Tag Archives: scotty runner

Birmingham & Black Country Half Marathon – 4th July 2015

11666307_1675338089363843_3387246012947531879_n

I had been looking forward to this race for a while. I did the Birmingham and Black Country Half Marathon last year too. Last year and I completed 13.6 miles in 1:58:12.

The few days prior to the race I had been seriously carbing myself up with lots of raw vegan fresh fruits and vegetables. I believe lately that this type of eating is dramatically helping with my previous injuries, which have now completely gone after nearly a year, and recovery. Look at Wednesday 1st July 2015 for example. Only 3 days before the Half Marathon I ran 30 Miles. I got home and ate 1kg of cherries (which are great for inflammation), had an ice bath and when I got out of the bath I felt great. The next day I felt as if I had never even ran the day before… let alone 30 miles. I was gobsmacked.

On the morning I ate 4 bananas and 175g of dates about 2.5 hours before the run. I also had 75 cl water.

Aaaaaanyway. So me and my husband Philip met my friend Steve at Northfield Train station and set out to Birmingham New St where we would meet Thom, and get a connecting trail service to Wolverhampton where the run starts.

11709485_1675417472689238_6759995285617227417_n

Here is a picture of Philip who can’t go five minutes without a coffee and Steve looking a bit sleepy as well.

11666172_1675345252696460_6072812980780610579_n

Here’s a pic of Steve kindly helping Philip set up the Garmin 310XT I let him use on race day to keep an eye on his average and actual current pace.

When we got to Nw St station we were all over the place with the typical switching platforms. They switched platforms one minute before the train was due to leave. Though they switched it to a platform in which they had closed off the escalators. I have seen this a lot lately. I’m not sorry if someone from the station reads this but I think you need to start using your brains. That station is supposed to be an upcoming better and mega big modern station. At the moment it’s a pile of wank! Get it sorted please. What a mess! Finally we found ourselves on the right platform after a massive detour. We found a table seat to sit at and Thom found us on the train and sat with us… Yay the group together.

We nattered about expected times etc and helped settle our nerves a bit as we watched others already running down the canal, as we took the train parallel to it. This race is done in waves which is good for those wanting faster times I guess. 😀

11141158_1675356982695287_1505635986798281077_n

Here we all are. Finally made it after almost following another runner who was obviously going the wrong way to the start line lol. Aren’t we a sexy bunch of runners? Gotta be the plants! 😀 Philip decided to do a bit of a meditation before we set out on the course.

Our wave was at 10:30 so we all checked our bags in to be taken to the finish line, queued for the toilets, checked if their high energy drinks where Vegan (and they were), and nattered by the start line waiting to be called. A guy who had a Cancer Research top on came and chatted with me a while. He was a nice guy. He talked about how he was doing weight training and realised that it was all just vanity and he really wanted to make a difference. He wanted to run for charity and help a “good” cause. I thought that was so nice of him. Although he can be making better choices…. I’m not going to judge him and tell him about his mistakes just before his first ever half marathon. He took a very keen interest in my Veganism you see, he didn’t judge me or anything but was really curious and asked about how long I’d done it, my energy levels, running, ethical reasons. I decided I would give him just enough basic details to hopefully research it further at home and then maybe find out about Cancer Research too and switch to something else.

So we were called to the start line for briefing at 10:15. They discussed the typical rules of a race, keep hydrated and what to do if injured or pulling out etc. Then we went through a gap in the wall on the little dock to the canal. Here a guy called your number when you got to the front of the queue. You stepped over a black line mat on the ground and your timing chip began… as did my Garmin watch, naturally. I also started listening to a chillout compressed half hour Linkin Park Track. I wanted to listen to their full heavy album to get me going. To my surprise though my iPhone for some reason has removed it when I plugged it into the PC the day before.

I was now running. Steve was by me and we were going out pretty fast. In fact we wanted about an 8:20 minute mile average and this first mile was done in 7:38. About a mile in I called to Steve “hey if we keep this sort of pace up we will be making it in a killer time! We obviously both felt very strong at the time. I think about mile 2 I asked how his knee was after he injured it 3 days before and it was feeling fine. He had a knee support pad on and I don’t think he even KNEEded it in the end 😉 Shortly after that I went on a little as I was feeling comfortable and I saw a geezer with a backpack on who looked like an ultra runner. I thought about keeping up with his pace as it looked like the kind of pace I’d have liked to complete the race in. I was behind this guy for a few miles just tailing him. Eventually I overtook him.

Mile 3 and it was the first check point. I went for a water and no high energy drink this time. I don’t normally hydrate until 45-60 minutes but with the land I was covering at this pace and the hot sun shining down on me I started hydrating early!

I had now changed my music over to a Chillstep track I had on there. I have just got into Chillstep. It’s absolutely BEAUTIFUL music to run to. If you search “chillstep” into Youtube you will find loads of tracks over an hour long you can just play and enjoy!

Although the music is beautiful, any music can be a distraction on race day. I turned the music right down to level 1 so I could hardly hear it but could hear nature around me as I wove in and out and round the snaking towpath.
About mile 4 I started to slow down a bit. The sun was belting down on my bare head. I wish I’d kept my headsweats hat and not put in my bag. Hey ho what’s passed is passed and I know for future reference now.
By mile 5 I was down to 8:18 minute miles, but still on target easily for an average 8:20 minute mile race overall.

I had noticed that around mile 4 or 5 we had started to catch up with some people from the earlier waves. This was nice as it gave me plenty of opportunity to spur people on.

I knew my pace was slowing so I started meditating right away. The first thing I do when I begin a meditation while running is to remind my body to relax. I make sure my shoulders and back are both relaxed. I make sure my arms are swinging nicely with lose fists swinging back and forth gently at a 90o angle at the elbow. I make sure my chin is up and I’m looking ahead at the ground in the distance, not right under in front of my feet. I check in with my breath and try to get a bit of rhythm to it. Next I begin the counting. I step with my left foot and then my right and count 1 on my right step. I step with my left foot again and then my right and I count 2 with my right step. Every other right step I count 3,4,5 all the way up to 20. As soon a I hit 20 I start again at 1. I do this over and over and over until I’m lost in trance.

