Was I Tired?
I've decided to take my training a little more seriously, so intended to take Landy out on a 13 mile pull. We landed in Windsor Great Park and set off over a nice dirt track path towards the lake. The few people that were out there at that time of the morning either smiled or laughed at us and I was happy to be able to bring out so many smiles. There were a couple of stops to talk to inquisitive people.
One little girl who looked about 5 years old, saw me, put her hands on her hip and exclaimed "You must be tired!". I laughed and replied "not yet love, got another 11 miles to go"

Using Landy as a Carriage?
Being Sunday it was a sunny day and hotter than usual (over 20 degrees). I soon found myself diving into my second bottle of water and pulling up my t-shirt to expose my stomach to try to keep cooler. We got round the lake with a couple of walking breaks and then headed over to the polo fields as the route is normally quieter.  However today was a special day and it was heaving with people dressed up in evening summer wear. And if they thought I was crazy, I thought there were so many mad women wearing 4 inch heels on uneven ground and grass!!! Of course the pointy heels sank into the ground. So I asked a man called Giles with his entourage of 4 women about the polo who was playing today. He exclaimed "Yes there is polo but it certainly is not for the polo that we are here - har har" and shook his Sainsbury carrier bag of booze.  Keeping Landy very close to me, decided to check it all out and soon became enveloped with people all round. There were more smiles and curiousity about Landy. Thought I could easily set myself up as entertainment! Someone suggested that I take people for a ride and charge money!......If only I could drag a 60-80kg body on tarmac!!!

Sheep?
The road "Smith's lawn" had been blocked to cars and the fields had been set up for parking. One small area (0.5% of the entire field area) had been set up as a special picnic area that was completely covered in people. No blade of grass could be seen. I wondered why anyone would want to cram themselves in a tiny space when there was a fantastic park to spread themselves out over. Guess it's like a large car park. As soon as one person has parked themselves, all the other subsequent cars that enter the car park congregate around the immediate vicinity of  the first car. I believe this must be human instinct to behave like a pack......of sheep, easily herded into one area. Although there were some who decided to picnic by their cars.

Head to Head with Prince Phillip
Passing the main polo field, a retail village had been set up. I was tempted by the distraction, but in my heart I really wanted to get back moving to complete 13 miles and so continued to the barricade at the other end of the road where I met Paul who was manning the barricade. Waiting for cars to pass, had a chat with him, and got him to write me a peace message. As he got back to work, and I got ready to go, there was a black car in front of me. Opps it was Prince Phillip. Of course I smiled, did a quick wave of apology and moved to one side so that Paul could remove the barricade to allow HRM through as well as move the crowd to one side to allow his car through.

Cartier Day
Soon after I met a couple who came to find out what I was training for and thought I was still studying. I asked them what was the event all about. They cooly said that it was "Cartier Day".
"Cartier Day?" I enquired.
"Yes Cartier Day" they responded.
"Apologies I am an ignorant foreigner brought up on the shores of Singapore"

...and so they explained Cartier Day and followed up the conversation with their Singaporean experiences.

The Crown Estate
Heading out of Smith's Lawn I saw a big man with a baby girl sitting on the grass having a little picnic with her. It was strange to me as it was hot and the baby had no shade and he was a big guy trying to get this little baby to eat. As she stared at Landy, the man told her in a small voice that men do to kids "she's pulling a tyre". I wondered if he was undercover agent!

10 metres pass this man, I looked beyond the polo field entrance and saw a lot of cars queued up. I decided to call it a day at this point not wanting to be obstructive to traffic and turned off towards Saville Gardens. Saw some wardens and waved to them and  a man approached me. He was the head warden of the park and respectfully told me to get an agreement with the Crown Estate to drag the tyre in the park. Naturally he was concerned about me being obstructive and I understood that today was not the day to be dragging a tyre in the park.

And so now I await a reply from the Crown Estate with fingers crossed for a positive reply.
 
 
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Santa Rosa Weather: 22 - 24 July
With excellent weather in April/May in the UK, the weather men predicted we were going to be having a blistering Indian summer.  That appears to have been the kiss of death for our summer. For June and July has been a typical British summer: rain, grey skies, and temperatures swinging between 10-20 degrees Celisius.

Santa Rosa is supposed to be cool with light winds. West Virginia (WV) in June was in the mid 30s. Santa Rosa is looking like it might be at least a little cooler, with just slightly less humidity (90%).  Am wondering if I should go train in a sauna.

