Re-living my youth

A week after my birthday and the veteran insults just keep on coming.

Whilst one of my club mates now puts vet 35 after my name on all Facebook correspondence, another points out that I’m half way to 70.

The truth is I don’t mind being 35. I mean 35 is not that old. It’s just the veteran nametag that bothers me. But, as Chris points out, it could be worse. I could be a veteran 40.  Lightwater valley

So, to celebrate becoming a veteran runner, I decided to spend the day re-living my youth at Lightwater Valley theme park. On any other birthday we’d head to the coast for fish and chips and to browse the second-hand bookshops, but this was a veteran birthday. This was different.

I always loved a rollercoaster in my teens; it was bound to be fun.

‘We’ll start with the swings,’ I said when we arrived. ‘Just to warm up.’

I was clearly underestimating the advancements that have been made in engineering since my last visit in 1995. The swings now spin and tilt so much I was almost hanging upside down, trying desperately not to lose my flip flops and sunglasses. Five minutes later we staggered off. ‘They’ve changed a bit,’ I said. ‘I’ll have to sit down.’

After that it was the Ultimate where, apart from a few teachers accompanying kids on school trips, we were the oldest people in the queue. Next up was the Pirate Ship (not the one that goes all the way round, that looked far too dangerous), then the Twister, the Swan Lake pedal boats, the Lightwater wheel, the carousel. Then, my favourite part of the day, an ice cream and a sit down before our last ride, the Raptor Attack.

I screamed. I shouted. I held on so tight my knuckles turned white. Chris, in comparison, loved the fast rides. ‘As long as they go in one direction,’ he said. ‘I’m okay.’ The Whirlwind was a no go; too much twisting.

We may have been battered and bruised, but we felt young again. And the V word had not been mentioned once.

Until, on the way home, I checked my phone. More text messages from my club mates.

‘Best wishes super vet!’

‘Happy Birthday. You’re officially a veteran.’

And the last one, my favourite. ‘Are you a Vet 40 now?’

Not Yet A Vet

My first day as a veteran runner, which basically means I’m past it when I’ve only just got started.

I’m only 35. I feel fitter than I ever have. I’m running faster than I ever have. I’m training better than I ever did, which is why I’m finding it so difficult to accept that I’m a veteran runner. Me, a veteran. I was only 17 a few months back. But it’s true; I’m 35, closer to 40 than 30, technically a veteran.

Old. Over the hill. Past it.

No thanks.

I’m not finished yet. I want to run faster. I want to set more personal bests. I want to be better.

So, in an attempt to prove to myself that I’m not old, over the hill, or past it, I’ve set myself the Not Yet a Vet Challenge, where I intend to hold two fingers up to the veteran name tag, by setting personal bests for all distances from 5K to marathon.

It’s not going to be easy.

A few years ago, with the veteran category looming, I made a real effort to beat the personal bests I set when I was in my early twenties. I very much felt that if I didn’t do it now, I never would. So far, I’ve set PBs for 5k, 10k, five miles, and half-marathon distances, which I’m delighted with. Beating these times now I’m a vet is going to be hard. But it’s not impossible. In my old age I seem to have much more focus and determination than I ever did in my youth. So, here goes. #notyetavet

For updates on my progress, visit my blog, or follow me on Twitter @Lizzie_Champion

The Trunce – July

Only the day after finishing second lady at the Broomhead Chase, I was back on the start line for the Trunce.

I’m the first to admit that it’s not a good idea to race two days in a row, but I was fifth in the race series so didn’t want to miss a race.

I did think about not taking part, but decided to do it and hope for the best. I knew I wouldn’t have the legs for a PB but thought I could pick up some points.

My legs had other ideas. They were still in Broomhead. Heavy; heavy; heavy. I knew it was a case of getting round. I knew it would hurt.

So when the girl in front had a dizzy spell (she’d given blood in the afternoon) I was secretly pleased to stop and help. After five minutes, she felt well enough to walk/jog to the finish. I joined her.

We finished last. It was actually fun. In fact, for the first time, I actually enjoyed the race. Normally it terrifies me!

