Tag Archives: Pippingford

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!

Judgement Day Pippingford 10k and 20k

An absolutely beautiful weekend dawned in mid July bringing with it a double race weekend at Pippingford Park for Judgement Day. A 10km race for Saturday, followed by a 20km race on the Sunday. Since I couldn’t decide which race I should do, I opted to run both over the two days.

Saturday 10km

Before the start with running partner for the day Kev Coda and fellow RPCCers Chloe Waterhouse, Richard Playford and John Waterhouse
Before the start with running partner for the day Kev Coda and fellow RPCCers Chloe Waterhouse, Richard Playford and John Waterhouse

We arrived really early at the race site having had a really good journey to Pippingford, so we hung around in the sunshine doing what we usually do, taking selfies and chatting to whoever was around, until it was time to (pretend to) warm up and take our place on the start line.

I set off running with Kevin Coda, my running buddy for the day, down a short hill, before turning and coming back up and encountering the first obstacle, as the course weaved up and down the field there were a set of low hurdles, Kev slightly ahead of me, as I cleared the first hurdle I looked up and found Kev on the floor clutching his ankle. It was looking a bad, he couldn’t stand, one of the people on the sidelines called over a medic while I watched feeling helpless. After a quick assessment by the fantastic medic, Kev decided to get up and see if he could walk, we walked down to the end of the field, at this point now last in our wave, jogged slowly back up the other side and got over the next hurdle without any more drama and Kev decided he could continue.

Kevin and I carefully making our way over the rest of the hurdles
Kevin and I carefully making our way over the rest of the hurdles

We slowly started picking up the pace again as much as Kevin’s ankle would allow, and as we were directed into the first section of water we had caught back up to the end of our wave. We picked our way though the water and clambered out the other side, up a bank to be greeted with what turned out to be a very long tyre carry. We hitched the tyres onto our shoulders and started weaving around the side of the hill in what felt like a random way, but turned out to map the JD trident logo if you had on GPS to track the route.

Kev and I with our tyres
Kev and I with our tyres

The tyre carry was followed by a bit more running, and water wades before coming back around into the event village where you had to jump into and clamber out of a set of deep water filled ditches, a slurp of water and then it was a crawl through a muddy, watery trench covered with a cargo net, then through a pond before heading back out of the event village again.

Climbing out of the ditches
Climbing out of the ditches

As we were running through a section of bracken by the side of a lake though disaster struck for a second time as Kevin rolled his ankle for a second time, and this time the pain wouldn’t subside. As we helplessly watched all the people we had managed to overtake run back past us, some people offered to tell the next marshal, and once Kev could stand again I helped him to hobble onwards. We slowly managed to get out of the bracken and onto a wider path, where we were met by a marshal in a golf cart. I waited while Kev chatted to the guy and decided what he wanted to do. We were not even half way yet, Kev told me to go on but I refused to leave him if he was staying on the course, he decided to carry on, but two steps past the golf buggy and it was clear this would be a massive mistake. I stepped in and told him he had to stop. Eventually he agreed and good thing too as we later found out it was a break. Now I was on my own.

I jogged down to the next obstacle which was a sandbag hoist and got on with the job at hand. Since hurting my own ankle my personal trainer has had me slinging a lot of weights around, and this had clearly payed off a bit, as I was able to hoist the snadbag fairly quickly without help (at Copehill, I had needed the help of my friend Dom to get it off the ground).

A slackline over a river was followed by what felt like a long slog with a sandbag on my shoulders up a hill and down the other side, with a hop over a low wall, and a couple of trenches, before eventually coming to a lake crossing where you had to swim out to a high platform, hoist yourself up a net then down a ladder the otherside.

Carrying my sandbag
Carrying my sandbag

A set of monkey bars earned me my first time penalty, Judgement Day had decided that for some obstacles there would be a 2min time penalty added if you could not complete it, as this was a qualifying race for the UK OCR championships. I like this idea for fairness but it still has its drawbacks, in this case I managed to get halfway across the bars and was so proud of this as it was the furthest I have ever got in a race on the monkey bars, but was happy to give my number to take my penalty for failing, what irritated me though was a woman I had managed to catch up again after stopping with Kev just walked up to them went “nah I cant do them” took her time penalty and just ran off without even attempting it, leaving me to catch her again, but both with the same amount of time added, this is just a small irritation though.

