10th November 2012

Lakeland 100/50 Recce in the dark:
Mr Laithwaite and Mr Gilpin had previously asked me to consider being a 'guide' on their organised night recce for next years Lakeland 100/50 race so naturally I agreed. The event/day was in two parts, firstly guest speakers and Mark to advice and offer valuable tips for training and preparing yourself for the Lakeland race and secondly a night (ish) run over part of the course. So, the run was to start in Ambleside in the Lake District at a reasonably early time of 3.30pm giving just an hour of day light and then lots of experience in the dark for next years competitors. I'm unsure of exact figures, however I believe there was somewhere in the region of  70 (ish) runners who ran the 15.6 miles (25.2 km and about 900m of ascent) from Ambleside to Coniston.

Early afternoon I'd met up with Marks team, and hung and popped in and out whilst guest speakers and Mark chatted to their guests. Topics of : Training, Navigation and Selecting head torches were on the bill. Petzl offered to let some of us loose on their kit, so naturally I was first in line and selected the biggest and brightest head-torch  which just happens to be the Nao reactive headlamp. I've been wanting to try this lil beauty for a while, so I was really excited. In my view, 'what a piece of equipment this is', I loved it. I may as well have plucked a flood light from Ambleside FC ground (is there one?) and strapped it to my forehead,. The sensor allowed it to brighten and illuminate just when It was needed and dimmed when it was supposed to. I know others struggled with it, for example when running close with others with headlamps, one chap found that the Nao dimmed too much. I didn't experience this problem. Clever Nao and at 187g it's a comfortable piece of kit.

Nav4 talked all things navigation and I looked forward to the course that Id booked myself onto with them the following day, about time too eh!

During the recce itself I was under instruction to hover around the front runners, however the point was for me to support the competitors as opposed to showing them the way or doing the work for them. I felt cruel when a whole bunch of folk had to stop and read road books and consult maps about turns to take etc, yet it would have done them no good for me to just lead them. It was a great evening running, I met a bunch of strong competitors who are fired up for next years race. It's going to be amazing in 2013's.

11th November 2012
I'd met Joe Faulkner in the bar after the Lakeland recce where I sat and drank milk...pah ha ha ha, and was fortunate enough to get to chat with him all things Navigation. He's incredibly knowledgeable and his willingness to share his vast array of tips and pointers with me is very much appreciated, thanks Joe. He's also the race organiser for the Tour de Helvellyn race in December 2012 and we discussed aspects of the course as I've recce'd that route a couple of time recently.

So the next day on my navigation course I made my way from Keld to Ambleside. I arrived late.... (there's a shocker), I walked in the venue and told everyone that I'd overslept... I hadn't, but I felt that I needed an excuse... and a good one! The truth is, well, I had just been faffing about at G's in the morning. So, late start, being the late one, you're the outcast, and so sat with my tail between my knees all quiet like (I was made very very welcome by the tutors by the way). Folks formed small groups: beginners, mid and experienced. I faffed as usual until I tagged onto a 'mid range' group however, it didn't help my feelings of being the outcast and misfit (due to lateness, see above) when one of the members said 'well that's six of us here now and there are only four over there'! I pointed out that that it really didn't matter ...tsk...and to prove my point my tail removed itself from  between legs and we donned our jackets to get out on the hills for the day.

Marcus Scotney was leading the naughty group of now six instead of five! Not only is his mountain leadership trustworthy, he's also an incredible runner! He managed to talk me into entering a lil (well big) race for next year. We all took it in turns to amble around and lead the group over Loughrigg. So in true fairy style, when it was my turn, I happily led the grout straight off the path and tracks, over rough ground, through knee high fern, rocky ground and practically shear fell side... boy I needed that! There were a few twisted brow, however yes, I led the group from point A-B and we didn't get lost.... Whhhoooopppp. Fluke!

A great day and afterwards made my way over to  G's place for a kettle bell session, wine and serious talk...pah ha ha. She is strong, that's all i'm saying. So after hours of psycho-billy talk and arranging jam for Christmas it was up the wooden hills.

