Withering Heights and Wonderous Memories

My One & Only Grizzly…..

What is it about some of the toughest challenges in your life that keep you going back for more?

The Grizzly was an event I had been wanting to take part in for over a year now as I had to give up my place last year due to lack of training. This year, I was determined to get to that start line and understand what all the fuss was about.

Taking On The Grizzly

After my epic fail at preparing for my Lanhydrock half marathon two weeks ago I was giving my body a fighting chance at this one. For the week leading up to Grizzly, I was putting in the necessary amounts of nutrition and hydration needed, I was showing the race prep the respect is deserved. It was due to be a beautiful day, which only helped the positive vibes as I set out my race kit on the Saturday evening. My race vest and shorts were getting their first outing of the year and I felt ready for the day ahead.

The Grizzly start

It was an early start from Bude, being picked up at 7 am meant I needed to get some early morning nutrition inside me, taking some more to take during the morning. Many of the Caked In Mud crew had already experienced the Grizzly, I had ample exposure to what I was letting myself in for, somehow this never prepares you for the atmosphere once you are there.

Seaton, the gateway to the Jurassic Coast, is a beautiful seaside town in Devon which wholeheartedly gets behind its most famous of events. This year was the first where competitors needed to enter a ballot to get in, the popularity of the event is growing, I was lucky enough to get my place. The whole town gets behind & supports the runners, with many staying in the towns various hotels, B&B’s and discovering the beauty of this stretch of coastline and enjoying the Grizzly fest that happens throughout the weekend.

I have vowed to take the boys camping there this summer as I am ashamed to admit that this was my first trip there, living only an hour and a half away, I will be returning before next year for a more leisurely exploration of the area.

The route was marshalled by over 200 marvellous merry makers, with folk bands playing, drummers drumming on the beaches as well as hundreds and hundreds of supporters lining the route with flapjacks, cookies, jelly babies and other baked goods to help us on our way. The carnival atmosphere never waned throughout the entire 20 mile route.

The beach

My highlight? It would have to be the Valley of the Bogs, where I managed to acquire a new pair of compression socks! The bog managed to give my race outfit a whole new look. The squealing & choice use of the English language that I was witness to whilst slipping & sliding through this part of the route will stay with me for a while!!

The Grizzly is much more than a race, it is a life changing event, one which I hope to be a part of again and again!!!

Grizzly motivation Memory tree

On my mind..

This Sunday I am going to be on the start line of the Grizzly 2014. The winter training has been about this run, it’s been on my mind for over a year now and I am just two days away from meeting it. I am looking forward to making my acquaintance with “twentyish muddy, hilly, boggy, beachy miles of the multiest-terrain running experience you will find this side of the end of time.”

Withering Heights (Grizzly 2014)

By rolling sea and reckless sky
these Grizzly comrades gather once again
to trek across the countryside,
to ponder on the infinities of exactly how and why
that they must explore the very wilderness that hides
within each beating heart,
within the deepening mystery
of their disappearing parts.

Across horizons far and wide
surrendering to the vagaries
of restless time and surging tide,
through gateways of metaphoric song
compliantly they find a resting place
where they, at Peace, belong
and there – rest awhile within their fragile frames
with others of a like-wise, consequential name.

Running free across the land
to reach for what they cannot understand
they find a bond, a helping hand
transcend the awesome “Withering Heights”
past realms of purgatorial agony
and ecstasy delights.

By “cliff and Heath”
by rock and reef
the body is depleted
the challenge, for now,
acknowledged and completed;
the spirit rises forth
in joyful celebration
in annual, glorious revelation
that, despite the trauma and the pain,
the Grizzly flame is re-kindled
yet and yet again.

Beyond all possibility of doubt
still wondering what it’s all about
it has, once more
deep within the secret file,
across all borders of denial,
upon the Grizzly shore,
(where less is certainly much more)
proved the magical worth
in it’s own, re-consecrated birth.

