Tuesday, 19 March 2013

March so far

I've been slacking a little bit on the blog writing front, so here's a brief update of March so far...
5000 points in Open 5s!

 The first weekend (as is the norm) was an Open 5, this time from Grassington in the Yorkshire Dales (more here). I was glad to be back to running reasonably as there was a clear loop to aim for (and I'm not sure I would have made it last month). It soon became obvious we could almost clear the run and so after just over 2hrs we'd had a solid start dropping only one control. The bike was a similar story, we returned having only missed two controls and were a whole 15mins early! Just what we needed to counteract our other open 5hrs15 from previous months! Maybe we should have gone for the bike control in Malham....but those steep arrows on the map didn't make it all that inviting...

The following week I got an exciting parcel in the post....time to get out and test the new Haglöfs kit :-). I chose some pretty harsh conditions to do so, running for 4 hours around Edale to get some Bob Graham training in for Claire....the weather was....well...grim. I tried out the Gram Comp Pull Jacket with an intense range LS top underneath (and a fleece that happened to have been left in the car...brrr) along with the pulse running tights.

Haribo stop on top of kinder...ascent number 3/6

I don't think I own a comfier pair of tights. Having reasonably short legs, I've found in the past that the zip at the ankle sometimes rubs on some running tights, especially on long wet runs, but no such problem with these. I found them light and well fitted, even when wet. An added bonus was the lower leg material, especially designed 'for better ‘wet grass/bramble’ performance'. Well the kinder dozen terrain was a good test of that design feature as we ploughed our way through plenty of deep heather...legs emerged unscathed :-).

One of my specialities is getting very cold in wet and windy conditions. I am pleased to report the Gram Comp jacket kept me toasty, I was a bit concerned with it not having a waist draw chord, but didn't encounter the problem of rain going up the jacket. The hood adjusters are very minimalist, but secure and the peak, although not wired, kept the rain out of my eyes...

Wolf's Pit Fell Race - The gram comp jacket doubling as a bum bag!

 Finally, last weekend I got in a good recce of the Edale Skyline and raced my first fell race of the year - Wolf's Pit. The race was a brutal reintroduction to running fast, with a large field of strong runners racing the 5.75miles with 410m climb. I warmed up the night before with several hours of dancing in pop tarts, so was a little on the tired side..

The part that suited me came right at the start, straight up up up a steep hill! By the top I was still in the mix for the podium, 20mins of runnable trail later and I was looking to hold onto fourth. By the final descent I was in 5th and glanced over my shoulder...there was my relay partner Claire about 50m behind. As I knew her ability to run my legs off on a descent I threw myself off the hill, hoping to keep far enough ahead to stagger into the field and the finish still in 5th. I glanced at my watch at one point and was pleased to see the pace starting with a 4:?? minutes/mile....so I couldn't believe it when we hit the track at the bottom and she was right on my shoulder! I did stagger into the field, but was in 6th, high enough to be 3rd counter for the winning Pennine ladies team with Steph (3rd) and Claire (5th) :-). Even better, this is the first time I have felt good running at pace this year!

 It's amazing how things have changed in the peaks over the last few years, the last time I ran this race it was bone dry, properly fast! I ran 5minutes slower then and finished 8th I think... my time from this year would have placed me in a comfortable 3rd with little competition around me. It's great to have such a strong womens field now, it'll make for some much faster times and much more competitive racing!

Running my legs off to stay ahead of Claire Aspinall
The challenge for this week is sitting still (well...stiller...until Friday).  Then next weekend comes a proper test, the Cumbrian Commotion AR on Sat followed by some flat out racing around the Edale Skyline English Champs Fell Race. Fingers crossed my hip flexors hurt less by then....it turns out running and biking doesn't prepare you for hen do's that include burlesque dancing and wearing high heels....