Monday, 10 April 2017

2016 - Hardmoors 110 DNF

I actually wrote this almost a year ago. I have enjoyed reading it back and feel it's relevant.

The day of the 110 finally dawned, an early start as my support crew picked me up at 5am. Got to race HQ at Filey dead early and got my number. Then we went for breakfast at the cafe. Well, my crew had bacon butties, I had the PB+J pitta and a banana that I'd brought with me. In the cafe we chatted with other runners and I wondered if this is what a condemned man feels like, waiting his turn at the gallows.

At last it was time to gather for the race brief, time to leave my nice warm coat behind (it was cold and breezy up on the Brigg but gloriously sunny) and move out to the gate way marking the start of the race.
We were off!

The pace right from the start was very gentle. I love listening to other runners chatter, it's just as random as mine and my friends when we run.

My watch was set to 30 mins run/5 mins walk. The idea being to also eat a little and drink on that 5 min walk. My watch was beeping before I knew it, I was still full of my breakfast, so just had a bite of a cereal bar.

It was getting warm and I had to shed my coat as we got close to Scarborough. Annoyingly I dropped my bit of paper with my emergency numbers and cut off times on so I had to back track to find that. I didn't stop at the CP at Holbeck Hill, part of my plan was to spend as little time as possible at check points to try and keep my time under control.
My crew said they'd meet me on Scarborough front, I wasn't sure how that would work, but as I came up the little slope from the beach near the Spa there they were! I walked with them for a few moments before running on.
Scarborough wasn't too busy, but it was still early. Not many runners said 'hello' or even returned a smile, but one lady did run alongside me for a while and asked lots of questions about what we were doing.
The beach and surf on the North Bay looked very inviting in the sunshine.

I did have a cup of water at the next CP at Crookness, but didn't hang around. The first cut off was at Ravenscar, 22 miles in with a time limit of 6 hours. Totally doable, but I still needed to keep moving. 
As usual I hit a mardy patch around 15 miles, but I ran with Jo who I sort of knew from FB and her friend for a little while and we had a good chat about random stuff.
When I thought to myself, it's 20 miles at Ravenscar, that's less than a hundred to go, it kind of hit me just what I was trying to do. Scary.

It's a long drag round to get to Ravenscar, and the CP was slightly off the Cleveland Way. I saw my crew, then carried on to the CP and visited the loo, I hadn't dared trump for 22 miles (never trust a fart) but it was just wind and after that I allowed myself to vent freely. I had a quick cuppa with my crew mates before cracking on. I was well ahead of schedule and felt good. My knees were already sore, but to be honest I wasn't too worried because they always are.

Alot of ups and downs between Ravenscar and Robin Hoods Bay. I took the steps slowly and enjoyed telling bemused day trippers about what we were doing. I caught up with some of the people doing the HM160.
Quick drink of water at the top of the big hill in Robin Hoods Bay then back out onto the cliff tops. The weather and the views were just amazing. I was so pleased the weather was fine, after the recent snow and sub zero temperatures we didn't really know what to expect.

Legs were tired and I just focused on getting to Whitby. First I got to the fog station, I knew it couldn't be much further after that. At one point I looked up and there was Saltwick Nab, a childhood haunt and it meant I was nearly there. It was really quite warm, while running it was anyway, and I saw a child with an ice-pop. I wanted an ice-pop. I spent a bit of time digging some money out of my pack while travelling along the tops. My watch beeped for a walk break, but I knew I'd have to walk most of the way through Whitby, so I ignored it and carried on to the Abbey. There was a coffee van instead of an ice-cream truck, grr. There was also some sort of battle re-enactment going on within the Abbey grounds. Here I picked up an American girl running the HM160 and I guided her through the town. The sheer number of people in Whitby was crazy! We weaved our way through the crowds, I was happily munching on swiss roll until the smell of the docks made me feel a bit sick!!
I continued walking once we'd climbed all the steps onto the West Cliff and passed under the Whale bones, the American girl kept pace. She asked me if I knew the way, as she obviously didn't. I was a little unsure, but once we reached the path through the golf course, I could remember. She followed me all the way to Sandsend. I tried to make conversation, but she didn't seem to want to chat. Now, the sun had gone in and I put my gloves on. Perhaps a good thing I never got my ice-pop!!
Gavin was waiting for me at the far end of Sandsend, I told him he had to run, I wasn't stopping!! Straight into the check point. The marshalls offered me a chair, but I didn't want to sit. Instead, I had a Muller Riceand a cup of tea. The American girl looked a mess, she had no crew and not enough food. To add to this, she was a vegan. We spared some grapes and another supporter offered some chopped fruit and a banana which she ate like she was starving.

