KMF 50km Ultra Recce/Preview

Keswick Mountain Festival 50km is only a week away (11th June) and I as I have been lax on the blog posts recently, here’s a couple rolled into one. This one will be an update on my training and also a preview of next weekends 50km.

Post Fling

Following the Highland Fling I had a couple of niggles, mainly due to tight legs. I was in pretty good shape apart from my left quad, which had tightened up a lot and was causing me pain in my knee. I had a couple of easy weeks after to let me legs ease back into training and then I started to try and get out in The Lakes again with the intention of getting some runs with more climbing included. I’ve managed to get out 7 times clocking up 77 hilly miles with a total ascent of 20700 feet.

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Running on Skiddaw (poles ninja style) photo: Kath Pigden

My legs are feeling good and I just need to keep clocking up a few longer runs to get as much time spent with my race vest on with all the kit that I will need to carry as possible. Most hilly runs from now will be wearing race vest with full water bottles and kit packed in. I noticed that my upper body was beginning to feel tired at the end of last weeks long run when I recce’d the KMF 50km route.

I have also turned 31 since my last blog post, and acquired a pair of running poles, courtesy of Rosie (it’s like she knew exactly what I was after…) so I’ve been trying to get as much practice in with them as possible. They are made by Black Diamond, they collapse into a third of their length and weigh bugger all. The only issue I’ve had is how I store them whilst running when I don’t want them out. The two ways I can stick them in my bag haven’t worked so far. The first, down the back of my running pack (like a ninja), looks cool, but the ends poke my spine. Manageable for 15 miles, but certainly not 100. The other is to store them cross ways in the mesh of my bag, again, this rubs my back and stops me getting anything else out. I’m open to suggestions if you have any techniques? Please let me know. I don’t really want to have to buy a new pack to carry my poles, maybe a bit of bag modification would work. Bungee cord and a sewing machine could be my solution… I’ll keep you posted. I know you’re desperate for the answer!

Carlisle City Urban Trail Run 10km

I picked up my second podium ever! I came 3rd at the Carlisle Urban Trail Race put on by Sport in Action, its a nice course around the centre of Carlisle on trails and park paths, it always seems to be sunny, has an abundance of flies and has really grown in its 3 years. . I was hoping to run sub 36 minutes, I ran 36:02. I can’t complain as there were bridges, kissing gates and cow poos to negotiate. It helped that James Buis, a sub 2:30 marathoner was running ahead of me, just loosening up before he ran Stirling Marathon on the Sunday (4th in 2:36), I was happy to sit in behind him and hang on as he told me not to get dropped in the last mile! I got my first prize too, a £20 Chivers Sports voucher. Excellent. One of the best running shoe shops in the north and where I get my road shoes.

L to R: James Buis 2nd, Paul Graves 1st, Me 3rd photo: Brian Allen

KMF 50km Ultra Recce

Not really sure how to approach this one, on one hand I want to race, on the other I want to be efficient so I can keep on training. I ran the whole course on Bank Holiday Monday as a long run, I totalled 33 miles in 6hrs 45mins. I felt good at the end of it which was a positive. Still managed to get lost, even though I had the route uploaded to my Suunto, so easy to do and great for planning training runs and using on race day, but doesn’t help if the wearer is a dope. I often create a route on Strava and then export that to my watch, it’s the reason I’m useless at practicing with a map and compass.

The route is a really good mix of flatter running and climbs that you can get your teeth into. There is 2000m of ascent, which replicates the ratio of climbing to miles in the Lakeland 100. I parked at the bottom of Latrigg, as its free parking, and set off with Rosie and Agnes up Walla Crag and along to Ashness Bridge, they were going to head back to Keswick from here via the lake shore. They knocked out 8 miles. From there I travelled to Watendlath and down to Rosthwaite, this was one of the sections I didn’t know and was also where I took a turning too soon and added 1/2 a mile onto my day on a loop of road. The climb up Honister wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and I was soon in the cafe scranning a ham salad roll and a bottle of coke.

Climbing towards Honister Quarry

This will be check point 2 during the race. The only negative about this pit stop was the £4.95 in shrapnel that the waitress gave me in change. Despite my best efforts to keep it separated, as soon as I ran downhill I had a bunch of 50p, 20p and 5p coins clinking away for the next 3 hours… Chinese water torture must have been invented based on this.

From Honister theres a bit more of a climb up and over into the bottom end of Buttermere, from here it’s a flat section around Buttermere and Crummock, same route as Buttemere 10 as far as Rannerdale. It was strange running around here as I was recounting my blog post in my head on that race and was getting same emotions of being chased as during the race. It won’t be like that come next weekend, thats for sure!