There were a set of overhang walls, and later an 8ft wall, that I managed to get a boost over, some under and over walls and a drag of a tyre up a hill before running it back down, then it was the last loop back into the event village again.

The end of the race included a low rope traverse over a pit, followed by a rope climb out of a muddy, water filled pit. I gave it a go, but as usual was unable to hoist myself up the rope so took another time penalty here. Up a tall mound of loose dirt, and down the other side, and then finally a set of hang tough rings to take you to the finish. I swung straight off the rings to take my final time penalty then ran over the finish line.

Judgement Day 10km Completed
Judgement Day 10km Completed

 

Sunday 20km

The next day it was another early start back to Pippingford for the second day of racing. Again we arrived nice and early so registration was quick and we spent some time chatting as the sun began to come out.

Messing around on the hang tough before the race with Lee Cote Vince James, Chris Williams and Dom Wright
Messing around on the hang tough before the race with Lee Cote, Vince James, Chris Williams and Dom Wright.

In this race I was going to be running with Dom Wright, Lee Cote and Syz Goss, with the plan of taking it easy and having fun while we got around the 20km course.

The start of the 20km race was the same as the day before over the hurdles and into the muddy water before hitting the tyre carry, taking this at a fast walk rather than a run and still finding time to pose with our tyres as we made our way around the trident.

Bunch of posers (L-R Lee, Me, Syz, Dom)
Bunch of posers (L-R Lee, Me, Syz, Dom)

In short order we were back into the event village taking on the trenches and wading through the pond, where Syz and I decided to do a bit of tongue in cheek posing in our Mudstacle and Muddy Race t-shirts.

Muddy Race vs Mudstacle
Muddy Race vs Mudstacle

After this it was back into the woods, through the bracken where I had lost Kev the day before, back round to the hoist, slack line over the river and in what felt like no time at all we were at the sandbag carry. If I had thought this was long and tough yesterday I had seen nothing yet! The distance had been extended, quite significantly. At the top of the hill, it was with longing that we looked at where the day before it had been back down the hill, before turning up instead and traipsing with the heavy bags through a section of bracken, into a ditch that was hard to get back out of with a sandbag on my back, and eventually into a log strewn pond.

Picking our way through the muddy pond with our sandbags
Picking our way through the muddy pond with our sandbags

After this is was mercifully back down the hill, until eventually it was over the wall, elbows and arms protesting heavily, and then down to the sweet relief of dropping the sandbag back onto the pile.

A section of running followed feeling free and light after losing the sandbag, then it was back into the lake for the swim and cargo net climb, which was followed by a river wade, made technical by all the debris – broken rocks and branches – in the water, I nearly made it out unscathed, but ended up taking a small gash to my leg from a submerged rock.

The course now diverged and we eventually came to a long rig made up of hanging rings, chains and ropes, I fell straight off the rings, but Dom and Syz both made it as far as the chain before falling off, and we all took a time penalty here. This was followed by a nice downhill running section, sadly though at Pippingford it seems what goes down must come back up, and more hills quickly followed burning the legs, followed by a section of high walls.

Getting a helping hand from Dom
Getting a helping hand from Dom

We next came to the monkey bars, where again I made it to the middle before falling down and taking another time hit, and another section of up and downhill running.

Coming up the hill
Coming up one of the many hills

At the top of this section came two hang-over walls, the catch being that one was the opposite way round to the norm, giving a new challenge, but with the help of the guys I was up and over both without any problems. Yet more running then we came to a wooden beam set high up, another time penalty obstacle, this time though, again with a little help from my friends I was up and over and didn’t need to add any more time to my tally.

