Monday, 24 October 2016

Senior Home Internationals

Double Rainbow on Studland beach after the Caddihoe Chase
The family (minus Alice) at the Compass Sport Cup
Since Euromeeting, I felt like summer was officially over & the winter was settling in with shorter days & the temperature dropped. I planned out my training out for the winter with a small increase each week to try to get to a good volume without an injury (fingers crossed!). I was also feeling happier with my navigation with a solid run at the Compass Sport Cup in Tankersley even with a dodgy ankle from the previous weekend attempting to run on Agglestone Heathland in Studland for the Caddihoe Chase (ridiculously unrunnable area!). Slight bum that I wasn’t selected for the Elite Development Squad for 16/17 but I was happy with my own plan for the year and it saved me a lot of money!! Next on the agenda was the Senior Home Internationals…

The journey up to Anglesey took six and a half hours as it took a while getting out of the south but Sarah & I chatted the majority of the way. Mostly about orienteering but it was really interesting and in a way a confidence boost that I could relate to how she described navigating! We spoke about the way it just sometimes works, using multiple techniques in conjunction and breaking it down/analyzing this takes the magic away from the experience. Also some interesting points on how best to learn & improve in orienteering relating it to exams which I use to do with RTFM!
The view driving onto Newborough Sand Dunes

SeaHorses at the SeaZoo
We arrived about half ten so straight to bed for the half seven breakfast, which redeemed itself being so early by the cooked breakfast and croissants. It was a lovely day - the start was on the beach and I was really looking forward to the forested sand dunes. My excitement didn’t last long as the terrain was actually pretty tough with brambles, some fern and lots of grassy bobbles underfoot which made it a really draining race. I felt pretty fit which was good but my navigation was pretty lazy – I knew I was reverting back to my old technique as I kept having to relocate near each control. Afterwards I worked out I needed to take the time to READ the map near the control instead of running to the area and hoping to find the control (which worked a couple of times!). It meant my race was very stop start until about half way round. From here I was tiring & going slower so could read the map a bit better & start to use my control descriptions more. Overall I finished in third which I was really happy with, it sounded like most people had a similar race – all very tired! The day was still gorgeous so we stayed at the area and I went for a walk with Áine on the beach. On the way home we stopped off at this SeaZoo which was great fun :)

After a quick shower & nap it was time for dinner in the dark as there had been a power cut! Luckily they came back half way through. Prize giving next – where I got a Terry’s Chocolate Orange but gave it to Rona. Even though the W21 got 1,2 & 3 something about the scoring meant we were in second to Scotland & needed to place 1 & 2 in the women relay and 1 & 3 in the men’s! I was really tired & had a headache so went up to bed early.

The Winning Team!!!
After a much needed good sleep it was the relay – we unfortunately only had to women’s teams as Julie had injured her Achilles the previous day :( I was with Sarah & Tessa so pretty confident in the team that we would smash it! It was A LOT colder than the previous day and with a long winning time (we were all hoping for a short course!) I kept my clothes on for as long as possible. Sarah came through spectator in in a group with Meg & Fay and held second place to the finish. I went out pretty happy & taking time to read what the map was showing so I stayed in touch with the features, ticking them off & pretty much spiked every control – it helped I was on my own as then I could slow down without feeling guilty as I had no-one around to tip me into racing fast mode which wasn’t best in this terrain. I took the lead and extended it giving Tessa a 5 minute lead who extended it further to about 10 minutes! The men also ended up winning after a Scottish disqualification but a third in their next team & a fourth in the woman's meant we couldn’t pull back the lead. We shot off pretty quick after the race to ensure we wouldn’t get home late late & made good time!

It was a fab weekend, learning more about my orienteering & reinforcing what I know I need to do but it easily gets pushed to the back of my mind when I want to race!


After World University's, I had been trying to get my training back up to normal volume but was really struggling each week with sessions, feeling like I was almost going backwards :( I decided to just hold on until Euromeeting and then have a week easy after before building back up the volume for winter. I had taken a half day on Wednesday so got a series of trains through London up to Stansted and my Ryanair flight across to Riga. Landing late and waited for Chris, Will & Kirstin to land with Matt. We couldn’t find the car hire which added more time to the journey! It didn’t take too long to get to the accommodation (over an hour) and it was great to catch up with Kirstin & Will Rigg. The end of the journey was down this deserted, gravelly, dusty road which could have been the start of a horror movie, turning up at what looked like an abandoned shed – which was in fact a lovely warm converted stable however without curtains.

