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.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday Run

Didn't get to the Cross Country on Saturday, I was on call and as there was a live release I was supporting I didn't take the risk (if, however it had been a nice, crisp autumn day rather than a minging wet one I probably wouldn't have been so risk averse!) . I spent most of the day sorting out our new PC, it still isn't fully set up.

As things were so wet I decided not to go offroad for my Sunday run, I planned a predominantly road loop involving some quiet streets and lanes and a whizz round Cuerden park. It would be just under 8 miles at a nice steady pace. I got all my kit on and the heavens opened. It was a shower so I waited for it to pass. I was supposed to be home for 1:30 pm (to look at wood flooring, woo (not)!) but didn't head out the door until close to 1pm and it would take me at least an hour and 20 minutes at slow run pace.

The sun came out and it was lovely so off I went, I could always cut out the extra loop in Cuerden Park if necessary. I headed out through some residential streets looking for ways to miss out the main traffic lights in the centre of town on the bike, I am starting to get to know the layout of the town much better. I headed out to Fowler lane which is a nice traffic free road. I crossed over the River Lostock and it was very, very full.

I then headed into Cuerden Park via some very wet lanes but mainly traffic free. I passed the visitor centre and dropped down into the park. The sun was out and the park looked lovely, its quite a steep sided valley and there was a nice view across. The park was busy with families etc. I checked my watch and it was about 13:20 or something but I thought sod it I'll do the park loop, Jez is often back late from flying anyway.

They've been doing quite a bit of work on all the paths and they are now all rideable on a road bike, which is a little sad but hey ho. I basically skirted on half of the park then followed the flat path alonside the River Lostock again. The banks aren't very high here and the river wasn't far off the top. I attacked the steep, but thankfully short hill out of the valley (forgot about that, ouchie) then over the M6 and headed back home.

As I jogged into our street I could see Jez was back and it was now after 2pm so I was expecting to be told off but he never said anything as I popped into the garage to see him. As I sat down in the house to have a drink I checked on the progress of stuff I was copying across to the new PC and the clock said 13:26 - doofus, I hadn't changed my watch.

I think I ran a little too fast for a slow run, just over 9:05 mm which with the wind and hills was a bit too much effort to be putting in. For a predominantly road loop it was really enjoyable.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wednesday Night Ride

I was expecting a wet and muddy ride last night but it turned out not too bad actually - though we did miss out two short sections as we knew they would be minging.

There were five of us originally intending to ride but Pam couldn't get there in time due to traffic so it was just Jez, Stu, Drew and me. It's usually a faster paced ride if it's just the boys, at least my legs were feeling better after yesterday's rest day, they needed some zip tonight.

We set off without Stu as he would catch us up as he had more faff than us to do (he's far too fit these days anyway so no quarter given). We set off up the fireroad track past the reservoirs, it was freezing here as all the cold air sits on the water. The overflow was really giving it death, couldn't see the water rushing under the bridge as it was too far down but could certainly hear it.

The track was quite stodgy to start with and there was a definite stream running down one side of it but as we climbed a bit it dried out. I was enjoying having a full range of working gears due to the new mech (old one was completely bent apparently) when the chain chucked into the spokes. I managed to stop as soon as I realised something wasn't right and it hadn't gotten itself too emeshed so I managed to pull it out easily. The above makes it sound like I'm really in tune with the mechanics of my bike, I'm not but I've tried to pedal through that kind of resistance to pedalling several times before and destroyed things - I have learnt the expensive way.

I caught up to Jez and he did some trail side adjustments and things were fine after that. We took the decision not to follow the fence track as it would be boggy, Stu did do it and it was indeed exceedingly soft!

I had my first tyre/pipe altercation on the next section as I dropped down into a new rut that has opened up and just caught the edge of a plastic pipe at the wrong angle. It wasn't a dramatic slip so I got my foot down ok. I stomped up the next road climb to get the heart rate up a bit before the long drag to the Tower.

Stu caught us up just as we were about to go over the field, there was a lot of water running down the field which made the start of the track very boggy. I don't think I've seen it like that before. The rest of the track was pretty stodgy mud and I was really struggling to ride it, the front wheel seemed to be pinging all over the place rather than rolling over the rocks and ruts. I just thought I was having one of those nights and decided I would be careful going up the climb in case I rode off the edge again (done that before on a night when I was riding badly).

At the bottom of the climb I happened to look down and notice that my forks were still locked out from the road section. Ahem! Forks unlocked and off we went up the climb. Lots of water running down on the bottom section and it was pretty soft. It was quite slow progress, not helped at all by the wind being directly in our faces. I picked an effort level and plugged away (learning from running against the wind).

