What I’m packing for 50 miles

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Tomorrow, just before 11am, I’m setting off on an adventure.  An adventure through the night up (very tall!) peaks and down (incredibly steep!) dales to cover 50 miles with friends.  …I may be a little mad.

I’m halfway through packing now with everything laid out on the table in the lounge, just desperately hunting out my handheld Garmin, some gloves and a handheld torch.  Here is how the table is currently looking…

Kit for Dusk 'til Dawn 50mile ultramarathon…Pretty jam packed full!

There will be five of us travelling in my little Rover (now that it is all fixed and returned from the garage after yesterday’s palava) so space will be tight and I need to condense this into my belt, backpack, a drop back and an overnight bag.  Here’s what’s going where…

Belt:
Half a flapjack
A gel
Mobile phone
Spare change

Backpack:
Orange
Compass (tied on)
Whistle (tied on)
Red reflective flashing light (tied on)
4x Cocoa Orange nakd bars
Half a bag of Sour cream pretzels
Spare batteries
Long sleeved top
Torch
Larger copies of the map with the course marked out
Reflective bib
Foil blanket
Lemonade nuun tablets
Portable charging device
Garmin charger
Phone charger
Vaseline

Drop bag:
Carton of chocolate milk
2x oranges
2x Cocoa Orange nakd bars
Bag of Sour cream pretzels

Kit for Dusk 'til Dawn 50mile ultramarathon

Overnight bag:
Towel
Hoodie
Underwear
Jeans
Deodorant
Converse
Hairbrush

On me:
Tights
Technical t-shirt
Waterproof jacket (with gloves in the pockets)
Trainers
Sports bra
Headtorch
Cap
Checkpoint card (pinned to my top)
Reflective wrist band
Waterbottle (in hand)
Garmin
e-Trex 30 handheld navigational device

The drop bag will be available for us to pick up at mile 20 (Checkpoint 3) and I’m looking forward to packing in the chocolate milk and oranges there.  I’ve heard rumours that Kev is dropping off a madras!

The guys at Beyond Marathon have given us an essentials kit list of items we must bring.  No kit, no start!

Kit list for Dusk 'til Dawn 50mile ultramarathon

For some of the race last year a guy ran with me that had never run off road before and was sharing two headtorches between three of them having passed them back during the kit check.  Who doesn’t bring a headtorch to an overnight race?!

Can you think of anything I am missing?!
Were you ever part of the Duke of Edinburgh scheme at school?
 I’m currently viewing Dusk ’til Dawn as the adult version of DoE!

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It’s always something…

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… On Tuesday morning it was my car.  It failed to growl into any sort of life whilst I sat shivering in it at a little after 7am.  So much for catching up with loads of work before school began.
Luckily, one of the other teachers lives only a few miles from me, although by the time she had come to rescue me we hit heavy traffic and then didn’t get in to work until 9am.

It meant no run club for me that night.  Instead, I headed out on one last run yesterday evening and then planned on resting up for the rest of the week (other than a few longer walks) before completing the 50 miles on Saturday.

Turns out it’s quite inconvenient not having access to a car though. My journey home last night on the bus was interesting. Made more so when I realised I hadn’t put any cash into my bag for the bus. I tend to just keep my credit card on me when I go out with an emergency £5 note in my car. Obviously the bus wouldn’t take a credit card so for a few minutes I was left scrabbling around in the pockets of my coat hunting out spare change. Luckily, I managed to get together the £2.65 required for my fare to get to run club but for a minute I was left wondering whether or not I would have to walk the entire 20 miles home!
I’m currently sat in the Costa in the town where my new school is as I have an induction today between 12-2.

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Without a car at the moment though, Dan had to drop me off in the nearby town on his way through to Cambridge. I say ‘nearby’…. It’s ten minutes in a car, but walking it took me a little over 90 minutes. There’s that long walk done for today then! I’d hit my Vivofit goal before 9am this morning!

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I quite enjoyed my Autumnal walk. I can’t believe how quickly the leaves have changed. They look so beautiful this time of year though.

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This time of year is meant for fires, hot chocolates and playing board games on a Sunday afternoon. Dan and I sat down in front of the fire last Sunday and pulled out our Wedding Guess Who game for the first time since we’ve been married. One of my bridesmaids and I used to play what we dubbed as ‘Ultimate Guess Who’ when we were at uni – we would use the regular Guess Who game boards with the only changed rule being that you could not ask any questions relating to what the character looked like. We asked questions such as “Do they have a pet cat?”, ” Are they an only child? “..etc. Randomly, we always used to get the answers right! Clearly we know each other and the way we both think very well!
When I saw Wedding Guess Who on a wedding board on Pinterest I knew I wanted to create something similar, which included all of our immediate family and bridal party.

