Sledmere Sunset Trail 10k

Sledmere Sunset Trail race on Friday night was a bit of a last minute (week) decision. I haven’t really run properly since Edinburgh Half Marathon so I knew it was never going to be brilliant!

I had managed to get a last minute place – in terms of – I had a place that someone didn’t want/need and it got transferred over, while I was sat in the cinema watching the trailers!

Anyway, back to the race. I tagged along with a mate who was running it and thankfully the weather had, for the most part, had improved. Considering the amount of times I’ve been through Sledmere, I have never stopped at the house so it was actually quite a treat to be there.

I registered, had a bit of a moan about how unfit I am and wandered down to the start line. The 10k did on mini lap – the 3.8km mini trail race route then did a longer loop around the estate. I have to say, the route, for 80% was really lovely – reasonably muddy but not XC style thankfully, undulating but few real hills as such (cant believe I’m saying that of all things!). I was doing ok for the first 5km – a bit caught up with slower runners but I wasn’t initially too worried – then we hit grass. I hate running on grass. Majorly. To me it is harder than sand.

From about 5/6km in to 7km, you had to run down the bottom of a long valley – and it was awful. Just energy/leg zapping grass. Even my mate at the end had a moan about that bit! Then a climb out and another run through the woods and down the trails. Apart from the grass, my only bug bear with other runners was down to the fact that very few were willing to fling themselves down the descents!

It started to rain at the 8k mark but my mate was already in – and I was happy for the rain just to cool off a bit. I pushed the last 2k – to an extent, as it was mostly downhill and then I heard my mate cheering/shouting at me to hurry up as I came to the finish line.

If I hadn’t been so unfit – I think I might have enjoyed it more – the scenery and setting was really lovely and doing an impromptu 10k during the week rather than on a weekend in the morning, was actually pretty good! The medal was also one of the nicest I have too! As for the organisation – that was top notch – as was the marshalling and cheering on. Driffield Striders put on a great event!

Same time next year I think!

Edinburgh Marathon Festival Road Trip 2019

What an absolutely epic weekend!

It should be clear by now that I love road trips and that this May has been full of them. It is possible that this weekend has been one of my favourites! All of them have involved eating a lot, drinking a lot and racing, a lot. All good I hear you say! Well you would be right!

There are two main parts to this – the races and the rest of it.

I’ll get to the races but I like chronological order. Possibly due to my inner historian. Anyway…

Background

Why Edinburgh? Why Edinburgh Marathon Festival (EMF) weekend?

Why not? One of my mates is doing Endure 24. He has signed up to run it solo. Edinburgh Marathon Festival formed part of his training plan of sorts (the 5k, the 10k and the marathon). Because our mates and myself are thoughtful, kind and supportive (knowing the likelihood of him reading this – we love you but we think you are a little crazy sometimes), we decided to tag along in support. In my case, with the thoughts of doing Holkham, I decided that it would prompt me to keep running as part of my own training. I decided to sign up for the half-marathon and then cheer on the marathon. I later signed up for the 5k after getting a discount voucher from EMF for my birthday. One of our other mates signed up for the 5k, the 10k and marathon out of support.

This is the result of post-swim/training discussions that result in all sorts of crazy, wonderful plans.

Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities so it was never going to take much persuading to get me there. Any excuse!

The actual trip

So the actual plan of action. There was four of us going to race. We travelled up in pairs and made our plans. I managed to persuade my mate to book first class train tickets – making the most of my railcard – both to Edinburgh and back. This was the wisest decision ever, even if we did lower the average age of the travellers in first considerably. More on this later. My mate, in turn, proceeded to book the wrong tickets home – causing me mini-heart palpitations. Thankfully, he realised! He was also responsible for booking the hostel.

Plans in place we met on the station platform at lunch on Friday and took the train to Edinburgh – making the most of the complimentary drinks and food while doing a great deal of people watching and general chatting. I love traveling by train, and its even better first class! What bemused me most though was how little luggage I had compared to my mate – however I was NOT complaining about this later and was soon rather impressed with his travelling skills. All kudos to him!

Arrival in Edinburgh and searching for our hostel reminded me how many steps there were in the city. To be perfectly honest, I followed my mate so he could have lead me on a right merry dance and I’d never have known! I knew where we were staying would be pretty cool but it was better than I thought it would be. We were Hostelling at the Kick Ass Hostel in Grassmarket – it was genuinely the funkiest place I have ever stayed – in these cool pods! Towel rail, hooks, plug sockets, own mini light, AND funky colour changing lights, black out curtain and own locker cupboard. Bar, plenty of toilets and showers, kitchen etc. All for £30 a night! Winning!

