Saturday, 18 March 2017

Grizzly day

17th March 2017
After the lovely sunny warm day on Saturday, Sunday[12th] dawned very grey and damp after overnight rain but only very light winds. I felt very nervous as I sorted my snacks and drinks etc. for the event later in the morning, have I done enough to get me round the 19.5 miles, 2500 feet of climbing, several river crossings including crossing the estuary twice, one of the hazards on Grizzly is the ‘bog’ which is a couple of hundred metres of  sticky mud, deep stream water and slurry type mud, but I will be one of 2000 other runners from all over the country and including several  teams from Europe.
An early text from my running mate Rachel, indicated she had the same feelings as me, nerves in the tummy!! I was trying to leave my breakfast until as late as possible before leaving, as the race starts at 10:30 and it will take us at least four hours to get round, which means crossing lunchtime!

A bottle of ‘tailwind’ energy drink, an energy bar chopped into small pieces to supplement the many jelly babies on offer on the race and the refueling checkpoint at mile 13 where there is usually a large spread of cakes!!! Race number 1816 pinned to my race vest, three quarter Ron Hills, Paramo long sleeve and my Fell Raiser shoes complete with my inov 8 gaiters to keep out the sand and small stones on the shingle beach. A change of clothes packed as rain was forecast. I took my ‘Hilly’ waist pack with my montane waterproof as rain was forecast, I decided to be comfortable if it did rain heavy for the bit of extra weight.

Breakfast was a large bowl of muesli with extra nuts and raisins topped with a banana, washed down with several mugs of tea.
I drove up the lane, picked up Rachel, we both chatted excitedly, but clearly we were both nervous about what was ahead. We were surprised getting to Seaton that there was already a queue to park, luckily we were early enough to park on the seafront, more convenient for the start and finish. We were there in good time so able to get the atmosphere of the event walking down to HQ at the town hall which was full of people dressed in running kit, buying last minute, gels etc, drinking tea, buying the event merchandise a real atmosphere. The weather was very grey with a hint of rain in the air, not too cold, but chilly.

All too soon the start time approached, the sky was still very grey with a light chilly wind ,we made our way down the front with the crowds of runners to the start line, positioning ourselves in the middle of the pack, [out of the wind] the announcer building up, the excitement. A final  cheerio from the town crier and we were off, it was several minutes before we hit the start line and before we actually started to run, down onto the shingle beach for a good half mile 2000 runners creating an ear deafening noise as they ran on the shingle , we managed to keep our position as we finally exited and hit the road, it was lovely peace and quiet on the tarmac, back through the cheering crowds, an amazing number of people turning out to cheer us on, it was a blur, but I did recognise several people from the cycling club.

 Up the first hill, past one of the many musical accompaniments, a drum band, the hill was familiar from my training runs, the first steep climb out of Seaton Hole had everyone walking , it was hard work with so many people trying to walk on the very narrow road. Down into Beer, again cheering crowds lined the road. The next hill we were walking again upto the first drink point in the Beer Head caravan park, first drink and jelly babies as we approached the first off road section, this would give us an idea how muddy it would be, we could see the front runner snaking up the hill as we struggled to gain grip on the muddy track, soon onto the top and running along Beer Head, again familiar from training runs, down Seaside, the track now very slippery, we were reduced to walking as there were so many slipping and sliding, but I overtook when I could.

 Down to the beach at Branscombe where the split happened, Cub run back along the beach we would follow later, right for the full Grizzly where we had to cross the stream exiting to the sea, it was knee deep, and icy cold for about 20 metres! Then a climb up onto the shingle beach, welcome jelly babies here, the water starting to slosh about in the shoes and my feet were very cold, as we ran on the beach a drumming band were beating out a good rhythm, which they seemed to maintain even until we came back this way later, hard work I imagine, but a great motivator. Up the path to the village, feet sloshing around whilst the water escaped, as we got to the village hall it was uphill up a steep road, which after a few hundred metres lead us off road up a very, very steep track, we could hear a faint sound of bagpipes as we struggled up the hill, and around the next corner a man dressed in highland regalia was playing his bagpipes, very rousing!!!! The path was steep and very muddy, grip was difficult, we had no idea of our position now in the race now, but we did seem to maintain our position with the same people, so not losing places.
The tracks continued with a steep down before another steep bridleway which seemed to go on forever with those bends that you just cant see round, at one point there was a violin duo playing folk songs, a wave from Rachel and quick hellos as Rachel knew one of the players. We went on over very muddy and slippery fields until we came to a very muddy forest track that was difficult to run in as the mud was deep and slippery,it also started to drizzle a little at this point, on exit of this we were grateful for another water checkpoint, I had been sipping my energy drink, sharing with Rachel and trying to keep snacking on the energy bar as well as jelly babies on the way. A great folk band the ‘Fountaineers’ were playing at a farm at one point, several runners danced jigs as they ran past, I had enough trouble just running!!! the rain had now stopped.
We were soon at the dreaded ‘bog’ down a steep incline into the knee deep icy stream, wet feet again, before wading through a knee deep muddy slurry which went on for about 50 metres, before exiting up a steep hill that had a rope to assist us. Across off camber fields, making you run with weight on one leg, to stop sliding down and we came to the prayer flags and the Buddha!! Before the food checkpoint, strange coming across the Buddha in the middle of nowhere!

