Everything, except celery

I eat everything, except celery.

Category: Walking

Stay with me

I rather miss you when you’re not there

We’ve been through this before; it’s hard to bare

Hold on please, a little longer

Stay together; it makes us stronger

I know the hurt I’ve put you through;

Perhaps not taken good care of you

To go without you causes pain

I need this from you; just once again

Just one more race, please don’t fail

My toe would miss you little nail.

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Neglected

I’m afraid I cannot explain myself, Sir. Because I am not myself, you see?
Lewis Carroll

I’ve neglected this space. It’s a space I made to give myself a voice and to help me understand what I needed, but I neglected it. I’ve neglected myself. I think in having lost a bit of my voice I’d begun to lose the need to use it. If you don’t speak, then noone will listen, so why am I surprised that I’m not heard.

I go through periods of amazing self awareness and understanding my feelings, but I can just the same wake up one day and wonder who I am. Sometimes I am not myself, but another version of myself. It is a surreal feeling, sometimes poetic, sometimes terrifying. 

For a while I thought I’d keep a note of all the things I wanted to say, and then write a post for each, accurately chronicling the past to enable me to move forward. Fat chance. I kept the notes, but the times have gone, I’m not the same person who had those experiences so how could I recapture the person I was when I first experienced them.

I may yet recount some of the marathon running and crazy distance walking, but in the mean-time I’m back in real time.

And I might even have the guts to type up some poems.

Nutty Cookies

One of my go-to biscuit recipes is for Golden Oatie Cookies, a recipe from the Coupar Angus Abbey Cookbook, a collection of housewives’ favourite recipes that was typed up by my Great Aunty Anna many years ago. I used to bake these biscuits for charity cake sales when I was at junior school and then again in my teens when I was feeling low. Handing out biscuits at school always made me feel better about myself and the baking of them was very theraputic.

When I’m down I like to bake, but sometimes baking an old recipe can bring up old feelings so rather than stick to my tried and tested recipe I thought about adapting it and turning them into Nutty Cookies. If they’ve got nuts in them I can say they’re health food yes? I’m over the moon that, with a few tweaks to the original recipe, the biscuits turned out brilliantly and were a great success so I thought I’d share the recipe with you…

3oz Butter, 1oz Peanut Butter, 4oz Caster Sugar, 3oz Porridge Oats, 1oz Chopped Mixed Nuts, 3oz Wholemeal Flour, 1tsp Baking Powder, 1tbsp Golden Syrup

Cream together the butter, peanut butter and caster sugar until fully combined and fluffy.
Mix in the syrup and then add the oats, nuts, flour and baking powder.
The mixture should be slightly tacky and hold together when pressed, if not, add a sprinkling of water.
Roll the mixture into individual balls (around 20) and lay out on a baking tray, leaving plenty of room around each ball (you might need to do two batches as they will flatten and spread during cooking).
Pop them in a preheated moderate oven (around 180c) for 10-15 minutes.
Remove the biscuits from the oven while they are still squidgy in the middle.
Allow to cool on the baking tray for a little while and then transfer to a cooling rack as soon as they are firm enough.

If you’re anything like me, the lure of warm biscuits means that not all of them will make it to the cooling rack!

(Cumbria) Way to go Kat!

For over a year I’ve had it in my head that I wanted to walk the first leg of The Cumbria Way. I live in Ulverston, the start point, and I couldn’t see why I’d never thought of doing it before. Yeah, sure, it’s over 14 miles – that’s probably one of the reasons! So, I had it in my head that I’d walk to Coniston, have a pint, and get the bus home again.

When I voiced this to friends a while ago, they thought I was mad. My husband helpfully jeered that 14 miles is a long way to go for a pint when we have perfectly good beer here in Ulverston. But the more people built it up as a crazy thing to do, the more I wanted to do it. It became a mission. Then I broke my foot and it was put on the back burner.

I’m in training for the Keswick to Barrow walk and I need to get my mileage up before I undertake the massive task of 40 miles in one day. Doing the Keswick to Barrow is one of my 13 in 13 goals and I’m hoping to raise as much as I can for our local Mountain Rescue Teams. What better way to train than to use what I have on my doorstep and undertake this classic route, I thought.

Yesterday I did it. Way to go me! Mission accomplished.
Here’re the stats…

20130424-235516.jpg The mileage is a little more than I expected, but I did it, and I feel great for having done so (apart from the sunburn. More on that later!)

We’ve had some interesting weather recently. Late dumps of snow, torrential rain and gale force winds have been a hinderance in planning walks and runs. Monday was dismal. It’s not like it was even raining, the air and everything it touched was just wet. I had Tuesday and Wednesday off work so I had two days to choose from when planning my mission. Tuesday morning came around and it looked quite bright so I thought hey, just do it!

