SALLY FAWCETT: Run Diaries v
Less hard miles and more time cross-training is paying off, with Sally enjoying success in old and new disciplines this month. A worrying injury improves, allowing her to take advantage of an opportunity for ‘one more’ Ultra.
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30/6/18 – Fairfield Teams Mountain Marathon
As my first MM I was spoiled by the conditions the Lake’s had to offer for the Saunders. The excellent visibility made navigation straightforward, and the warm weather meant we could carry lightweight gear and not worry about a cold, sleepless overnight camp! The race started in Grasmere, I was doing the Fairfield score with my partner Simon. At the start for the score event you’re given the map which includes all the controls for the 2 days. It’s up to you to plot your route for the 2 days, 7 hours on day 1 and 5 hours on day 2. We had 5 minutes or so plotting our day out when we got the map. We saw the overnight camp was in Stonethwaite and the highest scoring points we to be had on the western side of the map. We decided to go north west on day one to Stonethwaite, then back to Grasmere south east on day 2. This was the same choice most made, but in hindsight and speaking to orienteering friends, the opposite may have been better as the route back on the west of the map was much more linear, the eastern side involved lots of zig-zagging to controls. That’s the first learning experience for next time – more than 5 minutes is needed to look and plot thoroughly at the start of day 1 and think about day 2, on tired legs give yourself an easy route back!
Arriving at the overnight camp after 6hrs 48mins we were surprised to find ourselves in 1st place, 20 points ahead. We hadn’t expected this – especially as you didn’t feel in a race, with competitors scattered everywhere and on different courses so you didn’t seem to be directly competing with anyone. It was one of the friendliest, most sociable races I’ve done, often chatting to people on other courses as we crossed paths. As it was so warm, we stopped to fill water, even if just a mouthful from my reusable mug, rather than needing to filling a bottle, but at most streams we restocked on water. Overnight camp was fun, sitting and chatting to friends and I was surprised how comfortable a nights sleep I had. Then onto day 2 where the legs were a little stiff and took some time to get going but weren’t too bad. We did have a lot of climbing to do on day 2 and slowed as the day went on. Still, I’d like to think we timed it perfectly when we arrived back at Grasmere after 4hrs 58minutes! That gave us a total of 680 points for the 2 days, the same top score as the guys in 1st, but they had overtaken us by doing it slightly quicker. Still, we’re delighted with a 2nd place overall in our first MM. Especially as no GPS watches allowed, so this was roughly done on OS Maps. Unfortunatley there are no photos as we didn’t take a phone due to the extra weight!
Day 1 – 29km, 2145m ascent
Day 2 – 22km, 1641m ascent
15/7/19 – Scafell Skyrace
The Scafell Skyrace was more of a fell than trail race. It was on rough terrain, with scree descents and, although a marked course ,it visited a lot of exposed areas in the route starting from Seathwaite and finishing in Ambleside. At just over 38km and with almost 3000m ascent I was under no illusion as to how hard this course would be. It had the added incentive of being the qualifying race for the UK Skyrunning team at the Skyrunning World Championships in Glen Coe in September. My aim was to come in the top 2 but I was aware there was a lot of stiff competition.
The race did not disappoint, it was as tough and spectacular as I imagined. The scree descent from Green Gable and Great Gable involved an ankle bashing and for me was slow, but at least controlled! A highlight was running across the Great Slab below Bowfell, normally far too wet to do but in these conditions you could run right on the slab rather than to the side. There were 2 King of the Mountain (KOM) stages – I was second up the first but knew my stronger one would be the second at around 25km into the race, from Old Dungeon Gill to Harrison Stickle. It was just after the aid station where I had filled up on fluids and I was aware I was running well compared to those around me so I pushed on the climb – mainly as a walk, but I power hiked up and overtook quite a few guys. I was in 3rd in the women’s race but had been told second place was struggling, it was a shame to see Georgia soon after Harrison Stickle, struggling with a hip niggle after such a strong start and she was forced to drop out soon after this. The final section was much kinder underfoot; the grassy terrain, although undulating, provided plenty of good running. I was really enjoying myself by now, happy to be in 2nd place and glad to have got the most technical parts of the course done. There was one final climb up to Loughrigg Summit, on it’s own nothing much but in the final 5km of a race like this it felt like a mountain! It was nice to tick that one off and take a couple more places on the climb. I arrived in Ambleside 6hrs 26mins after starting, such a tough but such a fun race, and I was second, 27 minutes behind a fantastic run by Henriette Albon. I did manage the fastest womens KOM time as a bonus too.
I have now been selected for the UK Skyrunning team for the Ben Nevis Ultra, 52km with 4000m ascent on the 14th September, so I’m not quite done with ultra running yet. The good news is my foot seems to be doing ok, I am getting lots of races in but this is because I have reduced my training volume and intensity. I am doing a max of 50 miles per week, with more cycling. The recovery from racing is much quicker so provided I don’t get carried away I am able to use races as my harder training sessions. The rougher terrain suits my foot, I still feel atrocious on the descents as I have no spring in my step, but maybe over time the bounce will come back. I’m reluctant to do any plyometric work though as it’s manageable at present, I don’t want to risk a flare up. Maybe all the road running, commuting runs and my 80 miles a week weren’t necessary after all!
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