Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ribble Valley 10K Road Race (Sunday 28th)

I entered this race to make me do something over the festive period, I tend to give in to eating and drinking (and this year playing Mario Kart on the Wii for hours) around Christmas and New Year.

I didn't have any hopes of a time for it as I had done nothing since the 23rd run wise and I also figured it would be a much more undulating course than Wesham as it was in Clitheroe.

I got there in plenty of time, picked up number and was determined to warm up properly so once I was finished all the admin faff I set off to run the last mile of the course (reverse direction) then run back again. This went well, a little sluggish at first but I felt better on the run back. It also gave me knowledge of the last mile of the race, which had a nice amount of downhill but a very cheeky hill right in the finishing straight.

There were some public toilets near where I was parked so I made a pitstop in them on the way back to my car rather than queue at the race HQ. I think it was still around 10:45 am when I was doing the final faff at the car thinking I had loads of time still to get to the start.

I thought the race started where it finished, err no! I heard someone say that they needed to get a move on because the start was a fair way away. So I set off running to the start, and kept running and running.....3/4 of a mile later I arrive at the start where just about everyone else is already lined up. What an eejit!

I get a minute or two to compose myself then it was pretty much straight off. I wondered how I was going to cope having done the best part of 3 miles as a warmup, my legs felt like jelly for the first mile.

It was a closed road course which was good, it also had a field of about 1000 runners which is probably the biggest field I have raced it. It meant there was always someone to pace off all the way round, I never bothered with my Ipod.

I took it easy for the first 5k then speeded up a bit as I felt good and thought I was probably taking it a little too easy. I only checked my pace a few times and never paid attention to the time until I saw it as I climbed that bloody hill into the finishing straight.

I got round in 52:21 so not too bad, I enjoyed the run which is the main thing and a three mile warmup may not be such a bad thing in future! I forgot to change the Garmin to km so my splits are in miles but it was (can see what effect that last hill had):

00:08:34 6.99mph 8.70mph 169bpm 180bpm
00:08:40 6.92mph 8.13mph 176bpm 181bpm
00:08:34 6.99mph 8.50mph 176bpm 179bpm
00:08:15 7.27mph 8.25mph 179bpm 182bpm
00:08:00 7.50mph 8.45mph 179bpm 181bpm
00:08:03 7.45mph 8.95mph 180bpm 184bpm
00:02:11 7.13mph 8.56mph 184bpm 186bpm

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


As I was allowed to finish work at 1:45 pm today I got to cycle home in the daylight. What a difference it makes, it helps it was a nice afternoon too. There were lot of people out and about in the park I cycle through (probably trying to knacker their kids out for this evening).

It makes such a change from the night commute. I have started my usual obsessive checking of the sunrise/sunset calendars again to see how much daylight we get back over the next couple of months (it'll be light after work in March, it when it always happens!).

Came home to wrap the last pressie of Jez's that I had completely forgotten about and opened some chocolates.

Christmas Eve Commute

I had been kind of planning to cycle to work on Christmas Eve all month. If the weather had been minging I might have passed on it but it is perfect this morning and it frees me from having to deal with any potential traffic problems on the M55/M6 today. Obviously as I've cycled in the motorways will be absolutely clear.

It was a pretty mild morning and lots of mist about on the fields as I climbed the short hill out of Preston. There was a lovely sunrise happening behind me and I almost crashed into a lamppost trying to look at it, then wobbled into the main carriageway of the Marsh Road at one point too. As the Marsh Road is a dual carriageway with cars hooning down it at 70mph minimum it wasn't an intelligent thing to be doing, traffic was at least very light being Christmas Eve. It really was lovely, gorgeous colours all diffused in the mist.

It is a major drawback of cycling west in the morning and east in the evening, I miss all the sunrise/sunset action. I hadn't brought my camera with me this morning anyway which is just typical when there is actually something to look at.

The new tyres seem fairly quick rolling even though they are a little wider at 1.5, I think they should help the handling when the panniers are fully loaded. I actually averaged 16mph today which is the fastest for quite while, even carrying the laptop as well as my usual clothes etc. Legs will probably fall off on the way home now!

Muddy Run

I found some mud to run through in St Annes yesterday, made a nice change from tarmac or sand. I took my kit to work to do a bit of a lunchtime run and thought about having an explore of some of the tracks/bridleways south of Queensway. I had a look on the satellite image of the area on Fetch and could see I could make a loop out of them from work.

I did wobble for a while when I thought I couldn't be bothered but our office seemed to be stiflingly hot so if nothing else I wanted to get out into some fresh air for a while. The tracks were flat as a pancake not surprisingly but it was nice to be running alongside fields, very quiet. The tracks were generally muddy and grassy bridleway, some really soft sections were really entertaining in road shoes.

I think there are plans in the pipeline to put a big housing development in this area which is a shame. The ground seems to be a complete swamp though so they are going to have to spend an absolute fortune sorting the drainage out, do not buy a house here!

I eventually picked up the track through the little woodland and popped out by the crematorium onto millionaires row and back to work. It was four miles at about 9mm pace, definitely a good decision to get out there. I can do a little bit more exploring but I should be able to get some nice loops out this way.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Night Ride

We had a bit of a festive night ride around Gisburn forest last night followed by pub meal in Slaidburn. It feels like ages since I have ridden offroad (because it is ages since I have!), the mountain bike always feel really slow and heavy after lots of tarmac riding. It was really a social paced ride rather than the blast such a short non-technical ride would normally be so good to take it easy.

There were 7 of us in total for the ride (with a few more joining us for the meal), including Stu and Deb on their tandem (I have come to really dislike being stuck on the back of ours so it languishes in the garage). It was quite a mild night but there was a lot of moisture in the air as we were in the cloud for part of it, though visibility with the powerful lights wasn't too bad considering.

Some section of the trails have become quite eroded since I last rode round the forest, not just by bikes but some sections have had a lot of water run down them, lots of quite loose stuff and ruts on parts of it which added to the entertainment value.

Its only 10 miles or so round which was just perfect for a group ride, I was ready for my food afterwards.

Where did the weekend go?

The weekend has passed in a bit of a blur, it was always going to be busy with staying over at friends on Saturday night (lots of wine consumed) and another friend staying with us from Sunday afternoon.

I didn't make the XC race on Saturday, I had a lot of stuff to do and I was doing ok timewise in the morning until work paged me around 9:30 am (I'm on call until 29th) which lost me just over two hours of my day whilst I sorted out the problem. I never quite caught up after that and the race had to give.

On the plus side I managed to finish my Christmas Cake off as I was stuck in the house "working".


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Club Run

Club run tonight. I can't make up my mind if I'm ill or not but felt not too bad today so no real excuse. I had to force myself out the door tonight, really felt like staying in which was made worse by the fact we had our woodburner fitted yesterday and its all warm and cosy with it lit (have to admit I was wrong about it). Its also December and its always difficult for me to keep things going in December what with seemingly constant darkness and festivities. I'm glad I made my running mileage target at the beginning of the month.

The few races I've signed up for are short and can be done off my current fitness base but should stop me vegetating completely. I have in the past continued to try to push throughout December and just ended up knackering myself out, an easy December usually means I'm raring to go in the New Year.

I found running very hard for the first three miles but I got more into it for the last 2.5 miles but I did seem to be really noticing the cold air on my chest and zipped up all my layers, it wasn't that cold really so it was a bit worrying. Chest did feel a little tight (getting all paranoid about a chest infection now!). It was just over 5.6 miles at about 9:31 pace which is as fast as I could be bothered running but it was good to get out.

Think I'll rest up tomorrow as we are now going out in the evening and save it for XC racing on Saturday. Apparently there will be some hills on Saturdays course, though its in Rossendale so I would be very surprised if there wasn't.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Still didn't feel like doing much today, briefly entertained the idea of going out for a run after work but gave that up and decided to make marzipan instead. I found a recipe describing it as easy and I already had all the ingredients in so off I went making my usual mess of the kitchen (I am not a tidy baker/cook).

I added some vanilla extract to the recipe and have to say it tasted not too bad at all, a little more crunchy than bought stuff as I had used golden caster sugar in it. I ended up with a fair amount of marzipan:


which I impressed myself with by not scoffing (well, apart from the obligatory tester piece or five) and put it in the fridge for a while whilst I rescued the cake from its hiding place under the stairs and got the apricot jam softened for sticking duties.

It rolled out surprisingly ok but its was a little more fragile than bought stuff but I managed to cover the cake ok:


Its supposed to dry for a couple of days then I can get on with bodging the icing. I also have enough left over to make Stollen (if I find the time).

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Slop Slop Sloppity Slop

That's what I was running in today, interspersed with a lot of puddle infested hardpack trail for an XC race. I made it along to the Blackpool round of the MidLancs XC series this afternoon. I took both trail shoes and walsh fell shoes as I'd heard there was a lot of track at this one but when I turned up and saw the mudbath that was the field it was the Walsh's that were put on. It was very wet, lots of standing water on the car park I abandoned the car in.

I managed to get covered in mud just walking around, looking at the kids running round they were as filthy as they would be if they'd tried to cycle on it without mudguards, mud just flying everywhere.

