Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Clic 24

This weekend was my first 24hr race – in a pair up on the Mendips for the CLIC24. It’s a charity event and not a race. Most events that say they’re not a race are just that, but this isn’t. It didn’t have that kind of vibe and that suited me.

As a training weekend we decided to do 3hrs, 3hrs, 6hrs, 6hrs, 3hrs, 3hrs. The first 3hrs were fine – 3 laps of the course. Then 3hrs off and then 6. It shouldn’t have been a problem but it was the hardest 6hrs riding of my life. It just rained and rained and the moors had become bog and no matter how many times I did the course I couldn’t find a line.

All night I struggle on, heart rate higher than it should have been, too proud to walk anything. I collapsed in my tent for a 6hr rest and felt the pain and exhaustion swell over me and was so glad to be wrapped up warm.

That’s when I realised I was getting a cold. My head was spinning and I couldn’t breathe. I got ready for my final 3 laps with trepidation.

The first lap in the cold misty morning was hell. I was shakey and shivery and had no strength despite my legs feeling fairly fresh. My heart rate was low and I knew I was getting ill. So I walked all the boggy bits, up the steep hills and ground the pedals slowly, breathing steadily and dying to get back in to my tent for a lemsip. To my amazement my lap time was pretty much the same as it had been all night when I rode everything. How annoying! I learnt afterwards that my teammate who had been doing laps about 5 minutes faster than me had walked/jogged all the tricky bits all night!

So not a great start to my 24hr racing career but many lessons learnt about essentials to take to make life easier…


Thursday, 3 May 2007

Tough Cookie Credentials

Today is Tuesday and the first time I’ve felt human since the weekend. I had my toughest adventure race of the year this weekend. It’s called The Full Monty and although there was no nakedness that I was aware of, it was certainly full on.
10am in a carpark in Shrewsbury on Saturday, after 3 hours of kit-faffing, we heard the horn blow and about 60 kayaks buffeted against each other for a good spot on the Severn. No need to rush though – 3 and a half hours of this ahead!
Arms aching, arse numb and back screaming, we dragged the malibus up the steep bank at transition 1 (T1) and carried them to the school where our kit boxes were waiting. Struggled out of wetsuits, struggled on with bike kit. Last check to make sure we had everything. Borrowed a pump! Off we set.
The bike felt great. We don’t kayak and 4hrs in one of those bath-tubs was pretty grim. We were so looking forward to the ride. The first hill I got a puncture – in fact I got 3 in the next 4 hours. What a nightmare! The route, though, was fantastic. Hardly any road, we mostly followed the Jack Mytton Way across Shropshire and up over the Long Mind into Wales. The descent off the Long Mind had us giggling and screaming it was so fast. A wide, smooth, grassy descent that went on for ever and ended up in a twisty farm track down to a checkpoint. Perfecto!
After a navigational mishap in the last set of woods, we dropped into T2. There was an extra bike loop and we set out to do it, but with a 30 mile run ahead of us we took the first checkpoint and returned after an hour.
A hour to rest then. We weren’t allowed to start the 30 mile run stage until 10pm. We all set off in a flurry and for ages we could see streams of headtorches crawling up the hills in front and behind. We were leapfrogging plenty of teams and several people commented on my new Minx race jersey and called out ‘Hello Miss Minx’ whenever they passed us or we them. There was a great vibe that night.
After a few hours we were pretty much alone, although we played leap frog with a Scottish team (who had a great support crew who provided us with plenty of bananas and water along the way). The nav on the run was tough, with lots of running on bearings and winging it across bogs and fields. At one point I jumped a stream and fell in. If you can laugh at freezing cold water at 5am then you can laugh at anything!
Climbing up to the final check the sun rose and we could see the lights of the village where our next transition was twinkling ahead of us. A quick trot whilst nibbling cheese and pickle sandwiches had us reach T3 at 7.30am.
Gary faffed a bit and ate loads to recover as I prepared our Malibu again. By 8.15 we were on the water and off for the final leg. 4hrs and 8minutes of kayaking into the glaring sun with a bitter wind had us eventually arrive back in Shrewsbury to the band of smiling marshals and hot showers.
I remember nothing else about Sunday. The drive home was a blur and I slept as Gary sung along to the radio with his head out the window to stay awake. The best thing was that when I awoke on Monday morning after a good 15hr sleep, my boyfriend had cleaned my bike and washed a load of my kit. What a star!
Gary and I have already discussed our navigational mishaps and prepared our strategy for next year. Can’t wait…