And I found direction
There is no childhood's end
There is no childhood's end
Won't you lead me on.................
A couple of weeks since I last blogged, and a lot has happened in that time. Mostly to do with my mental state in terms of doing the BG this year.
The continuing niggles in the legs have really undermined my confidence. Firstly, the Achilles keeps flaring up despite doing all the exercises and despite reassurances from people who’ve had the same problem that it just disappears at some point. The fact is it hasn’t and it’s been almost a year now.
And then, no doubt because I favour that leg now and push everything onto my right side, that right knee which I thought had ended my summer aspirations continues to haunt me. I’m waiting for the pain to reappear. With every footfall, I think I can feel the weakness returning. And that’s no way to be feeling as you wind up your training for a 24 hour round.
And I think all those thoughts and feelings accumulated over the last 14 days to the point where I decided in my head that it would be better to back off running for a few months and see if I can sort all these physical problems out, problems which were causing me to feel mentally drained and physically weak. Because one thing is for sure…..your head has to be 100% right to do a BG and, if it’s not, you’re wasting everyone’s time by starting.
So I’ve kept some training going these last couple of weeks, but it’s been sporadic.
And then this last weekend really sorted me out, for two reasons;
Firstly, another of those conversations where you realize that life is just too short to be thinking about ifs and maybes and putting off things until tomorrow. As we drove around the Lakes at the weekend, we chatted in the car about the fact that so many people these days seem to stop living their lives by the time they’re in their mid-twenties. It was characterized by an article in the Saturday paper where a twenty-something said the topic of conversation on a night out had been about “all the mad things we used to get up to when we were young”! What!?!!! Get up to mad things NOW. Whatever age you are, you don’t have to stop (as was typified by a certain V60 gentleman this weekend, who led a perilous route off Blencathra at a speed faster than all the “youngsters” with him!).
If ever I give up doing mad things, shoot me! So many people sitting around watching TV, eating crap food, talking about what they USED to do and, seemingly, just counting down the days and filling in their time until they die, wrapped up in this consumer-society that’s been created to allow just that. Well, no way will I be doing that. Of course, as we get older, we have to set our sights differently….but god help me, I will always be looking to push my boundaries, even as they tighten around me.
And all that nicely led into the main reason we were in the Lakes for the weekend. I’ve known Emma a wee while now and she’s a remarkable lass. Her infectious enthusiasm for being out on the fells, coupled with a beaming smile at all times, makes her great company for running and a fellow free spirit out on the hills. What’s particularly amazing about her is that her life off the fells is not an easy one, and if most of us had to manage with the circumstances she does, we’d be wanting a rest when we had free time rather than be zooming off to do hill reps.
And she’s really pushed herself in training for the BG. I’ve really noticed that this person who, just a year ago, would have struggled to keep with me on a steep climb, has trained so hard that she now leaves me behind. And most of all, she’s had incredible mental strength, maintaining a quiet confidence throughout that she would do it.
And so it was a pleasure and a privilege to be able to help out on her round, me and Kirsten providing roadside support and a couple of trips onto the fells to assist.
Friday afternoon saw us arrive in Keswick, all pacers sorted and arrangements made following a flurry of e-mails during the week. We picked up food boxes from Emma (along with several hundred cakes!) and got ready for a long 24 hours.
A crowd gathered at the Moot Hall at 7pm to see her off with a handful of pacers. The weather was looking perfect, the forecast good and it was all down to Emma now. We headed off for an 11pm rendezvous at Threlkeld and stood chatting with leg 2 pacers and scanning the hillside. We got one hell of a surprise when lights appeared on the top some 35 minutes up on schedule….what WAS she up to?!?! Far too fast!!
The route down Middle Tongue in near-darkness looked precarious, led by the legend that is Yiannis. But, it was a quick route, and she was into Threlkeld some 40 minutes up, an incredible achievement….we just hoped she wouldn’t pay for it.