The next day, Thursday, was a crisp morning and we walked over to the food house, a little warm cabin with some old sassy dinner ladies serving up porridge. In the day we all went out training on the forest where the accommodation was. Very green & scrubby terrain! After Kirstin & I sat next to the wifi router for about an hour, refreshing the wifi with no luck! We then trekked into town to pick up Will Gardner – finding a supermarket predominantly filled with alcohol. In the afternoon we chilled out and watched DUFF.

We managed to get on the wifi a little bit in the evening to do some geeking before bed. The following morning we saw the rest of the team who had arrived late the night before. It was the middle race, but not until later in the afternoon. As a lot of people in our team didn’t have many world ranking points, we were all off pretty early (matt starting first in the Men’s BOTH days, even before the coaches, Tom & Ed. Before my race I kept thinking I JUST needed to orienteer – interested to see how my navigation fared when I tried to do it perfectly in a race. I was pretty happy with my course, with good speed after some slow first controls & only two BIG mistakes that pulled my time down but I was really happy with the overall course. That afternoon I was really tired and probably had a nap but talked to Eddie about my orienteering very realistically about where it was going & my goals. With no easier senior event (e.g. WUOC) I was unsure if there was any point doing WOC and set a target of doing really well at the national races.

After dinner, and a slightly weird desert which had the texture of frogspawn we played some pool before bed. The next day was the long race which used the same arena as the middle. As I warmed up there was a rustling from the bushes and just in front of me a terrified wild boar came storming out the forest and shot across the road into the other side, closely missing Peter who was warming up in front! As I was in the box, I caught a glimpse of the map which looked disgustingly green!

I took the first legs slow, hitting them bang on in the green and after a slightly faster leg made a 90 degree error on a hill side. It really through me as I had NO IDEA where I had got to & found it so hard to relocate. I had to listen to what I would say to Adam before he races: If you don’t know where you are, go back to the last place you knew where you were’ and so trudged back up this hill to realise what I had done! After correcting this mistake I felt really tired & drained but there was a long leg into a nicer patch of wood, a butterfly loop & then some longer legs where I could run faster & perked up. Toward the end I made another mistake as I was being cocky and not giving the map enough attention but stayed in a relatively good mood as I felt fit & had spiked A LOT of controls! We had lunch in the arena (soup, rice & chicken), going over routes & waiting for everyone to finish before driving home.  On the way home we stopped to look at some of the caves as the area we were in was a national park with loads of caves hidden into rock faces. Back at the accommodation Tom ran some analysis before we had a stretching session in the boys room which was hilarious with lots of grunts & moans as we tried to stretch after a tough long race.
The last day was the sprint in Cesis – after driving through the area to the parking (OOPS) we went into quarantine which was on a VERY OLD track (which was rubber/gravel/broken up) and shared with the public races meaning there was a huge toilet queue! I had a pretty early start time with no ranking points but really enjoyed the race, trying to navigate properly instead of being lazy and fluking it which worked really well. I was slightly apprehensive before as I was worried I would find it hard to slow down/stop as you realise the time you lose more in a sprint as every second counts more! Anyway, I was happy and ended up positioning higher in the long or middle (17th!!).

After we went back to the accommodation & chilled there before going to Riga for dinner at the pizza place with HUGE family sized pizzas each. We got to the airport and I skyped Adam as it was our 2 year anniversary! The rest of the evening was long – a plane & then a bus & then a lift with TOM back round the M25 to work to pick my car up before home at about 1am!! And off to work the next day! The Joys!

Monday, 5 September 2016


I met Rachel at London Kings Cross after an uneventful train journey previously – just catching up on my GBBO. I also bumped into Pippa Archer which was lovely to have a chat before I hopped on the train at the first class section – AS I HAD FIRST CLASS WOOWOO. I was super excited, booked my train early enough to make it viable to pay the extra £10 for 1st class. Managed to bag some vodka and eat my heart’s content of cake, tea & sausage rolls before trekking through the coaches to C where Rachel was.

