19 December 2014

Cluck-Cluck

It's been a while since my last US versus UK differences post, to be honest it all (mostly) seems normal after living here for over a year! However there were a few things lately that reminded me I still have more to learn (and share!).

A recent twitter convo with Todd McCann (don't forget to check out his blog and podcast, good stuff) brought to light one of those things...it's not unusual for people who live in cities and towns here in the UK to own a few chickens if they have enough of a back garden (yard to us Americans) to allow it. Unlike most urban and suburban areas in the states, it is perfectly legal to own what is traditionally considered a farm only animal--I'm sure there are exceptions but even in London you can have chickens. Of course there are guidelines that have to be followed, proper housing and noise ordinances are at the top of the list.  You can even adopt Ex Battery* hens! Unfortunately from my experience in working at poultry farms as a teen and then at a factory of the largest poultry processors in the world, I don't think this will ever catch on in the US.


Because I don't have pictures of chickens you get to watch this video of re-homed Ex Battery hens instead :-) 

Oh dear, I've got a giggle going now because of mentioning a truck driver and chickens in the same post and I can't get "cluck, cluck, chicken truck" out of my head. A chicken truck is slang for a very shiny, chromed out 18-wheeler with lots of extra lights (aka chicken lights) on it. Unfortunately I never drove a chicken truck--was always too cheap to spend my own money for chrome and lights on a company owned truck.

*Ex Battery Hens are commercial laying hens that are re-homed instead of going straight to a poultry processing plant. Poultry Keeper seems to be an excellent resource of information about what you need to get started with learning how to keep them.


Visiting Verity

Verity
Ever since I first heard about Verity I have wanted to visit her...for some reason this statue struck a chord in my heart and I am so not an art person.  Loaned to the town of Ilfracombe for 20 years (from October 2012) she inspires either adoration or disgust, there doesn't seem to be any in between--I am obviously in the former camp.


We finally visited Verity in mid-October when my partner had arranged a meeting with a mate down in Devon and he included a detour to Ilfracombe--I think this was his way of keeping me from getting too impatient and irritable during the long car ride! She (in my very humble opinion) is well worth the visit, even seeing her from the road on the hill above the harbour she was awe-inspiring. Up close, the attention to detail was amazing, even now I don't have the words as to how much it affected me.


The above photo is why I think so many had/have a problem with Verity but I think she's beautiful. I think the majority of people would have been all right with the nudity and pregnancy but the "stripped" down profile proves to be too graphic for many.  Yes, it's disturbing but incredibly fascinating as well.  

The obligatory tourist pic

My favourite shot of the day

17 December 2014

Swinging away


My favourite strength workout move over the past year has been the kettlebell swing. So simple yet so easy to do incorrectly. Unfortunately since the last BDL cross country race I've not done many, first because of the hip and back hurting and now simply because I've gotten out of the habit! Posting these cheeky pics my partner took back in October hoping it will motivate me to start swinging the bells again.


Of course I could have been doing more press-ups once the back quit aching since no "hip snapping" is required but those have fallen by the wayside as well.  Time to quit making excuses and get back to the strength training.

Ben "guarding" me 

15 December 2014

A little confession

I have gone and done something that I swore I wouldn't do ever again...entered a marathon.  For the past 3 years it had been a case of "been there, done that, got the t-shirt, don't want to do it ever again." The first time it was because I had to do one if I wanted to become an Iron Woman in the Arkansas RRCA Grand Prix series by completing all 20 races, the 2nd time it was because the Marine Corps Marathon was my bucket list race. I'm not a Marine, none of my family were Marines (that I am aware of) but I've always had this deep-seated awe of the Marine Corps since the day I completed my physical to enter the Army Reserves at 17 years old and there was a girl only slightly older than me processing at the same time for the Marines knocking out chin-ups like a boss. Yes, that made quite an impression!


