The good thing about being off work is that fitting in my runs is a lot easier and heading to the fells becomes more frequent. Throughout December I managed to fit in several visits to Sale Fell. Compared to other fells, Sale Fell may be diminutive in size but it still offers a real challenge, and a breathtaking view!
On Sunday, 29th December, a year to the day that we lost dad, I headed to the fells with Ali. It was just what I needed. The plan was to ascend both High Pike and Carrock Fell. Carrock offered us both the chance to bag another Wainwright. We parked in a layby at Calebrek and piled on the layers. There was a biting wind and the low cloud meant we couldn’t even see the top of Carrock! We headed upwards, the ground saturated with water. As we climbed higher, visibility reduced significantly. It actually felt great! Our world is usually so big and chaotic but here, it was just us contained in a world of only a few meters. Very peaceful.
Eventually, we reached Lingy Hut and carried on further. It wasn’t long before we realised we’d gone too far as we were looking down the valley with Carrock on our left and Bowscale Tarn just below us. We headed back the way we’d come, got our bearings, and headed up High Pike. A very light dusting of snow greeted us and, after a quick photo shoot, we headed back down and onwards to Carrock. The wind had picked up and it wasn’t a day for lingering on the tops!!
The run across to Carrock was very, very soggy. At one point I disappeared knee deep into a pool of ice cold water.
We made the scramble up to the cairn and bagged another Wainwright. We then headed back down to the car and thawed ourselves out. We’d covered 10.6 miles in 2 hours 18. Fell running is hard work! There is nothing that makes me feel more unfit than heading up these hills. It never gets easier! However, I am now beginning to see the benefits from flogging myself on the fells.
On Saturday, 4th January I headed out intending to do a steady half marathon distance. It was raining quite heavily but the wind had dropped significantly from the previous day making pretty perfect running conditions.
It was one of those days where everything feels right. Despite the long, miserable climb up into Fletchertown, I was still feeling strong. Approaching the halfway point, I realised that, if I kept plugging away, I could get under the magical 2 hours. I used a Clif Shot Blok at mile 6 and another at mile 9. Usually, things start going wrong at mile 10. I have this thought in my head whenever I do this distance and it’s become a real psychological block. I expect things to go wrong and so they inevitably do.
Mindful of this, I made a real effort to just keep going. I tuned into my body. I was breathing well and my legs were still feeling strong. I could do this. I could achieve a sub-2 hour half. In training. I tried not to get carried away, to keep focusing on where I was. I still had 3 miles to go and anything could happen. Approaching mile 12, I put my foot down. So close to the sub-2, there was no way I was letting it slip away.
I stopped my Garmin and was delighted to find I’d covered 13.1 miles in 1 hour 58 minutes and 39 seconds. My second fastest time for a half and only the second time I’ve gone sub-2 hours. It turned out that my desire to get that sub-2 meant that my last mile was my quickest of the day: 8’26!
Since my partner, Tristan, started running last February, my own running has become more consistent. His enthusiasm for running has seriously increased my own motivation and we each know how important it is for us to run. Not only is it great for physical health, running is brilliant for maintaining sanity!