It has been two weeks since I ran the Hardmoors 55 and only now does my body feel near normal. I pushed myself harder than I probably have before on this distance. If you only read one more paragraph of this story, please make it the last one!
This was my 4th Hardmoors 55 (a 55 mile and 2700m of up and down along the Cleveland Way in North Yorkshire) and this year was my best yet.
After an ultra I usually have a head full of tales that happened along the way that i’m excitedly ready to share. This time I felt like I arrived at the start, I started running and then I finished – it just went so fast, there was no drama and I enjoyed every moment! I wondered if I actually had anything to say! I found some ramblings though…
When you look a race entry list and see the hardcore Shelli Gordon, the perfectly race primed Kim England and the wondrous pacer Carol Morgan, most people I imagine, including myself, would not expect to achieve a podium finish. This was probably a good thing. I’d put no pressure on myself – my focus was on time rather than position. Despite a tough race last year it had been my best so far at 10 hours 9 minutes. My gold medal this year would be 9 hours 30 minutes!
I felt strong yet sufficiently rested before I started. But you just don’t know how you are actually going to feel until you start running. I started running and felt good.
When another runner told me we’d just run a 7.30 mile about 3 miles in I slowed down as that was stupidly fast! I ran at a pace that felt right, not looking at my Suunto until what seemed about an hour – when I released I hadn’t actually started it, bummer!
On nearing High Paradise Farm about 15 miles in I saw what looked like Kim a few hundred metres ahead. I caught her up just after. We ran along and chatted for a couple of minutes. Poor Kim was unwell. I know only too well how frustrating this is when this happens. I was so glad to see Jayson (Kim’s Fiancé) running out to meet Kim a few miles later on.
I got to Osmotherley in about 3 hours 15 minutes, very glad that those first very runnable 22 miles were out the way, and which I thought put me on track for a my gold 9.5 hours. I was in and out of the checkpoint in a flash.
Its then about 3-4 miles before the proper hills start. I’ve always had stomach issues – particularly on long races and after it caused my first DNF last year I was more determined than ever to sort it out. This wasn’t just about fuelling on the go, it meant changing something in my day to day life too – I believe drinking aloe vera gel and significantly reducing my coffee/upping my green tea intake has had a huge impact! This together with drinking Mountain Fuel Xtreme pre race and on the go meant I could eat like a horse in preparation for the hills!
On ascending the 2nd of the 3 sister hills (these are march up, fly down type of hills!), Casper (my Fiancé this time!) appeared on the route. Not expecting to see him until the end this was a lovely surprise. I told him he could talk at me but I couldn’t talk back as I was concentrating! He had pie for me to munch on at Clay Bank too – but I only managed a morsel.
There was 20 miles to go now -I felt like I slowed a bit on this leg and really struggled too on the tarmac (Yuk!) decent into Kildale and up to Captain Cooks Monument. It wasn’t until Kidale that I wondered if I might actually win – and wouldn’t that be just crazy! Looking at the splits (kindly put together by John Knayston!) I was 23rd arriving into Osmotherley, then 12th as I arrived into Kildale – so I had actually made up 11 positions on the big climbs!
I wondered too though who I might see on the back leg of the out and back to Roseberry Topping. If I was going to be first lady back I was going to have to do something pretty awesome. I ran what left like a lunatic for the final 7 miles (albeit in reality this was probably much slower!). With the final mile to go along the flat railway line I kept on pushing, right until the very end and got a PB by 54 minutes and 15 minutes faster than my “gold” time! It wasn’t easy and I tried really really really hard, with a very happy result! What a grand day out that was!
If you read my story of my first DNF on the 2015 Hardmoors 60 and stomach issues, you may remember me saying ‘whatever your one reason is to not run, find a way to not let it stop you running because actually, there are so many more reasons why you do run’. I think I may have found a way to not let my one reason stop me!