Event 22 - Exmoor 4km Open Water Swim

I thought it would be a fantastic idea to get to Wimbleball lake on Exmoor the evening before the swim to have a leisurely evening camping before getting up in the morning. A crazy busy Saturday prevented that from happening and me and my bestie dawn rocked up in the pitch-black to a field full of eerily quiet tents and vans. It was freezing outside, winter is on its way.

The tent went up in a flash but the comedy blow up mattress and hand pump left us in giggles. Trying to blow up a mattress quietly is never going to happen. We then managed to sneak around the camp site to find the rest of the support crew for this event who were much more sensible and got to the lake in the light. I stuffed my face full of pasta and then tried to get a good nights sleep in the cold. Nature wees’ prevailed as we could not find any facilities on the campsite.

The morning dawned very cloudy and pretty darn cold. The thought of getting in the reservoir didn’t really appeal to me. I had a few hours before my toes would be dipped in. I went to register before once again stuffing my face. The mornings food was all in practise for the Ironman coming up. Rice pudding, a banana and croissant went down the hatch nicely followed by a coffee! Pure athlete nutrition I am sure. My coach assured me this is what he eats so in it all went.

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I still had a couple of hours before I had to get the wetsuit on and head to the waters edge. I chilled for a long as I could but then went down to the start to watch the other waves of swimmers start, both the 6km swimmers and the 2km swimmers were heading off before my start time. It was fun to watch and the atmosphere was great. The sun was starting to come out and lots of families were around to support with their dogs. Another coffee later the nerves were starting to get to me. Before this year I could barely swim two lengths in a row without nearly drowning, this task now seemed far to daunting. I had been training hard but I just always feel so slow in the water.

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The butterflies were starting to make me feel sick, I really wanted to get in and get going. A few delays meant that my briefing and start wasn’t going to be until about 10:20. A long time to wait in a wetsuit. Finally we were all called to the start pen. I was ready, the briefing was short; basically ‘go around the reservoir anti-clockwise and keep the big yellow boys to the left’. It was a deep water start so all of us with the purple hats headed into the water. It was cold, really cold. I did all of my usual techniques to get my heart rate down and to get use to the cold water on my face and neck. The water tasted funny and muddy, very different then swimming in the sea like I usually do. I was in the first wave to head off for the 4km swim. This means I had stated I would take over 1hour 30mins. To be honest I had no clue what time I would do it in! 1hour 30Minutes meant we were the slowest of all of the swimmers.

The whistle blew and everyones arms and legs started to fail around and cause loads of splashing. I made sure I gave myself lots of room from the other competitors and off I started. Soon I got into a rhythm and started to tick off the yellow buoys. I also seemed to be swimming in a straight line which is a bonus for me and something I have been training hard to archive for months. The first kilometre went by quickly, all of the supporters dog and family members were running beside the reservoir cheering everyone on. After about a kilometre and a half they all gave up and got bored; I am sure watching swimming is a pretty dull thing to do and we all look the same in the water. I was feeling quite calm and happy with my pace at this point, I could see the dam at the end of the lake which signified 1.8km complete. All of a sudden a wave of light blue and dark blue swim caps started to push past me, the first time of the swim that I had been barged by another swimmers was at 2km! The faster swimmers had caught up with the slower bunch and were trying to weave their way through. I am sure highly annoying for them and petrifying for us. For a short time this put me off my stroke. Going forward I would now check the small print of a swimming race to see if the start waves work in that order. I really think it is a ridiculous thing to do both for the steady and fast swimmers.

After about 10mins of these dark and light blue hats storming on past me we all started to spread out again, I got my stroke back and started to relax into the swim again, I felt that my pace was good and the songs were flowing freely in my mind. Before the last 600m there is a looooonnnnnng stretch of the lake, each yellow buoy seemed to be a long way away. I kept focusing on the next buoy, just getting to one at a time. I them turned the last corner, I knew I would make it, the finished seemed so close and yet so far to swim, I knew it would still be about a 15minute swim to get over the line. I was starting to hear the cheers from spectators every time I turned my head to breathe. That was the greatest feeling. I gradually got closer and closer and people started to get bigger, the finish arch was in sight and I could see other swimmers now standing and wobbling out of the water.

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Soon I would be one of those wobbly people, I tried to quickly think of a plan to look graceful and not a mess when coming out of the water. That did not happen, with a muddy face and jelly legs I took my first steps from swimming and into the mud. Luckily I didn’t feel dizzy so after a second I could happily run to cross the finish line.

Before this year of events I never ever would have thought I could swim that distance. It was something so out of reach for me. The unknown petrified me. Swimming is also a sport which I am not talented at, it was hard to push myself to train and work at something I find so difficult. However, it was a huge sense of achievement. Even if there wasn’t any medals!

After drying out and a delicious hot chocolate the tent was taken down and another event was successfully ticked off.

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.

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Thank you so much x

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Event 21 - DIY Triathlon

Maybe this event was doomed from the start. I had signed up for the Stand Up Paddle (SUP) Board triathlon after the Bath half marathon was cancelled due to the Beast from the East and all of the snow. By Thursday I was having suspicions that the event organisers were not happy with the weather forecast. Heavy rains and high winds were forecast. Not ideal conditions for SUP. These types of triathlons are designed for all; some participants would have never SUP’d before whilst others would have been pros. It was understandable that the organisers would have been cautious.

