Review of August

After completing the Lakeland 50, we enjoyed our extended holiday in the Lake District. Once returned home, I took up my normal running regime again. Running felt easy and all went well. Shortly afterwards I lost some discipline and couldn’t be bothered to do the training runs I had in mind. Whether it was due too a couple of bad nights sleep or whether it was just some lack of discipline, I don’t know. I only managed to do some short easy runs in which I tried to keep my heart rate low.

Mid August, I started to feel some niggles on my left heel. It didn’t hinder my running and I only noticed it the first 2-3 steps when I started running. During the day it sometimes felt like having a small blister on my heel although I couldn’t see or feel anything. To avoid things getting worse and causing any more damage, I postponed running for a week to see whether the problem went away by itself, giving my feet some rest and by cooling the heel with ice. Two weeks later, the symptoms remain and my GP concluded that I have Achilles Tendonitis. Dam it! I have no clue why and what caused it?

I am however delighted that I listened to my body and stopped running once I noticed that something felt wrong and hope that this might speed up recovery. Fingers crossed! The prospect however of not running for a while is not looking good.

Therefore the total distance run in August remains only 110km.

Total Distance
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OMM Sonic Smock Review

The OMM Sonic Smock is a super lightweight and windproof smock that packs away into its own tiny pocket that is built into the collar. It’s made from Pertex® Quantum fabric and weighs only 60g. It features a quarter length neck zip, thumb loops and a hem draw-cord.

OMM Sonic Smock

I purchased it a year ago and used it quite intensively. It weights nothing (well 60g) compared to the other jackets I used before. The fit is good and the sleeves are long and have thumb loops to offer some protection to the hands on cooler days. It keeps the wind out and even offers some water resistance in case of light rainfall. The draw-cord at the waist is excellent for keeping the wind out when its cold and windy as it prevents any air flow on the inside. The collar is high and quite snug as well and protects the neck and reduces heat loss when it is fully zipped up. Finally it packs down pretty small into it’s collar. So there is no excuse to carry it with you when you aren’t sure what the weather is going to do and when a rain jacket is overkill.

OMM Sonic Smock packed

At first I was a bit concerned about its quality and lifespan as the material feels really light and flimsy. Especially when I run past some bushes or branches. So far however it has never ripped and it turns out to be far sturdier than first impressions suggest. It feels breathable and comfortable, however when you wear it over your bare arms and get sweaty, it tends to stick to them. This offers some discomfort, especially when it’s cold and windy. As mentioned before, it offers some water resistance but it isn’t waterproof. So you will eventually get soaked in case of a heavy shower.

Pro’s:

  • Extremely light,
  • Windproof and breathable,
  • Draw-cord at the waist,
  • Simple no-nonsense design with no unnecessary features,
  • Packs down to the size of 2 golf balls,
  • Great value for its price, RRP £60 / €70;

Con’s:

  • Tends to stick to your bare arms when you get sweaty,
  • Limited water resistance;

Conclusion:
The OMM Sonic Smock is a super lightweight, simple no-nonsense windproof jacket that packs down really small and protects you against the wind and the occasional shower when you need it. The rest of the time you can stow it away in a pocket, bumbag or race-vest and you won’t even notice it’s there.

Montane Lakeland 50 & 100 Video

A short film of the 2014 Montane Lakeland 50 & 100 ultra distance trail running event that has been created by MOViE iT.

Lakeland 50 Race Report

On Friday morning we (Nathalie and me) drove to the John Ruskin School in Coniston. When we arrived it was already busy with competitors who were setting up their tents on the camp ground for the weekend. After the obligatory kit check, race registration and being weighted, we went for a short stroll along the lake. In the afternoon we had some lovely food in the canteen, relaxed and absorbed the whole atmosphere in and around the school while chatting to other participants and supporters. Then at 6pm it went all quite emotional when the runners for the Lakeland 100 lined up at the start line and The Lakeland 100 anthem Nessun Dorma (“None shall sleep”) was sung live by tenor Alexander Wall. After the start we went for dinner at the Black Bull and an early sleep.

