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I had a wonderful month of racing, training and running along the Pennine Way this month and my fitness turned a positive corner. I had 3 weeks off work due to the Spring break and made the most of my time off. I repeated 3 races which I did in April last year, all 3 were much faster. At the start of the month was Blubberhouses 25, this had been several years since I last run it and was satisfied with my performance. The week after was the Wensleydale Wander, 3 hrs 49 mins this year compared to 4 hrs 1 min last year. Then I did 2 x 30 miles along the Pennine Way with full pack and sleeping kit, a couple of days off and then another 3 days with Bill and Baxter. Next up was the Guisborough Moors Race, a hilly race on my doorstep and 2 hrs 08 mins compared to 2 hrs 29 mins last year. Three days later was the coast 5km and my fastest 5km for 3 years. I followed this up 3 days later with the Lakeland 3 days. I did this as a slow one with Bill and Baxter and on the easier route with a full pack so as not to overdo things too close to my next event.
The next event is May 14th Ė 20th and is the inaugural Mauna2Mauna race on Hawaii. This is 250km with over 15,000ft of climbing, 6 stages over 7 days. It is a self-sufficient event meaning all food and kit must be carried over the remote island, camping in allocated 10 man tents set up for us. Hot and cold water is provided along with portaloos. I will not be doing updates at electronic devices and phones are banned (wonderful and totally agree!). It is a long journey to fly there and home again, but my renewed fitness is giving me more confidence that I can race this as opposed to just run it. Another experience of a lifetime awaits and whatever the results I will be delighted to say I was there and completed it. Sometimes running is a sheer luxury of exhilaration. The official website and facebook page for the event will do daily updates should you wish to follow it.
I began some longer races this month, starting with the Haweswater Half Marathon on the first weekend. This coincided with our 25th wedding anniversary and spent a wonderful 3 days in a nice hotel to celebrate. We had our honeymoon at Windermere after being married at Gretna Green (running away and dragging two witnesses of the street the traditional way), but the Mountain Ash hotel was now a block of flats.
The week after was the Spen 20, not the best of results as I was not recovering that well from the mileage completed, but six days after this was the Hardmoors 55 miles event. I felt jaded at the start and knew my quads were still feeling the effects from the previous 4 weeks of training and racing. My goal was to break 12 hours knowing I was not recovered to run, but needed a long run in the bank and as this event finished in Guisborough where I lived there was little travelling to do. I achieved my goal with 11 hours 25 minutes and was very stiff for the rest of the week, but was happy to be continuing in the right direction.
Gall stones were now diagnosed and although not good, it was better to know what the problem was to move forward. It may be some time before action is taken though and further investigation is needed. I felt content in my decision to defer my world record attempt.
My mild cold continued to effect me for well over 6 weeks. My heart rate was elevated and did not resume any heavy training until the middle of February. I ticked over with 15 miles per week including a parkrun. I was also experiencing a few stomach pains which were to take some time to diagnose with a scan and also restricted training and on occasion my eating.
All the accumulated lack of training and health issues affected my plans for the year. A date had been set for my next world record attempt on 3rd April 2017, but it was obvious I would not be in good enough shape and have the confidence to attempt this and so my plans for this were postponed for another 12 months. Instead a new event had arisen that was most appealing. A sister race to the Grand2Grand I had run in 2012, called Mauna2Mauna. This is a 250km stage race across Hawaii, a self-sufficient event carrying all kit and food required for the 7 day event. The event is planned for May and I set a new training programme to build me up for this event.
The time off from training allowed me to update my statistics for 2016. In 2016 I ran 97 events totalling 1443 miles (average of 15 miles per event). By the end of 2016 I had run over 1,500 races and over 28,000 miles.
We arrived in Phoenix on Boxing Day in a very jet lagged condition. The BA flight was full and very poor service on board. It was early hours of the morning by the time we checked into the hotel. I started Across The Years 6 day race feeling tired and it really never got any better from then on. Jet lag kicked in and by the time I had been going a mere 12 hours I took a few hours to sleep. I woke up feeling even worse but continued on slowly, sticking to the running and resting plan, but there was much more walking than planned. Some heavy showers turned the dirt track into mud for a few hours before the sun returned and the track dried out. Due to the gravel nature I had worn new gaiters, which turned out to be too tight above my ankles and created some crepitus in my tendons.
By the end of the first 24 hours it became apparent that both myself and Bill were coming down with colds, topped with the jet lag and crepitus I visited the medic on site. It was bad news and was advised to withdraw. I guess I was just seeking clarification of what I knew deep down would be the response. It was a long way to travel to run for a single day and in reality I was only 5km off my schedule, but it was futile to continue.
