Ah yes, I should probably squeeze some sort of update out about the old running thang. I’ve become really bad at getting regular updates on here, so it tends to only be big events that make me sit down and hit the keyboard a bit.
So, it’s been a couple of days since what was my first A race for the year. This was the big one for the year, the RAB Scafell Sky Race. 40km (ish) up a bunch of mountains including the tallest in England.
I’m not really sure how I ended up signing up for it. I distinctly remember thinking “this is hell” last year during the Ring Of Steall and would never do anything like it again. But then, afterwards in the AirBnB we were staying in, and in the car on the way home I was browsing through other Sky Races and found this one.
I signed up in October for it and grabbed a spare bunk in the bunkhouse in Great Langdale, just in case I couldn’t convince any friends to come with me, all of whom were pretty reticent to commit to anything, especially so soon after the pain of the Ring of Steall.
Training restarted formally on New Years Day and had a number of long distance, hilly races scattered through it, including The Half Tour Of Bradwell (Slow Motion suicide), The Grindleford Gallop (Cancelled due to sudden extreme snow) and a last minute place on the Hathersage Hurtle, which was flaming lovely, as test pieces to see how things were going.
And to be honest, they were going pretty well. The whole training period was a bit restrained. My ankles were always threatening to flare up and knock me out like they’ve done for the past few years, but with paying them attention and increasing the mileage carefully they’ve held out.
As of the race date this year, I managed just under 22,500 meters of running elevation over 984km. Weirdly, this was almost exactly the same elevation I’ve managed over last year by the time I was stood at the start line of the Ring Of StealI (22,452m on the 17/11/22 vs 22,496m on 03/06/23).
Ideally though, I’d hoped for more elevation as I was averaging between 800m and 1200m a week mostly, and with the race being 2,800m I probably should have been getting close to that each week as prep, but I was having to be careful.
Kelly and Andy who I ran the Ring Of Steall with last year decided to join up and do the race with me, which meant I shuffled out the Bunk House (which they very nicely refunded me for, even though there was supposed to be no cancellations) and Kelly found an AirBnB for rent in the amusingly named Thrang Brow which could fit us all +1, Liz to help out!
Approaching race day, the weather started to change. We had some nicer weather at the start of May for the inaugural Run Greno trail race up the road from home and was my first bit of sunny running all year really. 2 weeks later we had a reasonably sunny long run where Andy and I took 6 hours climbing up and down the gullies on Kinder but it wasn’t until my last long run the week before the race did we actually have proper warm weather.
That run was HOT, and the long range forecast was showing that the race was going to be even hotter. Oh no! No chance to acclimatise to hot running at all!
The nervousness climbed from there as the pre-race safety video reiterated just how warm it was going to be, down to the point where there was an extra section on the video at the end where the race director took us through the course and pointed out each individual point where there *might/should* be water to refill our flasks from. With only one aid station on the course with water, we might need all we can find!
It was a 8am start, so required an awfully early 5:30 wake up (still, not quite as bad as the Venice Marathon wake up which happened to be on the date of when the clocks went back and the hotel forgot to adjust the clocks on their phone wake up system!) and then try and get ready. As it worked pretty well at the RoS, I had a Quaker Oats “Big Pot” and then followed it up by trying to get some Mountain Fuel Morning Fuel down my neck. Ugh, that stuff is a bit like eating wallpaper paste. I must be doing something wrong with it! We then pottered for the rest of the morning, making sure bags were packed, debating on how much water to take and adding my fleece insulation and KT tape shoulder pads to hold off the bruises.
Water planning was a bit stressful to be honest. I’m really bad at drinking water generally, and I’ll quite often come back from a 5-6hour run having drunk about 400ml total from my two flasks. My friends seem to think I’m some sort of lizard as they’ll be well into their 2nd litre by then. However, there has been the odd hot run when I’ve got through a litre and this run was looking like it was going to be HOT. I hadn’t packed my water bladder as I hadn’t trained with it at all. In fact, I’d only used it twice, and one of those times it chafed the hell out of my back (although I suspect that was actually the print on the back of the teeshirt!) Using it for the first time in 2 years on a hot mountain marathon seemed a recipe for disaster! Instead I decided to pack a third 500ml water flask which after some experimentation I worked out I could *just* squeeze it when full into the main pocket of my ruck sack
However, after chatting with Andy I decided to put the extra 500ml flask unfilled in my bag, rather than carry the extra water weight up the hill. This left me with 1l in two 500ml flasks in my front pockets, one with half a sachet of Mountain Fuel Raw energy in. His thinking was that there were streams out there after the first big climb that we could refill it from if needed, and it was unlikely we’d need it during the first climb and would appreciate not carrying the weight! Good thinking Batman!
