10 Marathons in 10 days

On 23rd October 2020 I was hoping to begin my epic challenge of running 262 miles over 10 days. 10 marathons in 10 days!!! Due to a freak injury I have had to defer my place to May 2021, so it seems there is yet another chapter to this story before we finally reach the start line….The story so far is here on this home page but the story since Jan 2021 up to and hopefully beyond the start line is in the blog section of this site. Click the blog link at the top of this page for the most up to date part of the story!

Team 2020 in January 2020

I began training in July 2019 when I heard that I had got a place on the team. This blog is a collection of posts made along the training journey, mainly made after my long run each week. There are tales of wildlife encounters along with quite a lot of wind, rain and hail. Mostly it is the story of how a 40 something, slightly overweight mum of two is preparing to take on the 10in10 and live to tell the tale…

The Lockdown in March 2020 postponed the start of the event from May 2020 to October 2020, but I kept on training and blogging throughout…it has certainly had a few twists and turns and I’ve a feeling the rollercoaster isn’t quite finished with me yet!

If it inspires you at all then please, if you are able to, find some time to donate to Brathay to help them with their important work with young people. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/michelle-woodcock9

We inspire children and young people to make positive changes that last a lifetime.

Brathay

19.7.19

Ok…so this is happening…absolutely thrilled to say that I have a place to run the Brathay 10in10 (10 marathons in 10 days) next year…total madness I know, but any sponsorship greatly appreciated as I drag myself round the valley at all hours of the day and night trying to get fit enough to do it!

5.8.19

This is the face of someone who is proud to have run the furthest in one go today since 2016…
14 miles! I would like to say that I enjoyed it…I can only honestly say that some of it felt good.
As I continue to alternate between freaking out and then focusing and running a bit further each week in preparation for the Brathay 10in10 next May I need all the encouragement I can get.

23.8.19

Home after a brilliant few days at Whitby Folk week. Sunshine, friends, melodeons, workshops, amazing concerts and some new cds, a cottage next door to Subway (very important if you are 16) and cliff top runs that turned out not to be as flat as I had hoped.
Our first Whitby, but not the last!

26.8.19 Whooo hooo!! 19.5 miles done this morning (went out to run 18…really must get better at maths). Hilly and painful, but I kept going. Feeling happy.

1.9.19

20 mile run done. It started well, but I hit the wall at 9 miles and the final 11 miles were an act of pure determination and will. Good mental prep for Brathay 10in10 next May!

9.9.19

20 mile run. Felt pretty good apart from swallowing a fly whole in the first mile and some slightly alarming sheep eyes reflecting in the dark opposite Fell House (apologies for the screams!) After a brilliant weekend of Morris dancing I am feeling happy if a bit jaded now! (I later discovered that the sheep were actually cows…it was dark!)

16.9.19

Epic early morning 20 mile run. It began with screams of fright as spiders webs approached my head torch at alarming speed in the dark (thankfully no cows disguised as sheep today though), moving to absolute joy and a huge sense of privilege as I watched a beautiful sunrise, and it ended with finally finding a bit of speed and form in my running down the Lyth Valley Road. I usually hate Mondays, but this one has started well.

22.9.19

Utterly brutal 22 mile run done. Highlights include running for over an hour in the dark and twice thinking I might have somehow got lost (on a straight road with no turn off ), torrential rain for 3 hours, tears of relief at mile 16 when I could finally turn round and start heading for home and A FROG ON THE ROAD IN MY PATH at mile 21. Apologies if you heard the shrieks and screams. It did get me up the final hill quite a bit faster than I would have otherwise gone. The training continues…xx

29.9.19

Another Sunday, another 22 miles run. Drama at 5.20am when I met two deer running towards me on the narrow lane…we all skidded to a halt, I shrieked and they jumped over the nearest hedge. Certainly ran the first half of my run faster as a result! There are plenty of adventures to be had before breakfast here in the lakes.

6.10.19

Went out for a 24 mile training run. It was not fun, fast or pretty. I was battling with aching body, mind and spirit from the word go. It was also NOT 24 miles, but in true style I somehow managed to RUN 26 MILES BY ACCIDENT! DOH! It’s funny what you think about when you are running for a long time. I spent about and hour thinking about roast beef and yorkshire puddings…off to make that fantasy a reality.

11.10.19

Logistical challenges in a busy upcoming weekend meant that I was off again on my long run this morning before dawn. After the trauma that was last Sunday, I can’t say that I was looking forward to it much, but despite the pouring rain, dive bombing bats and definitely more than one frog lurking on the road in the dark. I found it ok. I had a huge boost after about 40 minutes while listening to my usual podcast (Running commentary) as they mentioned me and made me giggle. So, the training continues. It’s quite satisfying to have run a marathon before I head into work in an hour! Oh..,and you remember that cap that was lost…they have mown the verges and today I found it! Sadly I can’t wear it, but it made me happy anyway!

17.10.19

The saga of Michelle’s terrifying running adventures continued this evening…My Thursday run pal Jo has hurt her back, so I was off for a short solo run in the fading light. I even joked with her that I would go before the deer came out…I was wrong…thankfully I spotted them before we ran into each other and I had a good loud rant to scare the other 3 or 4 away from the road too. Things I was not prepared for though was the beautiful owl that swooped directly across my path on the way out causing me to shriek (It was big!) and the bat that actually flew into my chest and hit me on the way back. Flipping heck…the training continues!

20.10.19

26 miles done. Remarkably scream free with only a couple of pheasants and a friend honking their horn scaring me. Full daylight, not much rain and I ran it 5 minutes faster than last week. The last 2 miles were painful with some kind of weird knee cramp in both knees. I was offered a lift home and managed to refuse it and keep running/staggering! I’m glad the wildlife gave me a break today…I enjoyed it!

28.10.19

Another 26 miles run! What a glorious morning for it, made all the more special by a shout out on @RunComPod. Last week was tough with a very sore foot leading me to have conversations with our wonderful 10in10 physio. She has given me some excellent advice and after a few days of resting and rollering, I was ready to take on the world again today. I’m not sure what my Morris dancing will be like at practice tonight…but that’s another story! No wildlife drama, just a lovely, frosty autumnal run. All is well with the world.

3.11.19

Another Sunday and another 26 miles run. I didn’t feel like going at all this morning, but I went anyway and I’m glad to have got it done. The autumn colours are amazing. I realised halfway round that I was actually running a marathon in BRAND NEW TRAINERS, a thought which didn’t even occur to me when I set off, as running 26 miles seems so thoroughly normal now. I survived the experience with minimal blister action. No wildlife terrorising me to report today, but Harry the heron kept me company along the Lyth valley road and Connie the Coo made me smile too. On we go…

10.11.19

A day of two halves for me…firstly, the huge privilege of leading the Remembrance Service at Cartmel Fell and then the hard slog both mental and physical of running 26 miles in brand new trainers for the second time in two weeks! No wildlife drama to report, but I did receive unsolicited running advice from a complete random stranger who just happened to be passing on his e-bike. He circled back round to tell me that I didn’t seem to have much bounce and was I just running to lose weight (!!) or for some other reason, because if so I should really try to use my core more. I told him that I had already run 20 miles in new trainers, so was both tired and running a bit steadily… You couldn’t make it up! It didn’t improve my ability to cope with hitting the wall either…I think I preferred the bats and deer…at least they didn’t insult me!

17.11.19

Utterly miserable, cold, wet and painful 26 miles run. The only highlights were; a donation of £100 to my justgiving page last night, which definitely kept me going today, a shout out on @RunComPod which really made me smile and a slice of marmite on toast which El made for me in time for me to collect as I popped into the house for a wee after the 10 mile loop before my 16 mile out and back! Never has marmite on toast tasted so good, and I managed to eat most of it before it got too soggy in the rain! Urrrgghhh…next week will be better…

23.11.19

They say that a change is as good as a rest…mmm…not sure that I entirely agree after this morning, but today saw me set off on my 26 mile training run with the intention of running to our local Park Run and completing it as a way of celebrating with comedian Rob Deering (One of the hosts of my favourite @RunComPod podcast) as he celebrated his 50th Park Run in Hackney Marshes. Running there was fun, with the added slight anxiety about whether I would actually get there in time for the start at 9am, but not too early so as to get cold waiting! I timed it about right and enjoyed my first go on the winter route. Of course, I tried as hard as I could, which is fine when you drive home…not so fine when the running route home is up over Gummers How! The 16 miles that followed the Park Run were fairly brutal and it won’t be a regular thing as part of a marathon, but I’m glad I did it and I’ve just realised that next weekend I change age categories too, so I could well have been the oldest lady in my 40-44 age category today! Now to relax and have some fun! Job done for another week.

