Deb Vs Frank

Well it’s done! A few Saturdays ago I completed the third part of the Rat Race Man Vs Series, Man Vs Mountain. 22 Miles starting out of Caernarfon, and finishing in Llanberis, after summiting Snowden and doing a few water slides and obsticals in the slate quarry!

As I’ve said in my previous blogs I’ve been trying to maintain my ‘comfortable’ Heart rate pace throughout these races. This proved very hard during this one. The sheer amount of up and steep down ment I struggled constantly to keep in my range. I maxed out a few times at 188 when going up and hightailing it down!

Despite the odd glitch, I still felt good when I finished and even managed a cheeky sprint race at the end with the lad I was next to. I got the last piece of my trifecta medal and finished smiling, what an epic series of races!

All in I ran a total of 78.5 miles. Drove 1550 miles and went up 13,345 ft. All to get some amazing views, a few butt burns from the water slides, and three bits of an epic medal. It’s been amazing, and the races themselves I could never falt. Rat Race run a great event from start to finish, and everyone who volunteers and works for them are lovely people. I kept seeing the volunteer coordinator at each event this year, starting at Aaron, and from that point we always had a chat and a big hug.

Following my plan for these races, and keeping Frank under as much control as possible, has been a great eye opener for me. I’ve loved every race. The scenery has been amazing. The routes and obsticals have been so much fun. And I’ve finished each race feeling strong. My sore legs only lasted a few days and no injuries sustained.

I have a plan to do a 100 miler next year with my partner in Ultra crime Ant. It will fall on my 40th birthday and is around Snowdonia again, so I know it will be alot of up! I’m planning to keep to the heart rate training leading up to the event, so fingers crossed I’ll be feeling strong on the day.

I’ve covered it all in my previous blogs for these events, the head struggle between myself and Frank. He is always there pushing, but I feel I’ve learned to tame him. I know now that starting at the back as I did in the lakes, doesn’t mean I’ll finish there. And even though people are racing past at mile 10, there’s a good chance I’ll see them again at mile 25. It’s become all about the long game for me now, and I’m looking forward to testing just how far that can go.


Man Vs Lakes

This has to have the most impressive start to a race I’ve so far encountered. A four mile run across Morecambe bay. The race starts at low tide and ‘Cedric’ the tractor leads the way across the bay, as there are areas of quick sand and internal rivers to negotiate. Again this race presented a mental battle for me. Determined to race the same way I had at Coast I kept to my HR, but as people streamed past me my inner ‘Frank’ wanted to push harder. I kept reminding myself that this was how Arran day two was. We started steady and were right at the back of the pack, but eventually you start catching up to those that have over cooked it.

I took in the view across the bay. Nothing but sand as far as you could see in all directions. Hills in the very distance were mear lumps. Hundreds of people snaking out infront of me. There were maybe four people at my rear. I was arguing with ‘Frank’.

Frank : We could just pick up the pace for this stretch, get it done with, get ahead a bit more, then slow down again.

Me : There’s a long way to go! If I over do it now I may not have enough in me for the whole race.

Frank : You’re never at the back!

Me : I won’t be here forever! This is playing the long game!

Frank : Sod the long game! You can go harder than this!

Me : And die at mile 20! No! I’m not buggering up my legs and knees just to be nearer the front. I want to finish strong again.

Frank : Whatever, loser……

Me : Not listening…

This went on for most of the race. Until I was picking people off as they tired. Either at check points or on hills. I kept powering on. Quick drink and refill at the pit stops and back on with it. I remembered I was here to enjoy the race. To admire the stunning views across the Langdales. Each hill gave another breathtaking view.

I would catch up to people who were hating the route. The hills, the trails. I was loving every second again.

Around 20 miles in you reach Lake Windermere after heading towards it down through woodland. On the lake edge were a few inflatable obstacles to traverse. The first section I can only describe as massive inflatable doughnuts with a trampoline type centre. The guy infront of me lept from one to the other finishing with a jump into the lake. That seemed the best option, so I followed suit, with a slightly less graceful ending but still cleared all the rings. You then end up on a tiny island before swimming back going under a couple of big inflatable sausages.

