UT55km (and a bit on top)

UT55km (and a bit on top)

It’s summer after all

So in the last 3 years of Lake District events it’s been hot I’ve done a marathon and ultra attempt in temperatures close to 30 degrees, so it’s understandable that my packing thought process was dry trail shoes and sun cream…famous last thoughts.

It’s 7 am and I wake up to the sound of heavy rain and no views from the lodge on the Langdale Estate;  summer it isn’t but at least dehydration won’t be an issue.  Despite being wet, it’s warm enough to just wear my short sleeve top and club vest under my newly acquired Rab jacket.  I have my usual pre-long run breakfast of Skyr yogurt and granola plus a glass of Mountain Fuel energy drink and some tea.  One lesson learnt from my Lakeland 50 DNF was not to think you can have a full English just because your running a slower ultra, my digestive system certainly couldn’t cope so its tried and tested from now on.  I do a final check and its time to go, getting in the car with David and Carrick, its definitely still raining.


I’d envisaged sitting happily under a tree before the start of the event, well the tree part was correct but this time it was to shelter from the rain.  I definitely just wanted to get going, so it was a relief to hear the call to meet at the start area for the safely briefing.  We were informed of minor route alterations, due to Storm Desmond re-landscaping the course (see previous post) and reminded that the weather was not going to change, but might get worse (note: possible thunderstorms).  We lined up and were on are way.


Over the top (1) to Glenridding via Kirkstone Pass

Having recce’d (see previous post) the Ambleside to Grasmere stages, I knew what was coming, however a) it had been lovely and warm, b) dry underfoot and c) on my own.  The previous days rain, coupled with the current weather meant that the nice dry rocks, grass and trickling streams were no more.  Add in several other pairs of feet and my shoes that were meant for dry conditions it was slow progress once we left the tarmac single track road.  It would set the scene for the rest of the day, a case of patience and just accept the situation (I love yoga philosophy); be happy to get a round and let anyone who wanted to risk falling on their face get ahead.  That said I made it to Kirkstone Pass in the same time as on the recce, their was confusion as we’d all expected a checkpoint here not just a feed point; double confusion was it appeared that other events where also in progress, as we had it politely pointed out that the portaloos were not for our use.

It was now onto the downhill, I’d finished my Mountain Fuel energy drink in my soft flask and made sure I ate some flapjack and sweets before moving on (lesson learnt from recce, the uphill slog to this point uses up lots of energy).  Its fair to say the downhill section to Brotherswater was a mix of major bog, slip hazard rock and grass; I executed an Olympic standard bum slide and saved my knee from popping out when my foot slid from under me.  It was a happy sight to see the farm at Brotherswater, as it marked the undulating gravel bridleway and the start of the run-able section to Glenridding.  I was clearly managing my energy better, as I felt good and pushed on with a slow run; I had no dips in energy unlike with the recce, so felt fine running along to Patterdale and before I knew it I’d reached CP-Glenridding village hall, 10 mins quicker than on my recce.

My plan was no more than 10 mins at a main checkpoint, so I grabbed a cup of tea, some cake and crisps and went to the kitchen to make up a new flask of Mountain Fuel.  I was keen knowing the weather to push on and get the hardest and worst section of the course out the way, It was to be a grim section.


Over to Grasmere, wind, hail, ice rain and slip harzards.

If you read my previous post on my recce, you’d recall I almost packed in here.  During my recce this section over Lantys Tarn and up Grisedale was a mental battle due to dips in energy. I was on top of my energy this time and left the CP running.  It started out fine, a light drizzle and I ran to the steps and start of climb to Lantys Tarn, however on getting through the gate and turning onto the (correct) route to the Tarn; the mother of all rainstorms unleashed itself.  I stuck my hood over my AR collective trucker hat and battled on, it was a happy sight to reach the Marshall with cowbells at the top who commented on my good colour co-ordination; this would not be the only point I have to say  they were outstanding for being out there in mental conditions; at least we were passing through and moving.  I ran past the tarn and carefully made the descent into Grisedale Valley, the rain at least eased of but the track up the valley was now a stream and it was only going to get worse.  As referenced in my recce report, the path starts as a narrow single track until the point below Rutherford hut, where the climb begins to Grisedale Tarn.  At this point it becomes a mix of cobbles and rock scrambles, which when dry isn’t a issue but after days of rain turn into mini waterfalls; coupled with shoes that weren’t designed for wet rock and being blasted my gale force side winds and hail, this was a grim section and the Tarn was a very happy site.  I had a quick munch on a 9bar and some of my Mountain Fuel drink, before beginning the final climb to the Hause that marked the descent down into Grasmere; here was another epic marshal camped out in a small tent, guiding the two sets of runners onto the right path (the 110km runners take a longer route), he mentioned something of ‘your at the top, now a beautiful descent down’


