Tuesday, 9 November 2010
I had to miss the Runfurther party and prize giving but I was so pleased to find that our Ladies Team had got first prize in the UK ultra running championship, and so had the Men. What a fabulous result!
And I have to echo the sentiments of Martyn too, and say thank-you to the Runfurther team for all their support and help, and for making this such a special year for me.
Saturday, 6 November 2010
Unfortunately during the High Peak 40 I developed a painful knee that prevented me from doing any running until a week before RRR. This meant that my primary objective for the race was to survive intact (or at least get far enough round the course before injury that I'd be able to hobble to the finish).
Having taken the great decision to stay the previous night in a nearby hotel I lined up for the 7am start not unduly tired and looking forward to a good long day's running. The first few miles were unevenful if a bit dull and I was able to settle into a decent rhythm. Around 18 miles in my lack of preparation was beginning to show mentally with lots of "why bother?" questions that I tried to ignore. Thankfully the frequent checkpoints were brilliant, where you could sit whilst lots of volunteers were dispensing food and drinks, although the chairs were very difficult to get out of at times!
Having been through every terrain possible (including a sodden golf course) I eventually caught up with Henry who I had met during my first ultra at Osmotherley. This season he'd become a bit of a specialist at DNF-ing, most recently at the Hardmoor's 100 where a cattle grid/ ankle combination eventually put an end to his race (only 11 out of 30 competitors made it to the end) so was determined to complete this one. We ended up running together on and off all the way to the end.
Together we looked to be on course for a 10 hour time but managed to take a wrong turn between the last checkpoint and the finish and eventually got directions from a local who unfortunately I need to apologise to for saying he was winding us up when he said how far the finish was! Eventually we did make it to the hall where there was welcome hot food, drinks and even tea cakes. Best of all though was the feeling of achievement - managed to keep me satisfied for all of a week!
As it happened, the following weekend I was in Venice for a holiday and to take part in a marathon I had signed up for back in March. I had planned on skipping the run but as I had survived RRR intact I thought I'd go to the well one more time... A mistake really - was running pretty well until 19 miles then my legs just had enough and ended up crawling home in 3:43. Disappointing for sure but I'm thinking my days of road racing are numbered - tarmac is pretty unforgiving!
Thanks to all at Runfurther for all their great support this year and the opportunity to run with them in these fantastic races! Next year I'm hoping to continue running long and maybe attempt a 100 miler... unbelieveable!
Sunday, 26 September 2010
On the plus side, training had gone well in the previous few weeks and in the race itself I got talking to another novice called Dave who was going at a similar pace and we ended up doing the whole course together. This made life a lot easier and the miles seemed to fly by chatting. To be fair to Dave I think he was taking it a little easy as I was saying bad things about the hills and he was running 'The Beast' down in Leicestershire the next day - certainly mad enough to be an ultrarunner!
As it turned out the hills were manageable, for the first time ever we were actually willing there to be more so we could have a break from running! There was a fair amount of roads but this was offset by the lovely scenery and the incredibly friendly checkpoints. As well as great encouragement we were even made a cup of tea near the end (sorry to destroy any notion of toughness).
Another aspect that I particularly enjoyed was the signposting - there was never any doubt about the right route which took the pressure off, 40 miles is quite far enough. The only negative point for me was feeling a tightness behind my knee after 32 miles that reduced me to a hobble when walking but was manageable enough when running. 8 days on I can still feel it but the limp has gone now so hopefully I'll be able to start training on it later in the week.
My final time was 8:24:33, quicker than Bradwell so I was fairly satisfied. Only one more race to go in the series now, the Round Rotherham, a nice 50 mile jaunt - for the first time since joining the team I'm actually looking forward to it!
Saturday, 18 September 2010
Race 3 in the series for me. I had heard that this was going to be quite tough with all the big tussocks and boggy terrain. It had also been raining for most of the week so I was thinking that could make it more difficult. I had spent a week near Aberystwyth back in June when the weather had been a lot kinder, and so I had been able to do some running around the Cambrian mountain area then. I thought this would have helped me in the race but then I did not account for the mist and wet conditions! I met up with Mark and Martin at the start, and also got to meet Kate for the first time too. We had the luxury of the Nant Yr Arian forestry centre to shelter in before the start, and then after some final race instructions, it was off fairly gently at first around the lake and through the woods. The next five miles or so were fairly easy, but then came the climb up to Pumlumon Fawr, and the mist came down, the temperature dropped and the wind picked up. Suddenly it all seemed very bleak and remote. Amazingly, a huddle of volunteers were providing water & energy goodies at the Cairn on the top. The next few miles on the top moorland felt hard because of the wind & cold. But then it was downhill and at the start of the Severn way, the sun came out briefly. There was a well defined path of flagstones along the stream here and running felt comfortable again. However, things changed rapidly as the route became less obvious and started to involve navigating a way through the boggy tussocks. I lost count of how many times I fell into the gaps between the tussocks! This seemed to go on for miles interspersed with some hills which were a relief from the tussocks. The last few miles were mostly on tracks. I had been running with Mark Townsend and chatting about his UTMB experience and we missed a turn. Fortunately, he was able to get us back on route quickly, and we picked up a bit of speed after this. The run into the finish was soon upon us and I was able to enjoy the last downhill section into the woods.
