It was going so well!

On the 10th of March I ran The Grizzly. This is a local event 20 ish miles of hills, bogs and pebble beaches. It is extremely popular and people travel from all over to partake. Before the day I was far from confident, due to lack of miles in legs and even contemplated dropping down to the shorter cub run which is 9 miles. The day arrived along with some mad high winds, I went prepared for the long run and for the fact that it was not going to be pretty!

Is it possible to enjoy a run that included long stretches on pebbles, running through freezing cold water, trudging through knee-deep mud and crawling up mountainous hills? It is! I have to admit I enjoyed every single minute of it. (ok maybe not the bit where I sat in the bog and if it hadn’t been for the person behind me heaving me up I am sure I would still be there!) The miles simply flew by. At the top of the Stair Way to Heaven I glimpsed at my Garmin, there followed a quick calculation and I realised that I could be on for a PB, a total surprise and not what I had been aiming for at all, survival was my mind-set! Another mile passed and another calculation, not really believing what I was seeing I wondered if the mud had stopped the Garmin functioning properly! I pushed on and was stunned to cross the finish line not only under 4 hours but with a PB by 10 minutes. Safe to say I was walking on air for the rest of the day.

How is it even possible to run that well with not enough miles in training? There began analysis……..I came up with these contributing factors:-

  • Slight weight loss
  • HITT training 4/5 times a week
  • Walking on average 7 miles a day 4 days a week
  • Not focussing on the time, but just running and enjoying

I wish I knew what the secret was to how this run went so well, then I would repeat, repeat, repeat!

It then looked like I was set for a good run on my next planned event – The Ex to Ax but sadly a week later I was struck down with some kind of virus and did not run for two weeks, instead I gave my stomach muscles a good work out by coughing morning, noon and night. I am happy to report that finally it seems to have left the building but now I’m not confident enough to run 22 miles along the Devon coast, it is a shame but it will be there next year. However this leaves me with no focus so I best start researching.

 

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The New Job

Those of you who are regular readers will know that October 2017 I was made redundant from a job I had grown to love and had been in for 10 years. There followed 6 months of unemployment, hundreds of job applications filled in and numerous interviews attended, before gaining a position within the NHS. The job itself was fine, varied and not too taxing, but the atmosphere and staff within the unit was toxic so it wasn’t long before I was casting my eye over the ‘situations vacant’ websites!

After three attempts I managed to get a job as a Postie! Not everyone’s cup of tea, early mornings, out in all weather etc but for me it is perfect and to cliche it completely I am living the dream, helped of course by some amazing weather lately, I might fill differently when it is pouring with rain!

Six weeks in and I am beginning to get to grips with it all, I have rural routes, drive about 45 miles a day and walk between 6 and 9 miles a day, lots of farms, farm tracks and narrow Devon lanes. It’s a new job so obviously it has not been without its challenges and disasters……

  • I lent on a gate to reach a postbox and promptly broke a rib, now I open the gate!
  • The van key literally came apart in my hands, leaving me with just the metal part, did a running repair with two elastic bands
  • One red post box would not open for me to collect the post, fortunately having given my best Damsel in distress performance a local resident and a can of WD40 rescued me
  • I have been nibbled by two dogs and terrorised by one
  • I had the pleasure of delivering a letter from HRH Queen Elizabeth
  • On greeting some calves outside a barn with the words ‘good morning beautifuls‘ a reply came from inside the barn ‘Good Morning‘ I’m assuming it wasn’t one of the four legged creatures but didn’t hang around to find out!

Daily I talk to cows, sheep, dogs, cats, pheasants, squirrels and once a fox’s tail as it disappeared under a gate.

I deliver post in to various receptacles, wooden boxes, metal boxes, plastic storage containers, ammunition boxes, up ended milk churns and occasionally normal letter boxes in doors, but even these vary. Some boxes are like vices seizing your fingers, others are so small everything has to be folded to get anything through them, some come apart in your hands (!), yes the struggle is real!

Here are some pics taken while out on my rounds, next blog post will be about running!

 

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The Plan for 2019 is………..

After great deliberation, much googling and head scratching I have decided that the plan for 2019 is to not have a plan! Each year I like something to aim for, to train for, it keeps me going, keeps me pounding the streets and the trails, but I don’t think this will work this year-well not yet anyway, maybe later in the year.

