Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Just run what could possibly be the last competitive run of the year and it was bad. I wasn’t very tuned into doing this one. This last year has mainly been dedicated to long distance off-road. I wanted to sample that kind of running. Job done and I thoroughly enjoyed the year. My overall running improved over most distances. Including the short distance track training sessions. This is why I was disappointed with a lackluster performance at a local 10k. It hurt more because I was racing with 4 other club members. 1 of which I should have at least gone over the finish-line with. The others are just too fast. As it was, I was 34 seconds down on him. Next year I’ll fix that. Most of my year’s long distance running is non-competitive, because I put most of the miles in with just me and the dog – with some distant distance goal in mind. The dog can run my legs off at the twitch of her tail - so no competition there then. I have to admit though, I have a competitive streak which ‘streaks’ more during shorter races. This is now the dilemma, to know how fast you can run any distance - you have to train for the distance or even the type of surface you want to race on. If I decide to run more Ultras this year, (Which I want to do) then I’ll not be thinking shorter distance speed - so won’t be as fast as I could be. Maybe the simple solution is forget about short distance racing, unless I’m prepared to forget about Ultras even marathons! Who knows, maybe circumstances will dictate what distance and type of running I can do in the future, so I may get a crack at becoming competitive over the shorter distance yet. Short distance would be fairer to the family because far less time is needed for training. But how I would miss those Welsh hills.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

A 'little break' fishing for Scottish Salmon

Just returned from a nice break. the last day of the season Salmon fishing on the River Tweed in Ashiestiel in the heart of the Scottish Borders. The drive up from N.Wales was wet all the way to Newcastle 250 miles of heavy rain. Never mind, I thought the fish won't mind a bit of wet. So, fed and 'fine wined' at my brother's house in Newcastle and up at 5.00am. On the road to Scotland by 6. The lower Scottish landscape looks like great off-road running country, the Cheviot Hills were all snowed over looking like 'Iced buns' in the morning light. Made a mental note to see what events happen in this area, anyway enough about running.

Ashiestiel - River Tweed in summer conditions.

The fishing conditions were excellent, the river was running clear and not too deep considering the recent rainfall. Wild Salmon are fickle creatures, I am told you can fish a Scottish Salmon river for 10 years and never catch a fish. And that's not because they're not in the rivers, I saw at least 4 beauties jump clear out of the river, a stunning sight and no further than a few yards away. Some days they can be there but they're taking the p***! not your fly! I'm lucky though, I caught my first Salmon on the Tweed on my first day's Salmon fishing whilst learning to cast the fly properly, it was may be my 2nd or 3rd cast - easy this (I thought). To add to that, I caught another the very next day on a different stretch of the river. Since then nothing. Including yesterday. I had a great day though, and especially enjoyed lunch - my brother had packed a bottle of fizz and a bottle of Slow Gin to make some kind of strange shandy ( I forget the name ) The stuff washed down nice cheeses and his special hot Pork and Venison sausages - Just the job when you've been standing in a freezing Scottish River all morning. The 'little break' though, was the end section of my £600 Sage carbon fibre Salmon rod, It snapped for no reason during a cast and flew into the river like a spear! still no fish though! Not to worry - it can be repaired, it's just a question of how much dosh. So, a couple of days perusing another interest, and catching up with family. Total non-running, but somehow I think I'll run better for it next time out.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Ok - Time to start thinking 010

