Monday, 15 September 2014

Yorkshireman Off Road Marathon

“You gotta beat the clock, you gotta beat the clock” 

That was the plan; to get around the course before my GPS watch conked out. Failing that, anything sub 6 hours was the aim. 

At the Hidden Howgills marathon in May, my watch stopped at 23.93 miles with 5h:49m:03s on the clock with an official finishing time of 6h:20m:05s. 

So how did I get on this time? 

Well, my watch decided to give up the ghost a bit earlier this time and stopped at 24 miles dead with 5h:24m:49s on the clock. My official finishing time was 5h:55m:28s. 

I didn’t beat the clock but I did get my sub 6 hour finish and knocked 25 minutes off my overall finish time. 

Very pleased with that.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

One of those days

Well what a palaver! The bus driver forgot to come and collect Biggest Girl this morning. It's a good job I was around to sort it out. Managed to get hold of the bus company and, luckily, they were able to divert another bus and collect her. Hopefully, it's just a one off.

Note: this is a bus stop in Threlkeld with some nice yarn bombing.  Our bus stop is not as pretty!

A work knitting buddy is leaving on Friday for pastures completely new. Can't say I blame them. Times are uncertain in local government these days. It certainly pays to have more than one string to your bow. Much better than being a one-trick pony.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Wednesday Wittering

Ach! I was vexed this morning on my way to work.  Vexed I tell you! It’s a little thing but one that really annoys me and it is this; why, oh why, oh why do numpty drivers on the motorway always persist in squeezing/barging into the gap in front of me when there is ABSO-BLOODY-LUTELY NOTHING behind me?  This means I have to slow down to avoid ramming them up the jacksy just because they are too impatient to hang fire for about 10 seconds until I have passed them. Grr! This should not nark me as much as it does seeing as it’s a fairly regular occurrence, only it does; it really, really does.  Makes me all grumpy for quite some time afterwards. 

On a lighter note, I did spot a peloton of cyclists on the A6 from the motorway flyover.  Wonder what was going on?  There was probably around 40 of them and no support vehicles in sight so probably not a race or anything.  Strange time for a club outing though at 9.15 on a Wednesday morning.

Grumpy demeanour was smoothed out somewhat after lunchtime Pilates session. It’s always a great way to relax although one of the leg exercises almost made my thighs explode today! Haven’t been to a session since before the summer holidays so I’m not as bendy as I was then. Maybe that explains the difficulty. Mind you, I’m not the only one ready for the knacker’s yard; there were quite a few creaking and cracking joints to be heard today.

Today is a rest day from running.  I was out Monday and Tuesday night.  Both took a lot longer time than the distance achieved really merited.  That’s the thing with running with a group; there is always a certain amount of fannying about; stops for photos, twisted ankles, calls of nature, road crossings, instructions, cows etc. etc. Next run is Thursday with the club ladies so I will be huffing and puffing at the back of the pack then.  As the year goes on, and the darker nights begin to close in, I wonder how the runs will go.  I think the Monday group run reverts to drills on the track when they relocate for winter training and everyone else takes to the roads rather than off road.  I’m not sure what to do.  I quite like running in the dark with a head torch so hopefully there may be some others that do as well. We shall see.

Race-wise, it’s the Yorkshireman Off-Road Marathon on Sunday.  I’m looking forward to it.  The last off road marathon I did was the Hidden Howgills back in May.  There was a lot more climbing on that one and it took me 6 hours and 20 minutes.  My watch ran out at 23.90 miles after 5 hours and 49 minutes.  So my aim this time is to finish the race before my watch conks out! That would be great.  Fingers crossed.
Yorkshire Off Road Marathon - course markers
Knitting wise.  I am on with some gloves for Biggest Girl.  I started them earlier in the year for myself and only finished one glove. She likes them and, now that she is catching the bus to school every day, she wants to keep her hands cosy. Fine by me.  I dug out the relevant bag containing the project in and almost had a heart attack when I found the most enormous spider hiding in there as well…shudder! It was a whopper! I managed to release it into the wild (by into the wild, I mean I shook it out of the bag and it charged off behind the coal scuttle). 

There has been some other stuff as well.  A second Animeko cat has been finished, a funky hat made for Littlest Girl (that was originally meant for me, but looked so much better on the girls that I gave it up!) and some chunky socks finished for himself. I have also managed to add another row of granny squares to the king size blanket I am making for my bed. This blanket is taking quite a while but I’m optimistic that it might be put to use this winter!

