Monday, 8 July 2013

Not an ultra but a fun weekend at the SLMM

I love the SLMM. It's local as it is always in the Lakes and I know most of the organisers and helpers as so many are from either our orienteering club or harriers. It's also low key- even milk and beer at the overnight camp and it has some good memories as for two years all four of us in the family did it by entering as two pairs. After the tumble at Buttermere I was not sure about running but the weather forecast sort of clinched it. I reasoned that a long day out in the sun would be OK even if I had to walk lots (and I did). Plus I was due to be the only lady on Klets so could not let the side down.
I arrived early and in plenty of time to get parked next to our van and start car park duty while the fields was still almost empty.
Event centre
 It was a lovely afternoon just chilling and pointing people in the right direction and then a bit more of a challenge getting the campervans parked up and as level as possible. Tea was a very wholesome pasta bake from the catering ladies. It was the night for christening the new van with our first sleepover. I went to bed early and left Bob out parking cars. I drifted off quickly and had my best night's sleep for a week. I seemed to have loads of time in the morning and was impatient to get going. There had been worries about the number of dead sheep on the fells after the snowy winter but there was no way we could carry enough water on what was clearly going to be a very warm day. The first CP seemed miles away when I marked up my map; put there apparently to make sure nobody opted to road run via the Duddon Valley. It was uphill inevitably and then boggy before the fell road but the nav was straight forward and so it was good to get into the map. CP2 was also straight forward and I was cross that running downhill jarred my ribs so badly. The boulder was enormous and in the clear weather stood out like a beacon. The next section divided us all up with lots of route variations. All was going well even if not very speedily. I even maaged a bit of rock scrambling on Great Crag. I did not see the route choices as I moved towards Harter Fell- perhaps daunted by the task ahead.

 In future I need to work backwards when I plan as well. Harter Fell broke me- I sat down (unheard of in a MM) and had a drink, food and more pain killers. It let me meet the other lady who had switched to Klets when her partner pulled out and we chatted as we flogged up Harter Fell to the top.  Descending over rough ground to Birker Fell was tough but I had second wind and ran quite well to Kepple crag where suddenly the map did not seem to make sense and I couldn't figure out where the tarn was. The next section going north of the OoB area was my worst leg of day 1 and I wished I had planned another route. I plodded on and then it was back on the huge elephant track through the marsh. I was shattered when I finished but I had got round and completed - more than I had dared to expect a day or so earlier.

 Bob had saved me a patch for my tent close to him and the other Preston Harriers. It was great to get the tent up, start eating and to find so many friends to talk to. A brilliant camp site with a warm stream, cool breeze and view out to sea. Some time after 9 I crashed out in my tent, woke briefly at 10 and got into bed for real. A shame not to socialise more but I was tired out. I slept until about 1.30 and then just could not get comfy again so just dozed on and off til dawn.
Day 2 dawned bright and although a little cloudy it was going to be hot and sunny later. I gave myself a generous two hours and pottered about getting ready.

 My back and ribs were stiff  and I prayed the courses would be shorter than the first day. I went for an early start anticipating I would need all the hours we were given. As I marked up my map it did not look shorter and there just as many CPs to collect. Oh heck! The first two CPs went OK although I felt I was losing ground to faster runners. The long contours to the next two controls really mashed my right foot but I fell into stride with Alan who I had met briefly on day 1. I ended up running much of the day not far from him. Tony M came past - slowed for a chat and ploughed on, as did Chris BH. I was cross I could not make myself run more but tried to just enjoy the day out and concentrate on completing. A face plant trying to run over some rough terrain settled it- do NOT do something silly and get injured now. As we got closer to Black Combe there was route choice/ order choice again. For me the decision was made by the deep heather- and being fortunate enough to see someone disappear in a direction I had not considered.
Heather covered spur
 It was enough to make me stop and reconsider. YES- brilliant, descend down to the big bridleway and get them in the opposite order as we clomb to Black Combe. It worked a treat- nice trod down through the bracken, fast jog along the track... a bit of a climb back up but better than stumbling through the heather and gorse for ages. As I climbed up Tony came the other way muttering foul oaths- I had caught him up and over taken him. Good for the morale too  (well mine anyway). Above about 400m the heather have way to shorter veg and stoney ground. I was happy again and pushed on for the summit tarn. Somewhere here I lost Alan. The ridge from there to Whitecombe Moss was very runnable so I stuffed some more pain killers down and shot off. A joy to be running again. I nearly made an dreadful error as my map was folded and I almost forgot about 146 at the other side of Swinside Fell. Once over the fence line there was a huge trod to the control and it was easy running- only to have to come back the same way? I got a shock when I realsied how far down the valley the next control was but it left only one more to get before the finish track. I should have run harder over the side of White Combe but the views were worth soaking in and I was hot. The final descent was steep and dusty (not often you say that in the Lakes). Those on the shorter courses made me feel like I was speeding down but when I compare my splits with Nee Bother etc I was slow.  Mountain Rescue were out attending to a damaged ankle - so someones weekend did not end so happily, but at least it was a warm dry wait. Suddenly the finish was there. Yes. I arrived just in time to be told- kit check please and they are about to do the prize giving.

 We moved out to the tables in the sun to join in the applause and Bob went to get my meal for me. I had promised myself a laze in the river but could not bring myself to walk that far. I sat chatting and then wandered back to the van to freshen up before the drive home. A really enjoyable weekend and proof that mind over matter really can work. I had completed the Klets again and so managed to be first lady. Julie was proud to complete day 1 and will be back for more but knew she would be timed out on day 2 so headed back early. I now have some raw patches on my back from the rub of a sweaty sack but no regrets except perhaps not carrying my camera! I might edit and add photos to this as some become available from other sources.  Next weekend I might have a rest as I am out with pupils doing DoE on Fri-Sat. Or perhaps I could run on Sunday?

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