Saturday, January 31, 2009

Ivana Falloffalot!

That was my name on today's ride! I've not fallen off this much in years, three times in one less than 15 miles ride!

I had hoped to do 20 miles but there were some very tired legs in our group so we did the short version of the ride. It was great to be out on proper Lakes bridleways, good technical riding and hard climbs. We have a regular ride that we do that starts at Wray Castle, heads up towards Iron Keld, down from there towards Little Langdale and Hodge Close, then back past Iron Keld then normally towards Hawkshead and up into Claife Heights. We missed out the Claife Heights section today.

Its a good ride, a bit of everything and not massively prone to being boggy. We were a bit later than normal setting off due to Jez's physio appointment, I don't think we started riding until after 11, there were 7 of us in total with 3 girlies riding.

First few miles were fine, my legs felt good after a full rest day of pigging out and I had to stop myself going off too hard at the start, it wasn't a local easy ride. It was really still but not massively sunny, which was suprising considering how windy it had been on the drive up. I ended up taking my waterproof off and putting my gilet on as I was too warm. I had my camera in one of the back pockets, there was some nice snow covering on the hills:

I hung back to take some pictures after we'd climbed up Iron Keld and were about to head down Arnside. I had a nice chat with a couple of elderly blokes, one of whom was fascinated by my bike, particularly the pedals. I then set off on the first part of the descent to catch up the others. This is one of my favourite Lakes descents, as it has a little bit of everything: rocks, rubble, ruts, sheep, grass, water spashes...

It was nice to do some more technical stuff though I had forgotten the rocky section at the top and just kind of blundered my way down it, I got better later.

We regrouped about half way down, just after the wall above. We continued down some more, I was in front for some reason and I was crossing a bit of a grassy plateau and looking well ahead as the track was about to split and there were quite a few line choices I could make.

All of a sudden I felt the front wheel slide away, now I've gotten lots of front wheel slides back before but not this one it went too fast and I slammed to the ground on my left side, still holding onto the handlebars wondering what the hell just happened. I had felt my head hit off the ground but as it was grass the helmet took it and I was fine.

My foot was stuck in the right pedal and I was tangled up with the bike, I shook my foot out and stuck my hand up to wave that I was ok. Then I realised that the ground was sopping wet and my kit was doing a fantastic job of soaking up the water, so I scrambled up. Fall No. 1.

In my world all this took a bit of time but according to everyone else I was only on the ground a matter of seconds before I jumped back up like a scalded cat. It was very spectacular and dramatic to watch apparently, particularly the bit where my head bounced off the ground. I felt fine, very wet and cold now but ok. I was very lucky a few metres further on and the rocks started again and it would have probably been a very different story.

We had a look to see what I had skidded on, there wasn't much but you could just see where my wheel had slid on a small rut (ruts and me at the minute!) hidden in the grass. I checked the camera and it had survived but I put it back in my bag and then proceeded to forget about it for the rest of the ride. I hate to think what I landed in but I seemed to spend the rest of the ride accompanied by the smell of sheep poo, though we were never far from sheep during most of the ride so I'm not sure.

I got back on and set off actually quite unshaken for me, rode the rest of the descent fine. Everything went ok for ages and I was generally riding well then we came to a "challenge" climb. It only a short but steep rise, it has a few rocks on it so you can't just take a straight line up it and you can't do it in too easy a gear as the front will wander but too hard a gear and you won't get up it either. Now I've cleaned it before but I think it has been on the Titus as on the On One the rocks were getting in the way of my back wheel.

On the second attempt I was really close but still had to unclip, but my left foot (normal unclipping foot) got stuck and I toppled over onto a big rock. It took me a while to wriggle it out. Fall No 2, not quite so dramatic. I've been having a few problems with unclipping since I changed the cleats but thought it was because the old cleats were so worn that I only had to think about unclipping and my foot was out, I obviously wasn't twisting out enough.

We continued, I was annoyed at this fall and was becoming sure that my brakes weren't working properly, I think the rear needs new pads and I wasn't imagining that one. I was also thinking that my forks were blowing through their travel and also rebounding very quick but I put that down to the gremlins getting into my head after falling off.

My legs were still feeling strong and I was generally riding better and better. I realised that my technical skills needed sharpening up a bit really but I was still trying to descend at a speed too fast for my current ability. I decided to slow my descending down a bit, until the next descent where I forgot of course.

On the evil climb back up to Iron Keld I had the tell tale throb of a forming bruise just above my left knee. I managed to clean the climb with a gear to spare which is the first time ever, it has a lot of loose stuff on it and some roots but I managed it all ok today, was puffing like a train at the top as usual though. I also noticed on this climb that the instep seem on my right boot was now unstitched, oh great, I hope I don't have to fork out for a new pair of winter boots. I didn't notice when setting off so may have done this in the first crash?

The track rolls along in a generally upwards direction, some technical sections I clean easily though they have filled in some of the bigger holes annoyingly. We were almost at the top where there is a bit of a rockstep, at least on the line I was on. I have cleaned it before but this time I didn't quite lift my front wheel high enough or something, whatever I stalled with front up step and back wheel still below it. I just couldn't unclip my left foot at all and I fell hard onto my left knee on the rocks. I was extremely peed off with this, I didn't spud myself (or should it be egg myself as I ride eggbeaters?) this much when I first had clipless! Well I did but that's not the point. Fall No 3.

After various people had finished laughing at me I realised that my left foot was still stuck in the pedal and I couldn't move. I couldn't seem to get my right foot to a position where it would help me get up. In the end after a bit of pointless flailing of limbs, Jez had to lift my bike up a bit and Ed had to help me up a bit before I could free my foot.

I sat down at the side of the track and had a look at my shoe, the cleat had moved. Jez got the multitool out and one of the cleat screws was really loose. What cretin put them on? Oh, that would be me! D'oh. It was tightened up for me. I was annoyed at not getting up something I'd managd in the past so as everyone else continued on I pushed back down a bit so I could ride what I'd just messed up and cleaned it no problem at all, typical.

Downhill for a bit as I caught up with Pam and cruised downhill, her back tyre rolled over a rock which threw her back wheel seriously sideways, almost level with the front. She calmly just kept riding, when we got to the bottom she said she had quite a scare! Didn't look like it from where I was though so well done to Pam.

After that is was a short slide along a muddy track then back along the road for a bit to the cars. We packed up and decided to head to Wilfs for some food, I was wondering how I was going to find room for some food as I'd had energy drink in my Camelbak and we hadn't really been out that long. As we set off driving I was soon starving. Even though we had done quite a short ride we had been out for quite a while, actual moving speed was about the same as normal but there were a lot more rest and faff stops (and not just me falling off) than normal which I hadn't taken account of.

Having had a think about my forks, the last time I can remember that I put or messed around with the air in the forks was when the On One was built. I can't remember exactly when that was but it was built around 8 - 9 months after the Titus was built. The Titus was built in August 2005!

I run the Revelations at 115 mm on the On One and over the last couple of months I've been gradually unwinding the UTurn doofer to keep it at 115mm, so I think its about time I looked at what the settings are. The Rev forks have been utterly fit and forget.

Oh, MTB gods..its someone else's turn to fall off!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Short Evening Run

For the first time in a very long time work got in the way of my lunchtime run. I was in a (very informative for a change) meeting until just after 12 and by the time I came out I was starving as I hadn't had my mid morning slice of cake. I wasn't the only one, I could hear lots of rumbling tums in there.