Look a view

The only positive for the drop down to Grasmere, was the rain stopped and the cloud lifted revealing an actual view for the first time.  I happy let those who wanted to risk slipping on their face, pass me as I slowly shuffle stepped down the rocks, and I was very happy when it gave way to a gravel track.  The track was fine and I could run on it, the problem was the track was intersected by cascading torrents of water; in the recce they’d been a trickle and easily stepped over; know they required careful crossing.  On one I had some assistance from a lady with a set of poles, most the time I just picked a sensible spot and got my feet wet; its worth noting that almost every stepping stone was submerged to some degree.  We had a final laugh on the one detour across a grass bank before another Olympic standard bum slide down to rejoin the intact path.  The worst was out the way, just a paddle across a path to open a gate and finally I was on the track down to meet the path, before running along into Grasmere.  I managed a slow run to CP-Grasmere the relief at getting to this point and having a much needed cup of tea and some cake, I’d abandoned the will to eat sandwiches by this point.

I kept to my 10 mins per checkpoint, I was still on schedule at this point, making it in slightly quicker than on the recce and in a good mood, I texted my support crew to say this, before topping up flasks and moving on.


Tour de Langdale Valleys

In my training recce’s this section was where I’d planned to make up ground, once into Langdale it was good run-able tracks, just the climb over the saddle below Silver How and a tricky descent section first.  In the recce, I’d got up to the saddle in 30 mins, it was dry then.  It was a river on the day, rocks were wet, streams were torrents and grass was slippy.  It was a mental slog to the top, and it felt never-ending.  At the top most section we faced a tricky down climb on rocks to cross a stream.  I didn’t check my watch, but I knew it had been much slower.  The bit that had worried me, was actually fine it was no worse than when I’d recce’d it, we were warned to take it easy on the descent due to loose gravel which was highlighted when a girl lost her footing in front of me.  But I made it down to the junction and through the bracken.  This should have been a section to run, but the bracken made it impossible to see where your feet was, it was incredible slippy and the sections of rock scramble were streams again.  We also got lost at the very end, this was by no means the organisers fault it was just a victim of the weather.  We made it as a group to Harry Field Farm, we were meant to take a sharp left down some large cobbles to a stile, but as there was no waymarking or course signage and the said track was a river, we kept going through the farm, down some very wet cobbles before clambering over a fence.  Its fair to say I’d taken a lot longer to get down to the road in Great Langdale, but my thought now was the crossroads checkpoint to Little Langdale.


Not my feet, but sums up nicely the underfoot conditions

At this point we meet runners who were on the last section to the final checkpoint, I gave a quick smile and pushed on, I didn’t want to dwell on the fact I had only started this loop.  I managed to walk/run to the next checkpoint.  I was speed walking all uphill sections now, to save my legs as the wet conditions were energy sapping.  Still I was in a good mood and gave my number at the CP before a quick drink of cola and some flapjack and jelly babies. The climb up through the woods was wet and slippy but it was okay, I hummed a song in my head to keep me going and it wasn’t long before I was running down the gravel track to meet the byway into Little Langdale.


