Do I mean I have been practising running backwards like that bloke Roy Castle could hardly keep up with in the opening titles to Record Breakers in the 70s?
Do I mean my fitness and times have slipped, despite all the tough training I have been doing?
Have I had a chance meeting with Dr Who and travelled in time?
Henry the mild mannered janitor?
All it is I'm going to blog about today, Friday, then the day before and so on until I get back to last Saturday.
When I got back from my 10 miler this evening the clock said 68mins 44 secs. Nothing startling. This did also include the time spent running from home to the start of the 10 mile loop and back again afterwards. I estimate 3 minutes at most so my 10 mile run was probably 65 or 66 minutes. My watch broke last week hence my timing this run on my phone which I left by the back door.
Mile reps were Thursdays training. Again, no watch meant I simply ran hard for a mile then rested up until I felt ready to go again. I did four of these. Next time will be five. Little point in guessing what my pace was for these. Probably had my speed blunted by the 50 miler though.
First run since the 50 was on Wednesday when I jogged a while with Scamp. I felt absolutely great, with a spring in my step like never before. I reckon I could have raced the 10k being held that night in West Cumbria but it was too late to go through by the time I decided I was up for it.
Tuesday, Monday and Sunday I was enjoying a wee holiday in Cheshire. I didnt run at all during those three days.
Which brings us to Saturday and the UTLD 50. Even at the back of 8 oclock in Coniston it was red hot. Not ideal for an endurance event beginning at midday! The bus that took us to the start near Penrith was delayed when the bus ahead had a minor scrape with a car as we passed through the narrow lanes between Coniston and Ambleside. This, and the slow progress past the resulting tailback meant we only got to the start at about 12.15. The start hand't happened and then was then delayed a little longer to give a chance for last minute toilet visits etc and we finally got started at 12.25. This was not a huge issue but I knew there would be little chance of finishing in the light of day as my 10 hour schedule was the best I could possibly imagine doing the distance in and would only just have seen me finish before dark given a noon start.
The first four miles were a circuit through fields and farms - a bit crappy really with lots of styles, gates and long grass to negotiate. Soon enough though we were onto the proper route and running along the pleasant path parallel to the outflow from Ullswater. In Pooley Bridge we had encouraging shouts from locals and holidaymakers and were soon ascending the tarmac road to Roehead and then the track up toward High Street. This was the same section as I had blasted up as hard as I could in the DITL Triathlon so it was very pleasant indeed to run up just about as slow as I could on this occasion. Many people (and not just 100 mile participants) were already reduced to walking here though, and I passed several. The route doesnt get to the High St path, it veers right to skirt the top of the fields and campsites and is overall downhill to Howtown where the first checkpoint (cp)was located, 11.2 miles from the start.
Filling my bumbag with bananas and cake and my bottles with juice I wasn't stationary very long at all and was soon jogging out of the tiny hamlet onto the open fell of Fusedale. More people passed as I climbed to the high point of the whole route, High Kop 670m above sea level. I can safely say I was inside the top 20 at this point, maybe even top 15. Unfortunately things went awry a little somewhere between High Kop, Low Kop and the path we eventually got to that runs alongside Haweswater reservoir. I missed the proper path (though it is described as 'faint' in the manual) and probably added 5 or 6 minutes to our day. Certainly, as I passed the point where I should have descended and joined the path I noted someone who I knew was about to join the path from the proper (shorter ) route. I'd been comfortably ahead of this fella at Howtown and had almost certainly continued to pull away from him over the Fusedale climb. I was really downbeat about this error. This was a section I had intended checking out prior to the event but didnt get round to doing so!!!!!
Some Fifteen minutes after regaining the proper route I passed Steve "Wes" Weston. A mile later I was in the Mardale Head cp (20 miles from start). As I left the cp Wes came into it. Although I later discovered he was having a low, I was obviously still going reasonably well at this stage if a little pissed off with myself. Penrith Stu was at cp2. He was anxious I should get going ASAP. He said Id gone from top 15 to only about 50th and lost quarter of an hour. The result show I was in 39th place at this stage - so not a bad guess by Stu.
The climb out from Mardale over Gatesgarth Pass is steep and long. Even once over the top it it tough going underfoot and at times I wasnt going much faster downhill than I had been up. As I caught a couple of 100 milers I slowed a wee bit to chat to them. Soon after I was caught by a group of 3 lads in the 50 and we stayed together until we reached the Kentmere cp3 (27 miles from the start) - over half way.
Top scran was enjoyed in Kentmere. They even had fancy jugs on the tables that were continually replenished with cold fresh water. I had a fruit smoothie, some pasta and tea and biscuits which I took with me as I left. Wes had came into Kentmere after me but had a very brief stop and we left together, along with an Ian. The route is immediately uphill and we all walked at first to work off the food just devoured. There were occasional opportunities to run and I was dropped by the lads as I continued to walk and try to drink my tea. On the climb proper of Garburn Pass I noted they were not very far ahead at all and not pulling away so I ditched the remnants of my tea and easily caught up. We jogged, and walked when steep, together to Ambleside cp4 (34.3 miles from start)
The reception from the crowds in Ambleside was thoroughly uplifting. This is what it must have been like for those intrepid early voyagers who returned home to a heroes welcome after taming stormy seas to discover new lands and bring back wealth and prosperity to a rising nation. Sort of.
Leaving Amblside I felt good. I knew the route to the end in my head and wouldnt need a map or go wrong anywhere. I walked through the town drinking my tea. In the park I was caught by Wes and Ian and ditched the tea so I could jog and stay with them. Although we walked out over the initial climb that skirts below Loughrigg, it's not very long and we then ran all the way to Elterwater. A very brief walk again from the river Brathay up to the mine then running again all the way to cp 5 at Chapel Stile (39.4 miles from the start)
My stops were becoming briefer as the day progressed and at Chapel Stile I probably only had 2 minutes at most. Just enough time to swallow some soup and a slice of bread and have my bottles refilled. The going from Chapel Stile is good a first and we were running until we reached some stony paths in the upper Langdale valley. As the path crosses various fields, stream and walls I was forging ahead. Wes and Ian were becoming isolated from me but I didnt feel I needed to wait as there was still an hour or two to go and I could make time up if I pressed on. However, the climb up to the top of Side Pike Pass saw me really struggle and by the top the other two were so close again that I lingered a little to allow us to all cross the road together and begin the section round the back of Blea Tarn.
Darkness fell briefly as we passed through the wood behind Blea Tarn. Not so long after that we reached the short section of tarmac that is the Wrynose Pass road. Torches were looked out of our bags and we continued toward Tilberthwaite cp6 (46.5 miles from the start). The marshals at Tilberthwaite were exceptionally cheery and had plenty of food laid on. I had a mouthtful of malt loaf but to be honest I knew we would only take an hour or so to complete this final 3 and a bit miles and was keen to move on.
Climbing the final section fell this year felt much more pleasant than in 2009 when I hadn't a clue where I was and it was spitting with rain. Now, even in the dark there were no issues with the route and we were soon dropping down into Coniston. As we neared the village, Wes and Ian raced ahead of me to finish about 90 seconds up. We were 27th 28th and 29th from nearly 500 starters.
Theres more to the story of the Lakes 50 than that but I will type it another time.