I decided to go out in the evening, but for a short one. I'm feeling a little tired and constantly hungry so doing a hard tempo run wasn't high on my agenda today. After work I got changed, faffed a bit but then headed out the door. It felt weird to be running in the dark. I planned to do three miles, as that would take me to 100 running miles for the month (no wonder my legs feel battered).

My legs actually felt quite springy, I took it easier on the first mile, speeded up a little on the second and pretty much continued for the last. However, there were a few places where it was difficult to run due to rubbish streetlights, or non - working street lights. A couple of short hills as well to break things up a bit.

The last mile was through the centre of town so a bit of faff dodging people and crossing roads. I actually stopped running a little earlier than I intended (still over three miles) as for some reason none of the streetlights work near the entrance to my estate. I couldn't see the ground at all as my night vision was constantly disrupted by car headlights blinding me.

The mile splits:


I have to say the 8.29 felt really quite comfortable, maybe the intervals/tempo are starting to have an effect though its also likely to be the fact I was doing such a short run.

My plan is for a much needed rest day tomorrow then mountain biking in the Lakes on Saturday then some offroad running fun on Sunday before getting back to the serious business of road running again. As I'm a bit ahead of my plan I am intending repeating the last few sessions rather than ploughing on.

Consolidation, that's the word I was looking for.

Night Ride

A bit of last minute e-mailing found us agreeing to meet at Abbey Village at the usual time last night for a bit for spin. Weather was best its been in a while, not raining, pretty still but misty. Usual setting off faff and the usual suspect being late meant we set off at a slow pace until he caught us up!

The tracks were quite stodgy and my legs felt pretty tired, though I was expecting them to perk up a bit later as that's the way riding seems to be going for me at the minute, except they didn't. We rode along chatting for a bit and decided against the boggy fence track as judging by the state of the main trail it would be a mess.

We were all together by the time we headed out across the road towards Dean Lane, my legs were heavy as lead. As we set off down the descent I thought things were going dark! By the time I got onto the really bumpy cobbles I couldn't see much ahead, my front tyre and the ground underneath the bike was being illuminated in glorious detail though as my light had swung down on the bars (I didn't put it on I hasten to add).

No point stopping until the bottom but it did make it somewhat interesting as I couldn't see any of the waterbars/trail obstacles until I was almost on them, resulting in a lot of frantic attempts to lift the front wheel before I catapulted myself over the bars - as it turned out this would be a recurring theme for the evening!

At the edge of Earndale Res I sorted it as the others rode off ahead. By the time I'd finished their lights were no longer visible and it was very dark! I caught them up and we headed across the field to the bottom of the long climb to the tower. I set off onto the field and almost immediately nearly fell off as the back wheel slid. I managed to pretty much ride all the rest of it but it wasn't elegant and I was feeling quite weary. I rode the little drop out of the field badly and only just manage to haul my front wheel up to stop it stalling on a pointy rock, oh dear.

I was realising I was more than a little tired now so I thought I would put it in the granny ring and spin up the climb to the tower, about a minute after setting off I got bored with twiddling and put it back in middle ring (I cannot spin to save myself now!). The boys were riding at a pretty nice pace so I just tagged along behind. Some parts were very soft but it was generally ok.

Almost at the top where the track disintegrates and it gets interesting I managed to jam my back wheel in between two rocks and had to unclip, I knew that I was tired when I couldn't be bothered going back to ride it again. I felt like I used to at the end of a hard 30 mile Lakes ride, which was a bit worrying as we'd only covered about 4 miles.

I managed to get going again and rode the rest. We were now well in the mist, but it was drifting a bit so it would clear a little then mist up again. You could see the beam of lights really clearly. The upshot was you could make out the trail but not the detail, so more bouncing around off rocks but at least I managed to actually stay on. I had a gel at the top, then Ed offered round some tablet. The sugar boost really helped and I managed to get some concentration back.

Which was just as well because the next section was just porridge, slow, slow, slow. Lots of skidding and sliding and peering through the mist. I did somehow manage to find a completely clear and dry line up the last little rocky climb to the Witton Weavers Way. I normally can't do that when I can actually see!

We set off again and I manage to sail past Jez and Stu as they had ridden into a really soft rut while I took the higher line. It was great until I was dropping down and the mist meant I couldn't quite make out what the track was like. It was either a tyre track or a narrow tyre width rut, I decided it was a track but it wasn't. My front wheel clipped the edge but I managed to get a foot down before I tumbled off into the heather, hee hee. A bit of a push up and more slip, sliding over the top of the moor.

We decided to take the more direct track towards the road then onto the singletrack at Hollins Head Hall. The track was quite stodgy but off we went and the mist had cleared so visibility was excellent on the way down. It was still clear as we got to the singletrack past the Hall. Now, there is quite a bit of marsh grass at the side of the track and my light was reflecting off it like lots of little sparkles, I've seen it before and its fascinating.

So fascinating in fact I didn't notice the deepish, just wider than tyre width rut that had opened up in the middle of the track until I heard the noise of my front wheel sliding along the edge of it, oh b*gger. I got the rear brake on, tried to unclip, couldn't, braced for impact but then managed to pull the front wheel out and carried on my way....eejit.

I need to rememeber to get the camera out here but I do wonder if the light has to be moving to ge the full effect of the sparkles. One stodgy climb later and its time for the fast descent. The mist still seems to be sitting in this area so a combination of mist and mud/spray being thrown off the front tyre meant I couldn't quite see anything so I just pointed the bike downhill and hoped. I do remember it absolutely walloping off a large rock in the midle of the track, the front wasn't too bad but I felt the vibration from my back wheel hitting it all the way up my legs and back.

Last fast, swoopy section through the woods and then throw the bikes in the car and get some food from the Chinese then home. I'm normally a very slow eater but tonight I couldn't shovel it in fast enough, starving.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cycling In

My legs felt a little dead setting off this morning, after about 20 minutes I decided I was quite hungry. I dawdled in my own little world for about half of the ride until someone passed me on the Marsh Road making me jump. Then I started concentrating on riding. The last 8 miles or so felt fine so maybe I just needed to warm up a bit.

There was pretty much a tailwind all the way in, if it had been a strong headwind like Friday I'd probably still be out there such was my lack of oomph. 1 hour 10 minutes today.

I think I'm going to have a fair old headwind on the way home, not like Friday. The strong tailwind, and the fact I didn't leave work until close to 6pm meaning Warton was quiet, gave me an average speed of 18.01 mph at Lea Gate, just over half way home. I didn't think the Spesh was capable of trundling at that speed for any length of time.

By the time I had gone through Preston the average had dropped down to 16.5 but still quite fast for the ride home, there will be none of that tonight.

More intervals

Yesterday I did the interval session I had postponed from last week. Not surprisingly it was hard but I did enjoy it, was a good idea not to do it last week though I would have been on my knees.

I was for 5 x 1K intervals, 400 metre recovery or as I couldn't be bothered changing the units on the Garmin 0.62 mile intervals and 1/4 mile recovery.

My legs still had some stiffness in them from Saturday so a slow two mile warmup. The first interval was by far the hardest, took me a while to wind my legs up. The fourth one was also slower as I had to slow right down to take a corner and dodge a dog that came flying out of the dunes to run next to me. It was just a pup so obviously a little overexcited but it was still a big dog (Old English Sheepdog I think) and nearly tripped me up.

I did all five ok, I could have probably managed a sixth if my life depended on it but was actually really glad to stop. I jogged back to work quite smoothly (but slowly) and suprisingly my legs felt great after hammering them.

