Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

December 31, 2010

Yorkshire Dales 3 Peaks, 25 mi, New Year's Eve 2010

Why?  To ring out the old year in ultrarunning style, to finally see a famous trail in my area, and to begin the preparation for next year's big challenge, the Houseman Hundred.  The 3 Peaks Walk is an an end-of-year's tradition for the West Yorkshire LDWA group.  Although severe weather can sometimes hamper a finish (last year's walk was cut short due to waist-high snow drifts), it is the attempt that counts...and the bragging rights, and the well-earned year-end pint in the pub afterwards.   Well, "that American girl from Iowa", as the club seems to know me, got really lucky with this year's weather.  The  frigid temperatures (the coldest December in 120 years!) had lifted several days ago, melting most of the ice-covered paths.   So there were just a couple of slippery spots instead of a continous ice-skating rink. 
Pen-y-Ghent Trig Point
 We started in darkness, and ended that way as well.    But our first peak, Pen-y-Ghent, was fully visible as daylight emerged, and I wondered aloud <sshhhh> if the sun would even come out.   It was calm and the temperature was a few degrees above freezing.   Most of us were overdressed, and by the end of an hour, we were sweating and standing atop the summit of Pen-y-Ghent.  Which was bathed not in sunlight but in fog, alas.  A gentle wind was blowing up at the Trig point, so as we all touched it, a few layers went back on for the descent. 

Ribblehead Viaduct
Next came a very long slog across the valley towards Ribblehead Viaduct and Whernside.   Some of the bogs were still frozen, but most were green and squishy again.   The melting conditions had most of us wearing light trainers, and my feet first felt the freezing seep of water at mile 6 of our journey.  Yes, I keep track of such things :)   Brrr, was that water COLD!   The first soaking is always the worst, and after that I <mostly> stopped dodging bogs.   We had one dog along for the walk, and he continually ran circles around the group...I'm sure he ended up covering 2-3 times the distance we did, seemingly always energetic...what a trooper!

Finally arriving at the viaduct, which was nice to view in person rather than from a car window, we began the ascent to Whernside. The trail up to the tallest peak in the Yorkshire Dales at 2415 ft (although I was informed that title is sometimes still contested), wound us around the edge of a ridgetop.  Too bad the views were obscured by the thick fog.  I felt bad this, until hearing that another women in the group had summitted Whernside 5 times, always in fog.   At the trig point, the wind was blowing coldly, and my fingers started to numb when I took my gloves off to dig in my pack for a hot thermos of tea and some snacks.  The tea wasn't very warm anymore, either, and we didn't linger long. 

Whernside Tri Point
Now past the halfway point, we all started to feel the call of the finish, and marched like horses heading back to the barn.  Too bad that there was another mountain in the way!  It was a quick down and up to get us across to the 3rd peak, although I stopped to take pictures mid-way of the the neat limestone rocks, which are quite extensive, now that I have looked at the satellite picture of our route.  I will have to come back someday to play on them, in summer.  

Once past the rocks, there was a has a flagstoned path leading straight up the fells to the start of the real climb. Ingleborough, which turns out to be only a few feet shorter than Whernside, certainly felt much harder, as the trail wound straight up the side of the cliff, with a frozen waterfall beside us.  Once on the plateau, we were socked in thick fog, and I could barely keep the guy in front of me in sight, to make it to the trig point.  Without the rest of the group, I'm sure I would still be lost up there (or I would have had to dig out my map and compass and attempt to blaze my own descent).   Our jackets were flapping in the stiff wind, and all 28 of us stayed tightly bunched to keep from being separated in the fog.  Our summit stop was even shorter this time.

