Friday, 22 June 2012

Lakeland 100 recce video

Firstly, I would like to take the opportunity to wish all those about to set off on the journey that is the West Highland Way Race the best of luck and I hope you all get your wishes, whatever they may be, over this weekend.

I shall follow the race with interest but with very different emotions this year compared to 2011. This time last year I was just in the process of arranging the operation on my Achilles tendon and feeling very sorry for myself as I should have been standing on the start line in Milngavie. In 2012, I have a different focus and, while I still have plans to be on that start line again sometime, it was never in the plans this year.

This weekend I shall be supporting my father as he attempts to cycle and run the Two Saints Way which is an ancient pilgrimage route of about 90 miles, starting in Chester and finishing in Lichfield, over two days. He is raising money for his local church where he is a lay preacher and the route follows roads, canals, bridleways and footpaths. I will be doing some ferrying around of bikes and kit but more importantly, will do some of the running sections with him - approx. 15 miles on Saturday and two lots of 8 miles on Sunday. As ever, it will be nice to run some new trails and I'm really looking forward to being able to support my father after he did such a great job supporting me on the WHW race in 2010.

To finish, here is a short video of John and myself on our Lakeland 100 recce run last weekend. This completes our full recce and we both feel we are just about ready to go, just a bit of fine tweeking to be done over the next few weeks, a big weekend competing in the Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon and a nice taper. Simples!

Monday, 18 June 2012

Apologies to Julie Andrews

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favourite things!

Cream coloured ponies and crisp apple strudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favourite things!

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eye lashes
Silver white winters that melt into spring
These are a few of my favourite things!

A run with gleaming shiny new shoes
To help push away these bad weather blues
Flying the trails as if you've got wings
These are a few of my favourite things!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Lakeland 100 recce

Today saw John and I complete our recce of the Lakeland 100 route by closing the circle, joining the finish point from last time (Wasdale) to the starting point of the first outing (Buttermere).

John and Katrina arrived last night and we feasted on Mexican food prepared by Tracey and banoffee pie made by Katrina - thanks ladies! The plan for today was for Katrina to join us for the last 8 miles as our route passed closest to our house, so in between the main course and pudding we had a walk out to show Katrina where to meet us. Seemed like a good idea at the time but a downpour had us soaked by the time we returned, leaving John no alternative but to change into an unplanned outfit for the rest of the evening. (Don't ask!!)

We were away early this morning with Katrina kindly taking us down the Borrowdale valley to Honnister Pass and our starting point. After the complex logistics of last month we went for a simplified version today, however this involved a rather long warm up of running from Honnister to Wasdale Head. You know it is going to be a long day when you run an hour and a half just to get to the start point. We had some dramatic views as we made our way over to Wasdale and made good use of map and compass in thick mist approaching Beck Head Tarn - all part of the game.

Dropping into Wasdale
Out of Wasdale, we made the long climb up to Black Sail Pass, but at least we now had the wind behind us and were able to remove jackets, hats and gloves. The only tricky spot on the climb is where the path crosses the beck. In good weather this is just a few easy steps - not today! John went for the confident/cocky approach and nearly took one for the team (wait for the video).
John crossing Gatherstone Beck
Heading down to Ennerdale
The drop down to Black Sail YHA was far more spicy today than the last few times I have been down. Everywhere was soaking wet and very slippy. This came as a good reminder to take things cautiously during the race - the mantra seems to be that you can't make a good race time here but you can certainly blow it! John went into reminiscent mode around the YHA, with a trip down memory lane. The climb up to Scarth Gap never seems as bad as you think it will and we were soon on the long, rough descent to Butteremere. The key here is to be able to hit the small gap in the wall just after the really rough section; fairly easy in good visibility but a different ball game in the dark. I hope we are not telling tales of woe in our race reports.

As we made the final drop down to the lake and subsequent run along the shore line path towards Buttermere village, we both commented on the significance of this moment as it would close the circle of the whole route. We set off on our first recce in the snow on March 4th from this spot and both felt this has been a job well done. The circle of life was mentioned, along with a quick rendition of Hakuna Matata.

This time we did not allow our minds to think of this as the finish of our run as we did last time in Coniston, but set off on the next section at a more sprightly pace. John led the way for much of this section to Braithwaite, trying to remember the exact route from last time. This really showed us how much time we had spent doing the videos as we were much faster today despite having already run a number of hours in rough terrain. It felt good to just get on with the running, find a more consistent rhythm and eat up the ground that little bit quicker. Once we had dropped down into Braithwaite, John called Katrina to give her the half hour warning that we would soon be in Keswick and two become three.

After a slight delay (again, don't ask), we set off up towards Latrigg with Katrina "I'll never keep up" Kynaston springing up the climb with John and myself trudging after her, safe in the knowledge that she has not got a clue where to go. We met a number of runners taking part in a trail marathon as they made their way down to Keswick - obviously, at least two of them knew John. Never mind the theory of seven degrees of separation; within ultra running, it's two degrees of separation - I know John and John knows everybody else!

