Hawkshead Prep

Tomorrow is the next ‘race’ on our calendar. It would be nice to finish this one! We are having our second attempt at a Lakeland Trails event. The first one back in October didn’t really quite go to plan. So I have scaled down ambition and expectation for this one at Hawkshead and been rather more realistic – I’m doing the 10km rather than the longer 17km distance. I’m looking forward to it. I had a bit of a wobble the other day when I decided I was just going to pull out rather than make a fool of myself and as I was coming home on the train today I had a few minutes of being absolutely terrified and really not wanting to do it. But now I’m a nice mix of excited, looking forward to it and a little bit scared.

Don’t ask me what I’m scared of, no idea! I know I can do the distance. I can run the distance straight off on the flat and I’m planning on run/walk/run anyway. I’ve  had a number of runs up at the distance, over the distance or close to the distance throughout the end of March and April. The distance is fine. The hills, well the hills are always to be reckoned with – it’s the Lakes. But hills are ok too. I have hills here. I walk. Quite simple really.

Lakeland Trails Hawkshead Course Profile (from the Lakeland Trails website)

The coffin trail might ask a question or two  – near vertical and about a mile long apparently – but I’m not enough of an idiot to try and run it. I’ll be walking, looking around, taking it in and maybe, just maybe, stopping to take a picture or two (and some deep breaths)! Time, well no actually I am not scared about how slow I’ll be and how long it might take. I’ll genuinely happily come last. I’m not concerned because I know people won’t actually be waiting for me to finish so they can pack up because there’s the longer distance still to come. We set off at 11am, the first batch of longer distance runners go at 1pm. I’ll get back to wave off the #Run1000Miles people doing 17k who are coming for our meet up. So the scared bit – it’s minor and it’s a healthy scared; an appreciation that it’s running, it’s trail running, it’s trail running in the Lakes – things can go wrong.

Anyway, we’re sorted. We’ve packed a change of clothes, baby wipes and deodorant so IMG_8830meeting the others won’t be too unpleasant for them. I’ve got my kit sorted with an alternative packed in case the weather hasn’t seen the forecast, I have a choice of 3 pairs of trainers and I can’t decide – it’ll come to me tomorrow. We have some nibbles and plenty of water for the drive up and back. My watch is charged, my phone is charging and I remembered to hunt down the safety pins for our race numbers. Sorted!

I haven’t blogged for a while so there’s lots to catch up on. I have been running quite consistently and I have also been writing – lots. I’ve finished my book (with my wonderful colleague Sanna) and once my brain has recovered from that last effort of pulling it all together I will be really excited about it but to be honest, I haven’t felt much like writing anything else.  So, more to remind myself really but to give you a taste of what posts are to come over the next few days, I need to finish writing these:

  1. Review of Alpkit trail tights and other stuff
  2. Review of Tailwind – so far the only drink/gel/bloc thing that doesn’t give me tummy cramps or make me feel sick. I’ll be using it tomorrow – don’t really need it for 10k but useful practice for the half marathon coming up
  3. Update on planned races
  4. Run down of April running and mileage update
  5. And of course, I’ll tell you all about how it goes tomorrow!

Heron, Kingfisher, cows and adventures

After a totally inactive week I was actually looking forward to a run. I did run on Tuesday and Thursday this week with Thursday being a bit of a crap run with lots of walking. Still, technically I am on plan but having spent most of the week sitting on my arse on the sofa had made me stiff and achey. The plan has us running an hour today and an hour tomorrow. We decided we wanted to run together so I suggested doing the sheep/trail/canal route but backwards. I am keenly aware that I avoid going up hill as much as I can and that I need to keep trying. So the planned route was to run down to the canal, along the canal towards Silsden and then cross the canal at the farm/few houses about 2.5 miles in. Then the route goes across three fields, into the wood, up a steepish trail through the wood, through a field and through the old Riddlesden golf course and back home following the last part of our ‘sheep loop backwards’ route. The route would have me running a fair amount of flat to just practice keeping going, some uneven paths – also good for just keeping going, then a steepish walk uphill and then some downhill running through the field/golf course and then back up. It’s probably about 5 miles ish so would take me a little over an hour but it’s a nice circular route.

It all went to plan for a while. I ran the first two miles quite speedily for me at just a smidge over 12 minute mile pace (12.03 and 12.09) and the 3rd which had the uneven bits and a few brief stops while Kath opened gates at 13 minute mile pace. We saw a heron along the canal and a little further on we saw a kingfisher – such amazing creatures. I was really happy with the first 5km – might not look it, but I was!


