CTS Northumberland – Race Day Review

This is my all-time favourite race – and the only race I have done three times on the trot.

Coastal Trail Series Northumberland incorporated 4 different distances – 10k, Half Marathon, a Marathon and an Ultra and takes in the beautiful and scenic Northumberland coastline. It is so well organised and enjoyable that I keep coming back!

I drove up in the morning – as always, meeting my mate at the services and driving up in convoy. A cold and foggy start changed as we headed north and the sun burnt off the fog and the skies cleared. I always feel happy in Northumberland, although driving across from Beadnell to Bamburgh, I felt a bit choked up as memories from last year flooded back. I knew there was a bit of a risk this happening but on the whole, it was good to be back.

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The finish line flags

Parking up at the bottom of the Castle, walking up and registering, I was a little gutted that we weren’t inside Bamburgh Castle like in previous years (I later found out why – no Warden to let us in, and the stables were being converted into a bar!). The sun was glorious and as it was so mild – I decided to run in capri pants and t-shirt.

The briefing was long and thorough and because the buses were running late, I did get cold waiting to get bused to the start however, once down there and once running, I knew I’d be ok. It is genuinely the only time my mate has seen me smile before a run! Much to her amusement.

The start line was nearer the harbour this year (making the course 400m shorter with alterations to the finish line) but we didn’t have to wait as long on the start line to get going. I will point out now that anyone who has read recent blog posts or follows the Twitter feed, I spent two weeks very ill and did very little training for 4 weeks. Unlike last year where I actually trained! Regardless I wasn’t nervous, I just enjoy this race as a run.

We set off and my pacing wasn’t too bad. I know the area quite well and knew what to expect. People say running on sand/trail is harder – and it is, but somehow I seem to enjoy it more and run better. The first half of the race went well but there is always a but. After the checkpoint at Seahouses, I could feel the familiar feeling of burning on the ball of my right foot. By the 7k point I was really feeling it. I knew there would be a blister and I knew where I had gone wrong. I’ve been using Tri-slide (this is so much better than body glide) with my road trainers due to ongoing issues and didn’t need them with the socks I was using and neutral shoes. By 8k I was wishing I had a Shotblok or something just to eat, like last year. I don’t normally for this race but going at lunch time I was hungry by the time set off. What was most glorious about it though was just running the race, in the sunshine, in February in a t-shirt!

There was no major disasters or anything – I felt a bit sick – I was definitely working. The last 600m has always been horrific and nothing has changed. The race photos were actually pretty cool and I was smiling on them. I was glad to finish though – I always am!

The fish and chips with mates at the end was just the icing on the cake!

Rumblings and Grumblings!

“Cycling isn’t a game, it’s a sport. Tough, hard and unpitying, and it requires great sacrifices. One plays football, or tennis, or hockey. One doesn’t play at cycling” – Jean de Gribaldy

I often let myself get talked into some daft ideas. Last weekend was no exception.

Last Friday I got talked into cycling the Ryedale Rumble two days following. One of the lads who comes in to work had been roped in via work and was not happy about it and in all honesty, I was a bit worried about him doing it. He was supposed to be doing the 100 miler but had decided he was doing the shorter 50 miler. Wise choice I thought, but in it being a wiser choice, I was still a bit nervous about him doing it, and after a brief conversation and failure on my part to look at the weather forecast, I agreed to go do it with him.

That’s the reason I ended up, on a very wet and windy morning at Ryedale School.

I spend all of Saturday grumbling to anyone and everyone about how horrific this ride was going to be and how if I didn’t turn up to work on Monday we would all know why. Turns out the weather was as rubbish as expected and that Boltby Bank really is that step. I was warm enough but even my waterproofs didn’t last the long haul. I should have been miserable.

It’s turned out to be one of the best rides ever – yes it was slow, yes it was wet, yes the wind was howling (literally getting blown sideways), but some how, I spend most of the ride grinning. How much of that had to do with knowing that I had put some miles in my legs, as well as just accepting I was going to be wet, I don’t know. Part of my does know, however, that I actually proved to myself that I can ride in pretty awful conditions and survive! Think it has definitely done my mental strength some good!

Actually beginning to feel rather excited about next year’s racing and what I might actually be able to achieve – coupled with this year’s TTs and the temptation to go play at cyclocross……