Regardless, I ended up injured with both marathons and the training made me HATE running because it became something I had to do, not something I was doing because I enjoyed it.  Everybody has those moments but for the 2 months prior to both I despised and dreaded almost every single time I laced up my trainers and one consistent thing most everybody who has met me knows is that I LOVE running! I can survive without it but it would be like a huge chunk of my being was missing if I had to give it up for good.  Races are nice but they are not something I have to do to keep me motivated, I can quite happily slog along day in and day out, both by myself and with other people (it does get boring talking to yourself so running companions are very nice to have).  Music isn't even necessary, I can count on one hand the number of times I have ran with an MP3 player the past 3 years. I just love how running makes me feel strong and free.


So why the decision to enter another marathon now? A little bit of it is to see if I can manage to get through one without injury (wishful thinking?)...I'm in a much stronger place with my running than with the other two, both mentally and physically (thank you kettlebells!)--a lot of that has to do with my time of training with Ginny back in Arkansas even if it is over a year gone since then.  There's also the pesky little issue of being frustrated with my finishing times, I'm not ever going to be a Boston Qualifier but I would like to be closer to a four hour finishing time instead of almost 5 hours.  Oh and for some reason despite my previous experiences with longer distance running I've always fancied an ultra so thought it might be a good thing to get the marathon monkey off my back before attempting one of those.

Yes, that is a look of delirium as I approach the finish line of my first marathon

There you are, my confession to giving the 26.2 distance another go. I'm two months into proper training and so far so good, I'm not ready to take a flamethrower to my trainers yet...Dare I even say that I'm actually enjoying it this time around? We'll see what I have to say on February 28th at the start line for the Belvoir Challenge* but hopefully my mental LoveLock for running will hold strong!


*Belvoir in this case is not pronounced the French way...It somehow became "Beaver" over the centuries. No, I'm not kidding nor was this a joke on the American, there's even an explanation on Belvoir Castle's site about it. 

14 December 2014

Where the apple falls...

THE apple tree

Even non-science and maths oriented people like me have no trouble remembering Sir Isaac Newton's law of universal gravitation (please don't ask me to explain it or write out the formula though!!!) so it was quite a surprise to discover that the original apple tree that inspired the law still exists! I found out about it when I stumbled upon the 50 Great British Trees list that I wrote a blogpost about back in November so we immediately started planning a road trip to visit it at Woolsthorpe Manor near Grantham.  Alas, the first trip over we neglected to check the website for the winter opening hours and arrived right when they were closing up.  I could have used my American-ness and tried to plead our way in but I was more in the mood to blend in and didn't want to keep them there for longer than necessary...besides I also discovered if we were to visit on a different day of the week that the entry fee would be less, something not disclosed online!

Woolsthorpe Manor

So cue a couple of weeks later and I've planned another interesting place nearby to go see after visiting the tree and we make the trek again.  We arrived close to shutting down time again (not deliberate timing on our part though) and we really had no interest in touring the inside of the house itself (although if you are into maths and science, the guestbook reads like a Who's Who of that world) so when I requested grounds only entry we were given even more of a discount--that southern accent comes in very handy at times! 


You can no longer get up close and personal with the original apple tree--they have erected a willow fence around it to protect the root system and there is an additional rope barrier further out but there are several other trees scattered throughout the property and there were apples galore all over the ground. One may or may not have found its way home with me! 


Only 48 more trees to go to complete the list! I have caught a glimpse of the Domesday Oak in Ashton Court, Bristol but I was there for a British Nordic Walking event and hadn't yet become aware of the list of 50 so it will require a trip back!  Expat tip: Always check websites and facebook pages for updated hours and expect unannounced closures. I've learned to be way more laid back about the times anything will be open here. National Trust and English Heritage memberships are also well worth the money if you plan on visiting lots of historical sites, right now I only have the latter but both do come in handy.  


30 November 2014

Bakewell BDL

Being silly pre-race

Race reports are funny things, you (or rather I) need to get them written while they are fresh in your mind, hence there not being one for the Chaddesden Park cross country race earlier in the month which is a shame because it involved several very cold stream crossings and me taking a wrong turn.

