For approximately 3k in any race, I pretty much want to die, stop running, give up OCR, take up knitting, or start creating a basic shelter in surrounding woodland in which I can hibernate. In short, it takes me a while to warm up. By about 4k, I start to feel positive about the fact that I’m getting into the swing of it, finding a sensible pace and not overtly negative about my life choices. By the end of the race, I’ve forgotten what my stupid brain was whining about and I’ve got my game face on for a sprint finish. Continue reading
I had to make a slight amendment to #WhyIRace at the weekend, because I found a new motivator and a new reason – forcing my mum into doing some exercise.
Although she’ll kill me for saying so, I’m not sure my mum has been in a gym for 15 years. When we were 1.5k into our Race For Life: Pretty Muddy run on Saturday, this figure jumped to 20 years. Continue reading
I ended up doing Tough Guy as a result of a happy accident, whereby a fellow Mudd Queen couldn’t use her ticket. It hadn’t really crossed my mind to enter the iconic race this year, as I didn’t think I would be up to it. As it happened, it was one of the best experiences I’ve had to date in OCR.
The course is in the Midlands, in the specific region of backend of nowehere, and I wasn’t relishing the idea of a three hour drive by myself to do a hard race, then take myself home at the mercy of my jelly legs. Thankfully two blokes I had never met offered to lift-share with me, and I discovered, courtesy of my teammates that they were definitely not murderers, so that was that.
I met up with the two gents at my workplace, and rather amusingly, found they run for another team. Cue threats to leave me in the nearest service station car park, but it was all in jest, right? RIGHT?
Turning up at the event village basically turned me into a jibbering wreck. I was terrified of the course, of keeping the boys waiting for me as I trundled over the line two days after they had finished, of not having the right kit on and of achieving a DNF. I have no idea where my confidence went that week, perhaps it was on annual leave.
It all began simply enough – warm up, get excited, go to the toilet repeatedly, weep when you shed your DryRobe and line up at the start. Trot down a hill and into a gentle warming jog, trying to vye for the first half of the pack to avoid bottle necks at obstacles…and then there was a bastarding hill slalom. Seriously, it was insane. We ran, jogged, walked, tripped and cried our way around 20 sections of steep hill running and I cant decide whether it would have been preferable to die on the spot or try to poop out a hedgehog. I actually can’t believe I survived it. I will say something for it though- I was very warm afterwards, and had to shed a layer whilst running (which is as dignified and graceful as it sounds). The run then settled, terrain wise, and we passed through the elephant graveyard, complete with some electric wires, some muddy trenches and undulating, natural terrain.
Willing myself to run as fast as I could, I made up a lot of ground and positions in the Gurkha Grand National, where you had to plop in and out of a deep stream/mud pool up steep banks, much like on hell river at NUTS except without the kind addition of cargo nets. I said some swear words when I put my hands on a thistle, but other than that, it was pretty fun. I assumed by this point that I was probably about half way, but a marshall laughed at me when I asked if we were ‘nearly there yet’, so I guess we weren’t.
The race was peppered with tough obstacles, which, although not terribly technical, were legitimately dangerous and difficult to complete without occasionally falling into water (thankfully not from great height). The obstacles are permanent fixtures, and trees have started to make friends with them, making the landscape look quite post-apocalyptic in places.
Pushing through, we encountered underground bunkers, concrete tunnels, stagnant water, climbing frames and spider nets and unconscionably spritely children on a 7k ‘Tough Kids’ run that put most of us to shame.
I caught up with my ‘mark’ – the woman that I had (rather optimistically) tried to keep in my sights throughout the race, during a stint of water wading, and managed to keep up a decent pace over the last few KM. I was actually really enjoying myself, so got a bit of a shock when I found that the run was nearly over. The last obstacle was to climb up a steep bank with overhanging electrical wires – thankfully I was channelling Kimmy Schmidt, and telling myself that you can endure almost anything for ten seconds, so I could certainly endure an electric shock. I only had two shocks, and of those two, one of them managed to take my arm out from under me as I crawled desperately up the hill. Bewildered, I stood around at the top before realising that the finish line was about ten metres from me, which resulted in a delighted skip down the bank to receive my medal and hot chocolate, which I promptly burned myself with.
Tee shirt, hot chocolate, amazing medal and HOT BLOODY SHOWERS, MAN.
- Salomon Fellraisers
- More Mile trainer socks
- Nike Pro 3/4 length tights
- Nike Pro hyperwarm top (mistake)
- Inov8 Merino baselayer
- Wrag and headband
Seriously regretted that second top about ten minutes in to the run. Had to tie it around my waist and let it flap around like a sad, muddy butt-flag for the whole race. It’s a wonder it wasn’t left hanging on a barbed wire fence, if I’m honest.