Next year's running plans are affected, My sentence of 6 years or so hard labour on home improvements is affected and work will be affected a little. In the past I've fallen out of trees, I've played Rugby Union as a prop way under weight for the position, I've Rock and Ice climbed - taking two falls over 12 years (1 4o footer and decked out) I've fallen off mountain bikes and wiped out skiing more times than I can remember and pretty much got away without serious injury. Running (I thought) was sedate in comparison to some of these things. So it was irritating to say the least to be diagnosed with a extruded disc at the C7 area. Also my surgeon says it can't be fixed without invasive surgery. The 'pins and needles' down my left arm I'd been experiencing was due to a root nerve being compressed by the damaged disc. So decision to be made on when to have the op? Soon as possible in the new year I thought so as not disrupt life too much. I had a cold that lasted over 30 days at the beginning of last year yet still had my best year's running so far. January 12th 2010 I'll have the op (unless I'm advised against it). I'm still to talk to some people about that. I've decided to treat it as 'routine maintenance'. Oh and how did it happen? sitting on my backside at a desk - the irony. I'm still running at the moment and have a couple of short distance races to do before the op. First one is 9th December a local 10k - I've only run one in my first year of running at about 46min 20sec. Looking to PB that. So, I'm finding it difficult to plan next year at the moment, but will be doing a couple of Ultras and a couple of marathons amongst other stuff.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Snowdon 2009 - PB time!

Vince - my training partner for the HP-40. He knackered his achilles and couldn't do it or Snowdon - But he was still up there shouting me on!

Third time and 4th Marathon. Prepared on the back of a loose conversation with the mighty T-Rex'(Vegetarian?) Why do I die on Waunfawr Hill? Answer - It comes at 22 miles when you've been pushing hard?, or you haven't eaten correctly?, or you're completely psyched out?, or you ain't got the hill miles in you're legs sonny?, or...or...or? Whatever the reason all you can do is try something different the next time. So it was that I sat in the bar of a Llanberis pub indulging in some post race analysis with T'Rex and Collie Dave of the RW Snowdon forum. Mr. Rex convinced me that all I needed to do was do a couple Ultras during 09 and get the legs sorted for hills. At the time I thought I'd done enough climbing work although only short distances. So the day came with two Ultras under the belt and the miles from the long days out during the training up to them. I didn't do too much in the 4 or 5 week gap between HP-40 and Snowdon. I did however put a few track sessions in and 1 x 16m road session the week before Snowdon itself. I needed to get use to road shoes! The plan was to rely on the hill miles and distance I'd already put in up to HP-40 staying in my legs - and run Snowdon fairly rested. I traveled to the race on my own this year which allowed me to get ready at my own pace, Which in turn ensured I'd be late. The weather on the day was pretty much as it has been each time I've done it. Grim. Still, this brings with it a certain challenging atmosphere which ads to the experience. I set off steady not wanting a repeat performance of last year's disastrous start. The steady climb out of the pass was controlled. It was a relief to reach the top with breath to spare. The wind was directly behind and made running the decent side of Llanberis pass great fun - with long strides being made easy. At the bottom where you make an about turn directly into the wind the stride became shorter! I found a nice pace and stuck to it enjoying the weather and feeling good. Before I knew it I was climbing out of Beddgelert and was heading up the middle climb. The freshness had worn off by now and it was time to do some work. I wanted as much time under the belt as possible for Waunfawr Hill. Upon reaching the hill I won the first mental battle and didn't stop on the approach to the right turn that puts you on the narrow lane which takes you to the top. A few hundred yards along that lane I decided that I'd walk just the steepest crests in the road and run everything else. The trade off would be getting to the off-road section with strong enough legs to make up any lost time. The plan worked. Once I reached the off-road section I was away passing runner's who were struggling with muddy decent and foul weather. During the decent I knew I was on a PB and it was just a matter of how much by. I even found strength to push on around the back lane and then to sprint finish to nick a place or two at the line. I knocked 16 minutes off last year's time with a Marathon PB of 3hr 49min 20sec-ish which was beyond my expectations by some way. This was a great result for me and a great end to my long race season.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