Another thing that was happening at the obstacles as people were tiring, was that they would stand there looking before moving in. So I would jump ahead again by just getting on with it as soon as I got to the obstacles. Bag off, buoyancy aid on, let’s do this.

I failed on the monkey bars, two from the end. So frustrating, but I have to remember I haven’t done any bar training for a long time. Added to the things to work on list! I gained a great board burn from my slide down one of the ramps, and was awarded extra points for style from the photographer.

So again my HR Training paid off. I would constantly leap frog with people, keeping to my plan, and eventually they would fall back.

The end was in sight. Lake Coniston. The finish was just on the other side. A short kayak out in the lake and then jog round to the end. As I neared the final stretch a couple speeded past me. Frank was not letting that go. I sprinted back past them and up to the finish ramp. It had a rope to one side to aid acent but I wasn’t waiting. I ran up the ramp, ninja warrior style and grabed the front edge. Pulled myself up and sat on the top before lowering down to run across the finish.

Michelle had come to see me finish and we celebrated with bangers and mash and pina coladas!

Two down, one to go, Mountain here I come!

Team Seth

Just before Christmas some very good friends of mine got the terrible news that their 3 year old son had a brain tumour. To say that you suddenly put all the minor problems in your life into perspective is an understatement. I couldn’t even begin to imagine the fear my friends had for their sons life. He went through surgery and the surgeon was certain he had removed all the tumour. Radio therapy and chemo were recommended to be on the safe side. The whole family and a few friends shaved their heads in support of Seth and for one of the charities that has been a great help to them all, The Royal Marsden. So a group of friends decided to do something to raise money for the family, as they’ve had very little time to enjoy themselves over the last 8 months. The Three Peaks Challenge. As soon as Michelle, my girlfriend, mentioned that this was happening I couldn’t sign up quick enough. Three reasons for this. One, I’ve known the Dickensons since before they were the family of six that they are now, and they are the kindest most generous people I know, I wanted to give something back. Two, Michelle has never undertaken anything like this before and I wanted to support her and help her train for it. And three, I’ve been wanting to give the challenge a go for years!!

As talks and plans progressed amongst the friends, it started to become clear that Michelle and myself would have to become a fringe group. Her Son was going to be looked after by her Dad for the weekend of the Challenge, and for his sheduel and ours to work out we would need to make our own way there and back at different times to the others. Our training had also followed a different time table as childcare was again an issue, so I took Friday’s off work and we hit the Northdowns way every week to get what hill training we could before the push.

Suddenly the weekend arrived! On the Friday we geared up, shoved the mattress in the back of the van and made the 11 and a half hour drive up to the foot of Ben Nevis. We stayed in a campsite there, the plan being to hit the mountain early doors on Saturday. I had bought the Three peaks challenge OS map and planned our routes with that. It had looked like we could get on the main route from just up the road from the camp site. In the morning I decided to go recy this short cut and chatted to a warden who was in the camp. He said to avoid the short cut. That it was too steep a climb to begin the day with and it would bugger us before we even got going. I decided to heed this advice, and we began the trail at the visitor centre leaving our van at the camp site for the day.

The hike up to the summit was amazing. The views across the hills and the valleys, stunning. We had sunshine all the way up until around a mile or so from the top when the cloud cover and wind had us reaching for our extra layers and waterproofs. The contrast in weather was extreme. The summit itself was like another world. The heaps of rocks loomed out of the clouds and as we wandered deeper in we could see the trig point on top of one of them. We waited our turn and then climbed the steps to the column that marks the highest point in Scotland. Big smiles all round. One down. It had taken us around three hours to make the hike. We trotted back down, almost skipping in places with the elation of conquering our first peak. We were down in just over two hours. Back to the van, and off to Cumbria.

