Tag Archives: Tamsin Imber

Willow Miner Trail Race, Houghall Campus, East Durham College, Wednesday, July 5, 2017

5.3 miles

Elaine Bisson …

The Inaugural Willow Miner Trail Race …

 

5.3m, 438 feet elevation gain.

I had somehow fallen into running this race. Michael couldn’t run, he suggested I have his number, a few texts and emails later and it seemed I was in the running.

I had a few reservations. It was THE strider race of the year…the pressure would be on. It wasn’t in my plan, there were events on the horizon that I wanted to concentrate on. My last few races had been reasonable but had left me disappointed. My race head was at an all time low. I was recovering from an injury and didn’t want to aggravate it again. Oh, the list, how it goes on!

Anyway, I arrived at registration slightly later than planned…it didn’t matter, I had resolved to use it as a good training run, nothing more. If I started after the gun, all the better. Hopeful faces greeted me and I dismissed their optimism with, I’m not racing, I cant be bothered!

At the start I met a very bouncy excitable Rachelle, she attempted to lift my glum mood…and failed.

We all assembled on the lush grass before the start line, after a race briefing and a minute silence to remember Alan Purvis, we were off across the race track which was laid out in front of us. I was running at an easy pace, I watched gleefully as the fast group fought to gain good ground and disappeared into the woods. Now I could relax, I was just going to enjoy this. However, it wasn’t long before I got stuck behind a woman who decided to walk and then block my path through the woods, feeling frustrated, I picked up pace and started picking off people. This was fun, the pressure had all gone…disappeared into the distance. As I speeded up, I started to target runners to catch up, it became a bit of a game. I’m not entirely sure when the game became a race, probably when I caught sight of those that I’d thought had long gone. Susan’s encouragement of “at the moment, your 4th” really got me, it’s what I needed. The little shove to move up the ranks.

As one of Geoff’s guinea pigs during his Fell Coaching Training, I knew every hill possible on this course, and had suffered on EVERY hill, whether that be running hard up or down. This race then felt familiar and even the big hill up to the willow miner…was now doable. By then Penny was in my sights, then 2nd lady. I clung on to her, waiting for my move. I thought it would come on one of the hills in the woods, unfortunately it was much later. We ended up hurtling onto the grass track to the finish neck and neck. Every time I tried to increase speed, she would match it. Many thoughts whizzed through my mind, the overriding was how much I wanted to reach that finish line before her. With time running out and the line fast approaching, I gave one more push and finally pulled in front, one stride ahead and there it was, the white line. It was exhilarating and totally unexpected. Second lady, first strider lady for the third year.

So about the race…Its a beautiful route, showcasing 5.3miles of our amazing training ground. It is tough, with many undulations, fast downhill sections and long drags back up. It is extremely well marked (even tree routes are highlighted green), marshalled and supported by our wonderful club. For £11 you can ‘enjoy’ this brute, quench your thirst on water and coffee sachets at the end. Then drink some more, fill your belly and share trauma stories with fellow club mates at The Court Inn. What better way to celebrate Elvet Striders?

… Kay Cairns …

You’ve heard from the 1st Strider Lady now how about the last?…

I had toyed with the idea of entering the Clamber for the last couple of years, always deciding against it at the last minute. I was tempted again this year with the re-vamped Willow Miner Trail Race, I’d heard it was a toughie and got the impression it was only for ‘serious runners’ but when I looked into it I was assured there were no cut off times and everyone was welcome to take part… I decided it was probably for the best if I gave it a miss, it was the night before my son’s Birthday and I’m usually pretty busy blowing up balloons and wrapping presents! Then about 2 weeks before the race a notification popped up on the Striders Facebook page – Mike Parker couldn’t do the race due to injury – and against my better judgement I said I’d take it… I had already agreed to buy the T-shirt after all!

Leading up to the big night I had been hit with a head cold and my training was abandoned, I managed a couple of miles here and there but I felt utterly defeated. I was only 2 weeks in to my GNR training and I had already hit a brick wall! I was starting to feel a little better the week of the WMTR, I went out for 3 miles on Monday and I wasn’t too bad. I knew I was going to take part on the night but I wasn’t feeling fit, the night before I had a nightmare about the race (I can’t remember specifics but I think I forgot my watch, my number, went to the wrong race… you get the gist) and I was nervous all day thinking about it.

In reality I arrived in good time and collected my number “ah 22, that’s my Birthday” maybe it was meant to be! When I arrived on the field with all the other runners from so many different clubs it really did feel special; but I was alone, my usual running buddies were all marshalling (how sensible) so I was forced to do a real warm up! Usually we would start to warm up and get distracted with talk of cake…

When the race started I stayed at the back, I knew I would be the unofficial tail-runner and I’d come to terms with that fact. Before we’d even left the field I saw another woman turn back, telling her friends she was ok but she wouldn’t be running. Just 1 mile in I could see I was falling back even further than I had expected, but I kept going… up the steep steps at Houghall Woods then I was keeping a steady pace on the flat but I couldn’t see a soul in front.

Almost 2 miles in, I was already fighting my own demons and trying to keep my breathing in check (after still being in recovery mode from my head cold) then out of nowhere a guy walking in the opposite direction said to me “you want to go faster than that, you’re last” – and just like that I felt everything. The pain, the fear, the doubt, the anger, the defeat …I couldn’t breathe, I was fighting back tears. I tried to tell myself it didn’t matter, of course I was last, who cares! I was never in it for the win – if I was I wouldn’t bother getting out of bed! I’m not built for winning, for speed! Then I could see the next marshal point, Kate and Katharine, so friendly and encouraging – just as much for me as they were for the 1st runners along the route – and I broke down and hugged Katharine, not sure if I could even carry on.

I’m not sure how long I was there, I don’t think I fully explained myself at the time but it was clear I might not continue. Then I thought about my club, and the T-shirt I was wearing, it had been modified to not only show the club logo but also to promote my role as Mental Health Ambassador and #runandtalk was emblazoned on the back. This role means a lot to me. It isn’t just about letting people know it’s ok to talk and that running can improve your mental wellbeing – it’s about setting goals for yourself that push you out of your comfort zone, it’s about running and talking (to yourself sometimes) and being that positive voice inside that pushes you further than you ever thought possible.

If I was going to continue to be that voice for others then I had to step up and be that voice for myself. I was going to finish this race.

All I remember about the rest of the race is, well, the marshals! Yes there were hills, there was pain, and there was a Willow Miner along the way I believe. But the marshals were all amazing – smiling, beaming faces, supportive cheers, many bending the truth about how many hills were left, but all so genuinely happy to be there supporting every single runner.

Thank you Striders for having me, for supporting me, and for letting me be last.

… Tamsin Imber

‘Own it!’

‘Believe!’

and

‘Just f*****g go nail the b**ch!’

were some of the quotes I had in my head as I whizzed down to Maiden Castle on my bike. The latter quote from a hilarious book I am currently reading about a lady who is trying triathlons! Actually I was really excited about this race and looking forward to it as I’d enjoyed it a lot last year. It had been a great, local, low-key event with a cross country vibe! I was just feeling a little anxious as it was to be my first race in club vest since London. So the quotes were to give me confidence. Even so, my legs seemed to spin extra fast on my bike on the way down! On arrival at Maiden Castle it was nice to see lots of friendly faces. Lesley Charman at registration gave me number 74. Stephen had number 73 so this could only mean good things! Following a quick one lap round the track before it is ‘out of order’ I made progress to the start area. I bumped into Stephen Winship, a family friend, who has been in the Striders a while and is getting back to running now. Lovely to see him! Great to chat to lots of Striders at the start! Nice to see new members and also some much older members of the club! Yay, Elaine and Penny were here! I looked forward to attempting to race them!

The course start/finish area was looking highly professional with its taping and flags! The water station table was all up and organised. Although it had been raining for days, it had stopped for this evening. The course could potentially be quite wet and muddy! I went on a small warm up along the course and found that after the grassy field the route headed up a near vertical mud bank! Excellent! Humm, also a potential bottleneck. Earlier this year I remembered having to stand and wait behind a bottleneck just after the start of the Hedgehope half where a road turned into a single file path. Also at the Grasmere Gallop where I became jammed in behind Nordic race walkers on a wall lined bridge. So I planned to start near the front and peg it to the bank. I now joined a group of Birtley runners also going for a warm up, we just ran a little way along the foot of the Bluebell woods and then back to the start. The evening air was damp and still, and the mud was squelchy underfoot, with areas of slippery tree roots for extra pazazz. Geoff may have ordered these in specially.

