Brontë Running

What a lovely day it’s been. Our training plan suggests 10 miles today. We planned to repeat the Haworth run Kath did on Wednesday. We woke up early, made porridge and took it back to bed. After getting up and pottering about for a little bit we set off to walk to the station. We had a bit of a discussion about what miles to count for this adventure and decided that it’s about time on our feet and a decent striding out sort of walk would count. After a mile and a half we arrived at Keighley Station and proudly presented our local resident’s passes at the Worth Valley Railway ticket booth. If you’re local, buy yourself one of these, they’re a fiver and give you 50% off tickets.

On the way up to Haworth the train was a diesel locomotive and the carriages were more commuter train than sociable and fun seats with a table. We got a seat right at the front though and it was lovely just making our way out of Keighley, to Ingrow West (what happened to Ingrow East? Does it exist? Did it ever?), to Oakworth via Damems. Just after  Damems we stopped for a little while – not quite sure why. Possibly because there were a couple of blokes working on the tracks. We arrived in Haworth, waved the train off and nipped to the Ladies’ Room. I’m never quite sure whether I’m allowed in a Ladies’ Room.

We walked through Haworth Park and up Haworth Main Street (which those of you not local may have seen as it was part of the Tour de France in 2014) and turned left towards the Brontë Parsonage and then started run/walking as we got on a track and through a field just beyond it. My hay fever is not yet under control and my chest felt quite tight and I was struggling to breathe properly. It required focus. That didn’t really change all the way round so I think I probably appeared a bit grumpy at times. I wasn’t it was stunningly beautiful and glorious and I loved it. I just found it even harder than normal!

So after the field there is a short stretch of road which is a steady pull up a slope and we ran/walked that, crossed the road at the end of that section and then made our way along IMG_8940a track hugging a dry stone wall separating a field from Haworth Moor. It’s a well signed route to Brontë Waterfalls and beyond to Top Withens. It’s what you might call undulating. Honestly, I don’t think the hills on the initial stretch are too bad really – certainly not if I could actually breathe. I’m looking forward to having another go. The terrain isn’t too technical really but there were a few bits where I needed to concentrate and it was good to practice and just keep moving. I’m happy with how that went.

We reached the Waterfall – it was a little trickle really. We didn’t take a picture but Kath 31084267_961162334063915_7898002905209241600_ndid on Wednesday  (so here is hers!) and instead we got some on the little stone bridge which led us on our way to Top Withens. As we made our way up here I started to feel a little flakey. I had a bit of tailwind but I think maybe not IMG_8934enough. As we were close to Top Withens I felt a little faint, had some more tailwind and started feeling better. We walked a bit further and then picked a spot to sit for a few minutes and drink in the beauty of the moor. I was trying to spot the grouse – they were there, I could hear them grumbling but I couldn’t see any around us.

After a few minutes we walked up to Top Withens and spent another minute or two in the ruins and looking around. Somehow I don’t imagine Emily and her sisters walking the moors in weather like this. It’s never warm, sunny and dry when I think of them – it’s always wuthering. Always. The Killjoy society (as Kath called them) have added a plaque to Top Withens to inform us all that it is not Wuthering Heights:

We then started to make our way back down. I felt much better, a little rest and more

IMG_8957tailwind had obviously worked wonders. We jogged down the hill – good practice and pushing out of my comfort zone a bit on the steeper bits. On Wednesday Kath did an out an back run but we decided to do a loop instead and head back via Stanbury. The track from Top Withens towards Stanbury is a very runable track with no real technical sections. There are some stones and some loose gravel but it was easy to pick a route, even for me. I tried to run the downhill and run/walk the flat. We must have been around 5 miles in by now. Once we were off the track we ran/walked the road until we got into the village – the road through is narrow and there isn’t really a pavement so we walked. Once the road widened we started run/walking again.

IMG_8956I briefly wondered whether we should do a tiny detour to go visit my grandma’s grave at Stanbury cemetery but I didn’t want to. It felt like it was pointless; she lived and breathed  this landscape, being out in it and enjoying it as we were seemed somehow more appropriate than giving a nod to the grave stone. So we turned right and ran along the reservoir. We chose a more gradual climb back up by turning left along a track and then we were back on the edge of Haworth and retraced our steps through the field, down the track to the Parsonage. 7.61 miles of gorgeous Brontë country.

We stopped in the Haworth Steam Brewery for food and couldn’t resist a cheeky half – I think actually it was the name of the beer that persuaded Kath that she really had to try some – it’s ‘a good pint’ apparently.

