#committedinov8

I did the Grasmere Gallop two days after that epic run. Great race, 10K on trail. I took it easy and came 9th female. Great.

Not so great, I picked up an injury and I’ve been suffering ever since. I’ve rested, iced, elevated, ibuprofen-ed the works. It’s improved a little but I’ve booked in for physio next week to get some advice.

So, on to more exciting news. On Wednesday I went to Trail Running Magazine headquarters in Peterborough to find out more about the #committedinov8 campaign.

Myself and three others were issued with our new kit (happened to be pink and blue-yes life!) this included:

Trail short, AT/C Base LS, AT/C SSZ, Raceshell, Windshield, Roclite 290, Wrag, All Terrain 3 Bumbag, Socks All Terrain Mid Socks, Tri Blend Tee.

It really suits me as I already run in Inov8 shoes, I’ve also got their leggings and jacket so I do believe in the kit.

We were told that we’d be following a training plan, with guidance from the amazing athlete Ben Mounsey to gear us up for a race in early September. This is really exciting for me as although I do run quite a bit, I’ve never followed a plan consistently. I’m looking forward to getting to grips with it. 

We then went for a run with Trail Running Magazine’s new Editor and Training Editor, around the trails of Peterborough. Riverside footpaths and grassy fields, very flat but pretty and accessible.

It was a really great day and I’m feeling very lucky to be part of #committedinov8  alongside a great bunch of runners. Thanks to the Trail Running Magazine team who were extremely helpful and friendly.

Our blogs will be featured on the Trail Running Magazine website as we each take on our challenge, we’ll be posting our progress regularly.

So, now back in hilly Cumbria, the next thing was to test the kit! It was also a good opportunity for Ed to work on his photography skills 📷😉


A big day out

Ed has been reading Steve Birkenshaw’s ‘There is No Map in Hell’. We watched the film of his 214 Wainwright challenge and were in absolute awe, the book offers a little more of an insight into what sort of person aims to, and succeeds in, a challenge so immense. We wanted to tackle a 30ish mile route with over 100m elevation per mile (for most of the way), so we took inspiration from one of the legs on Steve’s route.

Starting at the Castle Inn, we headed around Bassenthwaite Lake via the road- stopping to move a crow out of harm’s way  (happily greeted by its squawking family on the other side of the wall). 

We then picked our way into the woods (some minor navigational errors led to scratched legs from briars) climbing through Whinlatter Forest to summit Barf. 

It was a really tough climb through forest trails, we’d never done this particular route before and so we were surprised at just how steep it was. 



The air was very dense and close, we’d figured on 1.5L of fluids to get us to Buttermere, that was still a way off. 

We continued on to Lord’s Seat before dropping down, down, down in order to pick up the trail to summit Grisedale Pike. This followed the route of the Grisedale Grind Fell Race. Grinding being a good term for the nature of the climb.


We then dropped down through Coledale Hause towards the Buttermere Valley.

(taking in a few bonus summits including Whiteless Pike along the way)



A grassy descent brought us into the village of Buttermere where we stopped to fill up our drinks. The last massive climb of the day had been hanging over us, now it was doing so literally.

 

We skirted the lakeshore to pick up the trail to Robinson. Signed 1.5 miles. The longest 1.5 miles in the history of the universe. Jean Paul Sartre said ‘Hell is other people.’ Birkinshaw reckons there’s no map in Hell….I’m telling you, Hell isn’t ‘other people’, the way there is clearly signed and it can be found on the way up to Robinson.


It was rocky, muddy, steep, relentless. I was tired. We pressed on, eventually reaching the summit. From here we could feel a sense of homecoming as the valley stretched out ahead. There was still around 13 miles to go.

We slid down a grassy section in style to meet Scope Beck where we stopped for sandwiches. Cheese, ham and Tabasco.


We followed a nice runnable track down to Little Town, where we had another stop at a farm shop where we refilled drinks. That last section was thirsty work.

