Sunday, 15 June 2014

Turning Hard into Easy

I admit to owning a few flaws. I say owning, because they are flaws which I have created and therefore take responsibility for.
Waterfall not too far from the campsite

A few of my flaws are: not liking to be on (or trying to move at a speed quicker than walking pace) steep ground, not liking scrambles, not liking rough tussocky rocky ground to run on. These things will remain hard, and cause me internal mental grief unless I begin to tackle them.

With that in mind, my summer has some physical and mental challenges planned in. It's not just the use or it lose it mentality, this is about facing flaws and fears. By doing so I am forming stronger neural connections, reinforcing the 'oh, so I didn't get stuck or seriously hurt myself' thoughts, and making the Hard stuff Easy....or at least easier.

On several runs recently I've been tackling the rough ground aspect, and a little of the 'must avoid steep ground' attitude I have coveted for quite a while. The last few days have been working on scrambling and steep ground, with the patient help and calming voice of Tim, my wonderful other half and guide.

Part way up....with Llyn Peris in the distance
On Wednesday we drove to Nant Peris, set up camp and with a few hours until it would be sociably acceptable to start drinking beer and eating dinner we went for "a short stroll". Nothing too taxing, just a stroll, dressed to run so we could move quicker when we fancied it, and on the downhill sections.

Setting off from the campsite I'm informed that 'this is the most runnable section', the road which winds it's way up behind the campsite. We start a gentle run until the ground steepens and reduces us to walking. Up above us are a couple of big hills. I have no idea where we're heading, and I'm not sure Tim did at that point. But we aimed up and stuck into a pace that kept us moving up. At 947m high, Y Garn is not a 'short evening stroll'. Part way up we discuss when to turn back, but it seems a shame not to reach the summit on such a glorious sunny late afternoon.

About two-thirds the way up my legs are starting to scream....I ignore it and am determined to reach the top. Eventually, after about an hour and five minutes we get there, and are greeted with magnificent 360 degree views over to Snowdon, down to Llyn Clyd, Devils Kitchen, across to Tryfan and miles beyond. Absolutely well worth the sweat and screaming muscles to get there. We loiter a little, taking photos, soaking it all in, and then we head down.

Admiring the view down to Llyn Idwal and Llyn Ogwen
Snowdon viewed from top of Y Garn
Tim looking down to the Devils Kitchen and over to Tryfan

Here's where one of my flaws kicks in. I often say that I'm rubbish at descending, so what better place than an 800m descent to get some practice in. Tim's great, he gives me some sound advice on how to tackle the slope with it's rocky sections, varying angles and what lines he'd take when racing to make best use of the hillside.

A lovely section to practice steep traversing
In what seems like no time at all we're almost back at the campsite, quads are screaming now....I'm doing my best to stay relaxed, and think I did pretty well to not stop too many times on the way down. You certainly don't get descents of that length in the Peak District, so my next local outing will be a good test to pick up the pace a little and take fewer rests.

A well earned beer token was collected at the top of Y Garn and enjoyed in the Vaynol Arms
Our late afternoon stroll-cum-run was just over 7km with a whacking great 865m of ascent. We certainly earned the pint and a good dinner in the Vaynol.

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