A (birth)Day at the Races

For birthday celebration number two (you can read about the 1st celebration here), we decided to attend Ebor Day at York Racecourse. The Brit had been wanting me to experience a good old-fashioned English day out at the races for awhile, so it worked perfectly that one of the biggest races of the year in York took place so close to my birthday. I, of course, was excited to spend time with our friends…and to drink champagne and wear my fascinator!

When we arrived at the train station to head to York, we were greeted by our lovely friends, who had brought buck’s fizz (aka mimosas in the U.S.) and croissants for our journey to the race course. We were off on our merry way and the weather was surprisingly lovely seeing as how horrible most of the summer had been, so we were excited.

If you know the Brit and his group of friends at all, then you know that when it comes time to celebrate or enjoy a day out in which we are all dressed nicely they head straight for the champagne, and this day was no different. We had booked  badges for the County Stand allowing us access to most every part of the course and stands, so as soon as we went through the entrance we found ourselves imbibing at the champagne lawn.

I think we need a set of these Pimm’s chairs in our back garden!

After a few glasses bottles, we strolled over to the Fifth Floor of the Ebor Stand as we had booked in for the Fish and Fizz and the Carvery. It was a good deal since it included food and a drink, so we decided to book this when we booked our badges about a month earlier. The Fish and Fizz was basically loads of seafood piled on a plate — I’m not going to complain about that! I didn’t take a photo, so you’ll have to trust me on the ‘loads’ bit. Three of us had this and the other went for the carvery, which was apparently just as good.

As we were finishing, the first of the races was due to begin and two more of our friends had just arrived, so we set off in search of them and for somewhere to place some bets…not difficult at a race course! I’m not much of a gambler, but I would pick 2 horses and put a few pounds on them to win either way. I actually did well and came out just over £9 ahead of where I started. I was betting measly amounts compared to some of those people though. I heard a man put £10,000 on one horse…just wow. It was definitely a new experience for me to see people throwing that much money around.

There were seven races throughout the day, so we spent it flitting between the finish line and the paddock area where they bring the horses out. These horses are seriously beautiful creatures. And, the legs on some of them? So. Long. I don’t think I have paid much attention before, but a few of those horses were exceptionally tall. I realize this all sounds strange, but I was in awe. Then, in comparison, we have the jockeys, and they are just so small!

Watching the final race from the stands.

We were at the race course from 11:30 AM until about 6:30 PM, and I could not believe how quickly the day went. It did rain for the last hour or so, but we just popped open our umbrellas and all was fine. (I mean it wouldn’t truly have been a day out in England this summer if it hadn’t rained!) I really enjoyed taking part in this British tradition of spending a day at the races, even better celebrating my birthday there! So, thank you to the Brit for arranging it and to our lovely friends for joining us!

Just a quick one.

This has nothing to do with the post, but rather to do with the fact that my speech is evolving into a weird hybrid of a generic US accent with a hint of Yorkshire in some of the words and phrases I now use, as is seen in the subject of this post (and honestly, it was the only post title that really seemed to ‘fit’). It’s a phrase you hear a lot here and I’m apparently not immune to its usage. Oh well…when in Rome, right!?

Really though, this post is just a quick one as the Brit has requested that I mention how absolutely beautiful the weather has been for the past three days, so everyone knows that England does get some nice weather! Here is a photo from our 6-mile walk along the canal yesterday. Hope summer is treating you all well!

A Summertime Walk

Two weeks ago, we were lucky to have some wonderful summer weather that lasted for a week. I took a long walk every day that week and one of the days I decided to take some photos with my cell phone as I walked along the canal.

I emailed some of them to the Brit as he was in London for work and he replied that we live in such a beautiful place. I have to agree with him, especially when the weather is as lovely as it was during those days. Enjoy the greenery and the blue skies!

As I arrived back in our village, I had a craving for a ginger beer (ginger ale, but better and more tangy), but the little shop I stopped at did not have any. Instead, I chose this random drink below that was absolutely terrible. I’m glad I tried it as I’ve been intrigued by it since I first saw it, but I won’t ever make that mistake again!

