Ok ok so I didn’t mention that I was participating in a cycle race to many people, and I didn’t post it on the blog because (a) what if I came last (I know that reason is lame!), and (b) I wanted a low key, no pressure race just to test the legs after all the training I was doing instead of running!
I announced it on Strava a couple days before the race,
mainly because I craved the attention, because I was actually getting nervous! But I actually enjoyed the race nerves…haven’t had them in a while! My last “race” was Lumphanan, which is always more of a “let’s burn off all the Christmas food and alcohol, while laughing at how ridiculous that hill is” than a “let’s get serious” race.
I never actually did a recap of Lumphanan this year. Let’s see…after we hosted the Hogmanay celebrations with some of our closest friends, Gary stayed an extra couple nights to partake in the hangover Lumphanan Detox 10km with us. As always, it falls on the 2nd January, a day after Mum’s birthday! Because she was off getting married in New York on her bday last year, we had a lovely dinner and cocktails on the 1st, and so we were thankful for a long lie the following day! I was still on the mend from my November injury, but Carolyn taped me up, I shoved a compression sock over it, and jogged a mile warm up and it felt ok! Gary has been running amazingly (he just went 82mins for the half mara in Inverness recently, SMASHING his PB!) so my aim was to stay ahead of him! Superstar Nicola Gauld was there so my other aim was to get the silver!
When the gun went off, I managed to stick with Gauldy for approximately 37 seconds, before she sprinted off in the distance (she made that hill look so easy!). Dino (another one who smashed the Inverness Half, and even more recently slammed through the 18 min barrier, and annihilated the 37 min barrier in the 5/10km, so is flying this year!) was so supportive throughout the entire race, and we took turns leading in the wind. In the final km, we turned into the village and had a face off!! He outsprinted me, finishing just a couple secs ahead in 38.29…until next time, Mr! (Oh and Nicola beat me by 90seconds…I have a lot of work to do!). I was happy enough given the indulgence over the festive season and injury (and that it is a BRUTAL course with a massive hill and boggy terrain!)
Anyhoo, this cycle race gave me good nerves! My biggest concern was coming last, because it was a male dominated race with cycling being their only sport! At the briefing, I was SO intimidated!! Although it was pretty windy and chilly, I saw the majority of athletes in shorts – and shaved legs!! Not only was I wearing leggings, the guys had less hair on their legs than me! 😉 I also had a buff and long sleeve on, and was considering ditching my Oakleys, due to rain making visibility difficult!
It was a “neutralised start” (which I had to Google!) which meant we all rolled easy as a pack behind a few cars, one having a Saltire hanging out of it. The rule was, as soon as the flag was taken in, the race began. Well I was so far back I couldn’t see the cars never mind the flag! I just felt a massive SURGE (oh how they burned!) and tried desperately not to get dropped by the wheel in front of me!
I was taught quite a lot of rules of the road from Noodles, from the Scotland camp I went on last year, and also from my APRs at Torphins Typhoons, but still managed to get shouted at for moving into spaces that didn’t exist, and going to fast when I got to the front of the “through and off” group (sorry if my termination is horrendous…still learning! Which is exactly what I shouted to the people I was offending!).
I was pretty boxed in for a couple of miles, and realised if I wanted to do well I should really get to the right hand side of the pack. I gradually weaved my way through, and made a burst sprint to be in the first few rows of the race. About 5 miles in, I
saw heard Kyle (who ran 1 loop in reverse as part of his final long run before London to cheer me on!). I didn’t see him, but he always gives me a burst of energy when I know he’s there! That was when we got to the 1st hill in the 1st loop: Brindy.
Because there were loads of people that were not local to Aberdeenshire, people were full blown sprinting up (then dying at about half way). That is where I had the local advantage! For once, I held back and stayed within myself, gradually catching up again! I think a couple guys noticed this, as I was asked a few times what Suie was like, and how long it was etc etc. I was happy to give advice…as I said, this was just an experience to enjoy!
On the descent, I was a little nervous with all the people around me. I just tried to stay out of people’s way, and that is where I was overtaken by another female (must.work.on.bike.handling.skills). There was a sharp left turn at Auchleven which was a pretty narrow road for a few miles, so I was kinda stuck at the back until the Suie. I just drafted with the pack, with the aim of conserving my energy for Suie.
When we reached the Suie, again there were a lot of people going super hard, at a pace I would never be able to sustain the whole way! This steep section really broke up the group, and I passed the leading lady pretty quickly.
At the top, I was alone. I really pushed up the hill, and I wanted it to pay off. I actually had tactics in this race! My tactic here was to crest over the hill and continue the power over and down, and pedal my heart out to try and catch up with anyone ahead who had decided to recover on the descent.
My plan worked! Although it took it’s time! I was solo for quite a while, but I FINALLY caught up with a guy who had been dropped by his group, so we worked together in the now brutal headwind, and with a small pack that caught up with us, and a pack we caught up with, we were now a power pack (with no girls to be seen…yay to my plan working!). We did that through and off thing until about Leslie, then it seemed to be an individual effort towards the base of the Suie.
When the Suie hit, I gave it absolutely everything! (the race finished at the top of it, you see!). I knew exactly how hard to push considering it is in my back garden, so as not to die on the final – and what I think is the steepest – part!
Kyle ran back up the Suie (GREAT effort from him…although he should be tapering!) to see me at the top, but by then I was getting cold (it was beginning to snow!) so he ran back to the car (and ended up doing 17 miles instead of his prescribed 13…woops) and I cycled home as a cool down and to get a shower, before heading back to the hall for prize-giving. The perks of living so close to the race!
(no pics of me – if anyone has please let me know! – but I did capture my post race treats!)
All in all, I loved the challenge of getting out my comfort zone and trying something new, and enjoyed the different feeling of pushing myself on the bike…I think it hurts more but you recover quicker, if that makes sense? I will definitely be doing another!
Oh, and my time for the ~32 mile UPHILL FINISH (grr!) race was just under 1.35 (about 20.3mph) but that’s including that neuralised start.
For those who are not familiar with the Suie, there is a good article on it here 🙂
Ever done a race to mix things up a bit?
Do you enjoy getting out of your comfort zone?