Next checkpoint, mile 6, excellent! This time It’s a water and a high energy drink and on I go! 1,2,3,4,5……20,1,2,3,4,5……..20…… I was now lost again in counting when I heard one of my favourite parts of my music come on. I turned it up full blast and got lost in the euphoria of awesome music and awesome running in an awesome atmosphere. As the track switched to a new one, I turned it back down and started to focus on the counting again. I notice I had slowed to about 8:30 minute miles and I felt that I needed to slow down further, and give myself a bit of a respite should I wish to complete in good form at a good pace.

Check point 3 at 9 miles creeped up on me, and I took 2 waters. 1.5 to drink and 0.5 over head. Which left me feeling like I’d drank sea water as I carried on running. I had reduced my counting now to 8. I learned that as your focus becomes less then you can count less numbers over and over and over and increase them as your focus becomes stronger. I wouldn’t go over 100 though. There were a lot of people from earlier waves at this point who were walking. It’s understandable. There isn’t much shade on this route and the sun was belting down on us all, while we were all trying to push ourselves as much as we could to that finish line. It was an honour to be able to try and push people on. Calling to people to keep up the good work, and reminding them “you got this” and “not far now”.

As I approached mile 10 Steve come up to me. He ran by my side for a few moments as he called “Come on Scotty you are faster than this”. I told him I got too cocky and set out too quickly so was preserving some energy for the end. He went on ahead. This spurred me on a bit to trail behind him a while. I called to him “Go Steve Go Go Go! Show us Vegans proud! WOOOOOOOOOOO”, I must admit I was a little hyped. I was just so happy at that moment. The finish line wasn’t far off, people out here doing the same thing on their weekends off, the sun, the nature, the beautiful green and birds and canal. Also because Steve was limping about like mad a few days before. I was so worried his knee injury was going to hamper his day today, but it didn’t. I kept praying he’d be ok and now here he was charging forward relentlessly, making excellent time on his race!.

Steve got a bit ahead for a while. We past the last checkpoint at mile 12 where I got 2 water. Necked em back and made a final push for it. Funnily enough mile 13 was my slowest at 9:05 minute miles. I did manage to creep back up closer to Steve though. There were 2 girls inbetween us who were from a previous wave. I overtook them. We were so close to the finish line. I saw Steve and I knew if I kept going at this pace (7:10) I’d catch up and we could run through the finish together both wearing our Vegan Runners tops. I knew the commentator would perhaps call our finish and we could show people Vegans can do this shit too! As I got closer Steve turned and saw me approaching. He thought I was going to overtake him, and I certainly didn’t have the energy to explain my idea to him. He looked shocked and he turned and made one final dash for it and over the finish line. I came in 7 seconds later 🙂 I was 249th place which put me just inside the top quarter of 1000 entrants. My final time was 1:52:16 which is a great improvement on 1:58:12. Also it was a slightly shorter distance at 13.4 rather than 13.6 due to changed route.

11659334_10153445121342188_8390650210614870032_n

Here’s a group of me Steve and Ian Mackenzie at the finish. Well done on your time of 1:38:25 Ian.

Well done to fellow Vegan Runner Mike Tomkins who came 22nd and had an awesome time of 1:27:46. Well done to him getting it doing in that heat and that time 😀

I did my usual stretching routine and then we headed to baggage reclaim and got our goody bags. We then went back to the finish line to wait for Philip and Thom. We also tucked into 4 big bags of Satsumas nom nom nom. These were soooooo refreshing.

11070560_1675451136019205_72360341066063013_n11714505_1675677585996560_99476932_n

Philip has been commuting to work and back running for a few months now. He hasn’t really done much long running but gave it a good go. This was his first half marathon and he wanted to complete it in about 2 hours 30 mins . He came through in 2 hours 32 mins. Fantastic job Philip well done. I was sooo proud of him.

11716025_1675700215994297_1362296571_n

Shortly after that Thom came through too. I was really surprised with Thom. Not that I didn’t think he could do it but that he hadn’t done ANY training hardly. He did a 8 miler with me about 2 months ago and one other run since then. He used to run a lot and his previous PB was 1:52 I think (correct me if I’m wrong). I know that doing this today is going to have such a positive impact on him. I know it’s going to give him so much drive to get out there and train again and get fit. There’s no way he will leave this gap between his PB and this run. Which is excellent. Just the inspiration he needs. Anyway to have completed at all given the circumstances shows his mental strength and how AWESOME plant based diets are 😀   11705160_1675415116022807_3794626221627591209_n
We all chatted a while and baked in the sun eating satsumas and then sharing the 2 large punnets of strawberries that Thom brought with him too mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. . Steve left a bit earlier as I think he wanted to take buses rather than the trains. We then made our way up the canal path and through the ICC back to New St station.
11667071_1675700185994300_653751481_n

For recovery when I got home the first thing I did was have a bath filled with cold water and a bag of ice cubes. This works wonders for the next day. I also had another 700 grams of strawberries and 250 grams of delicious raspberries. The next day? I’m feeling fine and ready to continue training next week as normal 😀

I would highly recommend this event, it’s well organised and a wonderful route. They have also taken off a big hill and off road section, so the whole thing is now on towpaths and really flat. There’s just a few bridges to cross over towards the end, and a loooooong tunnel to go through, but nothing major to stop you getting a decent time on a flat. This was my second year and I’m hoping to do it again next year if it doesn’t interfere with potential of doing Race to the Stones instead.
Summer around the reservoir marathon next 26th July 2015!

Thanks for reading.

Advertisements

30 Miles and 33oC. Birmingham-Stratford Upon Avon

11707506_1674464782784507_49469210224150718_n

Yesterday (1st July 2015) was the hottest July day on record in the UK at 36oC. I certainly could tell when we were out there running 30 miles!