HP 40

Mam Tor from Castleton

OK the run up to the HP 40 was enjoyable, running was good, health was good. The day came soon enough. It was a bit of a fiddle driving from N.Wales to Buxton Derbyshire for the start and typically arrived a bit late. Registered and changed in a flash and next thing I knew we were cheerfully snaking out of Buxton's streets and onto the first section across open ground and off towards the Goyt valley. I decided I was not going to get into too much passing the time of day chatting with fellow runners and got on with the job of trying to settle into a sustainable pace. I had 8 and half hours of running in my mind. The early autumn cool came to an end with the first serious bit of climbing up out of Chinley and up onto the hills. In fact, it got quite warm. It was about time for my newly tried and trusted feed plan. 1 peanut butter sandwich every 2 hours and 1 gel an hour after that. The first sandwich went down on the hoof without too much fuss. in fact it tasted ok. Climbing the rutted, grit stone strewn track up to Mam Tor was interesting running, made the more interesting by the descending mountain bikers. Grim faced and 'get the hell out of my way' stares from most of them. Soon I was running the ridge and enjoying the cooling breeze and views towards Edale. Soon after Hollins Cross it was time to descend and head towards Cavedale and on towards 'Somewhere-elsedale' Must have been about 5 or 6 hours in the bag by then. Started feeling the sun by then on a tarmac section into Monsal head. Got chatting to a guy who was feeling the distance a little i ran with him for a couple of miles offering a little encouragement where I could, it was here that I got lost (lack of concentration) I ran around an unsheduled lake for a while before correcting the error and running back on track. I decided to leave the guy here and pick up the pace for a while. Run steady up until the long road section at about 30 miles, this was tough, stomach sickness was creeping in, I lost a lot of time on this section. Once on the grass again I cheered up and tried to perk up for finish. Through Deepdale 2 (Strange gash in the fields - comes from nowhere just when you don't need it!) and past the last checkpoint without stopping. I could see the church towers of Buxton now. Once again had to stop with a stone in the shoe which I had to remove. Bending to do this was a chore because a 'trapped nerve' in my upper back that made bending uncomfortable. I pushed on with one or two runners who'd been around my position over the last 10 miles. There was no speaking, just grinding out the last few miles. I caught a young guy who looked fresh enough to me. he was wearing some technology so I asked him how far to the finish - 2 miles. A quick check of the watch told me I'd need to put in 2 8 minute miles to hit 8hours. I tried to drag the guy along but he'd had enough. I ran up the ramp to the finish table flat out and finished 8hrs 20secs. So I didn't go sub8 - ask me if I care! A great day out was had and once I got my breath back I felt great. 40m in the bag.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Two months later High Peak 40

So, did some stuff over the next two months or so, all off road running. Got back to Club nights at the track too. This was to get some speed work done prior to Snowdon marathon 09 due in October (Last weekend in real time) It was during these sessions that I tempted Vince to do the HP-40 with me. A few training sessions with him later I decided that I wouldn't be doing it with him, but some way behind him! he was running well. He had a target set in his mind of 6hrs 30min which would have put him in the top 10 area. Looking at some of the running he was doing in our training jaunts, I wasn't doubting him.

Meanwhile back at the track, things were getting better for me, I was getting quicker over the short distances yet my weekend long slow ones were feeling good. Track work really pays. In august I was out on hill session with Dot, Had 25m planned over a lot of climbing approx 3,500 ft. The weather was threatening from the outset, 15m from home I could see the squalls storming in from the West and the direction of Snowdonia. When they hit, they hit with a chill. Dot was feeling the wind that day, I could tell because she'd use the deep heather as a wind break whenever it gusted. I decided 20m was enough and dropped down from the hill to an old village named Cilcain. There was a big banner spanning the narrow road advertising their summer fete (Which included a Mountain Race from the village to the summit of Moel Famau via a route I didn't know too well. I thought no more of it and organised a lift home for me and the pooch forthwith. that night I decided to tuck into a nice bottle of red wine, even nicer when you know you've got 20 hard gained miles in your legs.

