Monday, 16 October 2017

It's been a while

After a big summer race It now seems ages since I really ran. I loved supporting Bob on the Hardmoors 60 and we have also supported for the weekend of Lakes in a Day. In between times we had a fortnight in Scotland- mostly on Skye walking and scrambling.
There were not many opportunities to run in this time but also my foot is so sore that I sort of lost the love. I can do shorter runs from home and at under 2 hours my foot generally behaves reasonably well but it doesn't really inspire or enthuse me. It should have been a joy to run from Oddendale near Shap but after 2 hours I was struggling and frustrated. I did enjoy a run back along part of the LIAD but it was not really pushing myself as I knew I had to get back. With all this at the back of my mind I knew Round Rotherham would be tough. I think it is quite a tough race anyway as it so fast and flat , with no hills to stomp up, that I feel I should run every step.
I do like this race and wish more people would give it a go. It is much more varied and scenic than it sounds, the RO team are great, the CP staff very helpful and you get food at the end. The timing is Si now so results and split times to CPs are instant. I think it is about my 6th running of the event. It also has an interesting set of race maps- not sure if Henry's strip maps are unique or not but I love them.
We drove across early on Friday and after a quick lunch in the van spent a lovely afternoon walking along the track to Elsecar, exploring the historic sign boards that I never usually get the chance to read and then collecting sweet chestnuts in the woods. We did also try out various garmin nav devices - I think I prefer to make the best I can with map and compass; the tech got me more stressed and that was without the dark, pressure of a race and tiredness.

 By 6pm the Runfurther flags and banners were all up and we were fed. A brief committee meeting and we were back at the van for a natter and an early night. It was windy but very very warm all through the night.
The van didn't move for two nights
At 5am Bob got up to get to the early start. I pretended to stay asleep but it didn't work and by 5.30 I was up too.  I wished Bob and Dick well as I wandered up to the sports hall with a delivery of Romney's mint cake and Runfurther display boards and postcards. By the time I had eaten, registered and run back to the van to ditch superfluous kit there was little time to chat and it was almost 7am. As we set off there was no need for torches and the first few kilometers flew by as always. In terms of a race plan I was torn. I know it is easy to get carried away over the first 5 miles or so and then risk blowing up but I also knew that my foot would be good for 2 hours and then probably not so good. I decided to go off fast and get as far as I could before my foot complained. I had the company of a first timer who was local but now lives in Switzerland. It was good to chat so Thank You David.  David and a few others were going at an even faster pace although I did see them a couple of times when they made minor nav errors. By Wentworth and Thorpe Hesley I was catching walkers on the early start but there seemed fewer runners than usual as I jogged up to Keppel's column and then down to CP1 in Grange Park.
Keppel's column - from last year
The next section is not my favourite and I lost concentration after Dropping Well Road when I passed Bob and then a huge dog jumped up and clawed my leg. At least the minor deviation only cost me about 2 minutes and I still make good time to Tinsley viaduct.  Then 15 miles in and my foot was starting to cause problems. I had tried to distract myself with food and spotting more sweet chestnuts but it was no good. A quick sit on the verge and foot massage helped. It is always wonderful how many other runners ask if there is anything they could do, anything I needed etc at those times. Short of surgery there wasn't anything to be done really so I put my shoe back on and manned up. I hoped I would get another 90 minutes or so before it became too painful again. Catcliffe came and went along with my annual gazing across the reclaimed land of Orgreave Pit and sending silent commiserations to miners and little bombs of hate to Thatcher etc. I caught up with Dick just before CP2 and was ready for  food and a water refill. I was confused when they said I was second woman as I knew no woman was ahead of me from for 7am start. Oh well. I enjoyed my run past the lake and then along the field paths to the viaduct and towards Rother Valley Country Park. Nearly 20 miles done now but my foot was complaining again. I tried another massage but this time it seemed to have no effect at all. The British Schools orienteering champs were on in the park and I distracted myself looking for controls and people that I knew. Somewhere around here I also met up with Nigel and it was good to chat every now and again. The field paths that can be so muddy when bare of crops were a dream- dry and not too rutted. Harthill and 25 miles in about 4hrs 15 so not too bad (although I knew it would get slower). My foot was now very sore and I gave in. The nice man refilled my water bottles and I had a sandwich and some nibbles. I was a bit down but knew I would be disappointed with myself if I pulled out and I knew that Sharon Gaytor was still behind me as I had seen her husband waiting in the approach fields. I got running again  and enjoyed the fields and woods past the turbines. The minor route diversion due to a broken bridge came and went almost unnoticed although it was nice to miss the biggest stile of the whole race. I was back with Nigel and other friends in this section so the chatting helped take my mind off my foot. Planes were taking off at the air strip and the countryside was lovely. I was very glad of the unofficial drink station after the canal at Turnerwood as I desperately needed more water. The golf course took less time than I remember from the past and a kind person had spray painted arrows on the floor too. The climb to Woodsetts was hard work but 50km was now done. My foot was sore again and I knew I needed some real food. Sharon's husband was waiting for her on the lane so I dashed into the CP. Whilst I was inside trying to drink scalding hot soup, eating tuna sandwiches and trying more foot massage Sharon  nipped past and so did a young lady who went on to win (although I did not know this until much later). Ah well. It took a while to get going again but once on the field paths my muscles got used to the idea and I ran harder as I could see Sharon up ahead. After a couple of kilometers I caught Nigel again and worked on getting closer to Sharon. We left Langfold lake together and chatted as we made our way through the woods. I don't know who put the gravel on this path a year ago but I would like to shoot them! Sharon and I were to play cat and mouse from here to the end.
There were 4 wreaths this year
She pulled ahead on the last fields to Firbeck and it took me a while to catch her on the zig zag tracks over the fields towards Roche Abbey.

