Helvellyn 10k Trail Race Report

There’s really only one thing to do now that the days are short, the temperature has dropped, and it’s raining more often than not. Do a 10k trail race in the Lake District, obviously.

 

Last Saturday SB and I traversed the North of England to run a 10k trail run at Helvellyn. When people heard we were running there, their responses weren’t great: they’d grimace a bit and say “Really? You’re running Helvellyn?”. Since it was only 10k, I was fairly confident that we weren’t running up and down the whole mountain , but something manageable for my short, little legs.

 

A brief moment of sun

A brief moment of sun

As with all of the runs in this Lake District series, the route takes you out of whatever village you start in and up the hill pretty quickly. It’s been a year since I have done a proper trail race like this, and I had forgotten just. how. hard. it. is.

 

I entered with a false sense of security that it’d be a breeze, a lovely way to spend a Saturday, and it might be rainy and cold, but heck, we were out in nature, man, keeping fit and being at one with the trees and the birds. I had imagined some kind of Wordsworthian experience, and what I got were wet feet, sore ankles and stitches in my shoulders.

 

The route climbed for approximately 4.5 kms, ran level-ish for about 1.5km, and then back down again. As I ran up the hill, it felt like my legs were magnets and wanted to stick to the ground. Try as I might I couldn’t get them to move faster. SB, with his strong legs, is great at hill running. He alternated between powering ahead and waiting for me to catch up. I felt like the Little Engine that Could, and every corner turned brought more climb!

 

Why do hills never look as steep in pics?

Why do hills never look as steep in pics?

Finally, we reached the top. I say top – of course, there’s the whole rest of the mountain, but who cares about that right now? As we ran along the peak, there was the most beautiful view of Glenridding village with Ullswater stretching before it. The good thing about my current running leggings is that my phone is very accessible for action photos.

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Along the peak I found my stride, and was able to pick up the pace quite a bit. That’s when it became fun. I had completely forgotten how much mental energy trail running uses: you have to look at every single step and find where’s best to place your feet. If not, you’ll trip and fall. We ran over stones, rocks, through streams & mud, and in fields with hidden potholes. But there’s always time for a selfie – especially when I was in front!

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Running downhill was the scariest for me. The path has all stones sticking up at different angles, and I could hear someone treading really loudly and heavily behind me. If he slipped, he’d definitely have taken us both down. And landing face first in a pile of rocks was not what I had imagined for this run. Luckily, he passed and sprinted off into madness and down the hill.

 

I had no idea how fast I had run when I finished. I had thought the descent might have made up for my slow ascent, but who can say?

 

Well I’ll tell you who: the Timing Chip. Hurrah for Timing Chips! I found out that SB finished in 50:10, and I finished in 50:56. We placed 39th and 51st respectively out of 250 runners. And the event has free photos for you to download as well:

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This series is one of my favourites. They’re not too big, the route is always beautiful, and they’re pretty cheap for what you get. Plus, it’s always great to have an excuse to go to the Lake District.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Ellie B

Coniston Trail & Birthday Bonanza!

So, let’s get the important stuff out the way first, because I understand you’re all dying to know: yes, my birthday was fab. There was muchos food, cards and presents, and I was very lucky. Definitely the major themes were running and pink. I received some Winter running clothes, ‘Born to Run’ in both book and CD format (so I can listen while I run – very thoughtful, Dad), and…… a GARMIN!! I am so excited about this because I’m too cheap to buy one. Every time I’m wrestling my iphone from my back pocket to check my time mid-run, I curse myself for not having a Garmin.

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SB got me the Forerunner 10 in purple. I haven’t tried it out yet – I’m washing a load of my running gear (felt like you needed to know that), but I can’t wait to give it a go!  Other birthday highlights included two boxes of chocolate pop tarts, and the fancy dinner we went to. Thanks SB :)

 

So now that’d dealt with, on to the running. On Saturday I ran a 10k trail in the Lake District. SB was going to come too, but something came up, and I ended up flying solo. I’ve done runs from this series before, and this was my favourite. The start/finish line was right by the lake itself, with gorgeous views. Plus they had a steel band playing as we set off and finished – who doesn’t love to set off to ‘Goldfinger’ by steel drums?

As soon as we left the ‘race village’, we were climbing. And we kept climbing for the next 4k. As we started, I saw the (low) number of competitors and realised that I could do quite well if I put my mind to it. Pride comes before a fall: within the second kilometre, I was walking!

 

It wasn’t as if we were running up a normal hill, though, it was a small, steep track made up of stones and narrow clearings in an uneven field. Most people were walking, but for some reason it really got to me. I couldn’t find the motivation to keep running, even when the path became more even. My thoughts became very melodramatic, like ‘well if I’m walking now, I might as well walk the whole thing’.

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#NoFilter!

Then as the path evened out a little, I told myself to man up and get over myself. One of my friends was competing in a roller derby at the very same time, and her mantra is: ‘I piss awesomeness and I sweat glitter!’. When you’re walking up a hill trying to avoid the sheep crap and keep your balance at the same time, this phrase can do wonders for your motivation! By the third kilometre I was running again, and found my groove again in the 4th as we reached the top of the summit.

 

Don’t get me wrong – this wasn’t anything like The Wall, but was more of a mental tantrum brought on by a couple of things: I wasn’t expecting to run alone, and my knee was still vulnerable, so even if I wanted to run fast, I couldn’t.  I am lucky that I’ve never really had to battle my own psyche before. It turns out that when you’re not competing against yourself, it’s easier to give up!

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As soon as I started again, though, I felt 100 times better. Sometimes you just need to keep going, and find that it’s not as hard/bad/boring/challenging as you thought. Or, it is still all those things, but at least you’re tackling the problem rather than letting it beat you.

 

Mental challenges aside, the trail was a gorgeous one to run. The scenery was different at every kilometre – fields, forests, rock quarries, and the last kilometre was by the lake. I finished in 1hr 5mins, and came 22nd out of 135 ladies, and 72 out of 228 runners overall. I was really happy with that!

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On Sunday, I’m running the Newcastle Stampede with my dance friends. It’ll be the last big event of the year for me and I can’t wait!

Ellie Bphoto-40