Thursday, 29 December 2016

A year in review

Blogging hasn't really been top of the list in recent times. We tried to keep it up busy lives leave little time for blogging.

For me, I've been trying to run more and lose weight. I'd hoped to do more next year but a couple of niggly injuries won't go away (it would help if I listened to my physio too and did my exercises). Firstly I got plantar fasciitis, but it's now being overshadowed now buy an ache I get in the hamstring. This later ache comes a little when running but mainly after running when driving and it's really getting on my nerves now. I don't let it stop me getting out but it hits my mojo sometimes and I don't run.

I'm doing less races now. I prefer to just get out with friends for long runs with no pressure. Occasionally I'll enter an event but I'm not always worried about where I finish.

My highlights of 2016....

Strava Summary

Dark Mountains
January saw me enter taking part in the Dark Mountains. I was very nervous about this event as I wasn't sure how I would perform in the vast expanses of the northern Lake District in the dead of night, in freezing temperatures (and a blizzard). My partner had been injured in the months before the event so we started the event taking the view that we'll see how far we get. On the night we scored ok and covered 16 miles. It was a good night out but bloody cold!!

Saunders
This year I entered the Saunders Mountain Marathon with Josh (my son). It was great and he made me really proud. Having only done a couple of days in the lakes in the build up for the event he coped admirably and we finished just outside of the top 10 on Day 1 and a little further down on Day 2. Day 2 was a little harder and I think the consecutive days running took it's toll however, his competitiveness kicked in at the end when he nearly sprinted off and left me to try and pass another team in running in to the finish.

Rab Mountain Marathon
I enjoy the Rab MM because I can compete as an individual. I know I said I prefer to run with company but in an event I hate the thought of me spoiling somebody elses run because I'm having a bad day. If I compete alone, I can only spoil my own day
Over the weekend I managed to finish within the top 20 on both days which gave me the best finishing position I'd ever had. I was totally amazed as on day 2 I nearly jacked in at one point when I hit a bit of a low.

StreetO
I've been doing a little more street orienteering this year too and since loosing a few pounds on the midrift, I think I have become a little more competitive too. This has spurred me on to lose a little more weight now, but only after the Christmas period has finished indulging me with it's excesses ;-)

Parkrun
I have been taking part in the local Parkruns at Haigh Hall. It's a nice route that doesn't involve laps and suits me. The weight loss has seen my 5k time drop from around 17 mins to 24 mins too.

Coming in 2017....
Nothing much planned at the minute as I want to sort out these aches and pains. I'm keep to try and get the weight down and also workout some other muscle groups by doing some circuit training.
Events I know I'll do this coming year include The Hebden, Dark Mountains, Two Crosses, Saunders (with Josh), The RAB (Will have a new name) and possibly the OMM for the first time. I normally help out but I might give it a go next year (Gonna be tough to talk my partner into doing it though as she won't camp!).

Anyway, I'm going to try and post more but don't hold your breath. It's said with the best of intentions but we'll see how it goes.

Mark

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Long time no post

It's been a long time! There is a draft of last year's Ben Nevis race knocking around but as this year's race is only a couple of weeks away I think it's a bit late to bother posting it now.

Anyway I had a good run there and it was also the first time for one of my clubmates John (who did the Cumbrian Traverse with me last year). I *think* he had a good run but he's not entered this year, Mark missed last year's due to a second-class stamp and has pulled out of this year's due to orienteering - in fact this is the reason John's not doing it as well come to think of it.

I had spent some time on Gran Canaria leading up to the Ben. It's a fantastic island for cycling.
I explored some of Gran Canaria on two wheels, culminating in a ride from the coast to the highest point on the island (strava trace here). This set me up for a good climb up Ben Nevis where I felt much better towards the top than in previous years.

Suffering on the lower slopes last year
I was lucky enough to get an entry into our club's team for the FRA relays at Middleton in October - me and John ran the nav leg but there was very little nav involved with it being clear, a decent route on fells I had not visited previously.

I did the Yorkshire 3 Peaks race for the first time this year but felt woefully unprepared - the last 2 climbs really took it out of me and I finished about 30 mins slower than I hoped. It's not really my sort of race but I'll definitely be back for another go. I also fluked a win at the Darren Holloway Buttermere Horseshoe, chickening out of doing the long route due to struggling with various niggles and just hadn't done the miles so I switched to the 'short' which in the end only had 6 entrants, I was still shocked on reaching the first summit to be told I was leading on the short course. It's a great route, taking in the wonderful grassy descent from Whiteless Pike into Buttermere, hopefully there will be much more support next year when it's back at the end of June.

