Monday, 3 December 2012

Open 5 - South Downs

Pre race plotting - 'if we go this way we could really make it hard for ourselves!'
 A very last minute decision to race saw me team up with Rosemary Byde ( for our first crack at the female pairs category of the open5. After picking up some elite tips at 'a night with Jessica Ennis' on Friday evening I was walking home when the joint of my right big toe started to really hurt - no apparent cause and by sat it wasn't too bad so I wasn't worried about it when I got to the event on Sunday.

It turns out, racing with a statistician means the course is meticulously analysed in every possible way, and that's before you even start! A slight change to my normal 5-10mins of roughly planning where I'll go.  Still, we had it sorted and were off a little after 10am.

 I set off in charge of the run nav and having adjusted the route now we had the control descriptions, headed off to no29. The first bit of the course ran through a forest with what turned out to be an intricate network of tracks. About 500m into the forest the track we were on bent round to the left and we followed it....however this was not the track I was following on the map, it was in fact a white line on the map - which I expected to be a forest clearing type track, not a massive obvious surfaced one. I started to notice things not really fitting but couldn't work out where we'd gone wrong, as far as I was aware we'd hit the track in the forest and followed it as the map suggested we should. On we ran - straight off the map.

So about 20-25mins and a lot of head scratching later we stumbled upon a forestry sign with a 'you are here' marker. Possibly the best relocation feature out there! Score! We were back on track....well to no26 at least as we were about 1.5km off track for no29. Not the greatest start....
Way too much water left in the bottle at the end! 
 The rest of the run went smoothly, although I was increasingly aware that Rosemary was not best pleased with my pace setting and was ready to get her own back on the bike. We hit transition in 1hour57 having picked up 165points, I'd just about scraped it back together.
Off on the bike, my legs took about 1km to warm up but then we were tearing along on the road. After 5-6km of undulating road however, hanging onto Rosemary and her 29er was starting to get a bit difficult. Thankfully it wasn't long to a bit of off roading - a breather for me :-). We discovered the thick mud covering the off road sections and had a great time flying down the hill from a beautiful viewpoint.

Sadly this wasn't to last with about 40km of road in our 53km route... Still, my legs were coping for the first couple of hours. After 2hrs 15mins we had a decision to make! There were 3 controls left that we were definitely collecting....and a fourth control on 'Titty Hill'. We could just about make it...maybe...and with such a novelty name we had to try!

How late are we? Doh!
We went for it. Towing ensued. My legs got heavier, with a little over 3km to go we hit the 5hour mark and this is where I really started to worry that my legs were no longer capable of turning the pedals...I felt sick but we had to keep going and minimize the disaster. 5hours7mins and we were on the road to the finish, Titty Hill had not been worth it! 

Somehow we made it across the line and a quick watch check showed we were 14.5mins late - We'd collected 510points but with a 45 point time penalty that became 465points. So, with 20mins lost at the start and 45point penalty we didn't hold out much hope that this was a successful race. It was a massive surprise when the scores were announced and it turned out we had won! 

Once my feet defrosted, I found my right toe joint to be massively painful. Today I spent the day limping around until I visited Kim. Turns out, yet again it all comes down to my SI joint. It was blocked again (and I suspect it had been for about 3 weeks) but this time I was strong enough to only get a bit of discomfort in my hip flexors and back. This allowed me to keep running and meant I'd been running round with a wonky pelvis and a right leg that was substantially shorter than the left, resulting in some bad loading through my toe. I'm all straightened out again now...hopefully it'll stay that way!

So, check list for next time: NO stupid navigation, NO mad decisions at the end of the course and NO wonky pelvis, hopefully = recipe for success!
Wrecked at the finish

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