When it’s too hot to run…but you do it anyway

 

Pudsey10k2017
Nearly there – thank you to the wonderful Simon Cullingworth whose photo makes me look like I’m actually enjoying myself!

 

You know it’s going to be a hot one when you’re only on the start line and the sweat is already trickling down your back and gushing into your butt crack. Gross, I know, but sometimes you just have to tell it as it is.

The heat was no surprise, with a forecast of 27C, but I’d paid and I was bloomin’ well going to run, or shuffle at the very least, I’m from Yorkshire, me, I like to get my money’s worth.

The midnight migraine hadn’t helped, though the drugs had, unfortunately they are performance-diminishing and add lead to my legs and that general feeling of fuzziness to my head. Thank goodness there were no random drug tests, though they may have taken pity and upped me a few places.

The Pudsey 10K isn’t for wimps, mainly off-road, just short of 200m altitude gain and lots of hills, including a sneaky one at the end, just when you don’t want it. But I’d run it before and I knew what I was in for. Noel’s ITB was playing up so he didn’t want to risk further injury and gallantly offered to take photos. I considered running it twice, so as not to waste his place, but the marshals couldn’t stay there until midnight, they’d much better things to do.

I made sure I took precautions, hat, sunglasses, factor 50 liberally applied and, for good measure, a pack with a litre of water. There was only one official water stop on the run and that was at the highest point, I was certain I would have expired by then if I didn’t carry my own. I even considered making a batch of marzipan balls for extra energy but in that heat, they’d have been liquid before the first hill, I’m not sure the world is ready for marzipan drinks yet. It seemed over the top when most of the runners around me were bare-headed and pack-free, but fair Irish skin (Irish since the Brexit debacle!), a complete aversion to heat and a migraine-induced fuzziness made it a necessity.

It’s never a good sign when a paramedic comes hurtling past you on a quadbike just three kilometres into the race.  When I got to the water stop, I found him helping my lovely friend Karen, who had twisted her ankle. Her race was over, though she was there at the finish cheering folk in after getting a lift back, and she’d claimed her tee-shirt (she’s from Yorkshire too!)

There were a couple of ambulances near the finish which were unfortunately occupied by runners who looked like they’d succumbed to the heat, I understand they were OK – I hope they got their tee-shirts!

As always, the support for this local race organised by the Pudsey Pacers was amazing. I was thrilled to be squirted with Supersoakers – after being politely asked if I’d like to be soaked. Oh yes, that did very nicely. As did the water from a hosepipe aimed at us (thanks, guys!) and all the extra water to pour over my head.

Even so, it was brutal, I walked where I should have run, if it hadn’t have been for the encouragement of the marshals, supporters and photographers pointing their lenses at me so I had to run, I would have given up and I don’t give up easily.

The best bit, though, was to turn the final corner and eyeball the finish line. Two of my team mates ran beside me, oh my goodness, that gave me such a boost. The rest stood there cheering, I felt like I’d won the race rather than brought up the rear, it was fabulous. I’ll be back next year, whatever the temperature.

Small bum, thin legs

Noel, my personal running mantra. Thanks to Andrew Byrom for the photo
Noel, my personal running mantra. Thanks to Andrew Byrom for the photo

It was that point in the race, first hill conquered, downhill pounded, welcome water gratefully thrown in the general direction of my mouth, some of it even going in, that the second, most significant hill loomed. I felt like crying as I saw it reach for the sky. Actually, I think I did.

Then I heard the sound of distant chanting, getting ever nearer. At first, I couldn’t make out what they said, my mind was so full of terror at the prospect of conquering the Hill of Doom on the notoriously challenging Pudsey 10km organised by the lovely Pudsey Pacers. But as I got nearer, it became clear. The two women were making great progress up the hill, encouraging each other with the mantra ‘small bum, thin legs.’

Noel, who was running with me at this point following a delay brought about by an unscheduled and unwelcome pit stop in the woods, wondered if they were commenting on his rather shapely legs and pert derriere. I think he too was in a state of delirium at the approaching hill.

