Sunday, April 1, 2012

The French Invasion of Lancaster

Against a low tide the French steamed up the River Lune unbeknown to most of the local inhabitants on a calm, quiet and sunny Sunday morning. The French then proceeded to destroy the Lune’s bridges before turning back downstream to reap the bountiful rewards…
Or something like that…
Six Eden Runners ventured out into God’s Own County Palatine of Lancashire to the Lancaster Three Bridges race, and it turned out to be one doozy of a day with an impressive clutch of five (possibly 6 when we get in touch with Larry again!) personal bests, wrested from this flat and fast course!
It is well sited and utilises a lot of cycle-ways and riverside footpaths that afford a slightly scenic setting along with plenty shade – I wasn’t expecting it to be so sunny – so those trees came in handy!
Paul had kindly driven Tanya, Wade and myself down the M6 and the in-flight chatter was such that the journey passed in a jiffy. We met up with Larry Horne (new ER member) and the man of the moment Johnny French before the start, which nearly ended in a hokey-cokey or Auld Lang’s Syne type scenario as we all tried to shake hands at the same time, then after the countdown the green and blue and black sock-ed  blur set off and the rest of the pack followed, as they did for the remainder of the whole 10k – INCLUDING at one point the official race route finder who Johnny passed as he carried his bike up the steps at the bridge – so not only race leader but trail blazer too!
Whether it was the flat course or the sparse pack I did manage to keep the shirts of Wade, Paul and Tanya in view – so that feels like an improvement on my part!
The steps up the bridge were a unique experience for me, and they slowed most of the competitors to a crawl, but fortunately I didn’t heed Wades pre-race ‘advice’ of “because there were trips and falls in the race last year the organisers have requested that everyone does the steps backwards…”
Think of the date folks……
The course was well signed and marshalled throughout, which is just as well as it was on public highways and by-ways there were quite a few cyclists, walkers and Sunday morning anglers to be dodged!  If the low point (well, hardest point, not low) was the steps at the bridge then the hallelujah moment came when two marshalls at the 6 mile point helpfully shouted out the times on their stop watches. It was just the spur that a flagging-pb hunting runner required before the end – the gap through the trees to the Salt Aire running track allowed me to realise that there was not going to be the final 400m dash lap – but that it was barely a 100m sprint to the finish which necessitated dredging up the reserves to get under the post under the 48 minute mark! After I was handed a medal by a slightly confused young lass (child labour? Get Wade on the case!) it was only then when we all swapped notes that it dawned that the day really belonged to Eden. With Johnny storming home at 34.15 – a clear 43 seconds of the next man, Larry at 44.20, Wade at 45.27, Paul 46.31, Tanya 46.47 (10th lady overall and first female Vet 35 –I have her pink cava in my possession to prove it!) and me bringing up the rear (least said soonest mended..) at 47.57 it is suffice to say we were all a fair bit chuffed with ourselves and made it known by being the chief rabble rousers at the awards ceremony! Johnny and Tanya got to exercise their skills in nonchalance when picking up their loot (too cool by far!) while we cheered and applauded, then apologised to the poor woman we nearly deafened with our exuberance!
Will I be back next year? Course I will… if only to ensure that next time I bound up those flippin steps rather than dragging myself up them cursing.. Everyone needs a nemesis to beat!....
Next (official) stop – Langdale, see you there! :)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The start of things to come?

Is this truly spring now? Only a few weeks ago I was wearing my thermals and handing out ice cold water to equally ice old runners on the Haweswater half, todays foray into the world meant 18 degree temperatures and not a cloud in the sky, short shorts and vests were de rigeur for the inaugural Lorton 10k.
On our arrival the first thing to greet us was the fantastic surrounding views with a stunning blue sky backdrop. Eden shirts kept appearing in ones and twos until there was a nice cohesive little group of us 8 strong  at the start (Christine felt the need to add extra pressure to her day by arriving late and running to and through the start line!).  As this run was an unknown quantity being a new addition to the calendar there were a few uncertainties and discrepancies in each persons understanding of how “undulating” it was going to be. In hindsight I would ban “undulating” from the vocabulary list and just go for honest and simple “bloody hilly”..  Hands were shaken and ‘good lucks’ proffered before the school bell rang (I had to resist the urge to “get in line” at the sound of that), then off we set into our first hill. Well it felt that way anyway. Friendly smiling (amused?) faces of the local residents lined the way and as the huddle thinned out I started to realise that there was little shade in which to hide from the strong sun, coupled with a minimal breeze it became apparent that a PB was not going to be achieved this day! Better then to enjoy the scenery, the roadside flowers, the hills, the lambs in the field, the hills, the blue sky, the hills….. I swear they all went upwards, I thought at one point we were going to just strike out onto the fells above!! Perhaps I exaggerate – perhaps it was the shock of the blessedly good weather and the fact that our winter training thus far has been in the dark, so basically you couldn’t always see what was ahead. In Lorton you could. It was another hill. Ok – maybe I’ve gone over the top with the hill thing (although after the bridge at the turnaround point when faced with yet another beast I did wonder if “over the top” was ever going to be achieved! ….  Right you are – I’ll desist pressing that point…
Reasonably quiet roads meant that there were not too many distractions from traffic and most of the run was unhindered, but the heat was a novelty that soon wore off and at the 7k mark I’ll admit to my resolve wavering just a little, and I struggled to find the reserves for a sprint finish, as the gravel area we crossed prior to the grass field ending almost took me off my feet, but a good crowd at the post spurring people on (I could hear Paul and Wade shouting) helped me to push on – and there was never a sweeter sugary drink passed by a Lorton schoolchild given!
Everyone finished without injury which is always good and after the well needed cups of water the breakdown was as follows. Ruth (who by the way had a great run to finish as second lady overall!) headed off with her clutch of children, Christine likewise wither family, Gill and Shaun had ideas to go shopping in Keswick, while Stuart and Kevin headed out to do the course again!! (gluttons for punishment), Wade eagerly made his way for cake and jacket potato (I still believe he has hollow legs!) while Paul and I hung around in the (vain) hope of a spot prize. Paul did manage to acquire a voucher for some socks – you have to make the most of life’s opportunities!
It was nice for Eden to gain a mention in the thank you speeches (alongside Derwent and Keswick) for adding this race to our championship list and it is a good challenging course, although I reckon next year it will be under snow! Which makes me think, the last blog I wrote was while watching a snow shower prior to Christmas, but today I’m basking on the patio, eating my ice cream, listening to the birds and admiring the emerging  garden, with its new starts, new life and new energy – a good maxim perhaps for the now underway summer championship season – so whichever race you’ve got lined up next  – Go Eden! J (Then write about it afterwards!)