Hiking the Yorkshire Three Peaks

A few months back, our friends asked if we would be interested in hiking the Three Peaks with them as part of a charity event. The Brit and I both love to try new things, so we both happily agreed — he knew what it was and I had no clue aside from it was a hike. I went about googling Three Peaks and came across the National Three Peaks, which involves hiking the highest peaks in England, Scotland and Wales…in 24 hours. I consider myself to be in fairly good shape, but I wasn’t sure if I was ready for this.

Thankfully, the Brit was sitting beside me when I came upon this and he righted me. We actually would be completing the Yorkshire Three Peaks, which including hiking the peaks of Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside, and Ingleborough in 12 hours. In total, it would be a roughly 25-mile hike. As the website shows, you can pay to have a guide lead you on certain days, but we did it on our own with a map (that I didn’t understood)!

So, the night before the hike, we stayed in an old farmhouse with rooms that the family rented out. I do not remember the name of it and would not really recommend it, so for that reason I am not going to try to figure out what it was called. The good thing about the location of the farmhouse was how convenient it was to get the the village of Pen-y-Ghent in the morning as we were set to begin at 7 AM.

The morning of the 21st of April, we got to the village and clocked in at the Pen-y-Ghent Cafe so we could have record of our official time, as the hike is a loop and you finish by checking back in at the cafe. Off we went to tackle the first of the peaks and we were all in good spirits as we made it to the top in about an hour.

At the top of Peak 1, Pen-y-Ghent!

When you reach the top of Pen-y-Ghent, you think this will be a breeze, but upon starting the descent you realize just how far it is between each peak. I have no idea the exact mileage between them, but I’m guessing 6-8 miles. Some of the hiking, mostly the ascents and immediate descents, is on rough trails, but a lot of the in-between-peak-hiking is through fields. And, on the day we were hiking, the fields had become extremely marsh-like. We often found ourselves taking the long way around just to avoid sinking knee-deep into mud and water. It was definitely an adventure and a bit of a puzzle trying to find the best route!

The crazy fog at the top of the peak.

Our friends crossing the stream.

The beautiful Yorkshire countryside.

We were lucky in that the weather held up and was mainly overcast until we nearly had reached the top of the second peak. At that point, it began to alternate between sleet and rain for quite awhile. We all pulled our rain gear out and kept it on for most of the rest of the day.

Nearly at the second peak, Whernside.

The photo above was taken from along side the road, where a few food trucks were set up. We had packed all of our food and drinks, so we just stopped for about 10 minutes to wait for our friends to drink their teas. (As I write that, I realize how completely English it sounds…stopping for a tea on a full-day hike — I love it!)

Enjoying the view hiking up Whernside.

Can you guess the Brit’s favorite color?

Looking back at Whernside…enjoying a brief break from the wet weather!

Between the second and third peak, we came upon a pub and the four of us were in need of some drying out (and a real toilet), so we made a pit stop. I enjoyed a pint of Diet Coke and a cup of tea (yes, this time I participated!) while sitting in front of the fireplace. It was nice to take a little break. We were soon off again as we only had one more peak to conquer. To me, the third peak, Ingleborough, was the toughest. The path up it was steep and it was hailing hard. The Brit had shorts on and the hail was pelting his legs. A couple pieces hit me in the face and stung like mad. All in a day’s fun, right?!

You can see some of the hail settling on Ingleborough. Fun times ahead!

Starting the trek up Ingleborough.

It was like we were on a different planet at the top.

When we finally reached the top of Ingleborough, it was a relief, but we had no idea how far we had to go until we were back in the village of Pen-y-Ghent, so the two of us kept guessing until we came across a sign that said it was 1.5 miles away. We picked up the pace a little to try to make the 12-hour mark so we could say we actually completed the ‘challenge’!

Happy to be near the end! (That is the first peak in the background.)

At this point, I could not wait to walk on an even surface. My feet just wanted a flat footpath that wasn’t wet, muddy, or rocky. I was so grateful when we got to the village, but my feet and legs almost didn’t know what to do on an even surface. It was such an odd sensation. Regardless, we were happy to be done and happy to have tried something new! We had completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks in less than 12 hours!