Little Langdale Tarn – a reflective moment to just appreciate being able to do this

Never before has a gravel/ tarmac road been appreciated it was a relief to have a reasonably dry surface to run on after 6 and a bit hours of ankle deep water, I made it quickly to the gate that would lead us to Little langdale Tarn and for a quick evening photo.  Time to just enjoy the fact it wasn’t raining.  Perhaps its my life as a Yogi, but at this moment I was just happy to reflect on the fact that I could do this its nice to do a good time but its not everything, sometimes appreciating the moment is more important.  Having crossed Slaters Bridge, I ran on along the track to a short climb past some NT buildings before another paddle to open a gate.  At this point you join the path that you run up for the lakeland50, it not a bad track when dry, today it was a river of ankle deep water.  At this point my right little toes was unhappy at the constant sock soaking, I gave up trying to run through it and just speed walked downhill.  It was a happy sight to get to the bottom of it and to the flat track to meet the road up Wrynose.

So here it was, the final big effort on the course; those of us that were still out were quite spread out, which I was happy with.  I had a quick energy top up and got my head down and power walked up the road, before heading over the bog.  Here I executed another Olympic standard bog slide (my TNF running skirt know has a permanent stain as a reminder) and after pushing through more bracken, it was up a wet and slippy path to Blea Tarn, then a very loose gravel track to the top of Side Gate.  The descent back down was not as bad as I thought, one positive of the rain is that it had bedded down the loose gravel so i managed a slow cautious run appose to a slow shuffle walk.  I was down to the NT Campsite in good time, time to cross over and begin the cobble an rock strewn bridleway to Sticklebarn.  Here the rain gave it final call,  on a already hellish section and knowing that Sticklebarn isn’t a CP anymore it was grim,  the final drop down to Sticklebarn is all rock, now which was a waterfall and not easy to descend on but I got down and pushed on passed the inn.


smile your on camera

A final climb up some cobbles I meet a girl doing the 110km route, she told me it would be here only 60 mile ultra and she was sticking to shorter ones after it.  Here we came across James ‘ jumpy’ Kirkby the official photographer, so it was back to running and smile.  I kept running down to the track at Baysbrown campsite, I was on track to get to the final CP at 8pm, but had to keep taking walk breaks due to my little toe.  I reached the path up to the CP at Langdale Primary School where I meet David’s brother Peter who was over with family from New Zealand to visit us for the final week.  He informed me that David and his Dad, Keith were outside the school watching, which spurred me on to keep running.

It was great to see familiar faces, as I reached the school fields; even better I’d made it to the final CP, just one more stretch to do.  It was 8:10pm and I’d been on my very wet feet for 9 1/2 hours.  I’d long removed finishing in 10 hours out of my mind, which helped as I wasn’t concerned about trying to run to the finish.  I did a quick pitstop, grabbed some flapjack and cola then headed back out; passing David to say ‘see you in Ambleside’.  My legs felt fine, but my little toes was rubbing bad on my shoe but I really didn’t want to have to remove a soaking sock to stick a plaster on it.  I manage to keep up a run into Elterwater, were we climbed upto YHA Langdale.  The route at this point would have cut through High Close woods to meet the road down to Little Loughrigg, but Storm Desmond had obviously compromised the path, so we had to keep on the road.  As much as my legs were happy to run, my little toe was not so it became a walk/run effort; as we turned of the road to run around Loughrigg Tarn, someone shouted 5K to go, which normally would’ve been great but we still had a rough track over Lower Loughrigg to deal with.

The one thing you really don’t want near the end is a stile, and yes we had one; it at least provided a laugh as we all attempted to get our quads over the obstacle.  It was then the final short climb over Loughrigg before the run down into Ambleside.  At the start of the climb a lady shouted only 1km to go; I wasn’t convinced, it was a long 1km if it was.  I hit the final stony descent down tho the road; my toe was complaining a lot but I was 100% determined to run all the way to the finish and I did; not with much control on the final stretch as the windy road down into Ambleside is not great on tired quads, so I had to zig-zag quite a lot.  I finished running, 11 hours and just before darkness really crept in.  More than that I’d did it, my first ultra and one large monkey of my back after the DNF at lakeland 50, 3 years earlier.


And so where to know, Lakeland50 2017 hopefully; I feel I’m in a much better mindset for ultras now; no more about the time, just think about the experience.  On top of this I’m a Yoga Teacher, so all training will be sandwiched into practising for classes and teaching, I’ll be making sure injuries don’t creep in, but equally I’ve got the perfect job to keep any niggles away.