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Lakeland 50 - Tilberthwaite to Coniston

Refreshed and ready to tackle the final stage we set off and climbed up the dreaded Tilberthwaite steps. The lovely marshals had put coloured lanterns on each step so it was a very pretty clamber up them.

Then it is a bit of a steep climb up past the old quarry workings.  There's a heck of a drop into a ravine on one side of you so it's a bit hairy scary at night.  We were in the zone and power walked up and had no problems navigating to the right path.  It is quite easy to get lost up there.  As we reached the top, we could see the orange glow from the town below and we knew there wasn't much further to go.

Jane and I began to pull ahead.  I think she was as eager to get to the end as I was.  There were now plenty of people around but we called back to the others to check they were OK and then we pressed on.

It's a very steep and slippery descent down to the track near the Miners Bridge but we got down chatting away merrily.

"What do you think? Shall we try and run the last bit?" Blisters be damned I thought. "Let's go for it!"

So that's exactly what we did.  We started trotting and got into a rhythm and we were off.  We were passing people who were still walking.  We got a bit giddy and started whooping and giggling.

Onto a smooth bit of tarmac. Normally, I'm not a fan of road running but I can't tell you how lovely it was to have a nice bit of tarmac to run on.  We reached the pub and we were running up the road towards the finish.  It was the early hours of the morning and no traffic around so we just ran in the middle of the road.  Laughing and whooping like a pair of madwomen.

The final turn and we were careering down to the John Ruskin School and the finish gantry where people were waiting and clapping and cheering us on.  Himself was there in his orange Clayton Harriers sweatshirt. I waved and whooped some more.  There were two dibbers and we dibbed simultaneously making us joint 344th with a time of 16:13:51


Then you are escorted into the school hall where you are announced to the people there and clapped and cheered in.  Incredible.  One of the proudest moments of my life.

Lakeland 50 - Chapel Stile to Tilberthwaite

So I was now in a little group of 5 and we were off into the night.  A bit of a stay at Chapel Stile meant that I was no longer in a gap on my own and the line of head torches was now in full force.  It was an amazing thing to be a part of.

The rain had stopped but there was no point taking off the waterproofs.  I'd been quite hot wearing them and sweaty.  Removing them would have left me in a wet top and I would have got cold.  I just had to soldier on wearing them.

We headed up the valley and then climbed up to the pass before turning off towards Blea Tarn.  There's a tricky bit of navigation around here to get up to the road where there is an unmanned checkpoint that you have to dib into.  Fortunately, there is a light on it so you can see where you are heading to.  For some reason, the light always plays an optical trick on you.  It looks like it is miles and miles away and then all of a sudden you realise it's about 20 feet away from you!  Really strange.  The footpath through the bracken is a bit indistinct as well so there is lots of crashing around in the undergrowth going on until you make it to the road.

After that, it's a pretty easy stretch through to the final checkpoint at Tilberthwaite.  After following the road for a short while, we turned off and headed up and over.  Jane was feeling a bit off at this point and nauseous.  After a bit of retching she felt better and we decided that we would have a bit of a rest at the next checkpoint and try and get some proper food in her.

Tilberthwaite came into view. Another cheery marquee, aglow with fairy lights and, I think, my favourite checkpoint of all.  I had quite possibly the best cup of tea I've ever had in my entire life there and some jam butties.  Oh how delectable were the jam butties.  Like manna from heaven.  Jane had some too and some rice pudding as well.  I was busy hitting the haribos that were topped up while I was sipping my tea.  Jane and the others had a bit of a sit down. I didn't dare to sit down at that point for fear I wouldn't be able to get up again.

After a short time we were ready to get up and tackle the final leg over to Coniston and the finish. I made a mental note to put myself in front of the chaps in the group on this leg.  We were all quite tired at this point but they were getting a bit out of control with their walking poles and I'd almost been poked and smacked in the face a few times too many on the way over from Chapel Stile.

Lakeland 50 - Ambleside Parish Hall to Chapel Stile

Didn't eat anything at Ambleside but had some flat coke and topped up carb drink.  Another bustling checkpoint but a bit warm as it was indoors. As always plenty of really helpful marshals on hand to help out at the checkpoint. Waterproofs on and head torch on I headed out into Rothay park for the next leg.

