The Scribbler

10 June 2012

Blaydon Race 2012 – the wet one!

I think the correct description of the weather conditions in the first mile or so of this historic race is ‘stottin down’. The 150th anniversary and the bells of the cathedral rang out at the start, commanding Noah-like floods to wash away the unworthy.

Ian and Kelda with Tony the Fridge in the background at the start

Well done to Kelda in her first Blaydon Race

Gathering crowds and clouds in the Bigg Market. Mingling with regular city revellers enjoying a drink or a bite to eat on the way down to the start. Spotting a few familiar faces as I warmed up and heading to the start with Ian, Kelda, Big Les and Tony the Fridge. A rousing chorus of the song and then a wait and a wait for a sign of the start.

Shouts of good luck and enjoy and I was away over the cobbles and onto the road. Despite the drizzle, there are smiles and cheer. I pick my way through the crowds with no problems. My legs feel fresh, I’m ready to go. My mouth is a little dry from the excitement, so I stick out my tongue and drink in the raindrops.

Out into the space of the Scotswood Road and it really is pouring now. Runners split and divert onto the paths, dodging puddles across the carriageway. I pick up my feet and splash on through, my shorts slick and sticking to my skin.

Supporters huddle under umbrellas or cower at bus stops and there are a few shouts back from the runners as we clear rain from our vision and plough on. “You’re not laughing now?” says one man to a girl running beside him as we splash through another road river. “No,” she replies, but she is.

So many people I know are here, work colleagues, parkrunners, Fetchies, friends and twitter connections. I manage to spot most of them somewhere along the route. I manage a wave to Diane in the crowd at the start.  On the Scotswood Road, there’s Penny, hair plastered to her head and then Danni running with another Tyne Bridge Harrier. Shout outs along the way and I’m running strong, enjoying the rain and the feeling of freedom.

Me and Tove on the Blaydon Race 2012

Me and Tove heading over the Scotswood Bridge. Picture courtesy of runnerwanderings on flickr

Somewhere along the road I fall into step with Tove from parkrun. She says something that sounds a little down hearted and I know she’s afraid of aggravating the injuries that hold her back. But I know that on form, she’s a bit better than me. Not so much that I can’t catch her on a good day, but enough to spur me on. A lovely nemesis to have. I say something about not talking yourself out of the race, but talking yourself into it.

For I am bubbling with confidence. Still on the updraft from my triathlon. Still happy to be asked about it at parkrun and at the start of the Blaydon Race. Telling the story and lifting my spirits again as I recall how it felt to finish. Right now, I feel invincible. I can meet any challenge I set myself, because I’ve already done more than I imagined I would.

Tove and I run on together. We don’t say much. I’m a bit of a lone focused runner, even when I’ve just set out to run this with no plan, no pace, no target time. But I remind her as we turn and begin the climb at the bridge that Jeff will be waiting for us.

She spots the parkrun cheering squad before I do and we yell out. I spot Fred and Eric and get a shout back from Angela as the hardy crew cramp themselves into a hardly big enough bus shelter. On the way up and over the the incline and away across the Tyne I blow kisses to special people – my new little brother, my nephews and my little sister Ava.

I am enjoying this race. My legs are starting to tire a little, being more used to running 5ks than longer distances at the moment. But the shouts and exhilaration get me through and onto the next section, the out and back along the river. I scan the passing stream of runners for faces I know and give a shout out to Big Les, who can’t hear me, lost in his headphones.

At the water station I spot a red and yellow shirt and shout “Fetchie coming up behind you,” to Minardi. I really must get my name on my Fetch shirt. I wave at the band, playing gamely on in the gloom beneath the bridge.

Round to my least favourite part of the course, through a bit of an industrial estate and Tove’s beside me again, a spot of brightness in her pink top and white hat. I stick with her, though my calves are beginning to winge a bit from the cold and the up and over sections.

On the main road towards Blaydon she begins to pull away. For a while I dig in and stick with her, telling myself that I’ll regret it if I don’t try. But eventually her long legs pull her away.

