As you all know last year’s disappointment at having pull out 34 miles in was a big deal and as you will also know I was determined to go back and nail it. So like a good lunatic I patiently waited for the entry to open and for once did no badgering of anyone to enter with me….
However, our great chairman had already decided that he wanted to come back and have another crack at it and finish the LL journey we started on the 50 in 2015. So we did it…1st September 2016 we were sat at our respective laptops and duly booked on…here we go again!
Now then, this is the part where I tell you all about the run up, the training, the prep and all the events to complete to be ready…not this time!
With one thing and another I didn’t do much running from early November till late January and after that I did little more! I finally got to April and decided I should probably get my act together so I ran 2 road marathons and some other bits and bobs! My head was trying to justify the lack of running with having trained really hard for the previous year but I eventually succumbed to training early May and started to get miles in the bag.
I completed the Calder relays and onto the Calder Ultra…having to pull it 8 miles off the finish with an injury! Onto the Trailblaster….60 miles done but same injury niggle! (I got first lady and 2nd overall…helped the confidence is nothing else!)
So prep was going well…I was 4 weeks out and had a knee concern and my head was so emotionally detached from the run that I had no idea what to do. I spoke to my main support (Gel and Paul) and they were concerned…Gel felt I needed to seriously consider pulling out as my head was not in it…she was right and I struggled in the week run up. Paul was great too as he was explaining how the support he and others would give would help my head…hmmm.
So the Thursday night arrived and me Gel and Paul had a whisky and a chat….I was at least setting off to the start line…I slept quite well that night…I finalised my kit that morning the Gel drove me up to Coniston…me sobbing on and off most of the way!
I arrived at camp and we set up, registered and then I sat down in the tent with Gel for a pep talk and a prayer…I was calm…I was there…it was happening…it was the most stupid thing I could ever do cos I was just not emotionally ready to cross 105 miles 22,000ft climb on terrible terrain with a poor weather forecast….but it was about to happen to me….
I stood on the start line with Gel and LucieDog next to me and my last words were ‘this is stupid’…
…and then we were off! As I glanced back I could see Gel practically in tears, I saw several TACers lining the streets and Paul and his trusty camera (which I learnt to hate through the event) all cheering me on…..
Off up the first climb…huge burst of rain cloud and in first 30 mins we were soaked…I’m going to guess some of you are thinking oh no, this is bad…but actually it was the best start…put my jacket on, hood up, head down and off up Walna scar road to check 1.
I arrived 20 mins ahead of the 30 hour plan let alone the 32 hour plan and I even beat Paul there…Gel gave me a stern look and told me to slow up…on to check 2…Paul and Gel here…same issue…too quick and stern words…off I went…quickly.
I arrived at Wasdale…still quick but I knew the next climb was going to take time off me good and proper and although I tried to explain this to the speed police, I still got stern words and laughed at the photo ops as a way they thought they could slow me down!
Then it was dark, a big climb and I said goodbye to Gel and Lucie for the night and set off to Buttermere via Black-something-something a.k.a. a massive climb with hideous drops! It took me forever….nearly as long as the year before when I had the injury…and there was Paul in middle of the night having had no sleep - and they call me a lunatic!
At this point I have no idea what to say - my head had no thoughts, no stress no anything at all…I was just running…not in the zone running like on maybe a road marathon…just autopilot running. I left Buttermere like other checks…quickly and with the knowledge that I would see support (Paul) at the next…..I was also aware that passing the next check would pass the pull out area of last year…..hmmm.
And I made it…Brathwaite…in and out and off I went…then the aftermath of running through the night happened…I was in good time at this point but I was sleep deprived. I saw Paul at the start of the climb to Latrigg and I was staggering slightly…he headed to the top in his car and I set off. All I could think was that I wasn't going to make it cos I was hanging onto fences and falling asleep - I have no idea how long it took me to climb up but it was a while….I passed through the car park, spoke to Paul (I think) and off round the valley. Here was the hallucinations. I was seeing people and dogs…they were logs and bushes…I needed to be awake…I tried food, sugar and I even washed my face in a freezing steam.at which point I either had limes disease or a clean face but nothing more.I was sleepy.
