A couple of weeks ago I decided to put together a plan for sorting out my TT bike postion. I sat ther bike for 30mins using the turbo trainer, it was pretty uncomfortable. Part of this was not being used to the position, I do need to get a bit of time in the saddle on the TT bike. Now the smart trainer I use is really great but it does leave fragments of rubber that make you wonder how long the rear tyre will last. Incidentally, I didn’t have much of an issue with this when I was on a fluid trainer. Now at this point you might be wondering what this has to do with a race report in the Humdinger Half. Fair enough, and to save time I’ll provide a brief pathway back… Sequence of events looks like this: Need to sort TT bike position – need to use TT bike on turbo a bit – don’t want to wear out ‘race bike stuff’ – need a spare wheel to stick on TT bike for indoor use – nice bloke ‘Steve’ from Tri club has a spare wheel he’ll kindly donate – suggests meeting at the nearby half marathon that Sunday – Half marathon does day entries – I’ll enter half marathon and that will make sure I do a Sunday long run….
Ok, back on track. So a late decision to enter The Humdinger Half meant Sunday morning I was lining up on a country road with one of the hilliest half marathons around, looming in front of me. Sarah joined me, but only for the first 5 miles, taking the somewhat flatter 5 mile course, although to be fair, that had a noticeable hill at the start of it. Warming up I felt ok but being a last minute decision I didn’t have any easy days, instead deciding to do one of the underground zwift races the day before. In retrospect, and despite holding back a fair bit, this did leave my legs feeling heavy. Still, before I started my legs felt fine. Sometimes you just don’t know how it will feel until the gun goes.
We set off and pace was steadyish. There’s a bit of downhill in that first mile, and I went through it in 5.49 in a group of about 6 of us. It took me about 2 minutes until I felt my legs were not as sprightly as you want them to be on a race day, and I dropped off the back of the group early. It was definitely the right decision, as my head switched from lets race today’, to, ‘lets survive today’. I know I had no big expectations other than a decent training run but it can be a little disheartening when you realise that everything from that moment forward is going to feel worse than it should. The uphills are usually a relative strength but today each step felt like an effort!
Somebody else went backwards on the hill. After that, I watched the grp in front slowly drifting away and knew that I’d be on my own. The course was undulating continuously and around 4 miles I was joined by a bloke with a beard. I was actually quite happy to have the company. He left me in a cloud of dust when we hit the first long downhill. When the first uphill came along, I passed him. This happened a couple of times before I put in a decent gap after making my way up the humdinger hill which is a big, steep ole thing, that leaves you tiptoeing uphill, chewing your toes. I kept this gap to the beard for a mile of undulating road. However, around 9 miles is a steep long descent of about 1.5 miles. I hit this as hard as my legs would let me. I’d been treading the downhills a little carefully, having had a few ankle niggles but it seemed to be holding up ok, so I let myself go as fast as my legs would carry me. My mile splits were unfortunately telling me, ‘you’re not going that fast. My brain said ‘go’, my legs heard ‘no’; they wanted no part of it. It was like the neuromuscular system had got a bit confused and couldn’t co-ordinate legs properly, I was a bit like an octopus out of water. With about half a mile of steep downhill left, the bearded man glided past. I eased back a bit. I’d been hammering down the hill on my heels and my quads felt awful.
The last couple of miles were fairly steady then. At least two spectators remarked how it was all easy downhill to the finish. I’d actually have taken uphill given the choice at that point. I was not used to the steep descents and hammering down the last one had really taken a toll on my legs. I crossed the line for 6th. The bearded man had managed to catch ‘Oli’ from Somerset Tri in front, so he obviously had very good downhill legs. Bonus points though. I got straight on a massage table whilst Sarah got me a coffee. She was happy, having come first girl. I hope she comes first girl again; I like having coffee bought for me.