Paul’s Blog – I was once 50! – Posted 29/03/17

Well I had planned to post this a week or so ago, but as always with age you blink & yet more days have flown by, now 6 days into being 51 it is time to make amends & update (for those who may have thought I’ve passed away) with how I got on with my 5 challenges for my year of being 50.

Firstly the facts:-

1. Run the West Highland Way (95 miles) in two days – achieved.
2. Run a sub 3 Hour Marathon – not achieved, pb lowered to 3:10.
3. Climb two out of 3 targeted Oberland 4,000 metre peaks – not achieved.
4. Traverse Skye’s Cullin Ridge – achieved.
5. Complete the 214 Wainwright summits in The Lake District – achieved.

I think I have covered the three I achieved pretty comprehensively in previous blogs so won’t bore you with their highs & lows again so what of the two ‘failures’? Well it wasn’t for the want of trying & I’m certainly not losing any sleep over them, after all if we got everything we wanted it would be a boring life where everything is taken for granted.

With the Eiger, Monch & Jungfrau as those who regularly subject themselves to my blogs will know a certain rock got in the way. The only seriously important thing to report is that Tim has made an excellent recovery. He is not simply up & about, he has been seen in Antartica, Patagonia & being very patient with a wanabee Ski Tourer in the French Haut Alps. Refusing Tim’s offer of finding an alternative guide to help me pursue this goal I had replaced this challenge with a winter ascent of The Monch but a storm stepped in between us helping it allude me for the third time in less than 2 years. The mountain will still be there for a future attempt as indeed I am to talk about it.

The 3 hour marathon simply was a miscalculation of my energy & motivational levels. I gave it a good shot in Manchester but in truth it was too early in the year for me to seriously threaten it. Summer would always prove out of the question due to various factors including the WHW, a charity run, alpine goals, busy cafe & a certain ridge on Skye (are you hearing excuses) but in my mind I always had the Autumn to play with, WRONG! A certain Mr. Wainwright got in my way, I simply hadn’t factored in how much time, planning & energy I would have to devote to the Lakeland Fells (ooh & in between I did escort a certain Angel over the WHW & up The Ben). So whilst this was going on I simply didn’t do any Marathon training, to then run two Marathons within October was a good ask but only the first (Chester) offered any hope, I ran hard, the wheels fell off but in truth 3:16 was still pretty pleasing all things considered. All was not lost though as Wrexham in early March was a last ditched pitch at the goal.

Always intelligent to go Skiing/Ski Touring for a week (slotted in a couple of runs for good measure), run a Half Marathon the first day back (in pouring cold rain) & then expect to run a Marathon pb just a week later. My mind said yes, my calves & blistered feet said no, wisely (for once) I didn’t even make the start line.

So do I look back at failure or success, well actually I look back with pride & joy, my lack of understanding the enormity of the physical demands I was placing on my abused body certainly led to me missing the Marathon challenge, bad luck twice thwarted me on the Oberland (or was that good luck?) but what a year it was & how lucky I am to have had plenty of support throughout from many & especially Dorina.

The body has been seriously sore in recent months but as I write this there is light, exercises to strengthen it start today & June will see me subjecting it to arguably it’s toughest month yet, more of that another time.

In essence my 50th year started on a tremendous high with a wonderful Birthday run & ended with a mad but incredibly rewarding Aran Fell race in appalling conditions in which Kean not only beat me to the finish but also out fell me falling 5 times to my 3, we were both put to shame by the guy who went into a bog up to his waist & came out smiling.

Now it’s time to be 51 & grow young & reckless, what’s a number, simply not important unless it’s a race placing below Kean’s. That Aran result almost hurt as much as my back, shoulder, left knee, blistered feet, but no excuses……, you understand!

Spring has been seen, hope you have great plans for an Outdoor year ahead, if not stop reading & make one would be my advice for what it’s worth. Thank you for listening.

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