Sunday, 11 November 2012

That's all folks

Miles to date: 1011
Races to date: 36
£££ to date: £1307 online, £170 cash 

I'm not sure how to start this blog other than to say ... no ... shout 
"I've run a 1000 miles!" 
This has been the most amazing year. 11 months ago when I set myself this challenge I had absolutely no idea just how brilliant an experience it would be. I have met some of the most wonderful, kind, caring, supportive and inspirational people. I have run on fells I would never have dreamt I could even get close to running on. I have achieved the biggest goal I have ever set myself and, in doing so, raised nearly £1500 for Asthma UK and Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice. 

We met on Saturday morning at The Fisherman at Bingley and I was expecting about 15 - 20 fellow runners, some of whom would be suitably attired in celebratory Tutu's. 

Shortly before 10:30am we had a gathering of 35 wonderful folk, 3 dogs, and a stunning display of Tutu craziness, some even specially designed and made in our club colours. Of particular note were Simon who was almost too enthusiastic, modelled my burlesque style Tutu adopting a slight sashay to his running gait (not sure he'll let me have it back now). Trevor sparkled slightly in the bright sunshine with the sequins on his hot pink number setting off the glow in his cheeks. 

I was totally bowled over - I had picked the date without realising there was also Cross-countries later in the day and the Bingley Harriers V Cyclists race from the same venue in the afternoon (made for a very busy pub with happy landlords!). Camille, Dianne, Helen and Lorna were all using this 6ish mile trot as a warm up for their cross country (something slightly wrong about that but nuff said)! Big thanks to Matt and Roy from The Fisherman at Bingley for allowing me to wake them up and then trample around their lovely pub leaving various children and Irene there for the duration of the run! Very sadly Irene couldn't run with us as she has such a painful cellulitis infection in her foot. Given that she was the inspiration behind the run it was very sad that she wasn't able to run but I am hugely grateful that she still turned up to see us off and support me. A very special lady! 

The wonderful Mike arrived as promised to provide event photography services and I'm sure you'll agree did a superb job at capturing the colour, energy and happiness gathered together on a gorgeously beautiful November morning. 

Setting off along the tow path, on to the river path before cutting up a steepish ascent on to the top of Shipley Glen we passed walkers, cyclists, runners, rowers (on the river), spectators and parents watching the rowing and most of them barely passed comment as this trail of tutu clad, chattering runners passed them! 

Once up on to the Glen the dogs raced rings round us enjoying the size of the pack they had been adopted in to. 

As we ran I chatted to many people who I've only really shared greetings with both virtually through facebook land or in person when our paths have crossed in brief moments of time.  From tales of massive lakeland adventures and plans for Bob Graham rounds through to some who had never run off road before we had the most wonderful group together all sharing what was for me, my biggest achievement. Some will run 3 or 4 times the distance I have managed, others will have their own targets and goals. What's certain is that we can all achieve far more when we have the support of friends, colleagues and like minded people who share their achievements and experiences to help and support others to achieve theirs, what ever they are. 

We gathered together at the trig at the top of Baildon Moor. Thanks to Stuart for picking me up and depositing me on the top! Trigs are always great for panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and this one was no exception - a crystal clear morning, blue sky, fluffy clouds, autumnal leaves and orange moorland stretching out in to the distance.  

Trotting back down through the bogs and tussocks. Ellie decided she'd had enough and tried to vote with her paws - staying firmly on the road watching us all disappear down in to the valley. Simon looped back to provide some encouragement and sure enough she ran down to join back up with Sue! 

This1000th mile run was the most special and amazing experience which is beautifully captured on this perfect little film (click here opens in a new window) from David and Bridget who I thank from the bottom of my heart. They too started running last year and have some fabulous stories to tell of their new adventures!

So I've done it with 7 weeks to spare. No need for plan B which was to spend every day of my Christmas holiday running to catch-up and fit them all in. This crazy year has been made even more special by some of the lovely people I have had the privilege of meeting and sharing stories and inspiration with. 

I won't list everyone but a few deserve an extra mention; 
Caren - you know why and I say no more! Vicky Young who inspires and cares. Irene for being the DB. Jill who does so much so quietly. Camille the lakeland introduction and so much more. Emily for being there with confidence. Tina - you made me cry. Judith, Katrina, Koleen, Diane M, Lorna, Janet, Jane you all get out and do so much that inspires and supports me and loads of others. Diane W I look forward to a few more bogs with you! Kim - you made my legs hurt! Bev - Calderdale way leg 1 I say no more! Emma "The Tap" Dooks you shine. Kirsty foaming trousers Champ!  Diane Rundle - you are brilliant but haven't worked that out yet, you will! Helen C who trusted me to get her from Ilkley to Bingley - we managed! Arthur for pushing me along the ast few miles of the YORM. Steve (Amex) Taylor for pushing me hard and letting me get lost on Coniston. Steve Foster - your words and constant support are so wonderful. Mrs Stagger aka Linda a great sweeper! Hazel and Mike who swept me down from Coniston. The Ballentines one and all - you are a family of inspiration. Brett, Charlie, Sue, Dave, AliG, JAD, Ian, Tim, Tizz, Liz, Lady Katie, Fraser, J-P you are just superb to know and make such a brilliant club I am so proud to be a member of. The KCAC Ready2Run Group - you're not ready you are running, come do some fells with me! Todmorden Women - you inspire me so much and you know who you all are! Wharfedalers, especially Sharon, you're great! Noo - you're brill and I look forward to Tri13! Dave and Eileen I have no words you are just brilliant. Giles the purple tutu suits you Sir! Drs Walder (is that the right plural?) your both stars! Everyone I have run with - my miles have been so much more pleasurable because of all of you. Every race organiser, marshal and volunteer - I pay tribute and make thanks to you all for making this community of fell racing happen. 

