Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Wirksworth Undulator

Lest we forget what happens when you stop training

Such was my enthusiasm to start fell running again, the last thing I did before leaving for the Wirksworth Undulator was to jog down the hill to post a new dark peak membership form through the membership sec's front door.  A tidy pile of running shoes sat on the front doorstep, welcoming me, though I wanted to get away to the race so I didn't ring the doorbell.

I ended up parked a little way away from the start of the race.  Eager to get signed on, I threw on my last few clothes, including the coveted brown vest and ran up the hill to register.  It did feel good - if not slightly cheeky - to write DPFR on the entry form.

Despite the panicky drive over, I was early so I ran back to the car to swap the kit bumbag for a rucsac before returning to the quarry and the start line where it was far too warm so I parred down to just the vest and prepared to set off.  Also prepared to put my long sleeved top back on once we got out of the hot cauldron of the quarry bed.

My new team mates pottered over for a chat.  Pretty kind on account of me having only re-joined 2 hours ago.  As the organiser called all runners to the start line there was a gradual progression of people away from the start line.  Keen to get away from the mele rather than get involved in it.  No triathlon ego's here!

The organiser pointed out the key hazards of the race: nettles, livestock, a slippery bridge.  He then asked us all to hand our numbers back as they were to be used in an artwork by one of the club's runners who wanted to paint a picture of the event.  Someone joked, "I know I'm slow but I've never been painted before at a race!"

The Klaxon went and we all rushed off then stopped, then walked, then ran a bit more, then walked a bit. Indeed we had avoided the mele.  The course went straight up out of the quarry before relenting after a small railway tunnel under the quarry access road.  Then we were out onto open land though a thick fog blanketed the hillside making it impossible to see much more than the runners in front.

A few people passed me when I stopped to tie my shoelaces (it has been too long) and I wasted a bit too much energy trying to catch them back.  I chatted to a guy who had come to race this event a second time so that he could see the scenery.  It wasn't working out for him.

I checked my watch at 25 minutes and concluded I must have another 35 to go.  I could've been more wrong but it certainly wasn't the best estimate.  I felt OK so I kept pushing and caught up another runner.  This time she stayed with me.  We summitted Carsington hill together and started the drop-off towards the factory where I threw myself over the edge and gained a bit of time but not much.  I checked the garmin.  I'd only run 5km, not as far as I thought.

As we dropped onto the Middlewood Way, my legs turned to jelly and I just couldn't cope with the flat running.  I thought of my ironman run and for a moment sped up a little but it wasn't long before pain started to creep in and I had to back off.  I suddenly felt quite claustrophobic with the railway embankments on each side and the wall of grey at the end.  As we turned off the way, the lady behind me passed me back.

Still there was nothing in the gloom but a couple of DofE parties having a slightly miserable time of it and the occasional passing dog walker.  We ran to the bottom of the grassy hill to be greeted by a marshal telling me to run down the road.  By now my legs already weren't talking to me except for the occasional exclamation of pain in the form of a cramping calf or hip extensor.  I really wished I'd worn my insoles.

Finally we turned off the road again and in an attempt at reassurance, the marshal said, "Only another 2 miles to go"!!!!


They were a lovely two miles - I have to admit.  The cloud lifted and we ran across ridings, dodging the sink holes & the cow pats.  My companions started to leave me behind.  They seemed to be walking a lot quicker than me - despite my occasional running.  We climbed up and up and up.  I knew I'd enjoy this afterwards.  I knew I'd have the best feeling this evening.  

I reached the last quarry road, desperately pittying anyone who was still out there and hoping they weren't feeling as exhausted as me.  I was also very much hoping I wasn't last but starting to think I was since I every time I looked back, I couldn't see anyone behind me.

The quarry was cruel.  I knew I was nearly back and yet the quarry road dropped right down into the basin of the old quarry before turning back up to climb out the other side.  The down hill hurt more than the up but of course the up was followed by yet another down hill to the finish line.  This descent was even more cruel than the first on account of the crowd of people at the bottom patiently waiting for us old farts to return to base.  I felt like I was being watched all the way down the hill as I winced with every knee movement and finally hobbled over the line in 1:38:04, slinking off to drink water and chat to the eventual winner who was now fully dressed and ready for the prize presentation.

The organiser announced over the tannoy we were waiting for two more finishers before doing the prize presentation to a very unsportsman-like, "Yesss, not last" from me.

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