We arrived in Edinburgh at 22:08 where Florence was to pick us up and drive us back to the flat. We had a quick catch up, not having seen each other in over a year and even then not really getting a good conversation. The following morning I was up early to do intervals, convincing Florence to come with me, we jogged to the Meadows and did a session sent by Mick the evening before. I was wary of my ankle which had been playing up in the past couple of days but I ran on the grass to minimize the impact. Breakfast was yummy – poached eggs, avocado & tomatoes on toast – before we all went into Edinburgh as it Rachel’s first time there! We walked along the royal mile & popped into a fudge shop which Adam had previously brought me stacks of fudge from! We had some tasters before carrying on up to the castle which unfortunately had lots of scaffolding around form the Fringe Festival which ended the week before. We continued to GrassMarket where Rachel tried her first macaroon, picked up some postcards and headed to the National Museum for some good views at the top. We were all pretty tired, stumbling up the stairs to get to the top – we got the lift on the way back where Rachel nearly cracked her teeth on a stone in her cereal bar! We picked up some groceries (aka biscuits) before heading home for a much needed cuppa. We put on Ghost of a GFs Past – complete waste of a few hours, even though I did embarrassingly well-up at one part of it :O.


In the evening Rachel & I went to the gym where Florence works to do some core and back exercises. We had fajetas for dinner before getting ready to go out as I hadn’t been out in ages and was feeling like an old lady! We went to a couple of pubs before hitting McDonalds and then making it out to the clubs – although I was drinking I didn’t binge drink so I was happy and didn’t feel like shit the next day :) Rach & I got some chips coming back slightly earlier than Florence before we all hit the sack.
 The following morning I dragged myself up for a long run on Black Friars & Braids Hill which was enjoyable as the weather was gorgeous. I overshot a bit so ran on the road for a while but my ankle held up. I got a bit confused with a gold course, getting trapped on all the greens surrounded by thickets so it took me a while to get off and I was thankful to then finally be heading back! Rachel & Florence were watching Bounty Hunter when I got in so I ate before we went for a walk around Arthurs Seat. It was a stunning day and we stopped a few times for photos and gossip.
Aterwards Florence powered on to the gym whilst Rach & I ‘stretched’ soaking up the sun. We had booked to eat out so at six made our way to GreenMantle Pub, watched the end of the England game (England vs Slovakia World Cup which we won in the las tplay of extra time – although probably shouln’dt have) and had burgers. I had the goats cheese, bacon & onion rings burger which was gorgeous! So we didn’t have to buy desert we went to the shop to pick up some goodies to eat whilst watching The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Monday morning I crept out for an early easy run on Arthur’s seat which was hilly and I got grumbly and frustrated with my speed and the hills, not finding the paths that I wanted to so ended up running up the top of the Salisbury Crags. It was Rachel’s last morning so we squeezed in a quick gym session before dropping her off at the station. Florence & I continued on to Gullane and the beach where we had a walk around. On the way back we stopped off at S.LUCA for ice cream (& pancakes) in Musselborough. Back in the flat I helped Florence with her CV to get her a new job with nicer hours (that don’t start at 5am!!) and made some soup – during which breaking a knife and splattering soup everywhere. We ate it whilst watching Lucy and then off to bed before the long journey home the next day (only £22 to get back home though!!)

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Visit to see Grandad

Dreading the drive down – as it is mostly A roads and the traffic at Stonehenge is ALWAYS bad – I left work for the four hour drive down. Thankfully I’d found some new songs on Spotify that I listened to on repeat for a while. Made quiet good time and got there at half seven (left at three) to be greeted by a happy Grandad and some cottage pie.

After a good catch up it was bedtime & I managed to get a lovely long sleep until 10am the next day! Which was much needed for the track race at Newquay and Par – Grandad came to support which was wonderful and he really enjoyed it, telling me about his memories running around the same track when he was young – exclaiming how happy he was the tradition was being carried on! Although I think he was a bit upset that he wasn’t still running and I could tell that he would have loved to be running round too! The first race I did was the 800m which I had previously had mixed feelings, one moment deciding I would be a boss at the distance and the next losing confidence and worrying I won’t get sub 2.40, especially in my clumpy trainers and the windy & rain! As it was my first 800m it would be a pb whatever but there was only 3 other people in the race so I had no idea how to pace it (also never had to run in a lane/break from them so was distracted with this!). I felt like I paced it well but didn’t have anyone to push me, winning with a time of 2.31 (although power of ten says 2.32 -_-!). My legs were like jelly afterwards and so the 3000m half an hour later was at a leisurely pace, just to get the club some more points! The last race I did was the 1500m, the only distance I had done before so at least I had a benchmark. My second lap was way to slow so it was hard to ‘catch up time’ and I finished five seconds off my pb which was annoying but I was happy to have done three races! Grandad took me home where we had a chilled afternoon watching the olympics & planning the next day. After lots of persuasion I convinced Grandad that I could run to the lighthouse you can see in the distance from his house and we planned the best route. I then had a quick nap before waking up at 1 to watch the Olympics again – Mo in the 5km! As I crept downstairs I found Grandad napping on the coach who had almost stayed up the whole time watching the match of the day & the Olympic final between Germany & Brazill!

