TransLantau 100km

When I was running along I had a momentary thought about how to start this but essentially all my ideas went along the lines of ‘bloody hell fire and shit the bed!’ #ABeast! Most of the time I was concentrating or having a word with myself.

Since I’ve finished and slept the memories of the tough points fade dramatically. I am left with a disappointment in my performance especially how I faded because of my stupid error of perhaps going off a bit enthusiastically! They have not faded enough though for me to remember I did continually ask myself ‘am I going as hard as I can if not push on’ so I know I gave it my best which is all I ever ask really. The realms of my capability where less for this race so I have to remember that too.

I’d had a busy (what I mean is really stressful) few weeks before leaving home and to be honest training had been hampered by niggles which meant I had curtailed sessions. I was incredibly nervous of the race but now I know why. It was a premonition of how hard it would be and I was right to be respectfully weary of such a distance on such terrain.

The trip had lots of firsts… Visiting Asia let along Hong Kong. Starting a race so late (2330hrs). Night running for the whole night.

My journey over was great. I watched some new releases. I arrived and took a taxi to Mui Wo. I decided to stay on British time as my trip was so short so ate and was awake at random times.

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First local taste of their cuisine

Race night arrived soon enough. Everyone was so friendly at the start (I have since been delighted to read their Facebook posts to know they found it hard too- the technical terrain and wet foggy weather were their real challenges too). It was a really well organised event by Clement and Sabrina. Before I knew it we were off…

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We ran out of Mui Wo into the darkness.

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I had put the checkpoints on my arm but failed to account for the effects of the humidity- they soon dripped off me.

I know when everyone writes about trail running they mention the beauty of the course and the views and the immense feeling of joy they have in running along but there was none of that today. The views were obliterated initially by the darkness and then high up by the fog and wet weather. There  was no beautiful sunset but I was pleased when the daylight arrived. The trail took all my concentration for 15hrs. It took me out of my comfort zone whilst I descended what others (I imagined) sprang down. I ran alone so at least no one could hear my chit chat!

2.5hrs into the race and my torch died. This was my first fear confirmed. I had two and spare batteries so it was ok although quite fiddly to change batteries on route.

We then climbed Lantau peak and it was blowing a hooly up there. The visibility was less than a metre and I was unsure of where the path was leading me. It was all a bit frantic. The descent was as everyone warned me step after step which soon became a theme on the course.

I felt I was running well but in hindsight too well! I should have started a little slower.  Marie McNaughton a local lady and I were sort of together for the first half. I never saw her but our times suggest there was nothing in it. She passed me as I was having a wee (poor lady had a fright!). As the course was negatively loaded which I had not fully appreciated I got slower and slower and she just maintained the pace (although afterwards she said she was going to drop out at CP8 or 9 because she found it so hard but was persuaded to continue on. This was her 4th 100km in a local grand slam so she really wanted to finish for that accolade). I was not conditioned to run for 15hrs and considering all my hill training was done on a treadmill I was not really mountain fit but I was not going to allow such lame excuses so I kept pushing. My feet suffered with blisters which although I tried to ignore were really sore especially the one on my sole. My feet are awful at the best of times but perhaps the humidity made them slip around more in my sweat (?).

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Annoyingly painful!

After it popped I dressed it just to pad it out abit. By this stage the effects of fatigue cumulated with ever more technical descents were taking their toll. It was meant to be 103km but it was more like 108km. Knowing the route would have been a luxury as there were so many false hopes as I kept thinking we must be nearly there. As I started to write this there were runners still out there- an truly incredible effort.

I had no energy problems thanks to a 32Gi gel or a chew evey hour.I did crave savoury after 8hrs and had some cheese which went down really well. I also tried coke for the first time to settle feeling a bit sick and it worked a treat.

I came first Open female but 2nd woman. Time 15.05hrs. Distance 107km. Elevation 5100m (I think). Overall 8th. I was disappointed- my fade, my blister, my crap descending but as I grow older I’m much better at reflecting on it all and taking away the lessons.

I learnt some things during my race:

  • The importance of respecting the distance.
  • Start slow. Slower than you think.
  • Prepare your kit. Check your headlamps. Rechargeable batteries do not have a long life span.
  • It helps to ask yourself ‘have a done everything I can to look after myself’ when racing- water, salt, energy. If yes then ask ‘can I push on’. If yes then good. If no then just accept where you are.

I am so grateful to my body when it puts up with what my mind makes it do!

