Hell Runner was absolutely FAN-BLOODY-TASTIC! I LOVED it! Don't get me wrong, it was hard work but wow what a feeling! I am so very glad I ran those ten miles last Thursday night in torrential rain and howling gales! The course was like nothing we'd expected. 10 miles, sure, but the HILLS - ohhh the hills! Craziest inclines, up and down, repeat ad nauseaum. 2 bogs in total, so as soon as you'd dried off from one you were plunged into the next. There were points where you couldn't actually run because the terrain was so steep it involved literally hand over hand climbing up roots and then sliding down the other side. There were points when I felt as if I was in the Army!! Thank the Lord the weather was beautiful!
Anyhoo, with all the bottle necks and waiting for dithering people to get in the bog, Chris + I finished it in 2:08, which is a bit longer than we'd have liked BUT it's very tricky to actually run at speed in ankle deep mud - not an altogether suitable terrain for my poor old knee! Kept feeling it twinge as if it were going to pop out again! *retches*
I've added a few pics from the event photographer so you can get an idea.
I am so proud of myself for doing this!
I must still be jacked up on endorphins because I just signed up for the Liverpool Half Marathon. GAH! So I guess running is going to be a big focus for my training for the next little while! YIKES!!!!
Chris + I at the end of the race covered in bog.
My sprint finish! I beat my pt by 1 second hahaha! (he so totally would have finished quicker if it weren't for my slow ass running - what a gent!)
Not too sure about the Bog of Doom
Go PT goooooo!!!
Absolutely LOVING it!
So, whaddaya think??!! Isn't it great that by having lost weight and living healthily we can tame our bodies so that they perform for us in this way? Life is good!
Due to popular demand, (well Charlotte asked) , this is how the race went.
The longest I have ever run up to this race was 11k. Having lost 50lbs and trained with a professional, I now run a pretty decent (for me) 20 minute 5k and a 49 minute 10k, so I am fit-ish BUT have never pushed myself with distance. Add to this the fact that I have been in the show and thus have not had tremendous amounts of time or mind space to devote to this. So it was kind of a leap of faith. Plus I am extremely competitive. And easily goaded into things and whilst, generally speaking, my pt Chris is an all-round nice fellow, he does know how to push my buttons. He called me chicken. So I entered. Stupid - yes I know. We agreed to run it together, he promised not to bomb off like a mad thing, and we'd support (read 'drag') each other round.
Our schedules are sooooooooo different that despite living in the same neighbourhood we did not manage to do ONE SINGLE SOLITARY training run together.
I began to panic.
Last week I ran 4 miles and simply could not go on, I had a sore throat and was a human snot machine. Nice. Plus, I slept funny on my neck so my head was at a permanent angle for 3 days.
I began to have doubts.
I called him on Tuesday to make the decision. He talked me into it. He suggested I get a long run in before Sunday. Wednesday I was at audition workshops for Guys + Dolls so Thursday it had to be and then 2 days of absolute rest! Not a smart way to train for the longest, most demanding race you've ever yet done...note to self.
Thursday evening I was determined I would get out there. So obviously it was the coldest, wettest, most torrential rain + howling gales night of the year so far. I donned that glow in the dark running jacket and trusty Primarni head band and off I went. And I ran, And ran. And ran. Ten miles. I just got out and pushed myself. It took me an hour and a half but I bloody well did it.
(and then I had a 'proper whitey' as my sister would say, threw up and had the maaaajor squits, but that's another story)
I was ready.
I was up at 6am. I ate 40g of steel cut porridge oats with skim milk + drank tea whilst repeating 'Just another day. Just another normal day' and 'I am going to Delamere Forest to look at Christmas trees'.
It didn't seem to work.
Chris and Mark picked me up at 8am sharp. (Mark is another guy from the studio who is, like, a proper athlete (and ran Hellrunner in 1 hour 14 minutes!).
You kinda drive through the forest to get to the carpark - it's like a mahoosive country park in Cheshire near Frodsham and so we could catch glimpses of course markers - y'know, those ominous dayglo background, black arrows that show you the way to go. We glimpsed some hills and some bogs......and all of a sudden it dawned on us. We were actually doing it!
(insert expletive here)
Fast forward to the start. 10am - the elite athlete's (Mark amongst them) dashed off. We set off at 10:20am. 'Resist the temptation to sprint' were Chris' wise-words. HAH! Couldn't have sprinted if I'd tried. The first section of the run was up a bloody hill! Imagine setting your treadmill on the highest incline and trying to run on it and then you have some idea of what I was faced with. After 2.5 miles of hills...yes....down and up, down and up and finally, mercifully down, we hit the proper trails, under tree cover, through the actual forest. I was feeling good, my breathing was good, energy levels good, wasn't knackered and the ground was firm so I could keep a steady pace - ie do 'real' running instead of the stop/start hills section. Familiar territory so we picked up our pace and overtook some people, the crowd thinned out which was helpful.
