Tag Archives: Cornwall

Heating up for the desert….two weeks until MDS2017 (whoop whoop)

Finally, the temperatures this weekend have been soaring to about 18C out of the sea breeze, and there has been no rain! In fact it has felt positively Saharan, well almost, give or take about another 15-20degrees.

But, seriously, compared to last weekend it has been heaven to run in the sunshine and to have even needed to wear a bit of sunscreen!

My long runs this weekend and last weekend took on the same path from Rock along the beaches towards Daymer Bay, up onto the Greenaway cliffs, across Polzeath Beach and then heading out along the coastal path towards The Rumps, Pentire and along towards Port Quin.  It is the most beautiful run no matter what the weather.  However, along with the weather, each time I run this route it is always different.  Last week as I rounded the corner towards the Rumps, and decided to head out to the dip between the two Rumps to wave to Daddy, I saw a fire engine.  This is not the most anticipated of things to see as you come raround this particular headland.  Before I saw the fire engine,  I did come across this somewhat stubborn and immoveable obstacle:

Well, they are quite tame pregnant ladies, and after a friendly pat on the nose, I ran on and so encountered the fire engine. So it turned out that the fire engine, was part of a larger group which included the coast guard and special animal units of each, and the local farmer.  This excitement and activity was due to one of these silly cows who had fallen down the cliff into the sea.  


She had spent the whole night down on the rocks as rescue attempts were hampered overnight by high tides, and then to cap it all, the silly cow swam to a small island which they couldn’t get a boat to.  So all in all it was quite a mammoth rescue attempt, but she was eventually winched back to safety up on the cliff tops where she happily scampered off and munched on the luscious green grass.  But judging by the site that met me yesterday morning as I rounded the headland towards the Rumps it might not be the last time one of these pregnancy ladies flies too close to the wind.  They are either very stupid or the grass in certain areas is out of this world:


Still, I don’t blame her…the sun was shining, the gorse is blooming…

and the sea is glistening like diamonds…


Ah, the desert is beckoning. Endless sunshine, sand dunes, blue skies, and camels instead of cows! (must not think about blisters, wearing the same clothes for a week, carrying a rucksack, and living off freeze dried food)! 

So I have reached £1000 in fundraising for MSF so far which is utterly fantastic. I simply cannot believe how wonderfully generous everyone is being – you are all amazing, and I am so very very grateful. Every little bit of support will help to motivate me up and down each sand dune, jebel and across each plain.  Although, don’t think I haven’t picked up on the theme of comments you leave on your donations – “I’m insane” seems to be a recurring theme!!!!!

I’m beginning to concoct my desert playlist – I’m not a big fan of running to music, but it is essential I have discovered in the desert to have a backup of some music to pick up the old pace when all other motivations are failing.  Rag’n’Bone Man has become my running mojo this time, cos after all folks when the going gets tough “I’m only Human after all!”But any y other recommendations are welcome….

I will be emailing out soon the link via which you will be able to send me messages in the desert – of encouragement, abuse, mockery, motivation – any message will be greatly received and will definitely stop me falling down a cliff in a Cornish cow style!

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One month until stage 1 of the MDS 2017

There it is…in one month’s time I should hopefully be tucked up in my sleeping bag, (it gets dark early in the desert), having eaten a delicious freeze dried meal of shepherd’s pie and a mug of rooibos tea!  I hopefully won’t have developed any drastic blisters on day one and there should be some good banter in and around the tents with other runners from the Uk and around the world…I am still establishing my tent mates but slightly winging it this year.

So, as more people at work become aware that I am taking on this “ridiculous” race (not my words), it is time to put it out there as to why I am running the Marathon des Sables for a third time.  Well, firstly, I decided back in 2007 that it would be a fun thing to try and do every 5 years, and secondly, well it is one of the most beautiful places in the world that I have ever been to, and two of the most amazing and memorable weeks of my life I have ever spent – the first time was the catalyst that led me to becoming a nurse, so you never know what might happen.  But also, I do feel that I need a really good challenge to once again ask people to sponsor me for a good cause – and I think the cause I am running for this time is rather special.

It is nearly 8 months since I moved to Cornwall to work at the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust in Truro in oncology nursing and it has been and continues to be a massive adventure. Each day at work is different, fun, sad, tough, rewarding and I am lucky to be working with a wonderful team of nurses and looking after an extraordinary group of patients.  I am frequently asked by many of my patients what do I miss about living in London. Whilst there is very little that I miss, I do miss the rich cultural diversity of London that on a daily basis has the ability to remind you that your neighbours are not just those that you live next door to, but those who might be millions of miles away in war torn countries, & less privileged countries. It is all too easy living down here in Cornwall to forget the rest of the world or sometimes even the rest of the country. 

