Ultra Sandwich

I am not sure it is ideal to sandwich a 50k run with two other events, but that is what I did. The Charmouth Challenge the Saturday before and the Haytor Heller the Saturday after.

Haytor is ‘a granite tor on the eastern edge of Dartmoor in the English county of Devon’. The Haytor Heller starts quite close to this lump of granite. I was very pleased that we weren’t having to run from the road up to the Tor.

The flags show the start line. No need to warm up, just walk to the start. The short hill made up for it in steepness and despite my determination to run up from the start, my legs began to buckle as I neared the rock, a very brief stop to walk and then I was off again. If I had eyes in the back of my head would have seen this view.

The run its self is 6 miles up and down and up and down and then more up and down across the Moor. Truly a stunning location with breathtaking scenery and hills. My feet still sore from the Ultra struggled with the rocky paths. The bracken was taller than me and I was terrified I wouldn’t make it out fearing I tried desperately to keep the person ahead of me in sight. This is me walking ssshhhh

having just made it up a hill and out of the ferns. Behind me is Haytor the start and where I needed to get back to! A tough run but I loved it!.

The finish line was thankfully down hill and the medal was another beaut to add to my collection.

Definitely going to do this one again!


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A run to the seaside-50k

Last weekend was Ham to Lyme 50k edition two for me. In 2016 I did it as my first toe dip in to Ultra running, (in case you missed the write on this here it is) , I really enjoyed it so it was a no brainer to return this year.

There were 18 of us taking part from the club and another member drove us there in a mini bus and he then saw us at every check point, which was handy to grab drinks or supplies.

The obligatory club photo was captured and then we were off. Within a mile a wrong turn was taken, fortunately for me, this detour was not very long but for others I understand it was quite a diversion. The first time I saw the bus driver I was greeted with the news that I was the first club member he had seen. I was in the lead! Oh the glory. I should have stopped then and there, declared myself a winner and gone and sat on the bus. It wasn’t long though before the speedies passed me having retraced their steps and I was back in the normal position, at the rear!

It was very hot, the air was airless, the humidity energy sapping but I plodded on eating up the miles. Then the cloud burnt off, the sky was blue and the temperature rose even more, but on the upside the view at Lamberts Castle, that we couldn’t see last year due to mist,  was unreal.

My feet were starting to hurt, blisters forming on the bottom of my left foot and under the bunion on the right foot. The legs, calves, Achilles, hips all fine but my those blisters were making themselves known.

I got to the last check point and they had run out of water, I downed two cups of coke and went on, three miles to go and no water in my hydration pack, thank goodness much of this was in the woods, I was desperate for a drink so the shade most welcome.

The finish line could not come too soon and I was very grateful to get to the end and receive this beautiful medal

oh and eat some honeydew melon!

Gutted that it took me 27 minutes longer than last year, but assume that is due in part to not specifically training for this event, having run 100K 7 weeks ago and the heat. Not sure I enjoyed it as much this year and I need to remember that actually it is has more than the one hill that I remember before I enter again! Will I go back next year, possibly.





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Charmouth Challenge

Last Saturday afternoon I did the Charmouth Challenge.

This event has been on my radar for a long while. I avoided it previously due to the fact it is billed as a ‘Fell Race’. To me this meant I had to navigate my way without the aid of marshals, tapes and signs. This kind of adventure I can do without. Apparently this is not so and the ‘Fell’ comes about due to the elevation. Happy with that I entered, hills I can cope with (just) getting lost not so much!

I dragged the family along as support, mainly because it was a nice day and Charmouth is on the coast and the bribe of fish and chips might have had something to do with their compliance.

Most events are held on a Sunday morning but not this one, it started at 2 pm on a Saturday which gave me a chance to fit a sneaky parkrun in at Seaton in the morning, in hindsight this was probably not a good idea.

It was a beautiful day but at least 10 degrees too warm to be running 8 miles. Much is made of the fact that you go over the top of Golden Cap, the highest point on the South West Coast path. But let me tell you that was not the hardest part. The toughest section came in the first 2 miles where you climbed from sea level to 180 metres. I tried really hard to run the whole way up, but it was hot so I didn’t. The steps up to Golden Cap were a breeze after this, but the steps down trickier for those of us who are more clunky than agile!

See the zip zag path?

I took it easy, to put it mildly and tried to look up and enjoy the amazing scenery. I so wish I had taken my camera really is an amazing place to run. I was very glad to get to the end and receive my beautiful mug. Planning on going back next year to do this one, hopefully in cooler weather when I can try harder possibly,

Madam and hubby had had a nice time sunning themselves on the beach and mainly wondering why I was taking so long. The teenager had left the house in her winter jacket (you know the one she does not wear all winter) and had managed to take that off so that by the time I finished so that was a win!

