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#66 St Illtyds Trail Race 50K: The Tyre and the Snail

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Event Type: A trail ultra with a couple of miles on the main road as well as through some villages. The route is an out and back.
Start Time:
9am.
Weather: Started at @ 9 degs C at 8am. Increased to to 13 degs C by about 11am
During: 5 checkpoints in total stocked with food + water to refill
At the End: A large medallion medal + t-shirt and food to eat
Website: http://www.goeventswales.com

After Rovaniemi 150, 23 Feb and 62 hours of no sleep during the event, I took 2 months off to stabalise my sleep patterns. At the Glen Coe Skyline 2015, and after 5 days of very little sleep, I learned that I really do need sleep for my head to allow my physical being to work effectively. St Illtyds 50K Ultra in South Wales would be the next event at the end of April. 3 weeks before the event, my legs were strong and pulling Big Bluey (15kg tyre) in 5K events. However in a marathon I will always bring a lighter tyre. So Drue (an anagram from Reduce), to Wales we go……

Some Preamble Event Thoughts

Croeso. Cymru am byth! (Welcome. Wales Forever!)

….When I was 8 years old, our Welsh teacher felt he had a duty to teach us these words. I think he brainwashed us because I have remembered these words since then. We also learned that Wales has the longest town name in the UK: Llanfairpwllgwyngyll and the train station you need to go to if you want to visit this place is Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Yep learned all of that at primary school.

April 2017 Snapshot

“Change” is rapidly occurring around us. Stuff that we thought was just fiction in the movies is now real.

•    A snap shot on computer technology advancements:
TechnologyAdvancements
Computing technology is moving exponentially fast with AI’s (Artificial Intelligence) presence now built into our devices; our increasing dependency on robotics (yes Humans is around the corner); computers interfacing with our brains (2010)

See https://www.ted.com/talks/tan_le_a_headset_that_reads_your_brainwaves

….and Facebook’s recent announcement of augmented reality via Oculus means Star Trek’s Holodeck is fast becoming a reality or perhaps “Total Recall” will emerge. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2U9lXEnHns It is only a matter of time when runners will be telling us of their VR experiences, such as running with the dinosaurs.

•    On the political scene is certainly changing with Brexit; 2 crazy guys in power: North Korea and the USA seeing whose bomb is bigger; and Marine Le Pen coming closer to being President of France with the potential to bring France to Frexit.

Pre Race Day

So to be in Burry Port, South Wales where the pace of life slows down was just pure bliss with its hilly green views, sweet smelling air, and water that is soft and sweet. Additional bonus, we were greeted to a show of crepuscular rays over the port.
CrepsularBurryPort

The BBC weather forecast was rain and wind for race day. But just as we are interfacing with computers what if we could really “plug in” to our weather patterns. I would unite with my fellow Ultra colleagues, organisers and volunteers to see dry weather for at least the start of the event.  The night of the event, our doors shuddered in the accommodation as the wind vortexed through the room. As I lay in bed listening to the howling wind, I willed it to keep blowing the rain clouds further away. The reward was a dry start on race day. Thank you to everyone who pictured a dry start to the event. We did it.

Race Day

Registration was inside the Neptune pub. A small intimate group collected with many seeming to already know each other through Twitter with #UKRunChat #Whatever.  This day, I learned Twitter is a place to “meet up” with mainly 30 to 50 whatever year olds.  For me, Twitter was mainly a blog feed, and chatting was in Facebook.  Oh well, another social media to suck time away.

Anyhoo race briefing with Nathan (RD) warning that the Tyre Lady would bounce her tyre Drue on anyone dropping their litter along the trail. That would surely make me a grumpy lady and no one likes a grumpy lady especially with a 10kg lump of rubber handy! Of course some thought the Tyre Lady was a Welsh country myth.

08:00, We started with the 100K participants, an hour ahead of the 50K participants.
StartOfEvent
Love a head start. Feels like a hare being chased by the hounds.  How far would we get before the first 50K runner overtook us? What time would they pass us? (Stephen Shanks was the first to go by at 10:07, completing the entire course in a stonking 4:24).

The course starts off flat and I met a couple of perhaps retired Welshmen riding their bicycles. They tried to have a conversation with me and unfortunately I had no clue what they were saying to me. I could only imagine what they were saying and responded according to what I thought they had asked, until one of them threw some coins into my bucket and said something with the word “charity” in the sentence. I responded EarthWatch www.justgiving.com/tyregirl

Gave me a thumbs up, so must have been the correct response!

Thus, decided I had to make more of an effort to practice my Welsh and greeted other passerbys with Cymru am byth! At checkpoints I practised saying my number with a Welsh accent. Of course with a sing song Welsh accent forming, it was time to sing songs in the woodlands as Drue got caught on rocks and roots.

StuartTree

Just behind us in Stuart’s photo above, I got stuck between the fallen sawn tree and immediately after Drue was stuck. Suddenly we were all giggling at the thought of going on a diet just to fit thru the tree on the way back. Elevation

As for the hilly terrain, it is true that any tyre is a drag going up hill. On this event there are quite a lot of them.

However for every up hill, most of them had awesome downhills. Drue loves a downhill thrill,  except one where Drue dumped bucket on his head for wobbling all over the place.

GoingDownHill
There are a couple of main roads we have to venture out onto, but the majority of this event is on trail with gorgeous scenic hill top views and pretty woodlands filled with bluebells and interesting tree shapes + some posh houses to pass (reminded by the amazing Jane who popped up all over the event doing bonus miles and kept going to the end)

Bluebells

No Bluebells were dragged up during this event.

At about 1:30pm, the heavens opened up and the wind blew. Drue loved the rain, becoming an easier pull uphill!

Between the final 2 checkpoints, I met Rob Mills doing his second lap towards the 100K still smiling despite the rain and soaking wet (he said forgot to put on his waterproofs!!!). He had about 35K more to do. Gave him a big hug and told him I’d see him at the end. Rob was the only finisher for the 100K, completing in a brilliantly run 12:33.

As for the snail at the beginning of this post: after the final check point, we were joined by the final 50Kers: Lyndon and Aimee. Aimee was doing her first 50K (no training, no other running events prior like a ½ marathon or marathon, just straight into an ultra!)

LyndonOur conversation veered towards technology, social media and how children today were lacking social skills to be able to read and negotiate with each other (think Lyndon brought this topic up). More cyberbullying was happening with schools seeing an increase in child depression due to cyberbullying. We decided that children and adults today need rules and regulations with using “chat” apps to express their feelings.

Do we need to keep ahead of technology? Parents certainly do need to know about the different apps in order to protect their children, especially with adults pretending to be kids and sex grooming. All of us will be forced to experience augmented reality via VR to protect our children.

