Thursday, 23 June 2011

Hello Mayrhofen!

We arrived safely in the Alps at lunchtime yesterday welcomed by glorious sunshine and the most incredible mountain views. We dumped bags, donned trainers and dashed out for our first run at altitude in 28 degree heat...the 9 miles jog felt more like a brisk 18.
A good sleep and a few wursts later and we set out for some high rise fun this morning, starting with a cable car ride up the nearest peak. Less Runningbear and more quivering bear we traversed the Zillertal dangling in our wee tin box, climbing 6000 feet for lunch above the clouds and the rain.
M is in heaven; sausage is on the menu everywhere and I have to say the Austrian cake is keeping this Runningbear pretty happy too. Another 12 miles of steady running in the valley tonight before another telly free evening with a beer and a good book. Bliss.
@~@~Sent from my BlackBerry~@~@

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Bye England

A crazy week of getting ready for holidays ended this morning with a 3.45am alarm and a drive in grey drizzle to Manchester to fly away to the mountains. Trainers and camera all packed; we're more than ready for the break. We'll be back in a week, bye England...
@~@~Sent from my BlackBerry~@~@

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Record Breakers: Millennium Way Relay 2011

A weekend jumping back on the training horse included plans for some big mileage to round up this week; a smell-the-roses Sunday run to kick off a return to marathon prep. However, such fine plans went to pot on Friday night with a late call up from the club for the Millennium Way Relay team. I'd decided to pass this year, what with a month of long runs to catch up on. But this was not just just any relay team. This was the Bingley Open Team. This was the proper Bingley men/blokes/fellas/male team. Yikes.

Will: that's not mascara he's wearing. 
He swallowed a bit too.

Last minute injuries led to a gap in team pairings and an unexpected invite to step in and help the boys out. How could I refuse?! M can be very persuasive... I joined the boys to run leg 3, paired with M over an 8 mile leg of undulating off-road running, from Laycock to Silsden. The heat was on!

Excluding the addition of Runningbear, the team was impressive. My knees knocked at news of the team sheet with thoughts of fell running legends Andy Peace and Ian Holmes handing over the relay baton to little old me;  this is the stuff of running dreams... a true running career highlight it has to be said (am still hoping someone caught it on camera!). In fact I'm sure I spotted a few double takes as M and I sauntered up for registration. Being mistaken for a mixed team I enjoyed a wee ripple of smugness I have to admit. (I might have even swaggered a bit).

The hanging around at the hand-over was torture; visions of picking up a lead from Andy and Ian and throwing away the race to the chasing teams was pressure enough without even thinking about what competition faced us on the leg. No scarily fast types were spotted though and somehow we kept our cool. Soon we spotted Ian running in like a train and Andy on his shoulder. M and I were off, me with jelly legs at the occasion of it all.

I ran my heart out, trying to hang on to M who was truly motoring. Not knowing what lead we had and fearing we'd soon be caught by the chasing teams; it was mental torture. We flew across the early climbs and hammered down the descents, slowing only for an excited sheep dog who abandoned his owner and mistook us for his flock for a quarter mile. The heel snapping and path weaving caused me an ankle twist and a near race-fatal tumble but we eventually lost the excitable pup at a stile. We pressed on through the valley, crossing the Aire with ease. Luck was on our side at the road crossings and we were on the final miles of the leg with no other teams in sight.
M was a star and showed his fitness, managing all the gate openings and taking on bum pushing duties as I scrambled up the final climbs. He was a patient partner and got me through the rough bits until we hit the final 2 miles when I had a final Runningbear burst for the finish. We arrived at the hand-over with a fine lead. 12 minutes in fact, doubling our 6 minute lead from leg 2 and finishing as fastest pair overall for leg 3; also setting a new all-time leg record! It was flippin' brilliant stuff. 

No. 1 and no lie; it's in black & white!
Final results saw Bingley boys (and a girl) finish in first place by 24 minutes, including four fastest legs out of 5, two leg records, and an overall course relay record by 2 minutes. We had a storming race despite missing some of our fast boys. An unexpected but spectacular day out. We came home with trophies, prizes and great memories for me of being a boy for the day. Relay results here.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Wharfedale Half Marathon 2011

Pics courtesy of D Brett:
Back to blogging albeit briefly in between Runningbear life, which incidentally feels like a vortex of work, training and trying to eat and sleep in between! I'm a bit late in reporting on our run around the wonderful Wharfedale Half Marathon last weekend. This fine off road race offers some of the most beautiful countryside running a Runningbear can get. M and I both ran our muddy socks off in beautiful but very blustery conditions.The route sets out from Threshfield Rugby club and follows very runnable trails including the Dales Way, the Monks Road and the long and slightly painful climb up Mastiles Lane.

Pics courtesy of D Brett:
The summer is all about this kinda stuff; less obsessing about race times and PBs, just great running in summer weather enjoying some of our most beautiful countryside. I love this race, the route is well planned, the event well organised with the perfect cafe menu at the club house finish (for those that like to indulge in a chip butty or a generous slice of Victoria sponge post race!) Unfortunately, I'm never quite prepared for the hammering my quads seem to suffer from the descents and have hobbled my way around training earlier this week. 

Building on his continued awesome form and trashing me yet again in another race, M finished second male in the open race, knocking nearly 4 minutes off his race time from last year. He is flying. Some of the other leading male runners suffered some unfortunate navigational errors which assisted me in swooping into the third spot in the open race and first lady by a healthy margin. I beat my previous course record by 2 minutes despite the windy conditions and received a very fine and generous Black Sheep hamper for my hard work. I'm now quite tempted by the full Marathon next year and that course record is looking tasty. Even M seems quite tempted for his debut at the distance. Watch this space... Results here. News report here. Race report here.