On the last day of June my friend Steve said he was going to go for a long run along the canal towpaths from Birmingham to Stratford Upon Avon. That day I was supposed to be running 5.5 miles on my usual circular route.
I asked if he would mind if I came along and he said I was welcome. Due to the distance I mentioned that I’d likely do 8 or 9 miles then run back to make 16-18 miles I didn’t think 30 miles was a good idea 3 days before a half marathon race!… in the end though I did the whole thing.

bhamsua

We had arranged to meet at 9:05am by the Wast Hills Tunnel Entrance to the Towpath on the side that heads towards Birmingham City Centre. This was so I could set off at 9am. I did set off at 9am and I don’t know how I underestimated the distance as it took me longer than I thought. I was late and my first mile was done at a 7:45 minute mile pace lol. I certainly wouldn’t be carrying on at that pace for the next 29 miles!

Our plan was to go at about a 11 minute mile average and for the first 15 miles we where at a 10:20 minute mile average.
Obviously at this point I’d decided I was going to run the whole way. We stopped at about mile 13 in Hockley Heath and topped up with liquids. I remember wanting a Lucozade Sport Orange but noticed B6 in it and wasn’t sure if it was Vegan. It was only later asking my husband to check for me online I found out it was. At the time I just opted for old style Lucozade instead. I haven’t had that for years and when I sipped some outside I remember why. That stuff is nasty. I drank just about enough to stomach and get a sugar rush and threw the rest. VOM

After mile 15 we started to slow it down a bit and just enjoy the scenery and winding trail along side the canal. Occasionally passing over the odd bridge. We were lucky as much of the path is over run with trees which kept us a little cooler than being right out open in the sun. The sun was still sweltering though. We found it easier when running than walking. When running there was a bit of a breeze to cool us off lol. I checked the temperature on my phone which said it was 33oC.

As runners we all know what it’s like when you go out on a long run and can’t wait for the journey ahead. Then something, somewhere goes wrong! It’s always something that you would not have thought would go wrong. Sure the heat may slow us down, or my legs may be really heavy from lots of training lately, perhaps I wont fuel correctly and hit a wall or 2. Those weren’t the case. Annoyingly for Steve his knee copped out about half way. I was just as surprised as he was. This is the first time I have known Steve to get a problem like this on a run. I know he’s been contemplating what the reason behind it was since then. I wont go into too much more detail on that, as I’m sure he will be wanting to write about it in his own blog and not read it all on mine haha.

Amazingly though although he was limping from time to time, Steve continued to move forward the entire rest of the distance. He ran and he walked but he didn’t stop.

Around mile 18 we stopped at this little place in Wooten Wawden. They had craft, clothing and farm shops. We went to the farm shop to get more liquids and I also bought some crisps and 2 satsumas and on we went.

As the miles became less and less we were running a bit longer each time and finished the distance off on a run.
As we arrive Stratford Upon Avon we went to get some cash and then Holland and Barrett. I let myself down by getting 3 Veg Out Steakless Bakes and a Veg Out SOS sausage roll. As many of you know I’m trying to be raw vegan high carb low fat. My mind crave them after this run because that’s what I used to do after running 30 milers…. eat crap.

It wasn’t long before I realised my body was actually craving fruit. We took the bus most of the way back and stopped by Sainsbury’s. Steve’s partner met us there, and we all topped up with fruit and a big bag of ice cubes each. She was even kind enough to drive me home so that was very nice of her. It can’t be easy sitting in a car with 2 stinking guys who just ran 30 miles in that heat. Thank you 🙂

Well done Steve. I have done this distance a few times now and it’s taken me 6 or 7 to be “comfortable” with doing it. This I think was your second time running this kind of distance. Though limping a bit at the end you came through looking much better than I did on those first times!

The time in the end was 6 hours 50 minutes. I know without a shadow of a doubt that we could thrash that next time. This route we did is actually the same route as the JW 30 Mile Ultra which we are both doing in September. We did it back to front though. That time is going to be demolished on race day. We have discussed attempting it again before then too.

When I got home I filled the bath right away with cold water and sank myself into it waste deep, then poured in the ice cubes. REALLY cold but it felt really good and I knew that it would make me feel better the next day. After my bath I put the shower on cold. This felt warm in comparison to the leg bath so I could wash myself clean, but not rewarm my legs again.
CIMG0355

The rest of the day was spent lounging about and eating a nice big bowl filled with 1kg of cherries 😀
IMG_2867

To my surprise when I woke the next day I felt fantastic. It felt like I never even ran the day before and I’m soooo ready for my half marathon in 2 days time now.

I seriously believe that my high carb low fat raw vegan diet is helping with recovery. Also I think my HOKA trail sneakers are helping a great deal. I have the roadies version and they have helped keep ongoing injuries at bay and even given them a chance to recede. All other sneaks I have owned I have had an injury in some form or another every few weeks to months, which have kept me off running.

So on and up… half marathon on Saturday 4th July 🙂 That will be a doddle in comparison 😉
Peace and Love
-ScottyRunner


Less than 1% Fat, Super Cheap Vegan Pancakes.

photo (1)

I have been playing around with a recipe I had for making pancakes recently. I have managed to change it completely into a delicious and healthy meal. I am trying so hard at the moment to watch what I eat. I have several important running events coming up and I know that I could safely lose at least another 30 pounds which would make a huge difference to my running pace. We all get the craving for pancakes from time to time and this really does hit the spot. I would think even your kids will love these. I know they would enjoy making them. This must be the simplest recipe I know of to make them too.

They come in at only 300 calories per serving and less than 1% fat!

This recipe makes plenty for one person. To make for more just multiply the ingredients. 🙂

Ingredients
50g wholemeal self raising flour
40g raisins
1ml oil (brush oil onto pan never just pour it on.)
tiny pinch of salt
4 small strawberries sliced thinly.
1 small wedge of fresh lemon (or half teaspoon of lemon juice)

1. Mix the flour, raisins salt into a bowl.
2. Add a little water at a time until you have something in-between a dough and a batter.
3. Heat the oil in the pan and scrape the mixture onto the pan.
4. Flatten the pancake down with a spatula or tofu turner.
5. Cook each side for just a few minutes.
6. Place on a plate and drizzle the lemon juice on top along with the strawberries on top.

and enjoy 🙂

Variations
I have tried cinnamon and raisins in mine. When you make the batter add a half teaspoon of cinnamon to the mixture before cooking.
You could also try other dried fruits. Just be sure to keep the fat down if you are watching your weight.