I eventually overtook Drew and was in front (Stu and Jez were gabbing when we set off else Stu would be a red dot from his back light in the distance and not behind me). I successfully negotiated the orange pipe that got me last time and got over the rock step even though I was slower than I normally am due to the wind. The next section of the climb is the most technical and as it was dark I couldn't see what state the trail was in until I reached it. I have been taking the centre line but that had now changed to a deep narrow, twisty rut that I didn't think I'd ride out so I took the left hand line but there was a pipe that caught me out (and Drew and Jez). Stu saw me spin out on the pipe and went up the less attractive (to me anyway) right hand side quite easily, though that doesn't necessarily follow that I can do it.

Drew had a go at the right hand line and didn't make it, Jez took the left and spun out but just pushed up the trail a bit and continued. I dithered a little then rolled down a little to a flat bit of trail to get on the bike and had a go. I cleaned it! Basically through brute strength and ignorance but I was really chuffed.

It was quite breezy on the top so we headed straight off to the Tower and then down the rutty track. This was surprisingly dry, it had the odd soft patch but it was generally pretty firm, I can only assume its being scoured dry by the wind. We decided not to do the rutty track that goes all the way round as we thought it would be too soft, instead we'd go over the top of the moor.

Setting off the track started to get really soft, more like what I was expecting the rest of the ride to be and at the turning point you could see all the water glistening on the track we decided not to do. It was pretty soft over the top but I followed Drew and whilst he dropped into a deep puddle I managed to skirt round it.

At the road Drew decided he didn't want to do the Mill Lane descent and headed off right to do the other track. I love the Mill Lane descent on a bike so the rest of us headed off that way. I had a scary front wheel slide on the little section of singletrack past HollinsHead Hall, I really thought it was all about to end badly but I somehow managed to get it back and bimbled down the rest of it until I stopped hyperventilating.

The Mill Lane descent was not surpsisingly very wet, lots of leaves on it hiding the rocks but still probably my favourite descent. The Roman Candle effect was back with a vengeance and even though for once it wasn't spattering my face it was really hard to see past it.

The last section through the woods was as good as ever though because of the leaf fall it wasn't always that obvious where the path was, you knew pretty quickly if you'd ridden of it because it changed to stodge. Stu had a rapid desceleration moment when he rode off the track on a downhill. He just seemed to stop dead. He did say he had to try hard not to go over the bars, if it was me I would've tipped.

It was a quick ride, I don't think we were out for more than an hour and a half total. Such a shame its so short but not everyone's lights last much longer.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Errand Running - Literally

I got out after work and ran to Leyland library and back. The wind was still strong but not as bad as it was in St Annes, just walking across the car park was an ordeal, never mind trying to run.

I had to take a book back as well as pick up a reservation so I decided to take my little running rucksack. The book needed some persuasion to go in and I hoped the one I was going to pick up wasn't any bigger else I'd have to carry it in my hands.

I was setting off into the wind so again ran for effort not pace, as it was basically out and back I would get the wind behind me on the way home. Into the wind it was chilly and I had my jacket sleeves on and gloves though in any sheltered area it was obvious it wasn't really that cold. My lower legs are still feeling it a littl so I took my time to make sure I was well warmed up.

I got to the library in what seemed like no time and picked up a smaller book thankfully. I took my jacket sleeves off for the run home as the wind would be behind. I soon took the gloves off too as it was quite warm without the wind in my face. I took advantage of the tail wind and pushed my heart rate up around the 170 mark for the last couple of miles. It was 5.8 miles in total and a nice length for an evening run.

A nice run with a purpose, made all the difference on a dark windy night.

I'm working at home tomorrow as I will be waiting in for the blokes coming to stuff our cavity walls with insulation, not sure what I'm going to do but if I run it will be a short one.

Bloody Wind

Brought my running kit to work today but the wind is so strong I can't be bothered going out to run my planned 6 miles. The only good thing about running in St Annes is the beach/prom but it'll be too windy today and I'll end up with a face full of stinging sand assuming I can actually run along it, been beaten off it by the wind before. I can run round boring streets anywhere.

I've seem to have a lot on this week and am not sure I'll be able to cycle to work as will be working from home a couple of days at least.

My plan to get myself out running this evening is to run to Leyland Library, take one book back and pick up another. It will be a 6 mile or so round trip on streets I've never run before and will have a purpose rather than just a run. Hopefully that will motivate me to get out when I get home, I like running routes I've never done before even if they are along main roads.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I Ache! Rest Day for me

I woke up this morning and I seem to ache everywhere. My quads and calves are achey from running not surprisingly but Friday nights climbing session has also made my upper back, shoulders and biceps very sore. I had a very deep ache in my right bicep all day.