Then it got muddier.
In 2003 I suffered a pretty catastrophic (for anyone, let alone a ballet dancer) lateral dislocation fo the left patella. Whilst on a trampoline in a PE class. Error. My poor old knee has (obv!) never been the same since. (K)Needless to say it does not do well on unstable ground. Hello running in ankle deep thick, slimy, slippy, squelchy mud. Not ideal. I literally had to 'trot' for these bits, without any kind of pace because, well, I could feel my knee 'shifting' which is ususally a pretty good indicator of impending dislocation, and I did not want to have to pop it back in and hobble round the next 8 miles.....so this slowed me (us!) down. Chris dutifully hung out with me.
Then came the bog.
All I remember thinking is "OMG it's soooo not that BAD!!!!' - then I jumped in. Up to my waist. The bog bit kinda did my head in, I was most excited about this. I wanted to prove my mettle. Bu there were crowds of bloody dithering (sorry!) women on the bank having major stresses about getting their fricking trainers dirty. GAH! Click on ladies! You KNEW what you were entering. So female ditherers also slowed us down!
The other side of the bog I had no idea how far we'd gone - because there's so much mud we didnt take our Garmins, and there are NO MILE MARKERS for the whole race. I know. Stress!
So anyway. There was a bit of a trail run more, a quick water stop (I hope they recycled!) and then a sharp right turn back into the forest. The weather, though chilly, was beautifully sunny - great running conditions, and the scenery was gorgeous. The overall ambience of this race is F-U-N! I recall at this point feeling overwhelmed with gratitude that I CAN DO THIS and enjoy it and it's fun for me and I know my life is better because of it. (Hello drunk on endorphins!)
Then it was time for 'The Hills of Hell'
They weren't kidding. Here the running stopped and the climbing began. Literally hand-over-hand, reach out and grab a root and try to find a steady foothold in the mud oozing down the embankment. Chris, who is evidently part mountain goat, bounded up them like nobody's business, so of course I followed suit....competitive? moi? nooooooooooo!
Once up the steep bank, you had to get down.Cue running so fast your legs might come off whilst being propelled by (pulled by?) gravity towards the bottom of the incline at a rather rapid rate of knots. Scary.
By this time I was starting to flag. A cheery 'How're your energy levels?!' from Mr PT himself nearly caused me to drown him in a bog. I was lagging. This was when I began to understand the appeal of...TA DAAAAAAAAAAAAA....gels!
Rewind back to the beginning of the race. Chris hands me two 'gels' - I didn't know what they were! Sure, I had heard about them but i ran 10 miles the other night without even a water bottle so why would I need gels now?! Plus, HOW MANY CALORIES must there be in them???!!*cue hyperventilation*
Also (rant alert) NIKE pleeeeeeeeeeeease make women's running shorts with zip pockets in to accommodate such things instead of that ridiculous little ipod pouch !
So anyways, Chris suggested I have a gel at this point. On account of having no pockets I had had to keep them between my boobs in my sports bra which having no boobs nowadays, is pretty easily done. SO by the time I came to eat it (drink it? consume it?) it was warm. Bleuch. Warm, runny, vaguely orange falvoured gunk, the consistency of phlegm. *vomits*.
I kept it down and patiently jogged waiting for it to kick in, not really knowing what to expect (sceptical? moi?!). And then....all of a sudden....WHOOSH!!!!!!!!!! I felt like I was on drugs (not that i know what that is like but how i imagine!) GORDON BENNETT!
I was racing up those hills like nobody's business, doing my best impression of a mountain goat without a care in the world! AMAAAAAAAAZING!
And then we reached the bog of Doooooooooooooooooooom.....
It was not fun. I may have started a mud fight. freezing cold, thigh high (and, as it happened, waist high) thick, gloopy, wet, foul smelling MUD. To wade through. For about ten minutes. Clambering over roots, trees, people, you get the idea. I LOVED IT!
And THEN getting out, covered in it and shoes filled with water and having to run the remaining whatever-it-was (i'd lost count) back up over the hill to the start. About 2 minutes before the end i almost lost the will to live and chris uttered the immortal line ' do i ahve to get all pt on your ass?' and that kicked me into a sprint finish, completely buggering up his plans of us crossing the line together! Hahaha! (see pic above)
We collected our excellent goody bags and headed home.
(About an hour after I got home I had THE WORST diarrhoea imaginable. Bloody carb gels.)
And that, my friends, was the race!