Crossing the stream at Chaddesden Park

Today as you may have surmised from the blog title was the league xc race at Bakewell which is new to the schedule.  Bakewell, for those not familiar is a very picturesque market town that is famous for the Bakewell Pudding--we've driven through many times but because it is so incredibly popular with tourists we've not taken the time to actually stop so I could sample the dessert.  That was remedied today...as part of our warm-up a couple of us walked over to The Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop so I could buy one for after the race.

Bakewell Pudding!

Wasn't I supposed to be talking about a race??? Today we were fortunate to have a beautifully sunny and dare I say it--almost balmy temperatures for the last day of November.  Didn't mean the course was any less muddy though! There were 3 laps which meant going up a big damn hill 6 times, in reality the hill wasn't terribly huge but it sure does feel like a monster when you're clambering up it.  

Is it a grimace or a grin?

There was also a water crossing but the course designers very nicely provided an alternative route around. It was shorter going through the water of course and the first two times round I took the high ground to bypass it but decided on the last lap that I HAD to go through it just to say I did, there was a second or two gain but alas my legs were too trashed to take advantage of it.  My favourite sections were the massive downhills because I was confident enough in my shoes and ankles to take advantage of them and just let gravity do the work.  The flat sections around the bottom of the course over the plastic gridding were slightly soul-destroying though, not quite sure why but for some reason that area just felt odd, almost like it was sucking the energy out of me through the soles of my trainers.

Definitely a grimace.

I made it almost all the way through the race without any mishaps (yay me!) until the last lap and instead of leaping over the wood creating the steps on the first downhill I caught the edge of it and my right leg shot straight out to the side along the very slick wood (Miss Oops is back!). Imagine a very deep side lunge and you have what I ended up doing while trying to leap past an obstruction. OUCH!!!!!!! It's not good when the marshall audibly gasps and asks if you are all right. It certainly put an end to me being able to muster up any speed.  

Hmm, speed. There wasn't any for me today except for the aforementioned downhills but I'm not whinging about it--no, really, I'm not!  I've come off a hard week of training mileage wise and I am just happy to have gotten this one done for the club.  There was absolutely nothing left in me at the finish line, couldn't even muster up one last minute sprint so if anyone had charged by me they would have taken it easily.  No clue about my finish position, I couldn't even talk when I was handing over the token much less think to look at the number.  Would I do it again? Of course I would!


P.S. The Bakewell Pudding was delicious. However the after-race homemade flapjacks provided by Catherine were even more so!  


22 November 2014

Major Oak in the Sherwood Forest

Major Oak

Did you know that there is a list of Great British Trees in the UK? Neither did I until very recently but apparently 50 major trees were designated as such in honour of the Queen's Golden Jubilee.  Yes, I am such a geek that I want to visit all of them now!

We visited Major Oak in Sherwood Forest Country Park, Nottinghamshire last month as the start of this tree visit quest. The age is estimated to be between 800-1000 years old and the tree now has to be supported with scaffolding and is fenced off to keep people from causing any further damage. To be fair the fencing isn't terribly obtrusive and certainly wouldn't keep anyone away but most visitors tend to be on the respectful side.

One thing we didn't expect on the trail to get to the tree was a statue of Robin Hood that looks uncannily similar to Robin Williams! Kind of a sad moment but puzzling as to why the sculptor based it on the actor to begin with (or was it even intentional?).

See the resemblance? 

Even if you aren't into old trees the area is well worth a visit, we didn't stray from the main path but there looked to be several interesting smaller ones that I would love to go back and explore, preferably while running.  Now which tree should we plan a road trip to visit next? 

*Update since writing this I've learned that Major Oak was voted England's Tree of the Year, cool, eh? 


