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Judgement Day Weekend (Road to Bournemouth week 12)

OCR. First I loved it, then I hated it, and now i’m somewhat indifferent. I hadn’t planned to run any at all this year, with the vague notion that I might do more in the future, maybe, but then Judgement Day announced that it was putting on it’s last race before getting out of the OCR game. I couldn’t let that go without doing one last race, as it is one of my favourites, so in the end, with a little encouragement from some friends I decided to go out with a bang and do all three distances they were offering over the weekend. I had a light training week, and other than a lack of sleep, was reasonably ready for the weekend of races.

The weekend started with the 12km race, and I was lucky enough to find a group of friends who kindly allowed me to run with them, and we set off together to see what Judgement Day had to offer. The first set of obstacles were soon upon us after a short run, it was a hop over several low hurdles, enough to cause a short amount of queuing but then allowing the crowds to start to thin.  We were quickly looped back into the event village to wade through some muddy ditches then over an inverted wall, which I was pleasantly surprised I could manage alone.

Scaling a wall

Then it was off for another wade and then back into the trees for some trail running, and a nice refreshing lake swim. Being Pippingford we were treated to a number of hills, broken up with a few obstacles like a slackline over some stagnant water, and several different walls. At around the half-way point we came back into the event village for our first attempt at the rope climb, before veering away from the finish line to a hang tough then once again back into the trees and trails of Pippingford.

Half way, better than nothing!

The second “half” of the 12km run was much tougher than the first, with even more technical running, a horrible cargo net climb out of water onto a bridge, that although I managed without much of an issue still caused a bit of an “I don’t like heights” wobble. Crawls through tunnels and another swim and a sandbag carry that was long and heavy, tracing out a “JD” on the hillside and left my shoulders wanting a divorce. At the end of the sandbag carry we were just over the 12km mark, and it was a short run down to the rope climb again, with a wall thrown in before hand, and then this time it was across the line.

12k Finish

After a quick change of top to avoid getting cold, and a bit of a chat with the people hanging around, I said goodbye to my running buddies of the morning and stacked up again on the start line ready for the 6km race.

The 6km race was the first loop of the 12km race I had already run. I started off caught up in a large group of Mudstacle fun runners, but soon decided this was far too slow and so weaved my way out of the crowds and pushed on alone, quickly finding myself clambering in and out of the muddy ditches by the event village again.

About to get muddy

back across the lake, round the pretty trails, over the slack-line, over some walls and it seemed like no time at all before I was heading back down to the rope climb again. This time my attempt was even poorer than the morning as I failed to get my leg wrap right and haul myself from the ground, so I gave it up and headed to the finish line to collect my second medal of the day.

With my friend Jude at the finish of the 6km race

After hanging around for a bit of a chat after the two races it was time to head home, after the decision was made earlier in the week not to camp, since Pippingford is reasonably close to home. In the morning we would return for the final race, the 18km big one.

On Sunday morning it was another early start out to Pippingford, where again I was lucky enough to have a group of people to run with so I wouldn’t be facing the 18km alone. Again I was stood at a start line, this time already feeling achy from the day before, a few cuts and bruises already making themselves felt, but we set off at an easy pace and it was feeling OK.

Taking it seriously

The first 12km was exactly the same as the day before, but felt more challenging due to how tired my body was from the previous day of racing. Despite feeling OK with the running to start with it soon became obvious that I wasn’t as capable as the day before. When we got to the cargo net my arms had so little strength left that I was struggling to hold myself on the net, my arms were sagging and my body hanging low instead of close to the net. As I got higher my arms were giving up, and I was getting scared, I felt like I couldn’t hold myself up  and I couldn’t get off the net onto the bridge, I was crying and getting into a blind panic. Thankfully my friend Chris was there at the top, and he and the marshal got hold of me, held me to the net and helped guide my foot onto the bar at the top of the bridge, almost lifting me off the net to safety. The marshal grabbed me in a huge hug as I sobbed and shook. I wish I had asked her name as she was wonderful. With her help along with the boys I was able to get going again, walking up the hill straight after until I had stopped hyperventilating.

Once at the top it was a set of monkey bars, I’d got a little less than half way on the Saturday, but this time I made it to half way exactly before falling into the waiting water bellow. Sense of humour restored we continued with our run. The sandbag carry felt even worse on shoulders already sore from the day before but I actually did it quicker, and soon we were heading back towards the event village again, this time though rather than going down to the rope climb we were diverted back onto the original 6k course making it the 4th time I had run this section in 2 days. As we moved round the final 5km or so I have to admit I was beginning to get a bit bored. I was still enjoying the trail running but I just couldn’t be bothered with climbing the same walls and things AGAIN.  There was an addition of a keg carry towards the end of the loop but otherwise it was all feeling a bit repetitive.

