no weigh in this week; 31.5lb total; 9.5lb in 2014.
We never pass up the opportunity to do a race in a ‘foreign’ location. Serendipity struck gold last Sunday while on our trip to North Yorkshire by scheduling the Helmsley 10k on the same weekend :). Helmsley is about 10 miles up the A170 from Pickering, our ‘home’ for the long weekend. Dave (our host) decided to join us for the run. It was his first run out for about six months, so would be interesting. He opted to drive since he didn’t fancy shotgun in the back of the van.
As we made our way to the race HQ, I considered race strategy options. It was difficult to do without knowing what the course was like. My quads were feeling a little bit trashed after the slog to Scarborough followed by the 10 miles at 20mph the previous day. So I opted for the classic negative split, gentle first half and hopefully a stronger second half.
In the registration queue we were able to earwig on the locals chatting about the course. This conversation is consistent before every race throughout the world.
Joe Bloggs ‘Have you done this one before?’
Fred Bloggs ‘Yeah, I did it last year’
Joe Bloggs ‘So what’s the plan for today’
Fred Bloggs (hedging his bets) ‘Er just a training run for me today, I’m just gonna jog round’ (and then storm past Joe in the closing stages after lulling him into a false sense of security – a kill is a kill after all)’
Joe Bloggs (playing the game) ‘Yeah, me too, after all we got to get up that hill ain’t we and I did some sprinting on Thursday, my quads are buggered’ (boom, double excuse and now we know about THE HILL’
Fred Bloggs ‘Yeah, that hill is a bit of a bugger isn’t it’
John Smith (chipping in after overhearing) ‘I dunno, it’s not that bad, a bit tricky at the start but it does level off a bit’
[The perception of a hill is so individual, so it doesn’t really tell you much about the gradient or length of said hill. Just that it is steep enough to register with them last year and they live in a lumpy part of Yorkshire, Yikes, how big is this hill?]
Joe Bloggs ‘Oh, ‘spose so, a little lump and it flattens out a bit. And at least it’s all downhill from 2 miles (now back tracking a tad).
Fred Bloggs (just making sure) ‘Still a training run though, gonna jog round a reckon.
So, there was a hill, it appeared to be 2 miles long and it appeared in the first part so yay, happy days, it fitted in perfectly with my plan.
In the end, the hill arrived about 400 yards into the race. The first 200 yards of the hill was almost a hands on knees affair but after that it did level off a bit and then turned into an undulating climb. I stuck to my plan and was really pleased with 1:07 in the end.
Here is my Daily Mile update post race…
First 2 miles uphill followed by two undulating miles then two miles downhill. Quads were absolutely mashed and we were running into a headwind for the first couple of miles. So Massive negative split territory. Multi terrain, great fun. Ran with Dave G for a while ( took me two miles to catch him and he was walking quite a lot of it). But then lovely to have the company until he told me to go on a kilometre from the end. Loved it.
Mile 1. 12.57 mins/Ave heart rate 137
Mile 2. 12.03 mins/Ave heart rate 142
Mile 3. 11.02 mins/Ave heart rate 143
Mile 4. 10.26 mins/Ave heart rate 140
Mile 5. 9.46 mins/Ave heart rate 146
Mile 6. 9.43 mins/Ave heart rate 157
bit @ 11.03 pace/Ave heart rate 163
The following day was our last full day in Pickering and happily co-coincided with the last day of sunshine forecast. Our comedy tan was coming on a treat and we decided to top it off with a cycle ride to York. The wind was still blowing in off the North Sea, so it would be a nice wind assisted ride to York then a battle of attrition back again. We planned our route to once again take in the multitudinous back roads and more excitingly a trip past Castle Howard.
It is most famous for being the house in the BBC serial of ‘Brideshead Revisited’. I hadn’t been to Castle Howard since a very hot day in 1991 with my friend Marina and my battered orange Austin Allegro.
The ride to York was uneventful, York itself was absolutely rammed full of people. We struggled to find somewhere safe to park the bikes and have lunch so we had a quick coffee and headed back. The wind on the return leg was as predicted relentless and brutal. But we soldiered on. I got to watch Alan struggle up a 1:5 in the big ring (Bulmer Hill – disappointingly no cider at the top). I didn’t realise he was in the big ring at the time and he made it look so difficult I thought I had no flipping chance of making it, so bailed before I fell off. It was a long walk up in road cleats.
It was great to have 70 tough miles in the bank, our longest ride to date and some consistent training over the weekend. Pickering was the perfect venue for the training and Dave and Tracy brilliant hosts.
We drove back on Tuesday and straight into normal routine on Wednesday morning. My quads and shoulder were very sore (and covered in bruises) so I cancelled Peter on Thursday to give them a chance to recover. Fridays session in the shed was torture. Both calves and quads were cramping so bad. I struggled to the end of the second session but really it was quite pitiful. Still, I had a baking course at Four Gables on the Saturday so a nice relaxing rest day planned. The baking course was fabulous, go and book one right now!
Sunday was the Hogsmill 5 race. Some weeks ago I’d entertained having a go at a sub 50 min at this race. That hope was now long gone and as I chatted to Pauline on the morning, I could only just hope to keep hold of her shirt tails for as long as possible.
The race starts with a lap of the harrier centre track and then heads out into the park along the Hogsmill river. My legs didn’t feel too bad so I tried to keep to around 10mm pace. It wasn’t easy but I was surprised I could still hold a conversation of sorts which gave me confidence. I know this course really well (I should do since I designed it 😉 so kept planning my effort according to terrain and undulation. The bit down by the river was really boggy and slowed us all down considerably but still I felt strong and surprised myself by making my way through the field. I honestly can’t remember the last time I finished outside the last 10 in a race so this was a new and unexpected event. It felt amazing and really gave me strength.
After about 3 miles my legs exploded again. I debated about stopping and waiting for J who was racing her first 5 miler but talked myself out of that by focusing on ‘race night’ in the spin shed and how I always managed to hold 85% and above of my heart rate max for 45 minutes there. I also knew a downhill part was coming next which would make it easier. In the way of racing, it never got any easier but I ran faster to try and get rid of as much ground as quickly as I could. I enjoyed a planned walk up the short sharp incline (all of about 10 yards) and then pushed on knowing now that I was left with about 1 mile to go.
The next bit was slightly uphill, and I felt like I was slowing down loads but could see all the girls around me slowing down too. I was still gaining distance on the ladies in front so I didn’t worry about it too much. I didn’t dare look at the watch (and in fact had ignored my splits all the way through) but was happy to accept I would finish in about 52 minutes. I would be delighted with that and happy that I had raced a hard 5 miles on tired legs and not just plodded round or conceded defeat when I wanted to give up.
Zoe, a member of the host club, was waiting at the corner of Northcroft Road to direct us right back towards the track. I now thought about the laps round Overdale Peter and I had done and I imagined him running behind me whispering encouragement in my ear.
Adopting a steely look of focus I ran straight past some of our running club boys without even seeing them (sorry guys – and huge thanks for the encouragement) and focused on each 100m at a time. With 100m to go I saw Alan stood at the entrance to the centre cheering me on. I glanced up at the clock and was amazed to see 49.18. It was too close to my original goal to let us and I took off down the track like my arse was on fire. So much so I even managed to overtake club mate Emma with 10 yards to go. Although she was definitely not the target of the impromptu sprint. I finished in 49.37 (75th out of 157) and nearly collapsed as I almost fell over the line. Emma graciously went and got me a bottle of water.
I was so, so happy with the performance. It was beyond my wildest dreams and with 9 weeks to go, I’m really feeling like things are starting to come together.