So far so awesome. So first night involved eating pizza, finding our feet and drinking Guiness. Our other mates had got to Edinburgh but both were poorly. This turned out to be a complete bummer as it meant neither of them would be racing. At all. The whole reason we were there. These things happen though. An early night was had and the next day saw my mate racing the 10k, and then both of us doing the 5k. Which was a bit surreal to be fair. Doing one race after the other? Well, I say that, but that was my mate. Watching and then both racing – and the number of people/organisation was impressive. More about the races in particular can be found here.

Post race plan was pretty simple really. Back to the hostel, shower, nap, eat. All of which we did. Brunch and Supper, where I went back in February, was literally around a corner or two from where we were staying so we wandered over before heading into the centre for some retail therapy/drooling over kit. Mentally spending a lot of money. This was followed by tea (I did say we ate a lot!) at a place called Mamma’s in Grassmarket – really reasonably priced, really fresh and really good service. No curry this time. Pre race pasta.

Nerves were starting to kick in about Sunday though. I was feeling it – I suspect my mate was too but he wasn’t showing it as much as I was moaning about it! Constant weather forecast checking and me debating kit and whether I should have brought a long sleeved top summed up my evening! Although I warm up a LOT when I’m running.

Sunday morning came, and I crawled out of bed – my mate came to the start line with me – well actually, it would be more truthful to say he lead me to my race – I was just following his lead! Either way – my mate’s forward planning came to the fore – black plastic bin bags! Kept the rain off perfectly. Anyway – this isn’t so much about the races as the weekend. My mates race start time was two hours after mine so after I’d set off – I’ve no idea what he got up to!

I’m going to skip forward now to post race and getting back into Edinburgh as the race day antics can sit in another post (which I’ve linked above).

We got back into Edinburgh and hobbled back to the hostel – first priority was clearly Guiness. Naturally! Then showers and then berating our mate for not racing. Followed by more drinks in the Beehive. Although our poorly mate deserves some credit – we did manage to all meet up and he suggested Zizzi’s and it was lush! So the eating and drinking carried on. Full three courses for me and the tired marathoner and pizza and desert for the poorly one. There was an internal debate about a final drink but tiredness had kicked in and so we all parted ways and headed back to sleep.

And thankful for a 10am train.

Monday morning – the pair of us aching and stiff, and me suffering with some blisters hobbled about getting our stuff together before a morning coffee and checking out of the hostel. The walk to the station was slower than our original walk from the station. It was at this point where I reminded my mate that he would soon be thankful for first class tickets home. The train was packed down in standard and probably a lot noisier too! We definitely made the most of the complimentary food and drinks, the bit extra space and the quietness. Discussing our weekend, the medal haul and me suggesting another road trip (the key is to drip feed these idea!).

It was with mixed feelings that we departed the train in York – parting ways on the station as I headed to Piccadilly to get the bus back to my pick up point. Sad that the weekend was over, that the racing was over and that I had no more planned road trips. I am more impressed that I didn’t lose my mate over the weekend or that it was as laid back as it was.

I haven’t been so chilled in so long.

Clearly in my mind I’m planning my next road trips and how to rope my mates in….

Maybe I am the bad influence?!

KMF 10km and Road trips with friends

As part of my apparent ongoing road trip May adventures, this weekend was the club trip to the Lake District, or more specifically, the Keswick Mountain Festival.

In some way, shape and form, there were 9 of us milling about the festival village mid afternoon, chatting about the weekend and generally being sociable (like this is anything new!), and was followed by lunch in the town centre, but not before an awesome weekend with a great bunch of people.

Friday night, five of us went to watch Graeme Obree speak – mostly about his hour record 26 years ago but touching on other subjects. I had wanted to see him for ages and it was really worth waiting for. Saturday was chilled for some of us –  the Swim sessions for Keswick Mountain Festival (KMF) has been cancelled due to algae so some of us went off to do Keswick Parkrun (which is a lovely out and back along the old railway). One of us was racing Fairfields Fell race and the rest of us milled about either wandering into town and then on to some open water swimming in a very cold Buttermere, and the rest of us ended up getting lunch in Ambleside. Tea was curry (not wise pre race day!) and then a late night in the hostel drinking and chatting away – a very chilled day.

