So for the last couple of months you have all been spared my racing ramblings and maybe some of you thought thank goodness for that, the Old Croc has finally retired. I’m afraid to say it in case I’m tempting fate, but I’m BACK.
After one disaster or another including learning the hard way, that should you choose to walk around the house in bare feet and kick a large heavy old fashioned iron you keep to prop open the door, you will break something. That something was my little toe, the one on the left foot. How can something so small hurt so much and cause so many problems? All I can say is, thank god for dry weather and sandals and an old pair of very soft and very roomy running shoes which enabled me to ride my bike, otherwise I would have been climbing the walls, metaphorically that is.
Having had to pull out of the Mag 7, The Tywardreath Trotter (another year of not winning the sausages) and Indian Queens this year, I was sort of ready for a race, or should I say “a group run” which was what I had imprinted in my head. Plus Julie and I were well overdue a road trip and were in need of a catch up, So Treggy 7 was an ideal opportunity to do this.
The 7th Of September arrived, the alarm sounded and husband who plays golf, went off to play golf. On pulling the curtains back the sky had all the makings of a fabulous day but there was a slight nip in the air. I made myself porridge with strawberries on top and then immediately regretted it, as it landed like a lead weight in the pit of my stomach. Oh well not a lot I could do, other than hope my digestion worked faster than that of a python.
Bag packed with running kit, Kendal Mint cake and a flask of coffee, I was ready for the off. Julie arrived at 8am and off up the A30 we went. I don’t think either of us drew breath for the whole of the journey as we had so much to talk about. In fact we could have done with the race being in Exeter/Bristol really so we could have discussed more topics. We didn’t even touch on the subject of running techniques but our facial muscles were well and truly warmed up.
The cattle market car park in Launceston was easy to get to, had masses of room and was free to park in (on a Sunday). Unlike last year, the toilets situated in this car park were actually open, so without any delay we were off to test them out.
No queue, two cubicles, recently redecorated, dull decor (grey and white) but clean and tidy with an abundance of toilet tissue for us to use. They were fit for purpose which really is all they needed to be.
From the car park it is a 5 minute walk to the Race HQ situated in the rather grand looking Eagle House Hotel. Inside on the lower ground floor there were some very nice ladies handing out the race numbers. I must have been very keen to enter this race as today I would be sporting race number 12. Julie and I lingered here for a while and gradually a small contingent of TRC runners gathered including the elusive Steve Rawson (photographic evidence taken to prove his existence).
A quick survey of the facilities provided us with the information that the hotels toilets were not for our use this year, a sign told us to go and locate the portable vestibules on the castle green instead. Had my toilet review from last year found its way onto Trip Advisor? Had I caused offence? From what I can remember they were very good toilets, maybe the problem was with us the runners and our not so good bodily functions. I have a feeling our overzealous use of toilet paper may have blocked the toilets at Cubert????
The Castle green provided us with a short queue to a row of about 5 green portable toilets which were clean inside with the standard fittings and aromas. There was also the baggage drop off point with two other tents set up for ladies and gents to get changed in. This is also the area where the race would conclude. The sun was out, the temperature was very pleasant and it would have been very nice to just grab a coffee and wait for all the runners to return and cheer them in. Sadly this wasn’t going to be an option for me, so off to the start line we all walk.
The start line is in the centre of town in Market Street, but initially you are directed to gather on the paved area in the High Street before being walked around to the start line. As there are 359 of us squeezed into this narrow street the noise from chatting is deafening and the poor fellow attempting to give us all the pre race briefing didn’t have much luck in achieving QUIET. All I heard was “left” “crossing” and “boards”. Luckily having run this race three times before, I was aware of the route and the “stop go” boards at mile 6, where should you choose to cross the road other than in between them, you are disqualified.