After a morning long run & swim
The next morning I did not feel well but powered on as I wanted to get a run in. I begun the run and the pace was really slow – helped along by the downhill! I did get a bit lost but had photos of the map on my phone so stopped a few times to replan the route. The second half of the run got a lot hillier and I really struggled, especially after being stung on the back by some nasty beasty that has left a lasting mark – to this day (which is two weeks later!) I finally reached the lighthouse and was relieved that it wasn’t open (I was originally going to go up it) as I was too tired! I jogged the last bit down to Penridmouth where Grandad was waiting for me! We had a quick dip in the COLD sea before the cloud & rain came in and we went home. I had a lovely long warm bath before a nap to shake off the cold I felt coming and help my legs feel a bit less like lead. In the evening we went for a lovely walk around Luxylyan Valley where Grandad grew up & he told me all his stories while we found the largest boulder in Europe (according to Grandad) and trekked around a viaduct. It was good to get out and stretch the legs & felt good giving Grandad someone to share his life with!! He showed me all the little places he had treasured & meeting Nana. He then bought me fish and chips for the evening meal before we tucked into pudding (Kelly’s ice cream obviously - also sharing that he had known the daughter of Mr, Kelly who had wanted to go out!! WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN SO COOL as I could have FREE Kelly’s ice cream WHENEVER!). That evening grandad had an early night and I helped Harry apply for some placements as it was getting near the cut off point for when he could start!
Exploring the Boulders of Cornwall

Monday was the last day down in cornwall so we had a lazy morning before heading over to Bedruthen steps, Grandads favourite beach. I was so tired during the day and felt a lot quieter than previous days. We parked up and after having a mare with the parking (had to ask the parking officer to extend it without getting a new ticket as we put in the wrong amount!) we headed down to the beach. Unfortunately the tide was still in so we went for a walk along the headline which was lovely and it made me miss the caravan so much! We managed to make it down and were the first ones to cross over into the tunnels and through to further along the back I needed a rest so we had some lunch whilst grandad highlighted how lovely it would be if everyone lived down in Cornwall :(. We then went for a walk along the beach as the tide was out far enough now and Grandad has a little shot at running which I could tell he had been wanting to do since Saturday! He also had a swim, although I declined as the water looked far too cold!! IT was soon time to leave so we packed up and headed up the cliff and back to Grandad’s house. Soon time to start the long drive back where I completely forgot the way home and ended up taking a long way out to the A30 but apart from that it was an easy drive back to Camberley.

Monday, 8 August 2016

World University Orienteering Championships

Originally I was going to stay in a Travelodge with the rest of the girls at Heathrow before the flight on Friday morning however Adam had come to visit after his holiday in the Alps so took me on Friday morning to Heathrow. After waiting for the boys to arrive we went through check in, pretending to be off to the Olympics and boarded the plane. I was planning to sleep on the plane but my seat happened to be in the middle of a hen group off to Budapest too! After a short wait we boarded a small minibus to Miskolc, which ended up being very smelly as I cracked open my boiled eggs and some individuals took their shoes off.

We arrived mid-afternoon, got comfortable (I was sharing a room with Katie with a joint toilet with Charlotte & Jo) before going for a short, but very sweaty run. The evening consisted of dinner (which surprisingly wasn’t boiled potatoes, dill & goulash but actually decent meals! Although throughout the week there were a few suspicious deserts), team meeting and then killing time – Katie found a table top football so was entertained by some Canadians/Americans with that.

On Saturday the majority of the team went training – a few of us had already been on a training camp a few weeks prior. After talking to my dad I had the plan to just do how ever much was needed to feel confident/happy so I was hoping I’d only be out for 10 minutes. It ended up being a lot more as I kept missing controls, finding it hard to match up the vegetation. Although not ideal, I called it a day as I had reminded myself of what was required during the races. We travelled back, during which Eddie asked about start times preferences for the long & middle. That evening we had the opening ceremony, which we arrived late too WHUPS!! we marched up a street with lots of stalls selling random things before getting to the Miskolc castle which was where the ceremony was held! REALLY COOL - and even though very hot the circus act kept us all entertained!

