Monday, 3 November 2014

Helvellyn fell race 2014

I ran this race a couple of days ago, so here are some thoughts and feelings. I should find a few pics too.

This race is part of the "Dirty Double" weekend that is the finale of the series. By the time I entered, the Sunday Ullswater event was full. Ive run these before but find it hard to remember the courses. I remember sections but am never sure which race they are from so I effectively went into this race "blind".

The weather, as anyone who knows anything about the Lakes, can be anything and everything. All in a short time. Travelling down the weather was fine. I did hit a little rain, but that was after I'd turned off the M6 only to get back on it ! Muppet ! So 11 miles south to the next junction and 11 miles back north. Luckily I had plenty time.

I parked up and made my way to registration and was in time to see the 12pm start (there are 2 or 3 starts to accommodate more people on the narrow trails).  I was surprised by the numbers.

Now I had to think about clothing. It was pretty warm and dry but I knew we'd be going up where it would be cooler, windier and possibly wet. I decided on one merino base layer and my Inov8 jacket stashed around my waist. I'd already decided on Inov8 Orocs on my feet and so that proved right. They have small tungsten tips in the lugs that grip the wet rock superbly. They are a tad thin on the gravelly roads, but all in all a good compromise.

At the start I met the lad that reads my electric meter (like you do !) and chatted with the guys next to me in the start pen. No, none of us could remember the course despite all having run it before. A nervous girl beside me chatted saying how she's not long started running. A great place to be as everyone was there to go run up and down hills and were excited about it. I love the running community for this alone.

Race reports mile by mile aren't my thing. Too boring imo. Lets summarise as follows. 2 miles and 600 feet of climb up broken gravelly track followed by 2 miles down technical narrow rock strewn paths. Just so much fun for me as I really love that sort of descent. I have to concentrate so hard to find my footing, not fall and try to run fast too.

The second valley is more gentle but is very narrow on the way up and after the initial down section widens out to become a very fast finish, the last mile being road. I'd been running my own race, not killing myself, but perhaps not pushing myself hard enough (see finishing time). I let anyone who wanted to pass me to do so early on. After the first mile I was passed twice and took 20-30 place, which I was very happy with.

At the head of the second valley I noted my pace was sitting at 9.36 min/miles. I thought to myself "can you get sub 9?" That was my spur for the last section of the race. Well yes I managed to bring it down to 8.55. I was pleased but looking at my time in 2012, I see I was over 5 minutes slower !! WTF. Was I so in my comfort zone early on or is it just the ageing process ? A bit of both I suspect, however I am not too bothered as I really really enjoyed that race. It probably has everything for me: climb, fast technical descents and out and out fast sections. Its not too long or too short at just under 9 miles.

I got a nice shout out from the man on the mic along the lines of "nice beard there!" I met a twitter friend I'd never met in person and 3 who I had. We arranged to meet for beers later and I headed off to my van to get cleaned up. I lay down for dose and woke up two hours later ! It was dark and the car park was totally empty !

Anyway as usual all good days find a way of ending well. I met friends, drank beer, ate well (eventually !) and retired to my van. In the morning I wandered down to the shore of Ullswater, took in the views, watched the guys start to set up the tents etc for Sunday's races. I got a breakfast in a cafe as the day's runners arrived, all lycra and nervousness. Such a positive vibe about the place.

Me? I headed up the road, stopped near Hawick and ran up Ruberslaw. Absolutely magical at top of that baby. Don't believe me? Try it and I dare you to be disappointed.

                                                               20 yards to go !


                                                                         Ruberslaw !

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