29.11.19

No single part of me wanted to leave our warm and cosy house at 5.30 this morning, but off I went, determined to squeeze the long run into a packed weekend somehow. The stars were absolutely epic, we are so lucky to have such little light pollution here and the sky was packed with them. I headed off along the gritted main roads first and found myself being gritted along with the rest of the Lyth Valley road at 6.15. I could taste salt for about 10 mins after that, but it wasn’t as unpleasant as you might think and quite a good distraction! Heading onto the more minor roads as it became light it became clear that my decision to do my run in a different order was a good one…several bambi on ice moments ensued and a short, careful walk past the worst parts allowed me to continue on my way unscathed. So, another 26 miles run, another day of being glad I dragged myself out of bed and onto the roads to get on with my training. What a privilege it is to be able to run in such a stunning location. Right, best get ready for work!

8.12.19

26 miles run/staggered/battled through. After the Crook Morris Christmas Ceilidh last night followed by leading a Christingle service this morning (always utterly terrifying!) running 26 miles this afternoon was always going to be a bit of a challenge. Power-shower-hail, rivers across the road, sideways wind and driving rain really didn’t help much and it was utterly miserable at times. There were a few tears along the way today but I just ate a bit more Kendal mint cake and got my head down! And so the winter training really begins.

13.12.19

26 miles run. I set off in the dark at 5.30am and enjoyed the first 45 mins happily listening to my @RunComPod podcast under the light of the full moon. The next hour or so was pretty dark in every sense of the word and I found myself reflecting a lot on darkness and light and singing a verse from my favourite Melrose Quartet song “Chariots”… “As a candle can conquer the demons of darkness, as a flame can keep frost from the deepest of cold, so a song can give hope in the depths of all danger and a line of pure melody soar in your soul.” Beautiful, and very comforting…at least until what I am choosing to believe was a rabbit ran across in front of me causing me to scream!Thankfully the sun rose shortly after this and I carried on my way without further wildlife issues. I did have a pesky John Lewis van pass me three times on a road that was too narrow to have a John Lewis van on it…I actually had to climb the wall to get out of their way once Although, they did apologise and looked slightly alarmed when I threatened to get in if they passed me again. Funnily enough they disappeared after that! I’m due at work in less than an hour, so I’d better get in the shower!!

22.12.19

How should you prepare yourself in the week before you plan to run a marathon? This is something I have read a great deal about in the last few weeks and months..however when you plan to run a marathon every week it all becomes something of a fantasy rather than a reality! Just in case you were planning to run a marathon, these are my top tips on how not to prepare to run one: aka what I did this week…

Don’t….

1. …go to Edinburgh for the day on the train, shop til you drop, climb Arthur’s Seat (complete with said shopping) shop some more, arrive at the station to find your train cancelled and face the horror of a rail replacement bus home (4 hours of fun and a midnight homecoming).

2….continue as normal with crazy week before Christmas activities, Morris dancing Mumming play, daughter’s carol service, cramming 3 weeks work into 2 days at school to make sure end of term performance goes well whilst dealing with Christmas parties, excited children etc etc despite having some kind of hideous virus which would usually cause you to give up and go to bed.

3. …Just about scrape through school performance (feeling super proud of the children of course) and then decide that it’s still a good idea to attend the staff Christmas party…

4. …Attend staff Christmas party, love every minute, drink far too much gin (but not as much as last year) stay up until 5am and then get up at 9am feeling happy that the hangover is not a lot worse. Continue with a normal family day.

5. …Get up the following day (today) and run 26 miles…

Anyone who saw me in the last 6 miles of my run/swim today will know that this is definitely not the way to prepare to run a marathon! It started well, but the freezing, relentless rain took its toll along with the sheer tiredness and every part of my body wanting to be warm and dry! A lady that I didn’t recognise stopped and offered me a lift on the Lyth Valley Rd. I can’t tell you how hard it was to smile and say “no thanks, I’ll be alright in a minute”…I tried to run in a bit of a less staggery sort of way after that… How I managed to get home I don’t know. Harry the heron kept me company on some of the loneliest stretches and a couple of squirrels fell out of a tree alarmingly close to me at one point, which livened things up a bit for a while. RunComPod chatting about possibly running the Windermere marathon next year made me smile too, that would be brilliant!My Secret Santa present from work (see trainer pic) which made me cry, kept me going today as I remembered all the love and support people have shown so far. I am very lucky to have such lovely friends and family.Another week, another marathon…hoping that at some point they might feel a bit easier, but not holding my breath. A marathon is still a marathon after all!

30.12.19

Final 26 mile run of 2019 done, except it was 24 miles. Given everything below in “How not to prepare to run a marathon #2” I am perfectly content with this and feeling proud!How not to prepare to run a marathon #2

Don’t…

1. …celebrate Christmas…at all

2…drive to the midlands at 5am on a Saturday to help with a coffee morning run by my ace mum raising a fantastic £222 for Brathay and then continue with full on family socialising and partying for the next 44 hours.

3….get up at 8am and drive home from the midlands planning to begin a long run at 12.

4…imagine that a McDonalds breakfast at the services washed down by 2 banana milkshakes will be sufficient fuel for a long run (oops, after 22 years I forgot that Michael doesn’t like banana milkshakes and it was a shame to waste it, but 24 miles of banana milkshake burps later I have well and truly learnt that lesson the hard way!)

5…start playing fast and loose with what you carry to eat to keep you running when it gets rough… 2 fig rolls and a handful of Christmas sweets really aren’t advisable…I think I’m going to be told off at the training weekend.

So, (almost) another marathon done, and now I am going to have a slight taper towards the 10in10 training weekend which happens the week after next. We will all be running the Windermere marathon over that weekend, so between now and then I intend to run some half marathons, but I’m going to save my first marathon of 2020 for the first time I have a go on the 10in10 route. From 2nd Jan onwards I shall be the model of good behaviour in every way! Getting very excited now…bring it on!

9.1.2020

So, now it really begins…! Tomorrow after work I will be off to the 10in10 training weekend and I will finally get to meet the rest of the team and start to get a proper idea of what awaits me in May! To say that I am feeling a bit nervous right now would be something of an understatement. I have been feeling really poorly all week with a rotten cold and have hardly run at all. The media wheels are suddenly turning a bit faster too and I’ve already recorded a radio interview (outside Morrison’s in the rain) earlier this week, to be broadcast on Heart Radio sometime over the weekend with other requests in the pipeline. Eeeeeekkkkkk…it feels like Christmas Eve on the one hand and the day before a really important and scary exam on the other!!! I’m refusing to look at the weather forecast for Saturday when I will run the 10in10 route for the very first time with the team (and my first marathon of 2020). I’m sure that I will already have run a marathon in such conditions in the last few months, so bring it on! Sooooo excited…..sooo scared!!!

11.1.2020

Just getting ready to head out into the wilds…managed to sleep a bit and have eaten more breakfast than usual. I think I know the route, so I’m about as ready as I can be. The team are brilliant and our shared purpose of raising as much money for the brilliant charity that is Brathay is a great motivator even on a rainy and windy day like today. Off we go!