That night I woke up to go to the loo, finding a poorly Charlotte on the bathroom floor who had been up for a few hours previously being sick after what we spectulate some bad fish. We were going to go to the sprint but Charlotte & Jo stayed in so I headed off with Sasha & Aidan. The finish & spectator area was a bit light, with a small area to support along the finishing straight and no GPS/tracking shown live. Luckily Megan's Mum had it on her phone so we could track the girls first & then the guys. It was such an exciting day with both Megan & Charlotte getting top 10s and then Willy (the first starter) holding the lead for a surprisingly long time!! Jonny & Peter came in slightly off Willy’s time and then we were waiting for Kris. Having previously made a map and had supported the rest of the team showing the intricate levelled part of the map we were all so excited to watch his race and it was no wonder that he smashed it and came storming in with a huge lead. We were all so hyped & it was great to be part of the team.

In the evening it was time to get prepped for the long and after the GB Sprint performances the organisers had given us all GPS which I love running with as it makes me feel important :’). Leading up to the race I had done some geeking and roughly worked out where the start would be and planned some courses, always enjoying it when I get it right! Unfortunately the bus on the way to the quarantine dropped us at the wrong place so the athletes trekked along the wrong road for a while before it was apparent we were going the wrong way. 20 minutes later we got to quarantine. I had my pre-race plan so knew I was on scheduled – planned out exactly when I needed to eat my banana, o on the model map, warm up & even sort my hair! Before I started I felt relaxed & knew in my head I wanted to make no mistakes and have a consistent steady run, after all you don’t need to do anything special to be special. Nixon reinforces this as I went into the start block so I was confident & happy when I started.

I started safe and my confident build so I was comfortable pushing my speed. The majority of the race went really well, I was in control, had good plans & executed them well. However as I got further through the course I was using my brain less and so wasn’t as accurate and made a handful of errors (mostly overshooting/hesitations as I was too far to one side of a control). I finished and was really disappointed straight away with the position, feeling like I’d tried really hard, exhausted and all for a 20th place. However I took some time to reflect, warm down and talk it over with dad which helped realise actually for where I am in life it was pretty solid.

We eventually go the bus back to the accommodation after Sasha & Aidan decided to follow an Estonian and we had to get the bulletin & map out to work out our way to the parking. I got a massage that evening and also the next day as my back felt ridiculously tight :( Although really tired, a few of us made it to the Cave Baths – a five minutes bus journey to the edge of Miskolc. It was good for my muscles especially where there were jets that could pummel my back! The water was so warm and we found a really warm pool to sit in. That afternoon we travelled down into Miskolc centre for the mixed sprint relay & excitement was high as we all knew we had an awesome team. The leg order was Charlotte, Peter, Kris & Megan and after a strong start Kris came back with over a minute lead handing over to Meg. The whole team was ecstatic and we were sprinting around, screaming our heads off at any spectator point. Meg held it together well and came back with the lead still meaning GBR had another gold. There was lots of photos and hugs followed by the cheering as they went on the podium. After that the team went back to get food and try to rest for the Middle whilst the winners stayed on as Meg had the struggle of peeing in a pot for doping control & willy got ‘kidnapped’ by a ‘reporter’ who wanted an interview & drop willy back at the accommodation – after a few hours we got a little worried but then he turned up overly happy…

The following day I got the bus with Sasha, listening to Megan’s shuffle as my ipod I use to use for quarantine had broken. As we walked to quarantine past thickets, brambles, nettles and rough open I was impressed that the warm up map was ‘Very Relevant’ – similar scrubby terrain to a rocky, overgrown north east area. Nevertheless I was excited for the race and maybe a little too hyped shoveling jelly babies in my mouth and stuffing a gel down my sports bra! Silently being judged by the rest of GB team when trying to justify that I will need to the energy I reminded them that I took three gels during the long race and was still in need of energy.

I was a bit more nervous for this race and wasn’t as calm – although I knew what was required I was too excited to get going and the agitation stayed on as I started the race. I ended up running a very scrappy race where I was racing too much and not actually in control of what I was doing. As I ran nearer to each control I was praying the control would jump out so I could get a move on to the next control. When this didn’t happen I would quickly panic and faff around. The whole race was like this and it was really unpleasant to experience as I felt like I was scrabbling for control the whole way round but didn’t have time to lose. I finished in 6th which everyone was happy about expect me as they had no idea what had happened in the forest. I quickly dropped down to below 20th which was disappointing but understandable.