I decided to rest and let my muscles rebuild, my upper body hasn't had a proper workout for ages.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Getting Soaked on Errands

Went to Sainsburys this afternoon after my run, its only just over a mile but would spin my legs out a little.

The new forks do make a difference but I need to adjust the saddle as they are a little higher than the previous forks and the saddle seemed tilted back. It was windy and grey when I went into the store, by the time I got to the checkout it was throwing it down.

It eased off a little before I got to the bike but it didn't really matter, having no mudguard on the front wheel meant I was drenched immediately from the surface water. It was also difficult to see as the wind was flinging the rain into my eyes, my lower legs were very, very cold when I got home.

I do need to sort out a mudguard of some sort soon.

Off Road Run - A Proper One!

Hurrah! A proper bog hopping, ankle turning, mountain biker overtaking off road run. It was brilliant to be back on the moors. I decided to run from Abbey Village, up to Great Hill, down to the Belmont road the through the Tockholes woods back to Abbey Village. It's one of my favourite loops and at 7 miles long enough to be challenging after my layoff but not so long as to wipe me out.

I guessed it would be boggy as hell on certain sections so decided to give the Walsh's a whirl, see how they felt on a longer run on a few surfaces. It was pretty windy when I parked up and the forecast was for it to get worse. I would be running into the wind for the first few miles so decided to concentrate on effort rather than trying to maintain a pace.

I had my running rucksack, not so much to carry water but as it was now heading into winter I use it to carry phone, gels, spare jacket, hat and gloves ( and map and compass on longer runs) in case I hurt myself and can't run. The gloves went on within five minutes of setting off due to wind chill.

The Walsh's felt great on the soft moorland singletrack, better than the Mizuno's in the really soft stuff though they were just as useless on greasy rock. They are noticeably very, very light, even when wet which was nice. I was concerned about the effect the hard pack track to the top of Great Hill would have on the studs on the soles of the Walsh's. The decision not to fight the wind paid off as I managed to run to the summit really easily - though heped in some part by the wind becoming a tail wind in the end.

I stopped briefly to take a gel at the summit shelter before setting off down the descent to the Belmont road. I was expecting this descent to be very wet and slippy and it didn't disappoint. The top section was not too bad, particularly as I stay away from the main path but when it steepened up it got a little interesting. Even with the aggressive studs on the shoes I had quite a few "skating" moments, it was hilarious.

There were some tyre tracks around, I really didn't think it was worth trying to bring a bike over this way at this time of year as it's far too wet. My thoughts were confirmed as I caught up with a group of MTBers pushing their bikes. The closer you get to the road the more the track has disintegrated into ruts and boggy puddles, its hard enough to walk or run it never mind ride it.

I breezed past them with a jaunty "On your left" then hoped I didn't fall on my backside. I was permanently over my shoes in water and mud, going through it in bike shoes would be horrible. The last 50 metres or so are a complete mess, I was taking one step forward and two steps back sometimes but making ok progress but nothing you could call actually running. I misjudged a tussock and ended up stepping into a deep puddle, I went in up to about two inches above my left knee. Luckily it was just puddle rather than bog so I just laughed at the silliness of it.

I was disappointed to get to the road, I'd had a lot of fun "running" that descent that I briefly thought about carrying on over to Darwen moor for some more of the same but that would add at least another 5 miles on and another major climb which really wasn't sensible. I continued on my planned loop.

The Mill Lane descent was very greasy and had a lot of leaf fall on it so it was hard to pick out exactly where to put my feet. The minimalism of the Walsh's was a real problem here as I felt they weren't protecting my feet at all when I slipped on the rocks. I decided to investigate a track through the woods that runs down roughly parallel (I think) to Mill Lane.

It started off promisingly enough but had lots of very low branches, a few broken off ones at eye level which could be nasty. It was also very wet and muddy and almost as slippy as Great Hill so progress was again slow. I decided it wasn't worth bothering trying to ride it, too wet and muddy and the branches too low to get under actually on the bike.

I rejoined the Mill Lane track at the very bottom and it wasn't too bad here so I probably should've just ran the rocky track carefully, it is only the top section that is really bad. I took it easy through the woods on the way back to the car. My legs were starting to feel tired here and as the path is quite firm my feet were feeling it a little too. The last tarmac section was horrible, but then I always find it horrible as its flat and rock hard and very jarring after all the nice offroad stuff.

So just over 7 miles in about 1:13 minutes, not too bad considering how slow I was descending. The studs on the Walsh's show noticeable wear, I think I will investigate some Inov-8 Mudclaws or similar as they look a little more built and save the Walsh's for racing.

