Saturday, 19 September 2015

Long time no chat...

Been a long time since I last posted, such a lot has happened! Been a long time since I felt I could talk about it all...

I will bring you up to speed on what has been happening since I last wrote.

Ossy Oiks - One of my favourite fell races. As usual it was hot and I was tired. Got round, but really quite slow.

Hardmoors Rosedale Marathon - 27 miles of misery. At 'just' 2000ft of ascent, this is essentially a flat route with a couple of sharp climbs thrown in. The rain came in at 10 miles and by then I was already bored. I wanted to quit, but when I got to the half way point (complete with a nice warm pub to retire into) I found one of my Club mates manning the checkpoint. I couldn't face the embarrasement of having to explain to her I wanted to pull out even though I wasn't ill or injured. The next checkpoint was a windswept car boot in the middle of nowhere and by the time I'd reached the next suitable point to pull out, I only had about 3.5 miles left to go! So I finished, in my fastest marathon time to date, 5hrs 41mins. I still hated every minute of it though.

HDSRL Wetherby - So close after the marathon, I just went for a jog round and ended up getting a really good time and thoroughly enjoying myself! This running is a funny business I did however eat more calories than I'd burnt at the post race supper...

Whorlton Run - Legs still heavy and I found this hard going and it was once again quite hot. Again though, I had quite a reasonable run.

Cleveland Way Relays - I think this is where it started going wrong. Becky and I ran the first leg, which set off at 5am, yes, 5AM from Filey which meant we'd had a 3am start. My body did not want to know and I was running on shear will power. I felt sick and woozy for most of the day, had to take a travel sick pill as we were in a mini-bus all day. Let me tell you, trying to run after taking a travel sick pill does not work... Our second leg was even tougher, through Saltburn and Becky had to run on without me for the last mile as I was walking and throwing up. Well, dry heaving.
After this I managed to eat then ate everything in my bag pretty much!! Felt better after that.
We ran the last couple of miles into Helmsley and at this point I felt great and could have run more despite having already covered over 20 miles in the day.

All that plus other bits and bobs gave me a total of 108 miles covered in June!

July and our trip to the Dales to see Hester and have a jaunt around the Three Peaks. Quite a gang of us met at Hester's house and off we trotted, straight into the first climb up Pen-y-Ghent. We were taking it steady on the climb, still able to chat as we worked our way upwards. Just before the first summit, about 1.5 miles into the run (only another 20 to go...) I started to feel sick. I ignored it initially as I sometimes do feel sick, and the climb was bloody tough.

Hester, Sarah, me, Lorraine, Sharon, Nicky, Hilary and John on top of Pen-y-ghent. Brian was this side of the camera!

We ran on, the fun descent took away the sickness and we then had a long stretch of quite flat ground to cover. It was good to catch up with Hester who we hadn't seen for a while.
I was also having problems with my drink bladder, it wouldn't stay fastened in place inside my rucksack and as a consequence it was leaking all down my back and bum! Yuk.
As we approached the Ribblehead Viaduct (and what a structure that is to behold!) I was aware I was flagging. The others passed me easily, even though we were just trotting along and soon I was at the back. As we hit a slight gradient, I had to walk. I felt sick and my legs had nothing in them at all. Sarah hung back with me, and we decided maybe we'd walk the rest of the route. However, as we started the climb up the flank of Whernside, I realised there was no way I was going to get up there. After calling Hester back, we discussed our options, it was decided I should take the low level route to a farm that sold drinks and we'd regroup there. I was insistant that I would be ok by myself, but Hester came with me, and really I'm glad she did as I wasn't in a good place at all. It was a gentle stroll along the valley bottom through grassy meadows, but I couldn't enjoy it as my insides were on fire. We sat down for a minute while I ate some sweets and I immeadiately went into cramp. We made it to the farm and while Hester purchased some squash, I went off to throw my guts up. Nice. Some squash just made me more sick, nothing was staying down any more. A nice local couple offered to give me a ride to Horton, but we had to wait for the others to catch up as Brian had the house keys! With the keys in hand I gratefully accepted the lift to Horton and let myself into Hester and Brian's little cottage. I managed to get cleaned up and changed into dry clothes without any more vomiting and basically relaxed with the dogs and lots of water until the others returned a few hours later.
Absolutely gutted that I hadn't made it. Stupid body, conking out like that. My only consolation was that I made the right decision to pull out, otherwise I would have been sick out on the fell and put everyones trip/safety at risk.

It later transpired that Brian hadn't been very well either, suffering a 'cardiac episode' which turned out to be pericarditis!!

I don't know what had triggered me blowing up like that, dehydration? I was drinking despite my leaky pack. Insufficient fuel? I seem to remember eating well the night before. It was quite warm, but I have run in hotter conditions without being ill. Had I simply done too much in the month leading up to the trip? Dunno.

For the rest of July I did very little. Neither my body nor my heart was up for the task. I got really quite down about the whole thing really.
After a couple of weeks though, Hilary's husband Gavin dragged me off the sofa for an 11 mile trail run!! Having not run for that time, I was buggered afterwards but I was very grateful for him dragging me off my arse.

I ran a couple more times before the end of the month clocking up a grand total of just 48 miles, including the the failed 3 Peaks trip.

August was kicked off with another long run with Gavin. It was bloody hard work, but I mostly enjoyed it...

Early in the month I bought a Garmin Forerunner 220 and I think that has helped a little in getting me out of the door.

I managed one run totally by myself and lots more in company.

During this time Dave Parry from Esk Valley fell club was taken ill and the remaining summer series of fell races was cancelled, effectivly wiping my race calender clean. We wish him well and hope to see him return to the fells soon.

The only race I did was the Sessay Swift 6 and I can't say I raced it as I was sweeper. It was a lovely evening and the girl at the back did a grand job and ran her furthest distant to date on that night.

In total I ran 78 miles at a leisurly average pace of 11:17min/miles during August. Mostly just finding my feet once more.

Early September and I found myself on the start line for the Guisborough Three Tops, slightly modified route for the British Fell Championships. I was nervous as hell!
The race was horrendous. I knew the route well, but with two really tough climbs in the first couple of miles, my legs were empty already with another 8 miles to go. It was also a warm day and I was for too hot in my long sleeved top. I toussled with Claire from club on and off all the way round. I walked more than I should have done, I wasn't enjoying myself at all. On the climb up Roseberry Topping, I actually had to stop for a moment to let my spinning tummy and head calm down. Here Claire passed me and I never caught her again. I took longer to get round than I had back in April when I'd just done HM55 a couple of weeks before. Indeed, Claire's fiancee Bryan said they were considering coming back up the route to look for us as we had been so long.
I was dehydrated and sore for a couple of days after the race.

Claire and I happy to have finished! Photo curtesy David Aspin.
A week later, Paul and I went to Great Langdale in the Lake District for a few days. We managed three hikes, collecting 6 Wainwrights (need to add those to my list!) It was good to get away for a little while.