A very short warm up, no where near enough but it was cold and I was sliding around a lot anyway rather than running. It was raining again byt the time the ladies race was ready to go. Another fast start but I held back a little as it was hard running all the soft mud but I managed to stay in touch with a few other ladies running which always helps. There was a lot of hardpack (with deep puddles) which was quite fast and didn't feel too bad running in the Walsh's though there was a short section of tarmac that was quite odd due to studs squirming (I went back onto the sopping grass quickly).

The course was around Marton Mere and also passed around the edge of a static caravan park which I wasn't expecting. I was glad to finish and felt a little better this time round though I was quite hungry for the last mile which wasn't ideal. The last section back to the finish was really hard work, it reminded me of Coniston trail race it was that wet and sludgy.

3.6 miles in 30:51, I was 50th out of 78 ladies so a bit of an improvement. I didn't bother putting my trousers back on, no point as my tights were so covered in mud (I realised the benefits of wearing shorts, baltic or not). I watched the men's race for a while until I started to shiver then headed home, heating on full blast in the car.

When I got home I very carefully took my muddy boots off and out them near the radiator to start drying out and managed not to get any mud anywhere. I walked upstairs but hadn't realised exactly how thick the crust of mud was on my tights and proceeded to scatter mud all over our biege bedroom carpet. I then compounded the error by not leaving it to dry and getting the hoover on it, which just succeeded in rolling it into the carpet or streaking the mud, sigh.

Had to have a go at it with the carpet cleaning foam, will need another go shortly.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Brrrrr out there today.

Garmin arrived last night, I picked it up on my way to my works meal which contributed in a little way to me ending up 20 minutes late for it and everyone wondering where I was. In typical me fashion I forgot to take my mobile with me so no one could get a hold of me and I had to hope I didn't break down on the pitch black M55 at any time. The biggest lateness contributer was the time hoover that managed to suck an hour out of my life last night without me noticing.

I configured the Garmin, removed the strap and replaced it with the pins (for bike mount and much comfier velcro wrist strap) and charged it up at work this morning. Was great to run with it again but I'd forgotten how big it was!

The wind was from a generally southerly direction so I ran the opposite way from normal. It felt so cold today, no sun to take the edge off. I headed down to Fairhaven Lake and ran back up towards the pier. I actually ran on the beach rather than the prom today for a bit of variety, though the softer stuff was quite hard work at times. There was also a section of quite cambered beach that my right IT band really didn't appreciate at all. Will be stretching that a lot, do not want to have to go and get it all released and "massaged" out again, no sirree.

I left the beach at the lifeboat station and headed to M&S, which I located last night as I was driving round trying to find a parking space, picked up some food and again found it a faff running back to work with it in my hands.

5.2 miles at 9.05 mm.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

More Stupidity

I managed to misplace my car key (and house keys) for a short time this evening. Nothing too dramatic when put like that but I misplaced them in my car, which I'd just parked up after driving home and hadn't gotten out of yet. Luckily Jez was already home so I could go into the house and pick my little Joystick up and come out and look for them.

I found them on the floor behind the passenger seat!???? I am surmising that I took them out of the ignition (which I really cannot remember doing at all) and put them on my jacket on the back seat but forgot and pulled the jacket out and they've fallen off onto the floor and I really cannot remember doing anything with them.

If I'm this bad now what am I going to be like when I'm a pensioner, I already struggle with packaging, my 76 year old nana can open stuff better than me.

It is not Thursday!

So why have I spent all morning thinking it is?????

Anyway, took my kit to work today for a lunchtime interval session. Its a lovely day but the wind felt really bitter when I was running into it on my warmup. I took in a short section of beach just for variety before getting back up on the prom for the hard work.

The plan was 5 x 3 minute intervals with 1.5 minute recoveries. I did all intervals ok, I tend to find the longer ones easier to pace though the amount of distance covered is increasing as I turned round and did the last interval back up the way I came (it just takes me further away from work otherwise), over 2.5 miles over the intervals and recoveries. The last one was into the wind which was much more difficult.

The last jog back to work was into the wind and was cold and the cold air seemed to be annoying my chest more than usual, I have been doing a lot in the dry cold air lately so will have to keep an eye on that.

Just over 7 miles in total between warmp up/intervals/warm down. Not sure what I'll do tomorrow as bike won't be fit to ride, probably bring my running kit in for a short one at lunchtime. I won't be going to the club as its my works Christmas meal tomorrow night.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The P Word!

I set off home at about 5pm but I didn't get very far. Had all the usual clothing and bike faff, lights on, out the door and a few pedal revolutions and I decide that the saddle was too low. I thought it had slipped this morning but now I was sure. I stopped under one of the remaining working lights in the car park to adjust it and as I was looking down at the saddle QR I heard the heart sinking noise of air leaking out one of the tyres - arse!

It took me a while to decide if it was a leak or not, neither of the tyres seemed to be getting softer and I was stood next to a drain, so I moved up a bit just in case it was the drain, nope! I rolled back into my building and into the bike cupboard. It was definitely coming from my tyre and I pinned it down to the rear.

I took it out and moved the wheel round listening but then spotted this stuck in the tyre:

It was in sharp side down (naturally) and had cut right through the tyre, I prised it out and the remaining air in the tyre came with it, ho hum.

So tyre levers out, tyre off rim (came off easily, hurrah), spare tube out, multitool out, mini pump out. The tyre was cut right through so I used the knife on the multi tool to cut a section off the old tube to try to protect the new one a little. New tube in, tyre back on (managed to get it on with my thumbs only, hurrah again). Starts pumping air in. 15 minutes later no appreciable difference in the tyre and I remember why I hate mini pumps.

Someone offers me a lift home, which was very thoughtful but no idea who it was so declined. Someone else who I do know offers me use of the electric pump he has in his car but I have presta not schraeder valves so no go. He also offers me a lift home but it would be well out of his way so I decline, if I have to I'll ring Jez.

Another 10 minutes of pumping and I think there is a smidge of air in the tyre, I phone Jez. He's happy to come get me but does mention that if I've been at it that long then perhaps there is a problem with the pump - d'oh, why didn't I think of that.

Luckily there is one other bike in the cupboard with incidentally exactly the same mini pump as mine, I borrow it. I don't hold out much hope but its quite obvious after a few strokes that it is pushing air into the tyre. I get the tyre up to a fairly decent pressure (go me - mini pumps still suck though). I phone Jez back and suggest he meets me just outside Warton, it'll take me about as long to cycle there as it will take him to drive there.

I did think about cycling all the way home but: I have a pump that is useless, no spare tube and a cut rear tyre, not sensible. It was after 6pm (about an hour after I'd originally set off) when I finally left site, the temperature was dropping and it was frosting up. I cycled through the little park and just comprended as I approached it that the large puddle was actually starting to freeze, nothing I could do but ride over it and hear the ice crunch.

I got to Warton just as Jez did, perfect timing.

I have a feeling that piece of glass is part of the debris from the crash I had to cycle past the other week, my own fault for not checking my tyres. I used to do it religiously when I was commuting several times a week and I need to start doing it again, particularly on a bike I rely on as transport. I also need:

Another pump
Another tyre/tyres (Vredestein don't make the S-Licks anymore, boo)
Spare tubes
Some tyre boot material in the pannier
A headtorch when commuting (used to carry one all the time)
To start checking my tyres for debris, lubing my chain, generally looking after the Spesh.

I was very lucky it didn't happen on the pitch black section of the Marsh Road!

More expense! I almost pulled the trigger on a new Forerunner 305 today, I've been looking for it fairly systematically over the last few days but I still haven't found it. One more try tonight then I think I'm going to buy another one (no big deal if we end up with two, Jez keeps muttering about using it again as its technically his).


I woke up feeling very tired yesterday, didn't sleep at all well and mindful of all the bugs going round decided to have a rest day. I felt ok when I woke up this morning so was probably a good idea. I got all my kit on, had a slice of toast and stepped out the house to get the bike and everything was all sparkly - for some reason I wasn't expecting it at all.

It wasn't a hard frost but the road was well covered. I walked my bike to the end of our cul-de-sac before getting on but not clipping in. It was pretty slippy all the way to the centre of Lostock Hall where the traffic volume had cleared most of the road. I clipped in here as it was almost clear but occasionally had to avoid the odd icy puddle. I did think about heading back home as I didn't fancy another hour of riding on ice again. I decided to give myself until the docks to make a decision.

When I got to the docks it started raining, the cycle path was completely clear though very wet so I continued on. The rain got heavier for a while then stopped. There was no more frost at all but lots of water. The wind picked up on leaving Warton (or I probably just turned into it) and the rain followed. It was hard work fighting the wind for the last few miles and just to round things off the rain got really heavy with the odd bit of hail.

My lower legs were pretty wet when I rolled into work but my top half was bone dry, hurrah for Paclite. I do have the trousers in the pannier and I can put them on if its wet on the way home, my knees got quite cold once the lycra was wet but I coudn't be bothered to stop on the way in and put them on. However the sun is shining here now so I might get away with it.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Target Reached

I set myself the target of running 600 miles this year, todays easy run took me to 601 miles so I'm a happy bunny.

I've joined the 750 mile group of Fetch for next year, it will be a push but all the long runs I will have to do early next year should get me up there. I won't mention my cycling miles as they've not been that great, however the commuting I've been doing has helped so I'm going to set myself a target of 2000 miles next year.