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Thank you Clement and Sabrina for such a well organised (tough!) race and your friendliness. A big thank you has to go to SCOTT Running for helping me get to the race and also to 32Gi UK, Rocktape UK, Bounce Balls UK, Ledlenser, Coffee Buddies for their support before, during and after. I would also like to say thanks (and well done) to all the friendly hello’s at the start and the end by the other trail runners and supporters- Ruth, Marie, Harry, Jacky, Jeremy, Henri and John who made me feel very welcome which was much appreciated after travelling such a long way. And finally to everyone for their amazingly supportive comments on social media it was and is so appreciated.

Categories: Ultra races | 1 Comment

El Cruce

El Cruce means The Crossing in Spanish but the race is not in Spain; it is in Argentina briefly crossing into Chile.

The travel time over here took over 27hrs eventually arriving in Bariloche. It’s a town next to the most enormous lake and has a back drop of mountains all around which is incredible scenic.
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We then travelled up to Villa Catedral with the awesome Cerro Catedral Mountain as the vista. It’s Argentina’s most popular ski resort. However, no snow now so the mountains were full of runners and crazy mountain bikers.

The first day was one of registration, packing, meeting new people (thanks Jorge Maravilla for your friendship and help) and a flag ceremony!

Jon with the GB flag

The race was over 3 days covering just under 100km. On Wednesday 1st February we got up at 3am to start. Thank you Intrepid Baboon for the Expresso boost to wake me up. The start was unusual. First there was a coach trip of 2.5hrs to a Argentina/ Chile border crossing point. We got of the coach all bleary eyed got our passports stamped exiting Argentina raced 3km and got our passports stamped returning.

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Then got back in the bus and transported another 1.5hrs before we raced 32km. The race took us through woodlands, rivers, up nearly 1000m and finally ending at the campsite next to a beautiful lake.

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All we had to carry was the compulsory kit. The volunteers were brilliant…tents up and great BBQ’d meat to eat.

 

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Mass BBQing

The lake was the place to wash and freshen up from all the sandy tracks and sun; it was so clear and blue.

The first day was like a time trial because as you got off the coach you started to race and with 500 runners we all arrived at different times. So the 3km and the 32km times were added together for the end of stage 1 result. I was lying in 3rd (3hrs 20mins) 7minutes behind two very strong Argentine runners (Tania Diaz Slater & Luciana Urioste).

Day 2 was a toughie. 35km and 1583m. The first 20 runners started together so I tried to keep up with the local ladies but as soon as we hit the technical single track I began to loose them. We started off along the beach, up through some woods and then a single track climb which peaked with a scree scramble to the ridge. Up and down along the ridge before an gnarly technical descent, then a sandy one and then back along another lake side. I never saw 1st & 2nd again but I raced and raced to make sure 4th could not catch me (4hrs 44mins).

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Over night it started to rain and remained on and off all morning as we raced the final stage. I stayed with the lady lying in 2nd for a good hour only again losing her on sections of rocky technical single track. My legs and breathing for the first time felt less strained. Just as well as I was fed up sounding like I was enjoying myself when I was actually hurting! I think I was finally getting used to the altitude and terrain. The race of about 27km went up and up (1582m) to Cerro Catedral and then dropped down for the last 10km (3hrs 9mins). It was much more runnable today and certainly tested the legs, heart and lungs!

Amazingly I only fell over 3 times. For all the variation in terrain I could not fault the SCOTT Kinabalu Supertrac RC. I fell because I tripped not slipped or lost my footing. I used poles on day 2 which helped my quads but, goodness, my poor non- existant triceps were taken to task! My nutrition worked well. I had a Bounce Ball for breakfast and then alternated a 32Gi gel & chew bar every hour during the race. I Rocktaped my ankles to prevent me spraining them.

Finishing is always a good feeling .

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I waited for Jon to finish so we could have a sandy sweaty- rain-damp celebratory hug. He came 5th in his age group despite really struggling with the heat and resultant cramps on day 1. He never ceases to amaze me!

 

I finished in 3rd in the end delighted to make the podium (11hrs 32mins).

Now for the long journey home. It always means so much so THANK YOU everyone for all your support and kind words on FaceBook, Instagram and Twitter.

Categories: Less than ultra races!, Sponsors | Leave a comment

World Trail Championships 2016

Never mind the race getting to Portugal and back to England was ultra training in itself. 90minute delay on the way out and 2.5hrs on the way home which meant I got home at 4.30am and got up for work at 6am. Good old British Airways! However, I did not mind…the GB female team got on the podium. We got Bronze!

