I often get told by my better half that all I think about is running. That's not strictly true as for most of July all I think about is the Lakeland 100 when this run becomes my life...
|With Mark in Eskdale just before the Boot checkpoint|
12:00 arrives on Friday 27th July. Five and a half hours until start and I'm still at work procrastinating and trying to sort out pointless stuff that can wait. After 2 weeks of one of the most stressful times I've had at work, I'm a substation control system engineer working on National Grid sites, NG are twitchy about the Olympics and don't want the electric to go off. It is now time to forget it all and head up to the Lakes for another great adventure.
On the drive up it's stop start all the way as everybody is in a rush to get home for the weekend. I hear mutterings about he opening ceremony of said Olympics, doesn't really concern me, I just want to make the 4pm cut off for registration.
Of course I get there in plenty of time but the stress levels are up already. Should have booked the day off. I know the routine and luckily there is no queueing for the weigh in. Kit check is another matter...
For this year I'm using mostly the same kit but will use a 500ml handheld bottle as a main source of drink and an extra bottle in my bag which would remain empty until the second day. If it looked to be a hot one I could fill it as a backup. Full base layer was a north face long sleeve, some cut off running tights and some recently purchased but never used before compressport calf guards. After a dodgy calf coming out of Ambleside last time I thought I'd give them a go, nowt to lose.
The girl at kit check reeled off the list. My new inov8 Raceshell 220 eventually passed as a waterproof after much discussion as the taped seams were revealed, I'd forgotten my gloves, that's no big deal I'd have to buy some but the inov8 mistlite 130s (waterproof trousers) were a flat rejection. 'Sorry, I've been told I can't accept those', 'what about the Montane featherlites', 'no, they're not waterproof either'. The rest of the kit was checked and given the nod but I was sent over to the 'shop' to buy what I needed. Captive audience I thought to myself. I explained the predicament to the salesman who said they had been rejecting the inov8 and montane pants all day long to which I asked what the damage was for a pair of real waterproof trousers off his stall. £80. You can stick that, I wasn't about to spend £80 on a pair of trousers that I'd never wear when I had another pair at home, and the ones in my bag have passed the kit check for the same race twice before. Someone must have some I could borrow.
The panic was over as I called Mark Dalton and just borrowed a spare pair of his plus gloves. The moral is to always take all of your kit just in case you get a fussy checker. The inov8 had even passed the mother of all kit checks, The Fellsman 3 times. Lakes 100 had just taken that title.
The compulsory talk given by race organisers Marc and Terry was pretty much the same as last year with the addition of one thing..
After seeing runners going astray around Blencathra last year I posted on the L100 forum that unmanned dibber points before Blencathra and after Blea Moor may be a good idea to ensure everyone stays on route.
Low and behold, we were getting 2 new unmanned compulsory dibber boxes at the end of Glendarraterra end by the wall gap after the Blea Moor section. Someone must have listened. Nothing around High Kop Low Kop though, but that was of less relevance and would be harder to get to and organise.
I retired to the car with one hour until send off and tried to have a relax. That lasted all of 5 minutes so I just got all my kit sorted and had a walk around.
The one thing that I really noticed this year was the massive adoption in the use of HOKAs. Every other runner appeared to be wearing them. On one hand I can see the appeal of these, particularly on a course like Lakeland, they would soak up so much of the uneven ground and they apparently are the best thing for descending rough paths and reducing stress on the muscles blah de blah but..
For me, If I wanted all the rough taken out of the run I would just run on tarmac, I like the feeling of the changing ground beneath my feet, the unevenness, having to land your feet a certain way and the general feeling of being close to the ground, closer to the earth. I recently bought a pair of La Sportiva crosslites to run the Lakes in but because I've only run in X-Talons for so long I hated the stiffness, lack of flexibility and overall weight (390g) of this so call lightweight shoe. They went straight on Ebay and I bought a pair of roclite 285s, more than adequate cushioning for me.
I have a feeling that you would be more prone to injury using Hokas anyway, not less prone as most would expect, reasoning - you would be more inclined to land heavy as your foot searches for firm ground, with a minimal shoe you force your whole body to soften the landing and automatically try to land lighter. I won't go into this here because it's boring and everyone has heard it all before but suffice to say I won't be paying over £100 for a pair any time soon.