22 October 2014

The UK driving test experience

The dreaded L plates

Another expat rite of passage is done and dusted finally--I am now in possession of a UK driving licence!  It's been a very stressful (and expensive) process because Great Britain has one of the most difficult tests and I had nearly 3 decades of US driving habits to overcome.  The theory and hazard perception exams required as much studying as the written portions of the CDL and the practical (driving) section was far and above more intensive than my car, truck, and motorcycle tests combined.  

The US doesn't have a reciprocal agreement with the UK but you do have one year to drive on your state issued driver's licence without having to display L plates (magnetic or sticky emblems that are placed on the front and rear of the vehicle), being restricted from the Motorways (interstates), and having to have a licensed driver with you.  True to form I procrastinated and didn't apply for my provisional until right before my year was up which made the process slightly more rushed than it should have been (don't do what I did!).  On the plus side, my partner trained as an ADI (approved driving instructor) so I didn't have to pay for lessons--I highly recommend at least taking a couple of lessons so that you know what is expected for the test.  

I would like to say that I passed my first time but alas that wasn't the case...A bad case of test nerves that wasn't helped by a cranky partner resulted in me pulling out of the centre and going on the wrong side of the road, something I hadn't done since the first month of moving here. Yes, that's right I failed my test in the first minute of driving! Muscle memory is a hard thing to overcome.  The most frustrating thing? Knowing I'd failed yet still having to continue on with the test for the remaining 37 minutes and only garnering 2 minor faults after that.  

As soon as I got home from the first practical test I logged onto the DVLA site to schedule another appointment--the time span that you have to wait has changed from 6 weeks to 10 business days--but the earliest date I could get was the first week of November from all the test sites within a 20 mile radius of our location.  Not ideal since that meant I couldn't drive anywhere without a licensed driver with me during that time and my partner is most definitely not a morning person! A trick most people aren't aware of is that you can reschedule free of charge and there are almost always last minute cancellations.  By checking the site 2-3x per day I was able to change my date from November to the 29th, the 24th, and then finally the 22nd which was the 11th day after my first test! I also made sure it was later than my partner's normal wake-up time in order to avoid the 'not enough coffee' grouchiness, lol.  

So that brings us to today...the 22nd, and I'm sure you're asking yourself "Come on, how did it go????" No? Well, I managed to pass this time around and again only garnered two minor faults (minus the one big major that failed me the first time). Whew!!!!!!!! The average pass rate at the centre I tested at is 12 minors so I'm well pleased.  One of the minors was related to my truck driving days--while performing the reverse around the corner maneuver I didn't use the back window as much as I should have.  Fortunately the examiner and I had been having a good chat and he knew that I'd driven a big truck for over a decade and he'd driven lorry in the military so he realized why.  It was a gorgeous reverse other than that--perfectly positioned and smoothly executed--I hadn't done that well on all of my weeks of practice! The second fault came in when I became confused by one sign and markings on the road that offered slightly contradictory (in my opinion) information and positioned myself in the incorrect lane for going straight across the junction.  According to the examiner that sort of mistake happens at least twice per day during their tests so it's no big deal unless you panic.  

There's my UK driving test experience, please feel free to comment if you would like any more information or clarification--hope this has been informative and not too terribly boring :-).  

17 October 2014

Today's Earworm

Stumbled upon today's earworm this morning and I've listened to it far more times than what's probably healthy. Hope you enjoy it as well.


Gallery 47

12 October 2014

US/UK words and the BDL blues

Autumn colours

I don't think I've had any word difference conversations lately but I did get to help out at a pub quiz by correctly spelling "Massachusetts" for the group during a running club member's leaving do last night. Score one for the 'murican! I love pub quizzes, we should attend them more often but they do get quite competitive.  I do want to share the following infographic though.

