Monday, February 1, 2016

Will you still need me, will you still feed me…...

…..when I'm 64? Not my age in this case, just marathon 64; or rather, another Ultra.

Yesterday was the Chocathon Challenge over at the lovely Betteshanger Country Park which has changed its name from Fowlmead Country Park when I ran it the first time back in 2014. This was my 2nd visit this month but this time the conditions underfoot were not as bad thank goodness - although it was wet and a bit slippery in places this time we didn't have to wade through massive puddles. It was dull and drizzly for the most part with a strong wind whipping up in the last couple of hours.

The day before had been spent mostly preparing home-alone-husband fare:

Don't worry, he didn't eat them all in one day!!! The cake was actually for the race but didn't make it to the event but it didn't matter as there was plenty of cake leftover from the previous day's Cakeathon.

The weather forecast didn't look as bad as the last time I visited and although it was drizzly for most of the time, with the wind whipping up for the last couple of hours, conditions underfoot were much better. Last time there were massive puddles to wade through or go around but this time they were much smaller although some parts of the path became quiet slippery after we'd run over them a few times.

It was difficult to gauge how many layers to wear and so I put 2 on with a view to removing one if I got too hot, which of course I did after just one lap!

…and they're off.

Although a few of the usual suspects were taking part, there were lots of people I didn't recognise who were attracted by the fun nature of the event. Out of the 136 people taking part, 4 of us did an Ultra, 43 did marathon distance, 14 did between between 1/2 & marathon distance, 35 did 1/2 marathon distance, 20 did 2 laps & 20 did one 1 lap so there was a real mix. Some people were building up to marathon distance and others just starting running in a safe and supportive environment. 

The only downside to this was that the field really shrank as people finished and at one point it felt as if there was only Gary and me out on the course - we ran past eachother at different points on the loop without having seen anyone else inbetween even though I knew there were others still out there!

I had a plan on how I was going to run this event - start strong and run at a good pace for as long as it felt OK, slow down to recover and take photos then speed up for the last lap. Why speed up on the last lap? To train myself to run hard on tired legs. Once your legs start to tire it's all too easy to settle into the 'shuffle' but as I'm training for the 50 miler with a tough cut-off I need to be able to dig deep and put on a bit of a spurt if need-be. I've also altered my mind-set so that 13.1 miles is no longer my halfway point and 26.2 miles is not the end. This is really important as your mind can play all sorts of tricks on you during an ultra.

Each lap was 4.37 miles so my target was 45 minutes for as many as I could muster. That all went out of the window when I hooked up with speedy Ellan on the first lap. She was doing 4 laps on the day as she needed to get home early. Our chatter completely took my mind off the fact that I was going a tad too fast and when we reached the start/finish area we'd done it in just under 40 minutes - oops! I stopped to take off a layer and have a drink/eat chocolate/cake before heading off again.

As always, there was plenty of banter with fellow runners on each lap which is one of the beauties of an out and back loop. Everyone is so friendly and it's wonderful to see people achieving their own goals.

For the marathon it was 6 loops and I wanted to do 7 loops for an ultra. At the end of each loop I stopped briefly for some water and cake (Jackie, your mum's gluten-free orange cake was my favourite!) or chocolate and I managed 4 laps in bang on 45 minutes apiece and took 3 hours to get over halfway which really pleased me. The next 2 laps I slowed down a bit and took a few photos for my Fair Isle project (see below) then on the final lap I upped my pace and ran it much harder. I was delighted that my legs responded well and I crossed the line in 6:09:01 which is 26:09 minutes faster than 2 weeks ago!

Happy to finish

Mike couldn't believe it when I phoned him much earlier than expected and I had a big grin on my face all the way home.

Yay, a PB! (thanks to Philip and Dee for the photos)
Now this being the Chocathon and a Traviss event, it was no surprise that the goody bag was exceptional. Just look at all these goodies:

Mike soon polished off the chocolate stout.

I got another piece of fabulous bling complete with special badges for doing an ultra and getting a PB!

My next event is in 12 days time so I'll be putting in some quality training runs in the meantime. Now for some photos, mostly focused on my Fair Isle project.

This beautiful lake always catches my eye as the water is this amazing turquoise colour. On this occasion I loved the turquoise set against the beige of the reeds, the darkness of the evergreen trees and the silver/grey of the Birches standing in front. The ripples on the water also made a pleasing pattern.

More Silver Birches but showing the twiggy branches which are a rusty/pink colour. The bright green grass in the foreground really zings and I like the moody sky behind the upper branches.

There was an abundance of  Buddleias which self-seed like mad and my eye was drawn to the dark brown seedheads:

A rather moody image of the dark brown stems against the grey sky

Look how the rusty brown stands out against the green of the grass and moss whilst the leaves don't show up very well…..

…..whereas this little beauty had silvery-blue leaves and shone!

Moss and lichen were in abundance and their yellowy greens really zinged:

Coppery leaves on the ground here

The grey-black of the old slag heaps  seemed to intensify the colours and would make a good background for colourwork knitting.

On the craft front I'm still doing Mike's mittens when my fingers work properly, working on a Bargello sampler and preparing for the start of my crazy quilt.


Lowcarb team member said...

Hi again Susie and well done on your run.

... goodness me I haven't seen as much chocolate as that in a very long time!

Just love your photo's and that first one showing the lake with that colour blue is just so lovely.

Have a good week and good luck with your next planned event.

All the best Jan

Susie Hewer said...

Thanks Jan! That goody bag was OTT even for Traviss's events and it's scary just how quickly it's disappearing……...