Sunday 24 March 2024

Hardmoors 55

 I love Hardmoors and had done this race twice before but not for a very long time. I guess that I knew after a decade I should expect to be slower but how much of a struggle and how slow came as a shock. I guess.... fail to prepare= prepare to fail. We have been away skiing for a fortnight and then mostly climbing in Spain. Not really any real running to speak of although I did fit in a few power hikes with a bit of running.

As usual we drove across on Friday (after almost 4 hrs climbing) and soon had the flags and banners up. I slept quite well and was up and registered before 7am when I guessed the coaches might arrive.  Nerves before the race often trouble my guts but the number of toilet trips this morning was something else. In between I caught up with so many friends that I had not seen for a while. The forecast was dry buy a strong cold wind.  I thought I prefer dry so OK... I wasn't so sure on the tops later!

By 8am we had marched up onto the old railway line and then had to wait as the loo queue had not ended.

It was decidedly chilly standing about but I knew I would soon warm up on the fast flat run and then the initial climb up the High Nab. I set off fairly fast (too fast I later found) but felt OK. I should have realised that if I was ahead of TC something was wrong.

I was still going well at Rosebury Topping. It was baltic on the top and not a place to linger. The stone path is full of trip hazards and I made my way carefully down the trods to the side of the main path.

I know one is on the top but the change in posture is frightening

 Nice running led us along the moor and then down to the Captain Cook car Park. The pull up from here didn't seem too bad but by the top I was starting to struggle. Even on the tarmac drop to Kildale my legs were starting to complain. I has over-cooked it too early on and would now pay the price.
Rosebury- an iconic top

I grabbed cake in the village hall and plodded up the lane and onto the big track across the moor. I was struggling to eat and felt lacking in energy. I was super slow going up Ingelby Moor and towards Blowith. The wind was sapping what little energy I had and I was reduced to a walk. Hell, this is going to be a long day out if I am walking already! Loads of runners seemed to pass me and this deflated me even more. My head was in a bad place and I felt useless. As I struggled up to the CP and marshalls at Hasty Bank I really thought about a DNF. I had a short sit in a chair, couldn't face food as my stomach was cramping. 

The next section is beautiful over the Three Sisters. True is has some brutal ups and downs plus not many of us are fans of those rock step paths and the fear of tripping. I somehow persuaded myself to try to get to Lord Stones. I started to make better time and fewer runners passed me. It was cold in the wind but not too awful. The descents were now an issue for me and both shins were screaming. The poles helped, a bit. I tried to distract myself with memories... of Jon and Shirley's wedding run, of the 2010 H55 when I was close to hypothermic and got dragged to a car to add layers and have a hot cup of tea and of the H200 which had this as it's final section.

By Lord Stones I was still struggling but in a better frame of mind and managing to run bits. I used those around me to pull me on and gave myself a stiff silent talking to..... You wanted to do this, we drove a long way, you are being soft, stop moaning and enjoy it. My left hip, glute and groin were not happy and my stomach was awful but there was no reason to stop. Woods with easier paths and then a nice track made it easier to run/jog and reach Osmotherly.  Just as well as my right eye was suffering from wind blindness and totally clouded over and milky. Luckily my left eye with the contact lens seemed to have been protected. At least one runner had to pull out blind. Mono vision meant a lack of depth to my vision but at least I could see.

The CP here was busy but the staff were great. A cup of tea, rice pudding... anything that would slide down. I tried crisps but couldn't manage them and the slice of pizza ended up on the pavement as I left the village. Starting to run on empty now. Two young women had left the CP with me and I worked hard at not letting them get ahead on the up and up to Square Corner. They started to pull away a bit over Black Hambledon but I kept them in site all the way to Paradise Farm. Somewhere along here I met Garry and it was good to chat and push each other to run a bit. Things hurt but all the walking had allowed me some recovery from my crazy start. By now all those around me also seemed to be suffering and I didn't feel so bad.

Before long we reached the top of Sutton Bank and were shepherded across the road and onto the path towards White Horse. This starts well but the drop off the escarpment is horrid on muddy slippy limestone. Time for some caution. The CP took a while to appear and I couldn't decide what to eat. So far I had managed a flapjack bar, a gel, a Bounty, the rice pud, a slice of cake and nothing else all day.  I told myself to ask for sausage and soup but I just couldn't do it. It would take me ages to force it down and would likely reappear again anyway. Even the tea was a struggle so I gave up and headed for the infamous steps. I had now actually overtaken a couple of runners.

I had hoped not to be too far outside my time from 2014 which was 10hrs 23.  The hours of slow walking put paid to that so I readjusted and aimed for 11hrs 30. Even that was now starting to look unlikely. I tried to push on on the easy and often downhill tracks around Cold Kirby and di make reasonable progress. Too little too late but I was determined to do what I could. I stopped to put my head torch on- I could manage without it for now but would need it in the woods. Another nasty path dropped me to the River Rye and suddenly my torch started misbehaving. The thought of it going out now was almost comical after the day I was having. I had checked it was fully charged and so could not understand it. I fussed a bit and tried to turn it onto a dimmer setting to conserve the battery. Fearing total failure did at least make me try to run the the 3 guys that were around at this point as no torch in the woods would be a real disaster. I was on my own in the woods above Duncombe Park but knew they would end soon. I was now hoping to break 12 hrs and even that was not a certainty. There was only 3km to go and it was frustrating not to run but in the gloom of my light I didn't trust not to turn an ankle until I hit the Cleveland Way statue and the tarmac. I jogged through the village and up Braxton Lane to the finish. 

Not the day I had hoped for. 12 hrs 11 . I finished in a mess. Everything hurt, my stomach was still cramping and even a cup of tea set me in urgent need of the toilets. I was in a better state at the end of the H200 than this. 

Not dead but close

Any food was out of the question. I just wanted to lie down- so I did. After a while I recovered enough to have a cup of tea and a small toasted sandwich. At the prize giving I was surprised to find I was 1st FV50 abd so 1st FV60 too.  I also now have the record for both these age classes (which just goes to show they do not get many fast older female runners). 

It was a day of humility, lessons learned and grim determination. (don't eat fridge left overs that might be dodgy... suspect this gave me mild food poisoning. Plus seem to have a throat infection.) And all this whilst Jasmin was showing what real effort and determination look like!

Bob had been a star.. moving the flags and banners from start to finish as well as fitting in his own walk having decided it was too cold and windy to cycle. He had also bought beer and food but I couldn't face these. I hoped to wait for the next Runfurther runners but just wanted my bed. Bob took down the flags etc and we were asleep before midnight having decided to stay and drive home on Sunday.

All 10 Runfurther members finished and Sarah Challans and Any Collier had great runs.

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