It’s 5 in the morning, and I’m already climbing out of the valley, my sights on the sun-tipped summit above me. The record from our Czech cottage to Boubín (1362m) and back stands at 1:52 (Václav Paris, 2012), a time that seems impossibly fast to me today. I’m not even taking the fastest route, and there’s a good chance I’ll need to stop somewhere along the way.
|Team Paris-Rawlik(jr.) set the Boubin buggy record|
There’s a difference to this summit bid though... it’s a team effort, and only one of the pair is pulling their weight. The other is asleep, wrapped in a sheepskin to keep off the morning chill, dreaming of her next feed. She doesn’t even wake up when I reach the col and transfer her to the carrier, stashing the buggy in the bushes as I clamber the last 1.5km upwards along the boulder strewn track. I reach the top, touch the cairn and turn, supporting her head with my hand as I pick my way down. Back at the buggy I execute a hasty changeover and we’re running again, flying down the hill through the forest. We arrive back at our cottage in time for breakfast. My teammate sleepily stretches and smiles, clearly delighted to have run our target sub-3 hours time (2:53).
My teammate is our daughter, Rowan, born in November just 10 days after her last fell race as a ‘bump’. She surprised everyone by entering the world bottom first, eschewing convention from the word go. Seven months later, I’m preparing to go back to work (Konrad will be on baby duty for a couple of months now), and it seems like a good time to write up the next instalment of our running diary.
In spite of Rowan’s unconventional presentation, I was lucky to have a fairly straightforward labour and delivery. By the following morning we were out walking with our dog Moss, and within a couple of weeks I was venturing into the Pentland Hills with Rowan in a sling on my tummy. At 4 weeks post partum I started a bit of gentle jogging (with Moss, I didn’t run with Rowan until she was 6 months old), and after my 6 week GP check I slowly eased back into training. Konrad and I developed a routine in which he would look after Rowan every day from 6 to 8 am whilst I went running. Other, more innovative ‘maternity leave training’ strategies included hill reps and intervals, whilst Rowan slept in her buggy in full sight.
|Ready to race at the Mourne Highline|
My next race, just a week later, was the Teenager with Altitude in the Lake District (24.7km, 2300m ascent). Rowan had received her vaccinations the day before, and spent the majority of the night awake, so my preparation wasn’t exactly ideal, although it did involve a generous amount of midnight cake eating. The day was also unseasonably hot, more suitable for swimming than running, but it did make for wonderful views. Sharon Taylor had a great race, and although I could see her in front of me for much of it, I had nothing in my legs to mount a credible chase. Nevertheless, it was my longest run since having Rowan, and I was plenty happy with the result.
|On Beinn an Oir (second Pap)|
|Team coach, in obligatory LAMM mid-camp attire|
It felt simultaneously ridiculous (most people wouldn’t even dream of mixing the two), and also completely natural (fell runners are not most people), to be travelling to a mountain marathon with a baby. In the end, as I predicted, the support from everyone was overwhelming, and Rowan was made to feel very welcome. In fact, she was extremely well behaved and even those camped right beside us hardly heard a cry. Moss, who also walked in with my mum, actually caused more hassle, as he went acutely lame overnight and thus secured himself a lift out of mid-camp on the boat with the injured runners on day 2 (by the evening he’d recovered, so we think he just wanted a boat ride).
|Reviewing our route choices at the end of day 2|