As the gentle Aimee diverted her path to avoid crunching snails, Drue waited for the snails to pass.

SnailSpeaks

And we learned that although our social interaction is changing, we need to teach our children about the joys of the outdoor, the physical world and the creatures that will touch our lives. Snails are cute!

Aimee you did brilliant and hope to see you on another.

Besides the top of a red gel tab, there was absolutely no runners’ trash on the course. So you all rocked!

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Thank you to the organisers for doing a litter run at the end and picking up 2 full bags worth of garbage left on the trail by the general public. Tori and Nath thank you for a truly excellent event that was well organised and for using biodegradeable compostable cups and bags for the “disposable trash”. Big hugs to all the volunteers for being out there for us even in the wind and rain and to Stuart and Rob for letting me use your tweeted photos. Lots more photos of the event can be found here at Rob’s Flickr site: https://www.flickr.com/photos/awv/albums/72157683182452006

And a view of the event from the organisers: http://nathanflear.co.uk/2017/05/02/st-illtyds-ultra-marathon-race-report/

Finish time = 10:48 (watching snails passing by)

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#65 Rovaniemi 150: Luck, Angels and LSD

Rovaniemi 150 Background

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2017 Results

Ultra races are a test of mind, some body and a lot of soul. The added snow and ice gives an ultra an added twist. Here participants can die from hypothermia or become badly wounded with frostbite. Temperatures can swing from 5 degrees celcius (in 2016) to -27 degrees celcius (in 2017). No year is the same.

Superficially participants come to be out in the wild to survive. In reality, they come to face their demons. Everyone of us (readers included) have hurts and fears that we have pushed to the dark corners of our mind.

60 people entered the 150, 45 completed the entire event. Unless you have formed partnerships, you will be alone, perhaps in darkness, listening to the forest “pop” sounds.

It is in those moments of loneliness that our minds wander along the corridor memory banks searching those hidden corners, pulling forth the demons so that we can do battle. Out in the darkness, with no one around, no distractions, our demons are exposed and we must fight them. So that we can find the peace and joy of the world around us.

The demons I fought in Arrowhead 135 (which I have yet to complete), caused tears to fall. I had to stop my emotions running away as my eyes began to form ice, and were sticking each time I blinked. The second attempt to complete Arrowhead, ended early with grade 2-3 frostbite which took 3 months for the outer skin to heal and nearly a year for the finger to have 95% feeling but I was still in battle mode.

2015, Rovaniemi 150, sickness prevented me completing. Although I made the time limit, it is miserable when you are fighting yourself and fooling yourself. When your health is poor an endurance event will not heal it!

2017, Rovaniemi 150, I am at peace with my world (see previous post). With prayers and scripture behind me, I was prepared regardless of the lack of physical training. One more of “Peter’s winds” would try to hijack this victory…. a sleepless, restless night.  In total, 22 hours awake before the event had started.  Faith and trust were my focus.

The 150 Race

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Map of route but plenty of markings/signage to indicate direction

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Yellow and black route markers by the side of the route – photo by Watson Bassett

Although this is called a race, it is also about humanity. We all have our reasons for being here, but this is an evemt where participants help each other to be safe. The cold can kill. And it soon becomes apparent we all want each other to be well. Sometimes we have to take charge of a fellow participant, ordering them to put on clothes and gloves, to dry out, or making sure there are logs for the next participant to make a fire.

 

new-old-friends

The 2015 gals are back in town; Rachel to complete 300km; Marketa to complete 900km – photo by Aleksander Wiatrowski

It was great to catch up with Rachel who would go on to be the first lady to complete the 300km event and Marketa who will complete the Lapland Challenge, a 900km event, that will end on the 20th March. These are women who are filled with joy and love, with spirits that dance in the wilderness and watched over by angels.

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Lumi posing with Rachel and Aleksander

A glorious, sunny bright day, sees everyone start with gusto, a quick “get-away” on Lake Porohovi for the next 12.5km.

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Lake Sinettäjärvi – photo taken by Paolo Della Patrona

Despite a night void of sleep, my mind feels alert and thus the body is able to jog the first 10km. After all, dragging a 30kg pulka on a solid flat icy ground is effortless, though the lungs had to do a little adaption to the -10 degs C start.

This year the hills were easier to climb ….though many people still overtook us (Lumi and myself), I could breathe!

This year, the “pain in the arse” first forest section ground was solid – no snow shoes were required unlike 2015. Though care still needed to be taken on the steep undulations. 30kg smashing into your legs is a little painful!

Entering Lake Sinettäjärvi, we could resume a run, walk. In fact, I walked more of this as I enjoyed the feeling of health and thankful for my face mask to protect the face from the biting breeze. This is a long 20km lake stretch and with nothing to torture my mind, except a Mongolian song to loop round over and over again.

Unfortunately as this route unfolded, gel and bar wrappers had been left on the ice. Perhaps accidently dropped. After having picked up 5 wrappers, decided to leave the couple more I came across, hoping that someone behind might pick them up. It was a moral dilemna of responsibility as the area is pristine and yet annoyingly there are wrappers seemingy tossed on the ground by other participants! Plastic trash that will pollute the rivers that would eventually end up in our oceans or swallowed by a fish. I did not pick up 2 that I had seen and now was guilty of ignoring the trash on the ground, just as so many in society ignore the trash around.

More than 8 million tonnes of plastic leak into our oceans….Read here from the UN.

5 measly pieces of trash…..I was ashamed for turning my face away from the rest. It would be great if the organisers gave an award to people who picked up other people’s trash so that everyone took responsibility. However, I believe that there were other “aware” participant who would have taken responsibility for the trash I refused to pick up.

Note to other participants: I still have someone’s selfie stick that was dropped on the trail.

The Dancing Lights

arctic-lights

Captured by Watson Bassett

As night fell, temperatures rapidly dropped. From the lake to CP 6,  we would continually leap frog a Spanish duo (Carlos (150km) and Esteban (300km)) who would in turn overtake us when we were going up hill.

Approaching CP4, Carlos and Esteban stopped. Their light beams seemed to capture ice crystals suspended in the air that surrounded us like fairy lights, and there was a strange alien green light swirling in the sky.

At this point my Mongolian head song is interrupted by War of the Worlds music by Jeff Wayne:

The Pain in the Arse Rickety Bridge

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Photo by Watson Bassett

By about 8pm we are crossing the rickety bridge. My plan was to turn the pulka on its side to drag Lumi’s fat rubber body thru. In 2015 I had managed to wedge Lumi between the wooden posts and was forced to climb over the pulka to release Lumi and carry her separately to the other side of the slippery bridge.

My plan to drag Lumi on her side failed. Thankfully Carlos and Esteban graciously helped me, carefully carrying my pulka across the bridge.