We pondered what to do for the next 5 days, but first off we both went back to sleep in our tent to try to clear our heads as we were so tired. We awoke to watch the runners continue to circle the track, roughly a mile loop. The weather was very hot in the sunshine during the day, but very cold at night. We had been to the area before and felt there was nothing pressing we wanted to do with our time. The venue was excellent, very supportive and good to watch and the decision was to have a day off and then walk to experience the rest of the event, with Bill walking a good few laps with me. One of the highlights of the trip was being visited by my friend Mel Berry. I had first met Mel in Phoenix several years ago and had stayed in contact. It was wonderful that she made such as effort to meet us again and even walked some laps with me.
I continued to walk and rest and enjoy the full experience of the event. The venue was absolutely superb, the course picturesque in places, the track a nice surface when it wasnít wet and such a friendly and encouraging support staff supplying the food. We both vowed to come back again and give this another shot. Bill had been inspired by the event and with such a choice of events to do between the 1, 2, 3 and 6 day races he set a goal to achieve 100 miles in the 3 day event, watch this space!!
As for me, I set a new mediocre goal of 200 miles in the event. Belt buckles were awarded for relevant 100ís of miles, 100, 200, 300 etc. The final distance was 209.9 miles and we did have a good time in the end.
The month started with the Rudolph’s Romp 24 miles. Myself, Bill and dog Baxter all ran this event. The weather was good and managed to complete this 20 minutes quicker than last year. Even Bill and Baxter broke 5 hours which was their longest run of the year. I repeated the night race that was first run last month and happy to report that a new, much brighter head torch and a recce of the route in daylight lead to a successful run this time and Bill a couple of minutes behind me.
After that I eased off the mileage in preparation for a 6 day race taking place in Phoenix, Arizona, USA from 28th December Ė 3rd January.
This event should have a webcam and live tracking results. The event website is http://www.aravaiparunning.com/acrosstheyears/
Bill will try to update facebook and twitter daily if there is internet access.
I wish you all a Happy Christmas and fit and healthy 2017.
The first weekend of the month was the Kilburn Kanter, much less wet than the previous year and few minutes faster to finish with, but there was some bitterly cold showers that turned wintery on the high points with some strong winds. Also completed this month was the Wensleydale Wander. This was a bitterly cold day with deep snow on the high points well over 2 feet deep and deep mud on the lower parts of the race. A new route from Castle Bolton back to Askrigg was a big improvement and kept below the snow line, but that didnít prevent me from getting another personal worst for this event. Both are superbly well organised and great value for money.
My other debut this month was into a night race. Only a short, local trail event, but a few lessons learned the hard way in that one. My head torch was poor, I was unable to see the ground ahead and finally took a wrong track and ended up in some rather wet and muddy Portrack Marshes as Bill stayed on the correct route and finished ahead!
High mileage was planned for this month and longer races. The first weekend was the Pathfinder 25, an off-road event with much climbing. The result was very slow in just under 5 hrs, good enough for 2nd lady. A week later the Round Rotherham 50 miles, starting with some very tired legs. I had hoped for a sub 10 hour clocking and was pleased with the 9 hrs 17 minute results, only 4th lady unfortunately (also my 9th completion of this event). The following week I ran in the Locke Park 10 miles and to finish the month a birthday marathon at Newcastle Town Moor. My asthma got the better of me in that event and struggled to finish with much walking to control my breathing. A good training month with many miles run.
Onwards and upwards, the big plans for next year are beginning to take shape, not to be revealed just yet, but there is another world record attempt on the horizon. For now it was continuing to keep in shape and try to work further on my speed. I took on a new speedwork regime involving HIIT (high intensity interval training). Much shorter in time span but much harder in effort. I gained a seasonís best in the local Tees Pride 10km, nothing fantastic but happy with a 45 minute 10km and took a few seconds off my 5km best for the year a few days later.
My training programme is now geared towards another 6 day race. I am now hoping to take part in the Across the Years 6 day race from 28th December 2016 Ė 3rd January 2017. This falls conveniently in the holidays from University and is run around a ranch in Phoenix, Arizona. The weather should be pleasant during the day, but a little cold overnight.
Due to having much time off work during the summer months it was time to capitalise on that and I was off to Italy again for some running in the sun. Lake Orta, near Milan in Italy was the destination, and the running was 10 marathons in 10 days. A wonderful event in the sunshine, usually around 35 degrees, and the lake to cool down in upon completion each day. The course was quite challenging in places, but absolutely picturesque, mainly on tarmac but a few gravel and dirt tracks thrown in.
