So….. yesterday. Yesterday was the next instalment in the hill series that I’m just ‘loving’ (if loving actually means hating with all your might and would rather be watching paint dry that is).
The difference with this one though is that I’ve ran it before – twice! And whilst it’s got its steep as hell climbs, it’s also got flat sections you can recover on (well, as much as you can during a race). It is however longer than all the other races, and it definitely makes you work for that medal. Bonus on this run though is that my other half was actually sponsoring it, he had designed the finisher t-shirt and was volunteering.
There were quite a few Perth Road Runners volunteering also and many were marshalls round the course so there was lots of encouragement.
It was meant to be a long run day so I decided to run to the event and run back. The youngest had other ideas though. He gets a bit of separation anxiety from time to time so when I tried to drop him off he wasn’t all for it. I know he’s fine within minutes of me leaving but when you don’t really need to leave straight away (because I could drive there) I find it more difficult to go. In the end I managed to run 3 miles before my dad came along, picked me up and dropped me at the start. 3 miles was better than nothing and as expected my mum had text me before I had even hit a mile to say Ollie (my son) was playing happily.
Frazer – my original running buddy – was also running this race and his girlfriend Kirsty and daughter Jessica had come along too, as well as their dog Ruby.
We were called to the start line about 10 minutes before the scheduled start. Although I knew I would be passed I still went near the front as it was an instant climb and I didn’t want stuck behind someone or forced out the way. This wasn’t a race I would be happy to just finish. I wanted to improve last years time.
I looked around and Sonjia, Stewart, Mark, Dave and Ronnie were in front of me. Hmmm. No Heledd. Where was Heledd? I tapped Stewart on the shoulder. ‘Have you seen Heledd?’ ‘No’ he replied. Then a glint in his eye. ‘Does this mean?’
‘I don’t know, I was sure she was coming though’.
Then Sonjia turned round. ‘Heledd’s not here’.
She had the same grin as me.
‘Check you girls out all competitive!’
‘Not at all! Just friendly banter! But if she’s not here, more points for me’ I laughed.
Facts are facts, both Heledd and Sonjia are faster than me so yes, the only way I could ‘win’ was if Heledd wasn’t running. Then I would be the only female that did all 6 Hill Races and the nightmare that was Birnam Hill (the first hill race) will most definitely have been worth it. Sort of. Maybe.
‘Oh hi Heledd’.
Aw no, she was at the registration tent. Game over.
She snuck to the back a little embarrassed that it looked like we were waiting for her but it wasn’t 11’o’clock so she wasn’t technically late. ‘You’ve still got a good few metres on her’ Stewart said. ‘I’m going to need it, and much more!’ was my reply.
Off we went and up the zig zag hill that is right at the start. Not even a few metres to turn the legs over, you’re going straight up. I saw Kirsty at the top corner and a few steps passed her I heard ‘oh no, Ella’s already gone past’. I think she was taking my mums place in the ‘missing the moment’ gallery ha ha. I gave her a wave to say I had heard her though.
First mile down and I chose not to look at my watch, there’s no point in Hill races. I knew Heledd must be right on my heels and right enough, at 1.35 miles in I heard the ‘Hi Ella’. ‘Hey’ I managed to gasp back. She looked a bit white, not her usual self. I wanted to ask if she was ok but I couldn’t gasp that out. I passed her just a few minutes on which surprised me as I don’t think I’ve ever done that so tried to take advantage and not slow down until she had passed me again.
Around 2 miles and there was a woman at the side with a hurt ankle. I asked if she was ok and told her friend I would let the next Marshall know. He ran on but kept looking back wondering if he should have stayed with her.
3 miles in and past the water station. I didn’t take any as Heledd still hadn’t passed me and I knew the second I stopped or slowed down she would fly right by. I also knew the worst Hill was coming and I would have to walk/stumble up it. One of the Road Runners was the Marshall at the bottom of it and I had to ask her why she wasn’t running it. She just looked at the hill and we both we knew she had made the smarter decision, not me! All the way up I was just waiting for Heledd to go past. I’ve spent enough time behind her at these races to know she could most likely run this bit! When she didn’t pass me here I knew she wasn’t 100%. Hoping it was more a case of she was ill and not a case she was hurt I kept on.
Back up yet another hill and this one was one we had come down. The Marshall – Sylvia I think it was – tried to be encouraging by saying something like it was the last hill, or it wasn’t far. It’s quite hard to remember as I was so close to death through lack of oxygen. I did manage a reply of ‘if I had the energy I would kill you for lying’ – she knows the route, she knows the truth ha ha.
As soon as I hit the ‘top’ and knew it was more down hill then up I kept at it. Mile 5 and I did something I never do during races – I started to look behind me. Yes I was trying to see if she was on my heels. It kept pushing me forward though as every time I turned round I expected her to be right at my shoulder. I knew where the final uphill was and pushed myself up it. Then down it went. Past Eleanor another road runner at a Marshall point with her daughter, cheering away, still pushing on.
I hit the zig zags and saw Kirsty again. She started to run with me down them. I found this hilarious and tried to shout ‘are you challenging me?’ but all my energy was going in to not being overtaken at the end. I had also calculated that if there was a team prize I may have been third female PRR as Marlena was between Sonjia and myself! (There wasn’t a team prize but still, it was a nice thought!).
It’s ok, they didn’t!
Across the line and a few very deep breaths later I went and collected my medal. I saw Stewart and yes, I admit, my first words were ‘I beat Heledd!’ however this was very quickly followed by ‘but I don’t think she’s feeling very well, she’s not having a great race’. I saw Kevin her partner and went over to speak to him. He confirmed it, she wasn’t very well. I felt really bad. She came in just a couple of minutes behind me. It’s all friendly competitiveness but I did feel bad for her. She obviously wasn’t on top form or she would have wiped the floor with me.
Frazer came across the line in just a little over an hour which was phenomenal for his first time doing that run. He was quite rightly pleased.
And so on to my run home. Well that didn’t go to plan. It was roasting hot, I didn’t have my sunglasses or a hat and my legs decided the 10k trail race was enough. I had to make a call to my mum at 3 and a half miles in to get picked up before my hamstring went ‘ping’.
All in all a good day. I knocked 3 minutes off my time from last year which was the main aim. But best of all there’s only one more hill race!!
Photos courtesy of Ethan Lee and Gordon Donnachie – they are at most races in Scotland kindly taking photos on their own time. Much appreciated! (Except the one you get of me every time where you age me at least 30 years! Ha ha)