Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Racing on Ice

It was easily the stupidest thing I've done all year if not this century. That was my main thought all the way around.

If I've said it. once, I have said it a million times, I don't run when it's icy. It's not worth it to me to train when am risking an injury. So why on earth did I do a 10K race in Yorkshire on snow and ice? Because I had a number, I've done it in the past (different weather) and enjoyed the scenery, Bill and Bob were going, I'd said I was going to do it, all pretty lame excuses.

We literally skated to the start. I nearly didn't even get there, I was so frightened of falling. Just before the race began, one of the marshals announced that yes, it was icy, but so were the town streets and one could break their leg just walking on the sidewalks. Great, I said, I feel really reassured with that. Then the gun went and we were off. The first mile was about the worst. The women around me were swearing a lot and none of us jogged more than a dozen steps at a time, I'm sure. When I finally got to the first mile marker I looked at my watch: 17 minutes!! Ridiculous.

Mind, after that it was beautiful when I could manage a look around. The course went across several snow covered fields that sparkled in the sunshine and through some forested areas that were heavenly. Also down country trails where the only safe place to run was in the crunchy snow on the edges -- you know, where people let their dogs poop, and where all the hedges you might grab are the thorny kind. There was a hill that everyone climbed just about on hands and knees, looking for any purchase that would take them up, not sliding down. That was when I stopped thinking of it as a race, but as an obstacle course instead.

I thought it would be not a race of the quickest but of those least afraid of falling (the winner did it in 38 minutes which everyone deemed impressive -- and suicidal). I was at the back with all the other chicken women but gradually overtook a handful. For all that, there were stretches that were dry and I did manage to relax enough to make use of the advantage.

Some got pretty tired towards the end of the race, given it took so long to finish. I'm sure I did 10 miles, not 10K what with all the detours I took to avoid the ice and find safer ground. In a couple of places marshals had to help me across icy bits. On the last, steeply arched, bridge the marshal wore cleets and literally dragged me over the ice, as he said he'd done everyone.

There were people out having walks and they were good about telling us where it was safest, as did the marshals. One woman remarked, "You are so brave". "Nope, just stupid." was my answer.

My goal was to finish without falling and I made it back in one piece, though I expect that will be the longest 10K I ever run. Good job I'd trained for that half marathon, not for just a 10K. The training stood me in good stead.

Then came the next challenge: the ladies' changing room at the rugby club, next to the men's, was in a concrete building with a stone floor and no heat. The showers were hot and brilliant but of course as soon as you stepped away the floor was so cold it almost burned. Getting dressed I was unbearably slow, being tired, cold and stiff. Two other women came in to change, neither chose to shower. One looked at me and said again that I was brave. I didn't bother to answer. I'd made the decision to get cleaned up because I knew we were going to have a nice pub lunch in town and I didn't want to be sticky and smelly. It is just part doing these races, roughing it to get cleaned up after. This picture was in the ladies' loo in the club house; some sort of tribal custom I guess.

We ended up having a 'carvery' lunch, with servings of both roast beef and roast pork with crackling (and we could have had some chicken chasseur), roast parsnips and potatoes, mashed potatoes, cabbage, carrots, Yorkshire pudding (which is not a sweet but something between pastry and a bread roll), mushy peas and gravy. I didn't pile my plate near as high as Bill and Bob, but it was still a struggle to shovel it all down. But shovel I did, enjoying every bite. Bill noticed this place did a really reasonable meal at New Year's Eve and we might go there next year.

I did manage to snap a few pictures from the road, but I mostly slept on the way home.


FB @ said...

So YOU'RE one of those people I'm gawking at going: How could they do that? It's ICY AND COLD.

Still, congratulations. That is an incredible thing to do. I'd really hate to have fallen on my ass or frozen solid.

Boywilli said...

Well I had a lovely day hurtling around on virgin snow, I guess I did not pause to think about dog poop (or cow poop or sheep poop or even deer poop)that might be lurking under it. In any case the snow scrubbed it off and my shoes came home cleaner than they have been for years. I think my fell shoes were better for the conditions than the trail shoes that you and Bob wore, as you both seemed to have more problems, but then I know I get a bit crazy if I put a number on