Sunday, 12 April 2015

Pan right...Pull back... Stop

I took the bike on Thursday to Lincoln and had an hours blast around Market Rasen in the sun. Flat as a pancake with some lovely polished tarmac to boot.
The old coach gave me a call Friday and tempted me out for a steady 7 miler through the woods. It was the first run in a week and went well until mile 5, when the hamstring made its presence felt and I completed the run in what's become a familiar near- mincing stride. Its time to spend some cash and get some healing hands on the old leg I think.

There's been no such problems on the bike though. That pedalling action is mostly compression so I belted out to Blyth this morning to watch the Blyth 10k with the two youngsters racing. As they finished it began to rain and 10 minutes later, while heading home the sky got darker, the rain got harder and temperatures kept dropping,  I veered off road and rode to the drive-through window of a nearby Mcdonalds to get a plastic bag for my mobile phone. They didn't have one. I got one from a helpful woman in the nearby corner shop. I was badly unprepared for rain and 5 miles from home I was drenched and cold. I kept telling myself to man up but the wind chill was, well, Baltic. The water was dripping off my nose and my arm-warmers had hired themselves out as small freshwater reservoirs. I knew my feet were cold although they were numb.
I could still see them. They were wearing the same shoes as they'd left the house with.
I started to freeze in the rain like Rutger Hauer's Roy Baty in Bladerunner.  My head dropped and I started mumbling 'I've… seen things you people wouldn't believe… Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the 'whatever' Gate. All those… moments… will be lost in time.....yes, I felt about as good as a replicant past its sell by date.

Getting home I changed and took to bed to warm up with teeth chattering. The feet were icy cold. What a wimp. So its not been a very productive day, although saying that, the biking is coming on. You can always tell that - after a few weeks the average speed goes up a couple of notches.

As I lay in bed I put the tele on. When I looked closer I thought there was something or someone I recognised on the screen...Enhance 224 to 176; pull back; centre......gimme a copy there.... Ahh what a good movie that is.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

All change

Its the election debate on the tele: I watched around 5 minutes of it. I already made my mind up who I'll vote for 6 months ago. The rhetoric has driven me to blog. Party Dogma and Rhetoric. Smashing.

I'd like nothing less than to tell you about how much running I had been doing, but the hamstring issues continue. I managed 20 miles over 3 sessions last week, but it was still being needy. Like a clingy friend not buying his round.  It's going to need a bit longer. I've just heard someone say 'like a petulant school child'; mmm, yes, that's excellent politics.

Now that April's arrived and I'm about to finish my latest read, that old classic 'Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance', I feel we should focus on the good stuff. Its time to pump up the tyres on the bikes currently hanging up in the garage (like some mechanical bats wintering in the dark and swinging from the rafters). Best get them out into the Daffodil spring.

It was 18 miles tonight, and I think I might do double that tomorrow. The normal races are out of bounds at present, so instead, I am focussing on the Caldeonia Sportive in May. Looking forward to taking coffee in Pitlochry; one of my favourist places. True, I haven't got a number, bit that didn't stop my mentor down south inviting me up. I won't keep up with him, but as long as I can get by, I'll by fine.

Since I started running 12 years ago, I lost weight and now fancy myself as a bit of a Grimpeur. This is in contrast to me when I used to race in the early 80's when I was a bit of a sprinter. I did a VO2 max test for a PhD student in 1983. I still have the printout of the test and the results. It was 81 which I think excited him. He assured me I was in good condition. I read later that Contadors is 89. I think now it would be around 62 ish....Auntie Aggie is peering over my shoulder now and has whispered 'its about time you found out what it is, you slacker....'. She can be cutting sometimes.

If I don't manage 250 miles this month, I will eat my hat. After all, I used to be an athlete.

Next on the book list is 'Dune'. All change......

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Crab Soup

Its been a while since I did any blogging. I've not been slacking (well, not much).
Early in January I had a pep talk from my old mentor and began to up the training again after a very dull 2014 season. I decided against a trip to Kenya or Colorado until I managed to get to nearer 40 miles a week training. If I need altitude training I just go up the stairs. To reproduce the thin air thing, I simply stick my head in the laundry basket. Not much oxygen there... 

I pulled my hamstring in Mid January and only just got through the Signals Relays early in February where our 4 man crack vets team picked up a wee regional bronze medal.
Progress continued into late February and I began eyeing some events, but Thursday night a week ago I pulled up again in training. All that long legged stretching out doing the fast stuff plays havoc with my little stubby ligaments and as scotty says 'they canny take it, captain'.

The last few weeks have been hampered by something called work, to such an extent that I've had to work weekends. What a blidy cheek. Whats happened to the work life balance. Someone has chucked the scales out. The 40 mile target has fallen through the basement and I am poking around trying to manage some stolen exercise. It culminated on Saturday in a trip to the gym for the first time in a year. I did alright and mostly did sit-ups, crunches and dumbbell stuff. But on Monday I could hardly move my arms and have spent 2 days walking like a crab, the arms capable of only going sideways like the claws that they are.
Today has been much better, so here I am on the blog. Doesn't take much arm action, blogging, really. tap,tap, tap.
My down south buddy has found me a place in the Caledonia etape in May, so I've had the bike out and there's a lot of work to do in that department also.
I have a long weekend booked off next weekend, so I might just be able to get the 2015 campaign started then. Here's hoping.  

