No matter what you are training for, there usually comes a time when you realise that you are actually on some form of rollercoaster ride. Your direction of travel changes unexpectedly, and fast. There are the ups, where everything is going to plan. You feel great; you're running further and faster and feeling stronger. There are the plateaus, where it all just ticks along nicely. And of course there are the downs, where it feels as though the wheels are starting to come off. Whether it's due to injury, tiredness, loss of motivation, or something else entirely, things feel like they are going wrong. For the first time since I started training for the Lakes Traverse, my rollercoaster took a dive this last weekend.
I was feeling physically great. I'd had a rest week and was raring to go, with a race I'd wanted to do for some time lined up. The Charnwood Hills race is a 14-mile iconic race in Leicestershire, known because it's the only official fell race in the county. I'd run a fair bit of the route before and loved it, and, as I don't race very often, was really looking forward to the event. I knew it would be tough, very tough, but had no worries about meeting their strict cut-off time at 6.5 miles. But perhaps I should have. A combination of very muddy conditions, queues for the many gates and stiles and a brief stop to help someone who had fallen into a ditch slowed me down. At the checkpoint I was surprised to be told that I had missed the cut-off by 3 minutes and could not carry on. Shocked and gutted, I made my way back to the start with another competitor; we moaned and grumbled the whole way! By the time I reached home I'd concluded that I must be the worst runner in the world, and that I must be delusional to think I could run across the Lake District. For 48 hours I wallowed in self-pity.
But the downs never last long. The sun was soon out, and after a lovely guided run in the muddy woods, followed by a walk in which I finally managed a sub-14 minute average pace, things were looking up again.
Something I've never experienced before is a race briefing held months before the event, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect when Open Adventure invited us all to a webinar last night. What I got was a lot of really practical, useful information. I now know exactly what maps will be provided and what I need to sort myself. I learned exactly which bits of the routes I'll need to recce and which I won't. I found out more about the rules and the food and everything else associated with the event. But most of all, what I got from that hour online was a much-needed mental boost. I came away feeling so, so, excited and ready for an adventure. My rollercoaster is back on an up and whilst I know it won't stay there for the next 13 weeks, it's great to be on top of the world again for now.