December 2010

Round round Rotherham

Running round Rotherham. It conjures an image of dodging shopping trolleys and chavs. The reality is far more pleasant, although it does have its moments (mainly around Meadowhell).

I ran this for the first time in 2008. The second of two epic years of bad weather, with driving rain, temperatures barely above zero  and deep, sticky mud. I plodded my way round in 12.4something.

In 2009 the new October date brought sunny weather and firm fields.  And off the back of CCC training I had my best run to date cruising around in 10.29, finishing 10th woman, in the company of much faster runners.

In contrast by October this year I was slightly battered and running on empty. However I didn’t expect to struggle quite as much as I did in the first half. As usual most of the field disappeared into the distance at the start at high speed.
However catching (at least some of) them up again like usual didn’t happen. The expensive anti-blisters socks I bought from the US after the Heart of Scotland 105, turned out to be slightly too big and caused blisters. And my usually robust stomach rebelled, leading to a ‘regurgitating a biscuit in a bush’ incident at 20 miles. I told myself I had to get to at least 30 miles before dropping out, and plodded on.

Eventually I started feeling alright, and with any time goals discarded enjoyed chatting to some familiar faces. My appetite finally returned and at the final checkpoint I grabbed two handfuls of biscuits and headed off, determined to finally drop the group I’d been going back and forth with for most of the day (they were moving faster, but lingering at checkpoints). And I would have done if my brain hadn’t failed on me. Close to the finish the route was marked with tape. And on automatic I followed the tape down a narrow path overgrown with brambles. I eventually realised that there was no way 100+ runners had been through before me, but convinced myself it was best to keep going, until I reached a dead end with a 3 metre metal fence... Back tracking I reached the finish in 11.4something, just after the group. The fact the bloke behind me in the post-race food queue (wearing a Lakeland 100 top) had made the same mistake cheered me up slightly.

2010: a year of two halves

2010 started in style, with a crossing of the Cho La pass. At least I think it did. I was definitely somewhere in the midst of a fantastic 3 week trekking holiday in Nepal: up the Gokyo valley to Gokyo Ri, over the Cho La pass and on to Kala Pattar and Everest base camp. Arrived home to a snowy Britain with bags of energy, and a niggling achilles injury miraculously fixed. (Curing injury with inappropriate activities-a story for another day...)

Can’t remember much about this month. Lots of work and getting myself into shape ready for:

My 3rd go at the 32 mile Wuthering Hike (aka the Haworth Hobble), taking half an hour off my previous best time. Followed a week later by the Hardmoors 55. Miserable weather. A third of the field dropped out. I was on my own from 20-50 miles, but I loved it. Even (especially?) when the clouds lifted and Roseberry Topping appeared in the distance.

Back to the 36 miles Calderdale Hike for the 2nd time, and a 45 minute PB (thanks to knowing the route and a bit less chatting on the way round).

A 2nd go at Fellsman.  The peat bogs were remarkably dry, leading to another big (1.5 hour) PB. And on to my main goal for the year: the Heart of Scotland 105, my first hundred. I never felt great. My feet were hurting by 20 miles. And (unusually for me) they were badly blistered by the breakfast stop at 60. I was plodding along OK though, and on course to hit my 32-33 hour target, until the blistersacross balls of both my feet burst at 75 miles. The final 30 miles took nearly 15 miles, and I hobbled to the finish in 35.5 hours.

The blisters (and assorted induced niggles) took a couple of weeks to heal. Time for a couple of runs, in preparation for:

My 2nd go at the Osmotherley Phoenix. Last year (despite a sprint finish) I finished in 8 hours dead. This year with the 100 still in my legs, I plodded round without a thought of the time. Until at the top of the last big hill the bloke I was running with made a (joking?) comment about breaking 8 hours.  Spurred into action, I ran ‘flat out’ (i.e. about 9 minute miles...) for the last few miles. And made it with a couple of minutes to spare, for my final PB of the year.

Not the best month. A painful altercation with a sea urchin,
an ironman with no training, a sore knee and my first ultra DNF. The highlight of the month was appearing in Fellrunner placed third in the early season UK Ultra Running championship rankings. One place behind Sarah Rowell, former British marathon record holder and Olympian.
This was a bit like some crap newly promoted team being third in the first premiership league table thanks to having played 2 more games than everyone else...

The knee recovered enough for a slow plod around the High Peak 40.

Followed by a slow plod around the
Round Rotherham 50.

Lots of work and not much time or energy for running. On the plus side this allowed my knee to recover properly.

Snow!  Long slow runs through snowy fields and forests brought a temporary return of my running mojo. Followed by a stinking cold which ruined my “get back into shape with long runs in the Peak District over Christmas” plans.