 It was only 4 miles back to the car park after descending out of the fog, and the trail was easy to follow as the group finally spread out at quite a quick pace.   A true walking group, I was chided several times for running through them (in jest, I hope!?!), but now with a light jog, I was still barely keeping up.   We passed another intriguing group of limestone rocks, but darkness was coming quickly, and the final section stretched longer and longer.   It was full dark by the time we  finished, but out eyes had adjusted to the failing light, and no one resorted to a headlamp.   Most of the group was headed to a Youth Hostel to celebrate New Year's Eve (I hope you had fun, everyone!), but I was content to be on my way home to a hot shower, celebratory pizza, and an American football game.

See the rest of my photos HERE

December 4, 2010

Christmas Lunch Group Walk, Nidderdale LDWA 15 mi. 5 Dec 2010

For my first LDWA Group Walk, I chose one close to home, as I wanted to get to know some of the trails around my neighborhood.  As it turned out, I got to know the trails in a different sort of weather than normal, as they were all covered in about 8 inches of snow!   About 17 of us met up at the Birstwith village pub, and set off.  It was cold but clear and sunny, so with layers of mittens and scarves we stayed warm enough.  Plowing through the deep snow slowed us down a little bit, so it was almost three hours before we reached the halfway point and a tea stop.  I was absurdly grateful to stop, sink down onto a snowbank, and munch on a biscuit.  Our group leader, Adrian, shared around slices of Stollen as well.   Luckily the tea in my thermos had stayed warm, and when we set off again I felt energetic again.

We did a fair share of trail breaking, as we crossed a few untouched fields of snow with a hard crust on top.  But most of our trails were somewhat hard packed, and the scenery was just beautiful.   I get the feeling that snow doesn't stay on the ground too long in this area, so it was nice to see the world look clean and white and fresh.  

Normally I am a runner, at least until I get tired and have to walk up a hill or something.  But it was enjoyable to take a slower pace for the day, enjoy the change in scenery, and chat with the folks in the group.   And we all were happy to get back around to the pub at the finish, to warm up, change into dry clothing, and enjoy a delicious meal. 

I was most gratified to find out the best part of snow hiking comes at the end. When I finally got back to the house, my boots weren't covered in dirt and mud, and my socks were actually dry!

See my other November 2010 snow pictures here
Photo courtesy of Adrian
Photo courtesy of Adrian
Photo courtesy of Adrian
Photo courtesy of Adrian
Photo courtesy of Adrian

Photo courtesy of Stuart
Photo courtesy of Stuart
Photo courtesy of Stuart
Photo courtesy of Stuart
Photo courtesy of Stuart
Photo courtesy of Stuart

December 1, 2010

Reservoir Runners, Thursdays at 9 a.m.

Since I keep referring to the Reservoir Runners in my blog, I figure the RR deserve a mention here.  Some months ago, as I was trying to figure out which LDWA club I geographically belonged to, I emailed a couple to inquire.   One of the club leaders replied affirmatively, and knew someone else, who knew someone else, who put me in contact with a group of runners that met at a reservoir near me for a weekly run.  Adrian told me to show up with a flask of tea on a Thursday and be ready to run.   I wasn't sure that the two things necessarily belonged together, but "when in England", right?

Well, since my schedule sometimes allows me to escape on a Thursday morning at 9 a.m., I've made it out to the weekly run a few times now, and enjoy it immensely.   Quite low-key, we meet at the car park between Fewston and Swinsty reservoirs, set off promptly at 9 a.m., and run around both reservoirs, for a total of 6.4 miles...but who's measuring?   There are always a few walkers as well, who head around the smaller reservoir, letting both groups arrive back together again within an hour. 

Photo taken by Andy
Then we crowd around a picnic table, which is starting to seem smaller and smaller as the group size grows!  With hot beverages poured from our flasks, and various biscuits shared around the table, we catch up with the lastest race reports and goings-on.  Given that we run in all sorts of weather, it can be pleasant to sit around outside, or quite dreadful.  My last run there was during the first snowstorm of the year, and as we sat sipping our hot beverages afterwards, the table and biscuits got coated with a heavy dusting of snow! 