13.1.2020

On Saturday I ran the route of the Windermere marathon for the first time. This will become very familiar in May as it is also the route for my 10 marathons in 10 days. It took me 5 hours and 20 minutes in pretty horrible conditions. I was the last one home and I’m very thankful for the support team who allowed me to complete it even though the 2.15pm lunch spot was getting pretty close! Thanks especially to Chris Heaton who ran the last bit back from Bowness with me where he had been directing runners through the back lanes making sure they knew the course. He ran with me chatting at times and at other times just let me face it on my own and the balance of distraction and not interfering was perfect.It has been a very emotional and amazing, fun, challenging, difficult weekend. I’ve waited until today to post anything as I felt quite overwhelmed yesterday with all that still needs to be done to prepare for this enormous challenge.I need to seriously up my game. Right now I am not physically strong enough for this challenge. I have been working so hard on my strength training that today this does feel a little bit discouraging, but I need to keep remembering that last June I was not running any miles at all and definitely couldn’t have run a marathon. Since then I have run over 1,000 miles and have completed many hours of exercises including now being able to plank for 1 min 30 when previously I cried after 20 seconds! I am determined to keep improving my strength and fitness and now I know where I need to focus my efforts the most. The 10in10 team and our support team are absolutely brilliant. A really interesting, inspiring group of people and some amazing athletes too. On Saturday evening a plan was made (in the bar) for a 7am recovery run on Sunday. Initially I decided against going as I’m so much slower than the others that I didn’t want to hold them back or look silly. In the end I was awake in time to go and wanted to keep getting to know my team mates, so I rocked up with my head torch and (almost) dry waterproof ready for a slow recovery run around Ambleside. There were 11 of us. As we set off I instantly regretted joining the run as 7 runners disappeared off ahead in the darkness despite me running as fast as I was physically able to. As we headed along the road into Ambleside I saw a few lights approaching. I almost cried when I realised it was the front runners looping back to scoop us up into the run again. This happened a few times during the run. Some of us ran 3.5 miles at a fairly fast pace for us while others ran 5 miles quite slowly. However, we left Brathay together and arrived back on site together too. This was one of the standout moments of the weekend for me. We are already a team, all working together for the same amazing charity. Some of us are fantastic, experienced runners and some of us are ordinary people who can just barely run at a walking pace, but we are all doing everything that we can to face this challenge and raise as much money as we can to support the work of Brathay.The more I learn about what Brathay do and how they help children, young people and families the more inspired I am to keep going, to keep pushing and make sure that come 8th May I have done everything that I possibly can to make sure that I can take on the 10in10 and run 262 miles in 10 days and that I have absolutely raised the most money I am able to.So, there will be many more tears, much more pain and plenty of deer, bats, sheep, Aly hugs , flamingoes (I saw some on the A591 on Sat…they were plastic!) fundraising, donkeys, owls and hopefully not too many frogs ahead. Let’s go!!

17.1.2020

20 miles run. Fear not, I have not abandoned my weekly marathons, this is just an addition to the regime as we step up a gear and continue to prepare. I’ll be off for a 26 mile trot on Sunday after my 7.45am interview on Cumbria Radio! (Thankfully this will be pre recorded tomorrow!)It was raining and dark at 6.20am when I set off and I stood in the doorway for a moment really battling to get myself out of the door. Thankfully a new episode of Running Commentary was loaded up and ready to go, so I stepped out into the rain, waved my legs about in some kind of a nod to a warm up and set off into the dark. It’s been a while since I’ve braved the early morning darkness down the country lanes, so I did feel a bit nervous to begin with, but I soon got absorbed into the podcast and quickly found my comfort zone. I have a new ‘deer scaring technique’ which involves shouting ‘la la la’ at the top of my voice every 3-4 minutes. Apologies if you live in the area and were woken up early by this madness. It did the trick though and not a deer was seen, at least while it was dark! One bolted out of the bushes and ran down the lane in front of me sometime later halfway round my second loop as I was chatting happily on the phone to my sister! I quickly reassured her that I was not in fact being murdered and we moved on! I did two hilly loops today, which felt quite different as the first was in almost complete darkness and the second fully light. The steep hills don’t feel so steep when you can’t see them…or maybe I was just more tired on the second loop! There were times when it felt like I had gone out for a long paddle rather than a long run…cold, long, deep puddles and plenty of them!I’ve worked really hard this week with both strength training and running even though I am feeling tired. I feel really positive though and I need to keep remembering days like today when I decided to get up and run 20 miles before work. Even though it was the last thing I wanted to do at 6.15 this morning, I still got out there, did it and enjoyed quite a lot of it. Great start to a Friday. Now off to work… Big Band and Class 3 await.

19.1.2020

13 miles run today. It was supposed to be 26, but the conditions underfoot were far too dangerous and getting worse as things thawed a bit. I feel a bit disappointed to have had to stop, but I know it was the right thing to do.There were some interesting bambi on ice moments involving perfectly innocent looking pieces of road! I have run 37 miles since Friday, so I’m not slacking anyway!

The interview that I recorded yesterday for Radio Cumbria was broadcast at 7.10am today, so just in case you missed it and wanted to hear it, it is here.
Helen called me by the wrong name at the start of the interview (she corrects it at the end) and I got confused by the recent newspaper article that talked about 16 runners plus me and Sonja so said there were 16 of us when there are in fact 18! Doh. It was lovely chatting to her though and she was genuinely interested.

On we go!

25.1.2020

20 miles run in the dark and then fog/drizzle/rain this morning. I ran to my local Park Run at Fell Foot, ran the park run and did some loops on the way home to make up the mileage. Gummers How is a fair killer after you’ve just run 3 miles as fast as you can!
I was a bit disappointed/relieved as I thought there would be no wildlife stories to tell today, but as I was coming back over the top of Gummers I saw a friend madly waving her stick at her dog who was on the other side of a fence. It’s not something I have ever seen her do before so I trotted over to see if she was ok. It turns out that the dog had part of a deer leg (left by poachers) and was trying to eat it, while she was trying to get it off the dog as it will make him ill!! Between us we managed to capture the dog and wrestle the absolutely revolting half eaten bone out of his mouth without losing any fingers. I think I prefer live deer leaping out on me to wrestling bits of dead ones off dogs!

I got my fastest Park Run time this year today, but I’m a bit gutted to have missed an actual PB by 17 seconds! Doh, should have run faster!

I think there will be plenty of wildlife stories by this time tomorrow. Off early in the morning to get my 26 miles in before church!

26.1.2020

26 miles done! Just call me the deer whisperer. There were many pairs of eyes out on the lanes before 5 am this morning although they responded pretty well to my new ‘deer alert’ technique which is to clap 3 or 4 times every few minutes when you think they are near. They respond pretty well to “Oh s#@%, not another bloody deer” yelled at the top of your voice too, but I’m thinking we might get complaints from the neighbours if I keep doing that!

I found the first 2, dark hours of my 5 hour run to be really challenging today. I felt quite nervous and unsettled and the regular deer scaring just added to that. I listened to some excellent vintage episodes of RunComPod which helped a lot, but I still felt quite edgy at times.

The main wildlife terrorists today however, were birds. An owl nearly scared me out of my whole skin by swooping low in front of me. It was absolutely majestic- white and huge, but utterly silent and completely terrifying. Apologies if you live in the Winster area….that animal scream that you heard at 6.15am was me! On my second loop and along this same stretch of road I had a buzzard stalking me for some fair distance and I had to find increasingly ridiculous ways to convince it that I was not in fact breakfast! At least it was light by then and I could see it.

Running 26 miles today having run 20 yesterday feels like a huge achievement in one sense, but it really hurt a lot towards the end. I think I need to just keep going, one training run at a time and try not to panic too much about May yet, even if it is inching ever nearer. I’m up to 50 Jane Fonda leg raises now which is much better than my original 26, but not near enough to 200 to make me happy yet, so it’s heads down and on we go.

31.1.2020

Friday night training run, out with Tim Farron and his friend in Kendal as he completed his RED January effort! I saw a public invitation for anyone to join him on Twitter last night, so made the effort and went along. It was just the 3 of us, which I wasn’t quite expecting, but it was great fun and it certainly made me up my running game!
Might not get a PB at the Park Run tomorrow now, especially as I am planning to run there again, but I don’t mind!