On Saturday morning, after an early breakfast, we went back to the John Ruskin School for the obligatory race briefing. Marc Laithwaite reminded us of the heroes we all were and that in case we were thinking about a specific time, we would probably fail in this heat. When it starts going wrong (and it will) you have to find out what’s happening and deal with it. When you want to give up, ask yourself ‘what is your challenge’? What did you expect? It isn’t a challenge until you reach that point. He therefore strongly recommended us to think of a ‘Plan B’ if we wanted to complete the course. E.g. forget split times, slow down and take rests at checkpoints.

After the race briefing it was time to board the awaiting busses and what followed was a long and winding bus ride to the Dalemain Estate where the Lakeland 50 starts.

My plan for the race:

  • Try to enjoy each stage of the route.
  • Enjoy the checkpoints, take time and don’t leave before feeling confident to move on! Time doesn’t matter.
  • Don’t think about the distance to the finish. Just think of the next checkpoint ahead.
  • Stay well and finish!

Leg 1: Dalemain to Howtown
Distance between checkpoints: 17.8km Ascent: 294m Descent: 285m

LL50 1_0716After the start, there is an initial loop through the fields around the Dalemain Estate before we made our way through the fields and along the river to Pooley Bridge. From Pooley Bridge it is a gentle climb/walk up to the Cockpit and then again a gentle jog down to the checkpoint in Howtown. This first section was very hot and I took time at the checkpoint to rehydrate, try to eat some cookies and nuts and to fill up my water bottles as the next section is a long and hard one.

Leg 2: Howtown to Mardale Head
Distance between checkpoints: 15.2km Ascent: 765m Descent: 672m

From the checkpoint it’s a long walk/climb up Fuesdale. I managed to walk at steady pace to the top of Fuesdale where I had a short rest before plodding on in the heat to High Kop. On the way down to Haweswater I managed myself into a slow jog. Thanks to the recce earlier this year I recognized the faint path down towards Haweswater, which the group of runners in front of me somehow missed. Luckily they weren’t that far away and could easily correct their mistake. In May I managed to run the 6km undulating rocky track along the lake towards Mardale Head, but by now the heat had managed its toll. I didn’t seem to be the only who was affected by the heat as many more competitors where moving slowly forward along the lake.

The checkpoint at Mardale Head, which was managed by the Delamere Spartans, felt like an oasis in the desert. I’ve spend a long time here. At first I had some difficulties with the food, but eventually managed to eat a couple of sandwiches and some crisps, drink some coke and a coffee before feeling ready to move on. This time I didn’t want to make the mistake I’ve made in May where I popped in and out in 5 minutes and paying the toll for it later on during the course.

Leg 3: Mardale Head to Kentmere
Distance between checkpoints: 10.4km Ascent: 511m Descent: 589m

The climb up Gatesgarth Pass is on a steep and stony track and went steady. Luckily it begun to cool down and some of it was in the shade of the bigger surrounding fells. What followed was a very long descent on a stony track down to Sadgill. Between here and Kentmere there was another hill to be tackled before I could make my way down through some bracken fields and over some stone walls and stiles into Kentmere.

The Kentmere checkpoint is famous for its smoothies and pasta. I didn’t fancy drinking any smoothies and instead went for some coke and pasta. After 15 minutes poking around in my bowl of pasta I finally put it aside and went for a cup of coffee. I ignored the bus driver who was calling for people who were keen to get onto the bus back to Coniston and finally took my walking poles of my backpack as I didn’t feel running anything any longer. By the time I was ready to push on towards Ambleside it had started to drizzle and it was quickly becoming dark. So back inside again to put my rain jacket and head torch on.

Leg 4: Kentmere to Ambleside
Distance between checkpoints: 11.8km Ascent: 491m Descent: 602m

The climb up Garburn Pass went remarkably fine and I started to feel stronger again. By the time I reached the top of Garburn Pass it was dark and pouring down. So a short stop to put on my waterproof trousers before descending into Troutbeck. On the way down I managed to overtake some walkers and even jog down sections of the trail. In the far distance I could see some headlights and by the time I hit the road in Troutbeck I had closed the gap. All of a sudden I was leading a small group on the climb up Robin Lane in search for the signpost that would lead us to Ambleside. It was almost midnight when the group reached the checkpoint in Ambleside.

