Monday, 4 June 2018

Race Reports April - June 2018

Since the Thomas Theyer Race I have competed in 5 more races, here are the reports;

Herod Farm
AS 4.5km race 340m ascent
I've done this race before and had blotted out the hardest parts in a childbirth type fashion.  There is a reason everyone calls it 'Horrid Farm'... The start is up a steep tarmac track and goes on for quite a while before you hit the big stuff.  I had forgotten how tough the climbs were! After the first big climb I settled into the downward heathery rough descent and was feeling like I had tried quite hard and avoided stitch so was therefore doing ok.  As we approached the nursing home with a view (which I remembered from last time) I looked ahead in horror - I had totally forgotten the scrambling, vertigo inducing second killer climb!!! (obviously blocked out).  This climb is seriously tough.  Think staring at someone's Inov-8 tread and not daring to look down steep.  At the top I steeled myself for another descent when I noticed Connor (AKA Long Legs) ahead of me, I realised I could possibly catch him up if he was struggling with his old creaky knees ( ;-) ), so it was game on!  As we headed down to the track we had come up earlier I really pushed it.  But so did Connor! I unfortunately didn't get my trademark sprint finish as I was overcome with a stitch which reduced me to almost a walk.  A disappointing finish but I had really enjoyed the race and was hoping I wasn't too far off my previous time.  
I finished 12th Lady out of 38 35:33 - 46 seconds slower than my previous time and one position lower but without the stitch I think I would have been pretty close.

Kinder Downfall
BM 15.4km/600m 
In the week before the downfall I recced part of the route with Caz and the dogs.  I can't believe it has taken me 35 years to go up Kinder despite living so close!  I was really glad of the recce on race day as I felt like I knew what to expect for the majority of the route, having also run William Clough in another race previously.

The start of the race was from the bridge in Hayfield near the Royal Hotel. There were hundreds of runners and I was quite excited to get going.  I made a few rookie errors from the start.  Firstly I started too far back.  This meant I had a lot of making up to do on the 'ups'.  I got calf cramp shortly after Charlies cairn and had to stop to stretch it out.  The weather was drizzly and I made another error in wearing my jacket.  After I got back on track I stopped to take the jacket off and put it in my pack, losing even more places.  This race wasn' going well!  I wasn't bothered as I had told myself that I wasn't really used to racing 9 miles and I would just pace it as well as I could and enjoy it.  

As I finally got going properly I caught up with Estelle who gave me short shrift and basically told me to get on with it! I carried on steadily for a while until I could start to pick out routes and then latched onto an older Pennine Runner who I decided would be a good route picker!  

This worked and I bounded up the boulders and rocks and along the plateau until we came to the trig and I knew where I was! After this we followed stone flagged paths to Edale Cross then made the rocky track descent to the fields (which the farmers had kindly covered in cow shit -  felt sorry for that marshal).  Finally we were down onto the road by the caravan site and I was really tramming.  I pushed it hard to the finish and was pleased to make up quite a few places in the last kilometre. Overall I was 18th Lady out of 67 in 1:47:53.  I will definitely do that race again.  

Rainow 5
BS 8km/229m 
This was my second attempt at Rainow 5.  In 2016 (when I was on quite good form) I ran it in 45:48 so my aim was to finish in under 45 minutes this time.  

The start of this race is quite fast - heading up the tarmac road before it goes left onto a rough farm track.  Once onto the track you climb up for a while before turning left and heading downhill to the first of many many stiles/kissing gates!  There is a lot of opportunity to rest in this race!   Everyone was well behaved and waited in line until their turn though the gates/sitles so there was no drama on that front.  Once through the gate and down some large deep steps we headed up towards White Nancy.  I had remembered the short sharp scrambly climb up to the big white landmark and told my legs to shut up as I staggered on along the ridge.  Once on the ridge I admired the view to the left of Manchester and beyond then concentrated for another grassy climb before we dropped down to the horribly cambered fields towards home.  As I was running I kept telling myself I could beat my PB, I didn't let myself look at my watch though but spotted Connor in the distance and resolved to try harder to catch him.    As we joined the farm track for the descent to the road near the finish I came up behind two ladies.  I stuck behind them for a bit but realised I could press on harder so I passed them and pressed on.  As I got to the bottom of the track I momentarily worried I had peaked too soon but then I got another glint of Connor - I had nearly caught him up!  I pushed it as hard as I could to catch him but when my friend Reene saw me coming she cheered me on - alerting Connor to my steaming up behind him! Connor pulled a sprint finish out the bag and JUST pipped me to the post and a new PB!  I finished in 44:58 - 8th lady out of 55.
My Nemesis!