Next morning I was up and without thinking, sorted my kit out for the race, penance for giving in to the weather and for greedily guzzling a bottle of red. At the village there was a carnival atmosphere, with crowds of runners milling about prior to the start. I came across my niece who was wearing stilts! Bizzar! - I was glad to see she hadn't entered the race. The race was brutal affair 4m ish 1200 ft straight from the village to the top of Moel Famau and straight down again. I ran it ok, (43min 17sec) but felt the climbing on used legs, also if you were stuck behind someone slow on narrow sections you couldn't pass them. Managed a good strong decent though, passing many competitors who'd climbed better than me, but didn't have down-hill legs at all. After the race I bumped into an old friend of mine in the village pub The White Horse and sank a few ales in the pleasant afternoon sun. That wasn't a bad weekend, some decent running, friends and a few beers. tbc.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Now then where was I....?

View North from Carlton Bank

For some reason I stopped posting, don't know why really? I guess I wasn't sure how my running was going at the time - plus outside influences, mainly troublesome teenagers and the ever draining work needed to finish my house. All very demanding. I've come to the end of my mentally set running calender. Last week Snowdon Marathon 09 was the mark. Somehow though, this year, I'm feeling like I've got more running to do. So I'm going to do some!

Since last posting back in April!!! I've achieved things that there is no way I thought I was capable of. I'll have to check back and see where i was, but no doubt I was training for Osmotherley Phoenix Ultra my first Ultra. The training up to it went well, Dot (my little Jack Russel) and I out most weekends on long hill runs anything up to 4 hours in mostly wet hill weather. I think the longest she run was a 30 miler - fair play. Anyway race day came in July, I took the long journey up to the North Yorkshire Moors on my own. It seemed 'wrong' not taking my little hound with me. On that morning she was up for it - tail wagging, I had to leave her wondering why the hell she'd done all that training???

Anyway I ran the race on my own as my training partner pulled out with an ankle injury etc so on my own I set about my first Ultra. The first 12 miles were ok, but little did I know the sun was taking t out of me, by mile 15 with 18 to go it started to feel like a run. I got to mile 25 (the last checkpoint) in good time 5hrs 8mins or so. Shortly after that the wheels came off as they say. These last 7-8 miles is where you find out what you're made of. There was no way I was going to DNF, so I slowed down to cope with the horrible effects of dehydration and fatigue. This got me to the finish and my first Ultra done in 7hrs 6mins. I'll be back for this one. The course was brilliant, great running and great scenery. The atmosphere back in the village was brilliant, welly throwing and beer in the afternoon sun. I hung around and sampled a well earned beer. (not before a couple of cups of tea though!) It took 12 hours for me to recover from this one - drinking 12 litres of fluid that day! Within a few days I decided I couldn't leave my first Ultra performance at that and signed up for the High Peak 40. tbc.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

...And a Partridge in a Jack Russell?

Well I'm kind of back on track after letting other things get in the way of my running. Have put in a couple of 12 miler hill training runs and had a really enjoyable little'un up Shining Tor with my old mate 'Collie' Dave. Spooky warm wind all the way on that one, somehow it felt 'oxygen rich' as I seemed to have energy to spare that evening. Anyway back to the 12 milers, nothing that interesting about them except the results of a little 'experiment' and a strange encounter with a tame or stupid Red Legged Partridge. The experiment was a simple trial between running the extreme steep sections of my training run vs walking them. I conducted this against the clock and found no difference in the finishing times. This is changing my 'Me-man!' attitude to hill running a little. I'm sure my fitness must benefit from the sheer aerobic graft needed to run the steep sections yet on the other hand maybe I'm running the less steep sections and down hill bits faster? What is for sure is that when I've dropped of the training mileage the run walk method is far less taxing over the same distance and time. I'm going to employ this practice on the run up to my planned 33 miler in July, and most likely throughout the run itself. To counter balance this I'm picking up the track training again this Thursday (Ouch! it's going to hurt) The Red Legged Partridge? Reaching the summit of Moel Famau during one of the above mentioned training runs, I practically stepped on a Red Legged Partridge which was happily pecking amongst the shale. Being aware that Dot my little Jack Russell was hot on my heels I feared for the bird's safety, and what's more it wasn't in the mood for flying! it happily led Dot on a game of 'Catch me if you can' before I brought her to heel. One thing for sure is that if I hadn't she would have caught and killed it. My guess is that the walkers feed the thing and have tamed it. that'll probably mean the end of it then. Looking to extend training distance this weekend, so need to start planning a route and looking forward to it.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Run of bad Karma

