09 February 2015

Marathon training fatigue and BDL XC

Yesterday was a return to the Holme Brook BDL cross country race, our final one in the winter series. I must say that despite the weather conditions being much better the course was only marginally easier and it still ranks as my least favourite.  It certainly didn't help that I was running on very fatigued legs after completing my last long run for Belvoir on Wednesday and putting in a respectable time for the club handicap on Tuesday, it's safe to say that I was completely out of gas (that's definitely an Americanism) by the time Sunday rolled around.

Yes, that is snow in the background

Last year's weather was horrid: it was windy (25mph plus winds) and it was alternately sunny then completely overcast. If memory serves I think we even had a bit of sleet interspersed with rain and prior to the race we were all standing around inside the building shivering and postponing heading out for the warm-up run. This year it was debatable about whether the park was going to be runnable at all on the grass due to the heavier than usual snow and ice the previous week (one section still was ice covered yesterday) but the conditions on the day were almost perfect for a winter xc--bright sunshine and dare I say it, an almost balmy 42F/5.5 Celsius.

This course features a mean set of uphills, they are (mostly) fairly short but they are wicked brutal on the legs, combine that with ankle deep shoe squelching mud and it can be almost soul-destroying knowing that you have to go around it TWICE! There seemed to be an unusually high number of runners dropping out on the first lap after the first big hill, it would be interesting to know what the attrition rate is for this race.

Run-by wave on the 2nd lap

Abbreviated description of the route: Muddy grass, little bit of footpath, sharp right back onto the grass for a little downhill, sharp left to run alongside the football pitches, smile for the camera, more downhill, watch out for the low tree branches being whipped back into our faces, little more downhill into the trees and through the slalom course of earth mounds, start climbing, look at the cars driving by over to the right and wish you were in one of them instead of running xc (not really, lol), the uphill climb gets steeper, thank the marshall, and get a breather on the little downhill before you start running uphill again, still going up...still climbing, omg is this hill never going to end, notice with interest and a slight bit of smugness the number of guys walking off the route to call it a day right before you realise you still have more hill to get up, onto some footpath (ow that hurts with luggy cx shoes) and then in between the football pitches where you (read I) get passed by one of the women in your club like you are standing still, more footpath, right by the visitor centre which looks like a great place to take off the gloves and toss them to the side, left alongside the field where the start/finish line is just over there (cruelty), sharp downhill, back uphill, try not to fall on your arse in the iced over field, curve to the left, curve to the right, and curve back left while enjoying the slight decline and trying to catch your breath and not lose your shoes in the quagmire of mud, steep downhill, even steeper uphill, run by the finish line because you have to do all that over again! Ok so maybe that wasn't quite so abbreviated.

Not sure why I was looking so worried, the race was finally done

I would like to say that I didn't walk at all during this one but unfortunately on one of the hills on the second lap I succumbed to the screaming legs and the little voice in my head that was whispering "You can't make it, just walk already."  Thankfully the girl I encouraged to keep going that was right behind me returned the favour by getting me running again after a few steps.  This is where Caz from the running club also caught and passed me which is the same place that Catherine did last year, the old adage of history repeats itself comes to mind.

All in all, this wasn't one of my better performances of the season, I struggled far more than what I would have liked but I ended up bettering last year's time by over 2 minutes on a course almost a quarter of a mile longer and managed to place 2nd in my age category.  Not sure yet if I'm happy or sad that the woman who took 1st in our category was almost 5 minutes faster than me yesterday instead of the 9 second difference between us in the previous XC race!  Well done to everyone who ran yesterday, our club put in some VERY respectable performances, even getting around the Holmebrook course is an accomplishment to be proud of.

Holmebrook 2014--even the same shoes just much colder and muddier


Colin Chambers said...

It's very hard to perform well on tired legs. You can try to focus on technique and gliding but if they're tired there isn't so much you can do.

colin - fit2thrive.co.uk

Colin Ward said...

I seemed to have just mirrored your take on the Holmebrook experience , it's a true x-country course.

gabby said...

Colin Chambers, you are absolutely spot-on. Even if I wasn't trying to get around the course on fatigued legs, this one is still a killer, there was not much gliding to be had except for the icy bit though.