Race to the Stones

Well, Race to the Stones. You were….. hmmm. What word to use? Brilliant, hot, tough, fun, beautiful, painful. There are so many words to describe this one.

It was an early wake up call, Rich picked me up at 5am to be at the start in time for our 8.15 start wave. Which was fine until we got stuck in a huge queue coming off the motorway, which was entirely caused by traffic for the race. It seemed like lots of cars were coming out of the farm where the start was, having dropped runners off. I do feel like the has to be a better system for those who aren’t parking to not clog up the whole area.

Soon enough we were off. It soon transpired that we wouldn’t be able to run as much as we’d hoped to. The terrain was tricky a lot of the way and we were stuck behind a large number of walkers. I understand and support that a lot of people do walk this event, but it would be good if something could be done with the start waves so that those intending to run at least some don’t can be ahead of walkers.

Irrespective of this, we were soon having a good time and passed pitstop 1. With hindsight we should have eaten more there as, by the time we got to pitstop 2, we were flagging. We didn’t realise how much until we had a sandwich and some crisps and suddenly perked up.

Pitstop 2 – best cheese sandwich!

I’m not going to write a kilometre by kilometre account as that wouldn’t be very interesting and there’s quite a lot that I can’t remember! But my main take-away memories are:

  • The checkpoints were brilliant, with the volunteers eternally cheery despite it being the middle of the night at some of them. I was very impressed at the range of snacks available and that they were mostly different at all of the checkpoints so you didn’t get bored.
  • Toilets! I was so so happy to find plenty of toilets at each checkpoint and they were clean! Even towards the end of the race when, for those of us who were nearer the back, hundreds of runners must have already used them. Such a little thing but so nice.
  • Walking through the night was wonderful. I thought I’d hate it and got a bit teary as the sun was going down but I found that I really enjoyed it. Seeing the sun go down and then seeing the world getting light again was pretty special.
  • It’s such a friendly event. Lots of people chatted to us along the route, and you tend to see the same people on and off through the day, leapfrogging each other as you overtake them stop, they overtake then stop.
  • The showers at the end were amazing, hot and plenty of water. Having the barn available or have a snooze was fabulous too.

Towards the end, things got pretty bad. My toes and left hip were very painful and Rich had picked up and ankle and knee injury. The track was very hard and rocky and very narrow so it was really tricky to walk on. You can see the Stones from the top of the hill but it’s a bit of a mirage, never seeming to get closer. Then when you do eventually get down, you have to pass the gate to the finish to go to the Stones, it’s simply soul destroying. I’d been sobbing long before this point and then sobbed again as we headed from the Stones back to go to the finish. Managed to get a non-sobbing photograph though!

The main issue I had with the event was that we underestimated how long it would take us (who can realistically estimate 100km if you haven’t done it before!) We therefore missed our shuttle bus, the next one was full and we had to wait 7 hours after we finished for the first bus with some space. As it happens, it wasn’t too bad. We slept, we showered, we ate, we got our blisters popped 🤢, we slept some more.

Like turkeys ready for the oven – space blankets and snoozing at the end

And so, RTTS is done. Would I do it again? I doubt it. Am I glad I did it? Abso-flipping-lutely!

I’m raising money for Maggie’s Centres who are supporting friends through cancer treatment at the moment. So now you’ve trawled your way through my slightly dull blog, if you can afford to spare a few pounds, all donations are very gratefully received.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/katherinerichardsrtts

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I ran a marathon!

Milton Keynes Marathon, you were brilliant!

This was a fairly short notice race booking by my standards. I never thought I’d see the day where I was booking a spring marathon as a “training run” for a longer run in the summer. But here we were. The training was done. I’d had some pretty good training runs and before I knew it, the big day was here.

James and I were going to run together and he picked me up early in bank holiday Monday. The journey to Milton Keynes was straightforward, and we got parked up fairly easily and walked to the stadium where the start was.

Amazing news – there were toilets. Many many proper toilets – every runner’s pre-race dream.

We met Ben, did introductions, and a few other folk came along, a quick photo and we were off for the Racecheck meet up.

