The Langdale Express – Part One of my weekend in the Lakes

The weekend was not going to be a rest day by any means. I had walking, camping and racing planned and that is exactly what I did.

Come Sunday morning I was waking at 6am ready to drive to Ulverston to meet a friend who would be participating in these activities. But first we had to get there and as my friend volunteered to navigate along the stereotypical roads that crisscross and meander through the valleys and around the foot of the mountains that stand tall and survey the landscape we found ourselves in Langdale.

The main object of the weekend was the Langdale 10K race, an undulating little number of there and back. Last year it was held over two days and had reached its 500 capacity on both days very quickly. This year had a capacity of 750, but for reasons unknown failed to get more than 100 on each of the days. As the rain lashed down and thoughts that I would finally get to wear my rain jacket which was a direct result of being left out in the rain for too long at Manchester Marathon, and the knowledge that Snowdon Marathon was notorious for its wetness I decided that a decent running waterproof was in order. Apart from the odd training run I had never really got to use it. But as the wind buffered the side of the car and the rain carried on falling I thought I would finally be fulfilling it’s purpose.

I joked that once we started the rain would ease off, and sure enough seconds after the gun the rain ceased to be. This must have been the strangest of races I have lined up for. I think in total there were 39 other people positioned ready to start and as I ran and ran fast it felt very much like a training run. The pack broke up quickly and within the first 30 seconds the distance between the runners were spread out along the valley road.

After a strong race, where I kept my position and managed to over take a guy in the last two miles my legs didn’t quite have the energy to pass the woman 500 meters in front of me but I still crossed the line in just over 43 minutes, that considering the course was a good time.

After the race we set up camp in the National Trust campsite which was empty apart from some rabbits and several flooded pitches. We found an area that we thought would remain dry and set up camp. After the comical chasing of tent bags due to a large gust of wind in which the blog takes its title we were set up. Now it was time for a walk.

The weather was still unsettled and a little apprehensive in what it wanted to do, but we began the climb to Pavey Ark. The river that runs down from the tarn was in full flow as it rushed down the valley, leaping off rocks kicking spray into the air. The usual route across seemed a little dangerous as the stepping-stones across the river were covered with white foaming water rushing along. After seeking an alternative we made it to the snow topped tarn and looked for a way to climb Pavey Ark. Again the river and streams were full to bursting and current was faster than a penderlino from London. We concluded no safe way and as the cloud cover and storm clouds began to circle we thought it wise to turn back for food and ales.

After a good many drinks and a very typical English tradition of paying Draughts, which I lost, we turned in for the night. This was when the fun began.

As I tossed and turned to get to sleep, I heard the rumble and howling of the wind coming off the mountains as she sped up running toward the valley and the campsite I heard it rush past the tent. Then there was silence, and like the after shock of a quake the full effect of the wind took hold. With no noise the tent blew, and shook trying to be lifted from its moorings, and then nothing. Then five minutes later the same effect. The noise of the wind followed by silence followed by the effect. This went off throughout the night and into the morning which made the packing of tents a very enjoyable experience as we battled with the gales to un-pin our shelters from the ground while still trying to keep said tents firmly in our grasp.

I later find out they call this the Langdale Express and sometimes the wind come from both directions and crashes in the centre of the valley.

After packing away and checking the forecast we moved on to climb Wetherlam. But that is a different story all together. As I when I say climb, I mean climb.

The first part of this weekend break was a fantastic adventure with good company. I had ran a good race, walked in one of the few places that I hold dear to my heart next to Snowdon and had a lot of good ale and fantastic food.

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There are Good Drugs

It’s like a drug, well that’s what they say and to some extent they are correct but unlike people who ‘Chase the Dragon’ or drown their sorrows with a bottle of ‘Vodka’ there are no support groups for people like me. Come mile 14 I was feeling strong and felt good. One hill out of the way and the other climb had just two more miles before I would be running on a level playing field. Manchester at fourteen miles had seen me smack into the wall so hard that my run turned into a mixture of walking, hobbling and staying still. This time I still had tears in my eyes but it was more out of joy than the sheer agony that I was placing on my body and soul.