I know I will have missed many who are very special and for that I blame the fact I can't continue as the tissue box is empty now. You have given me so many memories and experiences I will treasure forever. 

Those of you who have sponsored me - I can't list you all but a MAHOOSIVE  thanks from the bottom of my heart - Asthma UK and Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice are so appreciative and will use every penny wisely. 

My final words on this. Simon - I never thought I'd run with you! Thank you for encouraging, supporting and giving me the space and time to do this ridiculous thing - Welsh 3000's! 
And my amazingly wonderful children - Rosie and Ben. You have been just wonderful - running with me, standing round in the cold, trailing round the country, sitting in pubs whilst the post run drinking antics take place, being the photographer, supporting, encouraging. I really couldn't have asked for more.  

I might write a few more blogs when I have a great experience or event that I want to share - I've still got four more races to complete my 40 challenge - but for now, thanks for reading and 

Friday, 9 November 2012

Shepherds Skyline Anniversary Race

Miles to date: 995
Races to date: 36
£££: £1,127 (and rising as I type) plus £70 cash offline

One year ago I ran my first real fell race and finished it! The Shepherds Skyline is a 6 and a bit mile fell race, superbly organised by Todmorden Harriers.
One November morning last year I woke up and decided I wanted to have a go at this. I did, I was terrified at the start line, I loved it! 

It sets off up a muddy single track steady ascent up to the skyline. The pace is set by the person you get stuck behind unless you can nimbly skip past them without falling flat on your face slipping in the squelchy mud! I suppose I should apologise to all those who get stuck behind me but the slow steady pace suits me just fine so by the time I reach the top my lungs will have to work and I should be able to stretch my legs out and enjoy the bog trotting!  

Simon had decided he needed an excuse to be steady so, as with the Bronte Way last week, he ran with me. This race was different for me though as I wanted, needed to beat my time from  last year. I was determined to prove to myself that the last years effort and work would come to fruition in a much improved time. For my first proper race I was stupidly pleased with my time and place last year - I was more taken with the buzz and endorphin high that I discovered when I finished!!

So - 2011 result was 87 minutes 27 seconds - 74th of 82 Women. What would 2012 be?

Photo courtesy of Tod Harriers
I set off full of cold but dosed up with lemsip and ibuprofen. As I reached the top of the skyline and the land levelled out into the boggy rocky path towards the Pike I knew I was racing - rather than running. It was a cold but mostly clear day with the views from across Stoodley moor which are just stupendous. Stretching out across the moor and I felt great. I had managed to push quite hard up the ascent and both Caren and Sarah were within sight - I wouldn't be catching them today but wanted to stay close enough to have them in my sights!

I felt really good running over the tops, not passing anyone but staying with those in front and not many passed me. From Stoodley Pike the descent goes straight down to London road - a steep, muddy and fast descent that allowed me to open up - although at one point screeching to   a skidding halt as the mud turned out to be very slippy rock! 

Along London Road - for London friends reading this you wouldn't recognise the road really and it doesn't lead to the smoke either - through the deep puddles and farm slurry until the marshals send you directly back up through the swamp like bogs steeply back up to the Skyline. Settling in to a steady grind I was determined to not let anyone past even though I could feel my legs waning of energy as my steps got slower and shorter. 
Once at the top though, the bit between my teeth, I knew exactly how far it was back to the finish and I absolutely knew I needed to get past a few runners in front of me. I really ran. Even the pictures look like I was running - as opposed to my usual poses! Running past Dave and Eileen in their photographer modes is always rewarding but today was even more so - thanks so much for your never ending support and encouragement. 

The final descent to the finish was fantastic - I felt great, trying to place my feet to avoid an embarrassing mud slide finish,  I passed two or three others as  I really tried to open up and push my limits, oh and make Simon at least look as if he was making some effort!!! 

So the result - 75 minutes 30 seconds - a 12 minute improvement well worth the effort and more importantly  I loved it! 

Tomorrow will be my 1000th mile run  .... will you be able to join us? 

Monday, 29 October 2012

Bronte Way

Miles to date: 958
Races to date: 34 
£££ to date: £987 + £65 cash offline - £1052 

Well the 1000th mile is very nearly with me now! I've had to start really thinking about how many miles I am doing to limit them as every mile brings me closer at a pace a bit faster than I had planned. I really want my 1000th mile to be with some of the wonderful people who have encouraged, supported, cajoled and helped me along the way throughout this challenge so need to make sure I reach it on the 10th November and not before! I thought I had planned it out so that, if I pushed myself a bit harder, the 10th was a good target but over the last couple of months my runs seem to have crept up in their mileage from 5 to 6 to 7 and weekly totals are mostly now over 25 and increasing 30+. That does give me a real sense of how I have progressed since I started this madness. I might still be slow and I may still run a lot fewer miles than some reading this but I am immensely satisfied with what I can now do. 

I've even managed to get down to the Club for a few Thursday night training sessions in the last few weeks. What a fantastic place it is on a Thursday! A complete hive of activity with multiple junior sessions, at least 4 different senior groups from the serious elite mixed up with those just starting out it's a great atmosphere. I've also been amazed at just how much I hurt afterwards! I did a beginners speed session a couple of weeks ago - short sprints in pyramids, pushing yourself as fast as you can. I could barely move the next day! I'm told it will do me good though - thanks Kim! 