At first the torch was on and off  but eventually it was on constantly.  I knew where I was going but have to say that the prospect of heading across a lonely bit of fell on my own wasn't great.  I'd expected to see lines of head torches bobbing along but at this stage there were none.  I think I was a bit too slow to have kept up with the decent runners and a bit too quick for all the power walkers and found myself in a bit of a gap in the middle. Oh well, I would just have to be intrepid.

I was power walking at this point. Just wasn't confident enough to run in the rain and dark at this point.  A couple of guys caught me up and overtook me fairly quickly.  Their packs and jackets reflected in my head torch reminded me of that old movie Tron. I felt in need of a bit of company so trotted along just behind them all the way over to Skelwith  Bridge.  They were very chivalrous and would hang on a bit for me at gates to make sure I was still there before carrying on. I was grateful to the "Tron Boys" to have someone to tag along with.

Once we got to Skelwith Bridge my confidence was back.  I know this part of the course really well and had hoped to make up a bit of time by running from here to the checkpoint. It's relatively flat here.  My feet, though, had other ideas and were beginning to hurt a lot.  I knew that there were blisters to be dealt with but decided to push on till Chapel Stile as there are comfy sofas there and I was looking forward to having some beef stew too.

I hobbled on.  Suddenly there seemed to be a lot of people around.  A poor chap was being sick extremely noisily but as there were plenty of people around I carried on.  Sadly it had gone past closing time so no happy drinkers left at the Wainwright Inn to cheer me on.  Through the campsite and there was the checkpoint.  Lit up with fairy lights and a fire pit/chiminea burning away.  I headed into the marquee, plonked myself on a sofa, took a deep breath and removed my shoes.

A lovely lady marshal brought me some stew and a drink, and my feet, while blistered, weren't as bad as I'd feared.  I got my fist aid kit out and applied some blister plasters and had a couple of painkillers.  A young chap on the sofa next to me was wrapped in a foil blanket looking defeated. He saw me doctoring my feet and asked me if I was packing it in.  I was shocked at this and said of course not, it's not that far to go now.  Poor lad had got cold, hungry and miserable.  Lots of people joined in the conversation and before he knew it, he was put into his waterproofs and scooped up by a group of chaps that promised to get him through.  I didn't see him again so fingers crossed, he made it to the finish.

I probably lingered a bit too long at this checkpoint but it was lovely there.  The next stage was to an unmanned checkpoint and is  very dark and slightly trickier navigationally than other bits of the course.  I wasn't looking forward to heading out on my own and began looking around for anyone else setting off to tag along with.  Happily, I spotted Jane, the lady I'd buddied up with on the way to the Kentmere checkpoint. This was great so I tagged along with her and a small group of pole wielding power walkers.

Lakeland 50 - Kentmere Institute to Ambleside Parish Hall

I like the stretch from Kentmere to Ambleside.  There's a climb up and out of Kentmere along the Garburn Path and then a nice runnable stretch over and down to Troutbeck.  I found myself on my own for a lot of this stage.

On the climb up from Kentmere was another 100 miler who was plodding along determinedly.  I passed him close to the top and trotted off towards Troutbeck.  A youngish woman was a bit in front of me but I was happy to trot along at my own pace and she gradually disappeared from view.  Rounding a corner, I caught sight of her again as she hit a fork in the path.  She looked like she was about to head off along the wrong fork so I bellowed "Turn Right" as loud as I could.  Didn't mean to give her a fright but she ended up slowing down and running along with me until we got into Troutbeck.

She left me behind again and I trotted on along Robin Lane bridleway on my way to Ambleside.  It was beginning to get a bit darker now and the first spots of rain began to fall.  I hoped to make it to the next checkpoint before I had to get my head torch and waterproofs out.  Protected by the cover of trees for much of this section, I didn't get too wet, although it was getting darker quite quickly now.

I was looking out for a signposted gate on the left and got a bit concerned when it was nowhere in sight.  I was beginning to think that maybe I'd overshot it and was heading in the wrong direction.  There was no one else around and I seriously considered turning back to see if anyone else was coming.  After giving myself a bit of a talking to and pulling up my big girl pants, I carried on and, wouldn't you know it, the gate appeared around the very next bend.  I knew where I was now and trotted along happily.

I was joined by a group of three 100 milers for a short time but as the rain came down a bit harder they stopped to get out waterproofs.  I carried on hoping to not have to get my head torch out until I got to the checkpoint.

