Sunday, 23 June 2013

Kinder Trog 2013

The day dawned somewhat cloudy.

Going to be one of those days.
The reason I know this was because I was just getting to bed at 4:30 after being out on the hill with Mountain Rescue, eyes heavy and fed up with contact lenses, having hung up my wet and skanky stuff, put batteries on charge and wondered if I would be racing in 6 hours time, or whether I wouldn't really be bothered.

I eventually rolled out of bed at about 8, to a big cup of coffee. Lynne was wondering if I was going to race, so was I really. But if I was up and about, it would be a shame to not run, despite the fact it was claggy, windy, wet and generally not particularly pleasant outside.
After breakfast we had a lovely chat with a couple of friends down in Australia, great to catch up with Matt and Cor who are on track to creating their own farm down in Tassie. You can read about what they're up to on their blog. Very worth reading, as another pair of people escaping the ratrace to do what they actually want to do.

Getting changed in the van
We hurried over to Hayfield, or as much hurriedness as you can muster behind tourists who insist on driving at 25mph over Chunal, and arrived to a growing hubbub of runners in the Scout hut. I registered, and went to get changed in the van - which is a great improvement on getting changed outside a car. Dry, warm, listening to the rain patter on the roof, thinking "the things we do for enjoyment, hey?". Some people get up on a day like today, turn over and go back to bed. But no, there are 170 of us in shorts and running shoes, getting ready to run 21k up onto Lantern Pike, Kinder and South Head, not forgetting Big Stone at the end. No wonder people think we're nuts.

pre race Glossopdale socialising
With the weather like it was, and the wind blowing in over from the West, I decided that I'd start in my
waterproof. Yes, the bright yellow one. I knew I'd overheat on the climbs, but once up on the plateau, I
wouldn't need to faff around putting one on if I started chilling off too much. I can cope with a bit of heat, and would be glad of the protection from the wind.
Others were going variously in just running vests, helly hansens, jackets and all kinds of stuff. I was happy with my choice, and stuck with it.

And having a chat with Nick Ham
After a bit of socialising, (Tom Brunt mentioned this wasn't really a race for him, more of a training run, I considered about hamstringing him, but then thought better of it), we gathered at the start. Somehow, without even trying I ended up right at the front of the race. A nice place to be at the end of the proceedings, but not necessarily at the start. The usual rules were shouted, and the start was called by the race organisers daughter, whose birthday it was today, and with the beeping of a hundred or so watches, we set off down the road.

Lined up at the start. In the fitful sun. Spot the Yellow jacket 
The leaders zoomed off at a fantastic pace, with Alasdair from GDH in close pursuit. Good luck to him, with all his BG training recently, he was certainly going to do well today. I settled down to a pace not too fast, but not too slow, Julien just in front of me, and generally in the top 20 or
so runners. In the first half mile, there is always a bit of banter, and I ended up talking with someone who I ran along with for a while in last years edition of the race, and then someone else. We introduced ourselves, but unfortunately we were going up a hill at the time, and I have no idea what their names are. Sorry. Feel free to say hi at a slightly less incline related time!

Up the hill toward Lantern Pike and I was going along ok. I could see steviek in front of me by about 20 metres, so that meant I wasn't running badly at all. If I could keep him in sight, then that would be a good thing. There was a bevvy of Pennine runners with him, and Julien and Anthony from GDH just in front as we turned left up the steepening hill toward the top of the Pike. I was getting a little warm in my jacket, but making sure I kept pace. If I overheated, it wouldn't be too desperate, as I can always cool down pretty quickly, so I kept the pace up to stay in contact with them.

Coming up to Burnt hill
Toward the top of the pike I managed to keep my legs going just a little faster than the guys in front and overtook 2 people, Julien included. I judged that I was still in the top 20, but certainly a long way from the 12th that I finished in last year. A decision was made there that I would not concentrate on the placing, but rather the time. As much as I wanted to beat last years time, I wasn't sure, in my fatigued state if I could do it, however, I would concentrate on going as hard as I could in order to get a decent time, no matter where I ended up in the race. I crested the hill, and worked my way down, overtaking another runner in the process. Off lantern pike, I was with Julien and another couple of runners, one of which was an ex-Macc harrier, who I had run against in the Great Lakes race last week.
Again, introduced, again, no idea what his name was. I lost it on the hillside somewhere. Sorry about that. As
ever, feel free to say hi again when we're concentrating less on running!

Along the lanes, and I could see Alastair and Stevie in front of me, the leaders already long gone, so I got my head down and started thinking about the hill about to come going up Kinder. Turning the corner onto the road I wasn't in any particular pack, having got myself alone for a short way, and managed to grab a half glass of water at the drinks station. Thankfully I wasn't caught up with cars at the road crossing onto Burnt
Hill, and could see a line of runners stretching up the hill in front of me.
Don't concentrate on the position, concentrate on the time.