Originally I wanted the main event to be in May-sadly May is not so far away and is fast approaching not giving me a enough time to train for that, I am trying to source something similar for later in the year, but as yet have not found any that appeal and if you are going to attempt a 100 miler then it has to appeal right?

I have entered a couple of events that are coming up, The Dursley Dozen (will be my third time), The Grizzly (also be my third time) and hopefully the Ex to Ax (mmm a theme here-also my third time!) but as the new job (more soon on that I promise) involves Saturday working it seems a bit unfair on the family if I disappear on the Sunday to do events meaning I am not around the whole weekend, so 2019 will not only have no plan it will also feature less events, all change.

This morning I needed to do a LSR before taking Madam to work at 10.30, this meant an early start. Whilst prepping my hydration pack the bladder came apart in my hands, not a great start but a wise move on the bladder’s part as it was minus 5! After much faffing I filled the soft bottles and put them in my pack. I hate running with these, they sit on my chest and as I ‘bounce’ so do they, occasionally banging me on the chin, can’t even begin to tell you how darn annoying this is. In the end it was absolutely pointless taking them out with me anyway as the Ribena froze and I maybe sipped once! Yes it was cold this morning, definitely my coldest ever run, long sleeve, gloves and hat worn for the whole 15 miles. I never got warm but kept going, frightened if I stopped that I would turn in to an ice statue! I opted to head to the nearest town and run on the paths there, as lots of ice on the country lanes, not something Ive done before so it was nice to run a different route.

It was a crips, cold, clear morning that rewarded my efforts with a great sunrise.

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DHHM- Edition 4

33 of us have attended each of DHHM we were told at the start line on Sunday. I spent the first five miles contemplating (oh and cursing) as to why we keep going back as I trudged up the hills and slip slided all over the place in the sloppy mud, the sticky mud and the trainer sucking mud. Safe to say I had a complete sense of humour failure when directed to go through a quagmire when there was a perfectly quagmire free route that could so easily have been taken, not helped by me sinking knee deep in it and then sitting down in the freezing cold goo. Everyone from then on looked like they were running in wellies due to the mud socks they were wearing, oh except for those who cheated and climbed out early-surely this should be punishable by disqualification? CHEATS

Mile 6 onwards I found my happy running self, due to hills diminishing, the mud being less muddy and the intake of an energy gel and some coke. The second half was definitely better and I even managed to pass quite a few people.

So why do I keep going back? DHHM is so well organised and a fun event, the organisers just improve it year on year, rather than resting on their laurels. Apparently 2020 DHHM is 11% likely to go ahead, I for one so hope that percentage goes up. The attention to detail by the organisers is second to none and other race put er on ers would do well to take a leaf from their books. Things that make this a great run

  1. Mud
  2. Each Marshal has a sign with their name on it- so you can thank them personally.
  3. A clothes line on the course so you can remove a layer if need be and this item of clothing will be taken to the end.
  4. A goody bag with a mud face pack-the irony!
  5. Great technical t-shirt in male and female styles
  6. A race number with your name on
  7. New for this year – a fortune cookie complete with apt fortune and the possibility of free entry next year
  8. No water stops but 4 pubs on the way round-offering water, alcohol free beer and coke
  9. Free after event photos
  10. A varied and challenging route
  11. Transport to start from dry hard standing parking (an improvement from last year so well done to them for finding a solution to an issue from the previous year and one that worked so well)
  12. Cake stall at the end
  13. Reasonably priced entry fee
  14. Great communication prior to event
  15. PA announcements at the finish line, greeting you personally to the end
  16. A sense of humour, the best pre event instructions.

 

Each year I swear I will train for this run, just to make the first part easier on my self and to feature less swearing, but sadly this has yet to work out. This year I was pleased to record my second fastest time (the fastest one being recorded when the mud was frozen so not sure that should count) and as ever it has given me the kick up the *&£@ to get out there and run, so thanks Doynton and Emerson Green for doing that again and I have everything crossed for 2020.

Running in mud wellies

 

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First Race of the Season

The title makes me sound like a thoroughbred racehorse, sadly the truth is more like an elderly, greyhound/Saint Bernard cross! Anyways this weekend sees me partaking in my first event of 2019. My plans for 2019 might have to be curtailed somewhat due to a new job (more on that later) and a grumbling ankle, so it looks like the main event I palled foe this year, might have to be moved till October, May might be a bit ambitious at this point. My strategy for treating the ankle is to tell it to shut up, I find this works with other things (mainly humans) that grumble, after three months of very little running I am working on the theory that it will always complain now.