Refreshed we made our way down Main Street and had a look in a few shops. I was surprised. It’s been a while since I’ve been to Haworth and the shops are so much better

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Sociable Shadows

than I remembered! There’s Mrs Beighton’s Sweet Shop which is just scrumptious. We saw some lovely things and witty cards in Wave of Nostalgia, some gorgeous artwork and more witty things in Hawksbys Gallery. And then we went to see our friend Sián at her shop Sian Alison Designs where she sells amazing jewellery made with local flowers. I absolutely love her forget-me-not designs but have a look at her Facebook page or if you’re local pop in – the pink heather stuff is lush too.

IMG_9006We walked back through Haworth Park. There seemed to be an abundance of small pug like dogs about today and we had just commented on how the noise of their laboured breathing would get on our nerves when a lad of about 8ish walked past one and exclaimed in a broad Yorkshire accent: ‘They make like they’re dying’. We burst out laughing and were still giggling on the platform as we waited for the train back to Keighley. The return journey was on a steam train with a buffet car so we had another sneaky beer as we watched the familiar landscape choochoo past. In Keighley we watched the steam loco change ends and then popped into the supermarket to get milk, some salad and also a  banana for Kath to eat on the way back. Another 1.5 mile walk and we were home.

A little over 10 and a half miles done today. Year to date – 210.27. And my April mileage is sitting on a very very satisfactory 65 miles, highest monthly mileage so far this year and there’s still a while left! Happy Running!

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DNF but not an unhappy one

Today was the Harewood House half marathon. As I mentioned yesterday, I didn’t have the pre race nerves I often have in the run up to any organised event. I was a little more anxious this morning but nothing too bad. Nerves kicked in when I saw Kath’s Facebook post.

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We set off shortly after 8am, got there for just before 9am, went to the loo, had a wander around. It was cold, really cold! Kath bought herself a coffee and we sat in the car for 20 minutes or so. Then I went to the loo (again, obviously) and then we bumped into another Run1000miler Stuart (Hi Stuart!). It was lovely to chat briefly (and to now know that he had a great run and was lucky enough to see deer – how brilliant!) as we all stepped from foot to foot to try to stay warm(ish). When Stuart went to drop off his jacket in his car, we walked around the grounds a little trying to stay warm. Then it was time to line up and set off. I took my fleece off and passed it to Kath and then I was off.

I was quite happy with my 2 minute run, 30 second walk intervals. The field we were running through was springy and I giggled. I settled in at the back of the pack. The views were gorgeous, there were red kites circling above, the sun was coming out. We swept left and had a downhill road section. As I slowed for my scheduled walk break, my calf tightened. Really tightened. No, no no. Just no I thought. This can’t be happening. Briefly I thought about what Kath would say if I rang her now having to pull out or what I would say and write. The tightness had barely eased when the next run beep came. I ran anyway. It was niggling and tight but I kept going. Mile 1 had come and gone, Mile 2 wasn’t far behind. I sort of felt ok but the calf niggle was, well, niggling. I’d been running quite well uphill – I’d just been sticking to my 2 minute/30 seconds where they fell but around mile 3 I decided to stop trying to run them and nurse the calf. Instead I ignored some of the walk breaks on the downhill.

So after the first 3 miles I slowed down considerably aware that my calf would need nursing round the course quite carefully. I was ok though. I soon lost sight of the next runner in front and there were a handful of people behind me but quite some way away so for the next few miles it felt like I was alone on the course – in fact it was like that until I briefly joined the 10km route around 8 miles. In a good way. In fact I loved it. I saw rabbits and maybe a hare but it could have just been a big rabbit, it moved fast. I saw lots of little birds and whenever I came out of a wooded area into open fields there were red kites to watch. What stunning creatures they are. The views are amazing on this course. It’s hard to describe – just different at every turn, wood, fields, rolling hills, Harewood House (in all sorts of odd light), just stunning.

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I had a few good little wins along the course. I have mentioned my fear of downhill, slippy, icy etc before. I don’t think I mentioned I discussed this with therapist the other day – more on that another time – but some of the things we talked about really resonated today and instead of hesitating at the top of a steep grassy downhill I just kept moving; instead of trying to find a ‘safe’ way through a boggy bit I just went for it and bounced through and instead of whimpering at the sight of some of the muddy sections, I shrugged my shoulders and just went for it. And you know what, I slipped and you know what else – nothing happened. The world didn’t stop turning, I didn’t even fall over. I found the next somewhere for my foot and the one after that and after that and then the ground was less move-y.

So even though I had slowed significantly and was walking lots and my calf was very definitely  grumpy I had a great time. At some point just before mile 7 I suddenly remembered that there was a cut off time for the 8 mile water stop. I couldn’t remember whether it was 2 hours or 2.5 hours though. I had a quick look at my watch and decided that either way I’d be ok. Somewhere between mile 7 and 8 I noticed that I was hungry and also beginning to feel a bit tired. I hadn’t really felt tired until now. I decided that at the 8 mile point I’d stop briefly to get a bit of Kath’s home made cherry and almond flapjack (you need these in your life – I’ll share the recipe when I get chance) and have it with water. As I did that the last people still behind me came past in a mass of 10km runners whose route we were briefly sharing.

