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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Catch Up

Last weekend we had a long weekend in North Devon catching the last bit of the summer holidays before returning to school and work.

We did a bit of body boarding, a bit of walking, a bit cider drinking, a bit of cake eating, and bit of pasty consuming. Of course I managed a bit of a run too, along the coast Croyde to Woolacombe.

As I stepped out of the caravan at silly o’clock I was greeted by this beautiful sky

and once I was at the top the first hill the sun was coming up. Anyone who says I am mad for getting up early on a weekend away needs to just look at this photo. Not mad at all, I think I would be mad to stay in bed and miss this.

No filter or setting used, taken with my IPhone this is how it was, simply stunning sunrise!

The run was less than stunning but you can’t have it all can you, beautiful scenes and wonderful running legs!

Woolacombe beach was deserted except for me and the crow, the tide was on its way out so the sand nice and compact.

Fabulous so privileged to be able to and capable of running here.

A run was scheduled for the next day also, but some truly awful weather put paid to that!

This week was a ‘negative midas’ week for me. Everything Midas touched turned to gold, everything I have done this week has gone less than smoothly, work, parenting, running. Issues with getting my car fixed and replacing a mobile phone after Madam dropped it in the toilet (Apple pronounced it DOA and I gave it its last rights and I declared it ‘ Rest In P***!’ Although she does assure me that she hadn’t used the facility yet!) haven’t helped either to be fair! I have spent so much time firefighting the past five days that I am seriously contemplating getting myself some fire retardant trousers, a yellow helmet and access to a Hydrant!

Yesterday was parkrun day obviously and also the day I said a sad farewell to young Katy (I shall be nice to her now she is going! She is 40 so not really that young!) I shall miss her but so excited for her and the husb forthcoming adventure. They have taken a year out (this I have just been told may get an extension #notimpressed!) to travel, first stop Thailand. Sounds lovely doesn’t it? Except maybe when I mention the camping and cycling side of it. Brave, mad and adventurous. Go Katy and Ed! Thank goodness there is a blog to follow their travels, click here to see what they have been up to in the UK prior to their flight this week, click follow while you are there, its going to be amazing! I hate goodbyes, so it was a quick sweaty post 5k hug before I joined three other club mates for a gentle trot round the parkrun route again, after all why not repeat a muddy, slippy run if you can? The parkrun run itself was okay and I am trying to keep with my new parkrun ethos which is ‘run with effort lazy Shaz’ the result was mediocre, how can 9 seconds annoy you so much?

That brings us to today when I headed in to Exeter to run round it, using the Green Circle route. It was great to run this route again and not take a wrong turn for the first time, also great to go out of the village for a run. I saw two squirrels, two cats, a bunny and an abandoned Teddy Bear, he was wearing a hat, sensible Ted, but fear he was soaked.

So that brings you up to date with life here in Shaz’s world. I am hoping for a better week or might seek residence on another planet!

 

 

 

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The Crossing (of Dartmoor)

Firstly let me tell the non local readers about Dartmoor……………….

Dartmoor National Park is a vast moorland in the county of Devon, in southwest England. Dartmoor ponies roam its craggy landscape, defined by forests, rivers, wetlands and tors (rock formations). Trails wind through valleys with Neolithic tombs, Bronze Age stone circles and abandoned medieval farmhouses. The area is dotted with villages, including Princetown, home to Dartmoor Prison used during the Napoleonic Wars.
This is a map of Dartmoor
The red line is The Crossing route except it finished at South Brent-my Garmin keeled over two miles from the finish basically it was Georges was of telling me I had been out there too long, in fact he was just siding up with my legs! Thank God the brain is stronger!
Living in this small over populated Island it is easy to forget that there are areas of England where no-one lives except the cows, sheep and horses. That is what makes this area so special, miles and miles of panoramic views. 34 miles of which I plodded over yesterday.
As this was a linear route transport in the form of Double Decker buses was laid on to get us from Finish to Start. Double Decker buses are great in London for transporting commuters but load them with runners and all their mandatory kit send them up some hills and things get interesting. At points in the journey I really thought we should all lean forward just to help the bus get to the top of an elevation, but we made it at Belstone with plenty of time for three nervous wees and to register!
If you read the last post you will know that there was a mandatory kit list and because I am a good girl and there was no way I wanted to run 34 miles to get DQ’ed at the end I had it all, however it was obvious that many were not as well behaved. Sensible but naughty! My pack was heavy, Tommy the Turquoise Hydration Pack rubbed me up the wrong way, I am sure with some adjusting we will have many good adventures but right now I am sore……
angel wings my badge of honour!
Underfoot the course was the hardest I have ever done. Rocky, boulder strewn paths alternating with mudding bogs. Hills I can cope with but the unevenness of the paths soon took their toil on my body. By mile 11 my ankles hurt, I popped pills, by mile 20 my knees hurt, running was tough going, I think maybe 5 miles were on a surface you could run effectively on.
 The course was really well marked, across the moor where there wasn’t a path as such you followed little orange flags, whoever laid these out had a sense of humour or liked mud, many placed right in the bogs, deviations were needed.
The flags were quite literally a life saver, I used them to keep me going, run to the next flag Shaz, and the next one, walk to the orange flag Shaz then run and repeat for 10 miles! Despite being marked out so well, I still managed to go wrong twice-must work on that concentration.
In the beginning I saw people, I followed people
When I looked back I saw other runnersbut this was not the case for very long, soon I only saw humans at checkpoints.