Apologies for no post. It is with irony that I read my last post which is titled 'Holiday Time'. The injury recovered quickly. This wasn't why I haven't posted. I put a few 'tick-over' runs in just after the niggle to the knee, then my work commitments went hay-wire. I had a lot of traveling to do in three days on a TV shoot - which meant living out of a suitcase kind of thing - this also meant a crap diet and bad sleep. Then I had to spend 3 weeks (inc weekends) of long stressful hours sitting in a dark room, film editing on a particularly difficult job. This was no good for my running or my running state of mind. At the end of a 12 -15hr day, I have to admit I was more interested in cold beer rather than running. I found the upset to my normal life and running routine hard to adapt to. Laziness and lack of interest in running set in. I don't want to make this sound like a moan, it is not often work gets in the way to that degree, so no complaints - got to make a living. We just had the Easter holiday and I was due a couple of extra days off to boot, I used them to ease back into the running mood - even taking on a 11 mile beefy hill route which I managed in my average time for that route. It hurt a little more than normal though! Still not eager mentally, I'm sure that'll come. Having joined a running club this year and benefiting from regular track sessions, I really noticed the difference when trying to maintain the same level of fitness with just getting in a few 'tick-over runs' I soon found out that it can't be done that way. So it's back to the track and some hill intervals as soon as!

PS - I just got a speeding ticket! - if only it could have been for running!

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Holiday time!

Physio has signed me off for ten days. Never mind time to chill and forget about running then. I've decided to be positive about negatives. Got over the cold, went out for a 5 mile warm up run Friday and out into the hills for another leg of Offa's Dyke on Sunday. 13 miles or so. Enjoyed finding my way round using my map however I kind of new where I was without it. It was straight out of the car and climb, climb, climb for a couple of miles before getting high enough for some really nice views (above). It's funny how little things can make a day out of a run. On the way back I came across a lone Curlew which let out its spooky call as it flew from its hideaway flushed by Dot. Also a Charm of Gold Finches happily singing away amongst the hillside thistle. Dot's getting fitter and enjoyed this run more than ever. I loved it. Somehow over the weekend I tweaked a medial ligament, don't know how but the run brought out the inflammation. No problem, time for a rest. I'll be back.

Monday, 23 February 2009

OK, so I'm a baby when I've got a cold.

Colds are rubbish. Spent Friday night carefully planning my route. Map sorted. Totally up for another sorte into the hills whatever the weather. I've been feeling great lately, putting in my best training session yet at the track along with plenty of miles. Also got myself to a much more hill friendly running weight. All looking good until I got up Saturday morning with that knowing metallic taste in my mouth and sneezes. The dreaded cold. ( Either that or I'd swallowed the silverware pepper pot ) So instead of being on a high, and posting panoramic pics etc. I'm out of action yet again with a cold. here's a pretty picture of a cold virus - it's the best i can do.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Why is there only one shoe in the road?

Actually I was relieved that there was. We've all done it, forgotten some kit that is. I was looking forward to my evening club run to loosen the legs after the weekend's harder hill run. Thankfully I realised early that I'd left my insoles drying at home after being washed. Bummer. I did have one spare - don't ask me why only one??? I drove to the nearest super-stores pretty convinced that I'd find a substitute pair in the shoe department. After browsing the areas of both stores, I left empty handed. Thanks for nothing Tesco and Marks & Spencer. I decided to drive back to work and solve the problem later. Could I ring my wife and get her to deliver my soggy pair to the running club? Not if i wanted to hang on to my manhood! Driving along the A34 Wilmslow made me think about something I often think about. Why is there only one shoe in the road? Where's the other one? why are there so many? How do they get there? Why shoes?