The walk up the hill was also fairly positive and Kath took the two woodland pics below as we reached the top. Then we climbed over the stile in the wall into the field and I was quite looking forward to a little jog down and then hitting the golf course and turning for home. But there were cows. Frisky looking cows and they had little ones. We didn’t fancy making our way through a field with cows and calves so we climbed back over the wall and looked for an alternative route. We found a sort of path running parallel with the field wall. It was steep in places and clearly not much used. I am such a downhill wimp! We walked almost all of this and there were a lot of sections where I picked my way down very slowly holding on to trees for support but I also began to realise that my shoes were gripping and I was ok. I got a little more confident as we went on. Towards the bottom we even had a little jog when we spotted a gate into a field that ran down to the canal bank and a bridge across the canal. However when we got to the bridge, the gate blocking the path off the bridge was locked and not climbable because it was reinforced with barbed wire. We found another gate and entered another bit of wood and found another gate which turned out to lead to the field we often see a heron in from the other side of the canal. The field is actually much bigger than I realised and we jogged straight across to investigate getting over the wall at the other side which would take us into a little wood/nature reserve from where we could pick up the path home.

I was struggling a little here. My hip was beginning to niggle a little as we walked up the hill along the wall and I felt a bit apprehensive about climbing the wall, what would be on the other side, whether cows could come down the open gate into the field we were in and whether we were going to be shouted at by landowners. Kath found a spot where the wall was relatively easily climbable and once on the other side we made our way through the wood. It took a little bit of scrambling through the undergrowth until we eventually found the path. Then we had a little jog out of the wood, walked up the golf course, and jogged to the sheep field and fed Dino before jogging home. Our Garmin’s have a bit of a disagreement. According to mine I did 6.2 miles with a moving time of just over an hour and a half  and according to Kath’s we did 6.55 miles with a moving time of 1 hour 49. Doesn’t really matter. We were out for just over 2 hours and my feet and ankles got a work out on the uneven ground and I am pleased with how much grip my Mizuno trainers have. I wasn’t so sure about them as we were making our way along the canal but was so glad I’d worn them as I “bambied” my way down the trails and through the woods.

Anyway, I have bramble scratches down my legs so I must be a proper trail runner now.


Moomin Butt Moving again

Right, let’s try this running lark again. I finally feel better so wanted to see if I’m better enough to start the 10k programme. It seems I am. The first run is a 40 minute slow run so we set the watch to 2minute run/1 minute walk intervals and trotted off. We stopped to feed the sheep and once that was done carried on – so it’s a bit of a cheat because I did get a little rest just before mile 1 – if sliding around in the mud covered in hay counts as a rest that is.

Anyway, it was uneventful. It was slow (just under 14 minute per mile pace I think) but I just plodded along happily until the end. 40 minutes didn’t fit with the intervals so we went for 42 minutes. We covered just about 3 miles I think. That’s it really, that’s all there is. No drama, not battle, just a slow uneventful little trot.

I wore my new trail shoes for the first time- they’re New Balance ones. I bought them in the sale together with another road pair (I am dreading having to retire my current road ones – they came through two marathons with me, how can I possibly retire them?!?). I’ll review the new trail ones properly in a bit but so far so good – much better than my others. After the last run I decided I really didn’t want to persevere with the Salomon trail ones because they really do make my feet ache. They’re great for walking in but whenever I run in them my arches start aching really quickly.

Happy to have made a start on the plan, tomorrow is rest or a core gym session. I definitely won’t have time for the gym but am hoping to do a strength yoga class from the Yoga Studio tomorrow evening. Next run Wednesday!


DNF. Did not finish. Did Not fucking finish. Yes that’s right. The last race I attempted I didn’t finish. I got to mile 5 of the Disneyland Avengers Half Marathon. I didn’t get my coast to coast medal, I didn’t complete the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge. DN Fucking F. It was a big deal at the time. I was gutted. That was the race that was going to bring all the running efforts and achievements of the year together. It all started going very wrong at about 3 miles. I felt a bit dizzy and sluggish. By 4 miles I needed to walk because my vision was blurred. By 4.5 miles it was clear I was going to have to stop. I felt dizzy, sick and couldn’t really see. There was a water station at mile 5 with a medic there. Kath took me to see her, she got me to sit down at the side of the road, got a wheelchair and with the help of a police officer who just stopped the traffic got me across the road and to the medic’s car. Then we got a little ride round Anaheim backstreets and back to the medical tent at the finish line. I’ll never get to the finish line of a half marathon that quickly ever again. I quickly started to feel better and all medical checks were fine. The doctor suggested that maybe I needed to fuel with more than just water for longer distance. I’m not sure about that – fuelling and hydration felt good. Anyway it is what it is and we had a lovely day in the Disney Parks and somehow it doesn’t matter anymore.

The running wasn’t all bad during our holiday. We had a lovely little jog along the boardwalk along Moonstone Beach. We walked miles in San Francisco including across the Golden Gate Bridge and the 10k race of the infinity gauntlets challenge was loads of fun – genuinely just fun.


