Tuesday 22 November 2016

Dovedale Dash!

Having read about the Dovedale Dash in the summer I was intrigued to see what a fell race with over 1000 entrants would be like.  It sounded fun with a river crossing, varied terrain and fancy dress encouraged!  Little did I realise back in August that it would be 5 degrees with a windchill of about -2 on the day!  

Myself, Caz, Lucas and Louise (all fellow striders) - braved freezing cold windy conditions along with Chris T, Chris B, Paul H and Tracy, to take part in the counter in the GVS Championship.  

On arrival to the 60th Annual Dash it was very busy with cars queueing a few miles up the road just to get onto the field which was flanked by Thorpe Cloud - a very inviting hill which I thought we had to run up (but fortunately didn't!).  I would advise car sharing and getting there early as my first top tip. The start was actually delayed by 15 minutes due to people still arriving, which was a bummer because we had started to warm up and ended up bailing back into the warmth of the car!

The lady on the tannoy sounded like an energetic Caroline Aherne - she was brilliant cheering in all the juniors from the kids races! So enthusiastic!  She really added to the atmosphere of the race.

When the time came to start there was such a massive line of people we couldn't hear the starter so it just sort of happened out of nowhere - I was literally messing about with my watch and we were off!

Descending the field like a battle charge scene out of The Lord of the Rings there were men in wedding dresses, superheroes, a man in a gimp mask -kids, dogs, it was bloody crazy!  It was actually really hard to get through the first section so Caz and I ended up on a steep camber heading up and along the right hand side of the valley, whilst most people were bottle-necked into the bottom.  Top tip number 2 - go hell for leather at the start until the river crossing!

At the river, I opted to go straight through as I thought the stepping stones were a) for wimps and b) potentially slippy! and with the number of spectators with cameras, I thought falling off said stepping stones was not worth entertaining!  Poor Caz got shoved as we exited the river and ended up squished and losing about 10 places.

After the river section I went over on my ankle again in a repeat of Longshaw Trust 10k the week before.  It was less painful this time so I decided I had got away with it...

The rest of the course was actually really good, it varied from slurry bogs (a child was spotted fishing his shoes out with his hands - he must have given up as he was seen at the finish completely shoeless!), moorland and rocky paths with the odd hill thrown in for good measure - with an uphill finish.  
Dovedale Damage!

I was pleased with my progress as I was focusing on slowing down my breathing, having read an interesting article in the week.  I had left enough in the tank for the uphill finish and was just starting to crack on a bit as we came out of a rocky river side section, when out of nowhere I heard a dog whistle and was aware of lots of spectators.  A pointer dog ran straight across my path -  it had got away from its owner - I dodged it but it changed tack and totally took me out, straight onto some horrible rocks, to add insult to injury an unfortunate man then fell straight on top of me.  I had cut my leg and was really really peed off, it had ruined my finish.  I limped up the hill having shouted at the owner to get it on a lead (very assertive of me!) and had a little self pitying sniffle before I pulled myself together and cracked on as best I could with my new found infliction.  

At the finish we were funnelled into an airport style system - there were a few organiser errors here which were avoidable in my opinion - firstly we were not told to stay in order - this was important as the timing marshal took your time as you entered the funnel then you got a position number as you came out of the funnel.  It took about 10 minutes to get through and it was absolutely Baltic.  How nobody got hypothermia is a miracle - maybe they did in hindsight.  I would happily pay a few more quid to be chip timed!

A few weeks on from Dovedale and my ankle is still not right, in fact today it is really bad.  I gave the second cross country counter "Boggart Hole Clough" a miss in order to try and rest it which was really disappointing and my knee is still lumpy from the fall but my grazes have healed and gone.  I still can't kneel on my right knee which is very annoying and I have my final championship race this weekend - Cheddleton 10K Pudding race.  Fingers crossed my ankle holds out!

For anyone interested here are the Results of the Dovedale Dash.  I was 29th lady out of 424!  My time was 40 minutes 12 seconds - overall I was 350th out of 1410 runners.  There are loads of videos on YouTube if you search Dovedale Dash 2016.  

