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