1.2.2020

Those who regularly read my running blogs will be surprised by what I’m about to say… I ran 20 miles this morning and I enjoyed it very much.
It was almost light when I left home and my legs felt good despite such a speedy run last night. It wasn’t raining and there were no deer (alive or dead) or other hedge creatures to be seen. I was almost blown off the top of Gummers How by the gusts of wind, but I chose to enjoy that experience. I decided to run the Park Run as fast as I could and by the fourth lap, spurred on by having seen one of the younger children I teach along the way (she was doing a brilliant job and she finished in under 40 mins) I fair sprinted round. Having missed a PB by 17 seconds last week I am delighted to say that I achieved a PB this week by running 30 seconds faster than last Sat!! I skipped home in a running style and was greeted by my lovely girl waiting on the drive for me to do her first day of couch to 5k with her.
I don’t have to go out in the dark for my longer run tomorrow, so I’m looking forward to that too. Today has been a good day x

2.2.2020

Two 13 mile loops completed = 26 miles run. It was a run of two halves (no pun intended). I felt exhausted when I got up this morning and was so close to just not going at all, especially when my husband said it was likely to rain for the entire run. I managed to drag myself out of the door and staggered down the lane thinking that I would at least get one loop done (I was always doing 2 loops, but sometimes I have to pretend to myself that I might not just to get started!)
The first loop was the most eventful. I scared a group of about 5 pheasants by accident and they all flew crazily into the trees. One slightly misjudged its flight and actually flew into the tree! It was quite funny to see, but only once I had established that it was ok…it flew away, so I guess it was. Further along, in Winster I saw what I thought were two injured little birds struggling in the middle of the road. On closer inspection it turned out that they were mating!! A couple of miles later I met a man with a very nervous dog and we had an impromptu training session where I proved to the dog that although I looked scary I was actually friendly and it eventually let me feed it cheese and stroke it!
As I neared the end of the first loop I think my friend had great fun nearly scaring me half to death by honking madly as she passed me on her way to work! Thanks Helen, that got the adrenaline pumping! It was very hard to run past my house and start a second loop, but I did and at mile 14 I actually started to enjoy the run. I noticed a lot of colours, and loads of snowdrops that I must have passed on the first loop and my legs felt pretty good. All in all a very good weekend of running. I’m going to have a bit of a rest now, until tomorrow at least!
On we go…

7.2.2020

Absolutely glorious, if slightly freezing 26 miler this morning. Well worth the 5am start to run the first loop in moonlight and the second as the sun rose. There were eyes in the dark, but my deer scaring is getting pretty good now and this may be the first run in all of my training so far where I didn’t scream, not even a little bit! On the second loop I managed to get a picture of some beautiful deer in the area where I had scared them the first time round!
I’m feeling very lucky to start my Friday in such a fabulous place and finding that I am finally starting to fall in love with running again. It’s a good job really as there are plenty of miles ahead!
On we go.

8.2.2020

Another Saturday dragging myself out of bed earlier than on a weekday and off running to my Park Run. I dawdled getting ready…feeling really tired this morning but this meant that I had to run a bit faster than usual for fear of missing the start at Fell Foot at 9! I definitely feel stronger at the moment, even though I am physically feeling very tired and starving hungry all of the time!

I saw my equally crazy friend Tiree on top of Gummers as she headed off for a Paddleboard before the storm- she’s braver than me…it was windy enough with two feet firmly on the ground this morning!

In a surprise turn of events I am delighted that I managed a massive Park Run PB. 28.17 last week became 27.28 this week!! I wasn’t aiming at a PB this week, just concentrated on running as hard and fast as I could without throwing up! I saw one of my pupils again and we had a little race to the finish…she’s awesome, really determined. 👍 She got a huge PB too…well done!

The run home was also ok, but I could see the storm coming. I am now safely bundled up in my post run coat and blanket and planning some indoor strength training instead of any outdoor running for tomorrow!
So, all in all it has been a very good week. The hard work is beginning to pay off and I think I need to bank this feeling for the weeks ahead that might not be so positive. On we go x

17.2.2020

Confession time! Last week I did not run a long run. I did plan to, but my mind, body, soul and spirit had other ideas. I still ran 54 miles during the week, just not the 86 I had planned. I got up at 5.30am on Thursday ready to put 20 miles in the bank before work fully intending to then run 26 in the same way on Friday. But, standing next to the bed, I thought I was going to be sick. Not the ‘sick bug illness type of sick’ but the ‘if you even think about doing this then there will be sick’ type of sick. I went back to bed for an hour.

In the end I took the children to school, came home and ran 10 miles with Milo the super poodle, although it turns out that he wasn’t massively keen either, so that was harder work than I had anticipated! I managed another 4 miles in the evening with my lovely friend Jo and then went to Rapper practice, but for once was very glad that I didn’t have to dance every dance. We came home early. I was exhausted.

I decided that a complete rest was the answer, so no running took place on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Instead I had an absolutely fabulous weekend singing in Langdale with El and 68 others, friends old and new, which was led by our absolute favourite folk band Melrose Quartet. There are no words to describe how utterly brilliant this was. They are stunning musicians and inspiring to be around. Eleanor listens to their music on a constant loop at home, so it was slightly surreal to be hearing them singing the songs that surround my daily life less than 10 feet away from me!

Lots of singing, amazing food, friendship, fun, swimming in Loughrigg Tarn, Eleanor being brave enough to sing solo and Juliet Baddeley and I being brave enough to join her in the sing around session and lots of general positivity meant that by Sunday I actually started to feel human again. This morning I went out and ran 13 miles with a spring in my step and a smile on my face (thanks @RunComPod, hilarious as always!).

So, I am back to it with fresh legs and a heart full of music. Perhaps this weekend has been the perfect training weekend after all.

22.2.2020

26 miles run. I am tired. Physically worn out and a bit achy, but more tired than that. Simply tired of running in the rain, wind and hail. Absolutely fed up of running with wet feet and having to stop and assess every so often whether I am just cold and a bit ‘run giddy’, or whether in fact I am starting to become hypothermic and trying to decide if I need to phone home and ask to rescued or whether that is just my mind saying I don’t want to be cold and wet any more!

4 long and deep puddles on each loop made for 8 times of bracing the freezing, sometimes knee deep water trying not to think about frogs or anything connected to them!

Even I don’t know how I started and completed the second 13 mile loop today, it seemed total madness even to me. I couldn’t even look at my house as I ran past it! I made a game of recording some short clips for Brathay as they have asked me to do this, but I don’t think any of these will be useful! They are quite funny now that I’m warming up a bit! Anyway, I’m home in one piece, which is good as on the second loop there was a tree across the road where it hadn’t been before! Thanks to Matt and Ted for doing a grand job of chain -sawing it out of the way quickly…our local farmers are brilliant.
And so the training continues… bring me sunshine….please…anyone?!

23.2.20

15 miles done. I was pretty sure that I was hypothermic as I left the house this morning, but it turns out I was just cold and tired. I ranted a bit for the first few miles and then got over myself, listened to West Side Story and starting smiling at the very judgy sheep, all staring at me as if I am some kind of nutter…
Some squirrels fell out of a tree and skittered through the puddles. The long, deep puddles were still long and deep and I had to remove a shoe after the final one just to check that whatever it was that was moving inside my trainer wasn’t actually a frog. Don’t even get me started on that one!
Coming back through Bowland Bridge I saw my first lambs of the year which made me feel very emotional for some reason…perhaps it’s because spring is finally on the way. On we go x

29.2.20

I have been dreading my long runs this week for the last 2 days. Memories of last weekend, and the weekend before etc have started to add up and there is only so much rain, hail, wind and dodging flying debris even this mad runner can take!

In the end, apart from one especially grumpy moment during a vicious hailstorm at the halfway point of the run (which I caught on camera) it was surprisingly ok. It didn’t rain and I even got dangerously close to feeling warm at one point!
THERE WAS SUNSHINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
There were still icy cold, knee deep puddles and definite evidence of frogs existing but in places it was actually quite reasonable. I was sad to miss my ParkRun again as the water in the lake is still too high for us to run at Fell Foot. I hadn’t realised what an important part of my training regime that had become. It was nice to be mentioned in passing by Rob Deering on RunComPod today as someone who has followed his lead and built ParkRun into my marathon training. Paul Tonkinson made me laugh out loud with his ‘run giddy’ antics in this weeks’ episode. The ‘Running Commentary’ Podcast really has made all the difference to my training and I’m so thankful I discovered it last July. Listening to 2 other crazy souls running through a storm was literally the only thing that tempted me out of my front door this morning and I laughed my way round the first loop.
And so we go on. 20 miles done, 26 ahead tomorrow and then ever increasing mileage and strength training in the days ahead. Sunshine is coming.