More recently, I have felt a lot better, in myself and my running. Last couple of interval sessions I have really worked hard and today I ran a 25:26 5km at our local Parkrun. I need to get faster if I am going to get back in front of Claire!!

Tomorrow I will be racing at the Vikings 4 Peaks Chase and I know it's a toughie, so no doubt I will be telling my tales of running woe tomorrow evening...

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Dragons, not the Sutton Bank TT and rainbows in the rain at Thirsk.

A lot to catch up on, but I will keep it brief...

Second HDSRL fixture for 2015 was hosted by Dragon Aire at Yeadon, near Leeds. I was told this was an off road course and that I would enjoy it! We got there with time to walk from the cricket club down through town to the start and to get warmed up. I can't remember the course in detail, but it was very much off road! A lot of downhill to start, plenty of tree roots and rocks to play on, alongside 'Europe's Largest Sewerage Plant' then back up a stiff climb in the woods. I loved it! Every minute pretty much. Each time the marshals called for us to slow down, tree roots I was able to speed up! I was overtaking people all through the race, which is unusual for me! Managed to overtake Claire on the big climb and I didn't see her again until the finish. Only down side was there wasn't enough mud!!
The hosting club did a grand job and there was a feast at the cricket club! Sandwiches, cakes, chicken legs, pizza, crisps, sausages etc etc. Big pan of chips with a stack of bread and butter for making chip butties... I ate more calories than I ran!!

At the end of the month the club holds a time trial over 2 miles. In the summer we tend to go up to Sutton Bank for this. I decided that if I am going to get back on track with Ultra training, then a longer run would be more beneficial. Hilary was in agreement and so it was I ran down to her house on the far side of town, together we ran round Sowerby Fields, checking out the route for our HDSRL fixture, then I ran back home again. 9.4 miles clocked up in total, and on a school night!!

More recently, it was time for our club to host the HDSRL. I had agreed to be sweeper on foot, I also bought the paper plates and about a 100-weight of crisps for the buffet afterwards!
I dropped all that off and jogged down to the start area where I found my friend Sarah who I hadn't seen in ages, so that was good! People were still arriving as the start whistle blew, a couple of guys taking their time in the loo, so I had a sprint with them to catch up with the main pack. Then I realised there were still people joining the race, so I stood aside and waited for everyone to catch up. At long last they did, and so I had another faster than expected run to reach the back of the race. Here I found Marian, one of Thirsk's own bringing up the rear so I slowed down and ran with her for the race. The course consisted of two laps and we were lapped by the leading runners! We'd almost finished when the heavens opened! Sideways rain and hail, yuk yuk yuk but it was coupled by a glorious double rainbow! Marian made it to the finish, accompanied not only by me, but by several other marshalls and hangers on that we'd collected along the way!

Back at the club house, out of the rain, we had a great pile of sandwiches and sausage rolls and the all important buns in club colours, I think made by the Coy family!

There has also been club training, Thursday night fun in the woods with the forest people and a Sunday morning run on Sutton Bank with Basil. I have a marathon next weekend and another Ultra in September. I am not ready for either...

Sunday, 10 May 2015

The Summer Season has started!

I made the right decision not to run last Sunday. The conditions were 'epic' (which translates to cold wet and windy and quite horrid) and on Monday I felt dreadful. I was dragged round Wickes in search of DIY supplies for the ongoing decorating project at home.

Thankfully I had perked up a bit by Tuesday and felt able to participate in the opening fixture of the Harrogate Evening League (HDSRL) held rather fittingly at Harrogate! At the last moment I had thrown an extra T-shirt into my back and I was glad I had as it was cold and windy on the Birkenwith Industrial Estate. I didn't have a plan in mind other than to just get round and run to feel, seeing as I had a cold and this was my first fast outing since the HM55.
Soon after the start, the stitch started. Gosh it hurt. The uphills were hard work and they're quite tough climbs but at least they didn't aggravate the stitch, unlike the fast steep downhills. The (very) short stretch of 'off road' was welcome and I over took a few people who were fannying about in the tiny bit of water and mud and straight into the next big hill. I had been leap-frogging with Claire a lot of the way round and I had to overcoming a spinning head and reeling tummy to get past her on this climb. She too had stitch and the pair of us ran with fingers dug into our ribs!
On the home straight however, she came past me again and I had nothing left to catch her, I just had to watch her go and I was a little cross. Not with Claire as she has worked so hard and made such an improvement with her running, but with myself because I should be able to beat her. But, that's a matter for another day and now I just enjoyed my post race water and quickly got changed as it began to rain.

Wednesday, another day, another league, another race! This time a fell race held out on Carlton Bank and the opening race of the Esk Valley Summer Series. This is a favourite of mine, but I wasn't looking forward to it. I was tired from last night and the lingering cold, my muscles still hurt from yesterday's stitch and I was dreading it coming on again. It was also much cooler tonight and I set off wearing too many layers! My waterproof and gloves came off within the first couple of miles and I was still a bit warm, but I kept my other top on as it protected me from the wind up on the moor.
From the start I was stuck behind a couple of other women, this first stretch is good fun but is very narrow with very limited passing opportunity. As it was, I felt I wasn't running fast enough but every time I upped the effort, I was rewarded with the stabbing pain of the stitch. I had to make do with where I was. At last we reached the woods and a very steep decsent, and the other two women pulled away, Pat almost got away from too but I reeled her in after the drop! There were a couple of hills in the woods that I had forgotten about and I overtook one of the women before we got to the main climb on the Cleveland Way. Up Live Moor and onto Round Hill then all the way along to the double trig point of Carlton Bank. The flags weren't too wet, first I passed Alan from club then at last caught and passed the other lady from earlier. I didn't feel too bad now and could run most of the return leg, the stitch seemed to have subsided quite a bit now.
After touching the trig comes the horrible fast descent, first on the flagged steps then on a corner you hop the barbed wire fence (of course I got snagged on it!) then follow the sheep trods down over the tips and hopefully emerge at the finish! I did have a couple of runners in my sight trying to establish where the race line was, but I think I missed it as I ended up on a near vertical bank sliding down heather on my bum!! As I hit the bottom, just a short distance to go, the second lady I passed emerged on the flagged path to my right! Oh no! There was no way she was going to beat me so I ran like hell on the narrow path across the heather and made sure I beat her to the gate! I was going to congratulate her (as we had chatted during the race) but she didn't hang around.

There had been a good turn out tonight, we had a full men's team for a change consisting of Alan W, Steve M, Duncan and Pete W. We also had two ladies teams Lorraine, Hilary and Carol making up the A team, with me, Pat and a 'ghost' being the B team.
It's meant to be summer! Carol, me, Pat, Hilary and Lorraine at the Carlton Challenge

No rest for the wicked! Back out again on Thursday night for a run round Kilburn Woods. There was another big turn out, including some new club members who didn't even stop to say hello...hmm. There was quite a range of abilities so we split into smaller groups and the fast lads went for an eyeballs out blast round the trails. We had a more sedate plod around and enjoyed the evening sunshine. Must admit I was tired at the end of this run and glad I had a couple of rest days coming up.

