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.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Post HM55 - let the dust settle...

Now I've had a few days to think about it, the rose tinted specs have been donned and I feel much better about the whole thing.

Still have stuff to work on.
Still bricking myself over the HM110.

But, I feel ready to get stuck into the next part of my training. Got some heavy weights and hill reps lined up, along with a couple more 25-30 mile runs.

I've maintained my streak, having run every day since the ultra. (Bearing in mind those runs have been around a mile and very slow and creaky!!) but each one gets easier.
And Tuesday I had an epic stretching session with my PT John. We spent 45 mins just stretching, doing mobility stuff, foam rolling and to finish off, he stretched me. In all, it was more painful than running the 55!! BUT I regained the use of my ankle and the run home felt sooooo much better than the shuffle down to the studio. My legs feel great.

The weights we are doing must have helped as the muscles in my hips are usually one of the first things to start aching on long runs, especially if the terrain is flatish, on Saturday they only started to hurt a couple of miles from the finish. Big improvement.


Hardmoors 55 - Round 2

I have been PT-ing and weight lift-ing and long runn-ing over the last couple of weeks in preperation for the Hardmoors 55, another step in the lead up to the Big One (HM110) in a few short weeks time.
I'd had a week of (almost) rest and felt pretty much ready to take the race on. Although the night before I was so stressed out about the whole thing I gave myself a headache! Rubbish sleep as expected.

My pals Pete and Jen picked me up as planned and we made it to Helmsley before the buses arrived to get our kit checks done and registered. We had a long wait after that, so had second breakfast of tea and banana's and sat in the car to keep warm! Met Gromit while waiting and said hi to lots of other Fetchies and non-Fetch running friends.

I have to say, I was very nervous.

Jon the RD gave his usual race brief, rambling on like he does and then it was time to go!

The first few miles felt easy, couple of gates to negotiate slowed everyone down. I had turned the satellites off on my Garmin so was surprised to find it still registering miles and pace. I fiddled with that for a bit, but it seemed to be ok.
On reflection, I may have been going a little too fast, but it felt comfortable at the time.
This bit is 'flat' with the worst bit being a long drag up into Cold Kirby. I walked some of this and ate one of my homemade cherry flap jacks. In the village, one of my club mates Charlotte was waiting with her son and dog to cheer everyone on!!
Next was the out and back section through Kilburn Woods and to the White Horse. I saw Peter (who was already on the way back) and we hi-fived. First check point reached well within the cut offs, just a small matter of the 151 steps back onto the bank!

I'd been bursting for a wee for some time so called into the loo at Sutton Bank Visitor centre and felt much better!

Still mostly flat along the escarpment and very familiar terrain. I loped along, talking to people on and off as we passed. Still felt quite good.
Another long shallow drag up past White Stones and to the cairn by Black Hambleton. I ate my yoghurt raisins, but already felt like I was forcing them down, rather than being glad of the energy.
As we started the descent into Osmotherly, I was already feeling light headed and tired. I was worried as we hadn't done any real climbing yet and there was a long way to go. I told myself I must eat plenty of food at the Ossy check point.

Got into the hall well inside the cut off and ahead of my own schedule so I was happy with that. I had a lovely cup of tea first, then had a look in my drop bag. Hmm. I scoffed the coconut macaroon, but didn't really enjoy it. Stuck some other bits in my pack 'for later' and got rid of a couple of bits. I saw my club mate Mally lingering in the doorway, he'd come to cheer on another pal of his but it was great to see him and get a sweaty hug! He said he was off to the pub next...
I set off again, tried to eat my drop-bag pizza and nearly gagged on it. Dammit.

Lots of climbing to come now. First up Beacon Hill, I like Beacon Hill, no probs. Got chatting to a chap from Swaledale so that helped ease the miles a little. We parted in the woods before Scugdale. 
My pesky knee decided to make itself known already, the right one this time instead of the left, so that was a nuisance. But I figured just take it steady, no need to rush anything.

