Event 13 - The Wall Ultra-marathon

As I sit here and write this blog I have just had a sports massage. This has caused my brain to forget the pain of the The Wall as a very tiny size 6 lady manages to inflict more pain on me than any ultra-marathon ever could! 

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My recovery is going remarkably well considering running for a full day along the stunning 69mile Hadrian's wall. As they say the mind is very good at forgetting pain and now all I feel is an overwhelming hunger I can not get rid of and a huge sense of achievement. I learnt a lot during this ultra-marathon, many positive and many negative things. I am glad that Rat Race's The Wall was on of my 30 endurance events of this year but quite frankly I have been part of better events. I don't want this blog to just be a rant but I will try to provide my honest opinion throughout and I would never discourage anyone to take part in this event; as ultras go it is a great one to do, my complaints regard the £200 entry fee to the organisers that provided at times pretty shoddy organisation...

The day before the event the little Mini was once again packed to the rafters with stuff that I probably wouldn't need but added "just incase". The dog was somewhere in the car, where I was not really sure. I had never been to Carlisle before, or Newcastle for that matter so it really did feel like an adventure. The journey up North took about 7 hours with many stops to stretch legs and find Tash (the dog) to let her have snoop around and a pee. Carlisle and the registration were easy to get to and we were welcomed by the beautiful sight of the Castle and the waterfall of poppies that are on tour currently. I met up with my running partner for the ultra, Kirsty who is a sessioned ultra runner and was taking it all in her stride.  Registration was swept up with no queues and soon we had our race number and very exciting tracking device which would enable our friends family to watch us throughout the whole run (or so we thought). 

Kirsty had booked us a cosy cabin (WigWam camping) to sleep in for the night just a couple of miles outside Carlisle which was just perfect and only a couple of minutes walk from the local pub! We managed to abstain from any alcohol but ate way to much pie. I knew I had to go to bed early to get a good nights sleep before the early start and a very long run but sadly I seemed to only sleep very lightly. The alarm went off and I was happy to be out of bed and getting ready to start the run. Bring it on. 

Due to having a mini support crew we didn't have any bags to drop off. We had got to the start line with plenty of time for the final nervous wee and still reach the crucial starters brief before the off. We headed down to the bag drop area as that was where the toilets were and the queue for the loos were around the car park. I had to go...waiting diligently in the line I kept looking at my watch ticking as it was getting closer and closer to the briefing. The staff then started to shout we all need to be a briefing...ahhhhhh. I REALLY need to go...I managed to get to the front of the line and go for a wee trying my very best not to get annoyed that not enough toilets had been provided. Right I was sorted. Up to the briefing, sadly I could not hear any of the briefing as the organisers microphone did not work. Looking around the National heritage site of Carlisle castle, trying to take in the atmosphere of the event and think of the history of the wall and I was confronted with men peeing all along the castle walls. This is just not acceptable, it should not be allowed, in any another situation would you decide to pee up against a castle wall? Just because it is a running event doesn't mean it is allowed. I truly think those guys should have had their race numbers taken off them. There would have been a riot if a  group of women pulled down the pants in the middle of everyone and pee'd. First rant over. Phew.

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700people started the ultra-marathon just as it had begun to rain. It was forecast and we were all prepared. The first few miles of the route instantly took us out of the city into lovely park land. It was a great introduction. For these first few miles it is always hard to get into a rhythm and find where you should place yourself within 700 people. An ultra-marathon is all about pacing, I wanted to start off slow and hopefully stay about the same pace through out the 69miles. This balanced out before we hit the first Pit stop at 15miles. Another toilet themed crisis arose here, there were only 4 portaloos! The queue was about 15minutes long, that is a long time to stand around when you are not even one quarter of the way through an ultra marathon and it it is raining. Most people at about 15miles need to have their morning constitutions. 

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This pitstop was the first point I saw our support crew, due to the nature of the route and the narrow roads the supporters are rightly advised only to meet up with the runners at four pitstops. The other 5 checkpoints should just be for the runners. Understandable. At that point I was sadly told that my snazzy tracker was not working and friends and family were worried that I didn't even manage to start the race. My tracker was replaced so fingers crossed it would work. It never did.

The first half of the course was hilly, notably two big hills, the clincher was just before Walltown quarry, but this also meant we were coming into another checkpoint and some seriously spectacular scenery. Also for me it meant I could rejoice in having some off-road terrain. It was probably my fault when I signed up to The Wall that I didn't read the small print. The Wall is 80% on road, that means a whopping 56miles on road so the 13miles off road I relished and loved. They were also the most beautiful. We had seen Hadrians wall a good few times by now but the sightings were limited. In essential event information we were asked to carry also did not provide us with distances for the check points or pits stops, for some that may have been positive but for me I quite like to know how far I need to run before I can pick up my next bit of cake! However, it was lovely to see my husband and number one support dog at unexpected points to boost moral. 

The big rest stop was a known distance of 45miles, we knew here we could get some hot food and change clothes after getting soaking in a rather heavy downpour. Th rest stop didn't 100% go to plan, we got told off by the staff for cutting the queue for food (I was very confused why there was even a queue!), I had been dreaming of soup as that was what was mentioned in the info pack but was then informed that there were meatballs or chilli to eat. Both in my eyes are not that suitable for running a really long way. However I tried to smile at the now very grumpy staff member as I had pushed in front of the line and I being bamboozled  by the food choices. Anyway, I went for broke and wolfed my chilli down hoping in would stay put. 