In 'Nature News' I am glad the swallows are still here, I was beginning to wonder if they had stayed. The bluebells look lovely in the woods and in my garden, I just wish the temperature would get a little more summer like!

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Two runs and a DNS...

I have generally speaking, been having an 'off month' from training following on from the Hardmoors 55 in March. This last week, well week before really now, particularly lacking in training!
Thought I had better start getting back into the swing of things before I forget how to run completely.

Wednesday should have been a time trial at Club, but I felt too fat (I've put on several pounds too due to lack of exercise) and unfit to do that justice, so I decided to go for a jog into town and back. It was a run of two halves to say the least! For the first mile and a half I suffered terrible stitch, having to have 3 walk breaks in that time to try and shift it. I felt like a beginner all over again! Once that finally cleared and I could get into some sort of rhythm, I felt much better and ended up finishing strong with a good run up Plump Bank. It wasn't a pretty run by any means, but I felt better having done it.

Thursday is the traditional Kilburn Woods run, just 6 of us tonight. My legs didn't feel too bad once we'd set off, but my lungs didn't want to work and the whole way round they burned, made worse by any sort of incline. It was uncomfortable to say the least, but we got round in a respectable time.

Friday is always rest day and Saturday was too as I was due to do a half marathon on Sunday. However, by mid-morning on Saturday it was clear I had a cold. Second one of the year. By Saturday evening, I wasn't sure if I wanted to race, especially as the forecast was awful. Still, I got my stuff together and figured I could decide in the morning...

...Sunday dawned and this time the forecast was right, it was pissing it down and blowing a gale. I lay in bed pondering what to do. I figured that 3 hours (it's a Hardmoors race, so Half Mara = 15 miles = 3 hours running) out on the moors in the lashing rain and cold wind probably wouldn't do my cold any favours. A shorter race or better weather and I would have stuck it out. I felt a bit of a pansy, but I didn't go. Of course, I have two more races coming up in quick succession, so they are in jeopardy too! Looks like my 'month off' might continue for a few more days... grr.

A Mixed Bag in Edale.

Last weekend saw my step-mum's 70th birthday, so we all piled in to the Viceroy Indian restaurant in Duffield for a slap up meal. It's a very posh place, the waiters in traditional costume and lovely food. My curry was a coconut one, but still quite spicy. I also tried panneer for the first time and wasn't disappointed.

The next morning, Paul and I headed into the Dark Peak for a spot of camping action. We got a pitch at the Field Head campsite in the little village of Edale, nestled below the hulking mass of Kinder Scout. The forecast was terrible, but now we sat out in sunshine by the tent!

We went for a little walk, just a 3.5 mile loop starting along the Pennine Way as far as Upper Booth then back along the valley bottom and the River Noe. We tried to find some geocaches (there are 16 along this short loop!) but my phone couldn't keep up and in the end we only got a couple. Still, it was a lovely afternoon and it was nice to stretch our legs. The path seemed very popular and there were lots of people about.

It was nice enough still to sit outside at the Ramblers Inn when we got back to the village, but the breeze was getting up now.

We went back to the tent to rearrange our things and feed the dog, before having tea at the Ramblers Inn. I had fish pie and it was really quite good!

Various people in the pub and the weather forecast at the visitor centre suggested horrible weather tomorrow, we bedded down for the night and thought we'd deal with whatever the morning brought...

Monday morning was cold and frosty, but totally clear blue skies!
After a breakfast of porridge, we got organised and set off on our walk. The first objective was Mam Tor. A steady climb from the village lead up to the road, then a final short steep push to the summit. I didn't know there had been a celtic settlement up here. There were tiles depicting Celtic artefacts in the paved footpath.
We soon made it up to the top and where treated to stunning views.

Back down and onto easy to follow tracks leading across rolling farmland, arcing around to join the Limestone Way as it descended into Cave Dale.

Cave Dale is a very narrow, steep sided valley cutting through an ancient limestone reef. It is not clear if it was always like this, or if it was once a cave and the roof has since collapsed. Either way, it is very dramatic and the little tower of Pevril Castle sits high up on the cliffs just adding to the drama!

We reached the town of Castleton a little before the pubs opened, so we had a look in the visitor centre and the little museum/display within. Once it was 12 we retired to the Bulls Head for a drink. The clouds had started to scurry across the sky now and the wind was quite chill, so we didn't sit for long.
The next task was the long climb up onto Lose Hill. It was all on good track which helped, but was still a stiff climb! Eventually we reached the summit, which has a nice viewfinder, and dropped down out of the wind for a snack break. Once we'd eaten, we struck out along the ridge towards Mam Tor. The ridge runs East West from Lose Hill, over Mam Tor and along Rush Up Edge. It is disconnected from the Kinder Scout massive and the moors surrounding Lady Bower reservoir.
We crossed Backtor with it's impressive outcrops and got to the col known as Hollins Cross, here we dropped off the ridge and headed downhill into the Noe Valley. From here it was an easy stroll back to Edale. We sat inside now at the pub as it was decidedly cold and really quite windy.

We used the facilities on the camp site to get showered up etc then went back to the pub! It was too cold to sit out at the tent and too cramped inside the tent. I had a Mam Tor Burger for my tea which I thought was appropriate given todays hike! We spent the evening in the pub drinking and I got my diary written. Eveyone was knackered! It started to rain so we headed 'home' before it got any worse and I spent the night listening to the wind and rain lashing down...

...only to find on Tuesday morning it was snow! We got packed up, it was bitterly cold, and ready to come home to Yorkshire where it was still sunny! Our route measured exactly 10 miles and a more detailed description is contained in the 'Hiking and Running Routes' section over on the right.

Friday, 24 April 2015

A short dog walk

I live in North Yorkshire on the southern edge of the North Yorkshire Moors. I live outside of a town, on a country lane. It's very rural which is nice. The farm across the road used to be home to a dairy herd, but foot and mouth ruined that, so now it's all arable. Today's little stroll with the dog took me around the edge of a field of oil-seed rape which seems to be flowering early this year. The field edges are teeming with wild flowers including dog's mercury, forget-me-nots, mustard cress and others which I don't know the names of; and the hedgerows are full of buckthorn blossom (I will make sloe gin this year!) with the hawthorn yet to flower. In the sunshine, various butterflies were courting.

On one side of the field, under a fallen tree there is a burrow and for some time I had wondered who lived there. I had assumed rabbits, but a more logical think says this cannot be the case as there are no droppings around the holes which rabbits would normally leave. There are also no piles of used bedding which can be indicative of badgers. Today however, I found out the identity of the occupants, it's a fox den. Sadly (or not, depending on your view point) there was a dead fox cub on the ground on top of the burrow. It looked quite fresh but was too far into the branches to investigate further.

A little further on I found evidence of predators in the form of damaged pheasant eggs. It could be the nearby foxes, or maybe even crows as there are quite a few locally. The area is managed by a local keeper and the left over birds from last year are looking quite splendid and will be preparing to nest. They occasionally manage to raise a few babies, but are less successful that you'd imagine!

