West Yorkshire December Outings

Odin hiding

It’s a Sunday in December. It feels cold. It has been grey all day and I am not sure it ever really got light. There’s been wet stuff falling from the sky or just hanging in the air and even our youngest two cats don’t want to go outside. It’s the sort of weather that would usually make me pull the duvet over my head and hide, reach for more mince pies and just alternate mugs of coffee, tea, hot chocolate and hot water until it is time for a hot bath a hot water bottle and bed. In short, it’s a West Yorkshire December Sunday.

A run today certainly would have been, erm, let’s say bracing and actually if fitter I might have quite enjoyed a relatively speedy sheep loop followed by a shower and lounging in front of the fire. But I am not fit and speedy isn’t an option at the moment. But just staying in wasn’t an option either because Kath and I are doing the Lakeland Lapland Festive Virtual Ultra. It started on 7pm on the 10th and runs to the 22nd December and in that time we need to cover a total of 234km between us as Team Double Dopey. It works out at 9.75km each every day for 12 days (with the cushion of a 13th day if we need it because of the activity upload window they allow). My plan was always to walk mostly as I really wasn’t sure how I would be doing at this point. The plan was also for Kath to cover most of the distance and me to contribute as much as I can. And that is pretty much how it is working out.

The challenge has been good for getting us out of the house more than we would have otherwise. We started with a walk round the neighbourhood on the 10th, then we had a run each and a joint walk on the 11th and yesterday we both ran and today we walked together. I spent most of yesterday being disappointed with my run and most of today being quite proud of it. I changed the running intervals from 15 seconds to 30 seconds and thought I would run our sheep loop with an added loop we call the farm loop. It goes along the canal but instead of out and back along the canal it loops round some back streets and through a farm yard.

I managed the intervals quite well. I slowed to slower than slow snail’s pace through the muddy bits down the hills and my feet were getting sore because I tense them too much but it was all fine. I stopped at a canal bridge to chat to one of our friends and while there saw Kath coming back from the farm loop. She stopped too, briefly and then I set off again and she came with me to keep me company on the rest of my run. I’d got cold so getting going again took a bit of effort. I didn’t make the farm loop but did a shorter out and back and kept the intervals going until just after 5km. Then I walked the remaining 2km home to make sure I didn’t injure anything that was niggling. I am happy with that – though I wasn’t yesterday – it’s a good run/walk effort and I keep forgetting just how poorly I was and how much better I am doing. Patience…

We finished yesterday on exactly 50km. Today My legs felt tired but mostly my feet were both quite sore. My right calf muscle also felt tight. That and one look at the weather meant I decided I wasn’t going to run today but would get wrapped up for a walk instead. Kath agreed. So we set off in the grey drizzle that, over the course of our nearly 11km, just got worse and worse. We both grumbled a bit about being cold and my feet were a bit tender in sections but it was also really nice to be outside. Towards the end we started talking about having hot chocolate to warm us up when we got in and somehow just that in itself was lovely. The anticipation of hot chocolate and dry socks is something powerful indeed. The last km or so was quite tough. I was tired. Part of me was grumpy about that. I have no business being tired after a 10km walk that wasn’t even marching or striding out but I am trying to be kind. I am still recovering and slowly slowly building fitness. The last bit was also into a headwind that was driving the now quite heavy rain straight into our faces so it wasn’t much fun. But then we were home and quite soon we were warming up from the inside with hot chocolate (80Noir Ultra of course) and our feet were dry and cozy and the daily distance for the Lakeland Lapland ultra were in the bag. And that feels like a good day.

Bushfire Relief Run

Sometimes you just need a reason. Kath signed us up to the Relief Run – the bushfire fundraiser with all the money going to the Australian Red Cross. She signed us up to do the half marathon distance as a team so running together we needed to cover 6.55 miles. That’s a pretty long way on my current (total lack of) form.

It was really frosty this morning and there was no way I was heading out on the slippery roads and towpath. Just no. I may be a wimp but I am a wimp with all limbs intact! So we postponed our run til later and went for a walk at Harlow Carr Gardens instead to have a look at the Japanese Art exhibition. We decided we would run when we got back. When we got back we both felt hungry and a little flakey so we decided we would run once we had eaten and let our lunch settle… our day had all the hallmarks of never quite making it out the door. I felt really tired and like a nap might help…

Eventually we got our act together, decided that this was important, it meant something, it was an actual reason to run that was beyond the ‘it’ll be good for us’ stuff. So we wrapped up warm and headed out. Intervals were set for 30secs/30secs to keep me vaguely honest. I was ok-ish for mile 1, ready to pack it in throughout mile 2. Having a reason and not wanting to let Team Dopey down kept me going to about 2.5 miles when I settled a little more and it all seemed ok until about 4.2 miles. Then we walked a little extra to let my tummy settle – it was just having a funny minute or two.