I must confess that I am by far the slowest of all the runners who show up, and if I get any slower, the tea and biscuits might well be gone by the time I reach the picnic table!   Since the members of the Reservoir Runners read like a who's who of British fell runners, I supposed I shouldn't feel so bad....there seems to be an age group champion for every possible division showing up regularily.  I suppose normally I wouldn't be allowed to join such an elite grouping, but was given special exceptions due to being an American.  Or, perhaps I am just attempting to garner sympathy from the lady in charge of the handicap times?

Photo taken by Andy
Occasionally, instead of heading off together, we set up a handicap, where I invariably get to set off first (yay!), but still finish close to last (ouch).   A nine-minute head start doesn't seem like quite enough, Wendy...I think closer to 15 would be better!  Of course, not a few of us are trying to invent aches and pains and convey them pathically enough, to be granted a better handicap.   Given that the prize for the last handicap we ran was a giant corgette, it's definitely a race everyone wants to win....

All joking aside, the path around the reservoirs is wide and easy to follow, and the views are beautiful.  I'm lucky to have such a lovely place close to home, and a group of runners to share it with.   Now, Wendy, about that next handicap race...you see, I'm still hurting a little from those extra miles on the Rotherham...I daresay that I'll need to drop to a walk in spots, and that's really going to slow down my finish times..............

Photo taken by Andy

Photo taken by Andy

Photo taken by Andy

Photo taken by Andy

Photo taken by Andy

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Add caption

Photo taken by Andy

Photo taken by Andy

Photo taken by Andy

Photo taken by Andy

November 20, 2010

Wensleydale Wedge 23 mi. 21 Nov 2010

Click here for Wedge Results

Apparently I had missed quite a few rainstorms while in Tenerife the week before, so it was no surprise to hear that the trails on this year’s Wedge would be muddy. I think that they are almost always muddy on the Wedge, so really not much was changed. In fact, I get the feeling that my first 6 months living in the UK have been abnormally dry, and from now on the wet weather will be returning. Perhaps the few months of dryness were just a lure to make me fall in love with the moors and fells, and then once I’m hooked, the bogs will slowly start to suck me in permanently.

Regardless of Great Britain’s ultimate plans for my demise, my feet did in fact get soaked and muddy within the first mile of the run. Then it was just a repeat cycle of dry bits where my feet would get warmer and dry out a little, before getting soaked anew while passing through yet another churned up muddy gate.

The first (and really only) major climb of the route came soon after the start. Although the Wedge is known for having bad weather, it didn’t seem too bad this year and the NE winds weren’t howling. But as we climbed up into the Dales, I was startled to notice the tops of the hills covered with a brushing of snow. And soon enough, we were actually climbing up and over the hills, and churning footprints through the windswept snow piles. I don’t mean to say that there were drifts…perhaps they are better described as a few flakes clinging to the heather tufts. But it was quite chilly heading into the wind at the top, and I was very happy to start descending into the valley.

By the time that the original color of my shoes disappeared completely, I descended to the Church in Aysgarth, where the route led us right through the kirkyard in complete disregard for all the nicely dressed churchgoers arriving for the service.  The bells were ringing wildly as I passed through the tombstones and down across the river, and finally to Reservoir Runner Adrian's checkpoint.  Adrian let me know that my friend Helene was quite a ways ahead of me, and indeed first lady on the course. It was only a few steps out of the checkpoint, when I took stock of my aching body, and started to wonder if perhaps I should turn around, retire, and get a ride back to the start. Now, I have never quit a race half-way through, but I felt as if my legs had already run 50 miles, as much as they were aching. I did continue on, but each step started to feel like a mile, and my pace slowed dramatically over the last few part of the route. Now a bit of that might be attributed to the slippery mud of the trails I was supposed to be running over, as my shoes were caked with the stuff and had no traction at all. The last few miles, which Helene had described to me as “runnable”, turned out to be just an endless series of slippery, muddy cow pastures with water-logged gate crossings. At least the abnormal NE winds meant that we weren’t bucking a headwind as well. Ugh.

