Monday, 10 February 2014

A soggy adventure in The Lakes

I said that I wanted to challenge myself in positive ways. Glancing back over the last week, I think I can say that I’ve succeeded on the running front. Saturday’s run was awesome.

I accepted the invitation of two runner friends to go and run in The Lake District.  The Lakes is approximately a 2 hour drive from where we live and it’s totally worth it. I have so many great memories of the Lakes and the scenery is beautiful.  So, I got up early and fuelled up for the day on some porridge and toast and a very large coffee. The drive was quick and before I knew it, we were there. It was definitely worth getting out of bed early for.

The weather was cold, so I had made sure to put on a base layer, long sleeved top, t-shirt on top and my OMM waterproof jacket on top of that. I also put my pack-away inov8 waterproof pants in my backpack just in case. I had visions of us being out on the hills or exposed moorland, shivering somewhere.

We ran from Ambleside and up past a river, before finding ourselves on rocky trails. We had decided to run some of the Lakeland 50 route. I haven’t run Lakeland 50 since 2010 and I don’t remember an amazing amount of this section, as we would have reached this bit of the course in the dark and moved pretty slowly on tired legs. However, every now and again, I’d exclaim ‘Ah, I think I remember this bit...I don’t think I enjoyed this bit’. After all, Lakeland 50 is the slowest 50 mile ultra I have ever done.

At the start of our adventure, we happened to come across another runner who was recceing the Lakeland route, in preparation for Lakeland 100, which starts the evening before Lakeland 50 and is significantly harder/ probably one of the toughest 100 mile ultras around. I love the fact that even when you’re not even running a race, that there is such camaraderie amongst fellow runners and you end up meeting new people. The lady runner (Jo) stayed with us for the remainder of our run. And then there were three...

At about 8 miles in, the wind and rain really began to hammer us. The marshy ground also kept suctioning off my running shoe and I was pretty slow and cautious as I negotiated the rockier bits.  The thing is, ‘back in the day’, I ran this type of terrain often. I’ve never been a crazy daredevil fell runner who can throw themselves down the side of a hill without a second thought and I never will be, but I used to be braver. I definitely felt myself going a lot slower than I would have liked. Another thing is that I’m a lot faster (in general) and fitter than I was back in the ‘good old days’. I don’t run as many races and my training miles are of better quality. But I was rusty on the rockier, more technical aspects of trail. I think it is a matter of confidence sometimes, and practice. I have only just got back into hillier trail running and I am training for a very long, FLAT canal race (GUCR 145 miler), so it’s no mystery that I wouldn’t be the best at this. Yet, I want to be. I want to be better and I want to be ‘hard-core’ again. I don’t want to be afraid of tricky mud, rocky bits and hills. I love this type of running.

So, after 8 miles, we had a bit of a rest from the rain and went for a drink. Everyone else decided upon a cuppa’ tea and I don’t blame them, as I guess it was warming. However, I decided to get a half pint of pale ale. I figured that the carbohydrates would come in useful.

After the pub, we carried on, on our journey. We decided to loop back towards Ambleside, a different way from the way we came. Fortunately, we had a good map reader amongst us and Mark knew exactly the route we should take. At this point, the rain had turned to hail. The hail in itself wasn’t significant, but the wind blowing it against my legs and face was ferocious. I had to shield my eyes with my hand (should have worn a cap) and I yelped a little at how much they stung me. Yet, I told myself to ‘wo-man up’, as it was only a bit of hail and not the end of the world. The weather was actually worst at the end of our run, where the rain was just relentless. I was glad that the worst waited until the end. Although, I did wonder about some poor souls we had seen out walking earlier on; none of them had proper walking gear on, merely jeans and ‘everyday coats’, and yet they looked at us like we were the mad ones!

Ultimately, we ran just under 18 miles and we looked like drowned rats, so we decided to go to a local café and hunt for pasties to warm us up. Unfortunately, all the pasties were sold out, so I ordered a brie and caramelised onion toastie and a pot of tea. It was scrumptious. However, as we sat there, inside the café, eating our food, water was dripping off us.

All in all, I had a brilliant day out and I took a lot away from it. I’ve figured out some new goals that I want to accomplish this year, which mainly revolve around wanting to get more confident with hilly trail running again. I will do this.

L x

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