I may review it upwards but I'm factoring in that the marathon training may take a lot out of me at times and the cycling will take a back seat.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Run (ish)

Set off to do a longish offroad run. I decided to run from Abbey Village, up to the Tower then back down. I decided against running Great Hill as I thought it was too cold to have my feet sub merged in freezing water for long periods of time - this turned out to be a good decision. I ended up going out a bit later than I had originally planned but I don't think this was a bad thing in the end.

I expected it to be a little icy up around the tower but fully expected to be able to run ok on the lower tracks - excepting perhaps the top steep part of Mill Lane as its always wet and gets little sun, I expected that to be frozen.

The run was 8.5 miles long but I actually only ran, in the accepted sense of the word about 3.5 miles of that the rest was sliding, skipping, tip toeing, hopping, lots of walking and one arse/ice interface. I think the watch said 1hr 50 minutes or so moving by the time I'd finished but I gave up with really worrying about the time pretty early on and got the camera out. If I'd been wearing the Garmin I expect it would've stopped recording a lot I was going that slowly. Just as well it was an absolutely beautiful day!

After parking up, getting my kit on and setting off I had only just gotten past the Hare and Hounds pub when it was icy on the very first track - I reasoned it out that it probably hadn't much sun. I managed to run ok along the verge and the non-frozen bits and it was fine after about 30 metres anyway. Just before the reservoir overflow (which was running hard) I was passed by two MTBers. I was behind them and they were riding ok until the corner at Roddlesworth Res where they started riding very gingerly. More ice, this time covering pretty much the whole track but only in that corner, which is quite shaded. The water at the edge of the reservoir was frozen though. They continued on up the fireroad but I took the narrow track in the woods instead, which was absolutely fine for running.

There was a large patch of sheet ice on the track just as I started climbing, easy enough to get past on the edge and keep running but I'm glad I wasn't coming the opposite way on a bike. I wasn't expecting the ice so low down but it was clear againg for a while. I past the little fishing jetty and continued on, the track was ok for a while then it became solid ice:
It was basically snow which had melted to slush then frozen solid again. It was a couple of inches thick in places with footprint indentations in it. I managed here to run up the side of the track as it was impossible to move on the ice. When I got to the kissing gate at the end I had to hang onto it and pull myself up the steps as they were so icy.

The bottom of Mill Lane was fine, the odd patch but it was easily runnable, then it became ice again. I had the choice of slipping around on the ice or moving up through running water (baltic) at the side, eventually even that ran out and I was hanging onto trees at the side of the track to continue moving. The top section I expected to be frozen wasn't but it was streaming with freezing cold water and I could run again, for a bit.
I got to the top of the track and turned for the Slipper Lowe carpark, more ice on the main track and more verge running. The carpark had a thin layer of ice on the road as well but there was a strip of clear tarmac I was able to run. I decided I wasn't going back that way and did think for a minute that if its this bad down here what is it like at the top? I decided to find out!

I took the bridleway signposted Lyon Den to take me up onto the top of the moor. The bottom section had obviously had the sun because it was melted and I was able to run easily, pretty much all the way to the bottom of the right hand switch back where I had some ice, then some frozen solid snow. I could actually run on the snow, it was solid and I got good traction surprisingly and managed to get to the gate at the top of the climb running. It was a bit hit and miss for running all the way up to the next gate, I had to run on the track edges a lot but sometimes even they were icy. I had a choice here, I could continue straight on over to the Tower or take the usual route, down a bit then off round the rutty singletrack and back round to the tower, as I love running that singletrack I decided on that.
I sat on the bench and had a gel, it was going to take a lot longer than I planned for this run, it really was a stunning day:

I set off down the wide track for a bit, it started off ok but then changed to more frozen snow with the odd patch of ice. The snow had been well trodden in and the footstep indentations had frozen. It was really hard work to run on. I tried stepping on the flat bits of snow and it would work for a while but after a few steps I would go through the snow and flounder about. I ran at the edge of the track where I could but it was very slow progress. The footstep shapes were so frozen that I had to be careful not to turn my ankle on the edge of them.

I was slip/sliding all over the place on the way down the main track but strangely the first part of the singletrack was ok. A bit more running and general bog hopping for a change. It all changed character again when I started heading back towards the Tower.

The snow had filled up the track and had again frozen over, I gave up any pretence of running and just tried to keep moving forward. I got my feet very wet a couple of times and as I was constantly in snow and not moving very fast they were quite cold for a while. I have a feeling the track down from Great Hill would have been like this today. The closer I got to the tower the deeper the snow was and the more difficult it was to move forward.

I tried to keep stepping in ready made footprints but it didn't always work and I was worried about my ankles and knees as they were taking a battering with all this slipping and tripping. Eventually the frozen snow was so deep (stuck my foot in a frozen print and I went in over my knee) I was using hands, knees, elbows and arse to keep moving. It was hilarious and tiring - I had another gel before setting off to the tower.

More of the same disjointed moving all the way to the Tower. I got there and had a look around. The visibility was good but it was obvious all the tracks were suffering from the same problem apart from the steep drop down to Sunnyhurst Res (surprisingly). I climbed up to the tower and sat one of the benches at the bottom to decide which way I was going to go down.
I decided on the steep way, I didn't believe it would be clear all the way down but it was a lot shorter. As I moved off the tower I stepped onto a smooth sloping section of paving that lead to one of the flights of steps to get to the tower base. I hadn't realised it was frozen and as I put my right foot on it I started sliding. I had the sense to basically sit down and so slid to the steps on my arse rather than having a big dramatic fall. I ran the top section of the descent slowly, watching out for ice. It was fine until I turned the left hand corner and was confronted by:

Which was by far the worst yet! The sun doesn't really get round there (I did know that) and it was very deep and very frozen. Lots of trying to stay in footsteps and mincing down in general to the bottom. What I could see of the other track it looked much the same.
More sheet ice then across the field, I could at least run on the grass. I got to the road ready to drop down to Earnshaw Res which I expected to be fine but was again really icy. On the rougher parts of the track I managed to get some traction but halfway down I was again reduced to hanging onto the hedge to not slip. I ran along the grass at the side of the road but then stopped just before heading up the steep cobbles of Dean Lane. I've never seen the reservoir so still, it was like the proverbial mill pond - did I mention it was a beautiful day:

Again to confound me the really steep cobbly track was clear (but very wet and going to freezed hard) so I actually managed to run most of it but then the rest of it was a bit icy. There was actually a good line to run for most of it but it didn't stop the huge group of pensioner ramblers from thinking they owned the entire track and getting miffed when I didn't seem to want to run on the ice.

I decided to do the fence track which wasn't actually frozen but complete slop, the novelty was refreshing and I ran most of it. Then I just ran down the fireroad back to the car which was my longest spell of uninterrupted running so far!
The sun was really dropping by the time I got back to the car and its all going to freeze hard again - I won't be bringing my bike round here tomorrow!
There were some nice ice patterns on the last res, highlighted by the dropping sun:

That was a bit long! Did I mention it was a beautiful day ?

Friday, December 5, 2008


That was my run today! I think I've got rid of the sniffle that had me, I've certainly got my motivation and energy back and if it had been dry last night I would've went out with the club but Jez's disapproving look when I mentioned it convinced me I probably shouldn't go out in freezing rain when trying to get rid of a cold.

I felt a little sniffly still this morning but I was ok once up and about. I had to get some cash to pay for my Xmas works meal so I thought I would head into St Annes town centre, via the beach, pick up some cash and a nice posh butty from M & S then head back. 30 - 40 minutes would be enough.

It was cold setting off and the battery in my HRM strap needs replacing as otherwise I'm dead with a 00 bpm heart rate. I got some cash just outside work then trundled off. I wasn't paying attention at all and ended up on some different streets, then on the wrong side of St Annes Road East which was just daft so I had to run north for a bit before hitting the beach. I got blown down the beach, I think "bracing" is the term, it was great, definitely good to be running.

I ran under the pier then popped back up onto the prom to head back into St Annes. I ran down the prom a bit first, which was a bit of a mistake because once I got to Clifton Drive I had to run all the way back again to get to the shops.

Now I know there is an M & S food hall in St Annes, I've seen it with my own eyes, but could I find it today? I ran up and down the main square for a while looking like a complete plank until I gave in and went into a bakers and bought a less luxurious butty. They had no fivers so I got 8 pound coins back which made it sound like I had sleigh bells on when I ran with them stuffed in my pockets - I just turned my Ipod up but people did keep turning round when I approached them.

I ran back to work carrying the butty, I don't know how people can run with those doughnut bottles in their hands, I hate having stuff in my hands when running.

I measured it at 5.21 miles (excluding prancing up and down the square) and I did double back on myself at least once as well. Just over 45 minutes at 8:45 pace.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Had to come back home as had what turned out to be a very long dentist appointment (should've checked what was involved before agreeing to crown rather than replace a filling). Lots of icy pavements and a very icy car park. I'm just so glad I was travelling at a snails pace and not my usual fling my car into the space as when I hit the brakes I didn't stop immediately, would've slipped into the car in the opposite space!

Feeling a bit sorry for myself, the dentist surgery was freezing and I'm going to have to work later at home to make up some time now as I thought I wouldn't be that long. I'm feeling like I want to hibernate, hopefully it will pass soon, along with this sniffle (be gone!).

Off to make some hot Bottle Green Spiced Berry (in lieu of mulled wine) to feel better - oh and have some extra zinc, the white spots are back on my nails again.