Average paces for the intervals:

7.42 7.34 7.35 7.43 7.38

For once I didn't seem to have to constantly adjust the pace either, apart from the last one where I set off far too fast. Still not looking forward to doing a whole mile interval.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Had a rubbish nights sleep last night, which surprised me. I was expecting to sleep like a log due to the long run and I was shattered at 10:30 pm and went to bed. I woke up for some reason at 1:30 am and was wide awake for about three hours. My right calf was annoying me, it felt crampy though I am not prone to cramp. I stretched it out a few times and was fine when I woke up in the morning.

I was intending on going for a short offroad ride in the morning but felt like death warmed up when the alarm went off, so I helped Jez get some kit ready and off he went to ride without me (though not on his own at least). I did intend to go back to sleep for an hour or two but the cat had other ideas and kept trampling on my head and yowling at me demanding to be fed. When I got downstairs he already had food, little pest.

As I was up I got dressed and had an espresso, then a larger espresso and I was just about awake. I was feeling pretty stiff so had a half hour stretching session which mobilised things nicely. At about 1:30 I was still feeling out of it but thought I would take the Spesh out for a trundle somewhere to try to perk me up and work up a bit of an appetite as I was supposed to be going to a 4 course Burns night meal in the evening.

I fancied checking out a bit of the Ribble Cycleway from London Road to the Tickled Trout at least. I brightened up immediately I was outside, helped by the sunshine and cold wind. I headed to London Road and saw the signs for the cycleway. As I passed the pub (Bridge Inn?) there were two wide tracks to choose from but no signs, well there were but I'd not noticed them.

So I took the straight ahead track for a bit but it seemed to be heading away from the river and I thought the track would follow it closely, so I turned back. I then took the other track but came round a bend to be faced with a barriers, a car parked in front of it and three men stood behind the car, one with a rifle complete with telescopic sight. Ooo er!

They told me not to mind the gun and were friendly enough! I asked them which way the Ribble Cycle path went and they directed me back onto the other track. I headed back to the pub to start again and then noticed the blue cycle path signs pointing straight ahead.

It was well surfaced track for most of it, lots of gates, and slightly strange arrangement in the cycle gates with opening one gate, pushing bike into little enclosure thing, shutting that gate behind you then opening the one perpendicular to the last one and reversing bike out. I'm not sure if this path is for horse use but if it is then the only way to get a horse through some of the double gates would be to reverse it. When I used to ride horses a lot none of them were overly keen on reversing (unless they were being contrary and were supposed to be going forwards).

There was also a nice deposit of stinking slurry left by a large tractor cutting over the path, it stunk and covered my tyres in crap. If there wasn't a funny double gate set up there was the choice of a single gate on one side of the big gate or a narrow cattle grid on the other side. I nearly slid out on the first grid as my tyres were covered in slurry and it had to be approached at an angle. Luckily, as it was so narrow it was easy to grab the fence and get a foot down before I slid out completely. I took the non-grid option next time.

By this time the track was following the river, they had done some work on putting some flood defences in as obviously part of the track had been washed away by the river. Lots of the vegetation at the side was flattened but I couldn't make up my mind if the river was high or not as I had no idea what it normally looks like near here. The track became woodland hard pack complete with patches of slippy mud rather than tarmac for a while then it became a quite narrow bumpy tarmac singletrack rather than the wide tarmac of before.

I got to the Tickled Trout and headed back the way I came. The trundle outwards was really easy as I had the wind behind me. It was fairly slow progress riding back against the wind. I then cycled over to Booths to pick up some sugar before heading home.

16 miles of bimbling which helped my legs a lot but seemed to give my face really bad windburn, I wasn't out that long so may be cumulative effects of two days but its really stinging.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Long Run

I had planned a 15 mile run today, which will be the longest run I've ever done, by a whisker (Garburn Trail was 14.8 or some such). I wore my new Wave Creations today, another pair of spangly white running shoes. The spangly white lasted all of 1.7 miles then I splashed through a big muddy puddle and covered them in crap, best to get them dirty quick!

My legs were noticeably fresher setting off this time, the first mile was too fast at 9:40 so I had to slow myself down. I decided to run the whole length of Cuerden Park and back today, the undulations and trails in there naturally slowed me down anyway. I had a bit of navigational snafu trying to get back into the park after it is split by the road (didn't want to do just an out an back) but I'd taken a map with me for this very reason and was soon heading in the right direction.

I got to the bottom of the park near Kem Mill then started heading back towards Lostock Hall again on the main cycle path. This half of the park is quite quiet really, I used to see deer boinging around in the adjacent fields quite regularly when I commuted though here of a morning. My right calf seemed very tight, I had to stretch it out quite a lot and it was beginning to worry me a little.

I crossed back over the road and into the other half of the park which as usual was a lot busier, car park crammed, dogs and kiddies everywhere. I spotted a footpath that seemed to head in the same direction as the main track so decided to have a bit of an explore. I did realise I was running alongside the wrong bank of the river and wondered how I was going to get across.

I came to the end of the footpath and there were some large stepping stones in the river. When I say in the river, one of them was completely submerged, the others were greasy. They looked like a dunking waiting to happen so I headed back the way I came (probably one for the summer I think). The path was quite grassy and muddy and all the slipping around settled my calf down for a while.

I dodged round various obstacles on the main track then climbed out of the park. I think I had done about 8 miles by then as I had another gel at the top, I was working on a gel every four miles as a strategy. I just had another 7 miles to go.

Out onto the tarmac again and my average speed started to pick up. I trundled along the same road as the last long run but I realised I wasn't going to need to go all the way to the bottom of the tramway. I did some more exploring of a couple of lanes around where we used to live. At the 13 miles mark my legs started to really hurt, which I was pleased about because they went at just over 10 miles last time.

The last couple of miles were a bit of a trudge, I dropped down to underneath the last section of the tramway and had to wait a little for a man and his dog to clear the gate so I could run the little rise back up onto the tramway track then home. My legs took some serious persuasion to get going again, it was only a small incline though it might as well have been Ben Nevis as far as my legs were concerned. I only had less than a mile to do so there was no way they were stopping now.

Back on flattish ground they trundled along ok.

15.02 miles at 9:29mm average, which is a little too fast actually, thought I was getting the hang of pacing.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Cycle Commute In

I didn't expect to ride in this week as the forecast earlier in the week was so bad. Last night it looked like the wind wouldn't be as strong (I'll take 20mph as a bit of a breeze) and there shouldn't be much rain so I decided to get my stuff ready.

I was a little tired waking up this morning after yesterdays run but when I looked out the window the trees weren't being bent double and no rain was lashing to I got dressed and out. There was rain for a while as I was heading out of Preston but I didn't really care due to the head to ankle paclite, how did I ever survive without it? The wind was right in my face for most of the ride so it was slow progress at times, I didn't try to push as I'd had quite a hard day yesterday.

It took me 1:14 to get to work this morning but I enjoyed it and it was almost light enough that I could have switched the main light off at Warton. Fingers crossed the wind stays westerly and I get blown home.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

7 Miles at tempo pace

... plus an easy mile at the start. That's what I had planned for today, 8 miles at lunchtime is not something I've done for a very long time. Not since I started running a couple of years ago and tried to go from 3 to 8 miles in a couple of weeks and promptly injured myself.

