Friday, 19 February 2010

Winter Hill (again - though not as I know it) bike that is. I decided against running the race last week, I'm still seeing a physio about my knee and she has said I shouldn't run just now and stick to cycling so that's what I did. She strapped my kneecap up again, saying that it helps it track properly, last time she did that it did seem to feel better while the strapping was on.

We drove up last Saturday with my bike strapped on a rack, it's the first time I have taken the bike anywhere like that and the wife commented on why I didn't drive so carefully when there's only her and the kids in the car. My plan Sunday morning was to get out as it came light and take a scenic route up to Winter Hill and watch some of the race.

It wasn't half cold in the 'valleys', by that I mean the fields behind Billinge Hill and the Douglas Valley between Ashurst Beacon and Parbold Hill. It was still thick with fog when I got there and I had to stop when I first entered the mist to put a hat on my ears were freezing. Billinge Hill was a bit of a shock so early in the morning but at least it got me warmed up. I stopped on Parbold Hill outside the 'Wiggin Tree', though it's not called that any more! There was a nice view here above the mist. Then around the lanes behind Harrock Hill I made my way through Coppull towards Rivington then through Horwich and up to the mast.

I was going to watch the start from the barn but decided instead to just head up to the top of the ramp and watch the leaders come through. By the time I got to the first crossing of the mast road the runners were already heading through so I stopped there for a bit, I could do with the rest anyway. Then I trundled up past the mast to wait by the gate at the top of the ramp. You could see the runners on the horizon running down to the woods, I was a little envious and it wasn't long before Danny and Rob Hope appeared on the path racing up the hill. It's not often I have seen the sharp end like that and it was surprising how comfortable they looked.

I stuck around for a bit and chatted to a couple of other people, another guy who had cycled up there said he has run the race in the past but can't at the moment due to a problem with his knee! I was getting cold stood around so headed home.

I really enjoyed the ride out, I think I did about 50miles taking in Billinge Hill, Ashurst Beacon, Parbold Hill and Winter Hill and felt riding home that I could have stayed out all day, apart from the cold feet. That evening we took the kids bowling then back to Mark's for an indian. Mark dug his foam roller out and I gave it a go, not sure if this was the main cause but the day after my knee did seem to feel much better? That may have been partly due to the strapping but that had fallen off by the time I got home at the end of the ride.

Tomorrow is more of the same, I'm getting the train back from Euston tonight and weather permitting will head out early again in the morning. I need to sort my gearing and front brakes out (they judder) before trying anything steeper though. Roll on next Sunday when I'm hoping to do the Kentish Killer.

I tried to persuade Mark to enter By Lake, Ridge and Wainwright the weekend after easter since we're up north then but he was having none of it!!.

Monday, 8 February 2010

More Orienteering!

Since the beginning of the year I haven’t managed to do a Fell race. Ashurst Beacon was cancelled and there hasn’t really been anything else that has taken my fancy. I planned on doing the Two Crosses LDWA event (18 miles) but then that was cancelled until March. So my focus has been on my new found enjoyment of Orienteering events.

If I have one complaint about orienteering it’s that the events don’t seem to be long enough. However I suspect that’s simply down to the colour of the course I am entering but I also don’t want to jump in feet first and take on an event that would take me too long and time out. Also, I bring Josh along to some events now and then run along side him but let him doo the navigating, he seems to enjoy it!

For those that don’t know, the course colours go from White to Brown and vary in difficulty and length (White being the easiest & shortest) but all distances tend to be measured as the crow flies and not based on the total distance you should travel after completing the course.

After the cancellation of the MDOC event at Lyme Park, Josh hadn’t been to a club night or any other event, Saturday, 23rd Jan saw another MDOC event at Sale Water Park besides the M60. Easy courses for beginners (White, Yellow & Orange) and a Split Sprint course. I had hoped to do the sprint course depending on how long Josh’s Orange course took but the orange course was much longer than I had expected and as a result Josh did very well in the hour that it took us to complete the course, only going to one wrong point. He did beat himself up about it a little but I re-assured him and he worked it out.

Tony Varley at Reddish ValeThe following week saw another small event held by Pendle Forest Orienteers in Rawtenstall/Rossendale opposite the Ski Slope. Josh and I headed over for this and as the park was quite small, Josh and I managed to both do courses. Mine was a Micro-Orienteering course which has multiple controls in some locations to try and make sure you pick the correct point. The same evening though was the MDOC night event at Reddish Vale, Stockport. Tony Varley and Albert Sunter had planned to do this event but Albert was unable to make it so it was just Tony and I. On arriving at the country park, we were directed into a dark car park and you notice the lights from head torches buzzing around in the trees as other competitors wonder around looking for their controls. I had planned to attempt the Blue course as it is longer than the Green course I had attempted on the previous night event and this worth more points. However I caved in and thought I would just try the Green again. Tony though, being his first night event tried the shorter Orange course.

With no running done during the week after Reddish Vale due to my workload I was ready for the following weekend 6th/7th Feb) which saw an Urban event in the centre of Carlisle on the Saturday and a much harder event on the Sunday (Tim Watkins Blodslitet) on and around the limestone quarries of Farleton Knott (Near the Hutton roof fell race). Carlisle was fun despite me finishing last in my class. I put this down to the fact it was more of a national event and as such had more elite runners in it (That’s what I’m telling myself anyway). The start was slap, bang in the centre and the course covered the map well crisscrossing the city centre and dodging shoppers.


Sunday was an early start as my start was at 10:50. I’ll not describe the full course, it’s enough to say it was hard!, very hard. I think the terrain also made it difficult with the amount of limestone that needed to be crossed and my inov-8 mudrocks are absolutely useless on damp/wet rock. The map was difficult to read also and some points took me ages to find and battling through the wooded areas was also very difficult. As a result though I managed to get to point 24 in about 2hr 45mins and with only about 55 mins left to complete the next 10 points and still heading away from the start/finish point I made the dreadful decision that I wouldn’t be able to complete the course and retired. Onl reflection I suspect the last 10 points would have been easier to find as the 2nd 1/2 of the map didn’t have the same sort of dense tree covering that the first 1/2 of the map had. But I’m not unhappy with my choice and I can now put this one down to experience, knowing what I’ll be in for next year when I enter the event. Another runner I spoke to during the event said that he found this course to have particulary difficult terrain.

Now I’m sore, my claves and feet hurt and I have a couple of cuts and grazes from trapping my foot a few times in Limestone gaps and the brambles on the course. It did highlight my current level of fitness though and now I need to sort that out. So more mid week training runs start now (hopefully).

This weekend coming is Josh’s birthday and is on the same day as the Winter Hill Fell race which I had to avoid last year because of injury. This year I decided that as it was Josh’s birthday then I was to do NO running at all so I’ll miss it again (To be fair, Josh actually told me he didn’t mind if I entered it but I told him definitely not). So on the Saturday I have my first Hill race of the year in the Parbold Hill Race which I did enter last year but ran badly because of my injury. Then on Saturday evening I have the final Night Orienteering event at Haslingdon Grane Night event. So I guess I’ll be going straight from one event to the other.

In between all of this the Night street league continues and I have to say that I have really been enjoying those. The boredom of running on tarmac disappears with the challenge of finding the points and route choice. Currently I am 25th in the Age adjusted league scores and I should be 16th in the gross scores (They haven’t added the totals up correctly). The next event this Wednesday is at Lancaster West and I’m hoping I can’t keep up the higher scores I got in the last two events.

I’ll bore y’all with more orienteering news soon enough but that’ll do for now.