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Unfortunately for my team mate the chilli didn't stay put at all, with 24miles to go Kirsty started to struggle with tummy problems and a knee injury that reared its head. We had made really good time and it was sad to see that go to waste but after a lot of talking about the best options for our team we decided to stick it out together. Our running turned into an extreme power walking for about 18 miles of the 24 miles left but we were still racing along a over 4 miles per hour. Kirsty's determination to finish was amazing but walking took its toll out of both of us. The last check point at Newburn Tyne Riverside was at 61miles. Only 8miles to go. it seems nothing but also such a long way during an ultra. we were determined to finish this in the best time we possibly could, we aimed for two hours to the finish. An emotional goodbye to the support crew as we knew the next time we would see Will and Tash would be at the finish. The last 8 miles felt like an eternity. I was starting to get a blister on the ball of my right foot due to walking; I was trying my best to ignore it, I knew in the place it was there was little I could do about it until the end. The last 8 miles was all flat along the tyne and into Newcastle itself, the sun had gone down and slowly but surely we started to see lights from houses and then lights from the 7 bridges on the Tyne, the last bridge of which indicated our finish. From first spotting the Millennium bridge it was still a distance of about 2 miles before we plucked up the energy to run over it and then through the finish line. 

The feeling of finishing an ultra-marathon is indescribable and the feeling of finishing an ultra in the circumstances that we did and as a team was incredible. Our time was a good couple of hours slower than we wanted but in the end who cares; we succeeded. We were extremely shattered but so proud of ourselves. We had completed The Wall in 16hours and 47minutes. That time I will never get back but will treasure forever.

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As previously mentioned I wasn't impressed by the Rat race organisation but the Ultra itself was a delight. With a £200 entry fee I would have liked to have seen more toilets, friendlier staff, mile makers and motivation signs, better information in the essential event information that we had to carry and trackers that had a chance of working would be nice, more medical provision or self help areas and maybe a non-spicy option at the lunch stop (the grumpy lady may have only given me this choice on purpose of course). 

Things I have learnt: 

  1. Take two pairs of each type of trainer
  2. Have loads of spare socks
  3. I am able to eat chilli con carne and run! Bonus.
  4. If you are running with a team mate train with them
  5. Talk about scenarios with your team mate before the event, therefore if an injury or dropping out is needed then the conversation does not have to be made when you are tired and emotional
  6. Smile as much as possible because it makes you feel so much better even after running a ridiculously long way
  7. I feel really energised if I eat a small nibble of something every 20minutes (200-ish calories per hour)
  8. Melon is a must and Tunnocks tea cakes; they are easy to stuff in my face
  9. Read the route maps in detail before the event;  I think if I had done this I would have had more of an idea where all of the rest stops were located
  10. Talk to other runners, look at the views and have fun

Thank you for reading this event blog it means a lot to me.  I am doing all these challenges to raise money for the charity Young Minds so thank you of the support. You can support further by doing any of the following things:

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Like, comment or share this blog. The more people it reaches, the better, and that will bring more awareness of the thirty4thirty challenge I am doing.

Follow my FaceBook page - Abbi's thirty4thirty Challenge -https://www.facebook.com/abbisthirty4thirty/

Donate to Young Minds via the just giving link below or through the website using the donate button.

Thank you so much x

 Feet up finally

Feet up finally

 

 

 

 

 

Event 10 - The Dulux London Revolution

I was ready and prepared to enter the RAB (Ride Across Britain) bubble again. I had missed my little green tent to welcome me home, the other riders, the daily achievement, the sore legs and being able to eat copious amount of delicious food. September 2017 seemed like the distant past for me however, even though I have been training hard for all of the 30 endurance events this year for thirty4thirty I still was apprehensive of my riding ability, over the winter months I was mainly training on the turbo inside and before the event only a few longer rides. I may have been worried but not as worried a my brother-in-law Simon who agreed to take part in the event with me; even though a fit guy it would be his first ever organised event. I could just imagine the nerves he must have been feeling the morning we started. 

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Simon and I were also joined by another RAB veteran and friend of mine who is a speed demon on the bike, Michelle. It was lovely to have a little team of us to start. We were all there in plenty of time, but with all of the faffing it takes with a bike - layers on, layers off, bananas in pockets, dark sunnies or light sunnies, last minute tyre pressure checks - so we missed our original start time of 7am and ended up leaving at 7:30am. 

Even though it was an early start on a Saturday morning London was still busy, the first 10 miles took as about 1.5hours of stopping and starting at traffic lights until we reached Crystal Palace where it seemed to relax slightly. As there were so many cyclists on the event the London traffic wasn't as daunting as I would normally find it. 

Once we were into Surrey our speed picked up. We admired the lovely houses and quant villages being mindful not to fall down a HUGE potholes! Where have they come from? I am sure the beast from the East will be blamed for them also. 

The first rest stop is always a welcome sight. How many treats can I eat within a 5 minute period and how many snacks can I fit into my jersey? Many is the answer. My usual conundrum is going to the toilet before or after stuffing my face. Cycling gear is not the most attractive normally but when you pretty much have to be naked to get your bib-shorts off that is even worse. Sadly for me this means pee stops can really only be accomplished at rest stops, otherwise I am found to be naked on the side of the road and may get arrested for indecent exposure. 

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We were well on out way to the second rest stop, feeling good, Titsey hill was over. It was 12:46 and the heavens opened. The curse of the 2017 RAB was back. Please rain rain go away and come again another day. It really went for it, the roads turned into rivers, my very minimal waterproof jacket did nothing other than stick to my skin but on the upside at least we could no longer see the pot holes.

Just keep swimming (literally). The second pitstop came and went. At this point a feeling of ease always pass's over me. I know I can make it, another 31miles can be done no problem even if I crawl. The rain however didn't let up, it just kept getting heavier, luckily we didn't get cold but were dying to get to the finish and see that little green tent. 

Dulux and the Threshold team had created an amazing festival finish. Sadly the rain stopped most of the fun. However, our family who had come to support found a space in the big red Pimms bus! I have discovered that two glasses of PImms is the best thing for rehydration ever. (My coach my not agree).

