Monday, February 27, 2012

Babcary 7.5 mile race x 2 +2 = 17

by Martin
Our Sub-3 Training plan called for a 17 mile run at "long run pace" this Sunday, but for some reason we decided we needed to return to Babcary to swell the numbers at that excellent race. Last time we did it was in 2004 and we were training for a marathon that year too, so then we ran the course a second time after the race (which Lin won), but the major drawback was that by the time we got back over an hour had passed, and we had missed the prize presentation and more importantly, the cakes. Previous experience has shown that the average time for other greedy runners to polish off the best cakes after a race is 30 minutes, so that even if we ran at full race pace afterwards we would still have to do no more than 4 miles, meaning at least 4.5 miles to be run beforehand. That is what we planned to do, and so we started 75 minutes before the race, running up the first hill out of Babcary. After a couple of miles we were both feeling strong, so we decided we might as well do the entire course, and only have 2 miles to do after the race itself to complete the 17 miles.

After 4 miles and a couple more hills, we were both feeling the miles in our legs, and rather wishing we had turned back at 2.5 miles, but by then we had passed the point of no-return, so we pressed on. By the time we finished, we were well warmed up, but more tired than we had planned. Hopefully, there would still be enough in the tank to do the race justice. We chatted with Dave Carnell, Richard Westgate, and Clive Harwood while waiting for the race to start. By now, the fog was starting to burn off, and it was warming up nicely.

The race got under way and we were off again up the hill, about a minute a mile faster than the first time. I was still feeling pretty good by the time we reached the 2 mile mark, in just over 12 minutes, on the heels of a V50 rival, Nick S. At the time I thought he was in first place for the V50 category, but it turned out that there were another 2 even faster old geezers ahead of us, so I needn't have felt so bad as Nick slowly pulled away with my legs feeling heavier as each mile passed.

By the time I reached the final hill back down into Babcary, I was well behind Nick, and another guy, but still ahead of my main goal which was to beat my previous course best. I sprinted for the finish line to get in just under 47 minutes in 7th place, very happy with the result. Clive just pipped me into 4th place in the age-graded results, but we were both well behind the winner John Shapland who, at 58, finished 3rd overall with an age-graded 89% - in another league.

Anyway, back to the race, Lin finished a couple of minutes after I did, slightly disappointed not to beat her previous best, but still a very good result, first lady, and she ran at a faster pace than her last 10k race, despite the extra warmup lap.

Dave C finished in a further minute or so, closely followed by Richard, but by then we were off back up the hill for a mile out and back. We were changed and in the cake-line in time to grab a slice of excellent cake and some coffee which we took outside to enjoy whilst we basked in the unseasonably warm sun, chatting with friends and waiting for the presentation. We enjoyed it so much that I think we'll probably be back next year, unless we decide to return to the Dalwood 3 Hills 10 miler - too many races, not enough time!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Inca Trail

Richard wrote:

Continuing our theme of trying races we haven’t done before, Sunday saw the Westgates at the 7.6 mile multi-terrain Inca Trail race at Ilchester. For the second week running Lesley got the start time wrong. There was I striding across the playing field trying to work up a sweat when Dan came over looking at me in a puzzled fashion and asked if it wasn’t a bit early for a warm up! I had wondered why there were only half a dozen cars in the park.

After resting up in the club house I took a second warm up and headed for the start. It was cold and bleak at 3 degrees C. The ground was frozen with a slime of gooey mud on top. They say conditions here have been different every year – in the club house there was an excellent picture of someone sprinting through the floods in a previous year.

Memories of the race are a bit blurred as I spent a lot of time concentrating on keeping up a good pace without slipping. There were lanes, muddy droves, stiles, gates, a short steep grassy hill, fields, and a long grassy run alongside the River Yeo – very reminiscent of leg 3 of the Parrett trail.

I did enjoy this race and had a few personal battles with other rivals. A great bonus was the steaming hot shower afterwards. Talking of which – another early attempt was made at the coveted disrepute award. In the showers a Yeovil runner asked “Guys have you any ideas how we could improve this race?” I immediately replied “well you could get rid of the naff mementoes”, not realising that they were lovingly hand-crafted by someone toiling late into the night trying to raise money for a needy Peruvian charity!

Once again Lesley triumphed in her age category beating off exceptionally stiff opposition which included a trio of Ethiopian athletes who had come halfway across the globe in search of gold. ( LW: In reality the only rival in my age group also won an award for coming last.)

Now read on for Dan’s memories.................................

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Sartorial Dilemma - The Inca Trail‏

by Dan

On leaving the warmth of my car it seemed a very wise idea to have put on my (very manly) tights for this event. It was just over freezing and the marshals told me that the route was very icy. I also had a long sleeved top under my club vest, gloves and ridiculous looking ear-warmer band-thing. Other runners had different ideas, ranging from shorts and vest to coats and woolly hats. About half the field were in that hideous lurid day-glo colour of Yeovil Town Road Running Club, and most of the others had one or more items of a similar colour (presumably in homage to the host club). I was resplendent in silver Maiden Newton Runners Vest (Rachel says it's grey), coordinated with blue and orange top, red and black tights and yellow and blue shoes. I'm lucky to have a 'capsular' wardrobe.

Richard and Leslie eschewed Maiden Newton colours in favour of some other club with far more gaudy vests. They seemed very keen, starting their warm up 40 minutes before the start - until I spoilt their fun by telling them that the race started at 11, not 10.30 as they had presumed! Nevertheless, Richard had to make last-minute adjustments to his laces which made him the last runner to the start.