I am off course talking about the joyful drug of running. The full race report of Snowdon Marathon will be up soon but the main aim of this post is to report that as I was approaching the finish line I promised myself that this would be the last 26.2 miles I would run. I’lll stick to halfs in the future as I know I can run those in my sleep I thought as I crossed the finish line. A quick walk to find my friend and I suddenly realised I was already feeling better than Manchester. The fact I could walk, I could bend. The truth was that my legs didn’t feel like I had just completed a gruelling challenge that less than 1% of the population of the world have undertaken but I had and have the finishers medal and T-Shirt to prove it. I was now a marathon runner for the second time and I felt as fresh as a daisy. Not too fresh that I could go off and run the course again or indeed run for another five minutes but I could walk to the car unaided.

As I sat at home and watched the coverage on S4C and looked at the pictures and read forums on the race and the triumphs of the day I suddenly thought… I need to run a marathon. Now I know I said I wouldn’t run one again but you see I got a new PB at Snowdon and I still need to get a sub 4 that’s the very reason why I am still running the other distances. I wish or a more truthful look would be that I need to break a sub 1.30 on the half and go sub 40 on the 10K.

Running is a drug and it’s one that can be dangerous. I am now not only looking at running my next marathon but indeed looking at the world of ultra running. To say I don’t care about the distance is not true as I do love the 13.1 miles and shorter speeder cousin of the 10K but marathon running is fun. It’s a test from the training to the race day and as I sit up and rest and let my body recover I dream off being able to tie my laces and pound the streets to the beat of my heart. The only downside to running races and marathons is the sheer fact you have to rest for more than a couple of days but at least those couple of days will see me find time to hunt for my next marathon goal.

There is no one to help the likes of me and while the drug of running comes in many forms of pounding the streets to lining up on the start line and going all out all I know is it is one you can not come off and at the end of the day it’s good for you. Isn’t it?

Climbing the Wall

Well today I went out and managed to do a run. A long run. 20 miles. Twenty whole miles all for the aid of a bit of training to make sure I am ready for the Snowdon Marathon which is less than 3 weeks away. I thought the run was going smoothly apart from my leg and then my right quad the run was a good steady pace. Slower than my usual marathon pace and just could have been a knock on effect from the 7 mile Fartleck session I did the day before but for what ever reason it was working.

As I was running along at a snail pace, I was consuming the right amount of water and taking on the carbs at the right moments. Then at around mile 16 I could see the wall. Rather than hitting it I began to climb it and with doing so panic struck. I found myself consuming more water almost to the point of finishing my water bottle and with 3 miles away from home I needed to keep some in reserve.

I was really feeling it, I kept checking my Garmin to see if the LCD screen flashed to that all important target of 20 miles but each time I looked the only numbers that changed were those of ‘Total Time’ and the pace that was for everything slowing. Then just at the legs began to fill with lead and the water was almost drained my body thought it would be a great idea if the pace was upped. So from 9.30 miles I swallowed my pride and decided to ‘Man Up’ and some how settled on the rather quicker pace of 8.10. This was a crazy idea and only pushed the thought of being at home putting the kettle on and relaxing further into my mind. I was no longer concentrating on the goal of running and enjoying the run and if I had any common sense I would have stopped and started to walk back to my house rather than turning off to extend the run to make sure I achieved the goldern twenty by the end of the run.

I did it, and I felt it and now after Langdale and the long run have some serious doubts on weather I should be phoning Snowdon to ask them to withdraw my race number. The hills are very hilly and yesterdays run was an extremely flat route. I’m hoping the legs filling with sand was a result of the activities I carried out the day before and not because of the mileage I was undertaking on the run or the lack of energy supplements I was throwing down my neck.

Some more hill sprints and another couple of long runs this week to see how I feel and then maybe I will have to make the decision of pulling out and missing out on that bit of slate.

