THE BIG DAY
Every now and then I find it good to test myself and stretch the limits a little in training. This is where occasional ‘Big Days’ can be combined with a bit of adventure to give the perfect test of current endurance and most importantly to train the mind. Most important for the races I am training for where I know from experience that you will quit in your head long before the body is finished. It also gives a good chance to practice fueling and nutrition.
It just so happened that the end of a week 3 coincided with some amazing snowy and icy conditions in the hills of the Lake District, week 4 is recovery so what better time to throw in a big day. Steve from MovieIt, always up for an adventure came along and it also gave us time to test kit for a little project up in Torridon planned for this winter.
The day started at 6.30 am in the swimming pool. I have recently started working with Blair Davies coaching (highly recommended) and am slowly learning the meaning of swim training! I am getting faster and enjoying the challenging workouts and this mornings session was no different. A main set of 5×150 with 20 secs rest, 8/10 effort level, repeated twice followed by a few long aerobic intervals. I left the pool after 1hr 15 with that slight wobble that an early morning lactic acid bath induces. Quick change and onto the bike to cycle 15 miles home and get ready for the main part of the day.
I was late, Steve was ready waiting for me and we were soon standing outside the fire station hitching a lift the Threlkeld were the days running would start. A very kind fireman gave us a lift and we were soon jogging up to Sharp Edge on Blencathra, a grade 1/2 scramble that leads onto the summit of the mountain, that was covered in snow and ice. My Petzl Vasak crampons worked superbly on my La Sportiva Bushido running shoes and we were soon descending Halls Fell ridge, another classic scrambly alpine feeling ridge that sprouts from the summit of Blencathra. It was actually easier and faster to descend than in wet/summer conditions. Little runnels of soft snow filled in the awkward gullys and steps that usually make it hard going. Back in Threlkeld in a fairly swift 2 hrs it was time to get the thumb out again for a hitch to the next objective, Helvelyn, the crucible of after work run alpinism ;).
Steve is a seasoned hitcher with a big thumb but it still took 30mins to get a lift down to Stanah where we decided to take the steep, long ascent to Sticks pass. Skis would have been great for this ascent, soft snow all the way to the col, it felt a long slog but the views made it worth the effort. The Dodds ridge line that leads to Helvelyn, over Raise, Whiteside and the Low Man was a mixture of soft snow, rock hard neve and a thick glaze of ice in places. Again the Vasak Crampons and Bushido combo worked well.
By the time we reached Helvelyn the sun was beginning to set but it was one of those evening when the light just did not seem to want to leave. The descent of Swirral edge was great, similar to Halls Fell, powdery snow filling in the gaps making progress easier than usual. I love it when the ridges are like this, it feels a little like the Alps, it could almost be the Grand Montets ridge. Striding edge was in fantastic condition too, but the legs were staring to feel it now. We both knew once we were at the top it was downhill to Dunmail Raise so no probs, just plod on and get to the top.
On the way to Dolly Wagon along the ridge the sunset really kicked off, with no else around it felt pretty special to be finishing such a great day out at this time. We took the off piste descent down the ridge to Dunmail rather than heading for Grizedale tarn and the main path down the gill. We reached Dunmail as it got dark and were quickly picked up by the first passing car for a lift back to Ambleside. Cup of tea and feet up time! An 8hr training day in the bank for the Celtman/Norseman cause and a class adventure with a mate. Training does not get much better than this!
A link to the days training can be found here at my Moves Count page.
So 7hrs58, 52.9km and 2379m of swimming, biking and running. Its not the type of thing I do very often, once every 6-8 weeks but its one of my favorite sessions, a true challenge workout with that adventure in mind. Not exactly specific but a great way to test the body and mind. Torridon awaits for the next planned adventure.
I am well ahead of last years fitness level, building a solid base and most importantly looking forward to almost every training session ;). Its a good feeling.
Thanks to Steve for a great day out and the awesome as always photos MovieIt.
Kit used- Petzl Summit Ice Axe, Vasak Crampons, La Sportiva Bushido trail shoes and Julbo Ultra Race Sunnies. Thanks to Lyon Equipment for the amazing support.
Trec Nutrition long gels for fuel. Without doubt the best Gels and nutrition products I have ever used.
Also happy to report no DOMS and great recovery thanks to Curra NZ Health.