Fast Packing. Birmingham > Worcester > Malvern > Bewdley > Kidderminster

On Sunday 14th June 2015 I decided to do some fast packing. I had been keeping an eye on the weather in the areas I would be passing, and it seemed the perfect time to go. My plan was to do roughly 90 miles from Birmingham, I would go down the Birmingham – Worcester Canal past Worcester and follow it further south to meet with the River Severn. I would camp at a camp site here. The next day I would walk to Malvern which is an area of outstanding natural beauty. I would then start the Worcestershire Way Trail heading north to Bewdley where I would then repeat the North Worcestershire Way trail for the second time this week. The idea was to do one big circular from my house back to my house. So that’s the overview.. and this is how it went.

I packed my usual stuff with me, 20L WAA Ultra Bag 1 man hiking tent, spare tshirt, long johns,spare socks, Thermarest XLite inflatable mattress, OMM Raider 1.0 sleeping bag, Sleeping bag liner, Marmot Essence waterproof jacket. For food I packed 2kg of dates (I did eat in some places along the way though) and I carried 1.5 L bottle of water which I finished off and topped up whenever I could. I didn’t bring my Petzl headtorch as I like to just sleep when it gets dark and I had one on mobile if urgent. I also carried a recharging unit which allowed me to recharge my Garmin Fenix 2 for the entire duration and my iphone about 3 times also. Finally a little cash and a card.

I set out from my house in Northfield Birmingham at 10:30am. I walked down to Wast Hills Lane where I joined up with the canal to Worcester. This path is pretty much down hill the entire time. Even though I walked a fair bit I struggled with this section. I think perhaps because I wasn’t used to carrying 8KG of stuff with me while running. Also what made it hard is that the council has started to turn the tow paths into tarmac paths instead which hurts under foot wearing studded Salomon Speedcross 3s. I have such a love hate relationship with these shoes and I have said before that I would throw them away. This time I have. For a country with little long distance TRAIL ONLY routes I find these to be pretty useless in the way of a quality long distance sneaker. Walking on tarmac roads over long distances with heavy weights on your back, with the studs on the bottom pushing into your feet every 180,000 steps or so over 90 miles really hurts. I’m going to opt for HOKA ONE ONE Maximalist trailies next time.

Regardless I really enjoyed this day. It was familiar ground as I have ran this route 6 times now. There was only the small section past Worcester down to the River Severn I wasn’t sure on but I knew from looking at maps it was very straight forward and I could just follow the Severn Way Sign Posts.
CIMG0177
CIMG0178 CIMG0179

I remember seeing this boat shortly after being set on fire by idiots. The owner has been trying to fix t for many months now. To his, and everyone else’s surprise, some bastard had let it lose overnight and it had drifted down the canal well away from anywhere to tie it up. The owner was just leaving as I arrived, he was very upset and I think had given up on it completely as he walked away soaking wet.

CIMG0180

In winter I went the wrong way here and it lead to a horrible dumpy looking cul de sac. I took this picture because as the seasons have progressed it looked just beautiful.

CIMG0181 CIMG0182 CIMG0183 CIMG0185 CIMG0189                                                                      QUACK!

CIMG0191

I like bridges for some reason 😉 Hence all the bridge images.

CIMG0195 CIMG0196 CIMG0199

Happy moment. Knowing that I wasn’t too far now from Worcester and then only a few more miles south to the first nights camping spot.

CIMG0201 CIMG0202 CIMG0203 CIMG0209

Tried to have a little talk with this swan but he got a bit aggressive with me and tried to bite me lol. Little bugger.

CIMG0213
1509040_1668280933402892_8822161341714009551_n

Once I got into Worcester I spotted a Subway and decided to get myself a Salad Sub 😀

11227525_1668288473402138_5113858678347932308_n

It was a nice moment to get the River Severn. I hadn’t been this far down before.



CIMG0214

Yay first signs for the Severn Way. Another trail I must do. It’s 150 miles but it’s all downhill so should be a nice one. Right down to Bristol. 🙂


CIMG0215
11407060_1668310026733316_1579496232185664161_n
I
 arrived at The Ketch Campsite early evening. I spoke with the warden there and paid for my hiking tent. This site was right along the river. Lovely location, though you can see why they don’t allow children under 11 here. You can just about see the tips of the Malvern Hills past the River Severn in the distance. That’s where I was heading the next day.
I did about 28 miles on this first day. Throughout the day I found myself running a few miles here and there when I could be bothered and wasn’t on stoned or tarmacked ground. I didn’t see this as a race. Just going how I felt.

CIMG0216

It was a hard boring 7.5 mile walk to Malvern Hills. I set off at 5am. I tried to plan a trail route but I wasn’t confident in the trail I had created through an advanced route creator online. I worried a lot of it was closed off completely to public so I opted for an A road which ran right to Malvern.

CIMG0218 CIMG0220

I sort of did one of those little happy dances when I saw this sign. I knew I’d soon be off the busy A road and onto the quieter hills where I belonged.

When I arrived into Malvern the first thing I did was go to COSTA and buy a Soya Latte. I warmed up with this and chilled for a while before heading back out, to a shop to top up water and then to The Hills.

CIMG0221 CIMG0222 CIMG0224 CIMG0225 CIMG0226 CIMG0232CIMG0235 CIMG0237

I wish I’d have been here during the afternoon. I was on the East side of the hills and because the sun rises in the East it made it hard to get a good snap of how amazing this view was. You could just see for absolute miles on end of farm lands and tiny villages. There were even a few hot air balloons.

