Blue Runnings

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

Races Under a Tenner

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It’s easy to get carried away with signing up to every race that dangles the promise of a medal and a banana under your nose when you’re running. For 2020 I’m attempting not to spend the same ridiculous amount of money on race entries as I did in 2019 – particularly as I didn’t manage to make it to half of them which stung doubly!

As part of my ‘Shoestring Challenge‘, I’ve set myself a limit of entering only races which are not more than £10 with an Athletics Association membership, and including travel should cost me no more than £15 – I can only go to races further than 18 miles from home if the race entry is proportionally under £10. I’m not likely to be earning many medals, but I’m looking forward to going to many new places!

Below is the list of all the races I have come across in the North-East to date. If I have completed them, either this year or previously, and written a race review this will be hyperlinked with the date, and the race entries where possible will be linked in the race title. Some event links may be to previous year’s – I will update when I find the 2020 information has gone live.

If a cost or date has a (?) after it, this is based on last year’s date/entry fee and will be updated when I find more information.

All Year and FREE

parkrun – 5k – various locations – it wouldn’t really be a list of cheap events without this on here somewhere?! My locals are Blackhill and Gibside

Great Run Local – 5k – various locations – Gibside is the closest to me

Trust 10 – 10k – Cragside, Rothbury (other locations in the country but this is the only one currently in the North-East)

EXPLORING! There are a huge number of marked up local paths and routes, as well as the opportunity to find your own either by stealing other people’s from hiking sites, discovering your own from Ordnance Survey maps and similar, or just taking that random path you’ve always wondered where it heads off to.

January

12/1     South Shields Winter Trail Series – 5k – South Shields – RunEatSleep – £6 (on arrival)

February

2/2       South Shields Winter Trail Series – 5k – South Shields – RunEatSleep – £6 (on arrival)

17/2     Run Newcastle Valentine’s – 5k – Newacstle – Run Nation – £10

March

1/3       South Shields Winter Trail Series – 5k – South Shields – RunEatSleep – £6 (on arrival)

1/3        Run Durham Dalton Park – 5k – Run Nation – Murton – £8

21/3      Town Moor Cow Bell – 5k – Newcastle – Newcastle University – £5

22/3      South Shields Winter Trail Series – 5k – South Shields – RunEatSleep – £6 (on arrival)

29/3      Temple Park – 5k – South Shields – RunEatSleep – £7.50

April

22/4     Neptune Relays – 1.7M 4 person relay event – Sedgefield – Sedgefield Harriers – £10ea

26/4     Terry O’Gara Memorial – 5k – Wallsend – Wallsend Harriers – £9(?) if booked before 31/1

30/4     Cockfield Chase – 7km – Bishop Auckland – Durham Fell Runners – £5(?)

May

9/5       Raby Races – 5km – Raby Castle – Teesdale AC – £10

June

28/6      High Force Trail Race – 16.9km – Forest-In-Teesdale – Durham Fell Runners – £5(?)

28/6      FACT North East Cancer Run – 5k/10k – Swalwell – FACT – £10 for either distance

July (seriously, how many things to do are there in July?!)

5/7        The Cross Fell Race – 24km – Garrigill – Garrigill Community – £8

14/7      Chapelfell Top – 7km – Bishop Auckland – Durham Fell Runners – £5(?)

21/7      Cock Crow – 5k – Hebburn – Jarrow & Hebburn AC – £10

26/7      Temple Memorial Park – 5k – South Shields – RunEatSleep – £7.50

(?)        Castle Eden White Wolf Run – 5k – Peterlee – Run Peterlee – £8(?)

(?)        Willow Miners Trail – 5.3M – Elvet Striders – Durham – £7(?) – 2019

(?)        Bottom’s Up Cup – 5k – Washington Running Club – Washington – £8(?) – 2015, 2016

(?)        Red Kite Trail Race – 8M – Derwent Valley Trail Runners – Dipton – £5(?)

August

 

September

 

October

25/10   Run Northumberland Hexham – 5k – Run Nation – Hexham – £10

(?)        North-East Harrier League starts – various dates and locations throughout the North-East – £2-3 for the whole season – running club members only

November

 

December

26/12(?)  Woodlawn Boxing Day Pudding Run – 5k – North Shields Poly – Whitley Bay – £8(?)

