The best thing after long run?

  • Is it when you get a PB
  • Is it the lovely achy tired feeling
  • Is it the guilt free cake consumption 
  • Is it the new bling or tshirt
  • Is it post run healthy glow
  • Is it the sense of achievement 
  • Is it the popping of blisters

While all of the above are great, for me (especially this week) it has been the soaking and subsequent removal of my dodgy toe nail. Unfortunately the nail underneath is not quite “cooked” and I am left with something that could be hired out to scare small children at Halloween but I’m cool with that. At least now I can put jeans/socks/trainers on without wincing. Yep for me it’s the best thing.

Posted in Marathons, Running, trail running, Training for an Ultra, ultra running | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Salcombe Coastal Marathon-sort of

This week in the run up to the booked in marathon, I was full of doubts. I had not run since Saltmarsh75 (two weeks) and was wondering if I could remember how, irrational? yes maybe but factual. Maybe entering a marathon to run two weeks after 78 miles was ambitious (ok read insane) but the word ‘coastal’ lured me in before my brain considered the practicalities. Once entered there is no going back, money had been exchanged and plans had been made and beside which maybe it would help my love of running to return (or kill it off permanently). At no point was I not going to be on the start line how it would pan out would remain to be seen.

Friday I went for a run with a couple of friends from club. 6 miles round the lanes of East Devon, should be a breeze, but I struggled. Seriously I had to walk, absolutely ridiculous. I felt ill, almost like car sickness, exactly how I felt during Saltmarsh. Frustrating and not a good sign for the marathon.

Storm Brian was on its way to Devon set to land Saturday morning, this created a headache for the run organisers, always tricky, do they put the run on? do they re route or postpone. With wind gusts of 57mph having 100 participants making their way along a narrow coastal path close to cliff edges was clearly not an option. For those of you who know the area it was meant to start at Torcross on to East Portlemouth catch the ferry across the estuary to Salcombe and then follow the path to Bantham the finish.

Thursday a new plan was put in place the start was moved to the end, Bantham to Salcombe and back and add a little on at the end should you desire to make it up to the 26.2 miles! My running buddy and I were in two/three/four minds of what to do. Should we run? Him with his dodgy knee, me with my lost running love. Should we ditch the run and run somewhere else on Sunday. Should we run just half? Oh the decisions are tough. In the end we opted to do the run, try and do the whole route in the adverse conditions with the option to bail at the turnaround point.

Saturday morning dawned and they were spot on with the weather, storm Brian had landed. We arrived at Bantham and watched walkers pass by the car looking more like Artic Explorers than Devon walkers. Eventually after much procrastination we exited the car and headed to registration battling against the wind that was blowing right in to us. We received a stern talking to when we registered about the route and the conditions and how they were set to get worse at 2pm. It was hard to imagine what worse could look like but apparently it contained more precipitation.

Off we set towards Hope Cove and the check point. The wind was interesting, it would hit us from all directions, from behind it enabled me to reach top speed and to get up the hills, mostly it came off the sea, literally blowing us off the path, staying upright was tricky, we were very lucky though that rarely was it a head wind. Every step was a battle, fighting to make progress. The buff head band was in danger of being blown off my head so I tied a knot in the end which I assume made me resemble a cross between Papa Smurf and Noddy but I was fine with that! I was trying hard not to get too warm, by Hope Cove I had taken off my rain jacket and my long sleeve top, this might have been a mistake! A mile out of Hope Cove the wind blew harder, the sky got darker, the air cooler. My running buddy who still had all his layers on asked if I wanted to put a layer back on, I declined. Then within seconds the heavens opened, I am not sure if it was hail or rain mixed with the gusting wind off the sea that made it feel like hail, but what I do know is it hurt and it was cold. There followed a manic few minutes with me trying to get my Mac back on, I tried to keep running also, I didn’t want to get cold. It was the worse weather I have been out in. Fortunately it stopped but it left us soaked and sore, the pelting left our skin feeling raw, the decision was made then that this was going to be a one way run, the thought of more of those conditions and possibly worse was not one either of us relished the thought of.

