Saturday, 18 January 2014
I knew that I needed to get a long run done on New Year's Day, but I wasn't sure exactly how motivated I would feel in the morning, with a combination of tiredness, a head cold and poor weather all taking their toll. In order to give myself no option but to get out and run, I decided to go to the Hardmoors 30 - a 30+mile trail race on the North Yorkshire Moors around Whitby, Robin Hood's Bay, Ravenscar and Cloughton.
Although I'd been to Whitby as a child, I wasn't familiar with the area so it was also an excuse to run and explore a new place, without having to plan a route out. I was slightly perturbed, however, to see that part of the compulsory kit was a head torch.......how long were we expected to be out running? A map and compass were not on the list, but I planned to carry them anyway for safety's sake.
After a nice meal and some wine for New Year's Eve (with a lemsip chaser) my mother kindly offered to come down with me the following morning. It was incredibly kind of her to offer as it meant leaving before first light and that she would be hanging around for a good part of the day in all kinds of weather. However, it gave me some company on the drive and some help in finding the hall in Ravenscar (for registration) and also meant that I would have the chance of a hot bath and food at my parents' house afterwards before continuing on home.
The roads were strangely quiet as we drove down......well I guess it wasn't that strange as it was pre-dawn on January 1st, but we didn't see anyone staggering home, and even the petrol stations were open. This meant the drive took less time than we anticipated so there was plenty of time for hanging around in Ravenscar Hall at registration, catching up with 2 of my clubmates (Seb and Craig) and also with a friend that I hadn't seen for a few years, who was going to take part in the 15 mile event.
I had a few clothing dilemmas as it was cold, but not actually raining (though this was forecast for later) and we had to keep race numbers visible at all times. I opted to pin my number to my capris, so that it wouldn't be masked later on if I got my waterproof out of my pack. There was a briefing inside the warm hall and then we all trooped out to the road and set off (at 9ish.....).
As Craig and I had been chatting before the start, we found ourselves right at the back. I quickly realised that if I remained trapped behind walkers (and those with dogs) it could spell disaster as there was only a very brief section of road through the village before we turned off onto the cliff top path (the Cleveland Way), so I put in a turn of speed unusual for me!
A small group of men seemed very sure footed in the mud and disappeared off into the distance immediately. I settled into a nice pace, which meant I could cope with the head wind and watch my footing. I passed a couple of runners and was then surprised to see some others joining us from the right hand side (they had headed the other direction from the hall so cutting off the first small loop of the route) but they were also soon behind me.
After about 4 miles there was a steep slippery flight of steps to descend to Hayburn Wyke, a wooden bridge to cross, and then further steps to ascend on the other side. I caught up with the man who had run away from me on every downhill, and he helped me when I got stuck in a rather muddy field. We had a nice chat as we ran along the old railway
lines towards Ravenscar hall, and wished each other luck for the rest of the run.
Although not hungry, I thought that I should pick up some food at the first checkpoint, but unfortunately things did not go to plan. I ran in, gave my number, and could see nothing except masses of people and the race timers, and so headed out again. My mother later told me that they had laid out lots of food and drink for us "30 runners" at the back of the hall, but it was hidden by the "15 runners" milling around waiting for their start time (lesson noted by the organiser to alter the gap between the 15 and 30 mile starts for next year).
Friday, 3 January 2014
My last race of 2013 and my first race of 2014 were very different in nature, but there were also some similarities.
I was in 2 minds as to whether to run the Ribble 10k on December 29th, as I was feeling rather tired and jaded, but realised that I would regret it if I didn't go, as there was no pressure on me to do anything except enjoy it.
A friend from Cheshire came up to meet me before the race, and I also caught up with various running friends from Scotland, England and Wales so if was definitely worth the trip. I bumped into a former mountain marathon partner and so we warmed up together swopping news from the last couple of years. As I was not in the elite start, I started rather a long way back......which was not my best decision of the day. When we started walking forwards, I thought we were being led to the start, but the race was actually already underway, and it took me the best part of 20seconds to cross the timing mat.
I then had to weave my way round people as we descended the first hill, knowing I would find it difficult to get past others as we climbed up again on the other side of the river.
About halfway round the course we had a switchback, and so I saw my friend Nicola leading the ladies' race, which inspired me to keep pushing on, though I was well down the field. Heading down a steep slope and then up again into the finish straight zapped any sprint out of my legs, so I couldn't close down the ladies in front of me. Still, I was pleased to finish a good minute and a half quicker than in the 10k the previous weekend (and it turned out that on chip time, I was faster than the two ladies who crossed the line ahead of me).
On New Year's Day, I headed down to the North York Moors for a very hilly (3050feet of elevation gained and lost) muddy trail run of 30+miles. The sun of the Ribble Valley was a distant memory and instead I had the rain and wind of the North East, but again I enjoyed a great day out and caught up with many friends from other parts of the country, brought together by the love of outdoor exercise!