Scafell Pike. I had hiked this peak around 15 years ago with some friends I went to college with. I was not a walker back then but I remembered the lake and how beautiful the valley view was. We arrived fairly late in the day, traffic had caused some issues so we would be making some of the hike in the dark. I preped the head torches and made sure gloves and hats were easy to get to. It was gonna get cold up there. Michelle started having trouble fairly early on. Her heart rate was getting very high and even though we would stop to rest it wasn’t dropping. We kept pushing up. The sun set but the light seemed to linger for a long time after. We kept climbing. The almost white rocks were reflecting the light in a way which made it feel like another planet. As the light faded we started using the torches and then it felt like we were on the moon. Progress was slow. Michelle was now starting to feel light headed. I had no idea how far we were from the top but I kept telling her is couldn’t be much further. We pressed on and again into the cloud cover where the Kern’s made erry shadows in the light of the torches. The wind picked up, we were already in our layers but the cold was getting in. Without knowing how much further I wasn’t happy to risk Michelle and made the suggestion of going down. She conceded. Her heart and light headedness was worrying her and as we were on a mountain with little ability to get help except from fellow walkers the safe option was to call it and head back. The hike back down was also slow going. Lose rocks and limited vision made it interesting. Thank good for the well worn route and the Kern’s to mark the way. At points we could see the stars, and the epicness of where we were would hit home. We got back to the van and Michelle needed rest so without words we just got in the back and went to sleep, the decission to carry on or not could wait for now.

We had got back to the van around 2am on the Sunday and my alarm went off at 6am. Michelle was feeling broken and disheartened but wanted to still do Snowden. I was so proud of her will and determination. Off to Wales we went.

Originally I had suggest one of the shorter routes up to Snowden, but both ment a steep climb and Michelle’s knees were really suffering. So I decided Llanberis would be the better option. The only problem being that when we got there, around mid day, everyone else in the world was there too! There was a running event going on, so parking was at a premium. We found a spot down by the water sports area and re assessed. This was too far away for Michelle to start here, so I suggested I drop her as close to the route as possible and find somewhere to park. We made one last loop of the car park nearest the route and the parking god’s smiled down on us, we got a space!

Snowden has to be the weirdest of the Three peaks. As the town sits right at it’s base you get a huge contrast in people on the main trail. From casual dog walkers, to marathon runners to three peaks nutters. As we made our way up, Michelle now using the Walking poles more like crutches as her knees were giving her serious issues, we encountered all these. As runners shot down the path past as us I called a ‘Well done’ to each one, knowing from experience how it can lift your spirit. As we neared the summit the number of people coming down greatly exceeded the number going up! This was mainly due to the train you can catch to the top, which cancels out the need to sweat your bits off going up! The views again were amazing. The quarry cliffs off to the side offering a man made contrast to the sweeping green hills opposite. We entered cloud again and on went the layers. I had to laugh as at one point a man in jeans and jumper came trotting down past us with a coffee cup in hand and none of the gear we had been carting around on our backs for the last day.

We reached the summit. An aching but happy Michelle hobbled up the steps to the trig point and we took our final summit pictures. We ducked out of the wind and into the coffee/gift/train stop at the summit. It has to be the weirdest thing after what we had just been through on the other peaks. To sit there with hot chocolates and cheese slices surrounded by cloud cover at the top of a mountain. In alot of ways I felt the place belittled the struggle so many go through to reach that point. But then it also makes it possible for those that others wise may never reach it.

We slowly made our way back down. Taking in the views and the piece of the place now all the runners were gone and few were coming up anymore, except two lads carrying mountain bikes. An old boy pushing his ladden down bike and carrying a guitar on his back casually came up the slope towards us. He asked who Seth was and we explained and he gave his best to the lad and our efforts. He explained he made this trip with bike and guitar three times a week for fitness because you have to excersise more as you get older, because the body is crumbling. We wished him well and continued down. I left Michelle near a house on the last bit of road going down to the town and ran the last mile to get the van and pick her up.

I can’t express enough how impressed I was and still am with Michelle’s determination. How far she pushed herself on Scafell, even past the point where any sensible person would’ve turned back sooner. And her desire to complete Snowden no matter how much her knees were screaming at her to just go home. She showed immense grit and strength. And she’s said she wants to try again next year, so won’t be beaten.