Shining Tor 
AS 10km/311m 

Another race I have done twice before - Shining Tor is not my favourite race.  It should be as its on my stomping ground in the Goyt Valley but I find the downhill stint at the end very taxing and usually end up with a stitch!  My previous PB on this race was 55:45 in 2016, and I remembered finding it tough on the climbs and overcooking it leaving nothing for the finish.  This time I was much more conservative on the first few climbs - especially working my way up Shooters Clough.  I kept running but very slowly, and passed lots of runners who were walking up.  

Another great photo from Frank Golden Photography

As we headed up to the trig I felt like I had enjoyed the race so far and not over cooked it.  On the plateau/stone flags I dropped back a bit and Connor passed me. I always find flat sections hard to progress and this was no exception.  I felt a slight stitch coming but managed to avoid it by slowing down then pushing harder on the little ups, as we headed right and down The Street, I was feeling really good and in a deja-vu type scenario I caught up Connor once again! I stuck with him for ages realising that there was no point pushing it too hard on the rocky tricky terrain.  After the photo opportunity it was game on along the dam wall, I tried to make a break for it but once Connor engaged his huge stride I could only watch as he passed me by.  I tried til the end and saw a glimmer of opportunity as the finish funnel is around a grassy tight turn, I went for it with whippet like agility round the bend but alas, he pipped me again! 

Overall I was very chuffed with another new PB in 54:44 and 13th lady out of 96 plus a great sprint in with Connor!

Lantern Pike Dash

AS 2km/200m

I decided to enter the Hayfield Fell Championship this year which consists of short, medium and long counter races.  You have to complete 4 races including one of each distance.  I had already done Kinder Downfall as my medium counter so I thought the Lantern Pike Dash sounded an easy Short option.  How wrong was I!!?  It was bloody madness and not my best effort!  I told my Mum who had come along to support that the 2km race would take 10 minutes.  As I stood looking up the wimberry clad hillside I uttered the words "make that 20".  I wasn't far wrong! I attempted a warm up but in hindsight I probably should have gone on a decent run first as the steepness of the downhill in particular took a few days (and infact now weeks) to recover from.  I remember thinking I needed a drink at the top (alcohol would have helped), very wobbly stiles, sun beaming on my head and a crap attempt at getting down the hill at any semblance of speed.  Loads of people fell, I didnt as I was so slow,  I made up a couple of places on the final ascent (more normal gradient) and remember making a mental note to  avoid this one in future!  Overall I was 6th lady out of 18 in 18 minutes 44.  A very very tough race.  

Look carefully to see us crazy fools scrambling up the hillside in a steady stream!
I have been quite happy with my running form, especially with starting to beat previous PBs in races.  The Lantern Pike Dash left me with a calf strain, so I am currently concentrating on upping my bike miles and swimming training as these have been severely neglected this year!

My RunTogether group is going well, I have 4-5 regulars who are aiming at this years Whaley Waltz fell race and we have been enjoying going offroad.  I love showing people the local area through running and getting off road.  

All in all a great start to the fell running season.  I am just crossing my fingers my calf will be ok for the next races I have planned - Grindleford, Kinder Trog, Whaley Waltz, Hathersage Gala, Bamford Carnival and the Hathersage Hilly triathlon in July.  

Until next time - happy running!
Aidan and I ran the Old Man of COniston and Levers Water in 25 degree heat on the second May Bank Holiday.  My calf gave up the week after!

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Tentative Times!