It was pretty dingy running through Skelhyll woods but it's only for a short distance.  I took my time and hoped I wouldn't trip and fall on my way through.  Made it through and then I was heading into the centre of Ambleside.

Running through Ambleside was awesome.  Even though it was chucking it down, people were still out on the street clapping and cheering the runners as we passed through.  Someone clocked my Clayton Vest and shouted "Go Clayton" which was great.  I felt like a superstar and it was probably my fastest and best bit of running through the whole race. It was brilliant and I don't think I will ever forget it.

Up the main road, under the arch and past Ghyllside cycles.  I was at the Parish Centre before I knew it and dibbed in.

The rain was really lashing down now so it was decision time.  Waterproofs or not? Even though it was now dark and raining heavily, the temperature was still pretty high.  Waterproofs were looking increasingly sensible, but I knew that it would also be a bit boil in the bag. The next leg takes you up and over the back of Loughrigg and is a little exposed in places so I decided that waterproofs were my most sensible option.  I got my dry top on and added waterproofs over the top.  Oh man, I was hot but it was lashing it down out there.

Lakeland 50 - Mardale Head to Kentmere Institute

Arrived at Mardale Head.  Another busy and bustling checkpoint.

On the way around I thought I could hear a bell ringing.  There used to be a village in the valley called Mardale Green which was flooded when Haweswater reservoir was created in 1935. Most of the buildings were blown up by the Royal Engineers with the exception of the small church. The ruins of the abandoned village can occasionally be seen when the water level in the reservoir is low. For some reason, I had it in my head that this was the Mardale church bell.  It turned out to be a bell at the checkpoint rung for the arrival or departure of runners ( I think).

I rolled up with my arab scarf cloak wafting behind me and one of the marshals thought that the race needed a few more super heroes!  Made me smile. Once again plenty of helpful marshals on hand to sort you out.

I had planned to eat some sandwiches at this checkpoint but the heat had killed off my appetite somewhat.  I refilled and topped up my carb drink and forced down a ham sandwich and a handful of crisps. I also had a drink of flat coke which was wonderful.

You head straight up and onto the Gatesgarth pass from the Mardale checkpoint.  This had been a hellish climb on the recce in full sun on a hot day.  Fortunately, it was later in the day and the pass was in shade.  It was still hot but not as blisteringly hot as it can be. Hands on knees, huffing and puffing to the top again.

By this point I'd passed a few 100 mile runners still going and spoke a few words of encouragement each time I overtook them filled with awe.  I passed a couple more on the way up the Gatesgarth Pass.

Once at the top, it's a rough track all the way down through Long Sleddale to Sadgill. I'm not the best descender in the world but I knew this rough path was coming and I managed it a lot better than on the recce. At end of the long lane you turn off and head off up and over to Kenmere.

It was on this leg that I bumped into Jane and we ran and power walked along together to the checkpoint. I think we had probably been bumping into each other on and off all the way but we buddied up for a while here. The cameraderie is one of the best things about this race.  You can enter as a solo but there is always someone around if you need a bit of company or help with navigation.  Sometimes you stick together for a while, sometimes only for a few minutes. It's all very friendly.  Himself was long gone and that was OK; we'd entered as solo runners not as a pair and in any case he is miles faster than me. It would have been very frustrating for him to crawl along with me.  I knew that there would be plenty of people around and I was pretty confident that I knew where I was going.

At the end of the stage the route cuts across some fields and there are a few wall stills to get over in close succession which is when you really start to feel the strain of all those miles on your legs!  It's quite an effort to clamber up those things after 25 miles or so. We managed a respectable run  up the road to the checkpoint and dibbed in.

Pasta meal on offer here and I was ready for it.  I ate with gusto and then hit the fruit smoothies.  Oh how lovely they were.  I cadged a couple of strawberries and topped up my carb drink.  I was ready for the off.  Jane was still eating so I headed off as I wanted to get into Ambleside before dark.

Kentmere checkpoint is just over half way at 27 miles so getting there is great psychologically because you have less miles to go than you have already done.

Lakeland 50 - Dalemain to Howtown

It was hot.  Really, really, really hot.  Baking. Sweltering.

Off the coaches at Dalemain House and a bit of hanging around before the start.  100 Mile runners were coming through in a steady stream to cheers and applause from awestruck 50 milers.  They'd been on the go for around 17 hours at this point.  Amazing.

