17 July, 2012

Helene Whitaker – Soggy and Scared

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Athlete Blogs and News, Helene Whitaker

Helene Whitaker – Soggy and Scared

I have been wet for weeks. I am fed up. I anticipated lovely long sunny training days carelessly trotting over grassy fells in shorts and t-shirts with the hot scent of bracken in the summer. No such luck. I have taken to living in my thick winter running kit, particularly my fleece lined “passion-killer” (hat-with-wind-flaps-over-the-ears). Mostly in conditions that make the wired brim flip into my eyes. I am sure there was a risk assessment that came with the hat stating in small print that, if the hat was unable to function in the British summer of 2012, I shouldn’t be on the hills, let alone worrying about getting the wire in my eyes. At least I know my eyes are open if they hurt. The fog has been so thick, visibility so poor and navigation reduced to bearings and pacing. I have swum across a lot of rivers. The joy of long distance running training is wearing thin. I admit it.

Now, having moaned in a very British way about the weather, I have to confess that Day One of the LAMM was glorious. It didn’t stop me going seriously and stupidly wrong on a number of occasions, and even trying to go up the wrong hill. In fact it was only when (in desperation) I decided I would navigate as if I couldn’t see, that I started to go in the right direction consistently, it’s the truth! I blame it on the weather…

Ben Cruachan was spectacular. It is always fabulous to be back in big mountains with serious climbs and good company of like minded runners. There was only one worry. I have run with Angela Mudge in the past. I know she thrives on big hills and long days out. She loves a hard run. So when, in capacity as course planner, she said “it’s very long and very hard” my mouth went dry and I packed a few more sandwiches. Good heavens, the Multiple World Mountain Running Champion thinks it’s hard? I’m going to die!

10 hours later as Andrea and I finished day One, I had to agree. It was long and hard, but hey, that’s the “elite” for you. Go for a different class if you don’t want to hurt. Good training it most certainly was, and followed by eight hours of running on day 2, I definitely I had had my money’s worth and fulfilled many a fell runner’s adage: you should not travel for longer than the race is in time. Based on that, I could have been racing in Australia.

The weeks are numbered ‘till “D-Dragon Day” and amount to fewer than the fingers on my hands. The joints are aching and feet sore. The washing machine is on constantly, and with the wettest ever June on record in the UK, so is the tumble dryer. It’s hard to stay happy on the hills when it is such a flog. The fear of not being fit enough is worse than the weather. So I put on some soggy shoes and trundle out again with a cagoule on. At least with the legs covered all the time, I don’t have to worry about shaving them.

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