Walking around the perimeter of the camp site I see my predictions for the top 3 finishers all together.
I say Hi to Terry Conway and introduce myself to Paul Tierney who I know through the virtual world but not met in person, then Barry Murray who I've mentioned in earlier posts. I have a brief chat with Barry, thanking him for his nutrition advice and enthusing about the fact I'm 1kg lighter. Racing weight! All 3 look amped up, Barry has probably had 5 pro plus. I wish them good luck and leave them to it but not without noticing they are all covered in pink and black Rocktape. Kinesiology tape is the next big thing without a doubt and expect to see everyone with it next year, calf guards are also used by many but seem to be passe now by these elite few.
I'll get to the run in a minute...
So, A year on and I'm loads fitter, loads lighter and full of confidence in achieving a faster time for the Lakes 100. Not quite true.
Loads fitter? I've trained a whole lot more miles than last year and probably got in more elevation with all the Bob Graham stuff but not done as much racing, in fact I was a bit worried that the long, actual running days were a bit thin on the ground. This may have been a good thing though as I did the LDWA hundred last year as well which took a hell of a long time to recover from.
Loads lighter? Not having any weighing equipment.i.e. scales in the house I don't know from one day to the next what I weigh. The last time I got weighed was before and after the Lakes 100 last year.
73.5kg before, 71.9kg after. I said at the time that I should have been around that weight when I started. Tending to just go just off feel, I can tell I am a bit lighter but by how much.
I tentatively mounted the the scales at weigh in this year and the result was .....72.4kg.. That'll do. 1100grams less weight to carry than 2011.. every little helps. All this is down to Barry Murrays nutritional advice which he gave me over a year ago now of which some can be found on some of my older posts.
Full of confidence? I'm never full of confidence with these things. Perhaps I should be a bit more now as I know I can get around the course and I know there were times when I could go faster.
I met up with Mark Dalton again this year and having previously completed 2 hundred milers together we agree to run together for a while and see how it goes, under no obligation to stay together the whole time if one of us falters or in the unlikely event of one of us feeling super fast.
The streets appear to be more crowded each year I do this event with spectators and supporters lining both sides right up until we reach the Black Bull Inn and head off towards the Walna Scar road.
As in last years write up I've added some stats from each checkpoint and my times for comparison. While I don't pay much attention to these any more I know some people are interested and in this run will indicate where I went wrong.
The plan was to go just a bit faster on every leg and not hang around at checkpoints for longer than necessary. This would in theory knock at least 2-3 hours off my previous time and get me nearer my goal of 30 hours. Above all this goal setting the main aim was to just enjoy the time being out in the hills. How many people can say that they have ever stayed outside in the wilderness for a whole day night ..or 2 with nothing to worry about except for keeping the body and mind going...
We clear the Walna Scar road without incident and the roclites are performing well, if a little tight around the toes. We then arrive at Seathwaite checkpoint for the first choice of what to fill up with.
A new sponsorship deal for the race from nutrition company Kinetica meant that each checkpoint had a supply of energy powder sachets, others had gels and protein bars, I planned on alternating these with real food. Instructions were to mix 1 sachet with 350ml of water. From experience I have often found other powders too strong and have to dilute them to about half the stated strength, for some reason I just put the whole sachet in and we headed off... Jon Steele arrived as we were leaving.
Coniston - Seathwaite CP1 1:28:07 (2011-1:36:04)
Waiting time 1:06
total water so far 400ml with Elete electrolyte
food: Ginger cake & banana
(Filled up 500ml water with Kinetica berry sachet)
|A bit of time to spare while Mark pulls his shoe out of the bog|
The feet were about to get wet as we reached the boggy section of the course. Mark had a bit of an incident here as he lost his shoe deep in the mud taking what seemed like minutes to drag it out. I was feeling good at this point and descending quite smoothly in comparison to previous efforts. I think the Bob Graham recces and support helped a lot. Descending is my weak point but the smoother I can do it the less fatigued I get. The run into Eskdale and the Boot checkpoint were very enjoyable, the weather was perfect, just warm enough for a t shirt and shorts. Mark and I were in high spirits despite him saying he'd overdone it with his 'hearty lunch' before the start.