Am aiming to go below 8 hours for this marathon as this is supposed to be a fast route and hopefully am not distracted by: "three scenic rustic trestle bridges, horse ranches, sprawling vineyards, cornfields, dairies and a large pond with its great white and blue heron, pelicans and snowy white egret habitats"

 
 
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Saturday  9th July 2011
TG looked at who was be her tyre for the marathon tomorrow. Brother Rec was still recovering from hot tarmac burns from the Hatfield McCoy marathon. Big Landy put himself forward, but TG was warned about high fencing and narrow kissing gates, thus I was the natural choice. I was looking rather shoddy and requested a touch up. TG said she'd sort me out. Big Landy, bless, gave me his bucket to wear. However TG, in her usual mad rush the day before an event, put me at the bottom of her "to do" list and went out to enjoy a wedding for the whole evening.

Sunday 10th July 2012
It's okay for TG, to get up 1/2 an hour before leaving, throw on some clothes and hide behind a pair of sunglasses. I, on the otherhand, like to look good before I go out. So I was not pleased about leaving the house looking like I'd just been taken off an axle. As Uncle was driving, TG jumped into the back seat with me and assured me she would sort me out. She took out some cheap thin raffia string to secure bucket on and apologised that it was all she had, but that it should hold out for a day. As she focused sewing the string into tyre and myself, Uncle missed his turn off the motorway. He now needed TG's attention to get him back on route. The raffia string felt flimsy but TG assured me it would be okay and took out some marker pens to touch me up whilst navigating Uncle to our final destination.

We were now 1/2 an hour late for the start of the event and I was rushed out of the car before I could voice my concerns about my "touch up". Again TG reassured me I looked fine.....but TG is not a morning person - everything looks fine in the morning to her! OK I admit I was feeling a little irritated at not looking my best but as we got out of the car, the "car parking marshal" called HQ "The tyre girl has arrived". Oooh how exciting, we've been announced!
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As we arrived at the village hall for registration, we were met at the door by Eric who was taking photographs and Neil who was the RD (Race Director). When TG went in to register Eric and Neil looked at me and called me "amazing". They made my day.

09:01, TG waved the route instructions at me, attached rope to her backpack and we were off. Eric took lots of photos of me :-) Waving Eric goodbye; he called out saying he'd see us at checkpoint 4. I felt uncomfortable as he said that but dismissed the thought from my rim.



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Route Description
Less than a mile into the event and we were soon climbing over the first of many stiles in the event, Eric appeared with camera in hand. I was still looking reasonable. He then pointed TG the direction she should go.

TG is not at her best in the morning and shortly into paragraph 2 of the route description, she slowed up. "Red, am a little confused here. There are some crate things here but the route instructions don't seem to align. Am going to explore a little." So we walked around for about 15-20 minutes and found another pair of crate thingies. I saw a couple of other runners behind us and tugged TG to look back so that she would see them and observe the route they took. TG soon followed their path. "Nice one Red the route description is now following perfectly"

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A low kissing gate
As we squeezed through our first set of high kissing gates, TG said "Thank goodness I brought you Red". I felt a real sucker as my paint work got scratched! This is my second trail marathon and I got bashed about on the last one as well. Brother Rec has told me the road marathons are much easier and I hope to be doing them some time.



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Chilling out with some fellow tyres
After about 4-5 miles we entered into a “wheat field” and soon had runners behind us.  Not having a lot of room on either side, I could see the runners were a little concerned about passing us, so TG sped up to the next clearing. However having to go over footbridges, stiles, thru kissing gates and not always certain about route instructions, TG slowed right down. In addition, the raffia string was not holding well and bucket was soon looking flummoxed, hitting into my rim. At least I got to meet some cute country tyres.

We finally got to checkpoint 1 at 11:30. That was 7 miles in 2.5 hours! The slowest TG has gone for a long while and none of that was my fault! My tyre flirt only lasted minutes as TG pulled me away!




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TG took a banana from the checkpoint and stuffed it into the backpack’s side pocket. We soon got to a church, and everything seemed to be moving well until TG got to paragraph 9. Again she became a little perplexed, so for another 15 minutes we dawdled! TG wanted to make sure we were on the right track before making any ground.

We got to checkpoint 2 at 13:23 – 4.9 miles in nearly 2 hours! One of the marshals there began to reflect on training with tyres and going across Greenland. Tried to get TG moving, but she instead decided to have a conversation. Finally got her moving 5 minutes later although a castle and a farm distracted us briefly.
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Me swimming :-)
At 14:49, we got to checkpoint 3, with a slight improvement on time – 4.6 miles in 1 hour 20 minutes. We needed to do much better for the next 5.9 miles and looked to complete the next section within 2 hours. Two runners (Liz and Julie) had now caught up with TG. They had also got confused on the same sections as TG. We somehow decided to stick together, moving loosely as a group. TG was now moving more decisively as group decisions were made over the instructions.