It was time for the start! Following our President’s briefing with a rather impressively large megaphone!, and Barry’s speech, the whistle was blown and we all surged forwards! Out of the taped funnel, across the wet trainer-drenching grass of the field..To The Bank! I was there! Bank attack! Arms and legs whirled up the mud bank, and onto the level, then zoom along the undulating muddy path. The pain was slightly brutal! I realised I was exceeding a ‘not setting out too fast’ pace. However, unfortunately pre-race nerves had the better of me and it was nice to expel them in this fashion! Plus it was exhilarating hurling myself recklessly down the hills along with everyone nearby! Down another steep, dicey bank and at the bottom were two marshals, my glasses/eyesight were impaired by exertion but I think one was Lesley Charman. Very loud urgent shouts of ‘Left’ ‘Left’ ‘Left!’ I flung my arms to the left hoping the rest of me would follow in a bid to wing a sharp left. As we wendled  [‘wendled’? No, wendled is fine. Works for me. ^DN] round the winding path, yet more encouraging marshals were found. And then up onto the long grass meadow. Penny was a bit ahead, I could still see her at this point. Though not for many other points! The ongoing up was hard! I really appreciated all the marshals as this area is riddled with footpaths. Up to the Willow Miner was a whole group of encouraging Striders! So nice! I felt my pace drop from my setting off too fast pace, but tried to keep going best as I could.

Bit of a downhill now past Sarah Davies. One of the Birtley runners I had met earlier happened to going at the same pace as me, but now seemed stronger. He kindly encouraged me and said he would be third lady if I didn’t tag on, ha ha! Penny was way ahead now and without looking I could feel the presence of Elaine behind! And right I was!

After Jack Lee, up the small flight of steps, Elaine passed! I charged on as fast as possible trying to up the pace, and I think I did so was pleased! Past yet more friendly shouts from great Strider marshals, back past the Wicker man and I was caught up by a Sunderland Stroller that I had met last week at the Lambton 10k. I was pushing hard as I knew it was only a few miles now. We were similar pace and ran together. My head felt like it would explode! We charged down the very steep hill to the slimy bridge over the stream. I saw Carla cheering at the bottom and wind-milled my arms in a kinda Strider to Strider greeting! Then up up up, up…up! Steeply down! Mud! Steps! Mud! Then careering back through the Blue bell woods! Nearly there! Yippee! I pushed on and so did Sunderland Stroller. Phew! There was Allan, marking The Bank. Horray! Kind cheers! We plunged down The Bank, back onto the field and the finishing funnel approached! I tried to give a bit more as the line was in sight! And over the finish! Yay! …..And woah!… I so so soooo needed to sit down! !!

That was brutally fantastic! A superbly organised and very enjoyable race with great Strider Support! Bring it on next year!

That’s all folks! See you all next year!

 

Results

BibFirst NameLast NameCatClubTimePoscatposprize
75StephenJacksonMSENElvet Striders32.28111msen
76MikeJefferiesMSENRichmond & Zetland Harriers32.38222msen
48LiamEmmettMSENJarrow & Hebburn AC33.21333msen
56JonathanGilroyMSENJarrow & Hebburn AC34.3844
88MichaelLittlewoodMVET40Elvet Striders35.47511mvet40
149MarkWarnerMSENElvet Striders36.1765fasterstrider not in cat
47KevinEmmettMVET50Jarrow & Hebburn AC36.35711mvet50
142GaryThwaitesMVET40Sedgefield Harriers36.54822mvet40
158LiamWintripMSEN37.0596
54JamesGarlandMVET40Elvet Striders37.121033mvet40
66PeterHarrisonMVET40Durham City Harriers & AC37.141143mvet40
12MartinBlenkinsoppMVET40Sunderland Harriers & AC37.27125
131AlexSneddonFSENJarrow & Hebburn AC37.281311fsen
159PaulWintripMSENRun Peterlee37.46147
40StevenDicksonMVET4037.49156
152PaulWeirMVET40Durham City Harriers & AC37.55167
91BrianMartinMVET60Quakers Running Club38.161711mvet60
7GaryBaileyMVET40Run Peterlee38.25188
37MarkDavinsonMVET40Derwentside AC38.59199
108NickNewbyMVET40Birtley AC39.022010
84JamesLeeMVET40Elvet Striders39.32111
18DavidBrownMSENElvet Striders39.38228
120ThomasReevesMVET50Elvet Striders39.522322mvet50
145DavidWalkerMVET50Sedgefield Harriers40.032433mvet50
125StuartScottMSENElvet Striders40.222510
70LeeHetheringtonMVET40South Shields Harriers & AC40.272612
65GaryHargraveMVET40Sunderland Strollers40.412713
25DanielCarneyMSENElvet Striders40.472811
10ElaineBissonFSENElvet Striders40.52922fsen
16PennyBrowellFVET4040.53011fvet40
71GeoffHewitsonMVET50Crook & District AC40.56314
41LeeDrummondMVET40Birtley AC41.093214
112DarrenParksMVET40Jarrow & Hebburn AC41.253315
135JohnSutcliffeMSENNorth Shields Polytechnic Club41.263412
141MichaelThorntonMVET50Jarrow & Hebburn AC41.27355
153DaleWilkinsonMVET50Sunderland Strollers41.48366
74TamsinImberFVET40Elvet Striders41.543722fvet40
21NickButchartMVET40Washington Running Club41.563816
52SteveForemanMVET40Sedgefield Harriers42.023917
24RaymondCarmichaelMVET40Sedgefield Harriers42.094018
31ChrisClarkeMSENWashington Running Club42.424113
103RobertMorrisMVET40Sunderland Strollers42.494219
134MarkSunleyMVET50Run Peterlee42.52437
97AllanMcmanusMSENSunderland Harriers & AC42.544414
28PaulCartwrightMSENRun Peterlee43.034515
36VikkiCottonFSENSunderland Harriers & AC43.054633fsen
148LouiseWarnerFSENElvet Striders43.07474fasterstrider not in cat
29NeillCassonMSENBirtley AC43.364816
20PaulBurnMVET5043.51498
157StephenWinshipMVET50Elvet Striders43.52509
133ChrisSumsionMVET50Tyne Bridge Harriers43.545110
34PhilipConnorMSENElvet Striders445217
86MalcolmLeeceMVET40Jarrow & Hebburn AC44.015320
6BrianBailesMVET50Birtley AC44.125411
55SimonGentMSENNorth Shields Polytechnic Club44.145518
44CatherineEatonFSENTyne Bridge Harriers44.22565
90BarryMarleeMVET40Sunderland Harriers & AC44.315721
105LouiseMortonFSENElvet Striders44.32586
115RichardPodmoreMSENElvet Striders44.365919
79EJohnstonFSENTyne Bridge Harriers45.14607
50AnthonyErskineMVET40Sunderland Harriers & AC45.26122
9MichaelBirdMVET50Hunwick Harriers45.336212
85Paul LeeLeeMVET50Sedgefield Harriers45.396313
101PeterMilburnMVET50Aycliffe Running Club46.296414
53DavidFrancisMVET40Birtley AC46.376523
33MartinColbornMVET40Run Peterlee46.386624
87SuzanneLewis-DaleFSENNorth Shields Polytechnic Club46.39678
138MalcolmSygroveMVET50Elvet Striders46.456815
121ShaunRobertsMVET60Elvet Striders476922mvet60
27KevinCarraharMVET50Sunderland Harriers & AC47.067016
127JudithShottonFVET50Sunderland Harriers & AC47.147111fvet50
82BrettLambertMVET40Aycliffe Running Club47.247225
81JaniceKellyFVET4047.297333fvet40
147GillianWallaceFVET40South Shields Harriers & AC47.4744
45ChrisEdwardsMSENElvet Striders48.167520
107JoanneNewbyFVET40Birtley AC48.25765
35KatherineConwayFSENWashington Running Club48.38779
110NatashaNewsonFSENNorth Shields Polytechnic Club48.47810
77LauraJenningsFSENElvet Striders48.437911
150RosieWarnettFSENSedgefield Harriers48.448012
15DavidBrowbankMSENElvet Striders48.458121
58SimonGrahamMSENTeam Coco48.518222
160StephanieYoungFVET50Birtley AC49.048322fvet50
137KathrynSygroveFVET50Elvet Striders49.118433fvet50
136RichardSutcliffeMVET4049.118526
43AndrewEatonMSENTyne Bridge Harriers49.218623
73BrianHurstMVET40Jarrow & Hebburn AC49.268727
104AdamMortonMSEN49.38824
94RachelleMASONFSENElvet Striders49.398913
126JennySearchFVET40Elvet Striders49.45906
68ChristineHearmonFVET50Sedgefield Harriers49.46914
67PeterHartMVET40Elvet Striders49.489228
14JillBridgesFSENRun Peterlee49.539314
32NicoleClarkeFSENWashington Running Club50.019415
57TracyGlaisterFVET40Sedgefield Harriers50.03957
102SusanMilburnFVET50Aycliffe Running Club50.11965
69IanHedleyMSEN50.179725
146MarieWalkerFVET40Sedgefield Harriers50.27988
13AdamBridgesMSENRun Peterlee50.499926
62MaritaGrimwoodFVET40Elvet Striders50.561009
17AlexBrownMVET40Elvet Striders5110129
11ChloeBlackFSENElvet Striders51.0410216
118JaneRannsFSENElvet Striders51.0410317
59BobGrattonMVET50Sedgefield Harriers51.0610417
113DebPennickFSENRichmond & Zetland Harriers51.0710518
132IanSpencerMVET50Elvet Striders51.1310618
154JocelynWilkinsonFSENRun Peterlee52.1510719
5PhilipAtkinsonMVET40Birtley AC52.1510830
1EmmaAldersonFSENElvet Striders52.2510920
143LauraToddFSENRun Peterlee52.3511021
3LloydAshbyMVET40Crook & District AC52.5511131
129AlanSmithMVET70Elvet Striders53.2811211mvet70
83GaryLaveryMVET40Run Peterlee53.3211332
92PaulMartinMVET4053.5711433
123JillRudkinFVET40Elvet Striders54.1311510
51SarahFawcettFVET50Elvet Striders54.151166
117AshleyPrice-SabateFVET50Elvet Striders54.581177
93SandraMartinFVET50Quakers Running Club55.051189
156SarahWilsonFVET50Quakers Running Club55.5311910
122DavidRoundMVET50Sedgefield Harriers56.212019
100KarenMettersFVET40Elvet Striders56.3112111
49TraceyEmmettFVET40Jarrow & Hebburn AC56.4212212
42AndrewDunlopMVET40Elvet Striders56.5812334
4SamAskeyFVET40Elvet Striders57.0312413
116JudithPorterFVET60Aycliffe Running Club57.1912511fvet60
98DebbieMcRoryFVET50Sunderland Harriers & AC59.5512611
39ZoeDewdney ParsonsFSENElvet Striders59.5612722
64DenisHargraveMVET70Sunderland Strollers61.2312822mvet70
60SandraGreenerFVET40Elvet Striders62.1812914
46JanetEllisFVET50Elvet Striders62.213012
139LauraTedstoneFVET40Sunderland66.4113115
22KayCairnsFSENElvet Striders73.5213223

