Sunday, 9 May 2021

Foss Walk Adventure

 A while back, on a run with B through Oulston we spotted a finger post pointing the way along the Foss Walk. It had a cute little frog on it.

Later that same day, while scrolling through Strava I saw that one of my other running friends had been in Oulston that same day running the Foss Walk! It was like fate...

A little research told me that the Foss Walk was a 28 mile route following the River Foss (funnily enough) from York to Easngwold. Ideal for a mini-adventure. I put it to the gang and we started planning.

Unfortunately, despite it being a recognised route, there was no map or route description available, however there was a GPX downloadable from the LDWA website so A downloaded that to his phone for navigation and we were away.

LDWA: Foss Walk

The day we picked was Saturday 8th May and it soon rolled around. The forecast was pretty rubbish, but it's often wrong, right?

It was clear when we got on the train in Thirsk, drizzle on the way to York and chucking it down by the time we were rounding the city walls on our way to the river side start point.

Rather wet on the city walls at York!

Start line selfie - B, Me, T, R and A

I can't really tell you much about the actual route as I didn't know where we were 99% of the time! We followed the river side footpaths, through houses and pasture. We saw a kingfisher, a heron and lots of cattle. We passed under the York Ring road after a few miles.

York Ring Road

The rain just continued the whole time, varying in intensity but never actually stopping. It was also rather cold and occasionally the wind would whip up and chill us in our wet gear, quite miserable at times if I'm honest.

Keeping our spirits up! No idea where this was...

We had been promised cake at 28km (17.5 miles) and B had pre-arranged for his wife to collect him here. As the cake shop seemed further and further away, we began to wonder if it was real... At last though, 19 miles in, we turned off the route and down the road towards Stillington at the Pop-up Cafe at The Mill. Hurrah! Here we found tea/coffee and cake a plenty. We hogged the log burner for the best part of an hour, warming our bones and drying our gear while we ate lots of cake. They also brought out Flannigan the puppy for us to fuss, which he seemed quite happy about. As tempting as it was to stay here, we had to carry on as this was R's first ultra - but of course she needed to complete! Eventually, it time to push on, on legs that had seized up! Shuffle!

Pop up Cafe at Stillington

The rain eased a little in time, and we shed the extra layers we had put on at the cafe. We had a tangle with some horses this time instead of cows, flighty things. Eventually the rain stopped altogether and we were suddenly too warm in our rain coats! As the weather had improved, so had our spirits and we were noticeably more chatty than we had been in the freezing cold rain earlier in the day.

Smiling at Oulston Res.

Easingwold seemed even further away than the cafe, we couldn't even see houses in the distance. We rounded Millfield Park on the outskirts of the small town, we had long crossed the 28 mile mark. At last, the green lane we were on entered the town and we found the main market place! Hurrah!

Foss Walk completed! A, Me, T and R at Easingwold.

End of the route

We had rung ahead for our lifts and they were waiting just round the corner, we wasted no time jumping into nice warm cars and heading home for hot drinks and baths.

30 miles complete, in 6 hours 51 mins (not including time at the cafe) R had completed her first ultra and I had a sub-6 hour marathon.

Overall, very pleased with how it went. Navigating from the GPX on A's phone worked fine, the frog signs were better in some places than others. The route is almost totally flat - only 1000ft of climb over the whole 30 miles and all of that in the last 5 miles or so. No new injuries and no real mood slumps apart from being fed up of being cold and wet. I ate more than I would normally manage, cheese and onion pastry roll things from Tesco worked well and the mid-run tea and cake definitely helped. What did I learn? Cheap dry bags are no match for 5 hours of heavy rain! I should have used the better ones AND put ALL my stuff in them.

The route from FetchEveryone - mucho squisho

Monday, 3 May 2021

Another Year Complete

 The pandemic continues and so does my streak! Two full years (and a few days as I am behind on posting.)

Just making a post really to see if photo uploading has improved at all, is this a viable platform etc?

Hmm, it does work all be it slowly.

These pics are from yesterday's walk from Hutton-le-Hole.

Route map from FetchEveryone.

In running news, yes, 2 full years done, 500 mile for the year so far. Many more to come I hope!