Tough Guy is inimitable. It’s iconic. I’m so proud to call myself a Tough Guy. As fifth ovary-bearer over the line, I qualified for the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS here, which made me feel absolutely fantastic. I can’t decide what made me more happy: this, or finding out that I’d beaten the boys I’d travelled with.
Best go with the former, or next time they really will leave me in a service station car park.
For those not in the know, NUTS is kindof a big deal. I’m not sure how much I appreciated this fact before I signed up for NUTS, but then I got a big attack of the terrifieds and signed up to a course-specific training day. Thank GOD (and Michael Midgley, who might actually be a god, I’m not sure), that I did.
The NUTS course is like no other – it’s extremely obstacle heavy and purpose built on a permanent basis. Winter NUTS is notoriously cold, difficult and testing of both physical and mental strength. It’s based in clay-type mud, which is slippy and really clogs you trainers. This sounds like I’m complaining, I’m not – because it was fantastic.
The team have been at it for a long time, and it’s a slick, well established course with unique, relentless obstacles that give you a full body workout…and then you’ve got to go round and do it all again. With the choice of 1 7k lap, or 2, 3 or 4, the course appeals to both the elite and the fun-runner, with those on 3 or 4 laps taking priority in any traffic jams. They also get the dubious honour of doing several extra obstacles with failure penalties. No way, Pedro.
Content with my two laps, I crashed through the first part of the my first lap like an ungainly hippo, only not as fast. I cursed my stupid legs as I trundled through the forest with all the speed of an egg rolling up a hill. Eventually though, it was like they didn’t exist, as they were frozen into submission by the many dips in to freezing water. When I eventually hit my stride, I was catapulted into an obstacle heavy area (as always happens. Like, every time). This is where I became very grateful that I had attended a training day, as I’m quite certain I would have freaked the actual fuck out if I’d never seen the fireman’s pole before (no, it’s not a euphemism, there’s literally a pole there, and it’s scary). Thankfully I could potter through the obstacle field without much of a problem, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. In fact, I’d wager that anyone who didn’t enjoy it has some sort of fun-deficiency that can only be remedied by an immediate trip to Alton Towers. Of course my sense of fun and carefree joviality was somewhat dented by the appearance of bloody hills that I had to run up and down, sometimes accompanied by a tyre, but this did signify that it was almost the end of the lap, so it wasn’t all bad.
I think that if I had stopped after 7k, I would have felt disappointed, because I certainly wasn’t tanking it around, and I felt like I had a lot more to give. As luck and design would have it, I was signed on to 14k, so I had a quick pitstop for a drink and a truly terrible flapjack, and tootled on past into my second lap. I’m pleased to say that this lap was faster and easier, and gave me the opportunity to give some legups to tiring elite racers on their fourth lap and making me look like a lazy lump of half eaten bacon. This made me feel all inspired but also important, because there aren’t many sports in which ordinary humans like me get to knock about with the top three types in the country, even if it is just to pull them out of knee deep clay and send them on their way.
In the end, I finished a respectable 8th female, and I’m pretty chuffed with that. It gives me a great basis for next year and some targets to beat.
After this course, I momentarily misplaced my brain and signed up for three laps in September.
Tech tee, wrist band (no, I don’t know what they’re for either), and nifty medal. Also some hot squash, which made me want to marry the lady who gave it to me.
- Salomon Fellraisers (Maiden voyage)
- Nike Anti-blister socks
- Decathlon neoprene socks
- Under Armour heatgear tights
- Inov8 merino baselayer
- Nike Pro Hyperwarm baselayer
- Decathlon neoprene rash vest
- O’Neill neoprene gloves
- Merino Buff / ORM wrag
Yeah, I took my kit pretty seriously here. It was cold in the water, but the air was more ambient than usual, so I’m told. But because I’m a sap, the kit was spot on for me. The gloves were particularly phenomenal, and are my new best friends. Neoprene socks were also totally necessary, as when I tried the course without them the week before, I couldn’t feel my feet and left them in a cargo net.
This course is fucking brilliant and I want to do it every year until I die.
Gladi8or was not really on my radar until a friend and fellow OCR novice suggested that we get our big girl pants on and do a winter race. Dutifully I signed up; ‘how cold could it be/I’m gonna train so hard/no post Christmas lull for me/I’m a HERO’. Unfortunately she neglected to, and I was a lone Gladi8or on my second ever OCR. Daunted by going solo, I sought reassurance from People I Don’t Know On The Internet, and they assured me I’d be totally fine. I took their word for it – thankfully, they were right. Continue reading