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It stopped raining late in the evening just in time to snuggle up in my green tent and try to get some sleep. I am not sure about all of the other riders but I slept like a baby. A 5am alarm call is never lovely and putting on damp cycling kit is even worse. I decided to do it all as quickly as possible and get some breakfast. This meant I likely missed the epic line for food and was again filling my face. 

Our mini team of three re-grouped put on squelchy cycling shoes and started another day of cycling. It wasn't raining so that was a bonus. Day 2 is 86miles compared to day 1 of 101miles. However, it seems longer, it is hillier and I think tired legs can make it more of a challenge. We rolled into the Chillterns, the road seemed quieter and I think there were less potholes however, that could just be optimism. We then faced Kop hill. Kop hill is like the devil of the Dulux Revolution, it is talked and whispered about by the other riders. Yes, it is a big hill but it is manageable. Take it easy in whatever way suits you and you will make it. If you come from Holland maybe train on some hills first. Preparation is always key and to be good at hills you must ride hills. 

We had reached check point 2 on day 2 and I had to find suncream, unlike the day before I was starting to burn. It was super hot, what a difference a day makes. After a short stop we wanted to crack on and finish in a good time, we were aiming to finish by 2:30pm...

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We were getting closer to the end, up and over more hills, past a street that looked like it should be a new TV series called the "housewives of Enfield", we were only about 6 miles away at this point. even through my Garmin had died I could tell we were close just by the crazy driving, I had two close calls in the last 6 miles and I may have given out a couple of hand gestures also. 

On we peddled as fast as we could to Lee Valley Athletics centre, to the finish, to family and to a glass of prosecco. A massive achievement to cycle 300km and 360degrees around our capital. 

Thank you for reading this event blog it means a lot to me.  I am doing all these challenges to raise money for the charity Young Minds so thank you of the support. You can support further by doing any of the following things:

Like, comment or share this blog. The more people it reaches, the better, and that will bring more awareness of the thirty4thirty challenge I am doing.

Follow my FaceBook page - Abbi's thirty4thirty Challenge -https://www.facebook.com/abbisthirty4thirty/

Donate to Young Minds via the just giving link below or through the website using the donate button.

Thank you so much x

 

 

 

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Event 11 - Welsh running festival half marathon

This half marathon was an absolute delight. Not only was it super friendly but it was in the stunning location in Builth Wells. I was really looking forward to running in this festival but my body was very tired from an extremely physical week at work. I didn't have my hopes set high for a good time as it was so hot and super hilly. It was also a two lap course which mentally I struggle with. 

 Looking quite happy at the start

Looking quite happy at the start

The race start was at 1pm, I found it hard to get the correct nutrition as I didn't want to eat before but knew I would feel hungry if I waited until after. I snacked a lot before and made sure I was carrying yummy shot blocks with me to eat every 15 minutes. 

With a quick look around the Welsh show we made our way to the start line, lathered up in suncream and as hydrated as much possible. The race was full of runners representing their local clubs from all over Wales. There was great great atmosphere of friendly rivalry.

The gun went at exactly 1pm. The first mile had a very steep hill up and a very steep hill down, normally I love this terrain but my body felt slow. My muscles gradually started to loosen and I got into the race. It was a good course for ultra marathon runners like myself as there were some good hills to power walk up, this allowed my muscles to adapt and change. 

Everyone was super friendly and supportive. At the quarter water station most of the water was thrown over our heads to cool us down. By this point I was on a roll and feeling really good, the second quarter was beautiful, we were running through pine woodlands with a gradual downhill gradient. With about 1 mile before the end of the first lap you could start to hear the show ground, people laughing, kids playing and the tannoy announcing the agricultural shows. It made me think about life and how it goes on whether I was struggling at this point or not. 

The first lap was completed in just over a hour which was shock to me. I thought I would be at a lot slower pace. This gave me the determination to try and get equal split times for the next lap. The next lap flew by and for some reason did not seem as far or as steep. It was of course exactly the same but it is amazing what your mind can do to help your body. 

I seemed to hear the show ground even further from the end at this point. I was also in pure race mode as there was a lady in pink in front of me, we had been leap-frogging the whole race and I was not going to let her beat me. For the last mile I was flying and loving it. 

A very hot and hilly half marathon completed with very tried legs and a weary body in 2hours 7minutes. Pleased with that.

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It was now time to hit the food hall and raid the free samples. This was truly a really well organised event and one I would definitely do again. It is great for the whole family, the race price includes entry to the show and there is also lots of different running distances for all to enjoy is they choose. 

 Looking around the show

Looking around the show

Thank you for reading this event blog it means a lot to me.  I am doing all these challenges to raise money for the charity Young Minds so thank you of the support. You can support further by doing any of the following things:

Like, comment or share this blog. The more people it reaches, the better, and that will bring more awareness of the thirty4thirty challenge I am doing.

Follow my FaceBook page - Abbi's thirty4thirty Challenge -https://www.facebook.com/abbisthirty4thirty/

Donate to Young Minds via the just giving link below or through the website using the donate button.

Thank you so much x

 

 

 

 

 Having to use my finger s and toes to count the events this year!

Having to use my finger s and toes to count the events this year!

Event 12 - London 2 Paris

Cycling from London 2 Paris should be on everyones bucket list. It was most certainly on mine. When I created thirty4thirty I knew it had to be one of the 30 endurance events of the year. I did not however dream that it would attract the support of five other awesome ladies to ride the 300km with me. 

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This dream team made the event better in so many ways. If you are thinking about taking on the 24hours find yourself a dream team. There are many organised events out there; it doesn't have to be done in 24hours but can also be cycled at a much more leisurely 3 day pace. 

