Sunday, 30 April 2017

Fellsman- 32 miles of coughing followed by a DNF.

Slept better than I thought and was ready for pick up. Cold wise, I didn't feel too bad.

We got to the HQ, then caught a bus to the start. Linear routes are so complicated. The bus journey made me queasy, tried to sleep through it but it didn't help. So a combination of that and nerves (three trips to the bathroom) meant I struggled to eat my breakfast. Not the best start.
Managed to get through the kit check and registration without coughing too much and giving the game away that I was ill...

Eventually it was time to go and the field jogged through the village of Ingleton and pretty much into the first climb straight away, Ingleborough. It was on a rough stone track, we walked as was the intention. 

We started as a group of 5, Gavin, Brett, Steph, her boyfriend Mike and myself. I was at the back from the very start. Periodically, Gav would break into a trot yet I felt we were walking too fast...
Less than an hour to the summit of Ingleborough, the descent though wasn't any better, very steep steps and swarming with hikers, even at this time in the morning (just after half 9). The lads had charged down while I minced carefully, but someone higher up dislodged a rock and it fell the whole face and smashed Brett on the ankle.
Gavin waited for me and we trotted in to the check point for a quick cup of tea. Not much time to drink it, Whernside was calling. Another stiff climb, although my cold has not gone to my chest, I was struggling to get a satisfying breath and climbing was such hard work. I couldn't keep up with the others, at all.
Whernside was also busy with walkers, we wound our way through them and enjoyed the long descent and another cup of tea! I was already feeling sick and couldn't eat anything. The next climb was just ridiculous, Gragareth. I had been warned, but oh my! It was nearly vertical. I made it to the top, only stopping once to let the cramp out of my legs. 

I had lost sight of the others but Gragareth checkpoint was a short out and back from the main path, and we waved as we passed. I figured they'd wait for me further on.

I was now absolutely knackered and coughing, a lot. I trotted along the wall line from Gragareth to Great Coum, on my own and coughing. I kept straining to look ahead to see if I could see the others, but no luck. I checked in at Great Coum and started the descent. I knew this bit was potentially tricky, but couldn't remember what it said in the notes, so I just followed the crowd. Of course, that meant we hit the awkward rocky part of the escarpment and had to pick my way down. Then we followed a wall line. I wasn't sure where the next point was, so had to stop and get my map out of my bag. After a while, I spotted the check point and got my tally clipped. Now we could follow a stony lane down and down into Dent.
Now i had stopped trying to keep up with the others, I actually stopped feeling sick and was able to nibble at the 'trail mix' in my pocket. I was ready to have some food at Dent and I was going to tell the others to carry on without me, no point them wasting loads of time keeping waiting for me, I have a map and and can navigate and was happy to run alone.

I got into Dent, got clipped and went for a cup of tea. The check point was busy with helpers, spectators and other runners. No sign of my team. I checked with the marshals and they had arrived about 20 mins ahead of me. Clearly hadn't waited.
I had planned to to spend a little time here anyway, and now didn't have to worry about rushing. So I sat down with a cup of beans and bread and butter and a load of orange segments. I spent about 20 minutes at Dent and felt much better for it.
Couldn't run straight away as I was full of baked beans, so power walked along the road and found the foot of the next climb. There was a few of us, strung out along the path as it wound its way up the hill side. As it levelled out a little to contour I was able to jog and off. I continued to nibble sweets and bits out of my pocket.
Not sure if I veered off the path too soon or what, but I crossed open ground to reach a fence line, along with another couple who had their maps out and scratching their heads. I had been sort of following them, but keeping an eye on the map. We were in the right place, but too far along. *Rather than double back, we decided to cut straight across the open ground in front. We could see the trig point on the opposite fell which was our next objective, so we just went for it! One or two boggy patches to negotiate but otherwise it was fine and soon we were at the Blea Moor checkpoint. We split up on the way down, (couldn't keep up with them either it would seem) and the path down to Stonehouses was very pleasant indeed.

I was still coughing a lot and bringing up lumps of solidified gunk, quite grossed myself out! 

I reached the Stonehouses checkpoint in good spirits and was served pasta by a team if Vikings! Only spent 10 minutes or so here as I wanted to crack on.

I don't know what happened, but as I left the checkpoint, my mood just turned. It was a long long drag out of Stonehouses and I was tired of coughing, my poor throat was raw. Eventually, I got to the turn off to do the out and back to the summit of Great Knottberry. The faster runners were coming down off the hill and I hoped to see my teammates. I didn't.
Great Knottberry went on FOREVER with several false summits. I though, this is a shit hill. It's not even a nice hill. Why is there a check point up here, this is pointless. etc. it was getting cold now too, a wind had whipped up out of nowhere. After getting clipped, I put on my jacket and gloves. 5 minutes later I fell over in the mud and got my gloves wet. ffs. Comedy fall, managed to get cramp and struggled to get back up! Thankfully no one saw me!
Crossed over the track we'd come up and headed onto open fell. This was one of the bits I wasn't sure about. There was no path marked on the map and following a wall or similar would take me too far out of my way. I could see other runners ahead and walked briskly to keep them in sight. As it was, there was a faint quad track through the grass and periodically I spotted trainer prints in the mud which was very reassuring! Having not recced this bit, I didn't realise this quad track went all the way to the gate, so I left it a little early. I didn't lose anything, but it was more awkward underfoot. Through the gate and onto better ground.

