Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Open 5 Dorking

A Smile as I complete all of the bike controls
 Over the last month an old injury from a couple of years ago has reappeared, I won't bore you with the details but will say, if you ever fall over sideways in a fell race, get your hands down first, not your hip. The end result is that riding a bike is ok, running is not.

So at the Open 5 on Sunday I had a plan. A bit of maths had revealed if I cleared the bike I only needed to get 4 or 5 run controls to get a similar score to normal. This should take me 40-50mins and as I normally get all but 4 bike controls (ish) I figured I should be able to clear within 4 hours.

The weather forecast was for 8 degrees and heavy rain so I set off to the start with full body cover and pretty well wrapped up. On the way to the start I was boiling so I decided to take my leg warmers off but leave the other layers on.

The bike started well and I really enjoyed the single track between my first few controls. I then committed to clearing the bike by heading for 3 x 10 pointers that, in normal circumstances I might have avoided.  After a couple of hours I felt my back niggle a bit but it seemed to be alright. I might have subconciously slowed down a little bit as not long after I remember thinking 'I wish I hadn't taken my leg warmers off' and 'My baselayer is soaking and cold'. I also glanced up and did a double take, was that snow??!? Yes it was. The weather had changed from its original plan and was now more like 1 degrees and snowing. I was not dressed for this!

Looking back the signs of getting overly cold were there, I started having to think harder for every step of the nav and in order to make sure my legs were still peddling. My breathing went all over the place, breathing very fast and shallow and I lost the feeling in my fingers and wondered if when I took my gloves off I would find a mangled black mess. However I am stubborn and ignored all of this, but was disappointed it took me 4hrs 16minutes to clear the bike! Still 350 points bagged and I had 40minutes to run right!

In transition I was so cold I didn't notice it. I concentrated on getting my shoes off which took 5minutes and I even recruited James Kirby to help as my overshoe was refusing to budge from my right foot. I nearly set off with one bike shoe on but eventually wrestled it off and set off aiming for a loop of 4 controls worth 85points.

This picture captures my run perfectly - 'How do I use a compass again?'
What actually happened was this. I set off and was wondering why I seemed not to trust my map was the right way up. Nothing seemed to be fitting too well, but i stumbled across my first control and assumed I was being silly. On the way I had found a fluorescent hat that somebody had dropped so I put it on. I then set off to the second control and for the next 20minutes I can't tell you where I was. My brain just wasn't working. I had no rational thinking and certainly no navigational skill. I do remember thinking stop being daft and go back to the finish, but I only had about 25mins left anyway! Eventually I stumbled upon the original control I had been to which took me entirely by suprise.

As I seemed to be struggling with following paths I decided to follow the road to the next path and my final control. I knew I was going to be late at this point but still got it. I made it back with 4minutes of penalties so still worth the 20 point last control.

Now I had stopped I was thinking a bit more rationally and knew I wasn't in a very good state. So left Wil with my bike repair kit to fix his puncture and headed back with Nicola. It sounds like we both had as much luck as each other with finding run controls!
After download I quickly got to the showers, but after 5 minutes of standing in the hot water I still wasn't warm so I gave up and got wrapped up. Apparently my lips were blue at this point. I then spent an hour or so shivering violently and spilling cups of hot drink everywhere.

I was amazed to find that, even having only got 2 run controls and having taken an age on the bike I was still 4th! Rosemary had a stormer and removed any hope of an ok % score, so it all comes down to the Peaks race for the series now! Exciting! :-)

Lesson of the day, my normal plan of getting lots of bike and lots of run controls works better than clearing the bike and picking up some run controls!

Finally, this is close to winning the 'Coldest I have ever got myself' award. It's a toy up between this and the OMM in 2007 where we had to abandon on day 1. I'm leaning towards Sunday getting the award though as at the OMM I managed to navigate us back to base without mistake....