Before we knew it, we were in the start pen and we were off. The first bit of the route is rather dull – a steady incline along roads. Then we headed off and the scenery became prettier than I’d exotic to be. The main bulk of the marathon route was through bits of parks and countryside and villages.

We had hoped to keep to a 5:30 finish time pace but it wasn’t to be. Tired legs and grumpy Katherine (there was a lot of whining and a bit of swearing!) meant for a slower time than we’d hoped for.

The finish was brilliant, running down the tunnel and around the MK Dons stadium, around the pitch and through the finish gantry. We had run a marathon! 26.2 miles, some trotting, some walking. Some laughs and some tears and we were finished. I have a sneaking suspicion I may be back to Milton Keynes…..

Here I am, this is me

This blog is a second blog really aimed at the readership being my Facebook humerus fracture support group. Of course, anyone can read it but the subject matter once again is rather niche!

I wrote my last blog in August 2018, eight months post-fracture. It’s now April 2019 so I’m now well over a year post-injury. I was a 100% natural healer and was discharged from physiotherapy in August 2018.

Of course, everything that I write in this blog relates to me and my own personal healing process. Other people’s experiences will be very very different. But I’m one of the lucky ones, if you believe in luck.

There isn’t really anything now that I can’t do because of my arm. I have full range of movement and almost full strength. Last weekend, I managed to pick up and carry my five year old niece and three year old nephew (not at the same time) while they visited me.

Holding the boy

In reality, the only thing I can’t do is reach one small patch on my left shoulder blade when it itches! I have to carry my shoulder bag on my other shoulder because I’ve been left with one sloping shoulder. I can’t always zip my dress up the back (but who could do that anyway?) In the grand scheme of things, this is a good outcome in my book.

As for running, one of my very favourite things…. I didn’t run for 14 weeks. I then went to the gym for a while for safety. Four weeks after I started to run again, I completed a half marathon, complete with brace (for security rather than anything else):

Four weeks after that, my first marathon:

And four weeks after that, a 50km ultra marathon:

Some would call me reckless doing these races on virtually no training it I was simply determined that “the stupid arm” wasn’t going to stop me doing anything else. Obviously all forms of exercise should only be done when your doctors say it’s OK!

And so, at the time of writing I’m training for my next marathon and ultra (100km this time!) I’m fairly certain that I’ve come out of my fracture experience a stronger woman and am enjoying challenging myself to see what I can do. To quote Elton John – Don’t stop me now, I’m having such a good time…. I’m having a ball!

This remains one of my favourite photos of me, taken at a race last July. Hands on hips. Two functioning arms. Strong.

Hello 2019

Well 2018, you were a rollercoaster! A broken arm, a healed arm, and a new (temporary) job amongst many other things. Oh, and the small matter of 28 races between March and October:

1. 18 March. Limassol half marathon

2. 8 April. Manchester Marathon

3. 11 April Chase the Sun Olympic Park

4. 18 April Chase the Sun Clapham

5. 25 April Chase the Sun Hyde Park

6. 6 May St Illtyds ultra

7. 9 May Chase the Sun Olympic Park

8. 16 May Chase the Sun Crystal Palace

9. 23 May Chase the Sun Hyde Park

10. 27 May Westminster Mile

11. 28 May London 10,000

12. 30 May Chase the Sun Wimbledon Common

13. 6 June Chase the Sun Hyde Park

14. 13 June Chase the Sun Olympic Park

15. 17 June Shrewsbury HM

16. 24 June Round Sheffield Run

17. 7 July Maverick X Peak District

18. 11 July Chase the Sun 10k Olympic Park

19. 8 August Chase the Sun 10k Olympic Park

20. 11 August Gateshead Trail 10k

21. 15 August Chase the Sun 10k Hyde Park

22. 22 August Chase the Sun 10k Brockwell Park

23. 29 August Chase the Sun 5k Wimbledon Common

24. 16 September Mansfield10k

25. 30 September Robin Hood HM

26. 14 October Goodwood Half

27. 21 October Thoresby 10

28. 26 October Supernova 5

I can’t share all of my photos (they’re all somewhere on my social media accounts if you want to see them), but here are a few favourites:

What will 2019 bring? Watch this space!