Could I write a 'countryside interest' blog?

...and would it need to be separate to this which is essentially a running blog?
And how does one promote such a thing? Is there not enough of them already I wonder?
This has been triggered by a conversation with my boss while travelling around clients in Scotland and Northumberland recently. There's a lot of time to talk and mull over things when you spend three days in the car!

While away we stayed in some nice hotels and got very well fed! First off was The Angus in Blairgowrie. We had the three course set menu which was good and in the morning I had time for a quick swim in the pool before a big cooked breakfast.

The next night was spent at Brandy Bank on the A68. The boss has used this place for years, and it's easy to see why. Michael the proprietor is very attentive and the rooms clean and comfy- as one would expect. But the highlight is dinner! He makes as much as he can from scratch and this time we were treated to smoked haddock risotto, lamb cutlets and apple crumble for pudding. I don't really like lamb so he did me pork and apple burgers from his local butcher instead and they were lovely. We whiled away the evening chatting to a pair of hikers from Canada who were over doing St. Oswalds Way.

We saw a few bits of interesting wildlife, eider ducks at Seahouses amongst the usual gulls. Oyster catchers, curlew and lapwings around Brechin and back near Hexham scores of swallows. I wondered if the swallows had arrived at home yet, they normally make an appearance between the 19th and 21st April. My first chance to look for them was on the 23rd and I paused between chores to scan the sky and sure enough there they were, wheeling and chattering overhead.

I love this time of year, the weather has been very kind and I had my breakfast outside on the patio surrounded by the busyness of nature. The garden was full of the voices of birds and the distant clatter of tractors working the fields.

Last night we ate at the Crab & Lobster, a very posh local restaurant. I had mussels followed by duck. For a posh place, the portions are huge, I was full after my starter! I was a little surprised that they didn't ask how I'd like my duck to be cooked and it arrived rare, that's fine for me but I know plenty of people who don't like it that way. We were all too full for a pudding, but fancied something sweet, so we thought we would order the assiete of desserts and share them so we each just had a spoonful or two. Well, we didn't get 3-4 little bits of pudding, no, we got 8 mini puddings!! Oh my! Good job we hadn't ordered one each!! There was hazelnut praline, trifle, apple strudel, sticky toffee pudding, berry cake, sorbet, crème brulee and some fancy pastry thing. Between us we managed to finish it! We were pleased we hadn't ordered individual puddings as we saw the size of the portions delivered to the couple behind us, and they were massive. I declined a coffee, but still got a truffle and a piece of biscotti.
Unfortunately, I was ill in the night, I think due to sheer quantity of food rather than there being anything wrong with it. I don't feel poorly now but I am very tired and have a dehydration headache. Yuk. I have eaten a lot recently (see above re the client trip) and my body said enough. Well it is a temple don't you know!

Friday, 27 March 2015

So, what next?

Had a little time to reflect on the Hardmoors last week as I have been poorly with a cold, got the timing just right on that one!!

The HM55 was my A-race for this year so I feel like I can relax a little. I have a whole summer of shorter races to look forward to in the form of the Harrogate League and the Esk Valley summer series.

So, how did the race go? At the time it hurt like hell and I mustn't forget that! Sunday was lost in a haze of fatigue and pain- walking was comical. By Monday I was able to get up without wincing, but was under the grip of my cold. Tuesday my physical body felt fine, only really the bruised soles of my feet still hurting and by Weds if I weren't full of snot I would have considered going to Club training!! So I feel I have recovered quite well, I am still on a high but am dreading the onset of post-run blues and want to be able to get out and run soon, stupid cold.

I need to do more long runs and more hill work if I am to attempt anything like this again! But I think we knew that already...

I also need to work on different things to eat, I ate very little on the run, had I been running for longer I may have run into problems. I had my sweets that work and I'm ok to pick up sweets from checkpoints, but a girl can't run on sweets alone! There didn't seem to be much food at the checkpoints, but that could be because I was at the back... My crisps didn't go down well, nor the pizza (which was an experiment) and my Jaffa cakes got too squashed for me to fancy them!! The only thing I really enjoyed was the melon. I also wished I'd packed some grapes. Trouble is I didn't fancy anything. Reading peoples blogs, a lot of people were eating little nibbly things like nuts and raisins, yoghurt raisins too, I love those, might have to give them a whirl! I also should have eaten my Chia bar sooner. Another thing I'd like to try is salty potatoes, sound yummy.

Of course, then I have to run long enough to feel like I can't eat, then try and eat!

The other thing is of course my knees.
Although they gave up on the descent of Clay Bank, so about 18-20 miles by Monday they were fine. They don't give me any problems day to day. I need to have a chat with our fizz at club but I think it might be ITB related. So, lots of strengthening work on the glutes to try and stabilise it a bit more.

Gear- the normal pack I use for running couldn't carry all the compulsory kit, so I used my hiking rucksack! I have run with my rucksack, but no more than 4-5 miles at a time. I didn't need any of my kit (thank goodness) but easier access to my food would be good and also the option of having two separate liquid sources, I get tired of electrolytes after a while.
However, this may be rectified as my OH has gone ahead and bought me a Salomon running vest! No idea what model or anything so we'll see how that works. Just got to wait for it to arrive...
At some point I also need a new waterproof jacket. My current Berghaus one is on it's last legs and I am pleased I didn't need it. At the moment I can't stomach the price of a new one, but I shouldn't put a price on safety I suppose. It'll see me through the summer fell races and may make a good Birthday/Christmas present later in the year.

I'd also like a smaller arse so I'd look better on the official photographs!! But I guess I can't have everything!! Maybe not a smaller arse, a more toned arse...

Better think about putting a plan together for the summer so I am ready to crack on once this cold subsides, I think that will be soon as I am feeling a lot better today.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Hardmoors 55 - A race that lived up it's name!

After 6 months of training and quite a bit of wibbling, the day had finally arrived.
I was up at silly o'clock to collect Kenny R, and my OH dropped us at the Sea Cadet Hall in Guisborough. We'd hoped to get there before the organised bus, but instead got there at the same time! We queued to get our kit checked by Flip and received our race numbers. Once that was sorted, we visited the loo and drank tea and just hung around chatting. I found various running buds, including Emily, Richard, Louise A, Chris, Darren and Jason; and Mel. Plus of course all the Hardmoors faces I recognise but don't know by name.
It was a long wait, but I wasn't nervous, or scared. It was weird. Last night I could hardly eat my tea as I was sick with nerves and could feel my heart pounding in my chest, but now I just felt like I had a job to do so lets get on with it.
Jon the RD gave us the race brief and then we shuffled outside to the start on Belmangate. I am interested to see how many people turned up, there were 311 on the entry list, but there seemed to be an awful lot of numbers still on the table as we left.
Louise I was sweeping so I said 'hi' to her, but said I hoped not to see her again!!