I popped a sandwich, apples, home-made biscuits, an energy bar and a chocolate milkshake in my bag; filled up a couple of waterbottles; tucked my waterproofs in the bottom of the bag; and double checked I had my map, compass, bivvy bag and head torch (always best to be prepared). Then I donned my new walking trousers, a long vest, long sleeved dry-fit top and my softshell, although bright, it still seemed quite cold. Ready to set off, I dithered around the kitchen for a while, fuelling up on coffee and porridge until I could put it off no longer and off I set.

The route starts on some well trodden ground for me, it’s part of a route I run quite often. I’d decided before setting off that I’d stick to the official route, rather than taking any of the other myriad of footpaths that would take me in the same direction. It was on the first bit of ascent that I began to wonder why I hadn’t just taken the easier low-level path. I wasn’t even a mile into the walk and I was burning up. I just felt so hot and bothered. Then I remembered the big yellow ball in the sky, and the fact that we’re approaching the end of April, it was actually a warm, sunny Spring day, not something we’ve been used to of late. Onwards, and on the path leading out of Old Hall Farm, I stopped to take off my long-sleeved top but opted to keep on my softshell for a bit of wind protection and to have my iPod easily tucked into the pocket (I don’t normally walk with music but I wasn’t sure if I was ready to spend so much time with just my thoughts). I rolled up my sleeves and on I continued.

The Cumbria Way is a great route for seeing the lesser known parts of the county. By that I mean it is a glimpse into the lives of local residents. Quite literally. Before I’d left the boundary of Ulverston I’d walked through a couple of people’s gardens. No, not by mistake, the footpath actually goes through some very well tended gardens and over the pristine patios of some very nice houses. There’s something in me that always feels a bit naughty when I take these paths, it’s like I’m not supposed to be there, but at the same time the voyeur in me loves having a nosy at the lives of others.

Up and out of Ulverston, and into Osmotherly I traipsed through fields of ewes and lambs, keeping to boundary lines as much as possible so as not to disturb them if I could help it. Walking alongside one wall I saw a victim of the recent bad weather. We had some bad snow drifts a few weeks ago. They trapped a great deal of livestock as they tried to shelter from the weather. A decomposing sheep is an odd thing to see. The carcass had been picked away, leaving only a skeleton on a pile of wool. A stark reminder of how harsh the weather can be for even the hardiest of animals.

Down the road and crossing over to Broughton Beck I saw a road sign, ‘Ulverston 2miles’, My Garmin was showing 4miles and I felt a bit disheartened that my sticking to the official route was adding extra miles and I was worried that I should be saving myself for further down the line if ever I were to complete my mission. It was at this time that a cyclist stopped beside me. ‘You look like you might know where you’re going,’ he said.
‘Yes, I do, and I have a map if not.’ He asked for directions for Coniston and I showed him the way on my map, giving him visual pointers for the way, including the sneaky cut through that goes past what I call the Brain Tree (it’s a tree that looks like a brain). He didn’t look like a seasoned cyclist- no helmet, wearing surfer shorts and a crisp white t-shirt. And I couldn’t help noticing what looked like an axe handle sticking out the top of his school style backpack. I asked what he was up to in Coniston and he said he was off to do a bit of walking and trekking. Oh well, I thought, fair play to him, making the most of this lovely sunny day and I bid him adieu, hoping I hadn’t directed an axe murderer to his next victim.

The route up from Broughton Beck was a bit boring, not much to report: a few horses, flocks of sheep, some friendly cows. When I reached Gawthwaite, I have to admit, I was a bit down-trodden. Gawthwaite doesn’t seem that far away when I drive past it and I had been going for nearly 7 miles. Then I saw it, climbing up on the dirt road, I got my first proper view of the Coniston Fells. Bathed in sunlight with shadowy textures showing the full extent of the impressive mountain range, this view gave me a bit of pep to continue on, even with knowing that I had lots more ascent to come. I fuelled up on my home-made Choc-nut-oatie biscuits, ready for the next section.

20130425-010401.jpg
Passing through farms, up and down windy roads, I hadn’t seen another soul for a long time, but all the while I was walking over fresh boot prints – I was on somebody’s tail, and I wondered if I might catch up with them. A mile or so up from Tottlebank Wood, and on the way to Beacon Tarn, I caught sight of a wide brimmed hat atop a walker with a full pack, clutching a copy of the Wainwright guidebook. I was gaining on them quite quickly so I said hello well in advance so as not to startle them too much. The walker was a lovely lady from Melbourne, on a six week walking holiday in the UK. We chatted for a little while, and she explained that she was also doing The Cumbria Way, but only going as far as Torver today. I suggested she go to The Wilsons for food and she was very happy that I’d said so, because that’s where she was booked in to stay. I said cheerio, and off I continued.