1.3.20

Storm running in ‘Jorge’ part 2. 26 miles run today.
It was a ‘little bit windy’ in places, but I carried my waterproof in my backpack for the entire run and I can’t remember the last time that happened! No deer to be seen anywhere, but running fast past creaky trees and dodging small birds that were trying to fly but failing miserably in the gusts of wind were the order of the day.
The second loop was made more entertaining by the trail bike population of Cumbria descending and proceeding to drive my marathon route. The majority were very respectful and passed carefully in the narrow parts, but a couple of men came past and shouted ‘boo’ loudly as they went by. What is it with men on bikes??? It wasn’t like I couldn’t hear them coming. There was sunshine. I enjoyed some of it. Considering how tired I was when I set off, I am quite pleased that I got it done. On we go x

7.3.2020

Another Saturday, another run to my ParkRun and ANOTHER PB!! If you live nearby you will know that I am quite delighted by this…I expect most of the neighbourhood heard me whooping for joy. I knew I had worked hard, but to run a whole 58 seconds faster is a bit of a surprise. I was first in my age category too! It made a rainy 20 mile run feel brighter and it was nice to see people along the way too! So, 20 miles done, PB achieved and on we go!

8.3.2020

What better way to mark International Women’s Day than by running 20 miles with this inspiring lady. This is Sonja Farish She’s part of our 10in10 team (and will be my roomie for the event) and she will be running her 50th Marathon for Brathay as she completes her 5th 10in10 this year. It has been a real treat to spend time running with her today, and certainly helped the miles and hours pass more quickly. There was sunshine, a little bit of ‘run giddiness’ a few photos, many hills and some groaning (me on the uphills and Sonja on the downs). We saw a few lambs, but I forgot to show her the especially nice ones on Hartbarrow on both loops sorry about that!

In other news, anyone who has followed my progress all these long months will know that my Fitbit and I don’t make the best team when it comes to measuring run length…I always seem to end up running further than I had planned. Since January I have been running so that my Fitbit said 28 miles and assuming that was 26 as I thought it wasn’t measuring very accurately. I tested this theory against Sonja’s Garmin today…they both ticked over to 20 miles at the same moment. So, every time I have run anywhere since January I have actually been running 2 miles further than I thought I had! I am choosing to find this funny….Doh!
On we go x

7th May 2020

So, here I am on the eve of what would have been the 10in10, and how things have changed. During the lockdown I have been quietly running 10 miles most days and I’ve definitely encountered more wildlife along the way. The best yet has been an escaped Wild boar on the road, thankfully he was friendly, but it was very scary nonetheless…they’re huge!!!

Tomorrow should have marked the start of a huge adventure that I have been preparing for since July last year. Sadly, like many other things, the Brathay 10in10 has had to be postponed until October 23rd. I know that there are so many other things going on in the world right now, but in my little lockdown world this week has been very sad and difficult.

Brathay are even working harder than usual during this pandemic to support the young people and families they work with through even tougher times than they were already facing. All charities are struggling right now and it feels like they need our support more now than ever before.

So, to stop me moping around the house feeling sorry for myself this is my plan for the next 10 days. (Before you read on, please note that I am able to carry out my plan within the current guidelines etc and it is unlikely that I will see more than 5 people on any given day due to our location and where I run).

This is my “Not the 10in10 2020” I plan to run a marathon tomorrow (8th May) and on Sunday 17th May…Days 1 and 10. Between those days I will run a half marathon each day. It won’t be fast and it won’t be pretty…let’s face it, it never is, but I really don’t want to need any medical treatment, so health and well-being will be top of the priority list!

If you are in a position where you feel you could support me with a virtual ‘high 5’ (£5 donation to my justgiving page) then that would be amazing and a great encouragement, but if things are tough then just a free thumbs up and a hug when we’re allowed will be great too!

Thanks so much for your support so far. I will run 10 marathons in 10 days one way or another either in October or whenever we are finally allowed to, so your sponsorship up until now and beyond will be honoured and is already making huge differences to young people and families in our area. I will be keeping my eyes peeled for the Wild Boar of Winster!! 10 days of crazy running stories coming up!

8th May 2020

Day 1 – “Not the 10in10”

It was an absolutely glorious morning and I staggered out of the house with the latest episode of @runcompod and off we went. Running at 5am in May is very different to running at 5am in November and I spent the first hour being very thankful for that as I startled various wildlife for once rather than the other way around! It’s been over 7 weeks since I ran a marathon and I had conveniently forgotten just how hard it is. The first loop wasn’t too bad, but the second loop started to feel quite brutal especially when my spur of the moment loop round the bluebell woods nearly ended in me landing flat on my face among the tree roots!! There were deer, lambs and pheasants (see vital run statistics below) but the daylight was definitely my friend!
While I was out, over £180 has been donated to my Just Giving page…thank you so much everyone, your support means such a lot and will be so valuable to Brathay right now. The addition of the Bluebell wood loop into my normal route led to some slightly inaccurate ‘on the run’ calculations (well there’s a new thing…🙄🤦‍♀️) and meant that as I arrived in my village for the second time I had to run past my house again and add an extra 1.2miles running through the village (doh!) I felt every single step of that last mile and a bit.
Anyway, I did it, and now I am going to have a bath, drink tea and eat cake for the rest of the day. Hurrah. I like this part.

Day 1 stats
Miles run: 26.22
People seen: 4
Lambs seen: hundreds
Lambs seen trying to escape over a wall: 3
Lambs seen trying to blend in with a shrubbery having already escaped: 2
Deer that scared me: 2
Deer that I accidentally scared: 3
Pheasants that made me scream: 2
Pheasants that I made squawk: 3
Swear words uttered: 1 (a trot around the bluebell woods often leads to this occurring due to loose tree roots…nearly but not quite totally stacked it!)
Wildlife = 0
Michelle = 1 Winning!!

9th May 2020

Day 2 “Not the 10in10”

When I woke up this morning I thought “I don’t feel too bad, maybe I’ll run a marathon today instead of the half marathon I had planned.” That idea lasted until I got out of bed and went downstairs using the wall and the banister as makeshift crutches for my poor aching legs and body!!

The first mile was painful, but once I got going it felt ok. I had had a lovely lie in, but the later start time meant that I ran right through the heat of the day. It was hot!

Because it’s Saturday I thought I could combine a ‘not the 10in10’ run with a ‘not the Park Run’ run and I really tried to run a faster 5k during today’s effort. In the end the heat beat me and the extra effort I put in at miles 9 and 10 meant that the rest of the run was utterly brutal! I’ve been tinkering with my routes a bit too and can’t quite manage to finish exactly outside my front door, so end up running little extra bits in the village…apologies if you live here and I run past you in your garden twice while huffing and puffing at my watch!

Day 2 stats
Miles run: 13.1
People seen: 6 (plus 6 neighbours in their gardens whilst trying to run 0.3 Miles)
Lambs seen: Only 2 in the distance! They had the right idea, all asleep next to walls I think!
Flies swallowed: 1 🤢
I think this counts as wildlife -1, Michelle-0, so, the rolling total is Wildlife-1, Michelle-1.
On we go!

10th May 2020

Day 3 “Not the 10in10”

Standing shivering on the drive this morning, I wondered whether my choice of shorts and a T-shirt was a wise one…sitting shivering on my sofa as I try to warm up now, I think it may have been wiser to opt for running tights at least! I much prefer to run in conditions like the ones we had today. I think all the winter training is probably to blame for that. I think any day where it’s not raining feels like a huge bonus.

If you saw me half limping, half staggering along the first mile or so of today’s run, you will be as surprised as I am that not only did I manage to stagger round, but I also managed to do it 6 minutes faster than yesterday. I would like to say that it is my body is becoming accustomed to the daily onslaught, but the honest reason is that at mile 9 my watch beeped and told me it had a low battery. I was so worried that it was going to die before I got back that I really pushed myself as hard as I could to avoid this happening!

It was lovely to be cheered on by Martha and Julie at mile 7 and their ‘pit stop’ of various water bottles was so thoughtful (although I have been threatening to demand ice lollies in recent days, so perhaps this was their way of protecting their freezer from a crazy runner!). It was brilliant to see them ❤️

Day 3 stats
Miles run: 13.1
People seen: 3, including the lovely Wrens xx
Lambs seen: plenty, all very cute.
Times I was almost knocked out by falling tree branches directly in front of me: 2
Times I almost choked to death on a haribo whilst running up hill: 1
Things I have learnt: don’t eat a piece of orange Voom bar whilst running through a patch of wild garlic. Taste sensation it certainly is, but not one I would like to repeat ever again!
Counting trees as wildlife…wildlife: 1 (made me scream) Michelle: 1 (didn’t kill me) so the overall rolling total is…Wildlife: 2, Michelle: 2. It’s all to play for as we head in to Day 4!

