Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Herepath Half Marathon

Tuesday 27th October 2015

After a broken night thinking about the race and changing the clocks I was very awake at 3:30 am, desperately trying to get back to sleep, but the race kept going round in my mind, what if? what if? what if? etc. I even managed to read a little on my Kindle, which ironically I am reading 'its a hill get over it' which is about fell running, so I  eventually gave in and made some tea at 4:30ish.
As it got  lighter outside it was obvious it was going to be a nice day, but very chilly, the sun came up and there were clear blue skies, although I didn't see the frost they forecast.

I made up some muesli, banana and Satsuma, covered it with milk and let it sit, I find the muesli absorbs the milk making it much more palatable, filling and tasty and the added fruit gives it interest as well as being 2 of my 5 a day! I had decided that by the start of the race at 10:30 I would be hungry and by the end of the race 2hrs + and 13.7 miles later I would be even hungrier. My strategy was the same as the Stumble race the week before, try to eat an hour before my run and then rely on Tailwind drink and a gel if needed, the short events don't lend themselves to eating, I find even jelly babies difficult to chew. I didn't want to take cereal this time as I was giving a lift to the other member of the BLRCC Rachel up the lane, so made up a nice Tesco full seed homemade strawberry jam sandwich.

As it got nearer the time to pick up Rachel I felt more nervous, I had decided to wear my three-quarter Ron Hills which I find more comfortable than shorts, and if its chilly help keep my knees warm, my Asics Trail top, which is great as it has good pockets in which to put my gel, My Salomon Fellraiser shoes, after the dress rehearsal the Speedcross seemed a bit light on the long down hill from Neroche, and the Fellraiser I though would be better in the mud I was expecting after the previous days heavy rain. I was also taking my trusted Hilly belt with a bottle of Tailwind Raspberry Buzz which has 200 calories and 200 g of Carbs as well as caffeine to give me that boost [ I need all the help I can get!!]. I also made sure I put tape across my chest as running vests seem to chafe badly and it does get  very sore! again I rediscovered this on my rehearsal, mind they are awful getting off again and must be done in the shower! anyway TMI I think, back to the plot!!
I loaded up the car and drove up the lane, to meet Rachel who was still suffering from a heavy cold and could barely talk because of laryngitis, we chatted as we drove to the start, 15 minutes away, getting stuck behind the local cycling club on the big hill out of the village, they seemed to have a good turn out, even if they were all over the road!

As we approached Thurlbear  we were being directed to park up along the lane, fortunately we were close to the race HQ. We went to register, claiming our free lucozade sport on the way past, then it was the usual battle to get the race number on the vest with the four pins, its a shame no one has come up with another method.

We were soon in the playground of the school, the organiser giving us the briefing about long horned cattle and Exmoor ponies grazing over Neroche, familiar to me as its my regular running area.