Eventually, we were all dibbed in and directed to the start line.  OMG it was soooooo hot.

We wore our Clayton-le-Moors Harriers vests and the official photographer spotted us.  He's from Sport Sunday event photographers that are based in Nelson, just up the road from us.  He'd clocked the Clayton shirts and wished us luck.
Team Olszewski at the start line of the Lakeland 50
And then we were off.  Off on a 50 mile run of a lifetime.

I don't know about you, but I am a rubbish starter.  It takes me a good couple of miles to get going so the initial loop around the grounds of Dalemain was hard.  It was hot, and slow going and lots of people were walking.  I'm sure I wasn't the only one wondering what the hell I thought I was doing there at that point. I managed a bit of a trot and then realised that I needed a wee.  Fortunately, we looped back past Dalemain House and the porta loos had no queue so I had a quick pit stop and then rejoined the hordes of people still going by.

The recce route had started at Pooley Bridge so the loop round the grounds and the short trip to Pooley Bridge were new to me. Fortunately, it was all pretty low level stuff so other than the heat it was quite a nice runnable stretch.

Passing through Pooley Bridge was great with lots of support from all of the holiday makers there and then we climbed up and out of the village almost to High Street before crossing the fell and dropping down to Howtown.  A great runnable stretch.  It was going well.  I'd had to estimate how long it would take to run the start loop and additional stretch to Pooley Bridge and, looking at my watch, I was pretty much on schedule and feeling good despite the heat.

Howtown Bobbin Mill was organised chaos.  It's the first checkpoint for the 50 runners and the field is still all quite close together at that point.  There were lots of big buckets full of lovely cold water and plenty of helpful marshals on hand to help you fill your bottles.  There were lots of goodies to eat to but I didn't really feel like anything at that point.  It was too hot.

I'd got plenty of carbohydrate and electrolyte drink with me.  I'd decided to have 500 ml of this between each checkpoint. I also had gels but just didn't really fancy gels in the heat.  I think I only had one of them in the whole race.

I dug out my arab scarf to tie around my shoulders.  I could feel the burn from the sunshine.  I wore this all the way to Kentmere like some kind of demented super hero but it seemed to do the trick.

Is it a bird?  Is it a plane?  No it's Padihamknitter in a silly scarf!
From Howtown it's the big climb up Fusedale (aka Death Valley in that heat!). I'd already decided that this was going to be a walk and my aim was to get up non stop at the best pace I could.  It was hands on knees, huffing and puffing and grim determination all the way to the top.

Once at the top, it's quite runnable. I just had to persuade my legs of jelly to get going again. It was a more of a shuffle to begin with but after a while I got going and into a better rhythm.  On the recce we'd overshot the turnoff going over the summit so I was keen not to do the same today.  I could see people ahead and I was sure they'd gone to far ahead.  They had.  I clocked the right path and peeled off to the right and downhill towards Haweswater.

I could see people looking over and heading back the right way. It's easily done.  The bracken had come up a massive amount since May's recce and it all looked a bit different at times but I carried on and eventually came to the footbridge and deer gate I'd been looking for.  It was going well. I'd struggled around the lake on the recce but I was feeling OK and made good progress on the single track path around the lake.

It's a long section and I was relieved to finally reach the Rigg.  After a small climb up and over it wasn't far to Mardale Head and my second checkpoint.

There was live tracking available online from the timing people but I'd signed up for additional updates to be posted to my Facebook timeline and Twitter Feeds. I wondered what they would be like.

Lakeland 50 - Off to Dalemain

Saturday morning arrived.

It was going to be a hot one.  We were up pretty early and headed to the showers.  There were a couple of portable shower blocks and there was a queue in front of one but not the other.  After enquiring, we found out it was because the hot water had failed and the showers in that block were cold. After waiting for a few minutes, it seemed so silly to be so wussy about a cold shower.  After all we were all about to run 50 miles in searing heat, we'd be begging for a cold shower later.  I pulled up my big girl pants and headed into the empty, cold shower.

It really wasn't that bad! Quite refreshing really.

This got us into the main hall in time to beat the breakfast queues and tuck into yummy bacon butties.  Catering on site was provided by a wonderful bunch of fund raisers called the Frilly Lillies who raise money to help send disabled children on adventure holidays at the Calvert Trust in Kielder.  They were amazing feeding everyone through the entire weekend and all through the night on the Saturday.  They raised £4000 for their charity.