The Grasmere Gallop, Grasmere, Cumbria, Saturday, June 3, 2017

17km

Tamsin Imber

It was a warm, shorts-are-needed, sunny day in Grasmere! What good luck! The Borrowdale volcanic fells, flanked with many shades of green and their characteristic grey lumpy rocky tops looked magnificent and inviting. It was a lively tourist filled, bustling Summer morning in the village of Grasmere. Excited runners in active wear buzzed about in the Grasmere sports field, registering and portaloo-ing. With ten minutes to go, the ardent sound of bag pipes cut through the air as we were herded to the start-line on the bridge…and with a 3, 2, 1 through a megaphone..we were off…!

 

Well, ha ha…kind of! I, spending too much time chatting, had not noticed the large number of participants in comparison to the capacity of the narrow wall-lined road, and therefore found myself stuck at the back of a large crowd.. behind a large number of Nordic walkers and family fun runners! (There were several events all starting at the same time). So I found myself walking for the first quarter of a mile!  This was taking ‘Don’t set off too fast’ to the extreme!  Although I was disappointed as I felt I’d kinda lost the race before I had started, it was a pleasure to hear and see the excitement and joking of many of the kids participating in the fun run.

 

Once people spread out a little I started weaving through them. It was a bit precarious dodging the random angles of the sticks of the Nordic Walkers!, but it added a steeple chase element! I didn’t get the Nordic Walking race though. Surely there would be the temptation to break into a cheeky little run now and then…?!..?  Maybe the poles trip you up if you do this.

 

I had got to a point where people were more spread out so was able to get up to pace. Wonderful! Despite my start, I was determined to try my hardest as I love the thrill of it, and to enjoy the run! As I continued to weave past people I saw beautiful pink rhododendron flowers and yellow poppies on the stone wall and smelt the occasional scent of honey suckle as we continued along the road that goes round the lake side. ..Ah ha! And what was that ahead? A purple vest with green and white stripes! It was Jill! Woohoo! After a cheery hello, I continued uphill now, and soon onto stony trail.

 

The route was so scenic! We ran along Loughrigg Terrace with stunning views of Grasmere and it’s forested island. Then downhill through scattered mature deciduous trees where we had to leap over roots and puddles. We reached Pelter Bridge and it was a shady minor road up to Brow Head Farm. Then back onto trail, round Ivy Crag to Loughrigg Tarn. I was now running with four guys, with one girl a bit ahead of us. It was lovely to zoom along with space. I was surprised to find that since the London marathon I am better at running downhill than uphill (it used to be the other way round!) With every uphill I fell behind the four guys, and with every downhill that followed I whizzed past them! After Loughrigg Tarn there was a long downhill section and I decided to use this new found ability to my advantage. I ran past the four guys again, then caught up with the girl ahead and put in a surge to pass her!

 

We were soon back into woods and uphill, before a fantastic downhill zigzag from Loughrigg terrace down to the foot of Grasmere! It was then a pretty shore-line gravel path back along the lakeside to the village. As we (me and the four guys-they had caught me up on some uphill so we all ended up together) ran through the village the friendly marshals signposted us back to the Sports Ground to the finish! And the finish lead to a tent of water and National Trust cakes 🙂 I collected my jumper that I had hidden behind a gate up the road, then bumped into Jill again! She had enjoyed it too. It was a lovely race and I would definitely do it next year. Shout-out to Alan Smith, who I didn’t bump into on the day, but later heard he won the V70 prize in the 10k race!

 

That evening I had a small trip to Grasmere for ice bath plus to try my first wild swim avec newly learned front crawl! I approached the foot of Grasmere where the stony beach is from the path above. There, enjoying the evening, I saw a lady throwing a ball for her dog into the water, two mallards, and a pair of Italians in underpants with a ghetto blaster. There was also a swan in the far distance. The overall effect was reassuring. Luckily the ghetto blaster seemed to give up the ghost.   It was a clear evening with sun low in the sky and a light breeze making lake reflections blurred. There were small ripples from the wind. I was planning to stay in my depth, and just swim up and down parallel to the shore. It was lovely and cool and I was soon in! After summoning up my courage I looked under the water through my goggles! Oooo! Wow! Amazing! The sun shone through the water and you could see all the rocks and stones below! I started swimming and it was being in a different world! I saw lots of little black fish, one had a proper triangle-shaped fin on its back! But it wasn’t a shark. They flitted away from me as fast as I had seen them. A bit further along I couldn’t see, as it became sandy and the water was yellow and turbid. I wasn’t so keen on this so it became my turn around point. I found I could navigate as I passed the same rocks, large stick and bolder just going up and down level with the shore. It was a lovely way to end the day!

 

Results available here

 

Virgin Money London Marathon 2017, London, Monday, April 24, 2017

26.2 miles

Tamsin Imber

The London Marathon

 

Warning!: This is not a positive report. Other reports about this race are available!

 

I’m not a city person. I don’t like crowds. I don’t like traffic. I don’t like constant loud noise. And I don’t like too much concrete. COD (Concrete Oppression Depression) is a ‘thing’ that happened to me when I lived in Liverpool for 5 years.  So why did I enter the London marathon? Curiosity and that was it. Ha, well, yeah, we all know what killed the cat don’t we.

 

So, I was at the Green start, having got a Good For Age place, and needed to get to Maze Hill train station for this start area. The race and the whole of London it seemed were very well organised for this race. The organisation I can not criticise at all. There were marshals everywhere in the Underground train system sign posting people. Also everyone was extremely friendly. And anyone with a race number also travelled free. I arrived in good time and did all my usual pre-race things.

 

..It all went wrong when I went to my start pen. From then on for the next 26.2 miles I was in a crowd. The problem with being short is that most people are taller than you so you can see only the backs and sides of people around you and a bit of sky above. I once stood on a chair to experience life from the view point of my husband and it really does give you a different perspective! So, in this crowd of runners it was really hot, smelly and claustrophobic. Following the blue line was never going to happen as I couldn’t see it!  As we got closer and closer to central London the spectator noise increased exponentially. Due to the crowd situation a short girl running next to me went splat on her face. I stopped to see if she was OK and two guys from behind ran straight into me so I went flying too. One of them had kindly tried to stop me by grabbing me, but he squished my body so tight with his hands that his nails made me bleed. I felt really stressed. I had a splitting headache. As we pounded the hot tarmac I tried to work out why. I can only conclude it was stress. Stress from people always in my personal space, stress from the noise and stress from lack of fresh air. I had sewed two pockets onto my Striders vest top and in one of them I had luckily put some foam earplugs. They only blocked out 50% of the noise but it helped a bit.

