Saturday, February 28, 2009

Gargrave Ride

We got over to the Dales today for some MTBing. The plan was to ride out of Gargrave and over Stockdale lane. Its been a while since I've done this ride, its about 21/22 miles with a reasonable amount of climbing (including some grassy slogs) and slimestone to slide around on.

I felt ok setting off, on the Titus again. The start has lots of wide track and generally climbs upwards, nice to warm the legs up which still felt a little sluggish, they did get a lot better later. There was a slog of a grassy climb to contend with, made harder by the fact it was so wet. When we came on this climb a couple of years on the tandem we managed to dig our own trench trying to ride up it(and then got stuck in it) the ground is so soft.

After this there was some undulating along some cow trodden field. It was interesting to ride as there were some sections that looked really soft and sticky that I thought would get stuck in but I managed to ride ok but others that looked fine but in fact were really soft and I got bogged down in. Everyone else was the same and I do quite enjoy this as it was patchy, its less fun when its long stretches though it does nothing for average speed.

Stockdale Lane was fun as usual, its been a while since I've had the delights of greasy limestone but it was good for my rapidly disappearing bike handling skills. A good fast descent off the other side, feeling a lot more confident than of late and the Titus making light work of everything.

We didn;t have much stoppage time at all, couple of food stops but that was it. On the way back towards Gargrave I was thinking to myself that I had managed not to fall off - so I fell off!

Another silly fall, I was holding a gate open for the others and as I set off I hadn't quite got my left foot back in the pedal when the front wheel slid on some greasy rock and I lost balance. I put my foot down onto another slippy rock and it slid off onto......nothing. The track was built up at that point and I toppled off the side and fell about a foot and half onto some rocks, bike on top of me. Ouch!

It hurt straight away, I had landed on my left leg and my hand was a little sore. I collected myself then picked myself up and got going again. I caught up with the others, though none of them realised the track was built up like that. Complete numpty moment.

We got back to the van too soon, I was pleased I was feeling relatively good still. A quick survey of the damage: The Garmin has a few small gouges out of it (screen is ok) and I had a bruise right in the IT band of my left leg, with a graze right through the middle of it. The bruise was well formed already so its going to be a corker. This evening its currently about 12 centimetres long and about 7 at its widest point.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Attempt at Intervals

Thursday I had planned to do intervals at lunchtime. Nothing major, 5 x 2 mins to get my legs back into it again.

The warmup was ok, nice steady pace though I did think my legs were a little unresponsive, still not feeling sprightly but I thought I would give it a go and see how things went.

The first one was hard work, as it always is so I wasn't too worried but as it turned out this would be the fastest one. The second was a little slower and the third was slower still. As I normally find I am really getting into it by the third I took the hint and didn't do anymore.

I continued my run at a steady pace and my legs were ok with that, just over 7 miles in the end.

I realy hadn't factored in the recovery period from racing the half which was a little silly on my part though confirms I should keep it relativley light on the racing front for the next few months.

Today I decided to rest, I had thought about doing a short lunchtime run but I was planning an MTB ride on Saturday and a run on Sunday so I thought It would be better if I did nothing (I still brought my kit to work but didn't run in the end).

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Short Night Ride

Last night we headed out on a night ride from Abbey Village. I took the Titus (whee) and it did feel like having a new bike. There were four of us, three lads and me. The temperature reading on the car said 6 degrees when we pulled up but the wind was strong and really deceptively cold. Lots of layers on.

Was nice to be on the Titus again. My legs still felt like they had Sunday's race in them, not sore but not lively either.

I got caught out by the Titus very early on when descending to the steep cobbles on Dean Lane. There is a bit of a kerb style water bar and I approached it too fast, I didn't realise how fast I was travelling as the Titus was just flattening the trail out. I'm not exactly sure what happened but I lifted the front to get over the kerb, as I was a bit too fast I think it hit the kerb and bounced me (not the bike though) right back. My bum was on the rear wheel and I almost let go of the left hand grip! No control what so ever.

Time slowed down as it does in these situations and I remember thinking it would be really bad if I came off. I had the sense to leave the brakes alone and managed to get up of the back wheel and in control just before it dropped steeply down to the right, I thought I was going straight on into...well I'm not exactly sure but I bet it wasn't a big spongy mattress.

There were a couple of diggers at the bottom of the climb to the Tower, obviously trying to sort out the trail damage. We decided that the steep way would be best as that had the least damage originally so probably the least digger activity. It was slow progress, it was really stodgy and there were a few channels and ruts that had to be negotiated. I had a spin out on some soft mud quite close to the start but manage to inch my way up the rest.

Its been a while since I've needed the bottom gear and a while since I've sat on the nose of the saddle for that length of time. The top section was really hard work as it was into a pretty strong wind. So I was riding in bottom gear, on the nose of the saddle, trying to keep the front of the bike down whilst trying to not get blown sideways by the wind, my bar light pointing everywhere but in front.

There are two water bars on the very last section of the climb, just below the tower that my back wheel spun out on but there was no way I was putting a foot down having gotten so close to the top. I kept pedalling and managed to keep going though I must have zigged all over the track, straight lines were in short supply.