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Red Kite – Picture from RSPB

I walked until my flapjack and water had settled. I felt better. I had a little jog and did my best impression of a dressage pony through a boggy muddy bit and power walked up the hill and jogged down the other side and kept plodding and then something changed in my calf muscle. It didn’t snap or pop or anything but the niggle that I’d sort of got used to changed to pain. Not serious STOP NOW sort of pain. Just an ‘excuse me, you’re pretty close to breaking me’ sort of pain. Hmph. Ok, no matter, I’ll walk a bit.

I walked a bit. I was now last, not by far -there were 3 people within about 15 metres of me, but last. I’ve always wondered what it would feel like. Honestly, it was fabulous! The sweeper was keeping his distance on the bike and I was left to my own thoughts and the views, goodness the views. I tried running a bit more. My calf protested. Ok. Well, I’ll walk a bit more. I walked until just after mile 9. Then I tried to gently jog a downhill slope and my calf said no and my hip flexor said ‘Hi, remember me, I’m here and you knowing that is probably not a good thing’. I made the decision. I called Kath to let her know that I’d be pulling out. I’d let the sweeper know already and he said that if I could walk the best thing would be to simply make it to the next checkpoint. I was quite happy with that really although I didn’t realise it was another mile to go. Throughout that last mile my calf didn’t get any worse but my hip flexor got really quite sore. As I saw the 10 mile marker I briefly felt like a complete idiot for deciding not to go on. It’s only the sheep loop, only a parkrun, only a distance I can easily do…. But it would have been idiotic.

I stopped at the drinks station just at the 10 mile marker (although my Garmin says I did 9.82) where there was also an aid station and I could get a lift back with one of the off-road ambulance vehicles. Thanks to James and Jonathan for the ride! I literally got a lift back to our car where Kath was waiting. I nipped into the first aid centre  and asked for an ice pack which I stuck down my pants onto my hip flexor for the drive home. Everyone was lovely and asked if I needed them to look at my calf or whether I needed treatment but I really just needed an epsom salt bath and some stretches.

As things are now I am happy with my decision and proud of myself for once in my life 28500259_915935378586611_1230085131_ohaving made a sensible decision. I don’t think I’ve done any damage. I think it was a useful reminder that my calf muscles need much much more and consistent strengthening and stretching. Ideally I’d also like to be a bit fitter and trained on hills for next time – although I was happy with how I felt walking them (I remember not being able to walk uphill without setting off heart rate alarms).

So I might not have finished but I’ve had an awesome day. I enjoyed all of it – even the last mile really. I might have been in pain but it really wasn’t that bad, particularly as I didn’t have to try and go any faster at that point and the course was still spectacular. In fact it is a course that makes you want to do it justice. I’ll be back next year. Loved it.

 

Tentative Ten and Accidental Five

I didn’t set out to run 5 miles today. But I did. Well I ran some of the 5 mile outing, possibly most of it but I had a great time. But let’s start at the beginning. I put off running all week. Somehow I never really quite got round to getting my butt out the door. I did go to the gym on Thursday and did a bit on the bike and some strength work but my hip was a bit niggly so I spent time stretching and then walked on a fairly steep incline on the treadmill for 10 minutes. I wanted to be sure I could manage the planned 10 miler at the weekend. Eeek. On Friday I finally got my butt out for a little run. I used the Too Fat to Run? Clubhouse training run which was a Take 5 run. So you run to cover 5k, take 5 pictures and note 5 things you’ve enjoyed about the run. Here are 5 photos from that run: First bit of proper trail on the run (and a bugger of a slope but you can’t tell on the picture), blackberries, downhill across the old golf course, heron by the canal, me.

Then came the 10 miler. We’d thought about Bolton Abbey and doing our extended plus normal loop but then we were awake early and thought we could go closer to home rather than wait for Bolton Abbey to open. Then we had an argument about the route (mainly because I got canal bridges muddled in my head so we argued about distances), got grumpy, bitched at each other a bit, got over it and had breakfast. We decided to do our 1 hour run instead and the ten miler the day after. At lunchtime we decided we could try for the 10 miles after all, agreed the route (now that wasn’t so hard was it!) and set off.

I never really settled down properly. I ran the first mile, walked a little in the second, then ran the third and most of the 4th although I wondered whether I should just do the 1 hour and have another go at the ten another time. I felt like I was cheating, not doing it right – but then I thought that as I was out, I might as well try and do it now. Seemed silly to have to worry about it all over again. Towards the end of the 4th mile we walked a little and I had a couple of sips of the torque energy drink we had in our bottles. When we set off running again at about 5 miles I got really nasty tummy cramps and nearly threw up everywhere. I walked a bit, tried again and felt very very uncomfortable. We walked a bit more and then sat on a little wall watching a heron on the opposite side of the canal. Here he is just before he crossed over to where we watched him.