The Trunce

Broomhead Chase Fell Race (Sunday 13th July)

Slightly undulating! Finished second lady, which I was very pleased about. Got lost en route, which I wasn’t very pleased about. Also joined the ladies tug of war team, which was fun.

The race is part of the Broomhead Show. We got there early to look round before the race. The book stall was fantastic. They had so many good books that it was worth going for the book bargains alone!

Came home with chocolate and books. A fantastic day 🙂


Under starters orders

Despite the April showers the going was surprisingly good at the 2014 Rossington Gallop.
The Grand National-style event, which is organised by Gainsborough and Morton Striders, takes place in the lovely grounds of the Northern Racing College. Team Kingstone were out in force; with nine runners out of a field of 153, plus Josey and Chris as the support crew, we were definitely the top team.

Before arriving, I knew very little about the race. In fact, all I knew was that it was six miles (ish), and involved hay bales, water troughs and a bear.

Not being much of an off-road runner and, if I’m honest, having a bit of a bear phobia, I didn’t think it was my cup of tea. But with Championship points to be had, I was always going to run (not that I’m at all competitive you understand). As always, my aim was to enjoy it, and hopefully pick up some points. It sounded fun.

As we trotted to the start, I felt tired already. Only the night before last, I’d taken part in a Fiona Davies suicide session, which involved running five times around Locke Park in the torrential rain. As my Rossington teammates limbered up by jumping over the hay bales, I plodded to the start admiring the beautiful horses grazing in the paddocks.

‘I’ll take it steady,’ I said. ‘I just want to get round.’ That’s what I always say. I don’t mean it. As soon as I’m on the start line, something happens to me. My competitive self takes over. Today was no exception.

We waited on the start line eyeing up the other runners, trying to work out who had the best form. With it being such a small event, I wondered if I’d be able to finish in the top ten women.

‘Go for it,’ JR said. I pushed to the front, right behind Mark Yates.

The starter got us under orders, and then we were off. Mark Yates flew to the front. He must have set a world record as he led the men through the first furlong. I wasn’t far behind. I wanted to win. We’d get a Kingstone double; Mark, the first man, me, the first lady. It would be a glorious day. And, if they’d given out the medals for that first furlong, it would have been. Unfortunately, we still had six miles to run. I started to panic; six miles is a long way to run after you’ve set off at rocket pace.

By the first fence, (the hay bales,) I was shattered and a lady in blue had caught me. I tried to stay with her but she was super speedy, and I wasn’t. She went ahead. I was still second lady, but there was no doubt that I’d have to work for it. I knew it was going to hurt.

The course was fantastic. After a lap of the gallops you head out of the paddock and do two laps of cross country terrain involving hills, water, mud, and jumps. Half way round the first lap, I’d caught the bear who was sweating and swearing as I dashed past.

I could still see the first lady, but try as I might, I couldn’t catch her. My legs were going. I was struggling. At the turnaround, I caught a glimpse of a lady in pink shorts who was currently in third place. She looked as fresh as a daisy, and was quickly gaining ground.

I trudged on. As we headed into the gallops for the final lap, she had the bit between her teeth. She went ahead, and I tucked in behind her. I knew if it came down to a sprint finish, I’d have a chance.

In the distance, I could see the large, inflatable finish line – you couldn’t miss it. The finish line; there it was. Unfortunately, my mind started playing tricks on me. Was it a finish line? Was it a bouncy castle? I could still see people running past it. Perhaps it wasn’t the finish. Perhaps it was another obstacle that we had to run under. Do I sprint now? Do I wait until I am completely sure that it is a finish line? What to do?

By the time I’d made my mind up, it was too late. I sprinted for the line, but couldn’t overtake. I finished third lady. I should have been second, but it didn’t matter, I’d won something. I was delighted. I had never won anything before, not even a raffle. I will forever treasure my £25 vouchers for the Metres to Miles shop in Epworth.

Whilst the first lady did her warm down, I tucked into a lovely sausage roll provided by our official photographer, Josey Dolan. It was a wonderful day. Everyone had a great race and did really well especially Tim who finished first vet 55.

To top it off, my teammates waited ages for the presentation and cheered the loudest when I collected my prize. I loved this race. It was a great day out and I’m already chomping at the bit for next year.
(First published on the Kingstone Runners Website)