I have no nerves, No jittery stomach, No thumping heartbeat, I am totally calm. I am after all, only going on a group run, aren’t I? Off we go, Garmin activated but only so I can see what mile I am at. I have told myself to ignore my time and pace, remember my mantra from the start of the year….”run to complete not compete”. It’s a bit of a crush with legs and feet everywhere, so the main challenge in the first 200m was going to be staying upright. Wendy was somewhere ahead in the crowd with the boys and Juliet, Claire and Julie were somewhere very close behind.
After a short flat section, its downhill, so downhill we all flail. We are on the A388 St Thomas Road, with the castle to our right and there on the grassy ramparts is a man playing us out on the bagpipes. I don’t think we have had one of those before. This downhill is great, it shakes the legs out, doesn’t make your lungs want to combust and tests out where your breakfast is sitting in the stomach department. Mine isn’t sitting well and I can hear it slopping around. If I can hear it, I hope that it doesn’t disturb anyone else’s concentration, like it is mine.
We turn left by the stream which usually has ducks in it, but due to still having the after effects of a cricked neck and not being able to look to my right very easily (the old croc is falling apart), I can’t check to see what is bobbing about on the water this time. We proceed along a gently undulating come flat narrow country road called Under Lane, which sits on the shady side of the hill. (Remember that word HILL, as it will appear very soon at about mile 2.5 ish.)
As I trot along this lane with the sound of my breakfast sloshing from side to side in my stomach, I spy some poor /foolish lad bent double offering his breakfast to the undergrowth. Boys will never learn, they shoot off at a rate of knots that is not compatible with their diet, only to then waste a good meal at the side of the road. That’s the same meal that may well have aided them a bit further on in the race. You don’t see the top runners doing this do you, other than on the finish line.
So with my breakfast now sloshing to a sort of rhythm I fall in step with it, a bit like a pianist marking time to a metronome and trot along the lane at a comfortable pace. I can breath, I’m not coughing and spluttering and I am not crowded by other runners. All very pleasant really, until those famous words from a Marshall, “Turn left, it’s the hill you’ve been waiting for”. Fab!
Mile 2.5 and THE HILL arrives. I’ve tackled it 3 times before and each time I have wondered what the best option would be for tackling it? Should I walk from the start? Should I run all of it? Or just let the body/head dictate what I should do? The last option always wins, and post race I always question this choice, but here I am again doing the same thing. I slowly jog the first section, but as everyone else ahead of me have slowed to a walking pace, I do the same. Hands on hips I speed walk, I’m actually overtaking other competitors (can’t say runners, as no one is running) I feel good and before too long as the hill levels out, well lessens in gradient I break into a slow jog and gradually pick up the pace. The hill lasts for ¾ mile then once at the top I know I can relax, the worst is done!!!!!
At the top of this hill we are in the village of Tregadillett. There are a few supporters offering words of encouragement plus Jenny from Launceston Road Runners (she is a marshal for this race) who calls out my name and gives me a big smile. I wave and say hello then bear left back towards Launceston. I pass a lady who is sat outside the pretty hostelry, The Eliot Arms, a pub I frequented many times with the husband to be, who didn’t play golf back then. This was 30 years ago and god some of you runners weren’t even born then. With the sun out I was very tempted to pop in for a tipple of something cool, but I resisted and carried on my merry way.
From this point, it is all downhill back to the finish line, apart from two very small nips in the last mile. My breakfast has fallen silent, and I drift off into a sort of day dream, enjoying the lovely autumnal weather and mopping the constant stream of sweat out of my eyes and off my face with the beloved security hanky.
The cool shady lanes finish, we pass a cemetery to our right and then enter the metropolis of Launceston. We run along Moorland Road, passing the police station on our right, where once upon a time I made the odd detour to the single quarters housed within (no, not the cells. I may have been a bad girl but not that bad!). Then we carry on through the housing estate, dodging parked cars and popping on and off the pavement before turning left onto Western Road, the A388 the main route to the town centre.
