The ultra marathons
First there was another visit to Betteshanger Country Park for another of Traviss and Rachel's Cakeathon Challenges where I decided I would do an extra lap for an ultra so left my camera at home deliberately. Of course I spotted loads of interesting things but then I would have wasted too much time and I was on a strict time schedule as part of my training for my next challenge for ARUK so the reports will be brief.
There were loads of my running chums there together with an assortment of other who were starting out on their running journey and perhaps completing just 1 lap.
|Ross and sweet baby. Ross ran an event the day before whilst mum Kelly looked after the little 'uns so it was her turn to run that day.|
There was lots going on in the park but thankfully not too many mountain-bikers to watch out for - the footpaths we used are intersected by their routes so you have to be vigilant. Things I wished I could photograph in no particular order: a display of birds of prey (owls, kites, falcons etc), countless small children screaming and crying (bless them!) whilst strapped into a carriage and being towed behind a parent on a bike, a massive new tepee covered in camouflage fabric, the colours of the trees (so many buttery yellows and vibrant reds), a beautiful heron flying overhead, a strange sort of amphitheatre carved into an old slagheap and grassed over, people flying kites. I love how they have transformed this old coal mine into a place used by many different people and benefiting flora and fauna too.
The weather was perfect and I decided to just run at whatever pace felt good and I didn't look at my watch until I was on my last lap and realised that I was going to get a pb for the distance coming in at 6:08:05 for the 30.5 miles completed.
This being a cakeathon I'd baked 2 different cakes and omitted my usual banana cake (to the consternation of some of the male ultra runners who apparently use it as fuel!). I always make one vegan and one standard and was delighted to get prizes for both.
|Andrew, fellow runner and cakemeister extraordinaire.|
|This was for my vegan and gluten-free orange and chocolate cake which disappeared very quickly|
|I made a coffee and walnut traybake as requested by Andrew the cakemeister and Rachel. I'd never made it before as we aren't very keen on coffee cake so was delighted that it got a trophy too.|
|Goodness knows how many of these medals I have in different colours!|
There were lots of spooky ghouls and other scary characters. Some people managed to keep their costumes on right until the end whilst others just did a couple of laps.
|Thanks to Dee for the photos|
|I played tag with the pumpkin man throughout as we kept overtaking eachother!|
This was a big test for me as it started at 1pm with a time limit which meant you had to go out for your last lap in under 6 hours. This also meant that I would be running for at least 2 hours in the dark and wearing a headtorch. You may remember I did a similar experiment at the Moonlight Challenge back in September but the sky didn't get anywhere near as dark back then so this was a real test. Did I faceplant? You have to wait and see!
I trotted off for my first lap on my own and settled into a nice steady pace. I've been told my pace is metronomic and I do find that I am quite good at getting and maintaining the right pace for me at any given time. On the next 4 laps I was joined by Neil with whom I ran at the Veganathon exactly 12 months ago and he said that my efforts had inspired him to what he's achieved since then which was very kind as he's far surpassed anything I've ever done - he's about to run his 100th marathon and was running his 85th marathon for this year alone, aiming to have completed 100 marathons in a year by the end of this year which is a magnificent achievement and way beyond me!
The wind wasn't as strong has it has been in the past but it seemed to be coming at us from several different angles either from the side or we'd be running into it for about 2/3 of each lap.
Mike managed to phone me just before it went dark and so Neil and I went our separate ways (he had wanted to do an ultra but dropped down to marathon distance as he was running the next day too) and the last 3 laps were spent on my own which was good practise for next year (gulp!).
Once my headtorch was in place and it was properly dark everything changed; I couldn't see peoples faces as their headtorches were so bright which I found difficult. We did exchange lots of banter and words of encouragement as we passed and I could recognise most people from their voices as there were many of the usual suspects still out there. I found that a combination of my headtorch light on a low setting combined with a small handheld torch gave me just the right amount of light and I was amazed at how comfortable I felt given that my night vision if not very good.
I noticed different things in the darkness: I saw a tiny mouse scuttling along the concrete of the sea wall and we exchanged glances, both questioning the others reason for being in such a hostile environment, before he disappeared and I ran on. There was a waxing Gibbous moon and it threw the most beautiful light upon the sea. The lights on the container ships looked really pretty on the horizon and the Port of Dover was really bright and twinkly. I also became more aware of the sounds around me and it really was an interesting experience.
What I also learnt was that I should have changed from my baseball cap to a woolly hat without a peak. I knew that the peak restricted the beam and so had turned it round but that became uncomfy after about 30 minutes - serves me right really! I'm also starting to experiment with refueling during a run as I regularly run marathons in a fasted state (ie I don't have a meal beforehand) and rarely eat during them, nor do I use gels etc but next year I'm going to have to eat before and during the event so it's important for me to experiment with what works for me over the coming months.
I finished in 6:33:56 and was presented with this lovely medal.
I have a few weeks now without any events so will be churning out the miles at home which will be nice.
I do rather enjoy finishing a project except for darning in the ends and there were so many of these with all the colour changes. First of all I separated each colour and sewed up the seams. For the rib I used blanket stitch but for the body I used backstitch - I do love a nice neat line of backstitches and it gives the seam strength.
|I was careful to line up the colours exactly at each colour change.|
|Mike wasn't around to take a photo so Tilly and I improvised and used photo booth!|
What I love most about Kidsilk Haze is that it creates a wonderfully light yet warm fabric - being a woman of a certain age I can't wear thick jumpers any more and prefer to use layers so I can rip a layer off if I get a flush!
I didn't want the jumper to be as baggy as the photo in the pattern and I managed to get gauge using much smaller needles so I'm very happy with the fit.
Next up will be another poncho 'cos a girl always needs more ponchos doesn't she! Plus, I've promised Mike to make him another cowl and I'm going to make it in brioche crochet but amazingly I have nothing suitable in my stash as I don't have many dk yarns so we'll need a visit to a yarn store.........