I have been PT-ing and weight lift-ing and long runn-ing over the last couple of weeks in preperation for the Hardmoors 55, another step in the lead up to the Big One (HM110) in a few short weeks time.
I'd had a week of (almost) rest and felt pretty much ready to take the race on. Although the night before I was so stressed out about the whole thing I gave myself a headache! Rubbish sleep as expected.
My pals Pete and Jen picked me up as planned and we made it to Helmsley before the buses arrived to get our kit checks done and registered. We had a long wait after that, so had second breakfast of tea and banana's and sat in the car to keep warm! Met Gromit while waiting and said hi to lots of other Fetchies and non-Fetch running friends.
I have to say, I was very nervous.
Jon the RD gave his usual race brief, rambling on like he does and then it was time to go!
The first few miles felt easy, couple of gates to negotiate slowed everyone down. I had turned the satellites off on my Garmin so was surprised to find it still registering miles and pace. I fiddled with that for a bit, but it seemed to be ok.
On reflection, I may have been going a little too fast, but it felt comfortable at the time.
This bit is 'flat' with the worst bit being a long drag up into Cold Kirby. I walked some of this and ate one of my homemade cherry flap jacks. In the village, one of my club mates Charlotte was waiting with her son and dog to cheer everyone on!!
Next was the out and back section through Kilburn Woods and to the White Horse. I saw Peter (who was already on the way back) and we hi-fived. First check point reached well within the cut offs, just a small matter of the 151 steps back onto the bank!
I'd been bursting for a wee for some time so called into the loo at Sutton Bank Visitor centre and felt much better!
Still mostly flat along the escarpment and very familiar terrain. I loped along, talking to people on and off as we passed. Still felt quite good.
Another long shallow drag up past White Stones and to the cairn by Black Hambleton. I ate my yoghurt raisins, but already felt like I was forcing them down, rather than being glad of the energy.
As we started the descent into Osmotherly, I was already feeling light headed and tired. I was worried as we hadn't done any real climbing yet and there was a long way to go. I told myself I must eat plenty of food at the Ossy check point.
Got into the hall well inside the cut off and ahead of my own schedule so I was happy with that. I had a lovely cup of tea first, then had a look in my drop bag. Hmm. I scoffed the coconut macaroon, but didn't really enjoy it. Stuck some other bits in my pack 'for later' and got rid of a couple of bits. I saw my club mate Mally lingering in the doorway, he'd come to cheer on another pal of his but it was great to see him and get a sweaty hug! He said he was off to the pub next...
I set off again, tried to eat my drop-bag pizza and nearly gagged on it. Dammit.
Lots of climbing to come now. First up Beacon Hill, I like Beacon Hill, no probs. Got chatting to a chap from Swaledale so that helped ease the miles a little. We parted in the woods before Scugdale.
My pesky knee decided to make itself known already, the right one this time instead of the left, so that was a nuisance. But I figured just take it steady, no need to rush anything.
I got to Scugdale which was also the half way point, hurrah, I think. The CP was staffed by Lisrun and a couple of other chaps. I spotted another friend sat on the bench there, it didn't occur to me at the time, but it turns out he had to pull out due to injury. I took some sweets and began the climb up Live Plantation and onto Carlton Bank. It's long climb that just goes on and on. I started to get angry with the hill. I ran the flatter bits but it took a long time to get to the double trig at the far end, it was a relief in one way, but really it meant a long horrible stony descent on uneven steps. I got down without too much swearing and ran through Lord Stones ready to tackle the next big climb. Again, it went on forever but it's just a matter of one foot in front of the other.
With great relief, I slapped the summit seat and shuffled on along the tops. It was windy and cold up here and I pulled my hood around my head. The mist was rolling in too, but you can't get lost on here, just keep to the flag stones. I ran/walked along the top then hobbled down the next descent. A short flat bit, then an abrupt up and over of Cold Moor, not helped by my toes going into cramp on the down side! Then on to tackle the Wainstones.
I had to guide a couple of blokes through, then managed to run on. I think they over took me on the descent though.
The CP at Clay Bank seemed a good place to lean, so I did for a few moments to have a drink and some jelly-tots before pushing on up Clay Bank.
Some ladies asked me of I knew where we were. I said we were approaching Round Hill which is the highest point on the North York Moors. After that, I said, apart from the bits that aren't, it's all downhill. Not sure that was the most helpful thing to say!!
There was a lot of walking of walking on this section. It's not really flat, but on tired legs not easy to run either.
All of a sudden, I felt hungry! I managed to eat a couple of chunks of potato and a small bit of cake before I went back to feeling slightly sick.
I reached Blowarth Crossing and clipped my race number.
I didn't realise how far it now was on this 'flat' boring track.
It was breezy and quite cold.
Running was so very hard, my knee hurt. Walking was slow and demoralising.
I still felt sick.
It gradually got dark. I eventually gave in and put my headtorch on, and imeadiately tripped over a rock! Didn't actually fall, but it reminded me to pay attention.