So, as I'm more used to longer runs now the result should be slightly less traumatic. I class this as a long tempo run (I will have to do 8 and even 9 miles at tempo pace in a few weeks) so I was aiming at averaging 10K pace plus 30 -35 seconds for the 7 miles, around 8:50 - 8:55 pace. I set the zone and the duration of the tempo into the Garmin, I would just run an easy mile before kicking the workout off.

I did have a fair faff before setting off out the door today for some reason. I had decided to do some exploring, rather than head directly to the beach I wanted to explore some tracks, e.g Green Drive. I had hoped it would be a couple of miles of nice woodland trail, I was to be disappointed though. The weather had improved somewhat as it was gloriously sunny but pretty windy.

So I set off out the pedestrian only gate onto Shepherds Road and my Shuffle died about two seconds after I switched it on, guess who forgot to charge it. I was a bit miffed as I prefer road runs with my Ipod but I had no choice but to carry on, to be honest I didn't miss it.

I was basically going to do the first couple of miles of my cycle commute route home but rather that do exactly the same I found some cycle paths which cut the corner off. If they hadn't changed the gate I'd just come out of to pedestrian only access these paths would have been really useful to cut out the traffic lights.

I was onto Blackpool Road and just decided to follow the cycle route signs straight away, I don't normally go this way on my bike as it just routes you the long way round a housing estate and pops you back out on the same road further down, a bit pointless really. However, I was trying to keep an eye out for any woodland paths so I headed down there. No way of getting anywhere but the estate so I just followed it round and picked up my main cycle commute route. I'd done an easy mile by this point so I kicked off the tempo part and tried to keep a steady pace.

I used the lap pace screen all the time as it was showing me my average pace rather than current pace. My plan was to do a couple of slower miles and some faster miles, to average 8:50 - 8:55 over the whole 7 miles. It felt a nice pace to run at actually. These long tempo runs are supposed to be getting me used to running at close to marathon pace (which will be slower than this, oh yes!).

I could see some woods but I couldn't find any way of getting into them (there isn't, that's why). I knew I had spotted a way on to Green Drive when cycling in in the morning, it was pretty much where I turned off the main road as I entered Lytham (yes, Lytham). So I just decided to head for that.

I got there and turned onto Green Drive. It wasn't what I was expecting as it was tarmaced but it was lovely, lots of birds tweeting (glad I didn't have my Ipod on here) and trees etc. I could see the bluebells starting to push up already so need to come through here in the spring. They had an information board which was very informative about all the trees in that section but I was disappointed to learn that it was only a kilometre long. It was part of the original driveway to Lytham (yes, Lytham) Hall.

I was soon back out on a main road and I wondered where to go next as I still had about 3 miles or so to complete. I decided as I'd come back to Ansdell (ahem) that I should just head down to the beach. The road I was on would take me straight down so off I went. As I was climbing the railway bridge I came across another signpost describing a woodland path. There was a path that ran from Lytham (yes, Lytham) to Ansdell, following the railway line. Now, I thought I was in Ansdell so I looked on the other side of the road trying to see where the path went to Lytham but couldn't see one. I continued running.

As I crossed over the railway and started heading down the other side I noticed the Railway Tavern.....but that's in Lytham? Finally the lights went on and I realised I was in bloody Lytham not Ansdell, what a clown. So back over the bridge and onto the woodland track to Ansdell, which was just lovely.

It took me back out onto Blackpool Road, I still had some distance to do so I decided to head to the beach. When I got there the wind was very strong, its never a good sign when a flock of seagulls are sheltering from the wind behind a car rather than flying. It was really hard work running against the wind, its was hard to breathe as well as the air was whipping past my face so fast. I actually dropped down off the prom onto the tracks beside Fairhaven Lake to get away from it, I can usually stick it out but I took my cue from the seagulls today and made it easier for myself.

I was feeling very hungry by this point and I still had the last mile to complete and time was really, really getting on so I speeded up a bit to get back to work. I completed the 7 miles but had 3/4 of a mile still to run back to work, which I ran faster than ideal as it was getting on for 13:45.

So quick shower - the showers in R block are just a revelation, they have.....a radiator in the more freezing my arse off in baltic room after stepping out the shower, total bliss. Then I inhale some food, I am so hungry. Then I look at the Garmin, the splits for the 7 miles are:

8.53 (wind)
8.21 (I'm late!)

I averaged 8:43 over the 7 miles so not bad. I ran 8.9 miles in total on a bowl of porridge at 9am and a slice of banana loaf at 11, no wonder I was hungry. Now that I've got a better idea of where these tracks are I should be able to link them up into a big loop with some beach running too.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I did some intervals!

...though not the session I was supposed to be doing. It was glorious this morning and I was determined to get out for a run even though I just wanted to stuff my face with chocolate today, I had some new shoes to try.

I decided to swap this weeks and next weeks shorter runs around. This week was supposed to be an interval session of 5 x 1K with a four mile run at tempo later in the week. Next weeks intervals were listed as 2 minutes hard followed by 2 minutes easy repeated 5 times, which sounded much more palatable though they would have to be done around 7:35 pace being so short. Thursday's tempo run is supposed to be 7 miles at tempo pace but I'll worry about that on Thursday.

I have bought two new pairs of running shoes, some Mizuno Wave Riders (my normal shoe) for the shorter and faster runs and a pair of Mizuno Wave Creations for the longer runs. The Creations have more cushioning on the forefoot so should hopefully be good for the long runs. I had the Riders today and dazzlingly white they are.

As I got out of site I jogged one direction, then the next to try to decide which way the wind was coming from. I figured mainly westerly so it didn't really matter which way I ran so I headed south to Lytham. I did a 2.5 mile warmup and I started to get into it. The wind was very strong (bracing actually) and pretty much side on, possibly a little behind sometimes which is always interesting. It feels like running whilst someone is trying to push you out of the way. After a couple of miles in the new shoes I realised how buggered the old ones really were, I had springy shoes again.

The first interval was over before I knew it, one of the advantages of doing longer ones I suppose. Two minutes dawdling then off again, the second was much harder work as I had to turn into the wind for a while but again it was over really quick and I was loving my new shoes. The other three fast intervals passed just as quickly. It was just a nice run back to work after that, I felt so much better.

The average pace for the intervals:

7.44 (wind)

Monday, January 19, 2009


Just can't motivate myself to go out and do intervals in freezing, driving rain! I'm supposed to be doing 5 x 1k with 400 metre recoveries which isn't going to be the work of a moment with 2 mile warmup and cooldown on either side of that.

Supposed to be sunny by 3pm, believe it when I see it.

Tomorrow's forecast is looking ok so will do them then, rest of the week doesn't look particularly brill though - the wind! Will have to keep and eye on it but it may mean no riding to work this week , Thursday currently forecast for 58mph gusts.

It's just changed to sleet! Not feeling bad now!

Weekend Activities

On Saturday I raced in the Midlancs XC Leyland race (well it was local). I decided to cycle over there rather than worry about parking the car. The wind was pretty strong and in my face on the way over, but I bimbled along in the sunshine. I made exactly the same mistake as I did last time I tried to get to Worden park and continued on round past Tesco. D'oh. Being on the bike meant it was just a case of cutting through Tesco's bedlam car park to get back on track. Only 4.5 miles of bimbling.

The park was pretty busy, not just with runners and I located the tent area and started cycling across the field a bit to get there. Ground conditions were very wet, stodgy and heavy going, being on a bike with road slick tyres on meant no traction what so ever, after the third time the rear wheel tried to break out on its own I decided it may be prudent to get off and push.