Thanks to Frank Golden for letting me use these images - they are great! Find him here on Facebook - 

It's been a while since my last blog post, apologies for that.  I have been hibernating and feeling grumpy at the most hideous winter for a long time - muddy, wet, cold and snow besieged - I am so looking forward to winter 18/19 (said no English person ever).  Yesterday somebody mentioned Christmas and it put me in a bad mood for ages!

Looking back at my last post on the last day of January, I can update the goals I spoke of and fill you in on progress so far in 2018...

The #doggoals are coming along nicely.  I have done two lots of puppy training classes and Aggie is doing well.  Today she is exactly 7 months old and I have just returned from the best walk yet! She is coming back to me rather than just going off to play with every dog we meet, and I am really enjoying walking everyday.  It lessens the guilt on non-running days.  I am really looking forward to doing canicross with her, I think it's going to be a lot of fun and I have got some ideas about developing a High Peak Canicross Club so watch this space (I don't do things by halves you know!).

Ha ha! Sorry Aidan!
As far as #coachgoals are concerned, I am delighted with the progress of my RunTogether Run for the Hills groups!  My first group has completed their 5km goal and recce'd Lyme Park parkrun and some of those ladies (plus more from my groups last summer) are now joining me in our improvers group which meets every Monday at 9am for a 5-10km run route.  If you, or anyone you know would like to join us, just sign up here.
That's more like it!

My #racegoals are also in full swing. 
10th Feb 18 - York parkrun - 23:07
10th Mar 18 - Buxton AC 5km - 23:05 (1st lady! For the first time ever!)
15th Apr 18 - Thomas Theyer Whitehall Wiggle (10.8km)  - 1:03:46 (3rd lady for the second time here)

The Thomas Theyer race (where all the images for this post are from) was the first proper fell type race I have done since I injured my hip.  With nearly 400m of ascent and quite a bit of fast downhill it was a real tester but I seem to have got away with it! I chatted and ran with my friend and fellow GVS Aidan, we became those annoying people who chat during races!  To be fair he was doing most of the chatting, I was puffing away next to him!  I really enjoyed it and it pushed my fitness levels to the limit so I need to work on stamina especially with a 9 miler coming up next week!

She'll be coming round the mountain when she comes!

I am quite happy with my pace, but hills are not as easy as they were due to all the flat hip rehab, so I need to focus on hill strength and technique in my training sessions.  Tomorrow night is the Herod Farm Fell Race (AKA Horrid Farm) it's a very short and very steep 3 miler, I may do it but I also have Kinder Downfall (9 miler) on Sunday so will have to see how I feel tomorrow and if I can get childcare...

My #cyclinggoals are off to a very sluggish start, mainly due to the increase in running and the poor weather.  I have done a couple of muddy MTB rides recently and as we are promised 20 degrees plus this week I have grand ambitions to dust off Ladybird and get out road biking again.  I certainly feel un-bikefit at the moment.  I am hoping to fit some sportives in this year, I'm just not sure when or how yet!

Grinning and bearing...
Another sport I have totally neglected since I got Aggie is swimming.  I went a couple of weeks ago to try and rekindle my regular weekly "tickover" swim but it didn't go well as I ended up with another migraine.  I am going to go today and try again. I am very slow and resembling a whale at the moment but hey, you've got to start somewhere right!?

I think that's all for now, My Inov-8 X Claws are brilliant, I love the cushioning/grip combo!

Happy running - especially to all the London Marathoners! (please sponsor my friend Helen here for Leonard Cheshire Disability if you can!) and I will update again soon!


Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Goal Keeping

No, not of the football kind but the importance of challenging yourself and setting personal goals.  This blog, my first of 2018, is all about my aims for this year.  

