3 months, 3 races and zero blogs, well there is definitely some catching up to do. Let’s see where this blog takes us….
The good news is after another spell in hospital, physical rehab and an unsuitable care home, my Mum is now settling down in a residential care home a few miles from me. It will take her some time to get routines in place, but the environment is right for her and we’ve started the process of getting the memory issue diagnosed. We’re looking forward to having her over with us for Christmas Day.
Without much running mid-week somehow I’ve managed to squeeze in enough miles of training to complete the races. Back in 2015 I remember Nick commenting on how diligent the training for our century run was, well I’ve been a long way off that level of diligence. The race distances may have been run, but they’ve been endured more than enjoyed, but from that almost comes a greater level of satisfaction at the end.
Back in September I was training for “A run with no witty name”, a 30 miler in early October. Then an email popped up reminding me that the postponed (due to snow) Green Man was in less than 2 weeks. Plans altered, 30 becomes 45 but no worries on the navigation, I know exactly what to expect (which is not always a good thing).
A cold crisp start at 8am, but clear skies herald a late summers day. Early miles ticked off, buttered malt loaf consumed and onwards we go. A few chats with fellow runners, but I’m either faster or slower so there is no buddying up. As the sun is at its zenith, the heat builds and the drudgery of Bradley Stoke saps the soul, my mind starts playing games “is that pain in the knee getting worse; I think it might be an injury; if its an injury then you can stop and pull out and they’ll understand; why don’t you do that?” – SHUT UP.
Relief appears in the form of a pop up unofficial check point, salted snacks (which the official CPs have neglected to contain) are devoured. The oasis is left but so is Bradley Stoke, green underfoot once more and soon the ice cream vans and playpark of Blaize Castle hove into view. Sweet tea and onwards into more streets but home straight now so it feels ok. Up until now the goal was to complete it, now a glance at the watch and a few calculations and maybe 10 hours could be achieved.
The trudge up the stone filled alleyway, the benign flatness of the downs followed by the Observatory and Suspension Bridge means I’m almost home. Always time for a photo with the man himself and then hurtle (well relatively speaking) down the hill to the finish with a few minutes to spare. Legs done, head done, job done.
A witty name postponed for a year and so Snowdonia looms. One hilly training run slotted in with a “that’ll have to do” shrug of the shoulders. A wonderful trip up with Libby as co pilot and providing a sumptuous feast and great chat, Jim on the airwaves explaining what we all feel so eloquently and with the excitement of a child on Christmas day I’m soon surrounded by you wonderful folks for 36 glorious hours.
Cross the line with Jim, then remember to get a satellite signal on the watch (rookie error), chat away until we hit the hill, then head down and grind up. Fly down, but clip the wings slightly, remembering the burn out I suffered the year before. Emergency pit stop (thank the lord for a well placed public toilet) and soon there’s Gerry for a big hug and then round the corner for Gaelle and Kat.
Up the annoying hill, sometimes with Jim as we run / walk. Now just getting miles done, but 17 & 18 are special, they are for Kat and with it a little bit of a kick.
Then Waunfaur, Jim ahead, I’m walking slowly. Time for some music, Men of Harlech, the head lifts, the legs are able to run, yes run up some of that ridiculous hill. Past the ambulance check point, oh and here it is the downhill that pummels the legs and turns them to jelly. Sod it, I’ve got my overweight arse up the hill, I may as well make use of the potential energy. Down I go, as nimble as a pallet of bricks, but upright I remain. I see Jim, I pass him on the steepest section, not a time to apply the breaks. A pause at the corner, we started together, let’s finish together with unclipped wings.
Three weeks later and I’m enjoying the warmth of Vicki & Richard Parkers car. It’s 7am on Saturday and I’m enjoying a sausage and egg mcmuffin and hot coffee, really enjoying it. There’s a 35 mile race to be run as soon as I step out of the car, so I think I’ll have another cup of coffee instead and wait a little while longer.
There is the slight issue that their car was also the finish line of the first 35 mile race that I had run that day. Escape form Meriden is a brutal mistress, you’re the architect of your own demise or glory. No one else to blame for the route travelled and the route to come. My legs are congratulating themselves on completing the race, I’ll have another cup of coffee before my head has to tell them the bad news….
Out of the car, back into the mizzle and cold (but not freezing as in the previous run). Legs stiff, but able to muster a trot to get on the way. I’m with Jim and I’m pleased, because I know how battered he was getting into the car, I was not sure he’d step out. I’m pleased because I know without him I would not have the willpower to see this bugger through.
A series of short sections through rolling hills and villages where we meet the Parkers every 90 mins. This gives us the short term goals we need to breakdown the task ahead into manageable chunks. Without their support we would not have made it. The last meet up is at 52 miles, 18 to go, midday and it’s downhill all the way (well sort of).
Now it is relentless sheer bloody mindedness that is fuelling the body. I’m doing the worst running shuffle ever, but it is quicker than my walk, so I persist. We’re not speaking. We manage to keep to 15 min miles and stop in Cirencester for a pasty and a glass of milk to settle the tummy. 10 miles to go. I sit down. Bad mistake, everything stiffens.
Waddling out of Cirencester, gritting the teeth, burping and trying not to vomit, oh the joys of ultra-running! Somewhere around the 65 mile mark there is the now familiar realisation that this is going to get done. The chat returns, with a weariness we look back over the previous 16 hours. Ahead of us the world class support crew appear, just checking in on us. Last couple of miles. Double and triple checking the tracker, yes the gold line has been crossed, 17 hours, that’ll do.
Back into that warm car, this time no need to get out until I’m home. A party at the village hall beckons, but 13 hours of sleep trumps it. Zzzzzzz.
A huge thank you for all the support from you crazy folks on all of those runs, it is a fuel that keeps the legs running when the head is in dark places. Special thanks to Team Parker for the outstanding crewing for Meriden and of course to Jim, for being himself and being there.
Friday was our annual pre-christmas run, the 5th one and although the body protested a bit, I think it knew it had the legs to get the 25 miles done. That’ll do for this year, time to plan for the New Year.
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