At 7am on Friday, an email popped up on my phone. The event had been cancelled and all entries would be automatically transferred to next year. Fine for some. The panic then set in. Doing 30 endurance events in one year doesn’t give me much time for movement and I don’t have a spare week now until January! The SUP triathlon was also one of the smaller events as my body would not be fully recovered from the 100mile Ultra-marathon last weekend.

A quick search on the internet brought up some other events. These event mostly revolved around running. I didn’t want my body to have to do a long run so quickly after the Ultra. Lots of other events were also cancelled due to the weather. My thinking cap had to be put on.

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Looking at the forecast there was going to be a lull in the weather on Saturday morning. Right, I will do the triathlon by myself. I don’t have a paddle board so had to change that for swimming. The DIY triathlon was created. Trying to stick with the event distances; a 2km sea swim, 10km mountain bike and a 5km run.

I posted my idea on the local swimming forum and had two other lovely but crazy people agree to join me. I was truly grateful for this.

Just before 9am on Saturday morning this tiny group of triathletes got ready to get into the sea. It was very windy and very choppy. Swimming is still petrifying for me and this would be the choppiest swim I would have ever done. Having two other experienced swimmers in the water with me was reassuring. The swim was quite an adventure and I had a good time, I was however, glad to get out! A quick transition onto the mountain bike. It was quite cold so I added a good few layers. The 10km ride went by in a flash only taking 22mins. Off the bike with numb feet to start the run. I was not sure how this was going to go. Only 6days before had I finished the 100mile run, my body felt good but I knew deep down I was not 100% recovered and all of the little micro-tares may cause me some issues.

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The first few kilometres sped past as we were going at a fast pace, my feet were still numb so that was a strange feeling. After 3km my feet started to come back to life and I felt more comfortable. At this point I was smiling to myself as I felt good, I felt strong and was quite shocked and proud of my body for coping with all the challenges I was putting it through.

The three of us ended up running for 7km altogether. I was glad for to to be over but also in shock about how good I felt. It was much easier having people taking part in the DIY triathlon with me. The power of support is huge and makes all of the difference.

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I have been thinking about my week of recovery and how my body has coped so well and thought I would share a few ideas with you all:

  • Loads of sleep. At least 8hours per night since the ultra marathon and naps if time has allowed.

  • Active recovery. Keeping the legs moving and not seizing up I think has really aided my recovery, the week following the ultra I have done some gentle bike rides at under 75% max heart rate to flush the lactic acid out. I have walked the dog daily, this has got easier throughout the week until it felt normal and I have also being doing yoga everyday, mainly stretching poses.

  • Food and rehydration. Eating little and often; listening to what my body wants as most of the time it will let me know. I have craved liquid type foods such as melon, soup, stew and yogurts. Drinking lots of fluid such as herbal tea and squash. Bodies rehydrate better if there is a flavour in the water.

  • Reflection. Sometimes I think it is easy to focus on the things that I should have done differently, but this time I have tried to be proud of myself and all of things I have achieved.

  • Being kind. Life stills goes on and there has still been stuff to do and work deadlines to reach. However, I have been slower than normal, my brain seems to be working slowly. This is due to being tired, even if my body feels fine it is working hard to repair itself. I have tried to remember this and not push myself to hard.

  • Days off. After completing a big event at least one day off is needed. For the 100miler I gave myself two days off work. I am so glad I did as it gave me time for me and also no pressures.

  • Sports massage. Throughout these 30 events I have had regular massages. I really think they have been key to keeping me subtle and injury free.

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.

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

Thank you so much x

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Event 20 - The Robin Hood 100

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The Robin Hood 100 is an ultra marathon run by Hobo events, a small company set up by Robin Hood himself! Ronnie Staton is the event director and creates 6 events per year as a progression onto the longer ultra marathon scene. The events are small in participant numbers and high in quality with the over arching moto of bringing the community together. This spirit could be felt from the introduction briefing onwards. I think it would be wrong not to feel some nerves and excitement just before you take on your first 100mile ultra. The briefing made it very clear that it was also the majority of the runners first 100miler. Phew. This made me feel at ease and put a smile on my face. The whole intro speech was lighthearted and fun. Ronnie spoke a lot about the navigation and directional arrows he has put into place but still how each year someone gets lost! He therefore didn’t trust us for the first 6miles to the canal towpath and ran with us all!

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I was so excited to start and had a plan in my head to get through the full 100miles. I had a 24hour time-frame in mind but knew I had up to the 30hour cut-off time if needed. The thought of running until 2pm the following day is not a nice one. I hoped to be finished just as the sun came up a day later.

The first 6miles are quite hard. Even through described as a flat course it is still undulating, running over freshly ploughed fields isn’t great for the ankles either. I sticked to my plan. My plan was to start slow and stay slow, the key would be to power walk up all of the hills. During the first few miles this is a hard thing to do as the adrenaline is running and you feel really fresh. I also felt like an idiot as everyone was running past me, I realised at about 5miles in I must be somewhere near the back of the pack. However, I kept my plan, I ran at 11minute miles and power walked all of the hills. I do pride myself on a very strong power walk.

