100 Mile Challenge – Cotswolds Way Challenge – Day 2

Day 2 arrived waaaaay quicker than I anticipated!  I woke feeling like I hadn’t slept, for the 2nd night, this is not a great pattern, my neck was sore – massage undone with a rubbish camping pillow 😦  But legs were only feeling alittle stiff as I walked like a cardboard cut-out to breakfast.  I had on my good old tartan jammies, being new to this whole camping thing, I can’t get used to the whole walking about – where strangers can see you!!!!! – as if its just normal clothes, weird!  It was a lovely morning if alittle damp, we were starting much earlier this morning.

Day 2 started of much like day 1, we received our morning history lesson before setting off, I was finding these really useful as marker points on the way.  We set of at various times, I set off at 845am to the words of  ‘there goes the warrior’, after chatting with someone who had also completed Lake District Total Warrior – epic event!  Slow and steady was the aim today, get the legs ticking over and trying to loosen off any stiffness.  With a much longer day in store – ‘nae getting lost was the motto’ for today.

Straight into a hill I was getting used to this, I really love running off the main roads, on trails, taking in the scenery.  You will get used to this statement.  I really do begin to feel alive again, taking in all that is around me!  It makes it all worth it.

The main talking point of today was the beautiful views we would witness, after first climbing some impressive hills.  The main name was Cleeve hill, it is the highest point on our run at 1,083 feet.  It was a tough climb all the way up there, I arrived at the top with my hands driving down on my thighs.  There was a little old lady sitting at the top, she greeted me with, ‘ its all downhill on the other side’ – AMAZING!  I took a second to capture my breath, take a quick pic and actually look around instead of at the tops of my feet.  We could see the Severn river and Cheltenham racecourse,  to be honest the views were simply stunning.  I decided this was also a good point to take on board an energy gel as I felt like I’d expended alot of energy.  It was, once again, a really hot day.

As you went over the back of the Cleeve Hill, you were immediately on the listen for the shout of ‘fore’, straight onto a golf course.  I had enough energy, as I did the whole of the challenge actually, to say hi and acknowledge, having a joke with the golfers.

After this we were heading into Cleeve Common, an area we had been warned by the support crew that they couldn’t get access to, to help us out with water and fuel.  I had a quick respite talking with a dog walker when I slid on my ass down a slope.  I had momentarily lost my concentration on my footing when trying to keep my eyes on the acorn signs on the posts.  It was incredibly dry underfoot, dry loose underfoot made it easy to slip and slide.  With today being the same as the first day in terms of the weather, hot and dry, and obviously had been for at least several days prior to the run.  This made my choice of trainers correct, it was difficult not knowing the route and the types of conditions that I may come across.  I tried to listen to others from the surrounding area who had covered some of the route previously but there really was a mix of individuals choosing road shoes and trail shoes.

I was alittle nervous as it had sounded like Cleeve common was a long way and I was additionally nervous that I would get lost as there weren’t many runners around.  Cleeve common had several reserves on it and we made our way through them following the trail, I came to a point  where once again I had to question my direction and luckily for me someone came along and we were able to cross-reference our directions/ maps. ‘Thank God!’ Is all I could say hahaha

Running through, Cleeve Common, I ran a small section with Graeme again and one song came to mind where the paths split but literally met back up further on . . . . Hahaha can you guess which one?  ‘I’ll take the high road and you’ll take the low road and Ill be in Scotland before ye’.  Luckily for everyone I didn’t sing out loud, I learnt that it cant be that good, as my kitten runs into another room whenever I try out my singing voice!

Further along, a few us came to a field, with cows in it.  This was not a problem as you actually pass through several fields like this.  I managed to spot the marker at the corner of the field.  As I approached this, I noticed a cute calf coming toward me.  Now, I like many runners know that you never, ever want to get between a cow and her calf.  It just kept coming toward me, then stopped, so I started walking and it then started wandering back towards its herd.  I got to the corner and ‘oh my god’, half the herd were between me and the gate onto the next part of the way.  Not only that they all stopped chewing and looked at me, I mean straight at me!  Freaky, at this point I decided to wait for the fellas coming along behind me, although not sure why, they wanted to use me as a decoy runner, aye thats right send the Scottish runner.

As we moved through the herd, they dissippated, slipping and sliding through the field trying not to deck it on a cow pat!  I just, I mean JUST managed to save a wee frog as it leapt to the spot I was planting my foot.  Phew, this run was really taking me back to nature and in a totally cheesy way.

We climbed up to see the views and then we descended, we ran along the edge of alot, alot of fields.  I turned into one field and bright as the sun – a sunflower.  The little things stick in your mind when you are seeing the same colours over and over again.  The undergrowth grabbed at your feet and your ankles, so concentration levels had to remain high.  I was also very aware of the camber of the trail.  It is important to pay attention to this as I learnt from my very first ultra, 2 day event where it was constant in one direction.  This I felt put alot of pressure on my feet and ankles.

 

Further along I saw a snake – yes you read that right, its simply amazing what you can see and admire in the countryside and then it all went epically wrong.  As I progressed, I realised I was struggling, we had moved into a woodland area.  This is the moment I got lost.  I could swear blind that the arrow pointed right .  .  .  .  .  . and yes blind I was.  I headed down a 25% gradient but I hadnt seen a sign for some time and I had learnt this was never a good thing.  Back at the top, after I got eaten again, I could not believe my eyes.  The sign pointed – clear as day LEFT!

 

Okay it was all about putting one foot in front of the other, just keep moving.  This became a challenge as I freaked myself out in my own head.  There had to have been deer or something else in those trees, I kept hearing noises.  The trees were pretty isolating, it literally felt like you were on your own in the middle of nowhere.  Everywhere looked the same, but it was softer underfoot and I was able to pick up alittle pace which was good.  I came out of the trees onto the road and was informed I only had a little way to go to reach the Scout area.

 

Crossing that finish section I literally fell to my knees, I seriously felt done – that was incredibly tough.  What propelled me to keep putting one foot in front of the other?  The fact that so many had placed their trust in me to complete my challenge – I couldn’t let these guys down.

I was lucky enough to walk straight onto the massage table – BOOM!

That night, I was to be so inspired.  The 100 Mile crew had arranged for Jamie MacDonald ( https://www.facebook.com/jamiemcdonald.org?fref=ts )to come and speak to us.  The guy is a legend in his own right, I am blown away that I got to hear this guys speak.  To start with his achievements put some of the runners in the frame of mind, ‘we are just running . . . ‘ but Jamie explained this away saying ‘I am just a normal guy’.  I challenge this!

 

Not one of us is just anything, never just normal.  Each and every single one of us are extraordinary, we have so much potential to achieve more than our dreams, to inspire and motivate the best in others.  This was a major turning point, I believe for myself, but not only me,  you would actually feel the energy in the room change.  Throughout my runs I had dithered over whether to write a blog or not, I’m just me, no-one special.  I didnt believe that anyone would want to read my story or my blogs.  I mean why would you want to read about me running.  Jamie told us to share our stories and to inspire others to step outside themselves to achieve more and further inspire others.  In that room alone, all of us runners together had raised approx’ more than £50,000 for our various charities.  An incredibly humbling moment.

 

We went to our beds, motivated and inspired beyond belief.  Not only this but to the rain drilling the tents – this was going to be interesting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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