Friday, October 17, 2008

More Climbing

Had another potter on the climbing wall this evening. I did better than last time but am very much lacking in strength in my arms, strangely my finger strength still seems ok. I was able to string moves together more but I was tiring quite quickly and my ability to do big step ups isn't great as my hip flexibility has obviously declined. As a short arse the ability to do big step ups is one of the cornerstones of my climbing, so I need to get it back.

I did have a few moments where I had to think about how to tackle something, I asked Pam a few times "How would I climb this?". Pam has belayed me for so long that she knows how I would approach things. Sadly the answer usually involved putting my feet up somewhere round my ears! Which is exactly how I would have climbed it six months ago but I can't quite make those moves at the moment. If I manage to keep climbing with some regularity I wonder how long it will take to build back up agian.

Easy Run

I could feel last nights run in my legs this morning, I was quite surprised but I haven't actually done any real tarmac running this month at all. I also had a meeting scheduled for 1:00 pm (not 2:00 pm as I thought) so I couldn't get out for a long one anyway.

I decided to go out for about half an hour and keep my heart rate below 160, just a leg stretcher. I set off with the intention of running around the golf course. I realised after a few minutes that I wasn't on the street I thought I was. I got back to where I should've been after another few minutes so no big problem.

As St Annes is pan flat it was easy to keep it nice and slow, I also jogged up the hill nice and slow. Its not actually a hill, its a bridge over the railway but its as close to a hill as it gets round here.

I picked up the path alongside the railway line then crossed into the golf course and headed back to work. I measured the run on Fetch at 3.5 miles (you've guessed it, still haven't found the Garmin) and it took 32 minutes.

I averaged a HR of 151 which was perfect, really nice and low for me running. Interestingly I averaged at 9:09 pace which was faster than my eyeballs out Cross Country race on Saturday! What a difference flat tarmac and no cold can make to running speed and HR!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Club Run

Got down to the club for a run last night. I didn't cycle as it was wet and I am really trying to get rid of this cold so no point overdoing it. I was going to run in the slow group but it seemed everyone headed out together. A lot of the club are doing the Fell Relays on Saturday so were taking it easy. It was a nice pace and I think the cold has gone, I just felt unfit!

I got rained on once but didn't get too cold as they kept things moving along. My nose only blocked up with snot towards the end but it'll take a few days for that to completely go. It was around 5 miles in total which was just right for me tonight.

I was going to ride to work tomorrow at a bimble but I have just remembered I have to drop Jez off at work, will take my running kit with me instead.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Cross Country Results

The official results are out. My time was 31:04 and I came 56th out of the 71 women running, there were more people behind me than I realised.

The first woman over the line was in 21:21 - how fast is that! I'm surprised I didn't get lapped!

I will try to improve my times over the course of the season but the courses aren't identical for direct comparison.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

.........and Fingerprints

My cold is making a bid to come back so I took it easy today, I was intending on heading out for a ride of some sorts today but decided not to. Jez fitted the carbon fork to the Spesh and put new pads on the rear brake, then had to spend an hour or so faffing with it as the brakes kept binding. I did spit my dummy out a little as he said the brakes would "bed in" but I refused to ride a bike where the back wheel wouldn't free wheel more than quarter of a revolution. I've ridden it before in that state and it was horrible. I'm not sure what he did to it but it is spinning properly now, just need to think about mudguards.

I was due to be heading out for a curry this evening and the plan was to go to the climbing wall before hand. I haven't been climbing for about six months so I knew it would be hard work and would do a s a rest day workout! When I was climbing regularly I always seemed to dismiss climbing as "proper" exercise and then get caught out when I was too tired to climb well from running and cycling. It is a proper workout but its not aerobically knackering like running or least not when I'm doing it regularly! It is tiring in its own way.

I found it aerobic tonight! I was puffing like a train at the top of the wall a few times tonight. The first couple of climbs were amusing as I had forgotten how to think and plan my moves like a climber, however that started to improve just as my strength faded. I've lost a bit of strength and stamina but I haven't regresses to beginner level thankfully, a few weeks would get me back up there. I could still tie on and belay though my climbing shoes appear to have shrunk since I last wore them.

I really enjoyed it again but will need to really think about fitting it in to what I do at the minute, Friday evening is looking promising though.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Cross Country - Blackburn

Well, I ran my first XC race today and it was very hard work but I have to say it was much more fun than running on the road. It was a very well attended meet with lots of very fast club runners around, including lots of very fast children.

I got to Witton Park in what seemed like no time at all so made a mental note to not take the M65 on the way home and zero the trip counter on my car to see how far it was on the A roads on the way home. I didn't think it was sensible to cycle to the first race as I had no idea what to expect but for future races...