The route starts out along the disused railway line then heads up into Guisborough Woods where it joins the Cleveland Way. Everyone was just jogging along nicely, walking the hilly bits right from the start!
These first few miles just rolled along nicely. Nice runnable tracks, odd climb here and there.
The official photographer was positioned about 6 miles and I managed to stand up straight and smile as I went by!
Soon after this we got to Roseberry Topping. This is a little out and back and it was great to see some of the faster runners who were already coming back. Most of my buds were in that faster group and we exchanged greetings as we passed! The climb up Roseberry wasn't too bad, it was over pretty quick and I gave my number to the marshal on the windswept summit before turning around and heading down. I had caught up with Louise A now and tried to stay with her on the descent, as you know this is not my strongest point, but the conditions underfoot were very good and I think I did ok. I managed to stay with her up Little Roseberry and along the flat mile to the next descent into Gribdale. They gradually pulled away from me as we climbed up Cockshaw Hill to Captain Cooks Monument and soon she was gone. I don't mind as she is a much stronger runner than me but it was nice to have had a brief chat along the way, plus I got to say hi to her cute little dog who was part of her support crew!
I love the path through East Cote Moor but the road part of the descent into Kildale is horribly steep. I trotted through the village and stopped for a drink at the Kildale check point before tackling the big long climb up the Park back onto the moor. I could jog the first bit, but gradually it got steeper until everyone was walking again.
I was needing a wee by now, but there was no where 'private' and I had missed one or two opportunities to hop over the wall. My tummy felt uncomfortable with a full bladder and I was getting desperate! At last I found a ditch deep enough to give me cover and had a pee! Unfortunately several people overtook me while I was there. I also felt very giddy after crouching, and the giddiness remained as I tried to run on, so I walked a while and ate my fruit bar and had a good drink.
I was able to run on again, but it was a long drag gradually climbing until at last we reach the self clip at Blowarth Crossing. It was too high and I had to unpin my number from my leg to clip it! So that wasted a little time. Darren and Jason were behind me now. We carried on along the moorland tracks, at last reaching Round Hill which is fairly unremarkable to look at but is actually the highest point on the North York Moors, all down hill from here then? No chance! I knew it wasn't that much further to the next manned checkpoint and our dropbags. Legs were a bit stiff already, hips mostly but I was ok running, with the odd little walk. That was til we hit the descent into Clay Bank, both knees decided to go. How very helpful. I had been careful on the descents so far in the hopes they wouldn't do this. It was very painful getting down, Darren and Jason had already over taken me but we met up again at the checkpoint and climbed the next hill together. I was annoyed with my legs, but a time check told me I was doing ok, it was 1.30-ish and so long as I got to Lord Stones (25miles) before 4.30pm I would still make the cut off at Osmotherly. I had planned to walk most of the next section over the Three Sisters anyway as it's all either up or down. Now with my sore legs, I didn't have much option. I tried eating some of the food from my drop bag but it made me gag. I was a bit miserable when I reached Flip's checkpoint at Hasty Bank, but I got a big hug which helped!
Still two more hills to get over before staggering into Lord Stones, I thought I was going to be sick as I got to the checkpoint, but it amazing what a cup of nice cold water and a 5 min chat can do! I had plenty of time to get to Osmotherly and set off up Carlton Bank with renewed spirit! I ran carefully over the stupid flag stones, and the descent of live moor was very painful but I felt ok otherwise and now managed to eat some of the food I was still carrying since Clay Bank. I jogged through the woods outside Osmotherly then the stiff climb over Beacon Hill, I thought it very unfair that the state of my knees meant I couldn't enjoy the descent of my favourite hill. Then for some reason as I trudged through the fields, only just outside Osmotherly I started to worry I wasn't going to make it. I was going quite slow, what if I got timed out? It wouldn't happen here, but further on and that would be worse. I have to confess to a self indulgent little cry.
However, I got to the village hall in Ossy with about 40 mins to spare, a bit closer than I would have liked but still within the cut offs.
I had a quick cup of tea and rearranged my things so my headtorch was to hand and picked up my next dropbag although how much of it I'd eat I had no idea and was soon on my again. Emily came with me and we climbed out of the village together.
I was now into new territory distance wise, Ossy marked the 32 mile point and my previous furthest run was 31 miles.
As I climbed up towards Black Hambleton I managed to eat the melon out of my dropbag, it was soo good, but I was still a bit emotional and it's difficult to eat, cry and breathe all at the same time! I'm glad I was alone as I must have looked a right mess.
Eventually at the top, I seemed to walk for a long time. I was pissed off with myself as I needed to run. I had to have a good talk with myself and now, out loud I'm chuntering away to myself like Golem from LOTR. I knew that Tim (Chia Charge Tim) was at High Paradise, and my self talk included the fact that seeing Tim would cheer me up! I think it was the thought of a familiar face, although I didn't want anyone to see me now.
I managed to run, well more like a power walk, but it was faster than walking and not as painful as running. I am very familiar with this area and passing known landmarks spurred me on. At last it got dark and the disjointed line of runners switched on headtorches. I had wondered who would break first, but we all did it simultaneously.
As I felt the emotions well up once more, I told myself are you going to cry? Or are you going to run a little? So I ran.
At last Steeple Cross, through Boltby Forest and a set of headlights swam into view. It was Tim's checkpoint! Hurrah! He asked me how I was doing and I told him I was utterly bollocksed. He was more confident in my abilities than I was, 4 hours left to do 15 miles. It seemed barely possible. I had a hug, a drink and a chia flap jack before finally moving on. Passing quietly through the farmyard, I ran with another lad who seemed to appreciate the fact I knew the way. He said he was struggling a little and I felt a bit bad when I ran on without him, but you have to run your own race. I was joined again by another chap further along the escarpment, I had chatted to him briefly on the Three Sisters and he said he'd underestimated that part of the route and it had really tired him out. However, he was still going and soon he ran on into the darkness. I managed to run a little more, but that was pretty much it for running.
The cliff top, and the Cleveland Way takes a sharp turn, and I could see headtorch lights bobbing off at what seemed an odd angle? As I got a bit closer I realised the runners in front had taken the bridlepath to Dialstone Farm, turning off the route! I managed to shout them back, including 'Trust me, I live here!' to which one of them answered 'You must be Fran! Emily said to look out for you cos you knew the way!' They continued to follow me on along the cliff top, I didn't mind and their chatter was quite amusing to listen to.
Soon though, we came across a pair of walkers on the path and as our torches lit them up, I realised it was my club mates Gavin and Hilary!! I was over the moon to see them! We had a massive hug and I asked if they'd come to carry me home!! We strode along together until we got to the carpark at Sutton Bank top. Gavin and Hilary went back to their car, me and the three lads carried on into the dark.
This bit to the White Horse is another out and back and I was happy to see Darren and Jason still trotting along.
We reached the top of the Angle Path, I had been dreading this as it is steep and slippery at the best of times... The four of us cling to the rail as we each hefted our aching bodies down the rocks, the air was filled with some very colourful language indeed. Then we strode on once more through the very familiar territory of Kilburn Woods, it didn't take long at all to reach the White Horse car park, the gate was decked in lights and there was disco music pumping out of the marshal's cars!! It's amazing how such a little thing can cheer you up!
It was approx. half 9, we were 30 mins inside the cut off, which left us 3 hours to do the last 9 miles. All of a sudden it was achievable.
We heaved ourselves up the 151 steps, we split into two pairs as we strode along the escarpment back towards Sutton Bank top. We passed a few more runners, but no sign of the sweepers at this point, so that was good.
The bloke I was running, well, striding with and I chatted as we passed through the exercise paddock on the way to Cold Kirby. Everything was hurting, from the soles of my feet, my leg muscles, my reeling tummy, my back and shoulders from my pack, everything.
Another club mate lives in Cold Kirby and she had come out to greet us where the lane entered the village! It was lovely to have so much support, don't think I have ever had quite so many hugs in one day!
The drop from Cold Kirby into Flassen Dale slowed us down a little and it was becoming harder to maintain our pace. The short road section through Rievalux set my sore feet on fire and I was glad of my companion to hold me together.
At last we passed the finger post informing us we had just 2 miles to go, we can do this! Just a small matter of the climb up into the woods. We dragged ourselves up that and it was flat again. I had been texting my OH throughout the day with updates on my progress and he now rung me to inform me he was at Helmsley. I said I'd see him in a minute. Then laughed when I hung up, a minute? Yeah right, we had to get through Blackdale Howl and the steps of doom yet!! Still, it wasn't quite as bad as I thought it would be and we made it. As we turned out of the wood we got our first glimpse of the bright lights of Helmsley and just for a moment I forgot how much I was hurting. I told my companion 'Come on, we can do this!'
As we crossed those last couple of fields together, I thanked him for his company, it really was appreciated. I think I could have quite easily sat down in a heap and just gone to sleep if I'd been left to my own devices! I have never been so desperate to sit down! I found out his name was Ed.
My OH met us at the Cleveland Way finish marker, along with Chris, and walked with us back to the town hall where we found Shirley and the race finish!
That was it, we were done!
Now just the small matter of taking our shoes off (!) and climbing the stairs (!?!?!?!) to collect our t-shirt and medal. There were still people hanging around relaxing upstairs, I made sure to shake hands with Emily, Louise and my new best mate Ed. I was offered some chilli which smelled amazing, but I knew OH was waiting for me outside so I declined.
As I passed back outside, Shirley was checking in two more runners, and their time was 14:48 so although I don't know exactly my finish time, I do now it is under 15 hours so I am very pleased with that! (The cut off was 15:30)

