Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Grizzly 2008

Sunday 9th March saw us make the traditional pilgrimage to Seaton for the Grizzly. I really wasn’t going to run as I was still full of cold, snot, gunge etc. However amongst even more extreme weather we had another period of calm and I couldn’t resist. As a precautionary measure I decided to start off in very last place and do a sensible, sustainable pace. So I lingered by the car stretching while the runners disappeared over the start line. This year there was some fancy timing device folded within the race numbers so I thought my leisurely last place start wouldn’t affect my true finish time. I did have a few doubts however as I crossed the start line and failed to see any sort of timing mat. Many hours later my doubts were confirmed at the finish as we were scanned by a row of humanoids waving loop aerial devices reminiscent of a one star 1950’s sci-fi movie. Ah – the Grizzly has finally entered some time warp.

Anyway I caught the tail of the runners as they turned onto the beach and decided to run on the largely clear path next to the sea. The sunny weather and the sound of hundreds of pairs of feet crunching their way through the pebbles seemed to spur me on to a slightly faster than sustainable pace. I eased back a bit and felt really good for about 7 miles. After that things slowly deteriorated. At one point my cold really turned on me with a wilful vengeance. My ears and head became completely bunged up. I went deaf and lost balance. Snot and gunge glistened on the backs of my gloves and even my sunglasses acquired sticky smears which reduced my vision. Then, on an exposed hillside, the wind blew up bringing hailstones which stung face and legs. This was more like it! This is the stuff of tales for future generations; hail the size of golf balls and waist deep swamps that swallow the unwary. At this stage I must apologise to anyone following me, who slipped or got stuck on anything resembling snot; it probably was snot.

It’s a bit difficult to accurately describe the Grizzly, but let’s just say it’s probably one of the best races, courses, and events in the world. Even on a wet, cold day there will be loads of cheerful supporters, bands, helpers and on a sunny day it’s even better ‘cos you can enjoy the views.

After about 15 miles I was struck with an increasing queasiness. I could have said a feeling of nausea, but ever since we got stuck in a mess tent with a couple of Americans who kept using the word nauseous in their irritating accent, I won’t. (But that’s another story – not that we have anything in general against most Americans). Towards the end two SWRRs pulled ahead of me but I really believed that by keeping in touch I would have the last laugh on the results due to the “chip” times. This was not to be and I was penalised for taking 2mins 7 secs for crossing the start line.

L & M had by coincidence parked on the seafront about 5 vehicles away from us. Afterwards as I approached their van, I heard a loud click; thinking that they were trying to attract my attention I went over but was met by a frantic waving and shooing of the arms and the electric windows gave a firm clunk as they closed in extra fast mode. (The original click must have the central locking). Jesus, I only had a slight cold, and they made me feel like a leper. I know they take their running seriously, 225 mile per week, and no sex or alcohol, but I only wanted to say “hello and well done”. Lesley tells me Lin now wears a surgeon’s breathing mask at work and out shopping in a desperate effort to avoid germs. I think I ought to share some snotty bits to help build up a healthy immune system.

Anyway I didn’t feel too good and laid out in the car with the engine running.

(Waiting for some good-natured person to connect a hose to the exhaust). Fred Fox came over later and sympathised as he used to be afflicted with similar stomach problems. Now that he runs a bit slower he is largely cured. He did look very surprised when Lesley said she didn’t think he had slowed that much; he reliably informed us that in a previous incarnation he had been a top 30 Grizzly finisher.

Once again thanks to everyone who helped make the Grizzly another memorable day out.

Ironbridge 3K Winter Series

Weds 5th March saw me rise from my sick bed for the 50 mile round trip to do the Ironbridge 3K at Exeter Arena. The evening kicked off with the junior’s mile race, followed by the various 3K races. With about 20 – 25 runners in each race this pits the old and grizzled against young sprogs of diminutive proportions. Be complacent at your peril as these youngsters can pace, draught and out sprint with beguiling ease. Each race is very competitive, with runners of similar predicted finish times in each group. I’m glad I got off my sick bed and made the effort. Amongst all the windy, wet weather we had calm, but the air was cold enough to sting the arms. Under the circumstances I was happy with 11:53. Main highlights were watching the kids run and seeing the winner of the top group doing a 62 second final lap.