Everyone who did the challange and to those that completed it within the 24 hours, you are all epic! If anyone reading this would still like to donate to the cause then there is a link bellow. Everyone gave everything they had for this challange, and it is nothing to be sniffed at. To cover over 23 miles of walking. Approx 10000 feet of elevation and over 700 miles of travel within 24 hours is no mean feet. I personally can’t wait to give it another crack.

Man Vs Coast 

I’m currently experiencing a strange sensation. I’m walking with minimal pain and not feeling totally useless. But yesterday I ran/hiked 25 miles along the Cornish coast. Normally after an event I’m suffering, either from injury or general fatigue and it can last days. My ankle injury after Arran lasted weeks. So to cross the line yesterday still feeling strong and just a slight ache in my legs felt great. And to be walking around today just feeling worked and a bit burnt is awesome.

I won’t say it was easy to achieve because it ment battling with my inner force ‘Frank the Tank’, and that constant urge to push on faster. But I’ve got a lot of events going on this month, so I couldn’t afford to break myself during the first one. My plan was simple, follow my Heart rate training and try to stay within my aerobic zone, between 132 and 142 bmp. This still proved hard to maintain, mostly after the swim sections and in the heat on the trails. 

I came out of the water after the first sea swim and my rate had rocketed up to 164. But everyone was running. I felt like I could run and started to, but then reigned myself in, reminding myself I had to stick to my plan, or would be broken. It seemed to take forever for my rate to drop. I didn’t want to stop so I just slowed to a fast hike. People streamed past me, and Frank was not happy. I had to remember the long game though. It was gonna be a long hard race, and experience has thought me that those who start too fast, finish slow. 

The course itself was epic. We started in three waves on the Beach at Marazion. I was in the second wave, and as we trotted out under the start arch we had to head straight to the first water obstical. Bags off and into the sea we went. First time into the water it was cold! But once I got moving it was fine. We had to swim out to a big yellow sausage, touch it and swim back. It was hard to get to, people were heading out and back, some without touching the sausage! I fought through bodies and taped the yellow rubber. Heading back was easier and I was much warmer by now so the cool water was refreshing. Once back on shore you just grabbed your bag and headed off again.

The beach went on forever, and I waved to my Mum and Rick who had parked further down to see me off. For the next water obstacle we all had to wear buoyancy aids, so off came the bags and on went the vests. We swam out to a man made tiered floating platform. You had to climb up, balance with all the others and jump off the end then swim back. I wore a GoPro I had borrowed for the race and after a good bit of editing it should show the sections quite well.

At the end of the beech we went through a culvert and stream, then headed up a country lane to the top of Marazion. My mum heard the announcer say that that climb was 3000 ft all on its own. Over the whole distance we did 3779ft. I was passed on the hill by a fellow running buddy, Kate urging me to run. But I had to stick to my plan and keep to the zone. When I reached the top and the first pit stop at 6 miles, I felt good so didn’t bother to stop. I hadn’t drunk much by this point and wasn’t hungry so I ploughed on.

The route then followed the coastal path and gave stunning views all the way. The old Tin mine ruins dotted the horizon like broken teeth and gave you a real sense of history. The cliffs and the sea looked rugged and beautiful. Everyone was looking forward to our next dunking. I tried to never stay long at the pit stops. Just top up my water, grab a bit of food to take with me and crack on. There were a few scramble sections across the rocks and some jumps into the sea. These slowed up progress but were great fun, I’m glad I did them all.

My commitment to my plan was repaid, when I began leaving behind people I had been constantly leap frogging. I caught up to Kate a few miles from the end. She was done while I still felt strong and happy. I kept up my hiking pace and as I neared the end a fellow runner urged me to run the last bit. I still had plenty in my legs so I did, finishing the strongest I’ve ever felt at the end of an event.

I was elated, it was done, I had loved every second and I still felt I could’ve kept going. It wasn’t fast, I took just under 8 hours to complete the 25.2 miles of coast and swims but I’ve never felt so good on a run. The idea of the Heart rate training is that my pace will increase, but I know it’s a long process and as I’m not looking to win any races just stay strong I’m happy to follow it through.

