Blue Runnings

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

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 directed 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 left down a gorse track rather than the straight ahead route the line of jackets was 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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Endurance Life Coastal Trail Series – Northumberland 2019

I first did this race in 2015 (something I didn’t quite believe myself until I checked – but there you go!) and really enjoyed it, then in 2016 I did it again for the half distance this time and enjoyed it rather less, but through no fault of the race itself. The whole race event always sells out, but the 10k particularly early as there’s only 200 spaces. The half marathon had the biggest field this year and it looked like there were as many people on the ultra (35.2M on this occasion) as there were for the 6.5M I was enrolled in!

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As a quick aside, someone out there has run 35.2 miles in 4hrs 10mins?!?! Gobsmacked, absolutely gobsmacked – and it’s virtually all on sand!

Anyway, for those who haven’t run this before or read my previous wafflings, this is one of the few linear races I’ve done. Coaches take you to your respective start line at staggered times so the ultra and marathon runners start first from furthest away, followed by the half undertakers and then the 10k runners. This means apart from the very first leg (all 13 miles of it), you’ll never be on your own as you’ll be picking up (or in my case being passed by) the other distances as you make your way up the coast. I was getting passed at Seahouses by people on the ultra who’d done 23 miles already and had another 11 to go and still looked fresh as daisies in the dew! Route spotting is much easier as there’s just a steady trail of coloured bags and jackets for miles!

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The coaches were running late this year unfortunately – we only started 12 mins after our scheduled time (11:50) but with the brief being at 10:45 it felt like much longer as we sat around the carpark. The view’s not bad at least and the weather was looking to be set for a very pretty day for a run. 😉

The start line at Beadnell was frikking freezing after the warm buses as there was definitely a wind present all morning, but for the run itself it was a tailwind the whole way and therefore welcomed! Last time I was here was for the Northumberland Coastal to Alnmouth (twice as far in the opposite direction) and we had a 40mph headwind the entire way so it wasn’t that bad really! I ditched my over-layer rather quickly, tying it round my front like a skirt so my number was still visible (I’ve decided I may investigate running skirts for over my shorts – I felt less required to hoik the legs of my shorts back down again for the sake of public decency quite as often!).

I honestly have no idea where the first 2-3 miles went. The Northumberland beaches are usually stunning places to be and today was no exception – very easy to just look around and suddenly find you’ve covered more distance than you’ve realised and before we knew it Seahouses was appearing round the corner over some seaweed-strewn clamber rocks.

I was getting rather more aware of my legs and feeling more ploddy around mile 5, but knew by that point I was going to make it in one piece so it was pretty easy to keep steadily plodding onwards to the finish. 🙂 P was waiting down on the beach where I would be leaving it and then I headed off into the dunes to plod back up to the castle. Loose sand and a very narrow path meant stretches of the last bit were walked in line with other runners, but I’m not sure I could have kept my legs moving anyway on that sort of ground so I was glad of the excuse for a breather and not to fill my shoes with sand!

There was a really nice finishers medal for this year (not that they’re not normally nice, but I was impressed with this one compared with previous years) and another technical t-shirt for the pile.

P & I had left early – 08:30 – hoping to get parked at the bottom of the castle before the rest of the 10k runners turned up, but we ended up about a 10 min walk down the road at the Links carpark anyway – good for a cooldown but with being early getting there, the usual start and finish faff, the coaches, and a cheeky McD’s at Alnwick services on the way home – salt replenishment, I promise, as I had more salt on my cheeks than they put on their fries! – we didn’t get home until 7hrs after we’d left. A very long day for an hour’s running, even if we do enjoy the area. I do really love running here, but I think I will be having a think in future about travel with races – P could have dropped me off at Beadnell and I could have been back at the castle before we actually got on the bus to the start-line! Maybe just aim to get there later knowing there’s enough space in the Links carpark but I’ll be a bit of a walk away – that would have saved at least an hour! Still makes for a very long day. :O

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

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Tatton Park 10k

First race of 2019 down – and not just for me! One of my sisters has decided we are in an annual mileage challenge and therefore she must defeat me (I am remaining mute on this point) – so to help her out the door I booked us both in for the Tatton Park 10k in Manchester; her neck of the woods so she didn’t even have to go very far for it! The other good thing about doing a Manchester race was that S & L could join us for it too 🙂

The Tatton Park 10k is a monthly race, so I was surprised to see as many people there as there were for some reason – given the size of some parkruns I don’t know why I was surprised that a regular event was well attended but there you go. Going by the number of local vests I suspect many of the local running clubs use it as a 10k time-trial.

This is quite an exposed park in winter…as was clear from the number lists, tents, people, etc. being blown around at the start line – the bag tent was a groundsheet with a tent-material cover and some weights by the end! We had headwinds, cross-winds, possibly a tailwind somewhere and with the 674 runners probably some bad wind too! I imagine it’s also a tough one in the summer as there wouldn’t be any real shade on the route so it could be a scorcher around August and September if there’s no breeze across the ponds.

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Compared with many races I’ve done, this was relatively flat – it did undulate and you could guarantee the headwind would hit just as you were trying to get up an incline – regardless of which way you were going, which made it quite tough going in places. The park’s a really good size with several ponds and the run was quite spaced out – where we were in the pack anyway! It can be a bit claustrophobic sometimes doing city races sometimes but this wasn’t like that, and even the queue for the loos wasn’t too bad!

This was only L’s second 10k – having done her first on a tougher trail race at Heaton Park on the other side of Manchester in November, and she knocked a massive 12 mins off her time but I think may be sticking to trails in the future – it’s hard going on tarmac when you’re used to the woods! P’s mumbled the possibility of doing it again sometime to beat her time but I think the main motivation was Tatton Park 10k actually has two different medal designs – and we got one of each so now she has to get the other one!

