Lakeland 50 recce: Ambleside to Coniston
Saturday 19 January, 16:06
The official recce began with a talk on map reading skills, tips and what to expect. Very useful. Then everyone split to get ready, eat and make our way to Coniston to leave vehicles at the finish.
Coaches took us back to Ambleside where we were going to set off. I almost went without my headtorch as I’d left it in car boot. Made a mad dash just seconds before the coach left.
No gun or whistle, just report to checkpoint and set off on arrival in groups or individuals. There were around 260 doing the recce but this spread everyone out nicely.
As soon as I started climbing out of the park there was snow, compacted and slushy. This continued to the end. Deep on the hills.
I navigated using the road book at first, then the wiggly line on my watch. There always seemed to be someone nearby that knew the route if I was in doubt.
Apart from zig zagging up a hill to Blea Tarn, the main challenge was the climb after Tilberthwaite. Steep steps, steep hillside, then further and further uphill, never ending.
It was on this uphill I slipped and banged right knee on a rock underneath the snow. I walked and jogged it off. Then a long steep descent into Coniston.
I ran more than half of the recce with a chap called Tom from Manchester. He’s into triathlon and Ironman so might bump into my brother at Salford Quays perhaps.
Overall, the recce was easier than expected. I’d expected 16 miles of testing terrain but only the last 4 miles was particularly difficult; will feel very tough at the end of the 50!
Distance: 15.2 miles
Avg pace: 14:19 min/mile
Trainers: inov8 x-claw 275
The final race of the Totley AC series, I had signed up for this optimistically hoping to get reasonable enough off-road to just get round. After lots of recces I was very confident of the optimum route, but on race morning I was distinctly nervous. This was going to be tough.
13C at the start, getting windy and clouding over. Had breakfast at home and parked up early. Put myself about two-thirds back in the starting pen. Race started at 10:30.
Felt good on the long uphill to checkpoint 1. As I got to it I noticed my race number was blowing about as one safety pin had been popped off by my backpack. Wasn’t carrying a spare.
Flew downhill to CP2, slipped on my backside on one steep downhill, no damage. Then walked the hard uphill through Blacka Moor to the road. OK crossing Houndkirk Moor, over Burbage Edge and slipped again going down to the stone bridge. By this point I got a feeling the runners around me would be on similar pace as me to the end. Think I was right, talked to a couple and kept passing and following the same ones.
Good along Stanage Edge following one of those runners, then found the good route down through the fern to the road, great progress. Some other runners clearly didn’t know their routes, held back a bit.
Towards Hathersage was a tiring downhill, but OK. Then a climb up through Mitchell Field was tough, walked a fair bit. Running from there to Padley Gorge I was pushing hard and had a few runners holding on behind me. Great feeling.
A long slog across Longshaw and along Moss Road, but I got going and did OK. Then after CP9 all downhill, just pushed on and loved it. Didn’t check watch at all throughout the entire race. Ran by feeling, and route knowledge helped a lot to anticipate when to walk, when to push on.
Through the finish shute I stopped my watch and saw the time was 13:34 and assumed I’d done about 3h 34. Only after a drink and some food did a marshall ask one of the runners I’d been near about their time. I said 3 and a half, they looked puzzled so I checked my watch and saw 3h 2min!?
Official time confirmed it and I was 68th finisher, 13th in age category. Brilliant! Best recce time had been 3h 42min.
Distance: 16.24 miles
Time: 3:02:04 official
Avg pace: 11:10 min/mile
Trainers: Brooks Cascadia
Sunday 23 July, 06:16
11C, bright and cool with full sun later on. A 16 mile run on the Exterminator route again. To try out a few alternative paths. Marathon schedule called for an easy 10 mile long run, but want to maintain where I'm at now. Judged clothing right with just t-shirt and shorts.
I could not find the alternative trail to checkpoint 1 on the way up, found and tried it on the way down/to checkpoint 2 but it was slow going through heather etc.
Followed the same route as before across Houndkirk Moor, and over Burbage Edge, but slipped and fell just before the bridge. Knocked right knee on a rock. Drew blood and plenty of expletives, but no real damage.
Had difficulty finding my way up onto Stanage Edge, tried 2-3 places and struggled. Seemed to find it easy previously. Going down from Stanage I headed through the ferns but they were shoulder high and I could not find a consistent path, plenty of hidden rocks and I paddled in a small stream. Need to find/pick a clearer path or head to the right. Lost a lot of time here.
After Grindleford I climbed alongside the stream and again got lost in the heather and ferns at the top. Headed left and found the trail, and also a few other runners taking part in a race. Need to trace that back to Haywood for next time.
Had a gel at home, one at 6 miles, then got fuzzy head and hungry about 10-11 miles. Dipped in my backpack for some Trek Cocoa Peanut Peak Protein Energy Chunks; they were great. Had another gel at 13 miles and drank 500ml water.