Image via Anglotopia facebook page

A few of these are interchangeable in the states, ie taxi/cab are both used as is fall/autumn.  The picture of drapes/curtains is most definitely showing curtains, the closet/wardrobe is representing a standalone unit so that would also be called a wardrobe or alternatively, armoire.  They also left out a third option for gasoline/petrol--those of us who are or were truck drivers (lorry drivers) across the pond commonly refer to both gasoline and diesel as fuel, granted that's a smaller segment of the population but I am throwing it in there anyways.

It's funny how my use of words are changing, yard and garden are both used equally now and I had to laugh at myself today when I was explaining to my partner that the only working pay and display machine was the one with the long queue.  Still having trouble with the whole pants and trousers bit though!  

Today was the first cross country race of the winter for the BDL (Booth Decorators' League) and quite frankly I was not ready for it.  I'm still not feeling back to normal, the only running I did this past week were the club run nights and they were both short but hard effort runs. The weather was beautiful though, so nice having a XC race where we weren't freezing and covered with mud!  

Yes, I'm suffering!

I can tell you that watching a calf muscle twitch while it's trying to decide whether or not to cramp up provides a bit of morbid entertainment as does my cursing about it! My left leg decided to let me know it wasn't one bit happy with what we were doing just a little before halfway through today's race, the last time I had this happen so severely was at the Malta half marathon when it looked like I had a fist sized knot on the backside of my left calf.  The cause that time was dehydration as well so it's time to get my act together when it comes to drinking enough water.

Current status: reeking of bio-freeze, wearing Mary Kay pink leg compression sleeves, chugging tea, and suffering the BDL blues. 



05 October 2014

Lost one, won one


Like so many in the UK running community this past week I received the "Sorry" magazine that I was unsuccessful in the Virgin London Marathon lottery.  Guess that means I should get off my lazy arse and make up a running plan to try and train for a "Good For Age" entry time for next year but that means I would have to knock over an hour off my current marathon times...and try not to get injured in the process (again).


However the next day I noticed a post on the UK Women's Running Magazine facebook page that I'd won an entry into the Red Bull Steeplechase! I'd forgotten even entering the competition! Granted I knew I would get knocked out well before the final stage but who cares, this is an area I've been itching to run in anyways and to get a medal, hoodie, a bag, and a lunch for doing so...hell yeah! Ok, I've gone a little overboard on the exclamation marks, lol.  


Here's where things go a little awry--I've not felt well since Thursday so the nutrition has not exactly been stellar, ie I've not ate or hydrated enough for a hard-core trail run and Friday morning's normal run wiped me out. Not good but there was no way I was passing up the chance to run in the Peak District--did I mention we would get a hoodie as well??? 

Sporting the club colours--represent, y'all.

I've had some calf issues on the hills lately so thought the compression sleeves might be a good idea this time around. Looking at the crowd pics, I was not alone with that train of thought.  They did help but really the only thing is to get out and train on those hellacious inclines.  To me, the above shot also shows how bad I was feeling pre-race.

Wonder what's going on here? And just WHY did my partner take this pic? 

Apparently there was a malfunction with the gun so the guys didn't get the "On your Mark, Get set, Bang!" on their start. Us ladies did though ;-)

Ready to run! 

I think it must be an unwritten law in the UK that the majority of fell races must start with an evil uphill climb and this one was no exception.  The difference is that this is this one required the use of all your limbs to get up the steep incline--in between gasping for air, another girl made the comment that it was her first race to require the use of her hands on the ground to get up the hill...Wasn't my first but it doesn't make it any easier! 

And we ran! Until this started, then we hiked


And then we clambered. 

What goes up must come down...Eventually. Before we got to that point though we had to try and find a decent running rhythm on the undulating rock steps.  Which were slippy. And very hard, especially in shoes with no padding and hard plastic studs on the bottom.  

The downhill to match the uphill in the beginning was a doozy.  Slippery wet grass that hadn't dried out from the morning's frost made me appreciate the shoes I was cursing metres before. I was able to grip in and make my way down sideways fairly fast(ish)--speed is all relative when it comes to fell running.  Of course the moment I didn't grip in quite well enough and slid down a foot or two on my bum was probably the fastest part of that descent. Grass is nice and soft and I didn't find any rocky speed humps so no blood this time around.  