There was much appreciated hot drinks, cakes and Pasties provided, the sun shone again and everybody seemed very relaxed. Kate was first lady in an incredibly quick time. Nicky Spinks was second lady and I managed third. Still a long way off their times though!
Next race for me is the Atlantic Coastal Challenge in Cornwall...three marathons in three days, and then Rotherham 50....the last of the series.
Just wanted to say 'Good luck' to those racing at High Peak 40 today! Wish I was doing it too.
Sunday, 5 September 2010
Friday, 20 August 2010
The weekend started off at Edale where I met up with the other members of Team Runfurther and quickly forgot the ominous struggles my car had just getting up the hill there. We spent a few hours checking out the Kinder part of the course and posing with sponsored kit. The scenery was breathtaking prompting Martin B’s rueful comment that it’s a shame he doesn’t have time to take it in when he’s racing. I suggested he ran at my pace which would allow him to enjoy each blade of grass, “there’ll be plenty of time for that when I’m 70” was the response!
After Osmotherley I felt really good and thought I’d take it out a little harder this time. In retrospect this was a mistake. My troubles began once I’d left the Druid Stone behind and started the steep descent where my toes began to hit the front of the shoes in a rather painful manner. Then going up Lose Hill, cramp began to set in (note to self, spend more time on step machines) which then came back frequently, set off by anything from tough stiles to dense heather. After some helpful guidance by fellow runners pointing out checkpoint 13 which was located down a slope above a river (the organisers had more faith in my balance after 23 miles than I did) I slowly and painfully made my way back to Bradwell, eventually clocking a disappointing time of 8:30.
Needless to say within minutes of finishing I was already thinking “that wasn’t so bad” and was pretty proud of myself for actually finishing the toughest race I had ever done. Just to make sure that it was the race that was tough and not just my lack of conditioning I had a confidence boosting 10 mile race last Sunday at Great Warford where I got a new pb of 1:12:22 - it felt pretty good after going so slowly the previous week however I’m paying for it now with extremely tight calves and general aches caused by road running again.
Next up is the High Peak 40 so I’ll be getting to know this beautiful area of the world even better. I’ve got a few weeks to prepare so am planning on getting in plenty of miles and spending time on the aforementioned step machine… hope my work isn’t expecting too much of me!
Sunday, 15 August 2010
In the middle of July I spent 4 days in Alps on the UTMB training camp with Lizzy Hawker. It was a fantastic experience and I learnt loads from Lizzy who is such an inspiration. I am hoping to do the UTMB next year so it was a good chance to run on the terrain. We ran the whole route in 4 days, but got to sleep in between days. I am sure it really toughened me up and made my legs stronger. A week after I came back I did an off road marathon on Dartmoor and felt like the hills were easy after the mountains of the Alps! I was first lady home so I was so pleased, but more importantly for me I felt that I had more left at the end which I was hoping was encouraging for the Long Tour of Bradwell.
The weekend of Bradwell, I was staying with friends in Edale so Saturday morning I went out with them and walked over the Win hill section of the route. And then in the afternoon I met up with the RunFurther team and did a recce of the Kinder section. Karen and Mark took photo’s of us in our gear. I also got to try some clif shot blocks which I think I am now addicted to, and which are great as an alternative to Gels. It was a lovely afternoon and good fun, but also proved really useful for the race the next day.
The morning of the race, and the weather looked perfect. I was looking forward to the race ahead but I was also worried about the navigation on the bits I did not know. The first section felt quite straight forward and the recce the day before meant the Kinder section went well. I joined up with a bunch of guys to go up over Lose hill, and saw Andy taking photo’s and offering words of support. On the way down we missed the turn and ended up being shouted at by an irate farmer who nearly ran us over in his tractor. We quickly turned around and made backtracks up the field.
The next section up around Win Hill and down to Ladybower was so enjoyable, and felt easy as I was confident I knew where I was going. However, after Bamford and ‘the escalator’ , it was all unknown territory. I was hesitant going over Stanage edge, and made a couple of silly errors. However, fortunately a couple of local guys behind me put me right so ‘thanks’ to them. The last section, and through Abney and almost home. At this point there were three of us running together, and none of us knew the route. We could see Bradwell in the distance, and in our excitement, we did not consult the map and therefore missed the turn off, sailing on along the stoney track. After a bit of running back & forth, and some choice words on my part, we managed to find a way back to connect to the route and it was a sprint into Bradwell . I was delighted to find myself 2nd lady which was a perfect end to a lovely race, and a wonderful weekend.
Waiting for friends to pick me up later, I saw a man in a bikini being chased by ‘police’ and a camera crew filming it. It was all quite amusing but I never did find out what it was all about.