I loved the run itself, the challenge of it in those conditions, the scenery was amazing and the sea foam added to the bizarreness of it all, making it look like it was snowing at times.

 

The last two miles were very pleasant, good underfoot, sheltered from the wind and the sun came out. On arrival at the turn around point we notified the organisers that we would not be continuing, though I think as we sat in the sun we both questioned if this was the right decision but running buddy’s knee was sore and had been since the start. This was a blessing in disguise as neither of us are known for out sensibleness and I think without this we would have turned around and headed back in to the 100 mph winds that came later in the day, this might well have blown away my recently returned running mojo.

We got a lift back to the start, getting out of the mini bus straight in to that wind was not nice at all, making headway in to the wind was almost impossible and by the time we reached the car my brain was frozen solid in my skull like I had eaten too much ice cream. Putting on dry clothes was absolute bliss.

Challenge done, unfortunately not the full distance. I love the medal but do feel like I haven’t earned it so will not be one I shall be keeping unless of course I cross out the word marathon and replace it with 10 miles!

 

 

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Struck Down

Yes dear reader, since Saltmarsh75 I’ve been struck down by a strange affliction that can only be the lesser known “nodesiretorunitus”. The symptoms are

  • Feeling no desire to run!
  • Finding feeble excuses not to run which have included-it’s too windy and my toe is sore (it was windy and my toe is sore, but usually tougher than that!)
  • Enjoying the non washing of kit
  • Relishing the pong free hallway
  • Experiencing no envy whatsoever when seeing others out running
  • Avoiding all running related social media in particular future Ultra events

Having made the diagnosis without the help of Dr Google, I have decided to prescribe REST until the desire returns.

The question is dear reader can one run a marathon without the desire to run and with the forecast gale force winds? Tune in next week to find out!

Posted in Marathons, Running, trail running, Training for an Ultra, ultra running | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Saltmarsh75 2017 or

the production could also be called

  • Saltmarsh78
  • Flat Ultra
  • For Gods sake give me a hill
  • The Finale

The Plot

2016 I followed CM (see below) via Facebook as she completed Saltmarsh. As it finishes not far from The Relics abode, and was logically (ahem) the next step up in the running challenges I thought why not? Why not run back to back Ultras, in flat Essex? Why not indeed?

The Scene

38.2 miles (they lied) on day 1, 36.7 on day 2 (more lies) along the Essex coast

Characters

  • The Relics-you have met these two before!
  • Essex Running Buddy (ERB) previous posts where she has made a guest appearance are here and here we were neighbours, running buddies and had children in the same class, I loved running with her during our years together in Essex, unless she had, had a ‘domestic’ then it would be challenging to say the least due to her speed!
  • Child minder runner (CM) – she first made an appearance on Shazuns here, but I we have met a few times since both at parkrun In Devon and Essex and both did the first Chelmsford Marathon, and this weekend was all her fault-see above
  • Child minder’s mother (CMM)- CMM is lucky enough to have a place not far from me that she comes down from Essex and stays at in the warmer months and when she does we meet at Seaton for parkrun and then for tea.
  •  Mrs F work colleague and friend who has featured many times but here is one and another where she has featured

Act One

I headed out the Relics home Saturday morning and drove myself to the start about 45 minutes away. It was coldish with a slight breeze. Toilet stop, registered, filled in a survey on the mental state of an Ultra Runner (more involved than the tick this box if you are mad!) and then it was time to head out to the start. The walkers had set off and hour earlier. We soon thinned out and there was along line of us along the sea wall, like hi viz ants. I tried to concentrate on getting just to the next check point and not to think of the 30+ miles ahead of me. CP were at 5.2 miles, 13.9 miles, 27.5 miles, 30.8 miles and 35.1 miles. Unlike any other Ultra I have done, you could send food ahead to these CP’s. Of course the stops had their own food laid on, the usual sweets, cakes, crisps, water etc but its handy if you want something particular. My alarm was set to remind me to eat and I tried, but this is something I struggle with and on this occasion really struggled. The weather was dull, each of these pics have been brightened for your delectation