Not long after the steep downhill and before the halfway point of the first stage is where I started to get into trouble though.  I had already dialed down the speed I would usually do something like this at because of not feeling well but then I started to get dizzy spells. There was one mile where I'm not sure how I even made it through because it was so technical and I was having trouble focusing on the trail, I do know I stepped aside for several runners to allow them by but the rest of is a blur.  Fortunately I'd packed a 9bar in my spibelt and was able to swallow three bites of it, that seemed to help but I knew at that point I was done for the day even though I had a comfortable margin to continue on for the 2nd stage.  



I had a bit of a nice surprise at Bamford, walking up one of the last inclines I started getting heckled by my partner who had driven over to visit his mate while waiting on me.  It perked me up but I still didn't run that damn hill, lol.  As a matter of fact it energised me so much that once I reached the chutes and saw I was 71st female (cutoff was 85) I thought I would go ahead and run the second stage...that lasted right up to the point where we turned out of the field to go upwards again and I started feeling light-headed once more.  At that point I turned around and walked back to call it quits and catch a ride to the finish line on the shuttle bus, there was no need in endangering me, the others around me, and worse case scenario having to utilise the rescue services.  To continue on in an easily accessible road race is one thing, to do it on something like this would have been completely irresponsible on my part.  

This overall was a brilliantly organised event and I would definitely do it again--hopefully under better personal circumstances.  The marshalls were excellent and VERY encouraging (except for the one bloke who was more interested in his phone), the scenery is gorgeous, and it's extremely challenging.  The only complaint I could make would be the stewards not being aware of the amount of parking left at the top before sending several cars on up, that created some snafus because there wasn't a good turn-around place at the top.  Another tiny complaint is non-race organisation related but more other runner related--the British love of queues goes out the door when it comes to races!  I was practically shoved out of the way several times at the registration table...lol, I'm supposed to be the rude one being American and all (stereotypes, eh?). 

The bling

The swag was top-notch as well, we received a drawstring bag to put our gear in at the start, a medal, a canvas bag, a hooded sweatshirt, lunch, all the Red Bull you could drink as well as beer or cider if you wanted.  I had to say no to the beer tent though, I was feeling too ill.  


The obligatory aftermath pic

I have to talk about the hoodie some more, it's AMAZING. Very good quality, nice drawstring, the hood itself is lined with thermal type fabric, it's not the typical black, the graphics on the front and back are nice and it has THUMBHOLES!!!! Yes, I'm gushing about thumbholes, it's a female runner thing I think. 


03 October 2014

Busy Busy


Whew, the last two weeks have been busy.  I have to take my practical driving test soon so most afternoons involve getting out and practicing my driving for at least two hours. Tuesday ended up being a very long day of it with 4 hours behind the wheel and most of it being on Sheffield streets--not very fun.  That might not sound like much considering I used to be a truckdriver but imagine spending your entire driving shift focusing on getting the procedure perfect, with big city style traffic, on narrow streets (think Philadelphia), being on the opposite side of the road than you spent 30 plus years driving on, in a car that is less than stellar in the smooth ride department, and having someone next to you judging your every single move down to the most minuscule--yes, I'm stressed, lol.

Hopefully the next pic like this will be me next to the Mini holding my UK licence

In other news, I am now an INWA qualified Nordic Walking Instructor! I attended a British Nordic Walking instructor course last weekend and wow, was it intensive! Very fun though, I loved meeting the others who were attending and hearing about the varied backgrounds and why each was going for the NW qualification.  Part of the course is that you are filmed so that you can see how your form is progressing and there was quite an improvement in mine from when I took the leader course last spring and now. I think I managed to get all 10 steps into my last evaluation even--although the rotation is still hard for me to attain much less maintain for very long.

