Saturday, 12 May 2012

Mount Famine 2012

Kit requirements
It is now a year on from when that headless photo of me (to the right of the page) was taken in a sprint finish at the end of the Mount Famine race. Time flies when you're having fun.

This weekend is a good one, as we have Mount Famine, described as "probably the highest pain per mile quotient of all the Hayfield Champs races". That may well be true, for some runners it is a real nightmare of Achilles heels, one after the other, for others, its a great race with some excellent and technical terrain.

A number of Glossopdalers prepared for it in excellent style by heading over to OB1's house the night before for an Ugali party. The theory being "eat like a Kenyan, run like a Kenyan". A wonderful time was had by all, and I'm very much looking forward to the next one, (take note Mr. Kenobi)!

Today dawned beautifully, lots of fluffy clouds, but none of them obscuring the sun, not too hot, not too cold, and with a breeze to help us along the way. Brilliant. Once safely registered and wandering around we started to notice who else was running today. You tend to go to a race thinking, "well, if no-one else turns up, I'm going to be first". Then you see Julien and steviek, and think, well, ok, 3rd if I'm on form. Then you see Jack Ross. Ok. 4th. Tom Brunt. hmmm at least 5th then. And so on and so forth, counting down the places that you definitely aren't going to get to an approximate position if everything goes right.
The problem being, you almost psyche yourself out by doing that, which is never a good thing.

Me having done battle with a tree
Julien, Matt and I wandered over to the start. There was a good turn out of Glossopdalers and Pennine (I think it was one of their champ races, as well as being "their" race anyway) so we ended up being fairly sociable.
The start was, if anything, more slippy than last year. The virtually straight up ascent of Elle bank looking fairly exciting anyway, I had a quick wander up the lower part, and for every footstep I took up, I slipped back half a foot. This could be more exciting that I thought.

On the start line I met up with OB1, who had used his Ugali powers well by thrashing around a 5k Park run earlier on in the morning, and was now lining up for his second race of the day. Respect, sir, and to Neil as well, for doing that AND providing the transport!
As we were given race directions and general information, the slipperiness wasn't the only thing that was treacherous, there were also a load of trees that had been blown down along the route- so we had to be careful of that as well. Excellent, this was almost sounding more like an obstacle course than anything else, this could be fun. As we readied for the off I noticed people nudgling (no thats not a typo) ahead of me, and then at "go" I was already a few places back from where I thought I was going to be. Well, its a mass scramble uphill, not the worst place to be.
Then we started up the really steep bit, and I nearly got kicked in the face. Ok. Not the best place to be. I put on some speed, looked up, and Tom Brunt was only just in front of me. That's a bit odd. I looked further up the hill and Julien and Alistair had rocketed off and were leading the field up the hill. Ooooh. That might have been foolhardy of them. We'll see.
Up the hill, pulling on sods of grass, trees, real hands and feet stuff. I began to feel like my legs were tiring, not a good thing this close to the start of a race, and tried to ignore it, knowing the top was coming soon. We got there, a left and then along a path. I was in line with a couple of other runners, and was vaguely chasing behind Julien and Alistair, but thinking about how far we had left to go, being careful not to burn out too fast. I thought I'd left Matt way behind me on the first climb, but who should pass me within about 300metres, but Matt.

Crikey. I'd best start thinking about getting a shift on. Judith Jepson was somewhere up ahead as well, and I saw Matt overtake her. Coming up onto the Dragons back I knew I needed to keep up with him, or risk losing him completely, but my legs had nothing in them at all. I realised that I hadn't really prepared myself for the race in the slightest. Thought I knew the route, and what it was going to be like, just because I'd run it a year ago. Not so. In hindsight I should have put a bit more thought into actually looking at it and preparing body and mind as to what was going to come. Going up onto the ridge I just wanted to stop and walk back down the hill, fairly certain I was having a shocking run and it was nearly pointless to carry on running, considering how tired I felt and how little energy I felt I had.

Julien and Steviek showing what 2 seconds looks like
Carry on going. Just keep on going up. Its all a bit of a blur, but I overtook Judith, kept Matt in my sights, and then saw another Glossopdale vest in front of us- its Alistair. It can't be Julien, he won't be wearing a vest by now. We slowly, agonisingly slowly catch up to him, climb a steep part, and Matt blasts off ahead, overtaking him. I take things a little more circumspectly, and eventually overtake a little later. Looking over to the top of the hill, I am happy that we'll be going down soon.
But no.