Taking the Long Way Round: UT55Km recce weekend

Taking the Long Way Round: UT55Km recce weekend

You have Arrived at Your Destination

As far as travelling goes, it went without issue: the flight left and got into Edinburgh ahead of schedule; the Edinburgh trams are really quick and efficient to use and as I was really in need of breakfast, I hopped of at Princes Street and made my way to Costa for a chai latte and bacon sandwich.  I then had a quick visit to Lush, to buy a few items to only end up behind someone buying half the shop, this resulted in me legging it to Waverley station and just getting on the train in time (which was on time).  If you travel regularly on Virgin trains, you’ll be aware that they give you about 2 mins to get on before moving off.  I just managed to squeeze my small case onto the luggage rack, the lack of luggage space would become an issue later on as increasing numbers of people boarded with all their worldly possessions.

We arrived into Oxenholme station right on time; having left a cloudy and cool Edinburgh, imagine the surprise to step off into bright, warm sunshine.  I had an hour before the train to Windermere, so I used it to do a change into my running Capri’s and change my socks.  My plan was to drop my case in the hostel dry room (as i couldn’t check-in until 16:30), grab my waist pack and go for a run.  I finally got through to the hostel to get the code and got onto the northern trains carriage.  Getting on the train early was the best idea yet; as 15 mins later 2 more Virgin trains arrived complete with a throng of Chinese and Londoners plus all their worldly possessions (again); I am trying to figure out what they can possibly have in these 70 litre cases for a weekend break.  We leave slightly late, due to the aforementioned trains, but arrive in Windermere in time to catch the 555 to Ambleside.

It’s a quick case drop, and organise in the dry room of Ambleside Backpackers Hostel before I head into the town.  I have about 20 mins until the next bus (plan to get off at White Moss Common Car Park, Rydal Water and run back) so I go and make my visit to the climbers shop and pick up an Ultimate Direction Jenni handheld bottle..this bottle would be an unforeseen great buy for the weekend..but my initial purchase was to try out carrying some Mountain Fuel energy drink at the start of Saturdays run and I’d test it out on todays run.


A little leg stretch back to Ambleside


My initial plan was to run along Rydal Water, cross over at the bridge, then run back through Rydal Park..that wouldn’t be possible.  After a lovely bluebell and wild garlic scented run through White Moss Common and a slow run along the side of Rydal Water, I went through the gate ignoring the sign to my right.

2 minutes later I saw a lot of yellow tape and a digger and half a bridge (that aforementioned bridge).  Deciding it might be useful to read the notice this time, it confirmed that there was no bridge and therefore no direct way to get over to Rothay Hall. I didn’t want to retrace my route all the way back, so I turned to go up into Cope How and ran back along the Lower Loughrigg road to Ambleside, here there was a bridge which is just as well as it’s the finishing straight for the Ultimate Trails courses.

Checking in

I got back to the hostel, just after check-in opened, with my Tesco supplies for breakfast.  I was really lucky to only have 1 extra body in my room.  Another lady who was down to train for the Lakeland 50.  I had a quick shower, before enjoying a lamb kofta burger and bottle of Hawkeshead Gold at the new burger bar in the town before a chilled evening and early night.

Note: Ambleside Backpackers has no TV and random WIFI, so it was good old talking and reading for entertainment.

Saturday: Ambleside to Grasmere ~ 18.5 miles (indirect)


Prescript: ‘If you want a quiet life, don’t stay in a hostel’

‘Crash, Squeak, Stomp’

Okay, I’d been warned at check-in that there were two large groups; one group of 14 doing the 12 peaks, one group of 8 doing the Help the Heros challenge and that they’d be up early for breakfast, and that are dorm was right above the kitchen.  Interestingly couldn’t hear anything from kitchen, but squeaky pipes and door opening and shutting, woke me up at 6am.  It was near impossible to get back to sleep as the light was crashing through the window, so I just lay dozing in bed.  Got-up at 8am after they’d left and wandered down for breakfast, it was an amazing day, blue sky, light northerly wind and warm.  There I meet the ‘bikers from North-East’ over for a birthday weekend.  I had a leisurely breakfast including half a glass of the Mountain Fuel energy drink, decanting the rest into my handheld, before going back to my room to get ready.  The unexpected weather, made me glad I’d bought my TNF  skort as I’d have overheated in the capri’s.  So an hour later, 9:30am I left the Hostel and walked down to the start off the road up to Stockgyhll force, my starting point.