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Flying into Porto we travelled to Braga via bus and then ascended to Bom Jesus do Monte, a Portuguese sanctuary in Tenões. It is on a hill top and as such it was made a site of religious devotion back in time. The first chapel there dates from 1373 and in 1629 a pilgrimage church was established there. The present sanctuary was started in around 1722. There is a Baroque stairway and a water balance funicular leading up to the sanctuary.

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The race was in Peneda Geres National Park in the North of the country about 45mins from Braga. It was an A to B 85km race starting in Rio Caldo and ending in Arcos de Valdevez climbing 5000m. The course was relentlessly up and down and lots of technical bits to spice it up further. It started at 5am and I finished 10hrs 36mins later.

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I came in 7th (just under an hour behind the winner- incredible performance by Caroline Chaverot) and helped Team GB get a bronze medal with Beth Pascall, Joasia Zakrzewski, Sally Fawcett and Sophie Grant.

I’m now walking like a Labrador with their wooden legs. I think my quads got so hammered in the first 30km which was fast. I had no option but to keep pace and push but so did not want to leave it there. Leaving Geres was more technical and I naturally slowed up but determined not to get frustrated by my crapness at descending on such terrain. It was here Beth caught me and we ran together for perhaps 30km.

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There was a big climb up to Serra Amarela which saw me trying to suck the moisture of my flask straw. There was a distinct lack of water pit stops and it was hot at 27degrees and pretty muggy.

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There was a nice long descent into Lindoso and then up out to Soajo. Lindoso had sone fine examples of granaries. They are used for drying and storing maize.

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I went through up and downs throughout never feeling utterly brilliant but also aware that was probably because I pushed the whole way. I fuelled continuously on 32Gi gels, chews and energy drink I had made up for the aid stations and some homemade flapjacks.

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At the stations we were allowed assistance and we had Walter, Adrian Tarit and Helen MacVicker from Team GB and they were brilliant- flawless transitions.

Two Swiss women passed at different times but I hardly saw any other women so with 20km to go I decided to push on seeing if I could make up any places. It was worth it as I made up one place in the end catching one of the Swiss women.

The last 10km from Mezio I was hanging on in there. I had actually passed the other Swiss girl at the Mezio aid station but she caught me with 3miles to go and I could not keep with her. I crossed the line and was so pleased to lie down.

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I felt sick and my stomach was not happy at all but I could bear all of that because I had finished in the top 10 of the World Trail Running Championships and I was delighted.

 

Thanks have to go to Team GB for selecting me; SCOTT for the Kinabalu Supertrac RC that stuck me to the trail and the vest that carried everything; 32Gi for the excellent sports nutrition pre, during and post; Bounce Balls #StayUnstoppable nutritional snack pre, during and post racing; Rocktape for the support getting me through the training and the race; and LED lenser for the SEO 7R Rechargeable LED Head Torch which was faultless; and Hectic Hamster Coffee for waking me up at 0230 to catch the transport to the 0500hrs start.

Categories: Ultra races | 3 Comments

The CCC

As I sit here one week post the event it seems so long ago already. I’ve returned to the UK and Autumn is definitely on its way; the Chamonix sunshine has gone; the adrenaline has gone and I am pooped! But I only have to look at this photo and I smile…. a very big smile.

UTMB 2016 Credit: Pete Aylward www.runphoto.co.uk

Coming into the finish is always a special moment because it means you’ve finished the challenge and can stop running. However, at this finish line I did not stop I did a lap of honour and clapped everyones hands again. The adrenaline was still surging through me 24hrs later- sleep was not possible because of my legs burning up and my feet throbbing so I just kept reliving the race. I had spent 14hrs 9mins and 32seconds running alone but not alone…the voices in my head kept pushing me on. I passed by other runners and they passed me. There were the occasional chats but I did not converse much as I seemed to be permanently out of breathe.

I had used some annual leave from work to travel to Chamonix to do a recce of the race in slow time which helped prepare me for the challenge. I spent one night in a dormitory in La Fouly and the second time under the stars sleeping wild in Trient. It really helped although during the race I remember thinking ‘I’m sure the hills were not this long when I recce’d it….!’

The start was not early (0900hrs) so I had some breakfast and a coffee (thank you Hectic Hamster), I taped my ankles with Rocktape (because I have rolled them so many times I knew I needed the extra feedback to help prevent it happening again in the race) and I got dressed (SCOTT Kinabalu Supertrac RC). I was nervous but ready.

