Splish Splash I was having a….

Run. I was having a run. No that sounds wrong. I was running. Well sort of. I was out there putting one foot in front of the other at varying paces. It looked like it was going to be another of those days where it just doesn’t happen. I have a ton of marking to do – the kind that takes forever because it’s formative so needs even more detailed feedback, we went out for lunch and that took longer than we wanted it to and the weather – urgh.

Anyway, I had ordered some new trainers ridiculously reduced – some Inov8 Roclite 305 gore-tex ones for under 50 quid. I mean it would have been rude not to. So I set myself a target of 5 more essays and then I could/had to go run. I put long pants on – yep time for big girl pants, too cold for 3/4 now I reckon – a long-sleeved top, my rain jacket and then because light was fading fast, a bright neon yellow t-shirt over the top. I looked a right plonker but I wasn’t about to be cold! Then I put the new shoes on and set off.

I can’t really do a proper review because it was only a short plod and I walked the uneven, muddy, trail-y bit because I couldn’t really see where I was putting my feet and my ankles were quite stiff and I am terrified of injuring myself. But  – why the hell did nobody tell me about gore-tex trainers before? I had so much fun not avoiding puddles and splish sploshing around that I started searching  puddles out to jump into them – and I still have dry socks. I can do puddles and have dry feet. It’s magic! I never had gore-tex trainers before. Getting some somehow always felt like a step too far – they’re for proper runners. I don’t really go anywhere where I need them, or for long enough that wet feet really matter… so the complete crap would go in my head.  I tried some once and they felt really tight and inflexible compared to the non gore-tex version so I presumed they were all like that. I was wrong. Love these. Bring on the puddles!

Happy running and splish splash splashing about!

Grumpy Grouse and too many miles

So last weekend we were due to run the Bolton Abbey Half Marathon in the Run for Manorlands event. I was not as nervous about it as I thought I might be. I felt good after the kingfisher miles when I woke up and thought that actually it might be ok and I would worry about the remaining miles to get me to the 20 it said on the plan after the event. However, Kath was struggling. It was clear that doing an organised event with people, a fixed time and fixed route was not going to work or be good for either of us. We decided IMG_2851not to go and run round here instead. Soon it became clear that that wasn’t going to be healthy either. A long run was too much for our fragile brains. We did manage to get out in the afternoon for a short little run and walk and even got Kath home for the start of the rugby while I toddled along to the co-op. I saw a very pretty duck on the canal if I remember my days properly.IMG_2886

I then actually managed to run twice during the week! On Monday and Thursday I dragged my butt round roughly 4 miles. I don’t really remember anything much about Monday’s run – it was along the canal and it was in the morning I think and it was promising to be a beautiful day. On Thursday we went up. Kath went ahead and she picked me up on her way back down. I plodded my way up Ilkley Road towards Ilkley Moor and saw pheasants and inquisitive fluffy cows and a kestrel. Just as I was beginning to long for enough breath to be able to swear at the hill something caught my eye – red kites circling above me. I stopped to watch them for a while, got my breath back, marched up the hill and saw Kath. We stood together and watched the kites a while longer before making our way back down.

 

We moved the weekends around so this weekend then became our long run weekend. Yesterday the plan said 8.5 miles walk. We vaguely toyed with the idea of getting the train up to Haworth and running to Top Withens but as we went to bed on Friday we were talking about plans and agreed that Kath should just get out and run if awake early and ready to go. She did exactly that and was back not that long after I’d woken up. I had actually planned on going back to bed for a bit but Shackleton had other ideas and was curled up in the warm patch I’d left. So I sat on the sofa a while cuddling our Ernie-Cat and when Kath got back we had breakfast and then did sort of nondescript Saturday IMG_2950things for a while and then I set off on my run. I was planning on taking it really easy and do a 1 minute run/1 minute walk with more walking if needed. I wanted as much as possible in the tank for today.

I had a lovely run out. I stuck to the intervals all the way with the odd longer walk or longer run to let people pass or to get past them. At no point did I find it hard, at no point was there a mental battle, I was just out enjoying the autumn sun. I stopped the watch after 8.5 miles and then walked the remaining half a mile home. It felt good to have had a positive outing and to have completed a full week of the Dopey Plan.