Keg carry with Kev – my back couldn’t handle it alone

I was pretty pleased to come to the final rope climb, another failure on my part, and then linking arms with the boys who had been my constant companions for the last 18km we crossed the line with smiles on our faces.

Arm in arm with Kev, Chris and Stuart

We went to get ourselves changed and dry, and I headed back down to the event village to say some goodbyes. As much as I feel that I didn’t really need to do the 18km after doing the 6km and the 12km the day before, I’m still glad I did it and saw this race out properly.

Race 3 done

It felt pretty emotional both days when it came to leave, saying goodbye to people who have become a part of my life over the past few years, as it started to dawn on me I may well not see many of them again, as with the end of JD I also think its the end of my OCR days, unless someone really needs a running partner for one, I think I’ll be sticking to the roads and trails in future. OCR will always have a place in my heart, for giving me a hobby I loved, for teaching me I could do much more than I thought I could, for giving me so many great memories that I wouldn’t trade for the world but mostly for introducing a shy girl like me to so many amazing and wonderful people that I would never have met otherwise. So it’s farewell to Judgement Day as an OCR, a race that will be very much missed by so many, with a massive thanks for the memories!

Just a very small sample of the fun had at JD over the past few years

Week 12 running total: 42.8km

October

So, shin splints, or whatever they are, most painful injury ever! I ended September with a pain in my leg and a hope that in October I would turn my backslide of the past few months around, but the pain in my leg stuck around. In fact it was so painful that after a day at work I would be in tears. I couldn’t run, couldn’t motivate myself to exercise at home, and consoled myself with more bad eating and drinking.

In truth I’ve been in something of a black cloud. I don’t seem to be able to shake it, exercise would normal help these black moods from taking hold too much, but I couldn’t do it. So here I am eating more, drinking more and exercising much less. It doesn’t take a genius to work out what that was going to do to my body. I don’t need scales to tell me I’ve slipped back further than ever, my clothes and the mirror are doing an admirable job of keeping me informed. My mood got worse. Anyone who has stopped to ask me how I’m doing and probed past my cursory “I’m fine” lately has been subjected to a negativity sh*t storm and I don’t seem to be able to stop. It’s like I need people to know that I know that I’m doing badly, so they won’t have to think it behind my back, “god she has let herself go” but this is not how I wan’t to be, I need my positivity back.

I had to drop out of the 1066 way to Battle run,  although my leg  was now, finally, mostly pain free, and well enough for some short runs, it was in no way up to 17 tough cross country miles with little to no training, this was gutting as it was a one off race, still I was back to training again, a bit, and running, what could go wrong… a cold. A stinking cold! Nothing major, just enough to make me feel lousy and put me on the bench… again! Now the only races I have this month are coming up fast and I’m sick! I have signed up to Judgement Day 6k and 18k to let me complete the set having already run a 12k earlier this year, but I find myself worrying not about the race but about the pictures, and how bad they are going to make me feel about myself when I see them. My motivation has gone completely and I’m wondering if I should even bother going at the weekend, I feel fat and unfit and not at all confident in my ability to get round the tough terrain at Pippingford.

A friend, trying to help, set me a challenge to think of 3 positive things about myself or that I did well during the day for the next week before going to sleep. I thought about this as I read the message he had sent me and couldn’t come up with a single thing, at which point I actually burst into tears, although I’ve agreed to try, the black cloud is dense right now and I can’t see through the fog, so I started writing this to try and shut my brain up and help me sleep, one of those blogs that could be considered a bit of an overshare but is somehow cathartic to get it all out – and who reads these anymore anyway right? So JD is up next, and maybe it will restore some motivation and confidence, or maybe I’ll be back onto another self imposed OCR embargo, bring on the weekend… I guess…

Judgement Day 6km

I dragged my tired butt out of bed Saturday morning to travel to Pippingford for the first race of the weekend, travelling with friends who were running the 12km race, I got to spend a chilled out morning in some pleasant October sunshine  watching people race before it was my turn. I was just about to start the warm up when Tom Littlewood from Mudstacle came over and asked me if I’d like to wait and run with the Mudstacle crew instead, which is how, half an hour later I found myself amidst a sea of yellow slowly jogging out onto the course.

I had an absolute blast, with rules thrown in such as “grenade” where we all had to hit the deck anytime someone yelled it, and “Shark” where you had to get yourself of the ground. It was quite slow going but I don’t know that I’ve ever laughed so much during a race. Highlights included Mark Leinster fully submerging in mud and attempting to swim in it, before getting stuck (the muddy kiss on the cheek afterwards as we were both balancing on a tyre after someone shouted shark was also lovely!) and when George Trotter decided to abandon his reputation as a gentleman with a very determined attempt to knock me off the slackline into the water bellow. I don’t know how I held on, but in the end he was the one who got wet, while I managed to get successfully to the other side.

