After last week’s high mileage I took a few days off, aside from Wednesday when I clocked up my first double run day for a long time.
The morning was a quick 5k trot around Watergrove Reservoir in gorgeous warm sunshine, followed by 9.2 km at Todmorden Harrier’s packrun in the evening.
Saturday was a first visit to Bramhall parkrun, in the hope that the following day’s Half Marathon at Wilmslow might reduce numbers a little, 444 runners made for a crowded start but a lucky gap appeared early on and I cruised up the first hill with no real trouble.
The path then narrowed and I settled for a comfortable pace until a steeper hill slowed those in front and I pushed on a little. I kept easing off to keep effort down but seemed to be making slow progress.
It wasn’t until the 4 km marker when my watch read 3.8km which explained why, presumably due to interference through the woods. First time watch hasn’t kept a decent trace. Happy with time of 22:41 for steady effort.
Sunday was a early return to off-road racing at Midgley Moor Fell Race. No real ambitions other than to finish to clock up an ‘easy’ fell counter in the club Grand Prix. The race was in the main unflagged with route choices between checkpoints, fairly unusual for such a short distance.
Not knowing the moor meant a bit of pre-race research which suggested there were two main sections of choice, with options ranging from longer on clear trods versus a shorter direct line through the heather, very much dependent upon the year’s growth. Although in truth, many people’s decision is more likely swayed by the runners in front’s choice of line!
My pre-race plan was to stay on the obvious path options until checkpoint 5 and 6 when I was split between following the path along the wall or just going for a straighter diagonal line through the heather to rejoin the up route path. I decided if visibility was good then the diagonal should be faster for me.
A steady start up the much steeper than expected first two fields had me in good shape joining the moor. I’d kept my eyes on the ground to avoid the temptation to chase anyone and simply concentrated on slow and keeping HR below 170, but was still glad of the brief rest queuing for a stile.
It was a steady slow drag up towards Crow Hill with little option but to head straight up the obvious path. I took the opportunity to weigh up the return options, glancing around and noting a few line of sight markers. A sizeable amount of dead heather was to the right of the path which would make for very fast going so that would definitely be my choice.
After a small descent I upped the pace a little down past Churn Milk Joan to pass a few and felt strong going up to Sheepstones Trig.
A better than expected path (for my foot) on the downhill allowed me to keep pace up at a steady effort but after turning at Dimmin Dale Edge the terrain got a little steeper and uneven making it near impossible for foot to work. I resisted locking it as much as I could but rapidly dropped off the pace, especially after going over on it a little.
With a steep climb back up to the moor to come, I wasn’t too worried but on reaching the climb my lack of hill fitness found me out and despite making up a few places I didn’t really make the gains I’d hoped for.
I’d just about caught Jane by the wall corner checkpoint 5, but she turned sharp left and went the wall option. I had no hesitation in going straight on in my planned direction, but was dismayed to see that the shape of the hill meant none of my markers were in sight, so made a best guess at the direction, knowing I’d easily pick up the correct line at some point.
Fortunately the Bracken Folly wall provided reassurance I was heading roughly where I wanted, if a little more right than expected, but there was a nice curvy path to follow which was faster than taking a more direct line through the deep heather. On reaching the end of the wall my horizon markers, along with a couple of runners showed the way, although I headed off a little more to the right to pick up better ground sooner.
At this point I was flying and zoomed past Neil knowing that the final fields would see me back into reverse gear. As I slipped back, with Jane coming past again too, I was tempted to push but a minor twist this time on right ankle in a cow trampled field reminded me that the priority was protecting my tendon. By the time I reached the finish line I felt fresh enough to go round again having lost 2 minutes in less than a mile. I had hoped somewhere between 1 hour and 1:10 so 1:01:41 was happily accepted for 66.6 points.
On hearing the tales of other’s adventures on the return, I was glad I had taken my way, and not the other!