I haven’t run a single step since we got back. Not a single step. But I will, eventually I will.


There once was a hill…

…that Jess couldn’t run. More of that later. As you know running has been a bit crappy. I’ve struggled. It’s been hard and I have been mostly miserable about it. So when the alarm went off this morning I was less than impressed. Kath got me a cup of tea and then I very reluctantly went and made some porridge. Eventually I agreed to do a bit go yoga and then we set off and drove to Bolton Abbey for our run. I was worried. Last time I went out I could barely run a quarter of a mile without wanting to curl up and cry.

But today was different. Today running felt like poetry, a bit like slightly clumsy, schoolgirl sort of poetry but poetry nonetheless. Everything fit together as my breathing settled almost immidiately and my legs just moved me gently and steadily forwards. It was hard, really hard but it didn’t matter. I never wanted to stop, I never felt like I needed to stop even when my legs felt like jelly and my lungs were burning. We were running 2 minute/ 1 minute intervals. My Dopey Challenge intervals, my safe intervals.

We set off from the Cavendish Pavilion and wound our way up the first slope and then
down trying to keep pace with a couple of ducks paddling img_1912their way up the wharfe. For company we had a little wren, coal tits, blue tits, great tits and lots we could hear but not see. Somewhere in the background was a cow mooing away. I was still trying to take in the autumn colours, the greens turning into reds and yellows when we were at the Strid. I managed to run right up to the rocky sort of steps before walking – I don’t manage that hill very often but I felt strong, I was aware of the tightness in my thighs as I pushed up the slope. My legs wanted to stop but I didn’t. We made our way back down to the edge of the Wharfe and instead of crossing at the aqueduct we carried on to Barden bridge.

I loved running along at the edge of the river watching a dipper or two and a few ducks going about their business. We crossed the bridge and dropped down onto the river bank on the other side making our way back towards the Strid. I still felt good, I was enjoying every second. I don’t think the running was easier than it has been, I just think I was enjoying being out so it didn’t matter and because it didn’t matter I wasn’t worrying about running, I wasn’t thinking about running. I was just doing it. As we passed the aqueduct I began to feel a sense of foreboding. This next section is hilly, it’s constantly up and down. If I was going to unravel it would be here. And then there is THE HILL. I lost confidence for a second and was suddenly aware of my breathing and my feet falling heavily on the ground.

Then we turned a corner and an absolutely stunning view of the Wharfe spread out in front of me and I forgot that I was concerned about whether I would make it. We took the hills as they fell in our 2 minute runs. I felt good. Up and down and up and down and round the corners surrounded by little birds in the autumnal trees and then we turned to our left and there it was. THE HILL. I have never run up it. On several training runs it has had me in tears. On one Dopey training run I barely made it up the hill walking. Our 2 minute run started just before THE HILL begins with a few metres of gentle slope. I set off. I fixed my gaze on the first tree by the path on my right. That’s the furthest I have ever managed to run. I got there. Shortly after that Kath said ‘How about we walk from here?’ but I barely heard her. My eyes were fixed on the next tree. I might make that. And as I passed that tree I suddenly realised that I was going to run it all. The path levels off for just a few steps before rising for the last push. I took a deep breath, ignored my screaming lungs and jelly legs and pushed. I got to the top, I ran up THE HILL. And I didn’t just stop, I kept going until the 2 minutes were up. As the next running interval started my legs still felt a bit wobbly so I staggered my way down hill but I felt amazing. I ran up my bastard nemesis hill.

img_1914We carried on and instead of cutting across the bridge back to the cafe we carried on towards the priory ruins. The first stretch is along the river and for a brilliant 15 seconds or so we were caught up in a group of goldfinches playing. As we left them behind (or maybe they left us) we headed back up hill. My legs were tired and with every hill I could feel my muscles protesting but we kept going. There are more ups than downs on this section and I didn’t make it to the top of the last big pull. I got more than half way though and after a short little walk I ran to the top. Then we enjoyed the spectacular views across the ruins as we made our way down to the stepping stones and bridge, looped round the back of the church and then headed back down towards the car park across a field. As we left the field and started our slow jog along the car park a heron flew in and landed on a big stone in the river. I waved at him, acknowledging his presence. A heron – a sign of a good run!

So the loop was just under 6.5miles. We ran it in about 1 hour 37 minutes –  so if we want to talk times, this is quite slow, even for me. I have done the same distance with some hills quite a bit faster but the thing is, I don’t care. I had such a lovely time out there today and that’s what running is about. This is why I drag my butt out even when I don’t want to, it’s why I didn’t stop on the canal the other day, it’s why I am getting better at running through tantrums because every now and again I am lucky enough to have a run like the one I had today.