While running, I decided I never wanted to run this far ever again.
Now it is Monday and that was Saturday and I am wondering if I could do better...
I do think though, I need to look at what is going on with my knees before I attempt this sort of distance again.

I still hasn't sunk in yet, despite sitting here typing this in my finishers T-shirt.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

HM55 Recce

Just a quick one, wanted to check out the Sutton Bank to Cold Kirby stretch of the Cleveland Way. Figured it was too close to the race to run it, so I took Tammy for a walk instead.

Take a look in the pages section for route details and photos.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Kildale 4 Peaks Hike

We reached the little village of Kildale late morning and got ready for todays walk. We started out on the Cleveland Way, climbing steadily up the Park towards Warren Moor. We passed the farm where we'd camped on the Cleveland Way a few years and shuddered at the memory! The climb was a lot easier with a simple daysack.

Almost at the top, where an old stone wall ran down to meet the road, we found the first Geocache. It was inside a fake rock!

We continued on to the cattle grid marking the transition from metalled road to moor track, but we now turned off onto a bridle path which lead downhill into Baysdale. We followed the path through Baysdale Farm and Baysdale Abbey then continued on a metalled track which ran above the beck.

Upon reaching some farm buildings, we turned left crossed the beck and climbed uphill once more. We then followed the moor/pasture boundary over marshy ground for a little while before another uphill stretch to crest Warren Moor once again. We dropped down the other side, a tall chimney in site across the Vale. We crossed the infant Leven to reach the chimney which was part of the ruins of Warren Moor Mine. After a quick explore, we sat down to eat some food out of the breeze.

We continued uphill past Warren Farm before picking up the road and dropping down through Little Kildale. A right and a left took us along the road and over the level crossing at Quarry Hill. We continued uphill (again!?) past the neat cottages of New Row and through trees to top out on Percy Cross Rigg on Kildale Moor. The Geocache located near an iron age village was not forthcoming and we continued to the end of the rigg. Here we picked up a good track that swept across Great Ayton Moor, meeting up with the Cleveland Way high above Gribdale. We dropped down the uneven stone steps and began the (final) climb of Cockshaw Hill. We went right past the next Geocache and had to retrace our steps by about 100 yards, but once at ground zero we quickly found the treasure!

Back to Captain Cooks Monument then continue on the Cleveland Way through the trees on Coate Moor.

The next Geocache was located shortly after the junction with the road at Pale End Plantation and was a very easy find. We follwoed the road steeply downhill all the way into Kildale.

Glebe Cottage tea rooms were open so we called in for cake, he'd been very busy by all accounts and didn't have much left!

I stopped off at the village bustop to get the fourth and final cache before we set off home.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Glaisdale Rigg Fell Race

There's me saying the Osmotherly Hardmoors would be my last race, when I didn't realise how nicely this race fitted into my plan.
Last year I had a horrible run, legs would not play ball at all, so this year had to be better.

Hilary collected me and we arrived at Glaisdale without any problems. We had to park at Beggar's Bridge, which meant we had to climb the hill to get registered! Despite having done the route before, I could only remember bits of it.

We set off on time, the first couple of miles are not so nice. All uphill, mostly on road, through houses and then a farmyard before a good stretch of heather bashing. I had coach Sonja's voice in my head ''High knees! High knees! High knees!'' I was already knackered. Bugger.
The next bit was on single track, still gentle uphill, but much easier to run on. I stuck behind a really tall chap and the pace was steady.
We reached the Rigg itself and as I remembered this was very boring! It's a good track, so made for easy running, I ate a few sweets to take my mind off it! Last year it had been very foggy up here, that had hidden the various false summits along the way. At last though, we made a brief detour for a bit of trig point slapping, before starting a wicked descent! First on a narrow track through the heather, then dropping swiftly down two steep grassy fields. It was dry underfoot and we flew down, even me with my rubbish descending only lost one place!
Bit of road, couple more flat fields and a stream crossing before the next big climb, oh my! Up up up into a dark plantation and eventually back out into the light on the moor. We followed the moor/pasture boundary on narrow boggy paths for maybe a mile. I was quite enjoying it, and a couple of times my legs outran my lungs and I had to adjust my pace to get my breath back.
We met the moor top road, and a short distance later turned down a side road which turned into a lane, and became a muddy track. A lot drier than last year, but the deep tractor ruts make it awkward to run on. I gained speed on the way down, almost catching a lady who'd overtaken me a few minutes earlier. Almost finished, my knowledge of the route gave me the upper hand as the lady missed the final turn, I yelled to her left turn, but I was now in front and trotted over the bridge and up the muddy bank beside the pub, there was no way she was coming back past me! It was only a few meters but I had to fight down the vomit as I crossed the line!! Nicely done.