11th May 2020

Day 4 “Not the 10in10”

Mondays are “Zombie apocalypse food shopping days” in our house, once also known as the weekly shop. The whole process currently takes 3 hours from leaving home at the crack of dawn, playing the social distancing dancing game around the aisles (usually with the same people, we’ve got a little routine going now) to having bleached every item of shopping and myself into some sort of acceptable ‘possibly Covid free’ existence. It’s exhausting, but marginally less traumatic than it was in the early days.

So, that done and a happy half an hour spent teaching one of my amazing adult piano pupils later, I faffed around a bit and finally headed out onto the road. It seems that I am a slow learner in these weird times…despite being freezing for most of my run yesterday and taking about 3 hours to warm up when I got home, for some reason I headed out in shorts and a t shirt once again, despite it being even colder than yesterday. I chugged up the lane and felt slightly depressed when my watch told me that my performance after half a mile was -2… yesterday it had been -1 and the day before had been a +2!! I tried not to let it get to me and shivered along the lane.

I felt slower than yesterday, but arrived at the end of the Wren’s drive 1 hour and 22 mins after leaving home, exactly the same time as yesterday. To my delight Martha, Julie and Granny Annie were there waving ice pops and homemade shortbread ❤️❤️ I passed on the offer of the ice pop, but grabbed the shortbread off the wall and greedily guzzled both bits before I got to the top of the next hill! (Thank you Anne xx)

It was absolutely freezing on the top of Gummers today, but I love the run over the top and it reminds me of my ‘run to the Park Run’ days, so it’s a happy place. When I’m not listening to the Running Commentary boys, I’m often listening to Elaine Paige on Sunday. (Don’t judge me!!) Today as I ran back toward home off the top of the highest point there was a magical moment of absolute freedom as I flew down the hill with stunning views all around accompanied by “Red shoes blues” from the Wizard of Oz, followed by “Stars“ from Les Mis. For just a few minutes all was very well with the world…a rare moment of pure joy.

I ran a little bit faster today in the end, not by accident or a fading watch, but that competitive spirit that saw yesterday’s run time was close and couldn’t let today be slower. It wasn’t pretty and I’m sure it was a longer 13.1 than yesterday, but it is done! On we go.

Day 4 stats
Miles run: 13.1
People seen: 7
Flies swallowed: 1🤢
Lambs that made me say out loud “How cute and fluffy are you?”: 1
Unidentified rustling heard in the undergrowth that may or may not have been a frog : 2
Hens scared off the road: 1
Times I nearly choked to death on a hula hoop: 1 (I really must stop thinking that eating whilst going up hill is a good idea!)
All in all, I think that makes it Wildlife: 3, Michelle:1
So, the rolling total is Wildlife: 5, Michelle: 3. I’m going to have to up my wildlife game tomorrow!

12th May 2020

Day 5 “Not the 10in10”

No single part of my body, mind or spirit wanted to run anywhere today, least of all my very hilly 13.1 mile route. It took some extreme determination to haul myself out of bed and get running just after 6am. It seems that it is national sheep and lamb escaping from fields day today, at least round here. Almost everywhere I looked there were lambs breaking out over walls, through hedges and one sheep had even crossed a stream to escape! (I sent that one back to her lambs with a stern word!!) There were a very determined bunch of escapees at Crook and I chased them back towards their field as best as I could and texted their farmer. I felt more like a shepherd/sheepdog than a runner by the end of the loop!

Between all the faffing with sheep and just feeling really ‘meh’ and a bit dejected it felt like a never ending run. At 7 miles I was sorely tempted to sack the whole thing off and chug home. I went for the ‘run to the next tree’ and then the next wall and then the next lamb on a wall approach and somehow dragged myself to the turn around point just over the top of Gummers. It was not fast and it was not pretty, but it is done. It was an absolutely beautiful morning. I stopped plenty of times to enjoy the views and take pictures. Every cloud!

Day 5: stats
Miles run: 13.1 (felt like 65)
People seen: 0
Sheep and lambs fully escaped from their fields: 12
Lambs on the way over a wall or in a hedge that I ‘persuaded’ to stay home: 5
Unidentified objects rustling in the hedge: 4
Time elapsed before my headphones died: 30 mins Doh!
Times I nearly gave up: too many to count.
Wildlife: 4 Michelle: 5, so the rolling total is Wildlife: 9, Michelle: 8.
Tomorrow is a new day. On we go.

13th May 2020

Day 6 “Not the 10in10”

Today was the day when a group of girls that I paddleboard with were going to complete a Paddleboard Marathon on Windermere helping me with my fundraising for Brathay. They, like me, have been training through the winter. You will recall that the winter hasn’t been particularly kind in terms of conditions on the lake…I was once out with them and having paddled through washing machine conditions to reach the chain ferry from Millerground, we were then hailed on as we headed up the lake considerably faster with the wind behind! They can certainly tell you a story or two!

So, today I changed my plan. Today I ran a marathon as a way of saying thanks and celebrating the ‘pond girls’ who have supported me and continue to inspire me every day as they face all the challenges that these circumstances are throwing at them. You are all amazing, thank you x

I decided to run my ‘old’, slightly less brutal marathon route, which starts with my usual half (2 hours 35 today, back on track!) followed by an ‘out and back’ along the flatter Lyth Valley road and old A590 rather than my newer route which I did last Friday. The endless winter training along this route meant that I knew where it was going to hurt and when it would be easier and I even managed to look and feel a bit like a runner at times. (No one stopped to offer me a lift home anyway, which is usually a good sign!)

The sheep and lambs all seemed to have themselves under control today, although small birds delighted in flying out of hedges at foot height causing me to take evasive action twice!! The Wren family are taking their ‘drinks station‘ refuelling to a whole new level 🥰❤️ Thank you, your support and kindness means a lot xx

Along the Lyth Valley I was chatting on the phone to my mum and a Curlew flew past right in front of my face. It was absolutely beautiful. I couldn’t take a photo fast enough, but it was a real highlight of the run for me as I stood and watch it and mum and I heard its distinctive call.

Day 6 stats
Miles run: 26.2
People seen: 5, including the lovely Jennie Richardson, one of the pond girls, delivering some disinfected Kendal mint cake and cheering me along the last 0.2 of a mile.
Unidentified objects rustling in the hedge: 1
Birds flying out of hedges at crazy heights making me scream: 2
Deer: 1
Wildlife: 3, Michelle: 1, which leaves the rolling total at Wildlife: 12, Michelle: 9 …got some catching up to do!

14th May 2020

Day 7 “Not the 10in10”

Not much to report today. I woke up feeling good and trotted around my half marathon loop with relative ease. The sheep and wildlife were generally well behaved and it felt like a good day to be out running. I have now run 2 marathons and 5 half marathons over 7 days. That’s 117.9 miles in a week! Given that this time last year I was rarely running more than 3 miles in a week then this feels like a huge achievement! Thanks to everyone who has sponsored me so far, especially those who have done so this week, it is much appreciated and has been a great encouragement.

Day 7 stats
Miles run: 13.1
People seen: 6
Times I was nearly mown down by an oil tanker: 1
Times I was stung on my hand by a nettle diving out of the way of said oil tanker: At least 3
Wildlife: 3, Michelle: 0, so the rolling total is wildlife:15, Michelle:9. 3 days to go…watch out wildlife…I’m on a mission now!

15th May 2020

Day 8 “Not the 10in10”

In these days of moving goalposts, today I decided to move my own! I ran another marathon. So, now having run 3 marathons and 5 half marathons over 8 days I am on a mission to make it 5 marathons and 5 halves in 10 days. I ran my ‘old training route’ today and will do the same tomorrow and then on Sunday I will go round my newer more brutal marathon route for one last hurrah!

Most of my run today was lovely. The wild boar of Winster was once again making a bid for freedom, but thankfully not on the road! I had a quick chat with Granny Annie at ‘Wren’s rest’ and ran off with home baked shortbread once again.

My friend, Lorraine has been offering to come and cheer me on all week, so I arranged to meet her and her new bike at the point where ‘the wall’ is looming. It’s a 3 mile, flat out and back section at mile 19 along an old road with very little traffic and ideal for a socially distanced run/bike. She arrived with almost a full picnic to offer me, which was very kind!
We spent a happy 3 miles or so chatting away and it certainly helped me forget the pain and fatigue at a point where I usually struggle. Thank you Lorraine. xx We went our separate ways at the bottom of the valley with 5 miles to go.

