Sunday, 24 June 2012

Kinder Trog 2012

No more be said really
Had a bruised foot for most of the week, so I wasn't all that sure I was going to run this until last night. Once at the race, there were hordes of Glossopdalers around. Yes, its a great local race, but I didn't expect a turnout like that.
The Downfall. Going down for once.
Until I learned that it was a championship race. Ah- that explains it then.

Stevie K at Millhill
My main goal for this race was to beat last years time of 2 hours 19 mins. Placings didn't really matter, only the time. (as ever). Its been pretty claggy these past couple of days, and it was still raining when we got up this morning, so it was fairly obvious it was going to be a muddy and puddly course, perhaps slower underfoot than it was last year. However, the main cause for concern was the climb up through Dimpus Clough kind of area where I blew up rather spectacularly last year and lost about 12 places in short order. Determined that this wasn't going to happen again, I made sure that I had water with me (something that I definitely needed last time, and also a cheeky power gel, just in case. The plan was to stay relatively hydrated all the way around, starting out relatively slowly, but making sure I had enough to get up those hills in the latter part of the race.

Julien displaying the correct torso wear for clag
The start was buzzing with activity, and Julien was saying that he really wanted to start slowly this year so that he didn't burn out too early. I offered to drag him back by holding onto his shirt, but was declined. Stevie K turned up despite having a family birthday to attend (I trust the birthday person was given a suitably decent present?!), along with him, some Dark Peakers, Tom Brunt and also Iain Ridgeway were out in force, so it seemed like a fairly competitive field.

At the gun, a number of people, despite talking about holding back, surged forward and blasted down the road. They could do what they wanted, I had a plan and was sticking to it, nice and gentle, not pushing too hard, and just enjoying it. The rain had stopped (mostly), and occasionally it looked like it might even brighten up at some point.
I saw John and Alistaire thrashing away up the hill somewhere near the front of the pack, with Julien, kind of doing what he said he would, running along a few yards in front of me, but not giving it all to stay with the really fast guys.

John at Mill Hill
Up the first hill I passed someone that looked very much like Sarah Ridgeway, and further up the hill, saw John and Alistaire hanging on by the skin of their teeth. Julien passed Alistaire, who did not respond, and then passed John, who attempted to stay with him.
By the top of Lantern Pike I had overhauled Ali, who was paying for his very fast start, but John was still out of reach.

I ran with Dave Soles up through the lanes to Monks road, expecting him to overrun me on the way down to the Grouse, but never really saw him again after he stopped briefly at the watering station. Another bonus of having my own water bottle, not having to stop or slow down at specific times.
Me chasing John
All the way up the path to the top of Kinder, I managed to keep John in sight, though Julien had rocketed off somewhere up ahead. John has been running up in Scotland for the last few weekends and so I was slightly wary of how good his form was going to be, nevertheless, I needed to keep him in my sights as the top of Kinder looked properly clagged in, and I would need to follow him if there were any short cuts to be made.

We passed Lynne (who was out for a run with a camera) and Geoff Briggs at Mill Hill, without much of a change in places, and I finally managed to catch up with John on the steeps going up onto the plateau. We ran along exchanging pleasantries, and I brought him up to date with who I'd passed, who might be behind us and who wasn't.
Neither of us were going to look back.
Keeping John in sight toward Kinder (thats in the mist)

We made it to Kinder downfall without much ado, apart from the ridiculous amount of cloud surrounding us, then down the West side of the plateau, past Red Brook. This was where I started falling a lot last year, so I was making sure I was hydrated, and not getting too tired. Down toward Kinder Low trig there were a gaggle of about 5 people in front of John and I, and as we started down the hill I downed my gel and in the process, noticed that we were following the same line as we had done on the Solstice run.
The wrong line. 
Mentioning this to John we immediately hung a sharp right with the chap behind us doing the same thing. The gaggle of runners in front of us noticing a little too late, and ended up having to follow us, but the damage was done and I'm pretty sure none of them caught up with us again.