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Looking down Buttermere & Crummock

Happy to turn off and climb out of Rannerdale, this was a bit of a suprise to me. I didn’t expect this to be as long a climb as it was. Will have to make sure I’ve got plenty in the tank for this climb. The next section is a few miles of off camber single track, which I found difficult to get a rhythm going on. A steep descent and a bit more rocky path and I emerged onto the Newlands Hause road, a few miles of feeling fresh on tarmac brought me to Catbells and from here it was the familiar path to Portinscale Marina and then back to Keswick, and in particular The Keswickian chippy. I’d conjured this plan whilst running along the boggy far shore of Crummock Water, I was trying to decide what £4.95 would get me. I’d settled on a small battered sausage and chips, maybe a tin of pop. What I didn’t plan for was a size of the queue. Out the door. I nearly fell to my knees and cried. As it was already 7.30pm I instead walked back to the car, dejected and hungry. I called Rosie to tell her the bad news. She got to cooking straight away and I walked into the house to a plate of cheesey haddocky bake, roasted veg and new potatoes. That’s why I’m marrying her. I also ate a burrito that was left over from the night before. And some Green & Blacks birthday chocolate (I say some, I mean a bar).

I imagine that I will tell myself to run a steady race and not to trash my legs all week and then I’ll get white line fever on race day and chuck all my best made plans out the window. For this very reason I’ve decided not to enter Carlisle Tri Club 10km on Wednesday evening. I would end up battering myself for 6 miles on the road and be sore for 2 days afterwards. I’ve only ran on the road twice in the last month.

I’m also announcing a blanket ban on biscuits and cake unless I’ve run for more than 10 miles, and that doesn’t mean a full packet. Need to stop falling into the “I’m training hard so I can eat anything trap”. Have an apple FFS.

Other races in the pipeline are High Terrain Events Scafell Trail Marathon, that’s 2 weeks before the 100 and will be a run out with finalised race kit and nutrition.

I’ll try and get a race report up a bit quicker next week. Thanks for reading!

Since Highland Fling

Distance – 130.4 miles | Elevation Gain – 22619 feet | Time on Feet – 24hrs 23mins

Lakeland 100 Recce – Buttermere to Dalemain

This July I shall be attempting to run my first 100 mile race, The Lakeland 100 (105 miles but who’s counting). Scary stuff! The course starts in Coniston and travels in a rather large anti-clockwise circle around the Lake District gathering a not insignificant 22490ft of elevation gain and loss. Any map geeks can view the course on Bing Maps.

As a part of the preparation for it’s runners, Lakeland 100 puts on 4 recce days on each of the 4 sections of the course.

Coniston to Buttermere – 27 miles

Buttermere to Dalemain – 32 miles

Dalemain to Ambleside – 30 miles

Ambleside to Coniston – 16 miles

On Sunday it was section 2, from Buttermere to Dalemain, 32 miles. The longest but also the flattest section of the course. I say flattest, there was still 5850ft of elevation gain.

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One of the best parts of these recce days is meeting people. Being a newbie to running 100 miles I was able to talk to a number of different people who have run this race and many others previously. I probably feel more confident about the job having talked with other finishers than I would do from running the sections of the course alone.

7.30am, park at Dalemain to get the buses over to Buttermere, an excellent way of organising things, everyone runs at their own pace and can head off home as soon as they are back. I wasn’t envious of the chap from Worcester who was driving home afterwards. It was only 30 minutes for me (that was long enough).

Arrived in Buttermere at 9am, straight off the bus, tied up shoes and set off. The days goal was to be able to run well in the last 10 miles, in prep for The Highland Fling at the end of April, so nice and easy on the climbs. The first section gradually climbs up to Black Sail Pass, this was a cracking bit of singletrack to run/walk along.

No one’s looking *quick selfie*

At the top of the climb we hooked a left and dropped towards Barrow and then dropped into the valley bottom to Braithwaite village (6.5 miles), I was used to dropping off Barrow on the otherside of Barrow Gill and was kindly pointed in the right direction from a chap 50 yards further back. A nice grassy run into the village and I checked in with the support vehicle where a CP will be located.
The route then runs alongside the A66 for a couple of miles and I got talking to the guy who helped me earlier, his name was Tom and he’d run Lakeland 100 twice before, once in 30 hours and again in 26 hours. Very impressive! He was keen to stress the importance of not working too hard on the first section, as walking the bits that are easier to run when you’re paggered is counter productive. As we climbed round the back of Latrigg, I bombarded him with questions about the race and his experiences. He seemed happy to answer…

As it was so warm, we filled our bottles in a stream and carried on around Lonscale Fell. We seemed to be well matched for pace and walked at similar times, so we ran most of the day together. The conversation then moved to his previous experience when he had to walk the final 40 miles due to blisters. “I’ve never had any problems with blisters” were the words that came out of my mouth. I’d pay for this later.

