Sunday, 30 August 2015

Learning lessons on The Grand Tour of Skiddaw.

Yes, lessons are there for a reason...

This blog would appear to be becoming a catalogue of failures, but on the other hand if one can't fail and learn something from that failure then what's the point in trying in the first hand.  I've always been a fan (well for quite a while now at least) of that saying "Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out far one can go"  So I risk going too far, I risk being thought of as a bit of a dreamer. I attempt to take myself out of my comfort zone.  I do this mainly because I love to makes a plan and carry out the process of said plan.   I  also just love to be outdoors and adventuring, something which I have probably came to a little late in life but something that makes me feel good about myself.

I don't think that I am anything I'm not or that by doing these things that anyone will think any better of me, these are my challenges for me, I'll only ever beat me.

Early Doors
Things this year have not exactly gone according to how I thought they would.  I thought unemployment would bring lots of time to train and get fit, however I didn't factor in a nasty chest infection in the early part of the year or understand the stress I would feel when first signed on.  I didn't really get on with doing any training running wise at all.  I walked a lot and did the first part of my walking leaders course, which was fun and at which I learned quite a lot of helpful stuff.

Marshal Duties
Two of the highlights of the year so far have been helping on a checkpoint on the Lakeland 100 and marshaling at The Inaugural Salomon GlenCoe Skyline Race.  Both were hard work but great fun and brilliant for picking up hints and tips watching the best doing what they do best.  Have another two marshal spots coming up The Lakes Skyrace and The Cumbria Way Ultra, both Lake District based yaay.

So onto the the latest challenge "The Grand Tour of Skiddaw".

My friend Kim did this last year and we have been down in Calbeck area a couple of times doing recce's of the route. I also did my own scout up Skiddaw, so basically the only pieces of the route I didn't know were the part from Skiddaw House to Latrigg and the descent off Skiddaw down the scree.  In the end that bit was unimportant because I was timed out at Latrigg.  Well timed out with a proviso as I was offered the chance to go on as they were extending the cut-off, however I knew looking up at the mighty mountain that it wasn't in me to do it.   I could of managed the rest of the route if Skiddaw hadn't been in the way lol, but it's called the Grand Tour of Skiddaw for a reason.

Some pictures from the route,

The Frying pan shaped route.  I made it to 19.7 miles

Dibbing in at the start with Claire. Kim making sure I do it properly.

Lime House School where the race starts and finishes.

After checkpoint on the relentless climb up High Pike begins.

Everything up to the first checkpoint went very well, more of this later, we were 30 mins up on our time and I was feeling optimistic that I could use that extra 30 mins in the climb up the fell.  However about a third of the way up I was overtaken by the most awful bout of nausea, I felt faint and hot and just wanted to sink to my knees and vomit.  Sweeper Gerry was brilliant she said "can you stick your fingers down your throat and be sick" at this point I was a bit mortified anyway about having the sweeper with me.  I don't like to be swept if you know what I mean, I always feel put under pressure and it makes me very nervous.  She said she would go on and wait a bit further up for me as there was no way I going back down, only up, and that I was going to get the top of the hill, it would be no problem.  So there is me puking up for all I'm worth for about 10 minutes.  Buffs can have their uses you know.  Anyway poles at the ready and I'm up and moving again, but slowly taking it easy and picking off the feet as I go.  Gerry was fantastic she really was and her dogs were great company. I'm sure that Lily the older one was keeping an eye on me to make sure I was OK

The view from about three quarters the way up High Pike.

 Well with Gerry's encouragement I made it to the top and  began the jog down to Lingy Hut and the safety marshal.  A big black cloud was coming over and Gerry wanted to stop and put her over trousers on so I followed suit with my jacket.  Once past Lingy came the hop skip and jump down to the bridge.  Very wet, very stony and very boggy but great fun. At the bottom off came the waterproofs as it had decided to suddenly be summer. Then began the long, long trip along to Skiddaw House, didn't seem as long this time though and I purposely didn't pay any attention to the fact that Skiddaw House never seems to get any closer.   Can't say I love this section as much as the other sections, probably only because I want it over with.
 On reaching Skiddaw House we headed left along the Cumbria Way, to a section I've not been on before, what a revelation.  For once I was without my camera in a place where I really needed one.  I will never forget the view that unfolded before me.  All of St. Johns in the Vale bathed in sunlight, The Doods, Catbells and many other fells that Gerry pointed out for me.  This section is so amazing it's also rather steep sided but somehow that didn't really sink in at the time as I was so fixated on the wondrous vista in front of me.  Gerry and I chatted as we tootled along, she had given me some Nunn drink which really hit the spot and perked me up so end.  I even tried Bilberries for the very first time.
The radio crackled and Gerry was asked for our location, we were advised that if I got to the checkpoint in about 15 mins I could go on accompanied by the next sweeper.   I was almost sure I wouldn't be going and then we turned a corner and saw this and knew that it was over.  There is no way I could climb up to the trig and get off the scree today.  I would be far too slow and wouldn't be strong enough to descend safely.
The start of the ascent of the mighty Skiddaw.

So I dibbed out at Latrigg, in effect timed out and not ashamed in the least.  I did what I could on the day and can say no more.  I sat for a while and chatted to the checkpoint marshals, played with Gerry's dogs and listened into the progress of the race on the radios.  As there had been an accident at the top it was going to be a while before we were picked up I phoned Billy to come for me, arranging for him to pick me up in Keswick.  I enjoyed the walk down and I think it helped to free off my legs because they are amazingly okay today.

The winner he did the whole route in something amazing like 7 and a half hours.

So what lessons did I learn this time....

Ascending skills I need more climbing in my legs, particularly going from one fell to another, then another and then another.   I am fine on the downs and alongs, but my climbing is so slow and laborious.

Fueling, and here we come to what I think went wrong on my climb.  I had porridge with milk for breakfast, I've not been eating anything like this for about three months, then I had tea and flapjack at the first checkpoint, why tea I don't know and all I could taste was the extreme sweetness of the flapjack, and I'm not sure I cope well with milk either.    I did feel better after I got rid of it all but couldn't face any more food.  I rather think I need to stick to savoury, so will be experimenting.  Gerry thought one of my problems may have been a lack of salt, I must admit to not taking in much salt at all during the course of my normal day.  Something to research.

Weight -  it was pointed out to some of us are carrying a bit more poundage than necessary lol, I know I keep saying I must lose it.  I do try, but will be making a more concentrated effort than before.

Yoga, there was a morning after, yoga for runners session, which I thoroughly enjoyed and have realised that I miss yoga so would love to get back to it.

I will be revisiting this event, because I was disappointed that I didn't make it to ring the bell at the summit.


This event is fantastic, it takes in so many changes of route aspect and has such varied scenery, there's a bit of everything, and as I've now done nearly all of it in big chunks I need to put it all together and start and finish to earn the medal.   I'ts also so extremely friendly and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.



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