So when I embark in one month’s time heading off somewhere across the Sahara Desert to run 150miles over 6 days in what is still rightly billed as The Toughtest Footrace on Earth, the Marathon des Sables 2017, what will hopefully be motivating me and inspiring me to keep running, putting one foot in front of the other, to share rudimentary sleeping quarters with about 7 other runners, to carry my life on my back through the heat, is that I will be running for Medecins Sans Frontieres. (Doctors withou Borders).

Working for the NHS in the current climate is definitely a daily challenge. I am privileged enough to have worked in one of the most wonderful and efficient hospitals in the UK – Guy’s & St Thomas’s in London. The Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro is no less wonderful but I am far more aware of the strains on the NHS and the services we supply to the public. In my department we have people on waiting lists for chemotherapy treatment because we simply don’t have the resources to see them all as they need it – there just aren’t enough hours in the day or enough trained nurses.  But today, we only have to turn on the tv, or read something on Twitter or some other social media to know that even in the cash strapped chaos of the NHS that we are still so lucky. There are people in places that aren’t even reported about that don’t have access to the medical facilities we have.  

Medecins Sans Frontieres go where most other aid agencies won’t or cannot go, they often have such meagre facilities to work with but they still carry on. They often work in war torn cities such as Aleppo in the middle of bombing raids and still carry on. Hospitals they work in are targeted and hit, and they still go back, they still carry on. They work with refugees and migrants all over the world and treat each and every human being as precious and valuable and with respect. I sadly overheard someone say recently that all refugees coming to the UK should be sent back where they came from and that we didn’t need them here and I felt so sad to hear a fellow Brit have that opinion. We have so much, and if someone thinks that it is worth the risk crossing treacherous seas in barely seaworthy boats to seek refuge or a better life, to end up in a squalid camp or asylum seeker’s centre then it feels like we haven’t progressed much since WWII.  

It would be so easy to raise money for a UK based charity but I hope you will feel as I do that our neighbours are all around the world and with famine, disease, war and political unrest in so many parts of the world giving healthcare to those that don’t easily have access to the most basic medical care is a worthy cause. The healthcare workers who work for Medecins Sans Frontieres are an incredible bunch and do incredible work. They inspire me everyday to be the best nurse I can be and I hope somewhere down the line I might get to work for them – but for now I just hope to raise as much as I can to help them in their valuable work and I hope that by doing something as crazy as a third Marathon des Sables you might be inspired to sponsor me – it will definitely motivate me up those sand dunes!
To sponsor me please go to my fundraising page:

http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/Runhurryharryrun 

Thank you so so much.

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Simply the best place to run in the world, every time 

So I’m back in Cornwall for a week’s holiday with my wonderful Mummy.  We came down on Friday afternoon with Skye (my mother’s Labrador puppy) and and my somewhat reluctant cat, Monkey – I say reluctant as trying to persuade her to go in the catbox did leave me looking like I had just crawled through several yards of sharp barbed wire.  We drove through all four seasons to get here and arrived in chilly rain, only to find that the key was not where it was supposed to be.  Having already unloaded said catbox from the car, it seemed cruel to confuse Monkey by putting her back into the car as we waited for Katrina, the lady with the key to turn up…..Skye and Monkey were both rather mystified as to why Mum and I continued to sit in the car whist they sat outside the door….

  
We eventually gained entry into the lovely cottage, Nantucket within the Highcliffe Holiday Cottages in Trebetherick, tea, shortbread and log fire soon ensued, and a few hours later my sister arrived.

My plan was to get going on the running immediately on Saturday morning, but as seems to be the nature of my running, things did not go quite according to plan!  On Friday evening, I managed to slip down the stairs and in the process stub at least 3 of my toes…with the possiblilty of thinking I had actually broken my little one.  It was quite swollen on Saturday and Sunday and the bruising was coming out quite a lot – I haven’t taken a photo as to be honest I think I have taken enough photos of my feet in the past for the sake of running and they ain’t pretty! (Also, I still have some now very chipped nail varnish on them!)

So instead, we headed out on Saturday in bright beautiful Cornish sunshine to the Rumps at Pentire Point to wave a cheerful springlike hello to our old dad – for those of you that don’t know, my sister and brothers and I and my mother, and even Skye as a tiny puppy, brought Daddy’s ashes out here in December on his birthday and cast him off the cliffs into the turbulent seas below – in fact we all nearly went with him due to it being the same day as Hurricane Desmond. This time it was bright sunshine, still windy but with a turquoise sea swelling in the background….

 
  
  

Sitting in the dip where dad always sat to watch the birds and seals…

 
And Skye encountered her first cow!