It was 10:30 and we were off, jostling for position a little nearer the front to avoid getting stuck in the singletrack down the road. We soon turned off for a short muddy field edge run before crossing back onto the road for a further half mile or so. Were were going at a good pace 9 minute miles and I noticed my HRM said 183!!! I think it was wrong [hope] clearly a blip connecting with the chest strap.
We finally turned off road at Netherclay and started to climb up through the woods, beautiful colours and the sun shining through the trees, no wind and jus the sound of footsteps and heavy breathing R and I were managing to keep our position as we climbed steadily up, some runners were already starting to walk, although it wasn't very steep as we went up through Piddle Wood the track steepened slightly and the pace dropped a little  before rising again on the flatter section  near Staple lawns, it was a glorious morning, the runners were now strung out, I hadn't a clue on our position, but we seemed to keep leap frogging the same runners the pull up through Staple Park was a little steeper and I decided to ease off a little knowing that the steepest bits were yet to come, R pulled away a little leaving a 50 metre gap, which I maintained the best strategy being to run our pace, R was going well despite the 'illness' we finally emerged out on to the road just up from Underhill farm and it was a short steep road section before plunging off road through a kissing gate and a very muddy wet area, much undulating terrain  before turning right to start the climb up towards Staple hill once more, it was very muddy along here and the runners in front carefully picking their way through the driest sections [ but there were none!] or at least the least muddy!! this slowed us up and I was grateful for the ease of pace to recover a little and take in some fluid. The next section was the steepest bit and most of us walked up the track to the summit of Staple Hill, the highest point on the Blackdowns at 315 metres. We were now getting spectators as the car park was close, their cheers and good wishes helping us on, I had now caught R up again and we were both looking forward to the drinks station which was manned by R's class from the local school she is a teacher at, as we approached we could see and hear the children cheering and see them waving, all eager to give 'miss' a drink and a few jelly babies, it gave us a boost and seemed to amuse some of the other runners before we went down the familiar steep stony descent towards Mt Fancy Farm, we were on familiar ground now, knowing that the biggest hills were behind us, 6+ miles covered. We ran the next section to Neroche at a good pace, managing to keep our pace, at this point R started a little 'competition' with a runner from the local club as she felt the runner would want to beat R at all costs, more later!, we crossed the Staple Fitzpaine road and started to climb towards Neroche, fortunately we didn't have to climb to the castle summit, and we were soon starting the long 2 to 3 mile descent down towards Bickenhall, across Curland Common. This was a fast run and the pace went up the stony ground not really absorbing the footfall, muddy in places and quite slippery at times, lots of jarring and at times felt my right calf muscle starting to 'niggle' we finally hit the road with 3.7 miles to go. I was starting to feel tired now and knew the next section  across Bickenhall Plain a slog!
which it was I could feel I was starting to lose pace, and tried to make sure I had a good drink, hoping it would revive me a little, I have been across this part of he route 3 times and each time found it hard, we eventually met the road at Batten Green where the next section was approximately a mile to the next off road, it was here that  R started to pull away, the gap got bigger and I couldn't stay with her, so decided to plod on and keep my own pace, I did overtake several runners and we had now dropped the local runner that R was intent on beating [ the local runner was a local well know Ultra and marathon runner] the run up the road was hard and I was pleased to turn off through the woods once more, taking the edge of the field past the RSPCA animal centre, I ran on the field edge as the path was quite sticky and muddy, whereas the tractor tracks seemed compressed enough not to be muddy, we entered the woods and I was now feeling very tired, heavy legs etc, I drank as much as I could, ironically I did overtake several people at this point. We were back on the road past the Farmers Arms pub before the final run down through Thurlbear Woods to the finish, the marshall informed me there was only a mile and a bit to go and all down hill, I remembered it from my recce runs, she was correct, there was no sign of R now she was a good few minutes ahead, going well, I started to speed up with the knowledge it was all down, passing another runner who informed me it was the furthest he had ever run, down I went, walkers giving me encouragement as I went, I hit the road after the small ford and the sign said 200 metres, it was a long 200 metres and I arrived with cheers from the awaiting crowd at the finish line R cheering me on with a cup of water in her hand. It was over, 2 hrs 16 minutes and 24 secs very pleased with that, I hadn't kept and eye on my time as I went focussing on HRM and pace instead, R had finished in 2 hrs 13 mins so did well to take 3 mins over the last couple of miles, mind she had virtually completely lost her voice now. I picked up my celebratory memento HerePath mug, feeling relieved but happy with my efforts, I had no idea on race position. After cheering a few more finishers we made our way home, to hot showers and in my case homemade soup and rolls. the weather had been superb, sunny, cool, no wind, a perfect running day on a great route and the event was very well organised, perhaps next year I could get down to 2hrs???? all my preparation seemed to have worked, perhaps a few more longer miles in my legs would help as the 11 mile point seems to be a problem for me! I had used 1800 calories, my average Heart rate was 161 which seems a little high and I did a 9:57 pace.