Running towards Blencathra Centre

A quick stop at Blencathra Centre (15 miles) for water and 4 jelly babies and I set off after Tom who had filled his bottles before me, I was mincing around and lost sight of him as he took a right and through a gate before I saw which way he’d gone. I then wasted 5 minutes trying to decipher the route notes that my printer had scrambled with calligraphy. Back on track it was 30 mins until I’d caught up along the Old Coach Road towards Dockray, it was warm now and my feet were starting to complain. This wasn’t helped by the goons riding their dirt bikes right passed us, even though there was 20ft of gravel path to go at! We were getting low on water again so reaching High Row carpark (22.7 miles) and another CP was very welcome, they even had suncream! The horse had bolted.

The run down the road to Dockray was hot and we both complained as we chugged down hill full of water. We were caught by a chap, Jason Lewis, we had passed with his friend along the coach road. His mate had stopped due to a groin injury. We’d seen them on and off a bit and Tom had mentioned he’d finished 3rd a couple of years ago, he ran 105 miles in 23 hours! As he caught us he shouted “Right you lazy bastards! (we were walking) lets get our arses moving!” 

The lovely Ullswater!

Yes! Someone else who was willing to answer a tide of questions. We ran as a trio for a couple of miles round Aira Force and Gowbarrow Fell, Tom dropped off a little bit to get some peace (he was having a few stomach issues). As soon as we hit the 2 miles of road to Dalemain Estate I knew my feet  were in trouble. I only complained a little bit (read: a lot). Were were discussing Chamonix and UTMB when Jason realised we’d made a wrong turn *weep* and we nashed back the way we’d come adding an extra mile or so onto our day along that God forsaken tarmac. “Ahh sugar sorry pal, oh well all miles in the legs!” were the words from the super positive Jason. I grunted. An eternally long gravel track and we were back at the cars, a quick name check and I was done.Tom rolled in as I was kicking off my shoes and we had a cup of tea. He’s hoping to run Highland Fling too, I hope so.
The best outcome of the day was meeting a couple of guys I can now look out for and will hopefully see at other events. The worst outcome? The blister that looked like a Cadburys mini egg on my little toe.

Distance – 34 miles | Elevation – 5866 feet | Time on feet – 6 hours 28 mins

Proof.
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Strava route profile and pace

And my poorly pinky… I exaggerated!

Carrock Fell Race Report – 19/3/17

Wet. Wetter than wet.

To term a phrase “it was wetter than an otters pocket” … and I doubt you get 60mph winds in an otters pocket. Or peat bogs.

Carrock Fell Race takes place as close to me as a fell race is able to get so it’s a local one, if you deem a 30 minute drive local, but it’s where Craig (my twin brother) and I started to run when getting into fell running and we still get up High Pike when we can, especially during the light summer nights. We even took Andy, our older brother on his first fell run up High Pike over Christmas.

So anyway. It’s local. The weather forecast that on Friday morning said it would be blustery, with low cloud and no rain until 2pm got steadily worse. It rained most of the day Saturday and Sunday morning the wind had picked up too. So much for the weather forecast. But then, it is the Lake District.

I was due to pick Craig up at 9.45am, I arrived early to spur him on as I knew he wouldn’t be ready. Before I had even knocked on the door there was a shout from the open bog window upstairs

“Come In!”  pre-race poo and all that. 10 minutes later we were on the way and on time.

“Sorry mate, the car park is waterlogged. You’ll have to park on the verge. But make sure you keep 2 wheels on tarmac.” Exclaimed the steward as he pointed us where to park. Guess it’s damp underfoot then…

Sitting in the van watching the race registration sign clinging for dear life to its post I wasn’t filled with optimism. This is where doubts always start to creep into my head before almost any race. Even at parkrun I get nervous about who I can run with. “Do I really need to do this?” “You might get injured” “You don’t feel good today”… piss off, it’s gonna be great fun.

At registration we were informed of the diverted start due to the stream being in full spate, we were to follow a flagged section and cross over a footbridge, it would add about half a mile. Being a bit of a novice fell racer, I wasn’t sure of what I was going to wear, shorts obviously. But I was torn between a merino baselayer and vest or thin layer and waterproof jacket. Having walked 50 yards to register I went for the merino baselayer AND the waterproof. A very good choice.

Strava evidence
Strava Evidence

A token warm up consisting of a 500m run up the track and back, including a wee that I tried to point in the right direction and then it was to the start to be counted into the start area. A safety measure to make sure everyone is accounted for, and vital on days like this.