Lots of last minute packing and repacking of race packs was going on.  Bought a new pair of sunglasses as it was promising to be a hot and sunny day. And we were ready (ish)

There was emergency/last minute registration and kit check for the later arrivals and then compulsory briefing for all of the 50 competitors.  Then onto the coaches for the journey to Dalemain House, the start point for the 50 race.

This was it.  It was really happening.

Lakeland 50 - Getting Ready to Go

Friday arrived.  It was time to head up to the John Ruskin School (aka Race HQ) to register and get ready for the Lakeland 50. Girls and ageing, stinky dog were dropped off for a weekend with my parents and off we went.

Camping for a couple of nights on the school playing field is included in your race fee so we packed up the tent and headed up to Coniston.  We were quite early arriving it seemed and were shown to a decent spot on the field relatively close to the buildings but not too close to the porta loos.  We pitched the tent and headed into the main building for kit check and registration.

Stupidly, we'd spent ages packing and repacking our race packs to get everything in and have it all organised "just right" only to have to get everything out again for inspection.  Once compulsory kit is checked a cross was drawn on the back of your hand with a marker pen and you could proceed to pick up your race number and goody bag.  Number collected, you moved on to get your timing tag.  Finally, you are weighed and, unfortunately, your weight is written on your race number for all to see.  At least it was in kilograms - I don't really get kilograms - so not as bad as stones and pounds!

Tagged, numbered and weighed.
When we finished registering and went back to the tent, the camping field had filled up completely.  It was like a festival or something.  One or two clubs had banners up, and there was a pleasant buzz around the place. We could take it easy for a while and we were looking forward to watching the 100 milers set off at 6.00pm.  We knew a couple of competitors taking part so we wanted to give them an encouraging cheer at the start.

After a live performance of Nessum Dorma was performed at the start line by tenor Alexander Wall. There's a back story for this which you can read about here if you want to know more! They were off.  Led out by Richard Bardon up the road and through Coniston.  The road was lined with people cheering them on and then they were gone.  Off on a journey of 100 miles.  Possibly on the go for 2 nights.  Incredible.

A short while later, there was a 1 mile race to Lake Coniston and back for the children that were in attendance.  All ages from tiny tots to teenagers having a fantastic time. Possibly some future running stars in amongst them, who knows?

A chippy tea and a quick pint and then we turned in for the night. We'd been a bit concerned about such a busy campsite but we needn't have worried.  It was pretty peaceful and we had a good night's sleep.

Roll on Saturday.

UTLD 2014 - Entering the Lakeland 50

That's the Ultra Tour of the Lake District for those of you not already in the know.  It's an ultra distance race of either 100 or 50 miles in the Lake District. More information can be found at the Lakeland100 website if you want all the details.

I first came across this race when we were camping at Bays Brown Farm this time last year.  When we were checking in at the farmhouse, the farmer's wife was having a bit of a hissy fit because her phone line was down after a thunderstorm in the days before and the general lack of a mobile signal.  She told us that she was expecting around 1000 runners through the farm over the next day or two and didn't want to be incommunicado. Sounded intriguing.

We ended up seeing the leader of the 100 mile race coming through the site and at the local pub (the Wainwright) watched many, many weary runners passing through.  We clapped and cheered them all. They had names on their race numbers so we cheered them individually as well.  It was fabulous.  At this point I was only about 6 months into my running journey.  I'd graduated from the  c25k (Couch to 5K) program and was out running about 3 times a week. I watched all the runners come through and I wanted desperately to do it myself.

A week or so later himself and I were back in the lakes for a week on our own.  The girls had jetted off to sunny climes for a week with the grandparents. We'd researched the race and had pretty much decided to give it a go.  We'd downloaded the roadbook and we started to recce the bits of the course near to where we were staying. We even ventured further afield and had a look at the dreaded Fusedale ascent.  We were hooked.  It was on.  We were going to give the 50 mile race a go.

Ulp! Typical me.  Never do anything by halves.  First race I ever entered turned out to be a 50 mile ultra marathon!

Opening day for entries came along. Sunday 1st September 9.00am.  We were both at the computer, debit cards in hand, and waiting for the clock to strike 9. It struck, we clicked on the pay button and held our breaths.  Would we make it and get a place. YES! Confirmation we were both in.  Much jubilation followed as we followed the comments on the Lakeland 100 Facebook page.  It sold out within 3 hours.  There was much sadness from those that weren't able to get a place. How lucky were we?

