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!