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I got the more cartoony one with the blue ribbon, while P’s is yellow with a more pro design 😉 Apparently if they’ve run out of blue ones next time we’re meeting at Tebay to swap one of her yellow’s for my blue…

The nice people at Tatton even feed you afterwards – homemade flapjack and bananas for all runners, and the flapjack was delicious 🙂 Made a very blustery morning all worthwhile!

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

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2018 Review

2018 really has been a milestone year for me – both in my ‘fitness’ life and in my personal one. I’ve tried an assortment of new things, many of which I’d jump at the chance to do again, and had some amazing people by my side through all of it.

I’ve managed to hit all the targets I set myself at the start of the year (albeit just in some cases!):

  • complete 10 races – I have completed 17 but am not sure in hindsight if this target was to make sure I had stuff booked in to keep me going out, or if it was supposed to stop me booking in for everything and act more like a limit!
  • complete 15 parkruns – after a parkrun-heavier December, I’ve finished the year on 16 for 2018 and 42 total – looking forward to hitting 50 next year, and I think I’ll set myself a volunteering target for 2019 🙂
  • run 500 miles – this has eluded me, by quite a bit, for the last two years so I’m really chuffed to have hit it this year on the 29th of December. The idea of this target was to keep me heading out for 40-50 miles/month which is a level I’m quite happy with for keeping my fitness where I like it and not feeling I’m missing out on other activities as I am always running. I didn’t get out as much as I should have at the start of the year, so the mileage is very weighted to the back of the year, but I’m still absolutely chuffed to have hit it 🙂

2018

I’ve been a lot less active online both on my blog and on facebook, and as such there’s races I haven’t reviewed and several months ‘dark’ on my page – I am not yet sure which direction that will take for next year. There’s some race reviews I wish I had written this year (RAF Spadeadam Half and the Red Kite Trail Race neither of which I’ve run before for example) and will hopefully feature next year, but I have also found I prefer not plastering my daily activities for everyone to see in some cases – just the bigger milestones or the particularly enjoyable runs or ones where I’ve had the camera. I have stopped posting to Strava for the same reason; it’s nice to just do it for you sometimes!

In summary, 2018’s been a bit of a rollercoaster! I’ve tried new activities like snorkelling, new event types (I much prefer duathlons to triathlons!), new races, found new running routes and adopted new running buddies. I feel incredibly privileged to have some very special people in my life and I’m very grateful to all of you – you know who you are. Shall we do it again next year?!

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parkrun – Durham

For information on this parkrun course, see the official parkrun page below:

http://www.parkrun.org.uk/durham/

This is a single-lap parkrun – not a huge number of those about! It’s quite out and back loopy, and covers a mix of terrains – we ran on gravel paths at the start, the outside of the rugby fields (stay outside the paint marks!) and onto the riverside path for a long stretch up to the bridge and back along the other side to the finish at the pavillion.

Durham had pacers for the event I went to, and I got the impression this was a moderately regular occurrence. I was trying to beat the 30min pacer, and while I’d left him a comfortable distance behind after the first mile, he was right behind me just before I came across the bridge – but the pace variance was me not him! He was bob-on for the 30 min marker 🙂

There’s plenty of parking at the sports centre near the start, as well as toilets and a track if you fancy a warm-up lap, but the finish is literally about 0.75 mile from the start. I’d pushed myself to get round in the time I wanted and was ready for a rest when I’d finished but when walking it felt like a loooong way back to the car. It is a pretty little woodland walk, and I did see a weasel, which was cool, but factor it in for your times if you’re in a rush to get home afterwards!

My GPS map for this route:

Durham

You can download the GPX route file for this course from my Dropbox account by following the link below:

GPX file for Durham parkrun

Course first completed 23-06-2018

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George Ogle Memorial Race 2018

A new route this year – and a few new faces at the race start! C for some reason had believed only the ‘flat bit’ of my race description (the last mile or so) but has disregarded my comments about hills and steps as apparently it’s more likely I am winding her up than that anyone could POSSIBLY put flights of steps in a race event. The Nile is not only a river in Egypt… It can’t be that bad if we all keep going back year after year 😉

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Photo by CM (Blackhill Bounders)

I think the best way to share the route for this is to just let Derwent Valley Running Club do it themselves with their fab video of the route!

There was a slight modification to the route this year – apparently two horrendous hills is not enough so a third near the start was very kindly added in by some generous route-finding soul… I confess here and now to marching it! When we set off I had faint hopes of getting under the 1hr marker for the first time (previous times 1:09:48 in 2015 and 1:00:24 in 2017 I have just discovered) and I’d basically thrown that out the window by the time we turned through the gate for the first hill – the new one – and figured I’d just see how I did and concentrate and getting to the finish line!

I don’t know how many flights of steps there were in this race – maybe 5? – but I know I only ran 1.5 of them and walked at least part of all the big hills! I was in good company 😉 I was therefore delighted to get back round to the viaduct and find that I still had a shot at getting under the 1hr marker – and the terrain was going to be in my favour (for once) for getting there if I could keep the pace going.

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I did – even with the walk breaks – end up coming in under the hour marker at 57:48, which I’m really pleased with 🙂 Definitely making progress with the pacing! Plenty of spot prizes at the race with the finishing gifts – our group walked off with a bottle of wine and another of gin! This race usually gives goodies instead of medals and this year was no different – water bottle, buff and B’s favourite jellybeans 🙂

B, G and I will be back next year…we’ll wait and see if J3, C and R join us again! According to some it’s not a race without bling at the finish 😉

map

You can download a GPX file for this route from my Dropbox account by clicking on the link below:

George Ogle 2018 route file

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