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Cobbie's Grand Day Out - Helvellyn Race Report

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Joined: 02 Aug 2005
Posts: 7447
Location: Chester

PostPosted: Mon Sep 12, 2005 1:00 pm    Post subject: Cobbie's Grand Day Out - Helvellyn Race Report Reply with quote

Sorry if it's a bit long, never had a result this good before so feel entitled to go on a bit Very Happy Very Happy

Now that itís over, I finally feel able to come clean and admit that a good result here was my prime target for the summer. It didnít start that way, training for a first ironman race is so all consuming that it would have been almost impossible not to be completely focussed on that target. However, as soon as I got into my taper for The Longest Day, it occurred to me that my base training was so sound that I was in with a real chance of pushing hard all the way round the Helvellyn course. A recce of the run course reminded me of the short cuts that I already knew and allowed me to find a more direct route down the switchbacks into Glenridding Common, whilst a trip round the bike course made it feel much more ride-able than it had in 2004.

Arriving at the transition area, I knew I was in as good a shape as possible. The weather had looked threatening when driving over the Kirkstone Pass the evening before but for once it was better up north and the morning promised calm and dry conditions, though with a very low cloud base Ė once again, I wasnít expecting a view from the summit.
The swim course had been changed from 2004 and was now in the main part of the lake rather than around the shoreline. After the usual headless chicken start, I settled into a steady rhythm and knew I was swimming well. Unfortunately, I had no luck finding a suitable person to draft off for any length of time but no matter, I exited feeling good and strong and jogged across the grass to transition. Jason (Weston) caught me and we said a quick hello before reaching T1 where I took my time for once before setting out on the bike.
The first section follows Ullswater northwards for a couple of miles and is quite undulating; there were loads of cyclists but the nature of the course meant that drafting wasnít a problem, instead it was difficult to find a clear path with everybody jockeying for position. The first serious climb up into Matterdale sorted out the crowds and I was pleased to find myself going well - though still being overtaken by plenty of the serious cyclists, I was passing people too. A swoop is followed by another short steep climb, then another drop down to the A66 and a very fast and frightening descent along this main road; cyclists, cars and lorries all trying to simultaneously overtake and avoid each other, at least that was what I was trying to do.
Turning off onto the minor road to Thirlmere was a relief and for the first time we encountered a bit of a headwind. I now got passed by several small Ďgroupsí of riders, all clearly intent on drafting their way round this relatively flat section of the course. I was cycling hard but with the slight wind, couldnít keep up the same pace. I have to admit that I briefly contemplated tagging on but thankfully, my moral scruples prevented this and instead I used my irritation to drive me onwards. With my swim times having improved considerably this year, the thing Iíve really noticed is just how much more drafting there is further up the field.
Anyway, it wasnít long before the dreaded moment arrived and I passed the Ambleside sign. I tried to relax and prepare myself for the moment when, once again, I would see the road in front of me suddenly rear up to the seemingly vertical but it was still as disturbing as ever. I had decided to go for the short and very steep first section in a 39/21 to gauge how I felt and as expected, I reached the top of the village and a short respite feeling knackered. I dropped to the 23 sprocket for the next section, long, arduous and the meat of the climb and initially felt pretty good, passing a few people and generally holding my own. However, I could feel myself gradually losing control of my breathing and dropped to my lowest gear 39/25. In 2004, my main target for the race had been to make it up this hill without stopping and had taken a very conservative approach in order to achieve this. Today was different though, it was all about getting to the run in good shape and so I took the decision to stop briefly about two thirds of the way up and catch my breath. It wasnít long before I caught back up with those Iíd been cycling near and feeling a lot better, though the last steep bit before the top comes into view was still a real killer. There follows a significant respite before the final climb to the summit and I took full advantage, getting myself under control as much as possible for the struggle itself. All my good work came to nothing though as a car coming down forced me to take the steepest line through the steepest bend on the climb. I was back into serious oxygen debt but kept going through the cheering crowds until the final straight. I could feel myself disappearing down into the same dark tunnel as 2004 and decided that I didnít want to go there on this occasion; I dismounted and pushed the final 200 yards, not quite as quick as cycling but not much slower and a lot more energy efficient I realised, even in Look cleats. The crowd were great, even if I felt like a bit of a fraud but I pushed negative thoughts out of my mind to focus on the descent which was considerably easier and faster than Iíd managed previously. Assessing myself down in Patterdale over the only flat part of the ride, I felt in good shape apart from some slight tightness in my quads and started to prepare mentally for the run. I reckoned that Iíd been passed by a net 30 people on the bike which put me in a good position to get my target of top 20% overall if I had a strong run.

