September

I woke up on the 1st of September with no races booked at all, by the end of  that first day I had two booked, by the end of the first week I had booked a few more, and now September is looking like my busiest month for racing all year, at least so far, so this might turn into a bit of a long blog! Trying to get my motivation and drive back after falling off the wagon hard at the end of August after an injury.

Spartan Sprint Peterborough

A spur of the moment decision two days before the race found me screaming “I am a spartan” once more on a start line on a Saturday morning, despite having decided earlier in the year that I wouldn’t be doing any Spartan races at all this season.

Unusually for me I was running in a late wave, joining a little team of OCR Wrongens for the race. We were having a slow and leisurely trot around the sprint course. I was glad to be keeping the pace down as I was still nursing a bad ankle from Dirty Dozen a couple of weeks before. It was a lot of fun hopping over walls, chatting and having a laugh. Eventually though the dreaded burpees reared their ugly head, not unexpectedly at the rope climb. I actually got half way up, there was even a split second where I thought I might actually make it this time! Sadly my weak ankle got the better of me and I just couldn’t do it, so I gave in after 3 attempts and got cracking on my burpees, still, progress is progress!  I also got half way across the monkey bars too before falling off when one was just a little out of my reach, and I predictably failed my spear throw earning me a few more. I really enjoyed the barbed wire craw which was pitched low over a lot of mud forcing you onto your stomach to get covered  from head to foot. Overall the race was pretty standard Spartan fare, but it was really good fun and has actually left me wanting to do more OCR’s, a feeling that has been very much missing this year until this race and Dirty Dozen last month started changing my mind back. Nice work Spartan!

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BBB 10k

The day after Spartan I went with my husband to Battle to run the BBB 10k. I know I shouldn’t have been running so much on my stupid busted foot but sometimes the head needs more therapy than the body. I was anticipating a slowish time due to the injury, being a bit tired from the day before and because I had been told the course has a few hills. When asked by a friend before the race what I was aiming for I said as long as I could keep it inside the hour I’d be pretty happy, and I gave a best estimate of 52mins, a time I have achieved before but wasn’t really expecting on this day. The course was good, and there were some hills. As usual I started off way to quickly at a pace I couldn’t maintain very long, but long enough to get me out of the start line crush. I pushed as much as I could, my ankle (and knee, which I had foolishly decided not to tape this time) giving me a bit of jip. I pushed as I came down Battle highstreet towards the finish line at the Abbey, but I was struggling and exhausted and in need of an icepack when I crossed the line. I had still managed to do pretty well, with a child shouting that I was 20th lady although I got pipped on the finish line by another woman, and I’ve not looked at the results, I was also spot on with my estimate of 52mins. The run alone also gave me time to clear my head and make the decision to stop being so bloody miserable, a work in progress i’m sure, but a step in the right direction none-the-less.

Nearing the finish at the BBB 10k
Nearing the finish at the BBB 10k

Rye Summer Series 5k

The weekend after Spartan and the Battle 10k I booked not just one, but three races over three days kicking off with the final race in the Rye classic summer series, a 5km out and back at Rye Nature Reserve. Unbeknown to me at the time, I was going into this race sitting in 2nd place lady for the whole series having done reasonably well at the first two races. I set off near the front and got caught up in the initial rush, once again setting off way too quickly, but settled down into a maintainable pace. Two women over took me, and left me in 3rd place for the rest of the race. I managed to complete the course in a little over 23mins giving me a new personal best and I finished in 3rd winning myself a bottle of wine. My third place also gave me enough points to go on and win the series, an utter surprise and I was absolutely chuffed to receive a lovely little trophy as well as entry into next years runs.

Finished, back home with my wine and trophy
Finished, back home with my wine and trophy