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I moved to the North-East of England in 2011, and started running (in a great deal of ignorance) in 2014 when I signed up to run the Great Women’s Run in Glasgow before actually seeing if I could run at all…I made about five paces before doing an excellent asthma attack impression.

Since then, I have run in many events around the North-East and you can find reviews of many of them including my impressions, photos, maps, elevation profiles, GPX files and anything else that occurred to me at the time by checking out my race list on the link below.

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For 2020 I’m lacing up my trainers without emptying my wallet on the pavement and am only going to be attending events which are under £10 to enter. I’ve generated a list of races I’ve found – whether I’m running them or not – so everyone can save some pennies while still feeling they’ve ticked the ‘racing’ box. Who knows where it will take us?! Reviews of races in this category I have run will be included here and in the general ‘Race Reviews’ too 🙂

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If you want to see what I’m doing on a weekly basis, and to see posts about races I’ve found or are coming up, and anything else I think might be of interest (not necessarily to anyone other than me!) then you can check out my facebook page where I’m moderately active 😉

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Anything else that might be of interest you can find in the menu buttons to the right – feel free to have a nosey 🙂

Sarah

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The Shoestring Challenge

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November 2019 – I’ve no further races booked in for the year as I’m not doing cross-country this time around. I’ve spent a lot of the last few weeks analysing my spending for much of the year while we get quotes in for a house extension and I try to work out where we’re going to afford it from. It’s time for the cost of my race entries for 2019 to come under scrutiny – something I normally avoid looking at too closely! As many of my races are booked months in advance, it’s easy to forget how much I’m spending sometimes.

I’ve entered 21 races this year ranging from 1 mile (Liverpool Rock ‘n’ Roll) to 14 miles (Trail Outlaws RAF Spadeadam Half). I’ve spent a whopping £454.50 on race entries – average cost per race £21.64. Not including getting to and from them, and in two cases accomodation. To make matters worse, due to injury I haven’t been able to make a lot of the longer or hillier ones. I’ve countered this by booking more shorter ones that were on at similar times. I haven’t been able to defer, transfer entries or get refunds for any I’ve missed. £251 of those races I didn’t even get to which makes the average cost of the events I did get to a massive £41.31- a lot for a 10k. I’m not willing to do this again for 2020.

I’ve set myself a limit of £10 maximum per race entry if I’m wanting to go to races. Race + travel shouldn’t come to more than £15. Generally, £5 will take me a return trip to a race 18 miles from home. I can travel further if the race entry is less than £10.

I’ll be doing a lot of free events like parkrun and Great Run Local, I’m wanting to explore several of the local longer walking routes like the Tyne & Wear Heritage Way in sections, I can marshall events to gain ‘credits’ I can use for others, and I can support my local running clubs at their club-organised races – as long as they’re under £10!

Already, just in looking for races under £10, I’ve come across several particularly trail races I’ve not seen before so I’m really looking forward to trying some new ones I’ve not done! We are so, so lucky in the North-East with the huge amount of organised events right on our doorstep if that’s what keeps your trainers heading out the door.

I’m also going to be keeping a look-out for interesting non-race events like the recently hosted Dusk Run at Wallington Hall which I really enjoyed, and I’ve also run with Anna McNuff this year and 401’s Ben Smith previously. I’ll share them as I come across them on my Facebook page if anyone wants to join 🙂 I’ll likely also be doing a lot of local exploring on my own. I’ve been stalking hiking sites looking for loop routes which I’ve been able to download to my GPS, even if I haven’t figured out how to get them to show on it yet! It’s good to learn new things right?!

I’m going to be over-hauling my website over the next few days to make it easy to find the ‘races for the frugal’ available which I’ve found so far, I may also do something with local loop and ‘official’ walking routes I’ve found, and I’m looking forward to trying some new things over the next 12 months – hopefully for rather less dosh!

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Trail Outlaws – Castle Eden Fun Run

It has been a while since I’ve broken out the fancy dress box for a run – I think it’s probably a parkrun over a year ago at Blackhill when I last had a rumage for an outfit! It’s like choosing your own handicap. Unless you’ve carefully selected your costume to involve as little material as possible, you’re likely to be slower in costume than in normal running gear, or we’d all be dressing up like Christmas Puddings whenever we want to go for a p.b.. When you combine ‘Trail Outlaws’ with ‘Fancy Dress’ you know you’re in for a tough time – and at least 25% of it will be self-inflicted.