Erm.... the only thing was I certainly needed to do a bit of training.  Don't think I'd even run 10 miles at that point. I decided to take it gradually and found the Lakeland 100 sister site, Trail 26 and entered a 10k (Rivington - Nov), a half marathon (Grizedale - Feb) and a marathon (Howgills - May).  Also went along to both recce dates for the 50 mile route.  I joined a running club and had a go a few local fell races as well (Aggies Staircase, Great Hameldon Hill Race, Reservoir Bogs, Trawden Trail Race) and got out and about on my own around Pendle when I could.

I was about as ready as I could be....bring it on!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014


Few things on the go at the moment

1. Never ending socks.  These purple socks have been lurking in my handbag for ages. They were intended to be a birthday pressie for a work pal but that has long gone by and so the sense of urgency has gone too.... naughty knitter. I need to pull my socks up (did you see what I did there?)
Never ending socks

2. Sweater for Big Girl. Now this is progressing nicely. I'm using a new yarn by King Cole called popsicle which is slubby and bumpy looking. 
Sweater WiP
I really liked the look of it and even went with the colour way on the pattern.  It's for Big Girl but I think Little Girl has her eyes on it too on account of the pinkness.

2. Baby Blanket. Another impulse project. Saw this knitted up at Sheila's Woolshop and thought it was gorgeous. As it happens a work colleague is expecting and the baby flavour is unknown so I thought this pattern in a stylish silver would be great whatever gender the baby turns out to be. It's instructions only, no chart, so there is a heck of a lot of counting which makes this a bit trickier than I thought. I have to take my time and pay attention to avoid mistakes. Really must learn how to count!
Baby Blanket in progress
Close up of pattern

Half term hanging out in the shadows

Blessed with another break in the incessant rain the girls and I headed out into Padiham on foot for a change. A lovely sunny day again.  Best not get too used to this because it probably won't last too long. Lots of shadows today. 
Massive puddles beginning to disappear hopefully 
Blue skies at last
A rare traffic-free moment
Fallen trees by the river
Shadows on the railway bridge
House shadows on the houses
Our shadows
Lovely. Let's hope we have some decent weather in the spring.

Grizedale Forest

My biggest race so far is coming up. A trail half marathon on the 23rd Feb in Grizedale Forest.

So far I have only run in a couple of 10k races. Rivington in November and then the East Lancashire Hospice 10k race in Great Harwood. Both went ok but it's time to move up a notch.10k is 6.2 miles and the half marathon is a little over double the distance at 13.1 miles. I have been upping my long runs and even managed 21 miles a couple of weeks ago so I am confident that I can get around the course.

The forecast for Sunday was excellent - a promised jewel of a day amid the rainiest winter on record - definitely not to be wasted. A picnic was packed and we headed up to Grizedale forest for a walk and a chance to check out the race route as well. Plus we had just got the girls all kitted out for winter walks so it was about time we road tested it all!
Fully kitted out for winter walking
It was glorious. Sunny and dry with fabulous views of snow topped lakeland peaks.
Fabulous view in Grizedale Forest
Just heavenly
Came across one or two random signs. Amusing but incomprehensible....
There was nothing to look down at - we were on the flat!
Unless it means keep looking at that spectacular view!
Err... your guess is as good as mine
We managed to cut a corner and only did 10 miles instead of the full 13 but I don't think the girls were too upset about that. This was the first long walk in quite a while so there was a fair amount of moaning and complaining going on!

A brilliant day out with awesome views, brilliant weather and a respite from the gloom of January.  Just hope we get similar weather on Sunday for the race. Fingers crossed.

January, sick and tired, you've been hanging on me

Oh it was just a big old washout.  It just seemed like a constant barrage of rain and storms.  At least I am fortunate enough to live at the top of a hill so no flooding around these parts unlike the poor folk down in Somerset and the South West.

On the plus side, I did make a few bits and pieces;

Ripple crochet scarf - present for a work colleague
Slouchy socks for my mum
Groovy Girlfriend Earwarmer  also for my mum
Birthday socks for Big Girl's Friend "E"
Myboshi hats for the girls with MASSIVE pompoms!
It was that rainy and miserable.  We didn't get out anywhere in January.

Did go along to the Lakeland 50 recce/night run though.