Foodwise I packed: 4 wiggle gels in the shoulder pockets, 1 sis gel, 2 sausage rolls, 2 hummus wraps, 4 packs of Clif Bloks and a Mountain Fuel flapjack and another couple of wiggle gels stuffed in the back. Plenty of calories for the trails ahead, not to mention the raw energy in one of the soft flasks. I’ve set up my watch to alert every 30mins to eat and that seemed to have been working quite well.
Soon it was 7:30 and we headed off to the start, 6mins drive away! Fairly soon we were crowded together, Garmin’s ready at the start line while an accordion player serenaded us with… La Bamba…
In the crowd I pushed forward a little a head of Andy and Kelly. Andy called at me not to get carried away, pointedly reminding me of my foolish downhill adventure back in Bradwell. “I won’t..!” I called back… and off we went.
Up to Harrison Stickle
We set off, not that quick.. in fact, we very quickly had to queue at a gate. Well, that stopped me getting carried away I guess! Soon enough we were on the climb, which at first wasn’t so bad. It was a lot drier and easier going than the first climb on the RoS. I just hooked onto the person in front of me and didn’t push really. Trying to find decent pace which I felt was “racing” but not going crazy. I overtook a few people, and had a few come past me and it seemed to be going ok, but then, just as the ever lasting hill flattened out a bit, all the oomph went. My pace plummeted and internally I started to freak out a bit. I could tell this hill wasn’t as tough as the RoS start, but I just didn’t have the power on it. I was sipping from my water pretty regularly, I’d just had my first gel right on time…. what was going on?
People started to overtake me at this point and I just kept my head down, hoping it would come back together once I hit the top.
About 3/4 of the way up, the path became a bit more of a scramble, needing the odd bit of hands to progress. At about this point, Kelly caught me up and followed behind for a bit, before overtaking me just as we topped out. Christ. Hill one done.
Can I rescue this?
Ok, the first hill is out of the way and now we’ve our first downhill, 270m or so down from Harrison Stickle to Stickle Tarn. A tentative descent initially as it wasn’t great under foot and quite steep, but pretty quickly I got into a rhythm and started to flow down the hill. I overtook Kelly back at this point now but was still being a bit careful. I COULD have gone quicker downhill, but lessons from Bradwell stuck so reeled it back and instead followed someone stealing their “foot beta” on the way down. Right on queue, I picked up a stone in my shoe in the bottom quarter, but managed to nudge it to the side of the shoe where it wasn’t causing me a problem. 10 minutes later, I was running alongside the tarn and starting to feel really hot and wondering about if I needed more water.
As we looped around the water, there was a small wall we hopped over just before we needed to cross a small stream leaving the tarn. I figured this was a good spot to sort the shoe out, so propped myself up, cleared the stone and had the sudden realisation I might not be able to do this.
I think this might have been the first time I’ve ever doubted my ability to finish a race. The Ring of Steall was hard, but that was always just a battle against finishing with a time I was happy with, rather than actively thinking that I might need to drop out…
Oh, and I’m only about 4k in…
The Fastest Section
So, having sorted the shoe and had a little “oh shit” moment I cross the stream, pausing quickly to dip my hat in the water before putting it on my head and set off. At this point Kelly catches me up and disappears off into the distance ahead of me and I’m definitely tired. I end up walking the little bumps ahead, and soon end up on the small climb onto Pavey Ark. The ground here was pretty rough underfoot and I kept catching my right foot into the inside of my left ankle bone which was really starting to hurt. As the climbing grows steeper, even my walking starts to falter and I’m overtaken quite a lot at this point. It’s also around here that I reach into a little hole to grab a rock to help haul myself up a steep bit and it promptly slices a deep vertical slit into the pad of my right index finger! It bleeds a bit, not enough for me to stop to get the first aid kit out!
