Tag Archives: Trail running

A new adventure

On the 20th of August I was in Wales, on holiday. The reason for choosing Wales was easy: I was going to take on the challenge of Racing a Train. Sounds very different I thought. I like different. I signed up!Image result for talyllyn railway race the trainDoesn’t it look fab? My family would be on the train and I would run. Everyone would happy.

Unusually this race takes place on a Saturday ……. and in the afternoon. It turns out that afternoon races are not good for me. There is far too much time to get nervous. I was really nervous. It appears that I was stepping right out of my comfort zone with this race.

So lets put this into context….

I am a fen girl who is used to running on the flat with relatively dry weather. This race takes place in Wales which is wet and hilly. Gales were predicted on the day of the race along with rain. We had travelled down in rain on the Friday and it had continued to rain on Saturday morning. It was going to be muddy! The wind was not that bad for a town on the sea-side but would still be a factor when running the race.

As we arrived in the town where the race started we saw some runners completing the races from the morning. They looked tired and quite muddy. This just added to my mounting feeling of dread. I soon texted my friend saying that I just wanted it to start as I knew that I would be alright once it started.

Lining up at the start it appeared that I as slightly better prepared than my brother who had somehow failed to charge his watch! As the train whistle rang out to start the race we set off. My brothers words of advice echoed around my head: save some energy for the second half as it is more uphill.

Predictably I set off faster than I would have liked but we did have the wind behind us. I managed the first 6 miles in exactly an hour which I was pleased with as the terrain was uneven. I even got to wave at what I thought might be my family on the train as it steamed past! As we got to about half way the ground began to slip away quite steeply to one side – one poor man nearly fell into the bracken a couple of times. At this point I decided that safety had to  come first which was just as well as it got a LOT steeper after this point.

 

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An action – taken whilst running photo.

 

Just after the half way point the path became very narrow and steep. I slowed to a walk but was very aware of those behind me so at the first opportunity I decided to stop to let them past only to find that they were happy walking and ended up holding me up! (Trust me to be so thoughtful of others!)

Once we had passed this part we came to the next, unexpected ‘obstacle’ –  a bog.

We can’t go over it, we can’t go through it. OH no!  We have to go through it.

Squelch, squerch, squelch, squerch!

(Excerpt from the well known children’s book: We’re going on a Bear Hunt)

It was FAB!

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By now I was really getting into my stride. I suppose that I now knew that there was no time pressure, I was just here to enjoy it so I started taking photos.(There was a lovely marshal by this waterfall who actually took my photo with it but I shall spare you that image!)

I would just like to add here that the marshals at this event were the most amazing people ever. I may have been in a vest but these people had to stand in the driving wind and rain for a long time, in the middle of nowhere. They all smiled and were polite. They were nothing short of awesome, especially as a lot of them were not exactly young.

The 14 mile race took me 2 hours and 44 minutes. The elevation gain was 413 metres. Not fast, not flat and VERY MUDDY. I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT. Would I do it again? Definitely. Trail running rocks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tale of 12 miles

Thank you to all those who shared your brilliant ideas about how to trick my brain – they are banked for use another day. I managed to find yet another solution.  I took my eldest to a nearby forest and ran some of the marked ‘walks’ there. (He biked)

A view from my run.

A view from my run.

I had hoped that there would be a nice 10 mile loop to follow but alas not! We ended up following a 6 mile route that wasn’t quite 6 miles and then another, different 6 mile route that was again not 6 miles. Don’t worry I made up the extra – you don’t think that I could stop before 12 did you? 🙂

It was lovely – sandy (not so lovely) and quite undulating, my fitness tracker said that I went up 80 floors. When I set out I was on 3! I am not sure how it measures it but it feels about right according to my legs. The best thing was that I was out in the countryside with no cars to worry about and no knowledge of the route thus I was unable to constantly think how much further there was to go.

So I did, in effect do 2 loops of 6 miles, well 5 but they were different. I’m my head I actually broke it down further into 3 miles at a time – once I had done 1 mile I was nearly half way and then, once half way I was nearly at the 3. Yes I know I said I wouldn’t but it worked at the time.

So there we go – about 22 miles done for this week.

Adventures and Views

So, after the busy week it was time for a quiet weekend, right? No. Friday was incredibly quiet as I was on a course and spent the day on my bottom which is very unusual. The venue was somewhere new and so I left plenty of time to get there.  In the end I arrived early and had time to enjoy a nice mug of tea. As I was was sitting there it suddenly dawned on me that I never do this!  (Sit around drinking tea that is). As a consequence my steps went down to barely 1000 all day! This was nothing like the rest of the weekend.

New Adventures

In our house Saturdays are football days. Today we had just one match to fit in which I volunteered to do (I like home games as I know where I am going!). When I got home I was inspired to try out a new feature on my Garmin. When I say new I mean new to me as the watch has always had this capacity but I have never used it…. I sat on the computer and marked out a lovely 9 mile route that mainly stayed on trails. I then uploaded it onto my watch so that I could follow it whilst out. Clever eh?

Mud, Mud glorious mud!

My eldest fancied coming with me on his bike and so we set off. Me in my lovely trail shoes and him on his bike. We were going along really well, mainly on roads until we came across our first trail and mud…..