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It went down well and we got lots of lovely comments on the day.

My journey home is going to be a nightmare tonight. By bus it will allegedly take 4.5hrs and four buses to travel just over 20 miles. Or I could fork out £80 for a taxi. Good job buses have free WiFi… At least I should be able to crack on with a little work on the way home this afternoon!
Have you ever struggled without a car?
What’s your favourite board game?

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The maps are out

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Hopefully this time next week we shall be stumbling back home, up the stairs and into our beds after running through the night at Dusk ’til Dawn 50m ultramarathon AFTER having run the 50 miles.

This morning I met with two of the three people I plan on running with next weekend to plot out the route on a large map and to go through the course details.  The last person missing from our group was crazily helping pace our three club runners through the last 50m at the Winter 100m.

Winter 10050 miles of pacing, followed by 50 miles in the Peak District at the Dusk ’til Dawn race next weekend…that man is a machine!

This morning we took over the living room floor at Tracey’s house with maps.
Tom had bought some large scale maps of the area we would be running and we played the Dusk ’til Dawn briefing video on the iPad so that we could take notes and talk through each section of the course.  I didn’t think it would take too long but in actual fact we were there for more than 3 hours plotting it all out!

Maps for Dusk 'til Dawn

It has done some good though and all three of us came away feeling much more confident about the navigation aspect of the course.  We have a total time of 14hours and 3minutes to run the race.  This sounds like loads and loads of time (it actually works out at 16m 52s per mile…I can walk at that pace!) but when you see the course elevation you realise just why so much time is required…

Dusk 'til Dawn elevationAdd into that the fact that a lot of it is on technical trail (rocks, uneven ground…) and that it is run through the night, and you’ll discover there isn’t actually a huge amount of leeway when it comes to the time.  Our priority will be to get as far as CP9 (38 miles) before the cut off as this is the last checkpoint where runners will be asked to withdraw if they are moving too slowly.  From this point, we will be able to relax a little and no longer worry about pace.  Realistically I know to expect to be at the back, but at the same time I will probably have more experience than some on the trails.  Last year one guy was wearing road shoes and had never run an offroad race before!  I overtook 17 runners from the 95 that started last year from starting at the back.  It’s much nicer to be able to pick people off on a course than have them come storming past you!

Each of the four of us is bringing different skills to the race so between us, hopefully we should have a very strong team.
* I ran the first 35 or so miles of the course last year so should be able to recognise the majority of the route as well as having had experience of navigating with the e-trex 30 device.  I will be the navigation guru.
* Kev has run many ultra races over all types of terrain and is the most confident of the three of us at being able to pace it in.  He will become our pacer and also feeder, ensuring that we all eat enough and often enough.
* Tom has practiced his map reading and compass skills and is the quickest runner of the four of us.  He will become our map reader for the evening.
* And Tracey is chief organiser – she was responsible for the meetup this morning and for the four of us taking the planning a whole lot more seriously than I am sure we would otherwise have done!  She has made numerous notes about the course from the video and briefing notes sent out to us and has recently navigated on a shorter ultra run in the daylight.  She is our manager.

Mapping out the Dusk 'til Dawn course

Have you ever tried navigating a course with maps before?

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New job, ultra briefing, speedy reps and #catownerproblems

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Oh, so much to write about today!

Lets start with my new job…  This morning I headed in to sign paperwork for my new job which I shall be starting on Fridays after half term – going on to a full five-day timetable after Christmas when I have finished at my current job.  Last week seemed to go by in such a blur – applying, being invited for interview and then being offered the post.  It was nice to go in and meet people properly today and to get a better idea of what will be expected of me in the new role.  I already feel like I will be incredibly well supported in the post.  The Head of Department grabbed me for a chat after I’d signed the paperwork to let me know that she had decided she had wanted me for the post as soon as she saw me teach but could have smashed me around the head during the interview stage with the headteacher when I didn’t deliver as well!  I’m just awful at bigging myself up and she felt I’d really undersold myself in the formal part of the interview.  She’s already promised that she’s going to help me work on that, but the compliments I was paid today have already done wonders for my confidence.  Luckily, they hired me for my teaching ability, not my interview skills, so last Wednesday I was very shocked to receive the call offering me the job!
I’ve already decided that this Winter at work is going to be all about the jumpers over dresses with boots so that was how I decided to dress today.  I have a real issue looking down at these boots though.  They always look like I’ve got them on the wrong feet!  (I promise I haven’t!)

Ankle length boots not on the wrong feet

This afternoon our race briefing for the Dusk ’til Dawn 50 mile ultra arrived.  For anyone that’s interested, here’s the video.  

