Friday, 3 January 2014

New Years Heave

It is fast becoming a yearly tradition with my friends to compete in the Ely New Years Eve 10k: Official Site. Held in the sleepy village of Little Downham just outside Ely (Cambridgeshire), organised by the local running club (The Ely Runners). Generally the standard of runner at this event is very high with GB Triathletes, International 70.3 athletes and National track & Cross country stars. The course record currently stands for the 10k at 30.05 set by GB Triathlete and 70.3 athelete Will Clarke (Will Clarkes Official Twitter).

Will Clarke - Gifted Sportsman
So putting some Muppet that occasionally goes for a jog in the middle of this was never going to end in glory. More a personal battle to survive.

This year our team consisted of all three members of team C2P (Learn About C2P here!) Matt, Oli and Myself. Accompanying us on our tour de force of the fens was Lauren “The Lightning Midget” and bootcamp aficionado and relative crazy gang newcomer Amy. Sadly we lost Amy to an IT band injury in the run-up to the event, but like a trooper she still turned up, pom-poms in hand to rally the masses!
On race day I drew back the curtains with a certain amount of trepidation after what was a very unsettled few days weather with rain, wind and storms preceding the run. But to my delight it was dry-ish, but it was pretty blustery, even in the slightly built up residential area of the fens. This would not bode well for what was to come later).
The team: Left to Right - Matt, Me, Lauren, Oli 
Motivational bagpipes filled the air as we took to the start line. Our team dressed in various weather proof/injury preventing layers. As the quaint little village church at the start line struck 11 the horn sounded and 600 runners  filled the high street, the paths, the verges, everything!

I would love to report back on the highs and lows of Laurens race (the real runner within our team), but truth be known as the starter released us, she disappeared into the distance, weaving in and out of peoples legs trying not to get stood on in the process. At this point I should tell you her nickname of “The Lightning Midget” is in no way ironic in a “Little John” way. She is a very speedy, pocket sized dynamo.

The first 2 kilometers  were a fairly easy affair with a modest downhill incline to ease you into the race. The course soon leveled out though, and the natural pace of the runners soon sorted themselves out. Luckily Matt is of similar pace to myself  (despite being annoyingly new to running) so we paired off deciding there is safety in numbers.... 5km in and things were going well, the road lined with trees, hedgerows and houses blocking the vast majority of the blustery winds. This aided us in our quest of the 50 minute 10k that we hoped for (But would have been a massive P.B. to get this sort of time, and highly unexpected). Worryingly there were still occasional gusts of wind penetrating the road lining reminding us what was to come.

At the 6km mark the race turned back towards the start, onto a house lined street in the small village of Pymore. The street acting like a funnel for the surrounding gusts, creating a tunnel of wind. This would be as bad as it got, right???? Half way down the corridor of wind came some much needed support in the form of Matt’s wife and little girl. Without even acknowledging it we both changed our running style, more power, pace and control. As a “False runner” you have to look good in front of family and friends. The reality of the wheezing, flapping about and sweating bullets is made only for your closest of friends and complete strangers. I’m fairly sure if the course was completely lined friends and family, I would either:
A)     Transform instantly into an International standard athlete
B)      DIE, due to the inability to slow down in front of them.

As we exited the residential area the landscape immediately changed. For the worse. Flat, exposed fields for miles in almost all directions. And the wind..... Apocalyptic cross/head wind (Some retrospective inspection later reveals there were 35-40mph gusts on that day). Some of the smaller runners were thrown into the air and tossed into the nearby haystacks and ditches that run parallel with the fen roads. It was a huge relief not to see Lauren tangled up in the power lines that traverse the fields.

The continual wind was like running into the thrust of a Fighter Jet engine, my km time had been destroyed from a reasonable (for me) 4.30-4.40/km to 5.20-5.30/km. The rapidly diminishing prospect of a 50 minute 10km resulted in me contracting the heavily infectious “Wind Tourettes” that Lauren (Famous Wind Tourettes sufferer) had seemingly passed onto me. I spent the next 2.5km cussing out mother nature and my inability to go any faster than a three legged Hedgehog. After ten  minutes of runners slanting their bodies into the headwind, abysmal attempts at “Slipstreaming” and trying to hack up my acidic lungs and the wind subsided. The road turned away from the wind and took shelter among some flanking bushes once more.  All very well and good, but what followed was a hill. Just when you think it might get easier Mother Nature bends you over and sticks a branch where the sun doesn't shine. And to make things worse, the course Photographer took up station at the top of the hill for his “Action” (I use the term loosely) photographs.  Very annoying, but it did bring to light the fact that I actually run with my eyes closed. Permanently. A back to back shot of identically positioned photos of 2012 and 2013 comprehensively concluding I don’t need vision to run, just use “The Force”.

As the road flattened out, the pace again picked up. But the damage had been done. 50 minutes was lost, it was now a battle to grab whatever pride myself and Matt could recoup. A mad dash across a mud strewn path was all that was left, and despite  our failure of an attempt to overtake a club runner just in front of us, Matt and I crossed the line virtually simultaneously in a time of 51.11, cheered home by the already recouped and fresh faced Lauren. It was a huge P.B. for both of us. And although it wasn’t the sub 50 minute mark we desperately wanted to achieve we could both stand there with a certain amount of pride from our Hurricane hindered achievements. Oli shortly crossed the line after us, minus a Jacket he had manage to force upon Matt’s wife as he had passed her back in the “Wind tunnel”.
A free T-Shirt, bottle of Hobgoblin ruby beer and minor hyperventilation later, and it was back off home where my marvelous wife had made home-made Sausage rolls and Tea for the whole team (She has her uses).

Some hours later..........

The worst part of the day (maybe with the exception of the wind), came when I realised I had just washed my voucher I had been given at the race registration, eradicating any indication of the code that I could use for another frivolous purchase.

Happy New Year to all, roll on 2014!

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