stories about my running adventures

Norfolk 100km

I had entered this event months ago as part of the positive steps ‘grand slam’. I had completed the first of the three events in January this year – The Peddars Way, 48 miles from Knettisham Heath to Holme next the sea – and this would be the 2nd followed by a little 50k around the kings forest in November.

The timing wasn’t brilliant, just 2 weeks after my attempt at the Grand Union canal race but with a fairly generous cut off of 16 hrs I thought I would give it a go.

The original plan, when I booked it, was to stay overnight at the finish location – Sheringham – and catch the organised bus to the start – Castle Acre – in the morning. But, the decision in the end was to drive up the morning of the race and then drive home after. So alarm set for 3.30am to leave at 4.30am for the 2 hour drive.

Arriving at the start location around 6.30am it was great to see a fair few familiar faces and with only 30 minutes to the start there was just enough time to get registered, collect my t-shirt and have a quick loo stop. Then it was a brief briefing from Kevin, race director, and we were on our way.

 

I had a loose plan of trying to get half way in about 6 hrs so that I knew I had plenty of time to get finished if I had to slow a lot. My feet had not really healed properly from the GUCR but Geoff had got me some blister powder and twin skin socks and I taped over the worse of the blisters, but resigned myself to the fact that my feet would hurt.

 

The first 20 odd miles is along the Peddars Way so I was familiar with that. It was cool and even a little drizzly to start with so the first 2 or 3 hours I felt pretty comfortable. The first checkpoint at 9 miles came along fairly quickly and I just had a refill of my bottles and a swig of coke and was on my way.
After another 5 or 6 more miles I started to feel a bit tired.  As I’d only had a couple of slices of toast for breakfast about 5 hrs previously I thought I better eat something. I looked in my backpack for my goody stash of cheese, crackers and nuts only to find it wasn’t there!! I tried to think what had happened to it and remembered that when I had come back from the loo Geoff had already put my kit bag away and passed me my bag pack….so, it must have been in my kit bag still. As Geoff was out in the van following the race I tried to call him to see if he could meet me to give me it…but I couldn’t get through – probably a good thing as I guess I would have been a bit grumpy.  The next checkpoint was about 22 miles so I’d just have to wait until then. Luckily, however, Geoff was waiting around 20 miles in …. so I managed to grab my cheese and crackers which gave me a boost.

 

 

Arriving at CP 2 around 11.15am my 6 hr plan for the first half was looking hopeful. From Holme you then joined the Norfolk Coastal path. I had been looking forward to reaching the coast and there were some nice wooden board walks to run on which were pretty easy on the legs…and sore feet.

 

 

After the long slog of 13 miles between cp1 and 2 there was only around 6 miles to cp3 at Titchwell. It was on this stretch that I got chatting to a guy from Southend Flyers called Chris – who was to become one-third of the orange amigos….the other third was to be Trev, a fellow jogger, who had got a little lost when we caught him up. The three of us pretty much stuck together for the rest of the day.

Coming into cp3, I was greeted with a ‘hello gin’ from the volunteer who turned out to be a fellow runner I had met doing the heritage coast marathon a few weeks ago. It’s always nice to see a familiar and friendly face, and he told me he would see me again at the cp at Cley – 53 miles. I sincerely hoped that would be the case.

The sun had now come out and the temperature was rising. It looked like it was going to turn into a hot day.

I hadn’t put any sun cream on at the start, nor had I put my visor on so would make sure I took care of that as soon as possible. As luck would have it, Sarah – the tonic of ‘Gin and Tonic’ and Geoff were on the route around mile 29 so I managed to get some sun cream from Sarah as i couldn’t find mine nor locate my visor. Thinking about it i concluded that they were both still on the bed at home along with my gaiters which I hadn’t been able to locate earlier. Note to self….don’t forget important things!!!!

The next cp was around the 36 mile mark and with a cutoff of 3pm. But I didn’t see that would be too much of an issue. I have covered the first 30 miles in around 5hrs 50 so my loose plan was a little tighter….

After a couple of miles, coming into Brancaster Staithe there was an ice cream van on the quay….luckily I carry some money so was able to enjoy an ice lolly. I was so interested on the lolly that I preceded to wander aimlessly around the quay side….closely followed by Chris and Trev…

Finally we managed to work out where we had gone wrong and get back on the path. Again there were some nice wooden board walks along this section so I was able to trot along for a bit.

Coming into cp4 I had about 50 minutes on the cutoff so felt comfortable knowing I had more than 8 hours to complete a marathon distance. After a pit stop for mostly fruit – I was on my way ready for the beach section. Kevin had told us about a diversion on the beach at Holkham to avoid the coastal path but I think I was on the beach a lot longer than I needed to be, however it meant I missed out the sand dunes…

 

 

Some of the sand was packed and easy to jog along but there was also a lot of fine stuff. Without my gaiters and with a hole in my shoe there was soon a lot of sand rubbing my already sore toes. There seemed little point, until getting off the beach, in emptying my shoes so it was just a case of ‘keeping good humour’….this was helped by seeing what I thought was a naked man walking towards me.  Turned out he was…!!!!! Not the prettiest sight as most nudists tend to be old and wrinkly….as was this one.

Finally, after what felt like an age, we got off the beach and into Wells. I had phoned Geoff to ask where he was so knew he was going to meet me with fresh socks and shoes. I did throw a ‘small’ diva moment when he suggested I walk over to the van – which was all of  200 metres away – but I plonked my arse down and told him to go get them…..sorry Geoff and the other excellent supporters for having to witness my stroppiness.  Sarah applied more suncream to my arms and face but I had already told her not to worry about my legs – what a Muppet!!!

Chris and Trev patiently waited whilst I got my feet washed and re-powered. Then on with fresh socks and bigger shoes which helped a lot.

It was busy with tourists through Wells, crabbing, eating fish and chips and ice creams and sitting enjoying the sun. What they thought of our motley crew I chuckle to think.

Heading back out onto the coastal path I was really starting to feel the heat. I wet my buff and drapped it round the back of my neck but there wasn’t a lot I could do about the backs of my legs which were becoming increasingly salmon pink – if only I’d let Sarah put a bit of cream on them.  It was just a case of head down and get to the next checkpoint at 46 miles.  By the time I got there, I was seriously over heating but thankfully a lovely supporter gave me an extra buff which Geoff doused in water and I placed on my head.  That helped a bit and with some strawberries and coke it was onwards to the final checkpoint at Cley.

For a fair while you could see Blakeney in the distance but it seemed an age before finally getting there.  I’ve been to Blakeney many a time and have walked the path from there to Cley so I knew it well.  It was very runnable and Chris and I did our best to shuffle along a bit.  If it seemed to take a long time to get to Blakeney it took an eternity to reach Cley but reach it we did eventually.  Luckily, as I was familiar with this bit I knew exactly where the path went, Chris being with me was ok but Trev had dropped back a little and he didn’t appear to be following us…we could see that even if he carried on the road he would rejoin the path so we carried on.  Chris’ wife had been out meeting him on the course and we saw her here again – he had been telling me about the plan for her to run her first marathon at Snowdon this year so I had a little chat with her about that.