Finally someone (an actual person I believe) caught me and I ran with them for a while, which then became the 2 mile run down to Blencathra…sub 10-minute miles to wake me up did the trick!
In and out of the check and then onto the leg I really did not know but I knew I was about to see Paul on the road and then Gel and Lucie towards the end of the leg and onto Air Force. That was a relief ’cos it’s the only time I had my road book out to make sure | didn't get lost!
I sent Paul off for coffee and a sleep and then hit the old Cart road…worse thing I have run on for a long time and I lost quite a bit of time! But out of the drizzle appeared Gel and LucieDog and the Old Cart road was forgotten.
Now something you may not have noticed but that I will point out it that so far I had run almost 50 miles and the only people I have mentioned are Paul, Gel and LucieDog…I had run mainly alone the entire time! This was odd but I was ok…I had had a few chats along the way but been alone in the main!
Gel left me at the waterfalls and as I started to climb I met the only person for my entire experience…Ryan Wood…we winged about the mud and steadily made our way to Dalemain…the 50 start point and our 60 miles, chance to change clothes and refresh. I was desperate to get the shoes, socks and gaiters off and something new and dry on….
I entered Dalemain estate with Ryan and saw Paul taking a picture and texting.I guess it went something like ‘Gel…she has entered the estate should be 6/7 mins’…as I then caught sight of Gel at the other end! What was nice was the line of Tac 50 starters waiting to give me a cheer 5 mins before their own start, Adrienne at the check point and fresh footwear!
I was quick, I don't like to hang about, I changed feet, grabbed a drink and my fuel from drop bag and set out…waved on by Gel with instructions as to where support would be in the second half and off I went. I later found out that Paul expected me to be there longer and I think he was ready to kill me for not taking time…but I just wanted to get on with it!
The next leg was full of the 50 runners and my lovely 50 tac boys all having a chat with me as they caught me heading to Howtown…it was really lovely and they all looked in great spirit and was pleased to hear that they had passed other 100 runners looking awful but I looked strong…that really helped!
The next sections were a blur…mainly cos of the area and climbing…I don't think I even want to report on it cos I knew it would be hideous! It was but as usual I knew I would see support in 2 hours so off I went….it took longer than that but I don't want to talk about that leg!
Finally I started to think…don’t get me wrong I really enjoyed having no thoughts at all but as I got to Mardale Head and had a pic (just wait till you see them…they are all the same) I realised that I was running well…really well in fact and that if I focused on the next stages I could get my sub 33 that I set out last year when I was supposed to train but….well…didn’t!
So I said cheerio to Paul (which was the longest spell not seeing him as he got stuck in traffic and gates and stuff) until Ambleside and headed to Gel at Kenmore - I wanted to be there in 2 hours…Paul warned me not to push.I got to Gel in 2 hours (didn’t dib in straight away but garmin to garmin 2 hours!) I was then competing wth myself.
Left Kentmere and told Gel Troutbeck 1 hour Ambleside 1 hour…and thats exactly what I did. I came down hard out of kentmere and thats when the pain in the ankles started…it’s a drop and a half and at sub 10’s still took me 20 mins…the ankles really suffered. I pulled out the track and saw…no one…I nearly cried…I was finally racing and feeling like I could do this and my trusty support were nowhere…hold on folks…don’t chuck them outage club yet…they were at the bridge…phew! I kept moving but it appears I didn't make sense to Gel but the descent was hard, | was working hard….I was also in hour 26!
Up the hill and a beep of a car horn…the Campbells arrived and wandered up the hill for half a mile - wonderful….actually I was moving at pace in my mind but you'll have to check with them cos I may have been hallucinating again!
Finally into Ambleside which meant around 90 miles, tones of support, my parents, more support I didn't expect, some tac’s and the usual suspects…I am so very nearly there!