The marathon was the same every day, which was good for logistics and comparison of my endurance. After a cautious first day I continued to run consistently every day, the resultant times:
Marathon 1: 4 hrs 25 mins Marathon 2: 4 hrs 15 mins
Marathon 3: 4 hrs 07 mins
Marathon 4: 4 hrs 09 mins
Marathon 5: 4 hrs 12 mins
Marathon 6: 4 hrs 09 mins
Marathon 7: 4 hrs 06 mins
Marathon 8: 4 hrs 13 mins
Marathon 9: 4 hrs 16 mins
Marathon 10: 4 hrs 11 mins
The overall result was 42 hours, 07 minutes and 28 seconds of running for the 262 miles. A good, solid performance, 2nd lady and 7th overall of the 43 finishers in this event. This gave me great confidence for moving forward, my recovery was good and ran 9 of the 10 marathons within a 10 minute time frame from 4hrs 6 mins to 4 hrs 16 mins. The best part was the medal collection, 10 interconnecting medals that made one massive medallion, enough metal for my bag to be searched by security at the airport!
With the last marathon being on a Monday, I flew back to the UK late on Tuesday and arrived home on the Wednesday. On Thursday I was running a trail race at Guisborough. I clocked up 6 races in addition to the marathons this month, was running well and had no injuries, but I had to say goodbye to the planned 6 day race in South Africa due to work commitments.
By the start of this month I was back into consistent training and again making plans for another 6 day race. I competed in 11 races this month, starting with the Hamsterley Marathon and finishing with a seasonís best parkrun at Linwood in Glasgow. I had planned to run a 6 day race in South Africa later on in the year, but the event still had a good few corners in the races and so needed to mimic the course in training and strengthen my ankles. I did many more off road events, much more race-walking than normal and additional balance board work. I even took part in a race walking event, 6 miles in 63 mins, good enough for first person!
The 6 day race in Policoro went badly wrong from a very early stage. The course had lots of shade, the food good, but many more sharp corners than anticipated. From the map of the course I knew it would twist and turn around the campsite, but on leaving the campsite it looked like two sides of a square to run on the straight. Not so, the straight was a zig-zag path on a bit of a camber and the corners sharper than anticipated. My ankle swelled up by the end of the first day of running, not strong enough to take so many corners. I found this frustrating and so took some rest and iced the area in the hope of continuing. I had several more attempts but within a few miles each time the swelling returned and called it a day. As much as I felt fit enough to have a good performance, my ankles needed some strengthening to take the punishment of this event so we turned to plan B. We were by the sea, the weather was hot and sunny, we had plenty of food and ice-cream and so swam and run in the swimming pool and had a relaxing time for the remainder of the event and it was back to the drawing board.
My recovery did not take long and within days of Hardmoors I was out running again. After two weeks I had run a hilly half marathon and after three weeks a marathon. I ran 6 races in 9 days leading up to that marathon. I was now keen to enter my next event, a 6 day race in Italy. I had run in this event last year but the venue has moved from Pantano to Policoro, with a smaller loop of 1km rather than nearly 6km and some shade for the runners under pine groves. The food and organisation had been fantastic, my performance terrible. But I now felt ready for a challenge. Apparently there will be a live webcam for you to watch this one, hopefully I will manage to update you with specific details before leaving, but if not the website may direct you. The event is from 3pm on Sunday 5th Ė Saturday 11th June 2016. This event is championchipped so you should be able to find live tracking results of how far the participants have run. My best distance for 6 days is 750km, run in Athens in 2011 which still stands as the British record.
All that is left now is to taper!
After two weeks I returned for the wrist to be reviewed, the pot rendered soft from frequent dampness from both the weather and sweat and was removed. I wore a brace for the next 4 weeks which was much more comfortable an allowed for much more movement.
The training continued.
Two weeks after the Canalathon 100km was the Wensleydale Wander (23 miles), which was very enjoyable, the week after the local Guisborough Moors race. A shorter event but with steeper climbs and I had a very slow run at this as I did not want to suffer any muscle damage with the Hardmoors 110 at the end of the month.
On Wednesday 27th April I achieved my seasons best 5km of 22 mins and 02 seconds ready for the Hardmoors 110 on Saturday 30th April. I had been over the entire route in the previous two weeks and planned all the support points and estimated times for Bill to support me.
On the day it was a cold start but the sun was to come out. By Ravenscar at 22 miles there were several women ahead and I was in 49th position overall. I had run slowly and my schedule had been written to break 28 hours, although in reality I had no idea what I could achieve. The goal as before was simply to finish in good shape. I thoroughly enjoyed the next coastal section up and down Boggle Hole to Robin Hoods Bay and then Whitby. Whitby was horrendous, a traffic jam of people enjoying the Bank Holiday weekend.
