The switch had been flicked! What were moments before taut strong legs, with muscles composed of fibers capable of contracting to effect graceful movement, had suddenly become legs filled with jelly and liquid concrete perfect for auditioning for the role of the Tin Man in a production of the Wizard of Oz. I was no longer gracefully moving along the undulating rocky trail; my legs had decided that 20 miles of the MONTANE Lakeland 50 were all they were able to cope with. I wasn’t surprised it had happened – I hadn’t done a proper taper into the race and I was in the middle of 14 weeks of training for the World 100km Championship.
I had to stay focused on the bigger picture, having been selected to run for GB on 12th September in Holland. In training I had covered 285 miles in 20 days a week before the MONTANE Lakeland 50 in preparation for the World 100km Champs. As I stood on the start line I knew that a DNF was likely to happen. I had to treat the race more like a training run, limiting the damage that running 50 miles in the Lake District does to your legs, knowing I needed to recover quickly and be able to get back into the 100km Training programme. It wasn’t that I was looking for an excuse to what could possibly be a poor result, I had to stay focused on the bigger picture that it has taken me 5 years to get back into Team GB. I last ran in the World 100km Championships in 2010, it has been 5 years of hard training with set backs and disappointments. I had achieved selection at the British 100km Championships and I didnt want to jeopardize my selection or performance in September while the MONTANE Lakeland 50 will be on again next year and the following year….
The race had started slower then last year when the 2014 Lakeland 50 was the British Trail Championships. Last year Stu Mills set a blistering pace followed by the leading contenders – they were tearing up the course on what was a scorching hot day. My pace round to Howtown felt very comfortable and easy and I came into the checkpoint in a similiar time to last year, though I didn,t feel like I was having to work as hard.
The section across to Mardale Head felt easy as I cruised up the climb out of Fusedale, I wasnt trying to push the pace, I was letting my legs dictate the effort and surprisingly I bagged a new Strava segment. Jen was out on the path down off Low Kopp taking photos of competitors, not running it herself due to injury. It was warming up as I ran along the undualating trail on the edge of Haweswater, I stopped and filled up my soft flask in a stream, you can’t beat fresh Lakeland stream water, it was so refreshing.
But as I neared Mardale Head my legs gave up. Ben caught me up as I ambled up Gatesgarth we chatted briefly before he pulled away on the descent down in Longsleddon. I stopped and chatted to a coaching client who was on the 100, we walked together for a while and it was nice to feel that there was no pressure to race anymore. I moved on and caught up with Isobel who I’d ran with at the British 100km Champs a few years back, we chatted about her recent run at the World 24 hour Championships for Team GB. I decided to run again for a bit, but as I began the climb out of Longsleddon to Kentmere Jason caught me up. We chatted for bit, before he decided to push on.
I cruised into Kentmere, and spent a bit of time relaxing in the checkpoint chatting to some of the staff from MONTANE, I left the checkpoint with a handful of biscuits, I was enjoying my day on the Lakeland trails, I jogged over Garburn and decided on the descent that I was pulling out at Troutbeck. It is never easy to make the decision to DNF, I have a massive internal wrestle with myself as I take my number off, but I knew my race was over. I had to look after my legs…I had to keep a focus on the bigger picture.
Photos by Jen Regan and James Kirby