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Transition was interesting, after a fairly slow
change I headed out of the transition exit and deliberately turned the wrong
way to a chorus of objections from the spectators and marshals, little did they
know I was just riding the 10 yards to the public toilet for a bit of alone
time. It wasn't ideal as sitting there in a wet trisuit meant when I finally
got going I was cold, wet and covered in goosebumps. Thankfully it's only a
mile or so before you hit the first climb of the day, the aptly named
'Struggle' and by the time I hit the top I find myself warmed up and I've
passed about four people, who presumably hadn't spent 5 minutes on the throne.
I've done the Struggle before and the descent down
the Kirkstone Pass towards Ullswater is one of my favourites, it's not even 6am
and the roads are dead apart from triathletes so I use the whole of the road to
take the racing line through the twisting road, the main danger being errant
sheep. I use the brakes a little as my hands are still cold but I am screaming
past the other riders and register 28th out of 22,394 on the Strava segment. The
next 90 minutes is relatively flat with only one major climb before you hit
three climbs in fairly quick succession, Newlands, Honister and Whinlatter.
There’s some amazing scenery on the first two with Newlands being the one to
reveal the days heat being open and offering what little wind there was as
I’d had a few mechanical dramas in the lead up
to the race and took my bike to a local bike shop to get the tubeless tyre
plugged, he’d left the fix proud of the tyre and despite me trimming this back
I had weird noises all the way , I had stopped a few times already to inspect
the tyre finding nothing to explain the noise and also had a couple of pees. When
it came to descending Honister, I wasn’t ready to stop again so I attempted the
peeing on the bike, I had a little personal space after the climb so worth a
try. I got myself to the brink but stage fright struck and I still haven’t
managed this feat. So that was another stop that would cumulatively add about
20 minutes to the total ride time.
There’s a bit of a lull after this trio of
climbs before you hit the main event of Hardknott at about 80-90 miles and it
was just before this that I had another look at the bike and upon inspecting
the brakes, the rear brake pad was rubbing quite heavily on the wheel,
basically I’d had the brakes lightly applied the whole time! I think the bike
guy had either not put the wheel back in straight or I had not had it straight when
the caliper was set so I centred the caliper and all was fine. I think it was the
prospect of the 33% gradients that finally persuaded me to solve the problem. I’d
actually been looking forward to the finale and was disappointed that right in
the middle of the best and hardest climb they’d put a water stop, I mean who
wants to stop there! The previous one had been on the descent of Honister which
was just as bad as it meant going from 40mph to a standstill to collect water
that was dribbling out of a large water dispenser thing. Anyway I digress,
after the final two big climbs it’s the run for home and there’s one more climb
that is unnamed and not that hard but for some mental reason becomes more
difficult as it’s not expected I suppose. I get back to transition and I am
behind schedule. Swim had been ok if a bit slow but I have wasted a good 30 minutes
so far with toilet stops and various faffing about. In transition 2 I continue
to waste time, I even pop into the campervan to use the loo and have a drink 😊 all of which was unnecessary and the main
issue is that I never prepared any real food beyond sugar which is no longer
doing its job.
Do I really need all this stuff?
Finally I get out onto the run, which I am only
calling the ‘run’ for convenience as it’s going to be more of a power walk. The
first 9 miles is only slightly uphill and on hardpacked paths and roads. I jog
along around 8-10 minute miles with a view to keeping the HR down and I walk
the uphills to conserve energy trying to get what I have taken on-board to
start metabolising to energy. There’s a food station before you hit the proper
off-road section and I stop to take on some more fuel including some fudge that
was amazing and a packet of crisps which hint at what I was really craving
which was some more savoury food. From there we approach the end of the valley
and the first rocky section as the mountain approaches. This when I first start
to slow and let a few people pass, when we hit the mountain properly everyone
is walking but I am walking slower than those immediately behind me and my knee
is now hurting. The leading lady comes power walking past like some aggressive
trenchbowl-esque girl guide leader and I start to feel like I am betraying
myself. We exchange pleasantries but I am not pleased about it. As the rocks
necessitate longer and bigger steps the knee moans more and I am clearly visibly
struggling as a tourist walker, one of those slightly posh over-enthusuatic
types, offers me some ibufrofen. I am vaguely aware that it’s not the best drug
to take and I probably shouldn’t be taking sweets from strangers but needs must
and I take a single pill and my own water, despite his insistence I use his. It’s
a long slog to the top and one of those climbs that slowly reveals itself,
teasing you each time you go over the next brow only to drop back down before
rising again, the knee is even less pleased with going down but unlike a virtue
signalling footballer, I manage to stay on my feet. The fact that nobody
has come back the other way yet is all I needed to remind myself that there was
still a way to the top and it’s not until I see the summit, still a fair walk
away, that the first man comes down, I size him up and correctly assume he’s in
a relay team but it’s not too long before the real leader comes by.