See what I mean. Not a sole insight. This meant a call to Annie’s Mr Mental Toughness of as I like to call it ‘stubbornness’, a quality (I use the term loosely) that I have plenty of which probably makes me a night mare to live with, but is so very handy when endurance running!

I decided to keep myself company, conversation had dried up so singing it was then. Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights seemed apt-although the wrong moor, but seeing as I couldn’t remember the lyrics or for that matter hit those high notes whilst running I opted for the more simple, 10 Green Bottles, followed by There was 10 in the Bed and Kum ba yah, all those years Girl Guiding came in to their own!

You will notice from the pics that there is a lack of a bushes! When running distance it is critical at times to have a some cover occasionally. Fortunately a large piece of heather appeared at just the right time, my legs objected to the squat and despite a dodgy aim and consequently a wet foot, mission was accomplished before the runner behind me appeared saving his blushes and more importantly mine. God this long running stuff is just so damn glamorous!

The highlights from this amazing run were

  • The scenery
  • The checkpoints with amazing people who managed to fill my water pack up when I couldn’t think let alone operate my hands
  • The children selling water in aid of RNLI (the lowlight was my lack on cash!) bless them
  • The walkers on the moor who asked where was I running from (not who I was running from!) and wished me well with my journey
  • The ponies
  • The well marked course
  • The Medal
  • The stepping stones-although one set would have been enough!
  • The orange slice at mile 31 was simply the best thing I have ever tasted.

The whole idea behind entering this event as you know was to practice fuelling and recovery in preparation for the two-day event in October. Fuelling went well, with only one caffeine gel consumed at 25 miles, I didn’t sleep too bad last night and am not too stiff today but whether I could run that distance again today remains to be seen but until then I will try to find my ipod to save myself from my singing!

 

 

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New Kit!

Next weekend I am running North Dartmoor to South Dartmoor. This is a bit of a last-minute entry for me and I have decided to do it to practice fuelling, which I feel is something I have not yet mastered on these long runs and also feel it is the key to having a good experience or not as the case maybe.

In October I am doing a two-day event, 75 miles over two days so really need to crack this eating/drinking before during and after thing. I particularly want to give up the caffeine gels, although they work and get me to the end they also make sleep impossible and with the prospect of having to run another 30+ miles on day two I will need some sleep! Anyway that’s why I have entered yet another epic event, (thats my excuse and I am sticking with it) that and its localish and I love Dartmoor, gonna be beautiful!

The Crossing has a statutory kit list……..

Capacity to carry 1 litre of water
Survival blanket
Whistle
Spare baselayer – long sleeved
Waterproof jacket
Waterproof trousers
Hat/Headcover (buff/cap)
Emergency food
Mobile phone with Emergency numbers stored

Fortunately I had most of the required kit, I only had to purchase the waterproof trousers, I can’t even imagine running in them though without driving myself mad with the swish/swash sound generated when they rub together, to say nothing of the perspiring that would occur! But they are required kit so I will pack them, I don’t fancy getting to the end of the 34 miles to get disqualified! Now its all very well having all the gear but my compact hydration pack was never going to hold everything, well least that is what I decided late last night!

Much of the night was spent researching on the web. Some of the packs are very nice I am sure but at £150 I expect them to carry me, not the other way round! Then I realised they came in sizes too and gender, oh my this was getting complicated. This coupled with the short time frame and possibly having to pay for express delivery (oh the shock, I hate paying for postage BUT express??? this was not going to happen) I abandoned the web and this morning set off to shop the old-fashioned way.

Now as you know Devon is fabulous, fabulous for scenery, fabulous for beaches, fabulous for cream tea, fabulous for hills, but it is not fabulous in its abundance of sporting shops. I was not holding out much hope

First stop Up and Running. I flicked through their small selection, discarding those too small, too bulky and too expensive. Fortunately Up and Running is located within a Snow + Rock shop and as we wandered to the back of the shop it occurred to us that they might stock packs. Bingo. One Osprey pack found, right price, nice colour and lots of pockets. The only down side is it doesn’t have a bladder included but I am hoping the one from the Camelbak will it, I guess I should check that out!

shopping

 

 

 

 

 

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Training Plans

I usually follow a training plan of sorts, over the years these have taken on different formats

  • Marathon number 1 I followed a plan in Non Runners Guide to Marathon Running- simply the best plan for that first time
  • I have downloaded plans from Runners World Magazine web site
  • I have placed them on the fridge ticking off the runs as I go
  • I have placed a page on here, changing the font colour to red once done
  • Last year I created my own plan for my first Ultra fitting it in around my life and using expert knowledge gleaned from the web
  • January I created another plan, got injured and did  not look at it again-not the ideal way to train!

