Tuesday, November 19, 2013
This blog uses my own domain name, which makes it more secure than a Blogger blog- which can technically be deleted by Blogger if they think you may have fallen foul of their terms and conditions. This very nearly happened to me once... I went to log in and instead of the blog dashboard there was a notice stating that my blog had been deleted as it had been flagged up as displaying inappropriate content! I did manage to contact Blogger and get it reinstated but I have heard of other bloggers who weren't so lucky and lost years worth of posts.
I will continue to post race reports on here for now, and of course all the links and previous posts will still be here too, but for day to day stuff please join me at my Endurance Adventures blog and Facebook page.
See you there!
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Event Report- The Gritstone Grind
It is a one and a half hour drive to Disley, near Stockport, which meant getting up at 4am Sunday morning so an early night was called for on Saturday (thanks Mum for accidentally sitting on your phone and ringing me at 10:30pm!)
Luckily the roads were really quiet and I reached the Community Centre in plenty of time to get registered and have breakfast before the coach left for the start at Kidsgrove. Rich had asked several times that the loos at Kidsgrove station would be opened for us and had been assured that they would be... so of course they weren't so picture a load of endurance nutters trying to find a private spot to answer nature's call!!
As I expected most of the others were really fit and serious ultra runner types, so I hung towards the back with a slow jog along the canal. This was the easiest part of the whole route, we left the canal and started climbing towards Mow Cop. It was getting warm already and the stiff climb soon had me sweating (it doesn't take much!) Good excuse to stop for a photo though.
It was at this point I went wrong... instead of walking in front of the Mow Cop castle I walked by it and ended up losing the Gritstone Trail way markers. A couple of ladies walking their dogs put me right but I cursed myself for the time I had lost. Still I got a good picture of the castle;
The next objective, Edge Hill, can be seen just above centre in the above photograph. Following this the trail descends to a track along a disused railway and the first self clip before crossing fields to the first manned checkpoint at Timbersbrook picnic area.
I was still jogging the downhills and flats, slowly, and kept leap frogging a lady who was a very fast walker (I also kept going slightly off route!) She was faster then me though and I lost her at the checkpoint as I stopped for a mug of fizzy coke and some flapjack. As I left the checkpoint a couple asked me what we were all doing, so I told them- they looked impressed but thought we were crazy!!
The trail immediately started to climb steeply towards The Cloud and I regretted the coke as my stomach started to churn! It was so hot my eyes were stinging from the sweat dripping into them and at one point I honestly wondered whether I was actually having a heart attack. Thankfully it levelled off a little and I made it to the top, where I managed an undignified scramble up the trig point on the summit to use the self clip there.
A nice runnable descent to the road followed then a long descent along a path by Ravens Clough down to Barleighford Bridge.
Then it was back to climbing- a long climb up to the road over Wincle Minn. It was fairly steep in parts, especially once I passed the self clip at Drumkins, and I longed to reach the road... in my mind's eye I saw a gently sloping road with a nice long descent and I couldn't wait.
Except when I finally reached the road I could just see it going up, up and up as far as I could see... and when I got to what I thought was the top the was even more up as far as the eye can see! It was quite brutal, especially as there was no shade and it was really hot. It seemed to be taking me ages to reach the second manned checkpoint and I began to seriously doubt I'd make it- this was probably my lowest ebb. I could see the next hill just beyond which promised more climbing- Croker Hill with its huge transmitter mast- but my legs were starting to protest against this cruel treatment.
Finally the never ending uphill did end and it was such as relief to be descending, even though I was no longer able to run and could see the next climb just ahead.
It wasn't as bad as I feared and there was a lovely long descent to the checkpoint where there were crisps- a bit of salt is always welcome on a hot day. I regretted bringing only one water bottle with me as I ran out of water before the manned checkpoints and suffered for it. I caught up with two ladies here and we walked together from this point on.
It is amazing what a difference it makes having someone to walk with. I felt so much better for it as I was convinced I would be last, and almost had a spring in my step as we approached Tegg's Nose. It didn't last! Tegg's Nose must be one of the steepest climbs I have ever encountered- those huge steps which are a nightmare for those of us with short legs! The two ladies I was walking with discovered that their respective partners, who had run the event, had both finished joint second!
Finally the beast that is Tegg's Nose was conquered, the self clip found and the descent made to the visitor's centre, where it was obvious that there was another charity event going on and we were very kindly given a bottle of water and a banana each to keep us going!
The route kind of meanders around a bit towards the road at Rainow and it did rain (for a few minutes)- and we saw a rainbow!!
It wasn't far to the last manned checkpoint where one of the ladies I was walking with decided to stop as her knees were really painful. She was happy though as this was the farthest she had walked in one day, so we were chuffed for her.