The team consisted of Eva (route planner), Rosalie (general cycling goddess and leader of the pack), Michelle  (involuntary mechanic), Adelaide (knowledge wizard), Alice (moral booster and most resilient person ever) and me! We were also very lucky to have the best support crew (Will and Jo) with Bertie the van. The support crew followed us the whole way, providing food, bananas, much needed water and general support. The van was like a Swiss army knife with spare parts, track pumps, picnic blankets, a spare bike and even red wine! 

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We started our journey from Tower bridge, the team descending on the South side of the bridge from many different angles and parts of the country. Many of us having a much more relaxed start than others, however we were there ready to go for our start time at 4pm. This would give us until 5pm the next day to get to the Arche de Triomphe. Here we go...

The first 10 miles to get out of London were led by the two resident Londoners. Riding in London is all about being confident and being a little bossy with the traffic. Get sassy! If I was leading the group at that point we would still be stuck in London as I am way to polite and kept letting cars and buses through. 

 Ouch. Alice's bruise.

Ouch. Alice's bruise.

Within the first hour the team sadly had an incident, Alice missed a cycle path and understandably tried to catch up and follow the rest of the team. She caught her peddle on the curb and took a big tumble. She was extremely brave considering her ripped shorts and massive bruise already appearing! Alice was up and standing but her bike was a little mangled; we thought it may be the end for Alice and her bikes journey but then Michelle came to the rescue. After getting very oily hands she managed to work out the brakes and back derailleur. Well done Michelle. All systems go. We were back on the route with about 20minutes to catch up.

 We reached the ferry in Newhaven

We reached the ferry in Newhaven

The first section of the route from London to Newhaven is actually the most time restricted. If you miss the ferry for whatever reason the ride is over. We worked out pace to be about 20km per hour on average. This gives lots of time for breaks and mishaps. Once we had reached Mytchett on the suburbs of London we were in my comfort Zone and our speed increased. The weather was perfect, cloudy but not cold. We were well on our way to the ferry. Check in would start at 9:30pm. We arrived at 9:10pm just in time for the support crew to deliver us Fish n Chips from Horaces fish bar. The best fish and chips ever!

 Cabin life

Cabin life

There are many ways to sort out the ferry logistics, as we had the support van all bikes went inside the van for the crossing and the riders went over as a foot passengers. This is the cheapest way to do it as a foot passenger ticket is around £23. The ferry leaves at 11pm and reaches Dieppe at 5am (local time), this gives riders up to 4hours sleep. I highly recommend buying a cabin. Cabins fit four people and cost £55. They also have a shower in. Such a great feeling to feel clean again. Even with only 4 hours sleep it feels like a new day of riding. 

The very loud ferry alarm went off at 4:30am. I jumped out of my skin and was so confused as to where I was and what I was doing. This soon became clear as I put my cycling shorts back on and anti-chaffing cream! Yuck!

The morning was glorious, the sunrise was beautiful. We met the support van just off the ferry where we got our bikes back, had a cuppa and a porridge pot. By 6am we were on the road, the sun was up by this point but actually it was pretty chilly. We all lost feeling in our fingers but knew within the next couple of hours we would surely be boiling again. 

 Avenue Verte for 50km

Avenue Verte for 50km

 Look at those roads. Bliss

Look at those roads. Bliss

The route then took us through a beautiful village and along the Avenue Verte; this was a cycle path of pure delight. It felt like a magic carpet for 50km through farmland, amazing scenery and beautiful villages. I never wanted that cycle path to end. But as they say all good things must come to an end - but for us at the village of Gourney-en-Bray we met the support crew with the most tasty almond croissants I have ever eaten. My cycling dreams had come true, bikes, friends, croissants and smooth roads. 

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Our next stop would be at about 230km for lunch where we would meet the support van again. The roads became slightly more undulating, travelling through the French villages. I am sure they are deserted as we rarely saw a soul! Where are all of the people?

The support crew came up trumps for lunch providing the best picnic ever. Loads of bread, cheese, ham, tomatoes. The picnic blankets even had flowers on! Bliss. Lunch sadly couldn't be that long, I could have happily stayed there all day. 

We had less than 70km to go at this point, everyone was feeling pretty good, loving the scenery and working off all of the cheese from lunch. We were truly on our way to Paris now and heading in the direction of Versaille. Our route took us through the woodland of the Palace which provided restpite from the sunshine and gave us a perspective of how big the estate must be. With under 30km to go we were in the town of Versaille; all of the peace and tranquillity was lost. The town was manic, tourist every where, cars abandoned, buses reversing into us, bike paths covered with obstructions, pedestrians taking up the road and well groomed poodles running in front of the bike tyres. Versaille also had many traffic lights, the team started to get slightly disjointed at this point and it seemed to take an age to get out of the town. At the this point the panic started to rise that we may not make it to Paris in 24hours. We were peddling as hard as we could and trying to navigate in now a much more built up area. We crested a considerable hill and there it was...the Eiffel Tower in all her glory just five miles away. I must say I did have a little tear here. In my heart we had made it whatever time we reached the Arch de Triomphe did not matter.

 Our only bad route choice on the GPS. Slight cross country for 2km!

Our only bad route choice on the GPS. Slight cross country for 2km!

The last five miles into Paris the sassy-ness had to come back out as we battled the bustling city. The clock was ticking but we were on Place Charles de Gaulle looking onto the roundabout madness of the Arch. One...Two...Three...go. We were all of the round about risking our lives to get to the Arch. We made it. 23hours and 42minutes. Phew. Much celebration and champagne followed before we had to risk our lives once again to get back off the roundabout. 

What a 24hours. A bucket list event ticked off. 