I will definitely be doing it again as although it was freezing it was fun!  Type 2 fun maybe, but still fun!

Happy Running!


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Wednesday 2 November 2016

Histio Ride, Tissington Half and MACCL #1

Since Equinox I seemed to have hit the ground running as it were - two days later, I took part in a charity road bike ride for the Histiocytosis charity.  A friends little boy was diagnosed earlier this year out of the blue after falling and breaking his arm, Xrays showed up a mass which was a concern.  His parents were wonderful and took it all in their stride and started fund raising for the charity.  

Our ride was just a small part of a John O' Groats to Lands End baton journey which saw teams of families affected by the illness - along with their friends and communities, transporting the baton in a range of ways - by bike, on foot and on skates to name a few. You can read all about the Team Isaac story and donate here

Our ride went from The Beehive pub in Combs, High Peak to the Tissington Trail at Parsley Hay.  I devised a back roads route which would keep us off main roads as we would be riding at night.  On the night the traffic from Whaley Bridge to Combs via Chapel Road was very fast and unrelenting.  We decided on a last minute route change and headed off from the pub up Castle Naze, which to anyone who knows the area is a jolly big hill! 

My team - representing Team Isaac - consisted of Mr A (Chris), Caz, Glenn, Helen, Jac, Brian and Claire.  We covered 31.8 kilometres with 668 metres of ascent.  The conditions were near biblical - it poured with rain and howled with wind as the light went from the evening sky.  I was freezing! Fortunately, we had friendly faces to meet us at Parsley Hay in the form of Alex and Fred from the Bike Factory who kindly brought vans for us and the bikes and Sara and Lee (with Isaac and Heidi) who came to accept the baton, cheer us in and take photos!  It was tough but for an extremely worthwhile cause and everybody put lots of effort in on all the stages, I was proud of our little team that night! 

As far as running was concerned, I was happy to have stayed injury-free post Equinox and started pacing and upping the miles for the Tissington half Marathon.  After a 15 mile training run and a 10k at just over race pace - I was feeling worried as I found it really hard both mentally and physically.  

Brian Holland - Winner Men's Vet Prize
As anyone who knows me will know - I don't like distance running, it definitely isn't my "thing".  It's not that I'm rubbish at it or anything, I just find it mentally as hard to endure as physically.  I entered the Tissington Half with the aim of getting a 1 hour 45 minute time (and because it was a counter in the GVS championship series) this would be 6 minutes quicker than my PB (I have done one half marathon before in 2015 - the Stockport Trail Half) and as Tissington was billed as being slightly downhill I was hoping to get that new PB.  

On the day I was very dubious, I needed to hold an average of 4:59 minute kilometres to make 1 hour and 45 minutes - a pace I had never held for longer than 10km before.  At the start I hung back from the other GVS ladies, I wanted to run my own race and thought the chip timing would be accurate so it wouldn't matter.  I paced myself well and was surprised to be holding an average of around 4:47 for the first 5k.  

Ladies team haul
Striders and friends before...
Somewhere around 7km there was a slight change in gradient and my pace dropped slightly to the 5:00 minute km mark.  I was trying to avoid letting it get any slower than that and rallied to continue at around 4:45 - 4:59 minutes.  I passed my friend Lesley and had another Strider lady in sight - Mary, she was holding a good pace and as I came alongside her she had a massive spurt and surged ahead again.  Pleased with my continued pace I carried on as I was.  It was lovely seeing supporters, including my sister and her puppy Dotty, at various points along the way.
Striders and friends after

Near the 12 mile mark I started to feel tired, Lesley was just behind but I had reeled in Mary, in the last 2 km Lesley and I broke away and managed a great sprint off with her just pipping me to the post!  I was so chuffed with my time - I managed to finish in 1:42:22 which put the GVS ladies as winning team of three - Sally and Julie both finished a couple of minutes ahead.  I was so pleased, mainly because it was over and I wouldn't have to do it again! 

