Thursday, 26 May 2016

Recent Race Reports and Another Unexpected parkrun...

Birkenhead parkrun

We were staying on the Wirral (in? on? the debate is here, I'm going with the Merseysiders on this one!) for the first May Bank Holiday weekend, caravanning with our friends, the Grants and the Harrisons.  Aidan Grant is a fellow Goyt Valley Strider and suggested a bit of parkrun tourism - with us taking in Birkenhead parkrun whilst we were staying so close. After copious amounts of curry, vodka and a late night, its fair to say we were not expecting much, let alone a PB! 

Aidan and I running into the finish with Sue

I asked my friend Susanne to come, as I knew she had never been to a parkrun before and she lives in the area.  So, after a few text messages and a hastily printed barcode we were off!  We found there were friendly people, a great course and marshals with cowbells! (LOVE this!) The course consisted of 3 laps of the park, a downhill start/finish and a slightly uphill section near the end.  Its fair to say, even with a hangover and no breakfast - I loved it!  

At the end I noticed Aidan just ahead of me in the finish funnel, he was noticeably shocked at my presence and rudely shouted "What are you doing here!"  - a 21:23 PB with 2nd Lady out of 95 and 31st overall out of 239, 1st in my age category was what I was doing - booyah!! Seriously though, it was my best result yet, of any race or parkrun! Aidan and Sue also got PBs so it was well worth the early wake up! Link to results.

Rainow 5 Fell Race (5 miles)

Following on from the first race of the GVS Fell Series, was the Rainow 5 Fell Race.  A BS (not too steep, quite short) route, it was actually much harder than I thought it was going to be!  It was a nice Wednesday evening and there was a decent turnout of 211 runners.  


Lovely evening sky - crazed face!
Before the race with Helen and Estelle
I got quite a good start and could see Amelia - a fellow Strider in front of me, it was all uphill with a steeper than anticipated pull up to White Nancy and I managed to keep going - all be it slowly and get past Amelia just before the steep walking section to the summit.  

The next stage was an undulating and rocky ridge section which was hard on my feet, followed by some downhill into a little valley then back uphill to the top of the track which led downhill to the finish.  I ended up with blisters, as my choice of shoes wasn't the best, but I still managed 1st lady Strider again, and 11th lady overall in a time of 45:48.  I found that 5 miles was pushing my stamina so I have since been working on improving that and competing in some slightly 
longer races.  Link to results.

Hathersage Hilly Recce Ride and Run

The weekend after the Bank Holiday Amanda, Jac and I decided to recce the Hathersage Hilly ride and run routes in preparation for our triathlon there in July.  It was a beautiful hot day so after our duties at parkrun we made our way over to Hathersage, which was obviously a great idea because the world, his wife and kids were also there!  Cue busy roads and terrifying traffic!

We decided not to recce the pool swim, so we hopped on our roadies and headed off up the main Hathersage road.  I really felt sorry for Jac who hadn't ridden a road bike for years, it was a real baptism of fire!

After pedaling up the road for about 3km we started to question the route we were taking, the maps provided online were all Strava routes which were difficult to follow as the direction wasn't specified.  It turned out we had been going the wrong way up the busy road - damn! We decided to turn around and do it properly which turned out to be a good thing because it exposed us to the worst bit of the road twice, so we now really know what to expect!

After the bad start the ride was actually very nice, with a steady climb up Froggatt edge leading to the Fox Houses road.  One of the roads was very pot holey, so we will know to watch out for that bit!

We had a fantastic descent back into Hathersage, I even managed to keep up with the traffic and not slow anyone down so I was pleased with my confidence.  My "chicken lever" cross top brakes have really helped me to feel safer on Ladybird.  

Once back to the car we put our bikes away, had a drink and gel and then tried the run route.  We didn't get very far before it became apparent we were running out of time and the heat was energy sapping. We decided to call it a day and turn back, but having recce'd about a third of the route, we felt happy we were acquainted with the idea of where the transition points will be and where the run will go at first.

Swim training has commenced!

To crawl or not to crawl? That is the question!  I started going to my local pool once a week to improve my technique and swim fitness for the triathlon.  I tend to do 1000m with a 20 length tempo in breaststroke, but front crawl is proving more difficult!  Having watched numerous YouTube videos and talked to swim savvy friends, I am trying to up my stamina in the crawl.  I am finding it really hard to breathe at the right angle and to keep going.  Currently I am up to 4 lengths max of crawl before I am nearly drowning, so watch this space.  I may just stick with breaststroke!  One interesting part of swim training is that I ache in my lower stomach muscles the day after, this is brilliant news as the lower abdomen is the hardest to tone especially post children - I am thinking of continuing with the swimming once a week as part of my general training because the benefits are really noticeable and I enjoy it.