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10 pieces of advice for London 2 Paris in 24 hours

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  1. Service bike before the trip
  2. Research routes - I would recommended London - Newhaven (97km) Dieppe - Paris (200km)
  3. Pay for a cabin on the ferry to get a shower and sleep
  4. Get fish n chips at Horaces fish bar. So good!
  5. Have a support crew if possible - if not factor in the stopping time
  6. Eat loads of snacks - real food works best for me such as trail mix, oat bars and sandwiches 
  7. Drink lots of water plus eletrolytes
  8. If you have the time stay in Paris on the night of arrival
  9. Do it with people
  10. The 24 hours of endurance is so worth it in the end

Thank you for reading this event blog it means a lot to me.  I am doing all these challenges to raise money for the charity Young Minds so thank you of the support. You can support further by doing any of the following things:

Like, comment or share this blog. The more people it reaches, the better, and that will bring more awareness of the thirty4thirty challenge I am doing.

Follow my FaceBook page - Abbi's thirty4thirty Challenge -https://www.facebook.com/abbisthirty4thirty/

Donate to Young Minds via the just giving link below or through the website using the donate button.

Thank you so much x 

 

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Event 9 - The Wolf Run

A feeling of excitement and nervousness took over me as soon as my alarm went off. I was excited to be doing another event, ticking them off is an incredible feeling. However, after the last horrendous obstacle course event I was dreading that it would be the same horror. 

The support crew and I crammed into to little Mini with take away coffees in hand to drive the couple of hours to Pippingford park. Just enough time for my emotions to go up and down. We arrived at the park with no drama but were stopped at the gate to pay for car parking. We were all slightly outraged considering the high price of the event itself but needs must. Instantly the atmosphere was fantastic, music blaring, friendly competitors, others looking nervous, others looking highly confident, first-timers and pro obstacle course runners all getting ready for the start. 

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The starting area was electric, it was extremely well organised. Snacks were given out, your race number was written on your face and instructions being bellowed out by a very loud tannoy. Will and I were in the first wave of racers starting at 11am. 10minutes before the start we were asked to go not the starting pen for a safety brief and then a warm-up. The warm up was given by very fit looking personal trainers. They had us running around, jumping up and down and crawling all over the floor. The warm up was hard! All runners were now very warm and already muddy. I suppose if you were not happy with the mud in the starting pen you probably were in the wrong race. 

The start was announced by a few famous faces; Mike Tindall, Will Greenwood, Neil Back. Thanks lads. We were off into the swamp. The swamp was a lot warmer than I had anticipated; a positive start. Then straight into a river crossing; a this point I lost my gloves I was wearing, luckily I didn't end up missing them for the next 10km. 

This event was much more about the natural terrain rather than the obstacles themselves. This made me feel in my comfort zone. The next big task was a huge hill. I LOVED it. I got my power walk on and overtook a lot of people. Then onto the high rope wall, these were my nemesis in the Nuts run because I could not feel my hands or feet, however I felt confident climbing over them. 

The terrain was pretty rugged through streams, jumping over logs and wading through swamps but it was also pretty beautiful. The course was covered in a blanket of bluebells and the views from the high points were just stunning. Throughout the course there were really encouraging marshals, great signage to lead the way and also kilometre markers. The kilometres were flying by for me, I was smiling and my body had warmed up. 

From quite a long way away I could hear splashing and running water. We had to climb over a high ledge. At this point I realised that we would we sliding down into the cold lake. The slide was great fun, the cold shock wasn't such great fun! I like swimming but then having to swim across the lake made it all a little more taxing. As I got out of the lake one of the marshals mentioned that was the first lake of three. Better to know I suppose.

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The other two lakes came in quick succession, the second was a very deep long lake to swim across. Some people needed help from the safety kayakers. The third lake was yucky; we had to crawl through the lake due to the mud and weeds, if you tried to swim or walk you would sink into the bottom. The lakes were interspersed with a few other obstacles, some natural and some man-made, the hardest for me was the 20 meter long monkey bars. I am proud to say I got over half way before I fell off. 

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There now wasn't long to run before the end, the camaraderie was really strong at this point, some competitors were really struggling so we all provided many jokes about beers at the end. The last obstacle before the finish sprint was a steep slippery wall and then cargo net, I was worried with the crowd I wouldn't be able to get over it, however I managed to haul myself up and jump down, the last 100m's are always my favourite. The feeling of achievement and pride is huge. I crossed the finish line happy. The Wolf run was great, really well organised and worth the entry price. I was so pleased with myself I even brought a Wolf Run Dry Robe to keep myself warm and toasty before and after all of the events. 

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Thank you for reading this event blog it means a lot to me.  I am doing all these challenges to raise money for the charity Young Minds so thank you of the support. You can support further by doing any of the following things:

Like, comment or share this blog. The more people it reaches, the better, and that will bring more awareness of the thirty4thirty challenge I am doing.

Follow my FaceBook page - Abbi's thirty4thirty Challenge -https://www.facebook.com/abbisthirty4thirty/

Donate to Young Minds via the just giving link below or through the website using the donate button.

Thank you so much x 

 

 

 

 

 

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Event 8 - The ABP Southampton Marathon

April the 22nd was hyped up to the max as it was the London marathon. It was also set to be the hottest London marathon on record. But hey what about us? What about the poor 10,000 London Marathon rejects that were taking part in the ABP Southampton marathon on the same day?

Throughout the week leading up to the marathon I spoke to lots of people about it, I told them it was my 8th endurance event this year out of 30 and how thirty4thirty was going really well. My nagging back pain was a worry and I was unsure as to how I would feel. If I would stride around the two lap course or if I would crawl. Many people would comment "it will be ok as you are not as crazy as the people who are running the London Marathon"!! I realise that everyone can associate with the London marathon as it is well publicised and is on the TV but come on people a marathon is still a marathon, the UK weather is still the same and we are still running 26.2miles in the sunshine. 

So whether you were in London or Southampton it was hot. So hot. I was feeling really excited for this marathon, my back was a problem but it actually gave me an excuse to slow down if I needed and also to walk if required. I was running with my husband so it was always going to be fun however deep I would have to dig.  The atmosphere as we got off the train was incredible, people everywhere, the sunshine always makes everyone smile. I also had a great thirty4thirty support crew (my parents) for the event so they were able to help me get ready and take loads of great photos. 