All was well until mile 24. At that point I just wanted to stop running. Everything in me wanted to stop. I had a crazy internal conversation with myself…it went a bit like this…
“I’ve had enough now. I can’t run another 2 miles. Everything hurts.”
“Ok, well stop then. Walk a bit…mind you, that will take longer, so it will hurt for longer.”
“I’m going to stop. I need to walk home.”
“Stop then, no one is making you do this. It doesn’t matter. Phone and get a lift home.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. It’s only 2 miles. I can do this.”
“Stop moaning then and crack on.”
I then focused on trying to run in under 5:10…it was an absolute hustle at the end to achieve this, but I did it! The only problem was that I was so determined not to have to run past my house that I completed the 26.2 miles outside our local village school… 0.7 miles from my house One day I will calculate it all so I land on my doorstep on the dot!

Day 8 stats
Miles run: 26.2
People seen: 4 on Foot, several on bikes.
Pheasants scared: 4
Sheep startled (I promise this was an accident!): 2
Wild boar of Winster spotted without being scared: 1
I make that Wildlife:0, Michelle: 7, so the rolling total is Wildlife: 15, Michelle: 16. It’s all to play for as we head into Day 9!

16th May 2020

Day 9 “Not the 10in10”

I was feeling pretty tired when I woke up this morning. During the first 3 miles of the run I felt like an absolute bag of spanners and there were sections that I could definitely have walked faster than I ran them! Everything hurt today. Physically I was feeling super sensitive anyway, and the local wildlife definitely took advantage of this weakness. 2 squirrels threw themselves out of trees, landing just in front of my feet before running off and various pheasants came squawking out of the hedges with one in particular scaring me half to death. Add to that the army of flies that flew directly into my eyes and you can already see that I won’t be winning the wildlife stakes today. It was lovely to see Anne at ‘Wren’s rest’, apologies for creeping up on you by accident and thank you for the amazing shortbread again xx

It was around mile 10 that things became especially challenging. Apologies if you live in the area of Bowland Bridge and heard a woman about to give birth…that was me running down the last bit of Gummers…I don’t know if the heavy breathing and groaning actually helps, but it distracted me a bit from the pain anyway! It was very up and down after that, some miles seeming ok and others absolutely brutal. Randomly at around the 16 mile mark I burst into floods of tears…I don’t know why. I saw a runner coming towards me in the distance and pulled myself together, that is until I realised it was my friend Steph. She asked how I was…”I’ve just had a little cry” I cheerily announced before sobbing again! Luckily she is a very experienced marathon runner and after checking all the essential things like had I had enough fuel, water etc she realised it was just what happens when you’re tired and have run a long way! She turned round and ran at a social distance from me to deliver me to Lorraine who was waiting a mile or so further on. Thanks Steph…an angel at a key moment.
Lorraine brought homemade flapjack today and we had a bit of a giggle. Just before she was due to head off, Michael and El appeared on their bikes and accompanied me back up the valley for a little while. The last 4 miles were utterly brutal today, just so very painful- nothing injured, just muscles screaming and aching. I had a lovely chat with my sister on the phone over the last 2 miles and that was the perfect distraction. Just as I completed my run, not too far from home this time, El appeared to see me home and Kimi’s gelato phoned to take payment for our ice cream order which will be delivered sometime later this evening…I walked through the village having run my 4th marathon in a week paying for ice cream over the phone. As painful as I know the actual 10in10 will be, I can’t help but think it will feel like a bit of a holiday!

Day 9 stats
Miles run: 26.2
People seen: zoned out a bit and forgot to count.
Flies in my eye: at least 4
Pheasants scaring me to death: 1 plus 3 friends
Flying squirrels: 2
Random moans of pain: way too many to count.
Wildlife: 9, Michelle: 0. So the rolling total is Wildlife: 24, Michelle: 16. I don’t think I’m going to win this war!

1 more marathon to go, bringing my mileage for the 10 days up to 196.5 miles. I’m determined to complete my new “Not the 10in10” lockdown challenge to support the work of Brathay.

17th May 2020

Day 10 “Not the 10in10

Today was to have been the day when I would make my final lap around Windermere possibly with the company of Paul Tonkinson and Rob Deering for part of the way possibly recording a podcast for “Running Commentary” my favourite podcast. Instead, I set off from home alone but with their podcasts of 2019 London marathon downloaded and ready to play. That turned out to be a good call. Most of the first four hours of the run was filled with their banter and the noise of a London marathon crowd. It wasn’t what we’d planned, but it felt like a good compromise in the circumstances and as they have accompanied me for most of my training, it seemed only right to take them along today too!

I am very lucky to have some extremely kind and thoughtful friends and family and today they have excelled themselves, all at a social distance and in a very spaced out and organised way despite not being asked to!

The first 4 or 5 miles were so painful, every inch of my body objecting to this daily punishment and there was certainly more walking than running, especially on those brutal hills. I’ve taken a picture in Winster today where I can see the top of Gummers, which is where this marathon route takes me twice…I’ve circled it so you can see…It is a very hilly route!

I stopped to let a car pass on Hartbarrow, and realised that it was my lovely friend and piano student Wendy. She took some photos and shouted encouragement. It was a much needed boost. She appeared again at my first visit to Wren’s rest where it was just her, me and Granny Annie and the shortbread. That was a special moment. On I went, and then as I neared the top of Gummers How messages started appearing on the road. My lovely friend Juliet had been busy with the chalks . I was in floods of tears and taking pictures of each one, so perhaps this helps you understand why my time for today was quite as slow as it was! Arriving at the turnaround point I discovered a banner and a picnic – absolutely brilliant…more tears!

Just before I started the second loop I was joined by my running friend Jo and her daughter (on her bike). It’s the first time Jo and I have been able to run across the road from each other for a long time, so this was very special and I loved the special poster made by her daughter which shows just how well they know me. They carried me along the next 3 miles and past my house into the second loop. Once they headed home I managed to join the church zoom meeting for ‘coffee’. I was a bit late, but a few people were still there and sent encouraging messages, which was lovely.

Round again to the top of Hartbarrow and I paused to take a picture. I didn’t see her, but I heard Helen shout “Keep going Michelle” which was a lovely boost and off I went again. Arriving at Wren’s rest the second time I was greeted by the whole family. Stewart very nobly sacrificed a spoonful of his cherry gelato from Kimi’s, which was delivered in a socially distant way via a spoon on the wall and some kitchen roll. I can honestly say that I think this is what got me round the rest of the run. I would have to be tied up to be made to part with even a teaspoon of Kimi’s gelato!!! Thank you Stewart, a very noble gesture xx
It turns out that this was just the start of ‘Ice cream mountain’, as a little further along I was greeted by the
lovely McGinley family. They gave me an ice pop via the middle of the road (literally ) and we had a quick chat before I ran on. It was so lovely to see them. There were more tears after this…I miss the children I teach SO much. So back down the hill, past a lovely message from Martha on the gate, through the villages, past my house and finally on the home straight…I came around the corner and there were my lovely family…some via FaceTime (thanks for setting that up El, your thoughtful touches have been so appreciated) and some in real life. There was champagne and shortbread with a lovely card on the doorstep too, thanks Wren’s ❤️. A lovely gift from my sister and her girls…just need some medals to hang on it now x Roast from The Brown Horse and a crumble made by El for pudding..perfect.

And so it is done. “Not the 10in10” complete. 5 marathons and 5 half marathons in 10 days. I have run 196.5 miles and have just realised that this is more mileage than my car has done in the last 8 weeks!!

Day 10 stats
Miles run: 26.2
People seen: Some absolutely amazing people xx
Deer scared by me: 2
Squirrels joining me for the ride: 2
Pheasants scared by me for once: 5
So it’s Wildlife: 0 and Michelle: 9 With the overall total being Wildlife: 24 and Michelle: 25. They were never going to win were they?
Thank you to everyone who has supported and carried me through this week. It has been a blast xxx
The 10in10 is still ahead and the work of Brathay ongoing. Until next time xx

14th June 2020

So, today, after a few weeks of resting, I started my Brathay 10in10 training again in preparation for the event which now begins on October 23rd (I will continue to say this until it doesn’t…it’s quite hard to prepare for something with moving goalposts as everyone knows, but we’re staying positive, and I will need to be ready!!)