Arriving at the cp, there was some comments that the cut off was 7.45pm which with only around 10 miles to go and deadline 11pm seemed a little harsh.  I arrived at 7.37pm so was ok and was told by Peter all was fine to go on.  Geoff had got some more fresh fruit and I stuffed my face full of it.  Due to the heat, other than drinking that was all I was managed to eat but thankfully I didn’t appear to be having any ill effects from it.

The next 3 or 4 miles were the most brutal and arduous of the entire day.  With very sore feet, having to tackle miles of pebble beach is definitely a mental test.  Geoff walked along with me for about a mile which was nice, but then I had to stop to get the stones out of my shoes and the other two orange amigos started to vanish into the distance.  Luckily we hit a bit of grassy stuff and I could trot to catch them up.  Back together again.

 

 

It was really just a case of walking now, willing the end of the pebbles to arrive.  It did eventually with a nice couple of hills into Sheringham and the sounds of a Saturday night.  People in the pubs and music playing.  We jogged along the prom, looking forward to the final climb up Beeston Hill (Bump).  It was just starting to get dark now, and the moon looked fantastic from up on the hill.  Coming down the other side we were met by the race director Kevin, who preceded to run us into the finish.  Asking how far it was he replied only 1/2 a mile….but when we started to go ‘up’ I did mutter a bit…perhaps…but was promptly told to stop complaining….!!!

And, finally, the finish was in sight…just a jog across the cricket field and over the timing mat.  15hrs 17mins….not a very impressive time but well within the cut off of 16 hrs.  More important was the fact that I finished…after my DNF at the GUCR I was just very relieved to do that….

Chris had completed his further distance ever and Trev was not too far behind to complete his grand slam.

20170610_222134

A very relieved Chris and I at the finish…

 

It was a very tough day at the office.  Of the 62 starters 15 dropped out which is 24% drop out and given the heat and terrain I was proud to get that medal.

And now just the matter of a 2 hour drive home…not sure how I managed to stay awake, just glad I wasn’t driving.

Arriving home, a nice shower and getting a bowl of soup down, we finally got into bed around 2am – a mere 22.5 hrs after getting up…

Oh…and did I mention the sunburnt legs??? No? – well I have very sore sunburnt legs.

Another lesson learned…

20170509_211357

After my failed attempt at the Centurion Autumn 100 last October the prospect of 145 mi was a little daunting but I had already put my name in for the ballot so had to leave it to chance. The draw was on the eve of my birthday and Geoff and I journeyed up to Buckingham to attend – I was keen.

As luck would have it, although not successful in the ballot, Keith appreciated my efforts of driving for 2 hrs and gave me one of the discretary places. I was in!!!

Fast forward to 2 weeks before the start and a slight hiccup in my training when I tripped over a tree root on the local canal during a practice night run. A heavy blow to my ribs left me with a suspected crack so I doubted if I would be on the start line fully fit, if at all. Thankfully in the following 2 weeks, it did ease a bit so although still uncomfortable it was bearable. Some taping and a very supportive bra helped a fair bit and as long as I didn’t fall on it again I should be ok.

So, day before race day. I journeyed up to Brum Friday morning, having bought a one way train ticket, odd knowing I had to get back on foot. All I could think whilst sitting on the train was its a bloody long way!!
I spent the rest of Friday enjoying the art gallery, registering and meeting up with other runners. Some I knew, some new but known through social media. I must say, though, that everyone was so friendly even if I felt like the new kid on the block having only ever run 100km. But I was assured that it wasn’t the big issue that I thought it was.

20170526_144754

A little pre-race culture…

Retiring at 9.45, I got a great nights sleep only being woken by the alarm at 4.45am. Some coffee and as much as I could eat and then a short 3 min walk to the start. I have seen pics and videos of the start of the GUCR loads and was so very exciting to be a part of it. A short speech from Dick and we were off at 6am sharp.

20170527_054003-001

Very excited Gin…

It was 10.7 miles to the first checkpoint (the shortest distance of them all) and I had decided I would run the whole way at a nice steady pace.

P1020800

Yet to leave the city…

Leaving Brum it was so lovely, cool and easy running that the pace crept up into the 9 minutes – I slapped my own wrist and slowed it down to 10’s. It took a while to get out of the city but it was all enjoyable. I arrived at the CP at 7.56 am – 4 minutes up on my planned schedule. I appreciate a lot of people say it’s hard to keep to a plan in these kind of events but I wanted to have some kind of guideline. Perhaps that’s just my inexperience….

P1020802

So quick stop, bottles filled and on to CP2 – 12 miles on. It was still cool, the canal was coming to life and I felt good.

Into CP 2 at 10.19 am, 11 minutes up on schedule. It was heating up so I got my hand held bottle out my bag as I was only wearing my waist bag and wasn’t sure I’d have enough water for the next 12 miles. After a quick nibble, some coke I was on my way again keeping a nice steady 11/12 min mile pace. The field of 107 runners had spread out but there were a few similar pace around me that I would pass and they would pass me.

P1020814-001

Happy families…

Chatting to people, seeing loads of ducklings and cygnets, people on barges clapping you, resident barge dwellers knowing what you are doing and wishing you well. All was good and I came into CP3 – 36 miles – at 1.24 pm over an hour ahead of my schedule. Had some soup and potatoes and decided to change to wearing my backpack so I had more water, plus the fact that the handheld bottle was really annoying me.

The next stretch was 14 miles and it was beginning to warm up. Did a bit of running with a couple of people which was great but just as happy with my own company. Finding a shop and having an ice lolly was a bit of a highlight….
it was on this stretch that my race began to unravel, my feet were beginning to get sore. I was getting hot spots on my heels and balls of my feet but I couldn’t do much until I got to the next checkpoint, 53 miles, where I arrived at 6.05 pm, just 10 mins ahead of schedule but 1hr 25 mins ahead of the cutoff so all ok.
I decided to change shoes to a more cushioned pair, more Vaseline, and changed my socks. Had a quick refuel, water top up and onwards for 17 miles to the next checkpoint. Enjoying the early evening sunshine, my feet felt a little better for a while but not as comfortable as I had hoped. Other than that I felt good, strong, really positive and was enjoying it.

collage

My aim was to get to cp5 at midnight. Being 70.5 miles it’s almost the half way point so a nice mental boost. I had put a long sleeve top, arm warmers and a jacket in my pack at the last cp but didn’t put any of them on. That was a mistake as as the sun went down I started to chill and by the time I reached the cp I was pretty cold and starting to shiver – another rookie error. It was 11 pm, an hour earlier than I had hoped and 2 hrs ahead of the cutoff so I took a bit of time to have some hot coffee and get warmed up after going into full on shaking mode. Other than my feet, this was my first real negative point but the volunteers were great and helped to get me on my way in some warm clothes.