We grabbed our dinner and went and sat on the cliff job with a cider. Not a bad way to spend the day.

Tomorrow I shall run the 50k Ham to Lyme run for the second time. I think I am looking forward to it, slightly worried that I have not formally trained for this, but failing anything else it will be a nice day out in the countryside with some free food on the way.

My toe nail has just fallen off so that could effect things but I will try and soldier on!

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Wet wet wet woodland relays

Last night was the annual Woodland Relay that the club partakes in. This is my third relay and the two previous years the weather has been glorious. Being held in England’s summer that good luck was never going to hold out.

Yesterday our dry spell ran out and our empty water butt is now full. The rain started slowly in the afternoon but by 5 pm it had picked up, at 5:30 I was messaging my team member to see if she could do something about it, after all she does work for the Met Office. Apparently she doesn’t have that much influence!

I collected said team mate, the brave soul (read stupid) had adopted for the ‘skin is waterproof’ attitude and chosen to wear shorts! Our journey to the periphery of Woodbury Common was an adventure in itself. The iPhone cleverly picked up a local closed road re-routing us, however it didn’t pick up a flooded road (norm for Devon) or take in to consideration that I don’t do big puddles in a car, not where I can’t see how deep there are. This was followed by a 6 point turn in the middle of the lane to retreat. Finally we got to the car park, faring better than others who got lost or ended up in alternative ‘dodgy’ car parks reporting sighting of cars with steamed up windows!

I read a blog once where someone had written that as it was raining they opted to go to the gym and use the treadmill. I think they lived in California. Dodging the rain living in the UK is not really an option and after 13 years of running rain does not bother me. But never before have I been wet before a run, wetter during the run and soaked after the run. Conditions were dire. Waiting for ‘A’ runner to return, I stripped my top off probably way too early, wearing a vest due to the ‘skin is waterproof’ mindset I was soon very wet. The rain was settling in with vengeance and water was trickling down my back. Then I spotted her, runner ‘A’ ascending the lovely up hill to the finish.

Quick hand slap and I was off, like a race horse out the starting gate (this might be an exaggeration), down the long hill. Through the river that was now gushing down it. The route was a bottom heavy figure of eight ish. One small loop back to the start and then one never ending long loop back to the finish. The puddles were unavoidable and deep and hid foot eating sand. On more than one occasion I nearly swan dived in to the water which would not have been funny at all! It was undulating but not super tough although I am not a great lover of the up hill finish. As runner ‘B’ I handed off to runner ‘C’ safe in the knowledge that he would make up any ground I lost as he is one of the speedies in the club.

Then it was time to put dry clothes on, on top of wet clothes and wait for everyone from club to finish, huddled under umbrellas, trying to avoid the run off. I think three clubs were represented and we must have had the most teams, which goes to show the club is full of hardcore or mad members, the jury is out on which it is.

Now all I have to do is de silt and dry my trainers ready for an ‘event’ on Saturday.


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Everyone Else’s Day

Yesterday was Father’s Day as it was in most of the world except it seems down under where they celebrate at a different time. Hubby has been referring to it all week as Father’s weekend, this pushing of the boundaries ended up biting him in the bum.

The original plan was to take him to Weston-Super-Mare where there was a Airshow, featuring the Red Arrows, with temperatures soaring this plan was abandoned in favour of a day at the Beach. Hubby made the sandwiches (first time in 15 years!), drove us to North Cornwall (he has the bigger car) and purchased Madam a new wet suit on the way. (He offered and I did not argue!) So you see Father’s Day soon became known as ‘Everyone Else’s Day in the Shazruns household.

We left Devon early and headed west, accompanied by clear blue skies and empty roads. En route there is a surf supplies shop, the idea was to pull in quick grab Madam a wet suit before continuing on to the beach, it should be easy right? A wet suit is a wet suit, usually black, made of neoprene sometimes a logo on the front. However I forgot to factor that the item was for Madam. Half an hour later we leave with a wet suit that makes Madam look like a Bond Girl and makes me feel old.

Windbreak, three chairs, an umbrella, three wet suits, towels, a picnic, two body boards and reading material, by the time we arrived at a suitable spot on the sand my arms were screaming out for the days of ‘here carry this bucket and spade’ beach excursions.

Madam had a mini melt down when she realised there was no signal on the beach, but soon got over this when the sun began to tan her body which hopefully will mean she will step away from the bottled one. A nice day was spent, some body boarding, some paddling, a bit of bat and ball, much eating and laying in the sun.

A lovely Everyone Else’s Day!



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The long slow run, with pitstops.

This week work has been slow, it is very much the calm before the storm, so I decided that to prevent another day staring at a lap top, I would take the day off to fit in a long slow run. The forecast was good and I was looking forward to it.