I picked up my number and wandered around a bit watching some of the kids run then got readyto do a bit of a warmup myself before my race at 1.20pm. It would be the first time the Walsh's had been worn so I thought I better try them out. The ground was pretty stodgy and I was squirming around on it in my normal shoes but the Walsh's were very grippy and comfortable.

Parts of the course were apparently very boggy so I tightened my shoes up a lot before the race as I didn't fancy losing one of them. I wandered over to the start line with the other Harriers. I knew there would be a fast start and I didn't want to get too carried away by it, if that meant absolutely everyone passed me then so be it.

The race was started with a starter pistol. I think the last time I did anything that was started by a starter pistol was at school (and only because one of our PE teachers was a bit trigger happy) and the thought amused me for a while as everyone sprinted off at warp speed. I tried not to get swept along and kept a hard but sustainable effort level for me. I could still feel the remnants of my cold as well and it was making things a little more difficult for me.

The fist part of the course was mainly flat but the ground conditions were what a horse racing commentator would describe as "Heavy Going", it was quite strength sapping but I had been warned about that.

The course then headed out of the park into a field, I believe this section is called the saucer ? This was a fair climb and was actually my favourite part of the course. I ran it all the first time round, the last section of the climb was very boggy, ankle deep mud but I managed to get a good line through it and not slip. I really enjoyed that bit. Then there was a bit of a downhill section that had been trampled by cows so had lots of hoofprints in it. It was also deep mud and I found myself over my ankles quite a few times. I was glad I had really tightened my shoes up as I could feel the suction of the mud quite a few times.

I made good use of the downhill to get my heart rate down and actually picked a good line through it (all that bog hopping around Great Hill). It was back onto the flat section for another lap. I took it steady on this section to leave something for the climb later.

I didn't manage to run the climb as smoothly the second time round as I had a little slip in the top boggy section which stopped me briefly but I managed to get running again within about a metre so it wasn't that bad. I also didn't quite end up on as good a line on the descent this time either as I seemed to find a lot of very deep mud this time but I still managed to run it all and not slip.

The last flat section to the finish line seemed to take ages! I'm glad the ladies race was only 5.2K, I think that was quite enough for me today - the senior men have to run 10K, ouch!

I waited around a while to watch the men run but had to head off to try to get my phone fixed but it's always interesting watching good runners run, they make it look so effortless!

The Walsh's felt really good to run in, I don't think the Mizuno's would've coped as well on the really gloopy stuff, very slipper like. I am tempted to try them on shorter off road runs now. They are now at least respectably muddy:

I'm not sure of time but I stopped my watch at 31:09 but I'll update with official results later.

I ran the race at an average HR of 177 which is quite high for me I think, even racing (will look at my old race results as it may well be normal). The drive home on the A roads was around 8.5 miles, I always thought Blackburn was really far away, thre will be another XC race here in March next year so I may cycle to that one.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

New Forks For the Specialized

I ordered some carbon forks for the Spesh over the weekend and they arrived today. I went for a pair of Exotic carbon forks:

They are disk only and corrected for 80mm travel frames, most carbon forks these days are based around a 100mm travel frame. The only thing to think about now is how to fit a decent mudguard to the front.
Hopefully Jez will fit it over the weekend - and I need to start whining about the Titus....I want to ride it again.

Sniffle got me

I came down with a cold on Monday afternoon so I'm not happy. I cycled to work and felt ok on the way in, took it nice and easy and tried to keep my heart rate below 160, which I did. It was a nice ride in if a little parky but it was great to be on the road bike again.

The ride home is a bit of a blur as I was well and truly not well by then but I made it home in one piece and generally enjoyed the ride though I was a little lacking in go and felt like I was riding against a hurricane! It was windy but not that bad. I felt ok on Sunday so not sure what's going on but hey ho, getting over it now.

Two freezing drenchings in a week is probably enough for anyone.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Coniston Trail Race - Report

Well, that was wet (and muddy)!

I woke on Saturday to lead grey skies and a little rain but nothing to suggest how bad it was up in the Lakes. As the start had been delayed by two hours after the problems they had at the Derwentwater race I had plenty of time to wake up, eat etc. Pam and I even visited the farmers market - it was really chilly, I had a hat on for the first time in anger this autumn and my down gilet, which is filthy and really, really needs sending away for cleaning (that's what happens when you carry bags of mucky compost around in a pale blue gilet).

Jez had gone off to Staveley at 7:50 this morning to ride over Garburn pass with some friends of his from work. He phoned me just as we were setting off t 11:30 to say that it was lashing in the Lakes and he was calling it a day it was so wet, oh goody!

Things didn't really get bad until we got off the M6 and it just chucked it down and the wind was strong. Anyone that was out and about, be that on foot or on bike, looked drenched...and miserable.