Ok so I knew what was expected and I was out of there quick…with a promise that I’d be in Skelwith in 50 mins and I’d stop to say hello to my support there and thats what I did. I was then at the half marathon to go marker…It was dark and so head torch back on and jacket…removed stone out of shoe (it had been there 20 miles but I couldn't be bothered earlier!) and off I went.
I knew what I needed to do but as I set off (byes till the finish line to all but Paul) the flat terrain actually made the ankles painful so a check on my pace and realised I could go under the average pace walking strong and preserve my ankles. I was speed storm walking to Chapel Stile.
Once again in and out but I was now worried - I didn't think I could do this bit in the dark alone…again, you may have noted that I have not talked about anyone else cos I had been totally alone but I saw a few setting out and I knew I needed to stick with them…which I did.
I practically ignored Paul at the car park cross as I didn't want to lose the group I was sticking with. Off to the self-clip and onto the final check and 3 miles to go…
Paul was there…I had 90 minutes to get home…come on Chell you have this.and then it rained again! but no stopping at the check just up I went. I promised myself that I wouldn't look at the time till I started to descend to avoid the stress so I just got up as quickly as I could.
And then I felt the gradient change and checked the clock - 2:43am…I had 17 mins to get down…I had horrendously painful ankles and had 6 pills in me to keep them at bay which weren't working…what do I do…come on Chell I yelled out loud…..floor it!
And down I went - it was miles…well it felt it! I was shouting at myself and passing 50 and 100 runners and it was raining hard…I needed to get off the gravel and onto the tarmac as I knew that was the last bit….and then I felt the change and saw a familiar figure of our chairman standing there.
The next moment was rude...Paul: “It’s ok only quarter of a mile to go, you can slow up!” Me: “Shhhh!” I know, not very grateful after all the support but I really wanted it.
I rounded the corner, over the bridge and past the petrol station and I could see the last corner that I had been at 33 hours earlier - was it sub 33 or not…I couldn't look….
I charged…again ask Paul and Gel as I may have imagined that…but I think I charged round and to the finish line…dib in…“What’s the time?”…2:52am...9 minutes to get down - LOL that was a bit too quick - then head to knees I needed a breather.
I’m pretty sure you shouldn't be out of breath at the end of 105 miles but hey ho! I was taken in and announced and applauded and medaled and t-shirted and hugged and possibly kissed. I was handed cider, words were said things happened…no idea…I was walked to the tent and undressed…by Gel…it’s not that type of event!
And that was that…32 hours 52 mins…solo effort, great support but I broke the demons and got there…how? I got my head right and said…I need to do this, I want to do this…I can do this…and whilst I have been so under prepared and in emotional turmoil in the run up.I really had to do it…and I did.
It’s several days later and I almost ended up with X-rays on both ankles as I couldn't walk to start with and lots of swelling but they seem to be settling…I’m not out the woods yet but I think it’s not long term damage. I’d love to tell you about the people I met and the life stories I have but I can’t cos I didn’t.
What I can tell you is that you don't need to make experiences when you run for Trawden or have the friends and family that we all have.
My parents drove up to see me for roughly 6 minutes, my dog was dragged all over the course just so she could lick my face and wag that lovely tail at me, the TAC juniors did not go to bed till after 3am as they wanted to see me finish, TAC runners and support and friends stayed up and supported me and then there were two….
Gel: Thank you, you got my head there, you had no sleep and you believed in me…you worried but yet you knew I could do it…you took me out of stinky clothes and you have fed and watered me this week whilst I have been unable to walk or drive…you are the best bestie as you always have been and will be, something I will endeavour to be to you…
Paul - wow…we started this journey and even though we have not completed it together, we have now both completed it. You are a rock…you had no sleep, you had little food and you believed in me…I don't think I’ll ever forget all you have done for me this weekend - thank you so very much.
I have no idea if me and Paul will ever complete the journey together, if we even need to, but what I do know is that all things are possible when you have the love and care of friends and family and the mighty stripes….