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As usual I was stuck in a portaloo toilet right up until the last minute. I rushed to get to the start line. The start gun went off but it took nearly 8 minutes to get over the start line due to the mass's of people taking part. The first few miles are always about jostling for a good position where you can run at your pace but also not being dragged along to quickly by the crowd. This is where a lot of runners fall short as they run far to quickly for the first hour or so and then can not keep the pace. 

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Due to my back problems and endurance event after endurance event my aim was to finish smiling and hopefully get under 4hours 20mins. This would have been a steady 10minute mile pace on average. The plan was to take the first lap steady and see if the pace could be increased. I felt really strong and the atmosphere was great. The first lap of 13.1 miles seemed to fly by, Southampton in the Sunshine was lovely, bits of the course went through the centre of town, past the docks, over the Itchen bridge, along West Water, through the football stadium, through some beautiful parks and then then back to the centre. It was so much hillier than I ever expected it to be. At the 13.1mile marker the crowds went wild the music was loud and the elation was high. At the point the majority of the runners went through the finish line as they had just successfully completed their planned half marathon. The rest of us poor marathon runners got ushered off down a side street to start the course all over again! This was mentally tough, the course went from having thousands of people to a few mental marathon runners. At first it felt like the ABP Southampton marathon was a Half marathon with a few insane marathon runners thrown in who decided to do the course twice. Sadly the street support dwindled but the people who did stay out to support were magnificent. Sweet were given to us, loads of water, people throwing buckets of water on us, people in residential areas holding out spray hoses. 

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At this point I was running well, still at a fast but steady pace and I felt good. There is always a worry at around 18miles that the dreaded metaphorical WALL is going to be hit. It never came, we just kept on trucking. It was hot, our heart rates were much higher than they should of been due to the heat but we kept each other motivated, kept eating and drinking every 20minutes and the miles slowly counted down. The last 4 miles always seem like an eternity and even worse the last 0.2miles seems like the last 20 but gradually we got there. We rounded the last corner and even managed to up the pace to run into the finish to the sound of thousands of cheering people. I definitely did not feel like a London Marathon reject at this point in time. We crossed the finish line in 4hours 12minutes. I am super happy with my time.

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To have a support crew at every 6/7mile point is a huge boost so a massive thank you to them. To have someone to run with makes the whole experience better, having the mental support of my coach telling me I can do it and when and how much nutrition to eat makes everything easier. This event is my 8th of the year out of 30 but it really felt like everything was starting to come together. I feel strong, happy and healthy (other than my back) and I am really looking forward to the next 22 endurance events as they start to get much harder, longer and more arduous. 

Thank you for reading this event blog it means a lot to me.  I am doing all these challenges to raise money for the charity Young Minds so thank you of the support. You can support further by doing any of the following things:

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Like, comment or share this blog. The more people it reaches, the better, and that will bring more awareness of the thirty4thirty challenge I am doing.

Follow my FaceBook page - Abbi's thirty4thirty Challenge -https://www.facebook.com/abbisthirty4thirty/

Donate to Young Minds via the just giving link below or through the website using the donate button.

Thank you so much x 

 

Event 6 - 30th Birthday Run of 30,430metres

Birthdays are normally like Christmas morning for me, excitement, anticipation, butterflies, jumping out of bed and running down stairs to open all the brightly coloured gifts. Turning 30 has been a negative goal in my head for years, I have always put targets on myself to have achieved so much in such such a short space of time. The thirty4thirty challenge this year however has been a huge positive for my 30th year, turning this scary year into something great and raising money for such a fantastic charity like Young minds has managed to keep me looking on the bright side and to reflect on the amazing things I have done, the people I have met and the person I am today. 

Even with this in mind I didn't have the sprightly wake up that I wanted. I nasty bug from my latest trip to the Himalayas had knocked me for six. Not having managed to keep down a meal for the last 4 days was certainly not great preparation for a very long run. However, if this challenge was easy then I wouldn't be raising awareness of mental health.

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Th whole aim of this challenge was to run 30,430metres to signify the challenge itself and the amount of money I am aiming to raise for Young Minds. This equates to just under 20miles. I plotted a run on Strava giving me the exact distance and thought I would run back home. Simple enough. I got into the car bright and early to be dropped to the start with my husband, what a surprise it was raining. I don't think I have even done a long run in my life where is hasn't rained at least once! 

The run started off very slowly from the village I used to live called Marchwood, a gentle start to see how my stomach would take the miles, within the first mile we reached a flood. Wet feet for the next 4 hours ensued. Southampton even though a fantastic city is a horrid city to run through, this could only be blamed on me as I plotted the route to go along the main roads to leave the city as soon as possible and get to the Itchen bridge and into Royal Victoria Country park which is a delightful place. Just as I was about to run into the country park an amazing hello was heard behind me; my friend Alice had ridden her bike to find me and to cycle the next 10miles with me. The kindness of others makes all of the challenges worth it. 

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Us three amigos then trotted on further; my body was really flagging at this point, feel void and empty of any nutrients and I still was not able to keep anything down. On I shuffled. Running to the river Hamble was fantastic. Here we had to get on the pink ferry to take us across the river. This point to me signified getting closer to home and an extra delight was the Rising Sun, a pub on the other side of the river. It was a must to stop to have a coke and copious packets of crisps.

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After the Rising Sun the route went very coastal, running next to the sea was beautiful but the pebbles were tough on the legs and energy levels. Alice and her road bike also had a struggle! After a mile or so of pebbles my legs could no longer run so I decided to power walk, walking straight into a sign. The sign read DIVERSION. Noooooooo. A three mile diversion off the coast path due to erosion. This was not what I needed. Again off I shuffled after a few swear words under my breath. Even though 5 miles from home I only had about 1.7 miles to run before my target was reached. 30,430m. Obviously the diversions and the map plotting were not 100% accurate. Normally I would run all of the way home but the way I was feeling I told my comrades that I would reach the target and then stop. My goal would be achieved! 