Off up Clough Head she went, on what looked like a starlit night. We drove down to Threlkeld and settled down in the car for a couple of hours sleep. The alarm woke us at 1.45am and, with the knowledge that Emma was so far up on time, we quickly jumped out and set up everything ready for her.
With Kirsten starting to cook, I headed up Seat Sandal, having promised to shine a light to show the line down the nose above Dunmail. It was cold up there, very frosty. A beautiful starry night, although cloud clung like a carpet over the Dodds and Helvellyn ridge. I had no watch on, but was aware that time was slipping by, I was feeling very cold, and there was no sign of them. I worried that they’d nipped underneath me somewhere and trotted back (torch off to avoid confusing road support) to check. But they hadn’t, and eventually they emerged, having had some navigational issues In the clag, and with Emma now 30 minutes down on schedule.
Dunmail was understandably a bit tense. A wee bit of food, a quick calf massage and they were off up Steel Fell, dawn now upon us, looking to make up time. After a long and tense night, we headed off back to the tent for a few hours sleep.
Once up (on a glorious day), we packed up again and headed to Honister. Linda had sent a text informing us that Emma was now around 50 minutes down….I wondered if it was slipping away.
We got to Honister, and I left Kirsten to set up and headed off with what felt like a heavy pack (full of water) to intercept them at Black Sail pass. There’s no water sources on leg 4 and it can be a long way on a warm day. I was joined for a trot by Dave from Tod, who limped along on the twisted ankle he’d suffered coming off Blencathra. We got to Black Sail and waited….and waited. There was no sign that Emma had made up much time as yet but, with she would still be under 24 hours although it would be tight. It all depended how she was feeling.
Soon enough, the unmistakable figure of Yiannis came trotting down, grateful for the water and jelly babies I think, and Emma soon followed, looking tired and pale but still going well. She had made up some time, and there was plenty in each split time now. And sure enough, as we intercepted them again at Beck Head,a good chunk of time had been clawed back and there was just the one last climb of Gable to do.
We headed back to warn Kirsten that they would be coming soon but she may not be stopping. I went back up towards Grey Knotts to watch for them, and was amazed and so pleased to see them coming down much sooner than expected, and with plenty of time for Emma to have a 10 minute stop and get some food down her. She left Honister with 3hr 40mins to spare for a leg which would take a maximum of 3hrs. She had no idea that she’d effectively done it and, when I explained, the emotion really showed on her face…bless her.
But one last climb to do, and she set off with an army of pacers to coax her along. We zoomed over to Little Town with road shoes and met her coming down the road, looking shattered but having plenty of time in hand.
Back to the Moot Hall to join the gathering crown amidst a bizarre scene, with both a market and the Keswick Jazz festival taking place. There as a buzz of excitement amongst us and, soon enough, the group came trotting up the street and Emma touched that door in 23.08, an incredible achievement.
It was a wonderful day, so pleasing to see someone who’s worked so hard actually achieve their goal. And it’s really inspired me. YOU have really inspired me Emma. It’s time to put aside these doubts and worries about niggles etc and just get on with it, believe I can do it, and make sure I get a good team around me in the way that Emma did.
To be honest, I’m shattered from the weekend. Both physically in terms of the hours we put in, driving around, putting stuff out, packing stuff up etc. But also mentally. It was a really nerve-racking day. The highs and lows of supporting are hard work you know!!!
And Kirsten could hardly get out of bed this morning. What an amazing job she did. She was there with everything ready, food cooled just nicely, everything under control. Future BGers – she’s available to hire at a price!!
Despite tiredness (or perhaps because of), we headed towards home on Sunday afternoon after a lazy morning, but stopped to nip up Great and Little Mell Fell, both of us putting some effort into running the ups, and me trying to correct my downhill running style to take the pressure off the Achilles (but that’s another story for another day!).
Totals for week; w/e 16/5 - 17mls & 5,500ft, w/e 9/5 - 23mls & 6,400ft
The plan is being put in place today – 8 weeks to build up the training, get 100% ready and make sure I get this BG done at the end of July.
Lead me on……………….
39th Calderdale Hike 37mi. 01/04/2017.
10 months ago