Not being particularly big on Hallowe’en, my costume box doesn’t include much in the way of horror film set special effects, but it does contain a pirate costume gathered over many years. Sadly, many of the belts involved in said costume have been retired from when I was in my late teens and are a restrictive reminder of how much less-trim I am round the waist than many years ago!

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I met C at Castle Eden in Peterlee; somewhere I’ve never had occasion to go before, and we were treated to a feast of different outfits in very short order. There were some absolutely fabulous costumes on show! I honestly can’t do justice to it so I’m just going to direct you to Hippie’s hard work and send you over to the race album here to have a look for yourselves. We saw G2 at the start-line – not in costume incase he needed to pull out his Serious Face as Official Race Bossyman, which to be fair is rather difficult to do if you’ve got kid’s facepaint on – he was kind enough to be our start-zone photographer 🙂

The race didn’t start too badly terrain-wise – a good gravel path winding off with gentle undulations. And it all went downhill from there. Very downhill. And we all know what that means. In this case, it means people jumping out at you from inside holly bushes and behind rocks when you least expect them (though it must be said Hippie was much easier to spot than normal at the bridge!). There’ll be more than one person’s heart-rate data with a sudden unexplained spike in the middle of various sections!

Wikipedia has the following to say about ‘denes’:

This one is very true to the ‘steep-sided wooded valley’ part (and I recommend following the link in the caption and checking out the Castle Eden Dene link to read a bit more about this particular one). Looking at the map at the bottom, you could think we had run nicely around this nature reserve, but I can assure you this was not the case…we went down, down, dooooown to the bottom of the valley by the river, and of course then had to climb alllllll the way back up again. By the time we finished my GPS said I’d done 71 flights of stairs. No wonder my legs were knackered!

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I did very much enjoy full on jumping in some of the puddles – C possibly enjoyed my doing this slightly less but she was a good egg about it 😉 We had a good natter, and died quite a bit on the way round – it was tough going! C had also done parkrun that morning for some reason! Nutter! We did make it to the finish – very, slowly! – and were rewarded with weighty gongs (that’s a ‘g’!) for our efforts. There was even a cake and coffee stall if your post-run tummy was so inclined raising money for mental health.

When I got my muddy self through the door, I weighed myself with and without all my waist accoutrements; 3.25lb I’d been lugging around as corsetry up and down those hills – it’s a good thing the rum bottle wasn’t full – though I suspect it would have been lighter by the finish anyway if it had been!

One quick shower for this grotbag and then straight out the door again to Hexham fireworks – more standing for the ol’ legs to do. I slept like the corpse some of the costumes were depicting after all that 😮

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National Trust Dusk Run – Wallington

We have an annual tradition since moving into our house regarding Hallowe’en. It started in the first year when we’d literally just got the keys and hadn’t really moved anything in yet. We were painting the living room in our empty house when we heard the first trick-or-treaters moving up the road. We used to live in a small flat in a cul-de-sac and hadn’t had them so we hadn’t really clocked the significance of Hallowe’en to house dwellers. We did the incredibly adult thing of turning all the lights off and hiding below the sill-level of our curtain-less front windows until they moved on as we had absolutely nothing to give them!

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Since then, it’s sort of become tradition to hide with two exceptions – one where I was home alone, again with no sweets in the house (we’d probably eaten them all) and made a big batch of chocolate chip cakes in sandwich bags; these were oddly well received and the kids skipped on up the road swinging them and singing ‘choc chip cake, choc chip cake’ but god knows what the parents thought of them bringing home-baked goods back with them. The other was when we again forgot it was Hallowe’en and had ordered a pizza for delivery…so we had to hide in the house while also peering round the blind for the food chap! Very adult, mature and in the spirit of the thing I’m sure you’ll agree.