After finishing, I complained to Helene that if she considered that last section runnable, then she had very low standards. Perhaps that’s when she happened to mention a certain race called the High Peak Marathon, which is in fact 42 miles of night-time navigation through trail-less bogs that can sometimes be waist-deep! http://highpeakclub.union.shef.ac.uk/hpm/hpm-index.html I guess when considering how bad it can get, the Wedge trails do seem pretty non-threatening.

This was the first race where I really had the map out the whole time and was actively navigating for myself. Cynics might ask how hard it really it to follow a muddy trail of footprints that look like a horde of elephants had just gone by, but…for me, at the moment, I am happy just to get through a race without getting lost. May I point you back to my spectacular blunder at the Round Rotherham just a month before?

The dull pain in my legs has convinced me, though, that perhaps the 60 miles of the Rotherham are still rattling around in them somewhere. I think I need a bit more time for recovery, before this turns into a full-blown running injury. Given that I have never really had a running injury (falling down the stairs and spraining my ankle years ago shouldn’t count, as it didn’t happen while on a run), I think it is slightly ironic to have one now. Just a day ago, I volunteered to participate in a 12 month study, looking at the training habits and injury rates of distance runners. http://www.runfurther.com/index.php?cPath=766_867 I was hoping to lower their injury percentage by gleefully never having one myself, but now, on my first day of logging my mileage, I will have to hang my head in shame and declare myself (slightly) broken.

November 10, 2010

Tenerife Mt. Teide Summit 12 mi. 11 Nov 2010

Never one to pass up a challenge, I spent the first few days of our vacation in Tenerife looking longingly up at Mt. Teide and hoping to get to the top of it. The hills in the UK, while rugged, aren’t very high in elevation, and in contrast Mt. Teide loomed over us sunbathers down on the beach, from a height of 12,198 ft. It’s the highest mountain in Spain, even through the Canary Islands are somewhat south of the mainland proper, indeed off the coast of Morrocco. I wanted to stand on top of it, and see the ocean in every direction.

It is possible to drive the road up to about 8,000 feet and then from there take a cable car almost to the top, but that’s what tourists in flip-flops do. I wanted to earn my way to the top. Unfortunately, there is a quota on how many people are allowed to climb the trail above the cable car to the summit each day. Slots for the quota can be reserved here http://www.reservasparquesnacionales.es/real/ParquesNac/index.aspx, but I didn’t get online soon enough to get a good time slot. So, my only option to get up to the summit under my own steam, was to be past the checkpoint before 9 a.m. when the first cable car brings up the rangers.

From the trailhead, it is a 6 mile hike with about 4500 vertical feet to the summit. Given that the park employees estimate that it should take about 5 hours to make the climb, I figured I could do it in about 3. Then I gave myself an extra hour of leeway, just in case! So I got up really early in the morning, drove my car 40 miles, from our hotel on the beach in Playa Las Americas, up into the 6 mile-wide volcanic crater that is the old volcano of Mt. Teide, to begin the climb. Did I mention that it was still full dark? Sunrise in November at that latitude doesn’t arrive until after 7 in the morning, and I have never experienced such a dark, quiet night as I felt in the crater of Teide. There was no moon, and the stars were covering the sky as I have never seen before. Given that I inside a crater, on a small island in the middle of the Atlantic, I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise to see a lot of stars. But what I hadn’t expected was the quiet. There was not a sound to be heard, no cars or people or birds or wind. The crunch of my shoes on the volcanic rocks were the only disruptions in a dark moonscape where even cactus couldn’t grow.

