Two weeks leading up to this event and I could not even run 2 miles without severe pain in my left knee. Osmotherley Phoenix had finished it off. I was changing my mind every hour about pulling out the event. I finally decided to stop running for a week while continuing spinning sessions and just go and see what happens on the day. I have already written about the course in the recce run, so I will keep this short.
I arrived on the Friday with the family to pitch the tent and start soaking up the atmosphere. I was glad to see all the 100 mile runners getting ready and getting psyched up. I was surprised to see Nick Ham all kitted up and after seeing him at probably over 20 events now I got the courage to go over and say hello after the 100 mile briefing. I was amazed to hear that he was attempting 100 miles when his knee has been diagnosed as totally screwed and he was in pain just standing there, but extremely proud. It made me realised that my knee problem is minor and it helped me during the run to endure and continue. The 100 milers gathered at the start and left with cheers and encouragement to leave the rest of us in a still silence for a while before more 50 milers arrived.
After a good night sleep, there was just enough time to get prepared and eat before the briefing. We all gathered in mass waiting for the bus and then randomly piled on. I sat in the first available seat and was amazed than when I told the person next to me that I was moving up near Coldstream, that he was from Wooler, along with two other women in the seat adjacent and part of the Wooler running club which I have been excited about joining. After arriving at the start there was a brief wait before we all massed in the starting pen and in no time we were off.
The first 4 mile loop was new to me as we did not do it in the recce run. It was all signed and there was so many people, it was just follow the leader. After a bottle neck near the start we all thinned out and I got a chance to talk to one of the women from Wooler running club before settling into an easy pace and concentrating on my knee. I ran this event with no navigation aid, knowledge of what time it was and without my Garmin watch so I could enjoy it more. It must have been around 3 miles before my knee started hurting. I cursed it but rather than resorting to walking like planned, I continued on.
I reached the end of the loop and made my way over to the first checkpoint. I was annoyed at my knee because before it would not hurt when walking the hills but now it just hurt all the time. The only saving grace was that the pain would reach a peak and just stayed the same, so I figured that all I had to do was endure it. Checkpoint 1 arrived quickly and I prepared for the longer of the big climbs. It felt longer than in the recce run, but when I reached the top I still felt as fresh as when I started. I had been eating well and often and kept this up the whole event. After an easy decent down to the lake it was then an undulating track to checkpoint 2 where it was starting to rain.
After some soup and bread bun washed down with coke, I put my waterproof top on and swam my way up the next big climb with wind and rain lashing into my face. My plan was to enjoy the views to enable me to take my mind of the pain, but there were no more view for most of the event, only a blanket of cloud and rain. I was slow on the accent as my knee was in agony. There were lots of people passing me like I was standing still, and even though I had load of energy I was getting moody and was already thinking of pulling out at Kentmere. I picked up the pace after the big decent down the other side but my mood was no better. I had run this course just over a month ago and with no views, there was little excitement and little adventure because the route was all so fresh in my mind. I arrived at checkpoint 3 and after having some rice pudding and a smoothy, decided to make my way to Ambleside where I could pull out and be picked up my the family.
More people passed me on the next big climb out of Kentmere as I was slow again. The easier run over to Ambleside heightened my mood and I started running with someone who is currently living in Hong Kong. It was good to talk with someone and by time I reached Ambleside I figure that there was only about 16 miles left and my knee could just deal with it. I was quick out of the checkpoint so my knee would not cease up. I would have loved to have eaten some chips from the chip shop but after seeing the queues, though better and continued on.
The next section was an easy section to run with only some small climbs at the start with a large flat section. Lots of people I talked to felt the same at this point, it would have been good to have some walking breaks but because it was so flat, there were no excuses but to push harder and run the whole thing. At the next checkpoint the light was starting to dull and after some vegetable stew, I was off quickly. I was running solo for most of the next section and I made a plan to reach the small road section before it got dark. My knee was screaming. The pain made me feel sick but I made it this far and I was nearly there. I made it to the small climb before the last checkpoint before it got dark and ran without a light until I arrived at the final checkpoint and with only 3 miles left.
The only problem now was that it was all up then all down. The climb hurt badly. I was very slow. I was finding it hard to navigate with my light as the mist and cloud was making viability zero and I only had the noise of a waterfall and my memory of where it should be. After reaching the top and following a very faint track I got lost a couple of times and had to backtrack. I reached a section where to track was obvious but for some reason though I should be going the other way. I waited for more people who finally arrived and confirmed that I should be on the obvious track. It was good to be with other people and we made our painful decent down towards Coniston. When we got close to the final track that leads into Coniston, I realised that the runner next to me was the person I ran with earlier who lives in Hong Kong. We ran together at a decent pace down into Coniston and into the School where the finish line was.
Finished. I felt good, apart from my knee. My weight was down only 2 pounds and I had no dizziness or sickness. I sat down and ate my free meal of vegetable chilly and a huge piece of cake before feeling sick and regretting eating it. I made my way across the camping field which must have been at least 10 miles long and painful made my way back to get a shower. I painfully walked the 50 miles back to the tent as the field was definitely getting longer. My knee hurts bad, but I am so glad I did the event and don’t have any regrets.