  
After a lovely, if ever so slightly “Jam & Jerusalem” Mothering Sunday Service at St Endellion Church and a quite simply delicious Sunday Roast at the Cornish Arms in Pendoggett (the best and friendliest Cornish pub there is) we left mum sleeping on the sofa with a slightly sick puppy, and a cat who is beginning to warm to Cornwall and Catherine & I headed down to Greenaway Beach for our favourite occupation of combing the sand and shale for Cowri shells.  We never tire of this, although the tide didn’t give us much treasure this time, as long as we found more than 10 we were quite happy.
Monday morning, sadly Catherine had to leave at sparrow fart for work back in Oxford – but otherwise what’s the best thing to start the week, a run along the cliffs and beaches to Rock – who would ever choose to run on a treadmill when views like this are on their doorstep, these are the views of my run this morning 

 Looking across the sand flats from Rock to Padstow
All the coloured marker buoys for yachts and sailing boats that have moorings through the summer months.  
  

The wide open expanse of sand revealed at low tide running back from Rock to Daymer Bay – it’s so crowded!

  
Looking out to sea to Pentire Head from the cliffs out above Greenaway Beach.

  

The view above Polzeath Beach.

There really is no better place to run, and broken toe or not broken toe (I think it really is just badly bruised and slightly sprained) it is just heaven.

After an essential running training diet based breakfast of toast, clotted cream & honey – trust me, it really improves my running.  Mum and I headed down to Greenaway with Skye to hunt for cowries in yet more beautiful Cornish spring sunshine…

   

 

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A slow and steady pace…well, steadyish!

So there’s about 8 weeks now until the London marathon – it is getting frighteningly closer!  But I am plodding on despite the hurdles that keep cropping up in my path…I know, hurdles or excuses 🙂

I plodded a relatively respectable 12 miles along the Regent’s Canal today in alternatively bright winter sunshine, grey clouds and irregular gusts of cold wind, dodging Sunday pedestrians oblivious to anyone around them, other runners lost in the world of their headphones, and laconic Sunday cyclists, and a few pram pushers.  I’m all for sharing the tow path, but do wish occasionally that other users would just once in a while give way. But hey ho, dodging all the other users is my excuse for a inconsistent pace, although I was pleased that I clocked my 12 miles in under 2 hours by about 10 mins, so hopefully that means I’ll be crossing Tower Bridge in roughly 2 hours which is reasonable I reckon, I’m just not sure at the moment that I’ll be able to maintain the same pace for the next 13 miles!  

And at the end of the run, no niggles, no aches and pains, or mini blisters appearing anywhere – so something at least is going right.  I don’t  think my wrist being stiff is related to my running,  just post breakage stiffness, and a bit sore after my wonderful physio Brett Davison got the joint moving a bit on Friday evening.  I am of the long held belief that he is the best physio in the word, even if he does always say I present him with a challenge (normally in the shape of my back).

So, 10 years ago I was at a level of fitness to run my fastest marathon time in Dublin 2006.  London 2016 I don’t think is going to be my fastest marathon by any margin…but I have a week dedicated to running coming up back down in Cornwall – back to the scene of my wrist debacle. So hopefully notching up the miles up and down the cliff paths and along some sandy beaches will toughen up my muscles and hopefully lend a little speed to my pace….I can but dream 🙂

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Photos from training in Cornwall…

My pod…..(or as I like to refer to them, my hobbit house!)…

  
View from the hobbit hut…

 
  The view across the cliffs on my run towards Trebarwith Strand…


Enjoying some fresh coffee and the beautiful hazy  morning, perfect day to go running…  
 The beautiful blossoms out on the path down to Lundy Bay…


A perfect Cornish sunset…in April!!!  

 Ready to run to Port Isaac…

At the top of one cliff…looking back down the steep steps…remember those Catherine?  


Port Isaac looming in the distance…  

  The panicky pheasant that forgot it had wings! 

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Crab sandwiches and fudge!

Today I hit the coastal path from Tregardoc to Port Isaac.  There and back it is a round trip of just shy of 12 miles. However, I seriously think that with the ups and downs it should really be about 13 or 14 miles – it feels like about 15 at least.  The last time I did this exact bit of the North Cornwall coastal path was roughly 10 years ago with my sister Catherine, we were camping in the farmer’s fields in exchange for a few bottles of wine!  I wasn’t running it then, but as I hit the first steep climb, which is the worst as it is steep steep steps cut into the cliff, I did have a chuckle to myself as I remembered reaching the top last time and having to hold a conversation with some walkers coming the other way – I think I succeeded in sounding lucid and not out of breath…it might not be quite possible to say the same of my wonderful sister (sorry Catherine), but she did reach the top with a very friendly smile.  

