The first outing for my black and green VRUK vest was in most ways an enjoyable affair. Being a fell running event the majority of vests were well known to the spectators. So as I passed in a group it went something like this – ‘good running Bingley, good running Calderdale, good running …er…’ (screwed-up eyes as they tried to read what was written on my vest followed by a pretty puzzled expression).
Sadly I didn’t see the other VRUK competitor.
We were lucky with the weather – sun with the threat of rain – and the start/finish at Horton-in-Ribblesdale looked lovely.
The route goes quickly from the village to the top of Pen-y-ghent (Cambrian for windy hill – 689 metres), which was indeed windy. (Wind was a common theme as the day wore on.)
The first hill is quite manageable, running-wise, so I was sad to have to walk a little. Even so, the leader reached the top in a tad under 30 minutes and I was about seven minutes behind. That placed me in the top 100 and my best position of the day. It was all downhill from there (only in a metaphorical sense, unfortunately). Both of the subsequent hills – Whernside (723 metres) and then Ingleborough (722 metres) had much steeper final sections – I was reduced to a hands and feet approach at one stage.
I knew I was going to suffer – in fact I deserved to suffer, having prepared my body and my kit quite poorly. My thin little feet were slipping around inside my shoes from the get go and I had painful ankles and blisters from the first of the three peaks onwards. I also conducted a masterclass in the positive power of negative self-talk – as we jogged out of the start enclosure I found myself looking around and thinking ‘he looks a lot stronger than me. I feel terrible. Man, he looks fit. Why didn’t I train more?’ Not a good start.
And so the day went, painful and long. I finished in the top half of the field, just, with a time of four and a half hours. I’m not used to being overtaken by more than a couple of people, so I was really annoyed with myself as a couple of hundred went past me …
First race for around a year, and not an especially glorious first outing for my new club colours. Enough excuses, back to training…
Speaking from experience John, it makes it all the sweeter when you’re fit again – something to look forward to – though if this is what you do when you’re not fit, what exactly were you planning for the future? Have you been talking to Anna…?! -Ed