The biggest change to the Aspinall household is the addition of Aggie our (now) 19 week Hungarian Vizsla.  Apart from the difficulties facing all new puppy owners - shark attacks, zoomies, toilet training... her actual basic training is coming along well.  Daily walks have brought another social dimension to my life - I talk to all manner of folk whilst Aggie assaults their canine companion and I love that she gives us family bonding time especially at weekends - we are loving getting out in the fresh air when previously we may have stayed in.  Obviously my long term goals are to run with her and train her to run with my MTB, I have been taking her to Sheffield for Gundog training which is paving the foundations of her directional commands and obedience and I have let her loose on my 8 year old as he bikes along the reservoir paths - so far so good (bar the occasional emergency stop as she runs directly in front of the wheels!).


My new RunTogether group is proving to be a big success! I have 15 ladies on my books  all doing really well and even meeting up outside of sessions.  I feel really proud seeing my two groups of ladies - summer and winter cohorts all running from the school car park, meeting outside of sessions and making life changes - it's brilliant to see!  As far as coaching goals go, I am hoping to complete the Fell Coach in Run Fitness Qualification this summer, which would enable me to offer more in depth coaching to individuals and groups.

Since my hip injury and slow rehabilitation into running I have finally started racing again and it feels great!
In January I completed three runs which offer a race atmosphere without the pressure of a real race.  I cannot stress enough how useful parkruns are as a training tool.  we are very lucky to have Lyme Park on our doorstep which is basically a fell race in parkrun packaging.  Here are my times so far...
Buxton AC 5km park run - 4th lady, 24:03
Lyme Park parkrun 20/1/18 - 2nd lady, 25:53
Lyme Park parkrun 27/1/18 - 3rd lady, 25:48
Racing encourages me to try harder, it increases my fitness and fulfills the mantra of "train to race, race to train".  
I feel so much better mentally now I have more focus, I have really missed it.  

My racing aims for 2018 are to compete in the Hayfield Fell Championship (2 races have already been run) where I will complete at least 4 races, with 1 of each distance...

  1. Kinder Downfall - Sun, 22nd Apr (Medium)
  2. May Queen - Fri, 18th May (Short)
  3. Mount Famine - Sat, 19th May (Short)
  4. Lantern Pike Dash - Sun, 20th May (Short)
  5. Kinder Trog - Sun, 24th Jun (Long)
  6. Cracken Edge - Wed, 1st Aug (Medium)
  7. Lantern Pike - Sat, 15th Sep (Short)
I am hoping to do a couple of sprint triathlons and some local duathlons as well.

I really utilised my bike last year what with my hip injury, and I am keen to complete a few sportives again this year including the Manchester to Blackpool and the Grindleford Goat, plus some longer flatter rides to challenge myself.  
I will continue to have MTB training with Charlie Evans which is really useful and most importantly fun to hopefully develop my confidence and skills on the trails.

All in all I seem to have many goals, but I believe everyone needs to have something to aim for - so what are you waiting for - challenge yourself!

I have been saving up for a running vest backpack and after 2 failed attempts I have finally got myself the right model and size!  I have bought the Ultimate Direction PB 3.0 - it is fabulous (if not a bit pricey) and I cant wait to test it at Kinder Downfall in April.  
I have also bought some Inov-8 X-Claw 275s which are so far very cushioned but with a mudclaw-esque sole.  I will review both products in my next blog.  

Happy Running!

Friday, 1 December 2017

New beginnings!

After a year of waiting and over 18 months of research, Aggie the Vizsla has finally come home! My future running dog is already (after only 3 weeks) a much loved member of our family.  Having a puppy is very much like having a baby, I had forgotten about sleep deprivation and having to have eyes in the back of my head but I wouldn't change her for the world!  

For now I am working on the basic commands and will be trying to tailor her training towards canicross and running with my bike in the future.  Vizslas need 12-15 months to develop and grow before being allowed to run with humans so I will be blogging about both of these sports in future posts in more detail so watch this space.  

Another new development for me is the creation of my new RunTogether group.  

"RunTogether has been created by England Athletics, the membership and development body for grassroots athletics and running in England, to provide fun, friendly, supportive and inclusive running opportunities for everyone in England".  

Anybody with a running qualification such as the Leader in Run Fitness or Coach in Running Fitness can become a RunTogether Leader.  I have my Fell LiRF qualification so it was a no brainer to join this movement to help and support me in the process of helping new runners find their feet.  