I did not start fast in fact at the first check point I was 98th I think. There were 5 major ascents which I used as goals but I was really focused on getting to Champex- Lac because I knew that was where the run would become a race  for definite. Profil_CCC_2016.png

I had slowly travelled up through the field and as I started the climb from Arnouvaz I caught the Spanish lady in second (Raquel Martinez Rodriguez) but I was with another Spanish lady (Teresa Nimes Perez). Mimmi Kotka, the leader and ultimate winner was away…she ran alone unchallenged all day…an incredible performance. Behind her, we (2nd, 3rd and 4th) all stayed roughly together climbing the Grand col Ferret and then on the descent I pulled away. Running into La Fouly….

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Credit: Guillem Casanova

I felt good but was soon caught running out along the river by Raquel and then on the climb up in Champex-Lac we were caught by Teresa. I questioned my pacing- had I run the first half too fast?

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Credit: Guillem Casanova

Teresa was incredible at climbing – no poles and no hands on thighs just this calm strong power hike. I felt like a small child trying to keep up with their mother as I tried to keep up with her intermittently running a few steps and then walking using all possible aids….poles and hands on thighs!  Living in Hampshire in the UK is not conducive to being a great climber but I was determined not to use it as an excuse.

My time at the check point in Champex-Lac was swift thanks to Jon who crewed for me. Water in, more gels in (I used 32Gi gels and chews every 45mins or so and had some Bounce balls in case I needed real food), rubbish out and vaseline under the old armpits and I was off.

However, I left the checkpoint steadily not racing to get away because it was too early for that I felt especially in the heat of the day.  I was eventually caught as I started the ascent to La Giete and Bovine by Teresa and I stuck with her but on the ascent up to Trient she got the better of me. All I could do was maintain a rhythm. Poles, feet and a lot of belching (my poor tummy had had enough of being bent over I think). I was shadowed by two guys and near the top they overtook me and said ‘thanks for pulling us up there’ but I had no breath to respond! They, however, did help me because I used them to aim for on my descent which brought me closer back to Teresa.

I needed to catch up with her because any lead she had climbing out of Vallorcine would be too much. Running out of Vallorcine I raced and raced. It was runnable and I maximised it. The day turned to night and just as I started to climb Tete aux Vents the head torch (LED Lenser SEO 7R) went on. I now imagined every head torch gaining on me was hers. I pushed all the time. It was beautifully calm up there and seeing the Chamonix valley below all lit up was an exceptional view. I raced in scared but excited. The descent off Tete aux Vents was a little technical in places so I remain careful but I it seems I’m a better descender at night or perhaps I was just running scared.

I finished 2nd and 23rd overall. I was delighted….the finish was a dream- like moment and I got the share it with Jon who helped make the result possible. BIG SMILE.

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Credit: Guillem Casanova

Categories: Miscellaneous, Ultra races | 8 Comments

Laugavegur Ultra 55km, Iceland

I raced alone and hard for 5hours burying demons; constantly imagining the 2nd woman was closing in on me; asking myself am I working as hard as I can; and running, running, running. It was a beautiful running trail. Not much vertical gain but very short sharp ascents and descents interspersed with ice, volcanic ash/ sand and mud…oh and river crossings. The sun was somewhere up there making it a warm day and then in the second half the wind blew but luckily no rain or severe cold whilst I ran.

I sit here now in our Airbnb garage/ cosy studio reflecting on such a great day.

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The lack of darkness makes it hard to sleep and of course my excitement.
The day started at 0330 for me to catch the transport at 0430. After 4hrs we arrived at the start, Landmannalaugar, to go for 0900. The race connects two nature reserves and takes you through the Southern Icelandic highlands.

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I ran past smelly sulphur geysers which produced clouds of steam making it a surreal lanscape. The terrain reminded me of a typical volcanic island combined with Marathon des Sables sand, sticky Hampshire mud, Dartmoor soft ground and then a bit of ice and some rivers thrown in.

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With 7miles to go I met Jon who had run out onto the course. It was a lovely surprise. Thank you for your ever continuing support.

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The trail was full of hikers and their cheers were well apreciated too.

The end was in Þórsmörk and it was only when I turned the corner and I heard the cheering to sprint that I knew I was close to Angela Mudge’s record #4seconds. I cried when I finished and it’s been a long time since I’ve done that after a race #tearsofoverwhelment.