We are told to keep left and the “Stop/Go” boards are fast approaching. I have to give it to Launceston, they run a slick system of getting us runners across the road safely, and the car drivers appear to comply without too much grumbling. I felt safe in their hands, I did as I was told which isn’t a common occurrence and crossed onto the right side of the road. The only problem with this is that I’m now facing oncoming traffic and I can’t have been a very pretty sight for them to look at whilst stuck in a traffic jam. Grey hair pulled back into a type of forehead uplift with an almost horror movie slant. All I needed was a bolt through the head and blood dripping out of the mouth to finish off the look. Security hanky was in overdrive to keep my vision from being obscured by sweat and I tried very hard not to pull any weird faces as I climbed the first of the sharp nips which took me onto Westgate Street.
A quick glance at my Garmin and I can see that it is hardly any distance to the finish line. I’m directed left down a short section of road with the name Dockey. Dockey what I ask myself? Is that street, road, avenue, ope, close???? No the map just says Dockey. Anyway, this is where you need to gather some momentum, as at the end of the short section called Dockey which is all downhill, its sharp right and up the last nip through the gates of the Castle. Through the gates I go, to the sounds of the bagpipes and a sprint of about 50m to the finish line. I had a sneaky look at my Garmin just prior to this and realised I was very close to last year’s PB, but unless my name was BOLT and I had had a gender realignment procedure I was not going to beat last year’s time.
Wendy cheers me on, I try to smile as she is snapping away on her phone and I don’t want to scare any young children who may view the photos later. I cross the line in a respectable 56:55, 13 seconds slower than last year. I immediately ponder over the “to walk or run the hill” dilemma and did my choice slow me down? I decide who cares, I’ve just run 7 great miles when many people much younger than this Old Croc, can’t even run for the bus.
I grab two cups of water, then my Co-Op goodie bag and a black over the shoulder (yes just the one shoulder) rucksack race memento, and head over to watch the other runners come through the castle gates. I’m just in time to see Juliet sprint for the finish, followed shortly by Claire who looked totally focused on the job in hand. Then Julie appeared only for the lady close behind to increase speed and just pip her at the line.
It was now time to inspect the contents of the Co-op bag for life and what treats it may have in store for me. Ahhh, on looking inside I found an Ambrosia cream explosion had occurred and swimming around the bottom of the bag was a pool of greasy long life cream. I retrieved the cheese and onion crisps from the surface of the gloop as I need a salt fix, but everything else was beyond help. With my salt fix sorted, I approach the Goodie bag desk with my most pathetic look and they exchanged my bag for a cream free option. I still had some Ambrosia rice pudding inside, but at least it hadn’t escaped its tub.
Time for a quick rub down with a Johnsons wet wipe or three followed by a clean T-shirt in an attempt to improve my looks in the glamour stakes. It wasn’t very successful, but at least I felt slightly more presentable. Julie and I are well practised in the flask department, so once the homemade cake stall was visited and purchases made we enjoy some sunshine, coffee and a mingle with the crowd.
The prize giving starts and Wendy comes third in her age category. The look on the face of the man giving out the prizes said it all, as I approached to collect this trophy on her behalf. I did say many times over, “It’s OK it’s not me that has won this prize” and a look of relief came over his face. A few minutes later I had to put my coffee down again, as surprise, surprise, the Old Croc had come in second in her age cat. Mind you, Revis was out injured and a few other Old Croc’s hadn’t entered the event which all helped. No prizes for the boys though and we didn’t have the 6th girl to be in with a chance of a team prize, plus Julie and I could have done with one more female of a similar age, for the “Over the hill” female team prize.
All in all it was a good day out.
- Perfect weather
- Perfect company
- Plentiful toilets with hardly any queuing
- Free parking
- Great homemade cake selection.
- And it’s a great race.
Sadly I will miss it next year, but if the body hasn’t disintegrated completely by 2016, in the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger “I’ll be back”!