The beauty of this event is the aid stations. They have the most friendly and helpful volunteers I have ever come across and the stations are also on average about every 5miles. The closest 3miles apart and the longest is 10miles. Focussing on one rest stop at a time is helpful to tick off the miles. Along with the fabulous volunteers it also meant that I was able to see my support crew regulary. This always gave me a huge boost.

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The scenery was much more spectacular than I thought it would be, in all honesty I had never considered the middle of the country to be a beautiful location but for running it is great. The whole run was cross-country but nothing too extreme. We ran through estates, fields, woodlands, canal paths, public footpaths and bridleways. The course consisted of a 20ish mile run along the canal path and then two 30mile loops before heading back to where we started on the canal path again. I knew a lot of it would be in the dark so I was not bothered about the double loop. I was however concerned about the 10mile cheeky little extra loop (again this had to be completed twice), this 10mile loop would be without aid. The first time I completed it was at about 30miles. At this point my brain was starting to play a couple of tricks on me; yes my body hurt but the pain from that point didn’t really change, my mind however was telling me I still had a long way to go. Over 100km! That is most peoples maximum ultra distance! I then deployed the music, I don’t listen to music normally but had asked family and friends to suggest a playlist for me. I put the music on and it just lifted me, it felt like I was flying, the pace I was running hadn’t changed but my steps felt lighter and the grin had retuned to my face. I even managed a bit of a dance here and there.

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I once again managed to break things down and feel calm. Just one mile at a time. The half way mark was getting closer and closer. At 51.82miles I was then able to run with pacers. The incredible support crew then turned from the best cheer leaders and motivators to a relay of runners. This can not have been easy, they also had been up all day following me to each of these aid stations and acting like a pit stop for a formula 1 car. It was now starting to go dark and they knew that they also were not going to get any sleep until I stopped running. My sister-in-law took the first 10miles with me. At first I was embarrassed for running so slowly; but her freshness and bounce made me feel better and stronger, it was also great to chat about anything but the run and the event. Second stint was my husband who is extremely level headed and told me all the facts about my running times; it was nice to see how proud he was of me. However he also got to see some more emotion as I was not able to hide all of the tears from him, once again we kept on plodding and the miles decreased. My sister-in-law then took over for her final 10miles with me. I was nervous at this point as I was going into unchartered territory, I had never run over 70miles before, the last 30miles were into the unknown. I had no clue if my body could take the distance or the pain. It however seemed to be holding up and the couple of hours with Ruth seemed to fly by; this 10miles were also the trickiest with some big hills and a constant incline. The miles were ticking down. I wanted it to be over now and was struggling to think about eating more food; the main food source for 100miles was melon, I didn’t mind which type of melon any would have done me fine. However, it was getting to the stage that I couldn’t even face any melon. To run for 100miles the body has to be fuelled. I had to keep eating and managed a bowl of lentil soup (strange you might think but it was amazing) which kept me going for the next few miles.

At this mark my Dad then picked me up, I don’t think the has run in some time but decided to take on the next 3miles. He did a grand job but only really had one speed and at most points that was slightly quicker than I was running so those three miles went by in a flash. (Other than the added half a mile where we got lost.) We blame him but the signage wasn’t great at a turning through the woods. ;)

The next 6miles was to head back onto the canal path, my Mum was my pacer for this section. On came the tunes and we tried to dance and sing our way to the next rest stop. I thought it would be easy running along the flat canal path to get back, however this was not to be the case, flat is hard on the body when you have run a long distance and even though it was flat it was all very uneven and narrow, it took quite a lot of concentration not to fall into the canal itself. It was now about 3am and I was starting to fade a little, we came up with a plan that I would run for two songs and per walk for one. This was a genius idea, my average speed actually increased and it was fun. At this point I was over taking a lot of runners (now walking). We all chatted to each other and provided as much encouragement as possible, even though still 10miles from the finish it was clear we were all going to make it now even if we crawled.

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Once again my husband picked me up for the last 9miles, the same run and walk routine continued until the very very last rest stop which was only 3.8miles from the finish. At this point I just wanted to get it done, the last few miles are hilly so out came the power walk, at about 2 miles from the finish line Will let me into a little secret. He told me that I was in 3rd position. I just could not believe it, I have never done that well in a running race. He also then told me that the women in 4th is trying to catch up! Argh, the pressure was on. I couldn’t go much faster but I just kept going; the ploughed field near the end of the race was pretty horrendous and ankle breaking but I knew once I had reached the other side of the field I would have about one mile to the finish line. “Just keep moving” became my mantra.

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I then saw it, I was about 200metres from the finish, I increased my speed to what felt like a sprint finish but actually was still a plod and I crossed the line and into the village hall filled with emotions. I couldn’t help but cry, I was overwhelmed that I had finished, proud of myself and filled with utter respect for the other runners. I was also so in love with all of my family who had acted as support crew for a full 22hours and 28mins; they had been my rocks and I would not have been able to finish without them. They are all legends.

I still have not decided if that will be my first and last 100mile ultra. Maybe I should quit whilst I am ahead. I would however tell everyone who is even considering to complete 100miles to do this event. It was so friendly, well organised and had a great spirit.