Monday, 3 August 2020

Montane (Virtual) Lakeland 100

Sunday 19th July.
Three weeks ago, driven by peer pressure, FOMO and half a bottle of rose I had signed up to another ridiculous adventure - the virtual Montane Lakeland 100. I had spent the time since fretting and planning, but mostly fretting! Trying to work out how on earth I was going to fit 105 miles of running/walking around a 40 hour working week, finding routes I could run from home that were easy enough for when I was tired but not so easy I'd be bored. I came up with a plan to do 12 miles per day Monday to Friday then have a big back-to-back high mileage weekend. Now I was having an early night, with all my work clothes laid for the week and next to those all my running clothes and the first two days worth of pack up made ready. I was dreading the week to come and cursing myself for being so impulsive! The real Lakeland 100 wasn't even on my 'races to do' list so I'm not sure how I got drawn in...

Monday 20th July.
The day started early with a walk before breakfast. The dog joined me for part of it until she realised there would be no time for scent marking and sniffing! Only a short distance covered but it got the ball rolling in my mind.
After work, and a snack, I put my first set of running clothes on and headed out into a beautiful sunny evening. I ran along footpaths and country roads taking in the villages of Kirby Knowle and Boltby, I met some gorgeous cattle outside Boltby before climbing over the Mount St John and finally enjoying the long gentle downhill all the way home.
Day 1 and a total of 13 miles covered. I felt pretty good, but was only 1 day in...

Tuesday 21st July.
Double run day! Another beautiful morning and on half a jam sandwich I set off to run the 5 mile route I call Gold Lane Loop. I felt good and the run was smooth.
A busy day at work ensued and I was glad of being organised as I headed over to Kilburn to join some Harriers for a social run. I got there early and David T joined me for a couple of warm up miles before joining the main group for a guided tour of the proposed Mountain Masters route. I still needed another mile so headed back in to the woods as everyone else set off home.
Day 2 and another 13 miles under my belt, everything still works so that is a bonus!

Wednesday 22nd July.
Third early start in a row, not my bag normally. Just took the dog for a relaxed walk before heading to work.
That evening, Gavin joined me for a (relatively) pacey run around Bagby and Thirkleby. The route was mostly flat on good farm tracks, but I had not been this way for some time and had to consult the map a few times. It went well until we hit a field of oil seed and the path disappeared under the crop. That was annoying on tiring legs near the end of a long run, but we made our way around and got home in one piece.
Day 3 and again 13 miles down to stay just a touch ahead of target. My appetite was now being affected, I struggled to eat my dinner when all I wanted to do was go to bed.

Thursday 23rd July.
Despite being so tired, I had a lousy sleep and another early start! I took a power walk to Felixkirk and back, managing to cover 3.5miles in under an hour.
Just about stayed awake at work, so tired, more mentally than physically as my legs still felt pretty good.
I left work and went straight to Osmotherly, once again arriving early to do a lap of the reservoir before joining the social run. I let them all run ahead, I was slow and didn't want to spoil thier run. It's a route I enjoy so I just trotted along on my own without any problem (other than nearly getting stuck in a squeeze stile!!)
Despite my lack of speed, I made it back to the village in plenty of time to get fish and chips. My appetite still off but they were very good and I ate most of them before taking a gentle stroll back to the car.
Day 4 and I was now over 50 miles for the week.

Friday 24th July.
Tired was not the word. I'd decided last night to re-set my alarm to allow just enough time for breakfast and had a mini-lie in instead of walking or running anywhere. It was the right decision and I felt much more awake at work.
Later though, I ran down from home to Sowerby and around Thirsk. I'd done 5.5 miles in an hour and was feeling ok, but it was short lived and by mile 7 I'd had enough. I worked out that if I ran home from that point, I would have still done 10 miles which was enough (as I was a little ahead). So that is what I did.
My appetite a little better, I also inhaled a take-away pizza!
Day 5 another 10 miles brings the total to almost 62.

Saturday 25th July.
First long run day of the weekend. I had arranged to meet Alan S at Sutton Bank at a civilised time and we set off on a very simple out and back route to Black Hambleton. It had to be simple as my brain was no longer functioning! The weather was mostly fine, apart from the fact it poured down on the summit of Black Hambleton! We made good time on the route, averaging 12 min/miles which I was very happy with, given I'd already done over 60 miles for the week. We had a tea stop at High Paradise and the hot drink was most welcome. We pressed on, I was getting tired now but walk breaks were still fairly minimal, then had another refreshment stop at the cafe at Sutton Bank visitor centre. We'd done almost 18 miles by now (my target for the day was 25) but weren't finished yet! We dropped down the bank, passed Gormire Lake and 'dropped' Alan at home. I carried on, just walking now, towards home. As I walked, I ran the maths in my head and realised I'd only need another 2 miles to make my target, so once I got home I deposited my pack and collected the dog and my partner and we did those last two miles round the fields at home.
A long day, 25 miles done and now things are hurting but I am still mobile.