Getting over the bar
Getting over the bar

Some more running and we came to a long rope traverse over a lake, which once completed you had to climb out and round a tree, then swim back to the opposite bank and then hoist yourself out of the lake and up a rope. This earned me another time penalty, as I couldn’t even get onto the rope.

Once out of the lake and after a quick water stop, we were off again, across some parallel bars and then down and over the 8ft wall. Here Dom got cramp in his leg, so we took 5 mins to help him stretch it out and massage it back to life before setting off and coming to the over and under walls. After this was the tyre drag and then finally back to the event village for the final section of rope traverse, rope climb (time penalty for me) mound to run up, and hang tough to finish (another swing and a miss on my part)

By the time I crossed the line I was exhausted. This race had really delivered, it was tough, fun with great obstacles and a good atmosphere.

Finished with Syz, Dom and Lee
Finished with Syz, Dom and Lee

 

 

Spartan Super

As this race approached I was feeling more and more nervous. In fact I had never felt so worried about any race I have done, including the my first one. Spartan races have a reputation for being tough, but I think it was the thought of doing 30 penalty burpees for every failed obstacle that was really getting me worked up. I have always struggled with burpees and can’t do them fast or well. I also knew there were obstacles that I was going to fail, for example I know I can’t climb a rope, and it’s not a nice or comforting thought going into a race knowing there are things you just can’t do.

I arrived feeling quite sick, but having my awesome “RPCC famly” around me helped with the nerves, well, I say helped, as some of them had done the Sprint the day before and kept saying how tough it was – and this was going to be longer!

Before the race with my fellow Spartan virgins. (L-R Roger Roberts, Ella Roberts, Helen Carrington, Kate Lawless, Pete Lawless, Viki Stapley)
Before the race with my fellow Spartan virgins.
(L-R Roger Roberts, Ella Roberts, Helen Carrington, Kate Lawless, Pete Lawless, Viki Stapley)

 

Race Description

Spartan Races do not release their distances beforehand, they just tell you that the Super will be 13+km. With the people from the Sprint the day before telling us that the 5+km course clocked in at around 7km we were trying to mentally prepare for anywhere up to a 15km course, however I have seen some peoples data from the Super and it actually looks like it was only about 12km, surprisingly under distance. I said at the time it didn’t feel that far. The course was going to be hilly and over some tough terrain, but I was prepared for this as I had raced at Pippingford earlier in the year. Since at least some of the course had already been churned up during the sprint the day before, it was also going to be really muddy in places.

We gathered at the start line, for a bit of a warm up, although there was not much room, a race briefing and a lot of crys of “I am Spartan” and “AROO” then a quick three, two, one and we were off over the line.

My wave starting the Spartan Sprint
My wave starting the Spartan Sprint

 

The Race

We set off slightly downhill, across a rather bouncy bridge and then set off up a long gravelly hill, towards the top of which were a series of small walls, one to go over, one to go through and one to go under. As usual I’m sure I will start getting things in the wrong order and miss things out so please forgive me, I try my best.

After some tricky trail running, a bit of wading through mud and water it was back down the hill and heading back towards the main obstacle field by the event village where you were first taken into some trenches, to crawl under barbed wire and some netting suspended above the trench, this was followed by a short run to a large A frame net to climb up and over.

My at the top of the net
My at the top of the net

Once over the net you had to clamber in and out of a series of muddy trenches then it was around to the traverse wall. This was so slippery that despite really trying to take my time, my shoe slipped and I was off – this earned me my first set of 30 burpees so down I got and started the slow process of getting these done.

Trying to get a grip on the wall
Trying to get a grip on the wall

This was followed almost immediately by the monkey bars, slung low over a shallow pit of water, I gave it my best shot, but slipped straight off the narrow bars with a splash, clambered out of the pit and set to doing my second set of very muddy burpees. If there was ever a moment when I thought I might give up, this was it, 60 burpees already, very close together, and no idea what was coming next.

First set of many burpees
First set of many burpees

Once I was finally through with my burpees, it was back into the woods, through some more mud, one misstep and I found myself buried up to my knee, laughing I pulled myself out and carried on, before long finding myself at a sandbag carry, grabbing a bag I set off down the hill, around and back up again – at which point I took a bit of a wrong turn, but noticed quickly and set off again in the right direction.