The hooter sounded and 100 shivering people set off across a mossy sodden hill following the red flags. This section was decent going, it was mainly downhill and with a bit of adrenaline from the start it felt easy. That soon changed. Crossing the bridge we started to climb towards the base of the fell. This part wasn’t easy. With saturated tussocky ground on a slight incline and a strong wind into our faces my legs were on fire and we were running at 10min/mile. I quickly decided that marching was the best solution, a stooped and bent over hike that would look very odd, had a whole line of people not been doing the same. Apart from the 10 or so guys ahead who kept running.

The climb up Carrock is a steep one. Craig decided to head straight for the summit, we had talked about this but I was ahead of him and, being unsure of the right line to take didn’t want to go wrong so I stayed on the path with the rest of the field. Turns out it was a good decision, the conditions made it quicker to go slightly longer. Half way up my calves were screaming, I was desperate for a change in gradient to relieve my legs. Yes! A flatter section, I’ll have a run on the bit. Nope. Stomping it is. I made a few places on the climb and as I got to the top of the fell and started climbing the tumbled stones and rocks that litter the summit the leaders were coming past me in the opposite way. I was surprised how close I was. After nearly getting blown off my feet trying to show the marshall my number it was back down and off towards High Pike. We were really into the wind now, and I could hardly see for rain in my eyes as I slowly picked my way through the rocks again.

Slogging across the boggy area wasn’t any great fun. One of the guys I passed on the climb skipped ahead of me over the rocky section and now I settled in behind him. Focusing on his heels and not looking into the weather. We made good progress and soon caught another runner, I was at the back of the three, luckily, as I slipped jumping a pool of stinking soup and went down flat on my face, head and shoulders submerged I came up spluttering and spitting out peaty water. It’s a mark of the conditions that I wasn’t any wetter than I was before falling. I’ve no idea how but I didn’t lose any ground.

As we started climbing I moved ahead of the others and turned right and up to High Pike summit, a quick wave and a thank you to the marshalls and their tent, I veered right and down the lovely grassy track that’s great for opening up your stride. I knew laddo would be coming so I tried to stay relaxed and not worry about him. He passed me about half way down, but not before he shouted that I was taking the wrong path. Very kind. I’d have let him go an extra 20 yards first (jokes). With the wind howling it was hard to hear anything that was going on around you, apart from the flapping of your jacket and your feet splashing on the flooded paths. And so, as I rejoined the track with 100m to go I glanced behind me not expecting to see anyone, least of all that of GB trail runner Kim Collison. A mental “HOLY F*&K!” and I sprinted for the line expecting to be caught. I wasn’t. Amazing how a jolt of fear can give you an extra kick for the line. In fairness, he had gone off route a couple of times in the clag. I’m not sure how intent he was on racing at that stage. Turns out a few people had done the same, which meant me and downhill runner were bumped up a couple of places. I came home in 53 minutes and in 5th place, absolutely buzzing.

Craig arrived a minute later in 11th, a few handshakes and “well dones” and it was back to the van. A quick change and off to meet Rosie, Gemma and Joe for steak pie and chips in the pub. Marvellous.

Distance – 5.7 miles | Climbing – 1600 feet | Time on feet – 55mins

 

Race Results
Race results

Why start a blog?

Hello, and welcome to my first blog attempt. Up until 12 hours ago I had absolutely zero knowledge of how blogs worked or how to start a blog. Jumping in with both feet seemed like the only logical thing to do. It’s kinda how I’ve gone about my running (which this blog will be about) since I started in 2012. Since then I’ve run a trail half marathon in 2013, a trail marathon in 2014, a 50 km trail race and a 50 miler in 2015. in amongst that I’ve run numerous half marathons, one road marathon (which ended horrendously) and 2 more trail marathons (Scafell Pike Trail Marathon).

Why start a blog? Well, this year I am running my first 100 mile ultra. Which is double the distance that I’ve run before. I ran Lakes In A Day in 2015, a 50 miler travelling the length of The Lake District National Park. By the end of that I was absolutely cooked. Who knows what state I’ll be in come July. So yeah, its a way for me to document my races and training and anything else that I think might be of interest to somebody… anybody!

I was asked to write a race report by my running club DH Runners on a cross country race I competed in a couple of weeks ago. That was my first blog post, I copy and pasted it in with a couple of adjustments. I actually enjoyed doing it, and the words seemed to arrive relatively easily. I doubt that’ll last. So, with a little encouragement from my girlfriend Rosie, this happened.

I hope you find something that might interest you!

Mike

 

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Chamonix, 2016