Today seemed slow, I would push harder in the race. Finished nearly 2 minutes quicker than first recce/trial run. Didn't seem as tired at the end, in spite of the very heavy going following lots of rain.
Wore calf compression socks, to see if they helped with all the climbing. They seemed to, and had the added benefit of giving protection from some foliage/nettles/brambles. The Inov-8 shoes performed well on the very soggy ground. Not so good on rocks though.
Distance: 16.49 miles
Avg pace: 13:24 min/mile
Elevation gain: 3379ft
Trainers: Inov-8 X-claw 275
Wildlife: lots! Plenty of sheep and cows en route; chickens and geese; a squirrel and a large pig!
Ran the White Peak trail run with my brother Jeff. His first ever trail run, and only my second after doing the Tigers Todger fell face recently. Arrived early at Ashbourne to get on street free car parking and have a look around. Registered and picked up my dibber, everyone was really friendly.
Our start time was 09:30, so we took our time getting ready. It was bright and sunny, around 10-12C, and expected to get warmer so slapped some sun cream on the old solar panel. Mandatory kit was just a windproof jacket, and the usual phone/drink/food. Setting off we were planning to do an easy pace. But I tended to push on a bit, especially on the gentle inclines to move past a few other runners. I was getting competitive again!
I was enjoying the up- and down-hills and pushing on a bit, Jeff being less used to running on uneven terrain was a bit more cautious, understandably. We walked up the really steep hill, zig-zagging up the hillside, incredible. Then after the feed point there were long stretches of fairly flat and straight Tissington Trail. Jeff excelled here, getting into a rhythm and I hung on as my legs were getting fatigued. The mix of flat trail and hills/descents meant Jeff and I complemented each other, it was really good.
Approaching the finish we entered the tunnel for a second time and it was surreal, after a few hours in the sunshine my eyes just did not adjust and it was eerie. A runner was a few yards behind us, and we both picked up the pace. By the last 50 yards of the tunnel I was sprinting flat out and before the finish line Jeff sprinted ahead of me. We both got the exact same finish time, finishing joint 75th out of 172 runners. Really pleased with that and got a silver certificate for the time. A great introduction to trail running and can’t wait to do more.
Right heel was a bit sore afterwards, I stretched and foam rollered my calves and that has helped. Foot soreness wasn’t an issue in the race, just slightly tender later and I’ll look after it with ice and rolling a golf ball.
Stats were messed up by the Fitbit GPS not starting straight away and then the tunnel. But here they are:
Distance: 16 miles (official); Fitbit 15.8 miles
Time: 2:37:54 (official); Fitbit 2:38:01
Avg HR: 148bpm
Avg pace: 10:00 min/mile
Trainers: Brooks Cascadia
Sunday 29 January, 07:14
1C, cold and frosty. A 16 mile run. The rain from last night had frozen on the roads, paths were frosted and frozen too. Nearly went base over apex three times at least. Wrapped up, ate 3 gels and drank 500ml water. There was a brilliant sunrise as I approached Pebley, and by the time I was returning to RV the weather was turning grey. I felt strong through most of the run and focused on maintaining good form. Felt slight left knee niggle, so I might skip a run I’ve pencilled in for Monday unless its definitely 100%.
Avg HR: 137bpm (seems low)
Avg pace: 5:49 min/km
Brooks Ghost trainers #3
Sunday 9 October 06:51
7C, clear skies, cold. A 16 mile run. It was especially cold running through RV with mist on the water and a cold breeze, felt less cold after climbing up to Woodall. Had 3 gels and 500ml water. Listened to podcasts again.
The highlight of this run was as I approached Harthill. On the road ahead I saw a deer crossing. I had a pit stop soon after and looked across to see a group of five deer cross a meadow, passing into another wood. It was too far distant to snap a photo but great to see. Only my second sighting of deer in 1172 runs!
Was surprised at the average pace at the finish as I’d not been pushing. HR seems high again. Great running weather, if a bit chilly in only a running vest and shorts 🙂 Just 4 weeks to New York marathon, it is feeling close now.
Avg HR: 161bpm
Avg pace: 5:35 min/km
Brooks Ghost trainers #3
Wildlife: 5 deer, 1 peacock, 2 peahens, 1 rabbit
Sunday 25 September 09:01
12C, bright and breezy. A rare run with my twin brother Jeff, 16 miles. Felt OK and I seemed to be pushing a bit to keep up. Enjoyed catching up on news and thoughts about the New York trip. Felt right heel/calf a little.
There was an event on at Rother Valley and I almost picked up a finishers medal when stewards directed us through the finish line. Drank 500ml water and had 3 gels. Enjoyed this one and did a good time (for me). Six weeks to NYC marathon.
Avg HR: 163bpm (strap kept slipping)
Avg pace: 5:36 min/km
Brooks Ghost trainers #2