you’re my favourite earworm

You work your way into my brain,

Burrowing deep through the ear

Worming your way into canals

Hitting synapses like piano keys

Firing up memories

From too long ago.

There is a Co-op advert on the TV at the moment and the song that accompanies it is a new version of The Only Way Is Up which was originally a hit in the 80s for Yazz. I heard this song over and over when I was in bed, feeling sorry for myself after my ultra run and now it hits a nerve every time I hear it.

It’s amazing that when a song works its way into your head, especially during an emotionally charged moment, it lights up the brain like a firework every time you hear it afterwards.

This is a real problem if you do long events as an earworm can end up rattling around your brain for up to 30 hours. Imagine that. Thirty hours of a song, and you can normally only remember the chorus, so it can get quite annoying.

On my last event I had Oh Happy Day playing on repeat, and I am still too scared to play that song at the moment as I think that I have a minor form of PTSD.

And, these songs can still be recalled years after the event. When I swam the Channel in 2013, I had Emile Sande ‘Beneath Your Beautiful’ rattling around my head. That was 9 years ago and I still associate that song with the 14 hours that I spent in the pain cave that day.

Do other people have earworms that they will remember for a lifetime?

Much Love

Rachel xx

100 mile ultra run report

green leaves
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com

Nothing great is easy

Captain Matthew Webb, first man to swim the English Channel

On Saturday 18th June my dad and I jumped into the car and drove to Denbies Wine Estate in Dorking so that I could run a 100 mile foot race over a one mile lap. That’s 100 laps in under 30 hours.

I arrived at about 7:30am so that I could register and get my timing chip. Then I checked out all the important stuff like where the toilets were and where I could store my bag so that I could access it easily during the race.

At the start of the race there was a mini camp site where everyone set up tents, but I just had my holdall in a black bin liner. Lots of people were doing the P12 and P24 challenge where they ran a mile on the hour every hour for either 12 hours or 24 hours. It was lovely as it gave the place a real festival vibe, especially over night.

The weather at the start was really hot and although the first thirty miles are normally quite comfortable, I was struggling with the heat a little bit. It was very much appreciated when the organizers cracked open the ice lollies.

The lap became very familiar and I found that I could walk the slight incline and then jog the downhill and the flat. This rhythm became really important as the night set in because it’s easy to start flagging.

During the night we had a massive electrical thunderstorm and it got a little bit scary as we ran out into the rain and thunder. It didn’t help that I was so tired I was starting to hallucinate. This can be a really scary experience, but I’m learning to push through and the sun coming up in the morning makes you feel so much better.

It was another warm morning and I had about 20 miles to go when the sun came up. By that time most people were doing the death march and I just had to dig deep and keep going.

Dad arrived with Noah when I had 11 miles to go so they went into Dorking for a little look around while I continue to stumble on.

Those last 10 miles were shocking and if it wasn’t for the wonderful volunteers on the checkpoint, I don’t imagine I would have made it. They cheered me on every time I passed them and it just lifted my spirits. The other people on the course were all shouting encouragement to each other too, and I could really feel the love.

At 11am Noah and dad came back and I asked them to walk the last lap with me. We marched around together and I crossed the line in 27 hours – it was roughly a ten minute PB.

At the end I literally fell over the line and was presented with my beautiful buckle (most 100 mile races have a belt buckle instead of a medal for finishers).

I was in a bit of a bad way when I got back to the car and I know I was smelling really bad! I buried myself under my dad’s coat and tried to close my eyes and ignore the pain as we travelled home.

Monday was a write off and I had to take a day off sick. Noah was worried that if I tried to drive in I might get lost on the way. My brain was so fuddled that I barely knew my name.

It’s now Wednesday and I’m still a bit stiff but I’m starting to feel more human and I’ve been into work and not done anything too stupid. The only problem is that when the pain begins to fade the need to sign up for another one returns. Should I?

