Sunday, 28 April 2013

Another long one

I've been putting in the long miles on recent weekends, and this one was no exception.
It started out, in the greatest of traditions with a good strong coffee, which was swiftly followed by Lynne calling out - "have you seen the hills?"

I wandered back upstairs, and yes, there was a smattering of snow up there. Ah well, all the more fun then. There was meant to be an occluded front making its way across the country at some point, so thats probably what did it. Excellent.

The vague plan was to follow the 4 Dark Peak County tops route for a while, maybe do all four of them, or maybe just do 2, and then run back along the High Peak marathon route to Glossop. No idea how long it would be, just a nice day out. I was joined for a short time by a couple of other Glossopdalers, who for various reasons turned back for home at various points of the run.
I thought that I could cut the whole thing short, but really, that would be a bit rubbish. If I've said I'm going to do it, then I might as well get it done.

We ran from Glossop up to Kinder, and hit the top from a devious route up Redbrook, which I had never done before. It was snowing lightly at this point, and there was a smattering of snow on the ground from about 550m. Quite breezy too. Coming back across the plateau, we strode out down Fairbrook, and then up through some trees to the Snake.
I did some sneaky manoeuvring to get up into the beginning of Oyster clough, wondering if I should go right the the end, then across to Alport, or if I should just go down, straight up, and then down into Alport.
Looking at the ascent, the latter won out, and I went up a fabulous climb, and then quite an adventurous down through some very overgrown woodland into the Alport.

On my way down I saw a group of walkers on top of the Alport and wondered if I'd catch them up. I carried my speed (well, not really speed, but you know what I mean) up the hill, and lo and behold, they hadn't moved at all. Along the top, and then straight down Fagny clough, around the reservoir, and then the hail hit me.

Just a little at first, not really enough to warrant a waterproof, and then it became more incessant. Waterproof on.
I had vaguely committed the route to memory, but didn't have a map (yes, I know the area, yes, I had a GPS watch in case I needed to give a 10fig grid ref), I was really just out for the joy of a long day without any real worry about where I ended up as long as I could get home.
So I took the turning I thought was the right one, made my way up Howden clough, and after a fair amount of climbing, and another hail storm, I came out on top in pretty much the right place- High Stone, and the view was magnificent.

This was the view that you want to be able to see on the High Peak Marathon, but can't.

I then set out on the slog across the bog tops to Outer Edge, Swains Head and up to Bleaklow stones. Hail storm, followed by snow flakes followed by more hail, all with a driving rain. I kept my pace so that I wasn't entirely walking all the time, but I certainly wouldn't say I was being fast in any way shape or form.

From Bleaklow stones I took a Southern line back across the top and then finally turned down the hill back into Glossop- and the sun finally came out, forcing me to take off my waterproof for the first time since being
in the Derwent Valley.

53km, 1858m ascent, in 6 and a half hours. I wasn't as tired at the end of this one, as I was after the 50km 2 weeks ago, not sure if that is because of better management of food, or that I'm vaguely getting used to longer stuff.
So I chased with a 60km bike ride today.
I'm pretty smoked now.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Herod farm fell race 2013

This is a really close race to my heart. It is organised by my club Glossopdale harriers (ably coordinated by Sue Clapham this year) and was the first fell race that I entered when I arrived in the Peak District 2 years
ago. This was my third year of running it.
Sometimes described as a brutal "sharpener" for the midweek racing season, simply mentioning that it is only 5k long doesn't do it justice, even taking into account the 320 odd metres of ascent. And, indeed, descent.
There were some big names out in force for this little race. Stuart Bond, always ready to have a bash at Lloyds record, Jack Ross, Tom Brunt, a load of macc harriers, not to mention the Pennine lot, led out by steviek.

Don't you love a race profile that looks like this....
I've been doing a lot of long distance stuff recently, having realised that the Old County Tops is not all that far away and my partner is a bit more long distance trained at the moment. Having done no speed work and certainly no specific hillwork, I thought my short, sharp speed for a race such as this would be severely diminished. Maybe mid pack would be about a good place to get. Probably sub 30, but not near my last years time of 28:59, especially considering a 50k epic on Saturday,  chased with a 60k bike ride into a somewhat unbelievable headwind on sunday. 

However. The plan was to go hard for as long as possible, and then just try and hold on and see what happened.

