With the Great Trail Run in Keswick only five weeks away, I had to finally make some kind of gesture towards doing some preparation. I'd looked into trail shoes - do I get Goretex ones that keep the water out? But they also keep any water in? Do I need gaiters to keep little stones from getting into my shoes? What about a hydration backpack? Wait a minute - isn't this all getting a bit seriously silly? It's only a run!
There's a pair of hills around five miles from home - the East and West Lomonds. We used to take the kids to the East Lomond when they were young, but I've never been to the other peak. You can drive quite far up the East - to a point where some radio masts are located. You know, the things that will tell us if we're under attack by missiles? It overlooks the beautiful village of Falkland and its Palace (from the days of the Stuart Kings).
Over the next few weeks I'll be building up to run between the two hills and back - about 8 miles. But for my first trail, I set off from the East Lomond and headed for the half-way point; the car park at Craigmeade. The outward track took me along the tops of fields, with the top of the hill to my right. A gradual climb, but nothing too severe. The surface? Mostly OK with just a few stony or muddy bits. The approach to the half way point went steeply down hill which was good - but I guess I knew this meant it would go steeply uphill on the return ticket ...
And so it was. The half way was about 3.2km into the run, and my time was 15 mins something. Not bad. So to the return. Yes, the steep uphill. Surprisingly, I was able to run almost right through it. Just a wee walk for the last & steepest 100m or so. Picked up again and set off for the summit. I knew from my reading that it's OK to walk the steepest gradients & I was glad of that. The last bit to the top was exceptionally steep and was probably more suited to mountain goats. But I dutifully followed the little path and got to the top.
WAYHAY! Stopped for a minute to record the event on camera, then headed back down to my waiting car. The downhill was less steep, but still rocky & with loads of ruts, so I was taking care to avoid twisting an ankle. It was also at this point that the backs of my legs started to ache. I hadn't had this before but guessed it was like the start-up pains that we all experienced in the early weeks of C25K. Not an injury, just working a new set of muscles. Sitting at home now, they are fine. I guess this is why we need to prepare for new activities, and it'll become easier quite quickly.
And so it ended. A bit sweaty, yesterday's hair cut blown to bits by the wind. But not tired or even out of breath.
Nike+ tracked the run at 6.14km in 38:47. That's over a minute per km slower than yesterday's Parkrun. But considering it's a trail, and that there were some really steep bits, I'm very happy. If I can build up my distance over the next month, I might be able to do the 11km run at Keswick in the 90 mins I put on my entry.
You know what? Two weeks ago I thought I'd be walking most of the route. From my experiences since then, I know I'm going to do this!