Monday, 30 July 2012

Category, cool, but no sign of Ron!

Off road running seems to be the flavour of the month with club runs taking the form of trail runs of late.  They receive a mixed reception amongst club members, who range from those who adore off road running to those who loathe it.  It's hard to please everyone all of the time but in general everyone gets on with the set route without too much complaining.

Friday club run was once again a large percentage of off road.  Taking in the golf course, anyone who knows the area in which we train, the sheer mention of 'golf course' firmly paints a picture of steep hills, as said golf course is named 'Woodhall Hills Golf Course' and it doesn't have 'hills' in the title for nothing!  After negotiating wooded trails known locally as the 'jockey path' - again appropriately named as a horse would have been a great asset in covering such terrain, we began the climb up to the golf course.  The crossing was a little tricky as unlike previous crossings, there were actually golfers out on the fairway. I for one, quickened my pace and hoped and prayed I didn't get hit by 'however mile an hour' golf balls which were being launched by said golfers  across the green!  All safely across we continued on our way unscathed down into Calverley and through the woods. 6.5 miles done, we arrived back at Apperley Bridge,  a few of the group bitten by unknown insects but that's one of the hazards of off road running if you're prone to bites, I myself am one of the lucky ones and must possess inbuilt repellent!

Cue, the weekend.  With the recce undertaken as a club run a couple of weeks ago I was looking forward to the Idle Trail Race.  Bright and breezy Sunday morning we arrived down at our training base, Woodhouse Grove School for the 10:30 am start.  Inbetween traces of drizzle the sun shone brightly.  A lap of the school field went some way to thinning out the field before we encountered steps taking us down onto the canal tow path.  We still had to queue a little before arriving down there.  Two miles of flat terrain is superb for allowing the runners to get their breathing and pace sorted before the start of the climbs.  Over a stile and a little way down a private road before a marshal sent us upwards through what seemed liked steps to a ginnel - emerging minutes later onto another private road before turning down one of the steepest roads I've had the pleasure to run down!  Thanking my lucky stars that it wasn't too long before we emerged at the bottom of it signalling that we weren't too far away from where we started.  Digging up of the school fields meant a slight detour for the finish which when the finish line was crossed meant we had run 6.60 miles instead of 6.1.  I was elated though to find I finished 6 minutes quicker than my previous time for this race in 2010. Looking on the results though it was very strange to note for the first time that I was in the
                                                                F50 category!

As an added bonus we were treated to a choice of finisher's memento too! in the form of either a tee shirt or a cool bag - as I love it when there's something different on offer I chose the cool bag of course! I Didn't even catch a glimpse of Ron Hill this year - he was there though according to the results. 

Tonight's session at club is, as usual, speed and hills this week in the form of Bolton Lane hill reps! A quick but challenging session - usually feels a little like a short, sharp shock! Great session for testing the cardiovascular system!!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Relay me in!

 I'm sure it's not age related but I've done something I have never done before and lo and behold I've now done it twice! Double booked races.  Firstly I entered the Woodland Challenge and then promptly realised it is taking place on the same day as Bridlington Half Marathon and then if I didn't enter the Idle Trail Race and then find out it's the same day as the next race in the YVAA series at Crossgates. So decisions had to be made.  There was however, no contest between Brid and the Woodland Challenge, Brid wins hands down as we have an annual club coach trip. A run by the sea and ending up in Wetherspoons seems much more appealing than the 'Fruitypot Woodland Challenge'!! But....the Idle Trail versus the Crossgates vets race,  I'm either going to lose my achievement of doing all the races in the series (which I did achieve last year) or miss out on running in the same race as Ron Hill and supporting a local club.  I was still deliberating until we did a recce of the Idle route at club last Friday - and now my mind's made up, Idle Trail it is, mud and all.  Crossgates is new to the YVAA series, during my time of doing them anyhow so here's hoping St Theresa's host the race again next year and fingers crossed that Ron is joining us this year!

Meanwhile I'm trying to concentrate on getting back to regular training now that all my planned social events are out of the way.  Monday's speed and hills session, a regular on the training Calendar and although we all moan about it, it feels great once we have completed it, Lister Lane hill reps. This session was no exception but despite the fact that it was very hot, we all put in great effort and supported each other to complete the required reps.

Wednesday brought us our second relay race, this time hosted by Abbey Runners, the Golden Acre Park Relay is once again teams of three runners but this time all runners complete the same route.  Having missed the Washburn relay I was really looking forward to this one.  Team events - in training or racing are always so much more enjoyable, I think it's the camaraderie more than competitive aspect that's appealing. This time was no exception as we had 6 teams entered.  I hoped that having had a sports massage with Peter May the previous evening would help rather than hinder my run.  I wasn't disappointed when as last runner for the team club mate Mick accompanied me around the course and I really felt I had a great run.  When the results came out however, I was given a slightly slower time than last year, the first time I got to use the Garmin watch I got for my birthday in a race and it lost GPS in the wooded area so I hadn't got my own time but I really thought I would have been much quicker.  I do have reservations about manual timing but hey I'll just have to set my sights on doing better next year!
Team ERR at Golden Acre Park Relay

Friday, 20 July 2012

New girl on the block!

