20 July 2015

A visit to The Great Yorkshire Show


Graham and I 

Last Wednesday I had the opportunity to attend The Great Yorkshire Show at Harrogate in a sort of working capacity--talking about and demonstrating Nordic Walking with British Nordic Walking in the Discovery Zone courtesy of the fabulous North Yorkshire Sport.  It was an incredibly fun experience!  For those in the states I would compare the GYS to a state fair, with carnival rides, animal exhibitions/shows, food, agricultural displays, different branches of the military, fashion shows and so on.  Unlike a state fair which usually goes on for 1-3 weeks the GYS is on for 3 days only: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

While there are cultural differences between the US and UK the thing that struck me as the most interesting is that farmers are pretty much the same in both countries! I am not saying that in a derogatory way because a good portion of my family comes from agricultural backgrounds just remarking there is a certain demeanour and no-nonsense attitude that comes through quite strongly.

Because of being there in a working capacity and needing to get back to tend to the mutts I wasn't able to explore as much of the GYS as I would have liked. If I'm invited back next year with the team I hope to be able to be there for all 3 days.

A taste of home 

A few more traditional styles of walking sticks

19 July 2015

Nordic Walking a parkrun and Crich Monument Race

@BritNordicWalk I've become a nordic walking convert! & we would love to see more of your members at @parkrunUK! Can I contact you re this?
— Chrissie Wellington (@chrissiesmiles) July 3, 2015

As most everyone who reads the blog knows I am a huge fan of Nordic Walking, it tends to not get much respect from the running community but that's slowly changing.  Turns out that a triathlete I respect and admire greatly is also a fan of Nordic Walking--Chrissie Wellington!
Our group minus one who had to leave right after finishing, we all got Nordic Walking pbs!

As a result of this several of us decided to NW one of our local parkruns yesterday morning instead of running it as usual, we ended up with 6 altogether at Long Eaton.  We were welcomed quite warmly and when it came go time we gathered up at the very back of the start line because there had been some concern expressed by one person about the poles being in the way on facebook (not by any of the parkrun organisers or volunteers, just a participant of one).  I had two goals for yesterday, to get sub-40 and to demonstrate that Nordic Walking can be quite fast if that's what you want out of it, I think I succeeded at both :-). My official time was 38:23 and my mile splits were progressively faster (12:27, 12:15, 12:10 and 11:13 for the last tenth of a mile).  I am paying for that today though! You activate your glutes and shoulders far more than running and stairs are a bit of a challenge for me to get up and down after pushing that hard.

As if that wasn't enough for the day a running club mate posted up that she couldn't do the Crich Monument Race and offered up her spot if anyone wanted it.  Totally spur of the moment decision to ask if I could have it but I don't regret it at all, this one has been on my 'that looks interesting, I want to run it someday' list.

Crich Monument on the hill

Since I was already feeling the effects of pushing it hard on the walk earlier my plan was to just go out and enjoy myself, I even briefly considered taking along the camera.  There's a bit of regret that I didn't but I ended up with a much faster race than expected (not saying it was fast, just faster than I thought it would be). In the beginning we have a series of stile crossings in fields which causes bottlenecks to form--one of the perils of not starting close to the front but I kind of like the chance to catch my breath and chat with those around so long as it's not an extended pause.

Crazy hair, don't care :-)

After the fields we hit my favourite part of the course, a technical downhill through the forest, again there were areas of slowing and stopping as people not used to tree roots and rocks navigated this section with caution but I love bombing down those! It's almost like a dance when you get it right but it can go very wrong if you misjudge foot placement.

The slog along the canal almost seems endless after the fun of the forest but I ended up pacing out fairly well there and it was at that point I realised I didn't actually know how far the race was! I considered asking the woman who was running just behind me but figured the question might be better kept to myself. Once we started the uphill climb up to the monument I switched to power hiking because I figured it would be best to conserve my energy rather than trying to run the steep inclines.

I look happy, the others around me not so much!

After we got to the top though there was no more walking! It was a mostly downhill bomb that took us through a few more narrow stile crossings (3 I think), through a graveyard, across a busy road, through another field, and 3 more turns on the streets of Crich back into the Village Green and down a short but wicked steep downhill to the finish line chute.

I can't think of anything bad to say about the Crich Monument Race, it was well-marked, they allowed us to switch numbers, there was a banana AND a bottle of beer in the goody bag, it's very reasonably priced, food and cake is available to purchase before and after, the course is interesting and if you remember to give your email address and pay your £1 they will email the race photos to you (I forgot to do so though).  This one is a definite do again event!

2 thumbs up! 

A few photos from the event are here including the last two I have used in this post.

Beer, a Tree, and a Horse

This will be the final post about our Great British Tree road trip back in June.  To be honest I've about let it go so long that I nearly forgot there was one more tree to add to the list! Note to self: write down your thoughts before you forget them!!!!!!!

Village of Beer

After visiting the Darley Oak tree near Upton-Cross we made our way up to Honiton to fuel up and I asked my partner how far we were from Beer, a village on the Jurassic Coast that he raved about.  Turns out we weren't that far and I coerced him into a detour so I could visit it as well.  Well worth the diversion, it's GORGEOUS.  There is something about the water especially oceans that calms and fascinates me--I am a Pisces so there must be a little something to the astrology stuff--and I could have spent hours on that stone beach. As it was we were there for little over an hour walking about and sitting in the sun enjoying an ice-cream. Hopefully we will be able to go back for an extended visit before my time in the UK ends.