CIMG0242 CIMG0245 CIMG0246

When I got to the top of the hills I started the Route for Worcester Way which I had saved to my Garmin as a GPX file. I was so upset by this. My Garmin Fenix 2 allows you to set how often it records data. I had set it to record every 2 minutes on UltraTrac rather than every second. The result being up to 50 hours battery life. When I activated the route onto my current session (from day one point 1) it changed the recording frequency to SMART and wouldn’t let me decide how often. The dilemma here was that I would need to not use my phone or music anymore and keep charging my Garmin much more with my recharging unit. The alternative would be to save what I had done so far and start a new one to put the settings back to UltraTrac. As I wasn’t even sure I’d have enough recharges for the duration of my journey I decided to save that session and begin a new one. I decided what I would do instead was select “map” option on the Worcestershire Way and follow that. Sadly when I zoomed in further the line showing the route went off the watch so I couldn’t even see where I was going unless I had it at a 30 mile radius. I realised I would have to rely on way marks for the next 65 miles.

This is clearly something I’m going to have to look into. I loved the idea of Fenix 2 for it’s ability to upload GPX or create routes and have such long battery but it seems the battery wont last that long if you use a predetermined route? Why is this? If you have any alternative suggestions that please do let me know. If this wasn’t a waymarked route and I didn’t have a charged phone I would have never made it as far as I did.

CIMG0248 CIMG0251 CIMG0255 CIMG0259 CIMG0260

This is looking back to the Malvern Hills I had walked up and across earlier.

CIMG0264 CIMG0269 CIMG0271 CIMG0272

I believe this is the River Teme. There’s a little Post office around there called Suckly Post Office. I’m not 100% now on locations sorry. Anyway I remember going in to top up my water and I also bought a few apples. I went outside and sat on the bench to eat them. To my surprise a young guy came up to me and asked if I was Vegan. He had spotted my Vegan Runners top and said he was vegan too. He also mentioned he had seen some of my posts on the Vegan Runners Facebook group. It was really nice to bump into a fellow vegan especially in a place like this population 10. He seemed a really happy person and said how lucky he was to live in such a beautiful place in the world. We wished each other well and on I went. Maybe he might read this post… if so say hello 😀

CIMG0274

I stopped at a The Talbot pub in this little village called KnightWick and had two portions of chips and a large lemonade. I piled on the salt to replace my salt loss.

CIMG0278 

Here is another trail I would like to look up. I hope it is full of geological delights. I have a keen interest in geology 😉
CIMG0279
CIMG0290 CIMG0283 CIMG0294 CIMG0295 CIMG0296CIMG0298

I was getting pretty tired by this point and was considering camping around here. I’m not very good at wild camping. When I was a kid I did it all the time but now as an adult and knowing it’s illegal I never know. Also I don’t know if there’s anyone around in the area. It did seem ideal as a place to camp for the night though.
CIMG0299
CIMG0300

At about mile 30-32 on day 2 I was just turning to go down a hill in the forest. I spotted the lower half of a guy running. He hadn’t spotted me yet and I made a flash decision to start running. There was no way I was going to slog my way down a steep hill in my VEGAN RUNNERS top that he was running UP! So I got going and he said hey. The funny thing was that even after slogging for so many miles that day I managed to pretty much run the last 8 miles all the way into Bewdley.

About a mile out from Bewdley I ran into some danger. This was the only trail I knew of into the village and it really was a race against the sun at this point. I came across a field with what I thought was cows. They seemed relaxed and I (unknowing how dangerous bulls were at the time) decided to take the trail. As I passed about 5 of the 8 or so bulls they blocked off the was I came in. Which meant I had a longish climb uphill to the exit and had to pass 4 more  up the hill in the process. Their attitude changed and they began to group up an run in my direction. I turned to face them and slowly walked backwards. I really wanted to run but I knew that bulls are faster than people and I had already done 38 or 39 miles today! I didn’t know how to react so I faced them but didn’t look into their eyes. I opened my arms and showed them my palms. I firmly but calmly said to them “nooooo, come on now… easy boys, you’re ok, I’m not going to hurt you.”. The lead bull settled back a bit and I thought I might be ok. Then one of the other bulls took lead and they all began to charge at me again. This time he got within 2 or 3 meters of me but I managed to somehow get them to calm again. This happened 5 times in total. I really thought I was going to die. So many people get a blow to the head or their body’s crushed. I got out safely though. I managed to find the exact field on Garmin Connect. I sent an email to the Long Distance Path Association to ask who I contact about this. It is my understanding (I could be wrong) that it is highly illegal for farmers to block public rights of way with dangerous cattle and no warning signs or alternative route signs.

As I got into Bewdley I started to pick up the pace as I headed for the River Severn once more 🙂
I went to The Cooperative to top up my water and buy 600g of Strawberries. My body was craving fruit and lots of it. I wandered along the Canal Path going into my first mile of the North Worcestershire Way. I stopped on a bench and rested a while. I then put on my other top and a jacket as I was starting to shiver. The sun was going down, it was about 9:30pm now. My feet were completely bashed. It was my intention to wild camp in the middle of Worcestershire way like I said, but I decided to take it all the way to Bewdley.

This day was much tougher than my first day. It was in no means downhill. There was a total of at least 1,560 m (5,118 ft) ascent. Yet that day I felt much stronger. I wasn’t feeling my bag hurt my shoulders so much and I felt like my feet were capable of more even if torched at the end. I remember whenever it got tough I would count my steps to 20 and then repeat. I did this continuously sometimes for an hour or more non stop. Whenever my mind drifted initially I refocussed back to counting and just got lost in the rhythm of counting. When pain set in I would also notice it as just a feeling. I would remind myself it’s a feeling, it isn’t me. It’s physical and I’m just an observer of this physical body.

