It's a Sunday morning and it's raining outside.
Usually I would be making my way up to Craiglockhart tennis centre to meet the rest of the Sunday run squad but instead I'm having my porridge and getting ready to drive through to Livingston.
I'm heading over with Mandy, who will be spectating, to run the Dechmont Law 10k trail race. I ran this race last year for the first time and really enjoyed it. It's not a fast course but it's trail and we all know how much I love running on trail! I wasn't just looking forward to the race because of the course though, I had new shoes to try out as well. Sad as it may seem, I was very excited.
Last year I finished 6th place overall and was really pleased with that. I hadn't tapered for the race this year so was unsure how it would pan out. All I wanted to do was enjoy the trail and test my new shoes. As my last blog said, all training just now is focussed on Barry Buddon half marathon.
I collected my race number and chip for my time and headed out for a 2 mile warm up. I felt I really needed this warm up because the course is pretty undulating and it starts with an uphill climb!
During the warm up I felt my legs just weren't all there. Aching in places that they really shouldn't be, not for a warm up. At one point I thought about walking and counting that as a warm up. Not good. I continued with my drills though and finished with strides and then took my place on the start line with the 142 others.
After a short countdown by the race director, we were off. Straight in to the first climb and my lungs were bursting. I was sitting 5th after the first 100 metres but I knew it was too early to accept this would be my final position. There were plenty others behind me who I'm sure had fresher legs.
After 2 miles I found myself sitting in 3rd place! I didn't expect that but I knew I wasn't going any further up the podium, second place was nowhere to be seen. The battle for me was to try and keep this position.
After 2.5 miles you start the first of the long climbs. My legs were screaming at me to stop. 2.5 miles into a 6.2 mile race and I wanted to stop but I got to the top of the hill and I hadn't lost my position. It was now a mile downhill and I could try and stretch my legs a bit. This part of the course is beautiful, massive pine trees on either side of the trail which sheltered us from the rain perfectly. The trees also shield you from the sound of the M8! It's amazing to think you are running right next to one of the busiest roads in Scotland and you can't hear a thing other than wildlife.
I found myself actually forgetting I was in a race at one point because I couldn't see anyone in front of me or hear anyone behind me. I was just enjoying the run.
The enjoyment soon stopped though, it was now the lower part of the course and the only way to the finish line was to run back up hill. This was it, this was where I just knew I would get passed and I would need to accept 4th place.
I ran through 4 miles and my legs were now trying to stop me from running. They felt like lead weights, every step was an effort but I told myself to man up. It was only 8 laps of a track, I run this every Tuesday. I took a deep breath and pushed and gave it my all.
With 1km to go, the marshall was shouting encouragement with words like "It's all downhill from here!", just a shame that it wasn't! I knew from previous experience that I had about 500 long, uphill, metres to go before the final descent.
Mandy had been making appearances around the course with the camera, shouting encouragement and her final comment to me made me smile. She said "You're 3rd and 4th is no-where to be seen! Oh wait, nope there he is!" That gave me enough information to know I couldn't ease up and I pushed all the way to the line to finish 1 second quicker than last year but 3 positions better.
It was a great race and I would highly recommend it to anyone who fancies a bit of trail running.
As for the new shoes, my Hoka One One Speedgoats, they were amazing and I can't wait to get running in them again soon!