A year on…

Tomorrow is my year breakiversary. A whole year has passed since I fractured my left humerus pretty spectacularly.

In that year I’ve:

Run a half marathon overseas:

Run my first marathon:

Run my first ultra:

Got a 10k PB:

A half marathon PB:

And a 5k PB (no photo available).

I’ve met so many fabulous people (not just limited to the following photos!):

I knew I’d run again, that was always the plan. But I’m back, fitter and stronger.

So all that’s left to say is thank you. Thank you all for the support over this last year. I can’t put into words how much I’ve appreciated it.

Supernova 5k

It’s not often I enter a 5k race these days. I’ve done lots of Run Through 5ks but they were bought as a season pass. I thought that the Supernova sounded like a lot of fun and something a bit different and it was.

It was held at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park which is really easy for me to get to after work so I headed off and got there by about 5:45pm. I headed to a loo in the shopping centre to put my race number on. That done, I knew that Ben (@bensnapsstuff) would be up there doing his photography thing so I wandered up to the park and found him. It’s always very nice to have a chat with Ben. Dusk was falling by now and the light was lovely. It was a cold but dry night. People were beginning to arrive and collect their free headtorch, people decked out in all sorts of glow in the dark gear. There were speakers it with a rolling set of recorded announcements which I thought was a great idea.

I don’t usually bother joining in with an organised warm up but it was a way to keep moving that night. Then we were sent into our colour start pens. The main criticism I have of this race was that the official in the yellow pen clearly had no idea how the flags worked. Two coloured flags that you stand between for your relevant start colour, which was in your bib. However this lady kept shouted at us to stand behind her. We were at the back of the two yellow flags so we’re bumping into people from the green start by then, with a massive space at the front of the yellow start. Frankly she was rather rude and people soon started to ignore her.

Soon we were off. It turned it to be a totally different route than the Run Through races there so that was nice. It was a friendly atmosphere and I really enjoyed the run.

The goodie bag was pretty good – a buff (you can never have too many buffs), a small running water bottle, water, a cereal bar and a drawstring bag. My second gripe is that the medal is tiny and honestly a bit crap and doesn’t even have the date anywhere on the medal or the ribbon.

The cafe must have got a lot of business that night and I had a lovely hot chocolate at the end. I found Ben and sat with him for a while catching up a bit then headed home.

All in all this is a great race. I can’t comment on any photos because I’ve only seen a few so far. I’m not sure what the plan is for those.

Thoresby 10

I entered Thoresby 10 because I thought I might be rather good fun and I wasn’t wrong. I also knew some friends would be there which is always nice.

It’s a later start than usual for a race so it was nice not to be up at the crack of dawn. I was driving mum’s car to Thoresby and I realised it’s probably about 20 years since I’ve been there so didn’t really know where I was going. However I found it easily enough and it was a chilly start but that soon changed.

I got to registration and immediately saw James (@IllsleyJames) and got a hug, then Rich (@mutley6969uk) (another hug). By now it was really starting to warm up in the sun. I was glad I stuck my skort in my bag at the last minute as I’d have boiled in long leggings, which was my other options.

Ash (@stokeash55) soon appeared and he was pacing the 10 miler.

There were also dogs. Many many many dogs, lots of whom were very friendly.

We soon saw Amy (@treb91) and Tom (@tomfrizz15). Rich and I headed off to the start line and off we went.

This being a 10 mile race, and having run a PB half marathon in windy weather a week before, I wasn’t sure about pacing but Rich and I were running together and just decided to have a chat and some fun.

A little way along the route and the 10k racers started to overtake us, so we also saw David (@jedi58) as he overtook us.

It’s a very well organised race. Lots of signage and marshals, a couple of water stations and even a portaloo in the forest! Thoresby is private land in what originally would have been part of Sherwood Forest, so it was a real treat to be able to run there. It was a glorious day for running and we just took it steady. I loved being out somewhere so scenic and suspect Rich soon got bored of me commenting on how pretty it was.

Halfway selfie

The course is a big loop then a smaller loop but unless you know it well, you probably wouldn’t really realise it. There’s a lake and lots of woodland which made this town-dweller’s heart very happy.

The marshals were all fabulous and the medal was brilliant. No T-shirt included but there were on sale for a very reasonable price.