I got to Scugdale which was also the half way point, hurrah, I think. The CP was staffed by Lisrun and a couple of other chaps. I spotted another friend sat on the bench there, it didn't occur to me at the time, but it turns out he had to pull out due to injury. I took some sweets and began the climb up Live Plantation and onto Carlton Bank. It's long climb that just goes on and on. I started to get angry with the hill. I ran the flatter bits but it took a long time to get to the double trig at the far end, it was a relief in one way, but really it meant a long horrible stony descent on uneven steps. I got down without too much swearing and ran through Lord Stones ready to tackle the next big climb. Again, it went on forever but it's just a matter of one foot in front of the other.
With great relief, I slapped the summit seat and shuffled on along the tops. It was windy and cold up here and I pulled my hood around my head. The mist was rolling in too, but you can't get lost on here, just keep to the flag stones. I ran/walked along the top then hobbled down the next descent. A short flat bit, then an abrupt up and over of Cold Moor, not helped by my toes going into cramp on the down side! Then on to tackle the Wainstones.
I had to guide a couple of blokes through, then managed to run on. I think they over took me on the descent though.
The CP at Clay Bank seemed a good place to lean, so I did for a few moments to have a drink and some jelly-tots before pushing on up Clay Bank. 

Some ladies asked me of I knew where we were. I said we were approaching Round Hill which is the highest point on the North York Moors. After that, I said, apart from the bits that aren't, it's all downhill. Not sure that was the most helpful thing to say!!

There was a lot of walking of walking on this section. It's not really flat, but on tired legs not easy to run either.
All of a sudden, I felt hungry! I managed to eat a couple of chunks of potato and a small bit of cake before I went back to feeling slightly sick.
I reached Blowarth Crossing and clipped my race number.
I didn't realise how far it now was on this 'flat' boring track.
It was breezy and quite cold.
Running was so very hard, my knee hurt. Walking was slow and demoralising.
I still felt sick.
It gradually got dark. I eventually gave in and put my headtorch on, and imeadiately tripped over a rock! Didn't actually fall, but it reminded me to pay attention.
It started to rain. I failed to put my waterproof coat on, as the previous rain showers had passed within a few minutes so I assumed this would do the same.
I had toyed with the idea of getting to Kildale without needing my torch, but that clearly wasn't going to happen.
The long track was still going on. I wanted to have a cry, but nothing would come out!
Every time my watch beeped to announce a run/walk interval or it was time to eat, I told it to fuck off.
A little group of us gathered and that speeded me up a bit.
Stokesley and other towns were laid out before us, all lit up. It looked good, but I didn't care and I said so.
At last, we turned onto tarmac but the sign said 2 miles to Kildale. Still?? 2 pissing miles?? FFS.
The road was steep in places, and my knee was too sore to run on, so I ran the flatter bits while everyone else ran the down hills! I was thoroughly pissed off. 
Up on that track, while feeling queasy I was almost willing myself to be sick so I had a valid excuse to pull out.
Here now, the lights from the village hall looked warm and welcoming and I stumbled in.

For the first time during a race like this, I sat down.

My friend Lorna was marshalling here and she took over, getting me tea and a bowl of rice pudding and collecting my drop bag.

The tea, the rice, changing into a dry top and getting my proper coat on all helped. I rearranged my various parcels of food. Topped up my squash and electrolyte drink, made sure I got a hug from Flip then stepped back out into the dark.

My teeth were chattering with cold, but my spirits had been soothed and by the time I was half way up the next (big, steep) hill I was sweating again. And more importantly, almost happy.
The climb up to Captain Cooks although long wasn't too bad. I love the section through the birch forest on East Cote Moor and it was cool in the dark. The monument looked ace, if a little...erm...phallic silouhetted against the orange glow of the towns below.
It's a steep drop into Gribdale, but a sort of lolloping trot got me down without too much pain and into the CP now known as Party Central! Here were lots of lights and disco music, I even managed a little dance as I came through the gate!