After getting up on Pavey Ark, the going eases a bit, instead turning in to a grass/dry boggy mostly only slightly uphill section. I can manage this and set an ok pace and start to, without really trying to, begin to overtake all the people that had overtaken me early. I wondered to myself if I was recovering a bit? Then I wondered if this was going to be like the Run Greno run a few weeks ago where I basically had nothing on any slopes, but could catch everyone back up when the gradient eased out a bit.
About 45minutes later, we start the descent downhill along Greenup Gill. I managed to hook onto a lady runner at this point and just stick with her for the majority of the downhill which was really helpful for something to focus, stopping every now and then to wet my hat in the few wet bits I could find.
There was one steep section down following one of the small, mostly dry streams where a guy overtook me, stomping right into a puddle which was heaving with midgies. They flew up right into my face as I followed up and COATED me, mostly over my face and arms. It took a couple of minutes of frantic wiping while trying not to fall down the hill before I’d got rid of them. Later on back in the AirBnB I managed to count around 15 bites on each arm :/
Overall though, it was a good downhill, and feeling better I’d have gone quite a bit quicker, however doubt at my ability to finish was starting to gnaw at me, along with an increased sense of nausea. 🤢
I’ve had heat stroke once before. Kelly and I did a run around the Kinder Plateau a few years ago on a lovely sunny day and I had to pretty much walk the last 5k of it. Once I got on the train home from Edale, I ended up throwing up a bunch of times in the train loo. The “exercise sound mountain judgement” part of the briefing was really starting to niggle at me and my brain swapped from “we can finish this if we’re careful” to instead “I just need to get to Seathwaite so I can hand in the towel and not die”.
Ok, not quite that dramatic, but I was starting to get concerned about being stuck in the middle of nowhere with heat exhaustion!
After about 5k of downhill, it evened out and we swung left over a bridge onto a road. Ages ago when I was thinking about how this race would go, I was expecting to through a few sub 5min/ks along here to Seathwaite to get some time back as I thought we had 5k or so of road. Actually, it was only about 2k as the approach to Seathwaite was actually a rolling track. Rookie mistake. Still, it was good to get a sub 6min/k pace along this bit and it definitely helped get my brain under control a bit.
Running along the track to Seathwaite I ended up running with someone after holding them a gate. We ended up having a right old natter, chatting about training and how hard this was, and suddenly someone was running back at us telling us we’d gone the wrong way! We’d turned into the farm and gone left past it without realising, instead following a large pack of runners who either had also gone wrong, or who weren’t racing. Doh! It wasn’t a small mistake either, we’d trotted 700m in the wrong direction. Feck.
So, we turned around and jogged back looking sheepish to the check point where I stumbled into Kelly!
The Checkpoint of Disappointment
Welcome to Seathwaite Farm and our only food filled checkpoint on the run! Except, it wasn’t.
It had taken me about 3hours to cover the 18k I’d done so far, putting it at about 11am. The cut off at this check point was 12:30 so there was a over an hour and a half before closing for people to come in.
This is what was promised:
- Water, Voom electrolyte drink and bars, Coca Cola, Bananas, Oranges, Crisps, Popcorn, Jelly Babies
- Selection of Local Meats/Cheeses
- Selection of Vegan/Vegetarian Products
This appeared to be what was left:
- Water, Voom
electrolyte drink andbars, Coca Cola, Bananas, Oranges, Crisps, Popcorn, Jelly Babies
- Selection of Local Meats/Cheeses
Selection of Vegan/Vegetarian Products
So, I was hoping to grab a handful of jelly babies and a banana to munch on. Instead, there was A LOT of meat and cheese that most people seem to be ignoring. Yes, very European, but it’s not really the sort of thing we’d have trained to run on right?
Instead I turned my nose up at it, refilled my two flasks and put the other half of the mountain fuel sachet in one, and then dug out the 3rd flask and filled it. I’d got through probably 600-700ml of my water by this point (nowhere near enough, but I was trying!), so it seemed pretty likely I’d run out on the next section.
It was at this point that I realised that I was thinking about continuing, rather than pulling out. Perhaps it was the flat running that settled stuff? It was at this point that Kelly returned from a trip to find the loo. Turns out she’d hung around at the aid station for about 30mins by this point!
I paused at this point and had a think about that “Good Mountain Judgement”, weighing up how bad I’d felt earlier and if I should go on. Screw it. There is another “escape point” at Sty Head pass, and off we went, but first got a kid with a sprinkler/sprayer thing to give me a bloody good soaking!
