On Friday, 21st June, on what would have been dad’s 72nd birthday, I took the day off work. I wanted to do something to mark his birthday and what better way to do that then head out into the fells and get some tough miles under the belt. I also dragged the other half out with me; he was really up for it but I don’t think he quite realised how tough it was going to be….
Arriving at the Pheasant Inn by Bassenthwaite, it was overcast but we were confident that the mist would burn away and we’d be rewarded with amazing views from the top.. We set off up the narrow road towards Sale Fell – I’d plotted a 7 mile route that incorporated both Sale Fell and Ling Fell. If Tristan didn’t know how tough it was going to be, he certainly knew within the first 50 yards just what a challenge fell running can be! The aim was to just enjoy the run and keep to a steady pace, walking when the going got too steep. Getting some more hill miles in the legs was my main priority for this run, not speed!
Winding through Wythop Woods was beautiful; the trees afforded us some cover from the drizzle before we left Wythop Woods behind and headed for the summit of Sale Fell. The wind had picked up and the low cloud blew around us. It was very atmospheric but we couldn’t see more than 30 yards ahead – so much for cracking views! Still, we carried on. Despite the breeze and the drizzle, it was remarkably warm and the sweat was dripping off us as we plodded on.
We reached the top in one piece, posing at the top and, undeterred by the lack of scenery, we headed down the fell towards Ling Fell.
The sun had started breaking through the cloud as we headed to the next climb and, as we made our way up Ling Fell, we were finally rewarded with some views. It felt amazing to be out there enjoying this most beautiful corner of England, doing something I loved and sharing this with Tristan.
Descending from Ling Fell was almost as difficult as the climb. It puts a lot of stress on to the quads and the uneven terrain means you have to fully concentrate on each footfall. One mistake could lead to a nasty injury. After Ling Fell, we followed a road until we found a footpath which would, we hoped (!), lead us back to Wythop Woods and, finally, the car and salvation!!
I kept telling Tristan that it would all be downhill from here but, alas, we seemed to keep on climbing! Eventually, the path did start to descend and it felt like a blessed relief! As we approached the car, we thought we may as well round up the miles to 9. Yes, 9 miles – my planned 7 miler had gone wrong somewhere!
We ran up and down the road until we hit the magical round number. We’d done it! A lovely way to remember my dad and a baptism of fire into the world of fell running for Tristan!
On the Sunday, I met up with Ali and we did a nice 12.5 miler. It’s funny how your perception of distance changes when you’re training for a marathon. This run, which would usually have me worrying about being able to complete it comfortably, is now just a short run! Despite a sluggish start, I soon found my running legs and we kept to a comfortable pace. I didn’t feel the need to take a gel and so I managed on just my bowl of cereal. We completed the route in a not too shabby time of 2 hours 1 min, averaging 9’36 min/mile. It was a good confidence boost that I was able to finish the run comfortably, reassuring me that my training has been working!!
On Tuesday, what should have been a recovery run turned into a faster than anticipated 5k! I think the shorter run on Sunday meant that my legs felt fresh and I pushed more than I should have. I need to make sure I do give myself time to recover and taper properly! Anyway, I was pleased to complete the 5k in 25:55.
I arrived at Thursday’s club session feeling tired and praying that it wasn’t going to be a hill session! For once, my luck was in and we did a route round Linstock. I don’t know what was wrong tonight but I felt great! My legs felt strong, my breathing was controlled – one of those runs were everything feels good!
Even during the last mile I was able to dig in and push on. It ended up being one of my fastest runs for a long time and it came as a surprise. I have been running slower during the marathon training and so I thought I’d lose some pace. However, this has shown me that marathon training has improved all aspects of my running. I think it has also strengthened my mindset – I’ve proven to myself that my body can do much more than I ever thought possible.
So, with just one week to go until the marathon, I am feeling more confident that I will get round. My main aim is just to finish, the time taken to do this is secondary. I’m starting to worry about the practical things – getting to the start line, not succumbing to illness, remembering to take everything I need. I can see how training for a marathon can lead to madness!!