Tri-county XC Race 2017

I feel obliged to point out that this race was my least favourite race of last year. It was full super speedy runners hoping to gain a County vest, running in just shorts and crop tops. In December. There was no walking up the hills, there was no well earned amazing views from the top of said hills, there was no feeling of being lost somewhere in the middle of nowhere. So why on earth did I enter it again this year? Well, it was race number 4 in the Off-Road League. ‘Nuff said. I’m unlikely to win my age category this year, but pride and the fact that our Chippenham Harrier’s teams are currently in first and second position in the league meant it was a “must do”. Yes, our B team is ahead of everyone else’s A team. Unfortunately our rivals had also spotted this, and were rallying their troops in order to try and knock at least 1 of our teams off their spots. Therefore, it was all hands on deck (feet on mud?) from the Harriers as well.

XC events consist of a series of races throughout the day, to ensure the entire family has the chance to get cold, muddy and tired. Starting with the youngest first, the course gradually becomes longer for each subsequent race, with additional long or short loops. Just to make it more confusing, each race at this “tri-counties” event has runners running for their own county.

For the “Senior and Vetern Ladies” we had to run 2 short loops and 1 long loop of a muddy, sloping field at Bath University.  I was consoling myself with the fact that it was only 4 miles long, but sadly this did include going up the long hill 4 times.

Just adding to my joy and anticipation for this race, was the weather forecast which predicted snow for the day. Wonderful! After spending the morning  checking (with fingers crossed) to see if the event had been cancelled, I finally resigned myself to having to run and set off. As I got closer the weather became snowier and snowier, until I found myself squelching and crunching across a field to huddle with my team mates.

Brave Harriers Ladies. I'm NOT wearing shorts
Brave Harriers Ladies

As I feared, running this race was cold. It was miserable. It was snowing. It was horrible. It was really horrible. I told every marshal I passed how horrible it was (but I did thank them on our last lap – it must have been just as miserable standing there all day).

Running in the snow photo
“It’s horrible. It’s really horrible”

Despite being several minutes slower than last year, I didn’t finish in last place. I was chased all the way around the final lap by an Avon Valley Runner woman I only shook off on the last downhill ‘dash’ to the finish line. Her sprint finish must be even slower than mine.

Sprint (trudge) finish
Sprint (trudge) finish

Still, at least it’s done now. This race has officially won my vote for “Most horrible race. Ever”, and I gained 100 Hardcore points for finishing covered in so much snow. I have also finally defrosted my toes, so that’s all good.

Photo of snowy runner
100 Hardcore points to the lady with the snow and the tiny runner hitching a ride on her head

Coffeeneuring #6 Costa coffee, Chippenham 

Friday 18th November 2016.

On a morning that started with snow on our velux windows and roof, knowing I had to squeeze a ride in was not a delightful prospect. I had planned a short route to a Costa Coffee which felt like a cheat because it’s a cafe I visit every Monday morning between my swimming lesson and my Italian lesson. I have never been to it by bike though – so it still felt like a worthy challenge.

The cafe is on a small retail park just outside Chippenham and as I cycled around the car park I saw there was nowhere to lock my bike up by the cafe, but there was some cycle parking right over on the other side.

My bike at Bath Road Retail Park
My bike over here, cafe all the way over there!

It might have been a distance away, but it had the rare luxury of a roof. It was immaculate so although the park has been open for several years I think I was the first cyclist to use it!

Luxury bike parking with a roof!
Luxury bike parking with a roof!

I had a hot chocolate and sat in the window anxiously watching the dark skies before pedalling hard and fortunately beating the weather home.

Compulsory 'helmet and drink' shot
Compulsory ‘helmet and drink’ shot

7.6 miles on the trusty “Happy Shopper” bike, and just one more Coffeeneuring trip to fit in before the end of the weekend.

Janathon Day 14. Tired and snowy

We woke to snow this morning. I got up and put my running gear on determined to find a route that wasn’t too snowy, icy or wet. Then our boiler stopped working. Hardcore running in the snow is one thing, doing it when you won’t be able to have a hot bath afterwards is quite another.

So I took most of my running kit back off again and rang British Gas.

Rockin’ the Compression socks with jeans look

Brilliantly by eleven o’clock I was back in all my running gear, ready to set off with the promise of heating and hot water on my return.

Ten miles I managed today. Ten long, hard, tired, slow miles. I would have said “ten miles in the snow” except the snow petered out just outside the village and most of my run was on wet roads in sunshine. Fortunately I managed to capture photographic evidence so I could claim my hardocre “running in the snow” points.