Luckily the trail was wide and easy to follow, and gently sloping up for the first 3 miles. Then it got steeper and rocky, as the bulk of Mt. Teide looming over me started to blot out a good portion of the starry skies. The constant warmth of the beach was gone, and at that elevation I figured it was close to freezing already. I was wearing all the warm layers I had brought along on vacation, including (luckily) hat and gloves, and steadily working my way up the mountain. The elevation gains dramatically slowed my pace, but after a few hours I found myself welcoming the sunrise from the high slopes of the volcano, with the summit not far above me. There is a small mountain refuge on the mountain, where hikers can reserve a bunk, to break up the hike into two days. I had passed the refuge a few minutes before, and now could see a group of people on the summit for the actual sunrise, who had probably slept at the refuge and woken up early for the final short section of trail. But by the time I had slowly wheezed my way up to the thin air at the summit, all of these hikers had made their way down already, and I had the summit all to myself. I was amazed to see the gigantic triangular shadow of the mountain, reflected on the clouds. It was very cold on the summit, with my thin gloves, although a few sulfur steam vents gave an occasional puff of warm air.

I didn’t stay long, but started heading back down the trails. It had taken just about 3 hours to climb up the trail, and I was slowed as well on the decent by the rough trail, rapid switchbacks, and loose rocks. Finally I was back down past the halfway point on a road that was more like a jeep-trail than a hiking trail, which made it easy to run back to my car at the trailhead.
It took me about 5 hours for the round-trip, over 12 miles, which is only about half the speed I manage in lower elevations. It was a quick descent in the car back down to sea-level and the hotel, at which point I started to understand that a drastic elevation change coupled with considerable exertion, might not have been such a good idea. Ouch, the headache hit me a few minutes later…the delayed effects of altitude sickness. Oops. I spent the rest of the day moving my head as little as possible. By later that evening, I was feeling somewhat better, so perhaps the great views from the summit justified my suffering later on….

October 15, 2010

Rowbothham Round Rotherham 50 mi. (60 mi?) 16 Oct 2010

I started at 6 a.m. with the walkers (faster runners started an hour later), to give myself some proper warm up time with no runners to distract me, and to save myself the possible chance of finishing in the dark.  It all backfired, though, since we started in the dark, it was cold, I hadn't pulled out my map yet, or figured out the "wainwright style" of picture navigation http://www.hmarston.co.uk/rhac/trail/rrr_map/rr_map.pdf, or seen the route markers on the course.  I started working my way (by running) to the front of the walkers, stopped when I could see no one ahead of me, and stuck with two guys to make sure that I wouldn't get lost.   Little did I know by that time we were already off route, as at least 20 walkers around me all missed the "DON'T GO UNDER THE BRIDGE" note at 4k.   By the time I started wondering if we were correct, realized that the two men with me were first-timers as well, we were at 10k distance, and I pulled out my map to check myself.  Luck would have it, there was a woodyard at just that location, matching the map, and we went on farther, although nothing else made sense.  At that point I didn't realize how accurate that wainwright map of the course was supposed to be.  

  Anyway, we finally realized that we were off course, but how far off course?.   We wasted some time questioning dog walkers trying to figure out where we were and see if there was a shortcut back to the course.  But it seemed that there really wasn't, and we had to come all the way back to 4k to get back on the course. 

My GPS track of the RRR to the first checkpoint.  Notice the large detour almost to Barnsley.
I wasn't laughing much, at the time...unless you count slightly hysterical laughter that covers up the real desire to sit down and bawl.  There was a moment of pure terror...the two guys and I, were running back to our missed junction, and we had just left one guy behind, thought he had stopped to pee or something.  We met up with a bicyclist who was following a runner, and thought he was on the right trail but had also gone wrong.  We had to convince him he was wrong (to help us find our way back, a bike is handy), and the guy supposedly relieving himself in the bushes never showed up, so the other guy went back to look for him, and didn't come back.  So the bike guy promised to return, and took off looking for both of them.  They were all gone at least 10 minutes, which is nuts, and here I am still on the wrong trail by myself wondering how 3 people could disappear.    In that moment, it all came crashing down how wrong we had gone, and I refused to look at my GPS distance to that first checkpoint, where I started my clock over again.    When I got home, I finally looked at it, and realized that I had covered over 20 miles to get to the 10 mile checkpoint. 

