Saturday, 29 December 2012

Cardington Cracker - 02/12/2012

Crossing the summit of Caer Caradoc
I woke up feeling absolutely lousy on the morning of the Cracker, and it took some serious persuading from Zoe to get me out there. Zoe's friend Jo was staying and they'd decided to come and watch so in the end that was the deciding factor and I was running!

It was nice to meet everyone again and I was feeling a bit better by the start, but I was caught napping when Paul started the race and ended up a very long way back at the first gateway. I overtook a few people in the fields and up the first little bank on the way to Enchmarsh and eventually found myself descending towards the Lawley just behind Val, probably about the right position in the field but it had cost me some effort.

For some reason (maybe the virus I reckon I have had which had made me feel so bad when I got up), I just switched off on the Lawley climb and sat in my comfort zone over the top, on the descent (Em and Archie were at the bottom supporting - thanks guys) and also up the Caradoc. Don't get me wrong, I worked a bit but I wasn't anything like flat out. I did run the final section of the climb past Al, which at least got me a nice pic. I cruised the Caradoc descent too, crossing the stream 7 minutes or so slower than last year.

Race face on, working up to the summit of Caradoc

Descending past the gate at Three Fingers Rock
Zoe and Jo were at the gate as you start the long slog up Hazler Woods and this geed me up a bit. I ran all of it, although I think sometimes it's no quicker than walking. I spotted Pete Johnson up ahead and decided to try to close the gap on him. I worked a little harder on the way up to the Gaer Stone and enjoyed the fast run across the Bowdler Hills, working hard to run a lot of the short rises I had to walk last year. As I got to the Gaer Stone, the gap to Pete had come down quite a bit and I was able to pass him on the rough descent here. The path which Pete was using was very muddy and slippery so I ran on the bilberry to the side which was much easier.

The gates at the bottom were open this year which was good - no one likes vaulting / climbing / whaling over 4' high gates when they're tired. This marks the start of a 2 mile steeplechase in to the finish. I tried to run the entire field up to the Old Cardington Lane, and managed it! One runner passed me shortly after as we headed along the seemingly unending ridge which follows, but he'd been overtaking me on all the flat bits, I guess he just had more speed. Otherwise I was passing people.

Charlie was at the first of the stiles on the final run in, encouraging me to pick off the last two runners in front of me, but in the end I just didn't have the speed or energy, and ran in in 1:40 for 96th place.

It was pleasing that I'd managed a decent run given the givens, but I'd have liked to be five minutes faster than in 2011, rather than a minute slower. The conditions were more difficult this year. I beat quite a few folk that I didn't beat last year and finished in exactly the same position. I was also pleased to have been able to run the second half of the race much quicker than last year - I put this down to more and better training: I'm quicker on the flat than I was. I just need to get in touch with my inner climbing animal again - it seems to have gone missing since Callow and the CCC.

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