Total miles running: 71.4
Total Hiking: 14.89

Thursday, 6 February 2014

A new sensation

It’s time to ‘fess up and face the facts. It’s no secret that knitting and I have been growing apart over the last year, the lack of posting on here is evidence of that, so it’s time to own up. There is a new pastime in my life. An exciting and adventurous one that is hogging all my spare time and keeping me away from the needles and the hooks. Don’t get me wrong, I still love knitting and crochet but I just can’t stay away from this new passion. It’s not the knitting and crochet….. it’s me.

A bit of background. Knitting/crochet and I have been rubbing along nicely together for the last  decade.  At the beginning it was all so fresh and new, and, I might add, a little exciting as well. I couldn’t get enough. Yarn, needles, hooks, more yarn, new skills, Ravelry, more yarn, hours reading about it on the internet, more yarn… well, you get the picture.  But like most things in life, gradually the thrill died down until it was barely a flicker.  It had become a comfy, non-thinking trundle.
I gave up smoking 3 years ago and my sedentary lifestyle and middle age combined to develop the dreaded spare tyre. Oh yes middle age spread and maybe a mid-life crisis as well. Who knows… What I do know, is that I was invited to my local surgery for a health check-up (as I am now officially middle-aged)  where all my vitals were checked. All was good. Blood pressure fine, cholesterol low, blood sugar normal, even had bone density checked and that was good too. I was feeling rather pleased with myself until the doctor weighed me and the “O” word was uttered. You know the one, the one that grabs all the headlines, the one that is an impending health disaster for the western world. Yep, she told me that I was OBESE!

I was horrified. Something needed to be done. I moaned and groaned and whined about it. I got upset and I got a little bit downhearted about it. Then my plain-talking, no-nonsense husband got fed-up with my constant harping and suggested that I put on my big-girl pants and do something about it. So I had a bit of a think and the 100 mile challenge began.  January 2013 – walk 100 miles in a month. I walked a little bit most days and threw in a few longer walks when I could.120 miles in the bag! I was so pleased with myself and as an added bonus my spare tyre was beginning to shrink. My waistbands were slightly looser.  I was feeling better.
Walking is quite time consuming and so himself suggested running as an alternative. Running! Me? Seriously? It wasn’t something I’d ever really considered. I was full of excuses. My knees are bad, my boobs are too big, I’ll look silly, I am too old…etc. It was a lot like the excuses you come up with when you are thinking about giving up smoking ( I LIKE/ENJOY smoking, it calms me down, I am bad-tempered if I can’t smoke, I won’t be told what to do….etc). Hmmm… if I can overcome those feeble excuses then surely I could overcome my running excuses. So I did some research and discovered C25k.

C25k or, couch to 5 kilometres, is an introductory running program. It takes around 8 weeks to complete.  You begin with a mix of walking and running and progress until you can run for half an hour by the end of the program. Feb 2013 and I began the program. It’s a nice easy start.  I think most folk could do it. I stuck with it for the full program. 3 times a week following the plan – I repeated some weeks if I needed to -  and then before I knew it I could actually run for half an hour.  Without stopping. Blimey…. I was an actual, bona fide runner. Me! Yes, me! Oh and by this time I was over a stone lighter as well.
I was growing rather fond of this running malarkey. It was beginning to fill my mind with possibilities and I found myself looking forward to our sessions. I was beginning to spend internet time pouring over running gear, blogs and maps instead of Ravelry and Knitty. It made me feel a bit guilty… forlorn half knitted socks made me feel ashamed of myself. Even dark nights/mornings and rain didn’t deter me….it was another excuse to indulge my running habit by researching and buying a headtorch and waterproofs. It was all lumens and battery life and hydrostatic heads and taped seams…. What happened to merino and sock yarn and Kitchener stitch!  Argghhhh

And now, it’s getting a little out of hand. Races. But not just any races, oh no! Parkruns and 10ks just weren’t enough for me…. I have my eyes on ultra distances. A 50 miler is coming up in the summer and I have entered. I will be taking part in the UTLD The Lakeland 50. A 50 mile race through the Lake District. I am ridiculously excited by this and looking forward to it immensely. Training is underway and I will be doing a half marathon race in Grizedale Forest at the end of the month. Got a full trail marathon planned for May and will try and fit in a few runs around the Yorkshire 3 Peaks as well before the big day in July.
Grinning like a madwoman even after 21 miles!
So there you find me…I am still knitting/crocheting but at a much lesser rate. Something I fit in when I’m not out running.