At Boot I topped up with Kinetica powder again. The stuff seemed to be doing a roaring trade with the CP staff looking a bit worried that they'd run out. Jon Steele arrived as we were leaving.
Seathwaite - Eskdale corn Mill (Boot) CP2 1:40:42 (2011-1:36:58)
Total 3:08:49 (2011-3:13:02)
waiting time 2:13
total water so far 900ml (500ml with Kinetica)
food: bag of nuts + few biscuiits
(Filled up 500ml water with Kinetica)
The joy continued all the way up to burnmoor Tarn and the rocky descent into Wasdale. Glorious views all around. Moving slowly but surely we reach Brackenclose just as the sun was setting, about the same as last year. We were surprised to see a number of retirements at Wasdale, whether it was injury or sickness even this short distance into the run the course was taking victims.
I had a bit of a thirst on so necked 3 small cups of coke and topped up my bottle with a dilute mix of Kinetica powder.
Jon Steele arrived as we were leaving.
|Another Burnmoor Tarn shot|
Eskdale - Wasdale Head CP3 1:21:23 (2011-1:20:38)
Total 4:30:12 (2011-4:33:40)
waiting time 5:54 (headtorch on)
total water so far 1400ml (1000ml with Kinetica)
food: Soup, 3x coke, few biscuits
(Filled up 500ml water with half sachet of Kinetica)
Out of Wasdale we don headtorches and head for the plodding climb towards Black Sail pass. Here is where it all went wrong for me. I felt terrible weakness and nausea on this ascent but the dozens of chasing headlights spurred me on to keep moving. It was a relief to be heading downhill towards Buttermere, gravity assisted. The 'gimme miles' along the Lakeside were so hard to keep moving on and by the time we ran into Buttermere CP my stomach was protesting heavily.
I realised exactly what I'd done. That energy powder, I never touch the stuff usually, why now? what the hell was I thinking?. Shit.. this was going to take some pulling back. I sat down at Buttermere and felt the life drain from me along with the colour from my face much to the photographers approval who insisted that I look straight into his searchlight flash mounted to his SLR. If Marc Laithwaite wanted to portray a face of suffering then this was it.
Plain water from now on like It should have been from the start, and real food. But to try and give me a pick up I necked half a gel and coffee.
Jon Steele arrived as we were leaving.
|What Wasdale looks like if your slow.. i.e dark|
Wasdale Head - Buttermere CP4 2:38:04 (2011-2:29:04)
Total 7:08:16 (2011-7:02:44)
waiting time 9:11
total water so far 1600ml
food: Kinetica gel, coffee, 2x biscuits, jelly babies for the journey.
(Filled up about 300ml plain water)
The Buttermere to Braithwaite section was only memorable last year because it went so fast and the grassy final descent was a joy. No such luck this time, it took all my energy to muster the strength on the climb up to Sail Pass. I got the feeling I wasn't the only one suffering. Like a funeral procession about a dozen of us all single file never spoke a word for what felt like an hour until we reached the summit. All that previous elation had disappeared, it was time to just get on with it.
Braithwaite couldn't arrive soon enough. All the talk of not wasting time at checkpoints had gone out of the window, I needed to get some decent food and rest a while. The pasta and sauce was hard to swallow, I hate pasta. The rice pudding went down a lot better.
Jon Steele arrived as we were leaving.
Buttermere - Braithwaite CP5 2:11:12 (2011-2:05:25)
Total 9:19:37 (2011-9:08:09)
waiting time 17:25
total water so far 1700ml
food: Pasta & sauce, rice pudding. coffee.
No sooner had we reached the A66 the heavens opened and the jackets went on, rain was the least of my worries but we still managed to keep up a good pace on the flat section right up until Spooney green Lane where we hit another hill and a welcome walking break. The running just seemed to upset my stomach but I could see a light at the end of the tunnel, was the light of an on coming train....seriously, the fact that I was burping and breaking wind every two minutes was my body sorting itself out, I just wanted it to do it a bit faster. The interim dibber point was found and we headed back towards the Blencathra centre it was now daylight again.