Richard was off like a rocket at the start, and I did not try to keep up. A few minutes in I was at the back of a fairly large 'pack' and was opening up quite a gap on the group behind. 20 Minutes in, Steve (of the famous running combo 'Steve, Donna, and sometimes their dog' - sorry guys can't remember your surname) caught up and overtook me. He was looking strong, but I managed to wear him out with the occasional 'witty' comment and was pleased to see that he could no longer endure my company and started walking when we got to the hill. The hill was challenging - I thought it was 'slippy' but was corrected by a runner from Frome, who corrected my bad grammar and told me that it is 'slippery'. Unfortunately the know-it-all failed to slip over and charged past into the distance - must have had a very strong finish as he was out of sight within a few minutes. Hope he's not reading this, or my punctuation will no doubt be found wanting ;-) I overtook Steve, put a bit of distance between us by throwing myself down the other side of the hill, and just managed to stay ahead of him to the finish. I think he may have slowed down to wait for Donna (who was in front anyway, I think), but whatever the excuse it was nice to finish ahead of someone who normally beats me. Marvellous Michael normally finishes just ahead of me, but today he was well ahead, seems to be on good form. Martin Chaffey and I often find ourselves battling around the middle of this sort of run but he had his hands full (literally) with family responsibilities and was not running.

It was a great route - fast and flat out, then to mud / ice, then up and down a hill and back. A gigantic medallion and warm soup to all finishers, and I made good use of the showers and changing rooms. All very civilised. I recommend the race, and look forward to having a go again next year.

Time? About an hour and 4 minutes.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Street 5k

by Dave Carnell

After my tardy time at the recent Humdinger event, I’m pleased to report that the February Street 5k went a whole lot better. Conditions were a little on the nippy side for a softie like me, but I’d had the foresight to don my secret weapon, l### j###s (partially redacted to retain secrecy), so I stayed nice and toastie.

Knowing the first corner is always an issue at this race, I decided to try a sprint down the hill to get ahead of the main pack so I could take the tight line on the footpath, instead of going across the grass and into the road like I normally do. Great idea, but the guys at the front go like crazy and don’t take any prisoners when it comes to a bit of squeeze, so it was all a bit dicey, but I did just about survive the corner.

I then had to back off to get my breath back and let the speedier troops charge on ahead. I confess that in the dark, knowing that that Harwood chap was disguised in Wells blue, I assumed he was amongst the throng disappearing into the distance so completely forgot about him.

After the climb back to the High Street (yes, I know it’s only a gentle upward slope, but I like them going the other direction) I managed to get some rhythm back and gradually stopped letting too many runners from overtaking. The next three laps passed without any great excitement until, coming back up to the High Street before the last lap, Nick Brooke came past. I’m used to seeing him waiting almost recovered at the finish but I like to try and wind him up a bit so gave chase for a while before the final upward slope got the better of me.

It was just coming up to the top of that final slope that Clive H’s notoriety did him a distinct disservice as I heard fellow Wells marshals egging him on, so I knew he was actually behind me – yiks! This hasn’t happened in a race before and I confess I knew Clive was not firing on all cylinders, so I thought kick, go and hope I could make it down the High Street to the last turn before I folded.

Hallelujah, I managed to keep going and finished just ahead of Clive and with a Street PB of 19:20. I was also tantalising close to catching up with Nick B again.

A good run for me and a slight pity that I had to rush away, turning the inside of my car into a sauna (thank heavens for screen heaters) and passing up a rare chance to goad some fellow runners, as well as missing out on my traditional coffee and a gold bar back at the hall.

One more event to go in the series – I can dream!

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Blackmore Vale Half Marathon

Richard’s report:

Sunday 5th February saw the Westgates at the 20th Blackmore Vale Half Marathon at Bishops Caundle near Sherborne. Being first timers at this race we were very impressed. Organised by the BV Lions Club, what a great job they do – free parking at the start, food in the hall, toilets and portaloos, loads of marshals including police, frequent drinks stations, clear amplified instructions (for those hard of hearing) before the race and commentating at the end. Experience means they can accept up to 650 runners and do all this for £10 including a reasonable T Shirt. We thought it was a real bargain.

Following a week of sub-zero temperatures we were treated to a balmy 6 oC with sunshine. The 500 or so runners soon filtered off the playing field and into narrow lanes. Thankfully the only icy stretch was coned off and we set off downhill for the first mile. I made an effort to run conservatively as I had heard the course was undulating with the final mile re-tracing the hill we started on. With this in mind I tagged along with Jenny Mills for 4 or 5 miles, she runs at a very even pace and I felt quite relaxed. The lanes were largely traffic free and the countryside picturesque. I began to warm up a bit – enough to tip water over my head and neck at the drinks stations and decided to push on a bit overtaking some runners.

Some of the downhills tempted me into some speedier running but for the first ten miles I kept up a 7.5 min/ mile conversation pace. I enjoyed the challenge of keeping the pace going over the final bit and was very happy with 97:12. There were lots of familiar faces about but once again none from Maiden Newton.

Lesley: I have mixed feelings about this one. Set off at a fairly steady pace, and was joined after a few miles by Lesley Nesbitt from Yeovil, running with her brother. I have been in races with her on several previous occasions and usually managed to finish ahead, although it has been a tough battle sometimes. On this occasion she appears to have been doing some “Training”!! She also ran at “conversation” pace for the first ten miles, while I struggled to keep up, and then with three miles to go she just took off, eventually finishing some two minutes ahead. I must say I was a bit dispirited by my legs’ refusal to come up with anything and eased off the pace deciding to finish the race as a training run. I found the last mile particularly hard and was glad to finish in a time of 1:52:23. The runner in front of me inexplicably slowed and stopped just before the finish line giving me one place higher in the results.