So day and light was ending and I needed a place to camp. I could hardly walk at this point and I wobbled up the river about a mile to find somewhere safe to put my tent. In the end I put it not too far from a main road but a really well darkened spot. This site turned out to be a car park for the private fishing anglers association. I know this because at 2:45am there were car lights coming into my tent which woke me up. I quickly opened the zip on the tent to see what it was. I could then see him get out the car and close the barrier to the car park. His reg plate was something like SLOTS or something. I panicked. I thought he had seen me from the road and now he was coming to kill me. He went to his boot and started sorting out his murdering tools. I called “hello?”. He replied “Hi you ok? I’m just here fishing. Didn’t mean to give you a fright. You do know this is the fishers car park?”. I apologised and explained I had walked a long way and ran out of light and just pitched up. I kept my eye on him a while and could finally see it was fishing stuff in his car. Then I tried to sleep again.

I only got 3 hours rest that night. I remember getting up at 3:30am and packed up to carry on the final part of my journey.
This is where the big problems started. My eyes kept dropping and I kept seeing things. I stopped to eat a shed load of dates to give me energy and drank a load of water. I kept walking along the river. There’s some grassy areas along the river and so naturally my feet and socks got soaked. I kept praying for warmth to come through and sun so that hopefully my sneakers will dry. They didn’t though and my skin soon folded and blistered which became really painful. I was only a few miles into my day and had to do 34 miles in total for the day.
11140267_1669042419993410_6109479989292645280_n I know this is nothing compared with other runners feet pics I have seen lol. This has now become a top priority for me to master, not only to deal with blisters (I’ll use my Fixing Your Feet book), but also how to keep them dry. I have T184 mile Endurance Race in 2016 and I know that the grass will be wet in the mornings along the River Thames. It was enough to knock my morale and make me stop my journey.

CIMG0313CIMG0308 CIMG0312

As I walked up hills in the forest there was a big drop to the right of me and I didn’t see the drop but I saw a lake and kept hallucinating. I kept thinking how I’d like to take a dip in the lake but it wasn’t really there and the picture eventually became clear and all I saw was a the big dip that was really there.

11110258_1668997889997863_5065424853136420026_n

Here I am looking exhausted and feeling it. I was sat on one of those wooden cross over fence things. It felt so nice to have something to sit on and get my feet off the ground.

At about mile 8 of today I remember just starting to cry. I kept slogging along at like 3mph. I kept thinking about how I wanted to just lay down on the ground and sleep. Even just for an hour. I realised that 3 hours sleep after 40 miles isn’t enough to sustain another 34 miles the next day. I wanted today to be the last day and reach the end. At mile 12 I kept losing the way marks and getting lost. I felt disorientated and realised I was walking around in circles.
lost

I only continued another 5 ish miles and then I decided to come off the trail and head to a local pub to eat and call for a taxi home. I was 15 miles away from finishing my planned journey. Although when I got home and calculated the distance I thought it would be 89 miles and it was 89.9 for what I did. So I had actually done more than expected. This stands to reason as I got lost on a few occasions.

I had told myself that it comes to a certain point that when you believe you have found what you where looking for there’s no real need to keep looking. I had learned so much for future events and adventures that it was now time to go home and analyse all the information that I had absorbed from this experience.

I want to thank my husband who helped me along the way with the odd text of support from him. Also I want to thank everyone on my Facebook friends. I made a post to ask for their support as I was feeling it emotionally at the end of day 2. I had so many replies. I was absolutely gob smacked. Thank you so much for your support it meant the world to me and still does. You made me cry… just a little 😉 Xoxo

My hat goes off to those out there running 100 milers and more. I can’t wait to get to that point. I have had little training due to injuries lately. I’m seriously looking forward to getting some proper training behind my belt for some ultra events and some more fast packing.

Who knows that’s next? I am now tapering for the Birmingham Black Country Half marathon on July 4th. As I write this it’s only a day since I got home and I’m feeling much better already and hope to be back out running as normal tomorrow.

I have the JW ultra coming up in September it’s 30 miles on the canal from Stratford Upon Avon to Birmingham. My friend has offered for my to come and practice the route with him soon. I think we are going to after we have done the Summer Round the Reservoir Marathon on 26th July in Northampton.


North Worcestershire Way

CIMG01729:00am and our alarm went off. I stuck my earphones in and sat up to do my daily meditation and let my husband rest another 20 minutes. 75 minutes later and we were out the door with our packs on our way to Northfield Train Station.

We took the train from here to Birmingham New St and then walked to Birmingham Moor Street to catch the train to Kidderminster at 11:10am.

Once we arrived into Kidderminster we walked westward to the small village of Bewdley to arrive at Hopley’s Caravan and Camping Family grounds.

It cost us only £8 each for our one man hiking tent pitches. We were shown which areas we could pick to place our tents on their map. It was a very large space and we picked an area just on the other side of a little pond in which we had to cross a little wooden bridge to get to.

We recently bought our 1 man hiking tents. They only weigh 1.4 kg, inner and outer sheet, hemmed, compact and waterproof for only £19.99 in ALDI.  We are extremely impressed with them. In fact I am more impressed with this than my Snugpak Lonosphere which was damaged and the outer sheet never touched the ground so got very windy inside. This ALDI tent not only touched the ground but was flush with the ground.  11251001_1666705740227078_3187664999759999975_n

I got my other equipment into my tent. With me I took my medium sized Thermarest NeoAir XLite inflatable mattress. This is a life saver in colder weather. Weighs next to nothing easy to erect and repack and feels suuuuper warm under your body. It pushes cold air back into the ground, while circulating warm body heat back to the body. The temperature dropped to 4 or 5oC over night but I still felt the warmth from the mattress.
My sleeping bag was the OMM Mountain Raid 1.0. I want to love this bag I really do but it’s not enough on its own in this country lol. The quality and weight is absolutely exceptional though and with my long john’s, trackies bottoms, 2 tshirts, fleece jacket and standard sleeping bag liner I was just about warm enough in 5oC. It really is a one season summer (our one week hot summer) type of bag.
Sneaks I wore my Salomon Speedcross 3s. Excellent shoes for grip and nice light weight. I feel like these are too structured and supportive for my type of landing though. I will be trying to use a HOKA trail sneak soon instead for extra cushioning and to help my over supination.
My bag was the WAA Ultra Pack 20L. I didn’t bring the front pouch. This is just enough size for my packed items and a kilogram of dates. Love this bag. Only long distances though (especially if not running) I may opt for a 45 L bag instead, so I can pack more food.
Clothing was just 2 cotton tshirts, fleece jacket and £10 trackie bottoms. I messed up with the trackies recently when I went to try the Pennine Way National Trail. Ideally I would like to take waterproof trousers, I checked what the odds were of rain this time though the day we left and it was only 2% so I took a gamble, as we were only going to be walking one day and was right. My jacket is the Marmot Essence Waterproof Jacket. Can never complain with this. I use it for everything nearly these days. It keeps me dry when shopping, walking, hiking and running. Sweats vanishes from it very easily too and it’s so breathable. I would recommend anyone to have one of these jackets!
10405461_1666709383560047_4506028072821779597_n

11425498_1666767426887576_4353616134518558732_n
We then went to the local farm shop and bought some fresh fruit and vegetables for dinner and breakfast the next morning.