I love Beacon Tarn. I often go up there for a picnic and a swim when the weather is good. With it being so much higher than Coniston it is always less crowded, but it is deeper too, so it takes a lot longer to warm up. While it was a nice sunny day, it will be a fair few weeks before I’d go for a dip! I relieved my pack of my ham and cheese sandwiches and fuelled up for the next section.The path beyond Beacon is my least favourite part. Bog. I really detest walking through bog. It is just so tiring on the legs. We’ve had a lot of rain so any dry patches to bounce from were few and far between. But I kept it steady and didn’t fall in so that’s an achievement (for me anyway).

I tootled along, legs tired after over 12 miles and the recent boggy navigation. Then I slipped. Seeing the main road, and knowing I’d come down off the path one turning too early, I lost my footing and slipped on the saturated ground. No worry, I was surprised it was as late as nearly 13 miles that I fell over (I’m really clumsy). A bit peeved that I’d gone a bit off course, I walked the little bit of road up from Sunny Bank to the turn off for Torver Woods and the lakeshore.

I very nearly thought of just dropping down into Torver, having a pint, ending my walk and getting the bus from there. The weather had become a bit muggy and my legs were tired. To get down to Torver I would’ve done 14 miles, that was the aim for the day. No! The mission was to walk from Ulverston to Coniston on The Cumbria Way!

So I continued. Scoffing my 9Bar as I went, I navigated the fallen beech trees, victims of last week’s winds. I’ve walked along the shore of Coniston a few times, but never after having already walked for 14 miles. It suddenly seemed a bit more technical! It was short-lived. I was soon on the well-made path that leads all the way into Coniston.

I did it, it was a bit longer than I expected but after 17 miles, five and a half hours in my own company and with over an hour to spare before the last bus, I settled down with a well deserved pint.

20130425-013542.jpg
So, the sunburn… Yup, I hadn’t put any cream on my arms. As a result, now when I cross my arms I resemble a slice of battenburg cake, a red and white checked pattern!

If you’d like to sponsor me for the Keswick to Barrow walk and help me raise vital funds for our Mountain Rescue Teams then please do head on over to the Keswick to Barrow site and search for Kathryn Kelly, or view my profile here.

Hit the Road Kat

So, when I started out running it was on the tracks and trails surrounding my home. The little bit of ‘road’ running I did was just to get to the trail. I never thought I’d be one to pound the pavements mile after mile. Then I broke my foot. Getting back to running, the consultant advised me to stick to flat, even surfaces. That does not fit well with trail running. So I hit the road. It’s a very different feeling. Running on the trails you are forever dipping and darting, checking your footing, gearing towards the next obstacle. It’s a great distraction activity, you can’t be thinking of much else than your running lest you miss your footing and fall flat on your face (I speak from experience of this!) Road running seems the opposite to me. At first I thought it was repetitive and draining; then I discovered it was meditative and enlightening. Before you know it you have been going for miles as you mull over life, the universe and everything.

As my marathon will be on road I thought I’d best start doing some road races. When a friend suggested the Langdale 10k I jumped at the chance – any excuse to go back to the valley. I love the place. Some find it odd that I know this, but it is literally where I was ‘created’ (on Christmas Eve, with the help of a bottle of Trinidadian rum in a staff caravan at the back of the Old Dungeon Ghyll). It will always be a kind of spiritual home for me. My Mum’s ashes are spread at the damn at the bottom of The Band. It’s where I take myself for a bit of reflection.

I’ve raced in Langdale before, a 5k trail last June. Yes, the June that there were nationwide floods. What happens to a valley when it rains a lot? It fills with water. Crossing the valley I ran through water that was knicker deep in places (it’s called a basin for a reason!). Husband joked that it would be like that for my road race this time round. I laughed it off, ‘it’s a road race, it’ll be different,’ all the while I was thinking and remembering how even the road floods in the valley when there’s been a considerable downpour.

Sunday morning came around and it had rained solidly all night. Maybe it’ll let up, I thought. Ach, well I’ve run in worse, I remembered. Onwards! Friend arrived, I packed up the car with the camping gear and we set off for the valley. Some of the fields were flooded, but not as bad as I’d seen before so I was hopeful that the campsite wouldn’t be a washout. Arriving in the valley there were only a few people around, not unusual, but a very different experience to when I’d been there to support friend doing the Half Marathon. That day we’d been lucky to get a parking space and couldn’t move for runners limbering up and supporters milling around. There were so few people this time, I wondered if the race was cancelled. We donned our waterproofs and plodded down to the race HQ to check the situation.

There were some people milling around, a mix of runners wearing traksters and windbreakers, and marshals in hefty highviz jackets sheltering from the wind (oh the wind! More on that later). Being that we few had appeared, I assumed the race was still going ahead and I asked one of the highviz people where we were starting from. A man piped up from behind me (I think he was the famous ‘Rocket Rod’ race organiser) and said that the start is ‘Down there, towards the farm. Someone’s stolen the start sign’. Or, ‘more likely, it’s blown away’ someone added later.