IMG_2953Today was the big one. We were supposed to cover 20 miles. We’d already said we would probably not cover the entire distance because we wanted to go to Bolton Abbey and run there and go up to Simon’s Seat on Barden Moor. Anything over 16 ish felt ok in my head given the terrain we would cover. I felt up for it this morning, perhaps a little anxious but generally fine about going. We parked in the top carpark because there are still roadworks blocking the road down to the Cavendish Pavilion. We set off from there and made our way down to the stepping stones and crossed over the bridge. We stayed on the bottom path and ran/walked until we started going up, then we more walked/ran and eventually just walked. So the elevation profile gives you a sense of our adventure today:

Screenshot 2018-11-18 19.27.26

Basically it was a hike with a little, tiny little bit, of running thrown in. To be honest, the up was fine. It was hard and I am so totally not hill fit but it was fine, it was a challenge and one I knew I’d rise to – might just be a matter of time but if there is a hill I will get to the top of it eventually. I could have run some of the bits along the top – particularly for example the ridge line between Lord’s Seat and Simon’s Seat but the path is flagged and the flags were wet and I’m a wimp and also I was conscious that I had a very very long way to cover still. we reached Simon’s Seat. No really, it’s there.

 

We’d been running in a mixture of low cloud and mist and that easterly wind they talked about on the forecast – yep it was there. Still it was somehow lovely. There were no other people for a start. It wasn’t a menacing wind, just a wind and the mist and cloud felt like it was hiding us from the world beyond, keeping us safe from the hustle and bustle. There was a hint of magic in the air interrupted only by the chuntering of the grouse.

Anyway, the problem with going all that way up is that at some point you have to come IMG_2973back down. I’m not a fan of down. It took me longer to get down from Simon’s Seat (about a mile) than it takes me to run 5km on the flat. It pushed a whole load of buttons and took a huge amount of mental strength. The views were pretty good when I remembered to look and we had some giggles on the way down. More grouse – they must the grumpiest bird on earth. They sort of go from a slightly surprised but more irritated alarm call to a grumble to flying away chuntering like they are muttering grouse profanities under their breath. We did get really close to one which grumbled but refused to fly off – though I am now muddled as that must have been earlier between the two Seats.

Anyway the down. A few times Kath reminded me to just keep moving and that it is actually harder if you stop. She probably has a point. At one point though she called back saying ‘just keep your momentum through this bit’ as she glanced back she just saw me perfectly poised balancing on one leg saying ‘yep, too late’ as I ungracefully flung myself forward, slipped on the mud, wobbled, caught myself and whimpered. We dissolved into fits of giggles before moving on. Eventually, after what seemed like an eternity, we were down, on a proper lane. I set the run/walk intervals and waited for Kath to re-tie her shoelaces. I felt drained. It had been a physical challenge in the sense that  the up is pretty brutal when you’re actually not all that fit and that my ankles and core most definitely got a workout on the way down and it had been mentally pretty tiring. I really wasn’t sure I’d have another 10 miles or so in me. Kath read my mind (usually does) and suggested that we could split the run. So rather than turning towards Burnsall, we’d simply head back towards Bolton Abbey and then head home and go out again later in the day. That sounded like a more manageable plan and would still justify the medal the Run for Manorlands team had so kindly posted us.

IMG_2975We ran walked a lot of the way back. It was ok. In fact some of it was actually fun and I felt strong and positive and there weren’t any major battles going on in my head. I was tired and my back and hips were tightening but it was all ok and the scenery was stunning. We made it back to the Pavilion, Kath stopped at the loos and then we did the last push back to the car. We drove home and planned to go straight out again. As we got home Kath wondered whether maybe actually we’d done enough. We’d been out a long time and we had worked hard. I should have listened – that was the sensible call. At the very least we maybe should have had a longer rest. But no. In my head the 12.6 miles we’d done were nowhere near close enough 20. In my head I needed to go out and do more. So we set off. About half a mile in I decided that actually it was good to have made myself go out again. At a mile I knew it it wasn’t. I had nothing left. There were people, too many people and it felt like Kath was running really fast and I couldn’t make myself go any faster. Then there was some traffic noise and I physically flinched and then there were more people and I could see more ahead and I couldn’t run and I couldn’t stop the rising panic and I couldn’t find the words to explain to Kath and we got our wires crossed and I just wanted to be somewhere else, somewhere quiet, maybe with the grouse. We walked home. Another 1.85 miles added.

As we got in the house I started crying. I’m not even really sure why. 14.45 miles will have to do for today. It’s not 20 but there are no ups or downs like the ones I tackled today at Disney. I had a lovely time out there – I shouldn’t have gone out again, not straight away anyway, but we live and learn. I don’t feel broken now, tired yes, broken no. Every time I close my eyes I can hear the grouse chuntering and see that one suspiciously watching us as we made our way past. We saw herons and dippers today too and for the first time realised that the pretty birdsong we couldn’t place belongs to a dipper. It’s been a good day and the 1.85 mile meltdown doesn’t change that.