It was another 17.5 miles to the next checkpoint and for the first few I was fast walking with a lovely lady called Debbie Jewson who had experienced the event many times. We had a good chinwag and this took my mind off my sore feet for a while. At around 2am, I had a real tired moment and dropped back a bit whilst Debbie went on and I was on my own in the night. I decided to put my iPod on and use that to concerntrate on – it helped and I arrived at CP 6, 84.5 miles at 3.50am an hour and 25 minutes up on my schedule and over 3 hrs ahead of the cutoff. Other than my pesky feet my race was going really well. At this point I should have paid attention to my feet but I didn’t….BIG MISTAKE….perhaps my inexperience, tiredness, laziness but whichever it would have a big impact.

The next stretch was shorter at 14 miles and dawn was about to break which I hoped would give a boost. I was jog/walking now but still getting along at an average of about just under 4 miles an hour which was all good. The canal residents were starting to wake up, there was a lovely mist on the canal and I was positive I could finish – how quickly things can change.

P1020813

P1020812

Before it all went wrong….

By about 8.30 am my blisters had become a real issue. Again, in my inexperience I had left my medical supplies in my drop back so had no choice but to limp on. I could feel them popping and rubbing even more….only 6 miles to the cp, get there and sort them out. But I got slower and slower, it became more and more painful to keep moving, my pace slowed to about 2 miles an hour and my whole mental attitude changed. Doubts began to creep in, it was still another 50 miles, I had more than enough time to walk it in but not at 2 mph.

I made the decision to get to the checkpoint and call it a day. I finally limped into the checkpoint at 10.15 am, 15 mins behind my schedule but still 1 3/4 hrs ahead of the cutoff. I had phoned Geoff on the way in and he was driving up to get me. The relief of laying down on the cool grass and taking the weight off my feet was immense. I took my shoes off, which felt like the final nail in the coffin and the certainty that I wouldn’t carry on – I don’t think I could have got them back on. I had some soup and a roll whilst I waited for Geoff to arrive, which he did with a cold can of coke and lots of lovely fresh fruit – heaven.

The drive home was interesting with my sore throbbing feet and cramping legs but I felt otherwise okay and in good spirits. Upon getting home, Geoff was a star sorting my feet and feeding me lovely homemade soup. After a shower, a soak in a bath of Epsom salts and a couple of hrs snooze I felt OK. Yes a bit tired but I had been awake and on my feet for over 28 hrs.

As an aside, a huge clap of thunder woke me in the night and then the church clock chimed 3am…..cutoff…..

So, no I didn’t finish the race but did achieve a personal milestone of over 100 miles and for the whole it was great. My inexperience showed with the lack of feet preparation and maintenance and as this is what finished the race for me I have learned a very valuable lesson.

20170530_075835

The star shows how far i got…

Looking at the results the following morning there were 107 starters with 41 retirements. I am not going to beat myself up….but have decided to be proud of what I DID achieve and not disappointed with what I didn’t.

I will take so much from this event. It was so fantastic and with some more experience and, of course, the already mentioned feet maintenance I know I have it in me to complete it.

When does the ballot open??? 😊😊😊

original_failure-is-the-opportunity-wall-sticker

 

My last catch-up blog covered adventures up until December 2015, but other than my last extra awesome adventure (blogged separately) I have still squeezed in a fair few during 2016.

The year kicked off with another of the ‘Endurance Life’ Coastal Trail Series, this time in Dover.  It was the first year they were running this one, and it’s always nice to be part of an inaugual event. My running partner in crime (that’s Tonic) fancied this so we were going to tackle it together.

Tackle being the best word I think to describe it.  Tackles are often brutal and so was this. There was a bit of mud and a lot of hills but it was a beautful course.

CTS 15-16 DOVER

Gin & Tonic 

The following day I was heading back to Benfleet, Essex to do the Benfleet 15 for the 3rd year running. (guess I kind of like it!). After feeling a bit like Billy No Mates the previous year, I convinced a couple of others to join in this year and enjoy the mud with me!

phone-camera

Other mud loving fools…

But even Benfleets’ mud couldn’t prepare me for the Thames Path in February. The Thames Trot – 50 miles – was going to be my training run for the Thames Path 100 I had booked for the end of April. I was really looking forward to it, it was going to be my second furthest distance and I had company on this as well.

Driving down the night before made sense and I managed to find a nice little B & B a 10 minute walk from the start. I managed to sleep well and was feeling good and positive.

20160206_081054

Ready to go…with Kev

There had been a fair bit of rain and we were warned that the path was a bit muddy in places…A BIT MUDDY!!!!…that was the understatement of the year.  I had chosen to wear my Inov8 Race Ultra 290 which are really a hybrid shoe which can cope with a bit of light mud but I found it almost impossible to do anything other than walk.  Kev had more manly shoes on and he was making much better progress than me.  I felt like I was holding him up so told him to crack on without me – I was already beginning to think I may not make it.  I wasn’t enjoying it and there was, what I felt was a tight, cut off of 11 hours. At CP 2 – 19 miles I was only around 16 mins ahead of the cutoff and was all for calling it a day there.  However, Lindley Chambers (of Challenge Running) was there to give me a talking to and suggested that I at least try to get to the next CP at 27 miles. So, I set off and regretted it after about 2 miles as the conditions really weren’t improving. But, only another 6 miles so I ploughed on finally arriving at CP3 in 6hrs 12 mins, about 18 mins ahead of cutoff but I decided it was enough for me. My 2nd DNF…

That rocked my confidence a lot and I began to start having doubts about the TP100 in April.  I wasn’t sure I was ready to tackle that just yet…

So, after a little rest I then took part in my first International Event. Barry and I were off to sunny Seville to run the marathon and have a little mini break.  It was a new experience for me although Barry had done international marathons before, and one I can say I absolutely loved.  It wasn’t too big an event and we had no fixed time in mind so could just plod round and enjoy the sights.

We then spent a few days sightseeing, although next time perhaps I may choose to sight see first then run the marathon – the legs were a little tired!

seville

Sunny Seville

Also in February I returned to the Challenge Running St Peters Way event.  This had been my first real step into ultra running so I was interested to see if I had improved any! The first time I had done it, the mud was pretty bad but this year it was lots drier…The route is a lovely one, organisation superb, directions brilliant and I absolutely loved it.  In 2014 I needed my headtorch but I didn’t this year….managed to knock 53 minutes off my previous time.

20160228_172854

All done…and still daylight!!

I was a little emotional at the finish of this one, the last time my mum had been there to hug me…so no hug this time other than from Lindley!!!!