This year, Operation Hide-Away was again a go (we have curtains now!) except I’d also seen that Wallington Hall near Morpeth were doing a Dusk Run that evening; a trail run round a wooded estate in the dark? Yes, please! I’m still not up to the mileage I’d like to be so have missed a lot of races this year (or been wiped out by doing them!) so a casual 5k is just what the running soul needs right now 🙂

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I had guesstimated I would need to be wheels turning by 17:10 to get there – when I checked earlier in the day Google Maps said 40 mins to get there, which would still give me 10 mins to find people. I had not taken into account that leaving anywhere around 5pm would mean I hit rush-hour home traffic for most of the first half of the route. I did leave at 17:10 as it happened, and I flung myself into Wallington at 18:02. Not a headtorch in sight. I decided I had to at least try and find people, having come all the way there and looking forward to it all week – but not being hugely familiar with Wallington in daylight let alone the dark, had no idea where I was going. I found a sneaky path round the back of the cycle hut which brought me onto the road fronting the square. I heard voices! Fortunately, as they were waiting for one of their guide runners, I found everyone under the arch and was just in time to join them!

I really enjoyed this run – the lead runner works at Wallington and as such we got a guided tour of the site as well as a guided run route. We checked out a currently-being-excavated water mill from the early 1800’s, looked for white-tipped crawfish and otters in the Wansbeck when we crossed it, snuck over the wall of the walled garden, visited the “netty” (toilet to us non-Geordies but now used for picnics!), checked out the wildlife hide, saw videos of the local red squirrels, and saw the ice house for the main house where the family silver was hidden in WW2 incase the Nazis invaded!I’m really keen to go back in daylight and do it again where I can see a bit further than the range of my headtorch! The enthusiasm of our guides also really helped bring Wallington’s grounds to life, even in the dark.

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This run only cost me £5 to attend – and as such I wasn’t expecting to get any keepsakes for attending. Our lead guide had a very bright light on a carabiner clipped to his bag I was considering asking where he had bought it from, so was pleasantly surprised to be presented with one from said bag with the other runners at the end before we all headed off for respective cars and beds. It’s really bright and probably worth the fiver on its own!

I do like having the local National Trust site pages on my facebook feed – you never know quite what’s going to come up and I’ve had some nice surprise little adventures through them 🙂 Looking forward to whatever the next one may be 🙂

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You can download the GPX route file for this run from my Dropbox account here.

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Gateshead Trail 10k – 2019

It’s Gateshead Trail time again! Now in its sixth incarnation, and even bigger than ever with 2000 runners signed up for this year’s event, though I’m not sure if some didn’t bail with the weather warnings! I think I’ve made four out of six races since it started 🙂 I like the route, how local it is to me (15 mins drive away tops!), and the general atmosphere at basecamp. The medal’s usually a corker too 😉 J was my official chauffeur and cheerleader for this one, and we met L down there who made sure we were fully stocked with tablet for a sugar boost post-race!

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It feels like normally this race is blessed with sunshine, but there were lightning and rain warnings this year as there have been for previous week, and the river was very full indeed! Anorak’s and bin bags were in plentiful supply in the run up to the race, and those small (and less small!) beings blessed with wellies were having a good stomp in the water-logged fields while it showered.

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As it happens, we’d scrapped the jackets and bin liners at the start line as it was rather close despite the wet, and it didn’t rain again for the rest of the event! There may even have been a hint of a sunbeam in a few places!

L & I started in a slightly faster time pen than we were going for – L was hoping to beat last year’s time, and I sometimes find that I get quite penned in if I start nearer the back, even though my intention was to take things easy and just get round (I may do a knees update later this week!). Gateshead Trail 10k is great for being open to all abilities and there’s a huge range of paces taking part – from the sprint-for-miles to those who may need to walk quite a bit of it, but the nearer the back of the starting pens you get the less accurate it feels the approximate timings of the participants is and the busier it gets – and I always feel a bit rude darting round people!

It honestly didn’t feel like there were 2000 runners when we set up – it was plenty busy enough at the start line, but with the way the organisers had set up the start line we didn’t get hemmed in at all after we crossed it and were nicely spaced out as we set out towards Derwenthaugh Park. L and I kept about the same pace and had a good chat for the first 3km, but as we hit the first long incline I began to drop back a bit while L went ahead. I managed to keep her in sight for most of the race, but she disappeared somewhere between the 7km and 8km mark as we headed back to Blaydon along the Derwent Walk! We’d both worn trail shoes having serious questionmarks over the amount of mud there was likely to be, but unless you were one of the front-runners and full on sprinting through the puddles, it wasn’t too bad and road trainers you didn’t mind getting a bit grubby would have been fine.