So all in all this was a great race. I’ll definitely be back another year!

Goodwood Festival of Running

The Goodwood Festival of Running was brilliant! The weather was terrible. Mid-week I’d checked the weather forecast and it said sunny for the weekend. Great. As the week progressed, the forecast for Sunday worsened.

I travelled to Chichester in Saturday and spent the night in a very comfortable AirBnB. I woke to the sound of heavy rain. I debate 1) dropping from half marathon to 10k or 2) getting up and going home. I decided not to do either of these so got up, got dressed, had coffee and breakfast and headed off in a taxi to Goodwood Motor Circuit.

I managed to have a quick chat with the lovely chaps from @runr. We had met before at the National Running Show in January but had said hello properly.

It was great to meet up with Jonathan, Becs and Jemma straight away. A few others were already there, then Carmen arrived, then Kyla. The family mile was underway and Ben was doing his thing with the camera so I caught up with him later.

The poor 10k racers got caught in a heavy hail-y downpour. Then it was our turn to walk out onto the famous race track.

Round to the start line and off we went.

Five and a half laps. Five and a half laps! I wasn’t sure how I’d cope with laps. My parkrun is three laps but I’ve never done more.

The top section was incredibly windy with the wind blowing in your face. When you got round to the second half of the loop, you didn’t really feel the benefit of the tailwind because it was more sheltered. I started off wondering if I’d be able to keep with the 2:30 pacer but soon managed to get ahead.

The slightly OCD side of my personality actually rather liked the laps and being able to count them off. However I got to two and a half laps round and lost the plot a bit. Lost the ability to count. So I was glad I had my Garmin ticking the miles down for me. I got totally disorientated as well. I have photos and no idea at what part of the race they were taken. No landmarks makes it tricky.

I kept glancing round over my shoulder to try to see whether I was managing to stay comfortably ahead of the 2:30 pacer. There was no way dropping back to him once I was past half way.

Despite the weather , I loved this race. It was great to see friends, and it was a flat course so, despite the windy weather, I was delighted and surprised to get a PB. 

The marshals deserve a special shout out for being out on their feet for hours in bad weather.

📷 @bensnapsstuff

I think this photo says it all. I spent a lot of his race with my head down, telling myself to just put one foot in front of the other and repeat. I don’t usually like looking at photos of myself but the more I look at it the more I like it. This is me, the runner. I guess I’m stronger than I think I am, both physically and mentally.

Robin Hood half marathon

I entered the Robin Hood half marathon this year as a fairly late entry. I’ve run the race once before in 2015, I’d been injured that summer so had missed out a chunk of my training plan. It was therefore a slow and steady race with quite a lot of walking. I was still a fairly new runner in those days.

I decided to enter this year because some friends were running and at that point I didn’t have anything in the diary in the autumn. My only hope for the race this year was that I would be faster than the first time I’ve had run it. I hoped that will be possible simply because I think I’m a lot fitter now, three years on, then I was then.

I joined the #ukrunchat group for dinner on Saturday night. It was nice to see people who I hadn’t seen for a while and to look forward to the next day’s race.

After the usual poor sleep the night before a race, I was up early on Sunday for the usual pre-race Rituals. Coffee. Try to eat breakfast. Toilet. Get dressed. Toilet. Et cetera.

Dad dropped me off at the tram stop in Hucknall, where I met a lady who was going to be marshalling about the finish line. I’d never met her before but we had a good chat of the tram. I changed trams at Nottingham station, and as I boarded my second tram I saw that Ian was on board so we had a chat on the way to the Race village.

Slowly the others are began arrive. It was a really Chilly morning and we were huddling in our hoodies Praying that the Sun would come put and warm things up a bit. This was not to be.

After some pre-race photos and some more toilet stops, we had a bag drop And into our respective pens. I was starting with Rich, Ian, Annie (who was running her first half marathon) and Brett, who was doing his first half since a leg injury.

It took nearly 20 minutes to get over the start line where there was a bit of a bottleneck. I had some problems with my hydration vest, but luckily managed to sort it out while we were running and not too far into the race. The first few miles of this route is pretty hilly and I managed to keep up with Ian and Brett for the first few miles. They kept waiting for me along the route but eventually they ended up too far ahead so I ran the last half on my own.