A little break now until one of the Spring Marathons at The Great Barrow Challenge. I had volunteered my services to get myself a free run – but was lucky enough to run first and then watch everyone else the next day.  Shortly after getting started I found myself running with Paul Buckle, a guy that I had met at SVP the previous year. He is a much quicker runner than me so I guessed that he would soon leave me for dead – I had set my Virtual Partner on my garmin for 10 min/mi pace. Anyway, chattering away, I soon realised we were a little ahead of that schedule – I would say ‘I need to slow down’ and we would but were soon picking it up again.  We finished in 4 hrs 17 mins which was my 2nd quickest marathon time!

20160326_123005

With Glen and Nick from The GBC

The following weekend I was going to do the LDWA Essex Walker event, another I had done before in 2014. This time I was running with Sam Cooper as it was going to be her first marathon.  Sam had done the Benfleet 15 with me and I was looking forward to supporting her.  It was a lovely day and the course is nice – the LDWA give you very detailed written instructions so there isn’t too much chance of getting lost.  The CPs are always really well stocked and they are an absolute bargain to enter.

And what a jolly nice day out it proved to be with Sam in the Essex Countryside.

20160403_161915

Bit of a photobomb from Mr John Stoneman

Next on my schedule was the Haverhill Marathon, a nice local event. I was going to run this with Barry – again with no real agenda.  However, it was not to be…after about 4 miles I was getting serious cramping and my feet were going numb.  I decided to call it a day and let Barry go on alone.  My 3rd DNF..!

My next sceduled event had been The Big One…TP100 at the end of April, but after my disaster at the Thames Trot in February I had decided to postpone my attempt at 100 miles until I felt better prepared so instead, on May Day BH it was off to Milton Keynes marathon.  I used to live and work there so thought it would be a nice one to do, also it was sold as flat. I was running solo here so I was planning to just run to feel and see how it went..it all started well with a good pace and covering the first half in around 2 hrs, however then the wheels fell off. I started to struggle both physically and mentally – the course was really boring, a lot of up and down ‘boulevards’ and seeing people coming the other way knowing they were ahead of you is always tough. Going out of the city didn’t improve much and I was very pleased to see the Stadium where we were finishing…

So not a good run but a lovely medal and brilliant T Shirt!

20160502_151433

I do like a nice bit of bling…

The following weekend in May was Halstead Marathon.  This is where it all started for me and will always be in my race calender.  This was my 4th and I was running with my ‘Tonic’ again. Because the course is so local to Sudbury, there is always massive support from the Sudbury Joggers and this year was no different. It is a tough course with a few ‘inclines’ but lovely scenery – I really enjoyed it.  Tonic found it a little tougher than I did but with a shot of Gin she got the job done and had enough left to outsprint me to the finish…

facebook_1474021962204

Wait for me…..

The weekend after Halstead, G & T were in action again doing the Positive Steps Bury to Clare Challenge together. An absolutely delightful 18 miles of trail running and being right on the doorstep no need to travel miles.  Finishing in Clare Country Park you can sit and chill, have a picnic and visit the icecream van…what’s not to like.

facebook_1474022388563

A great turn out from the Sudbury Joggers

Now into June…that means it’s Stour Valley Marathon time. The 3rd running of this event and I’ve taken part in all 3.  A bit like Halstead this is a permanent fixture in my running calender as it’s a great event and very local. The chosen beverage for the day was G & T so a girlie day out running around the Suffolk countryside in the sunshine…what could be better?

13418795_1756076587963401_2088488656557992452_n

This is how to spend your Sundays…

So, it was June. This time last year I had attempted my Great Barrow 10 in 10 challenge but only managed to complete 9. So, I was going to go and try again…!!!

Did I manage it….? Wait and see….

 

 

Snowdonia 50

14224957_1171984916199444_6738970595900930530_n

To date, this is definitely my greatest running adventure! So, sit down, make a brew and enjoy reading it because I absolutely loved doing it….

The plan had been to run a trail marathon in Snowdonia back in July to give me a taste of the terrain as this is certainly not the sort of underfoot conditions I am used to – but that didn’t happen (it’s a long way to go!!!) so I was a tad nervous…

Included in the race entry was 2 nights camping so I thought I would take advantage of that, driving up on the Friday to arrive in daylight with plenty of time to pitch the tent, eat, drink and listen to the briefing – did I mention I was nervous? Well, after that I was terrified! Looking around at the other entrants I felt like I should have been popping to the shops not attempting to run 58 miles around Snowdonia…oh yes, you get a bonus 8 miles for free!

So, what with the heavy rain and the nerves, didn’t manage a lot of sleep. But, thankfully the rain eased off around 2 am and by the time dawn was breaking it looked like it could be a nice day. My alarm went off at 5 and with a second briefing at 6.10 there was plenty of time to get ready – or you would have thought! For whatever reason, I was running around like a headless chicken at 6 still in my flip flops and falling face first over guy ropes..not the best start, BUT at least I had a focus……….trying to actually be ready to start at 6.30.

I just about managed to do it, running into the school to ‘dib’ my dibber pre start as everyone was running out of the school gates. But, hey, as Barry said (who was a godsend by the way) it was a long way and starting a couple of minutes late was not really the issue. (sarah, if you are reading this, I think you would have had a heart attack!!!!).

So, on my way.  An easy walk down the main road towards Betws Y Coed trying to get a signal on my Garmin.  The easy walk didn’t turn out to be easy for long, we turned off the main road within a couple of minutes and started to go up….and up….and up….but that was ok, I was fresh as a daisy.  I was surprised, in fact, how quickly I caught up and passed a few people – noting a couple of ladies that appeared to be struggling up that first climb I felt better but did wonder how they would manage as we hadn’t even covered a mile.

As I was climbing, I came up behind a lady who seemed to be doing well and being the chatterbox that I am struck up conversation. Within a couple of minutes, I’d decided that this ladies agenda seemed to mirror mine and as I had always hoped I would pair up with someone, she copped it!!! Let’s see if we can stick together, I suggested, and I didn’t hear a ‘oh god’ or anything under her breath so Gin and Louise it was all the way!

There was around 6.25 miles to the first CP at Dolwddelan Train Station and after the first climb it did level out a little and it was actually beautiful running in the morning mist. I am a huge fan of trail running and I was beginning to think that maybe, today would be ok after all. Before I had started, I have made a little chart of the CP’s, distances and estimated times based on a 17min average mile (optimistic) and a 19 min mile (realistic) and arriving at the first CP I was pleased to see we were 9 minutes up on my optimistic time.  I knew it was early days and that wouldn’t last but hey it does boost the morale slightly.  After some coke and banana, which sounds hideous but was delicious, we were on our way to CP2 at Blaenau Festiniog,  Just as we were about to leave, Barry arrived at the CP – perfect timing!

p1020390

Early Morning Mist

The next section started to show the mixed terrains that we were going to cover, with some wooded sections, water logged bogs and slate quarries. The section through the woods was particularly interesting, it looked like a mountain stream to me…but no, that was the route so up we went.

p1020396

Up here, really?