From January I will be starting a 10 week course aimed at new or returning runners to get from 0-5km with the eventual milestone of running Lyme Park parkrun.  Anyone interested in joining me can sign up here.

My hip is finally better and I am running 10km pain free so I am delighted to be able to share my passion for running again!  

Happy Running!

Thursday, 2 November 2017

The Power of Positivity...

The other day I looked back at my aims for this year, it made for pretty depressing reading - as due to my hip injury I have done nothing compared with the dizzy heights of last year with its PBs and Fell Championship title.  But, in the theme of positive thinking I have put a spin on the aims here - 

  • GVS Fell series - defend my title - ok so this didn't happen
  • Some of the Hayfield series fell races (short, hilly ones!) - neither did this
  • The Slateman (as part of a mixed team "The High Peaky Blinders") - I managed this!  I competed in the cycle leg with an ace team of ladies and we loved it!
  • Grindleford Gallop - I did this!  (Before the hip injury) it was great!  I didn't love it but I did it and I now know that I could complete a marathon if I wanted to - which I still don't!
  • Another triathlon (sprint distance) and definitely the Hathersage Hilly again - I sadly didn't do either of these, but, I have kept up with my swimming and feel ready for the 2018 season! Bring it on!
  • The Grindleford Goat (the longer "Billy" course this year) - I did this in biblical weather and nearly finished off my poor husband in the process!  (sorry Chris!)
  • Improve my Mountain Bike Orienteering skills! - Another one I didn't do BUT, I did manage to hook up with Charlie Evans of Bikelife Coaching who has started to coach myself and a group of other ladies in Mountain Biking Skills which is awesome and I am loving it!

Galloping in Grindleford
Other achievements include my ladies run coaching group and it's success stories - many of the ladies have continued running in my absence and a few have started to join in with the more advanced speed/hill groups I am starting to do again, this is great news!  I plan to do more run coaching soon, with 0-5km type groups and some technical fell running groups.  

Another positive was completing my first 100 mile ride.  I entered the Velo Birmingham, a closed road sportive and have written an article for Totally Active Magazine on my experience - watch this space for the link to the Feb/Mar edition in which I will hopefully be featured.   

Running Update - 
After my hip injury at Castleton fell race in June, I have spent the summer resting and starting a strict rehabilitation routine to get me back into running.  

After resting it for around 12 weeks with little improvement, I was starting to think this might be the end of my running career. Christine my physio, advised that I needed to start running again - for sanity purposes - in a more structured way.  My first attempt at a comeback was not great, I did too much too soon on holiday and it started to hurt again.  

After feeling really despondent I spoke to Christine again who suggested I watch some YouTube videos (see links below) about perceived pain and the scientific research and proof about how a lot of pain actually comes from the subconscious.  It sounds daft saying the pain is in your mind - it obviously is actual physical pain but, by changing the way we think about the pain we can actually stop it in its tracks - or reduce it at least.  

I am always sceptical about these notions, having being told pain is all in the head before and thinking it ridiculous, pain is pain in my book - if something hurts there is normally a physical reason for it.  But what Christine said got me thinking... actually sometimes I will catch myself thinking "my hip hasn't hurt today" then shortly afterwards it starts hurting again.  Or, I would think "I'm going to try a run", - it would then immediately hurt again because I expected it to.  I became sure that the pain was being caused by my perception of it rather than any physical reason, after all, I had rested it for so long, something must have repaired!  

So I did two things, firstly I decided to start running very gently - along the canal or similar surface for 2-2.5kms.  I wrote a training plan to incorporate 3 runs per week (all with rest days in between) which kept at one distance for 2 weeks then moved up by half a kilometre for the next two.  This plan has worked, I have increased up to 4km and feel that I am getting somewhere now.  This week I have tried a 400m speed session with my running group and although I only did 9 of the 12 400m laps, I felt that my pace was consistent and not too slow.  My hip did hurt that evening but I expected it to.  I will now start again with my steady 4km runs and see how it feels, fingers crossed I am overcoming it both physically and mentally.  

