Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Winter Hill

Quick update seeing as I haven't said much for a while. I'm looking forward to our next trip up north, it's still hard to believe I moved away from Wigan over 5 years ago. I have decided though that my journeys are going to be more selective this year, it got a bit silly last year; driving there and back in a day to do the Three Shires Race, flying to Scotland to do the Ben Nevis Race then back before breakfast Sunday, not to mention the cost!

My knee trouble has put paid to any plans of doing an ultra anytime soon. It was just by chance though that I was looking for an event I could do on my bike and noticed that Fred Whitton entries were open so off my cheque went and after a week's delay due to the weather I checked the website on the 18th to find I had best start training!

I'm really enjoying getting out on the bike at the moment, apart from the cold. I am still getting out running a couple of times a week as well but I want to take it easy on my knee. I have no plans to go back to the physio but I have to admit I went for a sports massage Christmas Eve and another one last week which was painful but seems to have freed my calf and hip up considerably. The knee seems much better though I have to be vigilant with the stretching, if I miss a day or two it shows.

My next visit home will be for half term and I'm considering doing the Winter Hill Race but I am a little uncertain about the distance since I haven't run that far since November however in terms of 'effort' I have been spending a similar amount of time out on the bike. Plus there's still a few weeks to go yet to make my mind up. I am hoping all this cycling has done my climbing some good! I am going to bring my bike up with me since there's some proper hills I can cycle up as opposed to the little lumps down here. My Ben Nevis entry went off yesterday too, I am hoping Mark has sent one off, it's becoming an annual tradition for me now.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

“If you buy cheap, you buy twice…”

said a fellow runner, after I bought a cheap head torch he had recommended to me for running in. A few of the people I run with have purchased the “Hope Vision 2” and compared to the torch I have, it’s like running in daylight. However at over £160 there is no way in gods earth I would ever be buying one, I could buy over 10 of mine and strap one to each foot, one round my waist, one on each shoulder etc…! Running on Winter Hill on a clear night with it is fine and it provides enough light to run with assuming you use freshly charged batteries each time but one night whilst running though the clag, my torch was relatively useless and I became a little frustrated.

So one night whilst browsing I noticed LED lights (the actual LED’s and circuit boards) on a website I use and started to look at the types of LED’s used in these super bright head torches. I found out that the Hope Vision uses an LED made by CREE and that my head torch claimed to be 51Lumens (the measure of brightness) bright. The Hope Vision 2 claimed to be about 460 Lumens, then I stumbled upon a head torch which claimed to be 150 Lumens (3 times that of mine) and also used a CREE LED light (not the exact same one as the Hope but a bright one none the less). Most of the junk on these websites I would expect to be overstated with the actual brightness being about 1/2 that of the stated however it had a couple of good reviews and best of all it was only $16 with free delivery. I couldn’t turn it down at that and it would do as a spare so I ordered it.

Eventually, after about 3 weeks, it arrived. I threw batteries into it and shone it out of the back window. It lit up the front of the house in the street behind me. I was already happy with it but the proof would be in the running. Last week I ran twice at night. Once to Billinge Hill and once up on Winter hill with the usual crowd. I was very happy with my new purchase, it performed really well and if I had to criticise it I would say that the bright spot in the mind of the beam is too narrow. However it shone a good 100m from where I stood and lasted for a good two hours without issue. As long as the cheap plastic housing holds up, I’m quids in! Might even order a couple more as spares!

Anyway I bought cheap and paid twice but I’ve still paid less than £160 so I’m happy! and I have a spare I can use when we go camping.

Monday, 11 January 2010

A Winter Break Summary

The cold weather over Xmas has hampered my running a little however I am hoping that with the start of the New Year I can stick to keeping the training in and shed some more weight. Previously, when I first started running I had started dieting which helped me to shed about 2 stone in a short amount of time, so I’ll try again although I do tend to lapse a little so it might not work as well as last time.

At the trig point atop Winter Hill before heading off pisteJust prior to Xmas I managed to get out with Lostock for a Head torch run on Winter Hill, a good run off-piste going down the scar at the back of the mast was quite fun too. After this my next intended run was going to be the Whinberry Naze fell race but I came down with a 24hr bug on Xmas day so I ruled out the race to make sure I was over it, I had planned on going as an oXo cube but maybe next year. On the 27th though after feeling on Boxing Day I managed to make it to the alternative venue of the SELOC Christmas orienteering event in Bolton with both Albert and Tony Varley.