At the briefing, Henry (the organiser) had mentioned that once you come out of the wooded section you needed to look out for the bits of bamboo pole with cut up day glo jacket strips attached to give you guidance over the bog! Well, we reached the end of the wooded area, climbed the ladder effect stile and proceeded (under my instruction) to turn left…wrong!! After about 5 minutes I felt we were perhaps not going the right way and not appearing to spot any of the aforementioned ‘markings’ we stopped to check. I think, at this point, Louise decided to not just follow me and looked at her map.  With that, and spotting some people going in the opposite direction (over there in the distance) we turned around and went back to where we went wrong and turned right!! I then proceeded to end up knee deep in a bog which wanted my shoe as a souvenir but with a helping hand I was out, shoe just about still attached to my foot.

p1020398

I see no bamboo or day glo!!!!

Once we managed to get across to firmer ground, we were then going through the slate quarries. The tracks were pretty water logged so we started by trying to go along the sides on the grass but this really wasn’t any drier so we decided that the firmer ground underfoot was better and waded through. The scenery, though, made up for the cold wet feet.

p1020402

Now I see a sign!!!

As we  were coming into CP2 we started to see some evidence of the ‘zip lines’ in this area and there was also a downhill mountain bike event going on.  Watching them hurtle down the hills, I said ‘wow’ I couldn’t do that. But, I guess they couldn’t do what we were doing..

14258281_175656639504795_286125609466678007_o

Err….no thanks…..

Into CP2, around 13.5 miles in 3 hrs 46.  Not a record half marathon time!! but still 3 minutes up on my optimistic time despite detour, bog incident and stopping to take a few photos!!!

To the next CP at Croesor was only 5 miles but it took us nearly 2 hours.  Looking at my data, there was nearly 1000 ft of elevation so perhaps that’s why?? We were met by Barry and Louises’ husband Andy who jogged in with us to be greeted by another well stocked checkpoint, manned by friendly, helpful volunteers. Checking the schedule, I was pleased to see that despite the slowness, we were still 9 minutes up on my realistic timescale.

14232022_175656232838169_5864299917014912168_o

Jogging into CP3 with Barry

It was another short section to CP4 at Beddgelert at about 4.5 miles and more down hill than up. I visited this area around 8 years ago and had walked along the river leading into Beddgelert so I was looking forward to this. It didn’t disappoint…it was also nice to see some tourists milling around, most of which probably thought we were out for a little jog round the village. As we came to the bridge over the river, we had a little ‘dilemma’ and a bit of a this way, that way moment and decided to cross – only to be told as we arrived that we were supposed to be on the other side of the river!

p1020427

Even a hand hold for the less brave

Running into the CP we passed a lovely ice cream parlour and I was very tempted to have one, Barry offered but as the CPs were so well stocked I said I’d save it for another time. As, as it happened, we returned the day after and had some of their delicious icecream.

So, reaching CP4, we were still only around 23 miles – not even half way but still inside my realistic schedule by 9 minutes! Re-fuelling on chocolate spread sandwiches (that’s a first for me) and fruit loaf (yum) we were ready to tackle the longest stage at about 10.5 miles to Llanberis.

14224919_1173294289401840_864294741190630538_n

Time for a re-fuel

It had turned out to be a fantastic day, the sun was shining but it wasn’t too hot and we could see the peak of Snowdon!

p1020431

Who says it always rains in Wales!!

The scenery was so fantastic that the camera did have to come out a few more times.  We had met up with a lovely couple of guys so we were chatting with them, they would go ahead, we would catch them, it was all very lovely….until the HILL!!!! Yes, there had been a lot of inclines but this one, coming at miles 32/33 was a killer – it took us nearly an hour to cover those 2 miles and it was the only point that I felt a bit p****** off. Even hearing the steam train whistling and then seeing it fly past was only a minor distraction from the fatigue I was feeling.  Not only was it UP, there was still boggy bits to sink your feet into….I was seriously losing my ‘good humour’ but knew that once we reached CP5 at Llanberis we were well over half way and had been told it got easier.

13243712_1174189892645613_2269090607394195275_o

A bit of ‘Train Spotting’ !

Finally, after what seemed like an age and despite Louise telling me it was just over that hill, around that corner, just down there, we did arrive in Llanberis to be greeted by my favourite volunteers of the day.  Everyone was lovely but perhaps it was the fact that they were two delightfully lovely young men that they were my favourite…but it was more the fact that they have a microwave and a kettle so HOT food and coffee!!! Heaven….but despite my best efforts I couldn’t stomach the pastie so had some soup instead. Feeling a bit nauseas for the first time, I also opted for a couple of ginger nut biscuits. I usually don’t like them but they really did the trick. This was the only point on the event where there was a cut off, it was 12 hours and we were at 10 hrs 36 so well within that…phew…and checking my now dog eared schedule we were bang on 19 min mile target! Going into the event, I had a target time (if you can call it that) of 18 hrs and if we could carry on at the pace that would be 18 hrs 3 minutes BUT we still had 24 miles to go and it was going to get dark.

Leaving Llanberis we had about 4 miles of respite from climbing until it started again. And despite a couple of ‘which way’ moments we were well on our way to CP6 at Bethesda. Again we encountered, who I know now were, Huw and Gordon. They were such characters, particularly Huw, and a real pleasure to chat with. Huw is training for MDS and Gordon, I found out, had just run the Ring of Fire……in road shoes!!! Fantastic…

I had sent a message to Barry when we left Llanberis as that had been the only CP he wasn’t at – he had his own little adventure running up Snowdon…- so he could make his way to meet us there which he did with Andy as well. It does make all the difference having support on these events, a friendly face, a hug, a kiss – it all helps.

14311503_1174214845976451_767877742177687410_o

What a motley crew!

14238204_1174194972645105_2141409341204558980_n

Penultimate Checkpoint

So, CP6, 42 odd miles and still just about daylight! More hot soup and coffee to tackle the next 9 miles to the final CP at Capel Curig. We were reassured that it did really flatten out now and the path was easy to run on and also easy to follow – which it was, mostly…!  I hadn’t really had any ‘bad’ moments apart from that bloody hill but I was about to throw my toys….! It was now properly dark and we came upon a campsite area and could not work out where the path went.  Taking what I suggested was the ‘right’ way we ended up again in knee deep bog and at a dead end!! Another loss of good humour time…but with some team effort we worked out we needed to be on the opposite side of the river to which we were so backed tracked, or back waded, to the point we knew was right – and loe and behold there was the gate we needed….I swear that it wasn’t there before!! So, drama over we carried along being glared at by hundreds of pairs of eyes!!!  Sheep and horse eyes that is….i hope anyway…

p1020449

My new favourite place…

Finally, we saw some lights and arrived in Capel Curig.  Never have I been so happy and relieved to get some where. As we hit the road we could see a ‘fire’ over to our right, hear music and cheering.  Is that for us? we thought….and yes it was.  The coolest CP ever!!! Just Henrys’ brothers trailer but there were armchairs and everything!! I will say I didn’t sit in one otherwise I would not have got out again.  Music was playing, Barry was drinking beer!!!! – it was just awesome and most awesome of all, only 6 miles to go!