I was pleased to get up on to the concrete path for a while as most of the time the path had been uneven, grassy and tufty, least with the concrete you could pick up the pace a bit, only a bit. The hardest part was between CP3 and CP4, as this was over 13 miles, I was prepared for that though but the flies were an added challenge! Never have I seen so many flies, they were literally pinging off my face, at first I thought it was stones/grit/sand blowing off the beach then when I realised what it was and  I kept my mouth firmly shut! I am sure my face must have resembled the bonnet of my car in the summer by the time the next mile was done. Huge thanks to the volunteers out on this stretch with the water and their cakes in containers! How horrendous for them!

On I plodded, I became aware of the need for a ‘comfort break’, mmmmmmm

I need some coverage!

Eventually a bush was found, but my it was touch and go for a while, I swayed between risking getting arrested for exposure (to be fair it would have been unlikely to see a policeman out there) or having an accident or worse traumatising another participant -like these flies weren’t enough!

At about 29 miles I was just turning the alarm off on my phone when I looked up to see RB there in front of me on the sea wall, totally unexpected (the last I heard she had rolled her foot and wasn’t running) oh but so absolutely fabulous to see her! She ran with me back to the next checkpoint where she sorted me out, (brain gone), then carried on a way before heading back. It was a real boost, fantastic to catch up on her news. I only had 8 miles to go and thought I could make it in under the 8 hours, and I would have done if the course was not 39.2 miles long! First day 8:07 hours

Glad to see the end of Act 1. But the toughest challenge was to come. What was tougher than running 39 miles? Climbing in to a Landrover Defender that’s what, do you know how high those things are off the ground? Then the challenge was not to be sick in the back as we bounced along the Essex roads back to our cars. Managed not to embarrass myself but it was touch and go. Also managed to just get back to the Relics in time to charge through the door direct to the bathroom before being sick in a quickly produced bucket!

Best part of the day by far was the warm bath, cup of tea, hot towel and pizza, great service from the Relics who took to the role of pampering butlers quite well!

Act 2

After a bad nights sleep, where the legs, body and mind would not shut down or the nausea dissipate I got myself ready for day 2. The legs actually felt ok, just wish the sicky feeling would go away. The day was set to be nicer and started well with a great sunrise

The walkers and runners started together but we soon thinned out, the scenery was much the same FLAT, with the sea on your right! Soon we were approaching Maldon. When big Madam and I moved back to the UK we used to go there quite a bit, for her to play in the water, so it was nice to return and even nicer as I knew CM was going to be there but the added bonus was that CMM had come along also, terrific to see them. They suggested using the toilets, which as it happened was a great idea! CM ran with me for a way as we negotiated our way out of the town over the water to the other side. At each checkpoint you were given instructions, they were not always easy to follow but totally take on board that that might well be just me, I find it frustrating and would prefer a few signs up and about to point us in the right direction especially at that point where you could see no other competitor. CM left me and headed back once I was safe on the sea wall, but I will see her at parkrun in Devon soon.

On I trotted knowing that Mrs F would be waiting not far away, and there she was a vision in her yellow Mac, with a bottle of water and jelly babies. I stopped for a bit and then left them to have their lunch at that lovely spot (grrrr). Only another 13 miles and I would see them again. It was going to be a leisurely lunch for them I hoped.

I offered that boy in the photo big money for his skateboard and he wouldn’t take it!

Mile 20 the egg sandwich I tried so hard to eat made a reappearance as luck would have it just as another runner passed me, not in the least bit mortifying especially as Madam has told me I am an ugly puker, though I am still not sure how to make it pretty-answers on a postcard!

