Sunday, March 20, 2016

Week 7 - Cheeky little race number

If ever there was a week to go underground with training it was week 7 & 8.

Week 7 started well-ish with the 10 mile run that I should have done on Saturday moved to Monday because of SHaFF (bear in mind Monday should be my rest day).  Rather than take the day’s rest I went into Tuesday with some easy swimming to try to protect the shoulder injury that I am starting to feel.  It didn’t work and actually I felt my shoulder pop but I completed my 1600m and went to work.
Knowing I was away on Friday, Monday and Tuesday I had deadlines to meet and therefore I worked hard – not only to get my job done but to get ready for a weekend away in Grizedale with the mountain bike. 

We drove to Hartlepool on Thursday evening.  As I sat in a seedy curry house I wondered where my life was going (and particularly where my training was going).  As I stood around in the only Irish pump on St Patricks day with a couple of middle-aged engineers and my grad and a lot of pissed girls, I knew exactly where my life was going – a short walk back to the hotel. 

I attempted some yoga and then went to bed but not to sleep.  I spent the next 4 hours attempting – unsuccessfully to digest my dinner.  Eventually 5am came around and I went for a run.  I could still feel the curry being digested as I ran – it’s rare I can run much on a completely empty stomach but I hardly ran, more wobbled through the first half of my run.

Despite my best efforts I couldn’t get down to the sea front.  I ran down cul-de sacs, dead ends and loop roads until eventually I found myself on a dual carriage way around the old shipyard.  Finally, a sign to the old headland led me to a beach where I duly took my running shoes off and had a brief paddle before running back to the hotel to load my mountain bike back onto the roof rack and put my tent back in the Thule roof box before breakfast.

The Hartlepool site visit was what I expected except I did manage to escape by 2:30pm which, to my benefit for once, meant that I was at the Campsite I’d booked in the Lake District by 5pm.  The tent was up and the stove built by 8pm by which time it was too late to cook anything constructive so instead I heated a tin of beans and coped with that.

The race aside it was a bit of a ferrel weekend for me.  I didn’t shower (I know! Eugh right!?) and I didn’t put up the inner tent.  I padded around in trainers or socks on the forest floor.  I cooked off the tipi stove – which took some effort to get going in the minus 5 degrees evenings.  I did yoga on the banks of the water and talked to few people.

Smokin' hot
Mum and dad came down to find me on Saturday morning as I was heading out on a short shake-down ride on the bike.  I threw myself over some stupidly steep climbs though so I guess that’s OK.  What’s important is I had my usual lunch at Hawkeshead.  One of those rare times I fancied a BLT.

Back at the campsite too early to eat, I went for a walk along the shore, saw deer in the woods and stopped on the boat mooring and watched a cormorant chilling out on the wall of the mooring for a good 10 minutes.  I lay on the pontoon, stretched my hands out and stared at the sky. 

A slightly more impressive pre-race pasta dish which saved left overs for post-race lunch on Sunday.  The lovely girls at the campsite agreed to me staying on late so I could pack up after the race instead of before.

At Grizedale I checked in with the race organisers before faffing and finding Ruth and Ed with whom to share pre-race banter.  Mum and dad showed up just before the start and watched us head off up the hill.  I felt good so decided to hold my place.  A few women moved ahead of me and I passed back all but one and otherwise held my own.  I could see Ruth’s brother ahead but wasn’t going to stick with him.

Off the fire road I relaxed a bit as the terrain got rockier and gnarlier, then I realised I was glad of the shade.  It was so hot running in the open.  I am actually getting to know the route now so I was relieved at the arrival of Carron Crag and the downhill.  I had a laugh with some guys taking selfies and videos on the way down and then hit the tough off-road descent, bouncing from rock to rock. 

Mum and dad had been chatting to another race supporter and drumming up cheers from strangers.  I burst into T1 in a good mood, hoping I’d kept the blonde lady who kept passing me at bay and changed relatively quickly.  I didn’t even forget anything… it was such a glorious day, I even set off on a mountain bike ride wearing nothing but a string teeshirt and my running vest on top.  As I went through the gate, the organiser shouted "4th woman" at me.  Seriously? NO?!  My first run had been almost as fast as my lunchtime flat road runs at work.

I rode through the bike climb where I had to stop and eat fuel 2 years ago when my PE was taking charge.  I stomped through a number of tough climbs feeling really proud of myself for riding all the good ones. 

I passed two women.  One from Bingley and another who I didn't recognise. I was, to say the least a little surprised but also could not contain my excitement and shot off.  I reached the moorland which is really so nice.  Memories of passing through here in the pouring rain in years before and this time it was sunny and beautiful, hot.  I passed Simon, cheering us across the fells and descended into the river bed only to climb out again, riding most of the way until the next gate forced me to get off and walk.  Another rider wanted to know how far we'd come.  5 miles.  5-bloody-miles! We were 1/3 of the way through.  Bugger.  Cyclo-cross mode again.  The 45 minute sprint.

I descended in company back into the woods and began to enjoy the break of a few fire roads until, to my horror I saw Ruth Marsden coming up behind me! Now I'm used to Ruth trouncing me on the run but I'd never before had the opportunity for her to catch me up on the bike.  Try as I might I couldn't keep up with her.  Not on the up hill and not on the super bouncy downhill bike that she was riding.  She's a strong woman.

I told her she was now in second place.  She didn't believe me either but we carried on together relentlessly for a few moments before I admitted reluctantly that I'd over-cooked it and sent her on her way through a gate to downhill away from me.

The course was so dry that I rode most of the stepping stones on the gravel alongside and the boardwalks were dry... so how someone managed to fall off one I don't know but there it was, a big muddy hole in the bog.

The descent to transition came with its usual mind wobbles as the bridlepath starts to look like a footpath but then we dropped in and transitioned and out again.  Run shoes just about sliding back on.

The second run hurt all the way through.  I just about found enough get up and go to run most of it except for the steepest sections.  At 5.1 mph average it was still OK although my descent was just as quick so I obviously didn't manage that one too well.  In fact, I let rip in the vain hope that I'd catch Ruth but with my uphill being 5 minutes longer, I couldn't make it stick.

I thundered past my parents squealing "No brakes!" to find I had crossed the line in 4th woman place overall and 2nd FV40.  

Run 1: 41:09
Bike: 1:58:30
Run 2: 48:28

Dedicated support crew.
I went back to the beautiful campsite, de-camped at my leisure - including eating left-overs and watching canoe-based boy-versus-swan from the comfort of lakeshore.

This weekend was owned.  It's just a shame it had to share my ongoing week.  I drove home to start packing for working away.

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