Saturday 23 March, 09:34
Did an unofficial recce of three sections of the Lakeland 50, from Howtown to Ambleside. Expected it to be just over 21 miles.
Ran with Phil, Jo and Emma, who I’d not known before. Just gathered on Facebook to set it up. We all got on well.
Mixed terrain, very hilly, great weather. Ended up doing 25+ miles. Tired but happy, had a fab day. If this is what 25 slow miles feels like the full 50 will be tough!
Distance: 25.1 miles
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
I’d been given free entry to this race after cancelling my place on the Windermere Marathon in May with terrible Achilles trouble. Drove up from home, leaving at 04:30 for the early start. Raining again like the previous weekend.
I knew there were some hills, from the course profile. Set off steady, the first mile was flattish, then came a steep and long climb. There were lots of steep descents too. I picked up strength and speed in the middle and enjoyed passing a few runners.
Though it was similar weather to York I layered my tops the same and my hands were fine, not frozen.
It would have been more beautiful in crisp sunny autumn sunshine; today the hills were shrouded in cloud. I smiled a lot, per usual, knew I’d got plenty of energy to get me round.
Left adductor tightened up a bit. There was some car traffic on the minor roads the race is run on, but not the expected logjam. Approaching the finish chute I undid my jacket and got a ‘vegan runner’ shout out from the announcer.
Collecting my medal and giving back the timing device, the lady helping me commented “you’ve got a lovely smile”, which topped off my run nicely.
Finished 91st out of something like 302 runners. I was 10th in my age category out of 27. Happy with that, there looked to be a lot of gnarly, local old blokes running like mountain goats.
Distance: official 13.1 miles; Tom Tom 13.08 miles
Time: official 1:56:25; Tom Tom 1:56:23
Avg pace: 8:52 min/mile
Ascent: official 1700ft; Tom Tom 1664ft
Trainers: Brooks Ghost 10
Sunday 8 July, 07:00
Got up at 4:15 to get ready and park near the start/finish. Lots of chatty people sharing info about what to expect. I put myself about 60-70% of the way back from the front starters.
Was relieved when in the first mile runners around me were walking up hills/inclines, to save energy. The sky was bright and the sun stayed behind high cloud until later, had full sun from about 13:00 onwards.
The checkpoints and refreshment stops were good. I drank my water with SIS tabs in and refilled bottles with electrolyte at every stop. Munched often, banana and flapjack from the stops and a couple of Clif bars I carried.
The terrain was frequently rocky / stony underfoot, and there was lots of climbing up steep slopes, interspersed with brief and short sections in the valley bottoms. Epic scenery, ran past totally still lakes and looked back at picturesque valleys. Worth doing for the views alone.
I seemed able to power walk up the steep bits, passing many others. Didn’t hit the wall, fuelling and hydrating were going well. Looked for shade wherever possible.
I noticed that mentally I was very positive, enjoying the experience. Marshalls noticed I was a smiler, I said hello to sheep and wasn’t worrying about the next climb, and the next. I’m sure this attitude really helped me, I didn’t hit a low point or have any doubts. I was counting distance in hours rather than miles, but later on did ask some marshalls ‘how far?’ They weren’t that accurate. Wasn’t using gps watch, battery wouldn’t have lasted.
Loved the finish chute and felt ok. Had a drink and found a vegan food van!! Lots of choice, bought a bhaji burger and when other folk nearby me saw it they ordered some. Should have been on commission! Cheered finishers and had a coffee for an hour or so before heading off to car.
Was surprised to find my legs were not that bad in the following few days, just took a few minutes to get moving but I was mobile and could do stairs. Achilles soreness indicated I’d done a tough run but was not at all bad. Applied ibuprofen gel to heels for 2 days more as a precaution. Had three points of chafing (won’t go into details!).
Later I found out I was finisher 167 out of 375, in 9:22:39. Very pleased with that. Read that a lot dropped out and folk that had done it previously had slower times this year because of the hot conditions. Nearly 600 were on the start list so I guess some didn’t start and others were sensible and dropped out if they hit problems.
It was steeper, rougher terrain with less flat sections or undulating running than I’d expected. And who put the photographer near the top of the penultimate climb? I was walking strongly but had to break into a jog when I saw the photo sign and chap with a camera pointing down the path at me…
Distance: 34m / 55km
Trainers: Brooks Cascadia
Friday 15 June
Have to leave Ambleside, my time here is up. Enjoyed my few days here, and will definitely return. Got up earlier that I have been doing, showered and got another porridge breakfast. Just as I was folding the tent up a tiny few spots of rain came, not bad.
Would have liked to do more running on this trip but severely bad weather intervened.
Thursday 14 June
Storm Hector caused heavy rain in the night and strong winds from 5am for a few hours. Saw a young fox at 6am on a trip to the toilets.
Managed to nod off after that for a couple of hours and got up at midday.
Drove to Kendal, then up to Keswick. Shops, coffee and food and beautiful scenery all around.
End of the day I took a stroll to Wray Castle and back.
That stroll counts as my exercise for the day, a couple of miles.
Weds 13 June
A rest day, I got up late and took my time;
– sorting somewhere to camp Friday onwards
– responding to supportive messages from family
– making a double portion of porridge for breakfast
– reorganising stuff so my most important gear is in the car in case the tent is wiped out or flooded by Storm Hector tonight
– approaching a civil service organisation for a bit of advice/support
– visiting Hawkshead (no mobile signal and lots of Jap tourists) and Ambleside (nice coffee)
Sorry no photos today, forgot!
Tuesday 12 June, 12:28
18C, started out sunny, clouded over.
Physio allowed me a 60 minute run today but I stretched it a bit to do a recce of part of the Ultimate Trails 55k Race route. Did 11 miles.
Starting in Ambleside not far from the actual start line, it was clearly all uphill at first. Did a run/walk. Went through the first mountain pass on the route, reached 5.5 miles and turned round. Used a bit of road then got on the trail path back to Ambleside, power walking the return to save my Achilles.
This was tough. Can see I’ve missed a lot of training with injury. Heel was ‘ok’, a bit tender so I’ll apply some gel. Brilliant scenery and good to get 3 hours on my feet.
Avg HR: 122bpm
Avg pace: 15:27 min/mile (some bits were steep!!)
Trainers: Brooks Cascadia
Monday 11 June
Arrived in Ambleside, beautiful scenery. Pitched tent and had chips for tea.
Looked at map to see where the Ultimate Trails 55k runs near here and found it runs right past the chippy. Start and finish is in a small park behind this church.
Lovely place, first time I’ve been here.