First and foremost, we did our 2nd Scottish race a couple of weeks ago. The Fyrish hill race starts in Evanton, about 10 miles from us, and heads up through the forests, down a bit, up to the monument at the top and then plunges down over a 3 mile run to the finish.
We'd done a recce and knew it was fairly fast. We weren't sure how many runners to expect, but it didn't look like many! It was a warm-ish day, with sunshine breaking through about an hour before the race and making us quickly change into just vests for the race.
A bit of a warm-up and we were off....toiling up those forest tracks in the baking heat, dripping with sweat, our bodies unaccustomed to the warm conditions. I held back a bit early on knowing the path gets steeper and, indeed, I started passing people on the way up to the top. The field was spread out as I hung onto the tail of a tall, thin runner in front as we headed through the trees, absolutely plagued by flies buzzing around our heads.
The top was a relief as the flies disappeared and, after a quick gulp of water as I rounded the monument, it was time to peg it down the hill and try and catch the runner in front. Now I have to say, I'm not the greatest downhiller in the world(understatement!) but boy did I fly! I had a truly brakes off descent which saw me pass him about halfway down on the steepest section, and start to make up ground on the two runners some way in front.
I thought I'd catch them....until the path levelled out and I discovered that the fast downhill had left my legs shattered and full of jelly! I gritted my teeth and hung on in there, still making up ground but not enough to pass them. I passed through the finish line of the 7.5 mile & 1500ft race in under 65 minutes and it was as hard as I've raced for a good while, I'd given everything.
And that's when the message about Scottish hillrunning was re-enforced - I finished one place below midway in a field of just 28. Down in England, if I'd run like that I would have been well up in the top half, possibly on the edge of the top third. Ah well, something to work on....
As for Kirsten, she gave it everything as well. She was absolutely shattered as she crossed the line in 85 minutes. But again, a run like that would have left 20-30 runners behind her in any English race....not here!
It's strange, there is such a disconnect between the "JogScotland" runners and the "real" clubs. Fyrish was a perfect race for fell "newbies", and yet not one turned up, it was all old, gnarly hillrunners. Something more to work on I think, as we get to know more runners around here - they need tempting out onto the hills.
Training was going well that week and the week after, and I worked hard to put in some mileage and ascent, knowing that a trip down to England over the last week would see little running. And so it proved. Only one run down there, a trot around Widdop, Gorple and Heptonstall Moor on a sunny day.
Back up in Scotland now...but the rain's returned and I'm busy with some work, so no playing out today. Off for a run over Muir of Ord this evening, and then try and get out on the bike tomorrow. On Saturday, depending on the weather, we may head over to Skye in our new campervan(!!!!!!) and do the Glamaig race. It looks anything but my type of race, but it's one of those that just HAS to be done at some point. And a first race since joining the Highland Hill Runners, Kirsten will be hoping we can get hold of the tartan shorts in time!!!