Much Love

Rachel xx

Don’t let a few failures define you

I know it sounds cliche

But get back up,

It might not even be

The third time a charm,

It could be the fourth

Or even the fifth

But however long it takes

The reward is the sweetest.

I love to run. I’m not a talented runner, but I do love to push myself as hard as I can and I love to see just how far I can go. And so it seemed only natural that I gravitated towards the ultra marathon distance, finally making it up to the 100 milers.

I did five of them between 2015 and 2017 and then I hit a bit of a road block. I don’t understand why, but every time I attempted the race, my head just gave up anywhere between 60 and eighty miles.

I had three failed attempts under my belt and a five year dry spell and I really was starting to think that I just didn’t have the ability to do it anymore.

So, I was a little bit hesitant when I entered a hundred miler for the weekend just gone. But, nevertheless, I pulled on my trainers and hit the trail. And I poured my little heart into it.

And you know what? I only went and bloody did it.

So, I just wanted to say that when you’ve failed at something a few times, it never means that it’s over. If you want something bad enough, you can get it. Just keep plodding away and eventually you will get there.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

what’s the actual point?

What’s the point in those useless tasks,

The challenging things that don’t need doing,

That will set us apart but not earn us millions,

That turn a few heads but will soon be forgotten?

Is there a point when we can’t leave our mark?

Or should we just curl up, save ourselves time

When there’s a chance we’ll just fail,

As we try to outdo a bar we can’t see.

I’ve been watching some of the Salomon TV on Youtube over the past few days and it’s quite addictive because the people they follow are just so interesting. I think that we all need positive people in our lives and these are the people who shine a little bit of light into my life.

I don’t have any real interest in being rich or famous or successful, so the outlook of these people is really inspiring to me. Their idea of success is coming to know themselves better and the people in the world around them a little better.

Watching these videos you get to see people pushing themselves over a finish line that they have determined. There is no trophy or gold medal at the end. There isn’t even a cheering squad because they’ve made this challenge up on their own. All they care about is digging deep and understanding what makes themselves tick.

There is something quite spiritual in it and I guess it’s why I enjoy pushing myself. I’m never going to win a race, but I can find a point to the things that other people consider pointless.

Much Love

Rachel xx

those who run seem to have all the fun

silhouette of boy running in body of water during sunset
Photo by Samuel Theo Manat Silitonga on Pexels.com

Tripping through the knee high grass,

Nettles grazing scraped up knees

But still those smiles run deep in us

As the runner’s high sets in

And all onlookers stop to wonder

What it is that makes us glitter

In this world of doom and gloom.

There is a lyric in Madonna’s song ‘Time Goes By’ that goes: those who run seem to have all the fun. That line has stuck with me over the last fifteen years over the many hundreds of miles I have covered.

The thing is, I think Madonna actually knows her stuff, and I think that us runners do seem to have a lot of fun.

Whenever I’m feeling a bit low, I put running videos on Youtube and just watch people having fun racing and training. I’m guessing it’s all down to the endorphins, but I’m definitely going to make the most of it.

Much Love

Rachel xx

wilderness vlogs

aerial shot of mountain
Photo by Tobias Bjørkli on Pexels.com

I need the green to soothe the fuzz

Of faceless offices that swirl in minds

And fill our day to day.

The hum of crickets, the songs of birds,

Even if I can’t be there myself,

I watch and wait for my own turn

To swim in waters wild and cold to touch

And hike the rocky outcrops that

Are always there to wash away this life.

I cannot stop watching Youtubers who create content about the wilderness, hiking, wild camping and wild swimming. Their wilderness vlogs are sometimes the most calming thing in my day and they fill me with some excitement for life – something that I think we can all struggle to find from time to time.

There is something so beautiful about watching a well put together video that shows the beauty of what we have right here in the UK. The Lake District and the Scottish Highlands are just two of the places I’ve been looking at.

I’m lucky enough to be visiting the Lake District in two weeks time and I can’t wait to go for some runs and hikes. I’m even going to take my swimsuit and goggles and I might put in a couple of miles in Coniston.

