Friday Fun

I don’t know about you, but this is the end of a loooooong week for me. I am glad it’s Friday. I had one of those weeks where you blink and it’s Friday, but your to-do list hasn’t gotten any smaller. Tell me I’m not alone in feeling like this from time to time!

 

Anyway, it’s not been all bad. As it’s Friday, let’s focus on the fun things, and with that in mind, here are some things that have made me smile this past week:

Trail Runners

 

I think this is fairly accurate. Although, I’m not sure that I qualify on the beard front. I hope I don’t have a beard. Even if it is an awesome beard.

 

The temperature has dropped – not enough for snow, but enough so that SB and I have to rock our running hats when we run in the evenings now. I don’t think there’s ever been a more on-point look:

photo 2-25

 

I am happy that cold weather running is back: call me crazy, but it’s so refreshing to be out in the sharp air after being indoors all day. It clears your head in the same way that plunging into the pool after being in a jacuzzi does. Except that you’re not in a spa, or on holiday or wherever you might be jumping between pool and jacuzzi, so you’re saving money at the same time 😉

Allow me to be sentimental for a minute. One of my friends said online that they needed some inspiration for living a ‘cleaner life’. I found this pic which completely encapsulates running for me:

Running-Lessons

 

I have always surprised myself by running. I was not naturally a sporty person, but I started with a small goal (to get fit and keep an eye on my body), and gradually my goals became bigger and bigger until I find myself where I am now. Believe me, I’m as surprised – and proud – as anyone that I’ve transformed into one half of those annoying couples who go running in matching sports gear. Just kidding. Our sports gear doesn’t match, but that’s only because SB is against it. Otherwise I’d Kath & Kel it right up.

 

Kath & Kel

I know this isn’t sports gear. But look how good they look.

I read about a challenge for December known as AdventRunning. I thought perhaps it would be a nice challenge to run on each Advent Sunday, but nope: the challenge is to run for at least 30 minutes each day from 1st to 25th December. I mean…. that’s a pretty tall order during a regular month, but December? With all it’s minced pie and mulled wine goodness?

 

Anyway, competitive fool that I am, I have decided to try for it. I don’t think I’ll be so hardcore as to try for 30 minutes every day, but an average per week would be good. It would help balance out the Christmas Joy that I fully intend to partake in. Plus, the article says that runs should be documented on social media, and if you’ve learned one thing about me by now, it’s that I’m a social media addict. I’m all over it. So bring it on December! Let’s get our Advent on!

 

Finally – my brother turned 30 this week (I know, so old, right?), and we went to a cafe where we found THIS:

photo 1-27

 

I just want to share this because it had everything you could want in a cake: ganache, cream, jam, sponge. Plus it was the size of a door stop.

 

Hope you all have a great weekend!

 

Ellie B

 

 

Helvellyn 10k Trail Race Report

There’s really only one thing to do now that the days are short, the temperature has dropped, and it’s raining more often than not. Do a 10k trail race in the Lake District, obviously.

 

Last Saturday SB and I traversed the North of England to run a 10k trail run at Helvellyn. When people heard we were running there, their responses weren’t great: they’d grimace a bit and say “Really? You’re running Helvellyn?”. Since it was only 10k, I was fairly confident that we weren’t running up and down the whole mountain , but something manageable for my short, little legs.

 

A brief moment of sun

A brief moment of sun

As with all of the runs in this Lake District series, the route takes you out of whatever village you start in and up the hill pretty quickly. It’s been a year since I have done a proper trail race like this, and I had forgotten just. how. hard. it. is.

 

I entered with a false sense of security that it’d be a breeze, a lovely way to spend a Saturday, and it might be rainy and cold, but heck, we were out in nature, man, keeping fit and being at one with the trees and the birds. I had imagined some kind of Wordsworthian experience, and what I got were wet feet, sore ankles and stitches in my shoulders.

 

The route climbed for approximately 4.5 kms, ran level-ish for about 1.5km, and then back down again. As I ran up the hill, it felt like my legs were magnets and wanted to stick to the ground. Try as I might I couldn’t get them to move faster. SB, with his strong legs, is great at hill running. He alternated between powering ahead and waiting for me to catch up. I felt like the Little Engine that Could, and every corner turned brought more climb!

 

Why do hills never look as steep in pics?

Why do hills never look as steep in pics?

Finally, we reached the top. I say top – of course, there’s the whole rest of the mountain, but who cares about that right now? As we ran along the peak, there was the most beautiful view of Glenridding village with Ullswater stretching before it. The good thing about my current running leggings is that my phone is very accessible for action photos.

photo 4-11

Along the peak I found my stride, and was able to pick up the pace quite a bit. That’s when it became fun. I had completely forgotten how much mental energy trail running uses: you have to look at every single step and find where’s best to place your feet. If not, you’ll trip and fall. We ran over stones, rocks, through streams & mud, and in fields with hidden potholes. But there’s always time for a selfie – especially when I was in front!

photo 3-18

Running downhill was the scariest for me. The path has all stones sticking up at different angles, and I could hear someone treading really loudly and heavily behind me. If he slipped, he’d definitely have taken us both down. And landing face first in a pile of rocks was not what I had imagined for this run. Luckily, he passed and sprinted off into madness and down the hill.

 

I had no idea how fast I had run when I finished. I had thought the descent might have made up for my slow ascent, but who can say?