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.

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

Thank you so much x

Event 19 - The New Forest Middle Distance Triathlon

As I write this I still think I am mildly traumatised by Sundays event. My legs still feel slightly heavy and my stomach is still very tender. 

 The lake looking lovely

The lake looking lovely

As it was my first ever Middle distance triathlon I learnt so much. This learning brought with it some negative and some positive points that will guide me for the next and biggest triathlon of my life; a full Ironman! This middle distance triathlon defiantly tested me and pushed me to my absolute limit. Incredibly my muscles and my fitness felt great, my stomach on the other hand had a whole other bunch of ideas. 

 More briefings!

More briefings!

This middle distance triathlon took in some beautiful parts of the New Forest, a 1.9km Swim in Ellingham water ski lake. An added 2km run to transition number one, then a 90km double loop bike course around the New forest which was utterly stunning, undulating and riddled with obstacles such as donkeys, pigs, stubborn horses (plus their riders) and cattle grids, then a 22km double loop run.

Triathlons are all very new to me, each aspect I find daunting and overwhelming. This event had quite small numbers comparatively to other events. All of the participants were pretty serious triathletes, I felt out of my depth. This nervous tension can make me pretty grumpy and dispondant; this feeling started on the Saturday. My whole weekend was taken up with the triathlon, registration is the day prior to the event and also compulsory race briefings are the day prior also. I kind of resented this whole process. The organisers that came to do the race briefing were enthusiastic and funny and obviously work hard to get the event up and running. They did however want to be treated like royalty, I felt that they wanted a fanfare as they paraded into the briefing room. The briefing was amusing at times and the organisers try to give athletes as much information as possible to make us feel at ease. For me it did the complete opposite, I knew I would not remember all of the twists and turns on the bike, where the gravel was, what the sign posts were meant to be saying. I was then reassured that there will be a marshal situated at every turn and for every section that may be confusing. Grrrrr....then why overload me with information. Sorry rant over.

After the briefing I headed back home to double check kit, eat and rest before getting up at 4am to head back to the start. I am mainly nervous of the swim. Open water swimming is not in my comfort zone, but I have trained hard in the last few months and had hoped I wouldn't be the very last person to get out of the water. The lake was actually quite warm, I got myself in a good position at the start and had a great swim. I was out of the water in under 45mins which I was super chuffed about. Then to take the wetsuit off as quickly as possible, throw some trainers and run 2km to the bike transition. (That 2km run doesn't get taken off the half marathon at the end...Mean).

 The water was very very muddy

The water was very very muddy

I was so relieved to get on my bike, I had recced the bike course, knew it was beautiful and relatively fast. I went for it. I was going at a very speedy pace and hoped to finish the bike in about 3hours. Sadly at about 45km my stomach started to cramp. I tried to change position, drink more, then drink less, eat more, then eat less. Stretch my back out, wiggle around as much as I could whilst still trying to move forward. The cramps and pain became excruciating, I did not even know if I would make it to the end of the bike. The thought of then having to run a half marathon seemed to be completely out of my reach. Crying for the last 10miles of the bike was a huge downer and one of the lowest moments on all of these events so far. Seeing the transition was both incredible and daunting as I knew this would be the time to make a decision. 

 Transition 2

Transition 2

Getting off the bike felt fine everywhere, my legs were not wobbly and everything felt strong. I then went to stand up straight, the pains in my stomach made me cry out. Will was so worried about me, trying to give me encouragement and reassurance. I laid down on the floor for what felt like forever, not knowing if I could even get my trainers on. Some of the people around me had decided to call it a day after the bike section as they were not feeling great. This was not that helpful. I managed to get my trainers on. Head to the loo, cried again but gave myself a stern talking to. Reminding myself why I am doing this, what charity I am doing it for and to battle through just like people with poor mental health do every day. I just had to try to run, if I didn't finish the run at least I tried as hard as I could. A quick hug from the husband and off I shuffled and believe me it felt like a shuffle. Each step put a sharp pain in my stomach.

 The shuffle...

The shuffle...

 Power walk time

Power walk time

After approximately 5mins there was a massive hill to run up. I decided to walk. The whole run course was much hillier than I expected it to be. This potentially could have been my only blessing with the tummy issues as each hill I just power walked giving my middle a little bit of time to rest and settle. I kept on running the painful miles, the marshals were great giving the best encouragement and the double loop course meant that all of the athletes gave each other encouragement also. On the second lap of the run I saw Will, he had come to keep me company, this was amazing as I am not sure I would have managed the last 7miles without him talking to me. 

I have never been so happy to see the end of an event. I crossed the finish line with more tears, in a complete dazed that I had managed to finish the triathlon and also really proud of my mind that I could battle through so hard. I was also really chuffed with how the rest of my body felt. I felt fit and strong (just not my tummy). A finish time of 6hours 45minutes was not what I wanted but it wasn't the time that mattered it was the fact that I finished I should be proud of.

On reflection and decisions with my coach @ironmatemark we believe the trail mix and natural foods I eat whilst training and in longer slower paced ultra races are not suitable for when I am really pushing myself hard. I hope that my stomach never feels like that again. 