The two of us pressed on, determined to complete as many of the remaining 7 miles before dark fell. We headed out and uphill, legs protesting and burning, over a vast expanse of moorland where the signage was rather erratic. I must admit I had had enough at this point and just wanted to finish. The tops of my legs were aching after all the ascending we had done and felt exhausted.
Luckily we found the way without too much trouble (I couldn't bear the thought of getting lost at this stage!) and the track over the highest part of the trail, the moorland of Sponds Hill, was mercifully gentle. Twilight was drawing in in quite a spectacular fashion as we descended through Lyme Park and found the final self clip and we walked the long road (uphill of course!) out of the park in semi darkness.
I could see the streetlights of Disley but it seemed to be taking forever to get there. We succumbed to the darkness as soon as we left the park and entered a copse, and I put on my head torch when we turned down an awkward rocky path. When we finally reached a smooth tarmac road I could have bent down and kissed it (although I wouldn't have got up again!) We were surprisingly enough maintaining quite a strong pace and my legs had recovered a little!
It was such a relief though to reach the Community Centre and see Rich waiting for us, I felt rather guilty at making his day even longer. We didn't make it in the 12 hours- we took 12 hours and 33 minutes- but he still gave us a certificate! After a really welcome jacket potato, rice pudding and coffee I turned the car towards home, bath and bed!
This was a great event- really scenic, tough and well organised by Rich and Wendy of Beyond Marathon and all the other volunteers who gave up their time. I really hope it becomes an annual fixture... I will do it in under 12 hours next year!
I have the Ponton Plod on Sunday... should be relatively easy in comparison!!
Saturday, September 07, 2013
Ready For The Gritstone Grind??
I entered this event months ago, reasoning that this would give me loads of time to get really fit... yeah right!!
I have been training and have been doing hill work in the past few weeks but I think we always feel we should have done more... I had a bit of a hiatus whilst my Dad and Step mum stayed with me for a few weeks in August and came down with a virus last week so things have been a little sporadic.
There is a 12 hour time limit, which gives an average pace of 2.9 mph but of course the hills will have an impact. I will aim to settle into a nice easy (slow) run, run the flats and downhills and walk the uphills. With luck it shouldn't be too muddy!
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Nothing Much Doing...
What is worrying me though are the sore spots I've been having on the heel/ bottom of my right foot and I have convinced myself that this is the onset of Plantar Fasciitis, but on the other hand could be my new shoes!
Meanwhile here's a picture of a butterfly...
Labels: Gritstone Challenge
Friday, August 09, 2013
Event Report; The White Peak Walk
Temperatures were already rising as I reached the Peak village of Moneyash, registered and joined the crowd of walkers on the village green. This event was unusual in that we were given grid references for each checkpoint and encouraged to navigate between checkpoints, although there was a suggested route. I had only realised this the night before so was up late desparately plotting the route on my map- luckily the start is a civilised 10am.
I slapped on plenty of sunscreen and then we were off, and heading across the fields towards Flagg. People were already splitting up and going separate ways, although if I had known how many stiles there were going to be I would have used the road!
The first checkpoint was outside the Waterloo Hotel and I stopped just long enough to grab a drink. It was already very warm and I was covered in sweat.
Then it was onto the next checkpoint at Brushfield as we negotiated several small dales;
We walked over the spectacular viaduct at Monsal Head, and on my map it showed the footpath climbing to the road to avoid the tunnel, rejoining the Monsal Trail on the other side. However the tunnel has now been opened up and it was great fun walking through it- it was also refreshingly cool!
The next part of the route was fairly straightforward although I nearly got cleaned up by a cyclist whilst trying to walk and study my map- not a great combination! I could feel the heat rising from the gravel trail and desparately wished for a bucket of water to soak my hat in.
I turned off the trail onto a bridleway which led into Bakewell and the next checkpoint, where I did manage to get a biscuit although the lack of food was worrying me a little. I sat in the shade and ate one of the two cereal bars I had brought with me.
I wasn't looking forward to the steep climb through the golf course and the woods, and passed several exhausted looking people. After a walk across the meadows and a brief stop at a stone trough to dunk my hat, the Carlton Lees checkpoint was reached.
The chap clipping our tally cards suggested walking along the road to the next checkpoint at Birchover, which seemd like a plan. However he didn't tell me that it was all uphill! The road kept on climbing and climbing relentlessly and I could feel the heat rising from it and enveloping me. A couple of times I was almost tempted to give up... almost...
... but nothing lasts forever and Birchover was soon reached. A volunteer asked me how I was feeling and did I think I could carry on? I replied that I could and sat for a few minutes, watching the day trippers sitting sipping cold drinks and feeling quite envious!
It was an effort to get my legs going again, but it was onwards and literally upwards... past Robin Hood's Stride and the next checkpoint at Harthill Moor.