Sunday 26th July.
The last day! Another fairly civilised start. This was the one day I hadn't planned in advance. Gavin met me again and took me around town! We went to visit the Buddha then on to Sandhutton and Carlton Miniott taking in paths I've not really been down before. I felt good for about the first 8 miles, then started flagging. Taking on sweets and a banana helped but I was running out of energy. My legs hurt, but that is to be expected and I could ignore that, just didn't have the energy to lift them! At about 14 miles we decided to re-route back towards the town centre and get some refreshment from Greggs! We'd reached 16 miles by this point and I'd run out of 'run'. I also knew that if I just took a slight diversion on my way home, I could reach my target of 19 miles for the day. Gavin and I parted company and shuffled back to our respective abodes. My watch clicked over the 19 mile mark shortly before I reached my house and I arrived home - triumphant.
Day 7 and 105 miles complete! In fact, 106 as I wanted to be sure I wasn't short.

As ever at the end of an ultra or multi day event, there's no party just a quiet satisfaction. Physically, my body held up pretty well - legs are stiff and sore but that is obvious, but I am not broken at all. I think this is due to pacing myself well from the start and of course being able to spread the miles out over the week. Appetite and sleep have been very messed up which led to a greatly reduced energy level which has been more of an issue than any physical pain. Not sure how to work around this, but I'll keep practicing.

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Chasing Ron Hill

Yes that's right, 365 days in a row. Because... because why not?! Ron Hill ran every day for over 50 years, I keep saying I have a long way to go to catch him up :) 

Ok a little bit about me.

I was never a runner when I was younger, didn't really like sport at all really. I still shudder when we do 'team games' during a warm up at Harriers!
I was however still active, going hiking with my dad and doing my Duke of Edinburgh Awards as well as horse riding as a teen.

It was Peter Wragg and Catriona Gaudie, both former Harriers who suggested I was 'tall and skinny and looked like a runner' and Peter said I should contact Rob Burn at Harriers. At this point, I had done a couple of the Cancer Research Race for Life and was almost thirty. I was in to long distance walking and had recently found out that long distance running was a thing, I'd never heard of it before but it peaked my interest. Specifically, I had read an article about a chap who had run the Cleveland Way in under 24 hours. I had hiked it in a week, it seemed incredible.

I contacted Rob and he talked me in to coming down to a training session, I'm not sure I even owned any lycra when I first turned up at the school sports hall, I certainly couldn't run very far, I had been practising a little and could manage a half mile chunk before needing a walk break. The Harriers took me under their wings, I was made to feel very welcome and I was hooked straight away. I completed my first Christmas Handicap a month later, running the full two miles without stopping and came in second place! By February 2011 I was competing at Cross Country. I enjoyed the muddy fields more than tarmac and I was learning more about trail and fell running, although I was yet to try it out.

It still took a long time to learn to love running, it was hard. It still is hard, but I enjoyed the physical effort and gradual improvement. All the time making friends and getting involved in the social aspect of being part of a running club. I was also involved behind the scenes as Club Secretary for 7 years, only stepping down in 2019. 

Gradually, I was doing more off road stuff and that it where my passion lies, I don't know when it clicked, but suddenly I loved running! Getting the typical running grumpiness if I couldn't get out and exercise.

I did my first fell race, Gribdale Gallop, in the summer of 2011. I was so nervous, I remember shaking like a leaf on the start line. But I got round in one piece and never looked back! But I wanted to go further. I'm not fast, never have been, so distance and technical ground became my 'thing' relishing big hills and muddy terrain. A year later I completed my first marathon the Osmotherly Pheonix, a pretty tough route to start with!!

From there, with a lot of help from the Club and my running friends, I have gone on to complete multiple marathons and several ultra races, the longest so far being 55 miles and all off-road. I have made attempts at a 100 mile race, but a finish at that distance so far eludes me. The training involved for that is long and gruelling and takes over your life.