Sonja Farish came over early and off we went. It was already boiling hot at 7.30am but the first half marathon down the valley passed quickly with our chatting and enjoying seeing each other again. It was the fastest half marathon I’ve run since 2012 (2 hours 20) and as we looped past the house we topped up our empty water bottles (thank goodness for outside taps!) and ploughed on. It felt like we were running in a greenhouse/oven for much of the rest of the run and both of us felt a bit woozy a few times and made sure we drank plenty. As a result, by the time we arrived in Winster, I could see that I was going to run out of water pretty quickly despite carrying loads. I texted my lovely friend Julie (at The Wren’s Rest!) and very cheekily asked if she could put some water out on the wall for us. Not only did they do that, we were greeted by Martha and Stewie with ice pops, given homemade shortbread (with 40 mins notice 😍🥰 Anne Caldwell 😘) and discovered that the water bottle was sufficient to make an improvised shower too. The Wren’s Rest continues to up its marathon support game!! Thanks so much Julie Wren we would have had to make a phone call home and ask for help without your generosity and I think that would have resulted in me jumping in the car and getting a lift home! 🤦‍♀️❤️❤️

How we made it round I don’t know. It was probably the hardest marathon I’ve done in a while (and I’ve done a few!😂). BUT…we did it! Sonja is insisting the team all find 3 good things to say about our runs, which is a great idea, so here are mine… fabulous company, generous and kind friends, amazing views. Thanks Sonja for kicking my butt into gear. And so it begins…again… brace yourself for the weekly marathon updates.
On we go xx

25th July 2020

What do you do if your extended Brathay Running 10in10 training plan says that today is the day to run 26.2 miles but you really don’t feel like it and can’t be bothered? …set off for a 26.2 mile run anyway. What if, after half a mile your legs feel like lead, your body is screaming, feet hurting and even the light hearted banter and company of Running Commentary Rob and Paul doesn’t take the edge off it?…keep running.What about at the 12 mile point when you feel even worse and there is a clear choice between phoning home and asking for a lift, bail out and get home within 2 miles or continue on, thus committing yourself to the loop that will make the run 26.2 miles with no easy bailouts? …run on.And so on it went. 26.2 miles where my body, mind, soul and spirit were determined I should be doing anything other than running. It was horrible….all of it. But, I DID IT, and I couldn’t be prouder because I know how hard it was today. 67 miles run this week and bang on target according to my new training schedule. At the moment it feels more likely that I will be able to fly to the moon unassisted rather than run 10 marathons in 10 days, but I’m trusting the training, run/walk/staggering one tree at a time, and when we finally get the green light for this event I will be there and I will be ready!!So, 3 good things for Sonja Farish … I did it, a lovely sheep posed for me, the sun shone for some of it. xxx Until next weekend, Michelle x

11th August 2020

Today the 10in10 training finally tipped from ‘bonkers’ to ‘completely lost it crazy’. In order to fit in a paddleboard trip with my friend and my girl this morning (beating the tourists to Coniston), I found myself setting off to run 10 miles at 3pm in blistering heat! Fortunately there were a fair few puddles around after those storms last night, so I made the most of it and had a makeshift shower/splash in every one I passed to stay cool! 🤦‍♀️ Water gushing off the hillside and into a drain was the closest thing to heaven I have ever encountered on a run, and I had a nice shower there…bliss. Flipping heck it was hot. Just over 10 weeks to go before we finally (hopefully) hit the start line and things are stepping up a gear now. You really do have to be a special kind of bonkers to run the Brathay 10in10 this year! On we go… x

13th August 2020

26 miles run. It was hot! Too darn hot!! If anyone needs me I’ll be at Kimi’s Gelato or lying down in a dark room.The madness continues…#10in10#crazytraining

29th August 2020

It’s safe to say that our holiday this year was not quite what we had hoped for or expected. 2020 is certainly the gift that keeps on giving! I somehow managed to hit myself in the ankle with a suitcase when packing the car 2 weeks ago (Day 1). I vaguely remember telling El that it hurt a bit and thought no more of it. I was secretly looking forward to the 67 and 70 mile weeks of running scheduled for our time in Whitby and had even contacted a few people asking for ideas about suitable routes etc. On Saturday morning (Day 2) I headed out early for a 10 miler around the town past the Abbey, down the famous 199 steps back up towards the coast and along the Cleveland Way. 5 miles in, my ankle felt a bit sore. I decided to run on the beach as it looked softer. 1 mile later and I had to walk for a bit… run/walk/run…stop…thinking of our 10in10 physio and a throwaway comment she made ages ago about runners not listening to their bodies, I thought the best plan was to walk home.We had a lovely day out in Whitby, walking up and down the hills…slight ‘headache’ in the ankle which on reflection probably got worse during the day. And that was that. On Sunday morning (Day 3) I cried in pain on reaching the bottom of the stairs…doh. 111, a trip to the (zombie apocalypse) hospital and 3 X-rays later and a stress fracture was diagnosed, boot and crutches supplied. In and out in 45 mins…amazing NHS and kind doctors and nurses. Whitby isn’t the best place to find yourself on crutches, but we plodded on and made the best of it that we could. Our holiday cottage was lovely and we certainly got value for money by spending more time in it than we usually would! The Whitby@home folk festival online helped a bit too!It’s 8 weeks today until the start of the rescheduled 10in10. I’ve had more X-rays in Whitby this morning before heading home to confirm the diagnosis, and have got an appointment for the orthopaedic consultant at Lancaster to review my notes on Tuesday and then we’ll have a clearer idea of what might happen next. Katie (our physio) has been fabulous already video-calling me from her own holiday and supporting me as she has all the way along.

Running has been far and away one of the best things for me in all of these long months and it has not caused this injury.This was a freak accident, pure and simple and I am feeling pretty devastated right now. It’s not over until it’s over and I have already raised over £3,700 for Brathay and the really important work they do. For me, that’s the most important thing and all the rest is just for my fun, enjoyment and personal growth.I don’t know what will happen next for me…watch this space! The work of Brathay is ongoing and even more important than ever before right now, so if you are able then please consider supporting them (it will also make me smile a bit!) So, for now, it’s on one leg and 2 arms, but…on we go xx

3.9.2020

When is a stress fracture not a stress fracture?When the orthopaedic consultant at Lancaster reviews Your X-rays and says so!! In another weird turn of events, it seems that I only managed to badly bruise the bone in my ankle rather than actually break it, and I have been told today that I can gradually ditch the crutches, then the boot and once I can walk again I can have a go at running. The consultant was more than happy for me to take on 262 miles in 10 days in October, (but couldn’t quite get his head round it as he ran up a hill yesterday and needed to take 2 ibuprofen afterwards. 🤣)This is most unexpected and wonderful news! 7.5 weeks until the start of the 10in10 and it is GAME BACK ON! The Brathay support team have already me a physio plan going forward and a new training regime will be on the way to me tomorrow (the third one!) we are very fortunate to be supported by such committed experts and Katie and Chris have been so wonderful all the way along. SO, more running adventures heading your way once more, just as soon as I’ve mastered the art of walking again! xx

10th October 2020

It is with a very heavy heart that I have to tell you that a few days ago I made the very difficult decision to defer my 10in10 entry until May 2021. My ankle is mending, but it is not mending quickly enough for me to be fit enough to take on this enormous challenge in 2 weeks time. I am absolutely devastated. However, after more than a year of constant and dedicated training I owe it to myself, my sponsors and to the team at Brathay to get to the start line in a state where I might be able to complete the challenge and I am not in that place in body, mind or spirit right now. My fundraising will roll over to next year, but I have set myself the task of doubling what I have raised so far in the coming months in order to support the work of Brathay as much as I possibly can during these challenging days for all charities.

I feel really sad and a bit cross with myself for being so clumsy at the moment, but once the 2020 event has run (without me) then I will be picking myself up and focusing on getting the ankle fully better and then facing the dark early morning runs with the deer and the hail and rain through another winter. At least the chances of me hitting myself in the leg with a suitcase again in the months between now and then are minimal to say the least!

My plan is to get to the start line even fitter and stronger than I was in May this year when the event was originally due to run. Thanks for your support so far. Apologies in advance for a further 7 months of marathon tales 🤦‍♀️ On we go (again) xx

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