Sunday, 12 July 2015

It's the final countdown

It's the final countdown - diddy der der, diddy det det der..... sorry, I couldn't resist that ;-)

Well, there has been a fair bit of water passing under the bridge since my last post and I've had a few great adventures in the final stages of my preparation for the Lakeland 100 which is now less than two weeks away.

Racing-wise, the season continued with yet another podium place, only this time I managed to get on the second highest podium (still not the top one though). In the middle of May I raced the Keswick Mountain Festival 50km trail race. The route was a cracker, with a bit of everything and despite starting and finishing in Keswick, it still took me to a few trails I hadn't run before. As has been the pattern this year, I ran a solid first half and then really pushed on over the latter stages, finishing really fast. In hindsight, I had probably left myself just a little bit too much to do at the end. With about an hour and a half to go I was about 8 minutes down on the leader, closing in to just over two minutes at the finish. This was a great boost to my confidence and I knew that I still had another block of training to fit in before the Lakeland 100.

At the finish of KMF 50km

Through June, I managed to cram in three fantastic weekends, all very different but equally pleasurable in their own right.

Firstly, I was joined by John, Marco and Jonny for a Lakeland 100 recce weekend. We somehow managed to put together the logistics to get down to Coniston on the Saturday morning and run the route back to Keswick, some 37 miles. We had some fantastic weather and I found it really useful to look at those sections again, most of which I haven't seen since the race in 2012.

I was pleased with my memory of the route and am confident I can shove the map in my pack on race day but how the hell did Marco win that race last year when he made sooooo many navigation errors? All we seemed to talk about for the last two hours was how much chicken we were going to eat when we got back. When we finally did make to home, we were confronted by bowls of nachos and cheese (thanks Tracey) which have now gone down in history.

The following day we covered another 30 miles from Keswick to Dockray and then returning via Sticks Pass over the Doods back to Keswick. Unfortunately, the weather was not so kind for the majority of the day, but as is always the case, just as we were finishing, the sun came out.

A cracking weekend with some big miles covered and I really felt my mind was now focussed on the big race.

The following weekend, I again made the pilgrimage to Milngavie for the West Highland Way race, like last year I was on support duties. A work colleague, Adam, was having his first shot at the race and I jumped at the opportunity to join him and his wife Kate for the weekend. To cut a long story short, Adam had a great race, arriving at Fort William in 21:45 hours for 27th place and I had the pleasure of running with him for the last 35 miles of the race, cajoling him on to finish in daylight (which we did). It was great to catch up with so many friends over the weekend and wonderful to be a part of the emotional roller-coaster  that is the WHW race prize giving.

And so to my final adventure before the Lakeland 100 which was The Billy Bland Challenge. To quote from the challenge website

The Billy Bland Challenge relay is based on the five legs of the 24 Hour Bob Graham round, starting and finishing at the Moot Hall in Keswick. It covers about 66 miles, 28,000 feet of climbing and 42 peaks. The challenge is open to all teams of 10, split into five pairs. Each of the pairs is designated one of the five legs and a baton is passed from one team to the next. The relay is to be completed at any time in the month of June.

Keswick AC were attempting to break the male vets record held by Dallam at 17:10 hours. Well, to say we had a good day out would be quite an understatement. We set a rough target of 16:50 hours, but I think we all knew we might be able to go a bit faster than that. What we actually did was blow the record out of the water. We finished in 14:35 hours! This was so much faster than we dared hope for that we stood around at the Moot Hall (the start/finish point) at the end, double checking the times. We were, in fact, only 11 minutes off the seniors men's record. Chuffed? You bet!

Photo Steve Angus
 As you can see, we we left nothing out there!

Photo Kirsten Ogden

What it did bring home to me was how pathetic I have become at running downhill on really rough terrain, something that was always my forte when fell racing. I suppose it is a case of horses for courses.

Anyhoo, these adventures have brought me to a point where I think I am ready to do battle against the iconic route of the Lakeland 100. I am now officially in taper mode and can already feel myself turning into a cranky hypochondriac, I'm off to write out a list which will itemise all the lists I have written and I might do another kit pack as it's been over an hour since my last one. 

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