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Iceland has something that draws you in. Perhaps not the forever daylight #insomnia or the summer weather where shorts are not worn #bitchilly. The fresh air and soft water makes your skin feel good. The people are really hard working, efficient, polite and friendly. The food and coffee are second to none. The traditional Icelandic meal of fish on black bread is delicious. I avoided all the options put on the menu for the tourists #whaleisnotsustainable.

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A ‘dirty’ or ‘clean’ breakfast at the laundromat cafe is highly recommended….especially after such an epic run. The visit was a flying one and with so much seen, tasted, smelt and experienced it was an amazing one. Thank you Iceland!

Thank you to all my sponsors. Scott running (Kinabalu Supertrac RC)32Gi (5gels & a protein recovery drink for this race), Bounce Balls (breakfast!), Get in the Mood Coffee (race prep boost) and Rocktape (ankle support & looked after my hip niggle).

Categories: Ultra races | 3 Comments

Podbrdo Trail Marathon (GM40)

When I was researching races for 2016 I came across the Podbrdo Trail Running Festival in Slovenia and entered straight away. I had always wanted to visit Slovenia and the route look beautiful. It was only later when I went back to inspect the website in more detail did I discover it was also to host the World Trail Running Long Course Championships. A fleeting thought of ‘what about trying to gain a place on the GB team’ was soon quashed by ‘don’t be stupid you’re no mountain, fell or hill running’.  The qualifying race was the 3 peaks race in Yorkshire and was won by true fell and well known mountain runners so that confirmed that thought. However, I was looking forward to learning from the National teams and their skills in such a race if I could keep up!

After Transvulcania I was looking forward to a race where I could stretch my legs out on the trails. On my first training run on Dartmoor after a disappointing 11th in the 74km race I managed to sprain my ankle. Really annoying but that’s life! I started on the old routine of cross training, lots of ankle rehab and after 2 weeks or so I tentatively started running again. I also continued to cross train and probably over did it but soon picked up a cold virus so had to rest up for 5days. My lead up to this race wasn’t great but I was determined to enjoy it. I headed out there with the remains of a cold, a vulnerable ankle, two blisters on my feet and a sore back (weight squatting session where I somehow doubled bounced and jarred my back) but a big smile.

We (Jon and I) flew into Ljubljana airport and caught the bus into the city. My first impressions were one of a clean and friendly country. We then caught the train straight out into the hills past Lake Bled to Jesenice and then swopped trains heading through the mountain tunnels to Podbrdo. I had booked accommodation through the race website and we were to be staying in a local woman’s house. The house was delightfully located by a river at the foot of the mountains. It straight away made me smile even more and the fresh air combined with the views was so relaxing. Our hosts were so welcoming. We got to sample true Slovenian cuisine and hospitality.

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The race started at 8am. It was here that I learnt my race would not be starting with the National teams but a few minutes behind. What a shame but I had my own race to concentrate on I knew that.

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The race went from 520m to  čez suho at 1760m on the GM40 route.

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It started off on a wide gravel trail before becoming more single track through the forested paths.

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The initial descent was technical and I had to have a firm word to myself about being such a lame descender  but the path soon became gravel tracks and roads and I could pick up pace. It was steep as we travelled down to Hudajužna at 361m. At about 28km I started walking and essentially did not start running until the top at 1590m at Porezen. That 7km was so steep on one section it was roped. As I started running past the ski lift station at the top I got overtaken by the chasing female. She descended like a true fell runner (fellow Brit) in a flury and a blur. The last descent over 7km was 1000m and this certainly tested the quads!
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The race was superbly organised and well marked. I enjoyed its challenge, finishing in 5hrs dead and coming in 2nd overall and first in my age category.

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I was delighted to find out the that team GB had come in 3rd (women) (and it was won by Brit to boot) and 2nd (men).
On arrival back at our local accommodation after the prize giving we enjoyed a glass of wine and a moment to savour in the beautiful location with our hosts.

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The next day Jon raced like a demon coming in 11th and first in the over 50’s. It was a 12km course climbing 800m. I tried to keep up to take photos but he soon saw the better of me.

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On leaving Podbrdo we had a day in Ljubljana.

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Looking around the castle and the city was nice but my heart remained in the country. If you ever get a chance to visit this country go, we’ll certainly come back!

Thank you to all my sponsors. Scott running, 32gi (5 gels and protein recovery drink for this race), Bounce Balls (breakfast!), Get in the Mood Coffee (race prep boost) and Rocktape (ankle support).

