My “Impossible” Move

“What would you want to move to Buxton for??”

 

Border between Cheshire and Derbyshire

Border between Cheshire and Derbyshire

Errwood Reservior

Errwood Reservior

This is a question I’ve been asked quite a bit since I moved here four months ago, back in October. I think people mean well when they ask this, but there’s usually some genuine confusion attached due to the difficulty I’ve seemingly  placed upon myself that many would view as unnecessary, so I’ll do my best to try and explain…

Pavilion Gardens, Buxton

Pavilion Gardens, Buxton

Geese

Geese

The Gritstone Grind, 2015

IMG_0455The Gritstone Trail is a national trail route that takes you from Kidsgrove in Staffordshire, to Disley in Cheshire; 35 miles of very green Peak District terrain and over 5,000 feet of elevation along the way.

Earlier this year, I discovered via the Welsh V3K and Snowdon Trail Marathon, that I am not quite the mountain goat I thought I might be… Running up a mountain is hard, running DOWN a mountain is crippling! It’s something I intend to work on, but mountains by nature are just that little bit more vertical than my body likes to work with.

Running Away From My Problems

How Running Becomes Therapy

How do you run so far?

Don’t you get bored?

 

Two questions I can safely say I have been asked a LOT. The first one is highly complex and has a very long, physiological answer. I suppose the real question then, and the answer to the second one in the process would be “Why do you run so far?” – So I’ll have a go at that one…

Trail Running – A Sport on the Rise!

PeakSkyrace_01

Me at the Peaks Skyrace, 2015 on the weekend

It was back in 2013 when I first started entering trail races. I decided that marathons were good fun (yes, you read that right), but I wanted to push myself with increasingly tougher terrains and route profiles.

Trail marathons I found were definitely my thing. I took to them straight away and noticed I was ‘reasonably’ good at them too.

All that summer, I found myself in the top 5 of events I entered, regardless of how little training I did. I never won any, but I had a couple of 2nd’s to my name and a 3rd place in one of the Hardmoors trail marathons. All evidence was pointing towards me being pretty big news…

Crisis of Confidence!

I’m pretty sure everybody has these days from time to time; when your brain inexplicably becomes your adversary and has you lose all confidence in all that you do.

Normally this happens when you’re tired for some reason. While I was on my own running the length of the UK, I would often wake up in the night with terrible anxiety about what I was trying to do. Then I would wake up in the morning and be 100% confident again. Strange.

I don’t know whether it is exclusively down to being tired, or possibly being subconsciously overwhelmed by your environment without realizing, and tiredness then brings that to the forefront.

John O’Groats to Lands End – Day 4 – Broken Bike

Where I left off

Day 4 route.

Day 4 route.

It had been an eventful previous evening, including a fall at high speed and an impromptu lesson in bike repair I didn’t know I needed. I’d been left with minor injuries, but also sadly, an unridable bike due to a split tyre.

I went to sleep that evening in a state of despair and confusion over what to do next. I had resolved to wake up early and find either a bike shop where I could purchase a new tyre, or at least a train station so I could get to a bike shop somewhere. The main problem was I didn’t know where either of these things were; plus I’d need to be on foot…

John O’Groats to Lands End – Day 3 – The Bit Where I Fell Over

Where Was I Now?

Day3It was now morning number three, and once again I found myself in a budget-crippling hotel after the weather had forsaken me for a second time in as many days.

The idea was that I’d be camping out in the wild; making the most of the remote, picturesque landscapes that Scotland provides in abundance; something I successfully managed in March last year for my LEJOG run. Unfortunately, the conditions were not so kind to me this… May? … At least I think it was May. It felt more like February.

John O’Groats to Lands End – Day 2 – Glencoe Valley!

Where Was I?

day2It was now Thursday morning, having left JOG the morning before. To summarise the challenge so far, it would be fair to say the weather was being a little unkind. The weeks building up to challenge we had a lot of sun, typical of what you’d expect from mid-May really. The very second I stepped off the train in Thurso the rain began. I’m not even exaggerating for comic effect here; that is genuinely when the first drops of rain started; I just didn’t think too much of it at the time. I was now in a hotel in Bonar Bridge; a non-optional budget extension having been exposed to a prolonged head-on battle with the elements all of the previous afternoon and early evening. Hopefully today would be a better day…

The Vegan Welsh 3,000’s

V3KThis is a 55km route covering several popular areas of Snowdonia, so as any experienced ultra-marathon runner would tell you, this is not huge mileage.

So why is it then, sitting here now on the morning after the event, do I feel like I’ve just completed an intense, full body workout?

This is because the race is a bit different to most ultra-marathons you see, in that it happens to cover 15 of the highest peaks in Wales. In fact, the reason the course is called the Welsh “3,000’s” is because of the 15 peaks >3,000ft. I think an apt description for the event would be more like ‘a full day of mountain climbing’ than it could be described as a ‘running race’. Nevertheless, the result is spectacular! Not for the faint-hearted, but definitely spectacular.

John O’Groats to Lands End – Day 1

Getting started!

Before I could get started, I had to endure a 13 hour train journey to Thurso, where I refused to let my bike leave my sight for the entire duration. I didn’t mind the journey so much; I think I was just daydreaming and listening to music the entire time. It was a sunny day outside, so the experience was quite pleasant. A sign of things to come no doubt.

Not letting this out of my sight.

Not letting this out of my sight.