Ladybower Trail Marathon 2017

After the experience of Bala middle distance triathlon a few weeks ago I decided I wanted to run a nice, friendly running event, partly in training for my upcoming Lakes in a Day, and partly to have a positive experience. My mojo (for running, swimming and cycling) had gone AWOL and I needed to get it back!

I saw the Ladybower marathon (which was in two weeks) and as it seemed really friendly I decided to enter. I had done a few long run/walks navigating parts of the LIAD route so although I hadn’t done ‘proper’ marathon training, I had some miles/hours in my legs.

We traveled down on the Friday, the race was Saturday which I love as you can run it and then chill for the rest of the weekend. I registered on the Saturday morning and had a little look at the course. It was a lovely area, really scenic….and hilly!

There were only about 100 people in the race, there was also a 10 miler running at the same time so we all started together. Off up a flight of steps to start with so a bit of a bottle neck. Then we spaced out over a small country lane which ran along the west side of the Derwent Howden reservoir. I got chatting to a few people but was mindful that many of the runners were only running the 10 miler so avoided getting caught up in their pace. The first 4.5 miles were on road which I wasn’t expecting. My trail shoes are not good on road as they don’t offer enough bounce. I had my calf sleeves on as I had suffered a calf pull at Bala three weeks previously but after a couple of weeks rest and a painful (but effective) massage(thanks Jenny!) the week before it was feeling much better.

We finally hit some trail which was a relief from the pounding on the tarmac. Nice and undulating, nothing too bad. The running was sociable and we were all having a good time. Ran through the first water station, still had my bottle full so no need to stop. Ran through the second water station at 10 miles and thought I better start drinking. The day had become quite hot and sticky. The 10 miles then veered off to the finish and we started our big loop down and round Ladybower reservoir. I was on my own then. Every now and then I saw a runner in the distance of behind but for the next 16 miles I was practically alone. I don’t mind this. But if you are looking for a marathon were there is more company this wouldn’t be for you.

I got to half way point in 2 hours. Feeling good, calf was OK and I wasn’t having the tight chest issues I had the previous week (due to high pollen I think). I stopped at the 15 mile water station and filled up, slurped a piece of orange and a couple of jelly beans. ‘Which way is it now I asked cheerfully?’. The marshal pointed upwards! I saw a very big rocky climb! I had to walk it, as did the people in my view. Not only was it very steep and long, it was also a path of big slippery rocks.

The path of rocks last 4 miles (even once the hill had flattened out I was still unable to run on that terrain). I tried to run a bit and tripped. I went flying but luckily saved myself by landing on my hands. Apparently a few people had fallen. I walked the rest of the way until I got down onto the road again.

We were then on the last loop which followed the path of the first part of the race. More road. I was starting to feel tired after the climbing and picking my way over the rocky miles. I had a little walk, a drink and put my iPod on. Some Metallica tunes picked me up. There was no body around at all. ‘Was I last?’ I thought. I had no idea. Then I saw some runners across the reservoir behind me so I knew I wasn’t the only one out on the course. A bit of music in my ears helped and off I went. I got to the last water station (20 miles) at the top of a hill, had half a banana and water. It was hard not to scoff all the sweet at the feed station but I know from experience that sugary stuff plus running makes me feel sick. I ran a little while with a guy from Tri Preston and had a bit of a chat about IMUK. As usual in marathons I got a second wind about 22 miles. I started running past a few people. I could feel the blister building up under my big toe but that hurt to walk on it as much as run so I tried to ignore it.

I got to the last marshal stop and they pointed my down the hill to the finish. I ran through the finish in 4 hours 23. 6th lady 🙂

My legs hurt a quite a bit due to the road running in trail shoes. There was too much road for trail shoes but too much technical trail for road shoes. So, unless someone was following you with extra shoes, it was tricky to get right.

The race was very well organised and well sign posted. Not many marshals on route except for the water stations but not many were needed really as runners were all instructed to check in at each station which were 5 miles apart. The water stations were well stocked and marshal were cheery and encouraging. For me, I would have preferred less on the road but the route was lovely, scenic and peaceful. A nice day out. And I feel like I have re-found my mojo.