The next objective was Roseberry Topping. RT is a challenge in the daylight and we were about to tackle it in the dark. First though, a mile a green track and from the moor we got the most amazing view of the little mini-mountain. The main path zig-zags it's way up the face and there was a string of headtorches all the way up. RT looked like a giant Christmas tree, it was quite a thing to behold.
No time for taking in the view, I pressed on. One foot in front of the other. This is an another out and back section and we said ''well done'' to eat pair of feet we passed. The climb is never as bad as you think and soon we'd checked in with the summit marshal and turned around. It's the descent which is the bad bit. The rock steps are steep, uneven and always greasy. Slipped a few times. Tired legs and a lack of energy weren't helping.
I figured it would take another two hours to get to the finish, but that was it, we were almost on the home straight. (I keep saying 'we' as little groups of runners come and go, but never really ran with anyone for long.)

The run walk continued for a while, but eventually ran out of running ability. The ground was on slippy paving slabs, too uneven to maintain any kind of pace so a very brisk walk was more comfortable than keep starting and stopping.
Glo-sticks swam into view to guide us up the steps and the last real climb up the side of Highcliffe Nab. There was a self clip up here, cruelly attached to a low bench so we each had to kneel down to reach it!
The long walk had given my legs a 'rest' and I managed to run on into Guisborough Woods. I had been a little worried about navigating through here in the dark, but Jon had very kindly put glo-sticks along the route and they were easy to spot.
Started to get a bit mardy again as the woods went on forever.
At last though, we got onto a horrible steep concrete road, but I knew this led down to the old railway line and then it was just one more mile from there to the finish.
The last self clip was easier to reach and with my number clipped, I set off down the railway line.
I swore at my watch bleeping.
I swore at my sore knee.
I swore at the flat track, although really I couldn't have taken much more climbing!

Gradually down that line, a couple of ladies I'd run with on and off caught me up and we got to the steps leading onto the road to Guisborough. We wobbled down the steps and actually ran down the street and up into entrance of the Sea Cadets where Shirley was waiting to check our numbers!

We'd done it! Bloody done it.

Peter and Jen were waiting for me. Peter had had a great run and was still bouncing round, high on Jelly Babies and coke.
I had some tea and very slowly got changed.

I had mixed feelings. I was over joyed to have finished and I beat last years time. Not by as much as I wanted though and my overall performance was a little lacking I felt.
Physically, I felt (relatively speaking) ok. The long runs and weights have definitely helped and I was in a much better state than last year when I finished. But mentally, I had fallen apart up on the moor. I know I'd had bad patches last year, but they didn't seem to have lasted so long.
I have to admit, it's dented my confidence a little, which is disapointing after my last few long training runs have been so successful. 
I will just put it down to experience, I mean, I still finished well within the time allowed and I have no real injuries (indeed I walked into town on Sunday and managed to continue my run streak, just).
I think I had psyched myself out a little, having intimate local knowledge of an area doesn't always help!!

So, bit of resting time then consolidate my last few weeks of training before the big one. It will be here soon and that blog will be twice as long!!

Ben Campbell Recce = mud!

Just three of us in the woods on Thursday night, Gavin, Becky and myself. It was a fast one! Second fastest time since I got my watch last summer. Gavin reckons we can do it sub-50 once it dries out and we can run in the light again... I'm not convinced!! The fastest I've ever done it is 51:xx (according to somebody else's watch) and I nearly died then.

Friday and Saturday we just streak saver mile shuffles in the dark.

