Monday 3 August 2020

Montane (Virtual) Lakeland 100

Sunday 19th July.
Three weeks ago, driven by peer pressure, FOMO and half a bottle of rose I had signed up to another ridiculous adventure - the virtual Montane Lakeland 100. I had spent the time since fretting and planning, but mostly fretting! Trying to work out how on earth I was going to fit 105 miles of running/walking around a 40 hour working week, finding routes I could run from home that were easy enough for when I was tired but not so easy I'd be bored. I came up with a plan to do 12 miles per day Monday to Friday then have a big back-to-back high mileage weekend. Now I was having an early night, with all my work clothes laid for the week and next to those all my running clothes and the first two days worth of pack up made ready. I was dreading the week to come and cursing myself for being so impulsive! The real Lakeland 100 wasn't even on my 'races to do' list so I'm not sure how I got drawn in...

Monday 20th July.
The day started early with a walk before breakfast. The dog joined me for part of it until she realised there would be no time for scent marking and sniffing! Only a short distance covered but it got the ball rolling in my mind.
After work, and a snack, I put my first set of running clothes on and headed out into a beautiful sunny evening. I ran along footpaths and country roads taking in the villages of Kirby Knowle and Boltby, I met some gorgeous cattle outside Boltby before climbing over the Mount St John and finally enjoying the long gentle downhill all the way home.
Day 1 and a total of 13 miles covered. I felt pretty good, but was only 1 day in...

Tuesday 21st July.
Double run day! Another beautiful morning and on half a jam sandwich I set off to run the 5 mile route I call Gold Lane Loop. I felt good and the run was smooth.
A busy day at work ensued and I was glad of being organised as I headed over to Kilburn to join some Harriers for a social run. I got there early and David T joined me for a couple of warm up miles before joining the main group for a guided tour of the proposed Mountain Masters route. I still needed another mile so headed back in to the woods as everyone else set off home.
Day 2 and another 13 miles under my belt, everything still works so that is a bonus!

Wednesday 22nd July.
Third early start in a row, not my bag normally. Just took the dog for a relaxed walk before heading to work.
That evening, Gavin joined me for a (relatively) pacey run around Bagby and Thirkleby. The route was mostly flat on good farm tracks, but I had not been this way for some time and had to consult the map a few times. It went well until we hit a field of oil seed and the path disappeared under the crop. That was annoying on tiring legs near the end of a long run, but we made our way around and got home in one piece.
Day 3 and again 13 miles down to stay just a touch ahead of target. My appetite was now being affected, I struggled to eat my dinner when all I wanted to do was go to bed.

Thursday 23rd July.
Despite being so tired, I had a lousy sleep and another early start! I took a power walk to Felixkirk and back, managing to cover 3.5miles in under an hour.
Just about stayed awake at work, so tired, more mentally than physically as my legs still felt pretty good.
I left work and went straight to Osmotherly, once again arriving early to do a lap of the reservoir before joining the social run. I let them all run ahead, I was slow and didn't want to spoil thier run. It's a route I enjoy so I just trotted along on my own without any problem (other than nearly getting stuck in a squeeze stile!!)
Despite my lack of speed, I made it back to the village in plenty of time to get fish and chips. My appetite still off but they were very good and I ate most of them before taking a gentle stroll back to the car.
Day 4 and I was now over 50 miles for the week.

Friday 24th July.
Tired was not the word. I'd decided last night to re-set my alarm to allow just enough time for breakfast and had a mini-lie in instead of walking or running anywhere. It was the right decision and I felt much more awake at work.
Later though, I ran down from home to Sowerby and around Thirsk. I'd done 5.5 miles in an hour and was feeling ok, but it was short lived and by mile 7 I'd had enough. I worked out that if I ran home from that point, I would have still done 10 miles which was enough (as I was a little ahead). So that is what I did.
My appetite a little better, I also inhaled a take-away pizza!
Day 5 another 10 miles brings the total to almost 62.

Saturday 25th July.
First long run day of the weekend. I had arranged to meet Alan S at Sutton Bank at a civilised time and we set off on a very simple out and back route to Black Hambleton. It had to be simple as my brain was no longer functioning! The weather was mostly fine, apart from the fact it poured down on the summit of Black Hambleton! We made good time on the route, averaging 12 min/miles which I was very happy with, given I'd already done over 60 miles for the week. We had a tea stop at High Paradise and the hot drink was most welcome. We pressed on, I was getting tired now but walk breaks were still fairly minimal, then had another refreshment stop at the cafe at Sutton Bank visitor centre. We'd done almost 18 miles by now (my target for the day was 25) but weren't finished yet! We dropped down the bank, passed Gormire Lake and 'dropped' Alan at home. I carried on, just walking now, towards home. As I walked, I ran the maths in my head and realised I'd only need another 2 miles to make my target, so once I got home I deposited my pack and collected the dog and my partner and we did those last two miles round the fields at home.
A long day, 25 miles done and now things are hurting but I am still mobile.