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This was mud that stuck to your trainers, bike and anything else like glue. I literally had to pull the bike along. Luckily it was only a short way so we just about managed. It did mean that each foot had an extra 5 kg’s or so on them.

We soon hit easier terrain and started to make good progress. We found new paths that we didn’t know existed that felt as if we were in the middle of no-where. We saw 1 person. All was going really well until the path that I wanted had a sign saying private. RATs. We had two options: break the law and trespass or carry on along the way we were going. Being the responsible mother that I am we chose the latter option. Unfortunately this meant that we got lost! We came out onto a road that we had no idea even existed.

Luckily we made a good choice as to the direction we took (50/50) and ended up in a village we knew! phew. After about 2 miles we managed to re-join the planned route and finally made our way home. Due to the extra 2 mile detour I did cut a bit off the end….my legs had just had it for the day but I still did the distance that I had set out to do.

Sunday

Cross training at the gym. More pull ups, single legged squats and press ups. Quite a lot of upper body strength work today so I expect to feel it tomorrow! Oh, I nearly forgot. We also did a gentle family bike ride ……6 miles in total but I have found a whole new load of trails to explore. (Anyone spot a theme going on here?)

Monday

In an attempt to prevent the Tuesday blues that I have been suffering from for the last few weeks, I decided to take the risky option and bike to work today. It was risky because I leave work with just about half an hour to get to school pick up. The bike ride takes 20 minutes. A bit tight for my liking but I am always up for a challenge 😉

This morning was another warm morning with the most beautiful moon:

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Yes that is the moon and not the sun.

On the return journey I literally flew home. The wind was behind me and I managed an average of 12.3. mph! For me that is amazing. The home run is always a bit quicker as there is one huge hill as opposed to a long slow uphill drag, but 12.3 is flying. I normally average about 10.9!! My legs felt fine which is amazing the amount of miles they have put in this week. I must remember to stretch tonight else I fear they will not last the week.

See you soon. 🙂

 

True Dedication?

Like most of the country I woke up this morning to frozen, half melted snow (an English specialty I believe!). At 07.15 I received a text from my friend asking me if I was going to go running this morning as planned. My answer?’ ????’ My gut feeling was that the chances are that we would slip and end up breaking a bone thus scuppering all future training. The sensible thing, therefore, would probably have been to miss this one in the hope the terrain improved for tomorrow.

But NO. We are not talking about any runners here – we are hard-core. The real deal. After a quick discussion having delivered our children to various places we came to the conclusion that we had 2 choices: Run on the roads that had been gritted or run on grass. In the end we plumped for the grass option.

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We ended up running around this field a few times. 7 times to be exact. It was not at all easy – very cold (not great for my asthma), foggy (did I mention that), an icy wind, uneven and wet but, importantly, not icy! I found that I used different muscles than usual. 3 miles felt like 10!

Annoyingly the ice disappeared through the day and had we waited we would have been able to go on the roads. Still we had a good workout and you never do know what it will do later. It may have got worse.

Have you done anything like this or are you far too sensible?

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We had a snowman cheering us on! (you need to look very carefully!)

We are hoping the weather improves for our training runs later this week!

Saffron Walden 10k

 

Last Sunday I ran my first ever 10k race. The good news to this is that whatever time I ran would be a PB! The not so good news was that I did not really read the small print before signing up.

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Trusting

I trusted my friend who said their were a ‘couple ‘ of hills but you get a free t-shirt. Sounded good to me. However, when we arrived and I read the posters properly it said that it is a ‘challenging course’! Hmmm. I did, however know that it was a trail run (90%) so didn’t expect a quick time.

My t-shirt!

The Start

The start was well sign-posted and we went down, having registered easily with plenty of time to spare. There are no chips provided in this race but I had my trusty Garmin with me. I don’t know about you but I really hate the first mile or so until everyone spreads out a bit. It is just so stressful having people all around you, pulling out in front without any warning and  having to get around those running slower than you.

Hills

We immediately set off up a hill, off the road from the start. The track was one of those with two wheel tracks and the uneven  middle. This restricted the amount of movement you could do easily to dodge other people. The wind was also a factor during this race as it was quite strong and took my breath away at times.

The Course

The first part of the course was there and back which was a bit disconcerting when I first realised this. It is always hard running when you can see all the runners that are ahead of you. Of course it is easier when the tables are turned. I also liked the fact that there were a lot of hills at the start but on the way back there were fewer and it felt as if you were running downhill more of the time. That is to say until mile 5 (ish) when they somehow managed to import a mountain to the Essex countryside! I kid you not. I think nearly everyone walked for a bit up that hill. It was probably quicker than running it.

 

Negatives

The only main negative that I can think of is that there were parts of the course that were totally single file with no room at all for manoeuver. I didn’t have a particular problem except that (and here comes my excuse) I had a bit of an asthma attack and did not have my inhaler. As we got further around I found it harder going as my lungs closed up and was a bit conscious that I may well be holding those behind me up. Not a feeling I liked very much.

My number – the cross shows that I had collected my t-shirt, not that I was disqualified!

Summary

Overall I enjoyed the race and I would run it again. It reinforced that I can run faster than I think when pushed. (Yes, even with an asthma attack!) I completed it in under an hour which I was really pleased with, taking into account the hills and my lungs. I did apologise to my friend. 🙂

Did you run this race, or have you run any recently? What were your experiences?