Sunday was race day.

Three of us had signed up for the 10km race at 10am.

Sunday morning came around. We went down to breakfast and checked the weather (and forecasts), got ourselves packed and ready and headed off to the festival village. Three racing, three spectating (this grew to 6 spectating the finish line which was awesome!).

We went down to the ferry to take us over to the start line – I was on the second boat as I’d had to rush round to the bag drop and I had been waiting for my mate at the hostel to get himself ready so we’d been later setting off.

Landing further up Derwentwater, the race wasn’t quite a ‘run back to the start’ but more of a run away and up, then back. I knew it was going to be a tough one as the race took us over Catbell’s Terrace. The sun was out, the weather was good and conditions under foot couldn’t have been better. I’ll admit I felt a bit nervous – I usually do. I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to fair either!

The race started and was pretty crowded, the first 4km the runners were all quite close as there was little room for over taking and a lot of walking uphill (I’ll put my hand up here and admit I was one of them) – for me, I could walk some of these climbs quicker than run them, and make up the time on the decent. And boy were those fun! The scenery was, without a doubt, worth the climbing today. The view from Catbells is one of my favourites anyway but despite it being hard, it was really enjoyable. I loved some of the more technical descents – and I think this is possibly the only area in running that I may actually be better than one of my mates at – and he is a far better runner than me!

The last 4-5km were a lot flatter than the first – but did include some tarmac and my feet let me know they were not happy about running on tarmac in trail trainers. I grinned and bared it until the route went back on to gravelly trail.

I even managed to run the finish line uphill and look fairly strong still – if the photos are anything to go by!

The organisation of this race was pretty spot on – I cant fault it, but if you don’t go to the festival, £38 can seem like a lot of money. I also made the mistake of ordering a medium tee for the finish as they were offering female specific tops – mistake right there. A small would have fit. Ah well.

Lunch became order of the day (after devouring post race pancakes and getting changed) so six of us walked into town, reflecting on time well spent and enjoying what was left of the weekend.

I feel I can sum up this weekend for me in seven words – Ate lots, drank lots, ran lots. Happy.

Cant ask for more than that!

 

The ‘Short and Nasty’ TT

It isn’t a secret that I don’t enjoy running. I find it hard to push myself to want to get better but I know that if I ran more and trained better – I would have better results. When it comes to cycling and swimming – I do not have these qualms. Most of the time. I also have found that I love a good TT.

Tonight’s TT was, to be blunt, both short and awful.

Six measly miles.

Six hilly miles.

4 miles of me wondering why I was there.

To drive to the wrong side of town to ride 6 miles. No wonder one of my mates didn’t rock up. I’ll be having words!

Either way – a baptism of fire. The first two miles were great, but if you go down, you have to come back up. I really have zero strength on the bike and really need to go ride some hills. It was a hard slog, although I had ridden 20 miles in the morning – one of my favourite routes that takes in my favourite TT too!

All the pain of cycling uphill was self rewarded with Guiness and chips and a bit of a natter – so all in all – not too bad an evening. My prediction on my time was pretty spot on too!

Roll on next week!

Alnwick Sprint Triathlon

Where to start?

At the beginning.

In the beginning there was…..

Haha ok maybe not. So it may have come to some people’s attention that North or ‘The North’ is my favourite place to be. More precisely – Northumberland. In fact the temptation to move there increases regularly. As a result it should come as no surprise that entering Alnwick Sprint Triathlon was a bit of a no brainer! I’d set a reminder on my phone – which didn’t work so originally missed out – until I spied over social media that some more places had become available as people hadn’t wanted them. Bingo! This was months ago.

Fast forward to the day before.

Accommodation was booked and sorted – I arrived in Northumberland in plenty of time. All good you’d thing – I was too early to go to my accommodation so decided to drive the bike route. Well what a BAD idea that was. I knew it wasn’t flat but argh – talk about putting the wind up myself. Undulating is a rather mild word for it! Either way – it was a scenic route but it did put the wind up me and result in some frantic texting! This kind of set the tone for the rest of the evening.

Stayed in my favourite village – Beadnell – at Farne Lodge – what a gem of a find! I’ll be back over the summer! Really nice rooms and didnt need breakfast so was more than happy – although a little gutted my mate couldn’t make it. In all honesty I had a bit of an emotional wobble about life which again was solved/helped by some conversations with mates and I snapped out of it.

