So, post my best ever 10km time, how was I going to function the next day? I took stock in the morning. Foam roller for the IT band as the knee was hinting at a desire to moan. Taped up one of my toes on my right foot and I was good to go.
Friday night is fell race night. Or so it would seem in this mysterious world to which I was getting an induction. A gaggle of people on the start line, some colour coded as in for the long haul, others who were one trick ponies, just there for the fell race. And of course, everyone looked faster than me.
Now, I'm not a fell runner. As I write this a little bit of me is protesting over whether I'm any kind of runner at all. But as a complete novice to this kind of thing, racing, big numbers of people and this mysterious discipline that is fell running, I felt out of my depth. Other people were in shorts and vests. I was in 3/4 length pants, a T-shirt and ... get this ... a waterproof. The skies were black, it looked horrific, and the walker and mountain biker in me refused to go up on a hill without having the wherewithal to look after myself. A ridiculous thing given the heavily marshalled nature of the event and the short distance. But that's me, I'm afraid.
I admit I was a bit disappointed at first with this fell run. The bulk of the early climbing was on road not on anything trail like, but then as we got to Hobson Moor, off road we went. The off road climb was interesting, in the way that I learned that when I struck out with a fast walk I overtook people running, and held nobody up behind. And then, we hit the downhill. A rocky, rutted, single track kind of a descent. It was kind of glorious, except for the other runners. I found myself behind a queue of slow movers, and at first, because they were using a gait which looked like running, I did a gentle run. Then I realised I could walk down and still be on their heels. Decided that to enjoy it, I was going to need to do some odd little sprint sections whenever the track widened, and that worked surprisingly well and I bounded down like a gazelle. Or, as in my adrenaline fuelled after race high, I said on twitter, like a force of nature.
That surprised me, my ability to descend rapidly on a technical trail. I am definitely not a mountain goat by any means, my clumsiness and inability to sort my footwork out seemed to me a given. Yet, the last few months of running on my own, descending from Chinley Churn down New Allotments in a joyous lolloping style has, it seems, suited me well to descending. Peak District meets Tameside and the Peak District won, it seems. That feeling, that glorious happy feeling of running like a child who has an unexpected day off school and runs for the sheer wonder of it, that feeling stays with me. Ah, and there is some kind of photographic evidence. Me before the race. I'm the one on the right.