That evening Katie packed as she was leaving in the middle of the night to go to the airport :( so I had the room to myself. I was excited for the relay, running with Jo & Charlotte on second leg but also apprehensive as I have little trust in teammates from previous experience. However, knowing what that I could orienteer without making mistakes and understanding what I needed to do, helped my confidence in my teammates too and I believed we had a strong team. Jo was first leg, coming back in 9th, behind a string of people (including Megan!!). I set off on my own but quickly caught up three others. My race was going well, slightly panicky at parts when I had time to think and realise the pressure but pretty consistent. I made a LARGE error at ten – still not sure what happened but didn’t match the features up correctly and took a 90 degree route choice error looping back around and stumbling on control ten (thank goodness). I was running with a Russian here, fearing I had lost a lot of time and was back down in 9/10th. I went through spectator having no idea the position just, ‘well Done Lucy, you’re doing well’ from the coaches. WHAT DOES WELL MEAN??! I remember thinking that if I was doing crap they would probably say I was doing well so carried on into the last loop spotting Andrinne – thinking Holy Fuck she must have had a nightmare as I know she went out a way before me. I finished up just behind the Russian (skinny girl that had a lot more speed than me!) and handed over to Charlotte, finally realizing I had come in 4th! It slowly sunk in we had a chance of a medal & I had sporadic OMG moments followed by, ‘Aaah we will probably muck up and end up in 10th or something’. However I had confidence in Charlotte as I believe she is the strongest, most consistent forest woman orienteer we had. From what we could gather from the commentary she had run the team into 3rd, pulling a lead over the Russian & Norwegian. She came through the spectator loop running straight past the spectator control and having to double back before re-entering the forest. It was then a waiting game and unfortunately we were waiting too long – watching the Russian team sprint out the GPS tent to the finish was pretty gutting as we realised Charlotte had made a mistake. She came out the forest in 4th behind the Norwegian and we finished in 5th just behind the Russian.

My brain was my worst enemy for the next few hours, torturing me with thoughts of going onto the podium and I was really gutted. I don’t think it helped that everyone was saying how good 5th was when we were so close to 3rd. It took a while to get some perspective and even as I write this I can feel myself getting frustrated with the result. It is a step in the right direction & my mum wisely said that the teams who beat us are consistently in the top 6 & it still doesn’t work for them so we need to get used to finishing in the top 6 before we can expect more.

We had to stay for the prize giving and closing ceremony before heading back to the accommodation where we had the beer relay (definitely some cheating going on…) before eating some food to line the stomachs before some more drinking and the party which was held on the uni campus.

The travelling the next day was not fun and I felt VERY ROUGH – apparently I was up late/early hours of the morning putting the world to rights with Charlotte?! I sat with Peter chatting about life and eating copious amounts of ham & cheese sandwiches! Just as I was ready to sleep we arrived at the airport. Luckily I wasn’t sat in a hen party on the way home and could get some sleep! I was pretty sad the week was over as it was probably one of the best competitions I had been to and it was horrible that it came to an end. The bags took ages to arrive so the team needed to rush off. I picked up my bag and got the bus & train home where I tended to my hangover before Adam came down from Sheffield.

After a much needed lie-in we drove down to the New Forest to spend the weekend at home. The traffic was bad on the way down which stressed me out and I was quickly back to normal routine where I got grumpy and Adam had to highlight the positives in life :’). We made it to Lyndhurst where we stopped for a late brunch & scones in a little café. We went for a walk in the sunshine before continuing home. It was good to get home and speak to Mum and Dad. Grandad, Uncle Tony & my cousin from America came up in the afternoon as well which was great to see them. The rest of the weekend we just chilled, did a bit of baking and did NO TRAINING. I wasn’t/still am not sure where I am going with the orienteering – after managing the step up in life having to balance a 9-5 job with training I need to decide where to go as there aren’t any more 20-25 age group competitions before the senior level which I am uncomfortable racing at if I am not good enough to do well. So then it would be playing the long game and training/committing to five + years to get good which to be honest isn’t high on my priorities in life…OR pay £7,000 to do a Masters and go back to WUOC in two years (tempting)!

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Adventures in Belgium with our bikes...

Three days after the JK, the Butt Squad were off on another adventure…to ride in the Ronde Van Vlaanderen (Tour Of Flanders) Sportif. On Thursday evening Chris collected Adam and I on board his renovated van. SO much nicer than dads van with cute fairy lights, curtain, homemade shelves and plenty of space for four bikes. We picked up Tom Stubbs and continued to Dover meeting the rest of the gang where we stayed in a B&B with £3 breakfast the next morning J Shared a room with Adam & Harry the two vainest people I've met <3 Couldn't resist sharing this photo with the world :').