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Categories: Less than ultra races!, Marathons | 2 Comments

Transvulcania 74km

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The race took 9hrs 41mins and I came 11th. In hindsight I am pleased but I am left with a few nagging questions. I (a runner from a the flat lands of South England) took on the a race (technical and at altitude) against the best mountain runners in the world and survived but I wanted to do more than that, to be honest my pride is a little dented .

My training went well but it wasn’t in the mountains. I sought out some hilly places to run

     
but these were absolutely nothing compared to the race mountains. I even trained in the heat chamber because it was supposed to be hot but to be honest it wasn’t.


I did not feel that good even from the start at sea level, Faro de Fuencliente, but this is hard to quantify.

I could not go off with the pace of the lead women but then when I saw Anna (Cometi Pascua) and Uxue (Fraile) appear from behind me 2hrs later I thought maybe my start was not too bad. I climbed and climbed and climbed. Much of this was walking and I’m a runner not a walker so this was not great for me. Course knowledge would have been good here because then I would have known when to push and when to have expected a hill but I was not fazed at all as I knew it would be a long day for me anyway. The course was in the dark initially up soft black sand but as the sun came up the course wound around alpine trees.

The first aid station was at El Pilar and it meant I could drop off the head torch. The trail was good leaving the checkpoint and I felt as though I could finally run but I wasn’t sure how hard I should push on. We soon climbed again (total climbing in the race was 4000m) through the National Park of La Caldera de Taburiente and emerged above the cloud and I could see it lying in the valley below. Truly breathtaking.

            

I stuck with Anna and Uxue for 2hours but then they ultimately got the better of me and were stronger on the ascents. The next aid station was Pico de La Nieve and once I had left there I ran the rest of the race on my own.

Jon met me at Roque de Los Muchachos which sat at 2426m and just under 52km before the final descent.


He had also been up since 3.30am and then drove the 2hours up to this feed station. His support was fantastic.

My descending was abysmal. There can be no doubt about that. I tried to just let my pace and legs go but I was too cautious for this to be significant. I fell over twice showing my lack of experience on the rocky descents.

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The final descent was down the Vertical KM course and I could see Tazacorte Port at the bottom. I knew we still had to run up to Los Llanos de Aridane though so despite it feeling like a finish line I knew it wasn’t which definitely helped as I ran through the cheering crowds.

I was embarrassed as I ran through Tazacorte and was met by the Scott Running team- “I’m so sorry I’m running so slowly…..I’ve let you down….. It was too technical for me….I’m so sorry….”

So that was it really I trained well, I felt good racing in terms of nutrition, endurance, muscle fatigue but I could not go any faster. It wasn’t quite the result I had hoped for, however, I got to share a week with new friends in a new place and had an amazing day out running through spectacular countryside.

Thank you to all those you supported me- SCOTT running32GiBounce BallsThe House of CoffeeRockTapeLED Lenser head torch & SPRU.

Categories: Sponsors, Ultra races | 8 Comments

A Numb Bum

I sit here this morning not being sick and feeling like I can manage a cup of tea finally. I have had some sort of gastro bug which made me bed ridden for 48hrs and finally stopped me in my tracks. That may not seem so bad but 2 weeks ago I got a viral bug which took a week or so to go. The kind with the aching bones and the thick green sputum but the kind you can also still work through. Again perhaps you may say well that is just winter for you but a month before that I was ill for 2 weeks with another viral fluey bug and again worked on through it. It seems I have the immune system of a gnat! So as I lie in bed drinking the most lovely cup of tea I decide to reflect on what I’ve been up to.

Training: I have been back running after the Everest Trail Race (ETR) and was getting in some hard sessions to work on some speed. I had a long time off after the ETR to rest, recover from the infamous Nepalese chest infection and enjoy some time with friends and family. My first ultra is not until May 7th in Transvulcania so I do not need to get into ultra training just yet and so entered Bath half marathon to give me some focus in the winter. This time last year I was injured and this means running will never be taken for granted!

Exam Stress: I have revised and revised for an up and coming APPI Pilates Level 3 Instructor exam which I had in London 2 weeks ago. Every morning when I walked the dog I rehearsed the exercises in my head and then at the weekends practised them. If anyone saw me they probably wondered what I was doing when my arm occasionally shot up in the air or a leg moved out to the side as I tried to execute the moves on the move! It is nice now to be able to walk the dog and just enjoy the walk and keep my hands warm not holding revision notes!

