Day 1 - The Chicken Run, 5 undulating miles
I warm up with Isobel which is good cos she runs much faster than me and by the start I'm raring to go. I start quite far back but soon make up a lot of ground. The first hill isn't too bad and I'm pleased that my pace is consistent with those around me. Downhill section finally comes and I blast along as fast as possible and I'm still surprised to be ahead of Fiona. The path to the chicken farm goes down slightly and I feel like I'm flying here then the turn and the long drag back. Gillian has caught me by now and we run along this part together until she finds another gear and storms off ahead. The hill back up comes but by this time I'm got my second wind and overtake the chap whose noisy breathing was distracting me and try and keep ahead til the end. The final descent comes but it's down the side of a field and I panic and memories of breaking my ankle come flooding back. I slow down drastically allowing a few people by but I don't mind if I get there limbs intact! Day 1 over - 40:23, happy with that and then some
Day 2 Chariots of Fife Beach Race - 4 miles
I remember this race from last year with dread. Running on sand is tough. I warm up today with Julie & Mehrnaz but have to go on ahead and do my own thing as I don't feel ready yet. A quick blast down the sand to the start and I'm ready. I set off at a pace I'm not entirely comfortable but I can see Fiona ahead and I have her in my sights. I pass her early on and hope to keep her behind me. I struggle along the harder sand and die a death in the soft sand. The wind doesn't help and I'm losing a lot of ground. At the turn Fiona sails by followed shortly thereafter by Clive. Where did he come from?? I decide just to try and make it back out of the soft stuff as easily as possible and try and pick it up towards the finish. This turns out to be a good plan and I'm soon making ground on the both of them. I hang onto Clive's shoulder but he sees me and runs away! I keep my pace tho and manage to get past Fiona - just - to finish in 30:20. That's over 7 minutes faster than last year - I can hardly believe it but I later find out that the course was cut short so I'm not that good after all
Day 3 - Up Hell Time Trial - 2.25km/754ft climb
This is not my favourite race. I'm no hill runner - I'm hopeless at them, I'm not looking forward to this. The November-like weather conditions help none. My strategy today is zone out with music and get on with it. I've made myself a wee playlist including some Kasabian, Elbow, Franz Ferdinand and stuff and get everything ready. We do a warm-up but again I don't feel it's enough, especially as it's so flippin cold. On the way back to the car I hear a friendly voice and it's Caniggia/Mike come to 'lend his support' or laugh at the inflicted!! I meet Gillian who's setting off 2 minutes before me and we head down to the start together, jogging lightly and having a good old chinwag. It's a helluva long way down, shit the drive up took long enough. This is one helluva hill The minutes pass slowly and I'm freezing cold but decide to ditch my tshirt and jacket and just go with my vest and cap. My name is called and I tentatively approach the start, trying to get my MP3 player to work. GO! and the girl who's alongside me takes off like a rocket. I decide that's not for me and bimble slowly up the hill while still trying to work the music. Finally it's sorted and I start to feel the pain. Slowly slowly and actually fairly soon I'm at half-way. Great, 9 minutes or so and it's all over. A steeper section slows me to a walk which I do for about 20 seconds, give myself a talking to, and set off running again. I can't see the damn masts tho because of the fog so I don't know how close to the top I am. I've gained a lot of ground on the other girl who is only a bit ahead now and managed to overtake someone who set off earlier. Music malfunction again and one of the earphones has gone so while the music is going on in one ear, Guy Gurvey's wonderful voice is missing, But I can hear cowbells, it's just like the Tour de France This picks me up and I can now just about see the masts. I hear my name and try and maintain it up the final hill before getting to the finish in 17:45. I'm chuffed to bits I'm under 18mins.
Day 4 - Run Forrest Run - Tentsmuir Forest, Leuchars 5 miles flat
The mixed weather has turned to glorious sunshine and it's July again. Gillian, Isobel and I warm up round the course and head back to the start which has thankfully been delayed by 15mins due to traffic. Gillian and I set off together today but we're quite far back and spend the first mile running pretty quickly to get to 'our places'. Fiona has started ahead and disappears while Clive has started behind. It's flat but it's hard work. The first lap is hard and at the turn to start the second lap Pete who's watching shouts 'well done Gillian, Lesley and Clive all running together'. Eh?? Where did he come from??? We pick up the pace without even discussing it but we're working so hard Gillian has to slow down and I go on ahead. I look at my watch and we have 1.5 miles to go. Boy it's hard work. It's so hot and with no downhill recoveries the pace is relentless. Gillian catches back up again and by this time we have half a mile to go. We turn the corner to go back and see that Fiona is only just ahead. We pick up the pace again and gain some more ground but just not quite enough. Ah, she's really got me now. I'm delighted to see my watching says sub 40 - it's a PB!!! But the official results say different and I'm down as 40:05. Disappointing but still a PB by 3 seconds Boy I ache tho.....
Day 5 - Arso Vertitus, Falkland - 3.7 miles hilly
I have mixed feelings with it being the last day. It's been a great tour but I'm absolutely done in. I've spent the evening massaging my quads which seems to have helped but I am feeling pretty sluggish. I've decided today tho that the only way to approach this one is to attack it. It's the last one, give it everything. So the 3 usual suspects set off again on a warmup and we get ready for the start. Gillian and I place ourselves a bit further up the field this time - we're not getting left behind today!! And we're off. I start hard but don't find it easy at all. The undulations are killing me and I'm dreading when we start climbing out of Maspie Den. Gillian's ahead and Fiona's long gone so I just keep plodding on as best as I can. We start climbing and I'm desperate to walk but don't want to be the first. Finally someone else starts a trend and we all start walking up, running on the flatter bits, then walking uphill again. A lot of people are walking pretty slowly so I take advantage and pass them. As I approach the waterfall I see Fiona's not too far ahead and maybe I could catch her on the downhill? I run under the waterfall - well there's a photographer there, wouldn't be right to walk and walk up the final section. I've managed to pass a few people just walking but when I look behind me I see Clive's on his way to the waterfall. Bugger! The first downhill section is loose stones and again I'm having ankle breaking memories. I try my best here but suddenly there's someone on my shoulder so when we get to the nicer trail bit I go for it. I remember I have to lean forward with my head and off I go. I'm flying down here - I've never run so fast in my life and it's absolutely exhilerating. The person on my shoulder hasn't caught me and I try and keep this pace going. It's fabulous. Even on the wee uphill to the farm I blast it and knowing the finish isn't too far away I keep going as hard as I can. I can see Gillian again, she's only a few seconds ahead. No-one is behind me and I feel so alive in this moment I don't want it to end. Except I do because it's really hurting and the finish is just ahead. I keep my pace and expecting to come in nearer 40 minutes I'm again elated that I've come in at 33:26. I've definitely earned my cake today. My total time for the tour last year was 2:57:51. This year my total was 2:41:59 and the race total was about 2 miles more this time. Happy days indeed Fiona finishes a few places ahead and Clive a few behind me and out of 173 starters I finish 112th overall. Not bad as I finished 130th on Day 1. I'm so chuffed, I've had a brilliant few days and my confidence has rocketed. When's the next one then