Monster

Take off, get out, no excuse
No excuse, no excuse

After the weather turned prematurely autumnal, I have really struggled for motivation this week, a planned day’s rest somehow turned into two.

Wednesday was a Trail GP race though, and got there with plenty of time for two warmups. Despite having run in the area once before I hadn’t really checked the route out and after an initial small road warm up, the consensus was that road shoes were favoured over planned trail, so switched back to road.

A fuller warm up around the open woods put doubts in my mind as some of the paths were a bit sandy but decided to stick with them. Temperatures were still down on last week, but humidity was way up.

The course very roughly headed uphill for much of the first half so a nice steady start was called for given the humid conditions, but a bottleneck path to start off with meant I headed off faster than I would have liked to avoid too much delay. Once out onto wider tracks I eased back to get breathing and effort under control.

A brief down after crossing a reservoir and I picked it up a little to go with a couple of Belle Vue guys that were overtaking.  Bit more effort than planned at this stage but the right move.

I knew there was a stiff climb after a hairpin so made sure I was in good condition for it, and took it steady up the first part. A brief respite and picked up pace a little. There had been a Tod shirt up ahead that I had been ignoring and trying not to chase, so was surprised when I rapidly caught up and it turned out it was Dan struggling a bit on the climb. Despite feeling the humidity and finding it hard to breathe, I zipped by and immediately pushed to catch a group of 4. Settled behind them and got some recovery in before the final bit of climb where I worked hard to move on.

Next Tod shirt ahead was Michael and was sure I could catch and pass on the down, but knowing that Dan would probably recover and be chasing me down I had to make an earlier effort to counter. Hammered it down a steep rocky track and I had closed the 100m gap to Michael’s group of 3, including first woman.

There was a water station just after halfway and I decided to go for a face splash option to refresh but a slight mix up meant I lost a few seconds and gap of 2 metres was back up to 20, and I had a couple of teaspoons of water in a cup. It was barely enough to refresh a midge and not worth the delay.

We were now on tarmac and I upped pace to close gap, the other two had pulled slightly ahead of Michael so I slowly went past to catch them. After sitting behind for a few seconds, I decided that I had the energy to push and squeezed through on the inside just as the side of the road fell away, a slight ankle wobble but managed to hold it. Close.

Pushed on and left them behind, really concentrated on form and cadence, continually upping speed as I closed in on next runner just as we reached a small rise. I kept cadence going, keeping foot backlift high and breezed up with virtually no effort. Could really have done with watch, as sure that would have been fastest km and fastest mile this year by far.

Swapped places with Bury guy a couple of times as we caught another in red and I settled in behind them on a rockier path. Could feel legs tiring from the downhill but didn’t want to ease off as I needed to keep gap up. As we entered the woods I knew it was a narrower path so upped effort to get ahead. I knew we still had a bit of a loop, but with no watch had no idea of how far there was left, and there had been talk of a monster set of steps near the end, 100? But I had run around the woods before and not spotted more than a few, and surely there wasn’t enough climb for that many?

I recognised a path from the warm up and upped effort again in an attempt to lose the other two but the footsteps remained on my heels and with legs tiring I made decision to let one through, but inadvertently let both go past. I immediately latched on back as we went round a corner to see 9km marker. NO! Surely not, I thought we were much closer to the end, and then not long after a set of steps destroyed my legs to a walk. It was a bit of a blow and another lesson not to forget watch.

Don’t panic, keep going, recover, and then… another bigger set of steps. Even with the encouragement of Andi Jones, who had long since smashed the course record (and reduced our GP points on offer!) I just couldn’t manage a decent effort and resorted to walking up the side.

No looking back, one runner still in sight ahead so set about chasing him down but legs like lead, finally a bit of down and cadence was back up, energy levels recovering as we headed to the finish. No, it was just a few spectators cheering, there was still more as we passed the 400m to go sign. I was beginning to wonder if I was running round in circles, never to escape the tardis woods.

Finally the finish came into sight and a decent push for the line, every second counts! 29th out of 224, in 45:55 well ahead of the 48 minute estimate I had beforehand, maybe I should run without a watch more often!

Really enjoyed run and great atmosphere at the local chippy afterwards as we swapped our race numbers for chip butties.

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The rest of the week faded away as I ditched planned Thursday Cock Hill Wood Fell Race for just helping out. Found out late that the excellent (but secret) Padiham 5 mile race was on Friday evening, but without any transport I couldn’t make a train-bus combo work. In fact despite searching at the time, only just discovered it was on last year as well. Someone please let me know next year as I loved this race in 2012!

Didn’t feel 100% anyway and definitely feeling ill on Saturday after another stint as Run Director at Watergrove. Sensibly gave Sunday’s planned race a miss but couldn’t even muster up enough desire for a slow jog.

After last week’s highs, my energy seems to have vanished with the heat, just 11km this week in total. Another GP race on Tuesday at Crow Hill so will have to hope all the resting will have done some good.

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