Summer Round Up: You win some, you lose some!

Before I head off into the autumn and commence a new year of challenges and events, I need to just tie up the loose ends of the summer. So a quick summary and a large photo gallery to keep the record up to date.

July: Lakeland 100

In July I tried and failed to repeat last year’s Lakeland 100 success. I started the race with doubts in my head about my ability to complete (see previous post)….and that was the end of the story really! I started strong and felt good up to Wasdale Head, then I got some foot niggles, rubbed a blister, and my world caved in. I decided that this year was not my year, and although I dropped out at Braithwaite, I gave up the race on the climb up Black Sail pass. I had neither the heart nor the head to continue.

For me, this is about challenge and enjoyment, so I am happy to admit defeat if things are not going well on the day…it really isn’t the end of the world if occasionally you can’t make it to the finish line.

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Lakeland 100 Legends

I made the most of a bad situation and went from Braithwaite to Pooley Bridge to cheer on my friends and then waited at the finish line to cheer them in. This was an incredibly satisfying and enjoyable way to spend the remainder of my weekend, and as each of them completed and received their round of applause, my enthusiasm and motivation to come back next year and to try again grew! They are all inspirational legends, and I’m back in for 2015!

August: UTMB TDS

Me & Leigh at the start

Me & Leigh at the start

It was my second visit to Chamonix and the UTMB. Last year I completed the CCC. This year I was tackling the TDS. After last year’s shock at the CCC, at least I had a fair idea of what I was in for. I appreciated that some climbs would take 3 or even 4 hours. I understood the terrain would be difficult, and that it was likely to be the hardest challenge I had faced to date, but I never contemplated that I would not finish.

The TDS was all of the things I had anticipated, but I had forgotten the beauty of the surrounding countryside. The TDS course, in my opinion, was more beautiful, more stunning, more extreme in every sense than any previous experience, and this oversight worked to my advantage because I truly enjoyed the event as a result.

It would be a lie to say that I loved every second of the 30 hours it took me, but I genuinely did take a huge amount of pleasure from the experience.

I’m no good at race reports, and this is a memory jogger for myself, so I’ve just posted below the photos I took on route, and a link to a video taken by my pal Leigh who sums up the challenge nicely. Next year I’ll enter the ballet for the UTMB.

Leigh’s Video
Leigh completed in around 26 hours

Photographs I took along the way

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Change is the law of life…

It’s been 2 months since I last posted and so much has happened during this time. My life has undergone major upheaval. The life I’ve known for the last 20 years has gone and I am still trying to figure out what the new version looks like. All of this upset has impacted on life’s equilibrium and the balance I always struggled to maintain has sometimes been lost.

I’ve shifted between the extremes of feeling guilty about not spending enough time with loved ones, to guilt that I am smothering them; guilt that I have neglected running, and guilt that I have made running the priority above all else; feelings of happiness and moments / hours / days of sadness; a sense of progress, then a sickening sense of failure. I am topped full to the brim with guilt and emotion, so what can I do? I’ve had to run.

Every cloud has its silver lining and mine is that the changes in my life have resulted in me living, temporarily, in Abergavenny in the shadow of the Black Mountains on the days when I am not in Cardiff working. I’ve done lots of living life in the great outdoors and have run, walked and biked at every opportunity. But I am injured at the moment and craving a run from my door up to the summit of the Sugar Loaf. But I have to rest and let things heal. The Lakeland 100 is just 4 weeks away. I am not sure at this time whether I will be on the start line.

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I completed the Valley’s 100 at the end of May in horrendous conditions that led to a 50+% drop out rate, but it’s taken a while to recover. Physically my recovery was quick, but my motivation was lost in a bog somewhere above Nantyglo and I’ve spent the last month pretending to run, but if I am to be honest with myself, I have jogged to a view point, usually around 5 miles into a 25 miler, sat down in the sun shine, lost hours while watching the view, then trotted back to the car. I’ve done this in the Beacons, the Costwolds, the Black Mountains, the Malverns, and managed to cover just 104 running miles since late May bank holiday weekend…most of those miles were also probably walked. So despite spending days outdoors, I’m not sure I’ve maintained my fitness let alone built on it, and I fear that my ambitions for the L100 and the TDS may already be scuppered.

Now I am injured. It feels a bit plantar fasciitis ish, but I’m trying not to pay it too much attention in the hope that a week off, a tennis ball and a rolling pin will fix it. I’m feeling confident.