I had some jobs to do work wise (I had taken laptop) so sat and worked through a bit of the to do list then headed over to the pub next door for tea and some Guiness – why not? I took a book and just sat chilling on my own – looking distinctly like billy-no-mates.

Netflix and bed.

RACE DAY!

My first triathlon in nearly a year. I really think I am one of the laziest racers in the club. Alarm went off, I hit snooze. I thought about moving and wondered how close I dare leave it before dragging myself out of bed and getting up. Ate some food – thought that was wise! Pulled on my trisuit and some trousers before loading the car and tootling off to Alnwick. The joys of knowing the area meant no worrying about getting lost and knowing exactly where I needed to be and how long it would take. Bonus points really.

Rocking up on my own was a bit novel. I HAD read the race pack re registration and the briefing but after liberating my race number and my bike and racking up in transition – someone kindly reminded me I needed to be at a race briefing! Perfect planning there.

Thankfully not before leaving my long sleeved jersey with my bike. I hate being cold on the bike. Even in a race.

Briefing done, Let the waiting game commence!

My swim wave was 8.30 – I’d put down 7:30 swim time when I entered which put me in the 5 wave – out of 7 or 8 so heading towards the top half. The wave in front – one lass was quite slow in finishing, leaving no time for any warm up so it was a case of straight in. After focusing on my form – I was annoyed that I forgot in for the first 150m. Then it clicked – higher elbow, more power, pull and relax – then things eased up and I managed to keep on the toes of the lad in front – I’d let him over take. Stopped my watch dead on last stroke – 7:19 thank you very much! I was over the moon.

Then I buggered up my watch. I use my watch in triathlon mode so little that I forgot how it worked – so trundled through transition with the full intention of keeping warm on the bike (so that could have been quicker…). It took me half a km to get my watch on to cycle mode but….

The bike had almost given me nightmares but there was no point in sacking it off – I needed to do it. Turns out though that as tough as it was – it wasn’t as bad as I expected. It was as undulating as it was scenic and in the end I was genuinely happy with my finish time – my average pace as 15.8mph which was better than I was expecting. My attitude on the bike is better than running – I seem to be able to push through the pain on the bike more than I do the run.

Talking of the run.- I faffed into transition – and as I set out on the run – remembered just how awful that heavy leg feeling is off the bike. I really should remember to do brick sessions. Either way – the run was four laps of the local secondary school – a long slow gradual uphill with a corresponding decent and in all honesty – once I got into it, managed to maintain somewhat reasonable pace for me, but I will admit I spent the last half an hour never wanting to do a triathlon again. I was properly miserable at one point! And so glad to see the finish line! At least the sun was shinning and. there was a good support crowd! The race photos are definitely amusing!

Of course after finishing – without having a support crew there, a flurry of texts went out with ‘I NEVER WANT TO DO A TRIATHLON AGAIN’. Obviously two hours later once normality had been restored I took most of this back!

Biggest worry now is actually getting enough training in for Holkham. Any chance I can take the next 7 weeks off work?!

Coniston 14 – PB!

It was a PB – just! Half marathon distance – 2:35:54 – official race time – 2:45:41.

Coniston 14 is a road run – around Coniston in the Lake District. It was this or Keilder Night Sky and I missed out on a place (my own fault) at Kielder. Regardless, Coniston 14 was going to be another solo road trip and another epic.

Alarm went off at 5.30, I hit snooze. Finally dragging myself out of bed, sorting kit, sorting the car and eating breakfast, I was out of the house for 7.10am. As is normal on such road trips, the music was loud, the mood high and second breakfast awaited at Scotch Corner Services. A routine/ritual that signals road trip!

I rocked up a little later than intended to Coniston – made things a bit more rushed than I would have liked but to be fair, there was only me to sort so wasn’t really a big deal. Parked up, got myself sorted, went to the loo, had a chat to some other ladies in the same queue and wandered up to the start line – still wandering up when the whistle went – although my plan was to start near the back and just plod it out.

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The course elevation for Coniston 14

I’ve decided I need to get more familiar with looking at the profile of races – this will become clearer in a minute. I was expecting the second half to be harder. In the car driving over, you drive part of the course and there was a little voice in the back of my head whispering ‘what the hell have you signed up for?!’ Undulating. That would be one word for it! Before the start there were a few frantic texts out to friends along the line of ‘arghhhh” and ‘wtf have I signed up for?’.