As we pulled into the car parking area at Coniston Hall the rain was horizontal and there were lots of very wet people milling around. I saw a couple of people walking towards us with their race numbers but they also had the t-shirts too, so something was afoot as they normally give them out once you finish.

We drove down to the first (very wet but cheery) marshal who informed us that the main 15k courses had been cancelled on mountain rescue advice and there would be two laps of the low level Sport Trail course instead, with everyone starting at 2pm. This was a little disappointing but given the weather conditions it was the sensible decision. The marshal told us to head along the track where we would be directed to park by other equally wet and cheery marshals. The track was in fact a brown river, it was just sodden.

We parked up and got ready to dash to the registration point, we waited for a few minutes to see if the horizontal rain would ease off but not a chance. Pam decided to accompany me to registration and we were both dreched within about 30 seconds of leaving the car. This wasn't ideal as the trousers I was going to change into at the end were soaking wet through now. I at least had gore tex lined boots on but poor Pam had running shoes on so her feet got soaked through. The brown river/track was actually an inch or two deep all the way along and the grass alongside was just as squelchy so there was no escape from it.

The registration point was in a building rather than a marquee this time and it was crammed full of wet runners. I picked up my number and was given my t-shirt, I also saw that they had brought the t-shirts from the Derwentwater race as well so I picked up one of those too. We headed back to the car so I could get ready to run.

The car was lovely and warm and I thought about how I was going to get my kit together for running. I had most of my kit on already but I needed my running vest, shoes, gloves and jacket which were all in the boot of Pam's car. The seats were folded down as she had her bike in but it's a Vectra and the stuff was right at the boot door, no way I was going to reach it from the front seat.

I decided to take my wet trousers off, take my nice warm fleece off and make a dash for it. I was freezing and wet by the time I got back in the car with my bag, then realised I'd left the shoes! Out to get cold and wet again, at tleast I was keeping Pam entertained. Pam had originally intended to do a short offroad ride while I ran but she had decided against that in the end. I decided to pin my number to my running vest then wear that over my jacket rather than put holes in my jacket, it's thin enough without putting holes in it. I put a buff on my head to keep weat hair out of my eyes and my thin running gloves on to keep the wind off my hands.

I watched soaking wet people running past for a while until I finally left the warmth of the car and headed to the start line. The jog there would be my only "warm up" and as there was no point in trying to stay dry I got straight on with the business of getting wet and ran/splashed/waded along the track then over to the start area. There were a lot of dafties prepared to run so that made me feel better even though I was soaked to the skin aready.

Standing waiting for the start the water was puddling round my feet, the ground was so sodden it couldn't absorb anymore. I had decided to take it easy and not run really hard, just enough to stay warm. I didn't have a watch on (as I still haven't found the damn Garmin and I forgot my other watch) and no idea of the course so would be taking it easy on the first lap in particular. I also can sometimes overdo it in races and end up coming down with a cold. I thought I was fighting off a bit of a sniffle after Wednesday's drenching but two rest days seemed to put paid to it. The soaking I was getting now was laying me open to getting it again.

As it was a mass start it was a bit crowded but it made it easy to keep a nice pace, it climbed for a little while but it was nothing like what we would've been climbing if we had done the proper race. We were running across a wet field for a while then onto some hard packed tracks. We also ran alongside a main road (I assume the road to Torver) and this track was just standing water. I watched the feet of the runners in front of me to get an idea what the ground was like under the constant puddle.

We must have looked a sight but I didn't feel as miserable as all the Polaris bikers we saw looked, at least I would be heading home to a hot shower and proper bed rather than a night in a tent (though at least Sunday would turn out to be a cracking day for them). This section of th course was the most exposed to the wind and it was here on both laps where I had my "I'm not enjoying this" moments as the rain stung my face. However, once I turned off the road I had the wind behind me for a while.

I took it easy on the downhill section due to my psoas, particularly as it was tarmac (and I made sure I breathed properly), so I had no problems. The last part of the lap is along the edge of the lake and waves were breaking against the shore. This section was very,very wet and there were a couple of streams that run into the lake which we had to cross. In normal conditions they would either be a trickle that you could step over or not there at all. Today, depending on which part you stood in they were knee deep and also extremely cold. Even though my feet were wet the water in my shoes was warm but it was a real shock going through these. I tried to follow someone who hadn't disappeared up to their knees to pick a shallower spot to cross.

As I ran through the start/finish area to head out again a couple of people in front of me pulled over, they had had enough and didn't want to do another lap. Pam says she saw quite a few people doing this. I was tempted for a brief second but then I thought what the hell, I can't get any wetter. Wrong!