Reaching was target distance down a random country lane wasn't quite the beach finish I had in mind, however it was a happy one. I was happy I had done it even though feeling awful, I was happy I spent the day running with my husband Will and friend Alice and I was also happy that I had just reached £5000 of my fundraising target.

 The finish, 30,430m ran.

The finish, 30,430m ran.

I would love to tell you all that I drank champagne to celebrate my 30th birthday in the evening but sadly I had a bath and was in bed fast asleep by 8pm. The good news is my Nepalese bug has seemed to have gone and I can once again eat full meals.  

Thank you for reading the sixth event blog it means a lot to me.  I am doing all these challenges to raise money for the charity Young Minds so thank you of the support. You can support further by doing any of the following things:

Like, comment or share this blog. The more people it reaches the better and that will bring more awareness of the thirty4thirty challenge I am doing.

Follow my FaceBook page - Abbi's thirty4thirty Challenge -https://www.facebook.com/abbisthirty4thirty/

Donate to Young Minds via the Justgiving link below or through the website using the donate button.

Thank you so much x 

Event 5 - The Nuts Run

We were in the middle of the polar vortex, the Beast from the East had well and truly grasped the UK with its claws. I had two events booked in to complete this weekend. One was cancelled by the organisers and this event had given out warnings of the conditions and had allowed participants to defer to the summer race if they wanted. About 75% of people deferred including my whole team. Sadly I was not able to defer due to time restraints; trying to fit in 30 endurance events in one year, some multiple days and still try to work is hard. 

 Seeing one of the first waves start.

Seeing one of the first waves start.

So off I toddled all wrapped up to arrive to a handful of cars in a desolate old landfill site turned into a carpark in minus 6. Right, how hard can this be, I am wrapped up, I will get a cuppa, do two laps and 14km with 400 obstacles and then it will be done, I can go home and get in the bath. 

How wrong could I be. This event was by far one of the hardest things I have ever done. My family and friends will laugh at that sentence as I have a tendency to spurt that out at the finish line of every event I have ever taken part in. But seriously this was super tough. 

The start was in waves which gave me a chance to see a few sorry looking faces finish their first lap and one group who were doing the whole thing in maninkis! When I saw these people I knew it would be tough, not one smile between then and just a look off shock and confusion; this look I would take on within the next 10 minutes. 

The start seemed easy enough with some hay bails to jump over and some muddy fields to negotiate. After the first blissful 500metres I then had to jump into a lake of water up to my waist whilst battling past the icebergs. The ice on top of the lakes and ponds was up to 6inches thick, even ignoring the cold trying to run thought these blocks of ice was excruciating.

About 10 more of these ponds followed, one after another, some deeper than others and some had obstacles in. By this point I could no longer feel my hands and my feet hand turned in stumps of flesh I was dragging around. This was probably 10 minutes from crossing the start line. 

 Ice ice everywhere

Ice ice everywhere

How was I ever going to be able to do this. The small amount of spectators kept offering me jelly babies but by stomach was trying to rebel everything that I had eaten in the morning due to being so cold. 

If it was not already bad enough, the tunnels started, the tunnels full of icey water. I am not great in confined spaces or with heights. These things I can normally deal with when it is one thing at a time, but when I could no longer feel my hands and feet I just lost it. The tears followed with the poor marshals not being able to deal with me. I have never been in this mess before and I felt a fool for even trying to do this whole thing. 

At this point I had to really remind myself why I had decided to do 30 endurance events this year. It was not meant to be easy. I then took some deep breathes and tackled one obstacle at a time (still crying), most obstacles I managed to complete but ones that were really high off the ground I just could not do. I accept that now but at the time felt pathetic. 

The water obstacles turned into dryer land based ones; my hands and feet started to warm and I relaxed into the course. This felt much more in my comfort zone and I started to smile and "enjoy" myself. Here I was able to speak to some of the other competitors and that spurred me on quicker, we were all in the same boat and everyone was trying to push themselves through the cold. 

At this point I could hear the cheering from the finish line but knew there were some extreme obstacles to do before I got there. Just.One.Obstacle.At.A.Time.

"Go under' "Go under" Go under", this was the chorus from the spectators at the finish line; the last obstacle meant you could either fully submerge or go over the top. I went for it and even though terrible made me feel like I had tackled something big. Lap one complete...

 Tasty mud

Tasty mud

I am now proud of what I achieved in the Nuts Run and over came a lot of fears, I don't think I will ever be a winter obstacle course runner. I do think it would have been better with a big group and it would have even been fun in the summer. Thank you to everyone that hugged me when I was crying and tried to help me trough the tunnels or when I was stuck up on high slippery ropes. 

Thank you for reading the fifth event blog it means a lot to me.  I am doing all these challenges to raise money for the charity Young Minds so thank you of the support. You can support further by doing any of the following things:

Like, comment or share this blog. The more people it reaches the better and that will bring more awareness of the thirty4thirty challenge I am doing.

Follow my FaceBook page - Abbi's thirty4thirty Challenge -https://www.facebook.com/abbisthirty4thirty/

Donate to Young Minds via the just giving link below or through the website using the donate button.

Thank you so much x 

 

 My 5th Medal of the year.

My 5th Medal of the year.

Event 4 - The New Forest Challenge

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When my alarm goes off super early I have to pull myself out of sleepy dreams to remind myself why the hell am I getting up. For this event I was so excited; I had actually done it a few years before so knew what was coming. However, last time the weather was awful. As I opened the curtains this morning with one eye still shut, I was greeted by the most beautiful sunrise. It was cold and frosty but not rainy and windy. Boom, those conditions I can deal with.

