Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A (very) snowy walk in the Pentlands

We drove up to Scotland on Monday 28th on a glorious sunny day and the start of a serious thaw of the snow in Lostock Hall. , the temperature gauge in the car read -7C at a particularly exposed part of the M74 and that was in the sunshine! It had climbed back up to a balmy 0C by the time we hit Glasgow though dropped down to -4 as we got into West Lothian which was totally white, not seen anything like it since I was a kid. My parents road was tricky.

We got out for a short walk in the Pentlands on the 29th, they aren't particularly high and there are no cliffs to walk off so they felt like an easy choice. The plan was to park up at Flotterstone and walk to Allermuir and Caerketton on the Edinburgh side. We weren't really banking on so much snow. The intial climb up to the firing range was nice shallow powdery snow, two fell runners passed us heading up.

A bit of a bitter wind and driving snow made things a little unpleasant, it stopped but the cloud remained.

The further up we went the, deeper the snow got. It was quite drifty, so some fairly deep patches. Then we passed the fell runners heading back down, they had turned back, we soon found out why!

We battled to the the bottom of the last pull up to Allermuir, spoke briefly to a skier who was making better progress than us then decided to turn back. It had taken quite a while to get there, would take jut as long to get back and neither of us were prepared for anything more than a bimble. We could also see people coming down sinking and generally struggling in the deep snow. We needed snowshoes!

My lower legs were starting to get very cold too. We seemed to find even deeper snow on the way back, at one point Jez disappeared up to the top of his legs and had to crawl out, the same drift was up to my waist and had me crawling on knees and elbows commando style for a good ten metres before I found some shallower snow to stand up in (then fell over again on the next step).

It really was stunning and fun.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Slush Running...

On the 27th I decided I had to get a run in, tarmac conditions near home weren't inspiring so I headed off to Abbey Village with my trail shoes to get a few miles in. Like Rivington the day before the trails were rather slushy, soft and very slow.

After about a mile of sliding I realise that my Mudclaws would have probably been a better choice of shoe, the slush was overwhelming the trail shoes. It was generally runnable but even on the flat I struggled to get much above 12 minute mile in the slush I was sliding so much.

I had thought about doing a short low level run but once going headed up to the tower. Bit of a flat light day so not much stopping to take pictures, apart from this robin perched on a post. I was probably about a foot away from it but it only moved when the camera flash went off., even then only to a low branch close by.

The enforced slow pace was probably a good thing as I was feeling pretty unfit from not doing much earlier in the month. 7.5 miles in an hour and a half. It was good to get out.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Slush Riding...

Yesterday I dared to take my On One out for a ride in snow/slush/ice, I am not a fan of riding in such conditions at all. Mainly because I fell off commuting in dodgy conditions a few years ago, trapped my left hand in or under the bars and broke the middle two fingers. It hurt, made work difficult, kept me off a bike completely for over three weeks as I couldn't brake properly and stopped me MTBing for about two months. I've not been in a hurry to repeat the experience.

What seemed to be perfect conditions on our Christmas Day doddle were replaced by total slush at Rivington on Boxing Day. Setting off about noon onto rapidly thawing snow made for a short, slow but hard ride. We met up with a friend of Jez who was bringing his young lad out for his first MTB experience. Not the best day to pick but as young kids tend to do he kept going like a trooper.

We covered about 3.7 miles in 52 minutes (of moving time, lots of stoppage). It was just such hard work in the soft snow. However, I did enjoy most of it, it was certainly good for the old bike handling skills as the front and rear would slide away in various directions and as the time wore on and the snow got softer the rear would just spin out. Here is the evidence of snow on my tyres:

As it was slush things tended to happen relatively slowly, it was just like riding in sticky mud. Our original plan to climb up past Yarrow Res then take the road was abandoned as we realised that the roads were pretty much as bad as the trails. Heading back the decision was made to take the track on the west side of Anglezarke from Knowlsey lane to Horrobin Lane.

It started off pretty well then changed to an ice rink for quite a reasonable stretch. I was riding along, just thinking to myself that "this is going well" when the front wheel caught the edge of a lump, the front wheel went away and whoomf I was on the deck pretty much instantaneously. Jez's mate turned to check I was ok and of course he hit the deck too. The little lad sailed serenly between us and Jez had already successfully ridden it.

I was ok and more importantly no Paclite was harmed. I actually think I was lacking a little speed. In the end Jez was the only one not to fall off, I can't believe how hard a less than four mile ride was. I earned my pint! Not sure its really done anything for my phobia though.

Starting plans for 2010...

Jez and I now have entries for the Etape Caledonia in May.....just trying to convince him to do the Whinlatter Enduro in March.