Running through Wollaton Hall brought back some strange memories. Dad and I had done a lot of walking there when my arm was broken earlier this year and I couldn’t run. I hadn’t been back since so it was a little odd to be back. Jason was marshalling on one of the water stations there so I managed A quick hello and hi 10 before running on. They’ve thrown in a big hill in the park which wasn’t there last time I ran this race So that was a bit of a surprise.

Once I got past 6 miles I decided I wasn’t going to stop running for love nor money. This was a bit of a mental battle. I haven’t run an entire half marathon since before I broke my arm and I wasn’t sure whether I was back to that fitness, especially on a route that started off so hilly. However, the more miles that ticked by, the more I was determined that I wasn’t going to walk. The only (incredibly short) stop that I had was a quick loo stop at mile nine!

Amy was standing on Castle Boulevard, and as soon as I saw her the burst into tears. I’m not really sure why, I think things were just hurting by then and I knew it was “just a parkrun to go”. I gave Amy a slightly teary hug, she asked if I was okay, I said I was and on I went.

At mile 11, There was a big group from Notts Women Runners, And I saw Sarah who I had been at school. I gave her a wave and trotted on.

Miles 11 to 13 seemed endless and my legs were screaming at me by this point, but there was no way I was stopping now. I turned into the finish funnel And saw Charlotte who I had also been at school with and she gave me a lovely cheer And then I was finished. I looked at my watch and saw that I had achieved my aim of running faster than I had in 2015 – nearly 20 minutes faster!

I was handed my medal and goody bag, such as it was.

Then I saw Ian and got a big hug. We had managed to get into the corporate tent so had a lovely postrace massage in there. We said our goodbyes to various people and I went with Ali, Tom and Brett For a lovely Greek feast.

There had been some hiccups What race numbers, but that’s not my story to tell. The goody bag is pretty poor to be honest, but I do like this race and, what with the discount code we were sent from running this year, it would’ve been rude not to enter next year’s race. Hopefully I’ll see some of you there.

Gateshead Trail 10k

I entered this race some time ago.  It seems a slightly odd one for me to enter given its location, but my sister and her family live in Newcastle so it’s an easy win.  Stay with them (no accommodation costs!), free lift to the race, and the niece and nephew as support crew.

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It turns out that this was a much bigger race than I’d anticipated but it was really well organised.  It has a very good event village based at a rugby club (proper toilets – what a pre-race treat!). Number pick up was quick and easy and it was a great atmosphere.

I managed to find Keely and Claire from #ukrunchat easily and then we found Marie so it was time for a quick pre-race #visorclub photograph.

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Soon it was time for the off so we stood in our pens for a fairly short time and over the start line we went.

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The race had a fun atmosphere but is tricky to describe.  It’s billed as a trail race but it isn’t really because a lot of it is on paved paths.  However, it’s certainly not a road race.  So we need a new category for races like this one.  I’ve heard somebody describe it as a “glorified parkrun”.  I guess it depends where you parkrun, because it’s nothing like mine but I can kind of see what they mean as it isn’t a true trail race.  Anyway, regardless of all of that, it was very well organised and well marshalled (I heard somebody at the end saying they went wrong but I really can’t see how that can have happened.  The only place it could have happened is very clearly signposted).  There isn’t really any support on the route apart from a few folk who I think were friends/relatives of runners who had found a spot to sit in.  Luckily it was a really nice day weather-wise so it was good for those hanging around waiting for us to finish.

The finish had a great atmosphere, and lots of people stuck around as it was a nice day and the race village had food on offer.  I think the rugby club bar was also open.  It was lovely to have my niece and nephew there who enjoyed cheering in the final runners.

Luckily Keely managed to get a shot of me coming in to finish as there aren’t any official photos of me at the time of writing this.

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All in all this was a great race with a brilliant atmosphere, and I may well be back to do it again.  The medal is great, the goody bag decidedly average, but that doesn’t really matter to me.  It’s a little disappointing that there aren’t any photos of me thus far, but for the cost of the race I guess I can’t complain too much.