My legs were quite stiff for the rest of the day. The race organisers 'Running Forever' put the results on the website that evening.
I had come 100th out of 151 finishers and R had come 93rd there were 30 none starters. I had managed to come 3rd in my category. the winner did 1 h 34 mins !!! I enjoyed the day and the race brought my race running year to an end, next event is the Grizzly  next March, I am sure it will soon come round, meanwhile I will get back to cycling with a bit of running!!
rather than running with a bit of cycling. What happened to the local runner, she came in 6 mins behind me:-)

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Dress rehearsal

21st October 2015
After my (to me) successful Exmoor run at the weekend I decided to give my stiff legs a workout by going spinning on Monday night. I am not sure whether it was a good idea as Andy the instructor decided to give us a hard time. I didn't use my hrm but tried to keep the cadence night, managing to keep it between 80 and 100 rpm even on the climbs. So I was tired when I got home, but legs seemed looser, I think!!
Tuesday was my last chance to do a final HPH practice run, so after a sandwich lunch and a morning reading Biff and Kipper at school I put on my running kit, made up a Tailwind drink, put a gel in my bag ( just in case) and parked at Thurlbear.
Watch set and off I went, determined to keep my speed down to 'jog' round.
After the mile on road it was the start of the 6 miles up hill to Staple Hill, it was a lovely afternoon and I soon started to sweat . I didn't see anyone in the 6 miles, the area feeling quite remote. The crafty detour below Staple hill was quite muddy and difficult going in places to avoid the worst.
I did walk up some of the hill, sipping my drink, I noticed that the 6.3 miles had taken me 1h 17mins.
I was on familiar ground as I ran across to Neroche castle, before the 2 mile descent down towards Bickenhall. I didn't run quite as quickly as last time , and felt my legs a little heavy. As I hit the road the mile to the next woods was hard, so I decided it was gel time to get me through the last 3.7 miles.
The run past the RSPCA centre was easier than last time, not so muddy and the field was clear of sweet corn.
The final Thurlbere woods was don hill but my legs were now hurting!
13.9miles  2hs 37 mins at 11m 15 s pace. It was a hard run, I was glad to get to the end!
I think I may have overdone it over the last couple of days, so it's rest now till the event on Sunday, except I have two days bikeability ( and it's raining) and I intend a 3 mile jog on Friday to test out my friend up lanes fitness to run on Sunday .
Legs ache this morning and I feel tired and stiff, hopefully I will feel better later!!

Monday, 19 October 2015

Exmoor Stumble run

19th October 2015

I was at Minehead early, actually one and three quarters hours to be exact, I like to be early to park etc.
There were a few cars in the park, I waited a short time before having another 30g of muesli to make sure I wasn't hungry half way round as it was several hours since breakfast one.
I went to collect my number and surprised to bump into a friend, Jane who we used to go MTBing with and I worked with her husband, I even trained Jane when she was a member of our Ten Tors team, now a mum of two boys!!
After pinning my number and having another drink of ISO  I went for a walk, to loosen my legs, jogging at times to raise my heart rate [ I sound like a real athlete!] the weather was chilly with grey skies and misty and suspect it was thick cloud on Dunkery Beacon where the 15 mile route went.
I walked up to the start in good time and waited nervously with the others for the off, we were given a briefing and then walked to the start real, there was exciting chatter in the group, everyone looked fitter and better prepared than me, I had decided on my Asics short sleeve top with a pocket for my gel, and elastic bandage should I have trouble with my calf, three-quarter tights and my Salomon Speedcross shoes.
It was 11 am and we were off!
I set a reasonable pace as we ran up the side road to enter the woods and the off road, some of the cobbles were quite slippery in places, I managed to keep my place and no one overtook me my pace was around 10.5 steady. the track started to go up and we began to thin out, under foot was damp, but not too muddy, the air was still and chilly, and everyone was quite, the sound of heavy breathing breaking the silence, no banter which was surprising. The track steepened and then went into a single track, here I was forced to walk as it was single file and people walking made it impossible to pass [that's my excuse anyway] we went up down and around until we hit the main ridge at approximately 295 metre above sea level above Periton Hill, above Minehead, the views starting to open up even in the mist. It was the water station, a quick slurp and off again. Down hill this time towards Wootten Common about 3 miles covered, nearly halfway, I felt good even though my HRM showed my heart rate well up in the early 160s, legs felt good as well, a fast run down through the trees, I had been using two women in front of me as my pacers, both looked as though they were regular club runners and set a good pace so I decided to hang on to them, we soon started to climb again back to the ridge and headed over Hopcott Common, fine views now we were on the ridge, Butlins rising up out of the mist, great view of the curve of the bay, a fast run along the ridge before entering a technical downhill section that was loose and rooty, muddy in places. I hung on to my pacers and kept up with them easily on the technical bits, the wide sections they seemed to pull away.
I noticed my pace was down to around 7 min miles as we ran down, we overtook several other runners and only one overtook me, annoyingly he was an over 60!!! and pushed me back into 5th in the over 60 category. We continued to descend and only 1 mile to go we were out of the woods and onto a track before hitting the road, we were moving very fast now and my watch said 6 min miles!!!
My pacers now drew away but I hung on and finished only 30 secs behind them.

