21 September 2014

Stanage Struggle 2014

I do love a good fell race. Even more so if I finish feeling better than I did at the start.  The Stanage Struggle was a last minute decision and I almost backed out of it when I woke up at 4am this morning and couldn't fall back asleep properly.  Even at the start line I was standing there thinking why the hell am I doing this...Once we started moving though I settled in to a comfortable place within my head and just made up my mind to enjoy it.

Bargain race of the year, £5! 

And enjoy it I did.  The disgruntled sheep who leapt through the pack of runners provided a laugh, at least from 10 runners back it did. I'm sure those who were right there didn't think it was quite as amusing but I don't think I've ever seen a sheep catch that much air in a jump before.

The relentless climb where most of us in the middle of the pack were reduced to walking didn't even kill my mood although my calves were on the verge of cramping. Instead I channeled my inner Jens Voigt and repeated (silently, talking took too much effort) "Shut up legs", I wonder if anyone else was doing the same? 

Once we reached the top I took a moment (while still running) to admire the view...Next thing I knew I was doing a World Series worthy home run slider head first! Adrenalin rocks though, I popped back up as fast as I went down and didn't even lose a position. Yes, Miss Whoops strikes again! 

The steep downhill ascent lost me time and several spots though.  My ankles are still not as flexible as they should be after the sprains earlier in the year so I was taking that far more cautiously than I normally would.  It doesn't help that I'm woefully out of practise with running technical (aka too damn rocky) trails.  

The aftermath

I made up for it once we reached the gentler sloping areas, bombed through mile 5 at 7:37, then mile 6 at 8:50--we started climbing up again and there was a boggy area to cross through that was ankle deep and a bit shoe-sucking.  When I say boggy, I mean not just the fact that it was wet and muddy but it was also that I think it was the preferred sheep toilet area--it stunk!!!! 

Heading for the finish

Gaining on the guy in blue

Oh, hello there! Smile for the partner and both feet in the air. No, those two things are not necessarily connected but it did make my day to see him at the end. 

Hair, tattoos, and laughter.

The Stanage Struggle is on my list to run again, actually I would love to do the entire Outdoor Challenge race series next year.  Hathersage is a beautiful village and the race was well-managed, very well marshaled and the people on the trails were very supportive, lots of cheers and well-dones.  There was even a water stop at the top before the turn around point which I didn't expect but was a nice touch.  

What I need to work on: 
  • Calf strength--I'm doing well with deadlifts, squats, and lunges but need to start adding in some calf specific strength exercises to combat the trying to cramp tendency while climbing the uphills
  • Technical trails--I used to be quite good with rocky and uneven terrain but have gotten out of the habit of running over technical ground the past couple of years
  • Ankle flexibility--again, have gotten out of the habit of doing the ankle mobility work.  Need to get back with that
  • Speed--self-explanatory, need to get faster
After the race, you gotta refuel! The past few times we'd been up to the Peak District we had just missed Grindleford Station Cafe being open but we lucked out today :-).  Post run reward was a full English and a huge cup of coffee.

I ate everything except the sausages. 

Check out the pics from a previous visit (2011) to Hathersage when we visited Little John's Grave

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