 

Then the sun came out. Thing with down south is that its obviously warmer than up here, add that to the London heat island affect (plus 2 degrees) and the sun coming out and suddenly you have 20 degrees. I’m not good running in the sun. I squirted my legs with water from the water stations to cool me down, which also served to get rid of the nauseating sticky orange yak that got squired on my legs from other runners stepping on Lucazade sport bottles.

 

After half way it soon became clear to me that I was not maintaining my 7.50mm pace, probably due to the stressful conditions, and my hopes of 3.25 rapidly dissolved. After some many miles of trying to get up pace and failing to do so I considered leap-frogging over the barrier to escape, but decided to continue because actually I’d only be standing in a hot, sweaty crowd queuing somewhere else to get onto a tube station platform. At least by continuing the race I was in a moving crowd going to where I wanted to go.

 

Finally got to the end. Thank God. Gutted about my rubbish time. A rubbish 30 minutes later than my PB and 35 minutes later than my goal! Didn’t really want a medal. Cried. Collected my bag. Gave myself a kick up the bum and went to meet my family.

 

On the Virgin train back to Durham I ate an overpriced Richard Branston baguette with chemical flavourings and tried to work out what had happened. I love marathons, it is my favourite distance. I just didn’t like London.  I can’t wait for  my next marathon. I suspect it will be a race in some unknown backwater of nowhere where I can just run freely, where I can concentrate on what I am doing!, where maybe there is some scenery!, and where I can enjoy it! Even though London wasn’t for me and didn’t go well I am proud of myself for trying it and I learnt a whole lot about big city marathons.

The Monsal Trail Half Marathon, Peak District, Saturday, March 25, 2017

Tamsin Imber

What if you were in a dark tunnel?

A third of a mile long.

I was running straight into the mouth of a giant beast! Wow that was one big, eerie tunnel entrance! Aghh! Running head first into it was like plunging into the sea! Freezing cold! Aghh! With a freezing cold ‘tunnel wind’ complete with big blobs of icy water splashing down on my head from above! It was bendy. Dark. No light at the end of the tunnel to be seen. And there were mysterious echoes ..somewhere.. ahead?..behind?! …I was deep in the tunnel. The sound of my breathing in, out, in out. Rapid echoey footsteps, go faster, keep on!

The Monsal Trail is a disused railway line in the Peak District, now used as a cycleway and footpath. Starting near Bakewell, it doesn’t go round the ‘Peaks’ of the Peak district..it goes through them, meaning seven long tunnels! The Monsal trail half marathon takes a ‘there and back’ route from the Bakewell end, taking in three of the tunnels, several viaducts…and back again!

This half marathon was part of my London marathon training plan, and fell within weeks of training, so there was no tapering before and it was done on tired legs! But, no way can I race and not race. I wanted this. I wanted a podium finish. I wanted a PB. And, I wanted to beat all females younger than me!

I arrived early, so chatted to other runners for a while, but inside I was itching to start. With half an hour to go I escaped for a short warm-up, and to get away from the crowd. As I set off, I spotted my husband and two kids! I thought they had gone to the cycle hire? My daughter skipped towards me, her hair flying about getting in her face, waving her Care-Bear in the air. My son remained by husband’s side, looking serious. As I reached them he looked up at me earnestly, his big green eyes open wide and said “Mum, if you want to run faster, just imagine you robbed a bank and the police are chasing you!” I thanked him. It was original advice. Maybe it would work!

Five minutes to go. The runners just behind the start-line looked in scarily good condition. Tall skinny guys. ..and a large contingent of young twenty something looking girls. Hummm. Was I deluded? I climbed over the rope and squeezed my forty year old self in beside them. Tension and nervous anticipation filled the air. It was also absolutely freezing cold but I was fussing that the two layer option I’d gone for would be too warm. Make a decision, make up your mind. I stuck with two layers.

Last minute loudspeaker instructions over, the gun fired and we all charged forwards like sheep escaping from a pen. My legs protested immediately! I ignored it and forced myself to get into a steady rhythm, building up to a pace that was hard and painful, but that I hoped I could keep up. It was gravelly underfoot. As I got into my stride, so did runners around me and I found myself running in a group of four guys. Concentrate. Keep pushing that steady pace. You can. We reached Hassop station. A small crowd outside the cafe cheered us on! Pounding on I became warmer and warmer as the first sun of the year got properly up and I was soon totally baking! And looking forward to the first water station! I managed somehow to rip off my long-sleeved top from under my Striders vest top whilst running and threw it to the side. Then I saw the grand, eerie looking entrance of the first tunnel was looming closer and closer! Wow that was a big entrance! Aghh! Running head first into it was like plunging into the sea! Freezing cold! Aghh! With a freezing cold ‘tunnel wind’ complete with big blobs of icy water splashing down on my head from above! It was bendy and I could hear mysterious echoes ..somewhere.. ahead?..behind?! I was deep in the tunnel. The sound of my breathing in, out, in out. Rapid echoey footsteps, go faster, keep on! Suddenly out of the tunnel and back into the bright light made me feel a bit spaced out for a few moments. Focus! I concentrated on keeping on it. I was running on my own now, having dropped two of the guys and two had gone ahead. Focus. Keep the pace up. My lungs were OK but my legs were tight. Oooooo! Two more tunnels, viaducts, valley views, cycle path…and then, the first male, having reached the turnaround point, came speeding towards me. Then more guys. Then the first lady…and the second. And the third..Noooo! The fourth..Nooo! The fifth ..Noooo! ….Then…me. I quickly reached the half way point and threw myself round the tight bend round a disused platform. Speed up, get on it! The girls ahead all looked a lot younger than me…but even more reason to try and catch them! My legs hurt more now, but they can speak to the hand, cos the brain ain’t listening. Back through the third tunnel, then the viaducts. More runners were coming towards me now. I heard one say “oooo she looks in pain!” I tried to smile at her but grimaced. Back through the second tunnel, more cycle path, I kept pushing on. And on.

I reached mile 9. Never been best buddies with mile 9. I really needed that next water station too. Swinging my arms more strongly to battle with my legs I ran on. I tried and failed to relate to a police chase. Instead I chanted ‘Mo Farah, Mo Farah’ in my head over and over in time to my feet. Mile 10! Phew! One final ice tunnel and there was the water station! Thank God! Literally! I stuck my hand out in advance, grabbed the cup, threw as much as I could in the direction of my mouth, got most of it over my face, threw the cup to one side and carried on.

Only 3 miles to go! I can do this! Yes! I found I could run a bit harder. A runner then caught me up (male so that’s OK). I kept up with him and we pushed each other on. Yes! I can do this! Lets go catch em! I increased the pace, and so did he. Back past Hassop station, just cycle path all the way now. The sun was really burning down, why was he putting his woolly bobble hat on? Ignore it, focus! Where are those girls? Catch them! I held on. The faster I run, the sooner I can stop. I ran harder and left the guy behind. 12 mile marker, only a mile! Yes! I will catch them. Aghh, the pain! Go, go go! I tried to run harder. Where are those girls? At last the finish in sight! Then suddenly he was right on me, running flat out! No way! I stopped him passing me and raced him to the finish. Aggghhh!! and then we were both over the line, stopped, bent over, gasping for air…!

I didn’t catch those girls. I came 6th lady. But not catching them makes me more determined for next time! I got the FV40 trophy. I didn’t get a PB. I tried my best and and ran as well as I could have done on the day. You win some, you lose some, especially in running! My watch showed even-pacing, which boosted my confidence as I didn’t look at it. And I love my medal with its Bakewell pudding on!

Leeds Liverpool Canal Canter, Saturday, March 11, 2017

10km

Tamsin Imber

This is a very nice race which is well organised by It’s Grim up North Running.

As I drove into the Kirstall area of Leeds, marshals were in position directing cars to the free car-parking. It was a short, signposted walk to the start at the canal-side. Toilets and left baggage tent are available at the start. There were actually 5 races all starting at 9.30am!: a 5k, 10k, half, marathon and ultra-all going along the canal, but all went very smoothly.

The weather was perfect-a nice dry spring day. A lively Yorkshire vibe filled the air as runners kept arriving and a crowd gathered. A jolly Yorkshire man recalled a ‘Horse versus man’ race he had done last year. Another Yorkshire runner told me about canal depths-she had fallen in last year! After a briefing from a megaphoned marshal standing on a large rock we were herded to the start line. Gareth had helpfully advised me to stand somewhere near the front to avoid bottlenecks when the race started. So I exceeded this advice and stood right at the front! Just behind me were very fit looking running beans including four very fit looking Yorkshire girls. Two of them chatted merrily about 3 hour marathons. Wow, I wouldn’t mind a 3 hour marathon one day! We waited for time to pass and the marshal to start the race.

I had decided not to wear my sports watch as I just wanted to run. I planned to try my best using my ‘breath-o-meter’ method, which is that if I am breathing really loudly then I know I am doing maximum effort! (Maybe not the best method for a longer race!).