I've had a couple of good, fast (for me) runs in London, one in company, thanks to Mr Wild. I find it very intimidating and anxiety inducing running with new people. Will I be able to keep up? Will they expect me to talk and run? So far, I've enjoyed every run with a new person so don't really know what I'm bothering about. I still do though! Last weeks companion led me round a scenic tour of London Bridges, along stretches of the Thames and weaving through back streets where the river paths vanished. At roughly 8.5 minute mile pace for almost 7 miles we did talk and I had a geography lesson on the construction of the landscape - having never realised how the rivers curve and bridge placements work so all routes lead back to Elephant and Castle maybe I won't take such circuitous routes to venues in the future! I had a real buzz when we got back - a fast run and good company along a new route. Thanks Richard, see you in a couple of weeks! 

This Sunday was the Bronte Way. An 8 mile race organised by our club and a route that I've run a few times with Blue as a training run / dog walk. It's unusual as it's a linear point to point race, starting out in Lancashire at Wycoller Park the route is a mix of trail and fell with some fabulously boggy bits and steepish descents to slither down! Finishing up the steep cobbles of Haworth main street amidst the tourists who look a bit askance at bedraggled, mud covered, vest clad runners who have to force themselves up the last few metres to finish with a bottle of Timothy Taylors!

Simon has hurt his ankle again - mainly due to no training or strengthening exercises and only racing so no sympathy please it'll only make him worse! To stop him from racing he decided to commit to running this one with me. We do run a bit together mostly with Blue but Simon's forte isn't training or running when it's not a race he doesn't tend to do as many miles as me it's just that the miles he does run he runs faster in races!! He had decided that he would attempt to push me to run faster than I would usually. Obviously when I'm running in races normally I don't  try to run as fast as I can. 

The start of the Bronte Way is a fairly unpleasant mile or so up a steadily inclining track. It's not hugely steep but it just keeps going up. At Simon's instigation we started further forward than I would normally and the pace at the start was way beyond my comfort zone. Mostly men, huffing, puffing, some tutting as they ran round and past me. My start was faster than normal but not a pace I could sustain for very long. Gradually I dropped back to a place in the field where I could at least breath, or try to! My breathing was the worst it's been for a long time and I really struggled to get into a rhythm. I've had an underlying cold for a week or so, nothing bad enough to make me poorly but enough to make breathing a bit harder than I would like.  As soon as the uphill track finally ended and we turned across on to the fell I felt better. 

The middle section is classic fell, little single track paths through heather moor, up and down gullies, wading through bogs, lots of styles and wall crossings. This is the sort of running I love and am probably at my strongest. I passed a few runners who had passed me earlier and I gradually pulled myself further forward until I found a fellow Keighley runner - Diane, who is a road runner on the fells under sufferance (or so she says!). I passed her at a particularly boggy section where I ploughed straight on through leaving Diane behind to delicately pick her way over! 
"It's all right for you Fell runners" she shouted as I ran off across the knee deep bog. 
I managed to keep in front of her as I used all of my off road techniques to get up and down the very muddy and wet fields and fells, keeping a steady pace and really stretching out down the hills. Until we reached the metalled road when Diane's road experience and speed lifted her up and she trotted past me and away putting a minute or so between us. 
"It's all right for you road runners" I retorted to her quickly disappearing back! 

At Ponden Reservoir - thanks for the encouragement Mrs Newbold x
We dropped down and along the side of Ponden Reservoir. Whilst everyone else seems to be able to up their pace once they hit the tarmac I just want to stop! I had twisted my ankle as we came through a gate on the tops and I was desperate to find a stream or deep puddle to stick my foot in to try and limit the swelling. By the time we started to pull up on the hill to Bronte moor I had splashed through a dozen potholes and the pain in my ankle had subsided enough to know I could carry on. 

Caught eating jelly babies on Penistone - cheers Mr Woodhead x 
The final pull up on to the top hurt but I did close the gap a bit that Diane had managed to put between us. As we dropped down to Bronte Falls I knew we only had a couple of miles left and this path is very familiar to me. Emma came past me on the track shouting that we were going to break 1hour 30minutes and to come on! I tried to pick up my pace to keep up with her fast disappearing heels but all my energy and strength seemed to be ebbing away. This last section is easy, I run it all the time with Blue. It's not far. It's mostly flat. Why on earth wouldn't my legs work? Diane W steam rollered past me with such a steady and solid gait. They both set off a pace across Penistone Moor as I scrambled to find jelly babies and glucose tablets to attempt to dig the last mile out of my fast fading body. Mr and Mrs Woodhead were hidden at the top, shielded by a leafless tree and sheltering from the steady drizzle ready to point their cameras at unsuspecting jelly baby scoffing runners!!! 

Mind over matter and we finally ran through Weavers Hill car park, dropping down into the village to start the last 100 metres of torture up the cobbles. It was a fantastic feeling and I have no idea where I found the last dregs of energy but I did run every step up those cobbles and managed to squeak over the finish line at 1hour 29minutes 34seconds - a result I am very happy with! 

The rest of this week is a busy one! The Howler tonight, night race on Thursday (note to self: time to stock up on batteries), Shepherds Skyline on Saturday and Cop Hill, Meltham on Sunday. Saturdays race will mark my first full year fell running - Shepherds Skyline was my first race so I'll be trying to make sure I push for a time that shows some improvement in the last 12 months! 