A quick regroup at the Tower (I surprisingly wasn't last up the climb). Then off along the rutty track which was very, very, very soft and stodgy. Now narrow ruts and squidgy mud can be a challenging combination at the best of times but add in darkness so you can't see too far ahead and a strong crosswind trying to blow you off your bike and its gets very interesting indeed.

I managed to negotiate the ruts without parting company from the bike but the open track was stupidly soft, I was dropping gears to keep moving forward on a flat bit of track. Most of the puddles on here are quite shallow but I managed to find a hub deep one, had enough momentum to roll out of it but it was a bit of a surprise.

The last little bit of climb was slow going and Jez had ground to a halt in front of me as he slid out so I wasn't expecting to get much further but I almost managed to get up it, due to my lucky wheel slides that kept me going in the correct direction. My luck did run out and only Stu actually managed to ride it all and made it look easy!

We decided to go over the top rather than round the back, the top track wasn't too bad really then we dropped down to Ryal Fold. The track has a bit of damage from all the ice I think but the Titus zoomed over it. The last bit down to Ryal Fold was into the headwind again which meant lots of unfair pedalling.

We split company here from Stu who went off to do the cobbly descent and we headed down the shorter way as people wanted to get back home. A quick whizz down the easy track then a left turn to come into the bottom of the cobbly descent where Stu had headed off to. There is a big gate that you have to ride around and the line is over some (dry tonight) tree routes, I must have done it countless times but tonight I got it very wrong. One minute I was riding the next I was hugging the gate trying not to hit the deck!

I untangled myself and we headed off for the last cheeky section through the woods, I eventually noticed that the Garmin wasn't on the bars, bugger. I rode back to the gate and there it was lying underneath it.

The last bit through the woods was lovely, swoopy and fast but I hadn't finished with being a numpty yet! Almost at the end of the woods before popping back out on the main track you drop down two steps then up onto a little bridge. Again I've done it loads of times, just letting momentum take me up onto the bridge then pedalling off. This time I was onto the bridge no problem but when I tried to pedal off nothing happened, the rear spun a little and I wobble precariously towards the stream. Luckily there is a handrail on the left of the bridge and I lunged for that and managed to stop myself falling right.

Of course I was at the front and caused a bit of a traffic jam, when I looked at the bike my chain had dropped onto the granny ring at some point on the descent and it was in a stupidly low gear, as I was stood up when trying to pedal off the bridge it was too low and spun the rear.

I rode carefully back to the car.

Faffing

My new Ipod arrived on Monday and I've spent what computer time I have had outside work sorting that out rather than blogging.

I had a rest day Monday as planned then headed out for a 3.5 mile recovery run on Tuesday. My calves felt worse on Tuesday than Monday and I had intended on doing a longer run but it wasn't sensible. My calves felt better after the run than before so maybe I should have run on Monday after all? As I had a short run I spent 20 minutes stretching before I had a shower.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Great North West Half Marathon

Those rare days where you feel strong and things go better than planned? Well I had one of those yesterday. It was the Great North West Half, my first half marathon and the longest road race I have done. The Garburn Trail was longer but as it was offroad its a completely different animal.

I had a big bowl of porridge for breakfast with a chopped banana and as an extra treat because it was a race day I had some dark muscovado sugar in it. Its not just a treat really. I am never good at eating first thing in the morning, particularly if its absolutely essential I do, my stomach seems to rebel but having some sugar on the porridge helps. I finished breakfast about 9:15, I've discovered I can run quite happily (not flat out) about an hour after having porridge so I wasn't worried about digesting it, I love porridge.

We set off about 9:30 am, me driving and Jez navigating. we found the race start and managed to get parked in a side street very close to it. Got out the car to the usual biting coastal wind and stood in a queue for the loos, for quite a while. We located the start looked at the course a bit then I did about a mile warmup then got ready for the start.

As it was laps my plan was to take it easy on the first lap then depending on how I felt speed up a little on the second or just hang on. I had my running rucksack on with a few gels and a little water to take with them and I was planning to follow the gel every four miles strategy I have been doing my long runs at but to practice taking the gels when still running and in race conditions.

Just before the off I moved in behind the RW 9mm pacer, it was the pace I was planning to run at to start with anyway so thought it may be sensible to slot in there. The start was a little congested and took a while to get properly running. I was behind the pacer for the first few miles when I realised it wasn't perhaps such a great idea, it was so busy. I was still in the throng when I saw a bike and a pink hat go whizzing past which I can only assume was Trio!

There came a point where the course seemed to open out a bit and have a bit of space out in front, after almost tripping over someones feet for about the tenth time I moved into the open space in front. It was great to have proper space and be able to look at something other than other peoples feet trying to get in my way.

I moved a bit ahead of the pacer but not much and kept my own fairly constant pace anyway. There wasn't much to look at apart from the sea. I passed the four mile mark and was supposed to be having a gel but I really felt like I didn't need it. Once the course started heading back towards the start/finish area I made myself have a gel. I was supposed to be practising.