Running out past the shops and the campsite everything felt fine and I immediately started passing people who were sticking to the main path rather than the steeper direct line. Then it was though the gate and a sharp left turn onto the real climbing. I did my best to run when possible but this section is steep and so I focussed on conserving my energy and using my arms for momentum. I was still going past people regularly and reached the next landmark in good shape, a large cairn where the path meets a dry stone wall. The direct route follows this wall as the main path veers right but I couldnít see anybody on it. The reason for this was soon apparent, a tape barrier and large orange arrow pointed up the official path Ė oh well, such is life. On a positive note, the reduction in steepness meant that I could run sections and I passed a couple more people before a walker coming down told me that I was about 60th. Surprising as this news was, it made realise how well I was going and I pushed all the harder, reaching the hole-in-the-wall feeling very strong. I pushed as hard as I could along the flat section round Red Tarn. There were no views to admire as we were now in the mist which made concentrating easier and I pushed on up the slope to Swirral Edge where I knew I would be quick. The climb up is a straightforward scramble and I worked myself so hard that I was at a near standstill at the top. Once again, we didnít get to visit the summit proper and were directed rightwards along the plateau towards the descent. Visibility was the worst Iíd had up here so I was glad to be totally familiar with my navigation. A guy Iíd been following for some time but had not been able to catch now disappeared completely despite being less than 50m ahead. I reached the edge of the summit plateau and ran boldly down the only really steep descent on the course before the climb up to White Side. I didnít see any orange arrows here but decided against taking the short cut around the summit as the visibility was so bad. Soon after, the path forked right for the return (very large arrow to prevent people heading into the wrong valley!). Visibility returned rapidly and I pelted down as fast as I could, passing a couple of other runners surprisingly easily. As expected, tape and another orange arrow prevented me from taking the direct route past the switchbacks so I followed the path, still passing people regularly. I was worried about falling due to my speed but managed to keep my concentration high and made it back to easier gradients with barely a stumble. The run back to Glenridding was a formality, though I did finally get overtaken, by a chap in a New Zealand tri suit (I figured that made him hard enough to beat me!) who was really motoring. It wasnít long before I was past The Travellers Rest and into the finishing straight. Got a big cheer from Stampy who told me to sprint to catch Jason and I gave it my all to the finish line. Jason was actually a minute ahead Ė heíd had a really strong bike and solid run to finish 41st. For me, 43rd was beyond my wildest dreams and Iím still grinning now, two days later. Actually, I suspect Iíll still be grinning at Bala next weekend. As for the Snowdon MarathonÖbring it on!

Swim/T1 25:22 (50/331 starters)
Bike/T2 2:08:38 (92)
Run 1:43:38 (49)

TOTAL 4:17:38 (43)

2004 4:36:05 (-18:27)
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Joined: 22 Oct 2004
Posts: 7179
Location: Fatherly Bliss

PostPosted: Mon Sep 12, 2005 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

excellent race report Pete and an excellent race.

It's one I'm not planning on tackling!
If aliens came to visit this planet they would have to conclude that we as a species have constructed a vast global network of computers whose primary function appears to be to transfer images of our species engaged in the act of mating...
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Mr Bounce

Joined: 11 Apr 2005
Posts: 372
Location: Geelong. OZ

PostPosted: Mon Sep 12, 2005 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent race Cobbie, well done.

I found it a really enjoyable day. I might have to time my visits back from oz in the future to coincide with this race.
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Paul L

Joined: 20 Apr 2005
Posts: 4357
Location: London

PostPosted: Mon Sep 12, 2005 5:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice race report Cobbie, well done mate.

Look forward to seeing you at Bala, Paul. Very Happy
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Joined: 25 Mar 2005
Posts: 980
Location: Plymouth or Granada

PostPosted: Mon Sep 12, 2005 8:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That was an enjoyable read, thankyou and well done Sir!. I'm saving a load of money at Amazon these days by reading all the excellent reports people put on here. I'm encouraged to mabe have a go at that one next year, as a final fling for the year - I do like Helvellyn a lot.
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Matty W

Joined: 04 May 2005
Posts: 2109
Location: In The Dog House

PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2005 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well done mate Exclamation great result Very Happy That is an amazing effort Smile and brill report
You'd think he'd be violating every virgin within 100 miles. How does he even get on his bicycle? - Dick Pound on the high ratio of testosterone-to-epitestosterone in Landis' sample
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Joined: 02 Aug 2005
Posts: 7447
Location: Chester

PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2005 11:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

With a bit bit of luck, this will just published, link via the Helvellyn website.

Me in the blue, giving it some welly on the descent Very Happy
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2005 11:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh no, the red cross. Can anybody else see it?
If not, did successfully post in my photo album.
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Joined: 30 Apr 2005
Posts: 5875
Location: Ipswich

PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2005 12:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cobbie wrote:
Me in the blue, giving it some welly on the descent Very Happy

Ah, brings back memories... Smile
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