Don't forget it would be fabulous to see you if you can join us on Saturday 10th November 2012, 10:30am start at The Fishermans Inn, Wagon Lane, Bingley for a social trot out up to Baildon moor. Fancy dress optional!! You'll also be very welcome to keep some seats warm in the Fishermans if you don't fancy running!

Big big thanks to Tizz for the lovely card and cash, Kim who as well as making me hurt also tipped the fundraising over the £1000 mark with her cash donation.  
Camille, Schwampy and Mother, Val, Noreen, Sue H, Lisa Smedley, Deborah and Stu Walton and Vicky Young who have all made fabulous donations online in the last couple of weeks - thank you all so very much you really have helped to motivate and push me out in all weathers! 

Sunday, 21 October 2012

A perfect day for Withens Skyline

Miles to date: 930 
Races to date: 33 
££ to date: £892 (inc £45 cash offline)

Withens Skyline Fell Race - this is a beautiful, 6.5mile loop running out from Penistone Hill up t'Stoop, o'er t'moor, on t'Top Withens and back via Bronte Falls. This years race was a stunner. The day glorious in autumnal sunshine and unseasonably hot! 

I really didn't feel great. We'd been partying the night before (thanks Sian and Tony) which obviously required the consumption of a few glasses of the red stuff. I'd also had a sore throat for most of the week and niggling cold like symptoms which were clearly additional to the 'hangover like' symptoms the red stuff had caused. Add in to the mix some sleep deprivation and it was the perfect cocktail for assembling at the start of this little race! 

It was a great turn out and totally different atmosphere to usual. No one was hopping from foot to foot, the air wasn't hanging frozen as your breath left your body, that yellow golden orb hanging low in the sky was caressing everyone in a big warm hug! Lots of happy, smiley faces and the chitter chatter of folks who haven't seen each other since the last time they were stood around on a moor anticipating the torture to come. 

I paid no attention at the start, other than to note the distinct lack of fancy Hallowe'en dress, and as a result set off further back in the field than my plan which had been to stick tight to the Crabtree woman (hadn't told her that though)! Leaving the quarry and setting off at a stop start pace held by the bottle necking as the pack moved through the winding, hole filled, muddy path I did wonder why I'd set off. 

Breathing over the first two or three miles was a bit of a problem. My nose didn't work, my lungs felt constantly empty and I developed a stitch in my shoulder (I now have the explanation for that thanks C). The ground was wonderfully spongy with bog in bogs and more boggyness filled with liquid peat and moss covered lagoons of muddiness. The great bonus of running towards the back of a fell race is jumping through peat bogs churned up by 500+ feet! 

As we climbed up toward the Stoop I found some hidden energy and found myself gaining on Camille who was elegantly wading through patches of knee deep moss bog. However, my lack of any breakfast left me with nothing as she pulled away on the flat past the Stoop and across the waterlogged peat to Withens. 

I run up there a lot with Blue and I can't but help smile at just how astoundingly beautiful it is and we had a picture perfect day lending a view across miles and miles into the distance. I found my legs as we left the ruin at Top Withens and set off down to Bronte Waterfalls. I found myself passing Lorna, a friend and slightly younger Keighley member but a much better runner than me. Once in front of her I found something in me that kept me going - perhaps I was having a better run than I had thought! I could see Camille just in front and as I climbed up the side of the waterfall I caught sight of the lovely Mrs Newbold. Buoyed I climbed well but as I hit the flat moor at the top I crashed! 
The final furlong with some amazing support from friends and spectators - thanks everyone! 
No breakfast was a terrible idea! I had absolutely nothing left in me. Last nights wine had got me this far but even that volume of calories had run out. Lorna bounced past me as we approached the end of the fell - such energy! The last mile or so felt like wading through treacle. My legs were leaden, feet dragging but the support, cheers and claps as I struggled up the hill to the finish - all hope of catching anyone vanished into another pipe dream - was just fabulous. Thank you so much - especially to Jath who cheered "the scary lady" - made me smile a lot!!! 
Joe, Katie, Caren, Dave and yours truly - very scary! Thanks to Dave Woodhead for another classic picture!  
Perhaps I should have said earlier - I ran as a Vampire in full face paint, glittering in the sunshine. I did win a prize ... for the fancy dress - the only one daft enough! 

To finish I must say thanks to everyone who has sponsored me so far and a particularly massively enormous bucketful of thanks to Vodka - you star mate - I'll get you up P-y-G next month. And extra thanks with a hug to Frances for her second donation in memory of her friend - you're a special lady Fran x 

Simon and I taking in the sun watching the Quarry runs
70 miles to go .......

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Headtorches along the home straight

Miles to date: 908
Races to date: 32 (nothing new since my last blog)
££ to date: £717 (inc £35 cash offline) 

Headtorch running is back with us. Winter seems to have landed with a bump but in between the torrential downpours that have left paths on the moor as knee deep streams we have had some of the most crystal clear and perfect days. 
I've really tried to get out on these glorious days to soak up the Autumnal sunshine and explore moorland paths that I haven't roamed along before. These pictures are from a trot out that took us from home up on to Penistone moor, out to Bronte Falls, over part of the Bronte Way before cutting off to the right to contour round Ponden Clough. 

At the head of the Clough (Blue had a well deserved paddle and drink in the stream) we bore left, past the grouse butts, to go up and across the open moor. Following sheep tracks and running over tussocks and heather covered moorland we reached the rock strewn 'summit'. 