Aims for next year will be to do some parkruns in the first instance and to increase my pace again.

It's been a busy year cycling-wise, thank God for my bikes! Without cycling and swimming I think I would be in a bad place both mentally and physically! I've enjoyed pushing myself on the road bike to do more distance and am now really enjoying the skills side of mountain biking with Charlies help.  As the nights have drawn in and the weather is getting worse I have pretty much hung Ladybird up for the winter - I will go out on the roads if its a dry and sunny day but otherwise i'm going to be doing plenty of bogtrotting on Pearl.  

In other news...
Around this time last year, I wrote about the planned new addition to the Aspinall Household - a Hungarian Vizsla puppy, well after nearly a years wait I am so excited to be collecting our pup "Aggie" in 9 days time (not that i'm counting or anything!), so I will be keeping you updated with our training progress, unfortunately Vizslas bones take a while to develop so it will be at least a year before I can run or ride with her, but I am going to be putting all the groundwork into training her to help with the commands for when we can finally run free!

Happy Running


YouTube Videos -
Why Things Hurt
Understanding Pain in less than 5 minutes
Treating Pain using the Brain

Friday, 1 September 2017

Summer Update...

What a busy summer - but not exactly in a sporting way! I have had a lovely break with my family, my best laid plans of swimming everyday were curtailed by my youngest having bronchitis and not being able to tolerate any cold water! We did compete at the Dart 18 National Championships (read on for report) and I have done a little bit of cycling but I have to confess to mainly exercising my arm whilst lifting a glass to my lips...oops!

My first event of the summer was the Manchester to Blackpool 60 mile cycle ride in July.  Chris and I were raising money to help send a friends child to Disneyland - Harrison is 8 years old and has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy - a life-limiting condition which means he is losing mobility as he ages as his muscles weaken.  

After the sprint finish!  Still smiling! Pigtails flying!

Some of #TeamSkoda!
Here is a report of the day...

Well, what an experience!  I can categorically say that the organisation of getting 18 people plus bikes to and from Manchester/Blackpool was more exhausting than the ride itself!  For us regular Peak District cyclists it was totally different from the drags and drops we are used to.   

Caz and I leading the legend that is Fred Salmon! (And some random guy!)
The route was mainly flat and for us hillbillies it was not too challenging a ride, even though most of us had never covered the distance.  The scenery improved from about halfway and the roads were mainly quiet.  I would advise a novice rider to try a closed road type sportive ideally, as with the volume of cyclists - some of the cars encountered were getting quite frustrated (for good reason!).  Some of the worst obstacles were the other riders as some people were obviously not regular riders and some were downright dangerous wobbling about the road.  

Fitness was not a problem for most of our team, everyone took it at their own pace and had a group to ride with, next time I would definitely like to set off earlier to avoid the slower riders and I would only ride with one or two others - agreed beforehand.  It is very difficult waiting for people and a long day if you feel you're not progressing, in fact physically it is the time in the saddle which is the biggest hurdle for most people.  Our team worked well as we ended up in comfortable groups, but in hindsight this should probably have been agreed before the day as I personally spent about 20 miles trying (but not succeeding!) not to lose anyone and making sure nobody was on their own.  

Once I settled into a group I found the ride really enjoyable - you feel like you are really making progress flying past people - I don't think that there was one part of the route where I lost sight of another rider! Stupidly, I made a huge mistake about 15 miles from Blackpool at one of the excellent food stops.  I obviously hadn't eaten enough en-route and was starving.  I wolfed down a chicken salad sandwich and a bakewell flapjack washed down with some tea (I know, rookie error!), this was great until I started to push for the finish, resulting in stomach cramp!  I should definitely have known better but one of my downfalls is my big appetite! 

Overall I really enjoyed the day, and I will definitely do it again, it whet my appetite for big sportives for sure.  Big thanks to Skoda for the jerseys, my Dad Alan, Chris' Dad Jim, my Mum Angela, Fred from the Bike Factory, Simon Twigg and the Whytes for driving the various vehicles and giving lifts and everyone who came and made it a really fun day!  