Back at the cafe where we started…tired and ready for a pint or two!

So, would I recommend the Yorkshire Three Peaks to others? Most definitely!

There are a few things to consider though. Because you are hiking for hours and for miles, you will go through moments when you are excited and loving life and others when you are annoyed and frustrated. Also, I would recommend that you are in a healthy physical state because it is trying at times and it is not an easy walking hike — your heart rate will rise and you will sweat. You will need to carry sufficient drinks and food with you because, although there are a few places as I mentioned that sell provisions, I was rarely hungry when we passed the food trucks and the pub, so it was good to have our own supply. And lastly, you should have proper hiking shoes or boots that are waterproof and sturdier than your every day trainers (sneakers) — you may laugh, but we saw people out there with trainers on!

Truthfully, it was an incredible experience and I would do it again (good thing as the Brit is already planning to try to beat our time)!

{Running} Harewood House 10k

Two Sundays ago, the Brit and I along with a friend of ours participated in the first ever Age UK Wrap Up and Run 10k at Harewood House.  The morning started off a bit chilly, but the sun was shining bright. When the race started at 10 AM, we had the perfect conditions for a run.

Because this was the first run that Age UK had sponsored at Harewood House, there was not much information on it aside from it was a 10k. With the training we’ve been doing for the Edinburgh Marathon, my running pace has improved drastically so I was looking for a personal best. (The Brit even gave me a little pep talk that morning!) However, when we pulled up and realized that this race would likely not be on roads at all, I was a bit disappointed. I was pretty sure uneven conditions and a ‘trail race’ aren’t the best place for achieving a personal best. I still went into it thinking I would keep my pace up where I could and give it my all, so that’s what I did!

The Brit and our friend are both speedy, so they got up near the front and I hung back just a bit. Soon, we were off through the field and we were running on grass so I could keep a steady pace. Then, we headed into the woods where the mud began! The trail was uneven and just…well…mud. A couple of times, I was able to find a place that was harder terrain to run on for a short stretch of time before it turned into mud as well. In all honesty, I couldn’t even get frustrated because it was pretty fun to be doing a ‘different’ type of run than my usual runs on the sidewalk and canal path. I just carried on my merry way checking my pace every once in awhile realizing that I was doing quite well.

Then, the hills started. Ha! At the start, the race director kept announcing there would be a ‘slight incline at the 7.5k mark’, so I kept that in my head. But, when I started on this first series of hills, I was soon asking myself what this man considered to be a ‘slight incline’ as these were tough especially on the uneven terrain. Before the ‘slight incline’, there was a long downhill part so I took advantage of that and went as fast as I could without tripping on a rock or a branch.

It evened out around the 5k mark, so I enjoyed the flatness for a bit. Then, the ‘slight incline’ started. Holy wow. This hill was at least a mile long and steep. This is where I saw my pace slow down immensely, but I trudged along and fought off the voice in my head telling me, ‘You can walk up this hill faster than you are running right now.’ Annoying.

Finally, we reached the top and there was about a 1k left, so even though I felt like my lungs were about to collapse, I made myself go as fast as I could because there was a girl in a blue shirt that I had been leap frogging with for most of the race and I was determined to beat her. (Pretty sure she had the same goal in her head.) I knew I could push myself because the end was in sight and then I could sit down or fall over or drink some water or whatever, so off I went. And, guess what?! I beat the girl in the blue shirt! (It’s the little victories, people!)

Although I didn’t beat my personal best for a 10k, I beat my 10k time from a road race we did in November despite the crazy terrain of this race! (Again, little victories!) So, I was still really pleased!

The Brit and our friend? Well, they ran the entire race together and crushed it…both finishing in the top 85 out of 1100 runners! Well done, guys!

So, I would definitely recommend this race in the future. It is only £15 entry fee with £5 going toward a campaign to help elderly people stay warm in the winter. Just keep in mind that it is not a road race, but it was very fun to do something new and spice up the training for a day! Check it out next year!

P.S. I didn’t take any photos. But, I’d definitely recommend checking out Harewood House and its grounds — absolutely beautiful!