David Kelf
Dungscribe Unlimited
January 2014

© DK (The Celestial Dungbeetle), Ever On Om

Grizzly training

Oh The Places We Go

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Today’s run coincided with St Piran’s Day, the national day of Cornwall, named after one of the patron saints of Cornwall. It was a stunning morning, the plan was to take to the coast path around Hartland with much excitement … Continue reading

Nature Nurtures.

This morning’s run was spent being nurtured by nature.

The view from my kitchen overlooks the countryside that I run in and is always goading me in with its green pastures and muddy trails. I can see my route out over the common that leads into the woods and this morning I was itching to get out there. Pancakes were made and the boys were off to school…this was my chance.

It was T-shirt weather out there today, which always makes me a happier runner. It certainly feels more like spring now. The still air, the muddy but not sodden ground, the protective ewes with their lambs, the pheasants that I startled and of course the spring flowers in the hedgerows & churchyard.

I have survived a winter of run training with all of it being completed in the great outdoors, the promise of spring has been long awaited and I’m one happy trail runner.

Towards the ocean

Moss covered wall image Tree lined route

Respect The Run

Running races and distances requires respect. I knew this, had spent five years learning what works best for me in a race, how my body reacts and how to get the best out of my running.

Yesterday all this knowledge was blown out of the water. I had the worst race ever. I had failed to give my body what it needed to do the distance and had paid the price for it. A 2:22 off road half marathon was not the intention when I stood at the start line, I was using this race as a training run for the Grizzly in two weeks time, but I never expected this. With just an ounce of foresight, I should have seen this coming….

My pre-race fueling was atrocious to put it mildly. I spent the best part of the evening in a local police station identifying my property, which had been stolen from my home in a burglary earlier that week, in a warm stuffy room, dehydrating my body. I had eaten a packet of hula hoops for lunch whilst taking my boys out for the day and to top it off I had a breakfast that wasn’t big enough to fuel a 13 mile run.

My body didn’t take kindly to this during the race and by mile 7 I was run/walking the rest of the way back due to stomach cramps. Not my finest hour. I had not given my body the opportunity to perform at any level. Lessons have been learnt.

Rest and be thankful

Solitude

It’s ok to be alone and enjoy it.

Running allows me to do just that.

Regular snippets of time away, out on the trails or coast paths in the beautiful outdoors, makes me a better mum. The here and now, the changing weather and the fresh air all combine to make it a perfect place for me to enjoy that time. I come back refreshed and topped up with energy.

Time spent running is never guilty time, the boys would find it odd now if they didn’t see me get out on a run and come back rosy cheeked & stinking (their words!). Guilt doesn’t rear its ugly head when I’m out there. I do this in part because of my family, because I want to stay energised to keep up with my 9 and 6 year old boys, because I want to be a fun mum that takes them on fab bike rides and get mud splattered and because it makes me value the time that I share with myself.

I enjoy the strength I have to power on when I put my mind to it, I enjoy having thoughts that only appear when I have quality time away from the madness that is a family home and I enjoy the person I have grown into because of my family and my running.

This was highlighted to me when I watched this wonderful film about Kasie Enman in The Mother | Salomon Running.

A down to earth film that resonates with me. I’m no mountain running champion but you don’t need to be to GET this. Everyone has a way of finding their solitude, whether it is in a shopping mall, enjoying crafting, scrap-booking, surfing, whatever it is, you feel better for having had that time.

There are demands on all of us, be it as part of a family, an employee, a partner and knowing when you need a little me time is a completely healthy part of being you within your own environment. I just know that for me it will always be running that gives me that.

Here’s hoping you all get a little “me time” as well x

Crew running

After reading an article on Twitter entitled The Urban Running Crew movement, I decided that I most certainly can class myself as part of a crew. Quite possibly a Rural Running Crew but a crew nonetheless. Charlie Dark from Run Dem Crew summed it up for me when he was quoted as saying “crew is about supporting and elevating everyone in it, particularly newcomers, beginners, and making everyone the best that they can be.”