Job Application and Interview Nerves: As you know I’m a physiotherapist and I saw advertised on the English Institute of Sports (EIS) website a post for adhoc contractors. It was work that I could potentially fit in around my MOD Military work and help those elite athletes going to Rio for the Olympics- what a fantastic opportunity and I could not resist it. Working for the EIS is a sports physio’s dream and would certainly make me proud. I spent a good few days on my covering letter and CV and then submitted it. I got called for an interview in Bath. It was great news but bad timing on the illness front. I had got the viral bug the day before and had left work early to sleep. I slept in the afternoon, 11hrs in the night and then on waking got up and walked the dog but felt so awful went back to bed for an hour before driving to the interview!

Sports Physiotherapy Masters: Last September I started this Masters course at the University of Bath. So ongoing this has been rumbling along too. I say rumbling but perhaps I should say grumbling because that’s what I’ve been doing when I try to start an assignment and really can’t get my head around it. My poor husband, Jon has to listen to me all upset and stressed and even the dog cowered at times. I have spent time at my desk resulting in an often numb bum. I am always willing to work hard but I am not in anyway an academic. As my brother once said my head is full of ‘stuff o’ nonsense’!

It takes illness to make me reflect it seems. The gastro bug descended on me after a weekend of relative relaxation which I knew I needed after the stress of the exam, the interview and the most recent Masters assignment.

I work and I run and as I get older I need time to recover too. I had taken on becoming a Pilates Instructor and passed (yes!), I am studying for a Masters, and I had applied and successfully got the EIS contractor post (an even bigger yes!). I have all this enthusiasm for doing what I love and so had taken on too much and paid the price by succumbing to being ill. This last bout of illness has to be looked on positively- I’ve taken time to read, reflect and sleep in the past 48hrs which is exactly what I needed when on the daily routine of taking on too much. I like to think I’ve learnt now not to take on too much but it’s hard to find the balance.

When you see the Bath half marathon results remember I will just be so pleased to have made it to the start line as this time last year I was injured and could not race. Remind me when I’m inevitably disappointed with my time that I have not actually fitted in the best in consistent training but have achieved some other great stuff along the way.

 

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The North Face 50, San Francisco

The race did not intimidate me but I was well aware of the calibre of athlete that toed the start line and so gave it my full respect. Well I thought I had….

I arrived 3 days early to try and get over the jet lag but I never seemed to. However, my screwed body clock waking me daily at 2.30am was convenient for race day as that was the time I had to get up. The race started at 5am but I had to get there so an early start was a nasty essential.

I spent the time in San Francisco resting up as I was still recovering from the Everest Trail race and its 170 unrelenting kms and the chest infection that followed the trip.

Race day

Race day kit: SCOTT Trail Rocket shoes, LED Lenser SEOR torch, 32Gi gels, & Rocktape on the feet.

I got up at 2.30am and left the accommodation at 3.30am to join the other runners reaching the start line. It was a cold morning. Nervousness hung in the air. I waited until the last minute to take off my jacket and hand it in at the bag drop off. From start to finish the organisation for this race was top notch and faultless. People huddled around gas burning fires and torch lights just dotted around the start line. I felt excited and up for it.

The start was fast. Normally I try and be conservative in my starts but I thought if I don’t go with the pace I may never catch them back up.  Error 1 showing lack of respect!

….I should have gone a little slower. Rooky error but then I had not raced for a year in such an event so I think I got carried away.

I loved the start. The freshness of the morning, running under the beam of a head torch, watching the red sunrise as I ascended and each switch back allowed me to look, and finally to be running after 2 weeks of resting from Nepal and the lergy.

As I reached Cardiac hill peak for the first time I got to hand in my head torch. I thought right lets get into racing.

Photo credit: Nate Dunn

The trail flattened out a little bit but would my legs respond…no. After the hill the Nepal legacy reared its head. It was a risk I had taken racing so close together so I just thought lets see what happens and tried not to be frustrated by it.Then by 10.30am with the sun in my eyes I was ready for a nap (damn jet leg) but a bee sting soon put pay to that.

There was lots of ‘great job’ ‘awesome’ and the support was great even though I was an unknown out there.

I sprained my ankle and it made me feel sick but it was not going to stop me. My legs responded less and less to the need to change and adapt to the undulating (under statement!) course and to compensate I ate more. My gels and bars did the trick until I ran out. Error 2 showing lack of respect!
….I did not carry enough food. There were aid stations but not one when I needed it. I bonked and had to walk a bit and then got passed so in the last 5-10miles my errors manifested themselves and I lost places.

