The start of spring = the end off multilayer faff* in my outlook.
* "faff" is a technical term that has many meanings and uses, but in this case refers to the need to keep unzipping/zipping wind jacket or worse still removing it, stashing, removing and reapplying. Also apply the same to gloves and hat.
My decision was justified, I only really started to get cold descending passed the Barden resovoirs and then soon warmed up when into the river valley after the next CP. It was a lovely day for off-road running with little wind, no rain and aforementioned warmish temperatures. This more than justified a 4:45am rise for breakfast and a near 2 hour and 92 mile drive. The drive passed quickly enough. Queen Greatest Hits 2 had long since begun its second revolution of the journey and the fast tempo of Headlong** kicked in for the second time as I hit the winding, country, B road to Grassington. It seemed quite appropriate and a metaphor for my 2010 training so far, what with my goal being my first double-marathon length run.
** And you're rushing headlong, you've got a new goal
And you're rushing headlong, out of control
And you think you're so strong but there ain't no stopping
And there's nothin' you can do about it, nothin' you can do
No there's nothin' you can do about it
No there's nothin' you can, nothin' you can nothin' you can do about it
Seems like the sort of song that could be well used in a soundtrack to a video of some "all action" fell race and it returned to me at various moments throught Saturday's event. For most the route though, me and Mark discussed plans for events going forward what with Hardmoors imminent and future plans for even tougher stuff. At a point late on the course we passed a guy who - jokingly? - commented about our how we were maintaining constant conversation as we passed whilst he was struggling just to keep running.
Its been quite an exciting few weeks what with race instructions coming through the letter box, in some cases small booklets with maps and lengthy route descriptions. An early reminder of one of these today was seeing the snow-capped peak of Ingleborough on the horizon, which led to discussion of an upcoming recce of the potentially difficult Fleet Moss section across the boggy stuff. On a lighter note we also agreed about 4m in that it would be a good idea to hit a curry house in Guisborough following the Hardmoors to replenish a few thousand calories. We even speculated on a time, it will be interesting to see if we can follow thisn plan on the day when all the gory detail is placed within the high-level plan in my head.
Back to Trollers though. Really good conditions for what could be the final running of this event. Its a great round, challenging but not harsh, hilly, but mostly runnable. You start with a climb west out of Threshfield, up fields and onto a bit of muddy moor - this is where you can see Ingleborough. At Winterburn reservoir you turn south along a good track before a few minor roads and the first food CP at Rylstone. Soon after this is the biggest climb of the day onto possibly the driest and mostly runnable moorland path ever. This leads to a massive, steady descent past two reservoirs towards the next food CP. Then a bit of river valley as you head back north, eventually leading to a lovely green and steepsided valley where you find Trollers Ghyll, which inspires the name of the event and another climb to the last food CP. After this its a westward run on road, track and path, towards and into Wharfedale. From here its another stretch of flat river valley to the end. Mark and I agreed this year that the miles just flew by and I also remembered that this is one of the only events I've done where I feel I've "beat the banker" when it comes to hills - with short sharp climbs, but mostly steady and long descents.
I ran a 4:19 for 25m, which I am pretty pleased with because:
- previous runs here have been over 5 hours;
- I had a larger and half-loaded backpack on - as a fellsman prep exercise. Though only half loaded I reckon I had 3/4 what I'll carry on that day;
- we started steady and patiently queued for a few stiles early-doors;
- legs felt a bit toasted beforehand after months of bigger miles than my usual;
- we took our usual luxurious food breaks at CP's;
- I never really "hurt" or felt I operated at full capacity;
Great to see the usual suspects Claire and Mark, as well as Nick (Ham) and briefly Nick (Mellor), Daz (the slug - forum name, not an insult) and Chris Brown.
Sunday did nothing to sway my feeling for Spring, warm and cloudless again. I had a little run out in t-shirt and shorts. A plethora of cyclists, other runners and, pleasingly just the, one ipod wearing, stern-faced, nike-uniformed runner out there too (who I just had to overtake).