Sure enough although the stretch of road I travelled was only a couple of miles, it sure as eggs produced a lone trainer - bingo!
I pulled over, grabbed the 'minging' over-sized trainer and drove back to work with a big grin. A quick wash with anti-bacterial hand wash and a trim to size using my spare one as a template with a craft knife - and I was kitted out to do my run. Is this obsession? Who cares, another 9 miles cracked out and it felt well earned.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Raiding Welsh Hill Forts

Up 7.45 Sunday morning, a bit of breakfast and out for my first proper run in the hills. I had something loose in mind, approx 16 miles - I wasn't sure of the amount of climbing required, but I knew it would be a fair bit. The first 5 miles would be new ground and a chance to cross check my map. The problem with new ground is you don't know what's runnable and what will reduce you to walking pace. (Steepness) I thought seeing that this was a bit of a recce, I'd hit the tops of every hill until I was knackered, the route mainly follows Offa's Dyke. I'd also flank the steep sections on the return leg back to the car. So, I parked up in a small village named Bodfari where Dot and I headed out for the first stile. Off we went. The weather wasn't bad this low down, but I could see ominous 'clag' building up on the tops. I was soon onto steeper ground and soon walking! A few hundred feet up steep greasy flanks got me to the top of Moel y Parc - and to the top marker. I thought this would be an opportunity to take a snap of Dot for the blog. She looks fresh here and clean. Only a mile or so into the day.

No sooner had I snapped the shot than the rain gathered pace and lashed us off the high tops, and down into the dryer valley before the next climb up to the hill fort of Penycloddiau. The top was soon reached battling through cloud and rain. Over the top and heading for more familiar ground. A narrow trail squirmed ahead, and down - skirting the edge of a forest. Because of the gloom, I couldn't see the trees up ahead, just mush - time for another snap on the mobile - it looked a bit spookey.

The next climb up Moel Arthur produced my first 'Mapper Flappers' of the day, a sodden pair of walkers slipping down the slope, they were cheerful enough. Dropping off the south side of Moel Arthur brought me to the foot of the North side of Moel Llys-y-Coed. Ahead would be 3 miles of sustained running up and past Moel Dywyll to just a couple of hundred meters from the top of Moel Fammau. Today the top section wouldn't be runnable - too steep for tired legs. My GPS was telling me I'd clocked 9 miles standing on the Jubilee Tower at the top of Moel Fammau - The wind was biting! Time to head back and Dot agreed. I'd already planned to flank the tops on the way back so as to sustain some running. We stopped once more to take a pic at 12 miles. Dot had turned colour from her pristine white to a dirty, mucky, peaty speckled brown. She was also very impatient, and needed to keep moving - and not too slow either! I tried to feed her a chunk of Flapjack which she turned her nose at preferring to move on.

A long forest section was next but fairly low down, not too cold to start, but still a bit wet. I hit a gentle, but somehow nagging climb here - which soon let me know I'd done a few miles. I ground out the pace until I could see the descent route back to the car, still about 4 miles to go. I started thinking about the challenge ahead in July - 33miles! double what I'd just run! No worries, I changed to more positive thinking and thought how reasonable I felt. Even after a cold wet 18 miler taking in 6 decent hills, 3 of which were formidable Iron age hill forts in their time - designed to repel invaders. 4,180 feet of climbing most of which I ran. 4 hours 2 minutes including stops. Dot was finished and ready for her cushion. I was right with her.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Inspiration from nowhere

