Saturday, 30 June 2012

Newcastle Cyclone Sportive

It was a pretty relaxed affair at the start of the 104 mile sportive. The weather was blustery but the sun made an appearance and it was dry. The Cyclone sets off from a rugby ground in Newcastle and winds its way around central Northumberland taking in any medium sized and big hill the organisers can find.

I said hello to most I recognised early on, although with many in skid-lids and shades, its not always easy to see who's who. There was a healthy tailwind for the first 20 miles and we fairly flew up the lanes. As the mileage increased and the wind direction changed things got tougher, but I was in good spirits and had a fast 60 miles before I began to feel the pace. I had latched on to the Breeze Bikes crowd and then later we caught up with the Steels lads at Rothbury. After an awful climb out of Bellingham I spent time with a couple from the Sunderland Clarion around Wark. The weather was great in places and made for a good day out.
I had to walk up the last 30metres of the last big climb as a result of being overgeared, and was later dragged ignominously through the villages for the last 10 miles when I admitted defeat. 6hr.22min (6:14 of riding) and 8000 calories and I'll sleep well tonight.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Don't ignore the omens...

I should have taken more notice of the omens. Heron on the roof, jackdaw creeping around the garden, a condor in the garage, not to mention the dancing bears....and then the rain came. The wettest June on record. Yesterday as the lightening struck, I hid in the car as the Supercell above did its worst to make the town an island. Afterwards, five of us managed 7 miles wading through rivers and brown pools of water that had formed across depressions in the lanes.

After traversing the first knee high pool, it actually got quite enjoyable and two of the lads who were knocking out minute intervals were seen plunging half way through the water before pulling up (or is that pooling up). Tomorrows cyclone sportive will be a good day out and at 104 miles and 7000ft of ascent I might be inclined to stop for a pot of tea halfway round. No gold medal chasing for me.    

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Hold up at the Eildon Hill Race!

As I approached Melrose from the south the sky was a ragged mess with low grey cloud set in a petrol blue backdrop. I arrived at the Rugby Club HQ and signed on upstairs (for a change).

As with any short race that’s made up of a steep climb (450m) followed by a steep descent, the Eildon Hill race is a tough way to spend half an hour. The other 81 competitors probably shared that view.
Reading my own blog entries I seem to spend more than a little time in my head and today I tried not to internalise the anticipation.  We gathered for the Gala Harriers affair on St Dunstan’s Green where the kids were having their sack races and sprints.  At around 3pm when the race was due to start, a small troop of girls danced a maypole and then something else to the accompaniment of an accordion, so it was possibly 15 minutes later that we eventually got off the line. 

Once round the green then up the high street to encouragement from the locals and tourists. From there, it’s a straight climb to the first hill where I was told I was 15th having been just passed by a Shettleston lad. I caught him on the dip before the second hill and was then caught, in turn, by Charlotte Morgan and another. They seemed to be having a bit of a chat which was a bit of a liberty (in my book), considering I was having problems breathing, never mind forming words.  There was then a split as we climbed the second short, blaeberry and heather clad hill with some opting for the track and some for the A1 direct route. I went for the latter, then, halfway up, saw from those coming up the track that the track route was marginally quicker (or was it just me going marginally slower). A further 4 got past me on the second climb near the top where I checked my watch and thought Kenny Stuart would have been finished by now!  

I caught my breath and took flight down the hill taking my chances firstly with the angular red scree. Further down things were also interesting and going sideways at speed in the puddles and red brown mud seemed 'de rigueur' but I managed to pass 4 in the process. Glendinning of Bellahouston was just ahead of me at the bottom of the wooden steps and he must have been working hard as he overhauled a young Carnethy back on the town fringes, but no such luck for me as we finished with a lap around the rugby pitch... murder, that flat ground after a red-lining descent.
18th in the end in 36:03...B-...'Could do better.' Good spread of grub afterwards and a mooch around the dinky, but well appointed (as estate agents would say) town centre made it a good workout on a blustery afternoon.  This is a good event by Gala.

Carnethy’s Paul Faulkner won in 31.09 from Brian Marshall (HELP 32:51) and former winners Damon Rodwell 3rd and Moorfoots Mike McGovern 4th.  Charlotte finished 14th and 1st lady (35:38) from 2nd place Fiona Dalgleish of Gala  38:56.           

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Newburn River Run

It was a warm night. Not warm enough to be sultry. There was just enough of a breeze to blow 300 or so runners into Newburn for the River Run, a 6.6mile 'delight' of tarmac and rough track up and down the Tyne. Half the family were there running, so I was on my best behaviour, warming up, no ipod. I was meditating on my impending performance like I meant it. I had written down 3 words that I wanted imprinted into my head and sat in the car staring at them. This would be how my run would be.  Anything within the top 30 or under 40 minutes would be fine, I mused.
As we surged away at the start under the trees beside the brewery with a small crowd of onlookers present, I was aware that there were more than a few nemesii (plural) out there around me.   I needed a decent run to show that last week’s 10k was just a blip. I soon caught up with two clubmates after a kilometre. The pace was pretty quick but I felt reasonable and eased into the group and sat in. I was, it had to be said working pretty hard though and I was monitoring my breathing.  After a while I heard the voice in my head at 2 miles saying ‘you’ll never keep this up for 6 miles...’.and then another one said'..and this race is longer than 6 mile'. Some sort of mental double act. an act I could do without. I was matching the first lady, Jane H, step for step, but not for long.