As temperatures dropped to -25 deg celcius, I put on my big mitten gloves. Unfortunately I dropped one of them in the forests. My one hand was becoming frozen. I knew I needed to find the lost glove or face having another round of frost bite.

I called back to the Spanish duo and they had thankfully picked it up.

Energy renewed, we were on our way to CP5. There I met a participant who was shivering by the fire and commanded her to put on clothes and her overgloves. Immediately I apologised for being so authoritive, though it was what was needed. Sometimes we think we are with it, but actually we can become confused, as I was at the end of this tale. She was at a check point, safe. It was questionable whether she would go on. I left her to be looked after by the volunteers so that she could deal with her demons.

As we headed into midnight, we were treated to another blast of green swirling lights. We were in a magical wonderland and still feeling very lucid despite the sleep deprivation.

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CP6, Kuusilampi in the twilight. Photo by Paolo Della Patrona

CP6 @ 02:00. The plan was to spend @ 3 hours at Kuusilampi, to eat and dry clothes.  It is the only hut that has a closed door and a burning fire inside. It was great to see Ollie and Jaana again.

I was surprised to see Simone enter in only 1/2 an hour after me. She had got herself together and made the journey to CP6. Her boyfriend had only just left CP6 as I could not give him positive feedback on whether Simone would make it. He had waited some hours. I felt bad for her and found myself again commanding her to get her clothes dry.

Being dry does much to lift the spirit. We talked and she seemed much more positive. We both filled our Nathan Bladders with hot water. As I continued to bimble around, Simone felt ready to face the world and went on outside to move onto the next check point. Unfortunately her bladder somehow burst and her clothes were wet. At this point she decided to call it a day and I left her in the safe hands of Jaana and Ollie. I thanked God that my water bladder did not burst in the same way despite me filling it with very hot water.

My gripe to other participants: Trash was left on the floor and on the benches of the Kuusilampi hut. This is a self supporting event that just so happens to have an awesome shelter that was built by Ollie! If you enter this event again, please leave no trace and be responsible for your own trash!

downhill-with-lumiSunday, 6am the motivation for hauling Lumi up hills is to use her as a seat to ride down. Va va voom.

Note to other participants: If you use your pulka as a sled, remember to check for road traffic and slow down at the road crossings. Always listen for the silence.

Just over 24 hours into the event (plus the 22 hours of sleep deprivation), my concentration was sometimes waning and I took a 2 hour detour believing I had seen the correct signage. Before I went up the detour, a lady called me. She had seen a glove on the road that I had left at my break stop and had decided it belonged to me. It was my glove! I thanked Geoff and Stephen for their prayers as a lot of “luck” was accumulating. Snow shoes on, I wandered along the incorrect track believing signage I had seen was the event’s signage. After 2-3km in, decided I was just on an exporation route. With a sudden sense of urgency, I returned back to the road and met Stein who confirmed the correct direction.

Reflecting back, nothing was really correct, but my mind tricked me into believing it was correct. I had to be more careful. Although I thought I was lucid I was tired. It is @ 52 hours since I last slept (about 30 race hours + 22 deficit pre-hours). Here now in broad daylight on the track up to CP7, I began to have minor hullucination, thinking I could see people dressed in red or blue, the trees in the snow looked like a little cemetary, and sometimes I thought I heard voices. I let my brain toy with me, sometimes enjoying seeing an imaginary building in the woodlands. Who needs LSD!

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Little trees making cross signs

CP7: I forced myself to drink some luke warm chicken soup. After all I didn’t really want to continue to the end with 2 litres of liquid still in my pulka. I still had a mostly full 750ml bottle and 2 litres in my bladder.

Having forced myself to breathe through my nose though most of the journey, I found that I didn’t need to drink so often. My throat was fine. I could still sing to the weary participants at CP7 to get them going with “eye of the tiger” or “when you’re happy and you know it….” I must have been annoying!

Sunday @16:03

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Selfie with Lumi

On to the “never ending road” and Alex (Organiser) passes by, asking me who I am!….Guess I must have looked wild with white frozen hair and a tyre behind. You know beared guys look like Santa Claus with their ice white frozen beards!

Note to self: If you have to pee, just pee and don’t worry about anyone seeing you out on a long road…..far better to get it out than having to deal with an embarrassing accident!

Onward bound and as darkness set in, I checked the markers mulitple times, no longer trusting my own eyes.

56 hours sleep deprivation and at the lake before the final check point Porohovi, I had to make a decision to go left or right. I took out the map to make sure the signs I was following was correct.

Now in the final woodlands, after flying down a hill, I decided I had gone the wrong way. So stormed back up 500m to confirm I had gone the right way! Oh well “whee” all the way back down.

Back on the final lake pass with the city lights in sight. I found the city lights annoying as they never seemed to be in focus. Instead I enjoyed looking at the signage waving at me as I went by each one of them!

60 hours sleep deprivation (38 hours 49 mins race hours + 22 prior deficit)  – a gang of 4 fat bikers cheered us in through the door. We clocked in at 38 hours 51 mins.

Our first snow and ice ultra completed with loads of thanks to the volunteers; organisers; Esteban and Carlos for being my initial angels, Rev Jeff & parkrun buddy Stephen for prayers; the participants who stayed to support incoming participants; Bjorn for helping me take my gear to the wrong flat (my fault), getting me to see I had taken him to the wrong flat and then him helping me take everything over to the right block of flat; and thank you to God and his team of angels.

Sending apologies to the flat owner whose bell I rang at 1am and probably rang a couple of times as I thought the button was the light switch. I was so confused about the door change! (wrong building)

To get a feel of Rovaniemi 150, here is a French version with moving pictures: http://www.lci.fr/sport/la-rovaniemi-150-kilometres-en-laponie-seul-face-a-soi-meme-2027255.html

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#65 Rovaniemi 150: Preparations

Some History: Better Heath than Being A Hero

One day, as I was completing a 50km event in Salisbury, a fellow participant told me about Arrowhead 135. He had tried to fat bike the distance and failed and was unlikely to enter again as it was too hard…….so I entered my first snow and ice event in 2012. I failed due to not understanding how to work with soft packed snow under foot and suffered with “beaten up” achilles.

I attempted again in 2014 and failed again due to not being vigilent enough and being complacent. Extreme cold is unforgiving and frost bite can take hold in 5 minutes! I had frost bite on my fingers by the first check point and thought I’d prefer to have working fingers rather than be a hero.  The hand specialist in London wanted to chop, thankfully I had spoken to more experienced consultants in the North of the UK and Minnesota who gave some sound advice….leave it to see how it heals. However my confidence for dealing with cold by myself was low.