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I did manage to complete the last straight with a sprint finish (this race and Kielder 10k are two I always have to feel I’ve emptied the tank crossing the finish line – even when I’ve been taking it easy like this time!) without falling on my face over the timing mats (win!), and this year’s medal felt particularly heavy round my neck at the end! I don’t think it’s any different than previous years but it’s not been a very medal-heavy year for me this year so it stuck out!

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I stopped actively using Strava a while ago – though I still have an account. Still having an account, it still sometimes sends me emails usually regarding what my friends are out doing. I received one yesterday evening regarding a certain segment on the Gateshead Trail 10k. It turns out, I’ve held the ladies course record since 2015 – until yesterday when a well-deserving Strider apparently kicked my 2015 bottom into touch!

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For someone who doesn’t normally use Strava, and is not competitive in many things, I’m slightly put out 😛 This year’s time doesn’t come close either! Nevermind 🙂 I’m still on the board at position 80 – and I think lady number 2 🙂 Not too shabby for someone who’s normally at the middle-back of the pack 🙂

All in all, another great race with some lovely people ❤

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I even found a NEW friend on my way back to the carpark!

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Will we be back next year? Probably – if I’m not swanning around the South of France somewhere!

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You can download the GPX file for this route from my Dropbox account here

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Willow Miner’s Trail – Durham

It sounds like there’s been a few guises for this run over the years,  but for the last few at least it’s been known as the ‘Willow Miner’s Trail Run’, and the route takes you right round the back of this fine chap (photo from Elvet Striders race page).

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Apparently he also has a wicker wife with wicker chickens somewhere in the woods, but if we went past her, I didn’t spot her!

After missing many races in the first half of this year due to being boring and sensible with my knees, seeing one come up in the local area that was in my permitted 3-5M limit AND a trail race to boot meant I didn’t wait long before signing up.

It’s a running club Wednesday evening run hosted by Elvet Striders for only £7 if you’re affiliated with a running club (£9 if not) and starts from the rather pretty Houghall College.

Numbers are limited to 180 – so it really didn’t feel congested at the start line or on the route – something I’m starting to find claustrophobic about bigger road races! From the starting field behind the college, we were straight into the woods for over a mile, and from the woods into the fields. I actually found just being out in my trail shoes to be like taking a mental deep breath. It had been so dry up to the time of the race (we have a lot of rain since as I’m writing this up a while after the event!) I’d just been out in my road shoes regardless of where I was running, and I felt more like a trail runner running through the woods in my trail shoes again for the first time since the winter. I should note that with the weather being as dry as it had been this year, many people were absolutely fine in road shoes – trails were not essential for this one at all though they might be a good idea if it’s been really wet beforehand 🙂

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I was glad when we hit the fields not to be a super-speedy frontrunner. The marshalls and course markings throughout were excellent, but it was much easier to see the route through the clover when 150 people have already patted it all down flat for you! I’m not sure how conspicuous a path there was for the chaps and chapettes at the very front as it looked freshly squashed when I got to it! There were some absolutely fab views over the valley before we dropped down to the river.

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Somewhere over the fields, before we got to the river and for the couple of miles before we re-entered the woods, I had picked up a fan club. A fan club that I really wished would have left me alone, but they did ensure that I kept my walking to only the steepest inclines! I told myself they were probably just normal flies and not horseflies or something else nasty, but I wasn’t stopping to find out incase they drained me to a husk or something either!

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One of the things I love about trail runs is watching for wildlife (less keen on the bugs!) – and I was well rewarded on this one with a hunting barn owl as I came along beside the river.

As we left the river, we had to start to climb again. If you look at the elevation profile it suggests the worst of the hills were at the start, but they haven’t made a serious imprint on my memory – some steps through the woods and that’s about it. The biggest hill in my mind was coming back up over the fields again to return to the woods – and despite my buggy companions I walked quite a bit of it, flailing my arms around over my head! It’s probably a good thing there was noone there with a camera!

The run back through the woods was a welcome relief; my buggy friends abandoned me and the pace I was running at meant I’d ended up in a gap; there was noone in sight in front of me and no sound of anyone behind me so I felt like I was just out for a run in the woods on my own, following silent hanging pink tape ribbons and occasionally seeing a lone standing person who would wave me past. It was a touch surreal but they may have been dehydration kicking in a little…

The finish dropped back onto the field to the start line, and despite being nearer the back of the pack, there were still plenty of people waiting to cheer people across the line, and water dispensers for thirsty runners! I felt very deserving of my fruit pie and custard when I got back home – and I’ll be putting it on the list to keep an eye out for again next year, maybe with a time target or maybe just for a pootle in the countryside 🙂

 

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The GPX file for this route can be downloaded from my Dropbox account here.