Sunday weigh in – I’m the same and Ernie cat has put on 400grams which is awesome news!

IMG_2963

Cliffe Castle and St Ives Estate

I live in a gorgeous part of the world. Yes, yes, I know, I live in Keighley which doesn’t immediately inspire visions of gorgeousness… but there is loads of amazing countryside on our doorstep and there are some lovely parks around too. I have lived here for quite some time now and the connection with this area is even longer and yet I had never been to Cliffe Castle Park apart from one brief run through it on the Keighley 10k and I have never been to the St Ives Estate in Bingley either – apart from once visiting a client at a care home there. That seems so totally implausible and it’s a bit embarrassing really. But maybe it’s also normal, we never spend enough time exploring what’s right on our doorstep do we.

IMG_2366So this weekend I ticked off those two place – now I can at least say that I’ve been and that I am more than just a little bit likely to go again. So let’s start at the beginning. Saturday’s Dopey Plan called for a 5.5 mile walk. We thought we’d jog down to our fairly new local parkrun at Cliffe Castle. I thought it would be just over a mile – it’s actually almost exactly 2 miles. We jogged the first mile or so, then walked the bit cutting through some backstreets where we weren’t too sure about direction. We arrived with about 10 minutes to spare and then my 3rd and Kath’s 4th parkrun were ago. Kath trotted round in a rather impressive 32 minutes something as I plodded my way round slowly. I felt fine and was actually enjoying myself but I didn’t feel strong. The course is nice. It starts off with a down hill on a wide path before turning left onto a gravel path which is quite narrow – no matter for me, I just let everyone go ahead of me on the downhill! It is mostly flat as you come off the gravel path onto a tarmac one and into the wood. Then the climb starts. You turn left and start going up. You just keep going up for quite a while.

Screenshot 2018-10-07 16.41.17

It’s a bit narrow and on the first lap I got stuck behind a group of people walking slower than I would normally while the parkrun frontrunners lapped us. While the climb is a bitch, once you’ve done that it’s easy – downhill mostly. On my second lap I tried to power walk the hill too fast and had to stop on the steepest bend to get my breath back, on the third lap I got it right – a fast positive walk at a pace I could sustain all the way and from which I could start running again immediately when I got to the top. As I ran past the house for the final time Kath saw me and came to join me so we ran the last bit together. Just up to the finish is a slope, I wasn’t sure I really wanted to run it but as we headed for it Kath told me I could do it and the music speakers blasted out Born in the USA. I ran. It was a slow 5k but it felt like I was finally getting back to normal. We walked back home and, though tired, I felt good.

Today we were to tackle about 15 miles. I was a little apprehensive but also really 43289087_419537471910638_2187069755976843264_nlooking forward to a new route and having a little adventure and it was a gorgeous morning. We set off along the canal towards Bingley, we ran down and then dropped into run/walk intervals of 2 minute runs and 30 second walks just before a little footpath that cuts through from Riddlesden to Morton – about half way along that there was a sheep on the path. We had several attempts at letting it come past us but it always changed it mind and kept going forward. It was clearly concerned about getting back to its field though so we hoped that it would go back as soon as as we had reached the end of the footpath where we could get past. It did. Along this stretch we also saw a sweet little black cat and for a brief moment we were running side by side with a sheep and a cat. Then the sheep went back and the cat changed its mind and left us to it.IMG_2373

I was tired by the time we got to Bingley. Kath saw a Kingfisher which briefly took my mind off things as I searched for it. As we came off the canal I started to really doubt that I could do the distance and suddenly felt really anxious. I think it was probably the traffic noice and busy-ness that seemed really noticeable after the quiet of the canal towpath. We walked through Bingley and headed into Myrtle Park and followed the path to Beckfoot Lane which is basically where the UP started. It was quite a lot of up after this. A lot of up. Once we got to the top of Beckfoot Lane we crossed over into St Ives Estate for a bit more up. Then we crossed the main drive up into the Estate, climbed a stile into a field and then another into a bigger field and made our way across. It would actually have been quite nice to run this bit – it’s flat. But the fields were full of cows. Gorgeous fluffy black and white cows (Belted Galloways), some were this year’s young I would imagine. It was a little nerve-racking walking through the fields but the cows weren’t interested enough to actually come and have a look, they just stared a bit. At the end of the 3rd large field there was a little metal gate into a wood and more up. The up was taking its toll now and I felt really quite tired, we passed 6 miles.

