Monday, June 24, 2019

On Being 62

It's just a number.
It's only 1 digit higher than last year.
It's better to get old rather than the alternative.

I ran another ultramarathon to celebrate, as you do!

This was a new event by a new company named Hit The Trail Running based in Kent. This was their 3rd event and I was upset that I'd had to miss the first 2 due to injury as I love a good trail event. It was also in areas I didn't know so I was very excited about it. I'd planned to run with Kirsty and Heather who I'll be doing the 1066 100 mile ultramarthon with in a couple of weeks (gulp!).

The only downside was that I had to drive all the way to Rochester in North Kent to get a coach 30 miles South to Haysfield country park in Tonbridge and then run back up to the Rochester! Plus, the coach was leaving Rochester at 7am to deposit us in Tonbridge at 8am and we then had to hang around for the start at 9:30am. I'm sure they'll sort out the logistics a bit better next time.

As  I drove along the Esplanade in Rochester, where we could park for free and find the coach, I noticed someone familiar following me - it was Bryan with whom I ran a couple of weeks ago which was a lovely surprise. The race was named the 3 Castles as our route followed the River Medway past the remains of Tonbridge Castle, Allington Castle and finished alongside Rochester Castle, the wall of which you can see below. Of course we were too busy running to explore them but we got brief views of them all.

We ran alongside the River Medway for most of the route

When we arrived at the country park the coach driver had to ask us to walk from the road as the turn into the park was so tight he couldn't get the coach in!

We were greeted by this enormous lake

My lovely running chums! On the left is Kirsty with Heather on the right

We hung around for ages waiting for the start and then we were off. Bryan joined us which was nice. Almost immediately we were running alongside the river and it was delightful. So much activity all the way along with people camping, fishing, having a BBQ, riding bikes and just generally enjoying the lovely countryside. It was so tranquil.

One of the reasons we did this event was so that we could work out a pacing strategy for the 1066 route. Heather and I have a similar pace but Kirsty is a little slower. Heather set off like a greyhound out of the trap and I struggled to keep up with her as I was in ultra-marathon mode and was expecting to go much slower! Poor Kirsty didn't even try to keep up and Bryan very kindly stayed behind with her. Every so often I had to shout to Heather to tell her that they were too far behind and we should wait for them.

It was a very useful exercise as Heather hadn't quite thought about how slowly we need to go in the first 50 miles of the 1066 as we need to conserve our energy for the 2nd half which is challenging to say the least! This morning we had a good chat about it and worked out a pace that will suit all of us, phew!

There was an awful lot of Giant Hogweed along the river bank. It's a dangerous plant as its sap can cause dreadful burning if it touches the skin.

As we ran through Maidstone we spotted Allington Castle peeping through the trees.

Grafitti in the underpass


This large rock was placed there to mark the Battle of Medway which I'd never heard of before!

I was excited to spot this beautiful Anchusa in a roadside verge

This new waterside development had some lovely views across the marshes and over to the hills

There was  a lovely wide paths with benches where one could sit and enjoy the view but the most exciting thing for me was a bridlepath all the way along.

A large sculpture on a small roundabout announced this was part of the village of Wouldham

Soon after that we had to head up a hill and it was one of those hills that seems to go on and on and on - and it was jolly steep too! Kirsty fell behind a bit on this section so Bryan and I waited for her to catch up at the top of the hill.

Then all of a sudden we were back alongside where we'd parked and we all seemed to find a burst of speed from somewhere so Heather, Bryan and I all finished together with Kirsty a little bit behind.

Bless her! She soon recovered after a cup of tea and some scrummy cake!

We got a nice medal and a useful buff

All in all it was a great little event and one that I would do again as I enjoyed the route.

Next will be our annual outing to the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy. We had a wonderful time and both agreed it was one of the best we've seen there.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

My last ultramarathon as a 61 year old!

Oh my, where do the years go and is it me or do they seem to go so much quicker nowadays? No, it's just that I'm getting old!

Yesterday saw me get up at silly o'clock, again, to head off for the Kent 50 mile event over at Brook  Farm in Reculver, scene of the Viking 100 miler in March last year. As it was a lapped event, of just over 6 miles per lap, you could opt to do fewer laps rather than going for the full 50 miles and I'd decided beforehand that I'd do 50k, which was 5 laps, because it's only 3 weeks until the 1066 100 mile event (eek!).

There were lots of familiar faces there with several celebrations for a variety of achievements (Ollie was celebrating his 200th marathon).

Traviss did the usual announcements

I caught up with Kirsty who had just completed her 25th ultramarathon and is getting close to 300 marathons

The sky was rather dark and ominous-looking when we set off at 7am but it got quite hot later.

To celebrate my return to Brook Farm I wore my Viking 100 mile tee shirt and new black shorts.

My plan was to run each lap at a set pace within a specific range - laps 1&2 at something beginning with a 10 (ie 10 minute miling), 3&4 11 minute miling, 5 at 12 minute miling.

When I set off I felt really strong and I seemed to be keeping pace with people who usually leave me for dust and I worried that I'd start too fast. However, lap 1 was 1:04 and lap 2 was almost exactly the same so I just went with the flow. People kept commenting that I was flying which is most unusual as I'm a back-of-the-pack plodder! But I felt good so I just carried on.

Simon wasn't running so was out and about taking snaps at different spots:

This path was so much better than before as it was just an overgrown track with no room to pass

The Cow Parsley and Hogweed towered above me!

I almost couldn't believe my eyes when I finished and stopped my watch to see 6:06:42 which is 47 minutes faster than my time on the same course last year and an hour faster than last weeks 50k, albeit on an easier course without the steep climbs. 

Next will be another 50k and then it's time to taper ahead of the main event. Oh my!