We walked up what was the golf course and then didn’t run much more really. I made myself run down the trail from the wood just to practice the terrain and then we run/walked until we met chocolate labrador puppy Buddy and his humans. Kath had met him before and told me all about him. After a puppy cuddle we carried on but mostly walking as my feet were a bit achey and then on the last downhill bit my left calf tightened loads. We walked from there and it turned out we had actually calculated distance pretty much spot on and didn’t have to walk/run laps round our estate!

I found this run hard. I didn’t want to be out there. I went out because there was a reason to, a good reason, a reason that matters more than me. I am glad I went. I had a recovery drink after and have been curled up in front of the log fire but somehow the run has left me emotional and tired and I’ve also not been warm since we got back – although I wasn’t cold on the run. I’m having a bath next which will hopefully warm me up. Well, it’s 6.55 miles. I got there. It wasn’t pretty but I got off the sofa and did something.

Dopey 2019 Day 2: 10K

Oh my goodness this morning’s run was just beyond brilliant. It was just perfect but I am getting ahead of myself. After 5k day we were tired and I turned my light out and fell straight asleep at about 8.30pm. I slept well until 1am ish. Then I dozed and eventually got up and made coffee at about 2.20. I felt a bit crappy. I felt like maybe I had a cold starting and my tummy was a bit off. I also felt incredibly nervous. I don’t know why but the idea of 10k day was really freaking me out. I was terrified and my body was physically reacting to that.

I suppose the anxiety is partly why we get everything sorted the evening before, I didn’t have to think, all my things were laid out for me so I just went through the motions and got dressed, had my banana, went to the loo about fifty million times, put my trainers on, pinned my race bib on, went to the loo again and then set off for the bus from our hotel to the start line. Again we were on one of the first buses leaving at half past three. Being on the bus didn’t much settle nerves.

We were better prepared for the cold this time and had bin liners to keep the wind off and space blankets we got yesterday after the run to wrap round us too – the reflection seems to have created a rather spooky selfie effect!. Once in the start area we found somewhere to sit and then took turns going to the loo again. We wrapped up and huddled up and stayed much warmer than yesterday. It probably helped that it was a good few degrees warmer anyway. Once the corrals opened we walked to ours -D this time- and found a spot to sit. It was lovely and warm out of the breeze and being sheltered by 100s of legs belonging to other participants around us. The hosts did their thing on stage, we got a rather screechy version of the National Anthem and then we soon started moving.

Somewhere I had found calm. I’m not quite sure when. Before moving to the corrals I had had the urge to lock myself in a toilet and not come out again. My tummy was still all fluttery and I felt a bit panicked by the idea of putting one foot in front of the other. By the time we started moving slowly towards the start line I was calm and just focused on getting it done, not looking forward to it exactly but wanting to get it done. I ditched the bin bag and then the space blanket and then we were off.

As I started running something happened. I’m not sure what exactly but with every one of those first few steps my mood lifted, I felt better, stronger, more settled and calmer than I had all morning. It took me a while to be conscious of how I felt but when it clicked it hit me: I belong here, I can do this and I’m happy. I started smiling.

The 10k route is really all about pretty standard and potentially dull road running for the first half. You leave the Epcot parking lot and loop around the road. Mary Poppins was providing encouraging snippets from high up on a bridge – it’s nice to be told you’re practically perfect in every way as you run along so I blew her a kiss. We saw Chip and Dale, the evil queen from Snow White in witch form, and Wreck it Ralph. We didn’t stop but seeing them as we went past broke up the road stretch. Before I could really register that I’d been running a while we got to the mile 3 marker. I asked Kath if that could be right. I still felt incredibly strong and this was all feeling a bit easy.

Shortly after we entered an Epcot backlot to the end of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious and the the park itself just at the side of ‘Mexico’. As we approached something really odd happened. Kath told me to slow down. She was reigning me in. I’d got excited and had sped up. We still have a half and a full marathon to go so we needed to take this one easy. I hadn’t even planned on running it all, I’d planned on some walk intervals. Running felt amazing though, I didn’t want to walk. The World Showcase was again spectacular. The light was a little different today because we were that little bit later. I really tried to soak it all up. We turned left after ‘France’ again to leave Epcot but this time kept going and did a loop around the Boardwalk area which is an area we have not really explored at all but it looks really pretty all lit up. The best cheering definitely came from ‘Canada’ although ‘Norway’ had a lovely encouraging rhythmic clap and chant going.

