I had 9 hours as a rough target for the Lakeland 50 but was aware this was a tough target and I needed a good run, with good conditions to achieve it. We certainly got the weather for it, not too warm and barely any wind. I didn’t have any paces worked out though as I didn’t want to be chasing a target and pushing myself from the start, instead running more to feel.
I ran really steady to the first check point at Howtown, partly as I was with 5-6 others here and it being the only part of the course I hadn’t recced, I appreciated the route knowledge!
The climbs are always my strength, I climbed really strong up Fusedale and caught up with Matty Brennan here, it was nice to have a chat as we’d both run the Ultra Tour of the Peak District last year. Matty was moving much stronger than me so I let him go here, saying I’d see him up Gatesgarth (it was actually Garburn I next caught up with him). When I recced Gatesgarth 3 weeks ago it was blowing a gale so the calm weather on Saturday made it an easier climb than I expected.
When I was approaching Kentmere I could see 2 females moving well ahead so tried to catch them, it turned out to be some of Sunderland Strollers out for a run after marshaling the Wasdale checkpoint. It was nice to have a chat with them in passing, after stopping at the checkpoint for a freshly made smoothie!
On the climb up Garburn I firstly caught Anthony Bethell who I’d been in Annecy with in May, he noted how well I was going and that Matty was not far ahead. I soon caught Matty and we ran together most of the way to Troutbeck, we caught up with someone else on the road here, apologies I can’t remember the name. It was at this point I first started to think times, Matty said 8:45 was on so I tried to keep up with them to Ambleside. It was great going through the crowds in the town but I wasn’t able to keep up with their pace, it was pushing a bit hard for me with 16 miles still to go, so I dropped back and didn’t see them again until the finish.
I grabbed some crisps and refilled my coke at the Ambleside checkpoint. Next was the flat section which I managed to run well along, it was my least favorite bit though, I wanted a hill for a walking break!
At Chapel Stile I started doing some maths, I was thinking 5 miles an hour would get me the record but I had forgotten how hilly and difficult the trail was to Wrynose! Into the final checkpoint I wasn’t going to stop but was swayed by the water melon.
On the final climb I had realised I was going to be just outside the record but was feeling good considering the stage of the race. I had expected to hit a bad patch at some point but it never came. I just ignored the watch from here and ploughed on through the quarry. I got the best compliment of the day here, 3 people on the bank shouted “go on Lizzy, it is Lizzy Hawker isn’t it.” To be mistaken for a running legend when you’re absolutely knackered spurs you on no end! The descent wasn’t great as my 2nd toe nail on both feet had blistered but there wasn’t far to go, and I can’t really complain as this was my only niggle of the day.
As I came down the track into Coniston, Ben Abdelnoor gave me a cheer and said “you do know you’re in 4th?” It was the first time I knew just how well I had run. I had no idea on position, I hadn’t even looked behind to see if there were any other 50 runners nearby. I tried to up the pace into the finish but in reality I was pretty spent and was relieved to get to the finish. I was delighted to be 4th overall, and to have run so well inside my target time. I was also pleased to have got the fluid and fueling right, probably for the first time in an ultra. I had my perfect race on Saturday when everything just seemed to go right, I’ll take the 4th fastest female time over the course behind some amazing runners, even if I wasn’t able to get the record!