On Sunday a group of Harriers and some of JDW's other clients did a social recce of the Ben Campbell 10k route through Kilburn Woods. It's even hillier than our normal Thursday route. It was drizzling and a bit misty at the start.
I was amazed at how many people had turned out in their road shoes!!
The route is hard to describe really, especially if you don't know Kilburn Woods, but it starts at the White Horse car park and goes downhill through lots of mud! Then up the Angle Path, quite pleased as I ran all the way up that. Along the top track and down the Zig-Zag Hill, lovely fast downhill. I was keeping up with JDW, Becky, Gavin and Laura B at this point. Along the main track, then left at the main junction and sharp right up the muddy bank, avoiding the fallen tree. Had to walk up this climb, it gets very awkward under foot, sloppy mud. The climb takes us over the shoulder of Hood Hill, but not to the summit, and we go down the Unicorn, very muddy at the bottom some people going in up to their knees!!! Regroup at Osgodby Gate, bank into the woods and up the other Hood Hill path, again just the shoulder avoiding the summit. (The summit is a scheduled monument or something so I guess the race was allowed so long as it didn't go over the top.) The run down the other side is what I think the hardest descent as it is slick rather than deep mud and very steep. Safely down that, back on the main track for a long uphill all the way back to the finish. (That bit doesn't have a name, will have to think of something...)
I managed to stay with Gavin and almost at the front for the whole run, with a little bit of downhill mincing thrown in for good measure!! The long uphill finish nearly killed me and I felt a bit sick!
Soon recovered though and headed home as we were taking SD ice-skating in the afternoon!

An alleged 'easy' week in Feb

It's supposed to be a cut back week, dammit!!

After Sunday's adventure, I didn't feel the need to do much running, but I still have a streak to maintain. So, I did a mile round the industrial estate where JDW is based which also doubled up as a warm up. It was very icy in places, so I had to be careful.

Into the PT session, again looking at engaging the core and glutes. We did some different things from last week but also had a practice at the Romanian Dead lift form as that feels weird.
The funniest bit was we had a Boson board (one of those wobble board things) and standing on one leg, threw a ball backwards and forwards. Needless to say I was rubbish at that, I have no balance what so ever!

Exercise done for Monday.

Then comes Tuesday...

Managed to organise Helen and Gavin for an earlyish run in Kilburn Woods. There was some snow around, but not as much ice as we feared. We clocked up 7.2 miles with lots of hills!! We went all the way up to the bank and all the way back down to the Horse Gate. 
Coming along the Horse Gate path, I was already running reasonably hard (relatively speaking) and was aware of Gavin right on my heels, I went to let him past but somehow it turned into a bit of a race! 
''Don't stop til the newt pond!'' he says through gritted teeth, I just continue wheezing in reply.
By heck, I burned in places I haven't burned for a while!
This did result in me taking top spot for the associated Strava segment, so thats good.
We had to trot back down to find Helen who didn't know which way we'd gone, oops.*
Then up and over Hood Hill, we took that a little more sensibly but enjoyed the long muddy descent on the other side.
Stretching out in the car park I found my trainers have split! Oh no, only got them for Christmas, barely done 70 miles in them. Have to get that sorted. (I hate sorting that sort of thing.)

Got home and had time for a quick drink and snack and a change of clothes then back down to town for another PT session! Two in one week! I can add John to the long list of people trying to kill me off...

Today we did some (quite light) weights. Including wide-grip lat pull downs and adding (small) dumbells to exercises such as reverse lunges, squats and oblique stretches. 
It was hard (as I am as weak as a new born lamb...) but I enjoyed it.
My arms wouldn't work afterwards though!!

John is very good on form, keen for me to get it spot on each time, no compromise. He is full of useful information and knowledge. The only down side is that once my ultra is done, the training will be too and I can't afford to pay for a personal trainer :( 
Still, I keep writing down what we are doing so I can still do a lot of it myself at home.
(Mind you, if I did all the various exercises and routines I had written down, I wouldn't need a personal trainer in the first place... lol)

*Don't worry, Helen speaks her mind and if she had been annoyed with us, she would have said!! It's interesting on a run like that she was plodding along at the back, but I am yet to beat her on an actual race!