Blue Runnings

Race Reviews, GPX files and more from North-East England

A Scenic End to a Busy Week!

on 7 June 2015


Looking at my MapMyRun dashboard, and my stars calendar, you could be forgiven for thinking I haven’t really done much this week.

week 1 june

In reality, this has been one of the most active weeks I’ve had in a long time – from what I guess would count as a ‘strength’ workout perspective if I had any idea how to book it as such. June is normally the time of the 3 day annual boiler shut at work, and it’s all hands on deck on the papermachine for maintenence work – and with a very unusual amount of work to do this year, we had an extra day and were due to start up on Thursday lunchtime after shutting down Sunday night. So, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were spent changing 300 shower nozzles (some of them in arm-aching positions and orientations!), and heaving bits of filter and buckets of powder stuff about the place. And stairs. So many stairs. Not exactly an inactive couple of days right?!

Thursday we were due to start up about lunchtime, so I spent the morning shifting tanks around and shovelling rubbish in a last minute the-machine-is-down-quick-swap-this-over activity, and then something went bang rather spectacularly in the switchroom just as we were starting to think about starting up. Going to be down several hours, waiting for parts, blah blah blah, I’m not waiting for that and I can’t help as I’m not a sparky, so I headed home for 5pm intending to go back in for the start-up whenever that happened to be. Had a phonecall from the crew leader – parts were due about 8pm, so start-up expected around 11pm, so I didn’t bother going to bed for a nap – as it happens they were running ahead of schedule so I went in for 22:20 expecting to be in about 2 hours then could head home and crawl into my quilt tube and away with the faeries.

The start-up itself went fine, all kit turning and present and correct, except that not all the sheet was there…turned out we had a blockage, so had to shut down, isolate, pull things out, move things round, ladders, wheels, remove blockage, crawl along things, put things back, deisolate, start machine up again. All fine right? Except there was another blockage. Repeat above. Then another blockage. Try something slightly different to clear. Another blockage. Really want to cry at this point. Hand over to day shift for the last heave-ho (and fortunately it was the last and they were away) and get home at 8am Friday morning having been awake 27 hours and seen three 6, 7 and 8 o’clocks in a row without any pillow time in between them!

Knackered does not even begin to cover it. Not wanting to ruin my weekend by sleeping through all the times I could be watching the world go by, I set my alarm for midday and got about 4 hours interrupted sleep before I dragged myself up at 12pm. The Bounders Pasty Run on Friday night which I was quite looking forward to, was out – there was no way I was in any state to be running 6 miles and getting home in one piece! One very inactive afternoon and evening, and a sleep-of-the-dead night later and it was Saturday and I was functioning almost like a normal human being again. I was not however quite ready to face Blackhill ParkRun.

We had a quiet Saturday – we drove up to Seahouses so P could get some driving practice before his test, and just for a quiet pootle along the beach. It was really windy but so peaceful – the sea several shades of blue and the wind blowing up dust devils in the loose sand. We nearly had the beach to ourselves, and could see out to the Farne Islands and Lindisfarne in the distance.


Sunday was a bit more active – X and I have been walking Hadrian’s Wall in chunks, starting last year so we can do it on odd days at weekends rather than taking a full week off for it. We walked three legs out of the six we’d sectioned it off into last year, and had another three to do this year – a 10 mile and two monster 20 miles to tick off the full route. Not wanting to bite off too much for our first walk in a while, and also not wanting to risk doing too much before Liverpool next weekend (AAAH!), we opted for the 10 mile for this leg and walked from Housesteads to Chesters Fort at Chollerford.


I think this was the second most populous leg we’ve done so far for actually seeing bits of the wall – the most being Housesteads to Birdoswald. We saw only a short stretch from the Robin Hood Inn to Chester’s Fort, and none at all when we ticked off the extreme end from Bowness on Solway to Carlisle (though we did find many teashops and icecream which made up for it!). The views were fantastic, though the wind for the first half before we dropped off the hills was rather bitter! I was glad I’d packed my windproof jacket, though I didn’t need more than a vest top under it to be warm enough – while moving I wasn’t actually cold though I think X was regretting not putting long johns on under her many layers!


The terrain for much of the first half was not dissimilar to the above picture – following a wall (some of it Hadrian’s, some of it dry stone as above) with a rather sharp drop on the other side – and though I don’t think we actually walked over the hill in the distance in this particular case, we’ve crossed several like it and bigger going from Housesteads in the other direction. We were very lucky to make it through the great crowds of people and animals at the infamous ‘Busy Gap’!


I really enjoyed this leg and would probably do it again – being neither too far away nor too hilly, it’s got some of the great views that the Housesteads to Birdoswald leg was amazing for, without the tougher terrain that went with it! X and I were both feeling pretty smug as we crossed the hills at the start of the leg – as we were both able to keep chattering on even while climbing the hills, where last year we we both so out of puff going up and down some of them that for some stretches we hardly said two words together! All this pootling about must be doing me some good somewhere.

There was only one small blip – my shoes, I’d worn my walking boots (duh!), because they were the most logical for the terrain but also because I am going for a hiking weekend in Ireland in July and will not be anywhere near any places I can get different shoes or extra socks, or even easy buses if I need to bail because I’ve ruined my feet – and I want to get my tactics queued up now! I’d worn a thick pair of hiking socks out, and taken two pairs of regular thinner socks in my bag if I wanted to change over. At about 6km, the balls of my feet were starting to feel like the weave of the socks was pressing into them – not quite a blister, more like the pacing had pushed the fabric into my feet. I changed over to the double-layer thinner socks, and it didn’t make it any better, but it also didn’t make it any worse.

I’ve had the same problem when running at about the same distance covered, and it went away when I changed to my trail shoes or new Glycerins, so I have suspicions that it’s something related to my insoles and not enough padding. It was particularly bad when we hit the concrete roadside paths heading into Chollerford at the end and if I’d had to walk much further on the harder surfaces I’m not sure I would have coped! I’m going to look for some new padded insoles and then try them again – maybe walk to Gibside which is about 10km from here, and back to confirm I’ve got them sorted before I go to Ireland – and then I can try the same thing in my old trainers. I’ve seen the foot-shape moulded insoles at Sweatshop, but at £30 a pair I’m a bit nervous about trying them – X has been using the same pair she got 6-7 years ago in 4 pairs of hiking boots and they’ve been spot on, so they might be worth it 🙂 We shall see…

I forgot to stop my GPS watch until we were on our way back to Housesteads in the car (one at each end) so it looks like I suddenly got super quick at the end of the pacing graph! I’ve been able to change the distance and duration, which changed the average pace, for the total session – so I’ve not been credited with an extra 5km I just sat in the car for, but it’s not taken it off the graphs or the map. Nevermind!

hadrian's walk


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