Thursday, September 22, 2011

High Peak 40 Challenge, 17th September 2011, 40 miles

Writing this 4 days after the race, I'm still tired and my legs are still feeling battered! This was a tough race physically and mentally.

I'd had a stomach bug all week and had been feeling fairly lethargic with it. So an enforced rest/taper for a few days. In fact I'd done very little since my recce 2 weeks earlier due to a slight hip flexor strain. So not ideal preparation - did think about not starting but that would have been far too sensible.....and it's not as though I should know better....

Arrived in Buxton, went for a quick jog and actually felt pretty good. Jenny arrived from Manchester and we went to an Italian for tea - not the best. Back to the hotel, hard bed - and just to add insult to injury, there was a wedding reception until 1am so minimal sleep. Up at 5.20, creeping round the room trying (unsuccessfully) not to wake Jenny up.

Walked to Buxton Community College and registered. Had a natter with Helen & Will, fellow "wrong turners" at UltraRace Peaks - assure them I have my map! Chat with some walkers - they'll be out there 10-12 hours!

Then we all walked down to Broad Walk and it stopped raining just in time for the start at 8. The course essentially heads out east from Buxton goes around Chapel-en-le-Firth up onto Rushup Edge, over Mam Tor, down into Castleton, work its way to Tideswell via Cavedale, down Monsal Dale, up Deep Dale then turns westwards for the last  7 miles back to Buxton - sounds easy! It wasn't!!

Settled into a reasonable pace from the start and began to pick a few people off going up the first hill. Straight away noticed my heart rate was 5-10 beats higher than it should have been for the pace - hmm, thinks I, this could get interesting! A long fast descent to Fernilee Reservoir which I know will induce shin splints post race - I just have to accept this fact after any hard downhill racing.

Felt pretty good until the climb up to Rushup Edge at about 14 miles - no much strength in legs and stomach really "churning" as it had been doing all week. Had to stop behind a wall once on top to "admire the view" but felt a lot better for it.

Met up with Jim who had been in the leading group but had taken a wrong turn and was now heading for CP7 to meet his girlfriend. We ran at a good pace into Castleton where Jenny was waiting to greet us. Was surprisingly told that we were in 10/11th place. It was great to see Jenny but very tempting to jump in the car! Having contemplated stopping here, legs were feeling a lot better so decided to at least get to Tideswell at marathon distance.

Cavedale....ah yes, Cavedale. I died a thousand deaths going up Cavedale out of Castleton. No energy at all, legs cramping - walked almost the entire way whilst Jim shepherded me on and upwards. Realised I hadn't drunk that much and had only eaten half a banana and 1 gel.....bad mistake. Had been so concerned with my guts that I neglected the re-fuelling. Silly boy! Ate lots, drank lots
Got going again on the long downhill section to Tideswell but had pretty much decided to jack it in there - a marathon would be a respectful day out and deserving of at least some ice cream! Jenny was waiting in Tideswell looking very cheerful. Told her I felt shit and was struggling and then I think I said "See you in Buxton" or something equally stupid. I had decided to go into Ironman mode - checkpoint to checkpoint.

Along Monsal Trail something at the top at my left thigh started to go into spasm, followed by something on the lateral side of my knee - insertion of ITB? This led to me running 50m, hopping to  a stop, walking a bit, then doing it all again - must have looked quite comical. Remembered my nurofen, chucked a couple down which seemed to settle thinks down. Walked most the way up Deepdale1, still with Jim - we had begun to lose a few places by now. We were passed by a couple of people Jim knew so he went of with them - I was so grateful for his support - no way would I have finished if I'd been running on my own.

Refilled all my bottles at the top of Deepdale, and had another piece of flapjack. 7 miles to go and now I knew I'd finish and I began to focus on this. then followed a mindless, straight 3mile road section - lovely after 33 miles! And the heavens opened. The forecast rain had held off until now and in fact we had had quite a few sunny spells. Donned by Omm Kamleika waterproof for the first time - very comfortable, very impressed. Walked/ran along the road road section and was grateful to hit the path again at King Sterndale where the sun cam out again too.

Having recce'd this bit I knew Deepdale 2 was approaching - a deep ravine that appears out of nowhere at the bottom of a field. I picked my way carefully down and then walked strongly up the other side, overtaking someone sitting on a bench having a cake stop! Feeling much better now and finishing strongly, ran across the fields to the last CP and hit my emergency jelly beans and chocolate coated coffee beans. Nice!

Then the last 2-3 miles across some fields passing a few slowing runners. A final hill in Buxton and down to the finish where Jenny was waiting - a sight for sore eyes! Received my commemorative mug - makes a change from a medal.

I was so pleased to finish - it had been a really tough day both mentally and physically and was really chuffed to guts it out and finish. Surprised to find I was 19th - thought I had dropped more places.

41.2 miles, 1775m ascent, 6hrs 45 min, 19th/200, 4220 calories burnt!

A really well organised event with a good but low key atmosphere. Well marked course. Perhaps a bit too much road which made it more punishing but some great views along the way. Suffering forgotten, I'll probably do it all again next year!

No wonder it hurt!

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