Looking out up north to see Whernside in the far distance and west across Lancashire with not a soul in sight. The clouds hanging like candy floss in a Simpsons sky - just how lucky am I to be able to run here from my front door! 

It's not all been picture postcard days - if only. The last few weeks I've mainly run on my own, after work, in the dark and rain, headtorch on. I've gone out and run when I really didn't want to and had a fantastic time trotting through bogs up to me bum with Blue tearing across sodden peat moor. I've gone out when I really didn't want to and hated it, headtorch has run out of battery leaving me stumbling around in the pitch black in the middle of the moor, Blue has been an overexcited pain pulling and racing off in the opposite direction - trust me 'dog assisted' running really isn't a help when it's 6stone pulling against you in any direction except the one you want to go in.    

But I've still gone out and run - I wouldn't have done without this challenge pushing me on and the support and encouragement I've had from so many people but especially KCAC friends (both past and present members!). 

The Club has regular sessions every Tuesday and Thursday which I have never been too, well apart from 7 / 8 years ago when I went with Ben and Rosie to chat to the other Mum's and watch! I've managed to get down to 2 recently - both of which were just great! Somehow I landed on 'speed' sessions for both - something I really don't do!  Tarmac and sprinting or sustained fast running are really not for me! What was brilliant was being part of the atmosphere - it is a fabulous club to be part of as everyone is encouraged, supported and helped to beat their own demons, achieve their own challenge and, most of all, have fun trying! 

A chaotic week involving the Daughter having her appendix removed plus other family events meant I had some unexpected time off work and a London free week. This fortuitously chance to join one of the regular Wednesday club social runs. I've never managed to get to one of these but what a lovely evening run with fabulous people including meeting the infamous Derby Tup - a pleasure Sir. I have not a clue where we went as Blue and I followed Emily and it was dark! Our headtorches found the monument above Kildwick with a short pause for collective admiration of the new Jubilee inscriptions in the rock. It was a real treat to have such great company for a mid week run. Blue thoroughly enjoyed having many bottoms to sniff and feet to chase! 

Thanks to the amazing Andy Holden for this memory of the Rombalds Romp
So, come join me for the 1000th mile run - I really can't quite get my head round this being just round the corner. When I decided to try and do this 1000 mile challenge last Christmas I had envisaged me spending most of my Christmas holiday in 2012 desperately trying to finish. I planned for at least 6 weeks of not being able to run and aimed at an average of 20 miles per week. As it is, I've only had 3 weeks where I haven't been able to run due to injury, illness and a Skiing trip. My average mileage is working out at 22 miles per week with some weeks topping 30+ miles. 

To celebrate my 1000th mile and say thanks for all of the support, encouragement I've had, the new friends I've made and the experiences this challenge has brought me throughout the year we're planning a 1000th mile social run - if you're reading this and you can get to Bingley on the 10th November for 10:30am please come and join us - run, trot, walk, bring your dog, children, anyone who wants to join in! Matt and Roy at the The Fisherman Inn, Wagon Lane, are kindly supporting me to mark this achievement by giving us the use of the pub to set off from and finish at. The route(here) will be almost the same as the Bingley Harriers Vs Cyclists race (same day, same venue, different time) just a slightly different start to take account of the private land the race route runs through. If you're able to join us it would be wonderful to see you, even better if you fancy donning a tutu or other fancy dress!  

Next races - it's a busy few weeks coming up! 
Withens Skyline - 21st October - a Woodentops race organised by the fabulous Dave and Eileen Woodhead. The route is fabulous and one that I've run a few times with Blue. 

Bronte Way - 28th October, a KCAC organised race. Last year I was too apprehensive and unsure of my own ability to have a go at this so instead I helped at the finish clocking runners over the line. This year I'm really looking forward to the final torture of running up the cobbles on main street, followed by a beer at the finish! 

Shepherds Skyline - 3rd November - a Todmorden Harriers race - this was my first fell race last year and I loved all of it, even the muddy knee deep slurry as you ascend from London Road! It will be interesting to see if my time has improved over the last 12 months. 

Cop Hill - 4th November - Meltham AC - this will be a great race, running around my old stomping ground (we used to live over in Marsden)

Hhhmm two races in a weekend plus a family party inbetween - not sure how that's all going to go but we'll give them a try and hope for the best! 

Into double figures now the next few weeks will be a different challenge, many races, lots of darkness, wet, cold and batteries! Can't wait!

My usual reminder of the Just Giving page - if you can spare a few pennies both Asthma UK and Manorlands will put them to good use helping to change and improve the lives of so many -

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Failure through to Yorkshireman wonders

Miles to date: - 807 
Races to date: - 32 
DNF: -
££:- £642

It's been a busy few weeks (months) since I last made the time to write down all that I'm up to so I apologise in advance if this is a bit of a long and incoherent ramble. 

I left you last with my success on Snowdon and looking forward to Borrowdale ... that beautifully scenic but hard as nails Lakeland classic. But before we get to Borrowdale there was some fun to be had at Idle Trail race which popped up on the weekend of the Anniversary of Eddie's death. 

Alone at the PC on a Saturday evening, and being a bit reflective, as I am prone to being on occasion, I suggested to some of the lovely Keighley and Craven women that perhaps, just maybe, they'd like to consider donning a tutu and run with me to celebrate Eddie's life. I had no idea just how much the troups, aided by that wonderful social media of facebook, could rally. Just how many tutus is it possible to find with less than 14 hours notice? 

