Saturday, 31 December 2011

A big HELLO to 2012

2011 has been an awesome year: Skydiving/ jumping out of planes, cliff jumping in Scotland and Wales, charging across the hills and mountains in Scotland, England and Wales, 156+mile run from Scotland to Wales, kickboxing, running around the Isle of Wight and finding out that I can run 50 miles in a day are only a few of the highlights of 2011.

Taking part in these different activities has led to meeting some awe-inspiring people who each have their own passions, achievements and story to tell.... if you ask quietly and listen hard enough.  It does seem that the harder that you have to listen, the deeper and more amazing the person and story that follows.  Over the next year I have a feeling I will meet even more - I can't wait.  

As 2011 draws to a close I have spent a little time reflecting on what I would like 2012 to look like and what I will take forward from 2011. The annual pulling out of my bucket list and dice has so far decided an interesting mix of wing walking, high lining, potholing, volcano boarding and street lugging for 2012. This will be in addition to the joining of a running club, one stage Lakeland 100miler and I hope, 103m UTMB (Ultra Trail of Mont Blanc). 

So, although I am sad to say goodbye to 2011, I am extremely excited about 2012.  Not long now just 4 3/4 hours to go before the big HEEEELLLLLLLO 2012! 'Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today!'  Happy New Year everyone. xx

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Weekend in the snowy Lake District 10-11th December 2011

After a wasted mad dash to Manchester and the third change to accommodation plans I quite literally skidded to Ambleside youth hostel arriving just before 11pm.  Snow was on the hills and the earlier rain on the lower ground had turned to ice in the freezing fog.  Perfect rally driving conditions - and I am very pleased to say that I haven't lost my rally driving skills learnt many years ago.  I guess the grit man and his van had bigger roads to cover!

Snow .... not much ... but there was
a patch
Saturday morning was spent trying to drive over to Buttermere (the original destination). I tried all three passes - the first got me up to the mine/ top of Honiton Pass but no further, the second pass was a road of pure black ice and the third was closed shut. So with an even longer detour I arrived at Buttermere youth hostel where I quickly unloaded the car and headed for the hills.

There was snow on the hills, not too much but there was hope that I could put my shiny new running crampons on. It was very cold and windy though.... thermals were on with my trusted Buffalo - stopping was not an option.   Backpack with running crampons at the ready, I chose a mountain and just went - time was not on my side and I didn't want to be caught at the top of the mountain at sun set.

That was the lower hill - lovely
little ridge
3000ft later I  decided to head back down again and hoped to trot along the lower hill for a bit before it got dark.  Buttermere youth hostel was fantastic.  Great food, great bed and great people running it.  Can't wait to go back there again.

So, a quick recap of the last couple of weekends - night with hills, mud with hills and this weekend was snow and ice with hills... whats next?? ahhh that's right ... another day in the Lakes.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Brecon Beacons Trot

Up and down the hill in the distance 
and then  back up and down the
hill that this  picture was taken from.
26 miles with 4397ft elevation gain (and therefore the same loss), with tonnes of mud, standing water and more mud made this run one of the hardest that I have had to do so far.  Weather was perfect: no rain, some sun and cool temperatures.  It was breath takingly windy on the top / on the open moors but it was the amount of water and MUD that made it tough and running extremely slow.

Running in thick guey mud up and down hills means that a) you use different muscles to keep the legs together (aka not sliding down the hill) b) spend more energy keeping up-right c) lifting feet the out of the mud 'zaps' energy d) settling into a smooth pace is impossible. Interestingly there were only a few women who turned out for the event all of whom were either in the super fit or mega super fit category.  Of course, I didn't stand out like a sore thumb at all but hey at least I wasn't thought to be a marshal  - oh hang on.....
Moorland - wet and windy
My preparation impacted my run.  Organising/ attending the work party the night before, sleeping for 1/2 hour and driving 4 hours to get to the race for a 6 o'clock start with a stinking cold was not clever but a reality for a full time working person who needs to pack in hill and distance training into their weekly scedule.

What I learnt with this run was that you have to go into a race completely committed.  I spent the first 2 miles looking for a reason to stop. I was tired, feeling miserable with a cold and quite frankly I just wanted my bed and not spend lots of energy plodding over several mammoth and very muddy hills. However, all of that was wiped away as I knew I wasn't going to stop and I wasn't prepared to bore myself any further with any more negative thoughts. Of course there was a humongous hill that needed some attention as well - a great distractor.
The climbs were often long inclines
I much prefer short and steep

Taking that this was the second time that I have been up the Welsh hills within a week I think that I am getting some good hill practise in.

So, only 26miles but with 4397ft elevation and tonnes of mud to get in the way - I will happily take this trot as a good and worthwhile training session. More next week too..... and with a good nights sleep before, I know that it will be a good one.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Sleepwalker 26th November 2011 - Night Run

 'strictly hard core - one for those who like a challenge. And if you do - you will love this'.