I needed something shorter, so I entered Rovaniemi 150 in 2015. At the start of the event, I was not well. However a Polish participant had given me some anti-flu pills and I felt temporarily good. I pulled myself out at 115km due to lungs seemingly blocked and breathing difficulties despite the warmish weather (about -5 deg C at the time).

After all as Alex (the Event Organiser) has said to his participants: “This event will  be back next year. Better safe than having permanent health issues.”.

2016 I didn’t attempt any snow ice events due to insomnia messing with my system. Sleep deprivation before an event is hard to deal with. For the Glen Coe sky running event, I had 5 days of no sleep prior and was on the start line thinking “Just enjoy the scenery and hopefully you will physically exhaust yourself to sleep deep”. I completed 1/2 of the course. Note this is a tough event as you do have to scramble up mountains and I did not take a tyre companion with me.

Really there are no failures in life, just as long as we reflect and make our experiences to become better the next time.

….and here we are in 2017…. I have kind of learned how to deal with the insomnia!

Preparation

homewood-parkrunHmmm…..Parkrun 5K every Saturday (this is free to join – walk it, run it, pull a tyre in it)…if I felt like it.

Life has to keep rolling forward. It is not that I was complacent, but I was focusing on the thoughts of tax, work to pay for stuff, renovations, fixing stuff, social stuff…… you know living!

Ok really….I focused on “seeing” myself complete the event. Those who have been following this blog will know I finally understood the power of visualisation in the Rome Marathon and separated it from the “imagination of the distance”.

4 weeks before the event, Isaiah 40:29-31 was given to me.

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

NIV version

And I met a Buddhist monk friend who reminded me about Peter trying to walk on water. Matthew 14:22-33

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

NIV version

My preparation was spiritual to remind me God can take us through the worst storms.

2 weeks before the event, I checked into my local church to see how they were going. I saw they were still trying to raise funds for their building. However they had progessed on forward and borrowed the funds instead to make a vision reality. They now need a couple of million to pay back and it seemed right to dedicate this event to them and God. If you want to support me in my endeavours, it would be great if you could place a donation with them to help them with their building which serves Egham community and put “TyreLady” in the reference so I can thank you. (See previous post)

The Winds of Doubt

A week before the event, a cold was sneaking in. Also I did a 4 mile cross country event on the Saturday prior and appeared to have a niggle on the left foot. On the Tuesday prior to the event, I completed a 7 mile run with Runnymede Runners and my left foot was sore with tendonitis. My thoughts flashed back to Peter……and like the wind he encountered, this too would just blow over. Prescriprion “calf massage and R&R (Rest and Relaxation)”.

Calf muscle massage saw me in giggle fits (very tight calves). As for R&R I still had packing….which took me all 3 days prior to flying. More insominia smacking me round the head….average 3-4 hours a night. But still it would all be positive, afterall I would be looked after. I had reverend Geoff of St John’s praying for me + a running buddy Stephen from Audio Kitchen keeping me safe in prayer.

Wednesday evening I was ready.

Thursday evening we had arrived in Rovaniemi and I was ready for bed!

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Sled arrived in one piece

Thursday’s sleep was great and by Friday, we had rejoined with Lumi

lumi-ready

Next post: Rovaniemi 150: The Event.

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Rovaniemi 150 Charity

I am raising funds for my local church to help them with their building project and community outreach.You can find information about the building project here: http://www.stjohnsegham.com/building/

If you would like to support this run, then please donate funds to St John’s. Their account information can be found here: http://www.stjohnsegham.com/building/pledge/

Have extracted that information below.

Sort code: 60-07-33
A/C No:     89216393
A/C Name: PCC St John’s Centre
Just to get this out of the way, I have a left foot niggle and a minor cold (sniffles) but nothing too bad to stop me from starting and trying to complete. After all it might just all blow over and am fine on the day 🙂
After all isn’t that what happened to Peter when he tried to walk on water (Matthew 14:22-33)

#64 Pisa Marathon Part 2: Beating the Blues

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If the elephants can do it so can A-D

Event Type: A road marathon
Route: Starts at 9am. Roads are closed but sometimes drivers will attempt a closed section!
Weather: Started at 0 degs C at 8am. Increased to to 10 degs C by about 11am
During: Water + energy drink; bananas, apples, wafers @ every 5km; some sponge points as well. Too cold for sponges
At the End: A lovely colourful medal
Website: http://www.maratonadipisa.com/?lang=en

17th Dec: Fighting Negative Energy

The plan was to spend some time at the expo, leave the expo at 5pm, eat dinner and be in bed by 9pm.

My buddy had gone off to the Dali museum whilst I tried to convince people to be proactive in their approach to our planet, even in a marathon.

  • The clock struck 5pm and my buddy was no where to be seen.
  • 6pm: stress quickly settled in. Nadia (organiser) kept a positive cool presence and tried her best to help phone my buddy. Unfortunately none of his phones were on.
  • 6:30pm: the internal stress is burning away.
  • 7:05pm: my buddy appears.

When you’re already partly negative beforehand, it is easy to push the whole being back into the negativity cloud.

As I get older, I seem to become more OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) about stupid things. Here was a great example. My buddy had got lost in thought and was out enjoying the Pisa landscape, had made a mistake on timing and all I could be was annoyed at his timing. Lost was the positive energy that exuded from the organisation, and the stressed pre-Pisa emotional brain had returned which affected everything else that night.

Thankfully I have learned that one sleepless night before an event only degrades performance a little. However taking negative energy into an event can screw your want to move forward and has a much higher degradation on performance and mental thinking.

To fight your own demons, first recognise you’re negative. You’ll feel it from that draining fuzziness in your head to the language that you use. Negative language continues negative feelings. For example: using “Not” frequently in sentences such as “I am not being negative” vs “I am positive”. It is easier to say the latter with a smile.

Our language and feelings are all interconnected. Keep your language and gestures positive and I promise you, that negative fuzziness will quickly go away. (reference NLP or Neuro Linguistic Programming).

So “Allons-y”

18th Dec: Marathon Day’s Positive Triumph

Some demons are easy to remove by being around positive people.

I had to be positive as teachers and students from Pacinotti High School started with me at 08:30am. I enjoyed listening to their excited chatter for the first 5-10km.

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Teachers and Students from Pacinotti High School made “Run with Tyre Lady” t-shirts

I had to be positive as runners passed from the 7km until the 12km mark were constantly providing positive feedback.

Some demons require space, time and nature to remove

When the teachers left me at the 10km mark, I could focus on slaying those last remaining demons in my head once and for all. At points I wanted to weaken, but passing runners in the opposite direction reminded me to keep moving.

At 25km, the tail runners picked me up.

Their positive energy blasted me through. At the last 4km the students and teachers from Pacinotti High School rejoined the happy group. I now had a full entourage to take me home.