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 18 - The Tour De Mon

Well I must say Holyhead is not the prettiest place to turn up to on a Saturday evening in the rain. I had missed registration for the sportive which was due to start early the next morning and I also panicked that I was not able to get into my accommodation as it didn't have a reception. Oh dear. 

Things then started to look up when I got hold of the lovely lovely guy who checked me into my very small bedroom. He was extremely interested as why anyone would want to do a long cycle let alone 30 endurance events. At that point I was also wondering what the appeal was...

 Brighter morning start but still chilly

Brighter morning start but still chilly

However, I was excited about this event, cycling has definitely become my thing over the last few months and I was looking forward to it. Not only that but I would be joined by one of my oldest and dearest friends and his boyfriend throughout the event. I had not seen them in a couple of years so was over the moon when they said they wanted to join.  That evening we all met up for dinner in a lovely little bistro we found by the water and had a good catch up before the ride in the morning. What a treat from my usual early night with a hot chocolate before an event. 

The morning of the event dawned brighter than the day before and the forecast looked to be clearing if a little to windy to be truly enjoyed by a road biker. I had an early start as I had to go to morning registration and forage for breakfast as I was not as prepared as normal.

There were three different distances heading off over the course of the morning. I got to see the Mawr riders starting their epic 100mile plus ride before my start. I also managed to find an incredible granola pot (added ingredient of peanut butter) which I wolfed down to give me all of the energy I would need for the first section at least.

I met up with Sean and Simon; and after a slightly frantic start as I had left my sunglasses in the portaloo we were off!  The first 5miles we got into our rhythm, having never ridden together before it could have been tricky but we all seemed to be cruising at the same pace. Riding with two doctors has its benefits but sadly it also means we had to stop within the first 30mins to help a lady who had come off on a steep decent. Sean and Simon felt slightly helpless as there was not much they could do for the lady other than give her reassurance and call the ambulance. After about 15minutes we were off again. 

I would not call the course stunning or really picturesque but it had a certain charm very different from the rest of North Wales. The route was one massive loop and this gave us views of Angleseys beautiful coastline; now this is something to look for. The route was undulating but nothing crazy with only about 1000m of climbing involved for the 77mile loop. 

 Told you to was smooth...

Told you to was smooth...

About 20miles into the course we got to the most incredible bit of track I have ever ridden on, it was straight, smooth and it was so easy to peddle. I was so amazed at it that I took photos, selfies and a video whilst riding along. I was slightly perplexed as to why the boys had sped off into the distance but I guessed they would wait. With a huge smile on my face I caught up with them as they had reduced their speed. It was then I realised that the smooth road was actually the "flying mile", a mile that was timed to see how fast you could actually ride. Silly me I was just completely oblivious and was daydreaming about all roads being so smooth. 

After another 15miles we had a decent stop at the aid station where there were massive chucks of bread, cheese and jam. If you have never tried the combination before you really should. This gave us all a boost, the next section of the route was the hilliest. I am happy on the hills as most of my training and pre-races seem to be so hilly. The guys didn't love the hills so much but after some gels they battled through like troopers. It was a real delight to be riding with friends and to have company during the whole event. We even managed a little peloton!

 Cheese and jam

Cheese and jam

The miles creeped down and we got to the last aid station to wolf down some jelly babies and then cycle for 12miles back to the finish at Holyhead. It is a perfect down hill end for that last section and it was fun and fast. We were over the finish line for medals by lunchtime. 

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A very well organised and fantastic event organised by Aim High Events. Once again a huge thank you to them for supporting thirty4thirty and for giving me a free sportive place. 

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

 Thanks Aim High Events

Thanks Aim High Events

Event 17 - The Snowman Triathlon

I felt sick to the core and was petrified to be doing this triathlon. I have no clue why triathlons scare me so much. Each of the three components I love, put them all together and I am a jibbering mess. The Snowman triathlon probably was not the best triathlon for my first for thirty4thirty however the lovely people at Aim High Events wanted to support my year of challenges and gave me two free places on two of their events. What legends. 

 Great van location next to the start line

Great van location next to the start line

The start of the race felt quite civilised compared to some of the others. My start time wasn't until 8:35am. I had to get my bike into transition by 8:15am but other than that a lie-in considering we parked the camper in a field down the road! 

It was such a beautiful day and it didn't feel to hot; there was a slight breeze and clouds in the sky. When I arrived at Plas-Y-Brenin for the start and to organise my transition area the Legend triathlon (Half Iron-Man distance) had already set off and I was able to see them in the water. The view was spectacular, the lake is nestled below snowdon and the whole of the Snowdon horseshoe was in view. 

I managed to have another cup of tea and a banana whilst I waited for my start wave. There was a compulsory briefing at 8am; I was ready in my wetsuit and just wanted to get started. Already I had somehow managed to lose my Glide (a lubricant that helps take of wetsuits and stops rubbing), It seriously disappeared and confused me for ages. I never solved the case of the missing lube! 

Everyone was pretty friendly in the transition area and I managed to chat to a few people about what I was doing this year. Most people had done the Snowman triathlon before and were experienced in multiple triathlons. People wished me lots of luck. This may have been a bad sign as to how hard it was going to be!

