of races with a bit more modesty and respect in the future. But I don’t want to sound too down about Culter Fell Horseshoe. It was a magnificent course, the weather was superb, the complimentary Crook Inn beer was delicious and I learned a valuable lesson. In all honesty it was a blast – though definitely Type II fun.
1. Andy Fallas (Carnethy) 2:07:36
1. Stuart Whitlie (Carnethy) 2:07:36
20. James Callender 2:51:48