What ever method chosen for me a plan is necessary it keeps me on the straight and narrow.

Recently I have tried something new. I have registered on Trainasone. Carla (lapsed blogger) told me about it when she came down for a weekend, apparently Rachel (also lapsed blogger) had used it and credited it with her recent GFA marathon time. Now I don’t have any aspirations for a GFA but this kind of plaudit needed to be followed up. Trainasone is web based and was free, now they are starting to charge. Basically you enter your goal EG race date and time to complete and it spits out a plan. They like you to do a couple of assessment runs and the plan adjusts from there.  The night before a run it emails you to tell you what needs to be done and you can see the plan for up to two weeks ahead. If you have a new fancy Garmin you can even send the workout to your device, mine is not fancy, so I resort to writing the details on a piece of paper for reference, After the run, you get another email wanting you to confirm what you have done, it syncs with Strava after this syncs with Garmin!

So what do I think?

The Jury is out! The good parts

  • Having the donkey work done for you
  • The emails before and after
  • Being able to see what is ahead
  • Having it adjust depending I assume on performance
  • I love the varied pacing of the runs and that it adjusts for the elevation locally!
  • The charts!!!!
  • The running maps- I love the places I have run maps-in Europe and UK! simply the best part!

The not so good parts

  • Not being able to adapt the plan-I would like to be able to tell it I can’t do the run on a certain day and move it to an other
  • If I pause the Garmin (comfort break) it counts this time, it works on the theory that this is resting time so needs to be counted I would argue that squatting somewhere is NOT rest!
  • I have set the Goal of 50k for October. This weekend it wanted me to do a 1.2 mile recovery run-seriously who goes out for a 1.2 mile run???? Hardly worth getting the kit dirty in my opinion
  • This weekend it wanted me to do very little, I ignored it and did 23 miles over the two days (ok badly but I did it), it now says I shouldn’t run till Wednesday! Mmmmmmm
  • The charts………..for rocket scientists only!

Definitely a case of trail and error. Looking ahead it wants me to do some longer runs so I might do as I am told once we get there, no promises though!

 

 

 

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Family holiday 2017-Crete

It’s all been quiet on the blog front here at shazruns, the reason for this is the annual family holiday. Now usually I entertain (bore?) you all with a daily update on our holiday adventures but this year I saved you from that mainly beacause this holiday was different from our norm-this was a lay by a pool holiday. I might have been able to write a daily blog about this but entertaining it wouldn’t have been, unless I regaled you with stories of inappropriate swimwear, children hiding under towels with their technology, inflatables that were shaped like slices of pizza, the family who pitched up by the poolside with a cooler and wheeled suitcase full of sports paraphernalia, the constant chatter of the barman at the next hotel and constant noise of the cicadas, still not scintillating stuff is it!?  

It might not surprise you to hear that I am not a “lay-by-the-pool-holiday’ kinda gal! Zzzzzzzzzzzz. I knew I would find it tough. We did manage one trip out to the most amazing beach I have ever been to.


PARADISE!

Running was only possible first thing in the morning due to the heat and this I managed only three times due to being laid low with a cold. One morning I run up to the German War cemetery, certainly a first for me! Wow what a place it was too, the most incredible view from the top


I think I would take great comfort from it, if I found my loved ones were buried in such a beautiful place.

This was my first visit to Crete (unless you count a day trip circa a very long time ago which I dont!) so what do I think?

  • It’s a country that is not finished-empty plots, half built buildings, rubble everywhere
  • Wifi and 3G signal all over Crete puts the uk to shame
  • Their cats are smaller and sleepier
  • Churches are everywhere, in the middle of nowhere, right next door to houses, bars, sea, big to large to holds a congregation of two, old to brand spanking new.
  • Very few places charge for parking, even the paradise beach car park had no pay and display machine which made it even more paradise like!
  • Trees are planted and saved just to park your car under it seems, and with that heat it is no surprise!
  • When you ask for the restaurant bill you get the bill and  fresh fruit, possibly cake/ice cream and raki. Raki tastes just like paint stripper in my opinion but I partook all the same mainly in an attempt to kill off the lurgy.
  • When riding a motorbike/scooter/quad bikes helmets are not a requirement and helmets are carried on the arm when travelling which must only mean that Cretans consider it very important to protect their elbows. From this I surmise that this is so they can partake in  arm wrestling! 

So there you have it Crete in a shaz nutshell! 

After eating my body weight in Feta cheese in a week it is now time to get back with the running, normal service will be resumed. Until then here are some holiday snaps. X

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