We came back into Epcot through the same backlot as yesterday and into ‘the UK’ and from there we made our way into Future World, alongside the ‘golf ball’ and out into the car park and to the finish line. I’d got faster and Kath kept telling me to not push but that if I wasn’t pushing and if I was still running easy I was fine to go on. I wasn’t pushing, I was just running. I have never felt this strong or happy at the end of a 10k. I usually have a moment somewhere where it gets hard or I wonder about a walk break or whether to just slow down and those are the good runs! I didn’t think about running at all really. I didn’t look at my watch so I had no idea about pace. I knew I felt good and I knew I wasn’t pushing. I was just running, happily running. It came as a bit of a surprise that this is possible for me. I always enjoy having run and I occasionally enjoy running a short distance or little bits of longer distances. Today I genuinely enjoyed every step of the 6.3 miles I actually covered. When we were done I didn’t quite know what to do with myself. I hadn’t expected this.

I really like the medal, the red is really vibrant. We picked up our water, space blanket, banana, snack box and headed for the bus stop where we got on a bus immediately. On he journey back to the hotel I tried to let it all sink in but my brain couldn’t quite grasp what just happened. I was really happy and a bit confused all in one. Back at the room we had a Tailwind Rebuild recovery drink, got changed and then headed into the Magic Kingdom for our breakfast date with Winnie the Pooh and friends. After breakfast we had a little walk in the park and then we came back to the hotel and had a nap. I’m coming up on 25000 steps including the 10k and we’re heading back into the park for dinner in a little while. Again that’s still a pretty low step count for Disney and I feel ok so I think we’re getting our half marathon prep right. I’m excited about tomorrow. A little anxious because I know this is going to be a lot harder but mostly excited.

2 down, 2 to go; or in distance a fifth of the way there!

Dopey Logistics

In the busy-ness of the end of term and pre-Christmas and then the excitement of becoming a Run1000Miles Ambassador and then finding out that both Kath and I can run the London Marathon for Mind, the excitement of finding out the Dopey bib numbers and all that goes with that sort of got lost.

5km Course Map

The Dopey information was released last week. It seems people fixate on this. People spend a disproportionate amount of time worrying about which starting corral they will be in. I remember being very worried about this too when we did Dopey 2016. I was less concerned this time and actually would have been ok starting at the back. I’m more confident that I can do the marathon in the allowed time and I’m no longer concerned about coming last. The proof of time rules were not entirely clear – for anticipated finish times of 5 1/2 hours or less you had to submit a proof of time and it seemed that if your proof of time didn’t match that sort of time you’d be placed at the back.

Marathon Course Map

That’s a longwinded way of saying I was expecting to be at the back because our proof of time was just a few minutes outside what they asked for. I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. I was then pleasantly surprised to find out that we were in corral F with G and H still behind us. Corrals are massive with mini waves in each so there are likely still be thousands of people behind us and we’ll have a good time buffer. I’m hope I don’t need it, if things go to plan I won’t need it but it’s still nice to know it’s there.

I enjoyed scrolling through the information for the race days and looking at the course maps. I’m getting more excited about it and the expected emotions of anxiety, being scared, self-doubt aren’t… really there. Every now and again they pop up to say hi but they don’t linger – my favourite sort of Christmas guests. And here’s a reminder of my favourite dwarf expressing one of my favourite sentiments.

Hawkshead 10km (which is actually about 12km)

Today has been a good day! Our alarm went off just before 6am. We had a cup of tea in bed and then slowly got up, had porridge and eventually set off about 7.20am. We drove up to the Lakes and made really good time – by 9am we were parked up in Hawkshead in quite a wet field and were making our way to the Lakeland Trails event registration via the loos – trying to be well hydrated has its downsides.

We got our race numbers and timing chips and went back to the car for a bit but eventually got bored and a bit twitchy so wandered round the village and then went to the loo again, looked at the trade stands that were there and resisted buying more shoes and then went to the loo again. The Hawkshead event doubled as a meet up for the #Run1000Miles group so we were partly playing ‘spot the #Run1000Miles ruff’. We spotted a few and had a chat with a couple of people just before the start. And then, just like that, we were off.