Ambleside to Glenridding; one struggle, a mass of boulders and a bog

The first 5K takes you from Ambleside to the Car Park (and CP1) at Kirkstone Pass, it’s a relentless uphill stomp and my aim was to reach the Car Park in under an hour.  The first part takes you on the road up to Stockghyll Force and past Wansfell Pike.  Its a twisty, steep road and I managed a combination of slow running and fast walking.  I was keeping a check on my heart rate and even the fast walking was pushing it high into the threshold zone.  I also had my handheld filled with Mountain Fuel, and kept sipping on this all the way up.

The road, eventually become a lane and then a grassy track, and the path contours along to meet the final part of the struggle to Kirskstone Pass. This section of gravel and grass, finally gives a chance to stretch the legs out before a last effort of power walking and a happy run into the Car Park.   I checked my watch, 50 mins to this point, really happy as aimed to reach it in under 1 hour and plus my legs felt good.

It’s now downhill all the way to Ullswater, ‘Downhill’ I hear you say, that will be fun.  It just happens that the first third of the path down to Ullswater is boulder-strewn and multiple opportunities for twisted ankles.  I’d also read that it’s a good idea not to run every downhill, and as the biggest and longest climb was still to come, I was quite happy to shuffle-hop this first section with my short legs.  I was passed by 2 other UT55km running it but I was keeping to my strategy as I knew that more runable conditions were approaching.  Eventually the boulders give way to grassy fields and open running, what I love.  Perhaps I could call the former conditions ‘running claustrophobia’ and now I’d opened the door, stepped outside and could breathe (and run).  I happily kept running to my long run pace; and I will be honest totally lost track of my whereabouts, and just kept following the track ahead until ‘sloop, splash‘ into a boggy field.  I’d found myself in a boggy meadow, road on one side and ahead of me a stone wall with no sign of a stile on it. I took out my phone, that had the  route downloaded onto it, my initial thoughts about their route trace were confirmed, as climbing over stone walls isn’t part of the route (and is also not something you do ref:countryside code).  After 5-10 mins head scratching, I was left with no choice to splodge through the bog and follow the wall, until finally I came to the gap in the wall I was looking for.  Looking back I could see I’d gone the wrong side of a grassy hillock.

At least it was warm and sunny; so my super wet feet quickly dried out, and I found myself running along more grassy tracks until I reached Hartsop Hall and the bridleway past Brotherswater, a nice gravel track that takes you to the Car Park.  It had taken me just over an hour to get down from the pass, including standing in a bog looking lost, and I’d completely failed to note the time taken.  As I headed over to Hartsop and onto the footpath towards Patterdale, the time taken would hit me as I’d also failed to top up my energy and as I crossed over the dry beck  and made my way along the path, my energy levels crashed.  I quickly reduced to a slow walk and grabbed a chia charge flapjack and bounce ball from my side pocket and had a good drink of water to wash them down, thankfully within 5 minutes my energy levels picked up and I could run again.


The battered ‘Storm Desmond’ path to Patterdale, just after the broken bridge.  Not a drop of Water today

I’d clearly not taken into account how much energy the first 5k had used up and I made a note to myself not to be so absent-minded about this again.  The rest of the run to Patterdale and onto Glenridding went without issue, Glenridding marked the 12 mile point and CP2, it was busy with tourists (good to see) and getting back to normal life.  At this point my plan had been to eat my mini pork pie, but I abandoned this as the warmer weather and my stomach was telling me no, stick to the flapjacks. It had taken me about 40 mins to get here from Brotherswater despite an energy crash, and I’d know been on my feet for about 2hr25mins.

