3rd at Richmond Castle 10K, Go-Karting and a Duathlon

After a lighter running week full of social activities, I wasn’t feeling the sportiest that I’d ever felt but that was about to change!

After a late night at the ball on Saturday it was time for us to get our race faces on. Just to prove I’m not always in neon running kit 🤣:


Richmond Castle 10K was a great opportunity to blow away the cobwebs before a spot of go-karting later in the evening. 

The start was in a park and I regretted my choice of footwear as we set off. I wasn’t expecting anything in terms of results, in fact, Ed had said not to worry about placing as the standard was going to be too high. This was just a chill then, a chance to sit back and enjoy without the pressure.

The start of the race was an uphill grind and as I plugged away, I was really struggling. Luckily a downhill meant that I could equalise a bit and the miles seemed to tick by pretty quickly. It wasn’t until I’d passed through half way (near Catterick Garrison) that I heard the chilling news from a marshal ‘Well done 3rd Lady!’

I was absolutely shook…suddenly the pressure was on and everything changed. My chilled attitude turned to panic- can I maintain this position until the end??

It was a real struggle and by 8k the wheels were falling off and the hills were getting steeper. Luckily a fellow runner shouted encouragement and literally paced me to the finish, giving up a faster time to get me to the end. It was just an amazing thing to do and I would not have finished 3rd without his help- what a hero!


It was a really well organised, scenic event with excellent marshals and a really positive atmosphere- 100% recommend if you’re looking for a hilly road 10k


Then came the real result: my second 3rd place of the day-


The following week, I ran one leg of a duathlon as part of 🐢🐢🐢Team at Helwith Bridge….we finished as first team!

 

Advertisements

A dreamless sleep

Do you ever get that feeling that you’re not alone? 

Explorers, mountaineers and the like have been known to express a sense of an extra person alongside the group, a presence, a feeling, a sense of an ‘other’.

The great Shackleton himself wrote:

During that long and racking march of thirty-six hours over the unnamed mountains and glaciers of South Georgia, it seemed to me often that we were four, not three.


Shackleton, Ernest Henry (1914). South: The Endurance Expedition

It’s known as the Third Man phenomenon. Some associate it with a divine presence, others, a neurological condition…it could be anything in between…or even both. 

Certainly, studies have been carried out that can generate a feeling of the presence of an ‘other’ using electromagnetic fields- Persinger’s ‘God Helmet’ being one example: http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/horizon/2003/godonbrain.shtml

I’ve had some nice runs this month (plus a few races including a 3rd place finish at Richmond..but I’ll post about those later), a lovely autumnal jog around Scout Scaur near Kendal with a rare glimpse of sunshine…no third man, just Ed and a few cows.


Sometimes, rarely, when I’m out running I get that same feeling, a weight of awareness that it’s not just me, or not just Ed and I. It was like this last Sunday. 

I’d really enjoyed the past couple of weeks on the fells and, on a rare day off, we decided to revisit a route that we’d taken for the first time on New Years Day- the Nine Standards near Kirkby Stephen. Four miles of drag up onto the fell, four miles back. 

It was grey, wet, muddy and a bracing cross-wind swept across the open fell. Heads down, we made our way up towards the huge cairns, the Nine Standards. Boundary stones by all accounts, built and rebuilt over hundreds of years. Their current form probably being pretty recent. Nonetheless, they loom silently like blind giants. It’s eerie in the clag, it reminded me of a dreamless sleep, a fuzzy nothingness filled with possibilities that never quite take shape.

I won Lancaster Castle 10K!

Don’t know how- I didn’t get home till around 11.30pm the night before, just started a new job and haven’t done much road running since May…

So yeah! Came across this race and really liked the sound of starting and finishing in Lancaster Castle. In fact, registration was in the cells and my first offence was holding the number upside down for the picture 🙄


It was a few minutes walk to the start and I tried not to let nerves get the better of me as we bunched together. I’d given myself an excuse for an average performance as I was a couple of weeks into a new job, house move and all the rest…not entirely conducive to optimum performance!

We got underway and I found myself towards the front of the pack. First Lady from the outset and not expecting to sustain that as I knew that it was a pretty flat race with around 280 entrants… winning was not on the cards. Still, I felt OK so I pushed on, trying not to extend myself too far. In fact, there was a different mentality for this race- I tried to stay in the moment- I counted every step and recounted…..it was meditative, renewing and almost mechanical.