I managed to get the gel out of the rucksack pocket without too much wrist contortion. I normally squeeze all the gel up from the bottom of the pack in one go but I tried this whilst running and nearly choked, oops. I managed to breathe again and had some water to wash it down. I dumped the wrapper in one of the many bins dotted about which was great, no sticky fingers or having to shove used gel packs in pockets (or dropping them on the ground as some people seemed to think was acceptable).

I quite enjoyed the little undulations along this part of the course, gave the leg muscles some variety. Jez shouted some encouragement from the side as I neared the finish area. I went through the for the second lap in about 58 minutes, as I was hoping to get under two hours I thought I would get a move on to make sure. I was feeling pretty good so upped the pace.

As I was passing under the finish area on my way out on my second lap (just after 7 miles I think) I heard the winner being announced: 67 minutes apparently. Just the motivation you want, your just heading out and someone has already finished! The first part of the course is on concrete and the second time round my legs, my left in particular didn't seem to appreciate it at all.

Towards the top end of the course my left knee felt like it was burning a couple of times which was most disconcerting. I had a second gel around the 8/9 mile mark, when I spotted a bin. I wasn't sure I really needed it but I thought how bad it would be if I felt drained close to the finish. This time I took much smaller mouthfuls over a longer period and this worked really well. So I've learned something.

I was struggling a bit just before the course turned to head back because my legs felt so battered but the undulations along the top helped a little, that and the fact it was only tarmac not concrete for a while. I was feeling pretty strong and my legs perked up a bit, I also remembered it was downhill a bit to the finish so at mile 12 I speeded up again.

As I came into the finish area I saw the clock above the finish line and was determined to get in under 1:54 so I pushed hard, my legs felt quite frisky! I never manage sprint finishes so I was really chuffed, my muscles felt really good, energy wise I felt really good, the only thing letting me down was my battered joints. It really didn't feel like I'd been running for the best part of two hours, it flew by.

I picked up the goody bag and some water but failed to notice the butties so had to go back and get one after Jez pointed them out to me laughing. He said I didn't look that tired so I hadn't tried hard enough! To be fair, I think I could have gone a bit harder earlier but never having raced a half before I erred on the side of caution. It could have been a long painful run if I'd gotten it wrong.

My watch time was 1:53:47 and official results were 1:53:53.

I couldn't face my butty straight away but I had my recovery drink then the bottle of water and was able to eat it then. I felt pretty good all afternoon, didn't feel sleepy or really tired at all.

I am definitely in need of some more long runs on tarmac to toughen my legs up though (will fit a few offroad runs in, hopefully, my trail shoes keep looking at me reproachfully when I ignore them in favour of the road shoes).

Friday, February 20, 2009

Lunchtime Run (Spring ?)

Before heading to work this morning I did a few core exercises (no wine bottles were harmed) to see what was really weak. As usual its the lower abs that are the worst, upper abs not too bad so lots of reverse crunches for me.

I headed out at lunchtime for an easy paced 6 to 7 miles and it was positively spring like. I ran without gloves and my shins saw daylight for the first time in months, I had forgotten my buff as well but that was ok today.

I had a really enjoyable run along the prom which was a little busier than normal due to half term, when I thought about dropping down onto the beach to run I decided against it as there were loads of kids and dogs running around so it was safer up on the prom.

I stopped by M & S on the way back to pick up some lunch.

6.6 miles at 8:50mm and a nice rest day tomorrow.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Abandoned Night Ride

I had to abandon my ride last night due to a bit of a mechanical. We had been so focussed on the Titus that Jez only put the new pads on the On One last night before heading out, it took him a bit longer than it normally would as he said the brake was binding a bit, he couldn't get them the pads to retract any further (and he knows how much I throw girlie strops with binding brakes), but the wheel was reasonably free and we were late so just chucked everything in the car and set off to meet Ed and Stu.

I was feeling a bit tired (not surprisingly after yesterdays daftness when running). We set off and my legs felt dead from the off, I just settled into a nice spin and tried not to get phased by the fact the boys just rode away from me - we do regroup a lot so I wasn't too worried, its just been a while since I've felt that slow.

We headed out to Kay's farm then onto Heapey Fold Lane, a tiny bit of incline and I feel I'm starting to go backwards. I again don't try to fight it but drop the gears a bit and spin. The bike was feeling a little like the Spesh on Monday actually, a lot of resistance on the rear wheel. I still refused to allow the thought of a dodgy brake into my head and just convinced myself I was tired.

I was now quite a way behind and was wondering what I was going to do about the rest of the ride, how could I make it easier for myself and not hold the lads up too much. I passed two random young lads wandering about shouting into a mobile phone, no idea what they were up to. I started to notice a bit of a whine, the whine of a pad being constantly in contact with a braking surface but just trundled on, getting slower.

I finally caught up with the rest and apologised for holding them up, my legs just weren't up for it tonight. I was about to suggest they whizz round the Healey Nab loop whilst I did the shortened version (save a muddy climb). Jez asked to check the wheel and I wittered about it probably being fine, just my legs being tired.

