Well the Yorkshire winter weather continues to test my mental toughness. Character building I am told…The odd thing is I am loving it :o)
Last weekend James (my boyfriend) and I treated ourselves to a weekend at the lovely Harewell Cottage (www.harewellcottage.co.uk) in Glasshouses. Only 40 minutes from home, but a new set of training routes on the doorstep. Once the training is done, there were no distractions aside from the log fire and complementary vino. Perfect blend of training and rest. On Saturday we enjoyed an 11 mile hilly loop, walking together, with my backpack loaded (I have an Ultimate Direction Fastpack 20 from my race kit – so far it is great. The service from ‘My Race Kit’ was excellent – but more about that in the kit blog which I will write soon. There was plenty of snow on the ground but the really challenging bit was the frozen ice – and there was lots of that too. Despite James’ best Bambi on ice impressions it was me that ended up on my derrière! Ouch. It didn’t dampen the mood though and we treated ourselves to a lovely cafe lunch in Pateley bridge on the way back.
Sunday was real treat for me – a cycle ride. Something which I haven’t done for weeks – well maybe months! There is a reason why the area is called Nidderdale ANOB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).
A beautiful 30 odd mile loop past Brimham rocks, into Masham and back over Lofthouse Moor – what more could you want. What about 30-40 mph wind? Yes – we got that too. Full on head wind over the moor. I saw the speed on my garmin drop as low as 2.5 mph. I felt like I had done battle with a wild animal the next day – I had needed to rag the handlebars that much to get up the climb into the wind. James waited gingerly at the top, nervous of a potential of a tantrum but he was greeted with ear to ear smiles. It was so much fun – ridiculously tough – but just ace! I enjoyed a nice 10 mile run on Monday morning – such a treat when I’m usually at work. A sports massage in the afternoon topped the weekend off well.
All this followed a different kind of weekend where I had a brief foray with road running. I raced the Brass Monkey half marathon at York. The race conditions lived up to the name – it was freezing! With the exception of large sections of black ice en route it was near perfect running conditions. Despite all my long slow training miles I surprised myself to carry off 8 minute (well 8:04) miles to run a pb of 1:46:28. I also surprised myself to quite enjoy it. When I completed the same race in 2012 I said ‘never again’. I found the fast, flat smooth roads incredibly boring. I missed the hills, the mud, the bogs, gates and styles, but this time it was all a mind game. There will be flat endless sections in the desert where it will be mind over matter to keep going. So Brass Monkey was a test of the mind. I couldn’t let it beat me and it didn’t. I might even go back next year – the marshals all around the course were second to none and really made it a fantastic race. Getting to catch up with a very old friend at the finish made it a fab day out.
Today the mind games continued as again my training ventured away from the usual routine. I caught the train with Fe and Simon (MDS training buddies) to Skipton to walk/run back along the canal. When we live in such a beautiful area with open moorland, fantastic trails and woodland I rarely bother with the canal bank. I didn’t ask any questions about the walk/run routine. I assumed it would just be mostly running with a bit of walking to break it up. My pack today weighed in just short of 5kg again (3 bags of porridge oats today’s weight of choice). Only when we set off did I realise the session was much more formal – Simon set his watch to beep every 2 minutes. 2 minute run, 2 minute walk, 2 minute run, 2 minute walk…..It was fun with good company. We nearly had the extra laugh of Simon slipping into the canal, but he corrected himself just in time. After 2 hours of 2 minutes run, 2 minutes walk I chose to keep running. I needed to be back in time for lunch and I was pleased with myself for sticking it out for 2 hours. Simon, having done MDS before, assures me this will serve me in good stead for the desert. I am happy with another 19 miles in the bank today.
This weekend has been topped off with a couple of hours picking the brains of a friend of a friend who competed in the 2014 MDS – with a fantastic top 100 finish (I’m in awe of that!). Some great tips and kit to try and a photo slide show. My giddiness and excitement reached a new high…..bring on next weeks training :o)