Screenshot 2018-10-07 16.39.32
The UP!

The route continued through the wooded areas of the Estate, past the Coppice Pond and

IMG_2379
Felt how I look

eventually (more up) past Lady Blantrye’s Rock and a monument . Then we continue on along the edge of the golf course until we eventually reached Altar Lane. After a brief stop to look at the view we jogged down until we reached the Druid’s Altar turn off, we thought we might as well have a look and the views before heading back down. After that we headed all the way down the lane until we dropped into Bingley again. The traffic noise hit me again and my neck and back pulled tight. I couldn’t shake the tightness and over the next half a mile it gave a horrendous headache. It was definitely the tightness rather then dehydration or anything. It eased every time we walked and I could roll my shoulders or get Kath to rub my upper back. I was really struggling now and at 10 miles could quite happily have just curled up and cried. We carried on the canal and walked a bit to try and settle. At the top of the 5 Rise Locks I managed a few more running intervals but with every step it felt like there was an explosion in my head. In the end we switched the running and walking intervals and I just ran for 30 seconds leaving the 2 minutes to try and relax my shoulders and get rid of enough tension so I could do the next run. We couldn’t just head straight home, we needed more distance so kept going to the next bridge and walked up through our local little wood. I now had nothing at all left. We stopped at one point and I wasn’t sure I could get home. I really thought that trying to do this distance had been a mistake and it was far too much so soon after that cold I’ve had.

I pulled myself together and managed another little jog and then another before walking the last quarter of a mile home to finish on 14.5 miles. It was slow, so slow and I was initially so disappointed. But now that I’ve been home a while, had a bath, a recovery drink and some food and now that the fire’s lit and I can smell our roast chicken cooking, I feel pretty good about it. I am not broken at all. I am tired, really tired but nothing hurts, no major chafing, and no major muscle soreness or stiffness (yet). I covered the distance this weekend and it feels really good to be back on plan. Recovery so far has been sitting on the sofa with a cuddly cat, writing this blog and watching rubbish TV to just unwind. Dinner won’t be long and then it’s time to curl up with a film and give in to the tired. Yeah I was disappointed but actually, it’s done, it was a lovely route and we had an adventure.

Oh yeah Sunday weigh-in – I jumped on the scales before the run and I’m another pound down.

It’s been a good day and I like this trail shoe selfie!

IMG_2376

Team Dopey at Endure24 – The Laps

It’s the day after Endure24 and other than a little bit tired and some ‘interesting’ chafing I feel pretty good. As promised in yesterday’s overview blog, here’s my story of my 6 laps. I didn’t do a picture round this year but the course was the same as last year so if you want to get a sense, have a look at my description of the course from then.

Lap 1

IMG_8631
Ready!

For some reason I had decided I wanted to go first. No idea why really. So I lined up on the start line and set off with the crowd. It soon thinned out and I settled in towards the back of the pack. It was incredibly hot. The start section is a grassy very slightly uphill pull before you turn right down a nice gentle slope before turning quite sharp left into the first wooded section, the first bit of which is again gently uphill. Then you reach the Black Fen Drop and go downhill before the next right turn. Did I mention it was hot. I turned right and then walked a little. I might have got caught up in the running at the start and gone off a little too fast although I felt good. I went on running the shady flat and downhill bits and walking anything that was uphill and/or in full sun. It was hot. Just before the drinks comes a section called sheep rush – more like sheep pile up in the shade on this lap. They were all packed in as tight as they could under the trees at the edge of their field. I didn’t stop for drinks this time round although I sipped my own as I walked through that section. I chatted to a few solo runners on this lap

IMG_8620
That Bloody Last Bit seen from the top

including Caroline who is also in the #Run1000Mile group, we walked Ripple Rise together and then somehow chatting with her and another lady that caught us up I managed to run up ‘That Bloody Last Bit’. So lap 1 was a success. I came in in 1 hour 5 minutes and 44 seconds and it felt like pretty easy running.

Lap 2

This was about 2pm. Kath had had a good run round but warned me to be really careful because it was so so hot. So my strategy was to run the downhill and flat (there isn’t much that is genuinely flat!) and also walk anything that was in full sun and just walk the rest. I was keen to just get a couple of gentle laps in and then have another good go at running one later when it cooled down a bit. I thought this might be a sociable lap just because I was walking lots but it wasn’t really. I was passed by lots of speedy people

IMG_F912E158C4C7-1
The Deep Dark Wood Sign

running for their teams – all very impressive. I was just hot. It seemed hotter out there than on my first lap. I had one lovely chat with a solo lady who was walking. We chatted about how solos often team up and pairs and teams are sometimes more ‘solo’ than solos. I stopped for some water at the drinks station. The Deep Dark Wood just before had been a welcome bit of shade but it hadn’t really cooled me. I plodded on mostly walking and came in in 1 hour 13 something. I was happy but hot and very glad of the cooling towel Kath had for me.