However as TG was moving faster she made me slide over cow poo. She chuckled but I was very unhappy about that. As she ran down a hill, her banana flipped out of the backpack’s side pocket and “opps” - I accidently slid right over it. I now had poo and banana mash! Thankfully we headed down a muddy hill with pools of water so rather than follow TG on the higher dry path ground; I decided to take a swim, several times.


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TG confused
The 2 runners were now leading, with TG behind doing spot checks. At paragraph 18, TG questioned the finding of a waymark post and seeing birch trees. The other 2 runners indicated the waymark post and said there were definitely birch trees. TG looked at a sign post, that was supposed to be the waymark post and TG tried thinking what a silver birch tree was looking a cluster of fir trees, but TG’s memory cells were playing up so she went along in the direction of the other 2 runners as Liz’s compass reading of 240 degrees verified the direction. Besides it was a nice attractive downhill run. ½ a mile down, the group turned right at a junction and soon became confused. One sentence refused to become a reality “an enclosed path between fields”.  All we could see was more wood lands. We asked a cyclist about the “fields” who had no idea. TG tried to call the emergency number and got through to the voicemail to leave a plea for help. We continued along the same direction and asked some horse riders about the “fields” who directed us in a direction to complete a full circle!

Getting lost by oneself is soul destroying, getting lost with a group at least was company. We were confounded and thankfully we found a cluster of houses.  Julie boldly knocked on someone’s door. A lady answered and Julie first begged her to fill her bottle with water. She soon asked her how to get to Bedgebury Cross (our fourth checkpoint!).  The lady kindly showed us where we were on TG’s map and how we could get to our fourth checkpoint. We were way off route at the bottom of Bedgebury Forest.  It was now 17:15 and the checkpoint was supposed to close at 16:45. We all knew we could be pulled off the course and thus would be our first DNF (Did Not Finish).  At 17:30 Eric called to find out where we were. TG responded and gave him a grid reference. 

We arrived at checkpoint 4 at nearly 18:00. None of us expected to be allowed to finish the event as it was supposed to finish at 17:30. Eric phoned back one more time, and Neil responded that he would be at the finish until 19:00 so if we thought we could make it before then, we could finish the route. Surprised and delighted at the opportunity, we set off on the last 3.8 miles with energy. Uncle had now joined us and decided to complete the rest of the route with us.  About less than a kilometer before the end we had to head down a narrow footpath. As I was too wide, TG carried me through and I heard the sounds of “squish squish squish”. There was no getting round it, no higher dry grounds – just a 75 meter footpath of pure mud.

Completed the event in 9 hours 58 minutes and found that had done 30 miles rather than 26.2.

TG’s recommendation:
Although I got lost, from my own mis-reading of the instructions, would recommend "the High Weald Challenge" from a scenery point of view. Kent is really a beautiful area to visit. But be warned give this event plenty of time and bring a map in case.

Want to thank the organisers and the volunteers for their support through out and for their patience to allow us to complete the event. :-) xxx


 
 
Red was a little annoyed with TG today and made it apparent. So Red will write her diary entry in by Sunday 17th July as TG's alter ego has got to go work now. Have a great week all.
 
 
Sorry Rec, Red and Landy - today I had to go solo
Cos felt I was losing my running mojo
So decided to go for hills
After all they are good for drills

11 miles later and I'm ready to run
High Weald Challenge - it will be fun :-)

...oh what a crappy poem - but am happy with my run :-)
 
 
Insomnia is a horrible disorder. Only just falling asleep to have to wake up only a couple of hours later for work. Never feeling rested and always feeling tired. Unfortunately every month I suffer from transient to short-term insomnia. Physically I have been able to manage it, after all a physical activity requires less thought and more reaction. When mental ability is required, fortunately in the work I do the brain is able to rely on experience. However tiredness does affect motivation and thus training.

After a rather slack 2 weeks of not doing much in the way of physical exercise, I write this short blog, to motivate me to go out for a run. The physical exertion can help me sleep better. A marathon will normally knock me out for the whole night! Now I have to get my head back in the zone and so I go to find some good people to train with :-)

Looking forward to Sunday's run for the High Weald Challenge :-)

P.S. Thank you to those who have been submitting peace messages/pledges. Still require more so please do get your friends and family to submit messages.