Back when I was 17 a friend who lived in England asked me to join her Girl Guide (like the Girl Scouts) in the Lake District for a walking and camping trip. For various reasons I could not go. However, the placed stayed in mind. Last month I had the opportunity to visit the Lake District for weekend with my spouse.

The Lake District is a national park located in the northwest corner of England. Glasgow, Scotland is closer to it then London by several hours. It is known for its picturesque lakes and the fells (varying in size between a tall hill to a short mountain). All the major guidebooks referred to the north part of the Lake District as a walker’s paradise. In British English walker means hiker. When planning the trip I picked Keswick the largest town in the north as the base of operations.

The first day my spouse I decided to tackle Cat Bells and High Spy lower fells across the lake from Keswick. It’s a two mile walk to the trail head for Cat Bells, but we opted for the  ferry to drop us off at Hawes End. Guidebooks and tourism advertises the walk to the top of Cat Bells as a family friendly walk. It starts off by some fields, which reminded me of the Shire in the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. However, the easy path quickly became a 1,000 foot accent, which included scrambling up rocks.

As both of us sweated up the ascents young boys aged 11-13 ran past like we were standing still. Fell running is a common activity in the area. Later on in the walk we’d run into adults running up and down higher fells. Along, with the young runners there were multiple families with small children hiking Cat Bells and enjoying a picnic lunch up top.

The views were like walking into a painting. I posted a picture below. The amount of beauty surrounding you seems surreal. It is cliche, but there are no words to describe the place. Even looking back on the photos they do not quite capture the magnitude of the fells, the lakes, and their beauty.

One thing the guide books all suggest is to buy real maps because there is a lack of signage. They are not being overly cautious. Hiking from the Cat Bells to High Spy, which includes walking along the ridge and over several more fells there no posted signs beyond a cairn. The two of us missed our turn off because we missed the cairn and distracted by all the adult runners.

Heading back down to the lake became an adventure. Once we retraced our steps to the turn off we had to hike through a semi bog then hop a fence. Next was at least an 8% decline down an abandon slate mining area with slate slabs towering over us on one side. At this point we had not seen anyone lately and a sheep baaing startled me. Lots of sheep reside in the area hence the reason you have to climb over several fences. Along the way we stopped in a tiny village at a tea shop, which served tasty tea and scones with cream and jam. The last three miles were on a path looking out over the lake. We made it back to Hawes End dock as the ferry boat pulled up. On the way back into Keswick we gazed up at Cat Bells and the ridge we climbed to High Spy.

unnamed (3)Looking back at the Cat Bells, Dernwater Lake, and Keswick.


MB Fabulous Tris… Fell Walking

MB Fabulous Tris…Beaver Freezer Again

Spring in Oregon is fickle. Last year the sun shone for the Beaver Freezer. This the cloud cover did not lift and rain fell. The temperature matched the name of the triathlon. Despite the conditions over I felt prepared even being sick several times during the training period.

Every year women and men alternate which pool they use. Last year I swam in the older pool and had a longer run to the transition area. This year meant the newer pool and a short run to the transition area. What I didn’t realize is the newer pool measured in meters not yards. The pool I practice in measures in yards, but luckily was a 37 yard pool  so I was prepared to swim in a meter pool. I jumped into the pool and started my first stroke. My face felt wetter then normal. I forgot to put on my googles!

Without too much effort I pulled my googles on and continued my swim. I swam a TWO minute PR from my tri this past July! Some family and friends stood outside the transition area near my things, which made it easier to remember where I had placed my things. I chatted with them briefly as I put on my bike gear. This was my first tri using my clip shoes. I felt strong on the bike and more like I understood how to bike. Ten days before the tri they had to change the bike course due to road damage caused by the weather. The course change meant a steeper hill. I had not trained for a hill like it. However, even with the hill I set a two minute PR for the Beaver Freezer bike portion!

Not training for the hill in the bike showed during the run. It took an entire lap for my legs to feel less cramped and tight. After they loosened I maintained an okay pace. When I say okay I ran 9:30 minute miles. I wasn’t aware of the pace because I purposely chose to not wear a watch. I wanted to go by how I felt not by time. A couple times I moved to speed up, but both my mind and body protested hurting more. The last two weeks outside of training I had experienced emotional and mental pain due to a circumstance outside of my control. My body and mind seemed tired of being in pain. They wanted to lean into the joy triathlons bring me. I made peace with an okay pace running and I leaned into the joy. The leaning still brought me a new PR overall on the Beaver Freezer course.

MB Fabulous Tris…Biking for Fun

For the most part I ride my bike to train or as transportation. Often I forget people take leisurely bike rides when the trails I ride are filled with other people training or commuters. This past weekend one of my closest friends from college was in town. She had an afternoon kid free and it was rain free so we decided to hop on bikes. The goal was to enjoy a leisurely bike ride while traveling toward the nearby wine country.

When we hit the trail my body and mind shifted into gear of how fast could I ride to our destination. I almost laughed out loud at myself. It felt like one of those cliche moments of stop and smell the roses. It took some mental readjusting, but I convinced myself to ride slow.

As we meandered along the trail I pointed out parts of my life. I’d spent hours on this trail sweating and feeling like a failure and/or a bad ass. I’d become more and more me during those hours. She doesn’t participate in endurance sports, but she saw and understood me as I described various points.

