Sunday, 1 January 2017

Keep Marching on....

March arrives and with it my first bit of Grandma shopping - I could get used to this, its great fun :-) 
I only bought the one thing, dont want to overdo it but I could work up to overdoing it later...

This shirt is so cute!

Being a Grandma I hope will be awesome, but Mothers Day this year was once again a bittersweet affair with mixed emotions. I love my children and they spoil me again, but I also miss my own Mum.

My training for London and in the shorter term the Larmer 20 mile race was struggling a little with the Sinus problem hanging around a bit too long, and so the start of the month contained some pathetic attempts and some missed sessions, but hey at least i got out there!

I tried a (unintentional) kill or cure approach on one dark heath run, involving ending up calf deep in such churned up cloying mud I had to wash it off in a freezing stream before it dried. Maybe it worked as soon after that i managed 13 miles including parkrun.

I've never been one for winning things so was very surprised to win a cycling jersey from OSmapping on a Twitter competition. Even more suprising was that it fitted as well :-) My first bit of proper cycling kit.

The ideal time to test it out came up with an invite from Jenny to come along on an 8 mile bike ride round a local Try-a-Tri bike route (she was taking another friend along for a route recce who was doing the event). And then that was followed an hour later by a 7km run so I'm sure that was almost a 'Brick' session (although I'm sure my Tri friends would suggest that an hour between means it was not even close!).

There seems to have a been a few 'shuffling a bit and finding it hard' type runs in March interspersed with stuff like 'intervals in the rain' and a couple of short dark heath runs plus another 13 miler, but nothing too much to write home about, well apart from the following three exceptions:

Larmer Tree 20 miler on 13th March.
This started off OK, but ended up feeling like a really bad run. I had picked Jenny up in the morning and we headed for the Larmer Tree Gardens on the Rushmore Estate on the Dorset/Wiltshire Border.
If you have never been here I would suggest a visit. The Gardens are very beautiful and they hold other events there such as the Larmer Tree Music Festival.
Jenny was running the half and I was running the 20 mile race. We hoped that given the difference in start time and the fact that the routes converged at one point, we might spot each other on the way round, but this was not to be, mainly due to the fact that somewhere around mile 14 the wheels appeared to fall off and I struggled with energy levels and just had to slog on to the finish, where Jenny had already arrived some time ago! Fellow Rebel Scum member Dave was also doing the 20 miler, but he dissappeared ahead near the start and I didnt see him again till the finish either!
At the start I had been chatting to a lady called Kelly Lucas who is a much better runner than me and has completed among other things the Mont Blanc 80km for goodness sakes, and I think in unconsciously trying to keep up with her for the first few miles, I may have started off too fast instead of easing into it. Then at 3 miles came a blooming great hill which didnt help matters after a fastish start.

That Hill. With Kevin marshalling
not looking too bad at this point!
As you can see it was a bit of an energy sapper to be tackling when you've only just warmed up! We then had a slightly downhill road section towards what was camping field at the Ox races.
A left turn took us into the woods along a muddy track then left again through the woods of the Rushmore Estate.  Another 3 km or so which went through a large circular clearing in the woods called 'the roundabout' then saw us breaking out of the trees briefly to skirt the golf course, then back into the trees again for a long slow descent to an aid station and a sharp bend left to return back up the long slow hill we had just come down, albeit on a different path!
This was a tiring hill, not steep, but just went on for ever it seemed. Just before we hit the 'roundabout' clearing again we took another couple of right turns and downhill again, to exit by some houses. The route went around the houses and then took a nice little jaunt through some pretty woods to take us to an old path called 'The Shire Rack' which actually marks the boundary between Dorset and Wiltshire. We go up, once again through the pretty woods, then followed the edge of the trees. At this point which was about 13 miles I really felt the tiredness hit, and had to walk quite a bit. We then joined up with the half route and dropped down a nice hill to a junction and a gate.
The hill wasnt so nice heading up the other side to the Ox Drove path and Bigley Buildings (as the OS maps tell me), it was about a mile of slippy muddy track. Once onto the Ox Drove the wide flat gravel track seemed very monotonous and I was glad to get this bit over with.
Obviously now the half and the 20 mile were following the same route which is the one me and Jenny had practiced earlier in the year. And so I remembered the route from here on.
Just before the Ox Drove turns tarmac we doglegged onto a single track through some trees, the path was quite sticky mud by now due to loads of runners going through before me!
Pop out the trees, turn left, cross the road, and there was the LoveStation at which there appeared to be a party going on with no one in a hurry to leave!
luckily they also had a portaloo so i took advantage of the facilities and also the chance for a bit of a rest and a refuel.
The next bit was downhill for some time, across a field, then down a lovely grassy section along the edge of some trees, followed by a very steep hill down, and we were almost back to the bottom of the steep hill at mile 3.
This time however we turned sharp right and ended up going through a section that had sheep in it and up a steep hill that had been affectionately named 'Sheep Shit Hill' by Kevin!
the route took a wide horseshoe around the top of the hill then through some trees and a gate and down a very steep track towards Tollard Royal, where the Larmer Tree Lovestation had been last year. Just before the village green we were directed over a stile (How inconsiderate, having to lift legs high enough for a stile! Ow!), back up a muddy singletrack then across the top of the hill and back down where we rejoined and retraced the outward route for the final couple of miles, which of course cumulated in an uphill climb followed by the run to the finish past the folly within full view of the car park!
a right struggle to the finish

Not my finest hour of running, or certainly didnt feel like it, finishing in 4:38, which actually in hindsight was not a dreadful time, so perhaps I am being too hard on myself.

thank goodness thats over!
The following week I was attending a work event at Marwell Hotel, and managed to escape in the afternoon, while everyone else went Go Ape-ing or visiting the zoo, i went for a run. Interesting to run somewhere different for a change. As usual when running a strange route, an out and back is always recommended, and i managed to fit in a 10k in total.

I also was trying sections of a route exploring a new idea for a WSR race but can't say too much at the moment!

March ends with anticipation of next months big races - Exe to Axe 20 Mile with big hills and London Marathon.

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