The Marathon bit
Yep, I've been and gone and done another marathon with just one more to complete this year. I still can't quite believe it but as my tally of medals grows larger it starts to dawn on me!
I first ran along this part of the Kent coast in November last year (when the weather as rather different - bright and sunny!) and then again earlier this year for the St George's Day marathon so I knew exactly what to expect from the route and I was looking forward to it. The weather was rather different this time though with a side-wind which literally knocked you off your feet with its strength.
My journey was absolutely fine until I was coming to the end of the M20, which leads into the Port of Dover, when all the lorries put their hazard lights on and started to move into the lefthand lane. This meant that traffic at the Port was backing up but I had enough time in hand not to worry too much. It did, however, take quite a while to get through the town centre as traffic queuing for the ferries was blocking the main road - I'm assuming that some ferries had been cancelled due to the strong winds.
I parked up and then the hugging started! There were so many people I've come to know well over the last 12 months, it was a very sociable event. I was mighty grateful for the hugs I can tell you as I'd had some bad news about a friend so was feeling rather sad.
I didn't take quite as many photos as usual but just enough to give a feel for the occasion.
Looking back at the first 2 photos I was struck at how colourful people were. Those bright day-glo colours really shone in the early morning gloom.
It was Clive's 100th marathon and his lovely wife Jackie and her mum were there to support him as usual. He didn't get his shirt at the start as he was having a celebratory meal afterwards. Well done Clive! Jackie had made little bags of her wonderful fudge for every runner which was a lovely touch (thanks Jackie).
Traviss and Rachel have a nice tradition whereby someone running their 100th marathon is given the race number 100 and all their fellow runners sign it beforehand. What a lovely memento. As I signed it before the start, Traviss said something really nice to me but you'll have to wait a couple of weeks to learn what he said!
Then there was another 100 Club shirt to be presented (I'm really sorry but I don't know your name so please pm me if it's you!).
I took a couple of photos to capture the scene at the start then we were off.
It was the usual format of loops, this time 5 made a marathon but as it was a 'challenge' event you could do more loops to make it into an ultra. I had thought that if the weather was nice I would do an extra lap (which might give you a clue about my next challenge) but it wasn't and so I didn't!
There were so many people to chat with en-route, all with amazing stories, some who've completed extra special feats of endurance. Speaking of which, here we have Ellen and Lisa taking a walk break who illustrate my point perfectly. I've mentioned Ellen before as she completed a 250 mile race earlier in the year. Since then I've lost count of the number of 100 mile events she's completed. There was one in the USA recently called the Cottonmouth 100 mile ultra where she was navigating through what looked like jungle/swamp infested with Cottonmouth snakes - the photos that Lisa posted made it look like a scene from Deliverance! Lisa is no slouch either as she keeps turning out marathons and 50 milers. What an inspirational couple.
I should add that I ran with Ellen for a while during one lap when she told me she was having trouble breathing 'cos she'd cracked a rib in a fall during her last 100 miler plus she was severely jetlagged having just flown back from celebrating Thanksgiving with her family. Superhuman indeed.
I was running well and felt strong despite having a niggly cough and a feeling that something was trying to develop (which it certainly has done now as I'm typing this several days later and coughing like mad).
Some people were running the next day as well and the forecast was for the same wind but with the added delight of rain thrown into the mix so I was glad I was only being battered by the wind. There were lots of hugs en-route, which always help, and I chatted with some new people too which was nice.
On each lap I made a mental note of things I just had to photograph but I was very good and saved them until the last lap. There are some beautiful Victorian/Edwardian houses along the main road which is parallel with the sea wall and I was struck by how many of them had beautiful turrets on each corner. The one below is more modern but still has plenty of charm.
What struck me about this modern block was how the design echoed that of the castle - the tiers and then the turret echo the castellation of the walls of Deal Castle with the turret in the middle.
Here's the lovely James again! I missed taking a photo of him last week but was determined to snap him here as we were both running our 58th & 59th marathons on the same days. Admittedly he ran his much faster than me and he also added extra laps in Deal to make it into an ultra. This will be the last time that my marathon tally is anywhere near his as he has set himself some massive goals. Good luck James, I know you'll achieve everything you dream of (please say a big thank you to your mum for standing around in that horrid wind).
You can't get a feel for the strength of the wind from any of my photos, suffice to say that on the out part it was OK but on the back part it wasn't! There was one bit which was like a wind tunnel and on my last lap a man running towards me and I both got blown off the path onto the grass which caused much giggling.
I have a soft spot for this pier which I've written about previously. It is the last remaining 'leisure pier' in Kent and I love the starkness of the concrete piles. There's a purity in its simplicity.
There were lost of these sweet little birds scuttling around on the beach. They are called 'Turnstones' which is exactly what they were doing!
On my 5th lap I did toy with idea of doing an extra lap but when I got blown off my feet I thought better of it so I finished in 5:03:15 which was a pleasant surprise. Now just look at this magnificent medal:
Even the ribbon' a work of art! Traviss and Rachel really do spoil us. Thanks guys and I'll see you again soon.
The Cow part
You may remember last year that a casual exclamation of "Hoorah" from me on Facebook set in motion a series of emails with Andy Palmer, Race Director at White Star running, resulting in me crocheting some cow hats for their raffle in aid of Alzheimer's Research UK.
This year I was ready and had been gathering ideas well in advance, just in case Andy wanted to do it again, which he did, and so I chose to make a boy scarf and a girl scarf plus a stuffed toy, all with a cow theme.
First we have the Udderly Silly Scarf, a free crochet pattern by Betsy Day. I didn't other to follow the charts for the patches as it was easy to make up my own shapes as I went along.
So that was the ladies taken care of, next for the gentlemen. I based the design on the same pattern but wanted to add some legs, a tail and for the head to be shaped more like a real cow head. I decided it needed some realism so found this photos of black and white moos so I could at least get the pattern on the nose close:
See, a nice white blaze! I gave him some back legs and added a tail. I actually did a knitted i-cord for the tail as it looked better than a crocheted one.
Then he needed some facial features, ears etc. and Mike suggested he should have a floppy tongue!
Once I'd decided on their position it was time to sew them in place. Tilly helped enormously!
Each scarf had a little white star to link it to White Star Running.
Next it was time for the soft toy and I knew exactly which one I wanted to make - Monty Moo by Anna Beckett but with my own interpretation. My pottery dish was handy for keeping arms (yes, I know cows don't have arms!), legs, ears and horns together whilst I worked on the body.
It was great fun assembling her, 'cos I'd decided to make Milly the Moo in girlie colours. I didn't like the fussiness of the colours on the face and all the patches in the original pattern so kept it mostly white with a view to embroidering any detail on later.
Look how tilting the head slightly to one side gives it character immediately, even without any facial features.
Even girl cows have horns sometimes so she had some. Plus she needed a little tail to swish away the flies.
I sent ages getting just the right placement for the ears. Then added eyes, nostrils and a mouth.
I decided Missy Moo needed a patch on her back and added a little white star.
For her front I gave her a pink heart 'cos she's so sweet!
Time to be packaged up to go to their new homes.
Andy has now launched the Draw and has already got loads of donations which is wonderful. Thank you so much for supporting Alzheimer's Research UK again Andy.
Next up is my last marathon n 2015 down at Samphire Hoe and I'm really looking forward to it - I may be wearing fancy dress!
No more knitting/crochet to show as they're all secret Christmas things. There are 2 lap blankets to finish, a scarf, a cowl, some baby things and another soft toy. How many days left until Christmas? Oh my goodness!!!