I’m sitting writing this sitting in the cosy comfort of our new old caravan, perched on a hillside in Jedburgh. Outside it’s howling a gale, as it has all day, but inside it’s just lovely. Jedburgh has lived up to its reputation of being a hilly, blowy place. We’re currently experiencing wind speeds of over 60mph. Today’s race was no exception; hills and wind, that’s the Jedburgh we all know and love!
We decided to make a weekend of it, primarily to test out our eBay bargain caravan, but also to make things more relaxed for me, as I’ve been suffering from a bit of anxiety lately. I worked yesterday and we drove up after I’d finished, arriving at the farm where our Certified Location site is after dark. However, we got settled quickly and made good use of the extra hour daylight saving gave us as we put the clocks back last night.
Being within a few miles of the town, this morning was a relaxed affair – in total contrast to our normal race morning experience. We rose naturally, reasonably early, had breakfast and headed into town at 9, knowing that the car parks soon filled up. Instead of having to hunt for a space, we drove straight into an almost empty car park, collected my race pack, went for a walk and had a coffee. The race wasn’t due to start until 11 and at ten to I wandered up to the start. I felt more relaxed for a race start than I ever have. There weren’t even any queues for the toilets. Total bliss.
The only fly in the ointment was the weather. I checked it last night on my phone and could only describe the symbol I saw as “squally”. It was just a few squiggly lines. I know now what it stood for…windy as ****.
Fortunately, as we started off the wind was mostly on our backs, but we all know what that means on a thee and back run! We ran up through the town centre to the sound of bagpipes and off through the town to greet the first hill, the first of many.
I had my walk:run ratio set to 4:1 which was fine to begin with. Once I’d got to the top of the first few hills I decided to up the ratio to 4:30s. I felt strong and I was running really well. I ignored people around me and ran my own race. Imagine my delight to see 5k appear in a personal best time on road of 29:10! I’ve struggled to get under 30 minutes for ages and here I was subbing that elusive time on the hilly start of a 10k race. The game was afoot!
Up until this point the wind hadn’t really played a part in the run, although I rarely notice it blowing me along! However, as we turned onto the Kelso road you could feel it hitting you sideways on, pushing against you. I knew that I needed to get some benefit of this because within a mile I would be turning straight into the wind. Sure enough, at the 10k turnaround, and in the words of ancient mariners, “Tha’ she blows!” The wind, gusting at around 60 mph, would just about stop us in our tracks. I tried tucking in behind someone, hoping to benefit from some shelter and save my legs a bit. I’m not sure if they enjoyed hearing asthmatic wheezing for half a mile, but I wasn’t overtaking!
I’d reduced my walk run ratio again at the turn, knowing that I would need that extra 30 second recovery and this tactic worked well. I must admit that having my phone on my arm helped me to easily adjust my ratios. I stuck to the ratios reasonably well, although as gusts hit me it was hard to keep going, especially uphill. Once I reached the last long hill, I knew I’d conquered the hills of Jedburgh.
I’d thought that I could use the subsequent downhills to gain back some time, but that wind was still there, blowing on me and holding me back. Usually I would hurtle down that hill, instead all I could do was run my fastest through jelly! I did make some time back and looked like being close to my course record and knocking 4 minutes off last year’s time.
Once I reached the flat I was tiring, but ran through walk breaks in an effort to get close to that elusive sub 60 minute time! I could have done with hubbie by my side at that point, saying little, but spurring me on with his presence. I’ll maybe suggest him brining his bike next year and meeting me on the flat. It’s at that point that I start to lose confidence and I know that he would help me keep it.
As it was I ran past him at the finish, shouted him twice as I passed by, only to see him gazing into the distance and completely miss me! Doh! Then came a dilemma; in front of me, at the finish area, were two mats, separated by about 10m. One of them was the finish, but which one? I ran over the first one and stopped my Garmin and slowed down for the next one. Like many others I had no idea which was the actual finish – a big mistake by the organisers, especially as my hubbie explained that the reason he hadn’t seen me was because he was watching a guy on the other side of the finishing straight shouting to runners that the first mat was the finish, when in actual fact it was the second. I’m sure I will not have been the only person caught out by that!
Having collected my medal, what a medal too, a banana, Lidl Mars Bar and water, I called my hubbie to ask if he was at all interested in seeing his wife finish! He couldn’t believe that I’d run past him.
My Garmin time was 64:49 and I’m taking that as my time. My chip time was 65:14, caused no doubt by the difference between the two mats. I ran my hardest between the start and mat number one and ran 6.17 miles. 64:49 will do nicely, thanks.
Of course, having run a good race, my thoughts immediately turned to ‘what next?’ Rather than having to think about bettering a poor performance, I was thinking that if I could run a sub 30 minute 5k, largely uphill on a windy day – what can I do on a calmer day over a flatter course; what am I capable of exactly? I feel as if I’m in better shape now than I have been for a couple of years. I’m still overweight and, if I lost a stone (which I could easily afford), I’d be a faster runner altogether, but I’m a UK size 12, happy to be so, and I don’t have the desire to lose more weight. I’ll do what I can with what I’ve got and continue to enjoy my wine, Guinness and curry, thank you very much!
I sent off my entry to the Great Winter Run 5k in January and booked the caravan into the local campsite. Last year I managed 31 minutes, so close! This year, who knows. Between then and now maybe I’ll see a 5k or 10k I fancy, although with the season of goodwill fast approaching getting time off to do one will be difficult.