Anyway he picked the rear wheel of the ground and tried to spin it and it moved about an 1/8 of a revolution and stopped. Ah! So it wasn't just me then. I decided to head back as the brake obviously needed some proper looking at. I did suggest Jez carried on but as the two lads went shouting by us again he decided to come with me.

An ok ride back, the squeal from the brake getting gradually louder. Anytime the road or track pointed upwards I went backwards but I was happy as it wasn't all my fault - though my legs were tired.

Once the bits are on the Titus and I have one working bike, Jez will hopefully get time to look at the brake. It may be the pistons need looking at ?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Long Tempo Run

Today I had planned a 9 mile run at long tempo pace, around 9mm and I was going to stick to it this time and not try to run a bit faster. I keep forgetting I have the GNW Half on Sunday so I will be having a fairly chilled out run later in the week and resting Friday and Saturday (and Monday probably).

I was wondering how my legs would be after yesterdays mega commute. They were ok, just a little heavy and sluggish on hills. This wouldn't have been a problem in St Annes but I was at home and doing a much more undulating run so I did notice it. I ran in/around Cuerden Park, taking advantage of the daylight. As it was half term there were load of people milling around.

After a couple of miles I started to feel hungry. I ran around the periphery of the park until the main road (name escapes me now) that effectively splits the park in half. It has a bit of a downhill stretch where I absolutely caned it down, grinning all the way.

The grin was short lived when I realised that I had pounded my quads into submission, they seemed detached from me for a while after that. I was starting to really get hungry now and if I was being sensible I would have headed straight home by the most direct route but I was determined to plough on with 9 miles so took a more circuitous route back, getting hungrier and hungrier with every step.

I got back to Bamber Bridge and decided to run down the main street for a while to try to hit 9 miles (I was on for about 7 if I went straight back). It was briefly a bit easier to run on the flat tarmac but after a while I thought my stomach was going to collapse it was so empty, then the light headedness started (oops).

I decided (finally) just to head home, all I could smell was chips from the chippy I just passed and was seriously tempted to snaffle a kids chocolate bar as I ran past. I ran home in a stomach rumbling, cross eyed daze. I was so hungry I felt sick.

Luckily I had some food that only needed to be heated up in the microwave, couldn't shovel it in fast enough, times like this I really hate being such a slow eater.

Turned out it was 8 miles at 8:55 mm which was nicely on pace target, I think I would've collapsed if I tried to get the extra mile. I have been eating regularly all afternoon in an attempt to fuel up again.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Commuting

As I still have no car I decided to cycle to work today rather than run, Jez needed his car and was going to be away overnight anyway. The ride in was mostly in daylight, hurrah! I had to carry my laptop as well as my usual stuff so I had both panniers on, the extra weight was noticeable, particularly trying to lumber away from traffic lights etc. I intended leaving the laptop at work.

There was a stiff headwind from Warton to Lytham , I could see by the flags at the side of the road that I was riding straight into it. I passed a coal lorry and did look behind me to see if they had chucked a couple of sacks on coal onto the bike such was the reduction in speed!

It took 1:17 to get to work today, I thought it was slower. I was starving too, so I downed the bottle of energy drink that I now always carry with me in the morning (as I can't face breakfast before setting off) when getting showered and changed then had a large bowl of porridge.

A call to the garage after lunch and they still haven't managed to get the correct seal for the injector!!!! So unlikely the car will be finished today, that puts me in a bit of a quandary as I can't use Jez's car tomorrow. I end up deciding to take the laptop home and I arrange to work at home tomorrow.

I need to pick some bike bits up from Merlin, which wasn't a big deal until I remembered they are no longer in Leyland (2 miles away) but Buckshaw Village (6.5 miles away). I'll have to go by bike.

Ride home was brill, the wind was behind me all the way and I made good speed with not masses of effort. It took 1:10 to get home, which is reasonably quick. A quick pitstop, dump uneccessary baggage, pick up a lock, pick up some biscuits, feed the cat then back out. The cat was very miffed at this!

I rode through Cuerden Park, best time to ride it is at night as there is nobody there then up the A6 and into Buckshaw Village. Into Merlin, pick up the bits then I decide to ride home on the A49 as traffic will have calmed a bit. At some point on the ride home I did the maths....35.5 round trip commute, 10 miles so far in my Merlin run, only another 4.5 or so to get 50.

Why did I do that? I nipped into Sainsburys to get some odds and sods (chocolate) and then had to find two miles so rode down into Bamber Bridge a bit then home. 50.4 milesish of bimbling about on the tank.

I hope I haven't killed my legs for tomorrow's run.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Afternoon exploring

In the afternoon I decided to go and investigate a route over to Witton Park, I have an XC race there next month and fancy riding over. Jez also headed off there to fly his helicopter so I could meet him there and if for any reason I CBA'd riding back I could get a lift.

