Hoad Hill 10k

Had a really good week approaching this race, injury free, feeling fast and ready to race again! 

Tuesday- Gale Road Loop, Keswick


Wednesday- 5k trail/road tempo

Thursday- rest

Friday- High Pike (hike)

Saturday- Hoad Hill 10K Trail Race

Sunday- recovery run/hike around Binsey


Hoad Hill Trail 10K

The 10k is part of Pure Outdoors Events line up, as part of the ‘Festival of Two Feet’. Loads of options from 5k to Marathon across the weekend. We’ve done a few races by these guys (Cumbria Way Ultra, GT Skiddaw) and I have to say, they are awesome. Professional, friendly and well organised- can’t praise them enough.

I set off fast, 5k fast. Big mistake. I hammered the first couple of miles and felt good initially. The progress at parkrun had bigged up my ego- clearly!

Exhibit A: too darn fast!


Then the first major climb came and so did the challenge. I’m ok at steady climbs, in fact I’d been practicing that skill a lot and I learned nothing! My body felt fine but because I’d gone off do fast, I couldn’t recover and it was both literally and figuratively, an uphill struggle.

The route was varied, a mix of trail, fields, footpath and road. Two main climbs and an epic road downhill section (not in that order). It was beautiful but hard to enjoy as I steadily slowed and resigned myself to ‘getting round in one piece’ rather than finishing with a place.


I think as I’ve been training, I’ve definitely improved my speed and my stamina at that pace hasn’t quite caught up. It was a bit demoralising to be honest and I started thinking quite negatively- something that I’ve managed to avoid so far, even through injury.


I finished in 4th and learned a few lessons. I would recommend this event and think it has a lot going for it; stunning scenery, friendly supporters, encouraging marshals and superb organisation! Not one to be underestimated but also accessible. I’ll definitely be back- with a better attitude!

Thanks to volunteers and organisers. Also thanks to James Kirby for the race photography. 

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Sheepishly catching up

Had a lovely day today with my wonderful Mum, spent rediscovering the Lakes, visited Wordsworth’s childhood home in Cockermouth and went to Keswick- not in running kit for once!
Training-wise: I’ve had a good week. 

Lots of climbing- Lonscale Fell early in the week, in the evening light. Inspiring me and making me thankful for just being alive!


Somewhere above Rydal…jumping for joy before going off piste, getting a little lost but finding our way back to Rydal…eventually!


And then on top of the world with the golf balls and gliders up at Cross Fell.


That’s the exciting stuff. I skipped Park Run in order to get some climbing in. But speed work needed to come from somewhere and so yesterday (partly inspired by the athletics) was a ‘track’ session….(grass track on a field, my old secondary school in fact). What followed was an extremely challenging, slightly rewarding session of 8 x 800m.

Sorry, no pictures from that one- they’d need a health warning…. what’s puce, sweaty and lying on the ground?  Oh yeah, that’s me!

  1. Final little thing, over on Ultra-thoughts on Facebook, I ran a little ‘competition’ for personalised sheep- it proved pretty popular and one lovely person actually made a donation to charity for his. I’d like to do some more, for charity. So if you’re interested check it out on fb. I’m supporting Alzheimer’s Research UK but will do any charity really:

Limits

You learn a lot about life through running. It’s about limits, when to stop, when not to start. It’s taken a couple of years to learn this, it goes against everything inside me… I want to push myself, I want to make progress…I don’t want to give up, I don’t want to let myself down.
You can’t always get what you want.

The best hope you have in running, is not just performance (if you love running that is..) it’s longevity. Quite simply do you see a future with, or without running?

I’d like to think I do, but I’m also preoccupied with short term goals. I’ve never tried fishing… I don’t think I’d like it. I like instant results- like feeding koi from a bottle (check out Barcelona Aquarium). PB’s are great, but they’re just a snapshot into a bigger picture and it’s about playing the long game.

So, difficult decisions. 

This weekend is the Lakeland 50: done it before, loved it. Desperate to do it again. Is it going to help or hinder my injury that is steadily improving?

There’s not really much of a debate to be had on this one. I’m not going to be starting. It feels wrong but I know it’s the right decision- next year.