Just before Tissington, we had a weekend away in the Lake District where we managed to sneak in a trip to Whinlatter, Chris and I both had a go at the Altura North Red route MTB trail.  I endured it but found that it was at the limit of my technical capabilities and I suffered a snapped chain so had to run the final 3km.  I enjoyed all the uphill (I know, I'm weird!) but nearly came a cropper on a few of the drops.  On further inspection Pearl needed fairly hefty work doing to bring her up to scratch again, including a new headset, a new front mech and rear cartridge - basically a couple of hundred quids worth of work on the gears eek!  My bike is a bit like the broom which has all the parts changed!  It is at least the original frame!

Looking like I was enjoying the cross country -
what I was actually enjoying was the fact
I was about 5 yards from being allowed to stop!
The first counter in the Manchester Area Cross Country League (MACCL) was at Wythenshawe Park - this was a new venture for the Goyt Valley Striders and we fielded a ladies team of 5 (4 times to count) and a men's team of 4 (we didn't have enough to count as a full team - six were needed).  It was pretty different and very like school cross country!  There were lots of professional looking people in compression socks and spikes - the really fast looking women had bare midriffs!  Lot's of children were taking part with coaches yelling direction at them from the sidelines - it was a world away from the casual fell races we are used to - especially the terrain - flat grass surrounded by blocks of flats, not exactly beautiful!

The course was a 3 lap 8km consisting of one shorter lap and two (very) long laps.  It was really disorientating and hard to describe, there was no mud and it ran fast on the good going.  I think it was the first race I have ever done where I didn't pass a soul.  I must have started in the right position for my ability because not many ladies passed me either - although some did! I have to say, at the time I hated it.  I hate the flat, I hate the distance - once again I found myself thinking "what am I doing?" but as soon as I finished I decided I would have a go at the next one - I have been promised mud and hills.  Bring it on.

My next race was another counter in the GVS championship - The Longshaw Trust 10k - It was certainly eventful!  The course was a 2 lap of the Longshaw estate which is very varied, from moorland to single track and rooty woodland.  I started off well until disaster struck and I went over badly on my left ankle - my first ever proper injury! I hobbled a few strides and was commiserated by a chap who checked I was OK.  After running a few strides I decided I was OK to carry on and my ankle pain subsided.  Unfortunately my calf began to get a stabbing pain with every footfall and I realised I had probably strained my leg.  I ran through it and decided I may need to retire after one lap.  

About 1km from the start of lap 2 Julie fell over right ahead of me and Amelia.  She too had gone over on her ankle but had fallen heavily with it.  She got up and carried on running but we could tell it was sore.  I decided if Julie retired after 1 lap then I would too.  Amelia has already romped home with the Championship title so it was only Julie I was competing against really.  

Julie being hard as nails decided to carry on much to my dismay but I was feeling OK and felt like I had energy to ignore the pain and keep on running.  I stuck with Julie, deciding I would see how I felt in the latter stages of the race as to whether I made a break for it or not.  Julie was obviously in pain and struggling as soon as the terrain got rough and sure enough right where I had injured myself on the first lap, Julie went over again, this time shouting out in pain.  I did what I would do for anyone and stopped to help.  Julie decided to try and carry on but she was much slower paced after her second fall and I left her to it.  I warned the next few marshals that there may be an injured strider coming and carried on with the race, as much to get the pain over with in my own leg as anything else!  

As I crossed the line some of the male striders and some of our supporters were there and looked concerned that I had blood on my arms, "Oh that's Julies blood" I said thinking to myself that sounded odd and like I had killed her and left her in the woods or something!! I explained what had happened and she came in not long after - I was amazed she had managed to finish at all!

The following week was half term and I rested my leg for four days - it was very sore and stiff around my ankle and all the way up the middle of my calf muscle, but by day 5 I managed a steady 5 miles and it felt fine. On day 6 I did Clumber parkrun and was pleased with my second best 5k time of 22:40 - 4th lady and 26th overall out of 233 runners.  
I am now looking forward to Dovedale Dash this Sunday, which promises to be a bit different!  I am currently sat here aching after a Roaches Fell Race recce yesterday which was 8.5 miles over nearly 550m of ascent! followed by a brutally brilliant Pilate's session today plus a hilly MTB with the girls this afternoon.  Hmmm, what shall I do tomorrow - I know - hill reps!  Great idea Anna!  

Until next time - happy running!