At some point when waiting around the weather changed a little, sky darkened and wind picked up. It was really cold, I did a brief warmup to get my legs used to running again before heading off to the start line. Brief faffing around and we were off. I settled into a pace quite early and just kind of stuck at it, my legs did feel a little heavy but not completely leaden as I'd worried. The course started off running round some flattish fields and football pitches, which were heavy and occasionally even the Walsh's couldn't cope with the mud.

The next section was superb, out into a wooded area, lots of singletrack and a couple of stream crossings. At the end there was a steep bank that the women in front of me were walking up. I had a go at running it, which went well until the mud was so thick it clogged my shoes and I nearly ended up on my knees. I stepped into the leaves at the side to get some traction and even used a handy tree trunk to pull myself up a bit. After that it was back into the park and back round the football pitches which seemed to go on forever and ever.

I crossed the line in 36:40 for 6.4 km 9.13mm pace, not exactly blistering but the longest course yet I think. Really enjoyed it though due to the woodsy section. It was too cold to hang around for much after racing, enough to see the lead men steaming past but I headed back off on my bike doing some errands on the way home.

On Sunday I headed out to West Yorkshire for a 20 mile or so mileage building ride. I wasn't sure how my legs would be after racing so I was taking the slow and steady approach, particularly as the ride sets off straight uphill. Fortunately for me neither Jez or Ed are particularly fit at the moment so I didn't have the problem of them riding out ahead of me making me speed up, it was mainly the other way around actually which I must say is a bit of a novelty for me.

We had some debate about an actual route but ended up forgoing the climb up the Gorple Road to head up to the Long Causeway instead on the Pennine Bridleway. The track was really stodgy in places so had to remember how to ride a bike in soft conditions. The ford we crossed before climbing up to the Long Causeway was a bit deeper than normal, both feet got a proper dunking and eventually the water would work its way down inside my boots. For once I decided not to wear my merino sealskins on a winter ride and I ended up with a cold left foot.

We rode along the rode for a bit as my legs got more into it, they never got particularly full of beans but they were very happy to just keep going which I was pleased about. We dropped off the road onto some bridleway heading towards Tod. There was some proper stodge along this way, its been a while since I've had to wrestle the bike through that kind of stuff. There were a few moments where the pedals were going round but the wheels were only moving about an inch, luckily they managed to find some traction before I was forced to unclip or topple over sideways. Average speed: about 2mph! Excellent fun - mountain biking as a whole body workout.

We then rode across some pack horse trail whose name now completely escapes me but there are old slabs laid across that have been worn over centuries. I have cleaned this section loads of times but not today, in fact none of us did due to the fact that the track was often submerged under water hiding all the cheeky pointy rocks and other things to catch the unwary. This is prime over the bars territory for me but I made it through with only a couple of dabs (of my foot rather than my face). Its amazing how much the rideability of trails can change from one ride to the next.

We decided to head down to the golf course then up along the excellent piece of singletrack bridleway which was made slightly more difficult by virtue of being a stream and hiding rocks. A couple of dabs but ok and good fun then we had to climb this very long, steep road hill. I just plugged away (actually in middle ring as that actually kept my heart rate down better than trying to spin) and my legs actually didn't die at the end of it as I expected. We then headed up through Colden and picked the PB back up to head over to the Gorple Reservoirs. All that was left was the always delightful climb up from Widdop and the last descent back to the car.

I was feeling pretty cold by then, I had good layers on but my left foot was cold and having cold feet makes the rest of me feel cold. The wind was also pretty strong and cold and it was really, really strong setting off up the climb. I don't think I've had that before, normally the hill blocks it out but not today. I just continued plugging away making not bad progress until I got caught out on the last loose section. Its always a bugger after cleaning the rest of the climb there is one section of rubble to get over which needs a big push and I don't think I've managed to attack it in anything more than my granny gear. I had actually ridden all the difficult bit but my front wheel pinged off a rock as I had almost cleaned it and I couldn't get it back. Its always a problem riding in such a low gear and trying to keep the front under control.

The descent down the Gorple road needed a lot more pedalling than seemed fair and the cold wind was giving me a headache by the end but its still an ace descent. A quick post ride pint then home, the rain started as we hit the M65. We were quite lucky with the weather as it looked black and awful on the Bowland fells on the way over but was sunny for all of our ride.

In the end it was about 19 miles with 850m or so of ascent. Considering I was doing slow and steady I average about 7.5 mph which is my normal pace round this way anyway.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Showers in R block!

As I was wandering back through the building having been across to the C block shower, someone asked me if I knew that they had installed a couple of showers downstairs, pretty much directly under where we were standing. No I didn't.

I dumped my stuff at my desk, chucked my soup into microwave to heat up then went off to find the showers. There are indeed two spangly new showers with big changing cubicles in a large room downstairs. How fantastic is that, I can now park my bike inside this building and have a shower without having to go outside again.

Tempo Run

I did some more reading around my training plan, it turns out there are different interval paces and tempo paces. I'm not supposed to be trying to maintain the same pace for both a 400m interval as a 16oom interval or the same pace for a 3 mile tempo as an 8 mile tempo. Phew is all I can say! The paces are still quite hard though.

Today's run was to be 2 miles at an easy pace, 3 miles at tempo pace followed by another 2 miles at easy pace. As it is a short tempo run my pace is supposed to be my 10K pace, so 8:20 mm to aim for, still going to hurt though.

It is stupidly windy today but as payback for fighting the wind all the way home yesterday I'm going to do the tempo section of my run with the wind behind me.

I ran towards Lytham (and I think I actually got there!) as a warmup, very easy pace and into the wind. I ran about 2.4 miles in the end as after I left Ansdell I had to wait to get to the prom. I still don't have my new shoes but leg wasn't too grumpy. The tide was properly in, it was very windy but not enough to have waves smashing off the sea wall but enough that there were loads of kite surfers out today (brrrrrr, is what I thought, did look fun).

I had given myself a bit of extra distance to do the tempo and off I went at silly 7:05 mm pace for oh, about 20 seconds then I realised it was far too fast and I was about to die. I took full advantage of the wind, it was quite noticeable when I was sheltered from it as my pace dropped and I had to put some effort in! I had to keep slowing myself down, leaning back against the wind sometimes. It was still hard work but I managed all three miles in 24:01 so 8mm pace average. Which looks good but was entirely, wholly wind assisted. Still fun though.

Two mile jog back to work to ease the legs out. Just over 7 miles in total, quite a lot compared to most of my lunchtime runs and their not going to get any shorter.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Riding to work

I decided to ride to work today, there had been no banter about night riding and the forecast looked not too bad today. I also want a rest day in my legs before racing on Saturday.

The forecast was for light wind and possibly some rain in the morning with the wind picking up to around 25mph gusts etc and heavier rain for the ride home. The wind was due to be coming from a South Easterly direction which as Jez pointed out would make for hard work on the ride home. I said "that's not too bad and I have my waterproofs anyway".

Ride in was fine, a little cold to start with but nice and warm in my full paclite bin bag ensemble. I took a pretty steady pace to work with no dramas. It took 1:09 minutes to do the 17.5 miles for the particular route I took and it was a really, really enjoyable "I love my bike" ride. Particularly enjoyable was switching the main light off for the last three miles or so as it was so light (spring is coming!!! slowly).

For the ride home my words came back to haunt me! The rain started as soon as I got up from my desk (I laugh in the face of rain!) but the wind didn't seem to bad due to the shelter of the building. Usual faff getting ready and out the door, it wasn't until I left site and turned onto Heyhouses Lane that the wind hit me and I crawled along at 10mph!