I had been looking at the map for a while, dithered a bit over which bike to take, Ribble or Spesh? If I took the Ribble I could put the route into the Garmin but I wasn't sure on the condition of some of the tracks. I decided on the Spesh, I would take a map and navigate my way over and take my time. I also had a triple MTB ratio setup on the front of the Spesh (road 11-23 on rear but should be low enough) for any cheeky hills, its not the best bike for climbing.

I chucked a lock and some biscuits into the pannier and set off around 2pm, into the murk. I headed out through Bamber Bridge, over and under motorways generally heading for Hoghton Tower. These roads were really nice and quiet and climbed up but nicely, not like the main road. I popped out on the main road near the Tower then headed off into Hoghton Bottoms. This was all new territory, gorgeous area though just a shame it was such a gloomy day.

Down in Hoghton Bottoms I came off the road onto a track, it was this I wanted to check out to see if it was road bikeable. On a dry day probably but it was wet, muddy and fairly bumpy. I have to say the tyres on the Spesh coped admirably it was only when I came to a steep climb that they eventually spun out in the mud, they are "touring tyres".

I had intended to drop into granny and sit and spin up the climb in order to try and keep traction but I couldn't get it to shift down into granny. A distant recollection came back of the front mech on this bike being set not to drop to granny. I never used to have a granny ring on this bike in its commuter set up but the current bottom bracket needed it for chainline reasons.

I was going to have to stand, the climb was muddy and rocky so I didn't think I would get far but I surprised myself by getting 3/4 of the way up before the tyres spun out on some soft mud. I pushed up the last bit, moved through a couple of gates then rolled down into Witton Park and found Jez. I troughed a couple of biscuits and watched him throw the heli around (woo, not!) before deciding I was cold and heading back.

I rode back on the main road until past Hoghton Tower then dropped down through the lanes to Bamber Bridge, I have to say it was much less hassle that way.

20 miles of bimbling and I got to discover even more about the local area. May think about coming out Hoghton Tower way for a run it really was lovely.

Titus almost fixed

After much swearing and banging the Titus has new bearings in the swingarm and in the bottom bracket. The old swingarm bearings were so worn they disintegrated before they could be removed and Jez had to use various means to get them out of the frame. It did add quite a bit of time to the job.

I was helping (hindering more like) by removing the old worn rings off the crank and for the first time ever I think I managed not to catch my knuckles on any of the teeth. I cleaned up a few parts then cleaned the worst of the crap off the Specialized, no point getting too precious about it but I did clean the drivetrain pretty well and got all the crud off and out of the mechs.

I just have to get a few parts then the Titus will be ready to ride, Jez can fit new drivetrain parts really quickly. I should try to make time to clean it before the cranks go back on as its easier to get into that part of the frame.

Jez also fixed the wheel bearings on his Yeti, which is only a five minute job but he'd been putting it off because he knew I would just go into nag overdrive if he had a full-suspension to ride and I didn't - cheeky! For the first time in ages it will mean we have a full complement of working bikes.

Today...

Is not going quite as planned! Supposed to be heading off to the Dales with Pam, Ed and Jez for a 20 miler or so on the mountain bikes.

I felt really crampy and washed out this morning but got up as decided would just ride with Pam. Pam texted to say she wasn't coming as she did the Anglezarke Amble walk yesterday and here legs don't bend anymore. Ah, well I'll be alright if I take it easy at the start.

Then Ed rang to say he wasn't coming as he was shattered (fairly new dad! so lots of slack cut) so that was that. My inital reaction to this news was telling as normally I would be insisting we go anyway but I was quite relieved.

We did think about headin out somewhere local but decided against it as the rear pads on my On One appear to be completely worn and I seem to have no spares. So Jez is now in the process of fixing the Titus!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! New swingarm and bottom bracket bearings hopefully going on today.

Hooray! It'll be like having a new bike again as not ridden it since September last year. Though I have just been presented with a list of parts to order:

Granny Ring, Middle Ring, Chain and Cassette.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Mid Lancs XC - Hyndburn

XC today at Hyndburn - no idea where that was so had to check out map, near Accrington (and I only barely know where Accrington is!). It looked simple enough to get there, on the M65 til Jct 7 then a couple of fairly major roads but close to the motorway.

Woke up feeling a little tired, pottered around in the garden most of the morning then got kit ready and set off. I had heard this was a good XC course (i.e not flat running around football pitches), but I was feeling tired and stomach crampy so it wasn't boding well for a good race, but hey, I was looking forward to doing something completely different from road running.

Off the M65, going ok til I ended up in Accrington, its supposed to be near Accrington, not in it. After a while I drove back to the motorway junction as I realised I'd gone wrong as soon as I came off (think I should get a Sat Nav?). Found it eventually and parked up at the bottom of a bit of a hill, walking up it my legs felt tired, this will be hard work then.

Total stodge conditions again. Got ready to warm up, argued with my mud encrusted Walshes for a bit, the laces were solid and took a bit of bashing to get them to tie up. I set off for a warm up round the edge of a football pitch with another of the Harrier ladies, easiest way to stay out of the way of the runners on the course. I felt heavy, and was sliding around a bit in the mud. Once round then she headed back and I carried on round again in an attempt to be sensible and was joined by two other Harrier ladies, so we had a full team out (3 for a ladies team but more the better).

