Monday, 8 March 2010

Walk to ‘Ell and Back

Just a week after Not for Nothing 50, I felt ready for this 30 mile run although I planned to take it easy because I knew I would not be fully recovered. To try and keep my total weekly mileage up and to practice running on tired legs I did a 10 mile run on the Saturday before running the event on the Sunday. On the Saturday night I had a massive downer when my right knee locked up (an old none running injury) and I was unable to straighten it without a fair amount of pain. I knew that it would ‘pop back’ at any time but it can take days. After lots of grumping and moaning about never running again, pop, it was back to normal again. Just in time.

The event did not start till 9:30am so I didn’t have to get up at 4am like most events. With only 1.5 hour drive I arrived at Greetland All Rounders Rugby Club at 9am and prepared to leave. The weather was perfect, with blue skies, not a cloud in sight, temperatures around -4 degrees but with the promise of rising to 5 or 6 degrees. With a last minute decision to ditch my fleece, I was off.

The first couple of miles flew by as I meandered my way down to Rochdale Canal. With a brief visit through Sowerby Bridge, the canal was marginally uninspiring with a 3.5 mile section of straight flat footpath. I could see the hills all around and was looking forward to getting some elevation. At the end of the canal section there was a check point before the first small accent through Luddenden Foot up to Moor End where the second check point was located. With 7.3 mile done, I was feeling good and my legs were feeling fresh.

A mile into the next stage and I started feeling a sharp pain in the outside of my left knee. It was bearable and was not affecting my running so I continued on without too much thought. The bulk of the walkers were around this point and they all looked happy with the spectacular weather we were having. The temperature was rising but a cold breeze kept my cool with stunning views. I continued on along tracks and quiet country roads before following the Calderdale Way Trail. The route follows the trail to a check point at Ripponden, where the 15 mile route would travel back to the start and the 30 mile route would head in the opposite direction.

The opposite direction turned out to be one of the steepest roads I have ventured on, although it was over with quickly. I got to talking with another runner at this point but the pain in my knee was reaching new levels of pain. I had to say good bye and fall back with frequent stretching and rubbing. I knew it would not do it any good to continue running but I powered on. Through further tracks and country roads, I reach the next check point at Baitings Reservoir.

There was a huge cheese butty with my name on it at this check point and I walked across the dam trying to eat it as fast as possible. My knee was really hurting now but I was too occupied looking up at the hill I was about to climb. The next part of the route when up onto Rishworth Moor, which contoured around the top before arriving at Green Withens Reservoir where there was another check point.

The next section was all downhill and my knee was slowing me down to a crawl. Whenever there was a sharper pain spike than the one previous, I would make a strange grunting noise through my teeth and nose. I let gravity get me down before reaching the A672 which I followed closely before reaching the next check point at Booth Wood Reservoir.

I immediately went the wrong way after this check point but was helped back on track by a walker whom was many years my senior but still going stronger than all but a handful of the remaining walkers who set off at 8am that morning. I passed under the M62 and started my slow accent of Deanhead Moor at which point the sun was baking hot. I started feeling a bit dehydrated and my energy levels were depleting. I passed the last of the walkers before arriving at Deanhead Reservoir, where I arrived at and followed Scammonden Water to the next check point.

I had hit a low point now but knew that there was only around 5 to 6 miles left to go. The pain in my knee was slowing me down and I just wanted to get back. I decided to eat all my remaining food in one last effort for more energy and set off under the M62 once again before meandering down the valley back to the finish. I was to be completely on my own for the remainder of event apart from the virtual partner on my Garmin watch. I had given him a slow time but he had caught me up. He was under my feet and I used it to push on, so I ran the complete remainder of the route. Despite there being short steep accents, ankle deep mud, stiles, traffic on the road, the virtual partner was relentless and ploughed on through it all. I finally managed to get ahead of him and held a lead. I was so close I could see the finish at the top of the last steep hill. I arrived at the last steep accent but there was no way I could run it, so as I walked as fast as I could, the virtual partner caught me up and was in the lead. I reached to level road, only 800 feet to go. All I wanted to do was walk to the end but I was determined to beat my watch. I plodded on in pain to the finish arriving 2 seconds after that relentless virtual partner. Next time I will give him a handicap. The strange thing with the end of this run was that normally I am counting down the miles, which seem to go slower and slower, but this time it all went really quickly.

I wolfed down my pie and peas and drank some electrolytes before heading home. I had got some sun burn, but the biggest worry now is my knee. It still hurts to walk but I have faith that it will heal quickly. The only down side is that I planned to enter the Hardmoors 55 in two weeks time, but I now have a fear that the wear on my body will prevent me from doing the Highland Fling Race and the LDWA 100, which are my main focus points at the moment. I will give some time for recovery before deciding on my next move.

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