Monday, 12 September 2011

3 on, 3 off, 3 on…

So, I didn't really keep up with the permanent blog thing! I have one, but only my runner friends can access it....anywaaaay, here goes my attempt at starting up an accessible blog #2!

There are just too many tempting events about…far too many :-) And so, I have found myself rather busy again which is no bad thing. Being able to do all these different things is what makes things so interesting. And so, I made the best of a long bank holiday weekend and the week following this long weekend…

27th August – Smugglers Trod

The main thing that instantly springs to mind is mud! It was an amazingly muddy mud bath of an off-road marathon. It didn’t actually rain a lot on the very day of the event, but I know that it had been quite bad weather leading up to the Saturday and it had obviously left the moorland very wet indeed. There were literally knee-deep bogs of mud and water. My legs also took quite a thrashing from all the rough bracken and heather bushes across the moors. It was definitely quite tricky in a lot of places and we took it very slow, so as to not go flying. Some of the little wooden bridges across the moors were so slippery and there were rocks and roots under the mud – I love the moors, but I was definitely being a bit cautious here. I love this area though. Robin Hood’s Bay and Whitby is simply beautiful. I recognised some of the scenery from back in January, when I and Lisrun had completed the Yorkshire Frostbite Off-road marathon.

One of the most amusing and surreal moments of the day was stepping back into civilisation and emerging from the moorland swamps a little while from the finish, absolutely covered in mud and utterly dishevelled; we entered a busy street filled with tourists and it was such a weird moment. We became very aware of the marshals dressed in Victorian dress and pirate attire, the smell of fish and chips in the air, a chocolate fountain display in the window of a sweetshop and us, looking an absolute mess. We did get some funny looks. Oh, and then we had to walk up a really very steep hill of a road. It was really steep!

Overall, the event was lovely and I really enjoyed it – definitely the muddiest event I have encountered in a while though. And the event description on the LDWA website describes the event as mildly undulating…well, I guess it is in parts, but there are definitely some other hills in there that far exceed the title of ‘mildly undulating’ :-)

At the finish there was pie and peas and some other goodies. There were lots of friendly faces on this event and it was nice to catch up with fetchies such as lisrun and spiced apple. I didn’t get lost at all, although traviss was doing the key navigation work. However, I DID get lost trying to find my way back to the field in which I had parked my car. I had no idea. I must have walked a mile loop before admitting defeat and finding my way back to the village hall. Once back there a nice marshal gave me a lift back to the field – turns out I had only been around the corner from it, doh!

28th August – Sandwell Six Towns Marathon

This seemed like a good idea to do the next day and it wasn’t too much of a drive for me. Anything requiring a 2 hour drive or less is considered near for me…this was under the 2hour mark and so it always leaves me that little bit extra to get my act together in the morning. Although, it was good I had left early because I had absolutely no clue where the parking was situated. It seems quite a few people had the same problem and were also driving around in circles for a while. The problem was that lots of the roads were closed off for the ‘family fun day type’ event that was being held in conjunction with our event. None of the stewards really seemed to know much though. Eventually I figured it out and parked my car. It didn’t leave me with a lot of time. I spent the next 1hr ½ of the event really needing the loo and there was nowhere to stop or even a bush because the first part was down a really industrialised stretch of canal. I was eventually able to sort this little problem hehe, but I had to wait a while. It so silly how stuff like that can just take over your mind and your ability to run properly. I didn’t much like the first part of the event; the area seemed quite dodgy and quite bleak along the canal.

Happily, the marathon did get better with regards to the scenery and became greener. There were some pretty parts, after all. There was also nearly a 2-mile stretch in a dark tunnel – it was so pitch-black that you couldn’t see a thing. We had been told to bring our head torches and we definitely needed them. I actually thought it was quite fun. Admittedly, it was creepy…but it was also quite an unusually fun part – how many times do you get to run in some strange dark canal tunnel…? Towards the end of the day I did start to get a bit weary and was happy to reach the end, upon which I got a 99 from the ice-cream man :-)

29th August – Gin Pit Trail Marathon

I was originally meant to be doing Pathfinder, but I change my mind. For one reason, it seemed like a really silly thing to be driving further south after having completed two events already that weekend. Secondly, I was really looking forward to catching up with some lovely people and Malc at the Gin Pit Marathon. The short drive there and back was a major bonus. I was looking forward to this one (even though I don’t generally love laps). I had a really great day. Following the theme of the weekend, the course was very muddy and there was some rain but it didn’t seem to matter. The course was lovely and organisation was really spot-on! I had to do 6 laps of the course and I seemed to have a bit more energy that the day before. I managed to keep a fairly consistent pace and could have gone faster, although my legs did start to seize up a bit later on in the day; I blame the rest of the weekend’s shenanigans. Overall I managed to get around in about 5hrs 29min…this is quite good for me, especially in this year of mega-slowness and during a muddy trail marathon. So, not that time is a major thing for me right now, I have to say that I was quite happy.

Afterwards, I had a good old natter to lots of lovely people; some familiar faces and some new ones. Oooo and I also had a half of Guinness :-) Then, I drove home and chilled out. I knew I only had 3 days of not doing much until I was doing much more again on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday that was to follow: The Toad Challenge 3-dayer: To be continued…

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