It started to rain. I failed to put my waterproof coat on, as the previous rain showers had passed within a few minutes so I assumed this would do the same.
I had toyed with the idea of getting to Kildale without needing my torch, but that clearly wasn't going to happen.
The long track was still going on. I wanted to have a cry, but nothing would come out!
Every time my watch beeped to announce a run/walk interval or it was time to eat, I told it to fuck off.
A little group of us gathered and that speeded me up a bit.
Stokesley and other towns were laid out before us, all lit up. It looked good, but I didn't care and I said so.
At last, we turned onto tarmac but the sign said 2 miles to Kildale. Still?? 2 pissing miles?? FFS.
The road was steep in places, and my knee was too sore to run on, so I ran the flatter bits while everyone else ran the down hills! I was thoroughly pissed off.
Up on that track, while feeling queasy I was almost willing myself to be sick so I had a valid excuse to pull out.
Here now, the lights from the village hall looked warm and welcoming and I stumbled in.
For the first time during a race like this, I sat down.
My friend Lorna was marshalling here and she took over, getting me tea and a bowl of rice pudding and collecting my drop bag.
The tea, the rice, changing into a dry top and getting my proper coat on all helped. I rearranged my various parcels of food. Topped up my squash and electrolyte drink, made sure I got a hug from Flip then stepped back out into the dark.
My teeth were chattering with cold, but my spirits had been soothed and by the time I was half way up the next (big, steep) hill I was sweating again. And more importantly, almost happy.
The climb up to Captain Cooks although long wasn't too bad. I love the section through the birch forest on East Cote Moor and it was cool in the dark. The monument looked ace, if a little...erm...phallic silouhetted against the orange glow of the towns below.
It's a steep drop into Gribdale, but a sort of lolloping trot got me down without too much pain and into the CP now known as Party Central! Here were lots of lights and disco music, I even managed a little dance as I came through the gate!
The next objective was Roseberry Topping. RT is a challenge in the daylight and we were about to tackle it in the dark. First though, a mile a green track and from the moor we got the most amazing view of the little mini-mountain. The main path zig-zags it's way up the face and there was a string of headtorches all the way up. RT looked like a giant Christmas tree, it was quite a thing to behold.
No time for taking in the view, I pressed on. One foot in front of the other. This is an another out and back section and we said ''well done'' to eat pair of feet we passed. The climb is never as bad as you think and soon we'd checked in with the summit marshal and turned around. It's the descent which is the bad bit. The rock steps are steep, uneven and always greasy. Slipped a few times. Tired legs and a lack of energy weren't helping.
I figured it would take another two hours to get to the finish, but that was it, we were almost on the home straight. (I keep saying 'we' as little groups of runners come and go, but never really ran with anyone for long.)
The run walk continued for a while, but eventually ran out of running ability. The ground was on slippy paving slabs, too uneven to maintain any kind of pace so a very brisk walk was more comfortable than keep starting and stopping.
Glo-sticks swam into view to guide us up the steps and the last real climb up the side of Highcliffe Nab. There was a self clip up here, cruelly attached to a low bench so we each had to kneel down to reach it!
The long walk had given my legs a 'rest' and I managed to run on into Guisborough Woods. I had been a little worried about navigating through here in the dark, but Jon had very kindly put glo-sticks along the route and they were easy to spot.
Started to get a bit mardy again as the woods went on forever.
At last though, we got onto a horrible steep concrete road, but I knew this led down to the old railway line and then it was just one more mile from there to the finish.
The last self clip was easier to reach and with my number clipped, I set off down the railway line.
I swore at my watch bleeping.
I swore at my sore knee.
I swore at the flat track, although really I couldn't have taken much more climbing!
Gradually down that line, a couple of ladies I'd run with on and off caught me up and we got to the steps leading onto the road to Guisborough. We wobbled down the steps and actually ran down the street and up into entrance of the Sea Cadets where Shirley was waiting to check our numbers!
We'd done it! Bloody done it.
Peter and Jen were waiting for me. Peter had had a great run and was still bouncing round, high on Jelly Babies and coke.
I had some tea and very slowly got changed.
I had mixed feelings. I was over joyed to have finished and I beat last years time. Not by as much as I wanted though and my overall performance was a little lacking I felt.
Physically, I felt (relatively speaking) ok. The long runs and weights have definitely helped and I was in a much better state than last year when I finished. But mentally, I had fallen apart up on the moor. I know I'd had bad patches last year, but they didn't seem to have lasted so long.
I have to admit, it's dented my confidence a little, which is disapointing after my last few long training runs have been so successful.
I will just put it down to experience, I mean, I still finished well within the time allowed and I have no real injuries (indeed I walked into town on Sunday and managed to continue my run streak, just).
I think I had psyched myself out a little, having intimate local knowledge of an area doesn't always help!!
So, bit of resting time then consolidate my last few weeks of training before the big one. It will be here soon and that blog will be twice as long!!