Snake of runners up Burnt hill. Before the Clag came back in.
I plugged my way up Burnt hill, with Neil shouting encouragement from the sidelines. (ie. what are you doing with a cagoule on? this is a race~!) and Lynne taking photos. I think at this time a fast Altringham chap cruised past, and he eventually came pretty high up on the roster, he looked like he was running very easily indeed.
There was one guy between me and Alastair and another Pennine runner, admittidly they were a good 100m further on, but on the way up the flag stones I started to consider whether I was running at my current speed because I wanted to, or if my pace was being dictated by him. Always a dilemma. If you pass someone, you have to make it stick, especially on these slippery stones. So I bided my time, reflecting a bit on how lucky we were to be out on a hill, running through rain with visibility varying from 10m to 300m, and chose my place to pass.

Once done I increased speed slightly, and my ears popped by the time we got to the Liberator Wreck. I was slowly gaining on Alastair and the Pennine guy in front, though it would probably be a while. I shouted my number at Geoff, marshalling on Mill hill, and piled down the stones to the bottom of Kinder corner, hoping to gain some time on the guys in front of me. I could see a string of runners, and a couple of walkers, going up the steep part of the climb. I decided that I'd run up that bit as far as I could, and see if I could make some time up.
All a good plan, and I closed the distance on Alastair, but once I stopped running, and started walking up the really steep bit, I was wondering if I hadn't gone a bit too far up running as my legs didn't really seem to work so well. The distance wasn't closing anymore. My legs were pretty tired, and I felt like they just didn't want to climb, or even run any more.

Flashback to last year Kinder Downfall, following Alasdair across the top of Kinder in the clag, he has a powergel, and that was the last I saw of him til the end. I really didn't want that happening this time, and toward the top, as soon as he started running, so did I, and managed to get almost within touching distance of him.
The wind really hit then.

Running across the stoney, slippery and unpredictable terrain of the Kinder path with a wind strong enough to blow you - if not over, certainly off balance - was an interesting experience. I don't think that I've done a race along this path without falling over at least once, so foot placement was key. I didn't want to lose Ali or the Pennine guy, as there are a couple of sneaky shortcuts, and if I lost them, I'd have to think a bit more about route finding, and a bit less about where I was putting my feet. Alasdair excels on this type of terrain and kept opening up a small gap on the various downs and ups, but I managed to keep with him with short bursts of acceleration.
I was very aware of the fact I was wearing my yellow jacket, thinking that I might as well have a massive "FOLLOW ME" sign on my back. Apparently there were a few runners behind me who thought much the same thing... so nothing to do but keep running.
Across the top toward the Downfall I stayed in touch, and was happy with my placing and pacing. The wind was battering across, and helping and hindering in equal parts, and I was looking forward to kicking back a little on the run down to Redbrook as I didn't need to think too much about placings. Lynne had told me I was about 17th on the climb up to Burnt hill... but don't think of the place... think of the time!

We cut through the clag and over Downfall, up onto the otherside, and a group of figures appeared wraith-like through the mist to our right. Who else, but Steviek and a bundle of others.
They must have taken a dodgy line across to the Downfall.
Part yay - I'm now running in a race and being competitive with runners who I have always seen as way way faster than me,
Part damn, I'm going to have to continue to really give it some. No let up. I've already been operating on a line close to the limit for the past 20 mins. I've always wondered what it would be like to go hard early on and then have to hang on for the rest of the race. I suppose I'm about to find out.
Alasdair had extended out his lead on me and the rest of the runners and continued to do so for the length of the path. I ran behind Stevie and another runner for a while, and suddenly thought... am I running at this pace because I'm being dictated to by them, or could I go faster?

I overtook the other guy, and then was head to head with Stevie, and then overtook. Somewhat unprecedented, but it felt like the right thing to do. I slowly closed the gap on Ali again, but he kept a decent distance ahead - maybe 20m or so, just in the ghostly part of the clag.
We ran on, down and onto the slippery paving stones off the hill, which my x-talons provided no real grip on, but we all held our places. I could hear someone behind me, but dared not look behind, partially because I didn't want to know who, or how many people were behind me, and partially because I didn't want to take my eyes off where my feet were going to land next.

The final descent off Kinder and all of a sudden, crack, over I went on my left ankle. Same as last week. Pain, swearwords, limp and thoughts of last week where I only had 400m to hobble before finishing. I'm only about halfway through this race... just keep going and don't go over on it again.
Behind me I hear a muffled "ooof" as someone else went down. No idea who, but I was too busy intent on half hopping half hobbling down to the checkpoint, and past it, on the way down to Dimpus clough. Ali still in front of us, and me pulling up in a bit of pain.
I let Stevie and the other guy past me, no point in holding them up because I'm being slow. I reassured them I'd be ok, and watched them plunge down toward the bottom of the clough.

Time to think about just how bad my ankle felt. I was running on it, it was becoming a little less painful with each step, so I made sure I kept the guys in sight in front of me, and just kept running. As we came into the bottom of the clough I could see a train of runners going up the other side. 3, 4? maybe 5 runners. I had no idea where I was in the race at this point, so it was a good thing that I wasn't really thinking about it. We crossed the stream, shouted our numbers at John Doyle and sons (I think - I was a bit knackered by now), and started up the other side of Dimpus.
The first year I ran this race I lost about 8 places on this ascent. Last year I didn't lose any, I was determined to do the same this year.