We set off on what turned out to be the hardest climb of the day. A switchy backy/steppy climb alongside Sourmilk Gill.
Kelly very quickly stomped her way off into the distance, whereas I was really plodding, sometimes pausing for a few seconds between each step. I just had nothing. After 15 minutes of the slowest climbing ever I found a rock and sat down on it and stared back down at Seathwaite farm considering if I should head back down there and retreat. “Good Mountain Judgement”.
I sat there for over 5 minutes, just trying to make a decision, supping at my water as person after person passed me asking if I was ok. I don’t know what I did to convince myself to continue, but up I got and started climbing.
Sourmilk Gill is a fab little stream running down the side of the hill to the farm. It had a couple of very tempting looking pools on it which I really wanted to go and jump in, or at least dip my hat in, but it was a little further away from the track and I didn’t want to distract myself away from plodding upwards.
It was a COMPLETE slog. I had periods on my own when all I could think about was how much my thighs hurt and how much I wanted to throw up, and then someone would catch me up and then draft behind me a bit. We’d then chat, which I discovered was the best way to stop feeling sorry for myself was finding out just how bad everyone else was feeling! Every time I passed water I dumped my hat in it to try and cool myself down, but it wasn’t enough to quieten the every growing need to quit as soon as I could.
My eating really faltered, still supping at the raw fuel in my flask and tried to eat one of the hummus wraps but I couldn’t get it down at all and just stuffed it back in my pack. Instead I tried the Clif Bloks and seemed to be able to get those down so slowly munched my way through a pack
At some point I was overtaken by a woman who proceeded to tell me that she was about to fart. Well, that’s a good intro I guess. We had a bit of a giggle and started lamenting together how hot it was and I doggedly followed her for probably the entire second half of the climb, and then the majority of the way along the climbers traverse around Great Gable.
That little bit of chatty company, and someone to focus on keeping with really helped, but as the terrain become more difficult on the traverse; bits of very easy scrambling and some fun little scree slopes, it was hard to distract myself from the sickness and tiredness.
After about 30 minutes of the traverse, a marshal appeared stood of the left of the path. He was checking in with people and when he asked me I told him I was feeling rough and struggling. He pointed out there was a great water source coming up, and then not far to Sty Head pass where there was a first aid station and the last place to “drop out” before Scafell. Drop out doesn’t mean a bus ride home, just avoiding the elevation of the mountain…. it’s still a long way to go!
Pushing on to the water I again suddenly ran into Kelly! She’s taken another of her long rests here sat near the stream and was sorting out some blisters on her feet. I sat down and chatted and suddenly realised that despite still being in the bright sunshine it was actually cool here near the water. We had a fab view down the side of the mountain towards Lingmell Beck with the dramatic site of Scafell and Lingmell crag ahead of us and a really lovely breeze coming up the hill.
I pulled out the hummus wrap I couldn’t eat before and managed to eat it, the cool air helping a lot. I’m pretty sure I took the opportunity to finish off one of my flasks too here. I then fished out the spare full flask of tap water from my bag and refilled one of my UD flasks (I can’t drink from the Harrier ones I bought, they are useless!) and refilled the other two with water from the stream.
It was at this point when I realise that I had a spare buff in my bag so I could wet that as well as my hat. This was fab, as I could use it to put on the back of my neck, or keep my hands and wrists cool.
We chilled there sorting bags, feet, internal body temperature, and then got up and headed off together along the final bit of the climbers traverse before making it to the checkpoint at Sty Head pass in about 5 minutes.
We checked in with the marshals, who I got to cut off my satellite tracker from where it had been uncomfortably taped into my left shoulder and put it on the right in a much better place. It had been put really high meaning that whenever I actually broke into a run, it would tip backwards and dig painfully into the top of my shoulder blade, leaving a bit of a bruise! Once they’d finished, I realised that I felt fine and I’d stopped wanting to quit. That break fixed me.
Still, I had a moment of considering that “Good Mountain Judgement” thang again, before heading off with Kelly to the Corridor Route up Scafell.