The first four miles – well. They were both awful and hard and great all at the same time. You only need to look at the elevation to see why but it was constant up and down – then it got better but for the first 4 miles I really did wonder whether I would make it round. My glutes started twinging (another reminder that I need to do gym work!) first. I really did worry.

Then suddenly I found a bit of run mojo and I found some sort of pace that was comfortable and I started to enjoy where I was and what I was doing. Wonders will never cease, and slowly the miles started to tick by. Don’t get me wrong, my feet were not particularly happy – but around the mile 9-11 mark, I had some really good chats with different people and at mile 10-13 I ran with a chap called Tim, another cyclist from Lyme runners who was selling his track bike – Coniston was his longest ever run – we walked a huge hill – see photo of the elevation, but ran back down and into Coniston – where I left him to get to the finish.

What did I learn though while running this course?

  • Running can occasionally be enjoyable. I could probably have pushed harder too.I need to run more hills – and do some strength work.
  • Tailwind Nutrition in my water (I wore a running vest – not many did but it was so worth it) – it’s awesome. Top running fuel – no bonking or major hunger pangs at the end – really impressed me – as I have mostly used it on the bike. No bad guts either.
  • I miss running races – I haven’t really done many for a while – but it was nice to be out with others running!
  • Local, smaller events are usually better (this isn’t anything I didn’t already know!).
  • The Lake District makes for fab races!
  • I can actually run a hilly half marathon.

Slightly sore and uncomfortable – all the marshals and the course were fab – lots of support and cheering – and possibly one of my new top fave races – although not knocking CTS Northumberland off its perch!

What was even better – I knocked about a minute of my half marathon PB – and on a hillier course (Brass Monkey = flat – but I had barely trained for it). I am really looking forward to Edinburgh half marathon now!

I just need to get the cycling sorted (my epic road trip home involved picking up a new bike….)

 

CTS Northumberland – Race Day Review

This is my all-time favourite race – and the only race I have done three times on the trot.

Coastal Trail Series Northumberland incorporated 4 different distances – 10k, Half Marathon, a Marathon and an Ultra and takes in the beautiful and scenic Northumberland coastline. It is so well organised and enjoyable that I keep coming back!

I drove up in the morning – as always, meeting my mate at the services and driving up in convoy. A cold and foggy start changed as we headed north and the sun burnt off the fog and the skies cleared. I always feel happy in Northumberland, although driving across from Beadnell to Bamburgh, I felt a bit choked up as memories from last year flooded back. I knew there was a bit of a risk this happening but on the whole, it was good to be back.

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The finish line flags

Parking up at the bottom of the Castle, walking up and registering, I was a little gutted that we weren’t inside Bamburgh Castle like in previous years (I later found out why – no Warden to let us in, and the stables were being converted into a bar!). The sun was glorious and as it was so mild – I decided to run in capri pants and t-shirt.

The briefing was long and thorough and because the buses were running late, I did get cold waiting to get bused to the start however, once down there and once running, I knew I’d be ok. It is genuinely the only time my mate has seen me smile before a run! Much to her amusement.

The start line was nearer the harbour this year (making the course 400m shorter with alterations to the finish line) but we didn’t have to wait as long on the start line to get going. I will point out now that anyone who has read recent blog posts or follows the Twitter feed, I spent two weeks very ill and did very little training for 4 weeks. Unlike last year where I actually trained! Regardless I wasn’t nervous, I just enjoy this race as a run.

We set off and my pacing wasn’t too bad. I know the area quite well and knew what to expect. People say running on sand/trail is harder – and it is, but somehow I seem to enjoy it more and run better. The first half of the race went well but there is always a but. After the checkpoint at Seahouses, I could feel the familiar feeling of burning on the ball of my right foot. By the 7k point I was really feeling it. I knew there would be a blister and I knew where I had gone wrong. I’ve been using Tri-slide (this is so much better than body glide) with my road trainers due to ongoing issues and didn’t need them with the socks I was using and neutral shoes. By 8k I was wishing I had a Shotblok or something just to eat, like last year. I don’t normally for this race but going at lunch time I was hungry by the time set off. What was most glorious about it though was just running the race, in the sunshine, in February in a t-shirt!

There was no major disasters or anything – I felt a bit sick – I was definitely working. The last 600m has always been horrific and nothing has changed. The race photos were actually pretty cool and I was smiling on them. I was glad to finish though – I always am!

The fish and chips with mates at the end was just the icing on the cake!