After second lap I decided to head back (could/should have fitted in another really), took fleece off and headed to start line. Usual fast start, I had my Garmin on and was expecting close to four miles so was definitely gong to keep it steady for about two miles. Straight into proper stodge then up a bit of a bank, people sliding everywhere even in spikes. Hard work keeping a stride up but superb fun as everyone streamed past me!

Off into some woods where it firmed up a little, bit of a descent where I overtook a few people but reined myself in as it took a bit of effort to power past and it was a bit early. Carried on up another couple of slippy banks then off into some woods. Lots of twists and turns and I got completely disorientated (as usual, doesn't take much). It was a good course, lots of varieties of mud: ankle deep slop, slippy stodge that the Walsh's struggled with, peanut butter stuff that clogged up shoes and added about a kilo in weight (felt like it) and lovely squidgy but on a firm base (not enough of that).

I was in a nice group of ladies, enjoying the run and I thought I maybe should try to pass as it was feeling comfortable and I didn't think I should be feeling comfortable in a short race but I decided against it. Being so close to the other ladies meant I couldn't really see the track clearly and I went over a little on my right ankle, then a proper turn of my left as I didn't see a tree stump. I swore and limped a few steps but shook it off then thought that next opportunity I get to pass I will so I can have some clear track for a bit.

We came back into the firm woods section where I had passed before. It was a good place to pass, on a bit of a rise so I just put in a few strides...then my legs were off. They motored up the rise, which was a bit of a surprise as my legs generally don't motor anywhere but I decided to go with it. I was out on my own which was a very weird feeling, had to keep reminding myself to keep the red and white tape on my left as there were a few twists in the course.

Back down the descent I enjoyed earlier then up the slippy bank (lot easier when I could take my own line) and back out into the open field. I had a look to see where the other ladies had gone then realised it was off to the finish so I got a move on.

My Garmin read 3.2 miles rather than the close to 4 I was expecting so I could really have done with pushing on a lot earlier. My time was 32.18 so actually on the slow side really but this is probably the first race I have done where I thought I could have gone faster a lot earlier so I'm pleased with that.

I think I got too comfortable in the group I was in and should have pushed on and tried to get on the back of some faster ladies but as that's never happened to me before I didn't realise that's what was going on until too late.

The next XC race in Blackburn should be interesting as I've done the course before so know what's coming and assuming everything else is ok I might try to get on the back of a group which is going at a pace I find hard, there is quite a bit of space to get past people and a bit of a hill (which I was strong on last time) so we'll see.

Watch me die on my arse!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Lunchtime Road Ride

I am at home today as was supposed to be picking up my car, I also have an apppointment late afternoon so it was easier to work from home (again, just as well we are quiet at work at the minute). I decided to take advantage and do a bit of spin on the bike rather than my usual lunchtime activity of running.

I have been meaning to explore some roads out Longton/Bretherton/Eccleston way. To put together a shortish loop I could do of an evening (or lunchtime). I quickly plotted a route out on Memory Map to get an idea, then imported it to the Garmin. Should be around 22 miles.

Got roadbike down, kit ready (lot simpler just going running), blew dust off roadie (poor thing), lubed chain, air in tyres etc. Set off, saddle felt a little too low but whole bike felt weird as not ridden it for ages so left it for a while.

Enjoyed riding a bike without anything on my back or laden panniers. I did manage to lose the course within the first few miles, which was due to my quick plotting I think, I actually cycled the way I intended on going. I also lost it heading back form Eccleston as for some reason a load of waymarker flags or whatever they are were downloaded as well and it was impossible to make out the route/direction. I got myself back on course as I knew roughly where I was. I put the saddle up a little about half way round when I decided it wasn't just a case of getting used to the bike again, much better.

Being Friday afternoon, traffic was picking up a little when I got back towards Leyland.

It was really enjoyable, a good loop and some more roads to explore though I should have wore my windproof hat under my helmet rather than just a buff as I had a headache from the cold and I should have had more for breakfast. I missed my big bowl of breakfast porridge, I'll learn one day.

23.3 miles at 16mph.

It appears that my car is not going to be ready til Monday at the minute, which is a bit of a bind. I'm supposed to be racing XC tomorrow but Jez has made plans for tomorrow which require a car. B*gger.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

An Oystercatcher ?

At least that's what I think it is after some googling.

If you thought cyclists were geeks, nothing on birdwatchers! Oystercatcher

Brrr!

It was baltic stepping out the door at lunchtime, its not often its that cold but it was today. I was shivering all the way to the gate and the firt 5 minutes or so of running I was still shivering. It doesn't make for a smooth stride.

I wasn't sure how things were going to go so I planned to take a "run as I feel" run today, head down to the beach and run along the sand. I got to the beach and the bliddy tide was in, properly in so that scuppered that one.

I ran along the prom, into the wind (bit of an error in route choice there) and it was absolutely freezing and grey, everywhere. It did look to be brightening up over Winter Hill though. The cold air was really affecting my breathing.

