Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

November 22, 2012

Wensleydale Wedge, 18 Nov 2012

Since the Nidderdale LDWA is my local club, for the Wensleydale Wedge this year, I officially becaome a volunteer.  We arrived early at the hall to help set up, and I had a few minutes to help with registrations.  Then I was whisked away to the first checkpoint to mark down numbers as people raced through...most of the 260 entries came through in about 40 minutes and it was a riot. 

I spent the rest of the day as a sweeper at the back of the pack, making sure that signs were taken down and all the entrants made it through the checkpoints. We had a radioman from Raynet there to keep track of everyone and make sure that all entrants got back safe and sound to the hall.  It was a rather slow pace, to be sure, but that gave me time to mess around with my camera, take some photos and even a time lapse.  Plus it was a lovely day. 

A short video of the day is below... Rob has recently been learning how to compile videos.  I must say he has outdone himself on this, really his first attempt.   Makes everything I've done look like a 10 year-old threw it together...  Guess I'm out of a job, aw, shucks!   Check it out...great sense of musical timing.

It was absolutely dark by the time we finished...I managed to resist pulling out my headlamp only because a nice chap I was walking with provided enough light for both of us.  Plus we had such a great conversation going that the time went quickly.   The best part of all...I managed to keep my feet dry the whole day!

November 17, 2012

Dark/White Mini-Orienteering, Coniston, 11 Nov 2012

Wow, another sunny day for a race...although this has been a very wet fall, I've gotten really lucky with time on the hills lately. I am now jinxed for all future events.

The second Dark/White Mini-Mountain Marathon was based in Coniston.  I hadn't been to the Lake District since early July, so it was nice to see the hills again.  Rob was even driving up with me, so I could watch the scenery rather than concentrating on the road.  Windermere reservoir was completely fogged in, but sky was blue when we arrived in Coniston with no chance of rain for the race.

Rob headed off to walk along the water's edge while I knew my day would be spent climbing a lot of elevation.  The area for the race was centered on Coniston Old Man...although I went all the way around the summit, I didn't actually go up and over it.  But there were plenty of other steep hills to make up for that!

I didn't feet terribly great at the start and wondered temporarily if I should just walk around rather than push myself.  That feeling lasted until I got on the clock, and then as predicted I was off and running.  Although I kept my effort to about 90% today...no need to push too hard.

Of course, it had been raining.  A lot.  Every stream and beck was still running almost in flood, so the ground underfoot was like a mini-river.  Sloshing through cold water for minutes at a time out on route was very chilling to my toes...to the point where my feet actually went numb a couple of times. 

I have a love/hate relationship with the Lake District.  I love the views, and often I hate the footing under me.  The rocks tend to be sharp and uneven, likely to be slippery and unstable.  A slip on some steep sections could mean not just a sprained ankle, but a bone busted in so many pieces that only a helicopter could get me out again.   Luckily, I stayed in one piece for the race, but I know my speed suffered as I picked my way down a few cliffy areas to controls. 

But overall, a really fun day out in the hills, amazing clear views of the valleys around me.  I was happy with my navigation and even got in a few minutes early so I didn't have to sprint to the finish.  These navigational races are my favorite type of events...I get to choose how hard and fast I race and which route to take. 

Results are here:  http://www.darkandwhite.co.uk/results/conistonsplittimesbyclassv2.html

November 13, 2012

Iowa Harvest Videos

A couple of videos about life on the farm!

November 7, 2012

Open 5, Scotland, 4 Nov 2012

The opening race of the Haglofs 2012-2013 Open 5 Series is now in the books.  Many of us have been waiting immpatiently all summer for these races to start up again...short, sharp, great competition, and smooth organization.  What more can you ask for in a race, really?

Since Open 5 series races are spread around the whole of the UK, the first one required the long drive up to Scotland.   This would only be my 4th visit up there, and Tom was willing to share the drive up, so the time went fast as I saw more new scenery.  Even the weather cooperated, sunshine and calm winds making us squint up at the hills as we arrived at the start hall.   Come to think of it, the weather for these events is either really good, or really, REALLY bad....perhaps that's the nature of a winter series.  There were chunks of ice in all the mud puddles, so although the sun was shining our feet were very cold. 

The Pentlands is a tiny area of wildness on the edge of Edinburgh, barely far enough way from the motorway to be quiet, yet rough and tough as any fell I've run on.   Rosemary Byde was the guest course planner for the event, commuting from her flat in the city to find exciting places to hide the controls.   And a wonderful job she did too (especially as I ended coming back on time!)

I had a bit of a panic at the starting line, when I really just didn't want to start.  I think mentally it just meant the line between when I was studying the map and all things were possible, to the time when I could potentially get lost, muddy, crash, come back late, or even have perfect race.  Perhaps I was used to racing these events with Sarah, and something just didn't feel right about going out solo!   I got past that "failure to start" moment, and headed off up the narrow lane into the hills, sharing it with cars, bikes, and a few ponies.   The run went really well, I have to say.  I collected all the controls I planned on getting and was back within 2 hours.  Although I came back a little dirtier, after butt-sliding down a steep hill on the grass, and then slipping in the mud.  After regaining my feet I must have looked like I had rolled in red clay....and I wasn't the only one. 

Back out on the bike, I choose the hardest sections first, knowing that I could always zoom home on the roads on the back half of the circle if I was late.  Unfortunately most of the high value controls were on the backside of the circle too!  The trails started out really terrible...steep, boggy, and mostly unridable.  I was pushing my bike, cursing the mud, and wondering if it would ever get better.  Where were all the nice trails everyone was raving about?!?!   In the meantime, I spent 1 hr 40 minutes of my remaining time on the first 1/3 of the bike circle.   The math really didn't add up with that, meaning that I then had 1 hr 20 minutes to do 2/3 of the circle.  Impossible?   I started wondering how many HOURS I would be back late to the finish....

Luckily for me, the trails improved when I reached a reservoir, and I sped along on tarmac and level trails to the bottom half of my route and the highest value control of the day.  Whew.   Although there were still a lot of controls to find and I couldn't afford to make any mistakes.  The land continued to be pretty flat, with fast trails, and I found myself with with possibly enough time to everything I wanted.  Well, not everything I wanted, but everything I could realistically collect!   However there was one off-road section remaining and if it was boggy I knew I would get back late.  I skipped a control immediately, to make sure that I could get back on time, which I did with 4 minutes to spare.

I felt like I had done really well, and I was happy with my route choices in the end.  Much happier than I had been 1 hr 40 minutes into the bike section, that's for sure!   Unfortunately two other female solos were able to best me by just 5 points to push me down into 3rd place.  Kudos to them and the race is on for next month!