Janet, Rachel, me, Diane, Irene, Lorna, Katrina and Tina
You are all truly WONDERFUL women x 
We had a fabulous run out and I thoroughly enjoyed have the privilege of Irene, the duracell bunny, and Katrina for a talkative and sociable 10km! 

An enormous thank you to all of the KCAC women, and Shaun, who helped me mark the 5th anniversary and celebrate the life of my brother - who after all is a large part of the reason I'm doing any of this malarkey! If you haven't already feel free to cough up a few coppers
Katrina, Irene Duracell Bunny and Me
I'm going to skim over the Borrowdale epic as quickly as possible - it will sit with me as unfinished business until one day I manage to get myself round it. 

Borrowdale Fell Race is well known as one of the toughest in the Fell racing calendar. A big Lakeland classic - 17 miles covering 6500ft of ascent including Scafell Pike and Great Gable. The scenery is just breath taking. 

I'd had some physio on my knee, I followed all the advice, it had been OK(ish) on Snowdon, I'd been really careful so touch wood with a following wind it would be fine. Much messing around with bum bags and back packs ended in me deciding on both - so indecisive! 
Shaun with his back to us, J-P, me, Camille

Off we set along the narrow lane and on to an even narrower path alongside the river, good slow pace as everyone jostled through the gate and found their place on the path. We broke out on to the fell and started the steep ascent up to Bessy Boot, the first checkpoint. About two-thirds (maybe less) of the way up I could feel my knee tightening and pulling. Slowly climbing up the fellside I had to make the decision about whether this early warning was a false alarm or if I continued whether I was putting myself at unnecessary risk. Once past Bessy Boot there aren't really any more bail out options that don't involve significant ascent and descents. With a very heavy heart I told Camille my decision and we parted, her to continue and me to find my way back to Rossenthwaite. 

I know that pulling out was the right choice - some would say I was daft for even attempting it, injury or not, but I'm glad I tried and I will most definitely be back next year!  

A week or so later and Crow Hill Reverse Fell Race was a lovely little 5 mile stretch out with a most impressive number of KCAC women on the Fell. Between Caren and me we seemed to have mustered (coerced) some interest! OK so it started on a steep continuous ascent that carried on for a few miles before you turned round and ran all the way back down - it's a great little fell race and the T-Shirts are great! 

And then it was holiday time! Our annual pilgrimage to Fairport Convention's Cropredy Convention hasn't previously involved any running, more staggering (aided by helpful children) back to tents after great music and much beer. However, this year and I'd heard a whisper of a run from the main stage on Saturday morning. Obviously this couldn't be missed so Simon and I arrived, shuffling around a bit, and were very relieved when other folk in running attire shuffled towards us. This was the annual Cropredy Hash House run! For those of you unaware of Hash runs I strongly suggest you have a look. 
The 2012 Cropredy Hash Runners 
After a short introduction and set of instructions about  the trail and what the various symbols we would find meant off we set. 7 miles or so later having run off last nights beer, seen some lovely countryside (and the motorway), chatted to some lovely folks and generally had a lovely time we arrived back, via the crew entrance to the festival field and into the back of the Wadsworth bar where barrels of beer awaited! 

Some time and a few small beers later we arrived back at our tents far more educated about the world of hash running than we had been on departure! See you all next year! 

Out from Manorbier
Onwards into our holiday and the need to make sure I kept up my mileage was made a complete pleasure by the beauty of the landscapes I was able to trot along through - Blue keeping me constant company and charming everyone we came across. 

Bristol Downs, Pembrokeshire coastal paths and some lovely tracks around Narbeth. Combining my runs with trips to the beach so everyone was happy meant Blue and I often got to swim at the end of our runs - even better!
Having run a few miles of the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path I now think I'd like to try and run all of them (168)! Blue had a fabulous time, even if the sea 100's of feet below him was just too tempting for dog seals! 

Looking back to St Davids head
Holidays over and the reality of work hits, not to mention the reality of the Yorkshireman Off Road Marathon which I had thought I should enter! I've marshalled it and helped out a bit and always thought - you daft fools why on earth would anyone want to put themselves through that?! 
We'd done a couple of runs out to make sure I knew where it went, met some Alpaca's, fallen in a few bogs and I was kind of OK about it albeit a little concerned about whether my little legs could carry my rump around 26 and a bit miles of up and down them there hills. 

Off we went, a steady run/walk pace up the hill out of Haworth and on to Penistone Moor. I felt good, legs working alright, a few KCAC vest about, words of advice ringing in my ears ("take it steady on the hills at the start, save enough in yourself") and truly stunned that I, me, Livi, Olivia (it was Sunday) had set off to run a marathon with hills! 
Courtesy of Dave Woodhead

I'm not going to write a blow by blow account of the ups and downs of the next 5hours and 53minutes except to say that some miles were with lovely people to chat with, some miles were alone, some miles were boggy, some miles were on tracks, the sun shone (too much), it rained a bit (thank goodness),  the checkpoints were BRILLIANT providing sustenance and support (enormous thanks to each and every one of you). 

I knew that Hewenden Viaduct would be an emotional checkpoint for me as it's the one I have marshalled for a few years. I sort of knew that if I made it to Hewenden, 18 miles or so in, that I would be OK. Duracell Bunny Irene had kindly taken up a bag of nourishment for me - egg sandwich and some disgusting isotonic sports uck drink (I say that but it was brilliant!) - as she was giving up her Sunday, along with Lady Katie and others, to make sure we were all fed, watered and supported. A drink, banana and two ibuprofen and I left them - thank you all so much because without you I would have stopped! 