Tom wasn't strong enough...
Friday was spent waiting for the ferry (where I learnt how to change a tyre!! Credits to Chris and his van having borderline illegal tread) ,on the ferry (entertained by Sudokus) and in the vehicles in convey travelling to Oudenaard to register for the race and pick up the timing chip, map but more importantly the free t-shirt & medal. I was getting a little bit grumpy with the long travelling so we made it to a supermarket to collect suppliers. We travelled back up to Brugge, scoffing ham and cheese (or camembert and chorizo in our vans case) along the way.

Before the early 6.30am wake up the next day, we sorted out the bikes and transport before a much needed sleep. We dropped the boys off in Brugge the next morning for them to start the Long distance (227km). Mum and I were driving Chris’s van, successfully manouvering it across lanes & dodging cyclists/cars as we took some time to get used to driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road! The medium (129km) and short (71km) both started from the same point in Oudenaarde and all three routes ended in the same place. Dad, Tom, Jamie and I were set to do the middle (I was hesitant about this right up to the start line, previously entered onto the short but decided to ‘make the most of my money’ and commited to the middle). Alice & Mum were riding the short which was the same as the last 70km of the middle & long.

Pre Sportif Selfie
We finally set off around 8.45am (after me forgetting gloves & Jamie forgetting to fill up his water bottles!!) and came to the first climb about 10km. Dads chain slipped off half way up, fell off and stopped a few people. We put it back on and then I gave him a little push to get him on his way – as I was wearing trainers (and not cleats) it was a lot easily for me to get back on! My chain also clunked off further up the hill and so it was a slow start to the route! Unfortunately it didn’t get any quicker…dads chain slipped off on the next two, meaning he was battered from falling and had no confidence in his bike. My chain came off about double the number dad’s did but I was riding a 10year old, 3rd hand Giant which I expected to have problems so wasn’t as frustrated. 

Oily Fingers from the stupid chain.
20km in and dad was grumbling about quiting – with 100km to go it wasn’t a great sign but we perservered until the food stop to shove waffles and energy bars in our faces and hope Dad would feel a bit better. However with the cobbled hills becoming frequent dad was forced to walk up every hill which meant Tom, Jamie & I a wait around at the top of each one. We grumbled around until the half way food station with no signs of Dad getting any happier, it was also getting really chilly to stop so often L The koppenberg was the next climb where we were all forced to walk as it was a pinchpoint and in the mass of people you couldn’t get through. A bit annoying as I would have liked to give it a try. We got to the top of Koppenberg when Dad had had enough and was going to throw in the towel (or Dad’s bike into a bush!). We had a little team meeting and with some persuasion convinced Dad to carry on with me letting Tom & Jamie go on. This meant we weren’t worrying about slowing them down and could just spend the rest of the day to finish it – and we really did.  

In total it took Dad & I 8 and a half hours to cycle 129km. A ridiculously slow time but we finished and could even smile at the end J I think it was because we grumbled so much on the ride - putting the world to rights and hating on all the arrogant cyclist who rudely shout at you because you are cycling sloer than them :(.

So glad I decided to do the medium  as I was the furthest I’ve ever cycled by 50km (!) and it meant Dad got round too!! The time included stops which probably took up an hour at least – at one point, where dad didn’t see me overtake on the hill and then thinking I had crashed behind him, we took about 20 minutes to find each other – at which point, when we did find each other, I had a little sob thinking I’d been left and was all alone L.

At the end my legs weren’t feeling too jelly like but my hands were SO painful – I felt like I had arthritis from the cobbles as my hands were knocked about so much. After each cobbled section it would take about five minutes before I could straighten my fingers as I was holding them as tight as possible to the handlebars to stop my bones knocking around! At one point I had to stop and walk as it was too painful to cycle!
Market Square in Oudenaarde

The boys doing the long (Chris, Tom S, Harry & Adam) finished only minutes after dad & I ( a bit depressing really) but with everyone in safely and happy we trooped into town for a beer or two and some pizza. The beer glasses were especially made for the weekend with cobbled bottoms so we couldn’t help but tactfully take a few for memorabilia. At the pizza place we all tried to pay with our loose change – in the end the wonderful pizza man took the change (even though it wasn’t enough!) and told us not to worry J.
Recovery Drinks

Our favourite Belgium Pizza place!