At the finish!
My top tips for anyone considering the Manchester to Blackpool ride would be 

  • Train properly!
  • Arrange as much as you can beforehand - particularly transport to and from the event
  • Have your bike serviced before the day and carry spare tubes/pump
  • Find a friend who is the same fitness/ability level as you to ride with
  • Wear correct clothing - padded shorts are a must!
  • Eat small amounts often - I regretted not following this advice!
  • Watch out for other riders - inexperienced riders are unpredictable!
  • Drink sips of water every 20 minutes 
  • Encourage others and enjoy the atmosphere

Running Update...
Well there is good and bad news on this, as my 6 weeks rest period was drawing nearer I tried a couple of short 2.5km runs before we went away.  I wore cushioned shoes and didn't push it, wow my running fitness had disappeared!  I felt so unfit and slightly panicked at my (reduced) lung capacity!

I am not the most patient person when to comes to running, I just like going fast, but I realised I needed to be steady and take it slow.  On the Isle of Wight for our summer holiday I tried another few runs, the first was a 5km trail run, it felt ok and the highlight was encountering a lady who shouted "week 3, couch to 5k!" as we crossed paths, it was lovely!  I shouted "Well done, keep going!" and it hit me how much I have missed it.  

I did a 6 km off roader, after that and it felt great to be back on grass!  My hip didn't seem to complain too much, so I tried another, slightly quicker 4km but this was a step too far and my hip was sore for days afterwards.  I then waited 5 days and tried running home - less than 2km from the Bike Factory and it hurt again.  To say I am frustrated with it is an understatement.  I feel slow and like I may never be the same runner again, I am going to ask my physio if there is anything else I can do.  

Back in July I was approached by Runderwear to review their running briefs - I jumped at the chance and was hoping to have fully tested them by now!  I will be writing a full review of them in due course but in a nutshell, I love them!  I have cycled and run in them and find them flattering and comfortable.  Watch this space for more info on them soon!

Dart 18 National Sailing Championships 
August Bank Holiday saw the national Championships at Dee Sailing Club on the Wirral.  Chris and I have been sailing the Dart (an 18 foot catamaran) together for 18 years - Chris introduced me to the sailing circuit - both National and International - when I was just 16! We work very well as a team and have had some good results over the years including numerous club wins when we sailed at Carsington Water (we have an impressive trophy cabinet!) and then later successes at Dee sailing Club on the Wirral - our home club.  We have competed in France and Italy and had good results at the Anglesey Offshore.

When the children came along the sailing reduced massively, as happens with lots of people.  My parents have always been great and we always try to support our club where we can, the Nationals were no exception!

There were 70 boats entered and we had a mixed bag weatherwise.  On shore the wind felt strong but we had mainly light airs over the competition with the exception of one great race where it blew up to around a force 4.  

We improved over the course of the races and by race 10 we were really getting into it!  Our best results were a 17th and a 21st and we had the best time!  

Dee Sailing Club were amazing hosts as always, with highlights including a beer and a pasty after racing from the Dee Galley Gals (literally on the beach!), live music at a hilltop bar created for the event featuring local talent (and fellow Dart 18 sailor) Lucy Mayhew,  Wirral Gin!, the live band on Saturday night playing from 10pm - 1.30am non stop!, the nicest people you could ever meet, Wirral Gin! and some great sailing!

Full results here.

What's next?
I have been given the opportunity to take part in the Velo Birmingham - a 100 mile sportive, and to write about my experience for Totally Active Magazine - I am nervous but excited to take part, I just hope my holiday depleted fitness levels can make it round - watch this space!

I hope my next blog will be full of the joys of running again, but if not I am always thankful for being able to do any form of exercise so cycling and swimming and not to forget pilates will definitely be back on the menu once school recommences! 

In the meantime, happy running, sailing, cycling...