Leaving Hewenden CP and the tears were rolling - I hurt so much, my knee, my hip, my back, everything but I only had 8 or so miles to go. I had to concentrate, run through the pain, keep eating and keep moving forward. I had two lovely chaps from the West Midlands running with me for a bit, their constant chatter kept me going without needing to concentrate too much. I left them as we started the ascent up to Harden moor and I found some strength that had been hiding! Across the moor, being very careful about the navigation as it's a warren of paths, and I knew that my boy would be at the next check point. Sure enough, as I ran down to it he was ready with a drink and the most encouraging words of support. The lovely Liz found me some paracetamol (massive thanks) - my knee was really feeling it - and off I set again. 

The last few miles were just so painfully hard. I was running along a stretch of path I knew but convinced myself I must have taken a wrong turn as it was just going on for too long! I hit the tarmac on Bingley Old Road (that hurt) and set off, collecting my drink from Jilly and Giles' wall (thanks guys),  a quick dib at the checkpoint and up on to Brow Moor - home of my evening runs with Blue. I was so nearly there! 

Arthur - a fellow KCAC member was just in front of me and stopped on Brow Moor for me to catch-up with him and along with the lovely Debbie from Ilkley we paced each other over the last few miles down through the disgustingly muddy Goit and finishing up the hard cobbles of Butt lane - my wonderful boy had cycled back from his checkpoint duties to meet me on this last and toughest road, on to Rawden Road and into the School grounds where I was greeted with beer, hugs, cheers and so much love! I finished 1st woman from our club, 20th woman in the solo and 30th overall - way beyond anything I could ever have hoped for. 
Absolutely ecstatic - finishing up Butt Lane

Bit tired! 
This was, without a doubt, the hardest physical thing I have ever done (with the exception of childbirth) and probably the best thing I have ever done. It has opened my eyes to what is really possible, even for me, with a bit (a lot) of effort and hard work. 

I couldn't have done it without all of the support around the route, the marshals, Ben and Rosie (who helped everyone from parking their car and  registering through to collecting their T-shirt at the end), Arthur for helping me through those last tough miles and everyone who was a part of making this such a fantastic event. 

I'll wrap this up now with a brief mention of the Rombalds Romp trail v fell that I ran round on Saturday morning - good fun and another great picture from Eileen Woodhead. Lovely race and for those who've commented - I am usually smiling as I am loving being able to do this, run the miles, meet the people, make the friends and experience all of the pain, laughter, love and friendship this challenge is bringing me. 

I'll end with the usual ask for £££££££££ for Asthma UK and/or Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice - 197 miles and 8 races to go!  

Enormous thanks to everyone who has already given so generously - especially Daniel, Helen, Marcia, Alison, Pants and Karen B who've added to the total since I last blogged. 

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Reflection, memories and Snowdon

Miles to date: 615 
Races to date: 28

A little look back at where I've come from over the last year: 

3rd July 2011 - my first 'run' which was really more of  a walk / run / walk / run 
23rd July 2011 - the first time I managed to run to Oxenhope and back along the Goit (river path) - 3 miles (ish) - and running all the way rather than run / walk / run / walk 
17th September 2011 - 5km Roundhay Park Run in memory of the wonderfully lovely Sue Corrigan
21st July 2012 - Snowdon Mountain Race, 10 miles and 3500foot in 2hours and 17 minutes

Eddie Applegate, previously Daniel  Butterworth
Photo taken on the day of his death - 28th July 2007
Loved and missed by many
Part of what's driving me to do this is the memory of my brother - Daniel or Eddie depending when you knew him - who tragically died from an Asthma attack at a friends wedding on the 28th July 2007. He was 39, (the same age I am now) and is deeply missed by so many who loved him. 

So as I write this blog I'm in a very reflective, and emotional place which may not be the best to write from so I'll apologise in advance.  But this might give you a little insight into what's driving me - if I can really push myself beyond anything I thought I might achieve then perhaps I might persuade, encourage or inspire a few others to make a donation (click here) and (probably more importantly) achieve what you aspire to - for me it's become running on the fells, for you it will be something else. I've had some amazing comments that make me blush and keep me going but I'm not special - everyone can be what they want if they believe in themselves (oh .. and are prepared to put in the effort, feel the pain, the fear and then do it anyway) and have the confidence to believe in themselves. 

Enough of the self indulgent emotion and back to what this blog is meant to be about - running!

Heptonstall Festival Race was a wonderful, low key, proper fell race organised as part of the Heptonstall Festival. 7 miles that set off on a steep descent to the bottom of Hardcastle Crags and then almost immediately up steeply to Pecket Well and on up to High Knoll, trig on top of Wadsworth moor, before looping round and descending down into the valley bottom and a killer steep ascent back up to Heptonstall village. Wow what a route! The sun came out after the floods and torrential downpours the day before - Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd in the valley had found themselves underwater with rivers running through houses on the hillside. 

I loved it! The descent at the start was hilarious and made me realise just how much I need to practice my downhill. Skating through leaf mulch and peat, knee deep in places, down a 1 in 2 hill left me laughing so much as pretty much everyone slipped past me including Caren who skipped away and disappeared into the distance! 