Before I knew it, I was 3 miles in and at the water station. This was a flat race on cycle paths, not an easy mental game for me. I had my gel and, buoyed by shouts of ‘Well done first lady!’ pressed on to take a couple more male places,

I was flagging a bit but carried on counting, I’d missed the 4 mile marker and so was happy to check my watch and find out that I was 4.6 miles in. After that boost, I was confident that I could maintain the pace and possibly even win- it would be horrendous to lead and get pipped with a mile to go.

Thankfully, I recognised that the finish was close by and put in a final effort up the cobbles and into the castle to finish First Lady and 13th overall! A very surprising win and an even more surprising prize: a choice of slow cooker, Hoover or toaster/kettle (These were not gender specific: same prizes for gentlemen!!) I opted for the hoover…I needed a new one!


Overall, a superb race. Excellent organisation, wonderful volunteers and stunning setting. A must-do!

M

I’ve left this post up as it has a funny (funny to me anyway!) story behind it…

I’ve just been fell running with some delightful young people and we climbed to summits Knott and Sickers. We took some summit selfies and in the process, I’ve somehow inadvertently posted a rather cryptic blog post- simply titled ‘M’…

Ed informed me of this when I got back as he’d received an email saying I’d posted a new blog entry- the height of efficiency, fell running and blogging at the same time…

M…maybe Knott.

Lakeland Trails 10K #committedinov8

The weather was stunning as we arrived in Keswick, I was full of cold but appreciative of the sunshine.

As always, Lakeland Trails did not disappoint. Their mini-village was in full swing, ready for inov-8 last minute kit purchases, coffees and bacon sandwiches. Before long, the Batala Band swung into action. I hadn’t heard those drums since running Cartmel back when I first started out, it’s something that needs to be heard to be believed.

I knew that I’d improved but in the midst of moving house and jobs, things had been a little difficult I felt pretty exhausted. I’d still managed to follow the training plan and just about found time to fit everything in.

Things got underway pretty quickly and before I knew it, we’d set off. The start of the route is fast and flat, I found myself in a comfortable position for the first climb.


The route has apparently changed since the loss of a section of the railway line path and instead of a lazy start, takes a twisty uphill route. I think it’s known as the rollercoaster to locals, it’s pretty obvious why. I paced myself and took it easy up the longer climbs, having the advantage of knowing this section meant that I was able to gain some places along the way. I was in full Inov-8- representin’! And I have to say, I cannot fault the kit. The ‘Trail Shorts’ are perfect for me as I’m not a shorts person but they’re fully lined so you don’t get that flapping about and they’re also not restrictive so super comfy. 

I’ve been living in my Roclites as well and would definitely recommend them for mixed terrain. Lots of races have road sections where you need that bit of cushioning but have to be confident that you’ll have the grip for the muddy trails. These fit the bill- a great transitional shoe.

After a while, the path evened out to a long grassy flat before the final climb up the back of Latrigg. The sun was shining and the view opened up to reveal the majesty of Skiddaw in it’s purple glory. One last push and then it was all downhill…in a very good way.


With my cold a distant memory and the finish in sight, I focused on running a fast second half. I caught another place and felt pretty good. It was over in no time and I was really chuffed to find that I’d finished in 5th place.

We hung around for a bit afterwards and enjoyed a cup of coffee and a slice of cake. It’s what trail running is all about- running for everyone. No matter what ability, shape or size, age or anything else. Runners are more alike than unalike… to (miss..) quote Maya Angelou.


I loved every minute of the race and being an inov-8 ambassador and working with Trail Running Magazine is fantastic.

If you fancy trying trail running, Lakeland Trails is a great place to start. It’s where I started, my first experience of trail running was their Cartmel event. They sell out pretty quick though! You can find them here:

http://www.lakelandtrails.org/ 

The flat world of the plateau

In my last post for Trail Running Magazine, I talked about training and how to balance decent training with the complexities of daily life. Sorry folks, I didn’t come up with a solution….mostly because there is not a one-size fits all easy fix. It can be tough, but busier people than me manage and there are ways and means of getting the balance right….most of the time.
So I recovered from injury and focused on regular training. I spent my time out on the fells, the trails and the road. I did speed work, I hate hill repeats..but I did them. I also cut down on racing. I was a very determined squirrel…wearing Roclites. 


And then things started to plateau. I had made some real progress and it was such a high hitting PB after PB. So when things flatlined it was a bit demotivating. It made me reflect on what it is to be a runner. But before we get into that, here’s a few things that helped me get things going again:

1. Recognise that it’s bound to happen- it’s part of the big picture. Take some time to look at your long term progress. You’re better than when you started. Put things back into perspective. Take stock.