Mr and Mrs F there in front on me, after what seemed like hours (oh thats right it was) I took the opportunity for a long walk break with them back in to Tollesbury, where they rescued their car from the high tide and I set off on what was the worse section-the last 8.5 miles. In and out along the sea wall, the never-ending dam sea wall, passing the man in the green shirt, to have him pass me in five minutes, keeping my eyes on the horizon for the other runners, why are they going that way surely the finish is over there? Please god where is the end? I was unable to eat anything, sipping water was tricky, then out there on my own I had a strop, where the **** is the end? I shouted and promptly dropped in to dip! Karma was telling me to put up and shut up. I did but that still didn’t stop me getting cross at the plane hovering above.

Finally we dropped off the wall. How far I asked some people joining the path? Over the field, on to the road, there were the Relics, where am I going? I asked, managing I hope to look like I was running, Daughter of man in green shirt was standing on the side, is it far I ask? FINALLY the blue arch.

Saltmarsh done.

Stats for the weekend-for the runners

  • 67 of us set out to do the full two day event
  • 22 were female
  • 3 dropped out during day 1
  • 11 did not come back for day 2
  • 4 dropped out during day 2
  • 48 completed the whole thing
  • I was 27th (as was my number!)
  • Thrilled with my third female placing!

Did I enjoy it?

Nope, nope, no, no and no

Not sure why. Is it too long? Is it the back to back? Is it too many Ultra’s this year? Was it the flatness? Was it the constant nausea? I am not really sure but I shall be drawing the curtain of further Ultras. Saltmarsh was my Finale!

 

 

 

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The Brecon Beacons

What do you get a man who has everything for his birthday? (after all he has me!) This year I decided it was two nights in the Brecon Beacons. Not far to travel, beautiful countryside and Welsh Rarebit, whats not to love? We even managed to escape child free, not going to lie it was bliss!

It was our first experience of Airbnb and I must admit I was a little wary, but my fears were unfounded and it was perfect, check it out here . Although we have yet to be able to pronounce where it is located….Any ideas? What the Welsh have against vowels in beyond me!

On the way up we stopped off at Goytre and had a lovely walk along and around the canal, oh and a piece of cake obviously.

From there the next stop was Abergavenny, lunch and of course Welsh Rarebit.

We had a wander around using the map from the Tourist Information Office, explored the shops, the gardens and the Castle.

We were so lucky with the weather, warm and sunny perfect for the Autumn colours which I love.

Crickhowell was en-route to the village with no vowels so we popped in to see the bridge. A bridge that has 12 arches upstream and 13 downstream although to be fair I couldn’t count more than 8 either side!

Day two was spent walking, four miles before lunch five after. Not the relaxing birthday hubby had in mind but I think he enjoyed it! The morning walk was from the Airbnb which was great just to be able to step out and get walking. The mist was down, but it was warm and dry, but not so under foot, seems it might have been wet in Wales of late.

Incredible views

The afternoons walk was entitled Four Falls Walk and was a little drive away. It was treacherous underfoot at times with tree roots, mud, stones, stairs, rocks, moss and damp wooden slats. Both of us managed to stay upright but there was some close moments with squeals or swearing.

Obviously there were some waterfalls to visit.

It was a beautiful walk, helped by the sun coming out when we started out. I loved every minute of it.  You could walk behind the last waterfall, when I saw this I was so excited. I have never done this and as I had my raincoat with me, I was good to go. What an experience that was, helped by the fact that I was the only one under there. What a way to end a great day.

We loved the Brecon Beacons and will certainly return, I understand there are more waterfalls I can get up close and personal to.

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Mimi Anderson

For those of you asking who is Mimi Anderson?

Well……………

Mimi is currently running across America, starting in LA and finishing in New York. This is 2,850 miles and she is trying to break a world record that has stood since 1979 and finish in 53 days. Currently she has completed approximately 800 miles and I do hope she is not thinking ‘oh great only 2000 to go’!

Mimi and I have many things in common, but the desire to run across America is not one of them!

We are English, we both started running in our late 30’s, we are around the same age (she is a little older) and we both like a challenge although mine is on the more sensible end of the scale!

