The Terminator 2018

After January’s race (Slaughterford 9), I was struck down by the lurgy. A lung-coughing-up, temperature-fluctuating, razor-blades-in-the-throat, voice-losing, 2-days-off-work-sick, “I think this might actually be flu” lurgy. It was horrible, I felt very ill and really sorry for myself. I also didn’t run for 2 weeks because of it.

Roll on February, and I realised that the last race of the Off Road League was coming up. The most difficult race of the season, with the weather becoming much colder again, and very little training having been done. Ummm.

Yet again, it took the support, (i.e. nagging) of my club’s fellow off-road racers to make sure I entered this race, and that I actually turned up on the day. I can also say I was, if not dragged round the course, definitely walked around the course by my top running buddy Liz.

This was a seriously tough race, I had heard it was fairly gentle in the first half, then had 3 sharp hills & a “free shoe wash” in the second half.  This was all sort of true, although I definitely counted FOUR steep hands-and-knees hills, and a bog as well.

The bog was a black stream followed by shoe-stealing mud. There was a rope strung across the stream which looked helpful, and determined not to be a wuss I laughed at a team mate trying to find a shorter route across and launched myself in ahead of Liz. Last laugh was on them – half way across I lost my footing for the first time ever when running, and went into the black lagoon right up to my waist.

The Bog of Doom. Magical powers – making you feel naked from the waist down.

The worst part was emerging (dripping) from the other side, running up the hill into the wind with the disconcerting feeling that I was naked from the waist down as the wind whistled right through my clothes.

The miles passed, and the route as promised got harder and hillier. The three sharp hills were actually four, with the last one being particularly cruel. As we ran towards a hedge we could see runners heading off to our right, but as we reached the hedge we were actually turned left, straight up the short but very steep hill,  along a ridge for a short way and then straight back down again.  At the top, as I was gasping for breath, I spotted that we were actually running around one of Wiltshire’s White Horses. Back on the ground I mentioned to Liz how great it was to be so close to a White Horse, and she said “what White Horse?” I replied “Look behind you!” Seeing it on Strava makes me thinks it might be the cruellest segment I’ve ever seen, particularly in a race.

OOh look – a White Horse!

and the photo of me at the top is yet another classic “shoot me now” face.

Yes, yes I’m sure it’s an amazing view, but I still can’t breathe

We eventually made it back into Pewsey, and as we ran along a road we could see marshals standing by a small bridge. Of course, the “shoe wash”. The road goes over the stream, but of course in this race we had to go off the road, down the bank, through the stream, and then scramble back up the other side and onto the road again.

As we finally could see the school building in the distance we knew we had nearly made it back. Fortunately as we came around a corner and onto the school fields we could see the finish line right there, because if we’d had to run round the field first I might have cried. Similarly, it was just as well there was plenty of cake left as I’m sure I’d have found the energy for a tantrum if there hadn’t have been (two slices of really good lemon drizzle for £1 – bargain!). I even wore my new t-shirt to celebrate whilst holding cake in one hand and the team trophy in the other (Wiltshire Off-Road League champions once again!) side by side with best running buddy Liz who faithfully kept me going right to the end.

So, Terminator race – you did not disappoint. I checked after the race, and that 12 miles is the furthest I have run since my last marathon in October 2015. You were certainly the hardest off-road race I’ve ever run, and you lived up to your reputation. The race memento was impressive, but I’m unsure as to whether I’ll be back …

P.S. Huge thanks to the tail runner from Pewsey Vale Running Club who helped me find my car afterwards. That’ll teach me to chat whilst walking from car park to race HQ!

End of Janathon 2018

So it suddenly struck me, I never did write up my last two days of Janathon. Seeing as this means I’ve now failed at Janathon I shouldn’t worry about it, but I’ve already failed once and continued on so here goes.

After Slaughterford 9 I was worried my legs wouldn’t be speaking to me. However I managed to keep moving and on both evening completed Janathon by performing “tooth brushing squats ” thus doing my daily exercise whilst demonstrating superb multitasking skills.