Blencathra was an indoor affair this year and more real food was consumed, every minute that passed I was feeling better.
Braithwaite - Blencathra CP6 2:42:22 (2011-2:31:15)
Total 12:02:59 (2011-11:39:24)
waiting time 10:43
total water so far 1900ml
food: soup, coffee, ginger cake
(Topped up just water)
The new day dawned and I was expecting a new lease of life like I had previously experienced, not this time. I was awake alright but the energy just wasn't there and the good running above the river Gretta wasn't really taken advantage of as was the long Old coach road made even longer by our walk/run plod. Mark seemed a lot stronger than me since Buttermere but never seemed to be bothered about pushing on.
Dockray was another sit down affair. I just started to notice my shoes become really tight around the toe box and my big toes getting sore. I can't remember where we were but at some point Mark stepped on my right big toe as we were going through a gate and it bloody hurt a lot, it was quite swollen and getting more so. I had a change of shoe at Dalemain which I was sure to take now as the x-talons I had in my drop bag were half a size too big and would probably fit perfectly now.
Jon Steele arrived as we were leaving. He was in a bad way as he'd forgotten to fill his bottle at Blencathra. Badly dehydrated we wouldn't see Jon at a checkpoint again.
Blencathra - Dockray CP7 2:18:53 (2011-1:58:51)
Total 14:21:52 (2011-13:38:15)
waiting time 10:57
total water so far 2100ml
food: Soup, coffee, cake
(filled 500ml bottle and 1/2 a 600ml bottle just in case)
One of the most beautiful areas of the Lakes was ahead of us. As we left Dockray the sun was out and the views around Ullswater were amazing. The single track running was good and undulating with Mark and myself joined by a few other happy souls. We all progressed well enough with probably too much walking than was justified.
We see a chap going completely the wrong on this stretch. I take a look at the map and see that he's heading for the road that leads directly to Dalemain. We call him back. This got me thinking. Trail running, Fell running, orienteering, mountain marathons. Despite involving running in terrain these are all completely different things involving different mindsets. If this was a fell race I'd be going as straight to Dalemain as the terrain allows but here we are to stick to a pre defined route. No marshals, no taping just trust and the fact that because you say you went that way it was good enough. Good job money is not involve. How would this change the sport?
I'd had the map in my hand the whole time so far and was enjoying following the yellow highlighted line around the course, there was a disturbing amount of road running ahead though and Mark pushed on along the tarmac. I'd seen him in this mode before when he just wants it out of the way. Good job he did as I think I was finally coming around to normality. I stretched my legs to catch him up with no ill effects.
Not knowingly we were just under an hour down on our 2011 schedule, we weren't timing it but it did feel slower. Again, great time was spent on systems checks. New socks and shoes were put on after I had cut off some hard callused skin on my feet, I really do need to look after my feet better to avoid the discomfort caused by these calluses and verrucas, the problem only arises after long periods of time on my feet when they get wet.
I think the veg stew and cake with custard finally gave me the energy back. The penny sweets were a nice touch and a rare treat of a pocket full of blackjacks kept me going until Howtown.
On leaving Dalemain I put my drop bag with all the others that had already been left. There was a hell of a lot.
Dockray - Dalemain CP8 2:56:13 (2011-2:43:37)
Total 17:18:05 (16:21:52)
waiting time 26:45
total water so far 2600ml
food: Veg stew, cake/cold custard, tea, handful of blackjacks in pocket(awesome!)
(Filled up 500ml water. Still had 300ml left in other bottle
More good weather out from Pooley Bridge on this odd section that goes straight up a road just to traverse back down gradually to the Howtown checkpoint. I tried to pick up the pace a bit, the sheer pleasure of running again was back, this is what it's all about.