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Winter training camp

Just back from 3 days attending the winter training camp. Not much mileage in these conditions, but the landscape and ploughing through the snow was magic. much better can it get?  Who needs to go to Banff when Scotland has this? There was a post run critique of course every night (!),with dominoes, at HQ. Essential.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Morpeth 11k & the old Monks Race, Hart

I followed the run at the Guisborough Woods race with 2 more over the last week. The Morpeth 11k was on New Years Day and the Old Monks Race, which I had never run before, was on the 4th January. I ran the 11k last year in 41.21 and was narrowly beaten into 2nd place in category. This year as around 180 rampaged through the barren countryside lanes I was grafting like a good 'un just to hang on behind a cycling clubmate who has taken up duathlon. He was around 10 seconds ahead. He's a rangey runner with a good stride and it took me until the 10k mark to catch and pass him. However, I regretted it immediately with the finish being so close and up over the last little hill, I feigned a slow down and he came past at which point I tucked in and burst back over the last 50 metres to take 2nd V50 again. My time was around 40 seconds slower but it was the best run I had had in months and retreated to the pub later to welcome in the new year in an upbeat state of mind. Can't argue with £20 worth of vouchers.

There was a choice on Sunday and me and the youngster decided to take the easy option choosing a trail race rather than a fell race. The Old Monks Race is around 5.5miles of trail, and includes a wooded section, wide farm tracks and a stretch along the old railway line which is flat but uninspiring. There was a little too much tarmac for me, but the crowd of around 300 fairly swamped the village hall at Hart, near Hartlepool. There were many runners in road shoes and I was in a dilemma as to whether to wear road shoes or studs and opted for the latter. It was around zero degrees but at least the sun was up. I sat in a little group before we left the tarmac mostly going downhill. Then the track took us down through a woody dene and across a ford where the water was low and along the flat rail line before kicking up into the woods. There was little space to pass and no one came through the woods, but a bloke in a grey hat and shabby t-shirt passed earlier along the railway and I remember thinking 'he might be over 50'. The track cut back across the railway line then we climbed up a steady hill out of the woods where the track became a farm road and I ran for a mile with a local Hartlepool runner for a while. He had a clubmate ahead and fired on, but by then I was in a good steady pace and, not having seen any old monks, decided it was time to head back and I finished in 29th place and again 2nd v50, but not by much.  We enjoyed the race and the free tea and cakes afterwards: Didn't get a chance to visit the Anglo Saxon church which I ran past in the warm up. Overall, the form is returning slowly. Just need to keep the training going.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Snow all around at Guisborough Woods

A brand new pair of green and orange Salomon Speedcross's were peering out at me from their box (...and not before time). Time for some hill action. I had chivvied up the youngsters to accompany me down to the Guisborough Woods Hill Race today and I was looking forward to plastering some mud onto new shoes. We arrived in good time, but by the time we walked back to the car from the registration at the rugby club, it was time to jog up the hill to the start.

I had a look through the records for this race. I had lost count of how many times I've done it. My first appearance was in 2006 and this would be the sixth time since then. I reached the dizzy heights of 7th one year.

They changed the course in 2012. It was a three lapper with a finish that plunged through a thickly wooded, stepped ravine which was great. It's now a 2 lapper with a finish that's on forest tracks and a little less frenzied. The second lap is longer than the first and it takes the runners up to the top of the moors, out of the woods and along the south side across the heather before returning to the woods and along a wide forest track. Its difficult to get lost and there are usually plenty of dog walkers out and about.

The field seemed smaller than previously and perhaps 130 set off. I fell in behind Emma Bain of NFR who has beaten me in the last 2 fell races. She has an easy style and steady pace that seems to get results and I stayed with her for most of the first lap.

On the second I had caught a couple of glimpses of some nice landscape shots. The sun was low and some patches of grey freezing fog clinging to the trees. Looking behind me, there were only 2 or 3 around, so moving up toward the moors, I saw the hazy low sun beams forming walls of sunlight through the woods and thought it was time for the camera phone.  The first runner (in a pair of old road shoes) who passed me agreed..'Nice day for some photo's' he said.

Reaching the top of the moor, there was around 2 or 3 inches of fresh snow and I lost another couple of places getting another shot or two, and then that was enough, and putting away the phone, I got my head down and ploughed on, catching all 3 runners who had passed me.

On the way back I was caught by a younger runner, but couldn't stay with him on the last wee climb and it was a long striding finish where perhaps 20 or 25 might have already landed. Watched the youngsters come in not too long afterwards and it was a cuppa at the presentation in the club. On reflection, it would have been a beautiful training run today up there, but I was pleased with the photos and enjoyed the run out. Nice event from DP and Esk Valley.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Hexham Hobble: A One Day Classic

The Hexham Hobble fell race is the Paris-Roubaix of the fell running world.
That's the conclusion I came to, today, after 4 miles of loose cobbles over the moors on a December day with horizontal snow whipping my face like I was a whipping boy.

I was well wrapped up for the foray, had all the gear and had decided at the outset that the phone-camera was going to make an appearance through the run. It becomes an excuse then not to bury yourself and instead, you start lifting your head to see what shots are available. A crutch of sorts.

The youngster came out with me today and she finished about 8 minutes behind so I was pleased with the overall results over this 10.5mile, C class (ascent), mid distance race. Got past a few early on, but fannying around with the camera can really lose you some time. That tripod was murder. A few got past later on. I miss my Salomons but have been told Santa is on the way with a new pair. Not a day I would have chosen to wear shorts. Finished close to 2 blokes, but couldn't be bothered to race to the line with wearing the Mile More fell shoes which were cheap and good on the gravel and muddy peat, but no spring at all on the tarmac stretches. Pleased to see a few out from the club. The cake stall at the end was heaving and the results out sharpish. Deacon Blue tonight.
Good day all round, and I will be if I keep eating these cakes....Well done to Allen Valley for the day.