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As they yelled “Go Lady” there was a song we all sang …..”Laaaayyyyy di…..laaaayaa…go….Lady now you gonna go home…..” Surrounded by so much light destroyed any final embers of darkness…..And for the rest of you, the banana boat song…..to enter into town with us with a joyous sound.

Thank you to Pacinotti High School, the Pisa organisers and the amazing volunteers for their support and to Fabrizio for the use of his photos.

Thank you Pisa Marathon for the positive energy that you exude.

The world is now great and it will take a lot more now to rock my boat!

Time =6:52:22

Total stoppage time on course for photos estimated at 15 minutes

Pisa Is Calling

Sometime end of Novemeber, someone from a running site (FetchEveryone) asks me if I am doing the Pisa Marathon.

I respond No.

She tells me I have been featured on their website. I had a look and sure enough there I was:
http://www.maratonadipisa.com/545/?lang=en

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Of course it would be rude not to go. I looked at the most recent stats I could find, and it painted a bleak picture of recycling of plastics in Italy. At best it reached 4% in 2012.

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Ok this is 2016, so there have been improvements. I know in Rome, shops have been charging for plastic bags and some have provided a small discount on your shopping. The Rome marathon gave away a good back pack and cloth bags as part of the “give away” to runners.

Last stat I’ve just seen shows about 35% of plastic is recycled in Italy overall and this is a pretty typical figure throughout the world. Here is a document about Plastic Recycling in Europe.

My Northern Italian friends have told me that the North is very good at recycling.

But the school children from a school I visited in Rome told me a bleak picture of toxic waste going to the South and of Northern waste being handled by Southern companies.

Medi was thrown down from the heavens to remind Italy about this toxic waste.

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https://tyrelady.wordpress.com/2016/04/09/the-birth-of-medi/

There have been newspaper articles about this, however thought you might like to read this directly from someone who lives in an affected area in the South.

http://www.robertosaviano.com/en/how-the-mob-turned-southern-italy-into-a-toxic-wasteland-2/

….and sadly it appears this is still happening today.

http://phys.org/news/2016-01-italy-higher-cancer-death-mob.html

I will not let the children down, and hope I can continue to highlight this back to the North of Italy via the Pisa Marathon so that they can hopefully review their own processes for waste disposal (including household waste) and not simply turn their back because they “paid” someone else to dispose of it for them. Because the Northern waste is ending up in illegal landfills, rivers and the Mediterranean ocean.

Let’s hope North Industries can take stock, review and change to improve practices. After all the lives that are suffering are people, animals and plants. Yes it costs to be sustainable but how about making this month onwards all about caring 🙂

I will continue to drag this waste issue out all the way to the Pisa Marathon because it is all about effort. And if people want to feel effort, try dragging an 8kg tyre non-stop through 26.2 miles.

Some great news, Pisa Marathon have just recently responded to my BYOB requests to runners. They will be using glasses instead of plastic cups……

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Perhaps it is toughened glass! Anyway it’s a start and Italy appears to do a great job on recycling glass (@ 70%)- so bring it on.

#63 Chanthaburi Scenic Marathon: Run For the King

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Finisher’s Medal

Event Type: Mainly a road marathon
Route: Starts at 4am, so carrying a light is useful in the dark areas. Goes through Laem Sadet. Flat and rolling hills, partly by the sea. Roads are not closed but there are road controls and the second half of the marathon is on the cycle route.
Weather: Starts at 25 degs C at 4am and then goes up to 36 degs C by about 9am
During: Water + energy drink every 2km; bananas + watermelon after 10km; water sprays after 20km.
At the End: Lots of local street food + finishers t-shirt with yout name (you are expected to complete). Lovely medal with a wee embedded diamond. Chanthaburi is known for its jewels!
Website: http://www.scenicmarathon.com/?lang=en

The King of Thailand

My alter ego had to work in Bangkok, so decided to tag along and find a marathon. Chanthaburi Scenic Marathon kindly welcomed the Tyre Lady to their event which was to be held on the 30th October. Unfortunately on the 13th October 2016, the King passed away and the country went into immediate mourning for a month, curtailing all entertainment. The event was postponed to 20th November, a tenuous date for my alter ego as she likes to work. But at the end of the day, the King’s cause won.

In 2015, Thailand produced 26.85 million tonnes of waste, of which 19% was recycled properly and 31% properly disposed of, according to Thailand Environment Institute. 50% was dumped in open landfills and caused pollution. Thailand is listed as one of the main polluters of the world’s ocean. ref: http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/1128785/even-garbage-didnt-escape-the-kings-eye

Trash is a problem! http://www.firstpost.com/world/thailand-hurtling-towards-massive-waste-disposal-crisis-1690599.html

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Khun Krabaen Mangrove Swamp: It’s restoration was initiated by the late King

And yet this is a country that has bountiful resources, beautiful beaches, amazing rain forests ….(along with the great food and welcoming people).

The King realised the current economic model of consumerism is highly unsustainable and thus developed the Sufficiency Economy Model: it’s purpose to idealize a way of life in order to help the people reduce the pressures of “wants” versus needs versus conservation.

“Buddhist ethical and moral principles are governed by examing whether a certain action, whether connected to body or speech is likely to be harmful to one’s self or to others, thereby avoiding any actions which are likely to be harmful.”

Basically polluting/harming your environment will harm you and others: the air you breathe, the food you eat, the stress you feel and the health you cherish.

The King walked his talk, being an advocate for environmental and sustainable causes, blending into a permacultural way of living to lead towards the well being and happiness for his people. Thus the King initiated thousands of environmental / sustainable projects to lead the country into sustainable economic practices. All of these can be found at Thailand’s Sustainable Development Foundation.

Love this talk by ted talk by Jon Jandai about living a sustainable life that led to him finding a happier life.

Being Led In and Looked After

As I read more about the King, I had to be in Thailand to remind the people that though the King is gone, the greatest respect and send off the people could give him would be to walk the King’s talk. The first step that every person can take is to reduce the amount of harmful trash such as refuse plastic bags that are given away. Have set some challenges here: Reduce disposible plastic usage.

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Animals affected just by plastic bags. 25% of the fish contain plastic in their stomachs.

My potential obstacle was my passport was due to expire in 4 months.

With a week to go before the marathon was due to be held on the new revised date, I told the organisers I would be there but would need help with transport, accommodation and a Thai tyre. They responded all can be done if you can make it over.

As I faced the custom’s officer with my return ticket and passport, that is potentially useless to travel with, I prayed he would let me in.  Am sure the King must have whispered in his ear, because after a short pause, he stamped my passport and I was in!