The final section to the finish was through a wooded area dropping back down into Betws Y Coed. It was fully dark now and late and I was super tired after 50 plus miles, so tree roots sounded scary…..!! When it was suggested that we could take the main road option instead – it was the same distance – we gladly accepted. So now we knew we had just 6 miles of path to cover, mainly downhill and we would be done!! What’s not to be happy about? We set off down the trail and took the first left, as advised, but that just took us around a toilet block in a circle and back to where we started….only a bonus 400 metres luckily. So, a bit further along the trail and we hit the road….and did the Ultra shuffle………

And shuffled…and shuffled…and shuffled for a very long 5 miles until we came across a very welcome sign!

14322359_10153943661607081_5216859603763956225_n

The emotions were building…..we’d bloody done it!!!   Mustering the energy to run (well sort of) up the road into the finish at the School we were greeted with huge cheers and bells ringing (or was that just in my mind???) and the sign saying FINISH…

With a hug from Henry I was handed the most awesome ‘medal’ I have ever had….

14322256_1173293379401931_1073419037926689098_n

Barry said I looked like the ‘green goblin’…..

Time?  17 hrs 52 minutes…..but not 58 miles Henry….60.49 thank you…..and 8600ft of elevation. (Snowdon is 3560ft high to give some idea).

Although we were almost the last finishers to come in, the vibe at the school was great. Still a good few people milling around and to chat to, I was handed a beer before making my way to the best bit…..a shower! Set up in the school playground….

14291807_10153943661592081_4687039431961606926_n

It’s Huw and Gordon!!!

14322653_10153943661402081_3049109753051956536_n

A nice touch…

So, it was time for bed….and sleep….still buzzing….

The following day there was a presentation for the winners at 9.30, then time to pack up the tent and head home. But time for a quick walk, rather stiffly, around Betws y Coed and Beddgelert – well I had an icecream due to me!

I will finish by saying that this was the most fantastic experience, mainly due to the location but also by the organisation and support of each and every person involved. I cannot recommend this event highly enough.  I’m not sure I could manage it again, I made my target and really don’t feel that I could do any better but it anyone wants a support crew just give me a holla……

And a new friendship was made which I can see lasting through a good few more adventures….eh Louise?

14292260_1173293472735255_6694577836267636428_n

 

20160911_074152

 

 

 

I seem to be a little behind in updating my blog! but I have still been having lots of running adventures.

The most current one was just this last weekend and as it was so ‘awesome’ I feel the need to give it a full write up whilst fresh in my mind, but I shall leave that for it’s own separate blog…..you may need to sit down with a cuppa for that one when it comes!

So what have I been doing this past year? Well, I’ve managed to find time to cram in a fair amount of adventures but just not the time to write about them.

I shall do some edited hi-lights for anyone interested (but mainly it’s more for my benefit)…

So, I last blogged about the  ‘Ultra Tour of Suffolk’ and the Langham 10k weekend. The latter has just occurred this last weekend which is what made me realise it’s been a whole year.

So, that was my first real experience of running back to back events. I thought I would then up the ante a bit and try back to back marathons.  The following weekend accommodated this with the Positive Steps Forest Marathon and the inaugural Thetford ‘Iceni’ Marathon. The first of the two I ran with ‘my new fella’ and the second with ‘bouncing’ tigger of SVP fame. A nice couple of trail marathons – trail becoming my favoured terrain.

recently-updated2

 

The following weekend was a Sudbury Joggers outing to Ireland to take part in the Charleville Half Marathon. It was my first international event and coupled with a weekend away was a very enjoyable experience – particularly as I smashed my previous half marathon time by about 10 minutes (ok, it was the flattest course ever but I still had to run the distance!).

20150920_115416

Feeling a tad pleased with myself

12038341_958962377501700_3867523806628973525_n

Sudbury Joggers Jaunt to Ireland

My next achievement came at the Chelmsford Marathon in October.  On the back of some pretty high mileages I didn’t really think I was going to do particularly well and entered more for the fact that it was very local.  So, I was pleasantly surprised to achieve a huge marathon PB of 4:04.35, some 22 minutes faster than my previous at the London marathon – however I wasn’t stopping to sight see and take loads of photos so perhaps not such a huge surprise.

Chelmsford Marathon 2015 J's Hospice #Sussexsportphotography 12:12:34

On my way to my current marathon PB…

A memory from Chelmsford was the handwritten messages on the bananas’ given out at the finish.

Moving into late October I took part in the ‘Endurance Life’ Suffolk Ultra – which is in the same series as the Sussex Ultra that I had previously done.  This is my favourite part of the country so I was very excited about this one and it didn’t disappoint. Starting and finishing in Dunwich, you head along the coast to Walberswick, loop round and run out the other way to Sizewell and then back round to Dunwich and I was greeted at the end by my two lovely girls….

12088012_973497436048194_3835297125541529139_n

There were still a couple of more marathons to be done by the end of the year, the first two of them coming back to back at the Norfolk Coastal Marathons early November.  Next to the Suffolk Coast, I love the Norfolk one also so thought this may be a nice one to do.  The event was starting and finishing at campsite so I thought it would be nice to have a bit of a ‘mini’ break.  My friend Lisa was also taking part so the three of us (inc Lisa’s hubbie Mark) rented a ‘luxury’ chalet as opposed to pitching a tent…and very nice it was too.

The weather, as you could expect, was a little damp, windy and chilly (being November) but nothing too unpleasant. And the majority of the route was lovely – I say the majority because there was a particularly unpleasant part on shingle which did drag on a bit! And, as the course was out and back you had to do it twice! Well, if you were doing both days (as I was) 4 times!!!

I managed day one without too much drama but must admit that, when approaching the half way turnaround on Day 2, I felt like 1 1/2 marathons may just be enough for me. However, Lisa who had unfortunately had to withdraw after day one and Maxine (the organisers better half) told me in no uncertain terms that 1 1/2 marathons was NOT enough and politely told me to be on my way back! Thanks girls, I did appreciate that…..over half an hour slower the second day but still not bad considering Lindley had given an extra mile for free!!

running-shots2

20151107_150416

Day 1 (orange)

12191751_979688938762377_5687166128790767369_n

Day 2 (black)

After that, I did put my feet up for a while and didn’t have another running adventure until the end of December, just time to squeeze another 2 marathons in! First it was back to Barrow – volunteering one day to earn a run the other and then back to the Flitch Way, again a freebie from volunteering duties.

marathon-shots

So, 2015 drew to a close with some more medals on the hanger, more t-shirts in the drawer and more photos on the computer!

And the lovely surprise of winning the Best Female Runner award in Sudbury Joggers.

12347698_993503290714275_2621125608092811814_n

A total of 2076 miles ran, 25 marathon or further distance races finished and a total of 34 events. No wonder the old purse felt a bit light!!!