Anyway, so there I was, sitting in the middle of a bike path, waiting forever for three people to maybe reappear.  It was a moment to either snap and call a taxi home, or take a deep breath and try to find some mental strength to keep going.  Finally the bike comes back, and the first guy, but not the other guy.   They reported that they couldn't find him, finally called his cell phone, and he stated that he thought he had found a quicker way back to the trail, and left without telling us, to do just that.  These two guys were buddies, so that seemed kind of harsh.  I guess stress makes people make bad decisions...I'd rather be lost together than alone.

We were soon back on the right path, bike guy took off ahead.  By that time it was 9 a.m.  And we were 4k from the start!  I started wondering when the first checkpoint closed, and figured out I better start booking it if I was going to make it.  I even called the emergency number to see if they would keep it open for me to come through.   The guy left with me was going too slow, so I had to push on by myself, and I told myself I could do this....and I did.   I eventually caught up with the deserter friend, who HAD found the trail ahead of us, but probably only because we had wasted so much time waiting and looking for HIM.   Passed him, too, and finally made it to the checkpoint.   Later I heard that the two men behind me got lost (again), and never made it to the first checkpoint, so I was the last one through there.   By that time I was quite out of water, thirsty, and determined to still finish because this is my qualifier for the 100 miler next year.  

I filled my water bottles and started off again...I think every checkpoint from then on, I caught a few more people, mostly walkers who had also made navigation errors at the same spot.  I heard lots of stories of the 4k missed turnoff.   Having run an extra 20k (at least) in addition to the course, I hit the 68k checkpoint at 10 hours 40 minutes.  I figure that would have been around my proper finishing time (had I not gotten lost), maybe I could have pushed to finish just a bit faster as I still had running legs up to that point.   From there, I was pretty wasted, and it started getting dark.  Having navigated almost the whole way on my own, I felt comfortable doing it, but in the darkness I wanted to be with other people.  Couldn't find anyone until full dark, when I caught up to some very fast walkers who took me all the way home, but it was slow going.  Finished in 14:35, ouch. 

So, I never saw any runners start to finish, which was a bummer as I had a few friends I was hoping to see.   I liked the course, fairly flat, the fields weren't too muddy, and the two rainshowers were minimal.  On a rainy year I don't think it would be as nice, though.  The little bit that fell while we ran, made the clay of the fields (we crossed quite a few right through the middle of freshly plowed sugar beets and winter wheat) stick to my shoes like glue and added pounds to their weight.

 In retrospect, I think I was underconfident of my running abilites and navigation skills, and probably could have run the whole distance.  If I do this one again, in good form, I will probably start with the runners and make a proper go of it.  I did manage to pass about 30 people, so I didn't finish last, and became somewhat a minor celebrity at the checkpoints, as the people manning them had been told of a runner that went really wrong, and still managed to keep going and finish. 
I'm still shaking my head.  I want that one to do over.   Maybe next year.  

October 8, 2010

Pathfinder Challenge 15 mi. 9 Oct 2010

I completed a 15 miler on Saturday with a new friend I met at the Tuesday evening interval run in Harrogate. Helene dragged me around the moors at a fairly fast clip, and by the end of it I was struggling to keep up. Fifteen miles seemed to be an appropriate distance the week before the Round Rotherham 50 miler, but after some fast runs and bikes during the days before, it was a few miles too far. I determined to take it very easy the rest of the week, to be well rested for Rotherham.