Besides telling her my story I told her about a bit about the area. I explained how the rapid growth had changed it. I described more about how the wine country was set up and the different places I was thinking we should try. Sometimes I think I’ll end up as a tour guide at some point in my life.

It was disconcerting for a moment when we arrived at our destination. I hadn’t broken a sweat. I reflexively looked at my wrist, no watch. Would this ride add or hinder my tri training? I almost laughed out loud again. Another cliche moment happened. I let go of the training mentality again and enjoyed a delightful afternoon with my friend.

MB Fabulous Tris…Bricks

Rain patters on the windows, the treadmill hums, and my face shimmers with sweat. I’m over halfway through an 85 minute brick work out. I’m trying a new brick training regime I found in Triathlete. At this point I want to be done and can’t decide if I think this new way is making a difference.

One of my goals again this year is to compete in a sprint tri. At the beginning of April I’ll be back at the Beaver Freezer ready to jump into the pool. Ideally, I’ll finish the tri faster then last year. However, the winter has proven to be wetter and colder and it has been hanging on so I’m expecting this year the Beaver Freezer will live up to its name this name compared to last year. Also, this round of training I’ve been fighting illness after illness. I’ve had to take more time to rest and less time to train. Today, though my mental game is on point and my mental strength seems to have improved compared to last year.

For this new type of brick work out I’ve been jumping between the bike and a treadmill. Often a brick work out is bike then run, but not going back and forth.  My body is exhausted. I don’t know if it is because I’m trying a different type of brick. I do know I stayed up too late the night before talking with friends. It’s time to dig deep. Time to get ugly (Pro runner Stephanie Bruce uses the phrase to describe her harder workouts.) While it is a training session moments like this will occur during the race. I need to train my mind.

I dig deep. I get ugly. It hurts. Then it feels like I’ve activated a superpower and the pain dulls. I can do this. I can work with the pain. I finish the brick strong. As I cool down I am amazed once again by what my body and mind accomplished. I feel the superpower deactivate as I finish my cool down and stretching. It’s okay it deactivates because I know where to find it again.

MB Fabulous Tris… And Fails

In 2016 I set the goal to run a sub 2hr half marathon. I signed up and for the September Beat the Blerch half marathon. I’m a fan of The Oatmeal and it looked like a fun race.  On race day a steady stream of ran fell from the sky. It would be my first race in the rain.

Several of my Oiselle Volée teammates participated in the half and 10k races. A group of us met up before the race and took pictures. It calmed my nerves to chat with my teammates. Some had run the race before so they provided pointers about the course. For example, the course went slightly up hill for the first part. Hills are my specialty. I could do this.

Most of the race I paced myself based off other people. I found different groups of people who had a pace that challenged me, but did not over work me. I don’t own a fancy watch so it was hard to gauge my pace on my own. However, steadily climbing uphill in the rain started to take its toll. I wasn’t running fast enough to make my goal. I kept myself from panicking and decided to give it my best.

The aid stations for this race had the usual food, water, and electrolyte. However, they also had couches and served food like white cake. People dressed as the Blerch tried to convince you to sit down and rest. One of the volunteers attempted to tempt me with cake. I informed them if I ate I would puke. They seemed a bit shock by my honest answer.

As I came down the hill (it was an out and back course) I picked up some speed. However, with about three miles left I hit the congestion of the 10k runners. I dodged around them and puddles. I landed in puddles more often then I wanted. Also, I hit the wall. I slowed way down and every step seemed a challenge. Finally, at about 12.5 miles I was able to pull myself together and give it my all.

I sprinted into the finish with a time of 2:06. I failed to break the 2hr mark. I struggled to catch my breath and medic asked  me if I was okay. I nodded yes. A thought danced across my mind then it consumed all my thoughts. A little over a year since my last half marathon I ran almost a half hour faster! Yes, the course was different, but I ran almost a half hour faster! Tears mingled with rain on my cheeks as the pride of performance filled my being. I was certified bad ass.

Oh, the was at the finish line and it was the best tasting white cake I had ever tasted.


MB Fabulous Tris…Backpacking again

I’m in the process of half marathon training for Beat the Bleach , but I took some time off to go backpacking with my sister and dad to go backpacking on the Pacific Crest trail earlier this month. At one point in my life I had been an avid backpacker. However, the short version of the story is I burnt out on backpacking at a similar time as running. Somehow this trip seemed like the best time to start backpacking again.

During the hike I made a couple rookie mistakes. I underestimated the amount of water I needed to bring by half. I ended up drinking a lot of water at camp each night and had to ration out my water more carefully during the day if we didn’t cross any streams. I forgot how much blisters could hurt. It had been quite some time since I had gotten blisters. I didn’t stop to take care of my feet in time and by day two I developed several blisters.

Even with these mishaps the beauty of the wilderness is indescribable. It transformed from burn out forrest to pine trees and mountain lakes framed by a mountains. Many times the vistas or camping spots reminded me how small I was, but woven into the larger web of the earth. I felt myself relax into the indescribable beauty.

It was great to share the trip with my sister and dad. My dad is the one who introduced me to backpacking and the woods. He’s healthy and in shape, but I don’t know how many more opportunities I will have to backpack with him again. On the trail he told me stories from his life and adventures of hiking other parts of the Pacific Crest Trail. I gave him tips from my running about how to best handle hills. He played along with my joke about how I was going to write a memoir about my time on the Pacific Crest Trail. I’m thankful to have made this memory and return back to backpacking.