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I’d pretty much decided to give up and walk to the golf course bridge and up towards home but as Kath pointed out, I’d done 6 miles, seemed silly not to carry on. I tried running a little and while uncomfortable, I was no longer in pain and no longer felt sick so I settled back into running very slowly for mile 7 where we saw another heron and a little further on a group of swallows seemingly playing around two moored canal boats.  Then we turned back towards home run/walking mile 8 and 9 trying to walk up hill as fast as I could and stopping briefly to say hello to Dino – the last time we’d ever run past him as he was being picked up by his new owner later.

The we walked most of mile 10. My hips and lower back were tight, as were my calves and I was now feeling the lack of fuel but otherwise I didn’t feel too bad and I recovered really well once I had some water and food in me. I was grumpy initially for having walked so much but that grumpiness has gone. I did 10 miles. I learned a bit and I’m looking forward to having another go. I also did pretty well on a number of strava segments in spite of my walk breaks and the distance. I am excited about the distance and doing it without it being a massive big deal – which it was the first time I attempted double figures.

Today we were supposed to do an hour. I woke up feeling a few after effects of the 10 miles but nothing too bad. Calves a little tight maybe but they soon got moving. I did want to be careful though so decided not to run first thing and wait until everything had got moving and I was sure nothing hurt. Then it got hot and then we thought it might be busy and we didn’t want people so we ended up going late afternoon after having had a curry for lunch. To make her miles up to this week Kath wanted 6 miles. I’d thought about an hour gentle, slow plod with walking to look at things and thought maybe 4 ish miles for me, max. Really I just wanted to go for a walk with the odd little run thrown in. 3 miles would have been fine!

So we set off at the same time, going the same route. Kath went ahead and when she got to 3 miles she was going to turn round and collect me on the way back. I figured that if I was going about 13.5 minute miles and she was going about 10 minute miles we wouldn’t be too far off and it’d be close enough to an hour. I was so proud of her as she sped away down Ilkley Road into the distance. By the time I got the the end of the road and turned left she’d gone. I didn’t see her again until she came back to meet me.

I was going too fast. I didn’t mean to. I felt quite comfortable for the first mile and a bit

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Where the Weasel Wasn’t (ok, Mink)

and then I was suddenly aware of the sun and felt hot so at a mile and a half I walked for a minute and then set off again. I still felt good and even though I was consciously trying to slow down, I didn’t by much. At two miles I decided to walk because I didn’t want to suddenly feel tired when Kath came back. I also didn’t really want to go much further. I wanted this to be an easy run. I walked and as I did I saw movement in the water. ‘Cool’, I thought, ‘a water vole’ but it was the wrong shape and size. I swam straight at me and I got a good look. It was a mink. It hadn’t seen me. It moved gracefully through the water, totally unconcerned and I marvelled at how absorbed it was in doing what it was doing (which may have been just swimming for the fun of it). As soon as I moved to get my phone for a picture though, it clocked me and disappeared. Kath had seen it too it turned out.

At 3.36 miles I decided to run slowly to the next bridge because I’d got bored walking.

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I thought I could wait there for Kath. She was going fast when I last saw her so she couldn’t be far off (Yes that was over 2 miles ago but still). I didn’t have to wait long at all but while I did I watched some cows and their calves in the field opposite and then as we started back we saw the little calf frolicking in another field. Lovely to watch.

We ran about a mile and I was finding it harder now but just as I was getting a bit grumpy about finding it hard, there was the now so familiar (but always exciting) flash of blue and orange and a kingfisher came past, stopped on a branch as if gently teasing us, before flying off again, flying a couple of loops over the canal and disappearing into the distance. I managed a bit further and then walked for a bit to let my tummy settle. Curry for lunch pre run was turning out not to be the best idea I’ve ever had. We ran walked to the end of the canal section and then ran up the short sharp hill into a little housing estate, walked up through a snicket and up and up and up home. I did run a bit of the slope (it’s a f-ing hill) but I felt no need to push on past the pub or up our road. I felt really happy with my weekend running and wanted to finish with that feeling. 5 miles. 5 really easy miles. Yes I walked and yes my tummy wasn’t great towards the end but it was a lovely 5 miles and it wasn’t a big deal. My ‘not a big deal’ numbers are going up and I’m quite excited about that! I’m also excited that I am now fit enough to accidentally run/walk 5 miles the day after completing 10!

Oh – Sunday Weigh-in. Same as last week.