I totally forgot that after my weekend away I wouldn't be at Monday's club night due to having bought tickets to go to Immanuel College's Summer Concert.  With Marc drumming in the band I could hardly contain myself.  Each and every performance I watch him in fills me with pride.  I can't imagine what I'll be like when he eventually does hit the big time!! I'd hazard a guess at a Justin Bieber groupie or something, well he does have a similar hair style!

Back to it on Wednesday I felt like the new girl in school.   It felt like I had been away for months! I soon got back into my stride though and after conducting the warm up for the group we set off into the wild and wonderful woodland around Apperley Bridge heading towards Calverley.

 I opted for the shortest of the three distances options of 6.5, 8 or 11 miles, having not run for a while I thought I better ease back in gently! It is so much nicer though being able to take in the surroundings of an off road run as opposed to careering round the woodland of the YVAA or Peco races. Having no sense of direction when we are running on the roads - I'm even worse when it's off-road.  Thankfully the fact that we meet at key points means no getting lost.  After about the third occasion though I heard someone say we would meet next at Shell Lane, a while later we happened upon a right turn, none of the group I was with knew whether we were supposed to take the turn or not, it didn't have a sign saying what road it was so we opted to carry straight ahead.  Meeting a car on the narrow road we stepped aside to let it pass and the gentleman spoke to us, we asked if he had seen any runners, he said he hadn't so we decided to turn around and take the right turn.  Some minutes later we came upon the group and to my surprise we were in the village of Calverley! Back in familiar surroundings we crossed the busy main road and went back into the woodland to make our way back down to Apperley Bridge.  What an uplifting return it had been and I'm now looking forward to tonight's run which is the route of a popular local race, Idle Trail Race which takes place in a few weeks time.  Despite having run the race two or three times before I don't have much of a clue as to all of the the route so it will be good to take it all in slowly and maybe pick up one or two tips for race day!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Headlong into F50

It's been a really busy week but I managed to get across to Greetland for the Helen Windsor 10k.  My first run since the Three Peaks Challenge.  I felt rested and my aches and pains had subsided, or so I thought. The race got under way and I felt ok although it was very hot.  Marc who is now stepping up to a few longer distances since entering the Great North Run was also running, he was though, full of cold and after the first lap I caught up with him, I immediately knew something must be wrong otherwise he would have been way ahead of me.  He explained he was having trouble breathing and felt awful so he said he was going to give up and I directed him back to the start area and carried on down the hill. It's not an easy decision and one that thankfully I haven't yet had to make.  It soon became clear that I had not recovered sufficiently from our mammoth walk as my glutes screamed out and continued to do so with each downhill stretch. I was pleased to finish several minutes quicker than last year but was relieved when it was all over. It's amazing how different areas/muscles ache after walking as opposed to running.

I've now completed my first race in the F50 category following my birthday on Saturday 7th July - but I'm not making any comparisons to previous 10k's since it took place the morning after the night before, 60 friends and family joined me for a birthday meal at the Blue Sky cantonese restaurant where I had a ball, I think the restaurant owners are still in shock but I have to say they looked after us very well!  I had agreed with Kim, daughter-in-law of our dear late friend Arthur, that I would take his Jane Tomlinson, Leeds 10k number since she had entered him and herself months before he suddenly passed away, not realising at the time that it was the day after my birthday.  I hope he would have been proud as I (and club mate Lisa) accompanied fellow club member Vanessa around her first ever 10k race, since he was all about encouraging and inspiring people to run I'm sure he would have been. It was, after all, just what I needed when Lisa suggested at my birthday meal that we run together as she had already arranged to run with Vanessa.  We had a lovely run and just ahead of us was Kim and returning to running following her fall some months ago was Gill.  Liz, Derek and Mick completed the Eccleshill line up.  It was a lovely sunny day and I couldn't help thinking Arthur had arranged it again - we thought the same at the John Carr and parkrun tribute runs we did.

Monday's speed and hills was the Co-op pyramid and I'm pleased to say I completed it with gusto - finally recovered from the epic climbs and descents. I intend to make fully sure as I inadvertently have quite a few days rest from running due to the continuation of celebrations - first for our wedding anniversary and then a weekend away in Whitby for a friend's hen do.

Back soon........

Monday, 2 July 2012

Challenging Peaks

Ever since the idea was fielded at one of our monthly Committee meetings I've been excited at the prospect of taking on the Three Peaks Challenge.  Not one for hiking and walking the nearest I've come to walking such is a distance is the yearly British Heart Foundation Skipton to Leeds canal walk which Martin and I did several years in succession with differing family members from adults to our own children, Martin even completed it one year with our then youngest, Tom aged 9 months in a papoose baby carrier on his back, the two younger ones walking beside us! We didn't put them off too much as Tom, Marc, Craig and his partner Becky accompanied us on the final one we did which I think was at least 5 or 6 years ago, before our annual event became the Great North Run.