Sandbag carry
Sandbag carry

Throughout the course there were several other sections where you had to carry objects, from huge atlas stones(which I struggled to even lift) to ammo boxes. Towards the end was also a jerry can carry, but there was a huge queue and the marshals suggested we just took the burpees as it would be quicker! There was also a heavy tyre drag, which I actually got through surprisingly quickly, and a log carry that took you through a pool of water that seemed to be full of rocks, but that I actually quite enjoyed.

A set of parallel bars at the top of yet another hill earned me another set of burpees as I failed to shimmy along holding up my own body weight, before setting off for another run.

Running up one of the many hills
Running up one of the many hills

Once again you looped into the main event village area, this time to be faced with a rope climb, followed by a hoist. I failed the rope climb, this was inevitable really, and did my burpees, then feeling a bit worried about my lack of strength, moved onto they hoist. I actually had no problem with this obstacle and heaved the weight to the top, lowering it carefully to the ground lest I pick up yet more burpees, then I was off again, up a hill to a barbed wire crawl. I chose to roll under this, which saved my knees and was quicker, but left me really dizzy!

Completing the hoist
Completing the hoist

Some more running, mud and obstacles such as a wall climb, which I managed with just a little push from the girl behind me, and it was time for the spear throw as you headed back towards the event village for the final time. My throw was on target, but not hard enough to stick in the hay bails, and another 30 burpees came my way.

Running towards the spear throw
Running towards the spear throw

After the spear throw it was around to the hang tough obstacle – which I again failed, yet more burpees and this time with the finish line in sight! Once I had struggled through these I sprinted off, trying to finish as strongly as I could. To finish you had to run up the steep side of an a-frame with the help of a rope, before climbing down the net the other side, before taking on a fire jump then a straight run down to the finish line.

Climbing up the side of the final obstacle
Climbing up the side of the final obstacle
Fire jump on the way to the finish
Fire jump on the way to the finish

After crossing the line you were handed a very nice sized medal, and 1/3 of my trifector attempt was successfully completed. There were some decent freebies once you had finished racing as well, including a cold beer, and some really nice ice cream.  Then it was time for our customary post race selfies, hugs and group shots.


Post race group shot (L-R Linda Zeberga, Lauren Edwards-Fowle, Chris Williams, Amy Moore, Dominic Wright, Helen Carrington, Vince James)
Post race group shot
(L-R Linda Zeberga, Lauren Edwards-Fowle, Chris Williams, Amy Moore, Dominic Wright, Helen Carrington, Vince James)
Managed to catch 2 seconds with the main man Richard Pringle (L-R Ella Roberts, Rich Pringle, Kate Lawless, Helen Carrington)
Managed to catch 2 seconds with the main man Richard Pringle
(L-R Ella Roberts, Rich Pringle, Kate Lawless, Helen Carrington)

With my first Spartan Race completed, it’s time to look ahead to my second, the Spartan Sprint, which is next weekend and to think about really upping my training in order to complete the Spartan Beast in October, which still scares me. I was chuffed to find out when the results were published that despite my thought on the way round that being in the top 100 women in this race would be ok, I managed to finish in the top 20, and 4th in my age/gender category with a respectable time of 1h55mins.

I will leave you with our final group shot of the day. In the end despite being so nervous about this race I thought I might throw up, I had a fantastic day with some amazing people and enjoyed (almost) every moment of it.

 

We Are Spartans AROO (L-R Lucy Warberton, Tania Mellish, Ella Roberts, Helen Carrington, Linda Zeberga, Lauren Edwards-Fowle, David Beatty, In front Kate Lawless, Viki Stapley)
We Are Spartans AROO
(L-R Lucy Warberton, Tania Mellish, Ella Roberts, Helen Carrington, Linda Zeberga, Lauren Edwards-Fowle, David Beatty, In front Kate Lawless, Viki Stapley)