I’ll write a longer post on Dusk ’til Dawn later this week as it is now only nine days away…

Tonight was the first speed session I’ve attended at club for a while.  I normally find myself getting very worked up before each rep of a speed session.  My heart rate gets ridiculously high before I’ve even begun, I shoot off with the front of the pack then my throat gets tight, I feel like I’m not taking in enough air and am certain I’m going to collapse before I make it to the end.  It got to the stage where I wasn’t enjoying this weekly routine so I stopped going on Thursday sessions for a while, continuing with just the Tuesday tempo runs.  The groups were always so big, so I always felt like I had to fight my way through the pack as well, adding to my anxiety.

Tonight, I gave speed sessions another go.  I’ve been doing some speedwork on my own, but that is never the same and I want to make a real go of the marathon distance next Spring so knew I needed to get over my fear at some point.  For a change there were only nine of us in Group 5 tonight.  A perfectly manageable number to run as part of a group with.  We ran two and a half miles as a warm up before arriving on the km rep route.  Right by the school we meet at is a pavement alongside four different roads which goes all the way round a park and some houses in the form of a massive square.  That’s not a very good explanation I’m afraid, but I have no idea how to explain it without taking you there!  The distance has been officially measured as 1km, so the club often uses this area as part of training sessions to time kilometre reps so that we can track our progress over time.  We couldn’t start at the corner we usually start at tonight, as Group 1 were also running the reps, so we staggered it slightly and met at the other side of the square.  This is a much worse starting point as you always have two long uphill sides of the hill to run together, whereas the other corner means you start and finish on an uphill, with two downhill sides inbetween.

I was a little bit pacey waiting to begin, and I almost asked not to be timed to take the pressure off of myselg, but then I realised that would be silly and that I’d never improve if I kept dropping out.  I’m the only one putting pressure on myself.  We started.  On the first two sides of downhill I managed to really get into a strong stride, without pushing too hard.  It was tough coming up the long uphill after speeding down for so long but one of my strengths is uphills.  I had already pushed to fourth position and coming up the hill I overtook another person.  I was pushing, but not to my maximum.  As the hill started to level out I was aware that the guy running in second place was within reaching distance so I really put my head down and pounded forward.  I am certain I wouldn’t have done so had he not been right in front of me.  He glanced behind and pushed too and we finished together in 4m53s, with just one other guy finishing in front of us.  The guy that had finished with me commented that he wouldn’t have pushed quite so hard either had I not been right on his tail!
A quick two minute stop before take two.
The second rep was the other way around the square.  Because we were starting from the highest point though it still meant two sides of downhill before finishing with a long uphill stretch.  Again, I felt confident and comfortable on the way down.  My breathing was under control and I was already in third position as I hit the hill coming back up.  I didn’t quite have enough in me to match the guy in second place though.  As I neared the top, the Group 1 runners soared past in the opposite direction and that helped me to push a little harder on the final stretch.  My time was called out at 4m55s.  Pretty happy with that consistency!  Just two seconds difference between the two reps.  I offered to time the third lap as our coach that had been timing needed to get back to open up and let the runners have their keys back.

I really enjoyed the session and am looking forward to being pushed this Winter.

I ran tonight with cuts all over my face and arms though.  Some of which stung in the wind.  This afternoon I took Bella to the vets.  Being put into her travel cage is not top of her favourites list and she very definitely let me know!  She’s such a lovey-dovey cat normally but as soon as you try to get her anywhere near her cage the claws come out and she splays out her legs in every attempt to make herself as big as possible so you can’t get her in.  I always feel awful because she cries and cries, and then it upsets me because I don’t like seeing her so worked up.  Whenever Dan has to put her in the cage he gets dressed up in his massive ski jacket and gloves to minimise blood loss.  It wouldn’t have worked on this occasion though…she got me right across my face!  I now hate the vets as much as Bella does!

Bella scratched me

I took her in to the vets because I noticed that she had a couple of fleas a fortnight ago and so gave her a deflea dose, which seems to have done nothing at all and now she is overrun with fleas and really miserable because of it.  She’s started losing her hair and crying when she scratches so I took her in to get weighed so that they could give her a prescription dose.  Hopefully this will do the trick.  Thankfully she wasn’t too mad at me when I brought her home and I even got a cuddle later on!

Me cuddling Bella

After our visit to the vets I posted a picture on Twitter with the hashtag #catownerproblems then decided to see who else had been having #catownerproblems.  Here are some of my favourites…

catownerproblems catownerproblems catownerproblems

Are you able to present yourself  realistically at interviews?
Do you like cat photos/videos?
 Dan always says if he finds me laughing in front of the computer he knows there’s a good chance it’s because I’m watching a cat video!

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