The Grand Slam – Take two

I didn’t plan my first post to be about a bad race. Having postponed my first post after the unenjoyable Hardmoors 30 in January I decided I couldn’t keep putting it off just because I didn’t particularly enjoy myself.

2015 is the year of The Hardmoors Grand Slam- Take two. It is a series of 4 races (30 miles on 1 January, 55 miles on 21 March, 112 miles on 23 May and 62 miles on 19 September). Last year I completed this in 58 hours and 10 minutes. This year’s challenge – to do it again, and maybe a little bit quicker!

The Hardmoors 30 is on New Year’s Day. This was the 3rd year in a row Casper and I found ourselves leaving Leeds, on a cold dark New Year’s Day morning – a time when most people have not even made it home from New Year celebrations! Casper as also been told the day before he wasn’t to run because he had some silly stiches in his arm. So he was out the race before it even began – great start!

The pack set off like lightning from Fylingdales Village Hall and stupidly I did too, running 8-9 minute miles to Whitby – I think perhaps with the secret hope that the faster I ran the faster it might be over. Predictably I ran out of steam at about 20 miles and struggled the 10 miles back.

Hardmoors 30

A picture paints a thousand words.

It was lovely to be greeted by Casper at the bottom of Robin Hood’s Bay, who made me run the final few hundred metres, up hill, to the finish.

30 miles. 5 hours 8 minutes – 18 minutes ahead of 2014.

Next came the Hardmoors 55 on Saturday 21st March

I really wasn’t sure how to feel about this race. It is strange when you go back to a race you have run before. I find there are lots of different types of feelings. Sometimes you have a time in mind. Some you have a position in mind and others you just want to finish. I hadn’t really thought much about the 55 in the days running up to the run – in fact I had thought more about spending a weekend with Casper in Helmsley, away from the daily grind of London.  The Saturday before I’d run the Blubberhouses Moor LDWA race route, and felt absolutely terrible, but that is not unusual the week before a long run, so I wasn’t particularly worried.

As we had tea and cake on Friday afternoon I started to look forward to the run. I had a feeling it was going to be a great day. As Casper and I prepared our kit for the next day Casper realised he had forgotten his buff, oh, and his running tights. Option 1: wear shorts. Option 2: wear waterproof trousers. I lent Casper my pink Buff not my green Buff. Obviously.

As we waited for the coach pick up from Helmsley (to take us to Guisborough) we began to see the usuals, notably Dave “short only” Kamis, who was startled to see Casper ready to run in full waterproofs.

Hardmoors 55 CKS Waterproof running suit.

As we set off from the Sea Cadets all seemed well – until 100 metres up the road where we climbed up onto the disused railway line. The flat first mile to check point one seemed to go on forever. I told myself it would wear off quickly, but something really just didn’t feel right. As we joined the Cleveland Way (about 1.5 miles in) stomach cramps started. I quickly stopped and popped a couple of painkillers and I was off again. As I made my way through Guisborough woods I started to feel like I had a huge sandbag affixed to my right leg. As I neared Roseberry Topping I started to think about stopping. I could gauge how slow I was going by how far Casper was ahead on the out and back to Roseberry Topping – more than 15 minutes, over 7 miles!

By the time I reached the Captain Cook’s Monument I was seriously thinking about stopping. DNF-ing, quitting, giving up, whatever you wish to call it. I decided Kildale was the place to do it as I could wait in the nice warm hall until the broom cart arrived. Then I got to Kildale. There was no cosy village hall checkpoint. Grr. So I figured I’d walk over the hill to Lord Stores rather than waiting in the cold. As I began to walk up the hill on the long drag up to Bloworth Crossing my right leg went from being heavy to just blumming hurting – my ITB, calf and hamstring! I had a little cry as I realised (or so I thought!) my 2015 Grand Slam was over. I then rang my dad to come collect me – only, he didn’t answer. Great – I had no choice but to continue. I gave myself a kick up the backside and told myself (actually out loud) that I wasn’t a quitter and to stop being so pathetic.  I took a Torq gel, a few Cliff shot blocks, got my poles out and blumming well just got on with it.

On approaching Bloworth I heard a “hey, Déjà vu”. It was Dave Kamis of course. This was the third year in a row we had run into Bloworth Crossing together on the Hardmoors 55. We had a brief chat and suddenly I seemed to be back on it – thanks Dave!

Hardmoors 55 KB

Back in the game.

Before I knew it I was at Lord Stones. Then Osmotherley. Tim Taylor (Chia Charge man) re-fuelled me well at High Paradise Farm and I was on my way.

Before I started I secretly wanted to finish without my head torch. So realistically 7pm. It was 4.30 when I left High Paradise farm, with about 15 miles to go. 10 minute miles for the last 15 miles was going to be tough.

I can’t remember what time I arrived at Sutton Bank but it was probably about 5.30. I hadn’t eaten properly and I started to get hungry so battled through the cloud of smoke from Mike Booth’s fag and grabbed a handful of pretzels.

Just as I got back onto the road at Sutton Bank I came across a lost looking runner. I was very happy to have some company at this stage. As Richard Lendon had done in 2014 we chatted and paced away the last 8 or so miles to Helmsley. I was just happy to make it to the end as a finisher. And 15 minutes faster than last year wasn’t so bad. Best of all – it might have been dark, but I still finished without my head torch on!

Full waterproofs on a dry day are not to be underestimated. Casper had an awesome run coming in 1 minute behind 3rd position!

55 miles. 10 hours 11 minutes – 15 minutes ahead of 2014.

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