Lyme Park parkrun 

I ended up missing a long run training session in the week, due to having a bit of a virus so I decided to rest my legs for a couple of days, recover and then go and do Lyme Park parkrun, having had about a years gap since my last attempt!  I was interested to see if I would be any quicker considering my current form over flat 5k distance.  I definitely found the first hill section easier then ever before  - I can normally taste blood after that hill due to all the puffing!  I also felt quicker on the final pull to the finish, which may have had something to do with the handy tail wind! Anyway, I managed new event pb, finishing in 24:03.  I was 2nd Lady, 21st overall and 1st in my age category.  I was chuffed with that! Run report here
Shining Tor Fell Race - Photo purchased from JPK Photography

Shining Tor Fell Race (6 miles)

I was feeling the pressure for the Shining Tor Fell Race, probably as, at 10k, it was longer than I have been doing and I knew it was going to be hard after the uphill section, with flag stones along the ridge then a long downhill over rocky and narrow paths to the bottom of the hill.  I was thinking my winning streak of the previous two fell series races may be over... 

I was pleased with my progress over the first half, as expected, I think I must have let dozens past me on the ridge and downhill sections as my feet were hurting and my stamina was waning.   I only just made it back as 1st lady Strider, with Julie hot on my (sore) heels only 15 seconds behind!  - Mental note: I must train for longer races! 

Happily I seem to have broken in my Inov-8 roclites, so all in all an OK race but not my best - despite it being my local training ground and a beautiful evening with a stunning sunset!

Mount Famine Fell Race (5 miles)
Shining Tor Fell Race - After!

Wow.  I've saved the best (worst) for last! This race had to be the hardest and least prepared for race I have ever done! I noticed that not many Striders were committing to this one earlier on in the week, but I put it down to people being away etc.   Little did I know that they knew. They knew what I now know...

I wasn't even going to do this race due to it being on a Saturday, but I realised I would not be able to qualify for the Championship series if I didn't do it, as 8 races at least are required and my season is looking increasingly busy with various races and events.  I asked Caz about it and she informed me of an unusual start straight up a steep hill, hmm, I thought, hill start - right up my street. How wrong was I!  This was definitely an A category race.

At the start (a short run from the scout hut registration area), I found other Striders and we glanced up at the sheer bank to our right - Elle Bank.  I asked someone where the start was and they just pointed up the bank  - I couldn't even see the top!  I was informed that there was "a bit of tape somewhere to the right you have to go around", this was all becoming worryingly mad I actually contemplated going home there and then! The bank was strewn with fallen branches, brambles and peaty grassy earth which crumbled away beneath your feet, it was ridiculous!  But little did I know as I negotiated the crazy hill that this was just the start! 

I got up the bank relatively unscathed, with just a knee graze from a stump I didn't notice.  I had Caz's voice ringing in my ears to keep left so I did this and was in a good position at the top, it took a bit of persuasion for my legs to get going, but they eventually complied and I set off down a ridgy single track with a load of blokes puffing and wheezing from Elle Bank.  I looked up to see a typical steep hill where most of the leaders were walking,  I made good progress not letting anyone past and even passing a couple of runners on the way up.  
Shining Tor Fell Race - Photo by Sue Jeff

It didn't seem long before there was another mighty hill to negotiate, this race was going to be the slowest average speed ever!  The race basically went on in this fashion of ridiculous steepness until the downhills, OMG I am notoriously bad at the steepest of descents but this wasn't even funny.  People were passing me in what seemed like hoards saying "well done" with pity in their voices as they passed me grunting my way down the longest steepest hill, I was not enjoying that bit at all!  

Near the bottom of the steepest bit an older lady from Buxton AC passed me, I was mentally beating myself up as I stepped onto the track which was about 1.5k from the finish, and decided to get a bloody move on!  I hurtled the last section as fast as my legs would carry me, passing Alex, a fellow Strider who was walking.  I shouted back to see if he was injured and he informed me his ankle had gone, I promised to tell the marshals and carried on at breakneck speed - knowing there was very little I could do to help.

It was about 500m from the finish that I caught up with and passed the Buxton lady and a few others, she shouted words of encouragement as I passed which was nice of her, I was really tramming and was half hoping I hadn't peaked too soon! At the finish I realised I was 1st lady Strider home again so that cheered me up, but wow, I don't think I will be doing that one again in a hurry!  My time of 1:06:51 reflects the tough terrain, I was 11th lady out of 32 in a field of 141 nutters, I mean runners! 

Some of the other Strider ladies ended up helping an injured runner who had hurt his arm somehow at one of the stiles on Dimpus Clough, he had been telling them how he had just got back into racing following a leg break the year before - on Mount Famine! Oops, how unlucky! - It turned out he had indeed broken his arm!  If you fancy seeing the route watch this video from a previous years race.  

Well, that was a mammoth blog post, if you've managed to get this far well done!  I won't leave it as long next time!  

My next race is Winkle Trout 9k Fell Race next weekend, but first I'm going to run up Snowdon!

Happy Running,

TLF x