Tuesday, 16 June 2015


It is always difficult to work out what to do post-Comrades. My stomach was fine, my heel had nicely scabbed over, and I didn't feel as tired as I thought I would. I do, however, realise that there is often a lot of deep fatigue and stress on the body that may not be immediately apparent, so it is vital to have some recovery time, even if you don't really feel that you need it.
I only had a grand total of 3 weeks between Comrades and my upcoming adventures in Wales, so there was little time for any productive training (but lots of time to destroy myself). I wanted to let my heel settle fully, so rather than throwing away my cut-away trainers, I wore them for a few gentle jogs in that first week.
A sociable run
By the time the weekend came around, it was time to start teaching my legs of their need to run off road again. A sociable trip to the Lakes was in order, so a friend (Audrey) and I headed down to Ambleside for a "shoe and kit trial" event (I tried a brand of shoe which I hadn't realised made running shoes as well as climbing shoes, and Audrey tried on a hydration pack). We started off with coffee and cake and a chance to chat to both the manufacturers and other runners - and then headed out for a few easy miles in the hills. We covered road, trail, grass, steps and some rocky sections before being picked up and driven back to the start (well, those wanting a longer run carried on in a loop rather than getting a lift back) - all at a nice comfy pace so we could chat as we went. The shoes were comfy and didn't rub, I caught up with friends, and I got to run in a part of the Lakes that I don't know v well, so it was a great day out!
The beautiful view over Tarn Hows
The next day was the Lakeland Trail Marathon and Half Marathon down in Coniston. Ian had entered the half marathon thinking that it was a month after Comrades, but unfortunately he got his dates mixed up and there was only a week between the two. I decided to go down and keep him company on the trip, but Graham Patten, the race organiser, kindly gave me a last minute entry into the half marathon (I had won the marathon a few years ago, which had earnt me a free race entry). It wasn't an easy course, but it would give me a chance to run a little bit quicker off road - though Ian and I did guestimate that we would only get to 5 miles before Comrades-legs kicked in!
At the top of the climb.....
When we started, I doubted that I would actually make the 3 mile point before my legs gave up the ghost, as I seemed to be feeling every little climb, but I forced my self to just relax and enjoy it - as it was about the "off road time" rather than about a "race time". I was determined not to walk any of the climbs no matter how tired I felt, as I hadn't walked any of Comrades (a silly resolution maybe, but it's the little mental battles that keep you going). I enjoyed the views of Tarn Hows as we ran a lap around it (though I have no idea how I could possible have remembered it as a flat lap) and it was nice to catch up with some of the "challenge" runners (who'd set off an hour before us). I doubt that I was looking my finest for the photographer positioned at the top of the climb away from the lake, but at least he wasn't on the next long downhill stretch. I found this probably more of a challenge than the ups, as I didn't really trust the level of strength and control in my quads. I had been counting down to the finish from the 7mile point, and worked out when I "just had the distance from the top of Polly Shortts to go"....and believe me it was a case of survival by then. There is a twist to the finish of the race, as you think you are heading towards the gantry, but then the runners are sent around a lap of the carpark and finishing field. This actually makes for a nice finish (except for the dry stone wall that must be hurdled - though a carpet was laid down to aid this - and the stream that must be forded) as the half marathoner and the marathoners come together for a final few hundred metres past all the waiting spectators. Amazingly, I'd held on (but only just) to finish as first lady, and then managed to stagger back out onto the end of the course to cheer Ian home.
The next weekend saw the Mabie Trail 10K, which was the second counter in our club's trail Grand Prix. I wasn't sure whether to take part or not right up to the day, and have to say that I wasn't exactly feeling my best on the day. It had been my work's summer BBQ & cocktails the afternoon/night before - so between the aftereffects of that and the start of manflu, I knew there wouldn't be any groundbreaking performances, but it's still nice to support a local event.
Into the finish at Mabie
I would describe the race itself as a multiterrain one - about 4 miles are on forestry roads and there are 2 miles of trail. Over the years I have been running at Mabie, the trails have become more gravalled and manicured, and tree felling has meant that a lot of the single track has disappeared, but as a reaction to this, the roads have become harder to run on as they are filled with jagged stones and branches/ruts from the logging trucks. After about a mile, I knew that I couldn't hang on to the guys in front, so I "let them go" (not that I really had a choice - it was more that "they ran away from me up a hill"). From then on in, I was running alone, apart from the odd cheery marshals. I was really happy to finish no more than a few minutes slower than the last time I'd run the race, as it could have gone much more pear-shaped. Now to put my strength into fighting the man-flu.....

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