Braving the Hordes
The Corridor route up Scafell was significantly easier than going up Sourmilk Gill. Kelly stuck with me a bit, but she had her own speed and eventually disappeared off without me, but my movement seemed a lot more consistent than before, although I stopped at every bit of water I could to wet the hat and the buff as they dried out within about 10 minutes. The going really only got seriously difficult as we swung around the side of Scafell and started to climb the fairly horrible scree covered slope on the way to the top. I was going mostly at tourist pace now. I knew this because there were LOADS of them everywhere climbing up with me. Including one arse carrying a loud stereo which he was blasting some sort of shit music out and annoying everyone.
This bit of the climb was hard. The ground was really quite treacherous, I was really starting to feel the heat again and my thighs were starting to give up. Plus, Scafell is one of those mountains with about 4-5 false summits. GAH! Still, I got up to a VERY heavily populated top and found some marshals. Again they asked how I was, saw I was struggling and sent me to go sit on a rock where an absolute angel with a brolly came over and held it up over me to keep me out of the sun. She also fished out a sachet of dioralyte which went straight into one of my flasks of mountain water.
Five minutes in the shade, plus a couple of bites of the orange and turmeric mountain fuel bar and I felt readyish to get moving again. Oh, they’ve changed the shape of the mountain fuel bars so they are less wide and taller, and it seems to have changed their consistency so they are harder to eat when you’re struggling. Disappointed 🙁
Exiting from the umbrella, I circled around the right of the extremely overcrowded summit and was pretty disgusted to see piles of litter including most of a bag of porkpies. FFS animals. Humans ruin everything.
The flags headed northeast towards Broad Crag over some really difficult rock. It wasn’t scrambling, but the rocks were really broken up so you were having to carefully pick your way over broken edges and be careful not to step in holes and hurt yourself. As we started descending I ended up following a woman and her little girl (7 or 8 years maybe) as they followed the same trail I did. They moved aside to let me past, but to be honest I was probably doing the same pace they were!
Across the Tops
With Scafell done, and a solemn promise to never come back, there were a bunch more peaks to top out: Broad Crag (935 m) ⛰️ Blunt Top (901 m) ⛰️ Esk Pike (885 m) ⛰️ Bowfell (903 m), complete with cute little mountain emoji’s thanks to summitbag.com.
It’s kinda hard to pick them apart in my memory, but I remember the way to and down from Broad Crag being a royal pain with really rough rocks. It was reminding me of trying to move about at the bottom of Wharncliffe Crags! (Hint, it might be easier to climb to the top and ab off your choice of climb…)
Each top had a marshal on, so as I got to each one I’d take a seat, a breather and try and force some food down my neck. What was clear was that it was getting warmer still and the nausea was really starting to kick my arse.
On the way up Esk Pike I ran into someone in a yellow tshirt who also ran in the Peak so we had a good natter about stuff before his friend caught us up and off they went leaving me behind.
Eventually I got to the top of Bowfell, the last peak and took my final rest before making my way towards Great Slab.
Dropping off of Bowfell led to The Great Slab, which as it’s name suggests is an enormous huge honking great big slab! We ran down the left hand side of it trying not to think about what would happen if you slip. I can really see why they take this out of the race when it’s wet as sliding down here would be a bit hairy!
I wish I’d got here in time for a photo, but the photographer moved off from here some time before 2pm. I was, unfortunately, probably still climbing Sourmilk gill at this point! 😀
Epic right? I bet you’d like a better idea of how steep it was. Well, here you go:
So yeah, pretty steep! I kinda ran, more of a shuffling hobble, but it definitely WASN’T walking. Yay! At the bottom of the slab to the left was our last au naturel source of drinking water which was pointed out on the race briefing; apparently a load of moss or something? However, my drinking by this point had really stalled as I felt like I was nearly here (Readers, I had over 6k and more than an hour to go still!) so I swung right and started following the Climbers traverse along the side of Bowfell.
This was actually a pretty nice runnable track, albeit with a “you’re gunna die” fall to your left, but really not that bad. I however, could not run and the best I could manage was a gentle plod taking in the views and enjoying the exposure. There were a few slightly airy points on it, but it was just lovely.
I hadn’t seen another runner for a while, but I did meet some of the local residents of the area, as a Sheep and her two little lambs came trotting along the path towards me. There really wasn’t anywhere to go and I was wondering how we’d manage this showdown, but luckily as they got close a space opened up on my right which I stepped into, and they wandered past. It was a really surreal moment.
20 minutes-ish of that and I was on The Band and starting the last 5k. This would be a fab descent if I had the legs, but I was walking, feeling really quite rough by now.
