It’s been a funny old week as on Tuesday I had to run from home rather than from work. And even then it was something of a mission to push myself out of the door. It was still a nice enough local run, but not very interesting.
I’m not sure I remember why, but on Wednesday I didn’t take my gear to work and planned to run when I got home. That meant waiting for Lynds to finish supper etc – and then I made some sort of justification that I had only run 14 miles last week, so leaping back to 40+ this week would be crazy, so I decided to eat supper and go home and crash on the sofa. Ooops.
By Thursday though, I had no option. It’s Lynds’ half day, so if I want to get home, I gotta run. With all the clock changing malarky none of my runs are in daylight anymore. In fact it was so dark running through the woods, and so boggy and horrible that I got a little terrified, and after a slow(ish) first mile, I proceeded to run a 5km just 20secs slower than my PB. Amazing what adrenaline can do.
The fun really started on Friday though, when Lynds and I left work, fed the cat and headed straight for the m25 car park. Going was slow, but thankfully once onto the m40 things flowed pretty well and we finally made it to the Holiday Inn in Runcorn.
On Saturday morning we woke nice and early and drove the few miles down the road to Delamere Forest for Hell Up North 2012. I had all my new Brooks gear on, and headed to the tent and met some of the guys from Brooks where I was set up with my head-cam.
The atmosphere at the event was great – even though the compere was a tad over the top. The Devil came to start off each wave, and music from a samba drum bad was really great!!
It was a blooming cold start to the day, but just a few minutes before the start out came the sun. We were lucky, as it was here to stay for the day, and thankfully took the edge off the cold just enough.
At the start of the race I pressed ‘go’ on the camera attached to my head, and the three of us from Team Brooks who had started together headed for the start line. It wasn’t long before we split up as the first small loop headed up hill. It was a long drag up narrow track which slowed things a bit when caught behind slower runners, but my lovely new shoes got me up the really muddy slope quite admirably whilst others stuck to the edges which weren’t quite so churned up.
Crossing back through the start line we headed off into the forest for the main loop. By now the field had largely thinned out but it did still bunch up a little on the single track. From here on in, muddy bits became common, but not un-runable until just after what I assumed was half way (a drinks station where someone said we had been on the go for about 55 minutes). Not long after the water station came the first waist deep mud hole. It was a pretty short and sharp dip in the bog, but i was up to my waist until I lost my footing and ended up shoulder deep on one side :-)
As I came out of the bog I was a little concerned of chafing as an issue – but soon became even more concerned that my shorts were going to fall down. I pulled over to the side and rectified the issue.
Thankfully chafe never afflicted me, and I continued to have an absolute blast as I headed up and down some killer slopes and big muddy boggy bits.
The single worst part of the race came at the pond. All of a sudden we were in a queue and throwing ourselves into a waist deep flooded bit of woodland. Surface temperature was probably about 6 degrees, and the water was colder!! But in the queue we were getting halfway in when we were forced to stop. It was painfully cold, but in order to stay only waist deep we had to go single-file – to veer off course meant at least chest height if not swimming in the freezing cold water.
After 10 minutes in the water I couldn’t feel my feet, and although the enforced ice-bath probably helped my quads, there were a number of people cramping within meters of the pond. The final bog came a mile or two further through the track. By this time though it seemed many people had had enough and most runners were veering away from the worst bits of the bog which were supposed to be the route, and taking the easier boggy path to the side.
The final little loop of the field at the start/finish was a tough bugger, but the downhill gave me a great push to finish the race with a sprint finish. I had no idea of time or distance covered, but I had had so much fun!!
I was through the finish gate pretty quickly and handed a pretty well filled goody bag, T-Shirt and medal when I met Lynds. We headed back to the Brooks tent where I handed back the camera, with no idea of when the battery had died.
I was cold and muddy and horrible, and I needed to wash and change. I paid my pound and got hosed down by the firefighter volunteers before changing into dry clothes in the Brooks tent. The team were super supportive and gave us a voucher for bacon sarnies and coffee – this was very welcome. I also had the opportunity to catch up with Martin and Ryan who had finished within the 10 minutes before me.
Soon though, it was time to head home, and although we had planned to stop off somewhere on the way, we were just a little too tired – and I had just a little too much mud ingrained on every surface!!
My running week concluded on Sunday after having been woken by thunder and lightning in the morning. I watched MOTD with trepidation as the rain seemed not to ease. Spurred on by twitter, it became apparent that I had no excuse so I plotted my course and uploaded to Edmundo. All kitted up for a wet run I headed out of the door and within 20 meters the sun came out and I passed a couple of runners in vests who looked at me like I was a wally. My decision to head out in jacket did seem a little daft, but about 20 minutes later my choice was vindicated as the drizzle set back in.
I had plotted a 10 mile clockwise loop to the north of the house before I returned home for a water refill and to pick up more gels. I did so, and had a quick loo stop before heading back out the door for an 8 mile anti-clockwise loop to the south. I got moving from the house OK, but within a few miles I felt like I was lagging a bit. The first 10 miles had included a long uphill drag and taken a bit out of my legs.
I came up to a huge muddy puddle. 20-30 meters long and pretty deep. Already a bit fed up with the run, I was not keen to get such wet and horrible feet with 5 miles still to go. As I paused to let a few cars go through before I tried to run through the middle of the road at the shallowest part of the water, a Discovery pulled out of the farm track pulling a digger on a trailer. He rolled down his window, shouted something about the water coming up to my ankles and told me to jump on the trailer. I hopped on board and surfed across the puddle with a huge smile on my face. Hopping off at the other end we exchanged thumbs up and each carried on – me grinning ear to ear. It certainly perked me up for a little way.
I started to think about asking Lynds to come and pick me up – working out where would be easiest for her to get to. By the time I had finished plotting though, I figured that I only had a couple of miles left so I should just get over it and run home. So I did, and I finished my 18 mile run in just under 3 hours and returned home in time for the Grand Prix :-)
And 38 miles for the week!! That brings me to 1008 for the year – just 242 to go :-)