Last Friday evening at 8pm I was standing with my toe on the start line of the second race of the Foxtrail winter series in Dunbar.
I had my 'war paint' on which was kindly supplied by the race crew at registration (I went subtle, just blue and white lines on my cheeks!), a glowstick bracelet and my Inov-8 X-Talon 190's on my feet, I was ready to race!
It was a 10k race and headtorches were mandatory. All day at work I was thinking about how to take on this race. It was two laps of 5k, the course had a mixture of forest trail, road, grass and sand. In the end I decided on running in a group for the first lap and if possible, pick up the pace on the second and try and get another podium finish.
What happened was quiet different.
The start was located within a marque which had a live DJ and light show in it, it was brilliant. Before the start there was a young bagpiper playing a tune because the event was kicking off a week of events to mark St Andrews day. Once the bagpiper had stopped playing, a hooter went off and I presumed this was to get everyone's attention before the start of the race, but I was wrong. This was the hooter to start the race!
Before I knew it I was sitting 8th and a small pack of 3 was pulling away from me at an alarming speed. I wish I had put my heart rate monitor on because I'm sure it would have been a new max for me. I could feel my heart beating out of my chest, this was not part of the plan!
I put in a bit of a sprint but could only get in to 5th position when the trail got narrow and I was stuck at the back of the group. I couldn't pass and I could see first place slowly pulling away from us.
About 2 miles in to the first lap I was running out front and pulling away from the group with another guy, we could see first place ahead of us but we just couldn't catch him. I put a gap between me and third place but then we got to a technical section in the forest and I had to really concentrate on making sure I followed the race route but the guy behind me soon caught me. I couldn't understand how he was navigating the trail so well, then I remembered, my headtorch had a rear light on it and I can only presume that this was making it easier for him to follow.
We went through the tent where the start was and after this last lap, the finish straight and off we went for another 5k lap but I turned off my rear light. Anything to try and give me an advantage and to pull away from him!
I'd accepted that 1st place wasn't on the cards but 2nd place still had a nice ring to it.
We ran together for another 2 miles but then I pulled away and kept the gap.
The route was amazing and I'd like to run it again during the day time, 10k feels such a long way when you can't see landmarks or anything that gives you an idea of your location. It was also pretty icy in places and some of the mud had gone solid so you were constantly guessing if your foot was going to slip, grip or a bit of both! Saying that though, the marshals were fantastic and the lit up sections of the route were beautiful, I wish I had more time to enjoy them but I was racing.
I was the only person that I could see in shorts and tshirt but as always, my ashmei merino kit worked wonders in these cold conditions and my way was perfectly lit with my Uni-lite headtorch, great kit helps race well!
That's 2 races down of the series and 2 podium places which I am delighted with.
The next race is a 16k race with a large part of the route along Dunbar beach, this could be a toughie!
A final thank you has to go to Mandy, she came along to give support and ended up running back and forth to the car because I'd forgotten things and been general disorganised! She is the best wife and support crew anyone could need!