Saturday, June 5, 2010

What Goes Up Must Come Down

It’s a good job that the new race start time for today’s half marathon allows for a mega lie in because it’s still tipping it down with the forecasted precipitation. It might make the race cooler but I’d actually like it to stop now.

When we emerge from under the covers, the big dilemma then is what to eat for breakfast or lunch or brunch or whatever the most appropriate time to eat for a 2.15pm race would be.

Then fuelled on eggs, bacon and mushrooms, who knows whether that will be a good idea or not, we set off in search of the Buxton Opera House, from where the event starts.

The weather is now fine and it’s sunny but not too hot. Good job really. The first mile is slightly uphill but nothing outlandish. The real climbing starts after the first mile when the climb up to Axe Edge starts and goes on for another two miles. 'This is really pretty' I think to myself, as everyone around me groans as they look up and see the road snaking out above us. Wa-hey I think, we’re going up there. That's what you do if you're a hill psycho like me. OMG, the rest all seem to think, we’re going up there. There’s none so weird as folk.

I love the climb, all three miles of it, and the cracking views from what is the highest point of the race. Then, of course, what goes up must come down. So wa-hey, downhill. Actually it’s more of an OMG for me this time, the descents are rather harsh and don’t really give your legs a break at all.

We arrive at the first drinks station and they supply us with water in bottles. So it’s half over the head, some down the throat and the rest in the hedge. I walk briefly to get a decent drink but soon realise that with bottles, rather than cups, this isn’t strictly necessary.

The weather is quite hot now and, despite the organisers promising plenty of drinks stops, the gap between the first and second drink stations is way too long. The second one was after half way, way too late for a hot day. Plus, why did they put all the drinks stops at the start of a climb, when there were flat sections close by. That makes it hard to drink. Grumble over.

The course then undulates, passing High Edge Raceway, where some 4x4 are still heading to the event there and cause a few problems by getting in among the runners. Then it’s down down deeper n down, so down we’re going to go below the water line soon. More worrying is when are they’re going to require us to climb back out of this hole they’ve sent us down. What goes down must come up...

Sure enough, eventually we have to. The second big climb of the day appears at first harder than the first, mainly due to me being more tired I suppose, but it does appear to be slightly steeper although shorter. Lots of people start to walk but I will not even consider that and once I get my climbing legs back on, it’s fine. I smile politely as I pass all the folk crawling up it.

At least the third drinks station isn’t too far and there’s later a fourth but only one marshal was manning it and we were on the wrong side of the road for it anyway, so I missed it.

There was one last climb which started just after the 11 mile mark and the marshal told me it a mile long. It wasn’t, it was about 300 metres. It was presumably his idea of a joke but it disappointed me. I’d been losing places on the many steep downhill sections, I don’t like going downhill fast as it hurts my calves and knees, but then I’d catch them all again on the uphills. I needed another hill to settle a few scores.

Then we do an extra loop bit through a housing estate to make up the distance before they route us through Buxton Pavilion Gardens and back round to the Opera House for the finish where there was a good crowd to cheer us in.

My time is almost the same as at the far less hilly Sleaford, so very pleased with that. I would have been happy with 5 minutes slower. It was tough but not as hilly as I was expecting, well from the impression they gave in the pre-race info anyway. I must do a flat one sometime, just to see what time I could do. Even though it would probably bore me a touch.

The race was one of the best things I've done, though I've said that a few times but perhaps I mean it this time. The marshalling was excellent and I got a top free massage at the end. The only downside, apart from the lack of drinks stops, was the red t-shirt. Ugh. Oh well, can’t have everything.

In the evening, we stay in, put the feet up, open the wine and have a curry.

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