CIMG0075

How do you get to this table? ha

After we had been to the shop we decided take a walk over to Wyre Forest which was right on the edge of Hopley’s Camping ground. I have been here before with a friend night running when testing out my new Petzl headtorch around September 2014 I think. It was so nice to see it in the daylight though.
CIMG0074CIMG0071 CIMG0079CIMG0073    CIMG0082 CIMG0083

Once we got back to the camp site we grilled our veges and then settled down for the night at about 9:30pm.
CIMG0098

We woke up at 5pm and packed up our items. Today we would be walking most of the 35 mile North Worcestershire Way Trail.
We headed back down to Bewdley Village and stopped off at a TESCO mini to get some nakd bars and crisps. Then we headed for the start of the Trail on the River Severn.
Navigation was pretty straight forward. The way marks where frequent ans easy to spot. There were a few turning points which where not way marked though. We had no trouble here as I was following the course I had uploaded as a GPX file to my Garmin Fenix 2. The way marks where really just a nice reassurance that we were going the right way haha.
CIMG0107 CIMG0109 CIMG0110
For the first few miles the trail passed alongside the River Severn curving around it. It was nice to see the river, the birds, ducks, swans etc and also the other bridges that had collapsed or crossed over the Severn.
CIMG0125 CIMG0123CIMG0112 CIMG0113 CIMG0115 CIMG0105 CIMG0106 CIMG0118CIMG0121
We were even privileged enough for a beautiful horse to come to us and allow us to stroke her and talk to her for a while.
I love this picture of Philip stroking her. She was so gentle and well natured. CIMG0117

We then crossed over a bridge with love locks attached to it and then headed back on ourselves on the other side of the river, along a beautifully overgrown green alleyway.
CIMG0128
CIMG0131
W
e continued through a forested area which was absolutely beautiful. The trail had started to get a little more hilly by this point though the views helped us to ignore this fact and keep soldiering on. I have always loved Ivy growing around large tree trunks. Especially when both are in full flourish. Absolutely beautiful.
CIMG0133
CIMG0137CIMG0139CIMG0158CIMG0157CIMG0150
By about 9am it had started to warm up a bit and Philip decided to take my VEGAN hat off. His hair was a right mess. After a while we finally came to our next mileage sign…. as you can see here I had tidied his hair up a bit by then lol.
CIMG0132
CIMG0134

Here’s a picture of a creepy building we passed. It was in the middle of nowhere in the woods. There was a steel door on it with a little window at the top. I was going to shine my torch through it but decided I wasn’t that interested (a little scared), so didn’t bother.
CIMG0148

Nature really knows how to provide. This tree has been super generous in it’s growth to decide to create the perfect seat for hikers such as ourseleves 🙂 Thank you.

CIMG0147

From here it was miles of miles of trails inbetween farmers fields. I hadn’t walked on trails like this before they were very sandy and I felt like we were walking down to the beach.

CIMG0162

We came across more of those type trails along with walking through the middle of farmers crops too.
CIMG0167 CIMG0163 CIMG0143
Philip spotted a really big caterpillar. He asked me to take this pic with his foot in it so you could see the size of him clearly enough.
CIMG0174

We were now at about mile 25. Philips achilles had been hurting him for the last 6 miles and the bottom of my feet were hurting by now. I always have sore feet though so didn’t care much. Here’s a snap of us when we were starting to have enough.
CIMG0175

I didn’t take any more pictures after this point. We just kept walking and I counted my steps to zone out a bit and forget that my feet where hurting. Once we passed through Clent Hills we walked to a pub called Swallows Nest. This was mile 28 now and we had decided that we would order a taxi from here to take us home. Had we had an extra day we would have camped half way somewhere and completed the distance though we had obligations the following morning back home as well.

When you look on Google Maps at this area and most of West Midlands, with the satellite option it looks like there’s no open green for the serious adventurer but it seems there is. All those ancient trails all over the place taking in such beautiful scenery. We hardly ever had to pass any roads and through the bulk of the first 20 miles + we only saw half a dozen people! We saw many more animals than we did people.

For us runners I’d say you could get in a few good runs on this route. There’s a few hills but also plenty of flatter sections to enjoy too. I’d opt for trail sneaks as the vast majority of it is all on trails. Very little is on roads at all. If you want it a bit easier too I’d start near Birmingham first and end in Bewdley.We missed out Lickey Hills near our home due to the taxi. So you have that and then Clent Hills (the hilly bit at the start) to consider. If you did these at the start of your run then you could enjoy the journey with the rest of it not being so bad.
North Worcestershire Way Elevation Graph

The next day I was expecting my feet to be really sore and my legs to be stiff, but I have woken up feeling fine. Refreshed and ready for action again some time soon.

I was happy to find when at the start of the trail it said Worcestershire Way, with arrows going in two directions. It was here that I found out you can take the trail all the way from Malvern Hills to Wythall just outside Birmingham. With a total distance of 66 miles. This gave me great interest in returning to do the whole thing over a few days.

I was also delighted to see that the Monarchs Way crosses through. This is England’s longest inland trail and runs 615 miles. it kinda circles parts of West Midlands and then heads towards Bristol, then to the south coast not far from  Dorchester, it then goes back inland and across past Salisbury and Winchester and then ends in Brighton.

