By Claire Larravide 😛

 

So… after a pretty dismal Saturday (following a pretty dismal run of rubbish 12 hr shifts in work) and the cancellation of a previously booked Triathlon for the Saturday (before the bad weather forecast, so it probably would have been cancelled anyway)… I was desperate for a wee race and to get the legs moving. As many of you know, I’m not the most elite of hill runners, in fact I could give a tortoise a run for it’s money… but I have been trying to do a bit more off road lately running wise and challenging myself for more than just a road PB. I pick any hill races I do carefully due to my at times lacking confidence and skill, but knew I had managed Scolty last year and it was a very do-able little race!! I was “warned” by Niall that there would likely be a smaller field this year as it was not a Championship race this year but not to be put off by the smaller numbers.

It was a long-ish drive to Banchory, but after arriving, we were able to register quickly. We bumped into Iain (Stewart-a fellow Westie), but I appeared to be flying the flag for the Westie Women.

A little warm up jog for a few minutes and I was ready.

There were maybe 60 runners on the start line, so I moved back to allow the hares to get a good start. I wished Niall luck and off he went to start with the faster people.

They set us off at 2pm. It was difficult not to go off too fast… as it always seems to be… but I didn’t push it too crazily and paced myself up the 1st hilly section and through the gate at the top. Round to the left for the 1st loop… it is slightly flatter here and easier to run so I was easily able to keep a steady pace. The path was very runnable and then turns off the main path to the steeper section where many of the people around me were now walking, including myself. I kept it to a quick march though and was still finding it quite tough… even feeling a bit nauseous on the last section to the summit. I finally made it over the top and began to run as soon as possible. Last year a mainly walked a lot of the rougher path as I find uneven footing quite challenging between watching where I put my feet and watching where I am actually going. This time however, maybe due to my increased off road training in the last year, I felt confident enough to run. Slowly, but run all the same. I was still overtaken by a couple of people as I started the descent but I was happy with how I had paced the first climb. I kept the downhill section steady and when it flattened out I was able to pick up the pace a little. A few fallen trees to negotiate were not too big a deal and despite 1 minor trip, I managed to keep going well. By this time however, despite feeling like I was going well I had still been overtaken by a few people and was one of the last runners. This no longer phases me in hill races. I figure those who are slower than me aren’t brave enough to try…

The little descent and flatter section was fun and I really enjoyed running through the muddy sections before the second climb.

I felt this tougher as I had tried to keep going well for the first section. It was comfortable though and there were still a number of people in my sight and I was pretty sure I wasn’t last.

The last downhill however, despite again making a much better job of it than last year, was still a tricky one for me and I was passed by who I thought was the last runner. I followed her for the last 800m or so but couldn’t find the speed in my legs, partly due to a niggling old injury which likes to rear it’s ugly head every so often. I finished just behind her and her friend who had also been just ahead of me. A few minutes later, the last runner crossed the line.

 

I was ecstatic not to be the last runner… despite seeing nothing wrong in placing last, having done so before. However, I felt that in a much smaller field, to finish not only not last but only seconds behind a good few others, and a much more confident run which I am sure was quicker than last year. For someone who does not race to competitive standard, I love that small races like these make hill running accessible for your average Josephines like me.

 

 

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