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Doing My Homework

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A month or so ago I joined an online fitness group – mostly pilates based – which Jill from Organic Pilates has started called ‘Core Club’. Recently, Jill sent out a welcome pack with a hello/thank you letter, beginner resistance band and some homework: she’s a big fan of goal setting and goal tracking, and the long term goal questions have been batting round my head for about a week now, so I thought I’d share them.

I’m not normally one for SMART targets for the future; I’m certainly not anywhere now I could have conceived of being 10 years ago, which might be why when I think of where I want to be in 1 year and 5 years what comes into my head is pictures rather than a bullet point list and timeline.

The obvious answer to all questions below is of course “to win the lottery” so I can do all the things I want to but currently can’t afford due to money or time constraints, but failing that – here’s my back-up plan!

Where do I want to be in the next year?

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Those of you who’ve been following me for a while will have seen the above picture before – as I’ve been aiming to get back to there for a while. It was taken the night before I did my first half marathon at Liverpool in 2015, and while I’ve been arguably fitter since then in terms of mileage run, I don’t think I’ve hit that balance again of being happy with both my shape and my fitness level. I felt truly capable and I want to get back to feeling that way again; even if I’m not doing exactly the same route to get there as I did 4 years ago. Pushing myself to do things I’d not done before but in a way that kept my life feeling balanced – I wasn’t losing my entire weekend running silly distances and being wiped out for two days afterwards, I was eating well and I have no memories of how work was – and I’m taking that as healthy too! I felt strong in my own skin and ready for anything 🙂

I feel like I’m heading back down this path again already – I’ve been eating a lot better (just omitting the sweets/cakes/pop etc. from my diet) though I have been sabotaging everyone else’s healthy eating by baking a lot. I’m nearly back at the weight I was then though I’m not as toned – that’s coming back too though. I’m not running as much as I’d like as I’m still only just in warm-up stages from the injury bench really, and I miss bounce a lot which is great for toning up. Even if I’ve completely lost my weekly workout routine and am still trying to find a new one, I can’t argue I’ve still been getting out there and doing stuff albeit at a lower cardio level than I’m used to: I’ve been walking quite a bit, and have even been known to have an occasional dip in the pool for a length or two! Pilates is helping and I’ve also noticed a big improvement since starting to do a short daily 10 mins stretching in the morning – most obviously when I stopped doing it for a week or two.

We’ve got developments happening at home too; I’m trying to keep things moving on plans for a kitchen extension (I’m finding our current one positively claustrophobic sometimes with three adults in the house and am very grateful to the gods of dishwashers that one graces my house with its presence and hasn’t broken yet!) – we’re hoping to start building next year but there’s still a lot to be done in the meantime with drawings, quotes, builders, mortgages…etc., etc.!

I’m spending the short-term trying to build up good habits; the stretching, the eating and the general exercise (whatever form it takes for now though I hope to be back in my trainers and bounce boots a lot more soon!), and I think I’m setting good foundations for that, though it’s not ingrained yet. I’m on the right path and I’ll get there.

Where do I want to be in five years time?

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I’ve been nursing an ambition since last year regarding my running which has had to be sidelined for now. I realised a while ago that marathon training was not for me: it requires a time commitment I’m not willing to make to be able to run that distance all in one go without stopping for a cake in the middle. Yes – you heard me, if there’s no cake-break I’m not playing! I’m aware this contradicts my one-year eating healthier plan, but exercise treats don’t count 😉

I’ve done higher mileages before of 10-20 miles in one go, both mid-week and on the weekends and particularly as my hubby-dearest does not run it essentially made him a running widow for about 3 months. He was very supportive as he is in everything I want to do, but I missed the activities we would normally do together and it felt very selfish of me ditching him every weekend to go spend hours pounding along tracks and expecting him to pick my sweaty butt up again at the end of it. Seriously, a post-long-run Sarah is a smelly creature indeed!

