For me, there are four great things about the Clyde Stride 40: 1) It starts about two miles from my house 2) It starts at 9am, so I can get up at my usual 3) There's a drop-bag system - so no hassle with back-up - every 10 miles 4) And there are no uncomplicated, unnecessary race rules.
So after sussing out the course, I spent the days prior to the race checking out the forecast. After the unseasonably hot conditions of the Fling and the monsoon that was the WHW, I thought I deserved a break. The forecast was for no wind and light rain. Perfect.
The weather forecast lies. Fact. After some torrential downpours in the wee small hours, the clouds broke and the sun came out just in time for kick-off.
I arrived at race registration just after 8am. I had the joy of being allocated the number 69 (which was supposed to be 74), much to the amusement of bystanders. Mrs Mac (Race Director) had reallocated numbers to accommodate late entries the night before. I'm sure my number was computer generated, but Mrs Mac's joker-style response evoked my suspicion :-)
Participating in the race were lots of the usual suspects and even more new faces. Like me, there a few runners not-so-fresh from the WHWR. Nothing to moan about though, as the uber-awesome Lucy rolled up only days from her bronze medal at the IAU World Ultra Champs. Mmm I wonder if there are any other sports where the world champion's pre-race preparation involves darting across some waste ground - in the ghetto that is Partick - to pee behind a tree :-) Can't judge though, as I had to do the same thing four times. I'm not sure whether it's pre-race nerves or my pelvic floor not being what it used to be.
Mrs Mac gave out the race instructions and set us off. I'm going to guess there wasn't one person in the field who went off too fast. I reigned it in and settled into my usual plod. Ironically, focusing on not focusing on other runners. Even though my legs were tired, I still had to make a conscious effort to slow down. Not too slow though, as it's a flat road out to CP1 (Cambuslang) and I knew my pace would drop off for the off-road sections.
I was sauntering along through Glasgow Green, when I heard the remakes about "big-bottomed girls getting in the way" and knew the lovely John Kennedy was approaching. I ran (on and off) with John for the next 23 miles.
At the first checkpoint, I picked up a bottle of water and some tablet (which I actually ate). Mrs Mac was shouting "here comes 69", so I skooshed her with some water. Julie was on rubbish collecting duty and I skooshed her too - an innocent bystander - before I threw my bottle with a little more force than I thought I had - must be the new push-up app I'm using :-)
On to the next section, it was starting to heat up. The worse thing about running next to the river on a hot day is the beasties. I think I consumed my annual protein requirement in one morning. And I lost count of the the amount of times I had to pick things out of my eyes and ears.
After about 11 miles I could see the Gibbering Midget and I was closing the gap, which wasn't a good sign. The ITB had been playing up. Although she assured me she was doing ok, if guessed there was more to it. I pushed on before shouting a group of runners who had managed to go off course, even though there was a massive sign and they were actually running away from the river.
I ran in a group consisting of John, Bob, Richard and Bill for the next few miles. I made the innocent mistake of asking muscle-armed Bob if he works out. Cheesy I know, but I just wondered if it was down to being a farmer. Well, this gave John ammunition to mock for longer than my tolerance level would allow. He was nearly in the river :-)
Entering Strathclyde Park, Sonic was waiting with my drop-bag. I moved on quickly and then realised down the road, I'd forgotten what I actually wanted to pick. No worries though, as I wouldn't have eaten it anyway :-)
Heading through Strathclyde Park, I can safely say I was burst. I was hot and wilting. I just stuck my head down (it's easy to hide under a cap) and weakly waved at people cheering. Thanks to the kind cyclist who offered me a piece of his orange :-)
There are quite a few sets of steps on the course and First set of steps to climb were actually steaming. I kid you not. Thankfully there was intermittent cloud and tree cover for the rest of the day.
Crossing the field (why did I ever think this was mostly road?) I saw Bill jerking with cramp. I'm surprised it took him that long. For a skinny guy, he can fairly sweat. I could actually see the salt running out of him. Three relay runners came sauntering passed me. I felt a bit desperate asking them if they were in the relay, but you really couldn't tell who was relay and who was going to the full hog.
A short distance on and the great Richie C was resigned to walking and was throwing in the towel. I doubt it was because he's human like the rest of us - because we know he's not - but he's got bigger fish to fry this year.
I tried to eat some jelly babies, but was boking, so just tried to keep me fluids up.
I spent the next few miles watching Bob's back, disappearing through the tree-sheltered river trail. I was to overtake him at the next checkpoint, but I didn't see him when I did it, so always assumed he finished before me.
At Mauldslie bridge, the GM - who had also thrown in the towel - was waiting with Sonic and Cairn. I knew this was a B-race for her, so knew she wouldn't be too disappointed. She enthusiastically told me I was in second position. With relay runners flying about at the start and out of checkpoints, I never quite knew where I stood. Actually I didn't even believe it until Mrs Mac confirmed it at the end.
I felt pretty strong from then on in. Strangely the second half of the race was better than the first. Probably still slower and I had a fair few low points, but I didn't think anyone was going to pass me.
The route is fairly undulating (code for f-king hilly) after this. In wetter conditions, I'm sure it's pretty muddy and slippy too. With 9/10 miles to go, I passed another runner and my calves started to play up. I knew I was losing a lot of salt, as I could feel and see it on my skin. Thankfully my calves didn't full-out cramp. They just spasmed and tightened. Even so I couldn't risk changing my stride and proceeded to run up all the inclines.
I passed one of the relay runners that had passed me. She was doing a double section and from what she mentioned I think the doubler was more through necessity rather than being planned.
From there on I started to count down the miles. I was over it. It was such a relief to get to Muirkirkbank (2.5 miles to go!), although the journey to the otherside of the town was a whole lot longer than I expected. Back on the trail and up the final nasty hill. I was so glad that I was anal enough to finish off this section the week before, as I knew to look foward to the downhill bit.
On the descent, the lovely Jamie Aarons was out for a jog. She kindly asked if I wanted company for a bit and it was like music to my ears. We ran and chatted (although I think I just puffed!) and she left me to it at the last staircase. I knew the sub:6 hours was on, but I had to work hard. And I did. I gave it everything that was left in me. Granted that wasn't much, but it did the job.
I finished - and then lay sparked out on the grass - in 5:56. 2nd girl and 15th overall.
Well done to everyone who finished. When you look at the profile, it's cheekier than you think.
Paul Raistrick 4:44:44
Grant Jeans 4:53:47 2
Gavin Harvie 5:14:49 3
The relatively unknown (not anymore!) Paul took hot-favourite Grant Jeans to set a new course record.
Bob - do you think he works out?
Lucy Colquhoun 5:18:00 (5th)
Debbie Martin-Consani 5:56:55 (15th)
Judith Dobson 6:16:56 (19th)
Our champion, Lucy. Weighing in at 55lbs :-) I need to lay off the Mrs Tilly fudge
Thanks to everyone who put up with me on the day - especially John Kennedy. Although he "doesn't read blogs", so maybe I should get him back for his frequent jibes about the size of my butt :-) To Sonic and Cairn for patching me up and being my incentive to move my big butt to the next checkpoint. To all the fabulous stewards. Thanks to Davie, Karin and Suse for the pictures. And special thanks to Mrs Mac for putting on a great show. Although it is wrong to confess that I was slightly disappointed to see how well the course was marked? :-)