At the Bristol Challenge Event

Running has been sporadic but I did get myself out for an early(ish) run this morning.  If I hadn't shattered the screen on my phone I could have taken a beautiful pic of the sunrise and a covey of grouse pecking about in a freshly plowed field.  I ended up taking an unexpected detour though, one of my favourite paths is closed for maintenance until March 2015.  A cheeky dog walker was still using it this morning but I suppose I'm too much of a rule follower so I went the opposite direction...which ended up being alongside a major route during morning rush hour. Ugh, how the exhaust fumes burnt my nose and throat, I've gotten spoiled to not having to deal with that very much over the past year.  Today was also my first fasted run in quite a while, couldn't figure out why I was flagging at 4 miles in and then I remembered, no food in over 12 hours! Small issues aside, it was still a good run.  

The current state of my phone :-(

21 September 2014

Stanage Struggle 2014

I do love a good fell race. Even more so if I finish feeling better than I did at the start.  The Stanage Struggle was a last minute decision and I almost backed out of it when I woke up at 4am this morning and couldn't fall back asleep properly.  Even at the start line I was standing there thinking why the hell am I doing this...Once we started moving though I settled in to a comfortable place within my head and just made up my mind to enjoy it.

Bargain race of the year, £5! 

And enjoy it I did.  The disgruntled sheep who leapt through the pack of runners provided a laugh, at least from 10 runners back it did. I'm sure those who were right there didn't think it was quite as amusing but I don't think I've ever seen a sheep catch that much air in a jump before.


The relentless climb where most of us in the middle of the pack were reduced to walking didn't even kill my mood although my calves were on the verge of cramping. Instead I channeled my inner Jens Voigt and repeated (silently, talking took too much effort) "Shut up legs", I wonder if anyone else was doing the same? 

Once we reached the top I took a moment (while still running) to admire the view...Next thing I knew I was doing a World Series worthy home run slider head first! Adrenalin rocks though, I popped back up as fast as I went down and didn't even lose a position. Yes, Miss Whoops strikes again! 

The steep downhill ascent lost me time and several spots though.  My ankles are still not as flexible as they should be after the sprains earlier in the year so I was taking that far more cautiously than I normally would.  It doesn't help that I'm woefully out of practise with running technical (aka too damn rocky) trails.  

The aftermath

I made up for it once we reached the gentler sloping areas, bombed through mile 5 at 7:37, then mile 6 at 8:50--we started climbing up again and there was a boggy area to cross through that was ankle deep and a bit shoe-sucking.  When I say boggy, I mean not just the fact that it was wet and muddy but it was also that I think it was the preferred sheep toilet area--it stunk!!!! 

Heading for the finish

Gaining on the guy in blue

Oh, hello there! Smile for the partner and both feet in the air. No, those two things are not necessarily connected but it did make my day to see him at the end. 

Hair, tattoos, and laughter.

The Stanage Struggle is on my list to run again, actually I would love to do the entire Outdoor Challenge race series next year.  Hathersage is a beautiful village and the race was well-managed, very well marshaled and the people on the trails were very supportive, lots of cheers and well-dones.  There was even a water stop at the top before the turn around point which I didn't expect but was a nice touch.  

What I need to work on: 
  • Calf strength--I'm doing well with deadlifts, squats, and lunges but need to start adding in some calf specific strength exercises to combat the trying to cramp tendency while climbing the uphills
  • Technical trails--I used to be quite good with rocky and uneven terrain but have gotten out of the habit of running over technical ground the past couple of years
  • Ankle flexibility--again, have gotten out of the habit of doing the ankle mobility work.  Need to get back with that
  • Speed--self-explanatory, need to get faster
After the race, you gotta refuel! The past few times we'd been up to the Peak District we had just missed Grindleford Station Cafe being open but we lucked out today :-).  Post run reward was a full English and a huge cup of coffee.

I ate everything except the sausages. 


Check out the pics from a previous visit (2011) to Hathersage when we visited Little John's Grave