A Tale of two Tarns and one lake (or mere)

My Trail Running magazine training plan had 3hrs saturday/3hr sunday, I’m fairly sure when they draw these up they have no concept of reality, as I know had to choose to keep going and accept a much longer day or stop and wait for a bus; I choose the former, simply as it was 2 hours before the next bus.  I shuffled along past the beck, before stopping to remove my long-sleeve top and stuffing another flapjack in my mouth before the climb to Lantys Tarn, again here the GPX trace is questionable as doesn’t follow the permitted path but suggests walking up through someones private grounds, I kept to the RoW (again ref: countryside code and Right to Roam).  I then took the steep (and incorrect) route to the tarn, simply as it’s what seemed logical from their route trace, I should have taken the less steep and slightly longer track and saved my legs from the torture, I stopped briefly at a rock to ask myself ‘why’ and another flapjack before an enjoyable run past the tarn and to the gravel track down into Grisedale.


It was exceptionally dry on all the paths, and descending the path into Grisedale my foot hit a loose rock and I turned my ankle slightly, I didn’t panic, I just sat down for 2 minutes and had a drink and let the initial pain go.  On getting back up it felt fine and I kept going, again I took the wrong path so had to retrace my tracks to the right one.  At least its a marked course on the day.  It had taken me 2hr 45 mins to get into Grisedale Valley, and what lay ahead was a long valley and steep climb upto the Tarn.  The first section of the valley was fairly runable, I choose to walk/run it and this was a good choice as what was to come was hard.  Like most valleys, Grisedale lures you in gently with a nice gravel track before spitting you out at a quad and calf busting climb to Ruthwaite Lodge

I got to the Lodge, sat down on a wooden log and ate another flapjack and half a pack of my GU caffeinated energy chews.  My plan was to use caffinated products at those points when you need your mind switched fully on to focus, I knew from walking to the tarn before that the next section was a bit of a scramble in places and the climb was relentless. However my legs felt good, I was now feeling the benefits of my regular Yoga practice and also not hammering it on the runable sections.  It had taken me about 50 mins to get this bit of the valley done, 3hrs 35mins to this point, next stop the tarn.  The final climb to Grisedale Tarn is relatively steep with a number of rock bands to scramble over, it feels like your never going to get there because it is hidden from view until you reach it.  You also think you’ve got another section to walk because what you can see is the path ahead to Grisedale Hause, and no tarn in sight.  So it was the happiest sight in the world when there in front of me was the Tarn, I did an air high-five and little happy dance before running to the shore for some photos.  4 hours to this point, 16 mile (or so).

From the Tarn, its a slow runnable climb to a hole in a wall and the descent to the A591 and Grasmere.  The initial path down is of cobble flagging, the ones just to small and at a steep angle, that scream ankle twisting.  I decided to be cautious and shuffle-step down until I reached the gravel track, that winds its way down to Mill Bridge.  The path take a slight diversion  just before the bridge and the photo below shows why, another case of Strom Desmond rewriting the landscape.


From Mill Bridge, the bridleway reaches the path alongside the a591 and then its a slow run down to a stile that takes you to Grasmere and CP3 and for me the end of my day. 18.5 miles and just over 5hours on my feet.  My aim had been to finish feeling as if I could keep going at the same effort, and I certainly felt happy I could.  All that was left to do was to buy a bottle of water to make up my MF recovery shake and catch the bus back to Ambleside, for a shower and much deserved pizza.


Postscript: If you want the quiet life, really don’t stay in a hostel

So Saturday evening consisted of a couple of beers in the lounge, watching the trainee solicitors from Essex, do tequila shots. They managed to get 4 of the ladies who’s done a reduced 12 peaks challenge to join in.  The ones who completed the full 12 made it back at 11pm.  It’s fair to say, stairs for all of us were going  to be a laugh in the morning.  I plodded of to bed at 1030, the other lady was already asleep.  I’d caught her earlier, she too had done more than planned, we blamed the weather.

Sunday: Taking the wrong route down, and feeling relieved it was


It was another early start, the curtains have limited blackout ability so I was awake at 6am (again), I dozed in bed and listened to some music until 8am and had breakfast.  Yes, the quads felt sore but not tired, and my calves were fine.  Walking down the stairs wasn’t great but otherwise I felt good.  After 5 hours on day 1, I planned no more than 60-90 minutes today, bus to Grasmere and check out the route over past Silver How down into Langdale.