In contrast to 2011 where I fell asleep on the table covered in bananas listening to cricket, Howtown was a hive of activity Marc Laithwaite was there who informed me that Terry had just taken the lead and was on a mission. I dared to try a toffee recovery bar, probably a stupid idea but it tasted great with the coffee, we sat down again for a minute when we heard someone in a hurry. 'Flapjack! water!' the first of the Lakes 50 runners were coming through.
|Howtown checkpoint fare. I'll leave the powder thanks!|
Dalemain - Howtown CP9 2:20:02 (2011-2:20:03)
Total 19:38:07 (2011-18:41:55)
waiting time 10:21
total water so far 3000ml
food: coffee, banana, Kinetica toffee recovery bar
We left with a new found enthusiasm. Not far behind the front 50 men were the first of the ladies Tracy Dean followed very closely by Terry's wife Annie Conway.. very quick indeed.
Power hiking Fusedale Beck we were constantly being overtaken as the 50ers seemed to be be hiking just the same but faster and putting the odd spurt of running in. Danny stopped for a chat before going on to complete the 50 in a fast sub 11 hours, way under his target time, well done Dan. Previous years 50 team winners Stephen and Jason had decided to split a week or so before the start. Stephen had been ill. Jason sped off and we eventually found that he'd finished in a very high placing, nice one.
Like a false summit the Haweswater section drags on for longer than you think, Speaking Crag and 'the Rigg' stick out of the water and you always think the checkpoint is just around those trees.
Here we see another familiar face. When Mark and I went the wrong way last year there were a couple doing the 50 in vibrams, If my memory serves me right I think the couple went the right way and we and a committee of others went the wrong way. Well, the chap was back in the five fingers doing the hundred. The shoes were ripped to pieces with his toe poking out. Don't know if he finished. Increasing the challenge or just plain stupid, you decided. I've got no opinion on this, each to their own. He's got his own reasons for it I'm sure. but the consensus was that he must be suffering.
Lots of retirees at Mardale. Can't tell if most were hundred or fifty'ers, no big yellow band through hundred'ers numbers this year just a small sticker with L50 or L100 which is hard to see if not looking closely.
Howtown - Mardale Head CP10 3:20:22 (2011-3:37:26)
Total 22:58:29 (2011-22:19:21)
waiting time 13:28
total water so far 3300ml
food: Soup, coffee, biscuits
The wind and rain picked up on the Mardale climb but I got my head down and plodded on to the summit which arrived soon enough. The very rocky descent was good fun and I thought to myself how much faster I could go If I had Hokas on - just as I passed someone wearing Hokas, that kind of made my mind up but just then someone else came flying past me wearing Hokas. hmm perhaps he can't feel a thing.
I love the run into Kentmere, such a peaceful place which is always a joy to be in. I was buzzing now and the pasta and rice pudding lifted the spirits even more. No tiredness, no aching limbs, no sickness, no hunger. Just a sore toe.
Mardale Head - Kentmere CP11 2:19:05 (2011-2:26:28)
Total 25:17:34 (2011-24:45:49)
waiting time 13:41
total water so far 3600ml
food: pasta with sauce, rice pudding, coke
(topped up 500ml bottle with just water)
|On leaving Kentmere|
There's a fair bit of running can be done between Kentmere and Ambleside which we did in places but maybe should have done a bit more while we felt good. Route memory was good and we were heading into Lakes runner before we knew it. I wasn't feeling particularly hungry so just had a soup and watched the world go by while Mark sorted himself out.
Ambleside was busy with supporters and as each year passes there seem to be more and more knowing what is going on.
Kentmere - Ambleside CP12 2:32:43 (2011-2:41:28)
Total 27:50:17 (2011-27:27:17)
waiting time 14:44
(2011-12:00? think was less than 2012)
total water so far 3900ml
food: Soup, coke, cake
(topped up the 500ml bottle again with water not much needed)
I think we took our eye off the ball after leaving Ambleside. Mark was chatting to someone he knew from other runs and I was talking to a chap who was there to support someone doing the 50, before we knew it we were heading out onto the fells and not run a step since the checkpoint. I wasn't too bothered about this as achieving a decent time was now impossible so we just took it as it came.
We went a bit wonky finding the Chapel Stile checkpoint and ended up going across the campsite thinking each tent was it only to find families relaxing and them wondering what the hell we were up to. Don't know how we missed it with the size of the place and all the lighting.
