With Andrew Martindale for company one Friday night we walked leg one. Andrew is struggling with an injury and unable to run much so a walk was fine by me as it was primarily to gain experience of being out in the dark, navigating and learning how best to deal with the monsters and bears that are to be found back 'o Skiddaw. We took 4hr 15 mins for the leg. Thats longer than a 24 hour round should take but it was icy on the tops which slowed progress a little.
I ran the Buttermere Round road race for the 6th succesive year. There was never any possibility I would run a good time. My 2hr 22mins of 2012 was a V hard run when I was fit and had lots of legspeed. Recently, although I think I am close in overall fitness, the lack of road running this year means no legspeed to speak of. So I kind of toured around the course and enjoyed a good craic with some of the other runners around me. The field was lacking in depth and although I ran 2:31, I was Fourth again, same as last year.
Speaking of roadrunning, I'm still doing just one per week. On Tuesday I meet Plucky or Darren, sometimes both, and we run all the way to the edge of the city, up London Rd to the Carrow House Hotel (it has a different name now I cant remember what). With a loop added in along Eastern Way this is just over 9 miles. I always run V easy until I meet the lads then we push on a bit harder until the end. The main section is about 7 miles and at the beginning of the year 6:45 pace felt a reasonable effort. The last three weeks have seen me get faster. 6:39 pace in early Feb', 6:38 last week. Then last night an incredible leap to 6:25 pace. I felt great at that speed too - it was a hard run, but only just edging into the 'hard' bracket from the 'steady' one.
Couple of Cross Country events of late too. Recently it was the National Championships in Sunderland. The course was blanketed in snow overnight and it was still snowing when we arrived there. It was a tough course with a couple of decent climbs on each of the three laps. I was pleased about the hills as usually a short steep bank is as much hill as a XC throws at you. Almost the entire course was a mudbath though and even the downhill sections were a trial of strength and careful footplanting to ensure shoes stayed on feet. Sparky beat me again, but not by far, and Milly was merely seconds behind me at the finish line.
Days out to events like this are fantastic. The bus trip is great craic and once at the venue we all muck in getting the tent pitched. Then we usually walk/jog the course and shout out the younger lads who race first. Later, theres a chance to shout out the lasses as they race and we warm-up. And finally after our race its a mad scramble to get out of filthy wet kit and with luck theres a warming cuppa on the go somewhere before we all pile back on the bus with the heater requested to be set at full blast.
I've also been to the track most weeks and always do mile reps on my own. Progress has been slow but steady. I'm just edging under 5:40 (for 1600 metres not 1609 I admit) for the odd one, but hope to be nearer 5:35 soon and if I cant get inside 5:30 by the summerI will be disapointed indeed. Biggest trouble with the track session is that my problem achilles hurts an awful lot - only easing off once I've done 2 or 3 of my just 4 miles.
Really excited about the coming year - theres loads of events spread right through til Autumn. Some old favourites like the Lakes 50 and some new ones too like Scafell Marathon and two new Ultras. and they are all in/on over and around my beloved Lake District tops.