I felt pretty good and was soon on my way again. I had been told it was four miles to Runswick, hmm. It was a long four miles. It was sunny again, with a fair bit of climbing along the way. My feet were starting to hurt.
I could see Runswick now, again ignoring a walk break as I knew the start of the steep descent into Hob Hole wasn't far. I wobbled down the steps with another two ladies. At the bottom, just before the beach, the path drops sharply into a shale gully it's wet and very slippy so you have to be careful at the best of times. I met another runner coming the other way, and he jumped the little stream so I could get by, then fell in when he went to jump back! I felt guilty, but he insisted he was fine. 
I moved slightly down the beach onto the wet sand and ran across the beach, then began the long climb up the big hill to the CP in the car park at the top. My watch said 6 miles since the last CP.
Here Hilary had her running gear on and was raring to go! She had to wait while I had a drink and a quick feed, then we pressed on. I told her there wasn't going to be much running, I was getting tired.
It was a short up and over to Staithes, Hilary was in love with the little cobbled streets and funny shaped houses.
The crew decided to meet us outside Staithes, and we found them on the track to Rockhole Hill. We were moving slowly so Hilary picked up some warmer layers before we carried on.
I had to give in and put my buff and coat on too as it was getting cool. My feet were really sore now, and I can't have been much company for Hilary as we power walked along. When we got to Skinningrove, we got our head torches ready. I voiced my concerns about my feet, thinking I would inspect them at Kildale (indoor check point).
We had to run the last mile into Saltburn just to keep warm, now it was dark the temperature had dropped dramatically. My feet were in bits now and I wasn't going to be able to wait til Kildale.
The CP in Saltburn wasn't quite where I thought it would be, but we found it and the rest of my crew. I was well ahead of the cut offs and my own schedule, so I took the time to sort out my blisters, change my socks, get some warmer gear out of the car, eat Pringles and drink tea. My crew were brill, wrapping me up so I didn't get cold, Hilary pulling off shoes and socks, Paul in charge of hot drinks.
On the cliff tops, the general trumping had started to feel a bit more 'dangerous' so I was gutted to find the public toilets in Saltburn were locked up for the night. Ho well.
It was Gavin's turn to run with me now, and we stepped out into the night. Up the cliff steps, then down into the Valley Gardens. These are tricky enough to navigate in the daylight so in the dark we had to keep a good eye out for the little acorns.
Once out of the gardens, I'm afraid I had to nip through a gateway into a bush and make like a bear. Quite embarrassing knowing Gav was waiting just down the track... Even more embarrassing, when I realised I'd left my gloves on the ground and when I went back, some disorientated runners followed me to the scene of the crime. So much for being discrete...

We stalked on through the little villages of Skelton and Skelton Green, the American 160 runner had caught up with us again. She had no idea of the route, I assume she had a map on her, but didn't seem to know how to use it and was relying on keeping pace with someone who knew the way. Currently this was alternating between us and the two ladies from earlier. Thankfully she seemed much better than she did in Sandsend.

The comfort of the Compede on my feet hadn't lasted long and the steep descent into Slapeworth almost had me in tears. DB and his crew caught us up and I was having a tough time hiding my misery.

We crossed the road, not many cars at this time of night, and entered Guisborough Woods. This was the one bit that I was worried about navigationally, Gavin wasn't too sure on this bit either, but as it turned out so long as you kept an eye out for the acorns it was ok.
My feet weren't ok though. Anything other than flat and smooth was agony. There isn't much flat or smooth in Guisborough Woods. At one point, the blister on my left foot popped and it was like stepping on a knife.
Thankfully, that white hot pain subsided and I was able to shuffle on.
As we, I, got slower in the woods, I realised I wasn't going to finish. The pain was too much, I was moving too slow. I tried to have a cry in the dark, but nothing came out. Gavin and I walked on, mostly in silence, Gavin occasionally asking me questions to try and make conversation and reminding me to eat and drink.
We realised the other other ladies and the American had gone off course, too far away to shout and neither of us in a fit state to chase after them, we just had to hope they could find their way.

The paving slabs across Hutton Moor hurt my feet some more, but were no where near as bad as Roseberry Topping. Oh my. I slipped so many times on the way up as I couldn't get secure footing on my tattered feet. We checked in with Chia Charge Tim the summit marshal and began the excruciating descent. We passed DB and friends coming up as well as the American girl, who was still asking for directions. We also passed the other two ladies, they'd been very lost in the woods but were gradually clawing back time.

Somewhere along the way, Gavin asked if I was ok. For the first time, I said 'no'. I'm sure the teeth-sucking and swearing had given away the fact I was suffering, but I hadn't really said anything about pulling out. He asked me what my gut feeling was. I said I wanted to pull out at the car. He told me to think about it, but he and the rest of the crew would support my decision, whatever it was.
Secretly, I'd been hoping to time out so I didn't have to make the decision myself, but here I was. I got to the car at Gribdale Terrace. Hilary had met us up on the bank and Paul was at the car making a brew.
The American had already over taken us (getting directions off Hilary this time!) and she was soon followed by the two other ladies who I think were pleased to see the back of her!

I said I was calling it quits. Nobody argued.
I'd taken 6 hours to do 11 miles. There was no way I was going to make the cut offs and no point torturing my feet any more. 
I was bundled into a sleeping bag and given sweet tea and we drove to the CP at Lord Stones to hand in my number.
Just to add insult to injury, I was car sick on the way home.

I fell into bed, at home at 5am and can't have been long before I was alseep.

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