Part 2 (2016) to date to follow…..

 

 

 

Digging Deep in The Forest!

On Saturday 5th September I took part in the ‘intro’ Ultra organised by Dig Deep.  My original plan had been to run the 50 mile Ultra Tour of Suffolk, but as it was only 3 weeks since completing the SVP 100km I decided to down size to the 28 miler.

I had entered this event last year but, like some others, didn’t get to run due to my mum’s illness. So, I was really looking forward to it and decided to go up the previous evening and do a bit of camping.

I had an added bonus of some company too…

We arrived at approximately 5pm on Friday afternoon, I got registered, we pitched the tent, opened a bottle of cider and went to listen to a ‘presentation’ and watch a film about the Spine race, then retired for a fairly early night.

Home for 2 nights

Home for 2 nights

My race didn’t start until 10am, so there was no rush in the morning, Time to watch the 50 miler get under way and have a couple of cups of coffee before heading in for the race briefing at 9.40am. We were told that the course was very well marked but we did need to carry maps and there may be some navigation needed – however I did not feel particularly anxious about this.

Bit chilly at the start!

Bit chilly at the start!

And, so at 10am sharp we were off. The weather was cool and I had opted for long sleeves – a decision I did question for the first 5/6 miles but ultimately proved to be the correct one. The running was lovely, mainly flat forest trails so I kept a very good steady pace and it looked like I could be doing a pretty good time.

The first 2 checkpoints were just for ‘dibbing’ in – to ensure you were covering the whole course, so there was no need to stop until checkpoint 3 which was the first water station, Although the weather was cool, I did need to refill my bottles by this point so it was a welcome break. I had at some point before this managed to drop my map but 2 lovely chaps had picked it up for me and I was happily re-united with it. Ultra runners really are the best!

After leaving CP3, it was some nice easy running up to Butley Mills and into Tunstall Forest. However, coming out of the forest and up to Iken Heath I lost my way a little, As the route had been so well signed, I hadn’t really referred to the map a great deal so when I needed to I wasn’t absolutely sure where I was, I ended up coming onto a road, with no signs, and making a left turn. I began to run along the road hoping to see another sign at some point, but not having seen any by the time I reached another junction I was sure I had gone the wrong way. Looking behind me I saw another couple of runners coming along and realised they were, in fact, my map saviours. Together we worked out where we had gone wrong and managed to get back on track and reach the next checkpoint for some much needed refreshment!

Having lost time, I was feeling a little ‘cheesed off’ so felt the need to crack on and make it up again. Upon re-entering the forest I came across 2 other runners coming towards me questioning whether it was the right way? I was sure it was so carried on but soon begun to have my own doubts. The problem was, though, that there were so many sandy tracks through the forest and heathland that I didn’t think I could have backtracked if I’d wanted to so I just carried on trying to head in the same direction, The map showed that I would cross a road so I listened out for traffic but couldn’t hear a thing.

I felt like I was going round in circles, and was becoming more and more frustrated. However, more by luck than judgement, I came across the road and a welcome arrow pointing me in the right direction, I pinpointed where i was on the map so that I wouldn’t lose my way again but it still didn’t go to plan. Coming up to where I was sure the next checkpoint should be, it wasn’t there. I wasted more time walking up and down looking for it so in the end just decided to carry on. They had said at the briefing that you would incur a penalty if you didn’t ‘dib’ in at every checkpoint but, to be fair, I didn’t care anymore, My average pace had dropped so much and my proposed good time had disappeared so I just wanted to get to the finish.

The last 5 miles or so were not as enjoyable as they could have been, I had lost my good humour and was sure that all the other runners that had been behind me were now well in front. I just wanted to finish…and finally I did….but not with the sub 5 hour time I had been on target, and hoping for.

1549238_950563045008300_6581350351844196147_n

11205513_950563278341610_1869546839528025128_n

As we had decided to camp for the Saturday evening as well there was no rush to pack up, and get going. So, after a short rest and a change into warmer clothes, we headed inside to have a drink and eat my ‘free’ post run meal of burger and chips. Mentioning the fact that CP6 appeared to have ‘disappeared’, I was advised that someone had moved the signs and other runners had similar problems locating it – so thankfully I didn’t incur a penalty after all.

Whilst we were enjoying supper, the presentations were being made. Enjoying watching other people get their prizes I didn’t give a thought to the possibility that I could have won anything, When they gave out the prize for the first place in the senior ladies, I recognised the winner as having been behind me up until I had got lost. So, I had been beaten…

But, as Barry pointed out to me, I was – in fact – a veteran! And, that was the next category…when the third and second placed ladies had slower times than me I began to realise that I had come first in the female veteran category. The first, and probably, the last time I will win anything so the prizes were gratefully received,

A little surprised!!

A little surprised!!

And so back to the tent…..with more cider.

After packing up in the morning we headed to Langham as I was taking part in the 10km event there,  As usual there were a good number of joggers entered so it was a lovely social morning, Also, the sun was shining, and I had a most pleasant jaunt around a lovely course with Lisa and Paul – managing to cajole them into a personal best time.

langham

Another weekend doing what I love with the people that I love,,,,

11223954_940546316009973_8298486656022407697_n

So, two years ago a guy from my running club took part in a local event called the SVP 100. A 100km race from Newmarket to Brantham, Suffolk. At the time I was totally in awe how someone could cover 62 plus miles on foot within a 15.5 hr time limit – but a little seed was sown.

Last year I volunteered at the said event and saw close up how fantastic it was. Everybody looked to be enjoying it and I began to believe that I could do it. As a result of volunteering, you get offered a free entry into the following years event which just gave me that little added push. I entered.

So 2015 was my year to have a go at the SVP100km. Those of you that read my blog will know that I have twice completed the Stour Valley Marathon which takes in a small part of the same route, so I was pretty certain I was going to enjoy it.

As this was going to be my first 100km event I wanted to be sure I was as prepared as I could be so that I was best placed to enjoy it. So, with some other Sudbury Joggers – of which 13 had entered – we started to recce some of the route.

After I ran my Barrow marathons in July I was sure that I had the stamina so making sure I didn’t get lost was the other main priority.

So, with a lot of excitement building in the SVP community on Facebook, the day finally arrived.

With the race starting at 7, it would be an early start. But Sarah, the captain of Sudbury Joggers, had organised a mini bus to get everyone there so all I had to do was eat pasta that Sarah prepared for me, sleep in Sarah’s spare bed and wait for my morning coffee! A nice easy start to what was going to be a long day.

The original plan had been for 4 of us girls to possibly run together, myself, Becs, Lizzie and Dee. Unfortunately, Dee went and broke her wrist the week before so was unable to take part – a real blow and I really felt for her. So, then there were only 3.

With a very slick briefing, we were on our way dead on 7. There is also a start at 9 for the quicker runners and those that feel they are in with a chance of a a prize. How long would it be before the faster runners pass us?