That was my right calf muscles yesterday as I got out the car at work. I tried a short jog across the car park and it was a bit of a sharp pain, even I'm not daft enough to try to run through that. It is better today though, more stretching and its no longer sore to touch.

I think I'm fighting off a bit of a sniffle, lots of people in the office not well so am just going to take it easy for the next few days - other people's germs! Its too icy for me to be happy cycling (Stu had to walk part of his cycle commute today) and its actually really icy on the pavements in St Annes today so not really runnable. May just give in to the weather this week.

On the good news side Jez and I have been given tickets for the Revolution at the Velodrome on Saturday, really looking forward to it.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Rest Day Today!

I spent most of Saturday afternoon engaged in calorie manufacturing (pastry, ice cream, mince pies assembly) and stood on my feet. I was tired in the evening as had decided to take it easy on Sunday.

Sunday was a gorgeous cold day so I decided to walk into town to do some little bits of Christmas shopping. I thought it might be icy and decided against the bike and got the SLR to take some pictures of the frostiness. I took the less direct route into town and took a few pictures along the way, walked around town for a while then walked the same way home. Most of the path was ok, I slipped on two black ice patches at the start but the tramway bridge was lethal, very icy

I then spent the rest of the afternoon on my feet again sorting various bottles of Cranberry vodka out and lots of other stuff. I was knackered by 6pm and my legs felt sore - I walked about 8 miles in all heading to and from town - so much for an easy immobile Sunday.

It was really frosty this morning and my calves were really tight when I woke up. I got my running kit together in case I felt like a short run at lunchtime. I actually had to scrape the car the frost was so thick, even the heated screens took a while to clear. I was almost at Jct 32 when I realised my works pass was still in my pannier from Friday! I decided to turn back an get it and headed down to Preston rather than the M55, big mistake, lots of traffic queueing to get into Preston and I was stuck in it.

I got home again, got out the car and my legs were now really stiff, picked up my pass and headed back to work now driving on diesel fumes and if I stopped to get more I would be even later in.

I'm having a rest day today!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Wesham 10K Road Race - Time 52.45

This is the third time I have run this race and the slowest I have run it, its almost the slowest 10K I've ever done - only the very hilly one in Blackburn I did earlier this year was slower though only about 7 seconds slower. I'm quite happy about my time for today, I shouldn't be but I am.

I was tired when I woke up this morning, partly due to late night and partly just being (not sure how to describe it really) hormonally? tired. Today would normally be a day I did not much of anything except eat chocolate and fub about the house but I was racing and it was always going to be difficult. One of the reasons I didn't rest before the race as I normally would is I knew no matter how fresh my legs were I'd always find it diffcult today so no point wasting a day not doing something.

I set off a bit later than I normally would have and I had to pick up a parcel from our local sorting office (Paclite trousers). It was freezing outside, my car said -1 when I set off. There was a bit of a queue to get parcels and it took a while to get mine so I was running a little late. Its not far to the race start in Salwick really and I got there ok though the temperature refused to climb above -1. The fog was also quite thick on the Fylde.

It was about 10:30 by now (I normally try to get to races at least 50 minutes before the start for faffing) and the marshals were directing people to the overflow parking. However they managed to sort out another couple of spaces so I got on the car park right next to the start. I went to get my numbr straight away then came back and pinned it to my vest. I got ready to run a bit of a warmup, put gloves, jacket and buff on and set off.

My hands froze instantly, it was so cold. I didn't have much time to do a proper warmup but I did just under 10 minutes and didn't feel particularly warmer. As I went back to the car to take my jacket off I did think briefly about jumping in it and going home but I didn't, I got my Ipod out instead as I realised I was going to need all the help I could get to get round today - I don't normally race with one.

My plan was always to take it easy for the first few miles then speed up but I now just wanted to get round. Lots of people had ipods with them but it still felt weird to have it with me (I hadn't switched it on yet). We set off and I took it very steady, I didn't let my heart rate get above 170 for the first 5k which is low for me racing. The first two miles felt very hard so I looked at the frost on the hedges (there was no view due to fog), it was quite pretty really. I decided to put the ipod on after about 2.5 miles as I was now in a bit of space and it made me feel a bit better but I took pity on the people around me and didn't start singing along.

I had a watch on but I didn't look at it once, I did think about hitting the lap button at the 5k mark to get a split but I didn't but I so wish I had. At about the 5K mark I suddenly started to really get into it. There is a bit of a long gradual downhill, very gradual but enough to make it a bit easier for a while and I started speeding up. Then speeded up some more and was suddenly enjoying myself.

I spent the last half of the race constantly overtaking people and constantly being amazed at how strongly I was running. About 1K from the end I put in a bit of spurt just to see it I could which would have been better left to the end but normally at this stage of a 10K I'm just about hanging on so it was fun.

I crossed the line and looked at my watch: 52:47 when I stopped it but I was kicking myself for not taking a split at the 5K mark as I would have really liked to see it. My overall pace was 8:30 mm but I think the first half of the race was closer to 9mm and the second half closer to 8mm. It was good to be running strong at the end, which is why I'm so happy about it because I really did enjoy the second 5K.

It didn't take long to start really chilling down once I stopped. I was going to do a cool down run but when I got to the car I just shoved my hat and down jacket on and got in - too cold! It had warmed up to a whole 0 degrees. I spent the afternoon feeling a bit dopey so will be having a rest day tomorrow.

There are a couple of 10Ks over the next two months that I may have a go at as I start building up the long runs.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Uneventful Ride Home

Left work a little earlier than usual to get home and go pick up a parcel (the TV stand I had to reorder). It was really cold as the wind seemed to be coming in from an easterly direction which means I had the cold air in my face all the way home, had very cold fingers for a while.

The road surfaces were a little unpredictable so I rode more sensibly than usual, no massive leaning of bike into turns or anything like that. There wasn't any ice but where they had salted the road it was very greasy, there were also some wet patches and some very dry patches but it varied quite a lot. The greasy salted areas were the worst but there were very few of them by the time I got to Preston.

Tranway was dry but absolutely baltic, I was glad to get to the end of it and get home. I only had time to get changed and have a drink before heading off to a humungous parcel depot to pick up the TV stand.

We then spent the evening putting it together and having some wine, however it took longer than expected and I was quite late getting to bed and was shattered (I knew I was shattered as I didn't want to finish my wine!) which wasn't ideal as I had a race tomorrow.

Slippy ride to work

Rode to work this morning. I managed to get my fleecy layer dried last night but I decided to wear a thin Helly under it for riding to work with the Paclite, would be a good test of the jacket. It was absolutely baltic stepping out of the house but roads were ok, I again stuck to the main roads but the few puddles I saw were liquid rather than ice.

As I was heading out of Preston, just approaching the roundabout at the Audi garage, I took the centre of the road to go round and the front wheel slid away, then the back wheel slid a little. I managed to ride it out but it made me breathe deeply (new expensive jacket jinx trying to make me fall off). I didn't see anything so I'm guessing it was either black ice or a diesel spill.

It was quite frosty and slippy from then and off course they hadn't gritted the cycle path (turns out they hadn't gritted the road either, sure they will have tonight though) so I took it fairly steady. The climb was ok but as I was approaching the Texaco garage I saw a bloke on a road bike trying to get going again but his back wheel kept spinning. I unclipped my feet and put them on the flat side of the pedals at this point as there was a short downhill coming up. It was very frosty and I gained a little speed but I didn't dare touch the brakes and so stayed upright.

Once I got onto the Marsh Road and the roadside cycle lane things were a little better, there was the odd bit of frost but ok. Then I saw lots of brake lights up ahead, not a good sign. I continued riding up past the traffic and could see the blue flashing lights. I could also see a white Corsa facing the wrong way on the verge of the opposite carriageway though I think it was a separate incident. When I got closer to the blue lights there were about four cars who had obviously been bouncing off each other, lots of damage and crumpled crumple zones. Everyone seemed to be out of their cars ok though. I cycled past with the traffic trying to avoid getting the debris into my tyres.

It was frosty until just leaving Warton then it was fine all the rest of the way to work. I had passed Stu heading the opposite way just before the Texaco garage. He said the section of road where the Corsa was and the accident happened was actually very icy as did Jez when he had to drive past it later. its been a sunny day today so hopefully it will have dried off for the way home.

Jacket was great, I was just right temperature wise on my top half and there was hardly any condensation in the jacket which is great. The new jacket jinx still got me as I spilt half my coffee onto the left sleeve onto the nice white stitched Gore Tex logo - its coffee coloured now.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Cold Run with the Club

I got down for a run with the club last night for the first time in what seems like ages. I parked up outside the cricket club and got out my car to be faced with a house which I can only describe as being "festooned" in Christmas lights, Santas, Snowmen, reindeer and god knows what other festive fripperies. It's still November, FGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm not normally given to Bah Humbug outbursts (I leave that to Jez) but I had one.

It was really cold and took a while to get into it. Well most of me was quite cold but I couldn't find my running fleecy tights so I had my thicker cycling ones on. They are unpadded but they have panels which it turns out are not particularly comfy when running, the seems at the bum bunch. They are also quite thick so my legs were boiling after a while.

I haven't really run hills for a while so it was a bit of a shock to the system, they were undulations to start with but there was one quite early on that I thought was a short one and was about to power up but looked up just in time to see it going on for ages and slowed down so I didn't die spectacularly half way up.