There is just something so human about being away from the cities and towns that are sometimes so jarring to our souls. The wilderness is both beautiful and dangerous and I think that resonates with all humans on some level.

Much Love

Rachel xx

running buddies

unrecognizable woman jogging along footpath in park
Photo by Enric Cruz López on Pexels.com

We ran together when we had nothing to say,

The thump-thump of our feet on silky tarmac,

Rain pouring in uncomfortable sheets,

Running in rivulets down our ruddy cheeks,

We are joined together in physical pain

And no words can sever the emotional stress

That comes to fruition by Friday night.

We look forward to Saturday, the early morning

Whether rain or shine, we will pull on our trainers

And hit the roads, onto the trails and under the oaks

That drizzle like sad old men that bend over our path.

We draw strength from those trees

And the roots at our feet, the heart feeling lighter

And a smile on our faces as we come through the door,

Stripping our clothes and falling on sofas

Ready for a week that will drain the batteries

And excited for Saturday when freedom arrives.

pure exhaustion

My bones ache, I am so tired. And I didn’t even achieve my goal. I wanted to run 100 miles and yet again I only made it to 100km.

I say only, but this was on the Jurassic coastline and the terrain and the weather were awful. If you have ever visited that part of the world, you will know just how steep some of those hills are.

Still, that doesn’t take away the disappointment when you have literally put every last bit of energy into getting somewhere and you don’t make it. Failure is a part of being human, but it also makes us feel pretty crappy.

I hope that if anyone reading this has failed at anything recently, then you can pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep on trying.

I am exhausted, right now. I literally feel like I want to cry because everything hurts and the serotonin levels in my brain are completely out of whack. I tried so hard that I was hallucinating and I don’t know if I can put my body through that kind of abuse again. This might be a sign that I’m getting just a little bit too old. Perhaps I should just pour my energy into something a bit more sedate like writing?

Much Love

Rachel xx

the eve of the big day

swimmer on block before diving into pool
Photo by Heart Rules on Pexels.com

The dress hangs on the rear of the door,

Catching light that streams before it sets.

The shoes are placed like man and wife,

By the door, ready to take me where I must go

And the bags are packed to bursting full

Of things I know I will not need.

But, still excitement burns through from the core

With a raging heat that can’t be quenched.

It’s just like Christmas Eve, when as a child

Those butterflies would hold me up at night,

Knowing Santa’s on his way with gift wrapped love

And sprinkling magic dust on furniture

That in the day was dull to touch.

That fiery joy will burn all night, and for a part

Of long days yet to come. If I could sleep

I’d dance through to the main event,

Forgetting that sweet pain that stings

On the eve of a big day.

I’m running a long race tomorrow and the nerves are starting to set in. Not in a bad way, but in a way that makes me feel a little on edge; it’s like some primal part of my brain knows that something big is on the horizon.

I don’t know if you are the nervous type, but as a child I used to vomit when I got nervous. It was excruciating to want to do something really well but to struggle to do it because I would get myself into such a state. It wouldn’t matter what I was doing: exams, swim meets, Christmas; I would always end up making myself ill.

I’ve gotten better at controlling my nerves as I’ve gotten older, but I still feel that familiar twist in my stomach on the night before a race. I know it’s going to hurt, but I also know that I have nothing to fear because I know that I’m enough no matter what happens, and I never knew that to be true when I was a kid.

If you’re feeling anxious about anything, just know that you are enough too.

Much Love

Rachel xx

tiredness in my bones

They creak and shake, echoing with love

For a journey through the forest greens,

Along the busy roads from town,

But it brings a fear and hate,

My body tiring of the impact on the joints,

And yet, as I cross the finish line,

It’s just a feeling of content

That wraps a blanket round my soul.

I ran a really long way for a training run today. I dread the thought of going out for these runs but when I get going I quite enjoy the pain. And then, when I get home, that feeling of elation is just enough to make me fall in love with running again. Almost enough to make me consider signing up for another 100 miler….

Much Love

Rachel xx