The food check point was most welcome, I forced fruit cake and flapjack down along with a couple of cups of water before yet another steep uphill track, I was on familiar ground now as this was my training run back to Seaton from here. I felt I was going well, bit tired, a little shin splint on my left leg, Rachel appeared to be going well despite ‘not doing any training’ then!!!!!! Crossing the field before the descent to the Fountains Inn, my left knee started to hurt, I couldn’t think what I had done, I hadn’t tripped?? Or had I?  The descent down to the Fountains Inn on the stony track was really painful, I had to walk. The Rock band were playing as we ran through the beer garden, crowds giving us a narrow passage way. Before the next uphill, I was worried now as my knee really hurt when I put pressure on it and found myself hobbling to try to keep up with Rachel, she was ahead and waited for me at the top of the hill, I found it easier going up than coming down and over the next stretch lots of runners overtook us, I did tell Rachel to go on, but she insisted on staying with me, the run down to Branscombe was excruciating, I hoped the next river crossing and the cold water might relieve it a little as we had three quarters of a mile of shingle beach to run, we continued to lose places as I was so slow, the drummers were still pounding out their beat, such energy, I couldn’t believe the pain, and didn’t know what I had done, I took a couple of pain killers to see if it helped [ it didn’t] but we were lucky that the tide was low and we were able to run mainly on sand.
There is a memorial on the beach you can tie a ribbon to remember a lost one, I had forgotten my contribution to my cycling mate Dave who passed away at Xmas, but I did ask him to help me get to the finish, I also had a heavy heart when I thought of him and felt a lump in my throat.
We were soon leaving the beach after a steady beach run, helped by the sand, my knee  hurt but I just plodded on. We worked our way on the under-cliff path to the bottom of the ‘stairway to heaven’ where we could hear the sound of what sounded like a preacher, casting out our sins etc. sure enough half way up a man dressed in full regalia [complete with hip flask] was spouting out words from the bible [I think!!]  we walked up the steps, my knee was ok going up here as long as the steps were not too high!  Across the top of Beer Head and down to the final drink station at the caravan park, before we descended to the crowds waiting in the middle of Beer as well as a great saxophone group,

 I ended up walking down on the road as my knee was painful. The steep climb out of the town and the last big uphill of the day wasn’t too bad and we seemed to be holding our position, down once again, this time a very steep road downhill, very painful ! the path through the woods to the road was our final walk before we jogged down to the park, here we actually overtook several people and finally the finish was in sight, crowds lined the road and cheered us as we went passed, we crossed the line together, before picking up our well earned tee shirt, banana and water! The fire service was there with hoses to remove the caked mud from our legs, I felt this really refreshing, and though it helped my knee.

4hr and 40 minutes for 19.5 miles and 2500 feet of ascent, think we were 1200 ish out of 1600,  some 35 minutes longer and 400 places lower than last year, but we got round, and with my injury, we like to think that if I hadn’t hobbled the last 6 miles we would have done a lot better, it was very,very muddy and slippery making it hard work, off camber fields trying to keep upright, perhaps this put pressure on my opposite knee??? Rachel did well for her ‘no training’!! and left over virus, but then she always does, a good running partner!!!
A really good day out in good company, will I do it next year? definitely the shorter Cub run !! But maybe the full Grizzly once I have forgotten the training and pain!!!! The winners did it in just over 2 hours !

The evening I couldn’t walk down stairs, Monday felt a little better, good job as it was two days of Bikeability aa local school, I did have trouble lifting my leg to get on my bike, it slowly improved throughout the day, I did rub ‘Volterol’ into it, not sure it helped though.

Tuesday, knee was much better I could now walk up and down stairs without too much problem.
Wednesday was Wobblies ride day, the weather was looking good, so eight of us headed to a new community café at Kingsbury Episcopi a village on the levels, however, by the time we were cycling through North Curry it was getting near lunch, so we stopped at the Community Café, a lovely place, lovely people, lovely cake and good price!Back through the lanes, only 30 miles this morning, my knee felt fine and we set a good pace, with the sunshine allowing several group to wear shorts for the first time this year. The café at Kingsbury will have to wait.

Wednesday afternoon my stitches were removed, so now just a scar left from my BCC removal, all painless and all involved from start to finish were great, nice to see the NHS working well after allyou hear about it.

Friday dawned very bright and sunny, Mrs B was out coffeeing with friends so I was up for a cycle ride, Kingsbury Episcopi was my destination to try out the new café my route went through South Petherton and East Lambrook, the café was quiet and a large fruit scone and mug of tea went down well, good price, nice café, will visit again. I headed back over Burrow Hill where they produce cider and onto Hambridge, back through Isle Brewers and Curry Mallet [ all nice village names]  and crossed the A358 [a very busy A road] and back through Horton and over the hills through Crock Street. It was a beautiful spring morning, warm for a change 35 miles covered.  The afternoon was a lawn cutting session as its now growing regularly.

Saturday I had thoughts of trying the Park run down at Seaton, to try out my knee, it was a very damp morning, wind a brisk wind.  I decided to go for it and hurriedly drove down to Seaton to arrive on the front just in time for the start and just in time for the drizzle to start.
120 hardy runners lined up at 9:00 and headed off up the front into a head wind, round the turn and a tail wind took us down to the turn at the sailing club and onto the shingle back up the front for the first time then once more before the finish on to the Shingle once again, I was going well, no knee problems, I felt ok, keeping my pace around 8:30 a mile. The last few metres were the hardest, over the shingle, reminders of the previous week on the Grizzly!!!!
25 minutes 53 secs, 37th out of 120 runners, 2nd in my age category! My best time for 5k

So a good running and cycling week, injuries seem to have gone, pleased that we got round the Grizzly and two cycle rides went well, icing on the cake was my Park run.  So back to cycling to prepare for my Audax rides in April and my French trip in may.

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