Less than four weeks to go now, and the nerves kicked in a wee bit this week. I've started playing each leg through in my mind in those quiet moments when no other thoughts are occupying me. Imagining myself heading up each climb, concentrating on the downhills, sensing the tiredness in my body but willing myself to push through it. I just need to work on that and make sure I visualise it right through to the Moot Hall and under 24 hours.
I've been reading Andy Kirkpatrick's book this last week (thanks for the pressie Kirsten!) and he talks a lot about the fear he faces and how, in the end, the fear of NOT doing things and always wishing he had outweighs the fear of doing them. I hope to conjour up some of that feeling ready for the day.
The week was a great training one. I've settled into a pattern now of long weekend days followed by more resting up in the week than I've done in the past, and it seems to be helping.
Tuesday night I went out for a leg-stretching jog. But by the time I came down off Scout Road, I was feeling more up for it, and decided hill reps were the order of the day. So I pushed myself to do 8 running reps of the hill, the legs straining, the lungs bursting, but the head feeling good.
On Wednesday I headed over to Stoodley Pike for the first time in a while and did 4 reps of the hill. The interesting thing was, although I felt fairly slow, the watch said differently. I was 30-45secs under the time I used to ascend in, and whereas the descent used to take 4+ minutes, I was now doing it in 3.30ish with no perceived increase in effort. That's a good sign I think.
And then it was time to head off for the Lakes for the weekend and support Dawsy's BG. I drove straight to Keswick and saw him off at 7pm at the Moot Hall. Then I went over to Honister and tried to grab a few hours sleep, despite the whine of the generator and the crowing of a cockerel all night!!!
Then, at 3.30am, I was awoken from my fitful sleep by the alarm and, in the darkness, I prepared myself for a big day out. 15 minutes later, I set off to climb Grey Knotts, then Brandreth and the Gables before heading down to Sty Head, and across up to Esk Hause. A wee bit of breakfast there, and a "good morning" to the first BG group of the day, then I wandered up to Scafell Pike, which was teeming with 3-Peakers. I could say a lot, but I'll keep it short - something has to be done to ensure that people who are coming on the mountains for such "events" at least show the place some respect, in terms of having the right kit, acting properly and not leaving their rubbish strewn all over the highest point in England.
I quickly dropped down to Mickledore and watched the BG group going up Broad Stand, re-affirming my belief that there is NO way I'm going up there! Instead, I went and had a look at Lords Rake (Karl insisting that it's the way to go) and it looks do-able. I want to go back before 24th July and go all the way up.
From there, I dropped down to Wasdale and met Jan, Jackie and Pauline who were doing the wonderful support for Dawsy. They fed and watered me superbly as we waited. After a wee while, figures were spotted coming down the scree, and "operation Mercia" went into action!! Simon was doing well, up on time, and feeling pretty good.
After his rest, we set off up Yewbarrow, a good bunch of folks to keep the banter going and help him ignore the pain. Fact was, he was still climbing superbly. Yewbarrow was ticked under schedule, and Red Pike was near enough. As the leg went on, he struggled on the downhills due to the state of his feet, but his uphill pace had us all working hard to keep up.
I was pleased with how I was going as well though, with a heavy pack on and 3.5 hours in the legs from earlier, I felt strong. And, having done the leg several times recently, I was leading the navigation for several sections, picking up those little short-cuts and trods which make a difference. And, where I was at all unsure, I was able to pick up hints and tips from Andy Davies - learn from the best!
As we descended into a warm Honister, Dawsy was well up on schedule and it was certain he'd do it...he was now going for a time. I had planned to stop here, but decided I needed to push on and finish with him. So I got some food and drink inside me and headed off up Dale Head with the rest of them. Dawsy continued to climb stongly, in perfect conditions, making time up on each of the 2 summits.
We decided to go along Hign Snab Bank before descending, which certainly makes for a more gentle route. I think I might use it. A quick change of shoes for Dawsy at Little Town and we were off on the tarmac, with him getting stronger all the time and really making us work hard to keep up. Soon enough, the buildings of Keswick were in view, and he trotted up the main square to touch the Moot Hall in 22.14, a superb efffort.
I'd had a great day, and an uplifting one for me. Not just in terms of seeing Dawsy do so well (and catching up with various people I hadn't seen for a while) but also how strong I felt having effectively done over 2.5 legs on the day. This augers well I think.
And, whereas last weekend I was too tired to do much on the Sunday, this time me and Kirsten had a proper day out in the mountains! Despite her bad knee, she was really keen to go up some of the bigger fells, having never done them before.
So I devised a plan (which changed during the day!) to park at Seathwaite, going up Ruddy Gill, then to Esk Hause. From there we dropped to Angle Tarn, nipped up Rossett Pike, then took the BG trod to Bowfell (which she thoroughly enjoyed), over Esk Pike, out to Great End, then Ill Crag and Broad Crag before heading up to a deserted Scafell Pike (everyone was watching the football!!). Deserted, that is, except for all the rubbish left behind...disgusting!
From there, we took the corridor route down to Esk Hause (having decided we didn't have enough time to nip up Lingmell) and back to the car. Kirsten climbed strongly all day, but struggled on the downhills because of her knee :-(
I felt pretty good considering, still climbing well, feet a bit sore, mainly because of a huge blister on one toe....but I kept going at a decent pace and loved the day out on big fells with Kirsten :-)
So, all in all, a cracking week and one which has given me confidence.
And I'm off up there again tomorrow (Thursday), with plans to recce Leg 2 (for navigating a BG in the dark in a couple of weeks!) then go and do Lords Rake/West Wall Traverse. And then, onFriday night, meet up with Kirsten at Wet Sledale ready for the Saunders!! We're going to have to drop some classes because of K's knee, which is a shame 'cause I was really going to push her this weekend. Ahhh well, at least we should be at midway camp in time for beer and milk! :-)
Total for the week - 53mls & 19,600ft
39th Calderdale Hike 37mi. 01/04/2017.
10 months ago