We had just reached South Head, Ba-ba was there taking photos and saying "look over to the left- you'll see Simon Bailey pretty much at the bottom of Dimpus Clough". Flipping heck. Its almost like he's running a different race to us, how the heck did he get so far ahead?! That's just ridiculous. Does that man exist on Irn Bru and weetabix? I have no idea. If you know, let me know.
Thanks to Chris Calladine for the photo
Ba-ba offered some encouragement, and I could see Julien (shirtless, as ever) and a gaggle of Penniners heading up to Mount Famine. At this point I thought I'd hit the furthest point away and was ready to go down and back, and I was mentally devastated that I still had ANOTHER hill to do before.
Keep on keeping on. (ok, maybe devastated is a bit over egging it, but I was a bit surprised that I had another hill to go and that didn't sit well with my legs at all).

Down and up, chasing Matt, I know that he is faster on the ups, but surely I'll catch him on the down. Over the hill and down. Matt still going well, and Alistair somewhere behind me, I need to make sure I'm covering ground well. Down the hill, it gets steeper, and I'm still not making up any distance on Matt.
The sneaky git must have been putting in some downhill practice.

To the bottom, a sharp turn around and then a look up to the impending hill. I could see Julien and the Pennine Gaggle heading up there, not too far ahead, and Matt seemed to be in touching distance. I just need to keep myself going. But my legs have other ideas.
I try to run, I try to keep good pace, but all they respond to is a walk/run type thing, and I see them dwindle into the distance. Try as I might I can make no time up on them. Halfway up is Rich Seipp with a camera. He fires off a few shots and then walks up the hill next to me, commenting on the weather and general stuff. I try to keep a conversation going but there is no spare air. (I'll be more coherent next time Rich). By the time I'm getting to the really steep bit at the top of Dimpus Clough my legs don't seem to be working despite my constant mantra of "Shut up Legs". (Thanks Jens Voight for that one). I have to crawl up the slope almost crab-like to stop everything in my legs from attempting to cramp up and generally stop working. I forgot how much FUN this race was!

I hit the top, not much after Matt and a couple of Pennine guys, or so I thought. Getting over the stile I could see no-one behind me, and looking forward, no-one in front of me either. They must have gone off like rockets. I give chase. Over the humps on the Dragons back, no-one. I can see nothing in front of me. Wow. That's some serious speed. Am I slowing down? Is Ali catching me? Faster legs, faster legs. I know they don't want to work- shut up legs.

The Dragons Back seems to go on for a long time. Longer than I expected, and it was like I was the only runner out there. In a class of my own. Not quite in the same way as Simon Bailey, but a class of my own nevertheless. Down the steep slope to the bridleway and a long section of hard path greets me. I have to keep the speed up, goodness knows who is going to be breathing down my neck by the end. I've managed to get all the way up Dimpus Clough and along the ridge with no-one overtaking me, this is the last 1k or so, I can't let anyone take me now.
The finish line
There is a biker who I pass- on a cyclocross bike- going up one of the less straightforward sections- nice one indeed, and shout out a greeting, and now to dig in and go as hard as I can. No-one to see in front of me, no-one behind me. I know I got 54 mins- just under 55 last year, so I fix that in my mind as the target as I have no-one to physically race around me.
Onto the short road section at the end and I'm feeling at the end of my energy levels, I almost feel like walking, but know I cannot. Not with a couple of hundred yards to go. I know I'm fading, but have to finish strong. Through the playground, (where Simon has been playing with his kid since finishing the race about 10 mins earlier) round the corner and a final surge for the line. I don't feel good, in fact I feel trashed, like I have just run a very hard race.

Water, recovery, congratulate Matt on a race well run- coming in 3 places ahead of me in the end, and cheering on the rest of the finishers as they come around the final corners.

Consorting with the enemy
I came 15th, in 51:23. 3 mins ahead of last years time. I still need to work on my hills, but at least I have that in hand now.
Julien won the V50, in a time 2 seconds faster than he managed last year, and that was when he wasn't recovering from an injury. I think I have some way to go yet, as it appears that I'm still not within touching distance of him or Steviek, even though they are both recovering from injury. I think a bit of patience with the current training, give it some time to see how it goes before making changes.

So now its an afternoon of rest and recuperation, and Calderdale relay tomorrow.
I'm on the first leg, so an excellent chance to recover! Now to look at the map, and actually prepare myself for it. A cunning plan I think.
Well done to all involved, a well organised and executed event. Thanks muchly. 

I think there may be a few more photos of me out there on the course, drop us a line if you have any (baba/rich) and I'd be happy to put them up on here with credits. As ever.

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