We ran past buy-a-bike on the the A49 but I wasn't sure where we went after that, I think it was into Charnock Richard then back through Coppull but at one point I really didn't know where we were (that's not unusual for me though). We were out for just over an hour in the end and did just over 6 miles so a good evenings running.

No Riding Last Night

Various snafu's including people not actually coming and stuck at work late and my shoulder meant that we decided not to ride. Jez and I had gone to Abbey Village and normally if I've bothered to get myself and bike there then I'll ride but I was worried about my shoulder and controlling the bike in the inevitable slippy stuff as I tweaked it lifting things into the car. I surprised myself at how happily I agreed to go home and do some more sorting out.

Shoulder is better today but still but still needs constant stretching, letting my head drop down seems to really pull it. I am planning on cycling to work on Friday to make up for not riding last night.

The paclite arrived. Its not quite the blue I was expecting, its more a grey/blue which isn't super visible but it is a very light shell in comparison to the heavy Altura so now I'm wondering whether I'll need more layers ?

I also ordered a pair of the Gore Solid Paclite MTB pants, they are described as loose fit which means my thighs have a chance of fitting in them. I realised that I have been planning to buy some light weight waterproof bottoms for walking for a long time, the ones I currently have are very good but they are also very heavy, only really suitable for the depths of winter (or summer in the Cairngorms). The Paclites should fit the bill and get some use other than just for fubbing about on a bike.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Right Shoulder

...really hurts today for some reason. I think I must have been sleeping awkwardly on it last night as I woke up really stiff. Its loosened off slightly but I'm still aware of it. Need to find my little massage ball thingy and roll around on it, that'll sort out any knots!

Not enough stretching (are you listening self?)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Another Cold Clammy Ride

Jacket was even worse on the way home, probably because I was trying to put some effort in, felt quite chilled up top by the time I got home which wasn't good. There was quite a bit of traffic I had to filter alongside coming onto Strand Road, felt a little precarious at times with people hugging the kerb in their cars. It took me to Preston to realise that the squeaky chain noises of the other bike I kept thinking was stalking me was actually my own. I hadn't lubed it after getting it drenched last week and it was really, really squeaky. My bad!

I rode along the tramway on the way home and it was actually quite dry. My hands really got cold coming alongside the river and by the time I hit the last really cold stretch of the tramway they were painfully cold, my left thumb as usual being the worst.

They warmed up almost as soon as I climbed out of the cutting, it was really noticeable. The ground was just starting to get a little frosty as I was riding through the tramway, lots of little sparkles. The tip of my left thumb was still frozen when I got in the house, was painful thawing it out.

Looking forward to the Paclite arriving.

Rather Nippy Out!

Rode to work this morning and it was a little on the chilly side! Very dry but with a cold northerly wind which was in my face all the way through Preston. I stuck to the main roads today rather than ride through the tramway, it can get quite icy in there at this time of year due to all the leaf fall and the fact it just hangs on to cold air.

There were only a few suspect black patches at the side of the road in Preston but they were easily avoidable. I was actually making good progress today, particularly along the Marsh Road where I was happily cruising at 18mph which is a bit more like it. The pannier is pretty light today as I don't have to carry the laptop. I decided against the road bike as they were gritting St Annes for fun last night as I was leaving, the Spesh is better for potentially slippy conditions and road salt.

It was a really beautiful morning once the sun came up. I had a headwind from Warton pretty much all the way to work which slowed me down but hopefully it should be behind me on the way home. I was actually pretty warm when I got too work but my jacket is as breathable as a bin bag! It never used to be such a problem when I had a short commute but I get pretty warm after cycling for an hour now. My baselayer worked very well but the condensation seemed to collect in the jacket and it was that which started to chill, not good.

Its an old flouro yellow Altura Nevis jacket (about 6 years old I think) and I paid about 50 pounds for it so I don't think it owes me anything. Need to do some investigating into waterproof commuting jackets.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Cold Evening Run

Got home about 6:50 pm and was out running by 7:05 pm. It was pretty cold so I started running a bit faster than normal to warm up. As I was heading out of the estate I passed someone washing their car by hand, in the dark, in the freezing cold. Why?

I had debated with myself all the way home where I was going to run, I needed some cash and decided to run to a cash machine in Leyland, exactly which one would depend on how I was feeling. I felt cold and breathing was a little difficult due to the cold air and I think my airways being a little irritated still. My legs also felt like they had never run a step before, really heavy at times.

I ended up running to the HSBC in the centre of town, I decided once I got into it I wanted to run for 20 minutes at least before turning back. As I was stopped at the machine I was coughing quite a bit but it stopped as soon as I started running again.

My quads and bum felt really cold by the time I got home, my tights are fleece lined but they are not particularly thick so for the very cold I don't think they are quite enough. I did 4.75 miles in the end at 8:45 pace. I have noticed a diffence already from the speedwork, not the actual speed as that was cold induced but my running stride felt a lot smoother again from a little bit of time spent working on it.

Stuck at work...Grrrr

I CBAd running at lunchtime due to not wanting to just run along the prom (bored of it already). Also feeling a little lacking in motivation but I think that's because I haven't done anything since Tuesday due to the DIY one way or the other. I'm "racing" a 10K on Saturday so that is going to be my hard day for the week - racing in the loosest sense of the term. I should have put the CBA demons back in their cupboard because now I have to stay late at work.

I had planned to run to the library this evening but I won't be back in time for that now, though the good thing is the thought of not being able to get out for a run has made me determined to do it, even if its only three miles or so.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Rubbed down the remaining plaster in the lounge last night (and painted it) but did it with the window shut and both doors shut (to keep the cat out as he likes to step in paint and put little paw prints everywhere) and no dust mask on. I must have inhaled all the dust as I spent the night coughing to the point of making myself sick.

Am shattered and freezing at the minute as I have the windows in the house open but my chest and breathing tubes almost feel back to normal. I was supposed to be riding tonight but don't think I'll go, early night for me instead. The little hallway still needs the plaster rubbing down but at least that can be done with the front door open.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Intervals In the Sunshine

What a contrast to yesterday! A beautiful sunny day to go running. I set off for my warmup into the wind which meant it was going to be behind me doing my intervals, which feels like cheating. I did wonder if I should have put my gloves on as the wind was cold but the 20 minute warm up passed quickly and I was stood outside the entrance to the pier ready to start the hard work.

I set off on my first interval.....then jogged back to where I started as I forgot to restart my watch. I set off again and with the sun out and wind behind me I was soon boiling, sleeves up, ears out and I was glad I hadn't put gloves on or my fleecy lycra leggings on. Two minutes later I jogged for recovery and then headed off again. I paced myself pretty well, only on the third one did I start to overdo it a little but I reigned myself in.

I did five and was going to leave it there but I stopped to have a look at the view as the visibility was amazing today. My heart rate dropped right down and I calculated a sixth interval would take me to the end of Fairhaven Lake where I turn to head back to work so I did a sixth one, which finished things off nicely.

The run back to work was ok but I was running into the wind again, by the time I got back to work my ears were freezing!

Planned Intervals

On last weeks intervals I did 8 x 1 minte intervals so 8 minutes of hard effort, this week I'm changing to 2 minute intervals so at least 5 of them which gives 10 minutes of hard effort and a bit of progression from last week. If I feel good I will do 6 but that is a max.

So I think todays session is to be:

20 minute/2 mile warmup (Keep my heart rate down!)

5 (or 6 max) x 2 minutes with 1 jog minute recoveries

15/20 minute jog back to work (Get Heart Rate back down)

I want to build back up to 4 x 4 minutes as I was doing before I got into hilly runs.

Monday, November 17, 2008


It was a very, very wet ride home. It started off as light rain and drizzle in St Annes and got progressively heavier as I got nearer to Preston. There was a lot of standing water at the side of the road so my left foot in particular was soaked through, I could feel the water between my toes. It wasn't actually too bad visibility wise as it wasn't driving into my face and the helmet peak kept a lot off. I did have some daft bint in a BMW pull out on me such that I had to brake hard - the first time that's happened for a while - she really didn't see me, even with the HID. I normally point the HID down a lot on roads but its obviously down too far.

I only started to feel really wet and cold about a mile from home as the water started to really get in around jacket cuffs and my neck but I was very drenched when I took my kit off. We've had a new wooden floor put in and I had a comedy moment trying to get in and get my outer kit off without getting cleats on the floor or dripping loads of water onto it, nearly did the splits trying to do a big step into the downstairs loo and the doormat slipped away from me. I've put the rubber backed mat from the back door there temporarily now . Contents of the panniers were absolutely bone dry, not a hint of water at all. Just as well really as don't think the laptop would've appreciated a soaking.

Waterproof Trousers

Whilst my old waterproof trousers are ok for short rides they are not at all breathable, they also don't have articulated knees and they rubbed a little on my ride out to the farm shop on Friday. On a longer ride I would be just as wet from the inside as out. They were a bargainous 20 pounds about 7 years ago so I can't really complain. I think I will do some research on some better trousers in case I decide they are worth purchasing...maybe after Christmas.

I like the look of the Gore ones, though not the price but due to my exceedingly sporty thighs I need to find somewhere to try them on and check the fit. Mmmm kit shopping.

Cycle Commute (In the Rain)

It turns out I'm not in fact related to the Wicked Witch of the West - I don't melt in the rain!