 

Well I’ll tell you who: the Timing Chip. Hurrah for Timing Chips! I found out that SB finished in 50:10, and I finished in 50:56. We placed 39th and 51st respectively out of 250 runners. And the event has free photos for you to download as well:

10608738_744270015643099_2530269543092472256_o

 

This series is one of my favourites. They’re not too big, the route is always beautiful, and they’re pretty cheap for what you get. Plus, it’s always great to have an excuse to go to the Lake District.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Ellie B

Elvet Striders Clamber: Let’s Run Up Some Hills on a Hot Day!

I’m part of a running club in Durham called the Elvet Striders, which is a huge club that meets every Monday and Wednesday. And sometimes in between. And often in the pub. This week, a few of our more enterprising members organised a trail race called the Clamber. It was a regular in the Striders calendar until a hiatus last year. This year it was back with a vengeance, and a new-improved-just-over-5-mile route.

 

This isn't even half of us!

This isn’t even half of us!

I signed up as I’ve not done any trail races this year, and I probably won’t be able to get to any more til next year. If you are wondering why trail running is the bees knees, here are the top three reasons:

  1. You are fully immersed in the countryside and get some uh-ma-zing views
  2. You don’t have to worry about being hit by a car. On the other hand, you do have to worry about tripping over a tree-root
  3. Muscles that have been asleep since the day you were born are suddenly put into action, much to their chagrin

 

Here is my favourite view from a trail run (or at least a trail run where I happened to have my camera):

Coniston Trail

Thank you, Lake District.

So, back to the Clamber. I arrived with about a minute to spare to pick up my number. I was kind of chilled about this race – in my mind it was just like a typical Wednesday run. Until I put my number on and saw everyone else: then my determination kicked in, and I realised that I was going to push with everything I had.

 

It was a challenge to pace: I didn’t know the route, and my race-day-zone only started 10 minutes before the race started. To be honest, I can’t give an accurate route description, but here’s my best effort: we went up some hills in the woods, down some hills in a field, steadily up some hills in the wilderness (what do you call it if it’s not a field?), steadily down some hills in a field, up some hills in the woods, down them again, and then there’s the finish. Can you picture it? 😉

 

Apparently we passed the Wicker man, but I didn't see him.

Apparently we passed the Wicker man, but I didn’t see him.

 

As we passed the marshals, they told me what position female I was in – if I didn’t have my game face on before, I certainly did then!  My strength was in running up the hills:  I could power up them, and that where I did most of my over-taking (although my over-taking was pretty modest). On the flats less brutal hills, I really felt the effort of keeping my pace, and needed to really suck it up mentally. As I felt more tired, my footing wasn’t as confident which in turn required more concentration. It was a tough race.

 

Sweaty smiles!

Don’t be fooled by the smile. There was pain going on. Look into my eyes.

For the last three miles I had another girl in my sights, and I made it my goal to overtake her to take my mind off my legs, which were shocked at working this intensely. She was always about 300 metres ahead: I’d see her just up ahead, and then we’d turn a corner and she’d taken off. I’d see her walking up a hill, but by the time I ran to the top, she’d taken off (I’m terrified of running downhill, so I reckon I lost some time there).

 

Once I knew there were no more hills, and there was about a mile left, I found the energy to really sprint. You know in cartoons when you see their legs pinwheel into a blur? That’s what my legs always feel like at the end – they’re so tired and light, but it feels like they’re at their most powerful. I feel like I’m flying.

Roadrunner

But enough indulgent contemplation on the sprint. I finished in 42:24. And did I catch the girl in front? No. But I did finish 4th female overall, and 2nd female in our club, so I’m mighty pleased with that. :)

 

I want to say a huge thanks to Flip & his team for organising it – I really, really enjoyed running in a local race, and loved seeing the different local running groups. And it was a real treat to run a race where the marshals knew you and supported you with genuine enthusiasm. Elvet Striders – where everybody knows your name.

 

Ellie B

 

 

Lakeland Trails: Staveley

IMG_1906This weekend the good Dr (husband) and I ran in a trail race at Staveley in the Lake District. There are three options: the 10k, the 17k challenge (read friendly) and the 17k race (read intense). I ran the 17k option last year, but this year we decided to do the 10k together – the Dr isn’t as keen on running as I am!

We had the perfect weather for it, and shortly after 7am we left home for the trek to the Lake District. I love this race series: they have a drum band to cheer you off and cheer you back in again, they have children’s races, and instead of medals they give out pudding! Did you know the Lake District is where the Sticky Toffee Pudding was invented? I do thanks to this race, and thank god for those curious people who created it back in the day!

IMG_1910The 10k was interesting psychologically: we both wanted to keep a good pace, as we knew it would be a quick one. This made it pretty challenging when we were scrambling up  gravel paths and through muddy fields. The Dr’s boss had a party the night before, and there is nothing like trying to avoid the cow pat while the sun beats on your back and a breeze in your face to clear the cobwebs!

The sting in the tail is the climax of the race – it’s the highest point of the particular hill we were climbing, and there is someone there ringing bells and high-fiving you as you climb, a little bewildered, and try to catch your breath ready for the final 3k descent.

Who needs a medal when there's pudding?

Who needs a medal when there’s pudding?

We finished in 56 mins which we were happy with. My Fuji trail shoes got another mud bath to really add to their unique scent, and we felt like champions in our bright orange race shirts and pudding.

What more could you want from a Saturday trail race?

Hope you’re having a good weekend!

What’s the most interesting race souvenir you received? 

Have you run trail before?

Ellie B