Lap 3

I went out for Lap 3 at about 5pm ish. Guess what, still hot. I felt pretty good but didn’t cropped-img_8636-e1530472381580.jpgwant to go silly so my plan was the same as for the lap before. I thought there would be a few more shady areas now so I might run a little more. The first part of the lap was non eventful and I just happily plodded along. Then someone recognised my Dopey t-shirt for a Dopey Challenge T-shirt and we had a quick exchange about how awesome it was as she flew past me. There were lots of comments about Dopey on this lap – most people not knowing it was a Dopey Challenge T-shirt. Many identified with the sentiment and I got lots of ‘Go on Dopey’ and ‘Well Done Dopey’ calls as I plodded round. Going up Temple Drag I saw a stunning Dragon fly. It was enormous – bigger than I’ve ever seen and shimmering as the light caught it. It made me smile and for a minute or two I forgot I was hot. I saw another one at Sheep Rush. I stopped for a drink and a chat with the marshals and then plodded on past the 5km mark to the next set of marshals at the bottom of the next hill. They were offering water sprays – who knew a simple spray of water in your face and on the back of your neck could be sooooo amazing. Thank you! Plodding up the hill I suddenly smelled camomile. It took me a minute to realise that I was running on the edge of the field and that the grass was edged with the low growing creeping sort of camomile – I must have been disturbing it and making it smell. It was lovely though. The rest of the lap was just hot although as I came to the end I vaguely wondered if maybe it was cooling off a bit. I was also suddenly aware of discomfort on my knicker line and inner thigh. Hm

Lap 4

Before lap 4 I had to investigate the discomfort. Well it turns out that my thighs had won the material v thighs battle once again and my running tights had a hole in them running

IMG_176A49036CDF-1
Not a picture of my chafing!

from the knicker line down my inner thigh. This isn’t news to me, that’s how all my pants eventually die. Unfortunately though this one went without warning and caused some nasty chafing along the knicker line and down my inner thigh – like red raw kind of chafing. I hate vaseline. The consistency/ feel/ texture/ everything freaks me out. It’s vile. But there was nothing for it, vaseline it was going to have to be.

Patched up and in a different pair of pants I set off. Partly I really wanted to get another lap in without having to use a head torch so this was my last chance to do that. I also wanted to capitalise on feeling pretty strong. Lap 4 was probably the most eventful of my laps. I set off and it was now definitely cooler (though still quite warm) and running felt a little easier. I still walked the sunny bits but there were now markedly fewer of them. I was going well and then we got into the Deep Dark Wood coming up to half way. There was a solo runner in front of me. I nearly went flying (hahaha) past and then realised that he was really struggling. I stopped and asked if he would like a bit of company, if that would help. It seemed to so I walked with him a little while – just short of a mile maybe, and we chatted about competing with ourselves, coming last and race bucket lists. I had a flicker of ‘oh well there goes a decent lap time then’ but it lasted less than a split second. Helping a fellow runner round was far more important. We chatted until we got to the drinks station and then he seemed to know a few people and was chatting away with them so I had my drink and headed on.

I was actually running strong and wondered whether I should try the next hill but it was still in full sun so I walked up smelling the camomile and watching a ewe on the wrong side of the fence getting more and more anxious because one of her lambs was on the other side. Marshalls were trying to herd her in the right directions round the fence but runners were coming through in a steady stream so she wasn’t for going that way. Eventually the inevitable happened and she launched herself through the fence, got stuck and sort of fell through it and stayed down lying on her side. I’d got to the top of the slope by now and the two ladies I’d been chatting to carried on as I went to see if I could help. The marshals didn’t know what to do and everyone seemed to think the ewe was badly hurt. I wasn’t so sure – I thought she was just being a sheep and giving up on life rather easily. I stroked her through the fence and checked her legs, no obvious pain, nothing felt broken. I couldn’t see any injuries. I think she was just stuck – or rather I think she thought she was stuck and was doing the usual sheep thing of ‘oh ok, well I’ll just die here then’. I walked round the fence line and over to her on her side of the fence.

