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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Running 500 miles

I have run 500 miles in 2017 (Go on, who is singing the song in your head? All together now: I would walk 500 miles…). I left it to the last minute but 500 miles it is. I am really pleased with that and a little bit proud. 500 miles is a long way. Some of those miles were bloody horrible. They really were but sitting here reflecting on a year of running I don’t really seem to remember those.

Here are the memories that I do cherish from one hell of rollercoaster ride:

The places I’ve run

 

I have loved seeing the seasons change on the loops I run from home, how things look different at different times of the year or even just different times of the day in different light and depending on which way round I’m running the loop. I’ve enjoyed running away from home in places as varied as Seahouses, The Lake District,  Mexico City and Disney World. I’ve loved how running makes you see even familiar places in a slightly different way and how it lets you explore unfamiliar ones. Some of these runs were hard, really hard and included meltdowns but I wouldn’t change a thing. They are now part of my story and part of an awesome running year.

Discovering I’m even more stubborn than I thought (hard to believe, I know)

On several occasions this year I have tried something new – a new trail, a distance I haven’t done for a while, a new surface (think beach), a ridiculous hill… and failed. I img_6555have abandoned several runs because I just couldn’t find the mental strength to push through and on each of those occasions I have gone back out, later that day or the next, and I have done it. I have run each and every one of those routes and every time I found something I didn’t know I had, gritted my teeth and kept putting one foot in front of the other. Towards the end of the year I have found some of that determination or stubbornness without having to give up and later go back out. I’m getting mentally tougher.

The creatures seen

I have been so lucky with wildlife sightings this year. It’s quite staggering to think that I have regularly seen kingfishers; that the flash blue and orange is now almost familiar – 21150784_807647049415445_1183992284_nawesome but familiar. Herons continue to be my good omen bird. They’re so majestic and calm and quiet and somehow they install a sense of quiet confidence in me whenever I see one. There have been regular sightings of smaller birds including dippers, wrens, sparrows, robins, all manner of tits, wagtails… and several sightings of woodpeckers and kestrels. I’ve seen deer, rabbits, a mink, hedgehogs, squirrels and a rat or two. The ducks, geese and swans along the canal have been my cheer squad and several times now we’ve seen red kites at Bolton Abbey (as well as at Bramham Park during Endure24). We also saw some very serious road runners and cyclists and decided they’re funny creatures.

The events

Events featured far less heavily in 2017 than in 2016 but I enjoyed Endure24 for theIMG_7784
camaraderie and our team  – the running was secondary. I didn’t really enjoy the Lakeland Trails Helvellyn event for the running but I enjoyed having completed it and it once again showed me that the impossible is possible. Kath and I learned a lot about each other that day and we’ve changed how we run as a result. It was worth it for that alone.

The people

 

 

I don’t like people generally. So to have a section of this post about the people is slightly odd. However, there are a few who have contributed significantly to me running at all and running 500 miles this year. First, there’s Kath of course. I remain slightly bemused (but very grateful) that she has so far resisted what must be a near overwhelming urge to push me in the canal (or the Wharfe or any other waterway). I wouldn’t be running if it wasn’t for her. Then there are those of my friends, not all runners, who humour me by listening to my running stories, who ‘like’ my posts, who are more supportive than I suspect they realise. I’m looking at you here Bex, Kat, Tammy, Donna, Jenny, Robin, Heather, Sammie, Jo (and others I will have forgotten – sorry). I’m sure having a gym buddy in Nick made me go to the gym and stretch (even if not much else) just enough to avoid serious injury and my online running club continues to provide advice and

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Combined total of 1413.44 miles in 2017

support specific to running as a fat lass at the back. What has surprised me though is how much difference the support of the other Facebook group I joined made. The Trail Running Magazine’s Run1000Miles group has been epic. I thought I’d feel like an outsider at best. I thought I’d be intimidated and daunted but the opposite is true. Seeing the inspiring posts, amazing photos, staggering achievements and the support, advice, encouragement and trail running love in the group made me see running and runners in a whole new way. Without that group I wouldn’t have run 500 miles. I am excited to share their adventures and share mine with them in 2018.

Happy New Year!

 

 

Getting over 270 miles this year

Well I did something slightly odd for me today – which is why I am writing a second post. I decided that I couldn’t leave my mileage total for the year on 268.97 overnight. That was far too close to 270 miles. I therefore decided to run again – just a short one. An out and back to go feed Dino. That would be just over a mile and a half there and back so would get me over the 270 miles. I also thought it would be a good opportunity to try the New Balance Minimus shoes I bought second hand a little while ago. I haven’t tried them yet because I didn’t want to wear them on a long run or on a route I wasn’t used to so somehow there hasn’t been an opportunity.

Anyway, I set off after work. I felt pretty good in spite of this morning’s run. I felt fairly comfortable going down the road and turned right up the hill and also still felt pretty good. I pushed up the hill happily and kept running. Just before I got to the field I had to stand in and let a car through so I just stopped the watch there and looked at it, and looked at it some more. I had just run .8 of a mile at about 10 minute mile pace  – I never run that pace. I think I’ve run that route once at 10.24 pace but that felt hard and I was pushing. This run felt almost effortless.

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I fed Dino and set off back. I knew the way back would be slower – more of this is uphill but I tried really hard to just run and not look at my watch. I struggled when I got to the final slope. Ilkley Road always always gets me. I got about half way up and then had to walk a few steps. I glanced at my watch and saw that I was under 12 minute mile pace. Again I was stunned. That never happens on this stretch. I started running again and pushed up the hill as fast as I could. This is the hardest I’ve ever run uphill. I managed the return in 11.40 pace – the return wasn’t effortless, it was bloody hard but it felt great to have done it. I also achieved the first ever Strava goal I’d set just for fun.

So the shoes must be magic shoes. There really isn’t another explanation, the shoes are magic. Maybe they’re laced with pixie dust or maybe their previous owner sent some of her speed with them (I must ask her if she’s suddenly got slower). More seriously though, I think this shows how much of a difference running consistently coupled with strength exercises and some hill and speed work can do. After finding this morning’s run so hard, it was really exciting to go out, run hard, manage it and enjoy it. While I won’t make 1000 miles this year, being part of the Trail Running Magazine Run 1000 Miles in 2017 challenge is making me get out and run more frequently and for longer –  my bid for 500 miles this year is on – I’m on 270.6 year to date.

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