Oh well…

Long Time no Bore

Well Hello all, I am still alive and at the moment still in the UK but will be going to NZ soon as I now have a Visa and have set a date, just need those plane tickets and some spends and then it’s NZ here I come. So how you all been? I hope you have been keeping well. I have still be running, and after my last 10K I did take some time off and am now in a little bit of a flap as I only have 9 weeks till the Snowdon Marathon and to be quite truthful am a little nervous over it as I have done zero training. I keep telling myself I have the miles in my legs and no the distance. I am somewhat thinking it will be like my 2nd half where I did no training or long runs what so ever and felt it easier than the first first half. I know I should not be going down this line of thought but I dod have the miles in my legs so within 8 weeks I can get some long runs in to remind my body what to expect.

So what has happened in the meantime. Well the Olympics were on telly and I managed to get the place I worked to allow me to watch every last-minute of the action. On the night of Mo’s 10,000  victory we were all sat in the green-room cheering on the Mobot. When he won the 5,000 I think I screamed my apartment block down. I have always found Mo an inspiration and someone to admire and seeing him get the double, word can not express how I felt.

I have also moved house, due to a leak in my last flat that no party seemed to be interested in getting sorted, so with the waterfall pouring through the light fitting filling a 5L bucket every 10-14 hours and water cascading down the walls it wasn’t long till the mold set in, and boy did it set in. That evil black and green mold even covered walls in other rooms that weren’t close to the original damage and it wasn’t just walls the spores liked attached themselves to0. Clothes, books, shoes, doors you name it and we probably had it cultivating there along with a load of what we think were drain flys (basically looked like small moths). Again the estates decided that this was not worth bothering about so we acted with our feet and walked.

So apart from work, and the running I have not done much. the other week I did some camping in the Lakes and bagged another 12 peaks over the course of two days which was nice. But my life at the moment is mainly work to save up for the plane tickets and pay the tax bill before I leave.

I suppose the other news is that I have been seeing a Physio who is making me touch my toes. I have a weak hip as we all know from previous posts, but it is also locking out which prevents me from bending to touch my toes. He has been working on my core and stability to strengthen and unlock the hip while making me a better runner. This is off course a whole blog entry in itself that when I get round to it will write it up as I am sure you are all so interested.

Oh well off to spend my Bank Holiday running around Heaton Park and the streets of Manchester to get those miles into my legs.

See you soon.

Getting Back into It!

So I did the Marathon, I rested for 13 days then ran a 10K rested and a week later did another 10K, then another then rested for a week and then ran another 1oK  and then a ten miler. Within all this I was seeing my physio to work on my biomechanics and core strength and stability (another blog) and my legs were so tired and tight after each race, partly because I was going for it like the clappers, were talking below 7 minute miles and for me that is quick. So it was after the Llandudno 10 mile that I decided that enough was enough and I would hang up my trainers.

This was a good idea for two reasons. The first my legs did not want to move and the second I was working in Birmingham and then in the Lakes so did not really have time to run. So I rested for two weeks, and they say that your fitness does not disappear that quickly but I would like to disagree.

Now maybe your fitness does not drop just after two weeks of no action, and maybe it doesn’t but it certainly does if you spend those two weeks putting on almost a stone through drink and eating crap which is what I did. So when I returned to running on Monday as lets face it I have another marathon to train for so really need to start. The short run of 5k was tough, very tough and it wasn’t even a fast run. The one tonight of 6 miles was a little easier once I got back into my stride, but it took the first 2 miles to run through the niggles and loosen up the legs.

So for the next couple of weeks before I start my training I need to get back into tho running lark, training myself to run and run through the pain (unless it’s an injury). The hardest part of both runs was to control my speed, as I could not run at marathon pace or even half marathon pace my body and legs are so use to running a fast 10K that is still what they want.

So here we go, two weeks of some practice runs to get back into it, and then some long hard training runs for the hardest marathon in the Britain. The Snowdonia Marathon.

Going Mad

Well it was not on my promises for 2012 but i did want to take part and it seem 2012 is the year I will finally loose it and go mad. Well gone mad is what I have done as I have entered the 2012 Snowdon Marathon, now for those who don’t know this part of Wales then all I can say is think of a big dipper, climbing 800m of hills and descending, up, down, up, down for 26.2 miles.

Just hope I will enjoy my first Marathon in April, if not then I’m in trouble for October.