Do need to get some sort of list together.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

2009 Goals

Merry Christmas.

I appear to have been hiding! Not been up to much at all this month, being ill then the snow has left me very demotivated and lethargic. I had lots of plans for December this year, normally I tend to take it easy for the month but with finishing work on the 21st I had hopes for lots of running and cycling to ward off the festive calories. Ah well, not to be.

I had two mileage goals for this year, the main one being to run 750 miles with a secondary goal of cycling 2000 miles which I didn't expect to reach due to marathon training. I passed the 750 running miles on the 18th December with a run on an ice covered St Annes beach. I'm pretty chuffed with that, so one goal reached.

I'm currently at 1929 bike miles for the year and I think its unlikely I'm going to get to 2000 due to the weather conditions and not taking bikes up to Scotland next week (no point) but I can't believe I have got so close. I have done over 500 miles more that last year and I didn't have a marathon getting in the way then.

So next year's plans.....I am currently planning on not having one event to train for and hoping to do lots of less committing stuff. Of course the danger is that I end up doing nothing at all.

So mileage targets for next year, which will be a stretch but hey:

700 running miles
2250 bike miles

Events? Not totally decided yet but have the Two Crosses in January which I am no way fit for, possibly the Whinlatter Enduro on the MTB and the Etape Caledonia on the road bike. Not sure yet....

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

That inbetween stage...

of getting over whatever had infected me but not quite sure if its entirely gone. A very easy 4 mile run yesterday, felt great after and enjoyed the run. I kept my layers zipped up to keep the cold off my chest as much as possible even if I was a little warm.

7 slightly less easy miles, still all zipped up, feel slightly less fine this evening. I hate germs!

Jez is also ill too, enough to take a day off work which is exceptionally rare, though his appears to be gastric related rather than tight chest. Watch this space as I'll probably get it next.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Still not well

Not sure what is wrong with me, no sniffle but my chest feels really tight, almost like there is a weight pushing on it. Had a bit of a cough this morning and hoped it meant things were shifting but its stopped now. Could just happily go to sleep...

It's a complete no no trying to exercise if its "below the neck" isn't it? Pah.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Germ Factory...

My office that is. Felt terrible yesterday afternoon, woozy, scratchy throat. Pulled out of night riding and had an early night. Fingers crossed but I actually feel lots better today but have decided not to do todays planned 6 mile run and give myself a chance. Its currently tipping down with freezing rain so probably best to stay warm and dry today.

I've another easy day tomorrow then hopefully will get out and do something on Saturday and race XC on Sunday. The Marl Pits XC course is supposed to be quite a good one so hopefully I will get there and not feel like death warmed up.

Both my running and cycling mileage targets for the year are tantalisingly close but a heavy cold or dose of swine flu could put them out of reach.

Anyway, off to make some home brew style lemsip.....I am amusing my colleagues with my little tubs of freshly squeezed lemon juice and honey.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

OMG How Cold?!

Breathtakingly cold today out on the prom, literally. I headed down there not sure if I was going to do the intervals I had planned or not, so cold and the wind was just biting and stronger than I was expecting!

I had on fleecy tights, thermal undershorts, thermal top, Oz Pullover zipped almost right up, gloves (ok thin ones) and a buff on. The top and the Oz have handwarmer style thumb loops to cover part of the hand, I never took my thumb out of those loops at all or really unzipped the jacket, even during the intervals I was that cold and I wished I'd put my windproof hat on.

Anyway, 2.2 mile "warm" up, 6 x 800 metres done (was supposed to be 5 but I obviously set it up wrong), wind assisted which made me set off far too fast every single time but I still found the pace hard to maintain as I think my legs were just cold and clumsy. Then back to work, still haven't warmed up properly.

It was probably good for me after the written off weekend....


Two sleep disrupted weekends on the trot, the one just past entirely self inflicted and alcohol related (serious, "never drinking again, god I am getting too old for this" stuff) , the previous weekend was work/on call related so not my fault. Not really a great deal of excitement to report apart from a new kit frenzy.....

Haglofs Oz Pullover, fab, getting lots of use already but the flappy hood is getting annoying/may strangle me/ acts as a parachute in strong head winds.
New Mudclaws half a size smaller, didn't start bothering my feet until after 10 miles on initial run so hope there (just wondering what to do with hardly used size 6's...running in Sealskins is in my future I think).
Thermal Odlo poncetastic undershorts - I suffer from painful cold arse syndrome badly, they seem to help for running.
Waterproof shorts for cycling, caved and bought a pair as full trousers too much and to help in the battle against cycling cold arse.

So ready for winter, just as well as its here!

I have bought metres of paclite in the last twelve months....