Clinging on for dear life and laughing my head off
Clinging on for dear life and laughing my head off

It took an hour and a half to cover the 6km course but I laughed all the way round and am incredibly grateful to Tom for suggesting I joined everyone for the fun lap.

Finished with a massive smile on my face
Finished with a massive smile on my face

Judgement Day 18k  20k

It’s fair to say that my second day of racing didn’t go as well as my first. I was super lucky that my friend Chris Rudd was able to make the race and decided to run with me, because without him I’m not convinced I’d have made the finish line.

We set off in the first wave, and within the first mile I was struggling a bit to breath properly, my cold, whilst much improved, was making itself felt in my chest. I was already wondering about getting my first DNF but I really wanted that medal, so with Chris’s encouragement I continued. The first 6k were the same as yesterday, with an increase in the length of the bucket carry thrown in for good measure. It was certainly faster going and we reached the monkey bars in good time. I had a go but soon fell off, my grip letting me down once again.

At least I tried!
At least I tried!

We carried on, but I could really feel the lack of training lately and was sorely lacking the ability to breath. I told Chris he could ditch me if he liked, but he refused to budge. We covered some beautiful tough trails through the hills of Pippingford, with some very technical running on every kind of surface. We waded through, swam through, climbed out of and jumped into a lot of very cold water, but the sun was shining despite it being late October and I was never cold for long.

My most triumphant moment was scaling two inverted walls completely unaided – something I’ve not done before, but pride comes before a fall, and shortly after this I turned my ankle. The same one I turned a few months ago at Dirty Dozen. The pain was sharp and immediate. I had to slow to a complete walk for a while, until the pain subsided enough for me to pick up a slow jog where the terrain allowed.

We struggled over a few more obstacles, both flagging with a lack of energy, stumbling up hills and cursing the fact that the course was so long! We finally crested a hill and found ourselves at the technical rig, I didn’t even try, I knew I’d just fall off and potentially hurt my ankle more, so it was a slow hobble around the penalty loop for me, Chris joining me after coming off the rig. We were then off down the hill towards the event village, with a brief stop at a keg carry (which I also failed, my back was seizing up and I just couldn’t lift it, despite usually being OK with carries). Then it was into the event village and faced with a rope traverse strung between two high walls. I had already completed an earlier rope traverse, so after some deliberation I decided I wanted to try, however when I got to the top of the wall (with help) I froze. I couldn’t get myself onto the rope and I couldn’t get down. In the end with help from Chris, and our friend Del, I was half lifted back down to the ground in tears! Chris and I went arm in arm down to the ninja rings which were the final obstacle, and tears were streaming down my face. I felt so useless, tired, in pain and generally pathetic. At this point I was grabbed in a massive hug by Tom Littlewood who was finished and watching the rings (second blog mention there 🙂 ) and without trying the rings, Chris and I took hands to cross the finish line. By this point I was just done. People can say what they like about me skipping obstacles but had I fallen off I don’t think I would be able to walk at all!

I’m so eternally grateful to Chris for staying with me the whole race, as I got more and more slow and pathetic. He really is a true friend and great running partner. The blue medal, to complete my trio of JD medals this year was very hard earned and has probably cost me another week or so of training, but the race was great and JD delivered once again!

JD trio done!
JD trio done!

After finishing I ran into the fabulous Adam Luck who took one look at my face and grabbed me in a huge hug, then after asking if I was OK insisted on taking me to a medic to get bandaged up. I got a few more hugs in with various people then it was time to hit the road.

All in all, despite the race being fantastic, for me it was a bit of a personal disaster. I don’t know how I got myself over that finish line, and it’s been a while since I finished a race in tears. With yet another injury to sort out, I think my black cloud is going nowhere for a while, and another race brake is now on the cards. I just can’t do it! C’est la vie!

May

Well we’ve made it to May and I think it’s about time I start adding some more medals to my 2016 medal holding coat-hanger, since April’s only race was devoid of bling and I only go to these things for that and a selfie after all! Ok so that may not be strictly true, but what is true is that I have three races to do this month, and two of them are trail half marathons.

Hastings Runners 5 Mile Road Race

Kicking off May was the Hastings 5 miler, starting you off at the Town hall, out along the seafront and back again. Since this was in my home town, with the start line a 10 min walk from my house, this was well worth the entry fee. We had a large number of people from RPCC taking part and it was a lovely atmosphere on a really hot day. I was running with my favourite running partner Linda, although conversation was at a minimum as we ran out along the seafront, as we went out a bit fast and it was so hot it was hard to catch our breath let alone chat.

