Thursday I met Plucky for his usual 70 minute run. Within about two miles I suggested we were running quite hard and asked was this his intention? He said it was indeed quite pacey but that it was ME setting the pace! If you know Plucky you will know he never does anything he doesn't want to do an never deviates from the schedule without good cause, so I was surprised at his remark as I felt he was the pace setter. We carried on without altering the effort and at the checkpoint were about half a minute up on previous occasions. A month ago this run became easy after about 8 miles because Plucky wasn't used to the distance - not so now though and the last 20 minutes were pretty damn hard work. At 70 minutes we stopped running and walked back a couple of hundred metres to Pluckys house. There's no way of knowing exactly how far we ran (or therefore the pace) but I am confident it was the quickest we have managed yet this year and therefore around 6:10 pace.
Friday I took Scamp on a longer than usual walk and didn't run.
Saturday I drove to Ambleside and ran to Coniston. I followed the official route for the Lakeland 50 Ultra which is at the end of July. Returning from Coniston proved a bit tricky. After missing a bus by a few minutes I set off walking the 7 miles main road. There was occasionally a path I could use to jog on but otherwise I had to walk tight to the side of the narrow road as I had Scamp with me. When the bus was due I waited at the roadside in the hope it would let me board despite not being at a stop. The rain came, the bus didn't. I held out my thumb and was mighty relieved that the second van to pass by, didn't, until me and Scamp were stowed safely amidst a huge pile of climbing gear and spare clothing which took up more than half the front seat. 10 minutes later and we were back in Ambleside having saved probably an hours walking.
On Sunday I walked Scamp for 90 odd minutes in the morning. Immediately after that I got a lift into town then walked home with my purchases. Its only 1.5 miles but as I neared home I was aware of a bit of a sore left foot, so I decided not to go running straight away. Later on, to play it safe I decided NOT to run at all.
Monday there were no foot issues and my planned 10 miler on road turned into a quick dash up Blencathra with Scamp. Despite the extra driving time this was probably overall less time consuming than taking him for a walk then going for a 10 mile run. Parking at Mungrisedale we jogged to the summit in 45 mins without once stopping to walk - this was especially pleasing as I usually have walked up the steepest parts. In fact, when I reached the summit plateau I could scarcely believe I was already there as the final climb had seemed very easy indeed. I expect this has something to do with the fact that I have never been as fit as this AND climbing fells.
There was zero visibility on the summit trig point so we dropped down straight away. Within 60 seconds the views opened up and even though I have been here many times previously I found them breathtaking today. To go from nothing but cloud in every direction to suddenly seeing a lush green valley dropping a thousand feet below you, speckled with the occasional white dots of sheep on the steep sides and multicoloured waterproofs on the skyline slowly ascending the ridges is something difficult to describe the true beauty of. Dropping down quickly to Scales Tarn I paused briefly while Scamp drank from the waters edge. Then we continued apace - taking every advantage of height drop we had previously endured to gain the summit - hurtling along the tracks and paths - groups of walkers making their way laboriously up, parted aside like The red Sea as we splashed our way past them.
I often wish I lived a bit nearer the Lakes and fells but on Monday I was back home within 3 hours of setting off and I'd climbed a mountain many folk take all day to. I should think myself lucky as 3 hours is possibly how long some people sit in their car every weekend just to reach these places.
Tonight (Wednesday) was Carlisle Tri club 10 k event. Last year I ran the course in 35:18. Following my year on year improvement at the recent Moorclose race I expected to run a 34 here tonight.
A headwind to start with, I immediately settled in close behind Kev Bell and Milly who are both well over 6 ft tall if not so broad. I knew they were both much faster runners than me and that by toughing it out in the first mile I would place myself ahead of where I would naturally be if I ran with my 'proper' group or alone. By and large this plan worked - that first mile was absolute purgatory as I strained to hold on to them. By two miles we had turned away from the headwind and the pace seemed a little easier to cope with, but still very hard. At about this time Kev pulled away quickly to a gap of some 80 metres. Milly and me were joined by a Dumfries runner who seemed strong. I was determined not to lose any places so ran shoulder to shoulder with the new fella - Milly was distanced!!!!!!!
At three miles I pushed hard and sensed a small gap open up to the Dumfries
Ensuring I dropped the Dumfries fella I tried V V hard all the way to the end. As I crossed the line I felt elated - I knew I had raced well and felt sure the time would be under 35 mins.I hadn't worn a watch and to see 35:30 on the officials stopwatch was gutting.
To put it into perspective I need to look at a few runners who completed both recent 10ks (this one and Moorclose)
Steve Angus - 4 seconds slower tonight
Darren Rook - 35 seconds slower tonight
Chris Neil - 16 seconds slower tonight
Jason Holmes - 18 seconds slower tonight
Howerd Seal - 23 seconds slower tonight (marathon in his legs since race 1)
Looking at that list I did good. James Douglas won in 31.38 - a week or two ago he ran one minute faster than that in Manchester - I only need to tun 31 seconds faster to achieve my goal of a 34. I think I need to do some two mile reps inside 11 minutes as well as continuing my 5 milers in 30:--.