Okay, so my last 2 days weren’t as exciting as I might have hoped (and have proved that good things don’t necessarily come to those who wait), but at least I’ve proved I’m a completer/ finisher.

Roll on February!

Janathon Day 29. Slaughterford 9 Race

Slaughterford 9 is a hard off-road race. I’ve run it twice, but as it’s organised by my running club in the last few years I’ve had to volunteer to marshal instead.

This year the race is part of the Wiltshire Off-Road League. The club runners who have run the previous four races in the league this year were allowed to run it, as a very special honour. And to gain points for the club in the Club championship, of course.

We still had to help out, so all of us Harriers racers were out bright and early on car park duty. The weather was cold, it was faintly drizzly, and it was very soggy underfoot. At about quarter past nine we escaped in order to strip our many layers off, collect our race number, assemble for the team photo and to try not to shiver too much.

The race has a mass jog down to the start line, because everyone has to cross the very busy A4 to get there. After shuffling myself towards the back, with very little ceremony we were off. The early part of the race is practically on home turf for me, so I knew exactly where to walk and where to push on. I looked longingly up the footpath which leads 1mile to home, and resolutely followed the racing line.

I don’t want to describe every muddy, sticky, squelchy step of this race, take it as read it was hard. Instead I’ll let the pictures speak a thousand words:-

I finished. I surprised myself, I had genuinely been dreading it. It was my slowest time, but in fairness it was the worst conditions I’ve seen on the course and I was in the worst condition to run it as well.

The best bit (slight exaggeration ) was getting ready for bed and realising I didn’t still have to perform a random exercise whilst cleaning my teeth for Janathon.

Janathon Day 27. Squat!

Day 27. The day before a big race. A day to be spent resting up, hydrating, and eating well. Probably not a day to spent at the annual awards evening at our local cycling club. It had to be done though, as my husband was being presented with a clutch (well, armful) of awards.

I did leave early, and I was the driver so wasn’t drinking, so it wasn’t all bad. Unfortunately I left before the dancing started, so tonight’s activity was toothpaste flavoured squats again.

Janathon Day 22. The swamp

After the ignominy of forgetting Janathon yesterday*, and with an up coming race at the weekend, AND with having a day off, I thought I’d better get myself out for a run.

A lack of enthusiasm, along with a huge list of jobs to do (on my “day off”) meant I decided I just get out for a shorter run, but with some hills in it. Off I set down towards Slaughterford, with the sim of repeating the short but steep hill 3 times. Around a bend I was confronted with a puddle. An enormous puddle. In face, let’s not mince words, it was so large and so brown it was definitely a lake. I cannot tell a lie I did briefly consider turning around, but the effort of thinking of another route seemed worse than the effort of ploughing on through,so ploughing on it was. It was cold, it was muddy, it was over my ankles grimness.

I completed my 3 hill repeat. Yes there was walking, yes there was topping to give directions to a motorist who didn’t trust their satnav, yes there were puzzled looks from the workmen at the bottom who saw me three times, but I did it.

As I headed back towards the swamp, I stopped to take a photograph to prove just how horrible and huge it was. I was heading back through it, right in the middle, just as the bow wave was coming back over my ankles, I saw two other runners come round the corner. They stopped, watched me wading through, then told me they weren’t going through it and they were going to turn around.

“Did you run up that hill?” they asked admiringly. “Oh yes” I modestly replied. “And walked a bit” I honestly added.

“Are you training for Tough Mudder?” they asked.

“Oh no”, I replied. “Much worse – Slaughterford 9”!

Swamp puddle
Swamp puddle

*I know, I know – surely it consumes my every waking moment? It’s totally inconceivable as to how I might have forgotten?!

Janathon Day 21. The one I forgot

So if “carrying stuff to a car, sitting in the car, carrying stuff from car to student accommodation, walking around town in wind and rain, eating lunch and going home again” counts as exercise, then my Janathon is still on track. If I’m completely honest, with getting my daughter all packed up and back to university I completely forgot about Janathon and by bedtime didn’t even consider a quick plank or some other minimal exercise. It didn’t even cross my mind.

Whoops.

Think that’s my Janathon done.