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.