Just got back from holidaying on Porto Santo - a small Portugese island off Madeira. Here's some photos I took while out training:

View north from the south of the island. The closest peak you can see is Pico Do Ana Ferreira, which was not far from the hotel. I got close to that summit on one run but it was very rocky near the top and I ran out of time.
'Hidden' bay at the southern tip of the island. This was a tiny pebble beach only accessible using the steep path down the mountainside. The island was full of hidden gems like this.
This was generally how I got round the island while training. It was only around a 15 mile round-trip from the hotel and made crossing the flat middle of the island (where the airport is) easier. Pico Facho and Pico Juliana in the distance.
The previous picture shows the start of the path to Pico Branco and Terra Cha, two peaks in the north-west of the island. I locked the bike to the fence then headed up the 2.3km path.

Lower slopes of Pico Branco. You can just about pick out the path through the volcanic rock (apologies for the poor exposure!)
Panorama from a bit higher up, just before the path splits.
Helpful sign at the split point.
South from the summit of Pico Branco
View of some more hidden bays, north-west from the path to Pico Branco. The drops on either side of the path here were very steep.
Looking South from the path to Terra Cha.
Summit of Terra Cha, looking across to Pico Branco. This building was complete with barbecue.
Path back from Terra Cha, looking to Pico Branco. Viewed at the original size you can make out the path from the following picture (centre left).
Path down from the split point. As can be seen from the previous picture the fence is a sensible addition.
Panorama from the path down, showing one of the few reservoirs on the island.

I took this one evening from the southern tip of the island, watching the fisherman at sunset. The uninhabited Ilheu da Cal just across the bay and Madeira (in the clouds!) on the horizon.












Friday, 6 June 2014

Cumbrian Traverse

Had a great day out doing the Cumbrian Traverse with a friend from the club the other week.

Report can be found here.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Another Catch Up

No updates again for a while, not enough hours in the day most of the time!

After Ben Nevis last year I didn't do much until December due to various niggles that I get from time to time. I had a go at a few cross country races that the club I joined last year are involved with which I found surprisingly tough; not that I don't like short races but sustaining a hard, fast pace for 30 or 40 minutes especially on the flat is not something I am used to or particularly good at! I did enjoy the team scoring element though where even if you finished many places down you were still contributing to the overall results.

One of the few places I ran during Autumn despite the dodgy knee/hip - this was coming off Fairfield into Grasmere in between the rain showers.

New Year's Eve I travelled to the Essex coast for a fell race believe it or not. That was a good laugh; on the first muddy downhill I passed at least 10 runners who appeared to stop dead because of the slippery slope and ended up in third place but then just like a proper fell race I got lost so ended up about 9th at the finish. The race fee was either chocolate or alcohol and everyone got to take home a prize, people getting their pick in race finish order.

One of the cross country events I did, this was the Hertfordshire Vets XC at Royston where there were actually some ups and downs.
I managed to get an entry to Box Hill in the middle of January but couldn't really enjoy it due to knee problems. I'm glad I went though; it's a decent route though more of a hilly cross country than anything - still manages to fit 1700 feet into less than 8 miles. Nice, grassy final descent too.

Final descent at Box Hill, great fast grassy running.

Following that was 2 weeks of next to no running but a change of physio got me back into the cross country then in the middle of February I sneaked a run in at High Cup Nick. It was a toss up between that and Flower Scar on the same day, neither of which I had done before but looking at the routes I decided to head North to Dufton. I had a good run, it was a very windy day but it was behind us on the climb, turning into the wind and rain at the top was a bit of a shock but I just put my windproof on then enjoyed the descent.

Final descent through the fields at High Cup Nick. Photo linked from the Racing Snakes Website.

March brought another local race I hadn't done before - the Orion 15. Billed as a classic cross country race it's 15 miles around Epping Forest with some ups and downs thrown in. I had a good run and finished just under my target time of 2hrs. I've done a few races with free beer at the finish but this was the first one where they had champagne, celebrating their 60th year.

We had a week's stay in Glencoe just before Easter so as usual I had a look at the calendar to see what was on. New Dungeon Ghyll was another I hadn't done before so I did that on the way to Scotland, quite wet for most of the way around and also very misty which made for some interesting routes! This was the first race I got to try my Innov8 X-Talons and I was less than impressed - I slipped and fell over twice on the wet stuff where normally I would have complete confidence in my usual mudclaws.
Coming down to the finish, being careful not to slip in those damn X-Talons. Conditions weren't great though.
Things were even worse in Glencoe where I was on steep, wet grass which was still flattened from the recent thaws and forced to slowed to a crawl due to the constant slipping. The tread just didn't dig in at all. I was pretty pissed off after that run, I really liked the shoes due to their lightness and comfort but the grip just left much to be desired.
I had a good run up the valley near where we stayed - Gleann Leac ne Muidhe. You can just about see a small rainbow I captured over Loch Leven.
I ran the last section of the West Highland Way while up there. Beautiful surroundings and met a few characters on the route who had done the whole thing.