Sue's pre-match talk was short but sweet, and she soon had us on our way. I started out near enough the front to see Stuart spring off up the road, opening out 10 metres of lead before 30 seconds had elapsed. So much for me going as hard as possible. That was just unbelievable.
On the way down, chasing StevieK
Within seconds I was engulfed by a number of other runners, eager to get a fast start. Carl came past me on my right, and then, there was John Hewitt next to me, with John Doyle ahead. I lost out to him on the second climb last year, and by the look of things I was already losing out today.
At that point I just shut down everything in terms of peripheral thoughts and concentrated on the task at hand.

Up past Herod farm,  there was a new section which we ascended, and I made up a fair few places there, goaded on by Andy O. Counting steps, I managed to keep up some semblance of a run to where Rod was offering similar encouragement. I nearly fell into the trap of falling in behind another runner, being dictated by their pace,  but was able to keep the presence of mind and body to keep grinding it out up the hill.
Me, with the pack behind me
I traded places with a few runners, alternately running then walking, and managed to come out at the bomb holes in front of most of those who had overtaken me at the beginning and chased down a couple more along the track and edged in front of a Darkpeaker at the stile before the haul to the first high point and the dash downhill.

Through the miasma of sweat and fatigue I realised that steviek was only 2 places in front of me. He must be having a slow day, and as it was I had my hands full keeping ahead of the baying pack behind me.
I gained time on them in the plunge down the hill. 
Well, I think I did. I never looked behind, so actually, I could be making stuff up.

Down to the turning and stevie and a macc harrier are about 30m ahead. Knowing the hill that is coming I briefly entertained the idea of slowing down to gain my breath.
And heard someone behind me.
Full gas then.
Making good my escape up the final climb
Through the tree bower that precedes the final climb and I wonder just how much is in the tank. Can I hold the place to the top?
Run till you can't run any more,  keep running until you legs scream. A brief respite and carry on.
The guy behind me sounds like his throat is being dragged out of his body on every breath.
The gate. I still haven't been caught, though I don't know how close they are.
Final ascent of the second climb and I decided that anyone who sounds like the are at deaths door is *not* going to beat me today.
Final Climb
Over the top. Legs filled with lead, lungs on fire, veins pumping  battery acid I plunge down the hill, with Neil Shuttleworths words ringing in my ear.
"Give it some, lad" 
I gave it some. 
Tore down the hill, thrashed through the heather and hammered down the track. No-one was taking this place from me. Approaching the end I could hear no footsteps behind me. Ease up now? What if I'm close to my time from last year? How annoying would it be to miss out on a better time?
No-one to race but myself, I threw it all down in the last 400 metres.
28:30. A minute and a half faster than last years time and just one place behind steviek.
Excellent. A lot better than I was expecting. Overall, 9th. Thats the first time I've been top ten in this race.
Happy with that.
Thats what effort might look like. 
Thanks to Paul Stitt, Gordon Cooper and Tom Skelton for the photos which I blatently ripped out of facebook and flikr. If you want them taken down, drop me a line.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Spring Cleaning

Yes, there is tread on the Baregrips, but they don't attach to my feet.
Trying to find a place to dry, or even put shoes in our house has been challenging of late. We seem to
accumulate running shoes like running shoes accumulate mud.
It wasn't until a friend of ours commented that our porch looked a little like theirs, in terms of the amount of shoe-age going on, and I realised that they were only seeing half of the collection - the rest was drying (rotting?) on another rack elsewhere in the house, with another load of older, unused ones in a box elsewhere.

Nothing wrong with having a lot of shoes, but when
Deaded PK320s
most of them are blown out and destroyed, and you can't wear them anymore because they literally don't stay on your feet, that's about the time to start thinking about getting rid of them.
Added to that, I see a number of people with problems caused by
Deaded roclite 268
running in clapped out shoes, and if i'm going around telling people their shoes need replacing, while my shoes look like they've gone around the world a couple of times, that doesn't exactly inspire confidence or trust.

So I have finally got rid of the shoes which I have already pronounced "destroyed" on this blog a good few months (even years) ago, and I'm now down to 2 pairs of fell running shoes, a pair of "road" shoes (which I use for dossing around in) and a
Self-bailing Baregrips
Dead Mudroc 260
couple of pairs of work shoes, which tend to be kept relatively clean and in good condition. And, of course a pair of Mudclaws that are nearly on the "out" pile, but I managed to get a last minute reprieve for...

There is a bit of space on the rack now. What to fill it with?!