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Monday, October 23, 2006

The coppermines trail Coniston

The Coppermines Walk 7th October 2006
Saturday was a major achievement - our first warm-up race for the Big Event- in the Lake District. A 'mere' 9.3 miler, I thought on fairly reasonable level packed hard track hurr hurr- how wrong can you be....
Al drove (brilliantly, thanks love) Dawn and I up on Friday through sheets of rain. We peered up the vertiginous (good word, that) mountains, shrouded in mist and went a bit quiet.
A texted photo from Karen, already walking part of the route with Paula, Ceri and Vic (who was RUNNING it in the race) did not dispel our apprehension. "it's......Hilly" she'd written.
It'll be fine, I said. Did that sound convincing?
Felt better after some retail therapy (although the shop keeper was such a grumpy git I'm sorry I bought anything from him) and a bit of a walk. And some pasta, And garlic bread, And just the one mrs wembley glass of wine.
We went to bed early, although Dawn entertained us into the night reading from her book, the first line of which is engraved on my mind - She was a Woman. She had no FACE -and eventually dropped off. Up at 8 am, showered and burned half a loaf of bread with the toaster set to 'defrost' instead of 1, oops, breakfasted and warmed up, walked across the campsite to the start line. A rapid readjustment of clothing - off with the waterproof legs, if it rains it's tough, and we're on the start line. I wanted to cry and laugh all at once.
We were off, and trying not to trip the couple of hundred runners behind us with our poles. Bloody hell, I thought, i can't keep this up for nearly 10 miles. We did a walking removal of jackets - which was quite nifty I thought, stuffed them into our camelbaks - me: "oh no, mines broken, I'm not getting any water out" Paula "The valve's not turned on"
Through Coniston village, and then we start to head uphill. And it keeps going, And going....I just focus, think about how amazing it is to be doing this. Less than 2 years ago I was on crutches waiting for a new hip. Paula keeps pace with me, I am relieved that she doesn't expect me to chat - I haven't enough breath for anything other than this. I look up and see Karen and Dawn striding easily uphill. Make mental note to do more quad training. And hills. Many many more hills.
My nose starts to run. I try to blow with one finger against the nostril. A stream of snot sticks to my hand. Lovely. Finally we get to the top. A marker says 2k. Or 3, or something - but it felt like longer.
Whheeee - off we go on more undulating rocky trail - I've got my second wind, feeling good, still can't keep up with the other 3, but Paula has identified my problem. Come on Shortlegs, she says, as I trot after them like a pit pony - clatter clatter pole tips on the slate hey look girls I'm nordic running!
Blow my nose and snot hits my shoes this time.
After about 8k, the serious runners begin to hurtle past us at breakneck speed. There is barely time to avoid a collision - I'm at the back and hear their breathing and yell - RUNNERS!!! so the girls can move over to the left.
Several kilometres of this and I'm starting to feel a bit fed up - can't get a rhythm, having to walk through huge puddles to get out of their way. Some are nice enough to say thank you, others just shout -out the WAY!!!!!- it's our race too, I grumble to myself.
In front, Karen and Dawn are picking off the other competitors. I stretch my (short) legs, ignore the pain in my arthritic toe and grunt onwards. Paula is like an attentive sheepdog - she's in front, beside, behind, cajoling and cheering.
Finally, the lake is in sight, and I know there's only a couple of miles to go. I don’t seem to be able to go any faster - Karen falls back to psyche me up - just think you can fall into Allan’s arms at the end, she says. Hmm, I think, he’s not going to want to kiss me with a face covered in snot.
Suddenly we are at the finish field. I see Al’s face and hear him cheer us on. There’s a watery ditch we have to leap over, and then its round the field to the finish line. It seems never-ending, and then I spot the red blow up arch, and astoundingly, about 20 feet from the finish line, I break into a trot! Where the hell did that come from? “Team, Teaam!!” yells Karen, reining me in, and we pass under the arch in a line. The commentator says something about us being the Welsh Nordic Walking Team or something and we laugh. Queuing for our commemorative tee shirts, we look at the timing and find that we’ve finished in 2 hours 32 mins. Which is weird, as that’s what I had prophesied about a week ago, it just popped into my head.
(I’ve said we will do THE BIG ONE in 14 hours 6 minutes. There. It’s in black and white.)
Lottery numbers, anyone??