The race started and I sped off! It was very scenic along the tree-lined canal. The canal path was muddy in places, tarmacked in others and cobbled under bridges. I got into a good, noisy, rhythm. A few cyclists here and there but they all rang their bells. There were no distance markers, but I gauged how far I had gone by seeing where the marshal turned the 5k runners round-I knew I had to do the same again before us 10k runners were turned around (it was a there and back route). There was one 10k girl ahead of me and she kept increasing her speed so soon she was out of my sight. I couldn’t hear anyone behind me. I was really enjoying just running fast along the canal! It was great! After 4 bridges I reached half way and was turned round by a marshal. Now I could see how far people were behind me as I met them coming the other way! In terms of ladies the two runners who had been talking about 3 hour marathons were next! I tried to run faster incase they were planning a negative split! As I went back past familiar landmarks I’d seen on the way out I used that to gauge how far I had to go. The 3-hour marathon girls were nowhere to be heard. I started the sprint finish –my favourite bit! -where the white track joined the canal-side, and soon could see the finish ahead, where a friendly crowd cheered me on! What a fun run! I had no idea what my time was, but who cares! I really enjoyed the running! Plus, bonus -I got a new bling, Kentish fine ale (don’t like beer but it looked cool) and a snickers bar (can’t beat the chocolate-peanut combo!). I quickly took off my number (69 was a bit embarrassing to wear) and soon spotted a huge table top off home backed cakes! Yum!… I’d love to do the half next time as it ended far too soon!, and the half route looks lovely along the canal in the other direction heading out of Leeds to Saltaire. Next time!

Hedgehope Winter Wipeout, Ingram, Northumberland, Sunday, January 22, 2017

Half Marathon

Tamsin Imber

So..this is the first time this race has been run! It is organised by ‘High Fell Events’ (see their website). It was fantastic! A hardy group of Striders who hedged their hopes on this wintry half included Katherine Preston, Joan Hanson, Penny Browell, Neil Sleeman, Corrina James, Kathryn Sygrove, Anita Clementson, Camilla Lauren-Maatta and Kate McPherson.

For me, it began with ‘the morning after the night before’. The ‘night before’ being the ‘Durham Mums on the Run post-Xmas party’ and ‘the morning after’ being 6am in a quiet and dark house! The family who had been intending to come until yesterday slept soundly! I quickly ate some breakfast and crept out of the house into the pitch black street. The sound of my key unlocking the car seemed to echo loudly in the silent street. I got in and drove off, carefully to find a dim, car-free, A1. Progress north was steady, and cheerfully accompanied by loud cheesy tunes on the radio!

The race start was at Ingram, a small hamlet in the Cheviots. Turning into Ingram I saw a pretty stone church, a few houses, the visitor centre and café and a signpost to parking in a field. It was starting to get light and the morning was dim and hazy with low cloud. And it was FREEZING!! Some surprised sheep looked on with curiosity as cars kept arriving and parking up. Registration was in a tent with a handy heater 🙂 The café was open selling welcomed hot drinks. A big group of chatting and smiling, high spirited runners was gathering.

The race began! ..Slowly! I found myself stationary behind a bottled-necked start-stop queue of 300 odd runners trying to fit along a narrow path! Luckily this was not for long and soon we were climbing up grassy, boggy moorland! It was muddy and very uneven underfoot. Icy pools of water formed in ruts and soon my trainers were soaked through. After a mile I warmed up and had to stop to force my thick waterproof jacket into my backpack. About 50 runners passed me as I wrestled with the zip! Job done, I got into steady pace. Being no path I spent most time looking down to see where to put my feet! I found the bog was deepest where the moss was light green, so I avoided that moss. The ridge climbed upwards to the crinkly Cunyan Craggs which towered above us. It was stony, slippery and steep! I was running in a group with 2 other guys at this point. We waved to the friendly marshals above the Craggs. Continuing upwards to reach Dunmoor hill the grass became stiff and white with frost. Some of the strands of grass had beautiful fringes of 1cm long ice crystals! Looking around, bleak, featureless moorland stretched in all directions. White, rounded Cheviot hills were seen in the far distance. And we could now see the summit of Hedgehope Hill ahead! As we got closer the first guy was galloping towards us! And then more guys behind him! It was fun to see everyone pass us! After my shouts of ‘well done’ and ‘put the kettle on’ I focused on speeding up as I had spotted a lady in the runners ahead. I clambered past her. Then Penny was zooming downhill toward me 🙂 🙂 ! Soon I was also at the summit. It was breezy and misty at the top and the rocks were white with frost. Two amazing (they can’t have been warm!) and windswept summit marshals shouted encouragement! We had to run round their summit flag…and then we were off back down! Trying to fly fast without falling over was exhilarating! My new trail shoes seemed to forget their purpose! I fell over five times in total, including a double-body-roll event! 🙂 Down, down down we went! I was now very brown in colour! Back past the green moss, past the Craggs, past friendly runners coming up, moor, mud,muddy moor, … more mud .. I was nearly there.. only a few miles to go. I was starving hungry now!I had a short daydream about hot chocolate and fell over again! Then after a bit more mud, here was the minor road to Ingram! Wayhay! The tarmac jarred my legs in a new way! It was not far though and I looked ahead and could see where the road turned into Ingram. I planned to start my sprint finish there. …but…turning the corner ..oh!!! BIG OH!!! …ha ha ha! The route was suddenly marked off-piste..to the river!! !! !!as in, to wade ACROSS the river!! oooooo it was deep!… and cold!! and up to my waist !! ha ha ha!! brilliant! ..I staged onto the gravel river banks, only to see the route was taped a bit further on to wade back across the river, and again!! Fantastic! A very refreshing, surprise ending! Ice-bath included in entry fee. Plus I was not only in brown any more! A climb over a fence and small jog into the finish tent ! What a great run!

After a rapid change into dry clothes I saw Penny and others in the café! We drank our free soup/I ate chocolate cake and then we stood round the handy heater in the tent waiting for people to come in. Later it was lovely to see Penny get 3rd place prize in the presentation. What a great, fun and well organised event! The organisers and marshals were superb. There were first aiders with erected shelter tents and mountain rescue at strategic points. The route was spot on! The vibe was good. I really enjoyed this race!

Spijkenisse marathon, Rotterdam, Sunday, December 18, 2016

Tamsin Imber

The Spijkenisse marathon is a small annual event which is a one loop course starting and ending at the athletics track in the town of Spijkenisse. This is a small town to the south of Rotterdam, The Netherlands. We stayed in Amsterdam for a long weekend and combined me doing this race with a festive, family mini-break:)

The run was all on cycle paths around a beautiful, bleak, mostly forested, wetland region! (So completely traffic free! Even though the area was cycle-path-tastic there were not loads of non-support cycles on any part of the route, so you were not having to look out for bikes.). It was very flat!  Often the cycle path was on a raised embankment between channels of water. The channels of water ranged from narrow to large lake sized areas, colonised by birds and other wildlife. There was little civilisation!

The route was measured and chip timed. There were water stations every 5km and warm black tea and bananas at the later water stations, which I avoided myself but the Dutch seemed very keen on it! All marshals were very friendly and encouraging!

Ambience

Like a Hardmoors on tarmac! It was low key and very friendly. About 200 entrants in the marathon.

Runners

Mainly Dutch but a few from abroad. I arrived by train and metro from Amsterdam and wondered where everyone was!..but I soon  saw they were all arriving by bike..of course!

My aim

To try and run even pacing at 8 minute miles to finish in 3.30… by myself! So my the ‘Graeme Walton replacement system’ comprised of -all on my right arm-my sports watch, watch and a table written on the back of my hand indicating the times and times elapsed I should be at key distances!

The Race

A friendly start, cheered on by all the half marathoners who were starting 15 minutes after us!  It started with one lap of the track, and then we were off onto the cycle path into the unknown! Some runners had their friends cycling next to them to support them the whole way:)

The weather was 5 degrees and dry, which was good running conditions it seemed, although in the areas without trees there was quite a strong wind.

I started by positioning myself just ahead of the 3.30 pacer group as I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss the km markers.  This worked well. I could hear the pacer group chatting away in Dutch in animated voices behind me, so I joined them for a few miles to chat (luckily they were happy to talk in English).  I then returned to just ahead of them so I could see the markers again. The first 6 miles felt like we were out for a Sunday morning jog!  Should I be running faster? The watch said no.  I followed the cycle path through the watery marsh-lands!

Part-way into the route we heard whistles from behind and a motor-bike then a peddle bike went past and then the front runners of the half marathon! That was an impressive sight! The first 5 guys were running as if their shorts were on fire behind them!