Stevie and the other guy quickly made their mark, pushing up in front and extending out up the hill, quickly catching Alasdair. I was equal to them along the top, but the definitely had the measure of me up the hills. I kept going. Kept the legs moving, and kept believing that I could get to the top without losing a place. And then I passed Alasdair. Not really enough breath to converse with him at this stage, but assured him my ankle was ok, and then moved on, up out of the clough and right, toward South head and Mount Famine.
Right into a massive headwind.

Argh. I was already tired, and this was almost the last straw. Horrible running into it, but I reassured myself with the fact that everyone had run the same race. They had all just climbed the same hill, and they were all going to be battling the same wind. I kept my legs going, but couldn't keep enough speed up to keep another Pennine runner coming past me. Time to grit the teeth and dig in.

From here to the road was just a case of keeping it together. Don't slow down, and keep the three runners in front of me somewhere in sight. They were all pulling away from me bit by bit, which probably meant that the guys behind me were reeling me in, bit by bit. No time to not run. No time to think about anything except step after step. Down the path and to the road, cross the road, and there is Nev, shouting that I'm doing well, and in 9th place, I turn the corner into Peep 'o'day, and Neil is there handing out water, still commenting about the fact I have my waterproof on, and saying that Stevie is just ahead, waiting to be caught.
But now for the drag up to Big Stone.

What a drag. It took everything I had to not stop and walk. All I could think of now was 2:04. I want 2:04. No idea how long I had been running, not willing to look at my watch, just believe that I am going fast enough to make it. Legs turning over, and the other runners going ahead of me, slowly ecking out their lead. Teeth gritted I plough my way up the hill, and only stop running to take some walking steps right at the top as I shout my number to the marshall. Breaking my rule, I permit myself a quick glance to the right, down the hill, I see vests behind me, but don't register how far away they are. Can I hold on to this position for the rest of the race? It's almost all downhill now, but how good are the others at descending?

Think of the time, and just run.
Coming in at the end
I hammer down the hill, and across the path along toward the gate that leads to the final descent proper and I find my mind wandering. I have no idea what I was thinking about, but it wasn't running.
Focus. Back to making sure my feet are landing in the right place, getting through the gates ok, down the hill. Have I done enough to keep this position? I have no idea, and there is no way I'm going to look behind me. Just run.
Nothing is certain even at this stage of the race, so I keep a stable head on. Through the trees, across fields, and a slight twinge of a stitch threatens.
No. Not now. Not in the last 1k of the race. Just keep breathing. Can I hear someone behind me? Or is it something in my bumbag? Slow down a little, and let the stitch let up a bit. It's not crippling yet, but I can feel it coming on.
Through the stile and a sharp right down concrete to the road crossing. I swear I can hear someone behind me. I need to keep it cool, I slow down a bit, speed up a bit, and still can't work it out. To the road and there are cars there.
No! I stop and let them past, and leap ahead again. Am I going to have to rely on a sprint finish again? Do I have enough in the tank for it? I have no idea.
Down, following the marshalls, and as I cross into the path to the bridge I sneak another look behind. No-one there. Not a problem- but I still want that 2:04, even though I have no idea what the current time is.
Over the bridge, see Tom, hang a left and then lay down everything on the line to get to the finish as fast as possible. How annoying would it be to miss out on a target because I just sauntered the last 50 metres?

2:04:06. BOOM.
9th! Another top 10 finish. Something that I really really wasn't expecting. That takes off 6 mins from last year. Brilliant.

I get up immediately as I felt my legs cramping up, wander around and congratulate Alasdair who comes in 10th, a minute behind, and then had to go for a quick warm down jog before my legs started to spasm.

I have to say, I was astonished that I managed to run so well. Very very chuffed with that.
Caity - First Lady. 

Tom Brunt won, despite having a bit of a jog around, Caitlin from GDH came in First lady, which is fantastic, Julien was first V50, John H was 3rd V50

And this is as many as I could see from GDH on the board.
Tim Budd, 9th in 2:04:06
Alasdair, 10th in 2:05:14
Julien, 19th in 2:09:31
John Hewitt, 23rd in 2:12:28
Anthony Walker 25th in 2:12:49
Caity Rice 27th (1st lady) in 2:13:10
Chris Jackson 39th in 2:20:11
Dave Hogg 44th in 2:21:10
Richard White, 63rd in 2:26:16
Ian Oates 92nd in 2:36:01
Andy Burnett 129th in 2:47:44
Jude Stansfield 156th in 2:54:47
Alison Holt, 158th in 2:55:46

Thanks muchly to all the marshalls who were out there in such horrible weather, to Nev and neil for their support and cheeriness along the way, Lynne for the photos, Rod for pointing out that my lips were going blue and I that I might want a cup of tea, and of course all the runners for racing. Good effort all around. Twas good to chat with a load of runners that I see at other races and don't normally get a chance to talk to. Tea and sandwiches at the end of a race. marvellous idea.
What a Great day out.

Caitys prize

1 comment:

  1. Great report and great result once again, Zeph. It was good to chat before the race too.