I set off up the climb on my second lap. The inital part is on fire road style tack and it had a bit of a stream running down one side of it and a dry line on the other. I was running up the stream line and was just thinking to myself that it wasn't sensible as I couldn't see what was under it when I stood on a rock and went over on my ankle. I swore to myself and gave a little skip, well I though I swore to myself but two people turned to ask me if I was ok so it might have been out loud.

It was ok after a few strides (the wonders of lots of off road running) and I kept on running. The field was a lot more churned this time round and the road section just as wet and windy as it was before.

I was really feeling soaked now, I don't know whether it was because I was getting more tired but I was really noticing it now. My running vest was absolutely sopping and it felt like it weighed a ton (should've wrung it out!), it was sliding around on the top of my jacket which didn't help. My wrists felt cold becuse the jacket was stuck to it and was so wet its wind blocking properties seemed to have gone.

I enjoyed the run downhill as the wind was behind me but the section along the lake was a mess after all the runners tramping through it. I'm sure the streams had gotten deeper because my feet felt so cold after running through them. Pam says they caused a few people to cramp - as she's waiting in the finish area she gets to see all the action. I could barely run the last kilometre, it wasn't so much slippy as like trying to run through treacle, I couldn't keep any sort of stride pattern going at all which is probably good practice for my first cross country race!

I finished with no idea what my time was or how far I'd run but I didn't care. Pam handed my my jacket which was at least waterproof and did help warm me up while we headed straight to the car. Even if I hadn't soaked my trousers earlier the rain didn't let up at all so I wouldn't have been able to have gotten changed anyway. I basically took my top layers off and got into Pam's car to sit on some towels. I put my dry race t-shirt on which was quite difficult to do in a confined space without punching Pam at any point. I put my fleece on but left my shoes/socks and everything else on and Pam cranked the heating up. My fingers were all wrinkly, it looked like I had been lying in the bath for an hour rather than running.

I had packed my recovery drink which I really needed to have after that drenching. I had the powder separately in a little bag to make it up fresh but as I was pouring it into the water the powder all stuck in the bag handles and I then proceeded to dunk them in the water so it all became a big blob. I think I got about a quarter of the powder in that should have been in there and as I was making enough of a mess of Pam's car with my muddy feet and legs without covering it in banana recovery drink powder I gave in.

The drive home was quite eventful too. The main road between Coniston and Ambleside had been wet with a little standing water on it as we drove over. It was now full of huge puddles, the kind where only one car at a time can go through and you wish you were in a 4 x 4. Some poor sod broke down in one of the puddles, they got help to get pushed out to clear the road but it didn't look good. We were glad to have left when we did as with the amoun of water still coming down there was a risk the road would be closed. We had only been parked up in Coniston for a little over two hours.

The rain followed us down to Preston I think or it seemed to, it was a minging day. Pam dropped me off so we could both get a hot shower before she came back round for tea later.

The upshot was the race was approx 6.8 miles long and I took 1:04 to get round, so not brilliant but I'm just pleased I finished, just hope I don't catch my death of cold.

The photos are on Sleepmonsters but I couldn't find any of me, which is not that surprising as I didn't notice the photographer at all though it does look stupidly wet. There is one particular one in the "Finish Area" section where someone is lying face down in the mud, yuck.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Bimbling about

It was such a lovely day today, a total contrast to yesterday anyway! I had a long list of jobs that I needed to do and have been putting off but as it was such a nice day I did all the shopping I needed to do by bike and wasted lots of time doing that instead as I tried to take the long way round everywhere. My calves in particular were feeling it from yesterday but a bit of a spin out seemed to do them good. I did 19 miles in the end which was enough task avoidance!

The Ribble was pretty high and fast flowing, not surprisingly I suppose...I didn't actually need to go near the Ribble but thought it would be nice along there, with it being such a sunny day and all:

That tree isn't normally in the river!

I have/am about to enforce a couple of "No Computer" days on myself to make sure I make a dent in the list! I can spend hours on the PC in task avoidance - bit like work really!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Coniston Trail Race - How Wet and Windy and Muddy Was That!

The race was shortened due to mountain rescue advice but it was still 10K and even on the low level tracks I have never, ever been that wet running!

Need to warm up/dry out/clean off mud...more later.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Night Ride - Wet and Windy

Got rather drenched on this evenings ride and windswept. Things didn't start off promisingly as I got a text from Pam saying she'd forgotten her lights. Jez decided he wasn't riding as he had too much other stuff to do so I offered Pam Jez's lights. She had all the rest of her stuff so she would meet us at Rivington, possibly a few minutes late.

Us turned out to be Stu and I, no one else wanted to come out - can't imagine why! Pam turned up almost on time and we got setting bikes up etc. I did warn Pam that Jez hadn't charged his lights since last weeks ride so there was probably only about an hour and a half or so burn time in them. This wasn't really a problem as due to the wind we had decided not to go up to the Pike, we would try to stay on some of the more sheltered tracks.