 Giving Will a thumbs up to reassure him I was ok

Giving Will a thumbs up to reassure him I was ok

I just kept thinking one step at a time. Go for a nice swim. Get on your bike, you love riding and then run up a mountain...no worries. The first swim wave went off, my green wave then got into the water. It was surprisingly warm and muddy. A very different feel from the sea swimming I have been doing. I tried to scuttle around and give myself some room before the horn blew. Five, Four, Three, Two, One. We were off, luckily I didn't get kicked in the face but we all bunched up together and my arms and legs were impeded by others arms and legs. I was trying my best not to panic and focus. I had to get into a rhythm, at first I had to do 50 front crawl strokes and then breast stroke for a short time to relax and give myself some room. At the 500m half way point I was starting to enjoy it and felt a rhythm, I also realised I wasn't at the back which I assumed I would be. I think I should be a faster swimmer but I am just so slow! When I got out of the water I felt I had done the best I could be realised it wouldn't be a great time for a 1000m swim. 24minutes.

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Yay, now I was in my comfort zone, I get to go and ride my bike. As soon as I was on my bike my smile grew, I started to relax and I started to overtake all of the speedy swimmers. You are not allowed to draft on a triathlon but I decided to talk to everyone I overtook or people that overtook me. I realised it gives me strength and motivation to encourage others. We were all in the same amount of pain and were all doing the same race. During a triathlon everyone has their preferred discipline and mine is definitely on the bike. Snowdonia was showing all of its glory, it was truly beautiful, I could have been on my bike for ages. The 70km seemed to fly by, even the massive hills were a pleasure. Coming into Blaenau Ffestineog there was a water station, the marshals were really friendly and filled up my water bottle. It was hot out there and we were all getting through lots of water. The only thing that made my sad was that they didn't have any Jelly Babies for general moral. Oh well I had enough snacks to get me by. I was informed that there was a big hill to come; the hill was huge but that meant there was also a huge downhill; I reached my fastest ever speed on my bike of 48mph!!!!! It was amazing.

I was about 7miles from transition 2 and I had to remind myself that I couldn't be on my bike forever and I had a mountain to run up. I started to talk to my legs to get them ready. They didn't seem to impressed. 

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I felt ok at transition and didn't have the jelly legs everyone had mentioned. I was ready for the climb of 872m up Moel Siabod. All athletes ran for about 100m until it was realised the mountain was steep, really steep. It was quicker to power walk up than try to run. What is both depressing and inspiring at this stage were the runners already finishing the mountain phase and passing me to finish. I said well done to all of them and some of them wished me good luck back. What I tried to remember to motivate myself was that I will be the athlete just about to finish the mountain when people where still heading up. The mountain was hot, steep, very long and hard, my legs were screaming but I did not let myself stop. I reached the top, sadly ran out of water and then tried to run down the technical steep hill. This is where the jelly legs happened. I was over taken by a couple of ladies on the down, after a brief chat with them, both lived in the area and had practised the decent. This made me feel better, I tried to keep up but failed miserably, both of the ladies finished about 3minutes ahead of me. The mountain finished and there was about a mile to the end. I was willing my legs to run as fast as possible but to be honest I was really tired and wanted to finish with a smile on my face. This I did. I was so happy for it all to be over and to have finished this brutal and beautiful race. 

 Running out of water!

Running out of water!

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 16 - The South Downs way by Mountain bike

The main bulk of this blog with be written by my best support crew, number one fan and husband, William Naylor. He has been supporting me and others during thirty4thirty. Some of the events he has taken part in. This event was a huge challenge for me as I was so exhausted from an extremely hard mountain expedition just before the start. Will joined me throughout the South Downs way; it turned the arduous 100miles into an adventure. Will was there through the literal highs and lows and is able to write about his event from a different point of you. Thank you Will...

 The view from the top of Butser hill

The view from the top of Butser hill

 Some big hills

Some big hills

This event was always going to be fun but tough. Abbi returned from Elbrus in Russia late on Sunday evening knowing we were leaving at 0600 for Winchester to start the challenge. I prepped the bikes and kit ready for an early start although was completely distracted by Wimbledon and World Cup finals. We set off at 0710 on a warm Monday morning out of Winchester and straight into it! We said goodbye to our support crew (Abbi's parents) with orders of salmon sandwiches and pork pies with lime pickle for lunch. if you haven't tried pork pies with lime pickle, do it! You'll never look back! After 11 miles we met the support crew at Exton in a pub car park. The support crew were chasing us down the road to get there before us; we managed 37mph on a lane down hill! We were going well and, after circling the next meeting point on the map, we were off. Then it got hot, VERY hot! The heat made cycling very tough as you are slower on a mountain bike and create less wind. Also the high hedges made their own sun traps for us. There were a couple of brutal hills culminating with the summit of Butser Hill. We then had an epic downhill down the other side across open grass. The inner child was free once more! I was then brought down to earth again with the realisation that the point I had given the support crew was about 35 miles from the last one! Oops! Grumpy Abbi. We eventually got to the checkpoint just past Graffham and inhaled salmon and cream cheese, yum! Off to Washington next at the 54 mile point. 9 1/2 hours after leaving Winchester we arrived at Washington to some very welcome cold beers and a shower. We were both burnt to a crisp and in need of some rest before day 2.