Lots to think about for the future and I’m hoping I manage to get in another adventure or two before winter creeps up on us.

Cheers for reading
-ScottyRunner


Can Meditation be a Bad Thing?

escapism_by_burning_liquid-d5bedbx

We all read and hear about the many mental, physical and other benefits of meditation. Though this last few days I have been considering if meditation can become a bad thing.

I started meditating properly 8 weeks ago and I haven’t missed a day since then. I have done 20 minutes in the morning and then started 60 minutes later on through the day. I did miss a few of the 60 minute sessions while on holiday. I decided to swap them out, so I would do a 60 minute meditation first thing in the morning to make this easier to get into habit. It would then be absolutely easy peasy to throw in the extra 20 minute meditation session later in the day, even if I have become tired.

So in 8 weeks of building up the times I meditate, I have now done about 2 days worth of meditation in total. This last few days I have considered doing another 60 minute session in the middle of the day or to even extend my morning session to a 2 hour session.

I have stopped myself from doing this at the moment. That doesn’t mean I wont do this in the longer run. Though this behaviour is so typical of me. I am either all or nothing. 8 weeks in to be doing 2 hours and 20 minutes a day is a little over the top.

I realised the reason I want to do it for longer is to help my days go faster. Especially when I have a day in which I’m battling with my emotions and feelings. I have been thinking over and over “just throw in a meditation session and forget about it all”. Though I fear that this is escapism and may produce more problems than I already had. I fear it will produce a state of mind where the things I would normally enjoy outside of meditation will become duller and I will not want to do them. I worry that all I will want to do is meditate.

Meditation was taken on for two reasons, 1 was to make me a better runner, and the other was to help me gain balance and help with my bipolar moments in life. I’m on a quest at the moment to heal myself of my mental health problems. Many have deemed this to be dangerous and to take great caution. Though this is the choice I have made. I can not wait 4 months between psychiatry appointments expecting them to fix all my problems. I can’t sit around waiting in the meantime and allow my mental health to dictate my emotions, feelings and actions. So I have had to take action myself right here right now.

I’m going to keep watching these desires to meditate more often, and see if they continue when I feel more balanced in general.

PS on the other hand I may just be having mid week, post race blues from the weekends 8.5 mile fun run 😉

Peace and love
-ScottyRunner


Great Midland Fun Run 8.5 Miles

I did the Great Midlands Fun Run today in Sutton Coldfield, West Midland. This is by far the busiest run I have done so far. I normally sign up to smaller events with a smaller field size. I thought I’d write a blog about my experience so I can refer to it in future.

The race was at 11am. I had to be there earlier and this was a bit tricky as it was a Sunday. I couldn’t get trains there from my house to be on time. I had to take a bus to Birmingham and then get a train from Birmingham New St to Sutton Coldfield. All in all about an hour and a half travel time.

The weather was not so bad. Yes it was raining but it was only drizzly rain. I bumped into some friends at the train station and we headed over to The Parade street where the race would start and finish. We found somewhere to put up a Dr Hadwen Trust Banner facing right on to The Cancer Research Charity Shop.

I then popped off to the loo and changed into my shorts and took off my jackets. When I returned the supports in our group not running, where nice enough to look after my bag for me so I didn’t need to run with it.

I believe there’s about 6,000 people at this event. I’m used to about 500 max. I had no idea where to stand in the line. It was somewhere about 3 quarters of the way to the back. There was a little noise and then by 11:15 people at the front began running.

I never realised how long it would take to pick up the pace. At the start my first lap pace was almost 11 and a half minutes per mile. The second mile wasn’t much better, but then it broke up a bit a and I was able to speed up a bit. I kept a pace I was comfortable with and knew I could handle for many more miles. I knew I would keep myself to roughly this same exertion level until after the half way mark.

About half way I started to pick it up a bit from 8:43 minute miles to 7:55 minute miles. I only had half the distance left to go and it was time. There was a bit of slowing down on a few hills but nothing too major.

At about mile 6 we had to run up, what is locally know as, Cardiac Hill. I slowed down and reduced my stride… I was constantly waiting around each bend, anticipating a steep big hill. Then the path levelled off and I had just ran Cardiac Hill. I’m not being all snooty in saying this… the fellow other Vegans at the end agreed that it didn’t warrant it’s intimidating name.

The rest from here was awesome because it was all mainly just weaving about in and out downhill. I got my pace up nicely and tried to leg it in for the last of the race. Eventually I saw purple and black balloons arched over the road and I kicked it to them thinking it was the finish… then I saw the finish further on. I pulled it together a little longer and got myself over the finish line. The time on my Garmin was 1:13:10 Hr:min:s with an average pace of 8:33 minutes per mile.
11232229_1663205233910462_460027483253172041_n
When I do a busy run like this again in future I will start much closer to the start line. Perhaps about quarter of the way in or perhaps just a tiny bit further out. Throughout this race I felt like I was just constantly passing people all the time and not many passing me. I was kinda happy with this because I was wearing my Vegan Runners t shirt and a Dr Hadwen Trust Sticker on the back. I especially made a point to jiggle my behind in front of cancer research runners or the British heartless foundation runners as I swiftly passed them 😉

On the other hand, because I had to pass people so much I believe it pulled me back a bit and that first 11:30 minute mile was hard to recuperate later on, as the miles left became less and less.

We did some group pictures later holding banners for Dr Hadwen Trust and Birmingham Animal Action spreading our support. These were of course done in front of the Cancer Research and British Heartless Foundation Charity Shops.

After this I was kindly given a ride home by a fellow Vegan Runner and we stopped off at Cannon Hill Park for some Vegan Grindhouse Street Food Burgers 😀
1509234_1663221587242160_5289589623963290772_n
So next is Birmingham and Black Country Half Marathon and then the JW Ultra 30 miler. There may also be Shirley 10k in August too depending on how I feel nearer the time.

Cheers for reading.
-ScottyRunner