Sunday, 13 January 2013

Trigger 2013

Up again early for a race, always fun, but generally much better when there is a coffee on the go.
This is the one I have been looking forward to for a good couple of months. A 34k wander across 3 moors, hitting 3 trig points, and generally having a bit of a good time.

Last year I came in 23rd in a time of 3:59:40 (or so), and crashed badly on the way over Kinder in terms of a sugar low. This year I really wanted to get faster than that, though it would pretty much depend on the ground conditions, which in the weeks leading up to the race were not looking particularly promising. The last few recces I have done were across knee and ankle deep bogs in very little visibility.
Kit Check
Thankfully, yesterday was pretty breezy, and did a good job of drying the bog out a bit, and then a bit of a freeze overnight gave it a nice firm crust. It ended up being pretty fast conditions, which was great.

After arriving, kit check went smoothly, and also showed me that I had packed 2 maps instead of one, so that saved me a bit of weight. Which was immediately put back on again as I decided to take a camera. Unfortunately I couldn't find a decent place to put it in order to get at it quickly - so it went in the bag, and I just ran with extra weight.
I was surprised at how little some people took with them in terms of kit, but then, I suppose you can get fully taped waterproofs and food and a map and compass in a 2-4 litre bumbag, I just took my heavier kit in a slightly larger bag. Perhaps in hindsight I could have cut down on the weight of the gear I took, but it wasn't really a problem. It was the food that weighed more, and I needed that right to the end.

Credit -
The basic plan was to have half a geo-bar every half hour (from the very start) and then a powergel type thing before hitting Lawrence Edge and then another one just before hitting the climb onto the Northern edge of Kinder. The main key was not to get too carried away at the beginning. You can get very caught up in the first section, hammering along the path, and completely knacker yourself out before you get to any proper hills. So I tried to take it easy. (It helped that there was a navigational mix up in the first 300 metres, meaning that the faster runners missed a turning and had tom come back through the group... considering that we started from a slightly different place this year, maybe ONE of us might have reccied the beginning....!)

Alastaire took off with the front group (as soon as they worked out the right direction) and I didn't see him again until the very end. He ended up doing fantastically well, but had to contend with 5 mins of not being able to move anywhere after being afflicted with cramp on Kinder.

I trotted along at my own speed with Dan and Andy in close proximity, and a couple of runners from Carnethy. I saw Jasmine and Heather waaay ahead of us, spurred on by each other and looking like they were just going to batter the hell out of each other on the way to a new Womens record.
Underfoot was really good going. There wasn't quite so much ice as there was last year, and the run down off Black hill toward Crowden Little Brook had a decent amount of squidge to it - in comparison to a year ago when it was solid mud ice - so MUCH better to run on this year.

I was running pretty well on the way down to Crowden, but making sure that I was eating in the right places. This was going to be the important bit- as I remember it getting really quite difficult as I got onto Lawrence Edge last year, an energy gel was consumed, and although I didn't necessarily feel energised, I knew that there would be a bit more stuff in me which would get me up the hill.
There was a person in front of me who I thought was Grouse, so I kept him in my sights all the way across and up on the way up to the Edge. I finally caught up with him, and found it wasn't. Oh. Ah well, I guessed he was far far away ahead of me.
Thanks to Eleanor Swan for the Snake summit photo
Heather was just up ahead and took the same line as me up the Edge, but a different one around the top. I took the "short cut" which I had looked out a couple of weeks back, and lo and behold, it spat me out exactly the same distance behind her as when I started it.
So it wasn't until we got into the groughs going up beyond Wildboar when I was able to take a sneaky line and get out in front of her.

More food, and a bit of water, and the drag up to Higher Shelf Trig, with a couple of other runners near me. To be honest, I never actually recced that bit, and was very much making it up as I went along, just aiming for the highest point on the hill. It kind of worked, and we bounded off down the hill toward Snake Summit.
Coming into the finish

By this time I was getting pretty tired, but there was a marvellous boost as the assembled Glossopdale supporting horde cheered us on through the Checkpoint. On and across Featherbed moss, and I began to see more people in front of me for the first time since Crowden. Excellent, but a minor thing in the way - that being the North Edge of Kinder. It was just as long and steep and horrible as I remember it from last year, and I ended up hauling myself up with hands as my feet dragged behind me. A Dark Peaker was alongside me, but we left another guy straggling a way behind us as we climbed up onto the top.

Bagged the trig, and then, because of the icy top, I took a bit of a new and radical line across to the Downfall. Needless to say it didn't work all that well, but at least I didn't end up at Fairbrook naze like a couple of runners from Carnethy may or may not have done(!).
Food. The best reward around. 
Through Kinder gates with a couple of other runners, one of which who observed that none of our legs seemed to be working particularly well. Definitely seizing up, and at that point it was about 3:15 into the race, the faster guys would certainly have been finishing by now. (As it was, Oli finished in 3:08!).
Up into the groughs and quite a zigzagging route through the area, and then out and over the bog - mercifully iced over, so a decent speed was maintained, and then along the south edge of Kinder. Again, not really something I had reccied, and that was to be my eventual downfall as the 2 Dark Peakers behind me that I had overtaken through the grough maze on Kinder took a much better line and thrashed me off the hill, finishing a minute or so faster.
New line for next year methinks...