I was ready to call it quits. I'd walked since Stonehouses and it had taken ages. In theory, I could still manage a 24hr finish, but I'd had enough. Running through the night wasn't going to help my illness.
I was still disappointed and cried all the way down the hill to the checkpoint.

Once inside the tent, I had another cup of tea and sat down to eat a hot dog. I didn't know if I could stomach it, but it was gone in a few bites. I was aware the marshalls kept looking at me. I was taking ages over my tea, had tears in my eyes and was shaking. It was only 10 minutes to go before grouping started (You get grouped just before dark on the Fellsman due to crossing open fell) and if I left now, I could get to Fleetmoss before being forced into a group.

I didn't want to run in a group. I didn't want to have to bust a gut to keep up with people I didn't know. I didn't want to run in the dark.

One of the mini buses turned up and I had to just blurt it out, I was hoping to do it quietly while there wasn't anyone in the tent but now there wasn't time for that. I had no voice due to my cold and then being choked up with tears I could barely speak enough to articulate what I wanted. The check point lady gave me a big hug.

The bus was full, so I wasn't able to have the good cry that I wanted. I coughed and coughed all the way back to HQ, which was a full hours drive.

I realised now that I had a long wait for my team mates. I spent a long time getting showered and changed, then forcing down a jacket potato which had smelled amazing but then couldn't stomach. My limbs were twitching with tiredness, so I hunkered down in the the corner of the hall, using my holdall as a pillow and went to sleep! It's very odd trying to sleep in a hall with people coming and going, but somehow I managed it! Only problem was when people dropped their cutlery into the washing up buckets...
A couple of times I got up, went for a pee and read the various posters in the halls, then came back and had another snooze. I heard the wind get up outside and hoped the runners were all ok. 
I expected my friends back between 2 and 4am. Shortly before 4am I saw them arrive, I greeted them with ''You abandoned me, ya bastards!'' and a big hug. I was so pleased they'd finished, and they were relieved that a) I was ok and b) I was still talking to them!!

In less than an hour, we were in the car on the way home. Took the drive very slowly and got home to fall into bed about half 6. I slept til 1pm gone.

Now it is time to get over this bloody cold, the life span of which I have probably increased by 2 or 3 weeks...

Gav says we'll do it again next year, I'm not sure I want to. Out of the 32 miles I ran/walked, I only enjoyed about 10 of them!

*Turns out, that's what everyone else did.

Pre-race nervous ramblings.

Friday 18th April.

It's 10 past 10 in the pm.
We will be almost 14 hours into the Fellsman, hopefully going strong. Maybe on Fleetmoss, even better, beyond it...

I am struggling to make any kind of prediction to be honest... I'll just try and keep an eye on my watch...

I've packed my bag, had a massive plate of (rather disappointing) lasagna for tea and got everything ready for the morning. I am being picked up at 4:20am apparently, so I will be taking my breakfast with me!! Can't eat at that time of day, *shudder*.

Hohum, going to bed but I bet I don't get much sleep.

Ultrarunning is a funny thing. I am looking forward to this being over and getting my life back a little, while at the same time Googling the next adventure

Tuesday 25th April.

Got a cold.
It's not too bad a cold, I've had a lot worse.
My neck feels like it's full of tennis balls, sore throat, varying degrees of headache.
I am over the feverish stage, but still have the elevated heart rate thing going on.

Resting (apart from satisfying my stupid streak) and trying to eat, but I have no appetite and can't sleep.

Three days left to get better.


Sunday, 16 April 2017

A Week in Motion

Training has been in the 'medium' category this week!
I wrote my last entry on Monday, that was a rest day and I only did a mile to satisfy the streak.

Tuesday, Gavin, Brett and I went up to Sutton Bank. It was cool and breezy up there, but otherwise quite pleasant. My legs are battered from the weekend and training in general, no spring left in the muscles and my tendons feel like they're been stretched to the limit. I clumped along at the back, assuming we were doing a simple out and back route. Instead, we turned down the zig-zags... I don't mind going down the zig-zags, but it always means a return climb. Today, this was up through the woods of Town Pasture, above Boltby. I managed to run all the way up, my legs actually felt better as the effort transfered to my glutes! I didn't run the slightly tougher climb from South Woods up to Thirlby Bank, it was very dry here, normally it's a complete mud fest. We dropped down the bank to Gormire (just because) and took in a lap of the lake before the tough slog back up the nature trail.
My legs felt better at the end of the run than they did at the start, 8.5 miles covered.

Wednesday, skipped club (interval training isn't going to help me now!) and went to Sutton with Gavin, Helen, Hilary and Brett. We ran from Brett's house up to Gormire and carried straight on up the nature trail, somehow got a new PR for that route! Short flat section along the bank top and down Thirlby Bank, across the fields back to Brett's.
No time for pub stops, had a committee meeting to get to!