As I see the houses and roads start to be visible right down in the valley, I started flicking through the screens on my watch and then suddenly saw the ETA:
The cut off is 18:00.
So, if I continue this slow shamble, and it stays, on average this difficult, and my GPX is actually accurate, I’ll squeeze under the cut off. Well, that’s not good enough.
Somehow I managed to dredge a very wobbly legged jog from somewhere and kept it up for pretty much the rest of the downhill. It wasn’t quick, and it certainly wasn’t pretty, but slowly the ETA started to slide backwards. I over took someone 3/4 of the way down who said I looked fresh. Pretty sure he was fibbing 😀
As I entered the farm yard at the bottom of the hill, I caught up with Yellow shirt and his friend who were walking. We had a brief exchange where I updated them on the time and started them off trotting after me!
Once through the farm we passed the last race marshal in a van with some water but there was no way I was stopping as I’d never get started again. 20 yards later I proved myself correct by slowing down to cross a cattle grid and really struggled to get running again, but now we were on a bit of tarmac and I could commit to just keeping the legs going as we cruise into the finish.
Wait, why are we turning off?
Unexpectedly, the route swung left, through a gate where I was suddenly face to face with Andy! He asked me how I was doing and I think I might have grunted at him… We then turned right again right into a rough track up a hill. WHY? I THOUGHT THE END WAS TARMAC!
It was one final grind up hill to just above the the point we had to queue on the way out. Yellow shirt and his friend overtook me just as I saw Andy and there was no running from here. I had nothing left.
Finally, we turned right and the finish line came into view with a marshal shaking some goat bells. “Oh go on then” I muttered and grabbed my pack (I’d undone the straps about a k earlier) and got the feet moving for one final jog to get under the line.
Liz was there waiting with a camera for some photos as I had a quick chat with the race director Charlie before being escorted into a large tent and sprayed down by that kid from Seathwaite again. He definitely had the best job.
Someone struggled to remove my satellite tracker from my bag while another person grabbed one of my flask and filled it with an electrolyte drink and then guided me into a chair.
The world was kinda spinning and I was roasting with a thumping head. I took a sip from the flask and had to hold back an enormous gip as my mouth was filled with what felt like frogspawn. I’ve no idea what that electrolyte drink was, but I didn’t like it! Perhaps it had chia seeds in it?!
I spent the next… uh.. I don’t actually know how long it was.. but it felt like an hour, trying to get some water down and not throw up. People kept trying to get food in me but it wasn’t until Andy appeared with a double scoop of chocolate ice cream that I found something that my body seemed willing to try. Liz went and grabbed me one and I slowly ate it which worked really well to get the energy back and push the nausea off.
I’m finishing this write up on Friday, so nearly a week post race. The legs feel ok now and post run never felt as bad as they did after The Ring Of Steall. But, I also came back from that with COVID so it’s kinda hard to tell!
Scafell felt a million times harder than RoS but I don’t really know why. It felt hard from 3k in as I was climbing that first hill. I’m sure that hill isn’t as tough as the first climb on RoS but I faded significantly on it. I’d accumulated the same amount of elevation in training, but over less time, so perhaps I hadn’t tapered enough?
Or was it the heat? It was A LOT hotter than the RoS but it was pretty early in the race so I’m not sure it’s that either. Perhaps the heat prevented me recovering from the climb as well?
The Merrell Long Sky shoes were a godsend in comparison to the Peregrine STs. Obviously it was super dry on this run, but they were just generally much more suited to the rocky, broken ground. If I was wearing the STs I’d probably still be up there! It’s not a surprise really as the ST does stand for soft ground, but it’s just a comparison to what I was wearing for the RoS!
I’m kinda proud at having finished it, despite finishing a LONG way slower than I was expecting/aiming/hoping for. It was a my first proper experience of a race going awry and having to dig deep to finish. I honestly had decided to quit at 3 different points through it.
Although it was a mostly horrible experience, during which I told myself many times that I wasn’t cut out for mountain running and should quit, I’ve mellowed again a bit and I want to get back to doing high and long crazy races again. I think I’ll need to up that weekly elevation gain significantly though, and get much better at drinking, which seems a weird thing to say but I know I just don’t drink enough.
Oh, and weighted squats, lots of weighted squats.