Tag Archives: OCR

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!

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.