Further on, the marathon and half-marathon route separated. There I came across a marshal standing on a small step ladder outside an isolated ivy clad cottage in the middle of no-where. He waved a red flag to the right (marathon route) and a white flat above his head (half marathon straight on). (Red for danger and white for surrender?).

The cycle path continued through beautiful wild lands, a few sheep farms and woods. A guy from Portugal joined me for a bit then dropped back.

From 30km onwards it gradually felt harder and harder! And at 38km onwards I found it really really hard! The last 2 km I could not help dropping pace slightly and the 3.30 pacer group overtook me! I finished in 3.31.

Post-race

I enjoyed the race and was pleased with how it went. My sports watched showed after I managed to pace myself OK, so this gave me confidence! The 3.30 pacer guy came up to me after and said I took too long drinking water at the water stations, loosing me distance.  Good advice for next time 🙂

After the race I went to the communal showers in the sports centre. They were cold! Is this a Dutch thing as the other girls were not batting an eyelid and were a bit amused by my shrieking surprise?!

On the journey back I felt very nauseous, and was nearly sick on the metro and on the beautiful granite flooring of Rotterdam train station!. This was hunger as I only ate 1 jelly baby during the race. A big bowl of chips soon sorted it! Memo for next time: eat chips straight after race!

Brampton to Carlisle, Sunday, November 20, 2016

10 Miles

Tamsin Imber

Grand Prix Race. Endurance Champion Race.

Photo by Helen Linton

Pre race

Well, what a top day for a run! Cold yes, but blue skies and the sun is coming out as we arrive in Brampton. I enter the school and join the throng of club runners-it is buzzing with a cheerful vibe! And it’s warm inside! After bumping into a few Striders here and there, I head outside as there is still half an hour before the start-so time for a short warm up around Brampton. Brampton is a pretty village indeed. I find a few quiet side streets to run along. I bump into a man walking his dog and his dog starts to run with me, so I offer to take him to Carlisle :-). Further about the village I spot a few other runners warming up-they are all male and not wearing much-they look like fast runners! Noting the time I head back to base to catch Mr Walton.

The Plan

Prior to now I have always ran how I feel. In races this has sometimes worked, and sometimes resulted in ‘the Crash’ when I have set off far too fast! So today, Graeme has very kindly agreed to run with me using his watch to pace us. So I get to see how it feels like to run a paced run and also to see how to use a watch. We finalise our plan just before the race. We were going to go for 71 minutes with a negative split pacing, but Graeme suggests trying for sub-70 as we seemed comfortable at 6.55min/m on the track for 10minutes on Wednesday … I’m always up for a challenge … so why not. We can always drop back to even splits if it doesn’t work out.

The Start

Graeme and I join the crowd, squashing in behind Stephen and Matt at the start-line. After ‘the wait that is before every start’ everyone moves forward like at a music gig when someone comes on stage … and we are off! Down the hill, round the sharp bend and out of Brampton. It’s a bit congested. Graeme keeps looking at his watch, and I just follow Graeme!

Mile 1

Congested and following Graeme.

Mile 2

The sun comes out. Nice views across the fields. Still a bit congested. I am warm now. I angle through a gap in the runners to throw my £4 hoodie that got from the British Heart Foundation charity shop last week to the roadside. (We’ll drive back this way and pick it up if it’s there, if it’s not that’s fine).

Mile 3

Nice. We are into a steady pace now. I’m enjoying this. A down followed by an up and then onto the smaller road.

Mile 4

Running. Nice country road, nice weather, what’s not to like? Graeme keeps looking at his watch, he is keeping us in a good steady pace. As we go round a bend I notice 3 girls ahead. Hummm. I wonder if Graeme has noticed? Probably not. I wonder if his watch will notice if I speed up just slightly and creep past them? Hummm, we are not supposed to increase pace until Mile 5.

Mile 5

Excellent I can see the mile 5 marker! Ha. I increase pace a bit and get past those girls . Graeme looks at his watch.

Mile 6

Graeme looks at his watch.

We have a mile 6 sign and then a 10k (6.2 mile) sign. It confuses me as I have done quite a few half marathons recently and this is half way, I remind myself it is a 10mile race. Graeme now suggests we don’t increase pace til after the bridge, hummm maybe we went off too fast for a negative split for my level of fitness, I guess that is the danger of aiming too high. Well, if we can do even split that is ok.

Mile 7

This mile was hard. I am not sure why! I just had to grit my teeth through it!

Mile 8

This was a good mile. Graeme shouts out that we only need to do 2 more miles at 7 minute pace. Excellent! I can do this. Towards the end of mile 8 Graeme seems to be running faster and faster! Suddenly it feels like a time trial! Is this really still 7 min mile pace? It is uphill, maybe that’s why it is hard?. I have also noticed 3 more girls ahead, I get behind them but it’s hard to get past as they are running astride. Graeme is urging me on. A quote I read somewhere flits into my head. ‘Racing hurts, get over it’ that was easy to accept when sitting on the sofa ha ha!, however I’m not stopping now, I try and keep up with Graeme’s legs!

At this point it is clear Graeme could run the last bit faster than me, I think he should just go, but he doesn’t as he is a Gentleman.

Mile 9

I wish I knew where the finish was, then it would be mentally easier I think. But, its only 4 laps of the track I tell myself. Graeme is being very encouraging all the time. Why did they build The Sands so far away? We are now running with 5 ish other guys. My breathing is really loud! so I am pleased there is background traffic noise! Graeme urges me past them, and I try and manage an increase in speed for a bit, but I don’t know where the finish is so slow down again. Graeme shouts out it’s just round the corner, but I’m not sure which corner he means, there are people in the way! Aghh! And then the path is lined with people and low and behold the finish line is just ahead! Mr Walton is ahead but lets me pass just 1m from the line! What a good sport! … And ooo it’s so good to stop! ..After recovering Graeme checks his watch for one last time-wayhay! 1hr 09 mins! We did it!

Post race

Thanks so much Graeme! This was really helpful! Graeme’s watch showed that we did even splits. .. ha. It’s funny how different a 7 min mile feels at the start compared to at the end! I really enjoyed this race and I would definitely do it again! It’s a nice route and a good club event!

Lucy Herkes

Brampton to Carlisle 10m today has been a weird day with a weird run and a mix of emotions… I woke up this morning feeling just quite bleurgh about the day. It was more that I just felt like I couldn’t be bothered to run 10 miles. I just wanted to stay in bed. My legs were tired from the thousands of steps I had walked delivering leaflets this week and my mind was tired because.. Well just because…. But I battled on and got up. Task 1 complete. Task 2 was to actually get ready for the race. Loads of self doubt just kept giving me this mental block. Even down to the smallest things like which gloves to wear and which top and the thought of these things was giving me a sense of dread ! It was weird! I got ready anyway and made it to the bus. Our running club puts on a bus for some of the races and this was one of them. As soon as I got on the bus and saw my friends I felt better. I think it’s being around other people. And when those people are smiley and happy, I think that’s infectious. They build my confidence. Not only around running but all aspects. I don’t think I’ve ever had so many people believe in me. So when I’m asked what’s helped in my recovery I have to say not only running but the friends I have made through running. I’ve only known them maybe 18 months but already they feel like family. We arrived in Carlisle an hour before the race started. Luckily the start was next to a school so we were able to keep warm inside and use the toilet (only 4 times I think this race, it’s getting better!) Anyway, the ‘ideal’ in my head was to keep the race pace at around 9:15 min/miles. I figured that if I could do that, it equates to a 2:01:00 half marathon. My next half marathon is in York in January and it’s totally flat so I was going to try and push for 2 hours. This felt like such a good plan. I ran alone, I wanted to just see what I was capable of. Running alone was good in a way as I was able to focus on what I was doing, but at times it was lonely too and not so good for my motivation!! Anyway, for the 1st 3miles I was running around 9 minute miles. I knew this was faster than what I had planned but I felt good so I kept at it. That was the mistake I made I think. I went off too fast for the first 10k and so after that I really struggled. (I did get a 10k PB!) With me, I never know what goes first, mental strength or physical strength. Or in other words do I become physically tired or mentally tired ? Or does one cause the other and vice versa..? For the last half I really struggled. I can’t even explain what with. My breathing was fine, it wasn’t that. My legs, yes were tired but not overly tired but my mental strength did disappear. All I could hear inside was …

“He’s walking just have a walk!”
“You haven’t made your time anyway so just stop.”
“You are so slow!”
“You won’t do well, you won’t continue, you’re useless, people will be finished and you’re still struggling.”