Alistaire running into the clag
We gained the path, and I was mentally preparing for the hill that was about to come. The nemesis, with a group of people behind us that would definitely want to catch us as they had just made a minor navigational error. John, me and this other bloke thrashed down the hill, into the bottom, jumped across the stream, shouted our numbers at Grouse, who happened to be marshalling there, and proceeded to march as fast as possible up the hill. I clung onto their coattails (not literally- figuratively) and with the very loud encouragement from the Mountain Rescue guys at the top of the hill.
We got to the top without being passed.
Brilliant. Mission Accomplished.

Claire enjoying the run
The run across South Head was hard, through bogs, puddles and bits that you had to decide if you wanted to expend energy jumping over the bog, or not bothering, and then expending energy extracting yourself from it instead. John pulled away from me, and I could no longer see Julien, their long distance pedigree was showing. I pulled on along the path, trying to keep up, or at least not let the distance between us get too great, overtaking a Dark Peaker in the process. It wasn't until coming up to Peep o Day that we all really started to feel it, and I finally caught up with John for the second time in the race at the top of Big Stone.

We ran pretty much side by side, with him leading most of the way for the next 3km, and then with me leading the last 1. Not a place that I actually wanted to be, John on my shoulder, I felt sure that he had something up his sleeve to negate a final kick.
The gap at the end
We passed a runner on the way down a nasty slippery hill, and I led across the fields and down the road which is the start to Cracken edge, very nearly slipping and falling. Then down through the town, across the bridge, and then I let loose with a sprint for the finish, thinking that he was right on my tail. John was in fact a way behind me as he just didn't have the speed for the last 100metres.

I came in 19th, in a time of about 2 hours 10. 9 minutes faster than last year. Talking to everyone else that was finishing, it seemed that nearly everyone else had had a much slower run than last year, so thats a bit of a result.

Glossopdale had a pretty good day with Mark O coming in 9th, Julien was somewhere in the top 20, I was 19th and John was 20th. Ok, so Dark Peak won the team prize, but I think we would have come a comfortable 2nd.
Sarah Ridgeway came in a little after us, only 30 seconds outside the Female course record, which was a fantastic effort.
At the end

Still, the plan worked, no-one passed me on the big hills where I really felt let down last year, and I wasn't dropped too badly (most of the time). I think hills still need work, but longer hills rather than shorter ones, and also running through bad terrain at the back end of a race. Its good to know I have things to improve upon, I just need to get another 10 mins or so quicker for next year, and I'll be under the magical 2 hour boundary!


The Andies
The end of quite a race

Chewing the fat.
Best continue training then.
And for those that are interested, here are the super-quick results. Well done the organisers!

Friday, 22 June 2012

Glossopdale Summer Solstice Run

As is the tradition of Glossopdale Harriers, we celebrated the day with the longest daylight hours in the only way we could. By going running.

In the previous weeks we have been blessed with truely fantastic weather, visibility so clear you could see Wales from the Peak district, the warmth of the setting sun on our backs as we sped across the moorland. This was going to be the day with the longest amount of daylight in the whole year (or as near as dammit, I know that there is some kind of annual variation, but we're going with the 21st of June, alright?!).

It was pretty claggy all day, and after a bit of a crazy drive home from work to get back to Glossop in time for the off, it really didn't improve. Lynne went off a bit early to walk/jog to Kinder Low with Caroline in order to meet everyone else without having to keep up with us through some pretty amusing weather and terrain. The rest of us started up Kinder from the Royal in Hayfield via Snake path, past the White cabin, around the reser, and then vaguely follow a boggy line up to somewhere around the 3 knolls and up from there.
The reason I say vaguely is that we knew where we were, its just that the weather really decided that it would throw low cloud, heavy rain and a lot of wind at us as we were around the Dog stone and everything got a bit fun after that.
Lynne and Caroline were in a bothy bag by the trig for about 20 mins and were getting a bit cold by the time we all rocked up, so the various types of alcohol and ginger biscuits that were handed out did wonders for morale.