It was hard work against the wind for the whole ride home but I can honestly say I never bothered about the rain (apart from the few times it was driving into my face), I was toasty, warm and dry. I slogged it out with my helmet peak set down against the wind for most of the way home. It was so set down that I missed the cut through to the swing bridge on the docks and ended up popping out near Morrisons. I did think of cycling along that way but when I got there it seemed jammed with cars.

I decided to head round the back of the docks as I was supposed to. As I was approaching the cinema I could see loads of tail lights queued, unusual for this bit of road. When I got to the junction to head towards Strand Road it was at a standstill. Cars were backed up, with people trying to get into the queue at random angles. It was chaos, so I rode on the pavement for a while until I got past the worst bottle neck and continued on the road, then down through quiet Avenham Park.

The last section was hard work straight into the wind and I crawled home. It took me 1:25 to do the 18 or so miles home at a snail worthy 12.9 mph. Though it turns out there were major problems on the M6/M55 anyway so I don't think I would have driven home in much less, which was why Preston was so busy. Still quite enjoyed it because I didn't end up cold and wet.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I'm having a rest day today. I was supposed to be cycling in to work but I woke up this morning and felt like I'd had a fantastic nights sleep and an extra hour in bed would do me more good than cycling to work. I love having fab nights sleep like that, doesn't happen often enough.

I also went climbing last night for the first time in ages. Pam texted Jez and I to see if we wanted to go, it was quite timely really as I was just thinking the other day that I really need to do some upper body work.

It was good fun but I had quite a sore left knee by then end of it, I was making those muscles work and stretch in a way they hadn't done for quite some time and they really complained. I gave it a good rollering with my massage stick thingy and it helped a lot to ease it off but it was another reason to rest today.

May cycle to work on Friday instead.

Yesterday I Did Some Intervals - ouch!

With hindsight yesterdays interval session should have been swapped around with Thursday's planned tempo session but hindsight is a wonderful thing. I knew I was supposed to be doing three long intervals, longer than I've done before but I hadn't really registered how long. I had set the session up on the Garmin last week but it wasn't until I got to the prom to start the intervals that I realised what I was about to inflict on myself.

The run down was slow and stiff, my lower left leg feels quite battered (I ordered some new shoes yesterday) and I think the shoes need to be binned now but I have no other road shoes until the new ones arrive. I ran about 2.5 miles as a warmup just to ease my legs into it but they felt heavy. For the first time in a long time I got to the beach and the tide was nearly in. I listened to the roar of the sea for a while before heading up to the prom tarmac to begin the intervals.

I found the session on the Garmin and looked through it to make sure I had intervals and rest steps in and I noticed the length of the interval - 1600 metres. 1600 metres flys through my brain for a bit searching for some recognition and eventually I remember, 1600 metres is a mile!!!!!! OMG what am I trying to do to myself.

I'm supposed to do three repeats at 7:30 - 7:50 pace and I know I'm really going to struggle. I did seriously consider just going straight back to work but thought I'd give at least one a go. I set the workout going and off I went, I always have a 30 second building pace up before launching into full on intervals.

I was ok in the actual interval until the half mile mark then I started to really struggle. I was watching the distance climb very slowly and trying to maintain pace when it passed the mile and I slowed to a stop. The Garmin didn't stop and kept flashing messages at me to speedup. I was a bit confused about this as the distance was reading over a mile, then I realised that was cumulative distance not interval distance. I changed the screens and sure enough I was at 0.98 miles, grrrr! So I ran the last 0.2 mile and faffed about for three minutes resting, so not a great start.

The second one went much the same way though I got to 0.7 mile before the wheels came off though I did hang on for the whole thing. The pace wasn't great at 7:50 average but at least I didn't walk around too early. At the end of this one my lower left inner calf muscle was on fire so I decided not to do the third mile. I was a bit annoyed with myself at this but the first half mile of the jog back my left leg felt sore but it eased off a lot by the time I got to work so probably the sensible decision to make.

I have this session again in a few weeks time so I'll see if I can manage it then. Next week is biased to the tempo run (gulp!) but I think after that the interval session is 5 x 1K which may be more achievable initally than 3 x 1 mile even though its the same overall distance. We'll soon find out.

Thursday is to be 2 miles easy, 3 miles tempo (slower than 10k pace this time!) and 2 miles easy. Hopefully my new shoes will be here by then.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Long Run

Been a bit lax in blogging the last few entries as not spent much time in front of the computer at home. I decided to do my long run yesterday not ideal after Friday's speedwork I know. The decision was based on the weather forecast on Friday. Sunday was looking to be strong winds and rain but a bit warmer than of late whilst Saturday was dry but cold with wind picking up.

I decided to take my chances on the Saturday as didn't fancy a long run in wind and rain. Saturday morning was very frosty, I had planned on going out at 11am but decided to hang off a bit until the frost/ice disappeared a bit. It did warm up a bit but the downside was the wind had gotten up a bit and it felt bitterly cold out in it. I expected my legs to be tired but running on tired legs is something I'll have to get used to.

My legs felt like anvils to start with not surprisingly and I found the first 4 miles quite difficult, they were also a bit more undulating than my legs wanted to deal with too. I bimbled along some new tracks for a bit of variety (exploring will keep me sane on my long runs I think) before heading into Cuerden park and doing a loop round part of it. I noticed loads of tracks heading off here there and everywhere, I need to come back for an explore soon when I don't have a mileage target to reach.

The climb out of the valley was quite tough but my legs were getting into it by then, after about an hour I had a gel though I think I could've done with taking it earlier as I felt quite depleted of energy after Friday's efforts. I found the middle six miles surprisingly good, it was a little flatter and my legs remembered how to run at a decent pace. That wore off around the 10.5 mile mark and the last two miles were on very, very tired legs (and into the headwind, not fair).

I thought I had a blister on the sole of my left foot for the last two miles as it was very sore but when I got home there wasn't one. I think my running shoes are ready for retirement, they are over a year old with 400 miles on them. Unlike my trail shoes I won't be running on them until they fall some new shoes required.

Total run was 12.8 miles at 9:40mm pace which I was surprised at, it felt slower.

I have just rested (i.e eaten lots) today though if the wind had been slightly less fierce I would have probably taken a bike out for an hours spin or so.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Tempo Run

Today's run was 1 mile easy, 4 miles at tempo pace then 1 mile easy. I ran in the opposite direction to the way I normally head due to the wind direction and I managed to get lost on the way back! The last part of the run is through residential streets and I managed to miss a turning. It added on 3/4 of a mile that I didn't need to do so ended up doing 7 miles in total.

The tempo pace was supposed to be my best 10K pace plus 15 - 30 seconds. My best 10K pace is 8:20 so it should have been around 8:35 - 8:50 range. I averaged 8:20 for the four miles which was too fast really. I spent the whole four miles looking at the pace on the Garmin and constantly trying to slow myself down a bit, I'm hoping to get a feel for pacing soon though I didn't need the Garmin to tell me when I dipped under the 8mm mark as that felt really hard. I found the last tempo mile in particular hard due to overdoing the first three I think. I need to be careful with the speedwork pace as its an injury waiting to happen otherwise.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Ride home

I decided to wear the overtrousers on the way home and I'm glad I did because it was really cold. It was already starting to frost up in St Annes at 5pm. They really are quite swishy but when I was stopping on the way home and faffing about for ages taking photos they really came into their own as the only part of me that ended up cold were my fingers as I took my gloves off to operate the camera.