I had planned to run at lunchtime but I need to drop Jez off at work tomorrow so I am riding today. I got all my kit ready even though the forecast was for rain, I haven't done that for a long time (I have become a fair weather commuter). I did have a kit dither: do I wear fleecy lycra that will get wet but stay warm or thinner lycra and the waterproof trousers. I chose the lycra which was probably a good thing, my waterproof trousers are really for short rides only. I also couldn't easily fit all my kit, lunch and laptop into one pannier today so I rode in with both so the bike was a little better balanced.

It was raining when I set off but not chucking it down so it actually wasn't too bad and it stopped eventually. The mudguards did their job pretty well but feet got a bit wet eventually (but not totally drenched). I dawdled a little to start with and also adjusted my saddle up even further.

I was overtaken on the Marsh Road by a bloke going a lot faster than me and for some reason this made me speed up a bit. I rode the rest of the way to work at a good speed, hitting 17/18mph on the section between Warton and St Annes though have a sneaking suspicion I had a tailwind. My knees didn't ache and the bike didn't feel as heavy as it did on Friday. Felt pretty good when I got to work, just need to attempt to dry off some kit.

Sent to Coventry.......My Stupidity Continues

I seem to be continually doing daft life disrupting things to the point I have now created a blog label for it!

This weekend I was supposed to be racing XC on Saturday, followed by a spin out on a bike on Sunday. I didn't get to do either of them.

Saturday's XC race was out due to me not being able to order a TV stand properly. After much deliberation we decided there was too much faff involved mounting the TV on the wall, the amount of wiring to be hidden was just silly so we found a rather nice spangly Alphason TV stand with piano black glass (to hide the rats nest of wires but to show the dust up more effectively). We really didn't want the clear glass one, really, really didn't. Guess which one I ended up ordering?

It turned up and we didn't even need to open it as it was very well labelled as the Clear Glass model. Thinking indignantly they had sent the wrong one I checked my order e-mail and they had sent exactly what I had asked for - oh dear. I had a look at the website at the stand and the picture was the black glass model but numpty here hadn't noticed the drop down box underneath and just ordered the clear one.

it was a huge box and weighed 46kg (handily displayed on the box), when I phoned the company we'd ordered it from they were very helpful but did say it would cost a lot to send back. No kidding, a quote from a couriers came in at around 80 pounds due to it being over the 32kg safe lifting for one person limit. The shop was in Coventry and Jez was already heading down near Birmingham on the Saturday anyway so I accompanied him and we dropped it off at the shop in person which took care of Saturday.

The Coventry ring road is something else!

We continued with some painting in the lounge on Sunday morning then the plan was to do something less boring instead for a couple of hours as it was a beautiful day. Jez headed off to fly his various toys and I planned a road bike ride to explore some roads and lanes of roud Croston way. I had gotten all my kit together and was just about to go get my road bike from the garage when I realised I had left my keys in Jez's car. FFS!

We only have two keys to the garage atm and both of them were now in Jez's car so I couldn't get a bike out. I could've screamed with frustration (in fact I think I did). I didn't want to run as I had planned a speed session on Monday so in the end I decided to go for a walk and check out some lanes that may have cycleways through them. I took my little camera with me and ended up taking a few photos of some nice red leaves within about five minutes of leaving the house.

I then walked back to the house and picked up the DSLR to have a good play with it. I haven't went for a walk with a proper camera for a few years, I used to do it all the time when I did a lot of black and white photos. I had a fun couple of hours as the light was just fantastic and its great being able to see exactly what I've taken, I'd also forgotten how much I liked trees, particularly autumnal trees!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Intervals on the Prom (in the drizzle)

I picked my car up this morning, its all fixed. I was going to cycle to the garage but the logistics of taking running kit, towels, laptop, lunch got silly so I got a lift in.

I decided to do some intervals today, not done speed training for a while and it makes the run more interesting. The Prom in St Annes is a good place to do them as it has a long stretch of pretty much uninterrupted path. There are a few bends to negotiate but no road junctions to seriously break stride on.

The plan was a 20 minute/2 miles warmup followed by 6 x 1 minute intervals with 30 second recovery, making sure I manage all of them at the same pace and not dying after the first one, then jog the mile and a half back to the office.

Jog there was ok, nice speed and drizzle not too bad, it wasn't actually that cold either and I much prefer doing speedwork when its colder (though not arctic). I warmed up for 20 minutes, which was just over 2 miles. However, the weather was coming in from a more southerly direction so I got the wind and drizzle in my face for my intervals.

I did the first interval and it was over before I knew it, 30 seconds rest and I was off again. It took until the third interval for my form to settle down, I always feel a little unco-ordinated running fast if I haven't done it for a while. I concentrated on posture, looking ahead and foot turnover.

Once I reached the 6th interval I wasn't completely dead so I decided to do two more but a little harder. I found the eighth one difficult to complete which is as it should be.

As always after doing intervals and thinking about how I am running the run back to work felt really smooth and controlled. I resisted the temptation to keep the speed up and arrived back at work not completely exhausted.

I think the one minute intervals are too short really and I think short intervals are probably best kept for the track, I mainly do longer races so will do two minute intervals next time with one minute jog recoveries.

I hadn't realised how wet I was, because I was working hard and it wasn't freezing I hadn't noticed but as I walked the last little bit back to my building I chilled down quite quickly and my feet were squelching a little, yuck.

Note to self...take trainers out of bag so they can dry. I'm at home again tomorrow so an easy day is planned with probably only a bimble on the Spesh to do some shopping planned.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cycle commute

As I was carless and the weather was due to be kind I decided to forgo this evenings night ride and cycle to work instead, Jez also needed his car so that kind of sealed it. The ride in was quite slow, very slow in fact, I was overtaken lots but I was on the Spesh with a lot crammed in the pannier so I actually didn't care.

As I was cycling out of Warton, about 12 miles in I started to get aches in my knees. I was a bit worried as I am riding clipped into SPDs rather than my usual Egg beaters and I need the movement the Eggs give. I realised that my saddle (another one) was actually too low as I lumbered through St Annes. The new carbon forks had raised the front end up quite a bit, well to the correct height actually and whilst I had levelled the saddle I hadn't taken account of the fact it would need raising. I sorted it once I got to work.

it was quite mild riding in but it seemed a lot colder on the way home. My legs felt much better being able to spin properly though I still didn't try to hammer it, the Spesh just doesn't lend itself to it at all which is strangely ok with me. I took a wrong turn trying to cut through the docks though, I've only tried the cut through once before but it was still annoying.

The moonlight was really nice as I headed into Avenham park, it was lighting up the River nicely. I stopped on the tramway bridge for a bit to look at it before heading home. The last treelined section is fantastic in the dark, especially with the HID, the shadows on the trees are amazing.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Windy Out

The forecast last night said 46mph westerly winds and rain for this area so cycling was out and I decided not to bring my kit to work as St Annes would get the worst of the wind. When I parked up I struggled to get the car door open and when I did the wind nearly blew it shut again on my leg. I struggled to walk over the car park and keep hold of my bags....so why am I sat here listening to the wind howl outside thinking to myself that it doesn't look that bad and I should've brought my stuff ?

Maybe if the rain starts I'll think I made the right decision....could be heading out after work for a short one perhaps.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Running and a little cycling.

Due to car shenanigans I'm working from home today which disrupted plans slightly, but not too much. The plan today was to do a 7 mile run at lunchtime along the seafront. I still got out for a run but had to run around the Ribble area, which was actually really pleasant.

I took the car to the Preston Ford garage this morning (earlier than planned but the builders were drilling and giving me a headache) as I didn't fancy driving it all the way to my usual garage in Blackpool, which turned out to be a sensible plan as it broke down once on the way there. It happened as I was driving down a hill so I was able to roll the car off the road, I waited 10 minutes and it started up again. It was obviously not happy but I made it to the garage without further incident. I must say the Preston Ford garage seems a bit more efficient than Blackpool as I was booked in quickly and on my way.

I nipped to Morrisons on the docks in Preston which is my least favourite supermarket to shop in, anywhere, ever. I had to cycle all the way to the opposite end of the store to find proper bike parking, not pointless stuff that you can only lock the wheel to (which with QR wheels is not at all secure!). It was full of OAPs which shouldn't be surprising given it was about 10am on a working day but it was amazingly busy. I seemed to be getting a few funny looks then I realised my basket only contained a 1.5 litre bottle of vodka, soup and a loaf of bread! The vodka is to get cracking on the cranberry vodka I make for Chistmas presents (it wasn't for me, honest), it needs a few weeks to mature properly so now is the time to get on with it - the first batch is already maturing.

I cycled back home into a cold headwind but I was wearing the waterproof trousers (not bad actually) so my legs didn't feel cold. I did some work before I couldn't stand the noise any longer and went out for a run. I headed in a roundabout way to the Ribble and had a really enjoyable, if hungry run. It turned out to be 6.7 miles so I wasn't that far off my planned run anyway. I started off a little too fast and finished slowly but I was quite hungry by the end. It was really nice to get out in the daylight, a cold wind but no rain.

I'm going to double check the forecast for tomorrow before making my decision on what to do, I'd like to cycle but if its stupidly windy then I may get a lift with Jez and take my running kit to work instead.....