Walking down to the beach

The mutts and I walking over to the chalk cliffs, yes I *had* to touch them

The walkways were quite handy because the stones were difficult to walk on, it was one step forward and 2 or 3 back

Deck chairs at Ducky's where we enjoyed our ice creams, even Ben and Elsie got to partake

Our 'detours' didn't end with Beer though, I'd spotted a picture on the web of an interesting sign posted on a bridge so of course we needed to stop and get one of our own! 

Dorset bridge 

That's one way to get to Australia, eh? This is located just outside the town of Sturminster Newton, the afternoon sun was beginning to make the driver sleepy so while he took a catnap the mutts and I went out for a walk along part of the North Dorset Trailway--adding another place to the bucket list of areas I want to run.  It was quite a friendly place and everyone was willing to allow their dogs to say 'hello' to each other which is becoming quite rare nowadays.  

Finally we were on our way to the last planned stopping place for our road trip, Savernake Forest, home of The Big Belly Oak or Big Bellied Oak depending on what you read.  The forest is actually home to quite a few interesting trees but a full day needs to be allocated to exploring the area and we didn't have time to go for a proper walk there.  The Big Belly Oak is located right next to the A346 and while we knew that there was no place to park nearby we didn't realise just how busy the road actually was so our picture was taken on the move from the passenger seat of the car.  

The Big Belly Oak

Because of being limited to 'drive-by' photography there is no picture of the Great British Trees plaque.  The undergrowth appeared to be so tall that I'm not sure we would have found it even if we could have stopped. 

The Uffington White Horse

One final stop on the trek back home found us eating burgers at the base of the White Horse Hill near Uffington, another place that is on the list of must visit again spots since I didn't get to actually walk along it (the partner and I have very differing views on what constitutes a visit to a place!).  

Me being pouty because I was so close yet so far away from the White Horse

As you can see we packed quite a bit into a one day road trip! Hopefully we can go on another soon before we lose all the wonderful summer sun. 

13 July 2015

Let the (last minute) training begin!

After much deliberation (and discussing it with the partner) I have finally signed up for the Salisbury 5-4-3-2-1 event but rather than running it I will be Nordic Walking the 33k distance option.  I was initially considering the 50k option but the aforementioned partner talked me down off the wall for that one.  I'm fairly sure I could run it slowly but going for the walk only option is another ball game altogether because it will be using muscles in a way they aren't accustomed to for that far.

Bristol 2014

To be honest now that the registration form is filled out and submitted the enormity of WALKING 20 miles has just hit me.  Yes, I know it's weird to not be bothered about running that far but scared sh*tless about Nordic Walking it!!!!!!!!  Wish me luck please :-)

07 July 2015

Adios Juneathon

Hello blog, apologies for having neglected you and missing the end of Juneathon.  Yep, despite good intentions I yet again didn't complete the move/blog every day challenge.  I have quite enjoyed catching up on with the blogs and reports of the other participants but I have fallen into the habit of reading them on my tablet using the feedly app at bedtime and it doesn't lend to easy commenting sometimes.  Oh sure I will think to myself I need to go back and comment but 99% of the time I fail to do so, my memory is like a sieve nowadays.  On the upside I have finally started familiarising myself with google calendar and actually USING it!

Activity wise I have dialled back the running slightly in order to get back into the habit of cross training because I have been neglecting the weights and they are oh so important for women of a certain age to help prevent osteoporosis...Not saying they aren't important for everyone but once you hit the point when you are closer to 50 than 40 then it does become a bit more of an issue with the bone density loss (this loss generally starts around age 35).  Of course you also have the added benefits of preventing injuries and keeping the weight at a healthy level, so yeah pumping some iron is kind of important.  I know I certainly run better if I do a full body weight workout at least twice a week.

Last week's running had some interesting twists.  Tuesday's club run was on a gorgeously hot evening that I think I enjoyed more than most of the others but then again I was out for a laid back trot and stayed at the back of the group and I think some took off at a balls to the wall pace for the temp so there was some suffering happening.

My new friend 

Thursday most of the club was doing one race or another so a handful of us went out on a bit of an offroad adventure recce run.  Parts of it was absolutely gorgeous but there were some mishaps of the sort I usually find myself on when I'm exploring by myself.  There was a two mile detour to avoid a pasture of cows and a machete wouldn't have gone amiss in order to cut our way through the nettles, thistles, and brambles!  Some awesome views though and I don't regret a moment of it --well there might have been a WTF have we gotten ourselves into a couple of times, lol. The pics above and below were taken on the run by a club mate (Hi Richard!).

Looks more like a jungle path rather than an English one!

Saturday I made a last minute decision to make the drive over for parkrun despite it being unbearably humid and experiencing some hellacious DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) from Friday's weight session. It's not a good sign when you are covered in sweat from your 1 mile warmup slog!  This time around I seeded myself closer to the front of the pack despite knowing it would cause me to run my first mile too fast (no discipline!).  Of course I jackrabbited and it felt hard from the very first step...what I didn't expect to see was 7:10 flash up for the first mile.

I did my best to push on but miles 2 and 3 were both 7:40 and I ended up having 2 women pass me in the last mile.  The first went on to finish in 22:54 and was running so strong that I had absolutely no chance of reeling her back in, the 2nd I managed to sprint by in the last .10 of a mile and finished ONE second ahead of her. That's why you always run through to the finish, no celebrating or relaxing as the guy in the Peachtree 10k found out over the weekend!

Despite the pacing mishap, I managed to get a pb (UK times) of 23:10, Still need to get those splits into a more even keel though. Let's see if I can match that time at tonight's club handicap!

Start of 2nd lap, don't let the smile fool you, I was suffering