6A9AB3C8-20CC-4432-B652-E4D8A7F564C7
20 Mile Face

She just looked at me. I stroked her while untangling her legs from the fence and then, helped by a gentle slope at the edge of the field, we rolled her over. As soon as she realised she could get up she jumped up and legged it over to her lambs (who had helpfully run off to be with the flock ‘bye mum, nice to have known you’ style). The marshals thanked me for stopping and apologised for ‘ruining’ my race. That made me laugh – it can’t have looked like I was racing anyone or anything! I reassured them  they hadn’t and got going again. Towards the end of this lap my legs were feeling a little tired but otherwise I felt good. I was looking forward to a recovery drink and a little rest. I came home in 1.22 and a bit in spite of the lovely walk and chat and the sheep rescue.

Laps 5 and 6

When Kath came back after lap 5 I had dozed off so I was a bit dazed and confused. I set off on lap 5 really looking forward to a good run. I felt good. I certainly didn’t feel like I’d already covered 20 miles. I power walked the grassy slope to get used to the head torch

IMG_8611
First slope seen from the bottom

and wake up properly and then I jogged down the first hill. I felt sick. Not running related sick, not tummy bug sick, nothing like that. I felt motion sick. I know that feeling well. I can get motion sick standing still. I nearly puked after doing the Star Wars simulator at Disney World with Kath even though I kept my eyes shut for all of it. But running? I realised that I got a wave of that deep nausea that can’t be shifted every time a runner approached from behind me and the light from their torch merged with mine. It was worse when they had a torch that flashed or moved a lot. It was completely disorientating me and I was unsteady on my feet. I walked. The nausea didn’t shift but at least I could walk in a straight line – sort of. I turned my torch off and for a couple of glorious minutes it was just me in the dark and the sick-y feeling eased, then more runners came past. Whenever I could I turned my torch off but there was a steady stream of other runners so it didn’t help that much. I tried to run but I kept nearly falling over and it made the nausea worse. I sipped my tailwind and kept walking. I was grumpy. I felt strong, nothing hurt, nothing was even achey and my legs, which had felt tired at the end of lap 4, felt fine. I tried to run again, stumbled and nearly fell into the path of another runner. ‘This is stupid’ I thought. I’m obviously not safe to run with the head torch light. I have run in the dark but when we do we tend to run in the dark. We take the head torches and will sometimes use them on tricky patches but generally we run without them as it is rarely so dark you can’t see.

So I kept marching round. I was upset and disappointed. This was going to be my flying lap. I wanted to try and get round in about the same time as my first lap. It should have been doable. I was in full blown battle mode in my head by the time I got to the drinks station. The guys there were singing Robbie Williams ‘Millennium’ and having a laugh and it was so cheerful and supportive that while I was there I forgot I was grumpy. I marched on a little more positively and as I crossed Festival Crossing the moon was in full view. It was stunning. I realised that I was missing all the wonders of being out at night. I tried to focus on them. I could hear the sheep nearby but couldn’t see them, I could hear owls screeching and the undergrowth at the path edges was full of hustle and bustle. I could feel the mist every time we descended into a dip but I couldn’t see it and the air had a stillness to it that you only get in the middle of the night. I walked a bit faster. I breathed more deeply, I was keeping the motion sickness under control. It was still there but more like the lingering car sickness that stays with you a couple of hours after a long journey. I marched up That Bloody Last Bit. Decision time. I wanted to stop. I was tired and felt a bit of an emotional wreck after that lap. I wanted to stop. But I also knew that if I stopped now that would be it. I wouldn’t go out again. I came for 6 laps. I wanted to stop. I knew I couldn’t run with the torch light. I knew I could wait for it to come light and then go but I also knew that I’d be unlikely to do that. If I stopped for any length of time I’d stiffen and if I fell asleep I’d struggle to wake up properly and if I slept too long it would be hot. I was also mindful of our long haul flight on Tuesday. I needed

IMG_8621
The start/finish section

to not be broken to get sorted for our trip and be ok on the flight and on arrival. I wanted to stop.

So as I came into the finishing straight I kept to the right hand side, as far away as possible from the exits to the change over areas. I wanted to stop and I knew if I was on the left where it was easy to just duck out I might not keep going. I knew I could walk another lap. I knew I had to make myself do it or I would be so disappointed. I still wanted to stop though. I wasn’t sure I’d make myself do it until I had walked all the way down along the grassy slope along the far right away from the tents and opportunities to duck out. I basically kept my hand on the guide rope as if begging it to hold onto me and not let me quit. I turned right down the slope ‘ Right then Dopey, you’re doing this’ I said to myself. One foot in front of the other. I kept moving. I was more focused on my surroundings now, looking around and listening. There’s a certain quality of quiet in the night. Granted, it was punctured by the huffing and puffing of runners storming past me, but it was there. I got my ears in and heared different noises – different owls I think screeching and I caught the noise and movement of one swooping but it was too far in the wood to actually see it. Once or twice I more felt than saw a bat close by and once or twice my head torch caught eyes in the wood and reflected them back at me. It was stunningly beautiful. A few times I just stood and listened. I’d forgotten about time.