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Chuffing Car - Part Two

I didn't get to the Burnley XC race yesterday, I completely forgot my car had broken down on Thursday night. I didn't have to drive anywhere on Friday as I was working at home and I walked the couple of errands I had to do. I decided against cycling as they were both only a mile each way and I wanted to kick through all the fallen leaves like a five year old, twas fun.

I set off to the race a little later than planned anyway as we are in the process of redoing the lounge. I did feel a little guilty driving off leaving Jez to get on with painting the new plaster. Anyway, a couple of minutes after hitting the M65 the car starts to misbehave, hard to describe but feels like it wants to stall and at motorway speeds that isn't good. I turned around at Jct 3 and headed home while it still sputtered quite a few times. I managed to get home without it completely conking out. Jez had nipped out in his car so I resigned myself to getting my painting jeans on and getting stuck in.

I did ride to the farmshop later in the afternoon, I was glad I did as it was nice to get out for 10 easy miles but I only put my front light on as an afterthought, which is just as well as I really needed it on the way home.

I knew I wouldn't get much done today except housey stuff but I rode into Preston to do some shopping (start of my Christmas shopping too), it's only 6.5 miles round trip or so. I took a different exit out of Avenham park as I wanted to check out the bike parking at the station, it was just as steep as the other way I go but they've thoughfully put some speedbumps in made of cobbles which my tyres don't grip well if I'm stood up. The bike parking at the station is on a quiet covered platform and there were a few other bikes there and passengers milling about on the other platforms.

I felt happier leaving my bike there rather than in the middle of the street and faffed about in town for about an hour and a half. I was glad the platform was covered as it was throwing it down when I made my way back to the bike, it allowed me to pack up the pannier properly and sort myself out without getting wet. Thumbs up for parking in the station.

I got absolutely soaked on the way home, the rain was icy cold and I had a headwind which meant it was in my face for most of the way home. I had my waterproof jacket on top so I was ok there but I only had thin trousers on the bottom and they were dripping by the time I got home. My legs and fingers were freezing so it was another hot shower to the rescue. The mudguards do work really well but my feet still got wet from the water running down my legs.

I dug out a pair of waterproof trousers I bought when I first started MTBing, they are too warm for serious biking but should be ok for that kind of easy pedalling, I will chuck them in the bottom of the pannier from now on!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Chuffing Car!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My plans have been completely scuppered for this evening due to my car deciding to break down on the way home, in a traffic queue, completely blocking the road. I couldn't believe it, it just cut out, no stall, nothing just the battery light coming on and no engine noise.

It refused to start, just flashed its glow plug light at me in defiance. A couple of lovely women (no men, gits) helped me push my land barge of a car into the exitway of a pub carpark to clear the road and I called the AA and sat in the car waiting for them to turn up.

I got a text to say they were turning up at 17:45, which was only about 25 minutes after I'd called them (lone female advantage I suppose). I'd already rung the Ford garage to see if I could get the car dumped there if necessary and given Jez the good news. About 17:40 I tried to start again and the bloody thing did. I let it run a bit, switched it off and restarted it - all ok.

I didn't trust it as far as I could throw it so waited for the AA man, who turned up pretty much on time. I explained the situation to him and admirably (I thought anyway) resisted giving the car a healthy kick. He checked the obvious things like oil etc but as it has only just been serviced they were all ok. Then he got his laptop out and plugged it into my car, not surprisingly the little madam wouldn't talk to it. He got round it by telling the computer the car was a much younger model, 2007 no less, this flattery seemed to work and she was soon singing like a canary to the laptop.

Two faults showed up (which he has written down), one being a sensor problem which is common on Mondeos of the age of mine and the Ford garage will most likely have the part in stock. The other one sounded more worrying, something about fuel pressure doofer dongler (will be fun explaining to garage). As it was running ok he said he said to drive and he would follow me home to make sure all was ok.

It drove home ok needless to say.

Common Sense

I'm not going to cycle to running club tonight, I think a run will be enough judging by how tired my legs were yesterday. If I wasn't racing XC on Saturday I may still have considered it but I'm being sensible.

Complete rest day tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Night Ride - Watching Fireworks from the Pike

Apparently it was decided on Sunday that we were riding at Riv tonight and I was party to the conversation. I can't remember at all but I was "reminded" as I queried why we weren't riding from Abbey Village. It was Stu, Jez and myself again and it was perfect night riding conditions.

As it was bonfire night there were rather a lot of people around, on bikes and families heading up the hill to wath the fireworks. We decided to head up to the Pike first via the Commonwealth descent to watch the fireworks for a while. I set off and my legs felt dead and the bike seemed to be taking a lot of effort to move anywhere. I did expect to feel a little tired but not that bad.

The Commonwealth climb is always a slog if my legs are dead but it seemed particularly bad tonight, I seemed to manage to find all the biggest rocks to bounce my back wheel off. At the switchback my lower back started to tighten up, my whole lower back, which is very unusual for me. Standing up stretched it out but it tightened up again when I sat down to pedal and I just felt restricted in general - thought it was down to too many layers on my bottom half originally.

I wondered what was going on as I didn't think anything had changed when a vague recollection of messing with my saddle on Sunday came back. The saddle was slightly off centre (took me 10 miles or so to realise when my left hamstring started tightening) and as I tried to move it back the seatpost seemed jammed. I ended up getting Jez to argue with it so there was a good chance it had changed heights - I also need to get the post out the frame for a look in case it is seizing in there.

I had my Joystick on my head so looked down at my knee angle when pedalling and my knee seemed very bent. At the bottom of the climb to the Pike I wrestled the saddle up a bit and it felt a bit better. At the Pike itself I moved it up even further, I like a good extension of my leg when pedalling, even more so when tired.

All you could hear was the boom of fireworks going off, there were loads of them everywhere though the mass of streetlights off towards Bolton and Manchester did hide things a little. You could smell the smoke from the Pike. We stood up there for quite a while, the boys partaking of whisky from the hip flask, before riding out towards Healey Nab.

I must say I prefer climbing the two rocky corners up to the Pike rather than descending them, not often I say that about tracks but there you go. We decided to do the track along Anglezarke again to try it from the different direction. It was amazingly dry and I think it does flow better from this direction, but only just, the gates are still annoying.

I was very hungry when I got back to the car and I think the effects of Sundays complete bonk are still with me, it takes a few days to build back up from that. I really could kick myself about it but I had a totally guilt free Chinese tonight.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Cycle Commute

Rode in to work trying to stay with Jez but also trying not to ride too hard, kind of failed at both really! Still it was a nice ride in and fun on the road bike, it actually wasn't too cold or windy for a change.

Ride home I think I just dawdled! There seemed to be lots of cyclists around and I wasn't in the mood for overtaking any of them as they were men and would just try to pass me again. I usually quite enjoy pushing on but CBA'd tonight. I couldn't be bothered to ride hard at all. I did enjoy having the extra visibility that the HID provides (Jez had my Joystick) as it has a wider beam and I could pick out any stray bricks lying on the side of the road easier, of which there were a few - god knows where they came from.

My average HR was 138 on the way home, helped in part by getting stuck at a junction for a while no doubt but take it easy I certainly did!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Road Bike!

Jez has announced he is riding with me tomorrow morning, I'll be on the road bike instead or I'll kill myself trying to stay anywhere near!

Very Easy Lunchtime Run

Brought my kit to work and headed out for an easy run. It was a beautiful day and I'm only sorry I couldn't run for longer, I was smidge over dressed too. I ran a loop near work which I last did last summer I think. It is mainly pavement but there is some track skirting fields which was muddy in a way that only tractors can make it. I had to climb over a fence twice to get out of the way of tractors working on the fields, there wasn't enough room for them and me on the track.

There was a short section of very manicured tracks through some trees and I popped out at the gates of the cemetery which is at the end of millionaires row. There are some huge houses on this street and off this street (think its where Les Dawson used to live). I was disappointed to find that the peacocks weren't here today. Last time I ran down this road I came across two peacocks strutting around, the houses are vast enough that I thought they were somebody in the streets pets who had gotten out. Turns out there are/were a pair of "wild" peacocks in St Annes.

I was disappointed to head back to work but just over three miles was quite enough as I plan to cycle to work tomorrow, probably on the Spesh as prefer riding a more tank-like bike on pitch black roads - and I'll ride steadily too.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Rivi Ride

Headed to Riv about 2:30 for a bimble to try to ease my legs out after yesterday's race, they weren't actually that sore but they were tired. I had hoped Pam was going to make it as I would ride round with her and let the boys go off in front.

Pam didn't make it which meant it was just myself, Jez and Stu. Jez and Stu set off having their usual chatting session as I rode along behind. What always happens is the two of them gradually speed up (to match the speed of their chat!), they don't realise their doing it but I can see them unconsciously egging each other on and the speed increases.

Now, they are always happy to wait and if Pam was riding I'd ride along with her chatting and catch up to them when they stop but as I'm on my own I end up trying to keep up. I keep telling myself to ease off but there is something about being off the back that makes me ride that bit harder than I want to or really should. My quads were actually quite sore, I could really feel them when I contracted them.

I'm ok for the first couple of miles around Healey Nab etc but I really am not looking forward to climbing Moor Road. It's always a challenge but I very rarely dread it but I was dreading it today. I did think as I was rolling past the Waterman's Cottage that I should put it into the granny ring and spin up in a very easy gear (but then it would just take longer an my legs were even less up for spinning fast!) but I left it in middle and forced my way up. It hurt but I was at least compensated for the pain by the beginnings of a gorgeous setting sun making part of the sky orange - I think Snowdon was sillouhetted ?