For some people they say that they can give themselves a boot up the backside and when people pass in a race it motivates them to catch them. But it is the opposite for me. If someone passes I think “well screw it, I’m shit!” It’s like I go into a self-doubting, weak mental frame of mind where my thoughts turn from “this feels good, keep going,” to “you’re shit, just stop.” Once I’m in this mindset I don’t seem to be able to pull myself out. A couple of friends caught me/I caught a couple and that gave me a little boost, enough to get to the end. I just wish my mind was as strong as my legs. I don’t think it’s just me who experiences this though, right? So I finished. My average pace was 9:25 which I was disappointed with but it did teach me what I need to do about pacing for this half marathon in January. I just wish I could get some sort of magic pill that kept my mind strong. Overall I had a great day. Even though I was slightly disappointed in my time, thinking about it, I really beat myself up and criticise myself and I think I need to be kinder. I keep trying to think that I wouldn’t criticise a friend for going slower than hoped for and I would be proud of their achievements. Just wish I could think like this for myself. The day was rounded odd perfectly – dinner, pudding and wine with friends and then a few gins, Xfactor and I’m a celebrity. Not the most healthy food and drink choice but hey ho we all need a treat. Here are my splits from yesterday – they’re hilarious and certainly shows where I went wrong! positively split times

Results

position name cat catpos chip time
1 Nick Swinburn (Morpeth Harriers & AC) 50:18
45 Tracy Millmore (Birtley AC) L 1 58:35
21 Stephen Jackson 56:08
33 Gareth Pritchard 57:23
65 Jason Harding V45 9 1:00:10
113 Matt Archer 1:04:44
152 Simon Gardner V45 22 1:06:50
207 Tamsin Imber L40 6 1:09:44
208 Graeme Walton V40 29 1:09:44
341 David Case 1:16:57
342 Stuart Barker 1:17:12
351 Nicola Whyte L 65 1:17:40
358 Jean Bradley L60 1 1:18:12
381 Jonathan Hamill V40 47 1:20:33
413 Victoria Brown L35 18 1:22:32
414 Katy Walton L35 19 1:22:33
427 David Browbank 1:23:03
481 Helen Parker L40 21 1:26:24
486 Angela Greathead L40 23 1:27:05
493 Robin Linton 1:27:24
501 Mark Herkes 1:27:52
502 Anna Seeley L 130 1:27:53
503 Catherine Smith L40 25 1:27:55
527 Diane Harold L40 29 1:29:26
561 Deborah McFarland L 167 1:33:57
563 Jane Dowsett L45 18 1:34:03
569 Lucy Herkes L 171 1:34:13
575 Joanne Patterson L 177 1:34:29
577 Christine Farnsworth L65 1 1:34:46
584 Katie Davison L 181 1:35:35
617 George Nicholson V65 22 1:38:58
618 Katie-Louise Finney L 203 1:39:12
621 James Nicholson V65 23 1:39:20
625 Teresa Archer L 209 1:39:46
627 Huw Dixon V55 38 1:39:54
635 Karen Chalkley L50 23 1:40:16
636 Debra Thompson L50 24 1:40:54
642 Kelly Collier L 221 1:43:05
653 Kerry Barnett L45 26 1:46:44
655 Aileen Scott L45 27 1:49:44
656 Julie Jarratt L45 28 1:50:12
659 Stan White V55 39 1:52:00
661 Margaret Thompson L65 2 1:53:11
665 Neil Jennings V50 51 1:55:33
666 Laura Gibson L40 45 1:55:52
667 Sophie Dennis L 241 1:56:46
670 Natalie Johnson L35 50 1:58:56
673 Lisa Hall L 247 2:02:41
676 Rachel Leigh-Firbank L40 47 2:16:12
677 Elaine Jennings L50 28 2:16:12

Finishers 677.

Swaledale Marathon, Reeth, Saturday, June 11, 2016

23.2 miles / 4,128 feet

Tamsin Imber

Tamsin on the bridge
Tamsin crossing the bridge

Well this is the most exciting race I have ever done! I would highly recommend it!

This is meant to be a helpful account for anyone who has not done it before, as well as a race report.

So, it was a race I had hoped to enter but didn’t get a place in as it fills up very quickly! …but then a few weeks before the race, another Strider offered me their place as they couldn’t do it-sorry for them but very pleased to get a place! So began a rapid preparation … but what was the route? It is not on the Swaledale Outdoor club website. Hummm, there is a description but for someone who likes to know the detail it was a bit too short for me. Luckily I found a trace of the route from someone’s Garmin on the Striders website from a past year-thank-you! You can find this by searching for ‘Swaledale marathon’ in the race reports section. I copied it onto my OS map and was able to mark on the positions of checkpoints and ‘self-clip points’ from the description on the Swaledale Outdoor club website. Closer to the event Jon got hold of a few copies of the route and Elaine photographed them and sent them to me. I can confirm that they were the same as the route I found on the Striders website, so it seems to stay the same each year.

Elaine and I were a bit worried about navigating our way! The weather forecast was thick cloud, fog and mist!! Hummm, Elaine had done a few reccies of the route but not of the middle section. I knew the first bit from walking in Arkengarth dale in years BC (Before Children). It was the unknown middle section of disused mining hushes that was grinding our grapes – didn’t want to end up down a sink hole! ..I was also a bit unsure of the crack..other striders helpfully advised me and showed me the start time and registration times are in the SI entries system race information, but as far as I can see not on the Swaledale Outdoor club website?. There is a compulsory kit list on the Swaledale Outdoor Club website which includes compass and waterproof trousers. And importantly you need to carry a plastic cup to get additional water at checkpoints. Jon advised there is water at all checkpoints and food as well at one checkpoint. Also you get a free meal at the end if you like!

Arriving early doors in the outskirts of the pretty village of Fremlington, everything was very well signposted and organized. A big sign saying “marathon carpark” pointed to the entrance of a large grassy field, within which were lots of cars, runners getting ready and portaloos portable toilets and car park marshals. Registration was a short nip up the road in the Fremlington village Hall, the direction of which was signposted and easy to find. At registration my kit was checked and I was given a small yellow card and piece of string. The lady explained this card would be clipped at each checkpoints by marshals who would also record my race number. The card was labelled with numbers of the checkpoints and then with A, B, C and D. These are the self-clip checkpoints. You literally clip the card with a thing that looks like a staple remover exactly on top of the letter corresponding to the self-clip point. As the race starts and finishes in a different place you cannot leave a bag of warm clothes etc. at the start as they only have the village hall til 10am.

Swaledale MarathonSo… we were all crowded in a small field ready to start! The weather was as forecast and actually very warm as well. The race began! With a steep upward climb! There were lovely views across a very green Swaledale. I watched Penny, David and Elaine bound ahead! We soon reached the level of the mist, got to the wall and then we were running along top along Fremlington Edge! This was a grassy, boggy, misty fast section! Nice and soft on the feet! Because of the wall and as people were bunched up in the early stages, navigation was easy at this point. Then, at the end of the edge you go past a large cairn marking the highest point (which was not visible in the mist) and then the path zig-zags down the steep hill – except the runners did not!! I was in a group of guys who had done it before and they confidently charged over the side of the hill and launched themselves down the steep, wet, grassy slopes!! Ha ha this was exhilarating! My bum touched the ground a lot! Mainly on purpose as I didn’t want to fall! Thoroughly enjoyed this bit, found it quite hilarious! A girl running whose name I didn’t get who is from Richmond “ran” this bit with me before zooming ahead!

The route then follows the pretty stony path along the Arkle Beck into Langthwaite village. The girl from Richmond passed me again! (she had stopped in the village to use the public toilet there). It was lovely to be greeted by supporters Rachelle, Allan, and Vics plus kids here. After an undulating minor road section you head up a moorland track towards Great Punchard Gill and Great Punchard Head. This was a steady climb! Up and up and up! Fantastic views below mist level. I was running with two guys at this point. We came to a bit where the path divided, luckily just at mist level so we could see runners ahead. The path literally took two routes, which re-joined further up. We decided to split up to see which was fastest. I and one guy took the track and the other took the grassy zig-zag path. It was exactly 50 :50 ! Then higher up we were in thick mist. The mist kept changing from thick to thin, making it hard to tell how far away things were. There was a steep gully to the left, which in thick mist looked like it was really deep, but when the mist thinned the bottom of the gully was only 30metres or so away! (Hard to tell though as I was also moving). At the top of Great Punchard Gill I heard voices and laughter and as if from no-where a mountain rescue vehicle, 3 jolly mountain rescue men and a marshalled checkpoint appeared! After having my card clipped I headed onwards. The path does a sharp bend and is a narrow peaty/boggy/heather path with a sharp drop to the right. It then turns and heads across the top of open moorland. Another nice run across soft peat and bog. I tried to keep up with the group of confident guys I’d seen earlier but they were going fast and so eventually they were too far ahead to see. There was no one behind me for a bit, until footsteps behind me, it was the girl from Richmond! It turns out she had taken a wrong turn after the last checkpoint and descended steeply quite a way, then had had to climb all the way back up again! She was ok, but disheartened. We ran together for a bit until yet again she zoomed ahead! Then after a while another checkpoint … bring on the banana cake!

