Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Open 5 - Yorkshire Dales

I'm a clinical researcher, however you'd be forgiven for thinking I have a career as a project manager, logistics coordinator, regulatory affairs assistant, specialist equipment trainer, writer, editor, designer, 24hour helpline, customer service advisor, commissioning engineer or quality assurance officer.

Somehow I juggled all of these things for 10 months, fitting into 9-5 (ish) and maintaining a nice work life balance. Then 'delivery driver', 'research nurse' and 'data entry clark' got added to the list and I was treading a fine line. I toppled over the edge in November, scraping through my PhD viva off two days preparation and hit the level of work and no life balance in January when writing a funding application into the early hours...
Plotting - 'We can't ride for more than 3hrs!'

So I'm sure Rosemary was really looking forward to racing the open 5 with me last Sunday, after my description of training prep (or lack of it) and general mental approach to anything involving effort. I think my words were 'damage control' as opposed to 'full on racing'.

As a measure to ensure I turned up on Sunday I instigated 'skiving Wednesday' (taking back the overtime accrued from Monday and Tuesday so as to stay sane), heading out for my first faster run in months with Sabs. We ran from Ambleside, taking the coffin route to Rydal which is good and runnable. I have to say I was feeling the pace, Sabs is like a rocket on the flatter trails! Thank god for Loughrigg on the way back :-). It may have kept me sane but after the hour of running I spent the next two days exhausted (this is why I have been avoiding weekday exercise recently).

The weather promised for Sunday was....well....less than appealing. What was initially promised to be 'heavy persistent rain all day with strong winds' turned into 'heavy rain with intermittent sleet/snow and strong winds'. I told myself me and Rosemary excel in these conditions, but was crossing everything that the met office had it wrong.
Fine weather for the bike - great views!

 As it turns out, they sort of did have it wrong. It was a chilly start on Sunday, the wind was certainly there, but I could see patches of blue sky above  Stainforth as we arrived! The usual pre race plotting got under way and after initially having loads of time, we did our classic, starting bang on 10:30am.

The tactics were quite simple, keep it steady so I wouldn't blow up but keep the pace consistent and see where it got us. We chose to bike first in case the weather arrived later, as it's easier to warm up running than on a bike. I also opted to wear full waterproofs as I didn't want to risk getting cold. Being exhausted to start with I didn't want to waste energy on staying warm.

Up the first hill I was pleased to be keeping on Rosemary's wheel (an improvement on December) and we were moving well on the flat/downhill. The route was well paved and we'd soon made it to the fun descent (the direction we were going anyway) down to Helwith Bridge. Here we saw a lot of people heading in the other direction, must be around the midway point! In Wharfe we decided to play it safe and headed straight for  Austwick, missing number 2  as it wasn't worth too much. Then it was on across to Giggleswick scar for a bit more fun descending before hitting the road to transition.

Coming into Giggleswick I noticed my bike was feeling a bit like a full suss but without the cornering control. Looking down I didn't have a lot of air left in my rear tyre. We pumped in some air and then hit it hard back to transition. I scraped in (thankfully not quite on my rim) and we got away with it!
Waterfall at Stainforth Beck

With the exception of the first hill, I'd chosen well on clothing, my Haglofs scramble jacket (now having had 2.5yrs of battering) and the super light L.I.M proof trousers keept the hail showers off and I was comfortable all the way.

Whilst I got away with the bike, the run really highlighted my weaknesses. I didn't have an uphill run in me (was struggling to raise my heart rate), so it was a fast walk up the pennine way to  the stunning waterfalls on Stainforth beck. Rosemary has also been practicing, so it was her turn to set the bruning pace over to jubilee cave, which I could just about deal with as it was flat/down. Here the weather arrived, SNOW! Very glad to be on two feet rather than two wheels at this point.We flew down the hill to the quarries near Langcliffe. I couldn't fault the control locations on this run, the kiln in the quarries was huge!
Giant Kiln

Getting a taste of my own medicine, we quickly switched the run tow from my bag to Rosemary's bag heading up out of Stackhouse. Here we collected three controls on the West of transition before arriving back in....wait for it....4hrs 52mins!! A whole 8minutes early, unheard of!
Evidence - the other end of the tow...

Whilst we'd kept moving, we hadn't been as swift as we have in the past (and we'd been early), so we waited with baited breath to see where we finished. It was a beatable score, even we could have beaten it if we'd known I wouldn't blow up back at number 2 on the bike. After November's disaster we could do with a win.
Clearly steady away payed off and our 510 points was enough on the day! Thanks Rosemary for a very enjoyable day out. Very happy with the result given I really didn't know if I could get around 5hours of racing at the moment. Two more days of work, then its off to sunny Majorca for a rest (and probably some cycling ;-)).