So, on the plus side, this week has been a strong training week, I’ve felt pretty good and have pushed myself. The injury is not 100% there yet but it’s still improving with careful management, slowly increasing mileage, varying surfaces, using stair machine, icing, stretching and…knowing my limits!

PB at Parkrun on Saturday- nice flat course I have to say but that was a big confidence boost. 

Monday was an out and back riverside jog to meet Ed in glorious sunshine.


Tuesday was hills and effort. Run up to the top of Latrigg and jog back down.



Wednesday was stair climbing at the gym.

So I’m happy with the training, I’m disappointed in the L50 but I know I have to be sensible if I really want to shake this niggle. Good luck everyone racing, it’s an amazing event!

Training!?#committedinov8 

Apparently there’s a difference between ‘training’ and training. Running around is not ‘following a training plan’ did you know that? 


Well, for a long time, I was kidding myself that by running around like a confused pheasant, three times a week, that I was training. Don’t get me wrong, there’s something wonderful about the freedom to just go out and hit the trails- I never want to lose that joy.. but if you have a goal in mind, like myself, it might be beneficial to start building in some structure to your running. Quite simply, it gets results.

I’m the classic Jack of All Trades. I run trail, road, fell and ultras, I enjoy the different challenges and am a serial racer (not a particularly successful one I might add!) But it’s time for me to settle down for a bit and see what it’s like to focus…did I tell you I love sausage rolls? FOCUS. 

Right, I’m aiming for improvements over 10K, so I’ve picked the step by step guide in Trail Running Magazine and am adapting it to my needs and ability.

One of the tricky things that I found was fitting structured training around a full time job. It’s worth saying that ‘structure’ doesn’t necessarily mean inflexibility, there can be compromises and a creative approach can solve a lot of problems. Simple things that we’ve all heard before like taking kit to work, run commuting all/part of the way. Getting up earlier. 

I was aware that time existed before 6.00am, did I ever really consider that as an option? I was also aware that lunch breaks can be utilised for speed work instead of sausage rolls, could that work for me? As for commuting, I’d need more logistical nounce and organisational ability than the London Marathon and UTMB put together to make that one work. 

Truth is, Excuses come pretty easily and it really just came down to me making time. I tried a few things, confirmed I wasn’t a morning person, forgot my shoes for work, continued to eat sausage rolls- those sorts of things. But I also stopped making excuses and became better at seizing opportunities and more flexible in changing round the plan now I was confident in what needed to be done. Being ready to run when you get the chance is key and having reliable kit makes things easier. I don’t let the weather stop me (within reason!) and living in the Lakes, it’s important to have a decent waterproof, the Inov-8 Raceshell did not disappoint (I’ve tested it in some pretty horrendous conditions) and it packs down nice and small as well.


It’s worth remembering that even as a seasoned runner, any change in routine can be a bit of a shock to the system. So as the old saying goes ‘you’re a long time dead’-so make the most of your potential…but you’re a long time injured as well- so listen to your body. Fairly early on, I picked up a slight niggle that limited my training (ultra followed by a 10K two days after, not the best idea). It was incredibly frustrating, but, I continued to follow the plan, swapping things around, including cycling, rowing and stair climbing to keep my fitness up. It took a couple of weeks to get back on track but having the existing routine in place helped to keep me focused. 


So right now I’m feeling pretty good, I’m no longer feeling like a pheasant at a road crossing, more like a very focused hedgehog or maybe an extremely dedicated squirrel ….wearing Roclites of course.

Walk with integrity 

Last day of what has been a varied holiday. We hadn’t set out to make it a ‘foodie’ based trip but it sort of became one…possibly because the hotel wasn’t all that great and the tourist bustle of Lloret left a lot to be desired in terms of authentic Catalan cuisine.

We stretched to one last gastronomic adventure last night at Freu and enjoyed the tasting menu there. It was very seafood-centric, full of locally sourced ingredients. 


This morning we explored the wider trails of Lloret. It’s fantastically placed to access the long distance GR92  (Mediterranean Path) that links up with local trails. It’s colour coded, well maintained and clearly way marked, maps available from tourist information.
We followed the Green route up to Santuari de Sant Pere del Bosc, passing the Angel Monument and various shrines along the way. It was more of a hike than a run, the aftermath of a big effort in the race, rich food and plenty glasses of cava but we enjoyed every minute of it. Sometimes walking together is enough.