Its was another stunning day as I got on the bus, we were slightly delayed as myself and the driver convinced a Chinese contingent not to try a walk to Wastwater from Old Dungeon Ghyll, they had no map, dressed in casual clothes, no rucksacks.  Instead I suggested Blea Tarn and that if they wanted to go to Wastwater, looking up the Mountain Goat tour service instead.  I hopped of the bus at Grasmere, and started a slow run along Red Bank Road to meet the footpath up past Silver Howe:  My legs felt okay, I could run with a John Wayne swagger, but no real tiredness; on going through the gate onto the path I slowed to a fast walk, even better to feel I could push a fast walk on the ascent, and made it to the saddle below Silver How in 30 mins.

From here it was a descent into Langdale; the first section traversed a gully via a narrow scree path, more ‘running claustrophobia’ and lots of calming myself due to an attack of exposure (the drop down into the gully was horrendous).  I then reached a junction and here it went wrong: I should’ve stopped, taken out phone and checked route to realise I need to keep traversing on a sensible path to Harry farm; instead I let my mind convince me I was heading straight down to Chapel Stile, on the worst possible path that my shoes had zero grip on, and I think I used more bum than feet, posting some magnificent 1hr/mile paces at times.


The relief of releasing this is not the route down was immense

Of course on getting down to the bottom, it was only on checking the route on phone I realised I’d messed up, but the relief of knowing I wouldn’t have to repeat that descent put a smile on my face.  I continued down into the village and ran along the back of the beck to Elterwater.  This was meant to be the end of my training..but

So I’m sitting waiting for the 515 to Ambleside, the bus in the past has always stopped for a minute, so even though I was sitting under the tree with my sight of the bus obscured I wasn’t worried, then it came straight round the corner and straight back up to the road.  I stood for a few minutes, stunned thinking what now, my plan was to get bus back to Ambleside, then catch the bus to Keswick to get Carrick his new bag and generally mill about, but the next bus was over an hour away.  I did a quick leg check, time check and worked out that I could get back over to Grasmere in time to catch the 555..and that’s what I did, my legs felt quite happy with fast walking and I enjoyed a nice run back along the track through Redbank Woods and into a now very busy Grasmere.  On getting to the bus stop, I found a mangled ticket in my back skort pocket, thankfully the date could still be read.  After lunch in Abraham’s Cafe and buying Carricks bag in George Fisher, and some Fineliners in the Derwent Pencil shop, I headed back to the hostel for a shower and to relax.  By this point, it was just me in the room and the 12 peakers in the hostel.  I also found out that the 60-year-old man, I’d seen at breakfast was in-fact a member of the 100 marathon club and had also completed over 130 ultras, his aim was to reach 200 by the time he was 70.  Inspirational Yes, but also a case of never judging a book by its cover, as I’d never even thought of it when I saw him.

So to sum the weekend up:

  1. I feel happy I can complete the full 55km.  I never felt overly tired or lacking in energy
  2. My hydration startegy worked, and I just need to readjust the fueling to make sure I eat after reaching kirkstone Pass
  3. Life without a TV and WIFI is possible, and surprisingly refreshing
  4. Never to judge a book by its cover
  5. And never to rely on the human brain, it frequently gets confused and this can lead to standing in a bog, scrambling up a hillside and indeed sliding down one.





Gaining Perspective: 2014 (so far) in review

Its been a while I know, my last blog post being just before London Marathon.  Lets just say a case of bloggers block came over me. However I have had other reasons.  I’ve also moved my blog to a new site, this is partly as the blog site may well become a more professional platform for me in the future, and I have here a option to pay for increased flexibility when this happens (more on that later).

Earlier in year

I think my last blog was after Inverness half in March, I’d in all honesty been planning a lovely post VLM blog, one that would celebrate a nice new PB that had come out of all the training.  However many of my Facebook friends will be aware that this didn’t happen.  VMLM was a bit of a anticlimax to what had been 4 months of really solid, good training.  When I lined up on the start line I felt as if a PB was well in grasp, the heat of the previous day had seemed to have subsided and it felt cooler.  However it didn’t last and by 8 miles, combined with narrow streets and enveloped by runners and spectators the heat was quite suppressing. The small things that go wrong in a race can quickly add up, at 9 miles I had to dash behind a bush for a wee stop, I then realised I’d lost some of my energy chews from my race belt.  I had a spare pack in the zipped part of the belt but I’d have to resort to lucazade later on.  At 10/11 miles just before London bridge, I started to get bad calf cramp, the effects of the heat, not drinking enough and not enough electrolytes.  The calf cramp would never go, lots of pit stops and walk breaks to stretch and ease my calf would get me to the finish in 4hr 11mins and only on getting back to the hotel would I realise the true effect of the sun, in quite bad sunburn (so glad I was wearing a cap),