Someone (Neil-USA) a mountain biker picked up on my blog. Looking at his blog has stirred my old passion for my mountain bike. My GT Zaskar Tripple A frame (1996) is languishing in the shed next to an old lawnmower with flat tires. I keep the tires flat to prevent my sons (20 & 16) from having it away and doing BMX street stunts on it. It's incredible how lazy they are, they won't bother pumping up the tires! Letting the tires down is better than a sturdy chain and lock! I'm really tempted to get the GT out and giving her a make-over. I found the pic above on the web - it's the exact same frame, although I have Marzocchi Bomber forks and a different head-set and seat, Jazzy seat by the way! Doesn't it look gorgeous? I think my wife will have a fit if she sees the old beast being dragged out of the shed. One thing these machines can do is eat money. Anyway what the hell, I might just do it. I wouldn't mind a jaunt or two in the hills on my GT. Might have to sell some mountaineering gear to fund it. Back to running, had a great track session last night 1x1000m 1x600m 1x400m x 3 flat out Run faster to run faster? I buy that - killer. The recent weight loss worked a treat, in just four track sessions I've managed to get the edge on a few of the guys who have been faster over the past sessions, that felt great I can tell you.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Inov8's vs Mountain Bikes

In the snow Inov8's (Mudrocs) leave e'm for dead. So the cold weather stays with us. managed to get out once again into the snowy hills. It was late yesterday afternoon/early evening so I was able to enjoy fairly well compacted snow for the most part due to the days back-packers footfall. I wasn't feeling a million dollars after drinking a robust bottle of red the evening before. Along with stepping up the miles and the dieting I think I've allowed a little 'buggy' thing to creep in. Bit of a sore throat this morning. On the hill yesterday I came in contact with one or two mountain bikers who were 'skiing' on their bikes. Two passed me descending while I was ascending, they were slower coming down than I was running up! Later on the descending side of the hill I caught and passed another MTB'er! In fact, he even held open a gate for me (which robbed me of a little breather!) nice chap! My inov8's handled the under foot conditions admirably, giving grip even on some of the steeper compacted down-slopes. There was no snow clogging the tread either. Very pleased with them as all round off-road running shoe. Dot (my little Jack Russel) only has six inches of leg and no running shoes, which means for most of the 11 mile route her exposed belly trailed along the frozen snow, along with the wind chill she was feeling the cold a bit - especially on the exposed tops. When I slowed my pace for gates etc she was very keen to get me running again - there was no stopping today as far as she was concerned! Once again it was a perfect little training run in the snowy hills topped off with a taste of rough weather. The log burner was my friend for the evening - when little Dot would let me get near of course.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Crunching snow not cornflakes

Something happened on my usual early morning journey from N.Wales to Cheshire (Where I work).On arrival (7.15am ish) I'm normally able to drop the driving seat, snuggle into my North Face down jacket, and catch an hour of kip before a shower, scoffing some porridge and starting work at 9.00am. Tuesday was different, there was snow on the ground. I got a bit excited about the thought of an early morning run over Kerridge ridge, past the 'White Nancy'(see pic) then back to the car and work. A quick 'in car' change into my gear soon saw me running into an icy head-breeze. Dawn was breaking and it felt great to be out running on the crisp snow. I've been dropping a considerable bit of weight over the past 4 weeks (5kg). Running on an empty stomach in minus 2 felt a bit weird, but wasn't unbearable. The route took me 6 miles or so across snowy fields and up and over the snowy ridge itself. You have to lift your feet higher in the stride to run in 3 or 4 inches of snow, it's tiring. Passed one fellow runner coming from the opposite direction en route, he warned me of the deeper snow ahead. It wasn't that bad and mostly runnable, with good views at the top. A great way to start the day, and better than my usual 'snooze'and most people's cornflakes. Lunchtime came with a phone call from 'Collie Dave' who fancied a short clip across the snow himself, so off we went for another 3 and a half mile crunch. Burp! - Brilliant!