Currently, I have been 'streaking' which doesn't mean running with no clothes on! No, following in the footsteps of the legendary Ron Hill, I've run every day for just over a year. The rules are simple, it has to be at least a mile, and it has to be quicker than a 15 minute mile. I've done this before, but been stopped by injury, or illness or just 'life' getting in the way. This time however, I am pleased to make it to (and now past) 365 days. I'll keep going until I am forced to stop, but I am enjoying the challenge, every day is a new opportunity.

The running community has introduced me to things I didn't know existed, I've been to places not seen by many and experienced such highs you'd think I was on drugs! The friendships that evolve from running with someone for hours on end, through the night and seeing each other at our most vulnerable are without comparison. 

And all because I made that phone call to Rob one evening to 'ask about running Club'.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Sunday 24th June. Last day of annual leave

It promised to be another warm one, so we walked the dog early, down to the Concrete Road and along the edge of town. I wanted to go that way to eliminate quite a few FetchPoint bugs, 12 as it turned out.

We then tried to go to what we thought was the garden centre at Baldersby, but it's not, it's a wholesale place. So that was no good!
On the way back through town, Paul called in to get his hair cut, came out with a new 'do'! Then on to the Thirsk Garden Centre where we bought compost and plants.

Lunch at home before spending the afternoon in the garden. It was very warm, getting up to 30 degrees on the patio.

I did the first day of Adriene's 30 day yoga programme.

It was too hot for the planned roast dinner, so I cooked the chicken and we had salad instead, it was the right idea!

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Another failed Fellsman attempt!

I thought I could write a blog about how mardy I was, how much my feet hurt and how I hated every single step of the thing. But I thought, that doesn't help anyone, least of all me. There has to be SOME good bits, right?

It was still dark with a frost on the car when Brett picked me up at stupid o'clock. We collected Gavin and drove over to the Dales, a huge golden moon hung in the dawn sky.

We didn't have long between parking up at the finish and getting bus to the start! No time for a much needed poo!

We all passed kit check (phew) although the man gave me a lecture on 'emergency rations' and blood sugar. I thought, mate, I could write the book on bonking and crashing blood sugars but thought it was perhaps not a good idea to argue with the marshalls at this stage in the game...
Two cups of tea, a second banana and lots of Jamaican Ginger Cake later, it was time to go. (Already doing better then last year where I was ill and hardly managed any breakfast.)

I had seen several friends before the start, including Flanker and KinkyS. We had gathered a chap called Tim from Esk Valley who decided he'd run with us. 
When the RD said go, it was hilarious as everyone barrelled off in different directions! I lost all three boys immediately although managed to catch Gavin and Tim just up the street. Brett had disappeared into the distance. We figured we see him at the first check point drinking tea.

It's a long slog up Ingleborough, we did it in one hour one minute (I know this from my watch data, no idea at the time!) The descent is worse though, steep slippy rock steps and I minced my way down carefully.
The run in to the next check point is quite pleasant and I caught up with Gavin and Tim once more, but no sign of Brett*. Grabbed a chocolate digestive and ran on.

Pretty much straight into the next climb. I regaled Tim with the story of my projectile vomiting episode on the 3-Peaks run a couple of years ago. As we started the climb, this is where the mardiness set in. No idea why particularly, other than I don't understand how after all this training it is still so fucking hard.
Anyway, it took a while to get to the summit, this is a little out and back, no sign of Brett. As we came back down, we crossed my friends Em, Jo and Louise and the chaps they were running with, David and Mark.
I don't remember much about the run from here, apart from a very wobbly metal ladder over a wall!

Down down down into Kingdale. I needed a wee. No bushes anywhere and the porta-loo thingy was a bit close to where everyone was sitting with cups of tea for my liking. Never got my pre-run poo earlier either. Anyway, the boys fuelled up with big slabs of flapjack, I nibbled a corner, and we set of up ridiculous climb number 3, Gragareth.
This is the near vertical, calf killer of a climb. I puffed and heaved my way up.

I had some sweets as I ran the short out n back to the summit. My number was 369 and the summit marshals burst into song! 369, the goose drank wine... etc which has been stuck in my head ever since. That was probably the highlight of my race to be honest.
The boys had waited for me at this point, although I had said I'm ok for them to run on. Gavin had originally spoke of completing in 18.5 hours and I knew I wasn't up for that!

