Friday, 31 May 2013

Alpen Tour Trophy Stage 2: 15km with 1100 metres of snow hiking ;)

Enjoying the trails before I got lost yesterday
Changing into my race clothes in our team trailer I could hear the rain drumming on the roof. It's actually a nice sound; feeling warm and dry when it's wet and horrible outside. But when you know that you have to leave the warmth and set off up the mountain towards the snow, it's not such a nice sound anymore!

Decisions, decisions....what to wear?! Warming oil, leg warmers, overshoes, waterproof shorts, thermal vest, arm warmers, a gillet and winter gloves. Is it really June tomorrow?! Within minutes of setting off I wondered if I was wearing too much, but once we reached the snow line then all I wondered was why I hadn't put thicker gloves on....completely numb hands once again made shifting gears tricky!

Setting off last is great because it means that I can chase rather than being chased. Team mate Milena set off 1 minute ahead of me and it wasn't long before she started to come into view. For some reason I couldn't find a good rhythm for the first 10minutes and I found it hard to raise my heart rate, but once I had targets in view then I was able to push on a bit harder.

Tyre sucking fields and mud made the going tough, but things got a whole lot tougher when after about 40minutes I was off the bike running up steep slippery snow covered trails. Not quite what I had in mind for an uphill time trail, but once the rain turned to snow and I entered a winter wonderland then I actually started to enjoy it - if only my cleats weren't totally covered in snow then I might have been able to pedal a bit more ;)

With one reasonably rideable line through the deep snow it was practically impossible to overtake slower riders; going off line to overtake resulted in sliding to a halt and then having to chase back again before being held up once more. After a while I gave up trying to pass and just enjoyed the amazing scenery. My heart rate dropped and my fingers froze so I was pretty happy when I finally ran - yes ran - across the finish line (think that's a first!).

Now where's the hot chocolate! 
Anyway, now I am warm and dry after taking the cable car down the mountain - yes I think that's a first too ;) And I finally found out that I won the stage too. Fingers crossed for some respite from the rain tomorrow!

Thank for the sunshine Peter Felber (team mechanic) 

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Alpen Tour Trophy: Stage 1. 69km/2880m plus an extra 200m off course!

We knew it was going to be cold; everyone was talking about the weather forecast. And cold it was! We woke to rain, which didn't stop throughout the race. The rain became sleet and then snow as the altitude increased. It was actually kind of pretty; snow flurries and snow covered trees. Racing in waterproof shorts, thermal vest, arm warmers, gillet, leg warmers, overshoes and a waterproof jacket isn't so comfy, but today it was essential!

Calm before the storm ;)

After the neutral start I was able to move up past the other ladies and I stayed ahead, gradually building my lead for the next two hours of tough climbing and some technical singletrails. But alas, after approximately 2 hours a missing course marking resulted in a wrong turn and 200m of climbing in the wrong direction. Riding back downhill to rejoin the course meant that I was also reunited with the other ladies who were behind me. Checking my SRM data file shows that in total I lost 15minutes off course :(

Motivation waned from here onwards. I had no idea if any of the other ladies were now ahead of me. This combined with my freezing muscles meant that I had to really fight to finish the race. Freezing and painful hands meant that I could no longer change gears with my thumbs; palms of my hands became my gear levers ;) Eating and drinking was also not so easy!

After hand washing all of my clothes - we have no washing machine here! - eating, drinking and warming up, we now have to go to the event dinner and prize ceremony. Then it's all go to get everything ready for tomorrow's uphill time trial.

Fingers crossed for some better luck and warmer weather, though the forecast isn't looking too optimistic re the latter!

Sal :)

Oh, sorry, failed to say that amazingly I won!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The Peak District to the Alps

We spent the last week exploring the riding that my childhood home in the Peak District UK has to offer. It was a really relaxing week with great training - albeit in some adverse weather conditions! - and some quality time with my family, including the cats :)

The calm after the hail, snow and rain!

Yesterday we travelled to Schladming in Austria where I will race the 4 day Alpen Tour Trophy starting tomorrow. This is my second time here so I'm familiar with what lies ahead: Stage 1 69km/2800m; Stage 2 16km/1100m time trial; Stage 3 73km/2800m; Stage 4 56km/2000m.

View from our apartment this morning
It might well be the case that our decision to train in the Peak District last week, rather than Spain, could have been perfect for acclimatisation: the weather forecast is predicting rain and possible snow! Fingers crossed for sun cream and not warming balm ;)

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Southern XC and Southern Champs, Round 2, Crow HIll

We're not actually supposed to be in the UK at the moment, but after the Euros at Singen, Germany last weekend we decided to make the 14 hour drive home on Monday. Sleeping in our own bed is really nice and having the opportunity to race 20minutes from home at Crow Hill was luxury!

Thanks to and SouthernXC for clearing a fun twisty, rooty and slippery forest course!

Congrats to Emily Iredale and Gemma Carter Collins for their 2nd and 3rd places.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

European Marathon Championships

Brief update:

It's been a turbulent couple of weeks with illness and I've been pretty anxious about how I would feel at the start line of the European Marathon Championships this morning. I wasn't feeling my strongest so I'm really happy to come away with a Silver medal - my 3rd one in 3 consecutive years! Next year I hope to finally win this title!

I'll write more in a couple of days, but for now here are a few photos....

Sal :)

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Knowing when to stop!

This weekend I had to make the difficult decision not to start the Riva Del Garda Marathon. I have trouble dealing with this situation because my heart always says to race, but with the European Marathon Championships next weekend in Singen, Germany, I chose not to line up at 7.30am this morning.

Post travel spin
Last Wednesday we left home in England and set off on our journey to Italy, stopping overnight in Germany and again (unscheduled) in Austria when the van broke down! Finally we arrived in Riva on Friday morning. However, early into our road trip I started to get a sore throat and I wasn't able to recover in time to be 100% healthy on the start line here in Riva.

Naturally, I feel disappointed and I wish I'd have raced, but if I had then I might have jeopardised my recovery and subsequently risked carrying this illness into the race next weekend.

So now our journey continues as we head to Singen. Fingers crossed for health and power ;)