 

Face of pain photo courtesy of iRunFar

I may sound like I’m disappointed in my performance but I’m not to be honest. My mind is a hard task master, as was the competition, but the body is a wonderful thing and it did the best it could.

Photo credit: iRunFar- great race coverage. Thank you.

 

I finished 8th covering the 50miles in 7hrs 44mins.

 

I learnt lessons and explored some spectacular countryside doing so. I got to rub shoulders with the cream of the crop and meet some other SCOTT athletes. The race was well organised and comes highly recommended. I also had to pinch myself throughout the trip- was I really in San Francisco?!

 

 

 

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Everest Trail Race 2015

My introduction to Nepal was Kathmandu. A populated busy city full of history….

IMG_6038Patan– an ancient fortified town. Now a suburb of Kathmandu.

Unesco World Heritage Site of Swayambhunath    Swayambhunath is also known as the Monkey Temple   The Unesco World Heritage Site of Swayambhunath. Also known as the Monkey Temple.

religion

Prayer flags- as the wind blows through them the prayers are offered.Prayer flags– as the wind blows through them the prayers are offered.

IMG_1391Prayer wheels to be spun.

people (and extreme cabling!)

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….& culture

Coloured powders for sale

The race was just apart of the whole experience. It was a race I was set to have a challenge with. I’m no mountain goat and this race is all about the ascending and descending mountains. I determinedly faced the start line.

Day 1 Jiri to Bhandar 21.5km, 1.975m up 1.820m down, 3hrs 1min.

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I had two battles this day; one with the ultimate, awesome, winner, Anna Comet from Catalonia; and two with my Mountain King poles. I had never used them before and having four legs instead of two was hard for someone with no coordination (at all!) but I was determined to win that battle and I’m glad I did as they proved invaluable as the race went on.

The sun shone and that afternoon the local village folk came out and danced. We got presented marigold flower garland chains which I soon learnt was very significant in Nepalese culture.

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Day 2 Bhandar to Jase Bhanjyang. 23.9km, 3.486m up 1.796m down, 5hrs 26mins.

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This was tough up hill day. We camped at 3600m so fairly chilly at night but thanks to my  PHD Sleeping bag and booties I was really comfortable. Everyone was jealous of my booties!

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Waking up in the morning was incredible as we were above the clouds and the horizon seemed endless reaching towards the highest peaks.

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Day 3 Jase Bhanjyang to Kharikhola. 37.4km, 2.521m up 4110m down, 5hrs 46mins.

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My descending skills got slightly better in this stage but it was the last few km’s that really got the legs as we ascended up to our campsite outside a monastery. We even got the opportunity to listen to the ceremony inside which admittedly did sound like band practise at school but was none the less another opportunity to learn about the local culture.

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Day 4 Kharikhola to Phakding 27.5km 2.479m up 1.975m down 4hrs 52mins

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More bridges and yaks to contend with…

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Day 5 Phakding to Tyangboche 20km 2.224m up 1.022m down 3hrs 51mins.

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The location we stayed in this night was spectacular in terms of surrounding scenery with the mountains of Tawache, Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse, Ama Dablam in the background.

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Day 6 Tyangboche to Lukla 29.5km 2.105m up 3.138m down 4hrs 22mins.

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and to the finish 12-IMG_9973-3 where Julia Boettger and I finished together. That night we stayed in Lukla ready to fly out in the morning.

The race was incredibly well organised and the camaraderie that evolved amongst the Spanish, Catalan, French, German and British runners was a real highlight.

The prize giving ceremony was back in Kathmandu.

IMG_1435Me, Jon, Tony, Sue, Ignacio, Julia, Rachel and Louis on one table.

IMG_1449 Jon getting the first vet 50 prize #proud

IMG_1444 Me getting 2nd female.

It was a race full of swollen sprained ankles, rocks and stones to be travelled over, tender quadricep muscles, emotions on a roller coaster, being humbled, meeting people, yak shit, tears, funny tummy’s, dust and at the end a stinking cold and chest infection but the challenge had been met and success was triumphant.

Thank you to everyone I met for making the race a true experience, my husband for sharing the highs and lows, my Mum for looking after Rufus whilst we were away, Scott kit and the KinabaluBounce balls energy32Gi Sports fuel and recoveryRock tapePHD Sleeping bags and clothingMountain King Aluminium Trail Blaze polesSporting Edge Simulated Altitude trainingLED Lenser head torchZeropoint Compression for Recovery, and lastly but not least my old buddy Hectic Hamster.

 

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