I was running ok so I decided to continue down to the edge of Lytham then run back along Clifton Drive, that should give me about 7 miles. I don't know what happened when I got onto the section from Ansdell to Lytham, maybe the prom changes direction slightly. Whatever, it seemed to get even colder. It was then a trade off between running fast enough to stay warm but not so much that I was having to breathe cold air in hard. Not pleasant, I was getting a headache and earache from the cold even though I was wearing a buff.

A bloke was running in the opposite direction to me wearing shorts, his legs were bright lobster red and very cold looking, think he should invest in some tights.

The difference was noticeable as I turned onto Clifton Drive as it is more sheltered and the wind was behind me, I speeded up a little here as I wasn't fighting the wind.

A very chilly 7.02 miles at 8:50 average. Quite pleased actually, its the pace I'm supposed to be doing longer tempo style runs at anyway.

One of the advantages of the tide being in is that I saw lots of birds feeding at the waters edge, I don't know what they were (will find out) but they were quite nodescript until they were flying then they had impressive white markings on the wings.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

£600 for an injector!

At least its only one not all of them. I did some Googling yesterday and had convinced myself it was going to run into the thousands.....still a lot of money. I have continued my winning ways with cars and the oil level light came on in Jez's car this morning, not the big red engine destruction imminent oil warning light but still. Just been out to the local garage to buy some oil, will hopefully locate correct place in engine to put said oil at some point this afternoon.

Part being ordered tonight so looks like I will be cycling to work tomorrow rather than running as Jez needs to be in work for 7am and I'm sorry but I can't face being in work that early.

Better not be icy.

Car

The garage have decided that there is a problem with the injectors!!!! Gah. I can't remember if she said one or more than one injector but they were "getting a price" and would call me back. Sounds expensive...

This was yesterday and they didn't call me back needless to say and I'm still too scared to ring them and find out how much this is all going to cost.

Feeling Better....I think

Fingers crossed. I had a bit of a pathetic day yesterday feeling sorry for myself, ended up at working at home as couldn't face staying in work. Annoyed at missing out on doing something in the sunshine.

I woke myself up a few times in the early hours of Tuesday morning convinced I had just been sick down the side of the bed! Very weird, I hadn't of course but I was feeling very queasy so maybe I was just about to? Who knows.

I kind of starved myself a bit yesterday as couldn't face much but around 3pm I had a bowl of pasta and things started to improve from then on.

I didn't bring my kit to work but am thinking I may head out after work for a short run to see how things are.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Digestion not happy

So not running, don't think it would be pretty! Was hoping to cycle tomorrow but will take running kit instead in case my stomach has settled down. Also need to put petrol in Jez's car as have been using it to drive to work while he gets a lift, don't think he'd appreciate getting in it just for the fuel warning to beep at him.

Managed to abandon the car at a garage on Saturday so waiting for them to tell me what is wrong with it, fingers crossed its not expensive.

Not sure what has disagreed with me as Jez is ok.

Hmmm

Feeling a little out of sorts today, my stomach seems very unsettled though not sure why. It has certainly not been helped by someone cooking something with a very strong smell of old fish in the microwave. The smell has permeated the entire office, yuck, yuck, yuck. I don't really like fish (in case you hadn't guessed), especially strong smelling fish.

Left leg is still a little tight today, right leg is fine, but it is tight across the quad and I can feel it when walking so I have decided not to do intervals (think I would be sick actually). Not sure what I'm going to do but I think I may run to the library after work rather than do a hard session today and do a lot of stretching.

God that fish really stinks......

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Bike bimbling

Legs were tired today so spent the day trying to catch up on some chores and picked up some shopping on the bike. I decided to go to Booths and take the slightly more scenic route to get 10 miles or so. Legs seemed to perk up after a few miles of cycling which was good.

Loads of people out and about on the tramway meant lots of dodging. A quick wander round Booths then heading back home. Its been a while since I've had fully laden panniers on the bike, I forgot about the extra weight and nearly dropped the bike when I stopped at the traffic lights. It does make for some interesting effects on the handling.

Home, 10.98 miles (CBA getting the last 0.02!). Unpacked the panniers to find that the cream had opened. The carton only had a foil lid, which had been pierced by something and about a quarter of the, thankfully small, carton had leaked. Lovely, serve me right for just chucking it in though.

I cleaned the cream covered food off and ended up pouring a load of hot water into the pannier, a good test of waterproofness, swirling it round and pouring it all back out to remove the cream.

I stretched my quads out a lot today, found a couple of large knots in the Rec Fem muscle on either leg and rollered them so hopefully they will be good to go tomorrow.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Long Run - Ouch

The original plan for today was to go on a decent MTB ride over Hebden way. I put air in my forks, made arrangements.....We were out for a meal on Friday night and I drove because I was on call. It didn't dawn on me properly til 11:15 pm that being on call meant that heading off into the wilds of West Yorkshire was a complete no-no, I need to be able to log on to the systems within a maximum of an hour after being called - feck, I've not been on call for ages so I get out of the habit.