On the way home from Scotland I fitted in a run at the Boulsworth Bog Fell Race. I wore the x-talons again thinking that it was very dry and there wasn't much steep ground on that route, they were much better. I still went and bought a pair of mudclaws though for the next race I had an entry for - The Teenager With Altitude.

On the first climb at the Teenager. Shiny (not for long!) new mudclaws. Photo courtesy of Athletes in Action.

What a day! Gorgeous weather from start to finish and a cracking route. Just my sort of race; start at the bottom of a big climb looking up at the first summit checkpoint then a good few hours spent running (& walking) over some big hills. I started off really slowly and planned to take it easy until we reached Newlands Pass which worked well though I still got a huge cramp as the gradient increased onto the last climb of Catbells. That stopped me dead for a minute or two but it's my own fault for neglecting to eat & drink towards the end. Great descent into the finish though and felt very tired but happy to have got round.

Next up for me is a Cumbrian Traverse that I have planned with a friend from the club, really looking forward to that just hope we get some nice weather for the views.

Mark as we crossed over Brandreth during a recce of the middle section of the Cumbrian Traverse

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Ben Nevis Race 2013

No update for a while. I've had quite an 'up and down' summer where running is concerned (pardon the pun). I managed to get a last minute entry to Wasdale where I ended up with my first ever DNF; it was far too warm for me and I got timed out at Pillar.

The next race for me was Borrowdale where I had a good run apart from turning my ankle on the descent to Honister, as it went over I heard a distinct crack and felt a bit nauseous but after a quick stop I managed to get going again. It went a couple more times on the final descent and had swelled up quite a lot the morning after but I was still pleased with how I felt generally during the run. It was also a novelty running down some of the corridor route following Ian Holmes, who I didn't recognise at first with his 'everyday' clothes on - he was out spectating with his kids.

Heading to Sty Head I saw Pauline who took this photo.
So I wasn't quite sure what to expect at Ben Nevis, I had had a decent month's training after Borrowdale having finally joined my local running club. We met a couple at Wasdale who just happened to park next to us and they are both coaches there! I had another good run at Blackshaw Head Fell Race the weekend before so I was hoping for a decent time lining up for the start.

Topping up at the burn.
It turned out to be sunny and warm at the start even though it had poured down most of the morning and as usual I was surprised with the pace up the road past the pub. I tripped up almost the moment the path started to rise but caught the fall on my hands, cutting my thumb. I seemed to struggle on the climb up to Red Burn, I just didn't feel that strong but after filling up with water from the burn and shoving some food down my throat I started to feel a bit better.

The climb up from there seems to go on forever but at least it was a bit cooler. At one point it went a bit dark and started hailstoning. By now the leaders were coming flying past on the their way back down and I heard one guy take a nasty fall on the rocks, he sounded like he winded himself.

I was a bit disappointed reaching the top in about 1h36m which seemed a bit slower than other years and the thought that the leaders would now have finished didn't help! Still, next came the descent which is the bit I enjoy the most. I managed to stick with a local Lochaber girl who was skipping her way down the scree and seemed to know all the best lines but on reaching the grassy bank I dropped back. This year the way down here was flagged but it didn't seem to change anyone's route down much. Sadly I turned my ankle again here the same as at Borrowdale; hearing the crack and feeling the nausea my first thought was how was I going to get down but after a bit of a rest and gingerly putting some weight back on it I managed to get moving again.
Rejoining the main path after the grassy bank. I was being careful not to turn the ankle again!

Then it was just a case of being careful where my left foot landed and getting to the finish in one piece. It's the only time I have done this race where I been almost pleased to get back on the tarmac where I would be much less likely to turn the ankle again! As it was I finished in 2h23 about 6 mins slower than my best but I can't complain, it's always a good weekend and at least I got round.

I was surprised to see you got a medal as well as a 'technical' t-shirt this year which might explain the increase in the entry fee. I made a quick trip back to the car to get changed and grab the camera to try and catch both Marks finishing:


They were both well pleased with their runs so it was a good weekend all round. Thanks as usual to all involved with organising the event and also to Richard Cowan for heading onto the hill to take photos.

Mark, Paul and Mark happy to be at the finish.