After blessing us with nice weather in Kielder the day before, the rain gods decided to sprinkle their soggy love on the hardy souls attempting the Linlithgow 10K. If anyone didn’t know what “monsoon conditions” looked like before the race, I think they did afterwards.
I’d signed up for this one after being told about it by a member of the local athletics club. Given that this was a wee club do I thought I’d probably end up round about last somewhere. As it turned out it was a much bigger occasion than I was expecting, with the 10k catering for all abilities and a fun run for anyone who didn’t fancy the big ‘un.
Before the flood
Fortunately Mabel was parked on the main road about 100m down from the start line so “warm and dry” was the order of the day as the minutes ticked down to the start. Every doorway and shop canopy was filled with shivering runners trying to stay out of the rain while the DJ did a sterling job in trying to jolly everyone along.
About 5 minutes before the start I took the customary GinRunners position towards the back of the starting throng. I’d erred on the “warm and waterproof” side of the usual dress-code dilemma. Long sleeved top.. check. waterproof jacket.. check.
Given the choice of freezing and getting soaked before the start or boiling during the race, I chose the latter.
The main road through town was closed off for 45 minutes while the racers assembled and got underway. The run down the high street was one of those special moments with locals braving the rain to cheer us hardy souls on.
Into the undulations. (They’re not called hills)
The route left the town and headed out into the countryside. Now, at this point, I’d like to have a word about the term “undulating”.. This was an “undulating” course, which basically means lots and lots of uphill bits, interspersed with an approximately equal number of downhills. The problem was, the uphill came in pretty big lumps. Add the strong headwind and aforementioned rain and you have the recipe for a thoroughly miserable time.
But you know what, it wasn’t. There was lot of chat between competitors, mostly along the lines of “this is fun.. right ??”.
The first 5k undulated its way out into the countryside before heading on the south side of the Loch. This was awesome, you’re running along a path between houses then.. BANG. Loch, palace and even a whiff of the finish. The trail along the side of the water was flat, fast and out of the worst of the elements as we headed within shouting distance of the finish…
…Then turned away from it.
At this point the proverbial wheels came off, a bit. At the end of the loch the trail joined onto the road again and we headed up the most unpleasant undulation on the course. I was going great (well, by my own low standards) and picked up pace up the hill. Then, just as I was thinking I’d make it to the top something in my knee decided to intervene and bring proceedings to a crashing halt.
“Oh dear” I thought to myself (or words to that effect) as I tried to figure out what had gone wrong. At this point one of those “that’s what the community is all about” moments occurred. A passing bloke stopped his race to check if I was OK. I was, I was going to walk the rest of the way if I had to, but his genuine concern for a fellow runner was touching.
And then as suddenly as the pain appeared, it only bloody vanished. I was soon back up to speed and trying to make up the time my unexpected stop had cost me. I was also waiting for whatever had happened to happen again but thankfully it didn’t. Reasonable progress was made for the last couple of K.
With about 1K to go I passed a Kinross runner who looked like they were struggling. Here I decided to see if I could repay some of the good Karma the bloke on the hill had shown me. I fell in beside her and said, in my best motivational way.. “See that bloke up ahead? I think you can catch him”.
I ran the last 800m with my new friend (whether she wanted it or not) and crossed the line in an unexpected but totally welcome PB.
And you know what, I was right. She did catch him 🙂
Although I’d ran my wee socks off, this was a quality field full of proper runners so I was well down in the bottom half. But you know, who cares. I’d survived the rain, the wind and the mysterious Knee and got round 10K faster than I ever had before.
And, most importantly, I’d had a bloody good time at the Linlithgow 10K.
(and sorry about the lack of photos, the weather wasn’t really conducive)