Sunday, 10 October 2010

Death-Defying Somersault on Langdale Horseshoe

Location: The Lake District, UK
Date: 9th October 2010

Distance: 14 miles
Elevation: 4000 feet

I was on a mission to get a good time for this. It was no time to worry about avoiding 'chronic cardio', taking photos, taking leaks or drinking water. F@ck all that.

After last year's humiliating attempt (the only time I have given up on a race) I was determined to make this one count. Plus, Lightning and I had unfinished business. Last month my 40-second margin at Ben Nevis had been trumped by his 4-minute lead at the Peris. It was my turn.

Time: 3 hours, 17 minutes. 39 minutes ahead of Lightning :-)

Here are the photos and the story of how I nearly ruined myself one one of the downhill sections:

Breakfast at 7am: 6 eggs with coconut milk, 2 bananas, cocoa

The feast I took for after the race: mackerel, herring & avocado for savoury; fruit, coconut cream and cocoa for dessert; nuts just to be greedy.

The Langdale Pikes come into view as we arrive, the start of the route.

Crinkle Crags on the right, Pike O'Blisco on the left, the final stages of the route.

Ready for action.

Race over, the huge pot of fruit, coconut cream and cocoa, about to be devoured.

Just before bed, some leftover chicken and leftover sauce with nuts.

The Somersault

There is a long section after the first main checkpoint behind the Pikes involving a long steady descent on boggy ground, ideal for running very fast. If you have lunatic tendencies, which I do, then you can overtake a lot of people here.

This time, my lunacy nearly did me some serious damage. As I careered past a fellow runner, one foot found an unexpected hole. Normally I would correct with the next stride. However, the other foot found another, deeper, unexpected hole. I lurched forwards towards my head. It was only the sheer speed I was travelling, a sudden dip in the terrain and the instinct to tuck my head which stopped me slamming into the ground head first.

A disturbing crunching sound came from my neck as I performed a full forward roll and for a split-second I wondered whether I would walk again; but as I rolled forward over my back I was catapulted back into the running position and continued hurtling past other runners. The guy behind me was stunned.

Validation of Low Frequency Training?

I was pleased with the time. 3-minutes slower than my best (3:14) several years ago. But several years ago I was training obsessively. This year I've mostly just done races and rested in between. So to achieve a comparable performance feels like a validation of that approach.

To be fair to Lightning, he had an off day. If he'd been on song, I reckon 3:40 was on the cards. Still not even close :-D

Refuelling - Just Eat Big

I decided to eat big all day and include lots of fruit. After the 6-hour Peris race last month I went on a bit of a non-Paleo rampage afterwards - yet my recovery in the days that followed was good. This had reminded me that it's pointless to starve your body of what it wants after an effort like that just because you think it's an opportunity to get a little leaner.

So this time I had the best of both worlds - loads of food, but all healthy.

Season Finale

This was the season finale for me. I am going to take a good few months out of long mountain runs to let me legs get really strong. Whilst my foot (which I was recently wrongly grizzling about possibly being fractured) was fine, there was a general sense that my knees need a little R & R, and they were getting a bit sore on the final descent.


Steve said...

Congrats on a great finish, and surviving your somersault!

Methuselah said...

Thanks Steve. Neck's a bit stiff this morning, but I'll live!

Chris said...

Well done - sounds dramatic!

Those are good hills and nice looking food

Methuselah said...

Chris, the food was superb. I am sitting her salivating at the photos. Not sure I am going to make it to midday without eating today!

ReRunnr said...

Lucky you! Somersaulting without injury! And luck with the weather also, not something fell runners is accustomed to. Well done!

Lightning said...

Leave it out Methuselah.

As well you know I was saving it for the next days fell race in Shropshire. A mere 7 miles 2300 feet. Which, for some reason, you declined the offer of running in ;-)
And any way, I was still faster than last year. By 10 mins !it's all about the Wrekin Wrecker Fell race in November ?

Lightning said...


I bet you're exagerating about the fall as well ;-)

Methuselah said...

ReRunner - indeed - much better than I can recall from previous Langdale events. October is always pretty chilly and cloudy.

Lightning - as you know, I consider your insistence on doing fell races on consecutive days to be both admirable and crazy at the same time. Time-wise, you can get your own back at the Wrekein wrecker... :-)

sbrt said...

Sounds like a quality day out.

Funny how you went on a non paleo food fest after.

After the Rab, a weekend of pub food, service station rubish and dehydrated slop. I craved fish, veggies and meat. I didnt eat any meat, i am semi veggie but had my fill of real food.

Methuselah said...

Stephen - this time it was all Paleo food - it was after the Peris I went non-Paleo. I reckon that getting a good load of real food down you is definately the way forward though.