The run soon turned in to ‘How many Public toilets can I utilise during my run?‘, the answer is 5! Still can’t believe that I am full of that much ****!

I have come to the conclusion public toilets are like Ploughmans (yes really wait for it), some are all singing all dancing, with loo roll, clean, flushing, water, soap, dryers, door locks others are sparse on all. I love a Ploughmans but these too can vary some pubs you get a huge piece of fresh bread, a slab of cheese, home made chutney, fresh salad, and it looks like this

simply the best ploughmans I’ve had. Other pubs the portions are meagre, produce far from fresh and the chutney tasteless.

Todays loos were a varied bunch in order of usage they are

  • Newton Poppleford Car Park Ladies
  • Otterton Mill disabled toilet (I know I couldn’t find the ladies and things were tricky at this stage and it was before 9 so thought it would be ok)
  • Budleigh Salteron Ladies – half way up the hill
  • Exmouth Ladies by the Lifeboat station
  • Exmouth Ladies in the bus station

In order of good I recommend a visit, to bad avoid if you can, which clearly I couldn’t!

  • Otterton Mill:- Very clean, large cubicle, soap, hot and cold water and hand towels, yes a nice spot to place your bum if required
  • Budleigh Salteron:- The upside was if was half way up a hill which meant I had to running, the downside were the steps down in to the ladies. Clean, good flush.
  • Newton Poppleford:- Bit dark in these ones and the loo roll took some finding, but if you are taller than 5ft 3″ this won’t be a problem
  • Exmouth Ladies, bus station:- I was in this one so long I am surprised they did not charge me rent. There was no cold water for my hydration pack, I was past caring and couldn’t see a ‘not fit for drinking sign’ and things couldn’t get worse. Otherwise not too bad
  • Exmouth Ladies by Lifeboat station:-First two loos blocked, no paper, and once of those silly press button for soap/water/air things that I always mess up and end up drying my hands with soap.

So there you have it the inside information on the loos in East Devon.

I did manage 23 miles, it did take me forever mainly because I spent a lot of time sitting! That’s it now, I am going to be mainly running short for the next three weeks. Here are some pics from today, just be thankful they are of the countryside!




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Operation MFYOC Kicked off

I’m not a lover of acronyms, working in education I find they are overused, probably due to the shortage of time people have due to an extensive curriculum and assessment strategies, but that’s a discussion for another time not the day before a General Election. Anyway I find it hard to work them out and am forever asking their meaning. I find some acronyms have different meanings depending on context, when I stocked shelves at Sainsbury’s the abbreviation BWS stood for Beer Wines and Spirits, strangely enough within education this has a totally different meaning, but it might well be a good idea to use the Supermarket one.

You might notice an acronym in todays blog title, is it driving you mad yet trying to work it out? Wait for it……

2017 has seen me run almost 700 miles so far, but I have done absolutely no speedwork. (sorry I haven’t done any speedwork) No fartleks, no tempo sessions, no sprint 200m recover 200m. Lots of miles logged, but all slow. The unsurprising outcome from this is – I’m slower than I’d like to be.

So Move Faster You Old Cow was born. My new training plan. This was reinforced at Killerton parkrun this past week when marshal number 4 shouted just those words at me! Not really part of parkrun ethos is it, but it is ok as this particular marshal was just throwing the words back at me that, that I had messaged her in the week. I’m just hoping no one else thought it was directed at them! The greeting didn’t make me faster though but did make me laugh.

So last night I kicked off MFYOC by trying out a city run 5k in Exeter. This is a series of 6 5k’s held on a ‘A great traffic free and pancake flat run on footpaths and cycle tracks’, I am late to this party as this was the third round. The weather all day had been pretty bad but thankfully eased in time for me to register and run. As I limbered up (I use the term loosely!) I was very aware that the area was overrun with runners in club vests. Now I have a club vest specially created for VLM last year, but I had not even thought about wearing it, I was beginning to regret opting for my Little Miss Naughty vest, not exactly the look of a serious runner and believe me everyone else was a serious runner. Gulp. The start was adjacent to where I had parked, I was tempted to bolt but instead womaned up (or old cowed up) and joined the back of the select 100 runners!

The course is two laps, and yes pretty much pancake flat except for four ramps

not going to ever get much flatter than that in Devon!

Mile one, went ok, Mile two a slight deterioration, Mile three someone jumped on my back, my legs buckled under the extra weight and I slowed by 17 seconds. At the finish line I hurt. But on the upside I was two seconds off my Exeter parkrun (which has a similar elevation) PB, so not a bad start to MFYOC. Now to work out how to avoid picking up a passenger on that last mile.


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