I took a few light trail pictures (I'm such a sucker for them).

It looks like the orange light trail is trying to head skywards but it was only a car changing lane. After a few on the Marsh Road and a few on the roll down into Preston I thought I better get a move on before things froze any further. As I passed round the edge of the docks the water was utterly still, its so rare to see it like that. St Walburgs (I think) had a lovely reflection:

I had one more faff on the tramway bridge before trying to hermetically seal myself into my gloves and jacket to ride through the ice box and then home. I think I added over half an hour to my commute home and it was after 7pm when I got in and couldn't be bothered thinking about food. Luckily Jez had had an invite to meet up with some friends for a curry - so I pigged out on that with the obligatory pint of Kingfisher (so much for January healthy eating!).

Ice free commute

Hurrah. I decided to ride in today after not getting out last night and according to the forecast it was due to stay above freezing overnight then get really cold again on Thursday night (not sure its going to now but hey ho) so today was seemingly the best choice.

It was wet on the roads on the way in but no ice at all so no slides of any description. I also wore the paclite bottoms for the first ride of any real length today and they were ok, no sweating madly at all and not restrictive. There was a constant swish swish of the fabric but that was mainly drowned out by traffic noise so they may turn out to be the good investment I hoped.

They do look like clown trousers on me though, particularly when I've got the lower legs cinched up. They do look better when on the bike (as most bike kit does) but they fit well round the thigh so unless my stumpy legs lengthen by an inch or so I'll just have to look ridiculous standing around in them.

They did a very good job of keeping the wind off my knees even if there was no real rain today, I felt toasty all the way to work. My knees are usually the bit of me that gets most cold commuting as my tights aren't windproof. Not sure if I'll wear them on the way back home tonight though, depends how cold it is.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Aborted Night Ride...I'm such a muppet

There was much discussion today about whether we would go out riding and where, would it be too icy etc. Abbey Village was discounted in favour of Riv and even though it got minging later I agreed to go and I dragged Jez with me.

We got there, it was black as the ace of spades due to cloud but roads were ok on the way over. It was only Jez, Stu and I who were riding in the end and Stu was a few minutes late (but early for Stu). We sat in the car looking at the minging cold night that I'd insisted we come out in, waiting.

Stu arrived, out we got and started getting everything ready....except I'd forgotten to put in the battery for Jez's light, oops-a-daisy. Sorting the lights and batteries etc was my responsibility and I can distinctly not remember chucking Jez's battery in the kit bag. I had put my own in though. Just to make things worse I had asked Jez to check whether my lamp was on the bars of my On One as I couldn't find it.

I briefly entertained the idea of riding myself and getting a lift back with Stu while Jez went home but as it was my mistake and I'd dragged him all the way out there I insisted he took the battery (we both have the same style of Light and Motion HID) and went riding. Judging by the look that flashed across his face I could see he didn't think this was the act of selfless charity that I did. Though he got over it and got ready while I packed up and headed home.

As I was writing this I got a phone call from Jez to say they were finished after less than an hour! Turns out Stu had fallen off in the first 400 metres and if you looked closely (as in fall on your face onto it close) the mud was actually hiding lots of ice. They bimbled around a few of the lower level tracks before deciding it was too icy to do much else.

So I didn't miss much but at least I was willing to go out there!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Intervals on the Icy Prom

Yesterday was my first planned interval session: 10 - 20 minute warmup, 4 x 3 mins around 7:35 ish and 10 minute cool down. I will always tend to go for the longer warmup now, particularly when it was as cold as yesterday.

A beautfiul day but very cold and lots and lots of ice around St Annes. I took it very easy on the warmup run to the pier. I had to keep finding dry patches or places where the sun had been to run properly, the rest was slippy and icy.

My left calf felt very tight and my legs weary in general so I decided to do the last little jog along the beach under the pier. Going over the dunes onto the beach I though the sand felt a little crusty and there were lots of what looked like little wet patches on the beach itself. When I looked at them closely and stuck my finger on one it was actually frozen, ice on the beach who'd have thunk it!

I ran to the pier and the normally very soft slow going sand that collects around it was firm and very crunchy, it was in the shadow of the pier so no sun had gotten to it.

I popped up onto the prom and set off on the first interval. I set off a bit too fast (I noticed when I bothered to look at the Garmin) and tried to get a feel for running around 7:35 to 7:40. I found it was hard but doable, probably the exact pace I should be doing intervals at all along (thinks to self that writers of training plan may know what they are talking about).

The next two intervals were a little more interesting and a touch slower as I had to dance around the ice quite a few times. I was finding breathing the cold dry air in quite tough on my throat too, what wind there was I was actually running into. The last interval was pretty much the same as the first and I could have done another one.

The jog back to work consisted of much more ice dodging but my legs felt quite perked up by then. I was really surprised to find that there was no one on the golf course as I went through - such a beautiful day. Maybe they are not allowed to play when the ground is frozen ?

Back to my lurgy filled office where I felt like I had the beginnings of a sore throat (hypochondria again).

I'm having a rest day today, though my legs feel ok and my throat feel a little rough but I think it is from the cold air. The skin on one side of my face was really sore last night as well, I had to get the Nivea grease paint on it. Feels ok this morning though.

Marathon Training Plan

I have been looking at my training for the next few months (still need to get into the detail). I have decided to base my mara training on the First program which calls for three runs a week only and cross training to prepare for the marathon. Traditional marathon programs seems to call for about 5 days of running minimum which is not for me, I want to start and finish the marathon as my primary goal not break any records.

I also know that I am an injury magnet and 4 runs a week tends to be my limit. I'm in love with my bikes again and want to ride them. I want to do some offroad running in there too, miles of tarmac will utterly bore me (exactly why am I doing a road marathon again ????????????). Basically its based on the First program but not slavishly following it.

The program gives pace zones based on my best 10K time which is about 8:20 mm. So intervals are around 7:35 - 7:40 mm (ouch but doable for short distances), tempo runs are 8:30 - 8:50 and long runs are 9:20 - 10 mm. I had settled on doing my long runs around 9:20 - 9:30 pace anyway as it feels like I could keep it going for a long time.

The plan consists of 1 Long run, 1 interval session and 1 tempo run a week. It is the tempo run that most worries me as it calls for anything up to 8 miles at that pace. I may find its these runs that get slowed down, I seem to cope with intervals ok but long fast (for me) runs wear me out. It also has a stepback week every 5 weeks, I'm going to change that to 4 weeks initally to fit in with the XC races. I have used a 4 weekly step back in the past and it has worked for me.

I want to fit in riding to work, general bike bimbling about and some mountain biking as well around that but it will all depend on how the runs go and it may just be lots of easy paced riding (no bad thing).

I was chatting to some marathon veterans over Christmas about my training, they didn't seem alarmed that I wanted to subsitute some runs for cycling as they know they will be proper rides however they told me that the long runs were what mattered above all, if I replaced some of the speedwork with steady paced runs it probably wouldn't make that much difference.

Short, fast races are probably best avoided apparently, in fact it was suggested I don't race much at all but I'll get bored so my race program is:

The three remaining XC races (one a month, step back week)
The GNW Half in Feb(first real target)
The Hawkshead Trail in April (for fun)

I may do the Blackburn Winter Warmer 10K as it was hilly and a good course but I'll see how training goes. I may need to find a longer race to aim for between the GNW half and the mara, I like intermediate targets.

What a ramble, will flesh out the details in the next week or so.

