Report from Hana
Don’t forget to look at the TRC Flickr Group for today’s photos 🙂 Sunday 21st July arrives. I pull back the curtains and outside I can see no sign of any blue sky just a grey misty one instead. Sadly this brings a smile to my face, as today is “The Mag 7” and the last thing I want is the scorching sunshine we have been blessed with these past two weeks, especially when it’s an 11am start time.
My dodgy hip has been improving slowly and has coped with a 6.5 mile gentle run at the beginning of the week, then 77 undulating miles on the bike (over two days) up around Birmingham. Let’s hope it can cope with 7 hilly miles today after a day of rest in the car.
Julie arrives at my house and we pack “Sydney Skoda” up for our hour’s drive to the Devon border town of Saltash. Only a suspension bridge and the river Tamar will part us from the rest of England. We won’t need our passports today!
As we drive along the A30 in the Goss moor area, I notice drops of water appear on my windscreen, (well about 8 of them actually) and no one is washing their windscreens in the proximity of Sydney. Could this be rain? I know the plants would like some of this wet stuff, but all I am asking for right now, is grey sky, not rain. Phew, no more drops fall and as we enter the Glynn Valley so the sky starts to lighten, the clouds start to roll back and that dazzling blue appears once again with a blast of heat radiating from the yellow globe in the sky. It’s going to be HOT! Blast!
At Saltash we are directed as usual to an industrial estate where there is ample parking for all, Marshals are pointing us to our allotted spots and then there is a 5 minute walk to the race HQ at the rugby club. It’s all working like clockwork.
At the Rugby club, Julie and I spot a row of Porta Loo’s with no queue, so decide our priorities lie in this area, race numbers can wait. As we are one of the first to use them, they are clean, fully supplied with toilet roll which just about turns on its axis and the aroma lingering in the air is of the blue solution than whooshes human waste products down into the bowels of the cubicle out of harm’s way. So as Porta Loo’s go, not bad at all but not as good as Boconnoc’s!
Now I try to locate other TRC runners that maybe at this event and wander into the club house. As I only have my “Cool dude shades” with me and I’m as blind as a bat without them (prescription sun glasses) I have to fumble around the room in near darkness. I then bump into “our Diane” who was hidden in the far corner. There was no TRC member handing out the race numbers today, so it was a case of get in the queue and collect them from the race organisers.
I have a nasty feeling I may have queue jumped at this point, but at my age that is to be expected. I maybe turning into one of those awful OAP’s that growl at everyone and push to the front of the self service restaurant queues……….come to think of it, I do growl quite often. I have grey hair, I am old, and I’ve just jumped the queue……I’m now officially a “Grumpy old woman”.
Anyway, race number 44 for me and 85 for Julie. I suggest that mine reflects my age and the man giving out the baggage labels says “that doesn’t say much for your friend”. Sorry Julie.
TRC are thin on the ground today, only 3 lasses so far, then we spot a lone TRC male, Nigel who is closely followed by Tabitha who is sporting a set of fine bruises to her chin and thigh. No she hadn’t been out scrapping the night before, instead she went for a Saturday morning run with a group of TRC males and ended up tripping over tree roots. I have to say her modelling options may have to go on hold for a while, unless she opts for the “PUNK” look. So there is a mere 5 TRC runners in total, where were the rest of you? Swimming and cycling I suppose?
I was hoping for a bit of pre race tarting, but that doesn’t seem to be an option today. I have to satisfy myself with a short jog across the field with Julie instead, and quite frankly, as much as I am fond of Julie, it is no substitute for a quick cuddle with the odd male competitor or two. The ambient temperature is very hot. My zest for running has disappeared. Motivation nil, apathy set in, Gin and Tonic nowhere to be seen and now they want us to gather at the starting line. Kick up the a-se required and I’m now weaving through some of the back markers looking for a space somewhere about 2/3 of the way back from the start line. Quick scan for likely V50 females and I quickly realise I have no chance today of a prize. Pressure off, I relax a little, check security hanky is still in my sweaty palm and suddenly we are off.
Across the field we go, out onto tarmac and then downhill we run. This should feel comfortable for the legs, but 77 miles of cycling have left the legs a little sluggish and leaden. I haven’t covered a mile yet and my body is asking me to take a rest, sit down, re-evaluate, give up, and get a life. Suddenly I spot a kindly person stood out on the pavement, a hose pipe in hand, spraying cooling water out over any runner who cared to pass under the flow. Bliss, I even mange to pass under the spray without getting my glasses wet, so my vision would not be impaired.
At the bottom of the hill, there is only one option and that is up another hill, a two arrow hill on the map. I had already made the decision to walk the hills and not stress my hip, and so from about 10m from the bottom I slow to walking pace whilst others look down their noses at me in contempt, but it isn’t long though before those who thought they could run this hill had joined the growing number of walkers.
My mind starts to wander from this point on. I’m not really taking in my surroundings. I’m not paying attention to what is going on around. My head is down, my security hanky is having to mop the sweat from my brow, then in a field to my left I spy a group of horses clothed in what can only be described as an Equine version of a Burqa. Now I haven’t seen that before. Perhaps we should have a running version of this outfit made out of technical fibre, with air vents. Perhaps it would keep us girls nice and cool on a hot day like today?