Monday, 2 February 2009

Freeze dry

Managed to down tools and get out onto Moel Famau Sunday afternoon. Took Dot with me for company. First time running on the hill for quite a while. Decided to take the pace nice and easy for the first 2 miles up to the steep section, a good plan - as I found the steepness no worse than it ever is. Interesting conditions under foot, the earth was bone dry and concrete hard with temperature down to minus 2 feeling even lower in the considerable wind chill. My knees were freezing! and feeling quite numb. I took some of the steeper decents slower than normal because of this. I was soon over the top of Moel Famau and on the slightly more sheltered side of the hill, temperatures here were a sultry minus 1.5. The Russian snow was beginning to stick on the freezing dry surfaces as I made my way back to the car. 11 miles in 2hrs 9mins. Kept my heart rate sensibly low at 143 average, rarely climbing much above 160 over the 1907ft total ascent. A good session and really nice to be in the hills. Forgot to take my camera so pics next time.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Flying by

The weeks that is. So another weekend lost to house renovation. I was deep into a re-wiring problem on Sunday afternoon, watching the sunshine slip away and the day turn into night before I could finish the chore. My first planned hill run of the new year in tatters. Never mind, on with the lycra and off from Mold, out in the pitch dark to Moel Famau car park. As I was running the surface water on the tarmac was freezing under my feet. Once into the countryside and into the proper dark - the stars were out in their brilliance. Managed the 11 mile easy run without raising the pulse too much, nice to be just ticking over. Slipped my entry to Osmotherley Phoenix (33 mile Ultra) in the post today, hope I'm not too late as hotels have been booked! This weekend I WILL get on the hill! besides, I'll be fitter and enjoy it more having a few more club sessions under my belt.

Friday, 23 January 2009

More Track

A Pyramid session last night. 800/1200/1500/1200/800's. It's interesting, this is only my second time on a track with my new club members. I've identified two or three runners who have run at a similar pace to me over the two speed sessions. Looking at some of their recent competitive 10k and half marathon times, they too are comparable to my own. I'm hoping where I'll score well is on the longer distance stuff, which I much prefer. Planning my first stab at the hills on Sunday. It seems like an age since I was last running up Moel Famau (Mother/hill) my 'guardian hill' - I like to think she looks over our house and keeps us safe (above). May take little Dot with me for ballast.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

1st club easy run

Not that easy, met a few more club members last night on their regular Tuesday night run out. The route from the club is all uphill. (888ft) climbing No surprise there as the club is at sea level! The pace was brisk enough for me at this stage of the game, with only last Sunday's 8mile cross country under my belt since getting over flu.(Didn't get into the hills proper, need to build up some strength first) We did 9.5 miles (1hr 25m) which is more than I would do on a work-time lunch run. Great to talk to some new people, and looking forward to getting more familiar with them. Also looking forward to a track sesh on Thursday. I'm dropping some excess xmas baggage
also, 3kg since last Thursday - it's got to help!

Friday, 16 January 2009

Getting on track

So, joined my new club Deestriders last night. The initiation ceremony was harsh – 5 x 1000m intervals. Of course I was off the starting blocks like a hare not really knowing in physical distance how far 1,000m was! Soon found out when I ran out of oxygen. It’s amazing how exposed you feel on a track, and fat! I’m intending on dropping a stone over the next 5 weeks which will help. Looking forward to the benefits that kind of motivated training will provide.

Enjoyed the session and met some really friendly people including A long lost second cousin! Hope to run with him soon. Will try and get to the next club meet on Tues for a social 7 mile road run. - looking forward to it. Hmmm...the hills are calling for the weekend, I’ll have a think about where to run.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

New Year already

Flu's and Xmas has wiped me out for running, just managed to squeeze in 12 miles in small bits in two months! A bit of weight's crept on but I'll soon rid that once running again. Went out today for my first session in ages! did a neat little set of Kenyan Hills (30 mins or so) and no bother, nice to get running again. Did two other positive things - signed up for my first Ultra 33 miles of Osmotherly Phoenix on the 4th of July 09, the day before my 49th birthday. (A little present to myself!) Oh, the other is to make a date this Thursday with what I hope is going to be my new club Deestriders. Need to work out how to post images on this site!