Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Open 5 Finale

Church Stretton was the venue for the last open 5 of this years series. The last time I'd raced there was at the FRA relays back in October, so I had fresh memories of the beautiful but painfully steep hills we'd have to contend with. I also knew, if you attacked them hard, you could fly around the area! After our race in the Lakes in April I'd felt like my legs had finally got some biking strength back in them and was looking forward to seeing what I could add to that in a month.

 As it happens, I doubt I added anything and I was pleased just to be out racing come Sunday - In the last 4 weeks I spent 2 weeks progressing from struggling to walk between rooms in the house thanks to a chest infection, to walking up catbells, back to running (twice) and a third week giving up on running because walking was still a bit too hard. I was surprised  that the Tuesday before the open 5 I still felt like somebody was sat on my chest and was exhausted, so I resigned myself to watching from the sidelines....
That lasted around 24hrs...then I worked out the 'breathtakingly simple' (thanks Todd....) explanation - If you are taking inhalers, it helps to check that there is something left in them....numpty!
Needless to say, once I got some new ones, I was no longer exhausted! I even managed to run Tigers Todger fell 'race' on the Wednesday (albeit at a relatively sedate pace) and with each day my chest was feeling a bit less sore. A record Lastminute.AR entry on Thursday evening and I was in :-)!

Bikes or leaning posts?
 I was debating going solo right up until the day, not wanting to hold Rosemary back from a storming race, however we decided to go with it and see how it went. Looking at the map, the run route looked set to take in some of the FRA relay highlights - I planned a route, crossing my fingers that I was right with which ones wouldn't be there (otherwise there'd be some good steep and rough running). The MTB route was a bit more awkward to plan, but we worked out a rough plan and headed to the start. Within the first 10s I realised my hopes were out the window...replan time and some fun off the beaten track :-).
I made us work hard for the last half hour....
 We set off a bit more steadily than normal (Rosemary even commented on the drop in pace), however whilst I couldn't really run fast on track, it didn't really matter what terrain I was on for the pace I could manage. So I adopted the tactic of straight is great - with the occassional contour. This resulted in my favourite terrain, rough underfoot with steep heathery descents! Rosemary doesn't like these so much....sorry!
We got all but the two five pointers within 2hrs and most importantly, hadn't run too hard so my lungs were pretty intact :-).
Off on the bike and this didn't last long with a long road climb with double arrows! Uphill was not my forte this weekend, especially not for extended periods of time. I was half thankful we got stuck in a traffic jam on the narrow road  - quick breather. By the top I was a bit light headed and certainly lacking any MTB strength I thought I might have. We rode around the top and I did wonder if I could actually ride for 3 hours, however a good descent sorted me out. The rest of the ride was lovely and followed the pattern of flying along the flat/downhill and me dropping off on any slight incline, Rosemary dropping back to push me uphills. The beasty hike a bike to 8 left me slightly light headed again, but the whizz down through the forest to 12 made me forget all about it! And somehow, I decided we'd been enjoying ourselves too much up to this point and we should probably do a bit of proper racing. So, with 24mins left on the clock....we turned away from the finish, approaching 13 from below! 11mins in and out and we hit the road to the finish hard! Apparently I could ride harder, I just couldn't look up from the floor at the same time or I would see stars...

Open 5 Series winners
We made it into the finish 2.5mins late, far better than we thought might be the case! A slight lie down was required.....however, we'd only lost 6 points so had a total of 574points, our best to date :-). We won the female pairs catagory, both on the day and in the series! A great end to the series at a great venue, I'm looking forward to next year already :-)
Burbage Skyline - a rare sight, me and shelf within metres in a race! (Pic- Accelerate)

Next stop - Open 2 day (via Jura Fell Race) - with this in mind I gave my lungs a proper test last night at the burbage skyline fell race and am pleased to report they have continued to improve and I was only just over a minute off my best. The rest of the pennine ladies had storming runs with Steph finishing in 3rd, Claire 5th and myself in 6th....I think we got the team prize? Still my favourite evening fell race :-)