Sorry folks but as I was running hard today I took no photos. They would have been beautiful had i done so, but I didnt !
Today I ran the Hawkshead 17k challenge race, which is part of the Lakeland Trails series. My marathon debut last year was part of this series and I've been hooked since. The one drawback for me is the distance. Todays round trip was 280 miles and a lot of time behind the wheel. My drive/run ratio isnt too good !
No matter as I just love these races as each one is unique. I never know what to expect in terms of running surface, the amount of ascent to be expected, the steepness of the descents, the weather etc etc.
I arrived in Hawkshead after my Sat Nav had had its usual piss take, taking me some very suspect route, to find the place heaving and the car park closed as it was full and wet. If I'd got in there, I'd probably still be there now. I parked on the verge of a very narrow road and headed off to registration.
Now a novelty for me and these races: the sun was shining and it was a pleasant 8 degrees, with little or no wind, making ideal running conditions.
I missed the call to the start area so was a little further back than I'd've liked, but I decided to just play it cool, run as I felt and see what unfolded. I came into this with an injury niggle. I've had problems with my left leg, which haven't really been diagnosed accurately. So this was very much a trial run to see how this went, as in 4 weeks I intend to run the Edinburgh marathon for Chest Heart Stroke Scotland (www.justgiving.com/dunsrunner).
The start section is flat and tarmac. When I checked my watch at about a half mile I was running under 8 minute mile pace which I considered too fast but I went with it as I felt comfortable. As we left the road and started trail running properly, we started to climb quite quickly. As everyone around me tried to run every hill, I walked them. Soon I wasnt the only one!
The trails were in good condition and easy to run on, lots of stones to be negotiated but very little energy sapping boggy bits. I settled into my run, working hard both running and on the walking bits too. I began to feel I was not doing too well and was not "race fit" which I accepted. My leg was fine though so I was pleased with that. However having since viewed the data from my Garmin, I think it was more a case that I was running quite fast by my standards !
Around the 7 mile mark (sorry I just dont get Kms !) we entered a section called the "coffin trail". In short this is about 1 mile pretty much straight up from the shore of Windermere. I walked all of it as I was as fast doing that as trying to run it. I definitely lost a few places here, although I managed to pick off some on the descent and run in.
Once we had reached the summit of the "coffin trail" we had some wonderful downhill trail running. I get satisfaction having managed a climb, but I really love trying to run fast down technical trails. And boy, did this ever fit the bill ! Lots of sections were bare rocks and stones that obviously carry a lot of water after heavy rain and I run these with "dancing" in mind. I have to plan very carefully where each foot step is landing, with a nano second thinking time for each one. I try to keep my knees high as I'm aware that a trip here would lead to a very nasty fall. Add in a tiredness factor too and its maximum concentration all the way. I think of these foot steps as my "dancing" (I can't do any other dancing anyway). I would never criticise road runners outright, but I cant help feeling that they dont know what they're missing. I must confess to doing the "aeroplane" down one grassy slope as I was having so much fun:-)
So how did I do? Well as I mentioned earlier my Garmin tells me a story. I was happy to have run 10 trailies without my leg going "ouch", but I felt my performance wasnt that good. My Garmin tells me I ran 10 miles, climbing 2000 ft, at an average pace of 9.10 minute miles. Well I dont mind saying, that will do me. Thank you very much. Thrilled, if I'm honest.
PS If you are reading this and havent run trails, I'd say give it a try. Whats the harm?
Thanks for reading