Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Not The Spine Race Report - Part 3: The Battle of the 2 Armies (and 2 Leggies and 1 Mindie)

Better late than never...

Boarding my train home at Hebden Bridge, I sat in a virtually empty carriage happy to wallow in my own despair. Pulling into Burnley Station, I heard some “drunken louts” singing.

“Please don’t get on my train – let me wallow”

They got on my train.

“Ok, but at least not my carriage of despair.”

They got on my carriage.

“Ok, but give me a wide berth”

They wandered down the carriage with their boxes of beer and sat next to me – 3 on my table, 4 on the adjacent table. Great!

I decided to at least try to be sociable and ascertained that they had come up from Southampton to watch the Saints lose against Burnley. They asked me what I’d been doing and expressed amazement (with great volume) that I had just run 30 miles. I didn’t mention the abject failure.

I got my Mum’s homemade flapjack out. They looked envious so I passed it around. In a very favourable deal, I got a beer in return. I swear it was the best beer that I have ever tasted. We chatted all the way to Preston, shook hands like lifelong friends and went our separate ways. Don't judge a book by its cover.

In the morning I felt incredibly tired. My legs felt really battered and as though they had done 100 miles rather than a decent training run of 30. Confirmation that I really shouldn’t have even started.

I settled into tracker watching.

On Tuesday I pottered over to Dufton to catch some of the runners. Eoin was already at the CP. He looked wrecked.

“How are you, Eoin”

“I’m wrecked”

Good to know that my clinical skills are still finely honed.

Next to arrive was Tom (Hollins). He looked great. We’d finished joint 1st at Stu Westwood’s Yorkshire 3 Peaks Ultra in October (a great event) and done some training runs together so it was good to catch up. He was running his own race and running it very well too.

The next morning Jenny drove me over to Dufton again. I planned to run over to Alston CP – lots of my ultra pals were en route – and Jenny was going over to Alston later.

I caught David Dixon heading towards Cross Fell. He seemed happy in his world!

At Gregs Hut, John Bamber and Paul Shorrock were in their natural habitat. 

Also there were Neil Rutherford and Richard Keefe. Soon David joined our little party. As usual, the hot chocolate went down well. I passed on the legendary noodles as I felt unworthy of such a culinary delight.

After a lengthy sojourn, I headed off to Alston. Just before the CP, I met Carlisle’s greatest ultra-team, Paul and Chris Wilson.

Once at the CP, it was great to see Simon Beaseley, my companion in Spine v4 2015. This year he had teamed up with Gwynn Stokes and they both seemed in fine fettle.

My taxi arrived, Jenny said hello to all those that know her from previous editions of the Spine.

And that was the end of my Spine non-adventure 2017.


Overwhelming and continuing emotions? Disappointment and guilt.

1. Disappointment
I knew I was in great shape before the Spine…at least until the week before. As already mentioned, I’d finished joint first in the Y3P Ultra after a monumental battle with Tom. My training had gone tremendously well and I really thought that this was my year to give The Spine a real crack. Having done a few runs with Tom, I felt there was a good chance that we might end up running together at some stage.

By the way, in no way am I saying that I think I could have won. What Tom did, especially over the Cheviots, was phenomenal. I could never have done that.

I’m still left feeling as if all that training and fitness went to waste.

2. Guilt
Well...basically…in the weeks leading up to this year’s event, I became progressively more of a mardy b*stard, culminating in me managing to spoil everyone’s Christmas. Whether this was due to the upcoming event or due to my annual SAD is debatable but my general mood stayed in the depths throughout January.
So sorry to Jenny and Jade in particular. Really sorry.

So...2018. Well, my masterplan was to go supported as I’ve always known how much sleep deprivation affects me……but then someone went and changed the rules!!