Sunday, 2 March 2008

Surviving Emma

This morning we drive up to Doncaster where both L and I are running in the Norton Nine Mile race. This marks a bit of a comeback of sorts for L and naturally she's worried about being last. Where as I'm just worried. Doggo will have to do his supporting from the boot of the car. I had considered lashing him to a lamppost somewhere but I reckon he might have taken it around the course with him. So it's safer that he's in the boot but we've forgotten his straitjacket, so Daughter comes along to placate him.

This will be the longest we've ran for some time without stopping for either alcohol or cake or both. I don’t think there are any pub stops planned which is a shame, I had meant to email the organisers and ask, but didn't. It seems unlikely that there will be. I did suggest to L that she could stuff some flapjacks down her sports bra to munch as she went round; I even offered to help her load up but she didn't seem to think the idea was much of a goer. It would of course totally ruin my time if I stopped to help myself to one. A flapjack that is.

The race is due to start at 11.00, just as a Hurricane Emma seems to sweep into town. The papers have been warning about this but there was practically no wind in Nottingham. Unlike a girl called Emma whom I once knew, who was full of hot air, this Emma seems to only blow cold, very cold. Its bloody freezing as I strip down to my shorts and line up alongside some evil looking Yorkshire folk. That's evil in a sporty sort of way; they breed them tougher up here obviously. Tougher and bigger, it must be all the black pudding or perhaps they’re all loaded up with flapjacks but you wouldn’t dare to ask any of this lot for something to nibble on.

We start and crikey it’s fast. Do these people realise its nine miles. I start five rows from the front i.e. a long way back but still I’m swept along on a tide of nutters determined to fly round at sub six-minute mile pace.

Emma is now blowing icily straight at me, so I try to shelter from her by drafting one of the locals. I think this tactic causes me to miss the first mile marker or perhaps it's just a blur as we hurtle past. So it’s a great relief to see the second. I check my watch and it says 13 minutes, which is way too fast. I give myself a damn good talking to and we slow down. I settle into a seven-minute mile pace, which is sustainable, possibly. However it’s clearly not quick enough as a multitude of Yorkshire folk wander past me, and horror of horrors, many of them are women. By now I have a list of targets as long as both arms but I fear it's just not going to be possible to keep up with them today.

Instead I follow this chap who is easy to keep my eye on because he’s taken off his bright yellow gloves and tucked them into the back of his lycra trousers. This is all I focus on for the middle four miles. I get the impression it’s not a very pretty route but I forget to check until we get to about six miles. At which point I do so, because otherwise L will give me right telling off and yes it's not exactly pretty.

Emma is now assaulting us from the side, so there's nowhere to hide, but it's not too bad or perhaps I've just got used to her or perhaps someone's calmed her down with a flapjack. At five miles there's a water station but they only have drinks in cups. I can't drink out of cups while running and I've certainly no intention of stopping to drink from one, so I plough onwards. Now Emma is behind us and being a good girl for once, pushing us along but right after the drinks stop is the one big hill. Hills are normally my speciality and I don't find it a problem but I've got no answer to the Yorkshire grit of my opponents. Consultation with my watch indicates I'm not looking at a sub 1 hour time, so I settle in to 'enjoy' what I estimate to be a time of around 1.06.

A marshal tells us the last mile is all downhill but as all marshals are liars, no one believes him. He does though turn out to be almost correct; he just forgets to mention the crafty uphill finish. When we get to this bit, all the buggers sprint up it and I lose a few more places. I let them go, I have only one target in mind, and that's to beat 'yellow gloves'. I overtake him and then all I have to do is stay ahead for the last 50 metres or so. I manage it, crossing the line in just over 63 minutes which I find out later places me just outside the top 100, out of an entry of 429.

The winner does it in 46.55. Madness. The top over 40’s male wasn’t far behind him. I best hang up my running shoes now.

I head back to the car and quickly put a few layers on while saying my salutations to Daughter, who asks whether I've won and when I tell her I have clearly doesn't believe me. No faith. Having hidden as much flesh as possible from Emma's icy fingers, I grab Doggo and we head back to the finish to support L, who does a good run and is nowhere near last.

After thawing out with a hot coffee or three, I just about manage to drive home, where some soup, some sausage, and a hot bath revive me further. Feeling revived enough, L and I share a warm down.

I had hoped to treat L to Sunday Lunch, to celebrate her first event for ages, but of course it's Mothers Day so we assume everywhere is going to be booked up, so we opt for an evening curry instead but even then our preferred option is fully booked.

We have a few beers first but it’s disappointing not to find the XXXB on in the Keans Head but surprisingly the Brains 4.1% and the Preservation 4.4% aren’t bad. Then we take in a reasonable but not spectacular curry and I have a couple of Cobras 5.0% with it. Rather satisfyingly, for once, I just sneak under my 28 units target. Just 27 this week which is good.

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