The word Inspiration is used too often I think these days, but she truly is inspiring. I am following her on every social media outlet possible, Instagram, facebook, her website. I watch the live feeds cheering her on, my mouth open in astonishment as she looks so good running 60 miles day after day, sometimes in 30 degrees!

I am also reading her book, which follows her run from John O’Groats to Lands End and also covers her other adventures the first of which was the completion of the Marathon Des Sables. Now it is dangerous for me to read of such adventures, I begin to think that they sound like something I’d like to do. The Marathon Des Sables is 150 miles across the Sahara, the conditions sound quite horrendous, but still there was a flicker of interest deep within me, but its ok family this was all laid to rest when I found out the entry fee is over £4000! Flicker well and truly extinguished!

I do like the sound of John O’Groats to Lands End though!

You will find Mimi here on her blog although she is not blogging at the moment, too busy running. This is her facebook and her Instagram,  her web site and her book on amazon go check her out and be prepared to be inspired and amazed. An ordinary person doing an extraordinary thing.

 

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Harrogate parkun

Back in August I was reading a post by Paige in which she mentioned that she was heading to Yorkshire in September from the States. I quickly fired off an email to check it was English Yorkshire, I am not sure there is another but thought it best to check as you know what these Americans are like they like to steal our place names!

I was so pleased to hear that indeed it was here in the UK and to be more precise Harrogate. Paige informed me the town had a parkrun, since we became blog friends during an ‘athon many years ago Paige has heard about parkruns but although they are starting to appear in the States one has yet to be local for her, so a plan was made to meet.

For those of you that are not aware of the Geography on the UK, I am located in the South-West right down the bottom, Harrogate is in the North-East, a trip across the country diagonally was on the cards.

Friday I arrived in Harrogate, first stop Betty’s Tea Rooms.

After a short wait in a queue I was shown to my table. On perusal of the menu I decided to have a quiche and a piece of cake with my pot of tea, although this was down graded to just cake and tea after seeing the size of the quiche! I’ve had bigger muffins than that quiche and they wanted £9 for it! To be honest I was slightly disappointed by the cake selection and realise just writing this will mean that I will never be allowed up North again, but it is true. Not all Betty’s fault, but I was expecting  a traditional British Tea Shop and cake, eg Victoria Sandwich, Coffee Walnut etc, I didn’t realise Betty’s roots are in Europe so the cakes more fancy and funnily enough very European. After all careful consideration I opted for the Chocolate Torte….

I sat for a while, trying to make the most of the experience, before setting off on an afternoon of mooching around the shops and exploring the town.

Late afternoon I checked the route to Paige’s Guesthouse from mine and then from there to The Stray where the parkrun is held.

After dinner Paige and I met for a drink. We first met in New York in December, it was nice to catch up on events in each others lives since then.

I headed back to where I was staying, amazed how warm it still was. I am sure I wasn’t staying in a cupboard, after all how many cupboards have an ensuite? But it was the smallest room I have ever stayed in but was in such a convenient location.

Harrogate parkrun is held on The Stray, located in the old town, which is 200 miles of open grassland, sadly the 5k is three laps! As we stood waiting for the start, every direction you looked in, runners could be seen approaching, very funny to watch. We listened to the parkrun and Harrogate newbie instructions. Then it was time to head to the start and for the Run Directors pre run chat. Simply the best, most enthusiastic and encouraging pre run brief I have ever been to at parkrun. Harrogate’s 300th parkrun was applauded, milestone t-shirts were applauded, first timers were applauded, the run/walk beginners were applauded, visitors were applauded, Paige was applauded once the RD realised New Jersey mean America! What a great first parkrun to experience, it epitomised the parkrun ethos.

Three rectangular laps were not too bad in the end, although one side had a wicked head wind. Paige managed to come 300th on the 300th Harrogate parkrun which was just brilliant and she even got a mention on their Facebook page!See you next time Paige, to run with you on your inaugural parkrun was an absolute privilege! X

 

 

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