Reccying the Route for the Footpath Relay

This week I haven't done much as the toe injury still isn't right. I'm not sure I would have done much running anyway as the weather has been dreadful over the last week in my neck of the woods. I keep feeling that I'm losing loads of fitness - I probably have lost a bit but not that much but its difficult to resist the urge not to go out and do some training.

Today I went with Steve (a fellow Walton Chaser and colleague) to recce the leg I'm doing at the Footpath Relay in a couple of weeks. It was good to run with someone else for a change, especially since we are doing the same leg albeit in reversal of each other. I'm doing the second leg of 20 so I fully expect to still be in contact with some others at handover - but for Steve it could be a bit lonely as he is running leg 14. The length is 13.7k but what makes it a killer is that it has over 400m of climb with 150m in the first km after the start. I expect Mike Barnby who is doing first leg to handover to me in or very near to the lead so the pressure will be on. Either way I've decided that the leg could be ruined quite early on by the killer ascent, so I'm going to jog the first km and let those in front of me pull away (or let those behind make the extra effort to catch up), before increasing the tempo thereafter. The other thing that became clear is that I will need to drop a bottle of water out on route as dehydration will be a factor (it was 20 degrees and very humid today).

As for today's run we decided to park the car half way round the route in Monyash and run the first bit heading towards the start of my leg (i.e. backwards) and then turn round and come back again. The loop was about 8 miles in total and we did the outward bit in 37.30 and the return in 36mins. We were going at a reasonable, but comfortable pace but the constant hills were hard on the legs. My toe was still not right but it never became so much of an issue that I needed to stop.

When we returned back to the car we had a 5min rest and grabbed some water etc before running over to the handover area for leg 3 in Youlgrave. The first bit, although undulating wasn't too bad, before a sharp descent into a gorge then out again which involves another very sharp climb. The final section is a long sharp descent into Youlgrave for the handover.

Whats clear is that the course is tough, really tough and I'm regretting volunteering for an extra 3.8k leg straight after (leg 3). I'm going to email the club captain to see whether someone else can take it on - though I'll still do it if need be. I couldn't recce the route for this extra leg as I haven't yet got the course so will have to run it 'blind' in a couple of weeks time.

At Youlgrave we stopped off at the pub for 15mins for a pint of lemonade before heading back to the car in Monyash. Well if the start of my leg was a killer then Steve's is just as bad as he will have a 200m climb in the first 1.5km. I was ok up the hill but as we reached the top my legs really started to feel it and I was struggling to keep up with Steve. I could just about keep the pace but had he run even slightly faster I would have dropped back. In the end the outward section of this loop was done in 43mins and the return slightly faster in 42.30. I'm glad we got to the car when we did as I only had a couple of miles left in me.

In Monyash I had a pint of orange squash and Steve an ice cream and I was feeling really rough and could barely walk. I managed to perk up about 20 mins later once the sugar from my fig rolls kicked in. The estimated completion time for the whole leg is 1hr 15 but we did it in around 1hr 18 and were nowhere near race pace so I reckon its doable in around 61-64mins.

Overall because of having to run back to the car we covered twice the race distance -a total of 17 miles in 2hr 40mins which is easily a new record for me, my previous best being 13.1 miles (and that distance was on flatter ground). It was also useful running with Steve as we have entered as a team for the OMM (aka KIMM) doing Medium Score. Early impressions are that I have more gears but Steve has a bigger tank - i.e. I have the speed but Steve has better endurance.

I'm now resting the legs (which don't feel very good at the moment) ready for the Shugborough relays on Wednesday where I'm doing 1st leg for the Men's Open team and then leg 3 for an Ad-hoc Chaser's team. The laps are not that far, about 2 miles from memory. I'm not sure whether the legs will have recovered sufficiently by then but I'm hoping to put in a half decent performance.


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