I got to the top and dropped down Lead Mines (which actually put a smile on my face again - weeeee!). The next bit 17% road up from Alance Bridge really hurt, I normally manage to get most of the way up this section before it starts to hurt but it hurt all the way up. I don't remember much about the ride to the bottom of the climb to the pigeon tower either though I did switch my light son at some point and I did spend a lot of time looking at the sky and the effect of the orange light on the hillside (why didn't I have my camera - why isn't Jez riding with the SLR anymore, stamps feet). I did notice I was starting to feel very petulant (I'm sure my bottom lip was petted) and inordinately sleepy.

I rode up the climb to the pigeon tower ok but my mood was really heading south, we got to the bottom of the climb to the pike and I managed to get round the rocky corners ok but I refused point blank to actually do the last bit to the Pike (strop alert). I said I'd meet them at the gate at the bottom and headed down. Once I got to the gate I was feeling very nauseous and sleepy it dawned on me that I feel like that when my blood sugar crashes through the floor.

I had a quick think about today's food intake (well not quick as that faculty was now gone awaiting input of sugar): Breakfast at 9am of Scrambled eggs and a slice of toast and half a bowl of soup at 2pm. FFS! It was now close to 4pm, no wonder my limbs felt like bits of chewed string, that's not enough for me on a day of just lying on the sofa. I got a gel down me quick as the boys rattled into view.

Jez had a look of total non-surprise when I told him I was very hungry and grumpy (apparently I'd bitten his head off at least three times between Lead Mines and the pigeon tower, oops). We more or less headed straight back to the car. If I'd spotted a chippy open that we could park at on the way home I would've pulled in and stuffed my face. I was so hungry when I got home.

Think I need to record my food intake/timings/fuelling in general again.

I also need to have some sort of plan for my training again, got some races to plan in over the next couple of months and some mountain biking to fit in.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Hellvellyn Trail Race

That was fun, I really enjoyed myself today, my favourite course of the Lakeland Trails Series so far I think. It was a glorious day for running, just the right temperature with some lovely sunshine and good visibility.

Due to not getting in much in the way of long runs in October I had decided that I wasn't going to race this just have a good run with company. I was going to run at my pace, walk if I needed to early (and not wait until I physically couldn't run anymore) and make a point to stop and look at the views rather than my feet, they would be excellent today.

I did a ten minute warm up and my legs felt tired and heavy (TOTM, great) so it wasn't going to be a day for speedy running but the warm up made me feel ready to go. I started near the back to make sure I didn't get carried away and just trundled along. It wasn't long before we started climbing and I kept running at a sensible effort level. I actually felt my heart rate climb a little too high only once and I walked five metres or so but because I'd sone it sooner rather than later I recovered quickly and was soon running again. I ran all the rest of the first climb so I was pleased. I caught a glimpse of a snow dusted Hellvellyn and smiled, it looked stunning, what a gorgeous day.

The climb had been mainly on fireroad style track but once we crossed Glenridding Beck it changed to rocky, slippy, muddy Lakeland bridleway. It the kind of running I love, picking a line, dodging rocks and splashing through mud. Once I got past the people in front of me who were picking their way through it slowly I was off! I speeded up and had an absolute whale of a time and completely forgot about looking at the view (oops) as the track did require concentration.

It was quite slippy in places and I saw more people fall today than any other race I've been at combined. Most of the people falling over had road shoes on (though not all), for a change due to the slippiness of the rocks road shoes were a bit of a liability I think. Pam had a bit of a walk around the course whilst I was running and had to get her first aid kit out to patch up a woman who had taken a spill. One young lad in front of me fell twice once landing on his knees on a rock, I think I asked him three times if he was ok on the way round. The third time was due to him pulling over with a monster stitch, poor lad. I was having so much fun I had to remind myself to take fuel on board, I needed it and was glad I made myself slow down to do it.

I ran within myself and backed off where I needed to but just really enjoyed the terrain. The last part of the race was along an undulating fire road track then down to the road. This type of terrain usually results in me being passed by people I've overtaken on the rockier sections as I struggle with the more steady running. This time it didn't happen, I felt very strong on this last part and got into a good rhythym and actually overtook a few people myself (very, very rare). There was a steep downhill road section which seemed to pound my knees but I ran the last flat section back to the finish quite comfortably, pushing hard but not absolutely killing myself.

I finished in 1:33 which I really wasn't expecting though I have a feeling that the race is shorter than 15k but I didn't have the Garmin to check. I think I will be doing this one again next year, it's done my motivation a power of good I think.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Short Run

I continued my run of stupidity by forgetting to take my works pass with me this morning. I had to get a colleague to come to the main gate to sign me on and I didn't get a pass that would work the doors to my building so I was kind of trapped in there for the day. Lunchtime's planned run was done this evening.

I headed out for just over three miles at whatever pace I felt like doing, it is still pretty cold but I really enjoyed the run. The day off meant my legs didn't feel quite so battered as Monday and Tuesday. I couldn't get down to the club tonight as we have lots to sort out for the lounge. Although I can categorically say that the Garmin unit wasn't in the lounge -we have emptied it of everything and as all the stuff is scattered over the rest of the house its going to be difficult to find it anywhere at the minute.

Rest tomorrow and Helvellyn Trail on Saturday, the weather looks like it may be ok.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Lunchtime Run

Took my kit to work to get out for a lunchtime run as I'm sure the forecast said it was going to be sunny but very cold. Cold, crisp autumn/winter days are the best for running along the sea front, its nice and bracing and usually quite quiet. Of course the sun didn't materialise but the cold was certainly there.

I ran in quite a roundabout way (not intentional just not paying attention to where I was) to the north of the pier then ran along the beach for a while. It was really cold so I was running a little faster than I intended but it was nice to take a break from tarmac pounding and run on the sand for a while. I ran as far as I could comfortably on the sand but it changed to a narrow strip that had a noticeable camber so I headed back up on to the prom.

The tarmac was sore for a bit but I managed to get into a nice steady rythym, it has a long unbroken stretch with no junctions on it, It is good for my running to do this kind of run but I do prefer hills and mud. I ran down to Fairhaven Lake, I was feeling quite warm by the time i got there and was almost tempted to take my sleeves off but I didn't as I thought the wind was behind me.

It was! I was supposed to be jogging the mile and a half back to work but as I turned off the beach and started heading north again there was a hail shower. It wasn't heavy and quickly changed to rain but it was cold and the wind was cold so I just tried to get back to work asap and again spent ages in the shower trying to warm up.

6.7 miles in just under 59 minutes, I may just be getting some running speed back. Will be giving the legs a break tomorrow, they need it.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Cycling and Running - Brrrr!

Had to take my car in for a service today, the garage is in Blackpool and in the past I've always gotten a courtesy car as it is free. They are now charging 15 pounds for one and my Scottishness wouldn't allow me to pay that much for driving it 8 miles. I hadn't really appreciated it was only an 8 miles round trip from the garage to work as it seems to take ages due to traffic.

I have the Spesh kitted out with flippy pedals so I put it and a pannier stuffed mainly with my laptop and work papers but also lunch and work clothes in the boot of the car to cycle. I would change trousers and top only as would be bimbling along anyway. It was quite cold in the morning, glad I had my buff on my head under my helmet, also had the "boil-in-the-bag" flouro yellow jacket on so I was warm enough. I had a headwind all the way to work so thought I would have a nice tailwind on the way back....err wrong!

The wind changed direction to mainly northerly and it was really bloody cold riding into it. It was also depressingly dark at 5pm, I had walking style trousers on and they do have a little wind proofing but they are not warm as such, my quads felt really cold. I cranked the heating up in the car all the way home.

I had (quite sensibly of me) laid out all my kit to go running last night, I got in, put it all on and got out the door...and gasped. It was proper cold, the kind that really permeates, I was glad I decided to put the fleecy longs on my legs and the sleeves on my jacket. I had thought about doing 6 miles or so but it was too cold to run that far, I decided to do a shorter 3 mile run but have some fast efforts in the middle instead. I set off trying not to breathe in too hard, it takes a while for me to adjust to running in the cold air again.

After a mile or so I try to do a fast minute or so to warm up even more but my legs weren't having it at all, they were quite tired from yesterday's run and my joints felt a little stiff from the tarmac so I kept it to a steady pace, enough to keep some heat in me and was glad I hadn't decided to go further. It was cold enough that I never uncovered my ears, or unzipped my jacket , or was tempted to take my gloves or sleeves off. Normally one of them happens on a run even in the cold.

I tried again to pick up the pace on the last stretch but only succeeded in making my legs feel even more battered so just plodded home. I always walk the last 50 or so metres back to the house to shake my legs out but it was too cold and I broke into a jog again. I spent ages in the shower warming up!

I wanted to cycle to work tomorrow but it looks like we will be moving all the stuff out of the lounge ready for the builders to start demolishing it on Wednesday. It will disrupt things for a couple of weeks and I think I may end up struggling to get some cycling in for a bit - I hate painting!

In the end it was 3.8 miles at just under 9mm mile pace which was longer than I intended to run and faster than I thought given that it felt like I was wading though treacle at times.