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I was planning run/walk/run overall but not until after the early congestion was over and so it worked. I settled in towards the back as we made our way out of the field, round the field on the road and then onto a muddy track and into fields. Muddy fields.. Mud was a thing. Mud pushes my buttons. Not today though, today I just splashed through most of it. There were slippery sections were it was sort of muddy grass and my trainers didn’t really grip at all but it was all ok. Kath had told me to just keep going, to not stop and just keep moving so that’s what I did. Until a while into mile 2 anyway, there was a bottleneck at a style. It meant an enforced rest break when I really didn’t want or

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Where the Herdy lamb can’t be seen

need one. But no matter. It took nearly 15 minutes for me to be over that and on my way. I took some pictures and chatted with a few more back of the pack people. Mostly though I watched a jet black Herdwick lamb with white tipped ears which made it look really distinctive and easy to spot (just not on the pictures!). It charged around a bit and then collapsed for a rest before bouncing off again.

My run/walk schedule was out of the window simply because I kept running little bits and then negotiating the mud more slowly and the running a bit more. But the miles kept ticking themselves off. Before I knew it we were 3 miles in and made our way along the edge of Lake Windermere. It was gorgeous and running along here was easy. I jogged along looking around grinning like an idiot.

Then we got to it: The drinks station at the bottom of the Coffin Trail climb. I made a rookie mistake – I stupidly gulped a cup of water and set off walking up the hill. My little sips of tailwind along  the way had been great, the water gulp just induced a stitch. Thankfully it didn’t last long and I kept putting one foot in front of the other. The cobbles up this climb were slippery so it seemed slow going and the first third is definitely relentless. Then it gets easier. Essentially though it is a mile long climb that is pretty steep in places. I took the opportunity as it levelled a little to text Kath to tell her that I was absolutely loving it and not to worry – the terrain up to now was exactly the sort of terrain that I really struggle with so I was concerned that she’d be worrying about me. There was no need – up until this point I had loved every muddy, messy, slow, down, up and even slippery step.

However, a time check told me that there was no way I was going to get back down within the 2 hour cut off time (If we take the time off for the style hold up I actually took just under 2 hours – in case anyone cares about my time more than I do) and more importantly get there to meet the other #Run1000Miles people for a group photo or to wave them off on their 17km adventure. For a minute or so I felt a bit dejected and disappointed. Only for a minute though – I looked around. It is hard, if not impossible, to be grumpy out and about in the Lakes! So with the Coffin Trail climbed all I needed to do was get back down. Yeah, down. Down on wet trails, on muddy paths and slippery slate. The sort of down that terrifies me.

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My totally disinterested Cheer Squad

I never stopped. I ran when I could which was more than I ever thought I would have run if you’d described it to me beforehand. It still wasn’t a lot but it was actual downhill running. I got down, I turned left along the road and right onto a wet but not muddy path. I ran more than I walked here and then as I came up to the road which would take me back to the finish line field I saw Kath. Yay! She ran the last stretch of road with me. As I turned right to make my way into the field, the frontrunners of the challenge 17km run were coming straight at me – a wall of runners all going rather fast. Scary! I dived into the field and jogged round the edge with a guy called John who I had been changing places with all the way along the course. He’s been running Lakeland Trail events since they started and I don’t think I ever saw him stop to walk other than on the Coffin Trail.

It was lovely to cross the finish, collect my t-shirt and go have a hug. We realised we’d have a bit of time before the 1000 Milers would be back so we went back to the car, I changed my top and my socks and shoes – yep I’m a sucker for dry feet! Then we went back for some food and were just in time to say hi to a fellow ruff wearer as she set off on her 17km race. Then we had a little wander round Hawkshead again, popped into the Peter Rabbit and National Trust shops and then made our way back just as the first runners were returning. Soon we saw some familiar Facebook faces come in and were glad that we’d decided to stick around and cheer people in. It also meant that we could be part of the after the race group picture.

After a few minutes chatting once most people were back we set off to go home. We had to wait a while to be able to got out of the car park because several cars had got themselves stuck in the mud. One had been pulled out but there was a van just being winched out – it took several attempts. Thank goodness for our Nellie’s 4 wheel drive! Once home we warmed up the shepherd’s pie we prepared yesterday, had a yummy dinner and a nice hot epsom salt bath and have now settled down in front of the telly.

 

Like I said, it’s been a great day. Thanks to the Lakeland Trails team and thanks to Claire Maxted of Wild Ginger Films for organising the meet up and to everyone for making it a great day out.

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