Unfortunately the night was a bit longer than expected as about 200metres into the journey home the van’s clutch got stuck so we couldn’t change gear. After some doom & gloom and negativity (not surprising as we were all knackered) Chris saved the day by driving the van home without a clutch! When all finally at home we had some celebratory prosecco, a little medal ceremony and a bath before bed! The next morning I travelled home with Chris & Tom S, while the others stayed in Belgium to watch the pros cycle as they took the Monday off work to travel back. Wonderfully tiring weekend and already looking forward to the next Butt Squad Adventure.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

JK 2016 Orienteering in STORM KATIE

So similar to last year the ButtSquad were staying in a 10 man cottage so that everyone could bring their ‘other halves’. The cottage was gorgeous but there was 2xdouble, 2xtwin rooms and then a bunk bed which surprise surprise, Adam and I got. It was a little hard to find, tucked away on a farm near Brimham rocks, causing a few navigational disputes as google directed me who directed Adam up stony steep trials.

Each day we drove in a convoy of two to the events. For the sprint we arrived pretty early to get Adam to his start and as the weather was sunny could enjoy spectating. The elites got to wear SIAir Cards – something I’d never worn before. I went off to the start after the top tips from the parents: ‘It’s really tricky, be careful’ which I probably should have listened to a bit more as I ended up being a hesitant mess on all the levels. Even on legs which I stopped to planned, I still went upstairs to blocked levels! I tried really really hard so was really disappointed with the results becoming a moody little gremlin at the prospect of trying so hard for three more days with similar depressing results.
I went home questioning what little secret everyone else had that I was missing out on to get them round so quick trying to reassure myself I was a ‘forest girl’ and that the standard had improved instead of me getting worse :’). I did however enjoy the course and thought it was good fun.
Each evening we cooked masses of food (probably enough to feed 20 not 10) before playing board games and pissing everyone who didn’t win off. Saturday was the middle distance and to our dismay a long walk to the arena followed by a freezing cold arena on the top of a hill. Another 3 hour wait for me meant we all snuggled up next to a random hay stack to maintain warmth. I left about 15 minutes before my start time not wanting to hang around at the start. The race went okay, some really fast zoom zoom legs where I was just pinging around from control to control but near the end I began to get tired and wasn’t taking anything off the map when I was looking at it. The last couple of controls I fluffed around A LOT and lost a lot of time by stumbling and wiggling around instead of just picking a line and running it. Finished overall in 12th which was just okay but I was already beginning to see the sense in slowing down and orienteering a bit more as I wouldn’t have thought I’d have lost so much time.

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Everyone was a bit more tired this evening, I had a little nap but was still grumpy enough to argue over cake, demanding more than what Tom was distributing. Sunday was the day we were all grumbling about the most – with a bus transfer AND then HUAGE distances and climb! It was topped off with very inconsistent weather meaning cagoules were compulsory. Although grumbling about this to begin with about 70 minutes into my course I was so glad to have a hooded cagoule that I could pull over my face and protect my cheeks from the blistering hail. It was so so painful and I didn’t want to look up during this part of the course as A) I wouldn’t have been able to see anything and B) my face would have hurt even more. I made it off the moor feeling like a drowned rat with no feeling in my hands (one was swollen from the cold I presume!!) but to my families amazement i wasn’t too grumpy (WOOOOOO!!) as I had a really good, solid run. Even though it was a long way, I was so proud I hadn’t hit too much of a wall, popping jelly babies the whole time and making sure I actually READ THE MAP and, when I needed too, knew exactly where I was going. I was worried, whilst running, about Harry & Adam & Tom in the cold but thankfully everyone was back okay – Harry had to give up due to borderline hypothermia L. We all shivered our way to the cars and drove back to the cottage for a hot shower and fish & chips!! After the fish and chips we had the traditional Easter Egg hunt around the cottage – surprisingly less fighting than I expected and I got SUCH a good haul of eggs J. We had one final round of the ‘train game’ and some TV before we had to pack up ready for a 6:30 wake up the next day!

We were all in two minds whether to run the next day, Dad getting ill, Tom running a half marathon, Harry dropping out and I was just knackered meant we were all tempted to sack of the relay and just go home! BUT NO…we went along and ran around this little hilly slope just to completely finish ourselves off. It was okay but I’ve never taken the relays that seriously and ran off with Dad WAY TOO FAST. I was glad to finally finish and looked forward to finally getting home – which was a five hour drive away L

A good weekend in all, with the family and in regards to the racing as it helped to reinforce I really do need to orienteer to get around the course FAST –sounds obvious I KNOW.