It has just been one of those busy weeks. After last Sunday's run with John Kynaston, I managed to get a video done on the Sunday evening and have been meaning to get the write-up done all week, however, as usual, things conspired against me. So here we are.
John and Katrina arrived on Saturday evening and we had a lovely meal, partially credited to me by John in his report, though I had better come clean and admit that the lasagne was Tracey's work, not mine! Within minutes of finishing the meal, the table was cleared and the maps were out; just how every good evening should be spent. It is strange how a familiar route (as most of this section is to me) takes on a different perspective with new company and a whole new reason for running it.
As I looked out of the window on Sunday morning, I was pleased to see no rain and assumed we would be in for a reasonable day, weather-wise. An hour later as we drove over Newlands pass towards Buttermere, I was thinking that just some rain would be fine. Thick snow, with more dropping and laying, would make this an interesting day.
Although I have run over the fells along the section from Buttermere to Braithwaite, I have not taken the lower path, following Sail Beck, so it was nice to run something new. We were both mindful of the fact that this section will be in the dark during the Lakeland 100 and were keen to spot landmarks along the way and especially at the significant path junctions. I'm sure I would have been less careful if I had been running on my own, assuming that I would remember the route. Looking back, having John with me really helped concentrate my mind on the route and I'm sure will have made this a more productive day.
We went through a patch of almost complete white-out but were soon at the highpoint of the section at Sail Pass, followed by the long descent into Braithwaite. Somehow, we both only slipped over once each during the run through the snow; fortunately (unfortunately?) we did not have the video cameras filming at the time. Part way down, someone switched the TV from black and white to colour, or at least that is how it seemed to us. It transpired that we took a slight wrong turn through the small paths and roads into Braithwaite, I have since had a walk out there again, filmed the correct route and will send this to John so he can familiarise himself with the route from his armchair in Glasgow. (Is that still training?)
There follows a flat road section to link Braithwaite with the other side of the valley. Neither of us particularly enjoyed this but after 35 miles of racing over rough ground in the summer, would probably like not having to pick up our feet for a short time.
During the long walk up around the back of Latrigg, we took time to eat; me with my gels and John with his magic mash potato. I am fairly particular with regard to what I carry (read "kit nerd"), every gram counts, so you can imagine my reaction as John asked me to get his mash out of his rucksack and I pulled out a Tupperware box and spoon. I had a good rummage around for the tartan rug, pork pies and baguettes but assume John forgot to pack them. In his defence, John did say that during the race the mash would be in a small food bag which made me feel better.
I enjoyed showing John the next section along Glenderaterra, returning on the Blencathra side of the valley to the Blencathra Centre. This is one of my often used training routes and offers a bit of everything, running-wise.
As the next section drops down into the valley again, we took off our jackets, which I never dreamed was possible two hours earlier. Having built John up for the quagmire that is the climb from Newsham farm to the Old Coach Road (Bob Graham runners know what I mean), it was almost a disappiontment as it was only soggy and not the usual shoe eating monster. The Old Coach Road was equally kind to us and we made good progress towards the next checkpoint near Dockray. John was having his first run in a pair of Hoka shoes whilst I have been living with them for a while now. It is along sections like this that they really come into their own. In most shoes, these rough, rocky tracks give the soles of your feet a real pounding but we both commented on how comfortable we felt and I could sense John was being rapidly won over.
The highlight of the day for me personally came during the next section, contouring round the south side of Gowbarrow Fell. This is not an area I have been in before, though I will certainly be going back. It is quite simply trail running heaven; technical single track, twists, turns, short climbs, drops and a view to die for over Ullswater. If we hadn't got more to recce, I would have turned round and ran it again.
Much of the last 5 miles to Dalemain are on country lanes and again the Hoka's did their job, bouncing us along to the finish. We spent a bit of time getting the correct route through a few fields just before Bennethead; we miscounted the number of stiles we had crossed and the position of the footpath on the OS map was slightly different to the actual stiles on the ground, but we got there. The Lake District had one more thing to throw at us with a hail storm about 1 mile from the finish, not long enough to require jackets, just a slight zipping up of the man suits.
What a wonderful way to spend a day! Great company, awesome scenery, new running routes, bouncey shoes and every possible weather condition.
I said in a previous post that I hoped to recover more quickly from this run as it took quite some time to get over my February run on the WHW. I am happy to report that it is mission accomplished. I took the early part of the week really easily, partly enforced by football training sessions, fixtures and a parent's evening, but since then I have been enjoying my running and have had a couple of cracking runs over the weekend, 13 miles yesterday and 10 miles today with no ill effects. This has given me great heart for the build up to our next Lakeland 100 outing in three weeks time when we go from Dalemain to Ambleside. Can't wait!