Thursday, Harriers on Tour. What we thought our legs would like, is another hilly run out... We rocked up to Hawnby church and yet another uphill start, a full mile to the summit of Hawnby Hill. Duncan was with us tonight, along with Gavin, Hilary, Sonja, Paul Snr., Alan W and Alan S. It was again windy and cool so it was jackets on, jacket off, gloves off, gloves on all the way around! Once over Hawnby Hill, we crossed pasture and rough moorland to join the single track which contours around the base of Easterside, this is our favourite bit and there was no stopping til we reached the next tough climb, up the shoulder of Easterside. I had Gavin right on my heel and made it to the top in one go, although I had to fight hard to keep my tea in my tummy!! Thankfully, it's all downhill from here, rough to start, then a long grass field to the road.
We had the time for a swift half in the Inn at Hawnby and a good chat.

Bank Holiday weekend has slowed me down rather, with the visitation of Step Daughter. Not so much running but we have walked for at least an hour each day, Friday on the Swale, Saturday at Robin Hood's Bay and Sunday in Boltby Forest.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Another catch up.

I do this every now and again, don't write for ages then need a bit of a catch up!

What have I been up to since the HM110 DNF? Well, not a lot to be honest!
I took a long time getting going again last summer, had a bit of time out after twisting my knee quite badly. An MRI scan showed wear and tear but no serious damage. Eventually, once Autumn came I was able to get going again.
I stalled a little over Christmas and New Year, I twisted my knee a second time, then got a cold which quickly escalated into a chest infection and peaked with me cracking my own rib through coughing!!

By this time however, I had already entered the Fellsman for April 2017 and my training was at a standstill.
I had managed to streak through Christmas, but the cracked rib put an end to that and I had to quit after 98 days. Very frustrating.

The only races I have done since the HM110 are Levisham Limping, which I don't remember much about, other than crashing about half a mile from the finish as usual and not being able to eat my cake! And the traditional Captain Cooks Fell Race on New Years Day. I really enjoyed that, I was nursing my knee and 'taking it steady' but was only 30 secs slower than my PB.

I am streaking again, it will be day 70 once I have been out. My training has been hit and miss at best for this forthcoming Fellsman and to be honest I am shitting myself at the prospect of it! The longest run I have done this whole year is 18 miles, and that was yesterday. I have had some good 30+ mile weeks, but not enough of them. I am still struggling to eat on the run, I seem to have lost the ability to even swallow now. I have done no cross training what so ever, bar a few Harriers circuit sessions.
I am running as part of an unofficial team along with Gavin and Brett and I am really worried that I will let the side down.

Yesterday, we went over to the Dales to meet up with Hester and Brian (and the two dogs of course) and run part of the Fellsman route. We did a car swap and started from the road side check point at Fleet Moss.
We crossed Fleet Moss without too much hassle. It is not the 'death soup' I have been led to believe, but it is tricky from a navigational point of view as there is nothing to see. Especially when you consider we will probably cross this in the dark...
As soon as we set out, I knew it was going to be a long day and I spent most of my time pretty much at the back.

From Fleet Moss, we crossed over to Buckden Pike. I hadn't eaten much, a little malt loaf and some slices of apple, and the climb really sapped my remaining energy. It was very steep! Thankfully, Brian knew a better route along the top than the one Gavin and I had taken back in Feb, and it was almost pleasant to run along. The problem is the stupid tussock grass, that stuff is hard work.

It was along here somewhere that Gavin voiced his concern over my pallor and I was nearly sick trying to eat some more malt loaf. Bloody stuff wouldn't go down.
Brian gave us (me) the option of bailing out rather than climbing Great Whernside. It was very tempting, but no-one else was bailing, so I said so long as no-body minds me walking, I'll carry on. I could see the climb up the mountain ahead and wondered if that was a sensible decision... The next mile or so of grass track was quite nice to run on and I kept my concerns to myself.

Everyone walked the climb, I had to stop a couple of times to catch breath, even Brett caught me up at the top. He was running out of water. We shuffled along the ridge and eventually caught the others at the main summit cairn. While I still felt rough, I didn't feel any worse than I was before and I knew it was all downhill. Literally.

It was probably a couple of miles downhill, still on tussocky boggy ground and I nearly fell so many times, I swore at the top of my voice more than once. Brett was talking about ice-cream at the Scout Hut (there wasn't any) and Hester waited for us a little lower down.
Somehow, we all ran together back into Kettlewell.

I was so pleased I had done the last climb and Brian congratulated me on 'toughing it out'. The boys did another car swap and we finished the day with soup and chips at the pub.

I have to keep resisting the urge to say I enjoyed it, 'cos I really didn't!! I am not filled with any more confidence than before...

(Almost) ready for the off! L-R Me, Gavin, Brett and Hester, with Teasel the terrier and Harry the Collie.

2016 - Hardmoors 110 DNF

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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