We tootled along towards the start point, what seemed like a random point on the little road. I left friend towards the front of the 70 or so gathered, and I took my place at the back of the pack so as not to obstruct what looked like some very serious club runners. I saw some familiar t-shirts from the trail races I’ve done and I felt hopeful, and in good company. A couple of people tried to position themselves behind me and I thought, ‘you’ll only have to pass me soon enough!’. The siren went off and away we went. Quickly. Too quickly for me. I looked at my Garmin, saw an 8, had a sharp intake of breath and slowed right down to a more comfortable (and sustainable) pace. My aim was to come in at 1:10, having managed a couple of 1:08 runs at home on comparatively flatter ground. The pack had spread right out, there were only a couple of people behind me and the lady in pink a few metres ahead of me was a good pacer to keep me going.

The course was out and back along the valley road. I’d done a recce and knew I had three hills to look forward to on the way out and one hill on the way back where I expected to have to walk. I must’ve missed the first hill on the way out as I didn’t realise how much of a beast it was until I was coming down it again on the way back.

On the way out I lost the pink lady before going into Chapel Stile, thinking that she’d gone way ahead I was a bit disheartened, but I knew there was at least one person behind me. I know it’s childish but I just didn’t want to be last. Then I heard someone behind me… It was the pink lady. ‘How did you get behind me?’ I panted with shock. She’d had to nip to the loo.

Then there were a series of shocks to the system. Having looked at the route and done a recce in the car, I was expecting to have to carry on to Elterwater, go around the common and come back again, but a Marshal was signalling me to turn right into the timeshare. Not what I expected. I tend to pick up the pace when tackling a new obstacle and this is what I did, pink lady was just a little way behind me. As I wound my way up into the complex (having a funny reminisce about saving a frog that was trying to get into the swimming pool last time I was there) suddenly there was a ‘ping’ and pink lady shouted from behind ‘You’ve dropped something!’ At the same time I felt my necklace slide down my front and I went to catch it. ‘Oh no! My wedding rings!’ I exclaimed as I saw one of them fly in front of me. I picked it up and went to turn to search for my engagement ring just as pink lady picked it up and handed it to me. ‘Thank you so much!’ I gasped, she tried to stop to see that I was okay, and I urged her to carry on, I was fine and we were running again. It all happened so quickly.

Within seconds, and with pink lady just ahead again and we came to the water station. I’d seen a sign that said to leave cups at the station, and looking ahead I couldn’t see a bucket to put them in so I stopped. I drank the water quickly, intending to get going again straight away. Then I saw the huge box of assorted jelly sweets toffees and chocolates. I actually stopped long enough to pick out a selection of purely green jelly fruits and jelly babies (I’m not picky at all!). I popped one in my mouth, clutching a handful as I went on up the hill ready to turn back on myself and back to the valley. Downhill again and processing what had just happened with almost losing my rings I kept up a good pace for me heading back into Chapel Stile, then I saw that pink lady had slowed to a walk. ‘Come on,’ I urged. ‘We’ve only one hill to go!’

Just before this big hill, I don’t know what happened. I stopped. A dead stop. Not on a hill, but a downhill section before the hill. Something must’ve been going on in my head. My legs wanted to carry on but for some reason I wasn’t letting them. It was such an odd feeling. I looked at my watch and I was acres ahead of what I’d expected. It bucked me up and I was able to carry on. Now, this was the hill where I expected to walk, but I rounded the corner and thought, ‘Roar! Lets go for it’. I saw the daunting task ahead. Then a gust of wind pushed me from behind and propelled me onwards and upwards. I almost made it to the top, my breathing felt laboured and I rounded the corner losing the windpower I’d had. I walked. But as soon as I saw the crest I set off again, winding back towards the valley letting the descent take me onwards and thinking to myself, how on earth did I manage to get up this on the way out!

I was nearly there. I saw the marquee and then The Band at the head of the valley that leads up to Bowfell and I thought of my mum and how proud she’d be. There was just one little bit of hill so I thought I’d walk it and then go all out for the last descent. As the crest approached I ran again over the top, saw the finishline, and then the wind hit me. Rushing down the valley towards me it was with such force I felt I couldn’t take in any air. The wind had indeed winded me! I put my head down and tried to take small breaths to alleviate the breathlessness. There were a few people at the end and I charged towards them with all I had.

Wow! What a feeling! I came in at 1:05:33 by my watch. A whole 3mins faster than my 10k route at home, where I haven’t walked, stopped, lost my wedding rings or been picky about which colour sweets I’ll choose. At this rate I think I might even manage a sub 60 for the Manchester 10k next month. Watch this space…

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