Undeterred I grunted up the ascent to Pecket Well, gained a few places, and had Caren in sight as we ran out onto the moor. Running over the bogs and ditches I passed a couple of blokes tip toeing round as I splashed through loving the mud! Having reached the trig it's all downhill back into Hardcastle Crags and off I went, really stretching out but I couldn't get enough to make up the distance I needed to catch the Crabtree woman! After the ridiculous ascent back up through the woods the finish gently dips through a field with a single strip of mown grass through. A great little race that I'd love to go back to next year. 

Walking back to the car, downhill, I had a real pain through my left knee. It was really quite sore and uncomfortable. When we got home Blue needed a walk so I thought that a gentle walk around the moor with Blue, calling for his girlfriend Storr on the way, would help loosen it up. All good as we walked uphill on to the moor - bit sore but felt like it was loosening off. Across the top and then down and the pain was awful, almost unbearable. We reached the road and I had to phone home to ask if someone could come and get Blue as I couldn't quite manage to hold him and limp down the road. 

Sunday I spent on my backside, knee strapped up with ice and heat regularly applied. A neighbour lent me a pair of crutches and an appointment with a sports physio made for Monday. The upside was that I watched Andy Murray play the Wimbledon Final and thoroughly enjoyed it! The diagnosis on Monday - my Iliotibial Band was tight and the likely cause of my knee pain. I didn't know I had an 'ITB' but I do now! Some massage, ultrasound, acupuncture. A week of rest, ice, compression and elevation and then gradual use and I was fairly sure that Snowdon might still be on the cards. 

The next week I had a couple of very tentative 6 to 7 mile runs whilst I was in London - good and flat - which felt ok and so, after the nod from Becca the physio, we set off for Snowdon. 

I've walked up Snowdon on almost every walkers path on every side - 20 plus years ago! It was hard walking then and I was about to try and run it. We arrived and found Keighley and Craven friends, pitched our tents and I realised just how nervous I was. 
Saturday morning and the sun was shining, a clear and beautiful view of the highest mountain in Wales and the second highest in the UK opened up before me as I crawled out of my tent! The race didn't set off until 2pm. A largish group raising money for MacMillan Cancer Support were camped next to us and they were keen to be away by 8:30am to walk up and down (an inspiring bunch who had also convinced NPower to match pound for pound their fundraising) - I tried to not be too grumpy as I crawled out blinking into the sunshine. 

We wandered around in Llanberis all morning, bits of retail therapy, breakfast at Petes Eats, tootled along to register, picked up our numbers to discover they had our names on! 
I'll use this space here and now to publicly apologise for all my wittering and twittering before we set off - thanks J-P, Katie, Joe, Steve, Si and everyone else who put up with me. I spent ages talking myself out of it and then rationalising that I'd run harder - I was still in that space when the Welsh / English count down began and then we were off. 

Snowdon Mountain Race - 10 miles and 3500 foot of ascent started with a fast run out of Llanberis along the road, turning right along a tarmac track which started steeply up before turning on to the mountain path and continuing up and up and up and up. The path is shale and rocky so the need to concentrate on where your feet land is paramount. As I grunted slowly upwards I was increasingly worrying about running back down. My knee was fine until there was any descent involved, at which point excruciating pain would shoot through my knee making it buckle. And descending on the rocky and unstable path would test it, and my technical ability to maintain focus, to the limit. As I continued grunting slowly upwards I forced my myself to look up and out, realising the enormity of where I was an what I was doing. I passed the MacMillan walkers, on their way back down, I shouted cheers of encouragement to them as I toiled past breathing heavily. 

About two thirds of the way up and the leading international runners started to pound down towards me - they are truly awe inspiring and amazing athletes who fly over the hardest terrain - the winner had finished (65 minutes) before I reached the summit (87 minutes). I realised as they started to pass me that I was actually going to make it to the summit and by the time I got there, running up and round the trig point summit marker, I had tears rolling down my cheeks. Almost completely overwhelmed with what I had done and why I had done it, I lost about 20 places whilst pulling myself back together but that didn't matter. What mattered was that I had made it - I had set myself a target to reach the summit in 90 minutes and honestly didn't think I would manage it. I knocked 3 minutes off. 
Running down was a mixture of absolute pain shooting through my knee and sheer joy and exhilaration. Only the very steep sections really hurt and I developed a lopsided gait to keep as much weight off my left leg as possible. The final steep section of tarmacked track was a killer but as it levelled out on to the flat road back into Llanberis the pain went and I ran down the road with people clapping and cheering around me - having your name on your race number does mean that everybody knows your name which is a good place to be! As I reached the end of the Mountain path and started down the tarmacked track I passed the MacMillan walkers again who were just finishing their walk. Loads of personal amazing stories of achievement amongst them. 

Arriving at the finish and spotting Rosie and Si was just brilliant. I crossed the line totally overwhelmed with emotion. The St John's Ambulance man was simply lovely, as soon as he realised I was medically ok he gave me a great big hug. A bottle of water and a momento slate coaster put into my hands and my boy appeared to greet his totally over emotional mother. 2 hours 17 minutes, 467th overall, 70th female and 33rd female under 40. I think I'm quite happy with that.  
We had a few Keighley and Craven hoops out for this wonderful mountain race but only two women - next year I think we should have a few more to join in a fabulous weekend and experience. 

When I started attempting to run a year ago I couldn't contemplate being able to run 3 miles. Now I'm really looking forward to Borrowdale - 17 miles and 7500 foot of ascent. I might not make the cut off but I'll give it a damn good try and enjoy it regardless.