Next weekend sees me and the GF doing the Three Peaks challenge, to raise money for an Amazing family who’s youngest had a brain Tumour removed over Christmas. He’s gone through radiotherapy and is on his last sessions of Chemo. He’s been brave and strong throughout as have his family and we’re doing this to give something back. 

Bring on the next challenge!

Me Mum and Rick at Marazion beach on registration day.

The stunning St Michael’s mount

After the sausage swim!

Strong finish! First bit of my trifecta medal, looking forward to the rest of the series and my other challenges this month!

F**k it!

We were on our second decent, the first being after summiting Caisteal Avail which stands at 859mtrs. That decent was the reason I was suffering now. It had been a steep bank covered in mostly Heather and boggy grass, which we stumbled down, at a pace our knackered knees would allow. During that constant twisting and tweaking over tufted and wet ground my ankles started to protest a little.

We reached the first check point, the Arran Distillery, and as we refuelled and Ant went to check his blisters, I overheard another runner asking what the cut off time was for here and the next check point. 12, she told him, with three hours to reach the next one 10 miles away. I glanced at my watch 11:55, shit. I told Ant the situation. If we weren’t away by 12 we wouldn’t be allowed to continue. He abandoned his blisters and we set off.

As soon as we started out along the road my ankle began to hurt. Ant’s knee was giving him a little trouble after the twisty decent, so we settled into a jog/quick March pace. The peak had taken us over 4 hours to complete, covering only 9 miles for the total 30 we expected for the day. We had been caught behind some slower runners on the acent, the path being too narrow and steep to overtake. When we could politely squeeze past, we soared on, up into the clouds covering the snow streaked summit. The wind gusted and I had to lean hard into it to avoid being blown about. Eventually it was blocked out by rocky out crops and we reached the top. The view was obscured by the cloud cover, but we felt the achievement and high fived. With nothing to see we quickly started on the decent. A sheer, snowy drop off reminded us of just how high we were, and as we got out from under the cloud we could admire the ridge and our impending route down.

We were now against the clock however. The time we had taken to take pictures and admire the view had clocked up, all that was out the window now. We had to reach that second check point before 1500.

Covering 10 miles in 3 hours wouldn’t normally sound a problem. But we were both suffering. And although most of the terrain for this stretch was trails and flat, a patch was boulders to scale over, and with pain blasting through my ankles it wasn’t quick going.

The rain started and we reached the checkpoint with half an hour to spare. Ant set to fixing up his blisters as I refuelled and stayed under shelter. We knew the cut off for the summit was 1630. After that point you got sent down the shortened route. Neither of us wanted to hit that deadline.

I had dosed up on pain killers and as we set out again we had to cross a stream, but the cold water was the best thing ever! My ankles now numbed up nicely we were able to get going again.

I have to say this weekend once again showed what a great running team Ant and myself make. We would constantly pull eachother along. If one was flagging the other took the lead, almost carrying the other along in their slipstream. We were determined to reach that summit before the cut off.

Most of the acent is a blur. Either due to pain or painkillers I’m not sure. But the last section I remember vividly. It was much steeper than the first acent. Having to scramble up rocks in places before reaching a chimney type climb. As we pulled ourselves up through the rocks the marshal gave us the news that the deadline had been brought forward an hour due to bad weather. We had missed it by half an hour. We wouldn’t be allowed to summit due to safety reasons.

We were now worried we wouldn’t get our medals for completing the course. A silly thing to worry about in the grand scheme, but it’s the final reminder of any event completed. We began the decent, again in cloud cover, so no view. But at least this decent was on tracks.

We were unclear on the finish line cut off. I was sure it was 10 hours, meaning we had an hour and half to get down. Ant thought later, but we didn’t want to risk it. I’m not sure where it came from, but I suddenly just put everything I had into getting down off that mountain. We were getting those bloody medals.

We were running again. The whole decent punctuated by ‘Fuck It!!’ everytime one of us caught a painful stride, which was often. We made more progress in that last hour and a half than we had all day.

We crossed the line at 10 hours 19 and a total of 31 miles. But most importantly we got our medals!!