The run itself was mostly over the North Yorkshire Moors, and I’m sure the views would have been beautiful if it hadn’t been so foggy. I was very happy to see a well-stocked checkpoint midway through the run. I swear the table under the tent was almost sagging with the amount of home-baked goodies on offer. I probably would have gotten delayed at the checkpoint much longer sampling the wares, but Helene and her friend Cath, following us via bicycle, were itching to get moving again. The paths were pretty dry and runable, so we finished in just under 3 hours, which was fast for me and probably just a walk in the park for Helene.

September 24, 2010

John O'Gaunt's Challenge 25 mi. 25 Sep 2010

I did my marathon (well, 25 miles) yesterday in 4 hours 56 minutes. It was sunny, but cold and windy. The route went around 6 reservoirs close to my house, so it was nice to learn new trails nearby. And some not-so-nice muddy trails, through cow pastures.

I had been looking forward to John O’Gaunts for a while, not least because the start was only a few minutes from my house, granting me a longer night of sleep and an easy drive home on sore legs. I was also excited because this would be the first run where I had some knowledge of the trails and perhaps would even get around without getting lost or going wrong.

The organizers could have called this race the tale of six reservoirs, instead of naming it after the local castle. Our route passed by Fewston, Swinsty, Thruscross, Beaver Dike, Lindley Wood, and Scargill reservoirs, in no particular order, plus a fair share of streams and rivers. It was nice to revisit trails I run every Thursday with the other Reservoir Runners around Fewstson and Swinsty, but also to continue on farther north and head up to Thruscross. I had been keeping pace with a couple of other women, and by my calculations we were leading the women’s race, but at the climb up and around Thruscross they pulled ahead, and I never saw them again. I slowed to my own pace, and was quite pleased to finish in just under 5 hours.

September 18, 2010

Tatton Park Olympic Triathlon 1 mi Swim, 23 mi Bike, 6.2 mi Run 19 Sep 2010

I'll give you all a laugh at my expense for this experience. My triathlon on Sunday, was just south of Manchester at a place called Tatton Park, with a big house, lake, and grounds; not unlike the Harewood House in Leeds, which I had recently visited during a visit by my parents. But on a nice weather scale of 1 to 10, I would give the day of my Triathlon just a 2...and that's only because the winds were just "windy" and not "gale force" Then it could have sunk all the way down to a 1.

The whole weekend was nasty, cold, windy, and rainy. It had rained all night before, and my poor bike had to sit out all night in transition, poor thing.  It was soaked. I had signed up for this triathlon because I had heard that the water temperature (in a previous year) in the shallow lake had been 22 C, about 74 F. That must have been bogus, because the reported temp on the morning of the triathlon was only 13.8 C, well under 60 F. I almost didn't even start the event because of the cold water, as up in the Lake District I had swam in 16 C water, and that was COLD! But they had closed the roads out of the park to cars, so we literally couldn't leave anyway, and I decided that if 1,000 other fools were going to swim a mile in freezing water, I could too.

Well, it was cold....bone chilling. All 34 minutes of it. Many crazy people were then heading out for the bike portion (rainy, wet, cold, and windy) in just a tank top, but I put on a long sleeve shirt, vest, and glove, and never got overheated. The air temp was barely warmer than the water. In fact, my feet were numb the whole bike, as they just didn't get enough movement to get rid of the pins and needles. It rained all through the run as well, at least misty rain, and it took the first mile of running before I could feel my feet, finally. Then I started to feel good, and passed just about everyone I could see in front of me, on a grassy trail that had disintegrated into mud from the rain. I finished 40 out of 130 women, and was pleased about doing it, for not wanting to get in the water at all that morning.

But, I suppose I have been lucky this fall, 'cuz when my parents visited for two weeks, they had wonderful weather, we're talking warm, sunny, calm days that never seemed to end. My parents left, heading back to the States, joking that they couldn't believe I complained so much about the weather in the UK, because as far as they were concerned it was always calm and sunny. Hah. The day they flew out, I went for a bike ride, and the 40mph winds almost blew me off the road. Beginner's luck, that's what they got. Next time, they might end up with Tatton Park weather…nasty.