I love that section and it is probably the most scenic. We ran the last section of woods and then the fields to Maltby together. I had not realised when I met her last year what a running legend she was until I arrived home to an email from Wendy Dodds who was so impressed that I had beaten her she had taken time to write to me. Today we laughed about this- Sharon is modest- as we drank at the CP.  Maltby means under 10 miles to go and this always gives me a boost.  First I pulled ahead and then sitting by the lonely trig point Sharon came past.

By Micklebring we were together again and it stayed that way under the M18 and across the first fields. Her husband also told us we had closed ten minutes on the lead girl and that she was only about 3 minutes ahead now. We had our first nav blip here. We have both done the race a number of times but the fields were freshly ploughed and harrowed and some hedges seemed to have gone. there was not the faintest trod leading to the bridge over the disused rail line cutting. We didn't hesitate long but it was unnerving. From here I pulled ahead very slightly and when I turned round at Firsby Hall Farm and again at the gap in the hedge I couldn't see any more runners. It boosted me a bit and I shot off down the only mud of the whole day to reach Hooton Roberts. Across the main road and climbing the lane I spotted three 'faster' runners painfully making their way up. I used each on to pull me on- and did try to give encouragement in recompense. I now had the strip map in my hand; not because I would get lost but I was ticking off the km and playing mind games with myself. The run down the field to Old Denaby is a joy although I did lose several minutes asking a marshal to dig gels out the bag of my pack. I should have done it myself. 5km to go, how hard can it be. I was fortunate to have a relay runner with me as we headed for the railway and canal. It spurred me on. The river section was kind to me feet and was over in a flash. under 3km left as I ran down the steps and towards the dead end canal. I had a short walk leaving Swinton but then the last km was flat and easy.  Not a great time and 45 mins slower than last year but I was pleased to only be 3 mins or so behind first lady and 4 mins ahead of Sharon.

My foot was complaining and would do so for hours but it had allowed me to race and I was happy. I used the chrono on my watch to record all my  foot massage time and it was 42 minutes so in the end not so different to last year. I had thought the dry ground would make for fast times but it seemed that the heat and humidity had more than countered this with many runners about an hour slower than usual. I didn't run with my camera so finding some photos will be a challenge.

The lead runners Ken Sutor and Kevin Hoult had long gone but it was nice to eat, drink, chat with friends and then wait for and welcome home other Runfurther runners.
Bob and Badger who he had been with for some time
Bob and Dick were back in the dark but luckily I was outside dealing with flags and banners so I met Bob on the run in.

He and Nick both completed so their Grand Slam plans are still on course.