Don't you love those heady Summer Nights!

Captain and Chairman doing the honours for club members

Homemade Ginger Cookies!

Young Alex with a hipflask full of "ginger beer" (apparently).

We toasted the midsummer, looked at the delightful view of Kinder inside a cloud, and got off the hill as fast as possible. I think the main difference between this run and the Midwinter run was that I didn't have to use a flash for the photos. And the views were better in the winter.

We dropped off the hill by a slightly wandering route. (I think Julien was trying to write his name in the peat bog with our footsteps) and back down at the bottom a few of us stayed around for a quick pint with Pennine who had been out on a bit of a rainswept relay session, and the Mynydd climbing club who were on a social night out.

As ever, a fab evening out, despite the weather. If we decided not to run because it was a bit crappy out, we'd never get anywhere. Its great to be a part of a club that enjoys socialising not just in a pub, but on a hill as well.

Thoughts on updated Suunto Ambit software

I mentioned in a previous post about how the Ambit was good, but there were a couple of things that let it down somewhat. A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to download the new version of the software for my Ambit, which promised a whole raft of new and exciting features.

Brilliant! I thought. This is going to make the watch just that bit more excellent, above and beyond its current performance. With any luck the guys behind all the techno-stuff will have listened to people like me who have been trying the watch and emailing them back with suggestions about what works, what doesn't and what really really needs to be on the watch.

The download was easy enough. Attach the watch to the computer like normal, click a box to say Yes I do want to continue with the download, wait for a few minutes and hey presto, new watch.

I must mention here a couple of glitches at this point. I have a load of custom screens for training. Hill reps, fell running, walking, turbo, cycling and the like, and as soon as I had downloaded the new bits and bobs, the watch reverted to default, which was annoying. What was even more annoying was that I couldn't find a way to get it back to all my custom settings. There they were on the computer, and yet, not on the watch. I tried re-attaching it, I tried synching it, I swore at it, but eventually decided that it was better to go out and train and record what I was doing without being able to see all the information that I needed during the session.
Sometimes running by feel is a good thing, but it was annoying.

About a week later, after a number of synchs and uploads the watch finally remembered what it was meant to be doing and went back to normal, but I had to train for a while on a generic "running" setting which grated.

The other problem is ongoing and I'll come to that in a mo.

New Features
The new features on the watch are mainly accessed from the menu.
Most importantly, there is now a Logbook function, where you can look back at other sessions you have done. It gives you the pertinent details of the session. Distance, Time, Ascent, Descent, Average Speed, Peak HR, Average HR, Kcal, Training effect and Recovery time, but does not allow a track back facility if you then want to navigate the run once more directly from the watch.

Recovery Time now has its own little section in the menu. Each Logged run tells you what recovery time you incurred from the run in total, and the Recovery Time section from the main menu tells you how much time you have yet to recovery since the most recent bout of exercise.
(mine kept telling me I had to wait 120h, so I upped my training "level" on the website, since I did that it seems to be giving me more intelligent times).

Now this is the bit I barely use, and the bit which I have played around with and haven't managed to work out entirely.
On the up side, the routes you have done ARE NOW exportable in .kml and .gpx files. (woohoo!), so you can see them on all kinds of mapping software. Brilliant. This is basically as far as I ever really intend to use it as a GPS (apart from distance etc).
However, apparently the system enables you to upload a previously created route on the computer, (in the form of a .kml file), or create a route on the navigation page of the site with up to 100 waypoints, which you can then upload to the watch.

Well, I've imported a .kml file, and I've created a waypointed route on the Movescount site, clicked all the right buttons and tick boxes. (ok, there is 1 tick box). Hey presto.
The watch says there are no route to read, and nothing I can do seems to make it believe there is one that it should be synching to.

