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20 miles ish..

It was a few weeks ago that I went out the door on a Monday evening to kick myself in to getting fit again. For many years my winters have often featured regularly attending a running club. As the years go on I have found the running club nights more and more difficult. I use to jest that it was rare to regret going out for a run, then I use to say 1 out of 10 runs were bad, then last winter pretty much every run I was struggling. I know how to suck it up and put myself through a bit of hell – but all those tricks were not working.

So on Monday after a few recent long walks I thought I’d give it a go, almost from the off I found myself struggling to keep up. Not that it was fast, my legs were just not working.. and within a mile I felt wooden legged. We got to a natural point for me to make my excuses and I set off back after 2 miles.. out of site I was reduced to a walk. I walked back to the car wondering if this was the last time I’d be running with the club.

I do have neuropathy in my feet, I’m slowly loosing the sensation in them. Often at the end of a long walk they will be really numb. I don’t really know what is happening but it feels like when I turn the tap on and want my legs / feet to work they stick the fingers up. All nice words from everyone but neuropathy on the whole is a 1 way street, no magic cures.

I sent an email apologising to the club but I couldn’t see how I would be coming in the near future..

With that depressing note.. I needed something to perk me up and on the following weekend I spied an event not far away, that also had a class for walkers. The Silverdale circuit. The walkers set off at 8.30 with runners an hour later. A loop that took in a few sites an places I’d not seen. My thinking was that I’d been fine on the recent long walks so why not..

A dry day with around 15 setting off on the walk from Milnthorpe Cricket club. It was up to us to navigate and I stuck to a map rather than the route descriptions.. a few fast walkers set off at a brisk pace. It was a great day, for the first half I enjoyed the company of a pathologist from the Wirral – although we had overtaken many of the walkers it still felt a bit slow. So when we got to the feed station and he settled down for a cup of tea I made my excuses and left. I tried to keep tabs with a few runners but they were moving too quick.

Walking around the arnside peninsulas you get this great sense of landscape and the size of the morcombe bay. I walked and jogged down a few hills, making it back in just over 6hrs. Had I not lost my map or got stuck in the fairy steps I might have been quicker. I had a methodical plan to get changed quickly and put on a new heated gillet to stop me getting cold.. it worked. After a depressing Monday this Saturday put a smile on my face.

An Open5, kids birthdays and a lot of tracking stuff coming up this summer means life is busy but I snatched a day to myself and set out to do a quick lap (or not so quick lap) of the Ullswater Way. What a great day out.. think it took me 7 hrs, once again not at a fast speed but was an amazing day.. I found that starting slow I am able to get in to a bit of a run after an hour or so. Perhaps my feet and legs need a bit of waking up. Sadly whilst I went through the process of getting changed quickly, I found the 10m from the car to the front door almost defeated me on this cold night. I was proper cold by the time I reached the door.. that gremlin is still here..

Roll on another week – a Saturday in March who would have thought so many events would be running, Cartmel Trail Race, Hardmoors 55, Joe F’s Daffidil run. Also was the Derwent Dawdle – run by the same guys who put on the Silverdale event. Nice as they are it was more the route that attracted me to go and that it was not a pure running event. (I did feel very guilty I was not at Joe’s event). Another 20+ miler but this one was a little hillier.. with what I’d done recently this should be within my means – I do want to go longer, but likewise I can’t afford to blow up and get cold.

A 5.30am alarm and I’m off to Keswick, popping by the Spar in Ambleside to pick up a sandwich and a flapjack – just in case the feedstations are a little sparse. 8.30 start with around 15 other walkers who set off at a more sedatry pace albeit with a purpose. I needed to find my mojo and get my feet and legs working.. true to form my muscles seized up and I dropped back to stretch my legs. The route heads up Cat Bells along the ridge and drops down to Grange, the weather was proper minging – I had nearly questioned my decision to don a waterproof jacket but now I was thinking I should have had a fleece under it.

Climbing Cat Bells in the howling gale was fun – but I was fully aware that the cold and my vulnerability to it put me in a difficult place. Also I was regretting not having a few more clothes on – yet to stop and change would be to invite the wet stuff inside. I decided to up the pace a little to get warm.. it worked and by the time I got to the turning off the ridge I’d overtaken most of the walkers bar 3. The route headed up a bridleway towards Honister and then dropped back down the C2C route to Rosthwaite the 3 runners and me were not together.. and whilst not much conversation was had – the words is this a river or a path we are walking down did get through the noise of the weather.

I was not that keen in hanging around, knowing to get warm would invite hell when I stepped out in the cold.. I grabbed a cream rice and a dram of coke and off I went, in front of the walkers but now being overtaken by the runners. I couldn’t get rid of the nagging feeling I should be running, a few years ago I’d be running with them – well at least I’m here.

The route took a sharp turn up the hill to Dock Tarn – my goodness, I had my arse kicked for what seemed an hour we ascended these steps up through the forest. It was a world of pain and made more galling as breathless runners breezed past on the steep path. As I topped out I realised all was not good – the intense effort had knocked my sugars for 6, I’d already shut down my insulin pump but it was too late and my blood sugar was around 4.2. A bleak landscape with muddy indistinct paths, with little shelter this was not the place to be getting in a muddle..

One of my fellow walkers had caught me up and was using a GPS to navigate. Have to admit in this terrain it looked far easier than using a map so I followed him whilst fumbled around for a packet of sweets.. 10 mins I hoped was enough. If it didn’t rise I’d have to stop no matter what an awful place this was. Low and behold my blood sugars did rise, I trundled on descending to Watlandeth and to the 2nd CP. Although out front of the walkers I was only an hour in front of the cut off (could get messy for the RD I thought).. my fellow walker caught me up again (he could walk VERY fast).. and we set off together up to Walla crag.. some great views – not been here before. We descended together and again my blood sugars were dropping this time I elected to stop and take a swig of a little bottle of lucozade. Couldn’t have been 2 mins.. and my compatriot was gone.. never did see him again.

Its odd how the end of events can take so very long.. why is 3 miles at the end of an event sooo much longer than the 3 miles at the beginning. The flat paths after Keswick to the Braithwaite Institute are very runable or at least a slow jog yet all I could must was an amble. Still moving forward.. I arrived a little later than expected.. I grabbed my kit, got changed and put my heated jacket on. All was good..

Well not quite..  it was nearly 2am before I got to bed.. more to come

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