So, the weather was a tad more inclement this morning, and I waited until I had heard Paula Radcliffe interviewed on Women’s Hour regarding her upcoming swansong marathon at the London Marathon this Sunday, and then I set off. Wet weather gear packed into my rucksack, along with a bit of glug and some fudge – what more could you ask for.  It wasn’t cold, just grey, and ever so slightly spitting as I hit the cliffs.  The first bit of the route is actually quite pleasant, gently running along the tops of the cliffs, looking over Tregardoc beach and a couple of other subsequent inlets.  Basically at the bottom of the farm fields.  Some very lovely black sheep looked on rather quizzically as a sauntered past.  A few styles and kissing gates, and then the first descent.  The problem with going down is that you look ahead and see the going up on the other side.  The first climb is the toughest and best taken all at once without stopping, luckily I didn’t have to speak to anyone at the top as there was no one there and I slowly let my heart rate settle and began running along the top again and down the next desent.  This goes on for a while – at least 2 or 3 descents followed by steep exhausting climbs.  The thoughts going through my head at this point was doing the reverse going back the other way.  The annoying thing about this route, and yes even running the beautiful coastal path has its annoying moment, is the fact that every time you get to a peak, or jutting out bit of cliff you can see Port Isaac in the distance, it teases you mercilessly as although at times it seems to get closer quite quickly, you are also able to see the number of times you have to descend steeply and climb again.  Coupled with this was the fact that I completely missed a rather large stepping stone over one stream and plonked my whole foot into said stream, and with the other one trod immediately in a rather fresh cowpat!!!!! Not ideal.  At the crest of the next peak it flattened out abit and I trotted along enjoying the blossoms, (more primroses and bluebells) and was then surprised by my phone bleeping at me – I miraculously had some signal!!!!  It was my fella texting me from darkest India, where he is on the Ganges river!!  A bit of a contrast to slogging along the coastal path and I admit to a moment’s envy.  Then a quick phonecall to Mum & Dad to impress them as I ran (which I think I did), I then hit the initially gentle slopes along the top down into Port Gaverne.  The last descent into Port Gaverne is quite steep and comes out down by the fancy restaurant there, bringing you out into the middle of the port before ascending up the road to Port Isaac.

I had picked up my pace by this point and was descending quite fast in a fashion that I think would impress most fell runners. It doesn’t however impress someone directing a scene for the next series of Doc Martin, and I ran rather fast straight into the background of a scene with Martin Clunes himself – I did wander why there was someone sitting with a walkytalky at the bottom of the hill.  I heard the word “Cut” amongst a couple of expletives, which I think were more directed at someone who was holding a walkytalky but not actually doing there job!  I waved, shouted sorry and carried on running (I was into my stride quite fast at this point). I did glimpse back, and realised I was being watched as I ran UP the hill to Port Isaac, and my silly pride meant I had to keep running all the way up to the top at a reasonable pace….suffice to say, when I reached the top of the hill I could barely breathe, let alone speak.  I decided not to descend into the centre of Port Isaac, but had a much needed pitstop at a lovely cafe called From the Sea (or something like that), where I had a delicious fresh crab sandwich, followed by a few pieces of fudge – it felt wrong to get out a hunk of glug in a cafe that sold cake!

The sky was turning distinctly grey, so I decided to head straight back whilst I was well fuelled and raring to go.  The first thing I had to encounter was a mini coach load of tourists (far be it from me to add the description of ageing pink haired brigade), who were all badgering Mr Martin Clunes for selfies and autographs. I simply couldn’t bring myself to join the throng, so exchanged a wave with a couple of crew members and remembered my task in hand, to climb the steep hill which I had so energetically run down, out of Port Gaverne. 

The rain had clearly set in whilst I had been eating crab sandwiches, but luckily, seemed to do little more than spit for me – but it had left the going somewhat wet.  I might as well have run through every stream I passed – my feet certainly felt like I had.  The return journey (as all return journeys tend to) felt faster and quicker, although I’m sure there was more uphill.  I startled a few pheasants, and one in particular caused much mirth, as it clearly forgot that it had wings to fly away with and set of running down in the track in front of me in order to escape me – which seeing as I was going the same way meant that for a good 500metres I was hilariously chasing a pheasant who was clearly panicking about what to do and where to go.  He finally remembered what his wings were for and took off, but not without a lot of clucking and fuss. Trust me, you had to be there, but I was laughing out loud.  With sodden feet and a bit knackered – the only way back from Tregardoc to my hobbit hut is uphill, and through a drenched field, I eventually got back and had a greatly appreciated hot shower.  And then it started to rain.

I’m now eating a delicious hot Yellow Thai Curry, in the ever wonderful Cornish Arms in Pendoggett, drinking a Doom Bar beer and listening to some local banter….perfect!

I wonder – do you think they sell crab sandwiches in the Atacama Desert?!

 The view from my hobbit hut…. 

more pics will be posted soon!

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