Now I quite liked that as an idea, a small bum and thin legs, that is, two of the benefits of hill running. I know other runners who chant motivational messages, such as ‘You. Can. Do. It’ It made me think about my own mantra, What could it be? What would make me run faster? I didn’t have chance to mull it over, as Noel yelled in my ear, ‘Get up the hill, stop faffing around!’ It worked, I did. Everyone should have their own personal mantra chanter.

Bring me the head of the Daffodil

Something I see in my nightmares....
Agh, agh, the daffodil ate my head!

For Sherlock Holmes there’s Moriarty, Superman has the double whammy of Lex Luther kryptonite and in some episodes of Star Trek The Next Generation, the quirky and capricious Q pops in and out. But when it comes to my own personal nemesis, The One That Cannot Be Beaten, it’s a giant sweaty daffodil.

Ever since the Narcissus Giganticus puffed past me on the Puma Pudsey 10km two years ago, I swore I’d have my revenge. How could an uprooted bulb beat me? It was embarrassing, that’s what it was. I mean I’m more of a nut and bolt than a Usain Bolt, but a daffodil cutting a swathe through a host of golden runners to beat us to the finish line? No, no, NO!

The daffodil, symbol of the chosen charity Marie Curie Cancer Care, runs the undulating course each year, and, I found out, could be any one of the fine bunch of Pudsey Pacers. This did not bode well, they’re a nippy lot, those Pacers and I half hatched a plan to run as a giant squirrel, because as we all know, squirrels love to dig up bulbs, but the thought of wearing any costume, let alone with with a big furry tail in the record-breaking July heat was too much. I would just have to trust my own speed. Yes, I was doomed.

The start went well, I was off like ungreased lightning, holding a steady position near the back of the field. At every turn I was looking for the green and yellow behind me, waiting for the inevitable. I was slightly comforted that it didn’t happen until the big hill at the seven kilometre mark when, but don’t tell anyone, she took off her flower head to reveal a very sweaty face and soaking wet hair. The all-over foam and fur costume had no vents and poor Sharon (yes, we were on first name terms, it seemed churlish to call her Nemesis) must have been half the woman she was when she set off. All thoughts of tripping her up and pushing her into the nettles disappeared, I felt ashamed for having such a thought. Especially when she revealed that none of the guys were prepared to do it, so she had volunteered. We got to the top of a hill, she put her head back on and was off like a shot,

We met up again, I finished some little time after she did and she was kind enough to keep the sweaty costume on for just a little while longer to be photographed with us and then to let me try on her head. The word ‘nemesis’ was never even mentioned.

So that makes it Daffodil 2 Anne 0. I think I’m going to have to get in training for next year right now, because it’s not going to beat me again!

The best of all goody bags

Noel, Andy and me and my goody bag

It wasn’t until I was tucking into my fifth chocolate bar that I realised my goody bag was special. I thought everyone had three Kit Kats, two Rocky bars, a bag of sweets and a Care Bear badge along with an apple, banana and technical teeshirt as a reward for slogging up 10km of hill in the blazing Pudsey heat. No, it turns out, it was just me.

Entering the Puma Pudsey 10k was a capricious decision. We were going to cheer our friend Andy as he crossed the finish line, chuckling and congratulating ourselves on avoiding the race dubbed ‘The Hardest, Steepest 10k in the Known Universe’ by those in the know on the chat forums. Then Noel, whose system was still surging with endorphins from the morning’s Park Run said, ‘Why don’t we do this really steep, difficult run?’. I was similarly swimming in an endorphin haze, so I agreed.

The old lags at Race HQ said the steep hill was at about the 4km mark, with a steeper one at the 7km, finishing on a slight incline. And so it turned out to be. I saw no-one run up the steep hills through the woods. Even the giant flower I’d been tailing from the start looked like he was going to put down roots as he melted inside his thick foam costume.

So the goody bag at the end, with its promised sugar rush, was in my sights. Noel and Andy were quite a bit ahead of me, so had eaten, drunk and were very merry. I sat down with my bag and pulled out the Kit Kats and Rocky Bars and ate the lot, the guys watched with what I thought was respect. It turned out to be envy as I seemed to have an over-chocolated goody bag.

When we got home, me bouncing around with sugar rush, Noel not, we tried on our teeshirts. Mine fitted, Noel’s didn’t. I now had a belly full of chocolate and two teeshirts. It was the day that just kept on giving, for me anyway.