Ich Will

Ich will eure Phantasie
Ich will eure Energie

Dankeschön Deutschland – my World Cup sweepstake winnings will go a (very) little way towards repairing the tooth I broke this week!

Finally my first real soft target event of the year, the Radcliffe 3 day Challenge, was here. After 3 days complete rest from running, I had a steady 5k run with 3 x 200m harder efforts on Wednesday to try to get legs working again.

As rehabilitation has been going so well, I set myself a couple of targets for the 3 day event. Firstly to beat my previous best times in at least 2 of the 3 events, and secondly to beat my overall best time. As the fell race was now half a mile shorter, but with a tougher uphill finish I reduced the target time for this by 3 minutes to 46:59, 42:01 for day 2 and 36:46 for the 3rd day totalling an adjusted 2:05:46 (all of which were achieved in 2011)

 

bull hill traceDay 1 Bull Hill Fell Race – All went pretty much to plan, a steady run to the top of Bull Hill, before I upped effort a little just before summit and kept it going on the return. Fantastic run across the tops and took a plenty of opportunities to enjoy the 360′ views on a gorgeous evening.

I caught a group of 4 on the final little up and down traverse before making a well timed strong overtake at the stream.  It was then full on hard up the hill to try to lose them, with at least one following close behind, mistook a bend for the final corner and put in finish surge a little early but then managed to hold it to the line for 46:01 – 4 minutes off previous old course time, so a net PB of 58 seconds. Get in there!

A great start and I didn’t really feel like I had overstretched myself on weakest event. Few ankle twists but nothing likely to cause issues, stuck a precautionary icepack in shoe for drive back.

 

giants seat traceDay 2 is my favourite race of the three – the Giant’s Seat Summer Cross Country. A 4 and a bit lap rollercoaster through dark overgrown woods, coming up for air for a loop around a bumpy field each time. After a roasting day trip up to the papermill at Kendal and back, I arrived there early enough for a refresher lap and check out a few favourite overtaking lines. The stream was wider than ever, normally it was clearable with a good leap, but this year I decided two wet feet would be the quickest option.

We set off and I got dragged along at a crazy pace around the field (2:15) and through the first full lap in 9:30, managed to get things under control on 2nd lap at 9:59 and got recovery in to feel comfortable.

Just after the steps at start of third lap hit something and left ankle went over – minor sprain but took the edge off concentration and faded a bit. Physically recovered within a couple of minutes but head had gone a little and ended up walking on climb out of woods. Coming round field a refreshing cup of water in face followed by a brief bit of cool breeze got me back into focus, but 10:18 not good.

Avoided the dark little stone this time that had caused the problem, vaguely recalling I’d sprained an ankle on that section in an earlier year, possibly the same stone? By now 4th lap fatigue was hitting but was embroiled in a battle with first woman, see-sawing placing a few times. Managed to get ahead for the final climb and worked just enough to stay ahead out into the field. The bumpy nobbly grassy field that I hate normally but now was tweaking my ankle every step.

Somehow managed to keep ahead to the turn, when I knew the breeze and brief bit of flatter ground would allow me to get speed back up. Had to work hard to stay in front to the finish for 42:17 – 16 seconds behind target – and probably a good half minute behind where I would have been without the sprain (Mental note made to dig that stone out before next year!)  Final lap of 10:15.

Briefly collapsed with a bit of hyperventilating from final push in the humid air – HR was soon down to 90 but breathing continued like it was double that. Got under control after a couple of minutes and limped off to slap an instant icepack on ankle. Seems I got off lightly as two other sprain victims ended up with hospital visits.

A brutal beautiful dark monster of a course, which rarely gets many runners that are not doing the full 3 days. It requires full concentration all the way round to make the most of the ups & downs and twists & turns. Absolutely love it!

 

Day 3 is the ‘easy one’ – the Radcliffe 5 mile Trail Race, a nice gentle flattish course with a few slopes but only one real short climb.

As always it was hot and I knew that I had to pace the first half perfectly in order to have enough energy on the return to beat previous best time. Sprain aside legs felt in good shape and had been intensively icing ankle and tendon all night and morning.

Arrived to find a slight flaw in my plan – forgot my watch. I would have to go on feel alone.

Despite a decent warmup, tendon wasn’t keen on playing. I knew ankle would be fine as surfaces were flat enough but it took a good 2 miles for tendon to ease, breathing was a little tight too. This meant an added distraction and I wasn’t sure if I had set off too quick or too slow with conflicting signals.

Once onto the bumpy Prestolee Road I upped effort, recalling the positive memories laid down at the Radcliffe 10k earlier in the year, seemed to work and I breezed along gaining places relatively comfortably.

After joining first canal, sat back to gather energy and after briefly struggling on the short climb dropping a place, then managed to gain 3 by the top. It was then the dreaded last 2 miles along the infinitely long canal. I was able to hang onto a Horwich guy who had come past on the climb and we picked off more places.

Legs were tiring but mentally was feeling good and managed to keep up until we left canal, just fading on the first slope back to the stadium – more positive memories kicked in – and made a push for the finish, closing but not catching the two ahead.

Was hopeful about pace being fast enough, but then devastated to find time was 37:43 a minute behind day 3 target, to give an aggregate total of 2:06:01 – Just 15 seconds behind target. Fifteen seconds after over 2 hours of running.  Couldn’t complain though as just had 3 brilliant days of happy running, 3 great races and a tech t-shirt for just £14.

Oh well, there’s always next year, 5th t-shirt out of 5 collected – only two of us left in the ‘last man standing’ achievement of completing every event – and a well earned pint and ice pack.

 

I had hoped to tag the Trawden 7 trail race on the Sunday, but erred on the side of caution and settled for a gentle 5.2km recovery run on Sunday, with legs feeling best ever post event. Should have run faster!

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