19th November: Registration Day

1Coaches.JPGThe Sky Trains are clean and easy to use, though are crowded at peak times (just like every other city). At 7:30am, I had a wonderfully easy ride to Ekkamai Bus Station. Following instructions, I waited at platform 17 and did not see any other person looking like a runner until…. a runner type person came along looking equally confused. Of course I approached him (women always ask when they are uncertain) and he found out that the coaches were waiting at the front of the station.

19th November Meals: My breakfast was 2 small croissants; Lunch was a cornetto ice cream; Dinner was fried rice and another ice cream. My previous days meals had been pretty good, so going light for one day shouldn’t make a difference!

About 3 hours later, hey presto and we arrived in Laem Sadet, Chanthaburi registration.2registration3

Anucha, one of the organisers welcomed me and immediately showed me my accommodation at the Jungle Bay Resort. Huts mingled in with the native trees, the forests animals can come and go. Some of the permanent residents are a blind monkey, a baby monkey that was abandoned by his mother and there is an albino python that loves a good swim in the fish pond! Though mosquitos are plentiful, I loved the place for its raw and rugged feeling and yet the huts had good beds, air con and their own bathroom.

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There was an option of staying in tents that is seconds from the start/finish line (in the distance in the following photo).

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Tents set up close to the start line – has mat, pillows and light blanket

Now the only thing missing was my Thai tyre. Anucha promised me it was coming and it would be outside my room. At 2pm, I wandered aimlessly around the registration area and then at the tents.

“You need to register with the organisers and then they will allocate you a tent” a voice called out.

Ming seeing a lost soul reached out. I thanked him, we got talking and he became my buddy for the day. He was doing his first marathon.

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Eating dinner looking out over the sea

6pm, I returned back to see Anucha to let him know I would need to go to bed and enquired about my tyre once more. It had arrived and it was lighter than my normal tyre. I would be glad about this later when I would have to fight the heat (about 5kg tyre).

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Chamey was over the moon to meet Khun Krabaen

The Tyre lady was now complete. Photographer Tom gave it a name “Khun Krabaen”

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And before the rains came, we got some signatures to start the ball rolling.

We collected pledges before, during and after the event. People pledged to reduce their disposible plastic. And hopefully this would also mean in this area the moo dud (dugong or sea cow) will also be saved.

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Khun Krabaen is at Jungle Bay Resort if anyone wants to sign & pledge to reduce disposible plastic

By 8pm, lights out for a 2:30am wake up. Jungle Bay Resort was about 600m from the start line. Breakfast was a chocolate cookie and another ice cream! (the room had a fridge/freezer)

The Honour of Completion

The event starts at 4am. The air although coolish, is still humid. I am one of the last to leave the start line to ensure I do not impede the runners.

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Out of Laem Sadet and to the 10km mark over the bridge

Thus I am amongst other slower moving participants. Once out of Laem Sadet, there is less lighting. Before @7.5km at the top of a hill, I watched a participant (we had been continually overtaking each other beforehand) stop, change his clothes and get on a motor bike. I would see this same participant when I was going up to 22km and he was heading back at 38km. It was sad to see someone cheat themselves.

He may have got a medal and a t-shirt, but he lost out on the opportunity to grow. Overcoming challenges makes us become more resilient, mentally stronger. By conquering his fear of failure and suffering, any future overwhelming situations are more easily fought and conquered.

The Fight

As the sun woke up, the sun would be shining down, revealing sea, mountain, farming and village views.

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This is a pleasant marathon to enjoy in the early morning.

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Participants @22km-24km and returning along same route

Marathon food was some jelly babies and 3 small chia seed snacks + bananas and melons at check points that had food. My main concern was handling the heat and keeping cool when the sun woke up at 6am. Thankfully the event had organised lots of spray/sponge points.

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As I continued after the first 22km, many people stopped me to take wefies. Total stoppage time would amount to about 20-30 minutes. I thought it would be okay as I had killed the first 22km….well I did have a lighter tyre than normal and Ming did say it would rain at 10am. Towards 30km, the staff from FaaSai Resort were out supporting and more Wefies were taken on the return journey back to the start.

results

Though with stoppage time meant that I would be facing a hotter day. The dreaded heat was soon beating down but I would continue to fight. As the sun sapped me of energy reducing me to a march, I was thankful for the lighter tyre and I would remember everyone who called out to me to keep fighting, and I would tell everyone behind me to keep fighting as I looped back on myself back to the finish.

Because it is the fight that makes us grow. And if I can put in the effort to drag a tyre 42km, then I am sure we can put in a little mental effort to bring our own bags shopping, bring our own thermal cups for a hot drink (a large amount of plasticizers leaches into the drink from the plastic bag), and we can continue to put in effort to fight for the environment that gives us joy and life.

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To the lady who finished her first marathon and gave me a big hug even though I was wet and smelly – you rock! Thank you to the organisers for all your help, Jungle Bay Resort for hosting me, the volunteers for being out so early and everyone who encouraged me to continue. Thank you for letting me run for the King.

May the late King of Thailand’s thoughts on sustainability and environmental concerns continue to become part of Thailand’s fabric of living as a remembrance to him.

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The late King’s Sufficiency Economy Model can be read about here: http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/08/thailands-sufficiency-economy-philosophy-and-the-sustainable-development-goals/

 

#53 Aston Subedge: The Doctor and the Quiet

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Group Photo with Reu before she entered the Tardis at the Aston Subedge

Event Type: Costwold some very long steep hills
Route: Trail marathon, following a pretty straightforward paper description + some signage
Weather: Cloudy and quite sunny
At the End: Food and lots of spot prizes (like wine, bottles, and stuff)

This is a really friendly event with gorgeous scenery and some long hills to go down and up and down and up and of course some muddy hills to venture back and forth.

Website: http://www.broadmeadowruns.co.uk/

At the end of my 50th event (the December Double, Nov 2014), I sat on a sofa with a plate full of food, stuffing my face with buffet food Chris had organised for the runners and volunteers.  Mike who I had seen on both days as the mid-way point marshal and at other points was also now resting contemplating driving all the way back down to Southampton. Mike had driven for over 4 hours to support his buddy Chris for his event. Such friendship is so special.

And here we were swapping admiration for each other for different reasons. Having run along the canal for 2 days, Mike suggested I participate in the Aston Subedge in June 2015. I don’t remember the exact details of the conversation, but it probably was something like, “you need a bigger challenge than 2 days of a flat muddy canal…..and we need some entertainment”. ……and that was it, I was entered into the Aston Subedge.

Stress

Heading towards the Aston Subedge event day, my head was being bogged down with projects and deliverables. At the end of the day, what do they all mean? Who cares what I have created (programmed) afterall the creation is only a small part in the machinery…….which drives a bigger cog and so on.

Thankfully Mike entered me into the lovely Aston Subedge event that Broadmeadow Runs hosts. I was soo stressed but this was good to take time out from my PC. I sometimes think I should quit work to just focus on marathons, but at the same time, I want to prove I can do it all – work, family, find accepting events, run and develop.