Team RPCC before the start
Team RPCC before the start

By the turn around point at the far end of the seafront, we were roasting, the cup of water I gratefully grabbed went half in my mouth and half over my head, our vests came off and were tucked into our shorts (A bit of a momentous moment for me, I’ve never had the confidence to do that before, and although I felt a bit stupid and very self conscious, at least I was no longer completely overheating).

We had slowed a little as we came to the 4 mile mark, but once we had turned around at the other end of the seafront and were headed back to the finish, we put in a final effort and managed a pretty decent sprint finish to get to the line, cheered in by the RPCC people who had finished before us, we grabbed our medals and some much needed water and went to join the people watching, cheering in the rest of the RPCC team as they finished. We finished the day with a well deserved pint. Next stop, Bewl half marathon.

Linda and I at the finish
Linda and I at the finish

Bewl Water Half Marathon

The weekend after the Hastings 5 mile race saw husband Phil and I take a drive out to Bewl Water to run a half marathon, my first off road. This race had the option of a half, full or ultra marathon, meaning one, two or three laps around Bewl reservoir. We had opted for just the one lap, and set off with the other blue bibs at 10am running up a slight hill then off around the reservoir.

Bewl Water
Bewl Water

The run took you over several different terrains, from forest paths, to grass, to sections on quiet country roads. I had had a bit of a dilemma about what kind of trainers to wear before this race, with pretty mixed opinions from those that had done it before, this was put somewhat into perspective by my personal trainer though who pointed out that if the only thing worrying me about running a half marathon was which shoes I should wear, then I was in a pretty good position overall! He was right, at no point did I worry about the distance or race itself, so my confidence in my ability to run a longer distance race has obviously improved. In the end I opted for my road trainers, and I think this was the right choice, as the muddy sections were easily negotiated.

This was one of the prettiest races I’ve run, I kept finding myself lost in my own thoughts as I looked out over the beautiful scenery and slowing down while I ran, to then remember what I was supposed to be doing and trying to pick up my pace again. The only goal I had for this race was to try and keep it inside 2hours, so I tried to keep half an eye on my pace to make sure it didn’t drop down to low, but other than that I just wanted to enjoy the run, which I did. The weather was warm, but with a cool wind, which was cold while we waited to start, but perfect once running.

As I came round towards the end of the race, I found myself surprised as I came to the top of the hill down to the finish, as my watch hadn’t beeped 13miles yet, but I picked up my pace to have a strong finish and crossed the line in 1h50mins (the race was a little short at 12.8 miles according to my Garmin) so I had achieved my goal, I was then further surprised to find out that I had also managed 9th place woman, which was a really happy ending to the day, and this is definitely a race I would want to do again.

About to head down to the finish
About to head down to the finish

 

Judgement Day Trail Half Marathon – Pippingford

The weekend after Bewl I was up early and heading to Pippingford for what I knew was going to be the toughest half yet. I wasn’t wrong! The universe seemed hell bent on stopping me even getting to this race, with two lifts falling through and a sickness bug at the beginning of the week that threatened to cause me to drop out, but by the weekend I was feeling OK and had secured another ride, and I’m so glad I did.

RPCC team before the race
RPCC team before the race

The race was brilliant, brutal hills, challenging terrain that made you think about where you were putting your feet and what you were doing, and some lovely running through wooded areas, open areas, grass, mud, concrete, bogs. I’d been a little worried about doing a half marathon at Pippingford, particularly as I had been so ill leading up to the race, but I actually felt pretty good running. I love running downhill and there was plenty of opportunity to do so, although this of course meant a lot of uphill’s too. Somewhere after the half way point a marshal told me I was in 5th place for the ladies, and this spurred me on a bit as I was flagging, and starting to find things tough, I was overtaken and slipped into 6th, but was just thinking how amazing it would be to get another top 10 placing.

Somewhere around 10.5 miles I caught up with the two ladies in front of me and moved up into 4th place, although I didn’t expect to be able to hold on to that for the next 3 miles, I really felt like I was flagging, as you tantalisingly heard the music from the event village I actually found myself idly hoping the course might come up short (as if – this is Judgement Day!) but you were cruelly looped away and down another hill, meaning the finish was going to be up, up, up.

When my watch beeped 13 miles and I looked up the final hill to the finish I almost wanted to give up, despite there only being a short distance to go, I had slowed to a walk, but decided I wanted to try and finish strong, as I painfully ran up that final hill, I was cheered in by a couple of people that gave me the boost to get to the line, I had done it, and well under my estimated 3 hours, plus I had held 4th place female until the end. I was on a complete high, and absolutely loved the race.

We hung around for quite a while after the race, and watched some of the 10km race that ran later in the day, and it was lovely to have a good long catch up with some people I’d not seen for ages where I have been out of the OCR loop for a while. If I could do this weekend over again, I would, In a heartbeat, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Thank you Judgement day!

Finished and catching up with lovely faces
Finished and catching up with lovely faces