That is it. That is why I run with this lovely lot. That’s why I feel included, a part of something, a sense of pride as well as feeling closer to a group of people who were strangers just a few months back.

Caked In Mud crew

Check out that cloud formation! The Iron Lady was watching over us!

Squelch Mud running

We embraced new Caked In Mud crew this morning. Runners who were already doing great things on pavements & roads, who fancied a change. The cake at the end was mentioned a couple of times, it has to be said, but let’s face it, you wouldn’t run 9 miles in the mud just for cake…would you?!

Running with the group enables me to push myself harder – there was certainly one hill I would have given up on if Jess had not cajoled me up there with her encouraging words. We were climbing for what seemed like forever to enjoy views like this

Views

More of the same next week? Oh, go on then. Oh, by the way, it was Carrot & Ginger Cake today with Chocolate & Pecan Brownies. Now, ask me again why I run!!

Team Honk Relay – the Cornish way.

That was the day that was…..

….the first day of Team Honk’s Blogger baton relay from Lands End to John O’Groats

….the first day I had run a section of the south west coast path in the dark

….the first day I had met Fiona from Coombe Mill after a few years of following her on Twitter

What a day!

The morning was spent checking twitter to see how Pippa @storyofmum was getting on as well as getting my boys to swimming and rugby. Pippa’s leg of the relay started at Lands End at 9am, putting their best foot forward for a wonky walk arriving in Penzance.

After travelling through the county to Jackie Murray in Truro it swiftly made its way to Fraddon escorted by the Coombe Mill crew whose fancy dress & quad bike antics made for a great time. Fiona & team then hot footed it over to Camelford, tweeting all the way, to arrive in time for the next portion of the journey.

The clouds were looming heavily over us as we sat waiting for news of the baton’s arrival, indeed we even had spots of rain starting. Ok then, the man suits went on and we were prepared to get a little damp.

My husband, James from Trewin Design Architects and his cycling buddy Stu Mitchell from Bond Oxborough Phillips took the baton from the effervescent Fiona to start their 27 mile cycle from Camelford to Morwenstow, where they would meet myself & some Caked In Mud crew to take on the last leg of that days journey. It was wonderful to meet Fiona after months of chatting online.

Camelford meet

Luckily for James & Stu, they had a tail wind all the way, ensuring they arrived dead on time to meet the lycra clad, waterproofed up runners. After saying a cheery farewell and passing the sign and the baton over, we set out on our journey, 9 miles of coast path running from Morwenstow to Hartland Quay.

Morwenstow handover Ready to run

A journey which as regular runners of this section of the coast path we knew would be a tough first half. With 2172 ft of ascents to take on in just the first 4 miles, it was a hard yet stunning first section. At this point the rain had not reached us, yet the winds were ensuring that we needed to hold on tight to the baton & the sign in case it decided to make its own way to John O’Groats via wind power alone! At times it very nearly did.

Air GuitarIt's a sign

The run itself was made all the more enjoyable by having a team of wonderfully supportive, fun loving runners alongside me. I would never have completed this one on my own. The weather started to take a turn for the worse at the half way mark & we really had to start putting some power into our running to give ourselves as many miles as possible in the daylight that was slowly fading.

We stopped off at Ronald Duncan’s hut to sit at his desk, take some much needed shelter and to mark our journey in the visitor’s book. It was tough to break away from the hut but we still had a journey to complete. We kept on running as the light would soon be fading.

The hut

The darkness hits you like nowhere else when you are out on the coast path. My ears became acutely switched on once darkness fell, the sound of the sea was incredible. We switched on our head torches and took it at a steady pace. One false turn and we would have been in trouble. Luckily Bridget and Roger, our navigators throughout, were past masters at coast path running, both in daylight & in the dark. I can’t explain how happy I was to see the lights of Hartland Quay.