I keep her in my sights for a good long time, resolving not to let the gap get any wider. I’m not consciously slowing down, but the distance is starting to tell a little now. I haven’t run 10k since the middle of May and haven’t properly raced a run this year. My goal here is to enjoy it and run well. So I just keep going as best I can. Not fighting my pace or pushing so it hurts too much, just revelling in the run.

I reckon we’ve passed four miles by now and I mentally clock this one up as six, although it’s a bit shorter. Just 18-20 more minutes of running I tell myself, and I’m actually a little sad because my heart and head are enjoying this and I sense those around me are laughing off the rain too.

It’s the running madness. This thing we do, that causes the muggles to stop and stare in disbelief. This thing we know ourselves is slightly crazy. But it’s a good kind of crazy. And something about the Blaydon Race, especially in the rain really celebrates that.

I’m pondering the finish now as soggy spectators stand beside the road beneath umbrellas. It’s different this year and I haven’t been able to get a picture of it in my mind. We circle round beside the old finish and I spot the baggage buses and runners with goody bags coming the other way, so I know it’s close.

I get a shout from the side, spectators trapped behind the fences and it’s friends from parkrun. I smile and get ready to give myself a boost for the finish. A marshall shouts “Just over 200m to go,” and I start to power up. My legs protest, too much too soon. But I continue to find a bit of pace towards the end.

Over the grass and the race face is on, blurred by rain, feet finding purchase on the soggy grass as marshalls loom before me and direct me to the left into the finish funnels. I stop my watch and stumble forward, recovering my breath. It’s some moments later when I check my time – 52:00.

My best ever run here, also in the rain, was officially 50:01. Last year I ran a few seconds slower than that. This year, I would have been happy with anything under an hour, secretly hoping for under 55, but telling myself that the time didn’t matter, just having a good race did.

So it really is time to forget the PF. I’ve come through another race with no signs of it re-appearing. And although my focus will be on tris this summer, there should be a few pure runs where I can challenge myself and see if I can improve. I might even try to sneak in a fast 10k into a fast filling race diary as I’m not so far off last year’s glorious form as I thought I might be.

And I did have a terrific race. I ran well and enjoyed it. I felt strong in my heart and my head and my legs followed. I had friends around me and smiles all the way. I finished fast and rejoiced in the racing. I wish that all my crazy running friends can say the same.

Official results

Photos from runnerwanderings on flickr

Chronicle report and photo gallery

Stats and stuff:
5.79 miles 52:00

1) – 8:37(5:21/km) – 106cal
2) – 8:36(5:21/km) – 104cal
3) – 8:43(5:25/km) – 105cal
4) – 9:21(5:49/km) – 105cal
5) – 9:31(5:55/km) – 105cal
6) – 7:12(5:40/km) – 81cal

[NB. my official time is 53:38]

And in case anyone thinks we’re all winging about the rain, honestly, I was drier in the lake last Thursday.

 

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4 Comments »

  1. great run,loved the teeshirt,needed something dry at the end also my nephew and i are in the front of your photo[ black cap]what were the odds on that?also nearly the same finish time. john

    Like

    Comment by john — 11 June 2012 @ 14:52 | Reply

    • Hi John, that’s quite a coincidence that we should both be in that photo! You can just see me in the red top next to the lady in a pink top and white hat. Glad you enjoyed the race too. it remains one of my firm favourites.

      Like

      Comment by The Scribbler — 11 June 2012 @ 18:02 | Reply

  2. Sounds like you had a great race. That’s an amazing time! Seems like you have definitely left your injury in the dust (or in this case, the puddles)! Hope your training continues to go well!

    Like

    Comment by The Diminutive Runner — 11 June 2012 @ 21:43 | Reply

  3. […] of sunshine and showers in Newcastle. As I made my way down to the Bigg Market for the start of the 150th Blaydon Race, people were sitting outside the restaurants and cafes, watching the world go by, enjoying the […]

    Like

    Pingback by 2012 – a review of my training and racing year « The Scribbler — 30 December 2012 @ 19:26 | Reply


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