Fields and farmland brought us out onto the Cumbria Way through Portinscale and onto Allerdale Ramble. A low key route next to the river. We headed to Dancing Gate where we crossed the road into Dodd Wood.

 

This was a long section that led onto a busy road. We were already over 30 miles and so took the most direct route back to our starting point. It was a long day out, over 10 hours, more factoring in breaks, over 100m climb per mile for the first 25 miles. It was tough but very satisfying, seeing old places in new ways and bringing a route to life, you can’t beat it. We tried out some new software that’s linked with Ed’s Strava called ‘Relive’. It creates an amazing fly through of your route, automatically adding pictures that were taken at key spots (you can even add your own music).

Sit back and enjoy!

The trick is…

Monday was wet, really wet.

We had planned to do the Howtown Fell Race route but ended up cutting it short as the weather was against us.

In the finish, we did a challenging 6.5 mile route. Starting near Howtown, we climbed the side of the fell to the summit of Loadpot.

This was the view:


Rather uninspiring, the wind and rain were lashing and after a quick pic:


We beat a rapid descent down towards  Fusedale Beck and back to Howtown. I read some where ‘if it’s not raining, it’s not training’  😏🌧

Today, it wasn’t raining… is that still training??

Anyway it was a special day as it was my Dad’s first ever fell run. I picked High Pike because it’s easy nav, grassy paths and a great view on a nice day. 

I was so impressed!! He’s absolutely rapid on the descents, it certainly tested my mettle!!


There’s no trick by the way….

Latrigg Fell Race, Crazy Cow 10k, a 200m Relay, High Pike and a wedding…

I’m behind with this post!

Couple of weeks ago now, after work, in glorious sunshine we drove to Keswick to run in the Latrigg Fell race. It starts in the park, heads up Spooney Green and takes a pretty brutal direct line up to the top of Latrigg. The descent is a pretty much parallel route down, just as brutal in decline, back to the park. It’s only 2.5miles.

 It was a small field but some big names attracting fell running royality. The record is ridiculous, set by Kenny Stuart in 1984 (16.37 😱😱😱) and was not broken this time.

My goal was (as is the running theme) to enjoy it, hopefully not come last and try and get under 30 mins. I succeeded on all three counts so that’s a win for me!

There is some amazing drone footage of the race here:

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10102292261721300&id=36903032

Credit: James Appleton

It shows how words fail in giving an insight into these races. I watched it back and thought that yeah, it’s pretty cool to be part of something like that. I was one of those dots!

On the Sunday it was a different story. A 10K race in Preston. We have done it before (the day after wedding- erk) and I felt so awful that day that I made a complete hash of it…I think I even cried… I’ve toughened up a lot since then.

I’ve also gotten faster but I’d looked at the finishing times and they were super fast. This one was a club runner favourite attracting around 700 runners. There was no pressure so I went into it looking to improve on my current PB.

It was a really flat race, with lots of twists and turns. Great support along the route. I felt ok and felt pretty comfortable the whole way, I know that I could have pushed a bit harder but I managed to squeeze a slight PB.


Appropriate beer to celebrate-


Wednesday was a light jog to my best friends’ wedding rehearsal and back- it was so hot that day- luckily the church was cool because it was absolutely sweltering! In the spirit of the weekend’s success I made time for a quick cow selfie on the way back-


On Friday I ran for my House in the 20x 200m relay race for Sports Day. 200m- actually really enjoyed it! Reminds me why I love distance running though I have to say. Pimms isn’t the best pre sprint prep.

That evening, I was off  for a walk up High Pike with one of my best mates who is tackling the Three Peaks soon. It was a beautiful evening but again, very hot. Great views and company. It was quite nice not to be running and just take our time and enjoy it.


Then it was the big wedding of the year! And I was Maid of Honour- such a beautiful day for a wonderful couple. It also gives me an excuse to post a glam selfie. If only I could look like that in my race photos!! 

