28th April - Steve and I had both entered the Fellsman which was on Saturday 28th April starting at 9am. This was only 7 weeks after my hysterectomy and so I was using it as a tester for my endurance. I had done a couple of races and even did the Teenager with Altitude in the Lakes a week before. I think I was trying to get back into my normal training as soon as possible. I knew it would make my legs tired for the Fellsman but that would enforce me to set off slowly.
The forecast was progressively poor. My online weather site had decided to jump maps from Saturday at 17.00 to Sunday at 08.00 - extremely unhelpful and they will be getting an email of complaint! But generally the wind was to start strong and build to gale force before the rain / sleet moved in. Initially this was to be midday on Sunday but as my 8am map showed they now thought it would be before that!
The clothes decision was difficult - I'm having hot flushes which although unpleasant not painful. I counteract them by trying to stay on the verge of cold and wearing layers. When running I heat up and sweat but my hands are cold. I decided on Raidlight full length leggings (with pockets which are very useful for maps and gels), Patagonia Capaline 3 top which is thermal and a Raidlight windproof. I carried OMM jacket, an extra layer, two pairs of gloves and two hats.
Steve and I travelled up on Friday and stayed in the van - a bit of a squash but ok. I couldn't sleep much and gave myself a talking to. I think I was worried whether I should even be doing this so soon after my operation (as everyone says!). But I can always pull out I thought.
It was blowing a cold wind at the start but I set off in just my windproof thinking I would soon warm up climbing Ingleborough. this I did and at the top was battling against a headwind running off. I felt ok and always look forward to getting the first few hills out the way so I know how I feel. I was surprised to be first Lady and tried not to let the pressure get to me. That's not why I was running - I wanted to get round. I was feeling ok; the legs were a little tired and I was hungry as I hadn't eaten since 7am but I picked up some flapjack and biscuits. Running with Tim Whittaker who I am doing The Dragon's Back took my mind off the early hills but climbing Gragareth (the 3rd hill) I felt terrible and wanted to stop and rest which is not like me. Running off the top alongside a wall I wanted to walk. I started to worry that I had bitten off more than I could chew and really didn't want to overdo it so had nearly talked myself into giving up when I thought "you can't give up- you're first" It wouldn't matter if I dropped the pace as long as I got round. I got more food down and chatted with Tim. He said he was happy running with me when I said he should go on. I was feeling bad at slowing him down.
We ran off Great Coum on a good line and down into Dent. I filled my container with beans and made sure I ate them all walking along the road. The climb up the track is steep and always feels hard. I was puffing a lot and didn't want to run where I knew I was last year but consoled myself with the fact that it was too windy. A good line across to Blea Moor and then down into Stonehouses. Overall the temperature had been ok. I had had a couple of flushes but with the wind they soon passed but running down the road with no wind and the sun beating down I was far too hot. Into the tent to collect some pasta and tomato's passing on the cheese as it clogs all the pasta together!
Climbing out on the track I suddenly realised I felt a lot better. My legs weren't feeling quite as heavy and I felt positive about finishing the race. We plodded up joined by Shane to the top of Great Knotberry and retraced our steps to go across to Redshaw. This is where I usually assess my condition - there is a long gently sloping gruff after the checkpoint and I try to run it most years. I felt that I could run it but it was very boggy and into wind it simply wasn't worth it. A good feeling though and now I was sure I could get round.
Over the tracks and then deep heather to Dodd Fell and then across to Fleet Moss. I was generally eating a lot more than usual - which I think was due to being cold and using more energy running into wind. Here I forgot to pick anything up except tea but shared a roll of Tim's. I like Fleet Moss. It was a bit boggy underfoot but the many different terrains and undulations I enjoy running and usually pick up a good pace across. To find the checkpoint I went off the path at the same place as last year but it wasn''t there. We ran about a bit totally confused and decided to go back to the track. Here we met other runner who said it was over the brow of the hill. I told the marshall that it wasn't in the same place as last year but he replied that he was right. I still don't think so as I had entered the grid reference into Google Earth and it showed it to be on flat ground on the left of the track. It was very annoying and I was also concerned about all the other runners who would waste time there.
We found a good line to the next checkpoint though and down to Cray where we thought we would get grouped. But the marshall didn't say anything and so neither did we! Tim and I picked up a lot of food - rice pudding, chocolate biscuits and tea. The wind was getting very strong now and I got cold as we walked off eating as we went. Climbing Bucken Pike we stopped to put our jackets, warm gloves and hat on. I instantly felt better although my fingers were completely frozen. At the top the young marshalls were very happy considering they must have had one of the coldest checkpoints to marshall.
We ran off with the wall sheltering us and I could feel the ground frozen underneath the bogs. Oh I was so happy to be on the last stretch. The sun was shining through the ominous clouds and the hills looked brilliant all around us. It was good to know that we had one more big climb and then we would be on our way down to the finish, out of the wind to warmth. We were both very jaded of running into wind now. Across to Park rash where we were grouped with two lads who looked cold but very soon came round as we climbed Whernside and we all put a great spurt on to pass another group on the descent. We made a good team, chatting and looking after one another. I wouldn't have wanted to be grouped with anyone else. Thanks to them and to Tim who helped me through my bad patch.
At Yarnbury we were degrouped and then started to think about the time we might get. Sub 14 hours was a small target we had in mind and even at 15min miles we should easily do that I thought Tim and I ran in at 13.30 hours, Johnson at 13.33 and Simon at 13.35 (ish - until the results come out!).
So another Fellsman - the hardest I've done. It was very satisfying to win again - I love the little boot trophy and had given it a very good polish and even saddle soaped the boot before I returned it this year as I never imagined I would win it again!
I found Steve listed on the computer - he was through Fleet Moss at 8pm. So maybe would get in about 2am so I went to bed. He arrived at 3am and told me that the race had been stopped and he had been stopped at Park Rash which was very disappointing for him. We slept in the van and the rain / sleet started at 5am - it was horrid and has been all day.