I don't very often have colds but when I do it is usually a good one. This was no exception. After the IOM Marathon I started with a hacking cough and quite bad congestion that lasted through the week. A mixture of Boots Cough medicine and Strepsils did not seem to help much beyond letting me get a little bit os sleep. I did manage a brisk 4 mile run around the park on Thursday. I did not cough once during the run but had a severe coughing fit immediately after finishing and was coughing through the night again.
By the time the Calderdale came around on the Saturday it was a little better but not really right. But it was only a cough - I appeared to have no other symptoms. And on the positive side it looked like, and turned out to be, my first race in decent weather this year. Perhaps a little too warm for some but at the pace I was running at this was not too much of a problem.
I started out Ok on the long run down to and along the canal and the climb up to the second checkpoint was rathger better than the equivalent stage in the IOM last week.
Shortly after that I was in a bit of a quandery about the line to take. ast year I am sure the popular line was to go left just before Low Brown Knoll and this was what I had planned but the maps at the start suggested going over Low Brown Knoll and descending via Limers gate. SAs I approached the split point it was obvious 95% were going with the latter option, I decided to do the same but at the last moment changed my mind and headed down. There is not much in it for distance but the loweer route does involve less height gain, finishesz on a good track but there is a tussocky, pathless section in the middle. I don't think there is muc in it either way. On through Walshaw still feeling reasonably well though I susspecvt I was running fairly slowly. A minor route glitch on the decent to the Walshaw Road joining it too early but not too significant.
Last year I had cut down to pass to the left of Cant Clough Reservoir and was convinced this was the best line. I stuck with it this year and improved on it slightly by keeping between the wall and the reservoir, last year I had stayed on the other side of the wall which was a poorer path. I was starting to struggle from this stage on with my legs feeling the effects of the lack of training plus the occasional coughing fit. This was madew worse by losing the route just after the Long Causeway checkpoint. As i left the stile I took a line too far to the right and finished up on the margins of Sheddon Clough. I thought I recognised the line from last year so did not check the compass bearing. It took some time to extricate myself from this aqs I got tangled up with woods and fences so I lost a fair bit of time. I did though get things right at the approach to Holme Chapel where I had gone last year. I had toyed with the idea of heading north from the Long causeway checkpoint and straight down from Causeway House to Holme Chapel. With hindsight this would have probably saved me a good 15 minutes and a lot of energy.
From here on it was just a question of plodding on starting with the long walk up to Thievely Pike. Down then to the roadside checkpoint at Slate Pit Hill without incident and on to the track beyond. Along with those around me (who were all walkers from the earlier start I think)we got too far left on the approach to the trig point. This involved several ups and downs as we crossed various cloughs before correcting the line. But at least this time I got the line down from the trig point correct.
I was still running pretty well everything albeit at a modest pace and so it continued to Stoodley Pike which reduced me to a very slow walk. A bit of a diversion on this climb was the sight of three teenage girls coming down. They did not really have the footwear for it to the extent that one of them got down on her hands and knees and crawled down. So perhaps I was not doing too badly after all. At the Withens Clough Reservoir I was surprised to hear there were still 15 more runners out behind me (plus 17 of the early start walkers). I had been pretty sure I must have been very near the last so this cheered me up a bit. AQs I descended towards Cragg Vale I was very conscious that I had gone wrong hear last year. I had a very clear recollection of it, how I had gone wrong and what I had to do to get it right. When I got there it bore no resemblance to my memory of it to the extent that I am now sure I must have got it confused with another event (though I cannot sort out which)! As a result I lost the route again running north on the main road for half a mile or so before I realised the turn (clear in my memory) was not going to be there.It was only then that I checked the map and headed back to pick up the Calderdale Way. Even after that I managed to get it wrong and finished up going up High lane to emerge on the road just north of Bent Farm. But at least I knew where I was then and quickjly got back on route.
In addition to my watch telling me how slow I was going it became very obvious after the Shaw Lane checkpoint. I can remember from last year a very brisk run down the mainly downhill finish. This time round it was a much more sluggish affair. At around half a mile or so from the fin sih three or four 120/11 yrear olds decided to run along with me. I don't mind this sort of thing though I do wish they would do it when I was feeling a bit fresher. Anyway, it lasted rather less than 100 metres or so when one of them tripped and came a cropper. I paused just llong renough to establish he was OK and plodded home to some excellent food in a very modest 9 hours 13. 46 minutes slower than last year!
So,how has it been since? The coughing lasted through until Thursady but improving all the while. I did some middling distance runs on the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and then, over the weekend 29 miles on Saturday and 15 on Sunday. Very pleased with these latter two runs as I came out of them feeling OK. With the injuries behind me and the cold gone I should be able to get enough miles in to be ready for the Fellsman on 8 May. Though last year I failed to finish the Lakeland 100it is the Fellsman that I regard as my poorest performance of the year - by a big margin. Not helped by leaving my map at the Stonehouse checkpoint and subsequently getting very badly lost on the crossing from great Knoutberry to Redhouse. I reckon this cost me about 2 hours plus draining a lot of energy. It also meant I did all the bog sections in the dark plus my head torch was not up to the job. So all in all it should not be too difficult to improve on my embarrassingly slow 22 hours!