The 3 mile mark arrived quickly, mostly as a result of my attention being focused on the rhythm of the Birtley's runner's feet and trainers in front. We were knocking out 6 minute miles which, these days, is at the top end of my ability for anything more than 5k.

After crossing the bridge and heading back down the Tyne on the other bank I began to toil. I tucked in behind an Elswick runner and was passed by three. My resolve was fading. I kept repeating the mantra I'd learnt in the car 'flow..smooth...breathe', but somehow in my state of exhaustion it had become ‘’.  I struggled between 4 and 5miles where an Alnwick runner came past and pulled away without a by-your-leave and the Elswick runner who I'd been clinging on to took off with him.
But over the pontoon bridge at 6 mile I rallied a little and began to feel a bit better (probably cause I could see the end) and held on for the last stretch past the houses and back into the car park.  
30th and 40:13 (6:06/mile). This is the 3rd time I’ve ran Newburn and had ran something like 39:20 back in 2005. But I was younger then. So were we all...
And yes, I did have a slow, smooth beer at the end.  

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Tired legs at the Les Allcorn 10k

After 12 miles on Sunday and a 17 mile Monday, I didn’t feel like doing anything yesterday. It was hardly Super Tuesday.  I closed my ‘well ordered’ files after work. I couldn’t even be tempted to answer the phone in time when it rang at two minutes past five, even as I stood dipping a tea bag into a mug while gawping wearily out of the window (but not looking at anything much at all). It had not been what you call a very productive day.  Now at this point there are choices. I could a) slink off to sit in the early evening sun and read and snooze awhile  or b) force myself out on the bike or for a slow trot around the lanes c) don my wellies and help Aunt Aggie collect slugs for her ‘pet’ project in the back garden or d) pick up my running cudgels and take part in the Les Allcorn multi-terrain 10k round the scenic Hulne Park estate in Alnwick.   

I arrived an hour and a half later at the leafy race HQ with a caucus of around 160 other runners, a record crowd. It’s not a race I’ve done before and my fried nut burgers (which I’d ingested an hour earlier) were not the best selection of pre-race scoff.  Let me tell you those kidney beans take a while to digest.
There were plenty of runners from local clubs. I also spied my old dentist who I snapped at Blaydon and the Druridge 10k in previous days, and whom I passed on Monday night while out on the road. He's got the bug for sure.

The route climbs gently for the first mile or so before levelling off followed by a long easy downhill stretch on tarmac before reverting to gravel track which runs along the floodplain. I started slow and kept the fast front-loaders in view for the first 2km at which point I decided to up the pace a bit, catching the flying dentist at 3km ( say aaaww...) in the process.
Jane H, the first lady (but not in the presidential sense) was 40 metres ahead and eventually I came up level at 5km. However, at 6km my resolve withered and the hard money moved to my running mate as she began to pull away. I had no answer to her power politics and my campaign began to sag further at 7km as another runner came past. By the end of the event I was in the red and felt Mondays miles, but it was a nice run and, potentially, could be quite a fast course.  My time of 38:47 (13th) was quite slow but I enjoyed the evening and took home a top of the range Les Allcorn mug just to remind me that when I feel like I’ve got no energy left, I really haven’t and to clear off to a quiet corner and snooze. Thanks to Alnwick Harriers.   

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Blaydon Race 2012

This years Blaydon Race was another wet one. All the lads and lassies enjoyed their pease puddin and tripe at the end of this event. Lots of photos (on the Flickr site) and results to come

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Captain Hook and the Druridge Bay 10k

Went down to Hook in Hampshire on Friday to stay at a friends. He's in training for L'Etape (where you ride a mountain stage of Le Tour). He'd already been out for 30 miles in the morning before I'd arrived, so claimed to be a little tired as we set off down toward Botley and other villages joined up between leafy and sunken lanes, south of the M3. My poor wee legs didn't know what to do as we tore through junctions, postcard villages and even past Mr Titchmarch's house (apparently). We left one or two other unsuspecting bikies for dead as the tarmac melted below our wheels. In truth, I was dragged around the 32 miles circuit and we finished with an average of around 20mph with 2000ft of climb into the bargain. Zut alors!
I had a day off yesterday but today nipped out for a quick 25m picking up the Druridge Bay 10k; and a very nice setting it was too. I'll shoe horn in a  6 or 8 mile run later on through the woods.
June will have to be a bit more bikey than runny with the Cyclone to complete at the end of the Month.

Photos of Druridge Bay 10k are on the Flickr Site (see right)