Sunday is the fourth year of the Doynton Hard Half Marathon and my fourth year of running it, four very different years and here is the readers digest version of my experience   over the last three years.

  1. Mud, mud and more mud. Please stay on my foot trainer.
  2. Frozen mud, how fabulous, don’t break your ankle.
  3. Bum deep puddle and a slide down a grass bank on my a@£$%, very unfit and slow

This year I would imagine that it will be a mixture of all three years, no doubt copious amounts of mud and hills, probably not going to be frozen and I am hoping that puddles/water crossings will be shallower as we have not had so much rain lately, but sadly I am not as fit as I should be, but shall slap on a smile, try my best and just enjoy it, personally I can’t wait.

 

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Woolcombe Dunes Parkrun

I am not one for Parkrun tourism, or for traveling 90 mins to run 5k, but Saturday I did both. Woolacombe Dunes has just opened for Parkrun business and is on week 4 and with the new job meaning Saturday working it was time to utilise this last free Saturday and make the most of it.

The original plan was to incorporate the run in a family day out but like so many plans involving the madams, this did not pan out, this coupled with hubby not taking his gloves, literally meant drive up, run, drive back!

The road to the coast is to a Roman Road as I am to Paula Radcliffe and as I am not the greatest of passengers I arrived feeling a little green around the gills. We stopped at the beach so I could use the facilities but sadly these were barricaded up for the winter! We continued up the hill working on the theory that there might be a loo in the car park, on checking with a volunteer it appears not. Now there was no way I can run without first having a comfort break and that is after usually travelling 20 mins, after 90 mins it would be disastrous, dam those kids with big heads. A bush was suggested and off I went in search, harder than you would think!

Woolacombe is one of our pre Devon living days favourite places, something to do with the massive beach!

Beautiful and simply the best place to be with three young Madams, however my love for this place was about to be tested.

The run started well, down hill on a concrete if somewhat rocky road before sharply veering right on to a dirt track, still going in the right direction (downwards) (found myself wondering if we would have to climb this bit later, we did) then it was a left turn on to a track on the dunes. Ever tried running on dunes? Well my advice would be don’t, you can live a fulfilled life without this experience so don’t add this to a bucket list. Half a mile on this before we hit the beach. Phew, that will be easier now I thought.

I love to be proved wrong (no I don’t really but anyway) oh and I was wrong, some of the sand was compact and great, but a majority of it was slightly soft (well under my post Christmas tonnage it was) so all the time you are going backwards working hard to propel yourself forwards. If I was to try running up hill in treacle I would imagine that it would feel just like this, but more sticky and messy obviously. I must admit at this moment though a lump formed in my throat, like I needed that, but presented with the scene above, I thought this is just like being in Chariots of Fire (cue the slow mo part) if I could have hummed a few notes I would have but instead swallowed the lump and suppressed the tears and tried to live in the moment for the WHOLE MILE.

Next obstacle on the 5k run was the Sand Dune mountain! Like whose bright idea was this?

Please note the quality of the photo brought about by the need of a defibrillator at this point. Not sure how I got up there but I did and was very grateful for the levelling out of the course but not so much for there being more sand dune running followed by an up hill finish! Seriously thought someone is trying to kill me off here, now I know I am not at my fittest at the moment but that was one of my slowest Parkrun’s EVER, I am hoping that others find it tough also.

Personally I can’t wait to go back, despite all the moaning I loved it, the challenge on the best beach in the South West, the scenery, truly one to do for the experience rather than the PB. But next time I will get that PB, not that, that is going to be too hard though!

 

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My life in pics

The ankle is mending but the above captures my feelings on it perfectly. Granted it has not been 7 years, but it has been way too long for my liking.  (However I did run a total of 10 miles at the weekend-so maybe I should stop moaning.)

Christmas is on its way-in case you did not know so much time has been spent preparing for the big day, including the erection of this

Prelit tree with Ikea type instructions resulted in a two-hour build! But anyway its up, shortbread has been baked, the list of other things to be done is endless!

On the work front things are set to change in the new year and this picture captures my feelings on this

the words I would use are deliriously happy! Not willing to impart details just yet but will dish the dirt in 2019 and I might even unveil my big running plans at the same time!

See you in 2019, going to be a year of adventures big and small, I hope.

Happy Festive season and all the best for 2019

 

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