Monday, 8 February 2016

Rab 4h Mini MM, Totley 7th/230

I've never done one of these Rab Mini Mountain Marathon events despite them having been going for about 4 years I think. I'd always wanted to - especially the Peak District ones as they're on my doorstep. The last 3 winters I've been partly injured and there's no point entering these with a niggle ! Saying that I've not done any of these isn't quite so black and white however as I always used to do all the events organised by their predecessors - D&W Events.
Controls Visited : 20,6,7,19,22,17,14,15,18,21,11,16,10,9,5,4,2,1:430pts
The aim of these events is to choose your own route from the map presented to you when you start. You can find as many or as few controls as you want - but you must return in 4 hours. Clearly, better competitors will collect more points and the highest controls always happen to be the hardest to get to - typically in the corners of the maps! However, the beauty of these events is that even novices or walkers can get just as much out of the event as it is time based and not distance. The other great thing about these events is you find yourself running through some lovely quiet "corners" of the peak district that you'd never normally run on. Yes admittedly they are often covered in tussocks or bogs, but I personally prefer these more "hard to reach" areas.

I'd got a lift up with local expert orienteer Dave Chaffey and his mate Ned - this made conversation on the way up far more interesting than travelling alone! Around 250 people had pre entered this event and looking down the start list there was certainly some "big guns" out! 

Tactic on these races for me is to work out roughly how many of the control points I will get (looking at previous maps from previous events). Once I know that, I know how many controls I should not visit. Once I know that, it's just a matter of sweeping round the outside and into the middle every now and again until I've got 75% of the way through the event. The final 25% of the event is all about fine tuning the finish timing. For every minute late you are - you lose time and if you're over 10 mins late you lose LOTS of time! I try to fine tune the last 25% so that there are a few options - if time's going well add a few more in, if going badly then straight line it back to the finish.

GPS Trace of my route on the OS map - showing my error coming out of Blacka up to the A625
The 4 hours went generally well, with my legs feeling good and not many nav errors. Two main issues however ! 

1) I took the wrong path out of Control No20 : This was my first control point so I was still struggling to get to grips with the map scale and it took me 3mins longer than it should have done to get to it. Sadly after collecting control no1 I took the path due WEST and not NORTHWEST. I never realised this all the way through the event or even when I got back home. It was only when looking at the gps trace that I realised what I'd done. I expected to pop out onto the A625, cross it and head due West to find the crag. Sadly, I was completely disorientated once I'd crossed the A625 as I found myself nowhere near any crags what so ever ! Eventually I saw some crags in the distance and thankfully they were the correct ones. Lost 10-15 mins. I had to put that behind be though and just get on with the job in hand - but nevertheless, I had NO IDEA what had just happened and why on the moors I was so far off the crags !!!

2) Wrong Nutrition : It's rare that I get this wrong but I've recently tried using some homemade 'healthy' energy bars (as recommended by Saxo Tinkoff). They taste AMAZING (got lime zest in) but as I found out - they don't work over long stuff for me - I was seeing stars going up the final hill. Thankfully the legs were still fully loaded and ploughed on, but it was hard work ! Again - during most of the run I couldn't for the life of me work out why stuffing dried fruit down me wasnt helping out but I think I've worked out why since. Dried fruit will mainly be Fructose. Fructose can improve performance "but not in the way glucose does" and furthermore "the combination of glucose and fructose improves performance more than glucose alone" which is why most energy powders are now 2:1 (glucose to fructose mix). Important stuff it seems 

Saxo Tinkoff approved  - sadly not approved by Me !!

Still, despite being 1 min40sec late I finished 7th overall out of about 230. Not a bad day out.
I'd best get baking I think!

Overall Results
Split Results

Monday, 1 February 2016

Tigger Tor Fell Race, 23/350

First race of the year and first fell race since The Roaches. Training's been going well recently and it's purely down to one thing - more protein in my daily diet. There's been a two fold benefit since I started upping protein levels ; 

1) Less niggles and aches - muscles are recovering quick from hard training and I get less aches from about 12+miles when previously I was getting niggles. Rest days are now comfortable with stretching being aimed at increasing mobility and not to remove pains.

2) Ability to train harder - less niggles = the ability to push harder. It's been my limiting factor over the last 2-5 years really - in fact since before my Bob Graham and it's refreshing to remember what hard training is like.

Needless to say - with this recent change in my training and diet before this race I was keen to see how this translated into a race.

The section from Oxstones over to Burbage North
I've run this race twice before - 2006 and 2010 (wow 10 years ago !) and have enjoyed it both times - it reminds me of a Winter Burbage Skyline.  So, I knew the route and where to push and how hard the various sections were. I distinctly remember one thing from both of my previous races - the final climb right near the end from Burbage North to Houndkirk Moor is the killer - uphill very slightly for several miles - all on very boggy, narrow heathery sheep trods. Lovely !!
9.8miles 1470ft
And that's how you get 1,470ft of climbing !
Thankfully - the race went as well as I'd hoped - set off fast but comfortable (I never like to red line it early season without a few hard races behind me) getting to Higgar with plenty in reserve. A decent middle section down to Toads Mouth up to Carl Wark and back down followed by a solid final pull over Houndkirk - again feeling comfortable with my pace at all points. Refreshingly, I felt no niggles and felt like the legs always had plenty in reserve and that pushing off at any point was simple. It's been too often over the last few years that every effort in a race is just hard. Thankfully, it looks like I've turned that corner.

Also - very refreshingly - I don't think I lost any places at any point in the race (apart from 2-3 actually places off Higgar). One guy came storming past me on the final run in, but I took another runner. 23rd place out of 350 starters (440 entered) so very very pleased with a top 6.5% finish which is probably my best performance in the field for many years. Always a good quality field too at Totley.

Loved it. Can't wait for the rest of the season now !
Smiles all round from the Harriers (minus Saul) Matt, Su, Ruth, Claire and Me!
Results here 23rd out of 350ish so 6.5% of the way down the field - a record I think for me!!!
Results 2010 here 21/307
Results 2006 download here