March arrives and 'Antisocial' from the FRA forums will be around helping you park your car or guiding you towards registration for the Wuthering Hike, or Haworth Hobble as it used to be known.
It seems like the start of the season as this race has always marks the first of the runfurther series and an opportunity to catch up with old friends and acquaintances. I wasn't to be disappointed. Nick, showing off his new tattoo and emblazoned with runfurther 'merch'. (Did he get 3 runfurther/inov8 caps for his grand slam?). Of course, Mark and Danny were out for a run around. Stephen and Jason, the Lakes 50 team winners also still seem to have the ultra bug and many others all eager to get some points on the board.
Training from since last October really has been going well in comparison to previous years and while not getting in that many really long runs my general fitness and speed seems to be increasing, however in the week or two running up to 'the hobble' I'd had some really long stressful days at work and instead of tapering to full fitness I was just left feeling run down and tired. Adding to the stress, for the drive up to Haworth my dad had given me his old sat nav which I decided to use for the first time ever. Bad move. I had no idea where it was taking me but I suppose that's the idea. I ended up going some daft route around West Yorkshire through Sowerby Bridge with the map on my lap and the gadget not updating quick enough. I did arrive in good time but more stressed out than I would have done if I'd have gone my usual route. Don't know why I bothered, not as if I'd never been there before.
|Another year, Another March morning in Haworth|
A record turnout it seems this year and I never even heard Brett set us on our way. I was unsure how to play it this year with my previous times being 2009-6:35, 2010-5:48 and 2011-5:47 I wasn't predicting a PB. I settled into a start easy strategy and ran with Mark and Danny to see how it felt.
As we exited Haworth and ventured off road it did seem a bit wetter than previous outings. The nicely laid flagstones turned out to be very slippy and it was either use them or go through the gloop. I didn't find this too much of a hardship as I've now set aside a pair of X-talons just for racing in to prolong the grip.
Widdop Resevoir and Long Causeway checkpoints came and went and we chatted away merrily all the way. It was about Long Causeway that I realised that it was supposed to be a race and I'd taken considerably longer than I should at the checkpoints, in fact way longer than I have on previous efforts and the walking breaks were coming more often.
I should have pushed on after Long Causeway but got too comfortable and and stayed with Mark and Dan.
My previous lethargy had now cleared and I was feeling stronger. I usually don't stop at Stony Lane for the hot dogs but on this occasion the CP had moved a few hundred yards to the path junction meaning you didn't have to go out of your way to get one. It tasted pretty good and was just the job for this relaxed pace.
On the way down to Todmorden we see Wendy Dodds and a few others coming the other way, missed the CP apparently.
|Climbing towards Mankinholes. Stoodley Pike ahead|
Next up was the first of the two steep climbs, this one up to Mankinholes and my holding back earlier was paying off as it didn't seem that bad.
'Mr Brightside' was on hand at Mankinholes CP with, for the second year running, a bottle of Jura for anyone who would like a tipple and/or a box of saxa table salt for anyone suffering from a dose of cramp(quite common after the Makinholes climb). I declined on both, I'm not really a Whisky fan and cramp isn't usually a problem. Incidently I'd gone for a healthy approach on this one with a handful of Nakd bars and a carton of alpro soya chocolate milk for later on. The Nakd bars were going down well and no stomach distress was evident.
|Clearly More takers for the Jura than the juice!|
As an aside, regarding the Pennine way. Mark had come up with a plan that if he didn't get into UTMB 2012 then he would have a go at the Pennine way for a personnal challenge. He eventually come up with a 6 day schedule going North to South at between 35-57 miles a day stopping at YHAs or whatever was available. As with many others, neither of us got a place at UTMB so I've jumped on the opportunity to Join Mark on this journey into multiday trips. All accomodation is booked and it's all on for the Start of September. Should be epic!
Meanwhile.... The plod continued down the new Pennine way track and I braced myself for the bog at the bottom. I was pleasantly surprised when a newly layed path of flagstones appeared to keep our feet dry.
The weather had brightened up a lot since the earlier mist and we were heading towards Hebden Bridge, The Lesbian capital of Britain apparently and just on queue a pair of young ladies walked past hand in hand.
Hebden Bridge is always a bit tricky navigation wise for a those not 'in the know' and there were a couple with the map out scratching their heads. We quickly pointed them to the steps through the gap in the houses that leads to the long climb up to Heptonstall.
It was here that the chocolate milk came out and I've got to say it went down a treat. Can't remember where I heard of this stuff but it seems to work and is a change from the sickly sweet usual juice drinks. I was still feeling plenty strong enough but had resigned myself to the fact that I'd played it all wrong and left it too late for a last minute attack! I'd simply started too slowly and took it too easy.
Similarly at the Midgehole CP8 and road/path junction at CP9 I just treated it as a day out and took my time.
It wasn't until the final mile or so over Penistone hill that I began to feel a little tired but even then I could have pressed on through it.
Navigating through the high street was again, bang on for a faultless run all the way around. The map never made an appearance.
You know you've had a bad run when you arrive at the finish and there are people changed, packed up and leaving. The after race stew did taste good though.
Oh dear 6:29 is very slow and It has taken me a week to stop being angry with myself for not giving it a proper go. I was hoping for at least 1 hour faster than that and should have given it all I'd got at the start. If I'd have fell apart in the latter stages I would probably have still beaten that time. That's a definite lesson learnt. It's all too easy to treat these races as social outings but on this occasion I feel it was an opportunity wasted. Yes, I felt negative and ill on the week running up to it and not too good on the start but after a couple of miles can honestly say I could have tried harder. Lets move on shall we..