Sunday Morning Bimble

We had arranged to meet some friends at Rivington on Sunday morning for a very social paced ride (one friends first offroad ride in a year). I'm ashamed to say I had to be dragged out of bed in the morning. We were supposed to leave the house at 9:30am and I think I finally got up at 9 and had some Christmas Cake for breakfast as it was all I had time for. Whilst its obviously not the breakfast of champions it actually seemed to work ok.

Arriving at Riv there was a considerable amount of faff before we all finally set off, 7 of us in total. It was cold but there was no wind so I didn't put my really thick winter gloves (I hate hot, sweaty hands in gloves) on with the result I had very cold fingers for the first 10 minutes or so, but they soon warmed up. My legs felt ok on the bike, they felt quite stiff walking around but ok spinning along.

A consensus of opinion was not to do the Healey Nab drops, I was initially disappointed but it wasn't meant to be a hard ride so I just attacked the long road hill a bit more, a little too much perhaps. I stood up for most of the first section which caused my left VMO and shins (shins? not sure why) to burn like crazy then sat down for the last slog. My left VMO always makes it presence felt after hard offroad runs so I wasn't too surprised by that. I will get to the top of that climb stood up one of these days. I also really, really need to get some new cleats for my boots.

I made myself sit down for the top section, which felt harder - I seem to have lost my ability to sit and spin, I blame the running. A fast blast down Lead Mines then up the next steep road section, my shins complained loudly once again so I had to sit down, I noticed my left foot was moving around all over the place in the pedal which may be why it was setting the VMO muscle off so much. More easy road to the bottom of the climb to the pigeon tower.

A bit of chain faff at the bottom then we began the steady climb up, a few patches of ice but nothing to worry about. It was fine all the way up to the big sweeping left hander than heads to where the old cottage used to be. It was sheet ice, edge to edge on the track. I decided to take the alternative route, however one of the lads decided to try riding it. I watched with interest....he got about two metres on it before the bike went from under him and the foot he put down to catch himself went too. Ice patches ok ish, ice

We took a different route up to the bottom of the pike which was fantastically dry - it better be like that in the summer this year. It was soon pretty obvious that the Pike itself was heaving so we decided against riding up to it and headed along to the Commonwealth down, avoiding a few ice patches along the way. The entry to the descent was another ice rink wo we headed along to the grassy field down which we don't do very often these days.

The track itself was icy but the grass was fine so we flew down that. Just one stubborn sheep to avoid and the frozen grass was brill to ride on, last time I came down here I was having two wheel slides all over the place it was so wet. A fast drop down to the gate then a bimble along the bottom back to the cars - we figured the side of the reservoir would be too busy.

Just under 10 miles and I have to say I was actually just getting warmed up and into it, my legs were starting to perk up so it was a little short for me in the end. It was the correct length for the friends just coming back after their layoff though and that's what matters. I'm glad Jez dragged me out of bed.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Offroad Run

Headed to Abbey Village this morning to get in an offroad run rather than pounding out more tarmac miles, my legs were feeling a little tight. I had more faff with my Nalgene bladder as it seems to leak from the filling area, this is the second one I have had that bloody leaks.

The first one came with the North Face rucksac I bought for running with, it leaked from where the hose attached to the bladder. It was ok if you put less than a litre of water in and no stuff in the bag otherwise there was too much pressure in the bladder and water just leaked down my back, not great on cold runs (or any run really). This new one seems to leak from the top and has to be kept upright, will be buying a 2 litre camelbak bladder soon I think.

It was pretty cold when I set off though at least there was little wind. The first reservoir I ran past out of the village was frozen solid, don't think I could see anywhere where it was open water. The track was ice free and bone dry but I had a feeling there was going to be some skating today.

There was very little ice in the woods, just more bone dry track though there was some fantastic icicles hanging along the side of the stream. The light levels were really not great and I struggled to get a decent picture with the little camera, it just wasn't sharp enough. It was the kind of light where you need the SLR and a tripod (and some Ilford HP5 film ?).

I got an ok one of some ice shapes in the stream itself:

I headed to Mill Lane, which was clearer and more runnable than last time I came this way but there was still fair amount on ice around. When I got to the top section with the water run off it turned to sheet ice and I had to pick my way up the very edge (think it was an old wall) until I could run again.

There was not much more ice until heading up to the moor on the Lyon Den path, there was one patch that covered the whole track that I had to hop over but not much else. I warned an MTBer heading down that way about it as it was right on a bend and may not have been obvious.

No more ice for ages, just very dry track and easy running. I headed round the single track I could barely move on last time and it was lovely and frozen, a few bits and bobs of ice but great running.

I sat on the bench opposite Darwen tower to have a drink and put the camera away (it was in my pocket and bouncing) as there seemed to be loads of people at the tower itself. At some point when wrestling my rucksack off I paused the Garmin, I noticed as I was passing by the Tower and set it off again.

I took the long way down this time and the first half was excellent for running, dry track and no ice to be seen. About half way down that all changed and there seemed to be a sheet of ice all the way down to the bottom (didn't expect that one).

There was a steep path dropping down to near where I was headed anyway. Its normally a boggy looking mess (one for climbing rather than descending) but it was frozen today and I set off down it, one or two slips but I got down ok and headed round to the road where I had a lot of problems last time.

It was clear today so no hanging onto the hedge to get down, up the steep track and I decided to head across the field today to Ryal Fold, its usually a boggy sheep trodden mess but it was hard today. The frozen sheep prints are a little hard on the ankles I discovered.

From Ryal Fold I took the concessionary bridleway back down to the bottom of Mill Lane, which was ice free, then easy down through the woods back to the car.

In the end it was 9.84 miles in 1:44 - 10:34 pace so not bad considering I was skipping ice and felt slow on the climbs.

Friday, January 2, 2009

First Run of the Year

I finally actually did some exercise today. I did take (almost) all my running kit up to Scotland with me and I was all set to go out for a 6 - 8 mile run near my folks house on Hogmanay but I forgot my sports bra. Not a chance I can run without it unless I want to do myself some damage so I stropped around their house for a while instead.

I managed to survive Hogmanay reasonably intact for a change, despite not going to bed until 6:30 am yesterday due to talking nonsense with friends all night. I was too busy talking to be consuming stupiud amounts of alcohol it would seem. Jez gave up around 3am and had already been awake for a few hours before I surface around 2:30 pm. I knew I had been drinking but just felt tired rather than hungover.

We had been thinking about staying with my folks until the 2nd or 3rd but as we were feeling fine we decided to drive down on the Ne'er Day instead. My parents are smokers and everyone else that we were around on Hogmanay was a smoker and it had started to really get to me. I was wheezing a little and my chest was feeling tight so we decided to drive down.

I had a productive afternoon cleaning and disinfecting the greenhouse (which I didn't do last year as I thought it would be really messy) which took a few hours. There was a little frog in there which made me jump when I saw it hop around the floor. I moved it out of the greenhouse before starting the cleaning, not sure Jeyes fluid agrees with frogs.

I set off for my run at 3:30 pursued by the smell of Jeyes (I can still smell it on my hands even after a long shower and several hand washes, though it is better than the smell of cigarette smoke).

I did just over 5 miles and my left calf and achilles feel disturbingly tight. I had intended on kicking off the long road based runs I will have to do over the next few months but think I'll run offroad tomorrow instead though it will probably be shorter than my planned 10 miles or so.

I could feel a definite wobble all round the legs/thigh and belly area. Time to get the miles in on both bike and foot.