IMG_8623
The lap

At a mile and half I saw a solo runner, Martin according to his sign on the back of his pack, walking slowly down the hill to Temptation Corner in front of me. It was tempting to fall into step with him, he was walking more slowly than I was at that point and I was aware of tiredness creeping into my legs and hips. But I kept walking offering words of encouragement as I went past. He overtook me later and looked strong. At the 3km mark there were marshals who were basically dancing the night away and they made me smile and I did a little series of salsa steps as I went passed – or I think I did. Who knows what I actually did. The next stretch was probably my favourite bit of all of it. In spite of now being quite tired and a bit emotionally drained because this was not the plan I love my slow walk through the Deep Dark Wood on this lap. I got lucky and saw almost no-one on this stretch. I turned my torch off and it was lovely and dark. My eyes adjusted quickly, the motion sickness faded further into the background and it was just calm. I realised I was happy and I realised I was going to complete the lap and get to 30 miles and I realised that that was what I wanted and that after the lap I would call it a night without any regrets or what ifs.

As I got to the drinks station I realised my hips were tight, very tight. The guys there were now playing Abba. I laughed. I wondered how many Abba songs I could sing in my head. Quite a few as it turns out and I hope for everyone’s sake that the singing happened in my head only. Can’t be sure though.

It must have been about 2.45 am and there was some light in the sky now. I could see the

IMG_24339A923B11-1
First uphill slope from one of Kath’s laps

mist patches as I walked into them now and the sheep were more visible. In fact the scene at Festival Crossing was spectacular -the moon shining its light onto a large peaceful flock of sheep below. I thought about the ewe I’d helped rescue earlier and hoped she was ok. As I walked up Ripple Rise I caught up with Gareth who had a broken ankle and was hobbling round in his boot and on his 3rd lap. Seriously impressive stuff. On the flat he was walking faster than I had been and as I fell in with him and was forced to stride out a little more to keep up I stretched my hips and the pain eased. We chatted to the finish. It felt good to finish. It had an almost melancholy sense of achievement. 30 miles is a big deal. It just wasn’t quite the way I wanted to get to 30 miles. I wanted more running. But on reflection I’m really happy. The 10 mile walk in the middle of the night did me good, it did my brain good. It took forever – nearly 3 and a quarter hours in the end but it wasn’t about time. In many ways time just stood still as I toddled off into my own world, a world were calm and quiet were there in a way that they so rarely are for me these days. It might not have been what I wanted but it was perhaps what I needed. Sometimes the universe knows.

I’m still coming back for 7 though!

Team Dopey at Endure24 Leeds – The event

IMG_0084 2Where to start? I am back home after Endure24 at Bramham Park. I’m tired and a little achey but not broken. And I’m happy. All things considered it went pretty well. Let’s see if I can summarise here – it may be a long one! We got over to Bramham Park on Friday afternoon and set up our (new) tent. I actually really like our little 2 person tent for snuggling up in but it is not the most practical so we bought a bigger one which has a separate sleeping area which meant we actually had somewhere to put things and I can almost stand in it which makes getting changed rather easier. Once sorted we were hungry and went and shared a pizza, we went back later and had a jacket potato for supper.

It was still relatively quiet but with a steady stream of people coming in and setting up. Unfortunately some teams didn’t think the rules applied to them and set up camp in the solo/pairs area which meant space was tight, in fact we met some solos who had to camp IMG_8612in the main area because there was no space. This made me quite cross. I just don’t understand why you’d do that. Anyway, as a result we had a solo runner with his family very very close to our tent, too close and the kids were quite whiny and not exactly quiet. We were both tired and a bit peopled out so this was a challenge. In the end we went for a little walk and the curled up in bed.

I actually slept reasonably well, I woke up a few times but felt reasonably rested. It just seemed to take ages to fully come round – lovely to just sit with coffee made using a little camping stove and kettle.