Two days. 59 miles and over 9,500 feet of elevation. The medals, t-shirts and bruises to prove it. An epic weekend, with an awesome running partner. Bring on the next challenge!!

The beast within

Those of you that have known me a long time will remember Drinking Deb, and in fact have stories about her. She was a formidable beast for me to conquer. I could never see myself being able to give up drinking. I wasn’t an alcoholic, but I definitely had a problem. I went T-total, as I am, mostly, an all or nothing kind of a girl. I didn’t know how long I could keep it up, or if I would ever feel in control enough to ‘Have just one’. This seemed an unlikely out come as my will power can be shocking! But nearly four years on I can now say I’ve conquered her. I can have that one drink and the beast stays quiet, she rolls over and goes back to sleep, content to let me order a coffee instead of a round of Jaeger bombs.

I do, however, now have a new beast. Deb the Machine, aka Frank the Tank. She may be even more formidable than Drinking Deb. She appeared around three years ago, and is proving very difficult to control. She is always in my head, pushing when I should be holding back. She’s the voice that whispers in my ear, ‘You can do better than this’. You probably think, surely that’s a good voice to have! But when it’s shouting over the one that’s saying, ‘You need to rest, there’s a niggle in your quad/foot/knee’ its not a good voice.

To say she appeared three years ago isn’t entirely true, I’ve always beasted myself with work. But now she’s pushing in everything I do. I’ve broken myself more times than I can count in the last few years, and all because I wanted to prove to my beast that I could do better.

I’ve been pushing my limits, seeing just how far I can go. I’m venturing more and more into endurance events, and if I want this to carry on and be sustainable, something has to change. I can’t beast myself to breaking point anymore, I need to be kinder to myself. The ‘ No pain, No gain’ approach is not sustainable. All it does is break your body down and generally make you feel like, unless your crossing that finishing line wanting to throw up or collapse, you haven’t worked hard enough! This is bullshit! Your body won’t sustain that kind of constant punishment.

So I’m trying something new. I’m training at a comfortable pace, at a heart rate that is pushing but not breaking me. So when I finish my runs I feel I could keep going. I still need to transfer this into my races however. This is the struggle. This is where the beast wakes up and I find myself pushing. I still ignore that niggle or tiredness. When I’m being overtaken she is screaming at me to step it up. 

I’m getting better at ignoring her, as I try to remember the injuries that inevitably come from listening to her. But she’s persistent and I think this will be a long struggle. I need to move away from her though, or ill just keep finding myself injured and frustrated. One day I hope to be free of all my beasts. Or at least have them on leashes that I have firm control of.

Shut up legs!

I’m not usually one to warm up before a race. I’ve always considered the first mile as my warm up, the time for my legs to go ‘Oh, ok, this is what we’re doing now’. However yesterday I inadvertently gave myself a really good warm up! I tried to arrive nice and early, knowing that I always get lost and unsure of parking. My early, however, was everyone else’s standard arrival time, and parking was already at bursting point. I found a side street I could park down long enough to go register, and then went to find a car park by the seafront. I dropped into the first one I came across. I had a good hour before kick off, plenty of time to get up there and sorted….or so I thought. First snag, the pay machine didn’t seem to be taking money….and I only had enough change for a couple of hours tops. Another machine had the same issue, but I saw a driver had a note on his dash saying the machine wasn’t working, chancer I thought, worth a try. I wrote the note out and started changing my shoes and getting my stuff together. But then a lady was at the first machine and now it seemed to be working, bugger. I popped in the minimum and then went in search of a cash machine. This seemed to take forever! I asked about cash back in a few little shops but no joy, time was ticking. I jogged into town, found a cash point and ran back to the shop for change. For some reason I only put in enough for 6 hours, not thinking how early I was. So I had given myself a deadline of 5 and a half hours….shit. I had been saying to everyone I would be happy with 6 hours, guess I might be getting a ticket.