When I went into the checkpoint I felt good again and was confident that I was going to finish. I had some sandwiches and a cup of coffee which has handed to me over by the checkpoint staff, which where really doing their best to look after everyone who stumbled into their checkpoint.

Leg 5: Ambleside to Chapel Stile
Distance between checkpoints: 9.0km Ascent: 234m Descent: 213m

On the way out, I came by a competitor who cursed the stairs leading into the checkpoint, which made me laugh. Outside I waited a minute for the others to be ready and together with Graham Beech, Helen Meredith, Amanda Kirtley and John Smith we set off to the next checkpoint. I had some nice discussions with Graham along the way and before we knew we had reached the checkpoint in Chapel Stile. Once again the recce I did earlier in May on this section of the course proved valuable as the new path along Elterwater led to some confusion by the others.

Once again the checkpoint itself and the staff running it were fabulous. They even had some couches, where some competitors were taking a nap on. We stopped for approximately 15 minutes and I’ve had some lovely vegetable stew, a coffee and some wine gums.

Leg 6: Chapel Stile to Tilberthwaite
Distance between checkpoints: 10.6km Ascent: 387m Descent: 323m

It was still dark when we left the checkpoint and made our way up on a stony track toward Side Pike Pass during which had to climb over some steep stiles. My feet had been feeling well so far, but I managed to misjudge a small puddle of water when we made our way up the track by the light of head torches and ended up with a soaked right foot. A few seconds later I heard Amanda ask whether more people had wet feet, so I wasn’t the only one who managed to dip his feet into that puddle… By the time we crossed the boggy ground around Bleamoss it was light again and we could switch off our head torches. At the compulsory checkpoint Graham, Amanda and Helen pushed on while John and I took some time to eat some food. I talked to John while we walked downhill and then pushed on again on the way up High Tilberthwaite Farm in attempt to close the gap with the group Graham was walking in.

Leg 7 Tilberthwaite to Coniston
Distance between checkpoints: 5.7km Ascent: 283m Descent: 385m

Just a short stop at the last checkpoint to drink a cup of coffee and to make a wake up call to Nathalie that I was approaching the finish line in Conison. Graham, Helen and Amanda left while I was still sipping on my coffee. I had a quick chat with John Smith who arrived shortly after me and was sitting beside me. He urged me to push on and confirmed that he was doing fine although he was struggling with his feet. The stairway to heaven, as the stairs out of Tilberthwaite are called, weren’t actually that bad and I managed to close the gap once again to the group with Amanda and Graham. What remained was a horrible rough steep track down towards Coniston Coppermines before we could enjoy the nice road down into Coniston. I let the others go ahead and walked down to Coniston as the misstep I made earlier that night had caused me some sore feet by now. When I reached the village of Coniston, I managed myself to a gentle jog past the Black Bull and the Petrol Station and then down the road to the finish at the John Ruskin School where Nathalie was awaiting me.

Results:

Checkpoint Time of Day Elapsed Leg Position
Pre Start Dalemain Sat 11:27:26
Start Sat 11:35:42
CP9 Howtown Bobbin Mill Sat 13:52:57 02:17:15 02:17:15 420th (602)
CP10 Mardale Head Sat 17:18:58 05:43:16 03:26:01 433rd (599)
CP11 Kentmere Village Hall Sat 20:28:57 08:53:15 03:09:59 495th (589)
CP12 Ambleside Sat 23:53:02 12:17:20 03:24:05 509th (577)
CP13 Langdale Sun 02:32:42 14:57:00 02:39:40 498th (553)
CP14 Tilberthwaite Sun 05:42:08 18:06:26 03:09:26 499th (550)
Coniston Finish Sun 07:26:06 19:50:24 01:43:58 502nd (549)

Wrap up:

Did I enjoy it? Yes! We’ll not the climb out of Howtown up Fuesdale and the section along Haweswater in the heat. But once it cooled down in the evening and I was on my way to Ambleside I got again some energy in my body and it was then when realized that I could finish the race.

Will I do it again? For sure! Now I know that I can do it, I am keen to improve my finish time. I walked a lot and took some long rests at the checkpoints due to the warm weather in order to make sure that I would finish. Maybe I was a bit too conservative, but that is how it went and I am happy that I completed the course. So the date for next year’s race is already marked on the calendar, with the intention of finishing significantly faster!