‘Walk with integrity’ Proverbs 20:7.

7 miles





 

Night Trail Lloret de Mar

At 9.30pm in Lloret de Mar there’s a lot of people ordering their first fishbowl in anticipation of a messy night ahead.

I, on the other hand, was starting out on a 10 mile trail race.


What do we have in common? Well, stumbling into the hotel after midnight, waking up aching all over, eating junk food.

The difference? Well, no feelings of regret for me and no headache of course!

It meant a lot for me to line up amongst 500+ runners, mostly locals, as I’ve been battling through injury. Part of that has meant active recovery. My routine has been 10km bike, 5x 3 min row and 30 mins on the stair climb, in an effort to lower impact but maintain fitness.

So as I lined up with Ed, (who ran with me and encouraged me as always) I was really nervous. It’s been a while since I’ve raced.


The organisation- Wefeel Events, was fantastic and it was a much bigger affair than either of us expected, complete with chip timing, start and finish gantries, and motivational music. There was a 7km or 16km option with around 550 runners across both events, in an about equal split.

Although it was 9.30pm, it was still very hot and the light faded rapidly. The route was mostly hard-packed, dusty, forest trails that included some challenging climbs. We’d agreed that this was not a ‘race’ for us, the emphasis being on getting round and enjoying the atmosphere, hoping that my ankle would hold up.


The first major climb as pretty tough but a water stop near the summit made for a welcome break. I was moving pretty well on the ascents but the heat made it hard work and I made sure to slow the pace.

It was very hot and the close, forest sections were really sweaty. There was some quite technical terrain as well where water had coursed down the narrow tracks creating dry, rocky gullies that needed a decent level of grip and concentration. My Roclites were well suited to the terrain and we were gaining places on the descents.

We passed by what looked like a monument or Church, it was lit up pink in the night and was quite a sight. Planning on heading back up tomorrow to find out what it was.

After the final water stop, the route emerged back into the urban sprawl of Fenals and on to Lloret by the very same path that we’d taken the other day. A few stairs made for tough work and the final section into the finish was on strength- sapping sand.

It was a great atmosphere and we were well looked after with a post race Catalan snack of sausage and tomato bread.


I’m stiff today but that’s to be expected, no swelling so fingers crossed. The results came in as well and I was pleased to see that I’d finished 6th female. Great race and I’d definitely recommend it if you fancy something a little more challenging than a fishbowl in Lloret de Mar!

Foodie Heaven…and some running

Arrived in Lloret de Mar on Tuesday….it’s kind of rough and ready I guess but there’s lots of potential for adventures. 

My ankle is holding up well and I got out for my first run on Wednesday morning. It was just a couple of miles a little too late in the day but it got the legs moving and I felt pretty good. It was enough to feel as though I’d earned my tea at the highly rated Restaurant Mas Romeu-


Thursday we went to Barcelona so no running but I made up for it by fulfilling a lifelong dream that I didn’t know I had- feeding koi carp from a bottle at Barcelona Aquarium.


Then it was lunch at the Michelin Star Caelis, (Heaven?)- just wonderful from start to finish. Very reasonably priced as well, it’s worth checking lunch menus at these places, you might be pleasantly surprised.


Those arrestingly coloured quenelles are flavoured butter by the way…

Back to the running then and we’re on Friday today. Got the 10 mile night trail race tomorrow so we went for an easy 5 miles this morning, making sure that we got up early to avoid the heat.

We headed through the urban sprawl of Lloret, refreshingly peaceful at 7am… Save a few hardcore stop-outs.


We ran along the beach side path toward Fenals, beautiful views and reasonably cool.


A slight wrong turn made for some impromptu bouldering for Ed.


But we soon found our way and reached our turnaround point, heading back to make it 5 miles. There was quite a lot of short, sharp climbing and I think that’s indicative of what we’ll have in store tomorrow. Although I feel like I’m moving a bit awkwardly, my ankle is holding up well so we’ll take it easy. It depends on how tomorrow goes but I’m hoping to get back to proper training once I’m home.