Sunday, January 01, 2017

The end of week 52 of 2016 and the first day of 2017

Y'know, when things look bad, it's often best to kick them up the ass with a run.  I tried to remind myself of that on Friday when I was feeling down in the dumps and still didn't get out for a run.

I couldn't let 2016 disappear off the radar without one final trip outdoors and with friends with a bad back between them coming over to visit in the afternoon, I decided a run would be the best tonic for my mood and most expedient form of exercise before our guests arrived.

Fortunately TSK decided to join me so we were able to kick 2016 out together.

We ran up the hill first, along the top of the Rivelin Valley.  I forget how technical it can be in places but my new muscles are firing well and TSK doesn't disappear into the distance as I had expected.  I don't have much control over the new muscles yet so it's fast or nothing.  TSK (who has run more than me this week) decides to head downhill sooner whilst I declare I am feeling good and deign to carry on.

After we've parted company I am passed by a lithe young thing with bells on her shoes and a white-blonde ponytail.  I'm not sure if she's santa or a lady from Banbury Cross looking for her white hoss.

For a while I chase her along the trail and then she doubles back above me and I know not where I am.  It takes me a moment of standing still then spinning on the spot to figure out I am on the "steep" climb which usually reduces me to walking / scrambling pace but somehow this nymph has had me prancing and dancing up the cliff-face of mud without even realising where I am - she's obviously santa then.  And like that, she is gone.  Majic!

I am suddenly not feeling as good as I was.  This is my second run in AyyyyyyGES and I am racing tomorrow.  So I retrace my steps about 10m and head down the hill on a sneaky mountain bike trail, through the trees and back onto the A57.  I join the Rivelin River path and soon pick up TSK who has chosen the boggy route off the hill and has been up to his knees in mud several times.

It's a really pleasant run along the valley bottom dodging dogs, kids and strollers, chatty people and en-headphoned-miseries until we're finally back at the bottom o' our hill and walk to the top as a special Christmas treat.

10km, 40 effort kms.

We're slightly tired, quite hungry but ready to receive guests.  What a great way to end the year (*only to be superseded by excellent smoked meat, cheese, olives, salmon, handmade Gin... etc. chez Hawkins).

Unfortunately, my alcohol tolerance is non-existent at the moment.  I was doing OK until I poured midnight champers onto the rich and delicious food listed above and then walked home in fresh air.

My body rejected a lot of the food I've eaten in the last 24 hours.  Though only by going to the loo (not throwing up), it kept me awake until around 2:30am when I finally propped myself up on ALL the pillows to settle my stomach and support the neck pain that had been dragging me down in the late evening.  The alarm was not welcome at 8am.

Still, food and coffee consumed, I managed to dress myself in cycling clothing, get to Knaresborough and subscribe to the race I entered weeks ago.  My bad planning meant I didn't get to reconnaitre the course before the start - I should have left 30 minutes earlier but TBH, there was no WAY the alarm was going to be set 30 minutes earlier.

Somehow I had accrued enough British Cycling points to put me on the front row of the grid and I duly shot off the front before realising I resolutely had no frickin idea where I was going.  This is not a problem with cyclo-cross as the route is taped-off.  I just kept expecting Ali or Marie to pass me as I hunted on each corner to see which way it turned.  All I knew is that TSK had told me that straight after the bridge I was to run and run and run... no point in getting on the bike.

Finally Ali drew alongside and I called out, "I don't know where I'm going Ali!".  To which her response was an un-reassuring, "Neither do I!".  They both came past me and then re-mounted their bikes.  As instructed, I just kept running and running and running and somehow passed them both back until we got to the first riding section again where my strength waned and they continued.

Marie later said, "I had no idea what you were doing out there on the front going so fast".  I do, I was having a LOT of fun and only wish I had made the time to check the course out first.

Soon enough, two more women came past - Nicky and Ruth.  They stuck together and I dropped back until Ruth had trouble with her bike and I passed her in a fit of trying to de-gunk.  She didn't get me back.  I momentarily congratulated myself on my bike spec which carried me through the race without a change of my machine and meant that TSK could ride the men's race at the same time as me racing the women's.

The rest of the race passed without event except for the ins and outs of staying upright as possible, fighting the falls and keeping rider and bicycle in one piece.

Since Nicky is over 50, I took third place in the Vet 40 category (although I was 4th overall in the race) and got to stand on the podium for the third time this season.

7.5 miles. 60 effort kms.

It made a big difference to the day.  It's made me excited for the rest of the year.  It's made me feel like - with a little help from my friends - I am in charge of my own destiny again without interference from the illness I suffered a few years ago.  Training means something, gets results, isn't a waste of time and it's no longer just about finishing stuff but it's about doing stuff better than I've done it before, or at least better than it would be if I didn't try.

#Festive500 effort kms - total 466km.  So nearly there!

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