On to Saltburn and 53 miles and my only planned stop to wash my feet and change shoes after a couple of sand sections. It was getting colder now and on my arrival the first lady had just left, but I was to have my only break of the day as the sun began to fade. The race had started at 8am (or 20 mins late by the time we actually got going) and my schedule had me here for 7:15pm. It was around 7:45pm by the time I left, so not too far off my schedule.
The next support point at Slapeworth was where darkness fell. I put on a gortex jacket and head torch as it was to go below freezing for the night.
By the time I reached Highcliffe Nab I had overtaken the first lady (not that I knew that at the time and it wasnít until the finish that I would have this confirmed). Roseberry Topping was followed by Captain Cooks Monument and a long downhill to Kildale (68 miles), where pizza had just come out of the oven and a slice went down very well. The long climb to Bloworth Crossing followed and Bill was not expecting me 30 minutes early at Clay Bank. It was freezing and seemed to take ages conquering the three sisters in darkness and was feeling pretty drained climbing Carlton Bank around 4am.
Dawn began to break and by Osmotherley (90 miles) the daylight brought renewed energy and I was now running again with the finish almost in sight. By the time Helmsley was reached it was just beginning to rain and was wonderful to arrive ahead of schedule in 26 hours 34 minutes and be confirmed as the first lady and 18th overall. A couple of hours slower than I have previously run this event but at this stage in my training and with not putting full effort in I was very content.
My parkruns were now consistently starting with 22 minutes and that speed goal achieved already. The Locke Park 20 was a slow run for me, but kept the pace steady and didnít slow down. The following week was the Cleveland Survival Marathon. This was an off-road event that required navigation, but a simple fall only a few miles in and I knew instantly that I had broken my wrist. I continued but could not use my left hand and folding maps to do the navigation and climbing styles and covering rough ground was giving me much pain. The organisers were fantastic, the medical staff giving pain relief and strapping up my wrist and allowed me to continue. After falling in a bog over my knees it was around half way that I decided to call it a day. The disappointment was having a solid heavy pot put on my wrist that was to remain in place for the Canalathon 100km planned the following week.
I did a couple of short mid-week runs with the pot on and although it became very damp inside there was nothing to stop me from running the 100km. The organisers actively encouraged support, and as the event was a 50km out and back course along the canal from Sowerby Bridge to Manchster, Bill decided to cycle the middle 40 miles to fill my water bottles as I could not screw the lids to refill them. This was fantastic to have him close by in case I struggled with this event. The event was into a strong head wind for the first 50km with frequent heavy rain showers. After half way the sun came out before it started to turn darker and blacker and one almighty thunder storm hit. The hail stung and turned the path white, there was nothing to do but to carry on. Bill was relieved when his cycle was over as the course was now pretty muddy in places and the frequent dips and climbs to road crossing, locks and bridges did not make this a completely flat course. I was still running strongly by the finish, my back and shoulder aching more than my legs and did a pretty even split for the event, finishing as 4th lady.
The hard training began in the depths of winter, frequently running to work and home with intervals and hill reps mid-week. At the start of the month was a very misty, cold and muddy Rombalds Stride (23 miles) and two weeks later the Leas Marathon, the week after that was St Peters Way Ultra, 45 miles and my first real challenge. I was heavily trained going into these events with progressively more mileage and at the start of the 45 miles I was already running on very tired legs, but the goal simply to finish strong and not worry about positions and time. I did have a few navigational issues on this event being outside of my normal running area and by 15 miles felt like I had already run a marathon. I kept going and really didnít feel much worse at the 30 mile point and by the time the finish line was reached I was pleased to receive my first trophy of the year for 3rd lady. Even more pleasing was to finish feeling absolutely fine and I had not lost that endurance aspect that had been missing for 2015.
The year started with a parkrun double near Glasgow, the day after the marathon. I ran a few events, the Filey Flyer (23 miles) in early January started well, a week later was another Winter Wonderland Marathon, but in very icy conditions that slowed progress. My parkrun times finally dipped under 24 minutes by the end of the month.
It was the end of the month by the time I managed to see a hospital consultant to agree a higher dose of the medication and a solution was found, but it was mid-February by the time a balanced dose was agreed. This in place I now had confidence to move forward with my training and commit to a structured programme again with 3 events pencilled in to assess progress. The 14 week programme began on 25th January and would see me run the 45 miles of St Peters Way at the end of February, the Canalathon 100km the end of March and the Hardmoors 110 miles the end of April. The goals for these were simply to finish strong and be able to continue training within a week without specific time goals. I also wanted to improve my parkrun times which had taken a big nose dive and were languishing around the 25-26 minutes to around the 22-23 minutes by the end of April.