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Coniston (Photos and Marathon Running)

I spent some time in Coniston in the Lake District last weekend, predominantly to run a marathon (which I report on below), but first up are a few photos I took over the few days.

A Gate

First up a lowly gate combined with the fantastic evening sky

A Coniston Lake

The beautiful calm of Coniston

A Grange

This is Grange-over-sands where we stopped off on the way.  I initially wasn’t too taken with this shot, but the more I look at it the more I like it.  Nice sky, great brickwork and a summery girl at the bottom to bring in a bit of colour.

A Coniston view

A field, a couple of hills and some drama

Race Report: On to the run itself.  Having recently run the 50km Canalathon followed swiftly by Manchester marathon, I was reasonably confident for getting round the Lakeland Trails Coniston Marathon.  Its only a few extra hills isn’t it?  In my head I’m already a long distance trail runner, but the reality is quite different.  I’ve ran a marathon distance three times (all during 2016) and done plenty of trail running but never actually combined the two, so this was my chance to get out there and prove it!  I had about 8 weeks since Manchester marathon so no sooner had I recovered and started getting the distances up it was time to start ramping down again, my longest run being a hilly 30km in the Peak District.  Was I going to be ready for this??  Well here I am ready to go, 8am with a lovely stroll down to race HQ where it’s a hive of activity.  Its worth noting now that even pre-9am it was already looking to be a scorcher of a day.

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Living in Manchester I’m an expert at rain running, point me along a canal towpath and I’ll splash along for as long as I need to, but running……. in this heat?! We were off around 9am and I got into a reasonably comfortable pace but as we entered the first climb many shifted into a “power-hike” and I shortly followed suit (with hindsight I’d have taken it a lot easier at the start).  It was tough running, mainly as very little of the route was shaded so the sunshine was quite relentless, but things were going reasonably well and I got to halfway around 2 hours.

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The picture above was taken from near enough the highest point in the race at around 15 miles, so whilst there was a reasonable amount of climbing (my watch said 920m) it was pretty much several “ups and downs” rather than one large climb, but the views up here were fantastic and make this type of running so much more rewarding than pounding the pavement.  I really had begun to tire by this point and knowing there was another 10+ miles to go in 25 degree+ heat was quite a challenge on the mind.  I’m a stubborn bastard though so I kept repeating my mantra “The finish line doesn’t move, you do!” to get me through it.  I also put some music on (hip hop of course) but that did kind of ruin the natural vibe of the run.

Five or so miles later I found myself approaching a dead body face down in some “scrubland”.  I was quite unsurprised given the heat but thought I had better investigate just to make sure that they were either dead or doing the finest “planking” session in the north-west.  Rather than death, the unfortunate runner had got something worse – cramp.  Planking seemed to be his cure for it and he assured me he was ok, so given it was nearly lunchtime and all I continued on into the heat.

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The view above, whilst fantastic in it own right, I found quite soul destroying.  I had around five miles to go and running had become almost optional with the vast majority of people around me resorting to trekking along feeling sorry for themselves, and what could we see? Mainly nothing but a long dry path, not a water station or shady forest in sight.  But as I mentioned above, the marathon organisers were hardly likely to bring the finish line up here to me so jog on I did.  I did come across a small stream so I filled up my hat and poured the lot over my head which did seem to invigorate me somewhat!

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An hour or so later and this is me in the last 50m, incredibly relieved!! Wind-on about 2 minutes later and I was in the lake, oh the lovely cool lake.  I finished in a time of 4:42:21 which to put into perspective is a whopping increase from my Manchester marathon time of 3:27:37, which goes to show what the hills and heat can do to you!  A fantastic organised race with a really good crowd.  “Interestingly” I finished 62nd, which was also my race number so clearly I carefully planned my time and finishing position 🙂

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Its done, dunno what all the fuss was about!

I learnt a lot about pacing (slow slow slow) and a lot about my own abilities.  I know I have loads to work on to build up for some long races later this year and all being well some even longer ones next year!

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Soothing marathon feet!

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Goodbye for a while Coniston.

Moving up Norf

Six months ago if you’d told me I was moving to Manchester and becoming a landlord then I’d have asked you what you’re talking about.  If you asked me now, then I just reply “well duh, that’s exactly what I’m doing”.  Because that’s exactly what I’m doing.  Out of nowhere, I’ve found a new job, we’ll be renting a city centre flat and my house in the Black Country will be up for rent!

Manchester

Big and exciting changes ahead.  Music wise, this mean I lose out big in a couple of areas (family and friends aside).

Firstly I can’t play in the really cool acoustic group, Lowdown, with Matt and Al.  I’ve been playing music in some form or other with these guys since…er….. the late nineties.  They haven’t even laughed much about me trying to learn piano.  We recently did a day recording session at my house so at least we have a snapshot of the songs we’ve been playing (if I ever get round to mixing it), but I’m gutted not to be able to carry on with it!  As its so hot we played out in the garden the other night with Pete who’s recently joined and had a really chilled out jam through a few songs.  Matt’s double bass was booming down the street, and it sounded ace! Happy days.

Secondly, I wont be able to have piano lessons with Kata anymore.  She’s been forced through my (often painful) playing for a year which probably deserves some kind of medal.  The lessons have been great – I was incredibly lucky to find such a skilled player and teacher (even if she does tell me all the time that English people are weird), and she has been a good inspiration, so I’ll definitely be missing that too.

I took the image above in an abandoned building in the Ancoats area of Manchester City Centre.  It used to be a school, or some kind of art college and has all sorts of remnants of times gone by strewn around, including scribblings on the walls, sinister looking plastic figures and posters from the kids who used to stop there.  In fact, its quite creepy – the big tough contractors I was working with actually said they didn’t like working there or walking round there alone.  “Wimps!” I thought, as I quickly scuttled out in the safe, bright sunshine…..

Here’s a couple of picture of our garden rehearsal the other day (sorry neighbours).

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Cajon

(A cajon without a pilot)