Sunday 26th July.
The last day! Another fairly civilised start. This was the one day I hadn't planned in advance. Gavin met me again and took me around town! We went to visit the Buddha then on to Sandhutton and Carlton Miniott taking in paths I've not really been down before. I felt good for about the first 8 miles, then started flagging. Taking on sweets and a banana helped but I was running out of energy. My legs hurt, but that is to be expected and I could ignore that, just didn't have the energy to lift them! At about 14 miles we decided to re-route back towards the town centre and get some refreshment from Greggs! We'd reached 16 miles by this point and I'd run out of 'run'. I also knew that if I just took a slight diversion on my way home, I could reach my target of 19 miles for the day. Gavin and I parted company and shuffled back to our respective abodes. My watch clicked over the 19 mile mark shortly before I reached my house and I arrived home - triumphant.
Day 7 and 105 miles complete! In fact, 106 as I wanted to be sure I wasn't short.

As ever at the end of an ultra or multi day event, there's no party just a quiet satisfaction. Physically, my body held up pretty well - legs are stiff and sore but that is obvious, but I am not broken at all. I think this is due to pacing myself well from the start and of course being able to spread the miles out over the week. Appetite and sleep have been very messed up which led to a greatly reduced energy level which has been more of an issue than any physical pain. Not sure how to work around this, but I'll keep practicing.

Tuesday 28 April 2020

Chasing Ron Hill

Yes that's right, 365 days in a row. Because... because why not?! Ron Hill ran every day for over 50 years, I keep saying I have a long way to go to catch him up :) 

Ok a little bit about me.

I was never a runner when I was younger, didn't really like sport at all really. I still shudder when we do 'team games' during a warm up at Harriers!
I was however still active, going hiking with my dad and doing my Duke of Edinburgh Awards as well as horse riding as a teen.

It was Peter Wragg and Catriona Gaudie, both former Harriers who suggested I was 'tall and skinny and looked like a runner' and Peter said I should contact Rob Burn at Harriers. At this point, I had done a couple of the Cancer Research Race for Life and was almost thirty. I was in to long distance walking and had recently found out that long distance running was a thing, I'd never heard of it before but it peaked my interest. Specifically, I had read an article about a chap who had run the Cleveland Way in under 24 hours. I had hiked it in a week, it seemed incredible.

I contacted Rob and he talked me in to coming down to a training session, I'm not sure I even owned any lycra when I first turned up at the school sports hall, I certainly couldn't run very far, I had been practising a little and could manage a half mile chunk before needing a walk break. The Harriers took me under their wings, I was made to feel very welcome and I was hooked straight away. I completed my first Christmas Handicap a month later, running the full two miles without stopping and came in second place! By February 2011 I was competing at Cross Country. I enjoyed the muddy fields more than tarmac and I was learning more about trail and fell running, although I was yet to try it out.

It still took a long time to learn to love running, it was hard. It still is hard, but I enjoyed the physical effort and gradual improvement. All the time making friends and getting involved in the social aspect of being part of a running club. I was also involved behind the scenes as Club Secretary for 7 years, only stepping down in 2019. 

Gradually, I was doing more off road stuff and that it where my passion lies, I don't know when it clicked, but suddenly I loved running! Getting the typical running grumpiness if I couldn't get out and exercise.

I did my first fell race, Gribdale Gallop, in the summer of 2011. I was so nervous, I remember shaking like a leaf on the start line. But I got round in one piece and never looked back! But I wanted to go further. I'm not fast, never have been, so distance and technical ground became my 'thing' relishing big hills and muddy terrain. A year later I completed my first marathon the Osmotherly Pheonix, a pretty tough route to start with!!

From there, with a lot of help from the Club and my running friends, I have gone on to complete multiple marathons and several ultra races, the longest so far being 55 miles and all off-road. I have made attempts at a 100 mile race, but a finish at that distance so far eludes me. The training involved for that is long and gruelling and takes over your life.

Currently, I have been 'streaking' which doesn't mean running with no clothes on! No, following in the footsteps of the legendary Ron Hill, I've run every day for just over a year. The rules are simple, it has to be at least a mile, and it has to be quicker than a 15 minute mile. I've done this before, but been stopped by injury, or illness or just 'life' getting in the way. This time however, I am pleased to make it to (and now past) 365 days. I'll keep going until I am forced to stop, but I am enjoying the challenge, every day is a new opportunity.

The running community has introduced me to things I didn't know existed, I've been to places not seen by many and experienced such highs you'd think I was on drugs! The friendships that evolve from running with someone for hours on end, through the night and seeing each other at our most vulnerable are without comparison. 

And all because I made that phone call to Rob one evening to 'ask about running Club'.