After coffee we walked to the car – although as a pair we could have kept the car with us, we decided that we might want to leave early (which we did) and there’s no guarantee that you can if you keep the car with you – you might be blocked in. Kath had left her glasses in the car so we went and got them and then were tempted by the catering tent IMG_8622and stopped for a bacon roll. After a slow wander round the race village we headed back, had another coffee and just sat for a bit. Then it was time to meet the #Run1000Miles lot that were also running for a quick photo together. On the way we did one of the may water bottle filling stops. It was nice to see everyone and have a little chat before we all went our ways to get sorted.

I made up our Tailwind  – the plan was to not have any actual food until we’d finished our running. I had tummy issues last year and didn’t get the food/fuelling right and really wanted to avoid a repeat of that experience. So we had two big bottles of tailwind for sipping while not running and our little soft flasks for taking with us. If tailwind IMG_8606delivered what it promised we should get all we need from it and feel full without feeling heavy or bloated or anything. It was fantastic. I never got sick of the taste, I never felt hungry and I felt properly fuelled and well hydrated all the way through. We also had several bottles of just water which we kept refilling, it was soooooo hot.

I started getting antsy about 11am – an hour before the start. We headed over the the start area, it was filling up. We stopped for the loos on the way – the porta potties coped pretty well for the event, they could perhaps have been serviced a little more frequently IMG_8635and they were quite smelly but overall there were enough toilets and never really a queue and some of them even had toilet roll in for most of the time! Bonus. The last 40 minutes or so before the start went quite quickly really and before I knew it I was on the start line ready to go. It was hot.

So did we have a plan? Well not, not really. I knew I wanted to do 6 laps because I did 5 last year. Kath wanted 25 miles to take her to 500 miles for the year. Other than that we didn’t have a plan. We wondered about doing one each and then seeing whether we should sit it out a while and go again when it cooled down a little  but we were both happy to meet back at the tent and then see. You can read about the laps in the next post which I will try and do tomorrow – too tired just now. After my first lap I stretched a bit, walked to the water station and refilled bottles and then just rested out of the sun as much as possible. Then I decided I’d go again when Kath got back so I grabbed a cooling towel and a bottle of water and walked over to the solo/pairs area to wait for her. We took our time with each change over, having a little chat before heading out. I did pretty much the same after Kath’s second lap except that I didn’t go straight out again. After a slightly longer rest I went for lap three and then Kath went and I met her at the exchange area again and went out for lap 4. Then I had a Tailwind Recovery drink and a packet of crips because I knew I was having a slightly longer break and I felt a little tired. That really helped. Kath went out for lap 4 and I put my PJs on for a bit and dozed.

IMG_8610When Kath came back after lap 4 we had a chat about what was best. Her feet were sore in spite of being taped up fully. The sensible thing might have been to call it a day there but she wanted her 25 miles which I completely understand so we decided that the best thing was to go again straight away rather than trying to get going again later. So that’s what she did. I dozed off while she was out and was a bit dazed and confused when she got back. It was about midnight. Part of me just wanted to be happy with my 4 laps, sleep and see if I could be bothered in the morning but I knew I wanted 6 laps and I was looking forward to running in the cool. I didn’t want to wait until I woke up in the morning – it would be hot again. So off I went.

After lap 6 I got back to the tent. I was a bit tearful – a mixture of a sense of achievement, a sense of disappointment and tiredness. I was meant to have a recovery drink but couldn’t be bothered to make it up. I stripped, got in PJs, sipped some water and tailwind and just talked at Kath for a bit, I’m not sure how awake she really was. It’s possible that I fell asleep mid sentence.

I woke up feeling a bit stiff. Nothing really hurt though. On reflection I was happy with the 6 laps and had absolutely no desire to go out again. Maybe if we weren’t flying to Australia on Tuesday I would have been tempted but I sort of felt that I’d achieved enough and I didn’t need to push it and risk not recovering  for the flight. We IMG_0106 2pulled on some clothes, did one trip to the car with stuff we wouldn’t need and then had breakfast in the catering tent – they really do do a good bacon roll! After breakfast we handed in our timing chips and collected our medals. Then we packed up and came home. We were home by 9.30am, unpacked the tent to let it dry in the sun and re-pack it properly and got some washing on. Then we had  lunch and started sorting our stuff. Then we ran out of steam so we had a couple of ours sleep and then we got going again. Still, an early night is in order!

So in summary – I had a great time. Some of it was tough, of course but it was a fabulous weekend, again I learned a lot about my running and probably about myself and I did something that challenged me and had the sense to stop before it broke me. I’m coming for 7 laps though. I think I can do 7 – even if I can’t take a selfie that gets the sign in in full.

IMG_0103 2