2. Try not to focus on PB’s for a bit. It takes time to get faster, especially at the sharp end. Vary your training and remember why you love running. Slow right down and rediscover the joy of the trails. If you take the pressure off, you might see results without even trying.

3. Do something different. Here’s a good cheat for you. Not all Parkruns are equal. So you’re not getting faster at your usual one. Go on tour! You might find a different course is flatter and you can get your temporary PB fix without the hard work- this is nice for a confidence boost when you’re losing a little motivation.

Finally, just remember how lucky you are to be able to get out and run the trails. Plateau or PB, it doesn’t matter, it’s all about getting out and challenging yourself. Training plans are great but remember why you love running and make time for the joy of it.

So we overcome a lot of everyday challenges as trail runners, from injury to juggling life to plateauing and motivation…

In life you are defined by a variety of things, it could be past experiences, personality, quirks and idiosyncrasies in your behaviour, your interests. When it comes to running, it can be quite strange- you will be defined by your running before you are aware that you are a ‘runner’. This is because for 90% of the population, your family, friends and colleagues you are probably that person who runs. You are the one who is outside banging some miles in the rain, you are the one who has run to work as you arrive in your kit, you are probably (they may think) the one who says no to cake in the staff room (ha! How wrong they are), you are the healthy one, the motivated one, the crazy one who will be pounding the pavement, track, trails or fells no matter what the weather, time of day or place.

Oh yes and you’re the one who will have ‘no knees left if you carry on like that.’

At some point, you may see yourself as a runner, not just ‘someone who runs.’ Does that have to be when you’ve run a 16 minute 5k? Cracked a sub 3hr marathon? Or when you’ve won your local park run? Or when you’ve finished in the top 50 of the Marathon Des Sables? No. a runner is someone who loves to run, who hates to run, who is running and will continue to run. You make your own definition but be prepared for the people around you to have their own definition as well.

I guess all we runners can do is keep going, even if you’re in the flat world of the plateau right now, you’re still moving forward.

Win! Inov-8 Maverick 11K at Stonyhurst

We needed a night away as things were getting a bit serious… moving house, ropey vehicles and the distant memory of our summer holiday evaporating into nothingness meant that a night away in the campervan was just what the doctor ordered.

And of course, we tied it in with a race. The inaugural Inov-8 Maverick Trail race down in the breathtaking setting of Stonyhurst… just wow.

We’d gone for the short distance- not too shabby at 11K (middle- 15K and long- 25K races also available).  In terms of kit, I ran in full inov8 and opted for Roclites as I thought it would be more foresty trails but they actually coped with the mud very well and I was able to tackle muddy descents with confidence.

As we lined up, it felt cold and we knew that the heavy rain in recent days was going to make for a pretty muddy day out. The route profile was interesting…the short route was like a pyramid. Flat start, high point, flat finish. The challenge was, as always, going to be pacing.
We set off and I tried to reign it in. All distances started at the same time and split off at different points. You didn’t know who you were racing until about half way, I found myself leading the women’s race and tried to put in a solid start before the hill. I was sort of expecting forest trails but it was a fast start over wet fields, with a lot of muddy technical sections. I felt pretty good but the going was tough and stretched my lungs a bit, at each stile I tried to regain composure and get my breathing back on track.

The route trundled on through muddy forest paths, criss-crossed with tree roots and I was making good progress. I was conscious of the upcoming uphill stretch, it was actually a road section, not too bad but I have to admit, my well rehearsed power-walk came into play here.

I sneaked a look at my watch and was surprised to be well over half way. The route then took a sharp left and proved to be a bit trickier. My immediate concern was where I was going, I’d crossed into a field and promptly sunk up to my thighs in mud. In the distance, I thought I saw the blue tape I was looking for (turns out the farmer had taken a lot of the route markers down). It was a leap of faith and it paid off, a further muddy stretch led to an uphill clamber through briars and bushes.

A few scratches later, the route joined up with a good track that meandered through woods back to the road. From there, the last challenge was the exhausting final 800m up to the tremendously imposing wall of Stonyhurst. 

I crossed the line as First Lady 😋

Overall, great atmosphere, beautiful setting and challenging route, if that doesn’t sell this race, I don’t know what will!

……Well perhaps the fact that you get a beer at the finish….And the medal? It’s got a bottle opener built in! Sold!