The route follows the wall from Gragareth to Great Coumb at the far end of the ridge. It is sort of flat so was very boggy indeed. I went in up to my knees at one point! Yuk, trainers full of slime.

Somewhere along the way, I don't know where it started really, but my feet were really hurting. I started with plantar fasciitis after the Hardmoors 55 in March and had been managing it by the usual methods. Up until now, it hadn't really hurt whilst running, just afterwards.

The boys eventually pulled away into the distance and I grumbled along on my own. People chatted as they passed, but I didn't run with anyone for long. Louise passed me too, she was flying along, I knew she would!

I missed the stile at Great Coumb, only went about 50 yards out of my way, but took several people with me! No songs at this checkpoint and we turned downhill. I followed a much better line this time and avoided the awkward rocks on the descent. 
Maybe it was because we were going downhill, maybe it's because we were approaching a cup-of-tea stop, but my mood improved greatly as we continued down. Though wet reedy ground, through the Scout check point at Flinter Gill and onto the walled lane zig-zagging its way into Dent. I reached the check point in good spirits, but my feet were very sore and once I had tea and food in hand, I sat down for about 15 mins to re-fuel. I felt refreshed and ready to do a bit more.

I left Dent, should have got my map out 'cos I couldn't remember which turning we wanted. Some lads overtook me while I was faffing around. I ended up walking with an older chap for several miles. To start with I didn't want any company but in the end we had a good natter about this and that. He'd done the race a few times and knew the way, we were on a good obvious track at this point, but still.
The next bit crosses a short section of open, marshy ground. Several more dunkings, but none of them quite so deep. My feet really sore now, every step pulled the tight tendons in a new direction. As we crossed several false summits, I lost the plot and had a little cry. Sheer frustration as I knew that I wasn't going to finish, again. I had to save my feet ahead of the HM110 in a months time, no good trashing them now and not being able to complete that either.
So, I checked in to the summit checkpoint at Blea Moor, then took a different line to last year across the top to join the forestry below. The forestry is now gone!
I could remember the path down being fun and I quite enjoyed it again this time, although my friends over took me and I went into deep mud half way up my shin. 
Once off the steep path and onto smooth grass, my feet didn't feel quite so bad. But when i reached tarmac it was clear they were not going to get any better. I hobbled the mile or so down the road, pausing to wash my disgusting trainers in the river, before checking in at Stonehouses.
I had some pasta, and seconds, before wandering over to the marshals tent and announcing my intention to retire. I cried again as they cut my tally off my bag.

That was it, race over. I now lounged in the sun while the body bus collected enough people to fill it. Flanker, KinkyS and friends came through, taking their pasta with them to avoid grouping a little longer. Then it took a long time to get back to race HQ at Threshfield. An even longer wait was ahead of me as I had no way of getting home til the boys finished! I got my stuff, put dry socks and shoes on (bliss) then had jacket potato and chilli for tea. Nice hot shower (and a poo!) and sorted out my stuff for sleeping. Then I went back and got pudding and a bowl of pasta! I hung around til 11-ish then went for a surprisingly good sleep on the sports hall floor.

The boys made it back around 6am. Tim and Gavin had stuck together and they collected up Brett from where he'd set off too fast then blown up just off Great Knoutberry and picked up Louise along the way too. Gavin had a comfortable run, Brett not so much and I didn't see Louise or Tim, but the boys looked like zombies.

I managed to negotiate some breakfast despite already using my meal token the night before. My friends, Em, Jo and Co. came in at around 24hours. The speed I was going at, had I carried on, I would have been a lot longer...

So, all home safe and sound, I have been checking out the opening times at the local pool as it looks like I'll be doing some aqua-jogging to rest my feet!

The event itself, although brutal is excellent value for money (£50 including coach transfer) and you get feed, all the sweep support, indoor sleeping and a nice commemorative Buff. It is a massive operation and very well organised. The kitchen crew in particular do a fantastic job, working through the night to make sure 300-400 hungry runners are catered for and nothing is too much trouble. And of course the summit marshals, and the checkpoint crews, and the bus drivers... you get the idea!

*The best bit about this is that Brett spent the first 10 miles or so running like the clappers as he was convinced that Gavin was ahead of him...