Some more veggie stew was on offer and I stupidly sat down on a very comfortable sofa. It was now well into the night again and a wave of tiredness overcame me. Coffee and custard creams got me going again.
Ambleside - Chapel Stile CP13 2:10:58 (2011-2:09)
Ambleside - Chapel Stile CP13 2:10:58 (2011-2:09)
Total 30:01:15 (2011 - 29:36)
Different CP location
waiting time 15:06
(2011-20:00? think was more than 2012)
total water so far 4000ml
food: 2x beef stew, coffee, biscuits
Mark informed me that the next section was where we lost a lot of time last year as he was dog tired and struggled to keep moving. As well as going the wrong way, In contrast, this year we were both felt in high spirits and just enjoying the run.
As we hit the section around Blea Tarn I know we just have to keep to the line of bracken to our right. There are people everywhere looking for a route through it and we picked up some stragglers as the small led light appeared in the distance signalling the unmanned checkpoint. Another fun section finding a way through the rocks and mud.
The steep tarmac road down to fell foot farm didn't seem at all bad this time around. We were surely quicker on this section.
Arriving at Tilberthwaite there is a motorhome covered in astroturf, there really was, it wasn't just my mind playing tricks. Mark gets his road book out where he'd scribbled last years times and tells me that we are now 30 minutes up, How did that happen? we were hardly pushing the boundary of human limits.
Chapel Stile - Tilberthwaite CP14 2:56:22 (2011-3:55:03)
Total 32:56:37 (2011-33:31:22)
waiting time 6:14
(2011-10:00? definitely longer in 2011)
total water so far 4200ml
food: coffee, biscuits
Tilberthwaite was a cracker. That rock section just after the steps is a nice little scramble which plateaued into a good runnable path. I did try and push on a bit but seemed to be leaving Mark behind. I decided that it was a bit late to be running ahead for what would only be about 20 minutes gain. I took it easy again and layed back a bit. On the rocky descent the heavens opened and the heaviest rain yet came in making the rocks quite slippery. We just took it easy over these to avoid any daft mistakes until we reached the smooth tarmac road. My legs felt fresh and we ran all the way back through the deserted Coniston streets. A sprint finish. I felt better than I'd done at any other point in the run.
Tilberthwaite - Coniston Finish 1:31:02 (2011-02:01:06)
Total 34:27:39 (35:32:28)
waiting time 0:00 (finish)
total water so far 4200ml
food: Finishers meal, chilli, white bread roll, cake & ice cream (couldn't finish it).
We were escorted through the school hall to the usual round of applause. Part of me thinking that the finishing time was very poor and another part of me thinking, what does it matter, it was another amazing run out in the Lakes with great friends and just the the feeling of being thankful that I have the health and fitness to do it. The big time improvement will have to wait until another day but in the meantime I have learnt more new things about running 100 miles in the mountains.
They didn't seem bothered about weighing me this time so I don't know if any weight was lost. I didn't feel any lighter and I'd obviously not exerted myself too much in the second half. I don't think I've ever felt so good after a run, especially one of 100 odd miles. I wasn't particularly hungry either but the chilli went down well.
A couple of hours sleep in the car was followed by the last drops of hot water in the showers where I was moving a lot better than in my 2 previous hundreds. Maybe the body gets use to it. I will be back next year for more as long as I can get an entry. I do enjoy the long ultras of 30, 40 and 50 miles but there is something special about 100 milers that set them apart and I've got to say it is now my favourite distance to run. With a guaranteed entry to UTMB 2013 I would be stupid not to take that on but I'm still undecided as to what other hundreds I can get away with. LDWA?, Hardmoors 110?, Coastal path?, or even one of the three centurion events. Ultras are addictive but hundreds are something else
Total time 34:27:39 (2011-35:32:28)
Next up for me is the Pennine Way. Mark and myself will be attempting a North - South run on a six day schedule starting on 2nd September stopping at youth hostels and the like. Should be a great journey as long as we get the first 2 long days out of the way at just over 50 miles and just under 50 miles respectively.
Terry probably couldn't care one bit about his split times but here they are anyway in stark contrast to my effort.. or lack there of.