Wednesday, September 23, 2009

So, having taken part in my first organised event of this length for sometime, what was it like and what did I learn for my future big beach holiday (MDS)?

As for what it was like, at the start line I was a little apprehensive but much less than I thought.
I knew it wasn't a perfect time for me to be running in such an event, although I knew Karen, an old friend, would be there I knew she would be busy so I was pretty much on my own.

The start was a very relaxed affair. I think some must have uttered "shall we get off then chaps?", there was no starters gun or even a ready, steady, go! "Run my own race, run my own race" kept going through my mind as the throng of, as yet, fresh smelling runners whisked me along at their own pace. Like many events, the number of participants began to slow things down again before too long and I was grateful for the queue at the first stile. After the first check point, at a little over three miles, things started to settle down. I was beginning to run at a comfortable pace and was fairly relaxed and enjoying chatting to other runners, most of whom seemed to have done the event many times previously. This continued for the next for approximately the next ten miles or so.

Much of the previous mileage had be on tarmac which I am no fan of. The route redemed itself though, with little tarmac after this point, however the worrying first twinges of cramp set in between about 12 and 14 miles. I say worrying because it was still early days in the event and I knew the route's highest points of Lords Seat, Mam Tor and Hollins Cross were only a few miles ahead. Thankfully my tactic of scoffing some salted cashews, a pepperami and slowing the pace slightly paid off. On the descent I felt good but had a slight niggle in my left knee - that's supposed to be my good one!

The check point at Castleton was like an oasis. I'd run out of fluids and the sun was warm. Time for a resupply, mmmm more bananas and flapjack. 5 mins on my arse and then back on the tarmac!

After a brief respite on some soft grassy stuff there was a tortuous descent into Tideswell, again on tarmac. The niggle in my knee was now becoming quite painful. Just before entering Tideswell I lost sight of the runners ahead of me and was unable to see any of the event's pink way markers, typical. Even though I had been nav'ing (on good advice from Karen) I began second guessing myself and fannied about abit looking for the road through town. Finally reached check point 8, 26.2 miles covered, brilliant, it'd been a long time since I'd covered that distance off road! Another orange squash and banana break and I set of once again. Not much further along the route though, the niggle in my knee started to become quite quite painful. I decided to stop running and try to walk it off. I was quite peed off with myself because, from here all the way through Millers Dale and Monsal Dale to the 30mile point was pretty much flat. Yet I was unable to take advantage and pick up the pace again due to the knee pain.

By the time I crossed the A6 and entered Deep Dale I was kicking myself because my knee was getting much worse. I was trying to banish the thoughts of pulling out, out of my mind. Instead, trying to focus on just finishing the event at a walk. I'd already realised my time running was over. I met another runner here, a lovely lady who was very sympathetic and a bit of an inspiration she'd driven up from Kent and ran in the last 12 challenges. I reached CP 10, had my obligatory banana rations and set off, still convinced I could finish at a walk. In the couple of minutes I had been stationary at the check point I think my knee finally decided enough was enough. I had managed to half walk, half hobble about a mile when a sensible voice in my head shouted " What the hell are doing?", I knew I had to stop, even at this late stage, or risk injuring my already seriously protesting knee. I returned to CP 10 and was very grateful for the lift back to Race HQ.

Looking at my maps since, I am sooooo glad I made that decision. I think I would have been in serious pain trying to attempt Deep Dale 2. And I'm glad to tell you apart from walking like 100 year old man who forgot his zimmer frame for a couple of days, my knees and legs are fine. I even manage a short run on the third day post event!

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About Me

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I’ve never been one to turn down the chance for adventure, the biggest and most rewarding one so far was starting a family with my (very understanding) wife! We have three kids, George, Gracie and Evie. All of whom put me to shame with their energy and enthusiasm! I've always preferred the chill of the mountains, either climbing up them or snowboarding down them, until I took up running, after a serious on-duty injury, to disprove the ‘shouldn’t, wouldn’t, couldn’t’ attitudes I found many people have. Discovering the fun in exploring places and getting to know them by traveling through them on foot has got me into some interesting events in the past; multi-day mountain marathons and ultras, long distance paths and national trail traverses, 84 miles of Hadrian’s Wall, Welsh 3000 and completing the MDS in 2010. Next up Beacons Ultra and a return to the MDS.