The first 3 odd miles is a straight road out of Newmarket and then along Devils Dyke which is pretty much single file. So, everyone tried to get into some sort of order so as not to be stuck behind slower runners. I think we judged it pretty well and didn’t really seem to get held up at all.

After a grassy section you start to go under trees where there are a lot of protruding roots. Becs was good at shouting when there was something particularly hazardous, – however due to me being a little too close behind her – just as she yelled lookout, down I went! Face first into the dirt…not what I wanted at less than 3 miles in. Thankfully, I didn’t seen to injure anything more than my pride and with a long stream of runners behind I quickly got up and carried on, albeit a little shaken up.

There were no more real incidents to report and we made it safely to the first checkpoint at Great Thurlow 12 miles in. As well as the excellent event volunteers we also had our band of Jogger supporters which makes everything a little more enjoyable. A cheese sarnie, coke and some crisps and we were ready to crack on.

Sudbury Joggers are the best!!

Sudbury Joggers are the best!!

The next checkpoint was at Clare Country park at approx 23 miles. Becs was certainly the quicker of us and I had to keep asking, well ‘telling’ her to slow the pace a bit as there was still a long way to go. It was also on this section that Lizzie appear to be falling back a little and as we reached the checkpoint she was no longer with us. It was great to see more familiar faces and buckets with sponges as the day was really beginning to heat up. We spent a bit of time feeding our faces and waiting for Lizzie to arrive which she did about 10 minutes later. We had a quick word and she was ok with us cracking on so we headed off to the next checkpoint at Long Melford.

As we had recce’d the route pretty well, I was confident we wouldn’t make any navigational errors however we did still manage a small detour! I had a feeling it was wrong but ignored it, Becs’ watch said we were going the wrong way but she ignored it and only when the runners in front – who had also gone wrong – turned round did we get back on track.

As we were approaching Melford, we caught up with Kev, another Jogger, which really surprised me. However, it seemed he was having a few issues with his hips but had found a couple of other runners for company. The 3 of them then went on to finish together.

Coming into checkpoint 3 at Melford we were just over half way at about 33 miles. Again, there was a load of support there, clapping and cheering and familiar faces. The checkpoint, as were they all, was very well stocked and as the weather had heated up I made sure I filled my bladder and bottles. I felt good, positive and strong.

Onto the next checkpoint at Lamarsh but first we had to pass by the Mill Hotel in Sudbury. I knew there would be more support there – it did sell alcohol – but I must say that I was pretty overwhelmed. Becs had pulled slightly ahead and I heard a massive cheer go up, and then another when I arrived. I felt like we had won!! A glass of lovely cold cider was placed in my hand which I felt obliged to drink, of course!!

Oh, if you insist!!

Oh, if you insist!!

As much as we would have loved to stay longer we didn’t want our legs to seize up so we headed off knowing there were only 4/5 miles before we could refuel again.

It was on this stretch that we came across another runner who had a problem with her knee. We did the best we could to help with some KT tape and painkillers, which seemed to give her a bit of a boost. Also, around this time my feet began to really hurt and I started to slow a bit, then I think a blister popped on my toe (ouch) so I made the decision to tape my feet and change my socks at Lamarsh.

The last bit into the checkpoint is down a steep hill and I found it really painful to run down, but Becs just bounded down it like Tigger. As we approached the checkpoint I was beginning to realise that I was nowhere near as strong as she was.

Still smiling.....

Still smiling…..

Lamarsh checkpoint, I must say, was (as Becs said actually) the Rolls Royce of checkpoints. The selection was superb and the jewel in the crown was the little bags to take sweets away with you.

Tigger with her 'piglet'

Tigger with her ‘piglet’

I decided that I didn’t really want to look at my feet, probably not a lot could be done and they were bearable, so I left the spare socks in my pack.

Now, I knew that we had well and truly broke the back of it. We only had a little over 20 miles to go with about about 7 hours until the cut off of 10.30pm. Unless the wheels well and truly fell off the bus, it was looking like a finish.

From Lamarsh you pass through Bures and it was here that I told Becs to go ahead. She looked so fresh and strong and although I still felt good, I was nowhere near her pace. We had made a pact at the start that if one of us was much stronger than the other then we had to split. We had a hug and she bounded into the distance…

So now I was on my own. I really like running by myself so it wasn’t a problem and I was comfortable with the route. Even so, I think you are less likely to run when you’re feeling tired, if on your own, so there were a good few walking breaks. But, with beautiful scenery and a fair few hills, that wasn’t really a problem.

I reached the checkpoint at Nayland to be greeted by more joggers, there was not a point where there wasn’t some support. Also, I was surprised to see Tom, another jogger who had started at 9. I had expected him to pass well before this point. I will mention that the first 9 am runner passed by at 28 miles!!!

So, only one more checkpoint to go and then a little 5 miles to the finish. Coming out of Nayland I was a little apprehensive as I had encountered a field with Bull, cows and calves on my recce but I was relieved to see that the farmer had moved them. In fact, there were no problems with cows on the whole route. There were actually some good runnable bits on the final leg which I made the most of, and also encountered the famous ‘maize ‘ field.

Luckily these guys had been moved..

Luckily these guys had been moved..

The final checkpoint at Stratford St Mary did not disappoint. There was hot coffee which was a godsend and this set me up for the final 5 miles.

I had been looking forward to this final bit all day. Not only because it was the final bit, but also it is so pretty. Along by the river to Dedham, then past Flatford Mill. It just started to get dusk by then so I put on my head torch for the final couple of miles. I could see Brantham in the distance and knew that I was almost there. I was amazed how good I felt, and excited at the prospect of getting to the finish, seeing all the supporters, and collecting that green t shirt.

Coming into Brantham, I did get a little lost and where I was supposed to turn into the playing field to the finish I continued up the path. Hearing shouts behind me, I was told I was going the wrong way so promptly turned around and ran back to where I should have gone. As i approached the finish I heard shouts ‘is that Gin?’….it’s Gin I replied….

And so to the end, reunited with tigger who bounced her way in in a little over 13 hrs…and all the others that had already finished. My time 14 hrs 14 mins 27 secs, 68th place out of 110 finishers. As I had ideally wanted to finish between 14 and 14.5 hrs I couldn’t have timed it better.

One very happy girl...

One very happy girl…

Only 2 more and we had 10 out of 11 finish. Lisa managed an impressive 50 miles before succumbing to a knee injury.

So, I can honestly stay that I feel I enjoyed every minute of it, there was not a single point where I felt unable to go on and no doubt, ever, that I would get to the finish. The course, I felt, was excellent to run on – yes, there were a couple of ‘claggy’ fields and a bit of lumpy bumpy grass but the beautiful countryside and pretty villages more than made up for it.

The organisation of the event was superb, the volunteers beyond fantastic and the course well marked.

In short, I loved it!!

So, that is the qualifier for my 100 miler. But that’s not until next year, so there will be lots more to pack in before then!!

Tag Cloud