The final scramble involves a fair stretch of
jagged rock action and I don’t trust my legs as I am favouring the left one so
continue to progress slowly until I reach the top, my pace has been somewhere slightly
above a keen and fresh walker but nowhere near quick enough. The feeling of
reaching the summit isn’t particularly triumphant, more a sense of
disappointment that it’s take so long. Having earlier ridiculed the mandatory
kit list on such a fine day, I am now wearing my base layer and continue to do
so all the way back down the descent. Once the more technical rock is behind me,
I actually find I can run. I start with short sections but I am starting to
feel progressively stronger. It helps it’s slightly downhill but there’s
definitely a second wind and my knee has stopped grumbling. Incidentally, not
long after I had taken drugs from a stranger, I had been overtaken by two Scottish
guys in the race, we had a chat and one quite sanctimoniously admonishes the
taking of ibuprofen with a list of potential dangers as he struts away like
they’re on a Sunday stroll, without looking back. I found myself disliking him
so it was sweet irony when I happened upon them on the way down, Dr Know-it-all
vomiting his guts up, I offered my deepest and most sincere sympathies. My
internal monologue however was telling me not to take such joy from this
unexpected turn of events. I have long since resigned myself to the fact that
my competitive nature will often supersede one’s wish for magnanimity 😊.
Just before I get to the aid station with what’s
left in my run bag (more fudge and a few crisps), my watch goes flat, along
with my navigation. I almost immediately take a wrong turn, it looks similar to
the correct turning in that there’s a pub and a route back to tarmac. Thankfully
a kind spectator runs after me and guides me back to the course, a few more minutes
wasted and an extra small hill added for good measure. I thank him and realise
I should have got some water from the pub as I have been dry for last 45 minutes
or so. Blissfully it’s not too far before I make the real turning and find the
aid station. I down a full bottle of water, eat what’s left and have a little
sit down and a laugh with the spectators before the 9 mile relatively easy
route back. One lady, an amateur comedienne I assume offers me a taxi back and
I inform her I would rather crawl all the way, I then rock back on to my hands from
being seated on the road, springing majestically onto my feet as if to show her
how foolish she was. I then start my run back and it is a run, my watch is dead
but I am ticking along nicely. As I reach gates my flow is interrupted enough
to command a brief walk and with two gates close together I don’t bother
running between but otherwise progress is fluent. Until I get lost again. I go
a few hundred metres down the wrong path before chatting to some tourists,
covered in tattoos and saying something almost indistinguishable in Essex
accents, they inform me it’s probably the other way, my inner prejudice doubts
them so I continue until a significant landmark is enough to convince me they were
right and I am a deeply bigoted fool 😊
Back on track and I pass a chap I have already
passed after getting lost the first time. I fly past him whilst explaining why
I am now behind him again. I look back and he’s already several hundred metres
behind and soon out of sight. That is until I get lost again, I back track and
wait for what seems like an eternity, some caravanners staying at the sane campsite
we’re due to go to that night try to help but they’re clueless, after a few
minutes my mate, who I will call Satnav, catches up. We have a laugh at my
expense and he makes a futile attempt to explain the final few turning,
insisting how simple it is. I thank him and disappear into the distance again. As
I get to a bridge I again get confused and this is starting to piss me off now.
I have a choice between a path towards the road and another away from the road.
