Friday, June 29, 2012

Ash Tree Trial 7 miler

This was a spur of the moment race and we only decided it the day before. I quite like mid-week evening races. It was a 7 miler mixed race in a local village near me. We arrived quite earlier in order to register and there were a lot of extra entries on the day, probably due to the sun being out and the failure of England to qualify.

We started the race going down a hill always a bonus, before running up some fields and then entering a nature reserve. This was the best part of the race, really winding paths lots twists and turns. You know sometimes at the start of a race you look at people and say in your head "I'm going to beat you and you" well during the race there are two older ladies I always see who always seem to start really fast but I also manage to take them half way. I had these so called ladies in my sights and overtook them on the nature reserve. There was one more lady in my sight and as we came off the nature reserve I managed to get in front of her. She stayed behind me for a good mile which I am not surprise as we were running straight into the wind. We came up to 6.5 miles and she suddenly swooped in front of me. I wanted to hang on so gave chase. We ended up running in the tractor ruts in a barley field and the barley was about 2 ft. high so it was very hard to run and very narrow and slippery and no way to overtake. We came out on a narrow path which was still hard to overtake and she hung on for life as I tried to chase her down. Unknown to me the finish was just around the corner and she beat me in by a second.

My time was 58.10 on my Garmin and I was so pleased with that actually doing a 7 miler under the hour and especially on a mixed trail race. It wasn't until the prize giving I realised how far up front I had actually been. The lady who pipped me to the post took the senior female trophy making me 2nd which is still a good result but I realised how close I had come. If I had known the course there’s no way that she would have passed me into that barley field and I would have hung on to that lead. Fair play to her for being crafty and using her knowledge of the course (BITCH) and drafting me to take the lead.
But hey I smashed my PB and was second in my age cat so I musnt grumble.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

My first Hash

I had wanted to go hashing for a while but the perfect opportunity never really arose until yesterday. I had heard lots of good things about it so wanted to try it out. After being picked up and driving to the middle of nowhere (sat nav failure, but that’s another story) we arrived at Fyne Court. Everybody was already there ready to go. Harriet had tried to explain the hash rules to me but seeing it in action made me realise what it was all about.

The hare sets the course usually between 5 and 7 miles and leaves a flour circle at a check point. This means that everybody runs off in different directions trying to pick up the trail. The trail is marked by dollops of flour. If you see one you shout "ON ONE" and then continue until you see another one which means you are on the right trail and then you tell your fellow hashers by shouting "ON ON" then everybody follows the right trail. From my experience last night "on one" sounds very similar to "on on" so I blindly followed the group. When you run over a dollop of flour on the trail you also shout "ON ON" so everybody knows they are still going the right way as the group can tend to stretch out. When the trail has been picked up you have to rub out the flour circle in the direction of the trail just in case anyone gets lost or needs to pick the course up.

The course last night was muddy, hilly and followed routes through streams, woods, and fields. I have never had so much fun running blindly around a wood watching everyone run off in different directions like wild animals trying to hunt down its prey. All of a sudden you will hear the "ON ON" and if you can pinpoint where it came from you head off in that direction. I was so amused watching this organised chaos and every time I heard the shout it seemed like they were shouting “I’M ON ONE" and I had visions of cheesy old skool quavers running around free parties. This just made me chuckle even more. The group were of mixed ability and some were a lot keener than others and rummaged through the undergrowth trying to pick up the flour dollops.

At one point we ran through a field which was full of farmers collecting in the hay and I could see their bemused faces watching a string of about 20 oddly dressed maniacs running around shouting..... it must have been a sight!!! The best part by far was stopping by this pond where everyone is given the chance to catch up and we all eat sweets but there was 2 swans protecting their signets and oh boy were they protective.... it was a short sprint session for some hashers!!!! The barrage through the fence and into the wood resembled a January sales queue at Next as everyone wanted to escape the swan who had now left the water and was approaching us with evil intend etched all over his face.

At some points the trail was hard to pick up especially with tractors driving down through the tracks and this where the hare comes in who stays at the back and then gives guidance if needed. So after 5.85 miles of stops and starts and some fun running we ended back at the start. I was covered in mud, scratched bitten and sweaty but I had a big grin on my face. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it others who wanted to try it. The group I was with was mixed ability’s, nice friendly group and quite relaxed about the whole affair. The evening also ends up in the pub!!! Bonus.  A big thank you to Harriet and Nick for taking me along and Harriet for driving!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Ironman 70.3 UK 2012

So here we go again Ironman 70.3 UK.  Just like last year the weather was horrid, windy and wet.  We spent most of the weekend hiding in the awning watching the rain come down and wondering how long it would take before the tents all blew away. I had a brief swim in the lake on Friday afternoon but it was so choppy we had limited access and was quite entertaining being one of 60 swimmers swimming around in tiny circles between the jetties.  The water was FREEZING!!!!!!  On Sat, Matt and I ran one loop of the run course and I'm glad I did after a few days of doing nothing I was beginning to feel bit crazy.  
Again just like last year the weather was good on race day.  I checked my bike, put on the wetsuit and I was ready to rock and roll.  