Taking on the challenge on Sunday 1st July 2012 were Alison, Kerrie, Gillian, Janice, Tricia, Neil, Taylor, Robert, Dan, Brian, Paul, Martin, Marc & Myself along with two chaps from Hughes and Julie (Alison's colleague and friend)
Arrival at Horton-in-Ribblesdale in the rain!

So the Three Peaks.... I read up about it on the internet, got tips off various people of what to do, what to wear, what to carry with us, but nothing, but nothing could prepare us for what was in store.  We met fellow Eccleshill 'runners' at Morrisons and set off to meet our guides (two chaps who work with Alison at their Hughes Family Bakery) at Macdonalds in Keighley.   Off we set to Horton-in-Ribblesdale, North Yorkshire.  As we neared the village the weather gradually got worse, by now it was teaming it down with rain, parking up our cars we walked to a small cafe where walkers can 'clock in' just like turning up for work! You clock out again on your return and this gives you your total time for the challenge. We were advised that we were going to walk the peaks the opposite way round to the 'normal' way due to the amount of rain which had fallen. Off we set to Pen-y-Ghent, shrouded in mist we could only see the very base of it.  It was a fairly tough but steady climb up, but in what seemed no time at all we were at the summit.  A brief pause in readiness for the descent and we were off, going down was made all the more tricky with gusting wind and driving rain, a little spoilt really as it made it necessary for me to pull my hood over my face as a shield.  Once down though, the first part of the challenge completed, it was a great feeling! Marred though by the words of my brother-in-law Neil 'I'm dropping out', and the reason became apparent, he was holding the sole of one of his boots in his hand! Blood was dripping from his fingers, he'd fallen several times. My Sister-in-law (Neil's wife) Tricia appeared behind us with one of the guides and upon learning of Neil's mishap she promptly agreed to retire with him.

Whernside was to be the next challenge, to reach it though we had a long trek to Ribblehead, to our surprise Tricia and Neil were there in the car, they'd decided to see if they could catch us and give Taylor Neil's jacket which was more substantial than the one he was wearing, after much deliberation we decided to attempt to reach the start by going over the moors rather than add two miles to the journey by going round following the railway line.  Once again most of us were totally oblivious to what was in store despite being warned that it would be boggy.  As we negotiated the treacherous terrain it felt like we were in a wilderness, no idea where we were going to end up, along the way people lost their shoes, got their walking poles stuck in bogs, screeched as they sunk, it was fabulous! Such an adventure. We finally arrived at the start of the upward climb and the weather turned windy and raining again, the weather, the terrain and our surrounding changed so quickly it was difficult to take it all in.  This was the point where we seemed to get separated into small groups, some into singles as it turned out, the climb became steeper and steeper and the weather got worse and worse,  I can only liken it to what I imagine it would be like being in the abyss, we couldn't see anything around us, we were now above the mist. It was very surreal. I ended up being with Janice, we arrived at the summit to see a young couple sheltering, they informed us we were at the top and a group of chaps had gone on straight forward so we decided to take our chances and carry on, by now the wind was bitter and we didn't want to stand around getting cold, so off we went. The descent was rather precarious at times, almost vertical and I wondered more than once if I was going to be blown off the side and end up rolling down and landing in a heap at the bottom, I tried not to dwell on that though!  By now my legs were very tired and aching and I did start to wonder whether I was going to be able to take on the final peak, Ingleborough.  Janice and I found our way to a small cafe the guides had told us about which promised a toilet and a warm drink.  Relief wasn't the word.  Rob, Dan, Paul and Brian were already there, we had a lovely cup of coffee and a sit down in the basic facilities which were actually a caravan at the side of a barn which housed a few tables and the very welcome toilet! Soon after the others started to arrive, once we were all refreshed and ready for off we began our journey to Ingleborough.

The weather had brightened up and we had a very pleasant walk over green fields to the base of the 'hill'. Although attempts had been made at making steps up, it looked vertical! I squealed with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. We started the climb, Janice was way out in front and in no time at all she looked like a small ant in front of us, to our surprise the weather didn't deteriorate this time and we were able to periodically stop, turn round and admire the views, it was absolutely magnificent.  I felt alive, it was breathtaking! We carried on climbing until finally we reached the summit, touched the famous stone structure which marks the spot, took photos, stood a while to admire the sprinkling of fell runners and began our descent. It was a much easier descent than the other two had been apart from a section of limestone groupings which were tough on the feet but it turned out to be a very long journey back to the village where we found the cafe closed so we were unable to clock back in.  They had however, left a sign in the window instructing us to complete a form with the time we finished, our names and email addresses so we are waiting for them to get in touch now, and hoping they allow us to purchase memorabilia to mark our achievements.
on the way up Ingleborough

We did it!

I feel proud of each and every one of us for taking on and completing the challenge and even more so of the two youngsters Marc and Taylor. The icing on the proverbial cake is that I can say 'I did it before I'm 50'! Marc did turn to me at one point and say 'what a way to spend your last weekend of being this side of 50' but actually I can't think of a better way! Tricia and Neil I'm sure will take it on again and this time succeed...... It just has to be done!