 A rest after Day 1 in Washington 

A rest after Day 1 in Washington 

 The best village shop ever in Amberly

The best village shop ever in Amberly

 Tough Times 

Tough Times 

Day 2 was a little shorter but a lot more hilly. The checkpoints were planned out a little better this time and off we went at 0600 to try and beat the heat. Next stop Devil's Dyke for breakfast. After a huge climb in already hot temperatures we arrived at the viewpoint for coffee and breakfast. It was at this point I realised I was not bike fit... the legs were fine but my butt was killing me! Saddle soreness in heat is not fun, fact. The next stage was stunning with a rolling ridge-line to cycle along. We were so glad it was dry as it would have been a lot slower and more slippery in the wet. We took our time a little more on day 2 as we were more tired and the hills were a lot more regular and steep. We did however stop for a lovely ice cream! We had to take the inland route to Eastbourne which neither of us had done before. After 18 1/2 hours in the saddle, 100 miles of off road cycling and over 4000m of ascent (over 3x Snowdon) we reached the pier at Eastbourne ready for another massive ice cream! The South Downs is truly stunning but hard to do in 2 days, especially in the heat. A highly recommended adventure but remember 3 things: 1, easier over 3 days. 2, definitely one to do in the dry. 3, get bike fit and bring lube!!

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Thanks Will for writing the blog, it made me smile. It was a great adventure but as Will mentioned do it over a few days. Also if I was to do it again I would want to have fresh legs and not have Climbed mount Elbrus just days before. I had a very low moment where the tears were flowing and thinking why have a set myself this stupid challenge. Then I remember how far I have come and what an incredible charity this is all in and of. All of the donations and support are really making a difference. Knowing that all of these hard endurance events are worth it. 

Thank you for reading this event blog it means a lot to me (and Will).  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 JustGiving link below or through the website using the donate button.

Thank you so much x

Event 15 - The Dartmoor Classic Grande

It is always an un-known whether camping before an event is a good idea. I tend to be a good sleeper wherever I lay my head but the thought of getting up at 4am to go and cycle 107miles made me more than a little anxious. The dartmoor classic is well known by all road cyclists; it is one of the ones on the to-do list. In 2017 I took part in the Medio Dartmoor Classic which was 67miles, I did it with a friend, I had only just started to get into cycling so had absolutely no expectations. This time I knew what I should be capable of and wanted to get around feeling good and having achieved a decent time. 

The sun came up and I was up and ready applying copious amounts of suncream due to the exceptionally hot weather. The forecast predicted a couple of light showers. I think all of the riders would be happy with a light splattering of rain amoungst the sunshine. 

I was ready to go at the start line when I realised I was the annoying person who was at registration before it had even opened at 5am! I didn't mean to be but I wanted to make sure I was in the first wave of 200 riders to set off at 6am. The Dartmoor classic is so well swept up, the staff are amazing and it is extremely well organised. A heads up from me, you really don't need to be there a full hour before you want to start. Luckily there is coffee available.

So there I was near the front on the riders ready to go, I had seen a few friendly faces, these faces I knew would would be a blur of speed as soon as we got to the start. The Dartmoor Classic starts at Newton Abbot racecourse however the official start is two miles out of town at Clay-pits lane. This is done rightly so for safety reasons through the town. Those first few miles are pretty flat and the pace is ideal then BOOM the bleeper goes and the hills start. Some riders are so inspirational, they fly past, it looks effortless as I was already panting with a maximum heart rate.

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Dartmoor is known for its hills, the grande has over 10,000ft of them to ascend. The first one gets you up high onto the moor, it feels great to be up and at it, then the Strava challenge happens. This is a killer, I have never gone for a record and have always been happy with my time, again riders race up the hill trying to get the fastest times they possibly can. At the top many people are sprawled out on the floor or retching, at this point we were only about 7miles into the route. I was glad to be taking it relatively steady.

The rest stops on the classic are at Princetown, if you complete the Medio you go through Princetown once, on the Grande twice. On the first time around I was feeling good, but I had pushed it a little to fast, 33miles very hilly miles in just over 2hours is way to fast for me. The rest stop is famous for homity pie; homity pie is a potato and cheese pie bourn in Devon and is amazing. sadly I couldn't face it at 8:30am but looked forward to it on my second time around. 

Up out of Princetown and into the unknown 40miles that I had never seen or done before. Then it started....the torrential rain. Showers my arse. The rain continued for the next 5hours. It was so heavy at times I couldn't actually see the road. My glasses needed windscreen wipers, the roads turned into rivers and all of the suncream I so diligently put on was now in my eyes. It was pretty dangerous on some of the downhills I was reaching 30mph without being able to see correctly! 

As I was pushing myself quite hard I started to get a horrible stomach ache, I sadly was struggling to eat or drink much and I was having a bad time. Cycling for that long on your own isn't really that fun especially in those weather conditions. I convinced myself to get to Princetown again for the second rest stop, see if I could eat anything, if I couldn't I would have to pull out. When I got there my stomach was at the worst it had been for the whole ride, severe cramps. Some tears and painkillers later I had to make the tough choice to continue or to stop. My body was telling me to stop but my pride and reluctance to let any of the thirty4thirty supporters down was to much. I continued, in pain but I thought it is only 35miles to go, I can push that out in pain. 