Post VMLM, I developed a case of Achilles Tendinitis, just a mild and irritating one but enough (having heard horror stories of ruptured Achilles) to take warning.  It occurred after finishing the Hal Higdon post marathon recovery program, thanks to a tight left calf and a lapse in stretching.  It was enough for me to back of any further endurance or hilly trail running and so this summer has been spent with reduced mileage, nothing more than 10k races and all in one pair of running shoes; my lower drop and lighter racing shoes were put up on a shelf and abandoned.

Don't want this to happen

Don’t want this to happen

Less running gave way to other planning, I’ve been thinking hard about plans once the summer holidays were over and Carrick starts school.  My original profession of a ecologist is somewhat limited on Orkney and plus most positions require full-time hours, something that is beyond me at the moment.  I also need the flexibility to be able to be at home during School holidays.  With this in mind thoughts turned to teaching something I love, Yoga and so Operation Yoga teachers begins, once Carrick is at school I will be starting a Specialist Yoga Teacher course with the British School of Yoga (BSY), the theoretical aspect will be done via distance learning with a practical element split between logging a minimum of 160 hours practice and 2 course workshops.  This would allow me to teach yoga to both ‘normal’ groups, plus children and pre/post natal women.


Bit of humour time 🙂


The Now

My Achilles is thankfully not a issue anymore, although if I am inactive it tightens up, but my daily eccentric heel drops keep that in check.

Possibly the best exercise for Achilles recovery, done daily x 12 for 12 weeks

Possibly the best exercise for Achilles recovery, done daily x 12 for 12 weeks

My regular yoga keeps everything else under control, Yoga is very good at letting you know your muscles, tendons and joints are feeling neglected, and everything certainly was a month after London.  Its quite easy to back off on what you do as second nature during marathon training, but picking up a injury is a timely reminder to get back on it.  There are lots of good short yoga sequences out there for runners, much more beneficial than some half held static stretching.

Yoga cool down sequence

I’ve also enjoyed scaling back and doing 10k’s.  Its easy in a world of social media to get caught up in a wind of endurance, everyone’s doing endurance events and its the only thing worth doing.  However going back to 10k’s I can say that I find the training for them much harder, its certainly not easy following a advanced 10k training plan with 3 x sessions of lung busting intervals.  This year is making me think hard about 2015, in the past 2 years I have put in lots of hard training that has went well for the event on the day to go wrong, I’ve put up with training in gale force winds, driving rain and tedious treadmill sessions to only finish a marathon in a time I could have achieved with much less training. In comparison, my 2 10k’s both done (including training) with a recovering Achilles on hot days, one on a hot afternoon on a undulating valley course and one on a mixed terrain undulating course, both in 50 mins (just outside my current 10k PB) with training that takes up 1/3 the time marathon training takes.


Herdwick 10k (I ate the finishers prize)


Race for life 10k

Its making me think seriously about going back to my plans I had before I got sucked into the marathon world and dropping back to 10k and half marathons.  3 years ago I did the Stornoway half (great course) and had mused about whilst being up here completing the Hebradian 3 (or the full 5), a challenge set up by the organisers to encourage people to enter more of the local half marathons.  It got shelved of course when i signed up for my first marathon but I am know seriously thinking about setting it as a 2015 target.  I’d also like to give the Herdwick 10k another run, and try and race a good undulating 10k. This year I had to ease of on the training and on the race, so in the back of my mind there is the ‘what if’. And of course I’ll have my yoga teacher training to complete, I want to put 100% into the course and this includes plenty of practical practice time. I’d also (bike permitting) like to do some of the local triathlons, I’ve been working on my swimming in the last month and its progressing well. So it is perhaps a goodbye to the world of endurance in 2015.