Holly Rush – Racing into Shape

GH_Cross2_v02So since my last blog I’ve cracked on with the training and got in a fairly decent training race at Bramley 20 and finished off my XC season with victory at the final Gloucester XC league match which confirmed my first ever XC title.

Ive ran Bramley 20 a fair few times, infact I have lost count. I love the race because it’s a two lap, fairly flat rural race but with plenty of depth, especially on the first lap with the 10 milers. Most people are using the 20 as a training run for a spring marathon and so it’s great to get some pacing and fuelling practice in before the big day. I have made the mistake before by running this race too hard and paying for it the week after, culminataing in illness or burnout before the marathon, so this time I wanted to be sensible. I don’t like to taper much for non A race day so I had trained normally the week before (session on tues and Thurs and mid week long run on the weds) however I couldn’t get out of work on Saturday which would have been beneficial on the legs.

Coach Storey had given me my usual last minute instructions for race day (10pm sat night….he doesn’t like me to fret about what he has in store for me!!). I was to run to HR, which I tend to do for most of my sessions and races now as I have months and years of HR data to rely on. This strategy works really well for me as I can work as hard as my body will let me on the day and I don’t stress out about hitting paces especially if the weather is crappy or my hormones are up the creek!!

Luckily we were blessed with the kind weather gods. No rain, sun and just a touch of wind but nothing compared to the week before.  So off I set at my prescribed HR for the first lap which thankfully felt reasonably comfortable and happened to be a similar pace to some of my Teambath club mates and Emily Wicks who looked just as comfortable. The first lap went by without a hitch and we were all able to have a catch up on all things important……the voice, who was going for CWG qual times and what we were having for dinner that night.

I knew that the dynamics would change on the second lap so it was no surprise when the group gradually broke up once we had passed the 10 mile point. I had to run to a higher HR and gradually push on to the finish. The guys around me kept asking what pace I was wanting to run, they must have thought I was mad when I told them I had no Idea I was just running to a HR…..that could have been 8 min miling for all I knew. So to no surprise to me Emily kicked on (she told me she is hoping to go for the CWG qual time so I knew she should be way a head of me). I felt pretty good so kept going at my HR but with only a mile to go I was reeling Emily in, I was feeling really good and strong but I knew I had no kick so it was going to be close. I ended up finishing 5 secs behind Emily in 2hrs 2 mins, the second fastest I had run on that course, so I was over the moon. I was particularly pleased because of the way I had felt throughout and after the race. I know I am not super speedy at the moment but I know I am strong and can keep going at a good tempo. With only 7 weeks to go until the Two Oceans I feel my fitness is in place. It’s just holding everything else together.

Since the weekend I have picked up a slight hip niggle which I have tried to forget about, but after a whopper of a session yesterday I have decided to take a few days off to let it settle down. I can’t afford to turn a niggle into a chronic injury. I guess I have been very lucky so far to have got away with no set backs .

Next week I go to Mallorca for a few weeks to get some sun and hopefully warmth on my back and train with no distractions. It’s a perfect place for me to train because I know the place so well and I can just get straight on with things.