Tuesday, 12 April 2011

9th at Mourne Peaks Race - British Championships

(My old descending skills, coming off Slieve Donard in 2009 - courtesy of Zanthe Wray)

The Mourne Peaks Race is a long counter in the Fell Running British Championships. At 12 miles, you might be forgiven for thinking its an easy counter.....but the terrain makes up for that! It has everything from grassy runnable parts (although fairly scarse) to leg eating bog and plenty of tussocks with some good rocky ground thrown in for good measure. And oh yes, there is very little of the course that could be described as a 'flat' section....most of it is steep up, or steep down making it a tough race.

I wasn't sure how this weekend was going to turn out as last weekend my legs had completely gone and I'd finally done as much as my body could take by the open5 with a disappointing (but not unexpected) result. I'd accepted that 5 days is not really enough recovery time, a 3mile jog on Friday wasn't great and had nowhere near 2000m climb... I was fully expecting to have to take it steady and just enjoy one of my all time favourite race routes! Another 'training' race for the APEX adventure race.

However, somehow, as soon as we set off I felt like I had a completely new pair of legs :-).
I took the first climb steady but found myself in a position I hadn't expected at all. On the first descent me and Ali Raw went back and forth a bit, I wasn't descending like I normally do at all, guess my legs were a bit tired after all, but I still felt reasonably strong! Then Jackie Lee came past, I caught her up again on the next climb and the three of us were together until it became a bit more runnable. This is where I could have done with more than 5 days rest, as I discovered that I just had one pace and that pace was the same whether it was steep and rough or slightly less steep and runnable.

Thankfully coming off Doan it all gets rough again then there is the biggest climb of the race, so I caught a fair bit of time back up here and Ali was back in sight. All the way round I had Slieve Commedagh in the back of my mind. 3 years ago I got to that final beastily steep climb and the top just never seemed to get any closer! This time, it was over before I knew it. All that was between me and the finish was one looooong descent. I kept with the theme of the day and didn't pull it off particularly well....although the person behind me thought I didn't do too bad. I finished in 3hrs 1min, 30minutes faster than 3 years ago, just outside my aim of sub 3hrs but I can live with that for now. I was 9th lady (best senior result to date) and 1st U23 (although that wasn't the hottest competition of the day :-) )

I'm glad I went to Ireland in the end, I almost thought twice about it last Sunday, but the Mournes are definitely still my favourite mountains!

Friday, 8 April 2011

Open 5 Final - and how to pedal a bike when your legs are destroyed part 3

After Edale I was able to walk almost properly again on Wednesday, on Thursday it was the final bike testing and it probably won't surprise you that I did not make it to 23km this time. I made it 20.9km in 30minutes at 30 degrees not wearing skins. Whether this was down to the skins (or lack of them) or the lactic acid in my legs I wouldn't like to comment...

On Saturday the APEX team got out in kayaks on Windermere - it seams I had forgotten everything I ever knew about paddling, but after a couple of hours was getting back into it (was much more natural the following Tuesday so hopefully the technique has stuck). After this I was nackered and should really have taken this as a sign not to start the open5 the following day....

Sunday morning was lovely and warm, I set off to the start with my bike at the ready. Sadly my dibber was not ready, nor was my inhaler. A hired dibber solved the first, and I chose to ignore the second problem. The route choice was a great challenge and I think I picked a good route for the bike. It was a shame I couldn't move fast enough to get the final control I wanted but I don't think it was too much of a disaster...As long as I could get a half decent run in.....Well the effort I had had to put in to cycle reasonably showed here and my legs finally gave in. I ran about 10% of the route, walked a large amount and shuffled the remainder.

Overall I got 445 points which was a little disappointing, but you can't race everything well :-)

A week of little walking/running/biking seems to have improved my legs a fair bit, off to Ireland later for the British Champs Fell race, it may go well or it may be a nice holiday in Ireland, we will see. Either way I will get some good climb practice in for Switzerland!