At the first water station I stop to grab a cup of water. Not to drink, this is to soak my “Security hanky” in, then pour over my head. I fashion the hanky into a neckchief, tie it around my neck which instantly cools me down. You really should try this, but only if you aren’t fashion conscious and don’t mind looking slightly silly. At my age you don’t give a —-, what others think, comfort is a priority and today’s priority is not collapsing with heat exhaustion.
I have been passed several times by a young female in “Tamar Trotters” colours who is running with a male in the same team strip. They pass me; I catch them up, when the female is bent double with stomach cramp. This happens at least 4 times in the first 5 miles and something should be telling this girl it is time to stop when she is now crumpled up on the ground clutching her stomach, but no, they get back up and carry on. Madness, says the woman who ran the last 5 miles of her debut marathon in agony.
We go up and down, traversing undulating leafy lanes, where everyone tries to follow the shadiest sections. The marshals keep us on the right path and try to give us words of encouragement, but the words I’m hoping for is “you can stop now Hana, you’ve crossed the finish line.”
We are provided with 3 water stations where I’ve improved my Hanky soaking technique:
- Place one hanky opened out fully on top of head (not a good look at the best of times)
- Pour one cup of water over head, which hanky partially absorbs leaving the rest to trickle slowly down the back (heaven).
- Refold Hanky into Neckchief and tie around the neck.
- Sip water from the other cup, then ditch.
I think I will have to study the Formula 1 pit stop teams to see if I can pick up some tips for improving the speed of this operation, as it may just be slowing my finishing time a tad?
So I’ve done housing estates, hills, undulations, lanes, bridges over railway lines, run down near the river, pass pretty cottages, been hosed down twice by Saltash residents, cheered on by Tabitha’s mum Helen (who by the way, thought I looked as if I wanted to cry when she saw me) and now I’m making my way up the last hill. Note I say making my way, because I’m adopting the walking gear for a while as my temperature gauge suggests this is the best policy, to stop my radiator from exploding. No sign of the Tamar Trotter female with Stomach cramps. I think her radiator has blown.
The last section is along the road that we took to the industrial estate where we parked our cars. It’s fairly flat which is a relief but there is nowhere to hide from the midday sun. Mad dogs and English men springs to mind…….so does that make me the mad dog? I think I know the answer to that one, thank you!
A sharp turn to my left and the entrance to the rugby field is in sight. I don’t have the energy to check over my shoulder for anyone approaching at speed from behind. I start the final 100m and decide to see if I can increase my speed slightly. I can and at the same time I hear my name being broadcast over the loud speaker so decide to wave my hands in the air and sort of smile.
Finish line crossed 1:03:51 just over a minute slower than last year, but in today’s heat it will have to do. Lovely blue technical T Shirt, a bottle of water plus a bottle of “Betty Stoggs” collected. “Husband who plays golf” will be pleased.
Tabitha and Nigel have already finished with even Tabby admitting to having whimpered on the final mile or so of the course. We wait to cheer Julie and Diane across the line.
Julie’s thermostat control unit did not work during this race; she may need that man with the hose, plus a shower and a large mug of tea. I go over to the baggage drop to collect my bag and the man who gave out the bag numbers is still there, “You look more like your friend’s running number now” was his comment. For those of you not paying attention at the start of this report, that is 85! I counted to 10 then poked his eyes out……….no not really.
The shower rooms are in the rugby club, and are of the communal variety. One door to the right has the word “Gents” on and the one on the left has “Ladies”. There is a problem though, and that is the fact that the “Ladies” door will not stay closed. Am I bothered by this, no not really. I’ve spent years participating in sweaty sport where exposing my naked body in order to shower is all part of the experience. So, if some bloke wants to peer in and see my naked body that’s their problem, and they will be the ones who will need post traumatic stress counselling, not me. Some of the other ladies though, are not quite as blasé as me, so shower in their under garments. Now that is weird.
Two date slices purchased by Julie along with huge mugs of hot tea. We sit on the grass in the sun (that doesn’t happen at many races) and await the presentations. We know we aren’t in line for any, but it is good to support those who do win.
Emma Steptoe beats the course record (how on earth do you do that on a day like today?)
The girl in the Tamar Trotters strip with stomach cramps had to be attended to by the St John’s Ambulance only a short distance from the finishing area, so didn’t get to complete the race.
Other than that, we’ve survived.
So all in all:
- Parking: Very good and well marshalled.
- Race HQ: large enough on a dry day with the added advantage of bar and kitchen.
- Baggage drop: Outside in the sun so my “Snickers bar” went limp but well organised even if the male attendant insulted me. Mind you I would do the same to others.
- Toilets: Plenty for this event as the only queue I found was on my second visit and that could have been shorter because one cubicle was showing in use when it wasn’t.
- Goodie bag: Fab. Technical T with Betty Stogg’s on the front, and a bottle of her world famous beer.
- The course: Hilly/Undulating, but when run in normal British weather it isn’t too horrendous.
Will I run this race again: well I’ve run it three times or is that four? It is always a very friendly event with tea, cakes and showers. It’s only down side being the distance we have to travel to reach it. But look at it another way, Tamar Trotter’s have to travel further over the year to make all the GP races, so come on TRC runners, give it a go next year.
- The Magnificent 7 – 2013 (xls)
Don’t forget to look at the TRC Flickr Group for today’s photos 🙂