Any shorter runs have been few and far between too. I’ve lost all routine. I carry my kit with me back and fore to work every day, but it rarely sees the light of day. I may have to dig out that couch to 5k training plan.

But I am writing this now as a resolve to get back into the routine, and as soon as my heel allows, to feel fit enough to think about the Lakeland 100.

4 weeks and counting….

Getting results

I made a last minute decision to enter the Black Mountains Roundabout this weekend. After bailing out on several events that I’d entered so far this year because of a loss of eventing mojo, I entered the BMR on a whim and managed my best time on the course in 4 years, and was 2nd lady home (unconfirmed), probably in the top 10 overall (also unconfirmed). The event is very LDWA ish so it’s all about the taking part rather than your finish time and position, and so these positions are estimated from information coaxed out of the laid back Marshall’s who checked me in at the end.

I completed the 25.5 mile, 7500 ft ascent course in 6hrs 45min, previous best time was 7:07 back in 2011 when I was 3rd lady home.

BMR Stats

BMR Profile

This year I put the improvement down to the time I’ve spent running with friends who have pulled me along at a faster pace that I would have sustained myself. I’ve not really struggled to maintain their pace, but it’s made me work harder than I would have otherwise and it’s obviously doing me some good.

I’ve had some good quality training trips in company recceing the valleys 100 course, and last weekend up in Snowdonia checking out a smaller than planned section of the Paddy Buckley Round. Smaller than planned because on day one (Capel Curig to Llanberis) the sun was shining and we took ages stopping to enjoy the views, then we stopped half way in the pub…..you get the picture. Day 2 (Llanberis to Capel Curig) was really bloody hard so we went a lot slower than anticipated. Significant corners were cut, and modifications made to planned routes!

The emphasis has been firmly on enjoyment and pleasure, rather than the ‘train hard race easy’ approach adopted by many. I just want to be out on the hills, running in good company, having a good laugh! That plan is on track so far….next week, the Malvern Ultra.

Pics from PBR recce…

Day 1….

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Day 2….

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Long weekends of training

It’s been a while since I posted last. My contribution on social media has generally dipped because I’m a bit fed up of posting ‘look at me’ type statements. But I’ve been training, not hard, because I’ve loved every run I’ve set out on, but well. I’ve been successfully training and I think I’m in pretty good shape.

I’ve binned all events I’d signed up to over the last few months, forgotten about miles and speed and I’ve just been out on the hills most Fridays and Saturdays enjoying the outdoors. As a consequence of just getting out, my mileage has been very healthy, I think my fitness has improved and I’m completely loving the running.

I’ve had a trip to the Lakes covering around 50 miles, a trip to the beautiful Elan Valley where again I covered around 50 miles and last Friday I ran the best part of 40 miles to recce the final section of the LDWA Valley’s 100 route. This weekend it’s off to Snowdonia to cover the Paddy Buckley Round over 2 days.

It’s been a great couple of months. Spring has arrived, the days are long and sunny, and all I want to do is run!

Some pics of last weeks recce….such a smashing day out….

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Thanks to Tracy, Simon and Sean for another great day out and for your photos…I nicked all of these off you🙂

V100 Recce

Got round in 8 hours 50 minutes…haven’t completely ditched the Suunto yet!

 

February Lakes Visit

I got the opportunity to get up to the Lakes this weekend for a long overdue visit. I ran over two days from Ambleside to Wasdale where I stayed overnight then came back along the reverse Lakeland 100 route.

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I enjoy running with friends, but sometimes you can’t beat being on your own to soak up your surroundings and appreciate the beauty of a place. I spent the two days singing and dancing my way around the fells, taking lots of time to just stop, look and enjoy.

Photos below in chronological order taken on route…beautiful and exhilarating couple of days that will see me through the next month, until I return…

Langdale… 

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Below Great end…

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Dropping down into Wasdale…

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Wasdale Head Inn…

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Pillar, Kirk Fell, Great Gable…

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Why you singing so out of tune lady….?

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Beautiful Burnmoor Tarn…

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The Scafell Range…

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Sarah the Explorer

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I went exploring today. I had a recovery run to do and ended up weaving through country roads to Llanbradach and the edge of my map! Then I headed up to Eglwyslian Common and along the Ridgeway, taking in a tiny section of the Valleys 100 route. Most of it was new territory and finding new routes always makes a run more enjoyable. ‘T was a nice day for it.

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15.7 miles, 2447 foot of ascent