The start was delayed by 15 minutes and I think it was caused by athletes still trying to get on site.  This year was 2 wave starts and being the oldie I am I was in the second wave.  After a long slow walk down to the lake we watched as the first wave went off.  This year I decided to start at the back again but not out on the side. It didn't quite happen like that as I was in the water early and got pushed up towards the front.  Ho hum no backing out now.  I splashed water all over my face as Friday's swim had given me ice cream face and it was quite shocking to the system.  The commentator shouted that the race would start in 5 mins and there was an uproar from the lake so they started the race in 60 seconds.  The swim was good I didn't get punched but I did receive a few knocks to start.  One swimmer did however swim over me so I chased him down grabbed his feet and pulled him right outta my way.  I knew boxing training over the winter would benefit me.  This year I was so much more confident in the water, I found my own space and with no asthma attack I was well on my way. The swim felt really good and it was actually better swimming  clockwise.  When I reached the bank I checked my watch....... 40 minutes... oh boy that felt good 9 minutes off last years time. I had that time in my head before I started and was chuffed.  I felt good and even ran up the hill into transition.  I saw Barry and he came over to help me... geez that man had my wetsuit off before my arse hit the floor!!! Super speedy transition time.  I was in the middle of the pack unlike last year and was good to get out with lots athletes. 

The bike was really good I felt strong.  Normally after the 2 nasty hills it always seems like a real drag and continually climbing but I got to the second lap and wondered where the hills had gone. As I came down the hill to take a sharp right there was people slowing you down.  There was an ambulance just past the corner and the guy they were attending looked in a bad way, blood every where.  I heard chaos behind me and the guy who came behind me obviously didn't take notice of  warning and all I heard was JESUS CHRIST and then heard the biggest whack ever.  The guy cycled  straight into the ambulance and it sounded awful. It was all pretty shocking and I just got my head down and carried on. I knew that the cut off time would be 1pm so with an eye on the time I dug in on those hills.  I felt really strong out on the bike, I remember last year I felt so drained.  

I entered T2 at about 12.30 ish and thought I did the bike in 4 hours but the time was 3.54.34.  so much better that last years 4.20.  Transition was again speedy, those guys really know what they are doing.  I might even marshal myself next year. I still felt pretty good, slight bloated from drinking a sports drink and in hindsight I should have stopped for a wee but I had race mode on and wasn't stopping.  The first lap was slightly uncomfortable and I kept eyeing up gateways and when I ran down the big hill I thought my bladder would explode.  Last year they had toilets on route but there was none this year.  The second lap I walked a few times to take on fluids and walked the big hill on every lap to conserve energy.  Time went quickly and before I knew it I was on the last lap.  I wanted to walk a few times but I refused myself thinking this is the last lap I can do it.  I saw my sister on route that was a nice surprise and Jo and Julian were there to willing us all on. The red carpet was there like red rag to a bull you have to sprint as soon as you see that redness.  I crossed the line with 7.13 reading on the clock and saw my mum screaming my name. I wasn't expecting her at the finish that was lovely to hug her straight after.  Once I got into the tent Dean told me I got a sub 7 as we had to take off the 15 minutes seeing we started in the second wave.  I mean I was pleased with 7.13 but was delighted that I did actually get that sub 7 I wanted. I took 61 minutes off last years time.  What a result. 
What a difference a year makes.  Really enjoyed this race so much more than last year.  I took it on and I smashed it in the style I wanted to.  Over the moon with my result and feel confident for my long distance triathlon in August. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Endurance life stage 34 real relay race

Endurance life were running an event called the real relay which is random people signing up and  following the Olympic torch around.  The routes are all run which is the difference with the torch.  This happened all so fast for me I ended up standing in for someone who was ill.  In fact there's so much more behind it but I wont go into too much detail (mum's the word).

You plan your own route and Endurance life just give you the guidelines and contacts.  You arrange to meet up with the person whose got the baton and then once the change over has happened, you ring ahead to the next person giving them their estimated time of arrival.
I was meeting Graham Bell who was running from Taunton to Illminster.  The stages range from 8 to 12 miles on average.

Thanks to Nick's brilliant idea to leave our bikes at the next change over meant we could actually drive the route we wanted to run, as I had no idea where I was going as I had never actually been to West Chinnock. We left the bikes at the Muddled Man pub after explaining to the landlord what was happening.

We sat in the car at the Shrubbery Hotel waiting for Graham to arrive after receiving a phone call from his wife.   We saw his wife arrive on a push bike and ran over to greet Graham running up a very steep hill ( sorry Graham).
 Yay well done Graham a hot 12.5 miles from Taunton.  After a quick chat we were on our way and left Illminster behind us.

 I had picked a route that was shorter than the estimated mileage but I wanted to stay off the main roads and the route I picked was so scenic. I had no knowledge of this area and it turned out to be a little gem. Little villages with such beautiful old houses, running through shaded lanes where we saw foxes and  even a buzzard swooped down before us catching something in the verge. Nick and I kept up a good pace pausing on occasions to check the route and we were going the right way.

This was a normal run, very low key, no roaring crowds, people looking at your strangely running with a great big stick and very few people asked what was going on but to us it was a great sense of adventure.  We ran with real purpose knowing that 33 other people had carried it this far and we were carrying it that little bit further ( I tried not to think about all those sweaty hands lol).   We were making our own little piece of history.
The run was over far too quickly and we spotted Steve waiting at the Muddled man pub.  The landlord was out waiting for us too, I think maybe he was expecting a huge crowd!!!

        Steve was on his way with skip the dog... stage 35 had started.
We had a quick refreshment break at the pub ( G and T, be rude not too) before grabbing our bikes and cycling back to Illminster.

This was such a fantastic thing to do and I was so happy to be given the opportunity so thank you Jon ( sorry you were ill) and thank you Endurance life for organising such a fantastic idea.   Massive thank you Nick for coming along and supporting me it was a great feeling of achievement and it was all very exciting.  It gave me a chance to run in such a beautiful part of the country very local to me that I had no previous knowledge of and gave me the chance to meet some motivated like minded individuals.   If you get the chance DO IT!!!!!!

This picture sums up the whole day for me... what a team!!!! x