Just by its nature, I knew that it was going to be tough - running across the Brecon Beacons at night for 20 miles wasn't going to be a 'walk in the park'.
Scene just before sun down - the sky
is a nice brown and grey mix.
But what could go wrong? Well apart from turning up at the registration desk and finding out that they did not have a record of my booking, losing my contact details (do you know your mobile number??) and then finding out that 'one had to buy a map from the local shop before the run' ( as they weren't going to give any out!)....  set the run up very well I thought!  

With a momentary consideration that I was the number 1 muppet, I was assured through discussions with others that I was not alone apart from that fact that everyone else  a) seemed to be local and b) knew the area well c) had a running buddy.

Nae matter I thought, my Garmin was loaded and even after the Garmin drama of Trans Britain, I had light, legs and knowledge of how to get back on course when lost/ off course. There was a little wish that I had spent a little bit more time and care with plotting the route ..... and just hoped that I hadn't put too many 'crow flying'  legs that had no appreciation of elevation lines.

6pm - we were off .... a nice flat trot by the canal with the main body for about 400m .... things were looking promising. 401m suddenly I was looking up  ... into the racing shoes of those just in front.  The hills were here and everyone was running as though they were still by the canal. Ooops I thought!

The  torch-light of the pack quickly disappeared into the distance and I was left trying to get my night eyes.... CARROTS - I should eat more - lots more! I can't explain how difficult it is to run on an unfamiliar, uneven surface that has loose rock, puddles and mud - in massive proportions. Perhaps it would be easier if there was a moon? Instead there was rain, fog, more rain with plenty of lashings of wind. Perfect!

So, there it was, I trotted, slipped, slided and waded through the mud, puddles and streams.  9.30pm the organisers wanted to pull me off the course as the rest of the pack who were clearly 7 mile an hour in the dark runners were near to the finish.  After a little set to and rearing of my stubbornness it was agreed that I could sign a waver and carry on, under my own steam. I should say that I was only able to do this because of my experience of trotting in the Scottish hills on my own, full water bladder on my back and full safety gear in my pack. That said it is always more risky to make a fuss and carry on - because if there is any time that things will go wrong it is when you state that everything will be fine.

After a few more 'off courses' - I wracked up a few more miles beyond the expected 20 miles.  I couldn't believe it when one of the 'as the crow fly lines' happened on the blinkin hill. I went up one side ... then down the other before the Garmin told me that I was 'off course' and directed me back up the hill again. With the howling wind, steep sides (at mile 15) .... this was hard... really hard! I did it, I got to the end and I was so pleased that I carried on even if it did cost me a couple of toe nails and a pulled muscle!  A total of 2650ft elevation gain (and matched loss) .... in the dark, rain, wind and across the hills.

I don't think that I will be allowed to do it again but it was one for the record.  If nothing else, it has taught me that I need to do more night runs and get used to running with a torch.  I did improve / read the land better as the run progressed - so I just need to go out and do more.... ohhh and eat carrots... lots of carrots! ;o)))

Sunday, 20 November 2011

20/11/11 Abseiling to raise money for the Stroke Association.

Woooohoooo today I can declare that I am over my fear of heights. 6 months ago I was crawling on my hands and knees on top of a mountain but today I popped over the lip at Battersea Power Station without a second glance or hesitation.  Love it. Now I want to go higher .... much much higher ..... with much more danger... perhaps a tight rope crossing between two cliffs ;o))))) Great fun!


Monday, 31 October 2011

Oh dear! Emma's on the blog.... quick, put in the disclaimer and health and safety warnings! 

Disclaimer:  I can guarantee that this blog will be full of factual inaccuracies and changing opinions as the journey progresses and therefore I happily wave my liability.  If you are a spelling or grammar guru ... then please step away from this blog ... that's right ... step away from this blog or carry out your own risk assessments.

Health and Safety: On your left there is some blurb and on the right there are some videos of completed runs and challenges. To the centre there is slightly different blurb about training, things I may or not have learnt and observations.  At the bottom of the page there are some more videos of some of the challenges to come - nicely packed away until the time comes to put them on the right hand side of the screen.

So far, on the right, I have put the 156miler Trans Britain Ultra Marathon video.  Clearly map reading and reading manuals is my forte and definitely someone you need to have in your back pocket if you ever get too comfortable with finding the right route - just call me GPS, give me 9 hours and I will put you back on track.  Trans Britain was fun though ... I don't think that I have giggled so much whilst running EVER!  I would recommend completing the Go Beyond Trans Britain if you are ever at a loose end and have 6 days (and x1 years training time) free.   

And so there it is ... too much giggling and actually getting to the end has resulted in the entering of the Lakeland 100miler (one stage) and fingers crossed for the wee UTMB trot across the mountains (go on ... have a look at what I am talking about at the bottom of the page!). Of course, I say 100miler ... but that's taking that I won't get lost along the way. Running across the mountains, in the dark, for 40 hours non stop should with my history pose no problem at all. Best I get training again - starting with the 20ish miler night run, in the Welsh mountains............