The Fairfield Horseshoe :)

This one is a must do. One of the big classic races, outstanding records, legends and fairytales, attracts the very best. No frills.

The Fairfield Horseshoe is a 16km fell race with 1100 metres of ascent and includes the peaks of:

Nab Scar (440 metres)

Heron Pike (612 metres)

Great Rigg (766 metres)

Fairfield (873 metres)

Dove Crag (792 metres)

High Pike (656 metres)

Low Pike (508 metres)

Thanks Wikipedia.

With my kit checked and my Pete Bland, Harvey’s route map neatly folded in my pocket, I stood at the start line feeling like a complete fool. It was wet, grey and everyone looked grizzled and lean. I’d recced the route a few weeks before in glorious sunshine. A mix of running, hiking, taking pictures and falling over….it had taken just under 4 hours….. this wasn’t looking good.

Still, I decided that I was going to aggressively enjoy this race no matter what, and as the wind picked up, I plastered a defiant smile across my face. I. Will. Enjoy. This. Race. 😊

Needless to say it’s all uphill at the start. I started near the back and even so, I was surprised at the pace, it wasn’t as fast as I thought it would be. Certainly a far more measured approach than other fell races that I’ve started near the back in….maybe it was because there was more people- around 400- huge for a fell race.

I took it easy and was heartened to be overtaking people, we got to a gully and lots of runners were deciding whether to jump or climb down and climb back up the other side. As I inched to the edge to make my decision, my feet slipped and the decision was made for me….you’re not going to climb down and climb back up the other side…you’re not going to jump across…no, what you’re going to do is TOMBSTONE into the gully amid horrified gasps of observing runners.

Keep that smile on your face kid. 😊

And I did, I climbed out of the gully and kept going, I’d only slightly injured myself. Happy days.

My new found aggressively positive approach (plus a few gels) kept me feeling AMAZING and I actually really enjoyed the climbs up towards Fairfield. I was gaining a couple of places and realised that I was quite comfortable and didn’t need to stress about coming last. By the time I’d reached Fairfield, the visibility had really deteriorated and there was just a blurry figure in the distance. This was one of the ‘go wrong’ areas and even though id recced the route, it took on a completely different quality in the clag. This was ghost ship territory and as I blindly headed in what I believed was the right direction, clusters of runners clutching compasses emerged out of the mist. We naturally settled on a route and as we dropped down through the rocky sections, the wind dropped, things became a lot clearer and we were heading in the right direction. Lots of smiley faces now 😊😊😊😊😊

I was pleased to see the wall which is then followed down most of the descent. Before I knew it, I’d made it and was back on the track. I hadn’t stretched myself too far and was able to pick off a couple of people on the final gruelling section (if you ask anyone what the worst bit is about the Fairfield Horseshoe, everyone rolls their eyes and mutters ‘the track at the end’).


I finished around half way in the female field and 16 in my category. This race wasn’t about times or places though, it was about doing something that means something. This means (to me) that I’m a ‘proper fell runner’ Big smiley face 😁

An act of pilgrimage

What does it mean to suffer voluntarily? Why do some of us have a drive to seek out suffering in our lives? Those people who, when everything seems to be going ok have a gathering desire to turn away from these things and look towards making life difficult again. It might be a manifestation of the unconscious mind,  boredom,  the desire for a challenge or none or all of the above. Some people never get this urge, or maybe they do and they’re able to suppress it, perhaps it’s so buried within the pillowy softness of the comfort zone that it never surfaces…..suffocating under marshmallowy sadness and contentment.

Naturally we tend to avoid suffering where possible, that just makes sense. We suffer by choice for things that are worth it, outcomes, selfish or selfless (if altruism exists that is) So it seems a little crazy that intelligent individuals (and not so intelligent, you know the ones who have their headtorch permanently on, we’re in an aid station mate, stop blinding me) put themselves through terribly physically and mentally challenging events such as ultra marathons for no apparent reason.