Instead of weekend after weekend of pavement pounding for the sake of increased mileage aiming for one particular event, I want experiences. I want to be able to keep my running mostly to 2hrs on a Sunday morning while His Lordship’s still asleep so we get time together the rest of the day and I’m not completely wiped out and sound asleep or eating us out of house and home afterwards.

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I still have things I want to work up to – the eagle-eyed among you will notice my picture for 5 years is not a pair of trainers or a race event, but a shiny new backpack and a guide book. I want to run several of the walking trails around England and Scotland in weekend bursts. I might hit marathon distances in a day, or even further, but they’ll be over 8-12hrs and I’ll be stopping any time anything takes my fancy; be it a view, a nap spot, a tearoom and then pottering back on my merry way again, just me and my backpack. I went on a walking holiday doing a section of the Wicklow Way in Ireland with a friend a few years back (the same year as Liverpool possibly!) and I absolutely loved it. My friend was completely broken for several years afterwards as it knacked her back, but I really enjoyed it.

Where do I want to be in ten years time?

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I honestly don’t know – you’ll notice my five year plan is pretty vague in terms of ‘whens’! I also have some reluctance towards completing the 12-week action plan sheet Jill’s included for us: I blame work for this (as I do for so many other things!) as I find it likes to blow up and get in the way right when I’m trying to do things! So instead, I will make four commitments to myself, which are pretty similar to the Core-Club challenges for the next few months.

  • I will concentrate on eating healthier; minimal snacking and sweet treats, and prioritising fresh food over processed. I’ve also got a cap on eating out 😉 My wallet will thank me as well as my waistline!
  • I will drink ALL the water; this one has slipped a bit lately, and with the weather getting warmer this is not the time to be compromising on this one
  • I will do some form of exercise four times a week – and I’ll not beat myself up if it’s not necessary the type of exercise I’d prefer (e.g. doing low cardio when I’d rather be dashing about). Any moving is good moving and particularly while still getting my knees sorted I need to take what I can get. It’s all good!
  • I will be happy with how I am at all stages of the journey. I can have aims to move towards, particularly regarding fitness and physical shape, but that doesn’t mean I can’t also enjoy life and appreciate everything I can do while I’m working on improving myself
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On the Bench :(

I’ve been learning about knees today. Specifically, mine and why one of them is crunching like it’s full of gravel.

I’ve had a clicky knee since somewhere around the New Year (happy 2019 to me!) and at the time blamed the very sudden ramp up in miles I’d done in December compared to the previous months. I figured it’d sort itself out with some rest and accordingly gave myself free license to be a lazy bum for January.

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I started picking my mileage up again in March but ye olde knee was still crunching away when I went up the stairs. It’s not hurt through any of this, but it’s not a noise knees are supposed to make and when one’s father has very bad arthritis in his knees, one does not want the same! Especially when one has much running to do! As one does…

A friend of mine had recommended a physio in Willington, who to be honest if you check his website (https://www.info-physio.com/) is ridiculously overqualified for sorting my crunchy knees but along I did pootle anyway to see Gordon tonight. I was expecting to be told that my dropping Bounce in November (excellent for core-strength and toning as well as cardio) and too many miles pootling was causing issues and I need to work on my quads to sort it, but apparently not…

My painless crunching is something called Bursitis – an inflammation of the fluid pockets around a joint that probably you and certainly me didn’t know we had called bursae (you can read more here or here – I’m not going to waffle about stuff I clearly don’t understand when someone has already done a better job than me!). It looks like I’m lucky – it can often be quite painful.

What was immediately obvious to Gordon – and me when he pointed it out –  is that my left kneecap is swollen while my right one is not – and some of the fluid is actually forming a small pocket behind my knee (Baker’s cyst) as it can’t move around as it should do. This appears to have caused a small sprain on my inner knee ligament – again painless – and is likely to be the cause of my recent backpain; all with the knee itself not mainfesting any pain at all (yet?!).

The long and short of it is – no running for a few weeks. Three weeks of ultrasound treatment – and it was weird how quickly my kneecap definition started to appear after the first treatment today though it’s obviously still crunching as miracles are not common things – and no running or Bounce until it’s sorted out. My plans to restart going to Bounce again on Tuesday next week are going to have to continue on hold, and Washington Trail 10k on Sunday is also out – for exercise type, distance and terrain! I have been generously permitted to cycle in the meantime as long as I keep the high-impact knees stuff off!