On the up side, there is now a way of uploading Points Of Interest from the computer. So you can stick a point in on the movescount page and upload it to the watch. Nice. I used the feature to rename a load of my points on the watch. It loaded the new names to the watch, and now I can't read them very easily. There appears to be an Umlout in place of the first 4 letters, which is a bit of an important glitch.
Hopefully this will be fixed in the next debug.

There were also a whole load of other background things that were updated, and there is a new way of looking at exactly where you are on the planet. This is still not GB grid ref, so if you are looking for that, it still isn't on the watch.
There is still no Countdown timer, and no simple stopwatch which you can access from the main face like you can on a Core, and you still can't use it with a Foot Pod.

I'm sure there were a few more upgrades, but these are the ones that I was most excited about, and the ones which I use most often. The watch has now decided that it is my watch again and has reverted back to my custom screens, but with one last annoyance.
I have since updated my custom screens on Movescount, and that has not synched to the watch yet.... even with forced synching, it still doesn't do it, so there appears to be a bit of an issue with synching still.

Other than that, it still seems to be going pretty well. 

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Lantern Pike Dash 2012

Matt, Chris and Lou arrive
A short, hard, micro race. Only 1.2 miles, with about 300m of ascent. (mixing units of measurement is almost as pleasurable as mixing metaphors, simply because it annoys more people).
Last year I had a bit of a mare on the descent, putting my foot in a rabbit hole and nearly snapping my knee backward, so I was hoping not to do the same thing this year.

As it was, there were only about 20 runners, the ever optimistic Matt reckoned I had a good chance of winning, but after looking at the competition I figured top 7 might be quite optimistic.
From before the off I was feeling a little tired, 3 days in the hills in the Lakes may have had something to do with it. As I was warming up on the start/finish field my legs were feeling a bit leaden, not really springy, and generally not going as well as they could.
Sporting some Rocktape for a Biceps tendonopathy
Not a good sign for the race, but hey, we'll see how it goes.

After a short wait at the start we were off, with a very fast first 100yards to the corner in the fence. I was about 5th through, and soon made up 2 places in the first up, to gain 3rd for the climb. The guy in second was already a way ahead, and 1st was way ahead of him and going like a rocket.
All I could hear were the massed breathing chorus of the rest of the field who were hot on my heels. It was like being just in front of a mass of baying hounds, without the baying, but more out of breath.

3/4 of the way up I was passed by Chris Jackson, in much the same place as he passed me on the race last year. He was going well, legs pumping, and it was all I could do to keep going at the same speed. Matt was standing near the top shouting out encouragement to us all, unfortunately it spurred on Dave Soles from Pennine rather than me, as he put in a quick couple of steps to beat me to the stile, chasing after Chris across the middle, flatter field.

The beginning sprint
I held my position in 5th to the top, though with more people breathing down my neck, and began the headlong charge down the hill. I was wearing my Baregrips (despite their somewhat dilapidated appearance), and as I was thrashing over the heather in a semi-hypoxic state I realised that I was nearly tripping over at every step as they are ever so slightly too long for me.
Not quite able to get the stride I needed it took longer than I expected to get to the stile, where I had to wait for an uphill runner to come over before bolting over it and down after Chris and Dave. Though it was at that point a Penistone runner overtook me.
It wasn't until halfway down the ridiculously steep main slope of Lantern Pike that I caught and overtook both Chris and the Penistone runner. Despite the fact it was down hill, I was still struggling for breath as we hit the path.
Nearly at the end
I was overtaken once again in the final field down, but held on to my 5th position in the drag up to the finish, not far, but far enough away from 4th and 3rd.

In the immediate aftermath I was on the ground coughing like a good'un, not sure if I was going to be sick or not. The last time I felt like that was after doing the Jones Crawl in a Gym Jones seminar. I truely felt terrible, and Lynne was a little concerned for me. However, after a bit I was ok, and we went off to do a warm down run.

At the end
Not the most elegant way to be after finishing a race.
My time wasn't any better than last year, though the placing was, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. What it DOES tell me, is that I can work harder in other races, and also that I need to be more intelligent in my training. Its not all about training, its also about rest and recovery.