These runs have now become important to take me away from the “every day hum drum” to the “shang shing dragging my thing” putting perspective in life.  Although route finding does add some thought diversions. Fortunately Chris’ routes are fairly straightforward as long as one stay’s mostly focused.

Reu’s Pull

Although I had a 1 hour headstart, other participants quickly caught up as there are a couple of hills to “bounce” up and down. Reu is a 10kg lovie whose treads were telling her that this would be her last race. She’s participated in US events and in 2014, the mayor of Cheltenham had signed his name on her to pledge to reduce his disposible plastic.

Reu is a happy go lucky tyre. She bimbled along teasing the farm animals and I, the puller wondered why I was dragging a 10kg dead weight up hills and over mud. However Reu has some of her grandmother’s animal magic and shows she can “pull” too…..horses, cows, alpacas, sheep….

Spiritual Investments

For the final 7 miles, I was joined by Phil and Kim who decided to move at my pace. Phil gave some excuse about the docs wanting to keep his heart at a suitable rate. We righted the world, wondered about how people’s apathy affects their want to be sustainable and then focused on what marathon/ultra runners gain from spending time out. Here we ventured on the path of spiritual notions and even if a runner is not religious, a runner has spiritual moments, conscious about the world they live in.

Why is this? In order to become aware and understand complex matters, the brain requires moments of nothing-ness. We have surrounded ourseves with so much noise whether that is from sounds, reading, political blah blah that we become easily overwhelmed. This was our spiritual enlightenment and we merged into Albert Einstein’s reflection

“The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.”

Scientists and spiritual leaders are similar in allowing themselves to be absobed by “the quiet” to open up the unconscious to allow a free flow of new thoughts and ideas to surface to the conscious.

Try it

Find a day (or 8 hours) in your buzzing world of busi-ness to step away from the internet/TV/mobile/people telling you stuff, to allow your mind to reflect and meander into the unconscious streams. If you cannot find a day then enter into an event that will force you time away. Broadmeadow Runs or the LDWA have great prices and a nice feed at the end.

As for Reu, it is farewell to her as she enters into the next adventure in her tyre life.

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Reu’s one last wave before checking in to see the Doctor

Thank you once again to Mike for his most excellent encouragement; Chris for organising a great event with awesome prizes as per usual; the Cotswold for the great scenery; Phil for his tales of tree houses and his passion for sustainability; and of course the lovely Reu – may you have many more adventures.

#62 Cheltenham Challenge: Mud vs Hills

MuddyFeet - Web

Why sandals?.

Overview

Event Type: Multi-terrain
Route: Easy to follow markers (although I did miss a couple due to lack of concentration) with a large hill feature and on this occasion some wonderful mud.
Time limit: 9 hours
Weather: 17 degrees C
Goody Bag: Finishers medal; t-shirt and thankfully no plastic bag!
Check Points: @Every 5km
Scenery: Its the cotswold so look up, look out and enjoy the vistas
Date:
19 June 2016
Website: http://www.cheltenhamchallenge.org.uk/

And I sang to the check point at the last 4km mark about Mud. Here is the song in full:

In the days leading up to the event, the rain fall was high with a tropical rainfall pouring down on the Friday evening before the Sunday. The weather prediction thankfully was for a mostly dry Sunday until about 16:00. With all the rain,  there were warnings of a mud bath from the organisers. So now we had a large hill and a muddy trail to tackle.

Which do you think is worse? A large steep hill or a long slippery downward trail of mud?

Two years ago, when I had tackled this event, I had tried to somehow run and drag Reu (a 10kg tyre) up the hill. That killed me for the rest of the event. I crawled up the hill the second time round. This time an 8kg tyre called Drue came with me and what a difference 2 kg makes! Although it is rumoured the organisers had pushed down “the Argh hill” this year. So taking the hill easy on the first lap, made it fine on the second lap.

As for the mud……there was a short muddy section in the first 5km of the event that the overtaking 1/2 marathoners tread cautiously. However the real mud challenge was in the last 5 miles, an approx 400m mud trail on a downward hill incline, that was ankle/shin deep in some parts. On the first lap, Drue had an easy time as we got trapped behind a queue of people taking the muddy path very cautiously. The second time round the aim was to fly thru the mud. I was happily moving quickly thru the muddy section when Drue put on the brakes and embraced a rock burried in the mud. Yes I fell over into the bramble and nettles. When I tried to get going again, Drue did the same trick with another rock strategically placed in the middle of the path. As I lay there in the bramble and nettles, Drue smiled smuggly. (Am sure his treads were turned upwards).

What type of shoes would you wear? 

Commonsense would probably indicate trail shoes. However they  get clogged up with mud so lose their gripping power and become heavy.  Additionally muddy water still pours into the shoe when the mud grabs hold and swollows your foot. Hence your feet would stay wet for the rest of the event risking blisters.

I decided to try out flat sandals. Why because my feet would dry faster and they did. As for the non-grippiness, as long as I thought “Pose running”  and moved confidently then all would be fine….well you know what the cheeky Drue did. Grit did slide underneath, but a sock barrier softened the discomfort until the mud dried up and fell out. So I would say it kinda worked. Kinda worked, because as the feet were drying, the feet rolled in the sandals whilst wet. I think I’ll return with wellingtons next time.

Chronic Sleep Issues

Apparently 1/3 of the population suffers from chronic sleep deprivation. Being within that statistic, it is easy to see how sleep deprivation affects one’s mental ability and moods. And if you suffer from eczema, like I do, the itching becomes increasingly worst. Last year due to stress, anxiety and eczema, that after 5 nights of very low sleep (average 0 to 3 hours), I had to DNF in a skyrunning event. I didn’t want to be on the start line and couldn’t even will myself to run 5K but I switched mode to just enjoying the event and continued until they threw me off for being so slow. I did not have a tyre for an excuse in that event!

Work stress and anxiety do eventually wear me down and I need to learn how to manage this better. Health is more important than work. I am also learning to pre-emptively avoid situations that can put you in a negative mind set. Our past bad experiences are not a burden, but a way of helping us recognise and avoid a re-occurrance.

Marathon events are fantastic for getting my head back into sleep and for detoxing the body to reduce the eczema itch.

I was a little nervous for the Cheltenham Challenge as had 3 nights of very little sleep prior (3-4 hours average) however by the end of it, I was buzzing. I sorted out a situation based on gut feeling, and this turned out to be an excellent decision the next day. The night after the event I fell asleep with nettle prickles tingling over the arm and leg, and happy thoughts of ploughing through mud and singing songs.