I only stopped briefly before marching onto Youlgreave, our next objective;
Unfortunately Youlgreave is situated in a valley, so once reached the only way out of it is to climb... the road leading up to the last checkpoint at Long Rake seemed to go on forever; I thought that the heat might die down a little but it was relentless. It was such a releif to reach the last checkpoint- I caught up with two girls who I had been following for some time, and another girl joined us who had left the village by a different path.
I walked with them to the finish, which was lovely and kept my mind off the fact that we were taking my Mum's least favourite footpath in the whole of the Peaks (she thinks it goes on forever (it does!!) and when attempting the White Peak Long Distance route in the past begged me to leave her under a hedge and come back for her in the morning!)
Two of the girls discovered that their friend had finished as first lady (a great achievement) and as they were keen to get back to see the presentation we put in a sprint finish through the village and the finish, to finish in 9 and a half hours. Not a time to set the world alight but it was a tough day- plenty of climbing in the severe heat.
There was delicious veggie pie to finish although I was so hot I could barely eat it. This is definitely one I would do again as the route was superb- although cooler weather would be good for next year!
Sunday, July 21, 2013
A Double Whammy In The Heat
The weekend before I had a rare weekend with nothing planned and no demands on my time, so I decided to go out Saturday and Sunday... it was well and truly into the heatwave, so scorching temperatures. I packed plenty of water and slathered on the sun block.
For Saturday's route I intended to follow the 10 mile Big Track route, along the banks of the River Trent, to Beeston Canal and back along the canal to the Trent. It's 10 miles, plus another three to walk to the start at County Hall and back. I could feel the sun beating down on my back as I set off, and realised I was sweating already- we don't often get weather like this in the UK!
I set off over the Suspension Footbridge and jogged along the path by the embankment;
There is a brief spell walking along a bike path by the road, before leaving the traffic to pass under the huge high bridge carrying the A52 over the canal, and then, mercifully, open countryside is reached with views over the heavily wooded banks to Clifton Hall. I passed a gorgeous field of red poppies.
I followed Beeston Canal back into Nottingham, passing narrow boats, canoes, baby geese and cygnets, as it became increasingly busier. Loads of people were out taking advantage of the hot weather, so it was quite a surprise to come across this chap, who didn't seem at all bothered by me walking past him.
Funnily enough, I walked up my stretch of canal later on and saw another heron.
It was another blisteringly hot day, and I felt for those brave souls doing the Outlaw- it's an Iron distance course, so undertaking a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and 26.2 mile run in these temperatures would be brutal!
The fields were lovely, with a smattering of poppies;
It was marginally cooler in the woods, although only slightly, and I made myself run uphill.There was a glorious view over Cotgrave.
But not today. I savoured it as I made my way back down and across the fields to Cotgrave, stopping to buy some more water to replenish my diminishing supplies.
I carried on past the canal, towards the A52 and the track leading to Holme Pierrepont and the Watersports centre.
As I reached the road a steady stream of cyclists passed me sporting Outlaw race numbers... I cut through to the lake, and walked along the grass, cheering the runners on- what an amazing feat, especially in this heat. It was too early for finishers yet, so I walked round the foot of the lake, past the bike transition area, clapping and cheering athletes coming in from the bike leg to start the run.
Monday, July 08, 2013
Picos de Europa Day 2- Tuesday 28th May
As we reached Poncebos it was obvious that the weather was going to be changeable- we would be walking in bright sunshine for a little while, then the clouds would roll in and it would pour for 15 minutes or so. The first part of the path involves a climb, and once at the crest the path can be clearly seen snaking round a huge cliff. This is when it becomes really spectacular and although the path is wider than it looks at a distance, you are aware of the huge drop off the edge. It was fairly quiet when we walked it bit Juan told us it's heaving in July and August- wouldn't really fancy edging my way past hordes of people!!
We followed the path as it snaked round the cliff, past a fallen natural arch and through a series of rock arches. The views were spectacular!
Towards Cain there are a series of bridges to cross as the path swings from one side of the gorge to the other. There are also a few tunnels to negotiate- dark and damp, it felt like a real adventure as I stumbled along not knowing where to place my feet!
Finally we descended into Cain, and had welcome beers and plates of chips in the restaurant there. We bumped into an Exodus group doing the same walk- we were to meet them again during the week!
Walking back the same way certainly wasn't boring as completely different views opened up- at one point a rainbow appeared below us, making for a completely magical scene.
Juan told us that although the path is fairly short, getting between Poncebos to Cain involves a long trip round the mountains, and too many people walk the path and decide to call for a taxi to take them back, not realising that it will set them back around 200 euros!
It felt quite good to walk there and back under our own steam. We toasted our achievement with a beer at Poncebos and hoped that the weather would continue to be kind to us.