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I was greeted at Burley village hall by some lovely smiling friendly faces. So lovely to see people who I know running and also amazing people who had decided to come and run with me. It is so great to have friends and family to run with, it makes this whole experience much more enjoyable for me.

LDWA events are always the most casual thing, not really a mass start just head out of the door when you are ready at 9am. During this event we had to navigate; most of the time everyone just follows the person in front. This does not always work as the person in front never really knows where they are going either! Within the first 30 minutes I knew that this 18 mile race was more likely going to be 20 plus miles. 

This event doesn't have very many competitors; soon we were running in our little group on our own enjoying the beautiful weather and exploring the New Forest. The cold bright weather really did showcase the New Forest.

By about 10miles I was starting to have flash backs of the mud from event number 3. Our navigation may have taken us the quickest routes but it was certainly through some bogs. My ankles starting to scream at me once again....please please please no more mud! 

The finished still seemed to be a long way away when we reached check point 4, here the marshal gave us angel cake and jelly beans; this was a great moral boost and brought a smile to my face. Cake, sunshine, friends and trail running what more could I need. 

We arrived back at Burley village hall very happy to see the end with aching ankles but just a fantastic day in the sunshine with the happiest people. 

Even though this event was no where near as hard as event number 3 the continuous toll on my body and the training is building up. I feel happy and strong currently but after only 4 events I feel like there is a long way to go. Please can I ask everyone to keep spreading the word, tell them what I am doing, give them my story and tell them why I am doing it. Please share, like, comment on the blogs or the the website. Sign up to my newsletter if you fancy a monthly update on fundraising, event blogs and stuff you guys can get involved in. Get people donating :) 

4 down. 26 to go. 

 

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Event 3 - The Thames Trot 50mile Ultra-marathon

The first word that springs to mind of yesterday is mud. Mud mud not so glorious mud. I would like to re-name this ultra marathon as a 50mile mud run. 

The start had the usual milling around, people queuing up of the portaloos, adding vaseline into places I would rather not see at 7am, taking off layers, putting on layers and cramming in the last mouthfuls of porridge, coffee and flat coke. It was pretty cold and damp to start and I was wearing all of the kit I planned to carry. This year was the 10th year of the Thames Trot Ultra, this means there was a short speech at the start; not that I could hear it as I mistakingly started near the back. 

Then I heard it...the count-down, five, four, three, two, one...we were off and the daunting realisation that I was going to be running for the full day dawned on me. I am an idiot, why have I signed up to 30 endurance events to raise money. Abbi calm down it is all for an amazing cause and just take one step at a time. The first 300m were delightful, even though cold, the rain had stopped and the ground was solid; then after crossing the bridge onto the Thames path itself it started; mud. It wasn't just normal mud, this was mud that sucked your feet down and held onto them, at each step adding a few spoonfuls to cold water into my already laden down trainers. Just one step at a time, you have got this. 

People in ultras tend to be really cheery and happy individuals that chat away for the duration and believe me we were all trying to be sociable but to be honest most people were concentrating on staying upright. It was pretty funny for the first couple of miles until the realisation that this could last for the next 48! 

At the first checkpoint I was greeted with my incredible support crew an the adventure pooch wagging her tail; having a team like that all wrapped up like Micheline men from the cold is a pure dream. It means so much and the moral boost was is like nothing else. They took my water pouches and filled them up, shoved jelly babies into my face, gave me encouragement and pushed me back on my way. The next 10 miles were the same on the mud front but i was getting into a strange mud filled rhythm. The only issue was my body already felt like it had run a marathon trying to keep upright for 20miles takes it toll. 

At check point 2 - Benson. My hubby ran with me from mile 19 to mile 27 with the pooch (the mud doesn't phase a spaniel). Along with the company it was nice to have someone who wasn't part of the ultra experiencing the mud; so when I have tales to tell at the finish line it is believable. Ultra running can also sometimes be very lonely; for me it is a form of meditation whilst for others they need to have their headphones in to stay motivated. I also have a huge motivation from food, I have been trying to eat during an ultra every 15 minutes. This is harder than it sounds, my coach wants me to try and eat 200 calories every hour. This may seem like a lot but I was burning close to 800 calories each hour. Fuel the body to fuel the mind. 

At check point 3 in Straitly, the terrain was familiar to me as I work close to the area, this was a moral boost, I was also over the hump! I was over half way. I had a fabulous group of cheer leaders supporting me (in the metaphorical sense) and my sister-in-law Ruth ran with me for the next 10 miles. This cheered me up no end as we were able to chat away when she wasn't falling over or trying to stay upright in the mud. Between these two checkpoints I reached 30miles, in my head at 30 miles I knew I would make it, 20 miles doesn't seem too bad when you have just run 30!

 Event number 3 complete

Event number 3 complete

For the next 20miles, my body was broken but my mind was strong. Ultra running is all in the mind, keep saying mantras and believing in yourself, with one foot in front of the other the finish line will be reached. At 46 miles however it was dark and the mud was not abating, I had a break down; i couldn't believe that the world felt like it was so against me; I was so close but it also felt like so far, however, a good cry and a hold of the hand does wonders. 

Closing the finish line was a pure relief (again crying), pure elation that I had actually done it. 3 endurance events down and 27 to go. I need to remember, all for a great cause. 

Things I have learnt:

  • Sometimes in mud it is quicker to walk and saves energy
  • Potentially trial a small part of the route a couple of days before to feel up to date
  • Ultras are all about strength of mind, when you body is broken your mind is still strong
  • Try to smile; even when feeling pants it made me feel better
  • Talk and encourage as many people as possible, remember everyone is in just as much pain
  •  It will all be over just run one step at a time
 A well deserved beer at the end.

A well deserved beer at the end.