Maps, maps, maps all leading to the finish line…or so we thought.
Nothing like some last minute changes to a plan to crank up the stress levels. Up until a fortnight ago we had been set on doing our run from Carlisle, through the North Pennines over to Durham, 100 miles, hilly as hell, sorted. Then the Tuesday before the weekend that we were set to go up and do our recce, just as I’d hit ‘Buy’ on the six OS maps we needed to cover the Durham-Carlisle-and everything in between-route, we had a thought. “Is there another, potentially less hilly, dare we say, ‘easier’ 100 mile route we could do?!”. The next 30 mins or so involved frantically plotting various routes, amending google maps directions, in a state of mild panic/excitement, which eventually led us to land in Yorksheeeer (sic).
A quick visit to Amazon to cancel the OS maps, via a brief WhatsApp conversation with Rob’s dad Chris, who will be crewing the run for us, to check he was ok with it, and all of a sudden we had a new route on our hands. The new route works well for a number of reasons. Firstly Chris was stationed up there in the army and so knows the area really well making planning the route a fraction easier. Secondly it is half the elevation of our initial route. It’s our first 100 miler, we just want to complete it, the extra elevation can wait! So we'll be starting somewhere between Ingleton & Kirkby Lonsdale, weaving our way through the beautiful Yorkshire Dales, up and across the North York Moors and down into the Sansend.
So off we popped up North for a weekend of planning and hopefully finalising the route. Rob & Chris headed up early Friday to get cracking and I joined later on, by which time they’d already covered a fair bit of ground and were both gagging for a pint. It turns out it’s really hard to find an exact 100 mile route that starts in the sea on one coast and finishes in the sea on the other coast. But we damn tried. The rest of the weekend was spent driving and then re-driving certain sections of the route. There were lots of things I hadn’t considered like how wide the roads are, i.e. how dangerous it was for us idiots to be running on, the time of day we’d actually be running the route; which ultimately led us to the decision to start the run Saturday morning, so that when we’re at our most tired, running on some of the more potentially dangerous sections, it would (hopefully) be early Sunday morning and therefore less traffic. So while there was actually minimal running done on the recce weekend, it was invaluable in so far as learning the route, setting some visual landmarks in our minds and actually ramping up my excitement levels.
The visual landmarks was a big thing I wanted to get in my head. I recently was lucky enough to go for a run with Chris Finill, a serious ultra runner! Not only is he one of only 8 people left who has run every London marathon since it began, but he also ran across America! So keen to pick his brains we went for a Sunday morning run and I learnt so much from him in terms of fuelling, training as well as mindset. One of the things that stuck in my mind that Chris said was to make any check-point or stop a significant milestone or place, so that everything we were doing we knew where we were on our mental maps and also as a way of lifting morale. Something I was trying to pay close attention to on the recce, so that come run time & check-point time everything became a significant step towards the finish line. Post run Chris also very kindly leant me a rather dashing hat that he used to run across the states, and will ensure not a single flicker of light will touch my face!
He also leant me a great book 'Meditations from the Breakdown Lane: Running Across America' by James Shapiro, well worth a read for anyone into their long distance running!
With 22 days left until we set off we've both been facing our challenges in training, but we both knew these would come at some point and we're trying to take it in our stride. We'll blog again soon, most likely in the week leading up to the run! Thank you once again to everyone who has donated, you're all superstars. Link below for anyone who would like to donate 🙂