We Run, They Run, I Run: Rye Run 1

Well that’s a mouthful! This was We Run, They, Run, I Run’s inaugural event, and consisted of a 5.28 mile out and back run, again at Rye nature reserve, with a 6 hour time frame for you to run as many laps as you can, want or are able to do. 5 laps would equal a full marathon, and this was my initial goal, although I doubted my ability to do this having not actually trained to run that kind of distance and not done any kind of distance running for quite a while due to my injuries. We set out on our first lap and the running was fine, I was a little tired from the night before but I was happy with my pace, which I was trying to keep around 9 minute miles, and I finished the first lap comfortable. At the end of each lap your wrist band was marked, and when you chose to finish your run you sounded a horn and your time and distance were recorded. There was a fantastically well stocked aid station with all kinds of goodies for refuelling. I set off on my second lap, but now I was starting to feel yesterdays run, and all the injuries I had been carrying, by the end of my second I was quite uncomfortable. I took some time to take some food and energy gel on board and had a good drink, then set out for a third lap. I knew if I could complete a 3rd lap it would be the longest distance I’ve ever run before, but by the amount I was struggling by the turn around point it was obvious to me that that would be my last lap. At the end of my third, just as my watch beeped off 16miles, I sounded the horn and received my, quite frankly fabulous, medal and set about stretching and trying to ease my painful legs. I was disappointed to have to stop after 3 laps, as there was still a lot of time left on the clock, but sometimes you have to listen to your body, and I had a third race to do the next day. I had initially worried that this race might be a little dull being out and back laps, but it was actually really friendly as you started to recognise people you passed in either direction and give each other encouragement, and I’d certainly like to go back another time and give this another crack.

Finishing my 3rd lap
Finishing my 3rd lap

Hellingly 10k

Rather foolishly, after my 16mile run I had a birthday party to go to, and ended up staying out rather later than I had intended, so I got up for the final race of the three I was doing over the weekend after only 3 hours sleep, nursing a hangover, as well as all the aches and pains from the previous two days running and it’s fair to say that I wasn’t in a very fit state to run 10km, still I had signed up, so I was going. It was a lovely hot day as we set off to walk to the start line (which is about 800m from the carpark/finish). I had no intention of pushing myself in this race, my body was pretty much wrecked from the day before so I just set off at a pace I found comfortable and tried to ignore my screaming legs and painful feet. Despite the pain in my body I really enjoyed the run, it’s hilly and run on reasonably quiet country roads. My pace actually picked up a bit towards the end of the race, and I managed to cross the line only 5mins slower than the previous year, and still inside an hour which I was really pleased with. With extremely painful legs now though I am glad I’ve no more races to do and a day off tomorrow to recover. When Catatonia sang about being dead from the waist down she could have been talking about me at the moment. A week of light training is on the cards now to get my body moving again before next weekends race.

Coming into the finish at Hellingly
Coming into the finish at Hellingly

Nuclear Blackout

Much like with Spartan, I had not planned on doing any Nuclear races this year, but when it turned out I was free to race, I just couldn’t bring myself to miss Blackout, although this was the first year I didn’t also do the day race too. We travelled up to Essex in a packed car and got ourselves ready to race, head-torches on and an enthusiastic warm up and it was time to go. I set off by myself weaving around people as I had started near the back of a very packed wave. I managed to hoist myself over the first wall almost by my own power, although some kind stranger did give my back a shove at one point, then it was on until I came to a large container to climb over. Here I caught up with OCR ledgend Fay Kelly, who asked me if I wanted to join her and run together for the rest of the race, which I happily agreed to, and we carried on together to a stone carry and high wall climb (which I made short work of considering my fear of heights). Soon after this we hit the mud, and boy was there a lot of it, knee high, energy sapping, sticky mud. It was wonderful! We had a lot of fun clambering up and sliding down banks slick with mud, often needing a shove or a helping hand to make it to the top. We jogged on round at a nice pace, having a chat, splashing down the slide together and crawling across the pontoons. A bit more of a run found us in the Nuclear bunker, running through it in the dark, then heading up what feels like the endless stairs to emerge ready to take on the final set of muddy ditches and final hill towards the finish. A few more obstacles to clamber over and we were done. Fay was stopping after one lap, and after taking a moment to think about it I decided to do the same. Although I had the time and energy to complete another lap, I had enjoyed my one lap so much, and didn’t want to get half way round a second by myself and stop having fun. It was a brilliant race and I’m so glad I decided to sign up.

After finishing Blackout with the amazing Fay Kelly
After finishing Blackout with the amazing Fay Kelly

Sadly after Nuclear a new injury decided to rear it’s head, what my extensive google diagnosis tells me is shin splints. Infinitely more painful than any other running injury I’ve ever picked up, to the point where after a day at work just walking is tear inducing. This has meant yet more training set backs as I follow the advice I’ve read saying under no circumstances run through the pain, and now I just have to hope that it will heal up in time for me to run the few races I have booked up in October. Fingers crossed.