12th November 2012
Playing around Pendle
It was an early start as I intended to put all of my super new navigation skills into practice and have a mooch around Pendle with a view to entering the Full Tour of Pendle race, I had lofty ideas that I was a proper fell runner now. Lets just say my trustworthy tutor Marcus will shake his head in shame and turn in his hoka's knowing the complete and utter b*ll's up I made of the navigation! So, if you are familiar with the route, I made it to CP 3 and managed to convince myself that I was on the right fence line towards CP 4 climbing Spence Moor. I was no where near the right fence line, had dropped down way too soon and ended up lost. The mist was down and the dark evening drew in... great. Where was the Nao head torch that Petzl rep had lent to me for the Lakeland recce.. oh yeah, he'd had it back.... bah. So after panic, resignation and the threat of tears I started to climb through a new tree plantation ground and by fluke (again) I ended up by the small reservoir. Again Marcus will gasp at my logic in finding the reservoir when met with public footpaths on the Moor. It was nothing to do with taking back bearings or placing landscape to map, hell no, fairy just flipped a coin (so to speak). I adore adventures :) So not quite the recce that I'd planned, but all good experience.

17th November 2012
Kinder Bimble
After all of that,  I took the decision to enter the 7.6 mile Logan's run - Kinder Bimble on Saturday, not least because the route was marked. I promise the navigational stuff will just click with me at some point! So, off I trotted to Hayfield allowing plenty of time to get there. Only, hmm, it wasn't plenty of time because as usual I just drive and think about where I'm going en route, and end up inevitably stopping to punch the address into my phone and hoping to wing it somehow. So, I arrived at the scout hut where registration was with four minutes to the start of the race, which was five minutes away on foot. Like a puppy dog I bounded up to the race organisers, 'am I too late for this race, am I too late', 'you can still enter' was the reply. Sod it, so I did, I was handed a shiny race number (the last competitor most likely) and as I slid across the scout hut wooden flooring they were shouting directions to the race start... haha. So I jumped in the car and screeched about the tiny, quaint, village  How the hell I stumbled across the start line, i'll never know. Yet, there they were the array of brightly coloured racing kit and a whole bunch of great people. I gathered kit essentials that I subsequently dropped over the floor, stuffed the map in my bum bag, panicked I'd left something (a bit like believing you'd not locked the door to the house) and fell out of the car (a bit like Patsy from ad fab). Anyhow, I  headed for the bunch of runners, the race was about to start, the gun was in the air, I had no running shoes on! So as the race starter (Marshall) saw me bounding up to the pack, then bounding back to my car, he announced the late comer!!All eyes on me, the competitors all waited to start their race, I shouted, 'wrong shoes', they all cheered, and waited, I changed (a bit like Mr Ben in that shop) then ran to the pack, I hadn't locked the car, I ran back again, more cheers and then 'boom' we were off. I was last!

So, with that I slowly made my way forward. However, this was only my second fell race and I was racing a distance that I would never usually contemplate seriously. So now the excuses are out, I wanted to just enjoy myself and see how I fair over this terrain and distance. I didn't warm up for 45 mins, legs were tight and solid, calves screamed at me and generally I was a sloth in a gazelle's world, for now! So having accepted that this is not my distance I sat down on the fell side and sorted my shoes out as they were flapping about my feet. Once sorted, I got on with having a great day on Kinder. I started to warm and settle into a reasonable pace after 45 mins and my racing head found it's way on to my shoulders. I had a lot of work to do, given my faffing earlier. I adored this race. It was challenging, marked, fast, and when the mist lifted, revealed beautiful rolling hills. Amazing.

I finished in a respectable time eventually, and whilst I was way down in finishing 5th lady, I was happy to take 1st in my category. These short races I'm sure will help to bring my speed up.  The race was won by Helen Fines and Christopher Leigh, I stand in awe, great inspirational folk. A huge thanks to everyone who entered that race for being so friendly, good spirited and welcoming of a novice.

18th November 2012
Montane Ultra Trail 26: Grizedale Forest.
No run today as had volunteered myself to marshal at the Montane Ultra Trail 26 race in Grisedale Forest. The rest will stand me in good stead for building back up to a couple of heavy weeks training next week and the week after  The race was amazing and lots of familiar faces as well as meeting a few new ones. Garry Wilkinson a sports injury specialist/therapist kindly massaged my calf and helped to settle my broke achilles. His pal then taped me up and it was amazing how I could instantly walk without the pain I've been experiencing for nearly two weeks from a strained achilles/calf. Thanks guys and Garry well done for finishing 16th in the Full Tour of Pendle race, a cracking run for you and well done Clayton le Moors Harriers for taking first team. Raj had a good Ultra tour race given his lack of distance training recently and Marcus Scotney my navigation tutor and quality runner, won in an amazing 3hrs and 12 mins. Not before throwing himself at the trail and seriously taking a layer of skin of his chin and knee. Some people will do anything for attention... jeez.


Montane Ultra 26 

Marcus Scotney 1st Male

There he goes

Ian Syminton 2nd Male

There he goes

The course sweepers! Or Hairy McNair and Mr Prior