I’ve had a topsy turvy month. When I’ve trained I have trained well. Had some right good country sessions, did a sub 20 5k as part of a progressive run, and got my time trial back down to the low 25s. My problem is my aches and pains aren’t going away. Groin, hip, back, painful for days after training. I wasn’t going to miss the National XC at Falkirk though as it’s the season end, and I haven’t run it since Irvine in 1989 or 1990. I didn’t run from the Tuesday through to the Sunday for the Nationals, apart from an aborted 5 min treadmill session. Not really ideal. But I still had that aim. Finish top 5 MAC for the season.
So the weather firstly was honking. My wee boys came to see their first XC race and didn’t even last until the start of the race, the cold and the wet proving too much for the wee souls. It was certainly an experience. The wind really started up about 10 minutes before the gun. It and the rain were howling almost as bad as Tommy Sneddon in the wine aisle in Asda when Lynsey told him he had to go affit for Lent.
In the confusion before the race someone punched Scott in the face, probably for wearing his shades. Again. Sadly it wasn’t me so he was OK to run. And BANG!! The gun went off. The first wee bend was tight, 600 odd runners jockeying for position, I was getting hit left and right and then we were round the corner and up the first hill. It wasn’t too muddy, but the wind was howling, and the rain driving hard. Down the hill again and towards the lake. Scott and Ross went by me at this stage, but I wasn’t too bothered, happy to run my own race. The mud round the house side of the lake was pretty bad. I couldn’t get a footing at all and wobbled from side to side. Scott and Ross were getting further away as they mastered the conditions quicker than me. People at this stage were flooding past me as we went round the lake, the other side proving a polar opposite as we went onto path, spikes becoming a hindrance. Then the mad hilly up down up section. Up a muddy hill, down a very muddy hill and back up a muddy hill. I heard a commotion on the hill and later found out that it was a team tent flying onto the course and taking out another runner. The Wizard of Oz meets Falkirk. Being a cowardly lion I was safe. I could see Ross toiling a bit here and got closer to him. Scott was maintaining his lead over me. The next bit was flat but a swamp. Everyone bailing for the sides to try and get any grass where possible, not the easiest. I sneaked past Ross on the opposite side, waiting for him to come back past me, and had Scott in my sights.
I was starting to motor and hit the sideways hill of mud. Zapped me. I was side to side trying to find a grip. When I got up Scott was away again, it took my legs a wee while to adjust again and we were back onto lap 2. Lap 2 was uneventful, I found my rhythm and was quite happy.
Scott in the distance close enough that I thought I could get after him on lap 3. Sadly no. The legs didn’t have it. I couldn’t get moving enough in the muddy sections which were now like swamps, a combination of niggles and the fact that I haven’t quite mastered the mud running.
I couldn’t see Ross behind me which was good but sadly Scott had broke the elastic and I couldn’t bridge the gap. I basically jogged after the sideways hill then hit a right good sprint finish to the end, overtaking a few folk and finishing well.
Disappointingly fresh. But hey I had done it. Dropping out never occurred to me. Scott had beaten me fair and square and I had no excuses. I had beaten Ross for the first time who I really respect as a runner. The Motherwell tent had disappeared and our clothes strewn across Falkirk, Jim Proffit’s spare pants reportedly being used as a refuge for sick Orphans in Polmont as we speak.
Craig had a fantastic run to seal his MAC Championship just ahead of Nick who had a stormer to confirm his bronze , though rumours were Craig would have been faster if he hadn’t just stalked, killed and buried someone on the course. Poor number 1072, does her family know?
Kudos to the 571 people who finished. I was 354th, not my best run ever but not my worst. I started off the season in the bottom 15% or so, and finished it off not only in the top 62% ( I know, makes it sound like it’s good!) but also 4th equal in the MAC championships alongside last year’s champion, and the first over 40. Only 3 of us completed all 6 events, so I have to give myself a wee bit of respect for that. Will I ever do it again? I don’t know. Yesterday I had said no, so today with a don’t know probably means I’ll be spike shopping by the weekend. But even if I don’t no one can take it away from me. I got off my arse and gave it a try. Next stop the road, the championship starts in less than two weeks. Maybe I can sneak up to third……..