I grabbed my bag and marched up the hill to the start. At registration I asked a marshal where the bag drop was, and he pointed to the start line further up the hill. They were calling runners to the start line, 12 minutes to go. I squeezed through the crowd of runners and spectators up to the start and followed signs for the bag drop. It again seemed bloody miles away! I stripped down to my shorts and running vest, pinned my number on and bagged up my bag. Jogged back up to the start, with a minute to spare!

I ended up in the pack hoping for under 5 hours. I figured I didn’t mind being overtaken by hundreds of people. This was a much bigger event than the North downs last year. I looked up at the start line, and the hill that kicks it all off, ‘Fuck’. I had been warned, but the reality was something else. I had a plan however, and I would stick to it. Walk the hills, run the flats, and let gravity take me on the down hills. We were off and as I walked that hill with everyone else, I knew this race was going to be all about my will power as my training had not been the usual marathon standard.

After doing The Wall ultra back in June you could say I had been tapering! I gave myself a good break and when I got back on it I ended up hurting my knee. I decided things needed to change. I’ve been training with a heart monitor which has ment slow running, nothing pushing me too hard, and nothing over 8 miles. Hardly marathon training. I’ve also taken up playing Ice Hockey, so try to train for that at least twice a week which is great stamina and speed training. And I’ve had a few coaching guinea pigs, which has ment regular short, slow runs to. Those of you that have trained for marathons however, will know this isn’t standard practice. So I had decided I would just see Beachy as a nice day out, and a training run for all the silly shit I’ve got planned for next year.

I stuck to my guns. Walked the hills, as fast as I could. Ran the flats, at a nice steady pace, which allowed me to enjoy the spectacular views. Blasted the down hills to make up as much time as I could. As I pounded down one of the down hills through the woods, I was called a spring chicken, bouncing off the edges to get past people. Gravity was most definitely my friend. There were so many amazing views, but one that will stick with me was a sweeping valley, that curved away in front and all along the top heading down were tiny dots of runners.

As I went along I slowly fell in with a group, always seeing the same faces, socks, shorts. Sometimes up ahead, sometimes being overtaken again. I had my watch for about 20 miles before it died, and I was amazed I was hitting 6 miles an hour consistently for the first three hours. I couldn’t explain it, but I also knew the seven sisters were yet to come, and that was the true test. It’s a shame my watch died before the sisters, I would’ve loved to see the graph on those hills on my strava. Again I stuck to the plan and let gravity lead the downs, and stretched my calf’s out on the ups. I saw the up hills as a chance to rest my legs, and let people trot past me. I have to say though, the advice continued to ring true. I would be passed by people jogging up the hills, but when I hit the top and started off again myself I was passing those people. It just isn’t worth the energy.

I wasn’t feeling too bad. I was tired, but no aches, and I didn’t feel blasted. About three miles from the end one of my group caught me up. A lady who had always been ahead and I was surprised to see her now behind. I was on a hill walk section, not massively steep, but i was happy to be at resting pace. As she got me she said ‘oh no lady, you can’t be walking, I need you to be running’ I laughed, and said ‘come on then’. We trotted up the last section of it, speeding up on the flat and downhill. She said we were on for getting under 5 hours and I was gob smacked. I hadn’t set out with that in mind, and had really just been there to enjoy the race, which I had done. Another couple of lads with us said they could be on for 4:45 and I thought, fuck it, let’s get this done. The last mile and a half is down hill, but my legs were not happy anymore. They were screaming at me, and anyone who saw my face in that last push would’ve seen pain on it. You finish on the hill you start on, which is bloody steep. But it ment I could get enough momentum for a sprint finish. Maria had crossed ahead of me and me we thanked eachother for that final push together. 4:45, I couldn’t believe it. I said a quick goodbye to Maria and limped off to get my bag and get back to the car before my ticket expired. I had 12 minuets to spare when I finally fell into it.

What an epic day. The weather had been perfect. The views spectacular. The supporters amazing. And a time I never thought possible. I’m still buzzing today and not hurting as much as I had expected. I have to say this is proving to me that what I’ve been reading about and doing is the right direction for me. My friends didn’t seem that surprised with my time, but I was and still am blown away by it. It just makes me wonder what I can achieve next year.