Thank you so much to the volunteers for being out there, welcoming me back and kept smiling throughout, to the organisers for praying for weather that was cool for participants and dry for the volunteers, and for reducing the size of Aggi Hill. Thank you also to the people who donated to EarthWatch. Funds raised on the day = £16.

A Plastic Thought: Which is harder? To pull a tyre over Cheltenham Challenge or to change our “throw away” lifestyle?

WaterBottles

In 2015, the UK recycles only 57% of plastic bottles

  • 30% of plastic pots, tubs and trays are recycled.
  • Most families throw away about 40kg of plastic per year, which could otherwise be recycled.
  • 492,623 tonnes of plastic packaging was collected from households in 2014/2015
  • The use of plastic in Western Europe is growing about 4% each year.
  • Plastic can take up to 500 years to decompose.
  • Polystyrene breaks down to small plastic balls that is ingested by small animals
  • “Degradeable plastic” breaks down to micro plastic particles that can be ingested by plankton.

Ref 1: http://www.bpf.co.uk/sustainability/plastics_recycling.aspx

Ref 2: http://www.recycling-guide.org.uk/facts.html

#60: Cranleigh Boundary Trail Challenge: A Tale of Two Minds

Martin

With Martin and Drue

Overview

Event Type: Trail with some short steep hills and undulations.
Route: Signage mostly on ground with biodegradable paint + trail markers. Some smooth trail and other parts lumpy, bumpy and boggy.
Time limit: None
Weather: 25 degs C. Bright and sunny.
Goody Bag: Finishers medal.
Check Points: About 5km; 10miles; and then 3 more after.
Scenery: Forests; bluebells; a couple of big birds (Kestrels?); rabbits; cows; sheep; horses; farms

Tyre taken: Drue
Our Finish time:
8:30

Walking the Parish Boundary is also known as beating the bounds. It is an ancient custom still observed today in many English parishes. Cranleigh Boundary Trail follows the parish boundary.

 

Our mental attitude can adversely affect out performance and that mental attitude is not just about the on-the-day attitude, I have noticed it includes the immediate build up to an event.

Someone who is confident generally stands more upright and this can only promote a positive flow of mental psyche in one’s own body. This posture helps the individual tune into the good vibes of the world. Just look at how NLP works.

With the Rome marathon, I had an overall positive build up to the marathon even though I may not have slept wonderful the 2 nights before the event. My mental attitude had kept everything positive throughout and the body felt great after. I could have run another marathon immediately after.

Cranleigh was a different story. 2 weeks leading up to Cranleigh marathon, I had become overwhelmed with stuff happening. My postural positions became tired and I hunched when I sat down. Perhaps this continued my negative thoughts about everything, adding to the “down” feeling that I struggled to push aside.

I contemplated not doing Cranleigh marathon. A week before, Brian reminded me about my participation and Uncle encouraged me on. My housemate asked me how we would do in the marathon and my response…..”with my frame of mind it is going to be 8 hours or so, unless I can change my mind”.  Sure for women “changing one’s mind” should have been an easy thing to do. I weakly attempted to do some visualisation 2 day s beforehand but could not.  I would use Cranleigh to reconcile my head.

I forced myself to get over to Cranleigh in the morning and met runners who were interested in Drue. I tried to speak positively on his behalf and struck up a good conversation with Josh and his gang of two from Barnes Runners. Someone asked about a route description. I said it would be well marked. Josh laughed and said knowning his luck, he would probably still get lost!

Cranleigh Parish Boundary Challenge 2016

The local pastor (or rev?) blessed the event at the start. Thank you pastor.

Wrong Turns: Blame it on Josh!

Paying Attention

The positive chat with Josh had charged me up and I was nicely in front of the walkers until I could no longer see them behind me. Within 2 miles of starting, I had taken a wrong turn. I had not observed the markings and after @ 300m of running in the wrong direction I was turned back by some kind fishermen.

Once back on track, 3 walkers had overtaken me. I would make sure we would be in front of them after the single lane track ended and soon again I could no longer see them. Later a lady runner overtook me. She had taken the same wrong turn but unfortunately had not been redirected. She had lost sight of the main running pack when she had to do an emergency tree dash to reflect on life. She was still pretty calm and positive. The markings were pretty frequent and I reminded myself to pay attention.

Unseen Arrow

Going up a hill, I took another wrong turn. I continued round the hill for @100m before becoming unsettled about the lack of markings. I returned to the last sign I had seen and @5m from the sign, an arrow was painted in the grass pointing upwards.

Mis-Direction before 10 mile check point

I struggled up the hill and the head was bouncing about the possibility of calling it a day, afterall the RD at the start of the race said it would be no shame to do a 1/2 marathon instead of a marathon as it was a hot day. I struggled to recall the visualisations of Rome but the mind had blurred that time. Reminder, need to practice visualisations more frequently. An hour went by admiring the woodlands and bluebells, listening to the birds calling. There some boggy patches and some downhill but the arrows were all clear. I was still running so can’t have been too bad.

About 9 miles in, a proper sign appeared directing runners to the left and walker’s to the right. It was a joyous long downhill as more positive thoughts started to stream into my head. When I reached the crossroads, I saw the same lady runner who had passed me earlier talking on the phone. She was lost and had gone to the bottom of the hill and found no markings. We decided to explore a 100m of the other 2 possible directions. There were no markings.

Looking at the trail we had both headed down, there were more bicycle tyre markings than foot markings.We needed to return to the sign that we last saw which would have been @1km from the cross roads and go in the walker’s direction. Lost lady runner was struggling with herself. Getting lost saps energy: physically and emotionally. I have come to expect to get lost on trail marathons having found myself off-piste on so many. Unfortunately lost lady had thrown in the towel and walked the rest of the way to the check point, refusing to run even on the downhills.

Josh – am sorry – I imagined having a conversation with you and you saying that you got lost….I laughed….. then cursed and blamed you for us getting lost and had another good laugh  😉

Found My Mind

I decided at that point I would definitely complete in 8-9 hours. I was far more cautious and with the next part of the course having less markings, I dithered at potential route turnings. As for Drue, he ambled along, enjoying being carried over stiles until he got stuck in 4 tall kissing gates. Drue has a 60cm waist and joked that only slim people could live in Cranleigh.

By the end of this event, the endorphines were fully in action and I was a happy Tyre Lady once again despite being lost and being sun burnt. Afterall how can one stay grumpy when the trail has some wide open hill-top scenery and is littered with lots of woodlands and blue bells. This is a new trail marathon and will be even better next year. Now looking forward to Richmond Park marathon.

I didn’t want to do Cranleigh Boundary Trail Marathon, but I’m glad I did. Being quiet, refilling my head with nature & exercise is good for the head!

My Own Joke For the Day
I was asked at the 15 mile check point what was I: a runner or a walker? I responded…….a wunner…..walking runner.