6.9 miles in 1hr 6 mins and 58 secs putting me 34th out of 74 and 5th in the over 60 catagory9min 45 pace and 1099ft climbed, very pleased with that as I did 1hr 12 mins last year and 1hr 17 the year before.
I really enjoyed the event, the fast run down through the woods was very exhilarating, I felt I ran well, I thanked to two women in front as I finished as I felt they had paced me round.
Tea and cake as I collected my finisher Tee shirt, a tasteful black this year with yellow writing, same logo etc. as previous years.
Perhaps next year I should graduate to the Stagger and its 15 miles as I have done the Stumble 3 times. I always feel guilty not doing the stagger, but it is a very hard run with a lot of climbing.
This all stands me now for the 13.7 mile HPH next week. My friend Rachel is still suffering from germs and a heavy cold, I do hope she recovers in time, even though her training has not been great.
Its spinning tonight to loosen my legs then one more run around the HPH route tomorrow afternoon as the weather still seems to be holding, spin on Thursday and a final short run on Friday.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

The morning of the race

Sunday 18th October

Its now 6:15 on the morning of the Minehead Stumble race, 7 miles of up and down hill off road on Exmoor, following part of the route of the 'Stagger' which is 15 miles to Dunkery Beacon and back.

The past two weeks have been good weatherwise so no excuses not to go out and do a little preparation [I hesitate to call it training!] the 'Herepath Half marathon' is next Sunday which is 13.7 miles! so been building up the miles, todays event is part of the preparation.
I have managed to run around the half marathon route twice, the second time feeling good [until 11 miles!] with a time of 2 hrs 15 mins, so hopefully I could replicate that on the day.
Its been a strange week this week as I have had to work everyday on Bikeability courses, so not got out quite as I would have liked [work gets in the way of my leisure activities] still managing to get 1 run in and two spinning sessions, both I kept my heart rate down to near 75 % to save energy. I have avoided picking up germs from the children [I hope] so feeling ok for todays run. The weather forecast is good, cloudy, but no rain forecast and I think it will be chilly to start, the sheltered woodland will mean it gets warm quickly. 
I have run the event twice  before, so looking to improve my time. I have decided not to take a drink this time, but take my gel and my intention is to take it early on in the event to see the effect. When I did my last HPH run I took a Tailwind Raspberry Buzz drink and found this just right as I kept sipping to keep up my energy levels.

I plan this morning is to have my usual Muesli with fruit and then take another 25g to eat an hour before the event as the start is not till 11 am. its an hours drive across to Minehead. 
I am looking forward to the event and will continue the blog post when I have finished.
Watch this space......................

Monday, 5 October 2015

Herepath route and a very cold cycle ride!


5th October 2015

I had agreed to meet Mike at 8:15 on Sunday morning this week for a cycle ride down to West Bay. I awoke to a dark but clear morning, and as the sky lightened the weather was looking good with a bright golden glow on the horizon and no sign of the fog from the previous morning.It was a chilly start so decided on a long sleeve jersey and threequarter tights, fingerless mitts etc. leaving my pertex top behind as no rain was expected.