No other running happened then before the New Year and then on New Years Day I headed up to Lancaster University for the SROC New Years cracker which had also changed location due to the weather conditions. It was a great event, trundling around the campus. I should have got at least another 10 points and possible even another 10 on top of that but with the score I did get, I managed 13th out of 52 participants on the longer course. I felt a little guilty for not taking Josh, not really knowing what the event would be like, however I planned to take him to the MDOC event on the day after at Lyme Park.

Josh and I set off early the next day (partly because I misread the start time) to get there in time but then en-route the snow started to fall heavier and heavier, so much that when we arrived I worried about being able to get out of the park up the hill. We registered for the event and made a “donation” to the Mountain Rescue in lieu of an entry fee and we waited around for an hour before the off. Then 10 mins before the start, we got out of the, now heavily coated, snow covered car to see the organisers clearing things away. It turned out that Lyme Park had been closed and the staff were only waiting around to make sure we got off the site, so the organiser cancelled the event. I thought about asking for my “donation” back, being the cheap skate that I am but as it was for the Mountain Rescue I left it. Never mind Josh, there’ll be another one soon.

On Sunday (4th) I took the opportunity too get up to Winter Hill nice and early and managed to head up to the trig point. It was slow going and on the top it was still quite thick and made running impossible (for me anyway), but the sky was clear and there wasn’t really any breeze so it made for a great run and I managed about 9.5 miles.

More snow on the Tuesday and I decided that I would just run local. Donning my NEW ($16) Headtorch I headed out over the fields behind our house towards the motorway and went up to Billinge Hill. The snow over the fields made running VERY hard, so it was more of a walk than a run with some parts between 2-3 ft deep and my feet not even coming up above the top of the snow. Eventually though I made it to Billinge Hill, the first time I have actually made it there (most times I just run past it).

The following night again saw a night run with Lostock. Running up to the Trig point was difficult work. I ended up running up the road to the mast whilst the others headed to Two Ladds before heading to the mast but after visiting Two Ladds the other runners also resorted to using the road to the mast. However after passing the mast we were met with snow drifts crossing the road which were over 3ft deep in places and at one point we had to resort to crawling on our hands and knees to get to the trig point. The run down the scar on the back of Winter Hill was hard work with a cold wind blowing much stronger on that side of the hill and the thick snow made finding the path down to the wooden bridge impossible. Eventually, back at in Horwich, I joined Adrian, Alan and Albert for a quick pint before heading off. I have to say that I it was a good run but, at that point, I was glad to be off the hill with a pint in my hand.

No running since Wednesday and my final run of the week (Sunday) I thought I would head up Winter Hill, you know just for a change. Running up from the Barn through the gardens was like running through Narnia. Eventually making it to the Pike I was hit with the wind blowing over the top of the hill. The wind was so bitter that I was actually in two minds as whether to head back down. Although I had thought it was going to be cold so had brought a flask of Tea with me, so it would have been a waste to head down so soon so I headed on to Two Ladds. I had tried to take a few photos on the way up but then the cold must have got to the camera and it stopped working. Sat on the rocks drinking my Tea, I spotted two runners heading up which turned out to be Ian and Pauline Charters. I had decided to run back to the barn and out of the bitter wind so ran down with Ian and Pauline to Georges lane where we departed company when they headed up to the pike. The run down was quite nice but in the car trying to leave Rivington Hall Barn was madness. A bit of snow and people turn into idiots, just parking anywhere and not worrying about the hazards they cause.

So what next….
I had planned to do the LDWA Two Crosses circuit (the shorter 18 mile course) however it seems that the snow may have cancelled that event. Also the night orienteering event next Wednesday has now been cancelled and the Compass Sports SELOC event on the 24th has also been cancelled. Looking further forward I had hoped to take part in the Winter Hill Fell Race this year after only marshalling last year due to a dodgy knee but as it’s Josh’s birthday I have decided that i will do NO running on that day (even though he has told me he doesn’t mind). I had thought about doing the LDWA Anglezarke Amble but runners are only allowed to enter the longer route which is too long for me so instead I am planning to do the Parbold Hill Race followed by the SELOC night event both on the day before his birthday.