It was deceptively sheltered near the barn but it was pretty cold, I was wondering whether I should have worn full length tights rather than 3/4 lengths. It wasn't raining when we set off and headed out to the Nab. I think the first shower started as we hit Heapey Fold Lane and passed some runners. Not sure I would be out running in shorts and tee-shirt with no headtorch in the dark on a minging, freezing night. However as I was out cycling on said night I couldn't really criticise.

Pam didn't want to do the drops in the dark, she told us to ride ahead and she would wait for us on the track, so Stu and I kicked it up a few gears and passed the runners and headed straight into the Nab. The tracks were slippy, I had a few rear wheel slides, some I managed to ride out and a couple I didn't. I do like the way the combination of riding with lights and very wet tracks makes everything a challenge again on tracks I know well.

I nearly came a cropper approaching the last drop, there was a boulder in the middle of the track. I'm not exactly sure what happened but I got my front wheel over it ok but it seemed to get caught up in the back wheel and stall me and throw me forward. I think I may have knocked it a bit with the front wheel but I managed to stop before I rolled over the drop practically lying on my handlebars. I pushed up to a smooth bit of track and then rode down again.

As I rode away from the last drop I remember thinking to myself how surprisingly dry and firm the track was. It didn't stay that way for long and next thing I knew both wheels were trying to head off in opposite directions. A bit of concentration needed.

It was like that all the way round the Nab, one minute firm the next minute rally soft. The rocks stayed consistently slippy at least though. We met up with Pam again and carried on. I had suggested trying out the track along the side of Anglezarke rather than riding up the steep road hill to the moor, it would be less exposed.

As we were riding along the track the rain really started lashing and it seemed to be settling in, there were a couple of lightning flashes as well. The track was good in that it was reasonably sheltered but I think it would ride better in the other direction (though it may just be because I was being useless). We carried on to the bottom of Lead Mines and up the short steep road hill there towards the ICR. There was a lot of standing water at the bottom but I ploughed through it and made the climb count and I hadn't ridden the proper climb.

At the top we were quite exposed and for the first time I started to feel cold - I was absolutely soaking by this time though. We kept going but everytime I looked back to check on Pam I got a face full of rain, nice.

We set off up the easy climb to the pigeon tower, we spotted a gaggle (troop? tribe?) or whatever the collective noun is for a large group of mountain rescue people is. Stu and I speeded up to get passed them then waited for Pam at the clearing. We discussed what we wanted to do next. Going up to the Pike was outbut we thought we could ride up to the pigeon tower then continue along the lane to the top of the Commonwealth descent and ride down, even though it would be into the wind and rain.

As Pam approached us she said her light was fading and it was starting to yellow. That made the decision for us, straight on to the Commonwealth descent then back to the car before her light cuts out completely. Pam did suggest that we headed up to the top of the descent and she would carry on for a bit and we would catch her up. However, we explained that HIDs don;t really fade, they cut out and we didn't want to leave her in the dark on her own.

I set off down the descent first, having a lovely Roman Candle effect from the mud flying up off my front wheel. My eyes were full of crap as well, I have new clear lenses but I didn't wear them as I'm being a bit precious about them being scratched. I got to the bottom, suprised Stu hadn't come flying past me in his usual style. Then they rolled into view, he was helping guide Pam down as her light wasn't great. Which is what I should have done as I have the most powerful light!

We headed back towards the barns and the car and not long after leaving the descent Pam's light cut out completely, I'm glad we insisted on taking her back. The L & M HID actually gave about a 15 minute warning it was about to die, my old HID used to flash blue at the switch area about 5 seconds before it cut out, not fun on a fast descent.

The temperature had really dropped and I wished I'd put my hat in as my hair was really wet. It's not a proper night ride unless a hat and a down jacket/gilet goes on afterwards. I had the down gilet, lovely and warm.

Cycling Miles 292 for September

I have been doing lots of errand running by bike this month as well as cycle commuting to work at least once a week. I hadn't been keeping too close a check on the totals but I knew it was over 200 miles or so. It is in fact 292 If I'd been paying attention I would've done the 8 miles required to get over the 300 mark.

Out of those miles only about 60 are "going out for a ride" miles. The rest are all from commuting or errand running. So that's 230 miles or so I haven't used my car for.

Also 192 of those miles have been done on the Specialized, poor thing doesn't know what's hit it! It thought it was in retirement, forever to be hung up in the garage.

Running miles weren't brilliant due to injury but I'm not far off 500 for the year, my goal this year is 600 miles so getting close.