Sunday, 2 July 2017

Hip! hip! No way :-(

Hopefully you will have read my article from Totally Active Magazine, if not you can read my "How to Get into Fell Running" feature  here.  The photos used in the article were taken by my lovely and talented friend Shona Bradley - thanks Shona!  I have used a few more here as I think they show the atmosphere of fell running really well.  Also thanks to Caz for being my wing man and letting me look like I was leading!

I have recently been so proud of my ladies running groups, a few weeks ago some of them completed Lyme Park parkrun after around 9 weeks of running in my beginners groups.  Many of them haven't run before so I was really pleased for them and am looking forward to seeing them continue and progress.  It was very important to me to show them that hills are not the enemy, on the contrary they are the jewel in the fell running crown, offering stunning visual as well as fitness rewards!  

In June, I competed in Castleton fell race.  It was my first time there and I really enjoyed it.  The parking was a good 5 minute walk from the start area and registration was busy but very well sorted - channeling runners into little rooms to fill in forms and collect numbers.  

I made a mistake at the start and positioned myself too far back in the field, in hindsight next time I will go to the front as the bottleneck which follows in the first 500m was a little frustrating.  There are a lot of rocky paths in this race and I would recommend wearing shoes you trust.  I was wearing a brand new pair of Roclites which turned out to be slightly too big and I had to stop twice to tighten my laces which was most annoying.

From the Hollowford Centre the course goes up to Lose Hill after a funny camber along a sheep field.  The ascent to the trig is stoney with steep steps but is still runnable.  At the top we bared left and I saw fantastic views to Edale and Derwent water momentarily as I caught my breath.  There was a technical rocky downhill after Lose Hill and I found it quite hard going until we passed through Hollins Cross and I saw a few Striders supporters cheering us on!

The next section took us up to the top of Mam Tor where we had to avoid the front runners gunning down the hill towards us.  I watched the route they were taking and decided I would stick left on the grass for as far as possible when my turn came to descend.  At the trig the wind was blowing a gale and buffeted us round and spat us back down the hill towards Hollins Cross once more.  

The next section was again steep and technical, I was really careful not to go over on my ankle but went for it as much as I could.  Once into a field of cow parsley after a short tarmac section I started to wind it up for the finish.  I was determined the runner behind me was not going to be passing!  A short burst to the finish and mission accomplished, no one passed and I was happy with my effort.  I walked to the refreshment table to have a cup of orange cordial which was very welcome!  Not my best result ever but after quite a long fell running break I was pleased with 1st lady strider and 12th WSEN overall in 64:50.   
The following day I ran round Lyme Park with my running group and noticed my hip hurting with every stride.  I put it down to the concussion effect on my joints from the fell race and decided I would rest until my Tuesday evening group.

By the Tuesday my hip was still hurting, even in walk and in hindsight I probably shouldn't have done 7km that evening.  My hip pain turned chronic and I had to take painkillers and ice it.

Three weeks down the line and my hip is still no better.  I have had physio and been recommended to have 6 weeks off running - my first proper running injury!  I have to take full painkillers/anti inflammatories and do exercises.  I am still allowed to cycle, swim and attend pilates classes - but no running!  

As a result I have withdrawn from Hathersage Hilly Triathlon.  I am really sad about it but these things happen and I'd rather recover quicker and get back to run fitness gradually than wreck myself for the summer by running on it at a race.  My physio says my mantra has to be "to it not through it" meaning to go to the pain but not push it.  I'm going to be sensible and stick to the plan.  My biggest fear is losing run fitness and putting on weight but I will be careful to avoid it by eating sensibly (and trying not to drink too much at weekends! - good intentions!)

For now, my running groups are continuing without me, I am helping them on a consultation type basis recommending routes and hearing their progress through our WhatsApp group.

Today, I have had the pleasure of run directing at Whaley Bridge junior parkrun, it was a lovely sunny morning and we had a hilarious warmup featuring Paul Potato! I love the randomness of working with children - I miss it from my teaching days so this put a big smile on my face!

Next weekend I will be taking part in the 60 mile Manchester to Blackpool ride, which I am looking forward to.  Organising a team of 17 is the order of the week!...

Happy and injury free running to all!