B*gger, phone calls made in the morning and apologies made. I decided to head out for a long run. Heading down to the bottom of Cuerden park was also out today so I basically ran along and near the Ribble so I could get back easily if called.

My legs felt tired to start but I wasn't too worried as I could take my time to get into it. I decided to run along the Ribble way (not the cycleway), which was a grassy path next to the river. Its fallen away in a few places and I decided that running really close to the edge was perhaps not sensible.

The Ribble was really low, lots of little beaches I hadn't seen last time I was along this way. I dropped down onto one and took a few pictures, then some more:



Which was nice but it was just over 3 miles in and I was already in faff mode. I head along a bit more looking at the view, a tractor came into the field and snapped my attention back just in time to stop me heading into some slurry. As the tractor went through it it disturbed it and the stench was minging. It was nicely added to by the fact the tractor was muck spreading, eww!

I joined up with the cycle path and headed back towards London Road. At just after 5 miles my legs decided to start hurting, this was going to be a hard run. It was my quads that were complaining, I can only think they were still sore after Thursdays effort.

I explored lots of little paths, ended up in the centre of Preston at one point, then various paths in Penwortham then back along the Ribble the way I came. It was an exercise in keeping going when all I wanted to do was stop, not particularly enjoyable but I kept telling myself this would be good preparation for the latter stages of the marathon. At the 14 mile point I really just wanted to walk but I made myself run, including turning away from home for a bit to make sure I covered 15 miles.

So just over 15 painful miles and surprisingly at 9.29 pace, same as last 15 miler. I put it down to the flatter run as it certainly felt slow. The jury is still out on the Wave Creation shoe, they are noticeably firmer than the Wave Rider and I'm not sure I entirely like them.

It is painful walking downstairs at the minute, last time my quads felt like that I was doing hills. I need to do some more hills to get some quad strength back. Think I could really have done with riding rather than running today. Easy day tomorrow now I think, pick up some shopping on the bike only.

Friday, February 6, 2009

This Week....

Flown past! On the way home from the Lakes on Saturday the engine management light came on in my car and the engine lost power. It would still cruise along ok but acceleration was a bit glacial. On Sunday, I did nothing due to combination of dodgy car meaning I couldn't get anywhere to go for a hilly run and with it being the day after a proper crash my neck was really stiff.

Monday I spent the morning booking my car into the garage and then not much at all as my broadband wasn't working for a couple of hours. Luckily my work were very understanding letting me work from home and logging on once the broadband was back. I went out for a walk to the post office to check conditions and decided it was too slippy/icy/snowy everywhere to run comfortably (kicking myself for not doing something on Sunday), but did walk for an hour or two taking some frosty pictures.

Tuesday I got to work in Jez's car and did an interval session at lunchtime. I was doing the 5 mins hard, 5 mins easy session again. It was pretty windy but I had the wind behind me when doing the first interval and I set off far too fast! The second one was still wind assisted. For the other three I was sheltered a bit, particularly for the last two as the dunes were in the way of the wind. I decided to try to maintain the average pace of the first interval, which was really hard and on the last one I had to shout at myself not to stop.

I hung on and average paces for the five: 06.47 6.48 6.48 6.52 6.49

Which is quite amazingly consistent for me. The downside was that working so hard meant that two minutes felt like an eternity!

Wednesday I was again working from home, I was supposed to be dropping my car off at the garage. The plan was to put my bike in the back, drop the car off, cycle into Preston to visit Post Office and bank then bimble home. Stupid car decided it wouldn't start!!!!! I tried to locate some jump leads in case it was the battery, none of my neighbours who were in had them (or they were in hubbies car, who was at work).

I should really have some leads so I cycled to B & Q a mile away, they didn't have any. So I headed to Halfords aboout 4 miles away (passing the garage annoyingly) and back. Had to wait for a neighbour with a car to come home, linked it all up and fecker still refused to start. Just belched loads of acrid white smoke out the back. Ah well another wasted morning.

Spent all afternoon trying to contact the garage and trying to figure out what to do with the stupid thing. At about 3pm I cycled into Preston to do the errands I was supposed to do this morning. All the faffing about added up to 20 miles of cycling.

Thursday was tempo run day: 1 mile easy then 7 miles at long tempo pace. It had been snowing a little before I set off but nothing that was going to lie. As I stepped out the door I thought it was a bit warmer than yesterday. There wasn't much wind but I decided to run into it for the first half of the run. I ran down the prom to the monstrosity that is Lytham Quays, then from there to Green Drive, and back along the wooded track I discovered last time and then back to work.

After an easy mile and a bit where I had to slow myself down a lot I picked the pace up a bit. I wanted to see how long I could maintain 8:40 pace. As the snow had stopped it seemed get colder. When I turned back towards work at around the half way point I picked up the pace even more (it was bloody cold). Mile splits:

8.40 8.38 8.36 8.28 8.15 8.14 8.21

I felt I was running quite well at the end, last time I felt I was running that well I broke myself (paranoia). Hopefully as I have to rest on Friday it'll give my legs a good chance to recover.