As it was, I finally caught up with Grouse coming off Grindslow, overtaking him near the bottom, and just about managing to hold him off in a near on neck and neck finish.
20th overall, in 3:47:11, about 16 seconds behind Alastaire, whose red hat I had seen in the last 100 metres of the race - the first time I saw him since the beginning.

Well done to the rest of the Glossopdale Harriers who ran, especially Mark Ollerenshaw who came 3rd, Julien, 10th overall, and first V50, and John S, with the incredible exploding shoes, which ended up being held together with Gaffa tape for a third of the race.
Stevie K from Pennine had a fabulous run coming in 4th, and 1st Vet 40, and Jasmine was 6th overall, and first Lady.
Johns incredible exploding shoe.
What a day.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Stupid. Really?

Language is a funny thing, and it is the cause of some constant irritations to me, especially in terms of running.

The amount of times I have seen or heard people say
" I'm going to do something stupid" in reference to a long, hard run,
"I'm going to do X, I must be MAD!!!!!" (generally with far too many exclaimation marks)
is far, far too many.

These comments tend to come to light when someone decides that they are going to do the 3 peaks, or run a marathon, or something like that. Something out of the ordinary for them. Now, I have no issue with them doing that. In fact it is generally healthy to step outside of your comfort zone, what really annoys me is that anything which is challenging is immediately seen as "stupid" or "mad" or some other idiotic title.


Jumping out of a plane with no means of stopping yourself plummeting into the ground is fairly "stupid". Using an axe to get through your front door when you have a key in your pocket is pretty stupid too.
Running 26 miles is not "stupid" neither is is "mad". Ditto for fellrunning or climbing.
Yes, it may be challenging. Yes, it might be difficult. However there are those of us who do these things for fun. That is not "mad" either. It is just different to what other people may do with their spare time. It's almost insulting that something I do on a general basis is defined by others as something no-one in their right mind would enjoy doing.

Actually, looking back on this, it doesn't really matter what people say about what they do or what I do. I'm simply being a pedant. I don't care what people think of my pastimes, or what label they attach to me. It is of no importance if something out of the ordinary for someone else is important enough for them to label it as stupid.
However, next time you are about to embark on something along those lines, try using the word "challenging" instead. Yes it has more syllables, but that might just make you seem just a little bit more educated.

Friday, 4 January 2013

A visit to the Velodrome

Waiting my turn
Something that I meant to get around to last year, but never actually did, was get a go in the velodrome. During the first part of the year I always seemed to be too busy, or doing something else, and then once the olympics had come, been and gone, everyone and their aunt was going there for a taster session.

Imagine my surprise when I was given a taster session for Christmas! Brilliant, my chance to pedal the boards and see what its like. It always seems like a good idea to have some kind of back up plan in terms of wet weather training in case it really is too nasty and gnarly to do anything outside as the turbo trainer can get just a little dull.

Thankfully it was not a gorgeous day when we went to the Velodrome. Anything but. It was claggy, foggy and a general miasma of mist had graced the land, so we were only too happy to wander into the building, have a cup of coffee and await my go at cycling around in circles.
It was a pleasurable surprise to meet a friend there who is currently working with British Cycling - and would have a grandstand view of me pelting around the track.

Ready to go
Amongst the various advice I had been given by others who have more experience in velodromes, the better pieces were these...
"don't stop pedalling"
"don't fall off, it hurts just as much as falling off on the road"
"don't go and look down the banking before you start"
"go straight, turn left. Go straight. Turn left."

I changed into my biking clothes, got my hired shoes, and went to find my bike, a fixed wheel, brakeless machine, which doesn't actually scare me all that much. Having spent an awful lot of my commuting time in London on a single speed, and having ridden a fixie a couple of times before I was fairly sure of what was going on. It was the banking at either end of the oval that concerned me a bit - (which, incidentally, I didn't look down before I got on the track).

We were given a safety briefing, and then watched as we went around the track once or twice, and then pretty much let loose to do what we wanted. I thought that 15 people on the track was going to be quite crowded, but it was anything but. At times it felt like I was the only person going around. To begin with I was a little leery of going up the banking, but by the time I'd been around a few times I gained the confidence to work my way up the sides.
I had a fabulous time, zooming around in circles (or rather, ovals), but the only minor disappointment was the lack of interest the staff seemed to have in what any of us were doing. I would like to have gained the infamous "blue slip" which enables a rider to continue on in the accreditation scheme, but was never actually able to talk to a coach about what it entailed or how I could get one - they were too busy chatting to each other and telling riders off for drinking water in the wrong place.
I'm sure they get fairly weary of doing taster sessions and watching idiots ride around in circles for an hour, but a bit more interest in us would have been nice.

I spent a lot of the time practicing going around on the Blue line, and peeling up the sides and back down to the blue again, and also following other people - trying to keep an even speed all the way around. The last 10 mins I just decided to go round as much as possible as hard as I could so as to get a bit more exercise out of it which was good fun.
Having done a taster session, I will be going back, and hopefully get my blue slip. Though progress through the sessions appears to mean that you can then get involved in other more structured sessions, but none of them seem to be at particularly convenient times, so it may be best for me to just go and take my velodrome time in during other taster sessions, which seems a little odd.

Anyway, I had a great time, and the swish of going around the track will call me back before long.