Katrina obviously thought the route was fantastic. At one point, there was a scream from behind us, John and I span round expecting to see Katrina face planting the path, only to be greeted by a huge grin and Katrina skipping along shouting to anyone who would listen how much she was enjoying herself!

Are we having fun, or what?
Matching outfits! Aagghh!
I brought them back along my golden mile, which they both seemed to enjoy and we rolled up to the house 7:46 hours and 30 miles after we had left Honnister.

We both have our plans well in place for the coming weeks and, as we said goodbye, realised our next meeting would be in five and a half weeks, just before the big day. Blimey!

The best thing of all is that, unless John is working on his new ipad in the car, I have, for the first time, got my blog report done before John! You saw it here first - literally!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Cracking week, Gromit

The basic plan for this week was to have a hard week of training, meaning six sessions. I wanted to have two lots of hill work to continue with the conditioning of my quads, a couple of tempo runs where I could turn up the gas and a couple of steady runs where I would concentrate on running style.

The week started well with the trip up Skiddaw on Monday (see previous post). I knew the session had served it's purpose as the following two days I had that slight tenderness in my quads indicating a good bashing had taken place.

On Tuesday we went over to the North East in the campervan for a few days, staying at Belford, half way between Alnwick and Berwick. I managed to squeeze in a couple of faster tempo sessions on trails that were not as hilly or technical as my usual routes. Despite the tight quads, it was great to up the pace a bit and equally nice to know I can still do it and enjoy running at pace again.

I took Thursday as my rest day and slotted my two steady runs in on Friday and Saturday. One of these, I used as a trial to see what my Garmin is like as a navigation tool, something I have never used it for. I plotted a route on the mapping software on my PC, uploaded it to the Garmin and followed the route dictated by the big arrow on the screen. It all seemed to work well and I have been thinking about how I might be able to use this in the Lakeland 100 as a safety net in the dark.

I have the whole route (well, will have after next Sunday) saved on the Memory Map software, split into four recce sections. I could load these onto the Garmin and just turn it on for the first part on the night section from Wasdale to Braithwaite and then put it back in the rucksack, saving the battery for any emergencies later in the day. Originally, I had not intended to wear the Garmin, just a normal sports watch, however, I might add the Garmin to my kit list with this safety plan in mind. What do you think?

Today, I wanted to get some more climbs and descents into my legs, so parked the car near Gatesgarth (Buttermere valley) and ran over Scarth Gap, into Ennerdale, past the YHA, up to Black Sail Pass, down to Wasdale and followed the same route back along the Lakeland 100 course.

Dropping into Ennerdale from Scarth Gap
It was a lot warmer today than I thought and I still feel dehydrated now as I sit and write this four hours later! I had a careful look at the technical descents on the Lakeland 100 route from Black Sail Pass and Scarth Gap, trying to get a mental picture of the terrain ready for the same tracks in the dark come race day. Another visit is planned for next week with John as part of our final recce together before the big race.

The descent from Scarth Gap to Buttermere
The plan is to follow this with a steadier week, probably only five sessions but finishing off with the long run with John next Sunday. I'm really pleased with the way I am feeling stronger and better able to cope with the training. I have things fairly well mapped out for the remaining seven weeks (aagghh!!) which will take me through the long recce run, the Saunders Lakeland Mountain Marathon and the final three week taper. I feel we are into the business end of the season!

Monday, 4 June 2012

Quad bashing on Skiddaw

I've had a good solid week of training and feel like I am back in the groove after taking an easier week after the long recce run from Ambleside to Wasdale. I have managed to get some hills in; steady on the climbs and then bash the descent. I feel as if my quads are toughening up and I hope this pays dividends during the big race.

Looking down on Keswick

This morning, I made the long climb up Skiddaw and had a great thrash back down, past the world and his wife on their way up. Right at the start of the run I met Colin, who was out for a training run up the same route in preparation for the Skiddaw Fell Race in July. We had a lovely chat on the way up, with Colin telling me how much he loves the area, having only just moved here. It always find it incredible how much quicker and easier a run is when you are chatting away for the duration. Thanks for the company, Colin.

Colin on the way up
Just as we approached the Gale Road car park, behind Latrigg, we caught another runner, fully kitted up for a day on the trails and carrying a Lakeland 100 road book. I commented that he must be on a recce, to which he replied "You're Dave aren't you?" He went on to introduce himself as Gordon and revealed that at 11:30pm last night he was watching the video with myself and John on this same section, getting a feel for the route. I'm glad the videos are useful.

Gordon on the route to the Blencathra checkpoint
Colin and I at the top
A great way to spent the morning and just the kick start I needed for another solid week of training to come.

I must just quickly pass on my congratulations to Debs for her amazing run in the Grand Union Canal Race, not only taking the ladies title but also winning outright!! Phenomenal performance!
Grand Union Canal Race website