It sure was a painful 35miles but the sun started to shine again about an hour from the finish. I was exhausted but elated that I had pushed myself through that. I really needed to get some food and drink on board before the drive home that evening. My Parents were at the finish line waiting for me, it is always the best feeling to get a well needed hug and a hot chocolate ;)

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The Dartmoor Classic was a big milestone in the thirty4thirty challenge this year. Half way through the endurance events. 15 events down and 15 to go. 

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

 Finished  and happy 

Finished  and happy 

Event 14 - The Salomon Running Festival 20km Trail Run

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I was well and truly excited about this event. My recovery seemed to be going well from last weekends Ultra-marathon. I had a busy week at work so this festival of running was going to be a lovely stress reliever. I was meeting up with fellow runner and friend of mine Adelaide Goodeve to take part in all of the the activities that were on offer throughout the festival and complete the 20km trail run. We had signed up for a trail running workshop, yoga, a guided run with an athlete and also the timed 20km race. 

 Sam teaching us some skills

Sam teaching us some skills

The event was taking place at the foot of Box Hill in Surry. It was the most glorious sunny day and our first activity was booked in for 9am. We were heading out for about an hour with a small group of runners and a Salomon sponsored athlete to learn new trail running skills. He mentioned how much there was to learn and weeks could be spent learning all of the different techniques, he however had one hours to improve two key running elements - up hill and Down hill! Being an Ultra runner it isn't really very often that I run up steep hills; I take the opportunity to walk and change my muscle, I was therefore a little sceptical. However, I persevered and tried to be a great running student, listening to all that Sam (Salomon athlete) said and tried my very best to copy it. He just seemed to float up these hills, I am still more on baby elephant scale. I will get there, I just need to remember to be up on my toes, keep my head up, arms relaxed, chest open and breathe from the belly. Simples. We then started to learn about running downhill. This is something I have struggled with, I wouldn't say I am really slow but I defiantly hold back; I was listening in intently as I really want to become a demon at running down hill. This is when I realised I have been doing it all wrong! Again the body must be relaxed, the arms out further from the body, arms can be used like an aeroplane for direction if needed, slightly lean the upper body forward and then scuff the feet. This was a whole new technique to me, scuffing the balls of your feet everytime you take a steep down the hill allows you to keep control and also acts as a break. It was really fun to practise and feel like a bit of a wally having aeroplane arms. I liked the scuffing technique originally but then it starts to hurt my toes. After a long decent my feet moved forward in my trainers and I could feel them hitting the front. I don't think this would be the appropriate technique for an ultra-marathon but I will keep practising. 

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 One of the very big hills!

One of the very big hills!

It was becoming a scorcher of a day, I had my Salomon Slab vest on that I love and it holds just under two litres of water without really being noticed. I was trying to stay hydrated conscious that I didn't want to be dehydrated for the 20km run coming up. Just after the trail running workshop we were getting ready to run the guided 20km route. Again we were being shown the way by a Salomon athlete in groups of about 20. It was really lovely to be running with a small group and not in a 'race' situation. The pace was steady and the hills were big, my legs were heavy still from the Ultra marathon but I just kept practising the trail techniques, kept chatting and smiling and taking in the views; if I stay positive the kilometres seem to fly by. As it was a guided run the over all pace was slow as we kept waiting for group members and also taking lots of photos. This is a positive of trail running, it isn't all about the times and how fast you can run it is about the experience, taking in the views and being part of the natural surroundings. There were 7 big hills to run up on the 20km course, I feel like I know Box Hill well now. It is a beautiful place to visit and lovely to run around. 

At about 14km most of the group had run out of water; we thought there would be a water station at the half way mark but sadly that was not to be the case. We found out that the water stops would only be available in the timed race later in the afternoon. However, supplies were called for and a 4x4 turned up in the nick of time down a narrow lane to fill all of our water bottles. A couple of people had tripped over roots at this point so also needed a little bit of first aid. With only 6km to go and my water re-filled I felt like I was just warming up and getting into it, the last 6km were my most favourite, I felt good and strong and was having a great day running in the sunshine. As it was a guided 20km there wasn't a big fan fair at the end or medals but just a lovely atmosphere. A couple of people on the guided run had never run that distance off load before. It really felt like a nice community. By the end my legs were really heavy and it was going to get warmer throughout the day, I was glad to be finished and to be able to enjoy the rest of the day. 

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It was now lunchtime; there were loads of healthy options to try and some of the best juices and smoothies ever on sale, it was nice to sit down and re-fuel listening to some talks on the main stage from more incredible athletes. After a relax we went and joined in with the free yoga sessions to stretch our muscles. It is always lovely to be able to practise yoga outside in the fresh air. There was also massage on offer; I just couldn't resist. I went along to the massage to ask to get my very tight left calf looked at. I didn't think I would however get tortured by some strange compression devise! I am not sure if I would ever recommend it again but it was definitely an experience.

Throughout the evening there were the timed trail events and then a bar and music in the barn. :) An all round perfect day. This event I will 100% be going to again. The ticket prices were minimal, there was so much to do and it was great fun. 

 Relax...

Relax...

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 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.

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 Feet up finally

Feet up finally