We went back down to the bridge and washed our muddy trainers and legs in the river, before getting changed and walking back to the pub for a bowl of curry and rice and to watch the prize presentation. Hilary won her age category and was 4th or 5th lady. Don't know my results yet, but I am certain I had a better run than last year. Out of breath a few times, but I ran much better and my legs were fine the whole time.

That really IS my LAST race before the HM55.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Hardmoors Osmotherly 'Marathon'...

After spending time on the waiting list and being very exciting to finally get a place on the Osmotherly Marathon, when the time actually came I was feeling rather 'meh' about it. Didn't mark my map up til about half 9 the night before. When my alarm went off on the Sunday morning, I could have quite easily rolled over and gone back to sleep.

But that wasn't fair, so I had my breakfast and my OH dropped me at the car park.

By now I was feeling nervous, mainly as I knew it was going to be tough, and I thought my lack of enthusiasm was going to make it even worse. I wasn't looking forward to a long day slogging it out on the moor...

Anyhoo, we were walked to the start and straight into the first hill!! Up Rueberry Lane and my favourite little incline, Beacon Hill. I can run up this, but I thought it wise to take it easy as there was plenty more to come. At the top of this, I had to remove a layer as I was boiling!!
Across Scarth Nick Moor and down to the road on the other side, into the woods and down the incline. I ran on and off with a We Love a Challenge team mate, Emily.

Check point sweeties at Scugdale to fuel up for the climb of Live Moor Plantation, a stiff climb and always slippy underfoot. The flag stones over the moor were very wet and this made them lethal! Difficult to get any sort of traction.

Dropping down Carlton Bank, I found a two pound coin! Put that in my pocket!
Jaffa cakes at the Carlton Bank/Lord Stones check point, the route went right through Lord Stones and I made use of the facilities here, been needing a wee since the start! Phew, much better than trying to find a bush!!

Another stiff climb from here up to the view point on Cringle Moor. Each climb so severe that you needed to keep walking for a few minutes to catch your breath before being able to run on!
Along here somewhere, on a flat bit, I put my foot in a drainage gully and fell hard on the flag stones. Ouch, I managed to 'tuck and roll' and avoid landing on my knees. It actually didn't hurt as much I expected, and when the guy behind me shouted to check I was ok, I gave him the thumbs up and managed to carry on. He caught me up on the next descent, where we found Flip and his bag of goodies! He'd promised to save me a choccy bar at the start and here he was, so I chose a Curly Wurly from the stash and it fuelled the next ascent- Cold Moor. I also found out 'the guy' was Paul, another We Love a Challenge team member!!

Despite my earlier apathy, I felt quite ok and was in good spirits as I topped out on Cold Moor and quickly began the descent. Emily and I had now began leap frogging each other, I was stronger on the uphill, then she had the confidence to whizz past me on the downhill.

We took the lower path beneath the Wainstones, which was very muddy and still had patches of snow. The check point at Clay Bank had more sweeties and pop, we are spoiled!!

Again, I overtook Emily as we clambered up Hasty Bank. Some hikers asked what were doing and seemed impressed with our progress. Through the Wainstones, then Emily overtook me on the way down the other side!

Now we left the Cleveland Way and headed south over Cold Moor. I can't remember much about it, apart from it was very muddy, very muddy indeed in places. Again, Emily came past me, happily splodging through the mire!
We came out in Seave Green (the village associated with Chop Gate) and as I took a second to locate the next ribbon marker, I nearly got run over by a motorbike!! My own fault for dithering in the middle of the road I suppose...

At the check point the marshalls had grapes so I tucked into a few of those while listening to John Vernon tell us about his adventures on the Spine Race earlier this year. Wow, big respect.

Next was the biggest climb of them all, I had been dreading this, but also knew once this was over we were winning. So, a long slow trudge up the massive hill, quick chat with another bloke on the way up, we both decided that a) we'd gone off Jon (the RD) because he was sadistic, but also b) we were stupid 'cos we kept coming back for more!! I caught up with Emily once more during the climb.
The marshalls at Cock Howe (in the snow!) told us it was a 'flat 4 miles' all the way back to Lord Stones. Hmm, I know better than to believe marshalls stuck out in the middle of nowhere!!
However, the track did make for simple running (shuffling) and it was almost flat, ish. There were again patches of snow, one of which was hiding a knee deep puddle of slush and ice water,and of course I found it! Although it was quite a shock and my feet remained numb for some time after, it refreshed tired legs and I was very thankful I didn't fall over in it!!

I thought I vaguely recognised where I was and eventually I realised it was the Baby Phoenix route in reverse and at last we dropped down to Lord Stones once more.

The marshal gave us a time check, and a sub-7 finish might still be possible, though really I fancied a snooze. Cup of cheap cola and I began the big climb back up Carlton Bank. The wind had gotten up and I put my jacket back on. The wind had dried the flags making it much easier to run on them without slipping every other step. Emily can't have been far behind me all this time as she whizzed by on the descent into Scugdale! Try as I might I couldn't catch up with her on the incline in Clain Wood, and a couple of other people over took me in the woods too, grr.

Back at Scarth Nick, we turned left and headed up the road, minding out for the big fluffy cows all over the road! I was very tired now and running was hard. However, the marshalls at the Sheepwash were so cheerful and began clapping and cheering as soon as a runner came into sight! They really lifted my spirits and I attacked the climb on the Sheepwash with gusto! Coming down the Sheepwash were a gaggle of 4x4 vehicles, although it looked fun, I think it's easier on foot... I finally caught up with Emily, we shuffled along together for a short while, the walk breaks being almost longer than the running.

The route came out onto the road near Chequers, I didn't stop here, the marshal got my number and shouted there was just 2 miles left, this time that sounded about right! I hadn't realised the green lane over to Oak Dale was uphill!! Everything is bloody uphill!! Once at the top though, there was no stopping me! Down to the farm at Oak Dale, legs protesting on the descent as much as the ascent! Flip asked me about some sign being the wrong way round or something, but as I am familiar with this area I had to say I hadn't noticed. Onwards! Through White House Farm and the final descent, I ran on thinking I couldn't possibly let Emily come past me now!! (sorry Emily...) over the little wooden bridge to attack the steps up the bank side. I thought 'I don't care about tired legs! I don't care if I puke! I'm almost done!' two thirds of the way up I was dying a thousand deaths!! Anyway, the very last bit is flat and I ran as fast as I could, nipping through the squeeze stiles sideways, across the cobbles, through the gunnel and into the finish outside the village hall!! Hurrah hurrah!

I'd actually really enjoyed it and was buzzing! So pleased I didn't just roll over this morning.
OH had already been waiting for me nearly an hour so I just collected my medal and came away, making sure I congratulated Emily as she had now finished too.