Three weeks puts me only 1.5 weeks off Rock and Roll Liverpool weekend – and I really don’t know if I’ll be doing the half marathon as I’m not yet half-marathon fit anyway to try to sustain. I confess to being a touch dejected – especially as I’m definitely missing one of my favourite 10k’s and the Durham Trail 10M I’ve been wanting to do the last two years – but it’s not that long really if I’ve got my sensible head on. I’ve just spent 3 weeks off because of a cold, then being a lazy butt, then my back twanging so it’s the same again, but like a small child we want what we cannot have 🙂 I’d prefer to be fit enough to enjoy the trail races I’ve got booked between June and October, and be able to windsurf without twisting everything this summer than to not do things properly once nad have it take four times as long.

I’ve always been a somewhat reluctant cyclist, but it looks like I’m at least about to become a more practiced one!

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Cheviot Trail Events – Wooler 12M

Units can be confusing things. For example, when I rolled out of bed to do this race this morning I thought I’d read the elevation was 300 feet. It turns out that comment said 300 metres and the actual coarse description says “approx. 1400 feet of rolling, steady ascent” which I probably would have thought was a bit beyond me and sacked in for a day of dillidalliery. As it was, J was booked as official chauffeur and explorer of Wooler so off we went to meet L, who J had managed to somehow sucker into running (which I was very quickly grateful for!).

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As such, what we got was not what I’d set out expecting to pootle along this morning. It started near the coast – we could see Lindisfarne – with a rather major and quickly muddy uphill, and continued in more or less the same path for several miles until we left Kyloe Wood and hit more trail-like surfaces. Pace plans completely out the window very quickly and replaced with concerns of actually making it to the finish in one – albeit very muddy – piece if this was what the whole route was going to be like!

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There were many, many kissing gates (mwah!) and stiles through the woods and fields to slow us down until we reached St Cuthbert’s Cave and started to head out more into the fields and farmland.

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St Cuthbert’s Cave was well worth a quick stop and nosey after we’d nearly gone down through the trees from above it on our bums it was that precarious! I’m definitely going to be dragging P up here on a walk sometime as it was an area that really appealed to me. We met J at the bottom of the hill from it directing runners to the right route rather than the nice downhill one straight ahead, and sent her up to the cave to have a look while she was there – for some reason she went cross-country startling the local deer rather than the main path but each to their own I guess…

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The middle section was miles and miles of undulations and fabulous views. I’m not sure I’ll make it to some of the places again without a car, and my camera doesn’t do justice to the distance stuff, but it was a feast for the eyes when you were up there.

 

Somewhere around mile 9, someone had put the most enormous hill on the planet. Seriously, go check the elevation chart at the bottom, I’ll wait.

Are you back? It was a knee-breaker. Having something like that near the start where you’re vaguely fresh would have been bad enough but near the end, having seen a road sign for Wooler on the flatter road at the bottom and having to carry on up it anyway, was savage 😦

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I really had to walk quite a while across the top of this to get some degree of feeling back into my legs as they’d turned to lead plodding up! The wind still wasn’t easing up either but fortunately the views were still fabulous 🙂

 

The advantage to going slower along here was we actually spotted the route marker to go back down again…which went right down a gorse track rather than the straight ahead route the line of jackets were taking. We must have cut off quite a chunk as the people we saw when we rejoined the road into Wooler everyone came down to had passed us a while before!

Even the last stretch into Wooler for the finish was uphill, as if afraid to break with tradition for this beast of a route, but we made it just about in one piece! I was so grateful to have L’s company on this race as it made even the tough bits doable, and it didn’t feel like we’d only just met that morning – she’s known J for a while through the Running Ninjas.

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I also owe many thanks to J for not only being my driver (I did NOT want to have to drive home after that!) but for even taking me for FOOD on the way back so that I could eat all the things 🙂 This continued into the evening and the jury’s still out on tomorrow morning…

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This wasn’t an expensive race at £12 to enter, much of which I suspect went on the coaches to the start, but I found the lack of aid stations and marshalls (none!) to be very different to what I’m used to at races. There wasn’t a medal or t-shirt which isn’t unusual for the cheaper trail races, but I felt like we’d earned a massive trophy each by the time we got to the end! Check out my flights-of-stairs count on my watch by the end of it!!!

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