Week 11 Marathon Training. Sounds a bit proper

Week 11. Sounds incredibly like proper training, a decent amount of training already done, not too long to go until the big day.

Does it feel like that? Erm – no. It does feel like a great achievement if I look back at my well scribbled schedule, but if I look ahead I still feel slightly sick.

This week’s training called for runs of 4, 8, 4 and 18. When I was choosing a schedule I examined lots of different plans. It was weeks like this that made me go pale around the gills. Last week’s 16 mile long run does sound like an impressive long run, but 18 sounds like Proper Marathon Training (with capital letters!)

The week has started well, despite it being half term. On my 4 miles this morning I was accompanied by an outrider (it’s half term here, just to really make training difficult) who encouraged me to speed up because he was cold, and then kept me talking the whole way which was a real test of my apparently low heart rate. It was good to have some cheerful company, and made a change from talking to the horses in the fields I pass. As a bonus it started snowing whilst we were out, so we awarded ourselves bonus hardcore points.

I wore my new knee high compression socks, but it wasn’t really brave as I was also wearing my long tights. Not sure if they helped or not, as I could ‘feel’ my shins as I ran, but then I had been poking, prodding and rollering my shins before I set off.

Guess they’ll have their first real test tomorrow!

Badger or Beast?

So this is the photo of the paw prints I spotted today whilst out running. Quite wide, very distinctive claw marks. I was hoping it was a badger, as I’ve never found badger prints before and its years since I’ve seen a badger whilst out and about.

I was telling my son about the tracks, and he helpfully suggested it was the ‘beast’ – a wild cat which was reportedly spotted around here a good few years ago. I’ve only just got over my fear of the ‘psycho pheasant’ who attacked me along here several years ago. Now I’ve got a large (hungry?) wild cat to worry about as well!

I-Spy Animals

More snow, and a run that saw me on virgin, untouched snow. Just me and the animal tracks for company. The signpost looked like it was pointing of into the middle of nowhere.

Anyone help me identify the many animal tracks I saw? I’ll post a photo when my phone starts behaving itself. The paw prints were quite chunky, so pretty wide, with very clearly defined claw marks. Unlike earlier in my run, there were no “owner’s prints” next to these. I’m secretly hoping its a badger. Also saw some much smaller prints, obviously running, which I reckon were fox prints. Saw lots of rabbit tracks, and then a much bigger version which I presume was a hare.

Next time I run, remind me to take my animal footprint chart with me, so I can tot up my Wildlife Points as I go along.

Road to Nowhere?
Just my footprints and some animal tracks.

Dancing on Ice

Week 8 of my training schedule starts with ‘just’ an easy 3 miles today. The snow and ice of the weekend has now frozen hard, so even with my Icebiters strapped to my running shoes it felt like I was dancing on ice for parts of my run.

Important discovery made today. In the soggy field, under the snow is ice, and under the ice is mud.

Snowy Footsteps

LSR = Long Snowy Run

Didn’t make it out for my run on Friday – not only did the promised snow arrive, it also brought a blizzard and a child demanding help with building an igloo.

By Saturday, I couldn’t put my run off any longer. The snow had stopped falling, but the ground was snowy and icy.

Luckily I had my Icebiters (see below) at the ready. It was cold, but I had my new jacket on again, fleecy head band and gloves. Somewhat nervously, I set off up the lane. It was hard work, but exhilarating. The Icebiters lived up to their name, and it was reassuring to hear a faint ‘click’ noise with each step as the metal studs dug into the ice.

I wasn’t so keen on the ankle deep loose snow though, as it was very chilly on the inch gap of exposed skin between the top of my socks and the bottom of my tights.

Schedule had said 12 miles, I reckon 8 miles in those conditions counted. My legs certainly felt like they’d run 12 miles, with strange aches in my backside and the backs of my thighs.

Snowy miles run: 8
Scheduled miles : 12
Number of photos taken of me : 1
Number of bemused walkers passed : about 10
Number of walkers who told me they should have been running : 1
Hardcore points : about 1000
Smug points : about 1000

Icebiters – what a great invention

Maybe my New Best Christmas Present?

Trying to settle to sleep, wondering if the forecast blizzard is actually going to arrive in the early hours, thinking that if it does it might make my scheduled 12 miler rather tricky, I suddenly remember another of my Christmas presents, so far unopened.

They *might* just become my new, ‘best ever Christmas present’ ……