Sunday, 10 October 2010

Random 30 Mile Loop

I was supposed to be doing the Caesar’s Camp 100 mile endurance run is weekend, but after all the time off running with my injury, I had to admit defeat and gave my space to someone else on the waiting list. I was determined to still go out and get some distance in and I plotted a 30 mile loop from my house. I didn’t want the run to get in the way of family time, so I got up at 4:30am and set off running at 5:00am.

It was misty and raining lightly, but warm, and I left the streetlights of Branxton and set into a 10 minute mile plod. My headtorch is not the best but the 0.5 watt light was enough to find my way along with my Garmin watch showing me the route. I turned off the road up to Flodden Hill and discovered a lot of wildlife living in the woods with little shiny eye staring at me in the light of my torch. The tracks were good and I continued at a steady run through Flodden and along the B6352 before turning off onto a bridleway that was to nearly kill me. I was following a fence line along a field when I herd of cows went completely nuts and started stampeding. I stopped dead and waited for them to all run past me a few yard ahead. When they had all passed I relaxed a bit before seeing two more eyes in the dark looking straight at me. It then charged at me and passed within a foot. To make things worse, the bloody thing stopped and looked back at me before running backwards, then sideways straight into me. It hit me and I went flying backwards and landed skidding on my side as its hoofs were inches away from me. I got up and bloody ran like hell. I had to pass more fields of cows but I give them a wide berth and didn’t relax until I reached the houses at Crookhouse.

The next section was mainly on road and I kept going from feeling cold to hot, shivering to sweating. I could start to see the Cheviot Hills but it was still dark. It started to get light when I reached Westnewton and I made easy progress to Hethpool and started running on the St Cuthbert’s Way trail. It was light enough not to need a torch anymore but I kept it on because it was so misty. I made my way up into the hills keeping the same steady 10 minute mile pace and feeling good. I had no idea where I was but had the line on my Garmin watch to show me the way. After Gains Law hill I passed some of the Wooler running club who were out for a run, and I figured that I must be going to right way because Wooler was my next destination. I reached a familiar landmark and knew I was close to the Wooler Common car park. I made a relaxed and easy descent down the road into Wooler and ditched my headtorch into my bag and ate my reward of reaching this point (a Twix).

Next I continued on the St Cuthbert’s Way trail and went over Weetwood Moor before descending down to Weetwood Bridge. Here I left St Cuthbert’s Way and headed along roads back towards Ford. I started to feel a little drained now after 20 miles and I was feeling really hungry so I ate a bit more. I reached Doddington at mile 22 and was still feeling really hungry so ate some more. Along to Nesbit and across some fields and I now hit my low. My legs turned heavy and my head sank. East Fenton, West Fanton, then a footpath over some fields to Kimmerson, I felt like shit. All I wanted to do was call my wife to pick me up and shovel loads of food into my mouth. My stomach was growling at me and I could not believe that I could still be hungry after eating so much on the route. With 5 miles left to go I just plodded on to Ford before heading off to Crookham. At Crookham I stopped and got some fruit pastels out and downed them so try and get some energy. 1 mile to go and I just could not be bothered to run. The only problem was that it would take longer to walk so I ran on looking miserable. I finally reached home, extracted my feet from my shoes and started my eating marathon. I ate all day until it was time to sleep and when I was unable to put the food in my mouth anymore. I have never been so hungry.

On reflection, I can say that it was a good run. The cow incident freaked me out but I can laugh at it now. I got out of my low point as soon as I got home and knew it was just mental stuff and not physical. The next day I only had a slight bit of stiffness in my upper legs but felt that I could have gone out for a long run, so I am happy that my reduce mileage due to injury has not caused too much damage to my tolerance for longer distances. I will hold back on attempting a 50+ mile run at the moment until I have done some more 20-30 miles runs in the next month. The best thing of all..... No knee pain.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Border Search and Rescue Unit Sponsored Walk and Challenge Run

This was my first organized event since the Lakeland 50 and since my knee pain has gone. The route consists of a 14.5 mile loop from Hownam in the Scottish Borders with about 3000f of ascent. The weather had decided to be wet with some mist, but conditions were perfect for running. I met up with Bruce Crombie, Karl Wait and Rob Murray John and Rob’s dog at the start and ran with them during the event.

The event was relaxed and because there was no timing, we could leave anytime after we registered. The route started with a mile of road before we head off-road up our first hill, Little Humlemoor. Karl had some trouble at this point and held back, but kept his determined and caught up later in the run looking strong. We continued across to Humblemoor Hill before making a slippery decent to the waiting cameraman, probably hoping to catch some good shots of us falling. Across to Buchtrig farm, we formed a larger group with more runners and made our next ascent, nearly going the wrong way because we were too busy chatting and not paying attention to where we were going. Karl’s shouts from close behind put us on the right track. We continued on until we reached the Mountain Refuge Hut on the Pennine Way. Karl was with us again and we made our way along the Pennine Way, up Lamb Hill, Beefstand Hill and then Mozie Law. Visibility was poor with thick mist but the path was easy to follow. We were still in a large group at this point running past lots of walkers on a path made from stone slabs. Every so often there would be a pool of water instead of a slab and it was interesting guessing if it was 2 inch deep or 2 foot deep. A runner took a bad fall and in losing his glasses, he got a load of dirty water in his eyes. Rob came to the rescue but inadvertently supplied the orange juice that the fallen runner sprayed into his eyes to wash them. A citric wash must have done the trick. After reaching around the 10 miles mark we departed the Pennine Way and followed a track called The Street, which was to take us all the way back to Hownam. There was a refreshment checkpoint soon after leaving the Pennine Way, and it was great to have a Twix to eat. I have been craving Twix’s ever since. We set off from the check point and Bruce made a dash for the finish. Our group reduced to three and then two as I ran the final few miles with Rob.

It was good being out in the hills again. Despite a little knee pain during the run, I finished feeling as fresh as I started and my knee was fine. I look forward to my next outing.