I'm a bit sore, quads especially, and I have a lovely grazed elbow from my fall but otherwise fine. I have since learnt that only 9% of the route was flat!! I don't remember that much of it being flat...

The weirdest this is, neither knee gave me any problem nor did I struggle too much with nausea. A little queasy, but not enough to bother me. I think both these things were due to the lack of speed involved in todays race (not lack of effort, I might add!). Hills rule!

That's the last race before my Hardmoors 55 attempt. My plan is to basically get to the start line, anything after that is a bonus!!

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Ultra training? Ultra procrastinating!

Been having a bit of a wibble about the impending 55 mile race. However, I think I am past that and I can write about it without getting down all over again...

I'd had a successful day out at the HM30 on New Years Day (see previous blog post) had a few days rest, then carried on a normal. By Thursday my body had had enough and I made myself ill on our regular head torch run!! So, I thought I'd best take it steady for a little while, which is what I did.

I was feeling a little blue anyway, I do from time to time, but was really struggling to get my head around running, especially any kind of distance! On one Sunday I'd got 16 miles down in my plan, I'd got up early and packed my running bag ready to go, but couldn't get out of the door. I dithered about outside, ending up in tears of shear frustration! I know there is only me how can do it, but it seemed impossible. I came back in and regrouped, knowing if I bailed completely I'd feel even worse. Instead, I managed to go out for about 8 miles round town.

The next week, I'd planned a 14 mile run round Osmotherly with a few chaps from club. The route is arranged in loops, the idea being that anyone who didn't want to do the full 14 miles could drop out and wait for us in the tea shop! As it was, only 3 other people turned up and we decided to just do the half distance. It was a good run, quite icy underfoot though. We enjoyed ourselves and had brunch at the café afterwards.
Later I felt like crap when I saw on Facebook that 'everyone' had run further than me that day.

Another week on, and the guys from We Love a Challenge had planned a 30 mile recce of the HM55 route. However, I woke to a blizzard!! After a lot of dithering (I'm good at that!) I set out, but alas it was not to be as the snow prevented me from even getting to the meeting point. Devastated I went home, intending to do a 20 mile run of my own. Needless to say I never did.

Instead, I did a lot of comfort eating and moping about getting more and more pissed off with myself. A 4 mile token effort round town did nothing to improve my mood. I then spent Sunday, Monday and Tuesday in a complete mess. I don't work these days in winter and literally sat around crying my eyes out. Sounds silly now, but at the time it was the end of the world.

I am very nervous, scared even of the HM55. I think part of it is that is really beyond my comfort zone, I don't know if I'll even finish! When I have done marathons, I've always known in the back of my head I can walk the distance if it came to it. Even the HM30, well that's just another 4 miles. This is different. It scares me. For a short time, I had allowed myself to become paralysed by that fear. I just hope I have enough time left to make a difference.
Pulling out is not an option, that would mean complete failure and would probably lead to hanging up my trainers. 'Cos that's how my head works...

In the meantime, I have another marathon on Sunday!

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

New Years Day - Hardmoors 30 Ultramarathon.

I was going to title this blog something along the lines of "I'm never tapering again" having spent the last week climbing the walls, but it was quite novel and refreshing to set off in a race without lead legs! No traces of fatigue from speed work or hills in them.

As the actual title suggests, the route of the HM30 has been altered slightly, mainly due to the race outgrowing it's usual base at Ravenscar village hall. The same ground is covered, just in a different order. The start is now at Robin Hoods Bay (RHB), going along the Cinder Track north as far as Whitby, back to RHB on the Cleveland Way, back onto the Cinder Track through Ravenscar and as far south as Hayburn Wyke before rejoining the Cleveland Way all the way back to RHB. Quite straight forward really...

As I say, my legs felt good and I ran with Tim (Mr Chia Charge himself!) to Whitby in approx. 70 mins, then it got muddy and hilly along the cliff tops but I still made it to RHB in 2 hours 30 which is some sort of record for me!! Approx 14-15 miles.
The indoor checkpoint here had loads to choose from, I went for sliced banana and two big chunks of water melon, washed down with a bucket of squash. Then it was back onto the Cinder Track. Having run (relatively) quick on the first half, my legs were now a little tired and my bad knees decided to start hurting. The track has as almost imperceptible uphill all the way to Ravenscar. Other runners around me were also doing a run/walk thing so I felt ok. They did gradually pull away and I was annoyed I couldn't keep up.

The Ravenscar check point was a wind swept car boot, but the water was cold and the Jaffa cakes plentiful!

More horrible track, but the slight gradient was now downhill. It was still torture and it seemed to take forever to reach Hayburn Wyke, the most southerly point of the race.
The marshals here had fruit, so I munched on a big chunk of orange as I crossed the muddy fields to enter the wooded wyke. I knew there was a steep descent almost to sea level, with the inevitable climb back up, so I had already decided I would walk through the wyke. I had forgotten just how many steps there were on the way out!!!

Once on the cliff tops, I began shuffling on again. My knees were very sore, but the soft grass/mud was more forgiving than the cinder track. The way was broken up by various undulations, stretches of mud too sloppy to run through and the occasional gate. This actually made the running much more comfortable.

On the approach to Ravenscar, the rain came. It was forecast. After a little while, I gave in and put my waterproofs on. I hate running in my coat, but it's preferable to hypothermia! Still walking, I stamped into Ravenscar, the weather so bad now they'd moved the check point behind a hedge!! Ray was marshalling here and gave me some trademark Hardmoors coke! Maybe the small caffeine injection helped?
I knew it wasn't much further now, but I also knew there were two more drops to sea-level and the big hill in RHB before we finished...

I forced my sore legs and burning knees into a brisk shuffle once again, and tried to run as much as I could. The descent into Stoupe Beck, and then into Boggle Hole were bloody painful!! And slow. The downhill worse than the uphill now.
After Boggle Hole it's pretty much flat. I could see RHB against the cliff, the lights looked welcoming in the gathering gloom. I hit the flag stones on the cliff top and almost cried with relief! I felt my way down the boardwalk steps under the trees, I was determined not to use my headtorch! At last, down the last few steps and I was in RHB harbour area, the smell of fish and chips hit me and was wonderful, the queue was massive, so I pressed on!
The beck was festooned with lights and looked lovely as I climbed the hill, I couldn't run it, but maintained a brisk stride. Almost at the top, I spotted the entrance to the village hall car park and managed to run the last bit and into the hall! What a wonderful feeling!

I collected my medal and a finishers T-shirt before getting some cake and a nice cup of tea. My unofficial time is 7:15:xx which is a full hour faster than in 2013, and I'm not injured this time!! (Although I did get stuck trying to get into bed last night when both thighs went into cramp!)

What a great way to see in the new year! I must say a big thank you to Stonehenge and his pal Neil for transport. It was good to see friends such as Flanker, KinkyS, Kinky's sister, Loucass as well as non-fetchie pals such as Ray, Anthony, Tim, Emily and of course, Mr and Mrs Steele who organise the whole thing.