BUT! This changed as I rode to the end of the lane to meet up, we abandoned the idea of West Bay and take the flatter alternative across the levels round Muchelney, it was then we noticed the sky starting to cloud over, it was chilly in the early morning, then as we rode off into the country lanes the cloud soon became a thick mist/fog! And as we descended our first hill of the day got a taste of things to come - - it was freezing!!! We cycled on, but by the time we had reached Shepton Beauchamp we were both frozen and unable to feel our fingers and toes! My Garmin said 3 degrees, my glasses had steamed up and the outside of my jersey was decidedly damp from the heavy fog, it was also becoming dangerous as neither of us brought any lights with us. We stopped and jumped about to warm up, before deciding to cut our losses and head for home, via higher ground if possible, we could see the sun through the mist and we thought, get to higher ground to warm up, sadly we didn’t get this until nearly home, by which time we were both chilled through, it took me two mugs of hot coffee and several layers added to get warm. The mist cleared after lunch and the afternoon whilst not hot [ like Saturday] was much warmer, a lesson learned here I think!!!!

This was all in contrast to the previous few days when the weather had been very warm, dry and sunny, with excursions to Sidmouth for egg, chips and peas in our favourite café earlier in the week and a stroll along the Sea front at Seaton on Saturday.

The Seaton walk was particularly  pleasant as I had managed to get out and run early in the morning and do the route for the HerePath Half which follows the Here Path trail for most of the run

As I drove to park up at Staple Hill it was thick fog, but as I climbed on to the Black downs it cleare, leaving the valleys in a sea of mist. I set off with the familiar run across to Neroche Fort, warily passing some cows with their calfs in a field, they gave me a good stare as I passed through, I didn’t enjoy this at all!!

After Neroche it was a long downhill towards Bickenhall, where I am sure if you are a good runner it will be fast! [but I am not so will have to take my time] the conditions underfoot were dry and as I went through Thurlebear woods and several others Autumn was starting to show itself, easy running and even the edges of the cultivated fields were too bad, but! I imagine will be bad in the wet, with over a hundred runners passing through.

It was after Thurlebear and Netherclay that the tracks started to rise, I even met a small group of runners coming the other way, the tracks wound their way up through the woods and round fileds with the steepest section being back up to the Staple Hill car park, I was pleased to run the whole route, even the last bit which was at the end of my run 12.57 miles [1 mile short of the route for the HPH] in the event itself the start is in Thurlebear so the big climb is at the beginning.

It was a good run and I thoroughly enjoyed it, I did miss several turns, and stopped a few times to consult the map but still did it in 2 hrs 20 mins, which by my reckoning is slower than I will do in the event!

I took one of my ‘Tailwind’ drinks, the Berry flavour, I was pleasantly surprised I needed no other food, and found it very good at keeping the energy up. I plan to run it again on Wednesday perhaps adding in the extra mile. It is a really nice route and a nice walk, particularly at this time of year with the changing leaves, I saw very few other people, a couple of dog walkers near the roads I crossed and the one group of runners.

The week had been good with a 40 mile bike ride on Monday, an 8 mile run and spin session on Tuesday and another 9 mile run and spin session on Thursday, I was a little worried after my run on Thursday as I had a ‘shin splint’ niggle scare, I wore the long compression socks on Saturday for my long run just in case and things seemed to settle down again.

Only two weeks before the Minehead ‘Stumble’ 7 mile race and the week after the HerPath Half marathon, training going ok at the moment, I just need to avoid colds!!

My mileage for September has been good with with 96.45 miles run and 260 miles cycled. It was a good month for weather as well, but! We didn’t manage to get away in the van as last year, not sure now with dark nights approaching and weather changing if we will get chance before next spring, fingers crossed!!!
Its pouring down with rain as I type this, I was hoping to get out for a few miles, but! not in this, Autumn is back and winter is on its way.