We were soaked to the skin, cold, yet in such high spirits. We had been a part of something that started as a group of bloggers getting together to do something amazing for charity. The only part left to do was transport the baton to Jenny Paulin of Mummy Mishaps from the quay to Bideford. The story continues now with other areas of the country taking the baton, roller skating, swimming, walking and dancing their way through to the finale at John O’Groats.

The start (2) The middle (2) The End

What makes it worth it? Well, knowing that we are raising money for Sport Relief tends to spur you on, so please donate a fiver here as well as eating cake (the recipe for Divine Lemon Squares can be found on my EATS page) and finally sitting in a warm bath at the end of a busy, logistically challenging day tends to put everything into perspective. It had been a great day, now it’s over to the rest of the UK…..

Meeting Jenny at the very end of a busy day :)

Meeting Jenny at the very end of a busy day 🙂

Team Honk 2014 Relay – the Cornish bit!

teamhonkbadgeThis Sunday, I will be part of the Team Honk 2014 Blogger Relay, ensuring the baton makes the journey through Cornwall alongside fellow bloggers, friends and family for Sport Relief. Pippa Best from Story of Mum will be starting the relay off in style in Lands End at around 9am. The morning will involve a wonky walk with mums, dads & kids all donning mismatched shoes along the coast from Newlyn Green to Penzance. They then jump on a train to get the baton over to Fiona Cambouropoulos of Coombe Mill who will meet them in Truro. From there Fiona will be transporting the baton to Camelford with the help of a cycling Ted, after which I step in.

If all goes according to plan, the baton will take to two wheels from Camelford to Bude via a group of cyclists who will pass the baton over to the Caked in Mud runners. Putting our trail shoes on and our muddy feet forward, we will be running over the SW coast path to Hartland Quay, a journey of approx 15 miles with some lung busting elevations to take on! Head torches will be worn as the light will be going towards the end of the run. Once at Hartland, I may take a breather for a slice of cake and a cup of tea, well it wouldn’t be a Caked in Mud run if I didn’t! After refreshing the parts other hot beverages can’t reach, I will take to four wheels in order to meet up with our final Honker in Bideford who will then take the baton through border crossings to Somerset for the start of Day 2. A journey of approx. 41 miles will be achieved by cycling, running and motoring through the northern section of the county.

If you happen to see us on our travels through Cornwall this Sunday, do Honk!

To see how the relay will continue throughout the UK, please follow this link Honkers are still needed for various sections around the country so please check out how you can take part.

 

 

What makes a run a good run?

In my case, it certainly does not depend on the weather. In the last 18 months, I have shed my fair-weather runner skin and morphed into a bring it on kind of runner.

Today’s run was evidence of this change. Storm clouds were brewing as I layered up this morning, getting ready to hit the coast paths and trails around Millook, North Cornwall. It looked like we were in for more storms towards the latter part of the day, so getting out in the morning was sensible.

Starting point

View at the start – Millook

An hour into the run, the group were under no illusions that the wind was picking up, the proximity of us to the coast path made us first hand witnesses to the changing size of the waves breaking onto Chipman Strand. At this point we diverted and made our way inland – a sensible option it was duly noted! I think the wind had whipped us all into a crazy frenzy as we had a giggle for the duration of our 8.5 mile run. The wind at times made moving forwards a sport within itself. We really did have added resistance today. We slipped & slid down many a muddy track, screamed like girls (me) and landed on our posteriors (Sarah), climbed every stile, choreographed the Morecambe & Wise Bring Me Sunshine dance through a field and stopped for some amazing views & photo opportunites.

Sunday Run

The Crew

 

I always look forward to running with a group, not always the same people but always good to chat with, who encourage you up the hills, pass you a fruit pastille or three or arrange to take on certain events with.

What makes a run a good one for you?

A good run for me incorporates being out with people, chatting, laughing, enjoying the space I am in, feeling strong, getting fitter, eating cake with the crew and of course, coming home with a little mud between my toes.