The next bit was the ‘moonscape’! The heather moor gave way to a high up rocky, barren area, devoid of all plants and peat! This was the hushes. Old mine building ruins appeared in the mist here and there, piles of rubble and a rusty old metal machine thing with a big wheel on it. Ahead I noticed a small red and white flag in the ground, about 30cm high with supporting rocks around it. It had definitely been planted there. Could this have been put there by a child on a family day out? The mist thinned at that moment and I saw a whole line of them! Waymarks, Wayhay! After that the gravel path was more obvious and led to self-check point A-a wooden stand with clips hanging from it. The path then wound back into grassy, peat area down and down, I saw runners ahead! More steep descents down grassy banks and we were down to Gunnerside Beck. I got a bit lost amongst the little gated fields but not for too long and then the path follows the Beck to Gunnerside where there is a checkpoint. Nice support from locals and others …

The last stint is up and over fields and lowland moors. Where there is an up or a down it is steep! (This is the nature of Swaledale!) A final checkpoint at Surrender Bridge gave me much needed water. After a bit I was unsure of the way and was standing consulting the map when a runner caught me up and confidently pointed to a jumper with a stone on top of it and said the jumper was a waymark! He was right! Ha ha I love this marathon! The last miles are blissfully and painfully on the quads downhill funneling to a walled track where underfoot is stones with a layer of slippery grass on top! Negotiation of this leads to the final self-clip point on a farmers gate, then down and Reeth is there! Wohoooo! The finish is down the hill and round the corner in the Reeth village hall. Lovely to see Strider supporters cheering us at the finish! Afterwards, great to drink a cup of tea. And get a very nice bespoke Swaledale marathon pottery cup!

A fantastic adventure I would love to repeat! I’d like to do it in good weather mind to see more views!

… Jon Ayres

Swaledale MarathonA year ago I’d crossed the line here with equal measures of Joy and Wonder. I’d broken my goal time, taken a decent chunk off my PB but I was left scratching my head pondering what I could get if I hadn’t cramped up and had to take a forced break during the race to let my legs recover. I’d also watched the Ladies team take the prize in their category and thought it would be a very good thing indeed to encourage the Gents to have a crack at emulating this.

Skip forward a few months to November and a, hopefully, friendly persuasion campaign began as I tried to recruit others into sharing my ideas as to putting teams onto the podium come June 2016.

So to the day,grey skies hid the top of the first climb as the officials started the race, Michael Mason and Steven Jackson quickly disappeared from view as us mere mortals followed them up to the heights of Fremington. Myself, Jack Lee (pressed into action only a week prior to the race) and Elaine Bisson formed a group and tackled the road and then trail to the grassland that would lead us to the ascent.

Swaledale MarathonJack and I ran well together picking off runners and chatting occasionally,his enthusiasm was infectious and my plan of around 10 min miles saw us heading up Punchards mix of trail,track and bog and reaching half way a fair bit inside this program.As we descended into Gunnerside Jack started to pull away as he fell into a group that I couldn’t keep with on the descent, a quick high five as we crossed paths into the checkpoint at Gunnerside village hall seemed to mark the unspoken thought that as of now it was time to dig in and head home.

A quick glance at my watch as the last major climb began confirmed that a PB was on but there was still work to do to secure this,the long slow haul of besting Gunnerside began. The breaks from slow, tortuous hill climbing via a stumbling jog and slower, tortuous hill climbing via a hands on knees walk became more frequent as the yards up the incline increased I also became aware of pre-cramp pains in my legs and started a feeding frenzy of gels, pork scratchings and water Swaledale Marathonin an attempt to stave them off. All the while as this carried on Jack became nothing but a smaller dot in the distance until eventually he disappeared, unfortunately the pains in my calves and hamstrings did not.

Gunnerside was finally beaten, or at least matched, and the levelling of the land allowed for quicker strides to be taken and the last major drop on glorious smooth tarmac into surrender bridge was embraced.The final stretch of the race a PB is on, runners are not so far ahead that they can’t be caught and despite the fleeting shots of cramp I smile and offer my card to the official to be clipped. I’m passed here by a local runner whom I know well, she’ll eventually be 2nd lady home, and I try to match her pace but there’s nothing in the tank that allows the increase: it’s head down now and a march/jog/whatever gets me home and only a few miles of attrition left. A drop in and out of a gorge and I see Elaine Bisson is now on my tail and closing quickly, machismo and panic hit me with equal measure and I lengthen my stride and hope to hold her at bay.

Then as in every other time I’ve raced this event cramp hits, it hurts, really hurts and I try to strectch out my legs. Nothing eases it and the acceptance that the race could be over, PB’s lost with just over two and a halfSwaledale Marathon miles to go starts to sink in. A fading of the cramp starts and hope rises anew I can stand, I can walk, I can at least jog time to dig in and run hard for two reasons, I don’t know how long I have until the cramp returns and a few runners have passed me. Fortunately the next couple of miles are mainly down hill and this allows for a good pace (my fastest of the day, maybe the sitdown helped) and that’s it the race is done. Ten minutes are taken from last years run out and despite the enforced break during the race I don’t think I could have run any harder or made any more time up and whilst a hugely improved field from last years race saw me finish further down than 12 months ago I’m content and settled with my efforts.

The ladies of Elvet defend their trophy, Mandy Dawson and Penny Browell who takes second female vet were part of the team that won it last year with Elaine Bisson (third female home)and Tamsin Imber part of the unit this year too.The Male contingent take Third with three debutantes amongst their number,the aforementioned Micheal Mason,Steven Jackson and Jack Lee provide very strong placings as I make up the numbers. Tom Reeves continues a strong year of running since surgery breaking four hours whilst Mike Bennet,Jan, Barabara Dick, Juliet Percival and Camilla are amongst other striders who get to keep a bespoke hand made mug.

Swaledale MarathonMentions to the families who supported too must be given the Masons,Jacksons,Browells and Bissons were loud and plentiful many of them appearing at various points of the course. Whilst Allan Seheult and Matt Archer gave up their day to offer support and refreshment.This year was very much a team effort and the places whilst won by those out on the course belong to those who backed them too. Sincere thanks to all.

 

 

Madrid Half Marathon, Sunday, April 24, 2016

Tamsin Imber

This is a lovely road run in a smart, clean city! Marathon and 10k options are also available. My brother Tim lives with his wife and baby daughter just outside of Madrid. Tim got into running a year and a half ago, just after me, and had been training for this (his first) half marathon for a while. I was going to do it with him, combining it with a catch up. He had had problems with his knee on and off on the run up to the race so was hoping it would be OK. My sister and family were staying in the centre of Madrid and she was going to do her first 10k.

What we need is a PURPLE Flamanco Dress!

Race morning! We crept out the house at 6.30am, Tim laughing hysterically at my flamenco dress! He promised to dress up next time (I’ll get him a flamenco dress :). Outside the air was cool and the sun rising orange in a clear sky. Tim drove us into Madrid. His driving is more Spanish than it used to be! But we arrived alive and he parked down a side street that he knows of near to a metro station. The metro was packed with runners and the air was buzzing with excitement! We took the metro to the stop near the Retiro park where the races began. What an amazing atmosphere, runners everywhere and a Spanish rock band playing! And, now the sun had risen and was shining and the sky was clear blue! 20 degrees!

Just before the race started, 3 parachutists appeared holding huge Spanish flags! They parachuted down and landed at the start! Tim and I joined the crowds at the start of the half marathon. It seems the Spanish don’t do dressing up! – I was the only person I saw all day dressed up and at the start 5 other runners wanted their photo with me(!!).

The crowd started to move forwards, so I guessed we must have started! The pace increased and we were over the line! The route was lovely-a lovely way to sight-see a beautiful city! We went along wide tree-lined avenues, the tall buildings either side casting cooling shade. The city is clean and smart. The roundabouts had beautiful fountains on. There were pretty pedestrianised squares. The whole route was closed to traffic. It was not a flat course, many gradual inclines and declines but this added variety, plus the main uphill was at the start. And, a plus for me, the spectators were mainly only at the start and end (I didn’t like the noise at Manchester). There were a few rock bands along the course rocking out. Fantastic comraderie all the way round (didn’t understand a word of it but Spanish runners are extra enthusiastic and vocal! I just smiled back) As I approached the finish people cheered on Andalucia and Seville as I went past (Go me!, how Spanish do I look? Ha ha ha, …so undercover). Then the finish ended in Retiro park-a beautiful lush green city park with formal gardens, lakes with boat hire and play areas for kids. After crossing the finish I was handed a lovely sparkly medal and bag of goodies 🙂 I was pleased with my time of 1.43, and really chuffed as Tim finished it despite his knee and my sister did a fantastic 10k time of 1hr 1min 🙂 It was great doing it with them both, must do it again!, .. ummm.. Amsterdam?, Paris? We celebrated with a top meal out.