Maybe there is a reason,  does ‘planned suffering’ help us to take control of the negative things in our lives that we cannot control?

But it isn’t quite as simple as that. I’ve just been listening a talk about pilgrimage for the past 30 minutes. The act of pilgrimage is described as one of devotion, prayer and suffering. A time taken out of daily life for God, leaving everything behind. The reasons? Spiritual growth, healing, penance. Not all pilgrimages are the same, some are to far away places, some in ‘our own environment’ (as it was phrased). It’s not all about the destination, it’s the time, the effort, the journey.

I haven’t been on a pilgrimage, I’ve been to special places, holy places, sure, but not anything that might be understood as an organised pilgrimage.  But then I thought about it a little more. I thought about the hours I’ve spent on foot, physically suffering. I thought about the constant prayers I’ve said, to be able to keep going, I thought about the times when I’ve been running and thinking about the mistakes I’ve made in my life. Ultras have a habit of getting right into the core of your being, when it gets tough, you’re either on your own, or with God.

Afterwards, your body feels broken, you’re emotionally spent, sometimes for days afterwards. But you also feel a sense of renewal. Can an ultra marathon be an act of devotion? Yes, it is self-serving, but you could consider a pilgrimage to Lourdes for healing to be self-serving. Is it religious? Well, like pilgrimage- it’s what you make of it, you can journey to a holy place without having any beliefs, just because you journeyed there, doesn’t make it a pilgrimage.


‘Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit’ 1 Corinthians 6:19– this is a common concept within many faiths, and none- the idea that we have what it takes within us doesn’t have to be a religious one, but it is one that can be explored with, or without faith, through the act of ultra running.

Ravenscar 10K

Spent the day in Whitby, wandering around. Didn’t realise it was the Hardmoors 110 and as a few runners emerged through the whale bone, I felt a pang of jealousy. Feel like it’s been ages since ive had a proper day out doing an ultra. 110 is perhaps a little far…


Nevertheless, I had a race the following day. A 10K near Robin Hood’s Bay. The elevation profile is a laugh, like a big smiley face. In reality 2.5 miles downhill, 3.5 miles uphill. 🙂

After a pub dinner and a couple of pints, I slept well. We were in the van on a campsite, not too far from the race start in Ravenscar. It was grey, damp and windy. Fingers crossed for wind direction in our favour.

The start was slightly delayed but that was fine, the van really comes into its own in those situations. We left it until the last minute and dived out ready to go (as usual for me, jogging 5 meters to the start is warm up enough)

I’d made a decision that I was going to run really fast…at the start…and worry about the second half later. So everything that you’ve heard about ‘pacing’ well, I chose to ignore it.

It was easy underfoot, a mix of tarmac and track. I was running hard and out of breath. The road stretched ahead and I realised that I was 2nd Lady and closing on 1st.  After mile and a bit, the route took a sharp turn onto farmland. Field and muddy slopes down and up again onto the road. I was now 1st Lady and extremely tired.

From here it was all uphill. Nothing too steep, just long dragging climbs up road before cutting back onto fields. The steady, grassy hills brought us up onto the cliff path towards Robin Hood’s Bay. It was windy and I felt like the most unqualified first lady in the whole wide world. I was expecting to be overtaken, but no one came.

I pressed on and tried to stick with a couple of blokes up ahead- tucking in to avoid the wind, it offered little relief. A few spectators and marshals offered encouragement, letting me know that I was in 15th place overall. I grimaced and accepted that I would undoubtedly be overtaken.

But no one came. We emerged off the cliff path and back onto tarmac for the final climb up and around to the finish. How is this happening? For the first time, I look behind….there’s nobody there…am I going to actually do this?

By the time I staggered through the finish I was absolutely spent. I found out that Ed has finished in 2nd place overall- an amazing result, and here I was as 1st Lady. Amazing for me!