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.