I can’t make my mind up, little did I know that they just run parallel and it
doesn’t make any difference. In my mind though I don’t want to do the wrong
route after all this time so I just wait for my mate Satnav to turn up again
but I have missed him and I spot him a few hundred yards ahead on the other
track. I catch up and he insists I really can’t go wrong now. He was right this
time as there’s less than a mile left, I still put over a minute between us and
as the finish come into sight, I see the family waiting, patiently wondering
why I have been so slow! I look for the finish line but there isn’t one and I
just run into transition. My wife congratulates me whilst seemingly
simultaneously letting me know the campsite gates are being locked soon and we
need to get going!
I get my hefty slate medal on, I feel fine and
the organiser chap asks me if I’m alright, not because I look tired, quite the
opposite, I feel like I can carry on. Time not on my side though so I quickly thank
the organisers and head off, jumping in the van in the same kit and hitting the
road, still wearing the medal. Excluding relay teams I had finished 12th
in 16:24:11. I had expected 14-15hrs if I am honest but this would have won the
race so perhaps it was optimistic but then perhaps I should have won the race.
The winner was about the same as me on the Bike/Swim sections so I’d just need
to do the run properly. It wasn’t really about winning though or even placing
well, just about completing a challenge without ruining my body and I did that.
Mind you I say that and it’s a lie as my lasting feeling is one of slight
failure. There is an even more extreme version though, they’ve held it once
before and only one guy finished so watch this space….
Stevie G said:
I had looked at doing the full length of the Jubilee River Reggie, which I think is 7miles one way, but in the end the Thames Path just seemed an easier step.
Phil, I have visions of you storming along clattering poor oldies now.
Outrageous pace in the shorter stuff, SC.
Bus - good to see more running from you. I know what you mean about running in the heat. I reckon you (I) have to get hydration/electrolyte levels spot on to make it work, so easier to get things a bit wrong and feel lethargic or a bit ropey for a few hours. And happy birthday!
Reg - epic! Good call to draft the second lap of the swim. For some reason I don’t find it hard to imagine you smashing down a descent. An incredible tough run - the mental challenge of route finding must have been so hard at that stage. Well done - soak in the glory!
Jools - I have missed tales of sleeping in your car! Enjoyed re-reading that report. The Old Dungeon Ghyll is a hell of a pub.
SG - well done on the course. Not sure I had you in the jock category 😆.
Entered the inaugural Cheltenham Festival of Running relatively last minute. As suggested in its name, it is held within Cheltenham Racecourse. The route really couldn’t be any closer to where the Gold Cup etc are held - unless you were asked to clamber over some of the jumps.
Four laps for the half marathon, with each giving you lovely views on hills on either side. Never any outrageous climbs, but constantly rolling. So not a fast course, nor was it Bourton Hilly Half level of tough. That said, the 26C and zero shade cover added a punch!
I had plumped for the Adios - my first race in the 5s - rather than 4%, as I had a sneaking suspicion that there would be a reasonable chunk of loose stony paths and some softer sandy surfaces. The right call in the end, but today does feel like someone has taken a baseball bat to my calves.
My first RunThrough event, and I was impressed with how well managed it was. Everyone very spaced out, in spite of well over a 1000 competitors. Rolling style start, self seeded - so really not that different to a mass start, just a little more spaced out. Mind you, one or two very ambitious sub-80 minute runners were lined up near the front…
Some nice touches en route, with a live saxophonist the highlight. With the half off at 10am, 10k at 10.50 and 5k at 11am, the final lap did become quite congested which slowed things down a little. That said, I seemed to pace myself fairly well, to average 6:3x, with a bit of swing for the net ascent/descent miles.
The heat and a slightly, ahem, tight fitting vest, meant I was there for solid workout rather than all guns blazing. Picked off several runners each lap, with only the fastest 10k runners gunning past.
1:26:24 for 15th/300 and a tenuous podium of third V35. Got to grab them whilst you can!
Nice jog back home for about 18M for the day. Beers, paddling pool and barbecue to follow 😃.
Double recovery of 4 and 5M today. Standard 8:45 pace.