Thursday, 25 February 2010

Snow Pictures

Just thought I'd finally get round to adding some of the snow-related pictures taken since Christmas while there's still some on the ground and it is vaguely topical. Would have had more, but on the best day for photos I had in the hills (where the first picture comes from) I left the memory card at home limiting me to 3 pictures. Doh.

 Nearing the top of Pendle from the Downham side - early morning climb

Me looking very unsteady on my feet - probably trying to stay on the surface of the snow

Snow-bound socks with the beginnings of snow-burn/chafage on my shins

A later picture of my scabby shins - doesn't really do it justice

My lovely featureless cankle after turning it numerous times under the surface of the snow.

Friday, 19 February 2010

A Bit Peaky

I'm in!! Luckily 3 runners in a High Peak Marathon team got themselves injured or ill. When I say luckily, my thoughts are with them, obviously, but it does mean that with only a few weeks to go, I'm gonna get to have a crack at this event. The proof's here. We're team no. 24: Traversers.

A 42mi run over boggy, featureless wilderness, in a circular route out of Edale. Added to that is the difficulty of starting the race at 11 at night. So all mileage (and more importantly navigation) completed by headtorch-light. Really looking forward to it, and will be a great session to have under my belt given my ultimate aim of a BGR. An added attraction this year is the chance I might be able to speak to Sir Ranulph Fiennes, who is competing in the race with another team. Though whether I will say anything meaningful, or just stare, giggle and jibber like a schoolgirl at a [insert contemporary pop reference here] concert is another matter.

Soon after the euphoria had kicked in there was another feeling that started to creep into my mind. Took a while to identify this as panic. As I said in my last post, my training so far this year has been a bit hit and miss. I've since been out with my club on one of their headtorch runs over Pendle and found myself really struggling to keep up, whereas before Christmas, I was holding my own.

So with only 3 and a bit weeks to go between getting in the team and the race starting, I was desperately wondering where I would get my fitness back from. I had another week away with work, which limited the miles I could get under my belt. Had some really good CV sessions (e.g. 40min run/30min bike/20min row) but nothing really compares with hitting the hills for a few miles.

With that in mind I did have a couple of runs lined up this weekend. I was doing the 2nd half of the Full Tour of Pendle this morning (10mi, 3000+ft), then doing a route I've contrived called the Pendle Monster: the Pendle Cloughs and Full Tour routes combined (27mi, 7000+ft). So far so good. This morning though, get to Barley for 6, and whilst just listening to the end of a report on the Today program I fell asleep. I awoke 40mins later, still shattered so without having even set foot outside the car I turned around, got home and got back into bed. I reckon the last few weeks of driving and early starts has caught up with me. So I'm having a rethink. 

I may yet do the Pendle Monster, but with a 20mi recce of the northern half of the HPM route lined up next Friday, I might just satisfy myself with a few more modest runs, saving the Monster and another target - a Double FTOP - until after the HPM. Will no doubt update on here.

Kit latest: Looking back over previous posts, I made reference to a decision over a jacket. I plumped for a Rab Momentum jacket made from Event fabric. Very breathable, very light, and keeps me dry.  Not soft-shell, as there seems to be a fad for at the moment (these materials just remind me of cheap polyester tracksuits I remember wearing as a kid in the 80s - see 2010 OMM Kamleika), so it does rustle a bit when running, but this doesn't bother me. It's also got a hood that clings to your head like a cap, so it doesn't get blown off in the winds. Very useful this winter on the top of Pendle. Doesn't stow in the jacket when not in use, which is strange, but not a major problem. Absolutely loving it so far - even the mushy pea/baby poo green colour - but a proper review should wait until after the HPM where no doubt it will be thoroughly tested.

Before I disappear for now, if there's any missing Ls, it's not because I can't spell, but that particular key is highly strung and decides not to work sometimes.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Ain't Nothin' Gonna Break-a My Stride...

...well except for, er, quite a few things actually.

I've not done a lot of running since the last blog entry, and this entry is basically a litany of excuses. (You have been warned!)

It all started [cue dream like flashback with harp playing effects] at the Forum's Xmas On The Fells (XOTF). Was a bitterly cold run towards the end, and I was a bit too slow in putting on my warm gear at the last stop-and-wait-for-the-others point. I then decided to wait and run down with the backmarkers, which meant running a lot slower than I'm comfortable with and so I didn't get my body temperature up again. As a result I was sat in the pub, curry house and finally, the club that night all shaky and shivery. Not only that but my body seemed to take a while to recover from this.

Other than this what was there? Oh yes: 

  • I missed an opportunity for a couple of decent length runs over the holiday period whilst at the family's, because I forgot my headtorch;
  • I missed out on quite a few Sunday runs because Pendle was inaccessible (snow on the roads);
  • Running on the roads as an alternative, or as part of my mid-week training wasn't feasible as the roads/pavements/lanes near me were lethally icy;
  • Once the snow had gone, weekends were spent decorating our bedroom;
  • Weekdays were spent mainly away from home - so I've not been to a Tuesday night headtorcher with the club since before Xmas.

It's not all been doom and gloom: between access to Pendle being granted and the snow going completely I was able to hit it a couple of times. Got quite a few pictures which I will get on here at some point. Absolutely loved running in the snow. Such a great training effort required as you go between running on top of icy, crusty snow, and falling through the crust (up to the calf/knee/waist). Ended up with shins totally shredded of skin where the crust took the top layers away on the way in and on the way out of the snow. Also ended up with an impressive cankle where my foot would sink beneath the snow and would turn on whatever bumpy, uneven terrain there was underneath. Brilliant fun!

I've been able to salvage something whilst I've been away with work as well. I've been in hotels with gyms so I've been hitting the treadmill (soul destroying, but necessary) and putting together some mad circuits for a total body workout, but really hitting the legs hard with some strength and plyometric work. Using the treadmill as a warm up then destroying myself on the circuits has been oddly satisfying, and a really good alternative to the running, and will probably try and use these more in my training in future.

However, all of this has meant that the momentum I was building up before Xmas has been lost, and as many of you probably know, it's the first steps back on to a structured programme which are the hardest. 

But not to fear. It begins again this week. Tonight a hilly road run with a weighted pack, tomorrow I am around for my club run over Pendle, Thursday I might be hitting Pendle for an early one. A bit further down the line I've put together a big 25mi run round Pendle (Sun 21st Feb), I'm still hoping for a place on a High Peak Marathon team (which to be honest has been a bit of a spur to get out of this funk), and am toying with the idea of a double FTOP in March.

So it all begins again. Bring it on!!