Tuesday 28 February 2012

A quick assault on the Lake District 26 FEB

What better way to spend your Sunday morning than wolfing down a smoothie and popping up to the Lake District?! I arrived around 8am planning to do either option 1 a long section of the Lakeland 100mile race by getting a bus from Ambleside to Keswick and running back OR option 2 a bit of a BGR style recce. I arrived and noticed I had forgot to pack my compass so I parked up and searched pretty much every shop that was open at 8.30 on a Sunday morning, for a compass to no avail. I got a bit of food then noticed some of the staff in the shop below the climbing wall just arriving so I managed to get one from them before they opened properly! Thanks Guys! After that a quick feed and grabbed a bit more lunch to take with me and I headed over to Langdale opting for option 2 as I had now missed the bus to get to Keswick. 

Weather was reasonable in the valley but cloudy over the peaks. I hiked up to Stickle Tarn pretty rapidly passing a few groups of walkers and followed the tarn around to take a direct line up Sergeant Man, now in the clouds. Ground was quite wet with a few pockets of snow around. From here I followed a bearing for a small tarn not far from the top of High Raise, and then from there to the trig point on High Raise for a quick photo and to put my jacket on. From here the weather became more cloudy and some light rain, pretty windy in places but not too bad until it got dark. 
High Raise, the best weather I had really.

After HR I headed in the direction of Thunacar Knot on to Harrison Stickle before wolfing down a bit more food and a 9 bar and heading on to Pike of Stickle. I dashed across Martcrag Moor which was quite enjoyable long gradual descent with a few bogs and things to bounce through.After this I went around onto Rosset Pike enjoying some rock hopping on route. 

Tombstone like rock nr Rosset Pike
From there a quick trip around Angle Tarn and up to Ore Gap where I intended to divert to Bow Fell although I changed my mind and decided to leave it for the way home! Quite high up there was the occasional bit of snow around between Great End, Ill Crag, Broad Crag and the Scafells. A group of walkers were taking a direct route following the cairned path to Scafell Pike and I could here them talking somewhere within the blanket of cloud each time I diverted off to a peak they would pass, then as I headed for the next peak I would pass them, continuing in this fashion until somewhere before Scafell Pike. After Scafell pike I planned to head down in the direction of Wasdale then cut back up a steep line to Scafell. On descending a couple called me, I just managed to stop before them after a reasonably quick descent.
'Which way is down?' He asked.... It was clearly the opposite way to where they were going as they were pushing uphill.
Where are you going? I asked
'To the bottom, where the car park is, next to THE lake!'
I'm not being funny, but there are a lot of lakes being the Lake District do you know the name of it? I don't want to send you the wrong way!
After a look on his printed out map we figured it out and they carried on to 'the top' presumably Scafell Pike. Not very easy to find in cloud with no propper map or compass, always worth having one even on a clear day and knowing how to use it, just in case!

I headed down towards Wasdale to the wall that crosses the path near Lingmell Gill before cutting around Scafell heading southwards and then taking a pretty direct line upto Scafell. Didn't hang around too long as time was getting on I moved on to Foxes Tarn and followed the valley down with a good pace to the river Esk. My route took me up towards Esk Hause and it began to get dark pretty quick so out came the head torch. I headed back over Esk Pike towards Bowfell with the conditions worsening the wind was quite strong and although I was dry beneath my jacket, the weather wasn't getting any more pleasant! I decided to cut off and head down into the valley where conditions wouldn't be as bad and there was an easy trail to get back to Langdale as it was getting late and I had to be working at 6.30. Onto the Cumbria way which could accommodate a car I picked up a good pace and followed it all the way past the Old Dungeon Ghyll pub and back to my car. 

Before it got dark, looking towards river Esk

Totalled 2700m elevation, 40km and a good day out. Legs not really feeling any aches although I wasn't pushing the pace particularly hard. Good nav practice!
Pretty much best view all day!

Langdale, Stickle Tarn, Sergeant Man, High Raise, Thunacar Knot, Harrison Stickle, Pike of Stickle, Martcrag Moor, Buck Pike, Rosset Pike, Esk Pike, Great End, Ill Crag, Broad Crag, Scafell Pike, Scafell, Esk Hause, Angle Tarn, Langdale!

Tuesday 21 February 2012

19th Feb London Ultra 50km

London ultra '50'km as easy as following signs! Ideal running conditions if you 
lost the breeze! Played the game 'spot the runner' on the train across to the start generally quite easy on the first trains on Sunday morning. The thought process is something like this.
Is suspected runner wearing some kind of running trainers?
Do they generally stand out as being a bit weird?
Are they displaying an item of clothing that's fluro green?
A backpack that is loaded up with bits wedged into every compartment and a few stray energy gels dangling off it?
Are they twitching with excitement?
Are they chain munching their way through a neverending supply of bananas?
And the real clincher... When asked, are they 'taking it easy'/ 'done no training oh except a few 8hour runs here and there' OR... 'injured'?
Anyhow Bumped into ome familiar faces and met some new ones making the jump up from marathon distance. Found the start quite easy as there was a good stream of runners to follow by now and got in line for race numbers at a pavillion

Race got underway just after 9.15 and I found myself about 6th with a small group pushing on in front. I thought I spotted Stuart Mills ahead there too? With a few twists and turns the group moved out of sight and I ran with a chap who was similar paced for a couple of checkpoints before he moved ahead. I ran at what felt comfortable, a pace that would land me 50k in about 3.45. running through a flooded tunnel at about 5k gave us some nice wet feet. The signs for capital ring were relatively good to follow if you kept your eyes open (it was meant to be a marked out course so no real nav skills required) Somewhere just before marathon distance I managed to miss a sign and proceeded to run about 5mins off course. Looking back at where I should have gone on a map there might have been a group of cycling people infront of where the sign roughly would have been. I reached a river and I realised I was heading back to where I had come from and spun round to follow the river on to the final
cp. Passed through the cp grabbed a quick can of coke and a few jbs. Only actually rented the coke but im sure my body absorbed some of the goodness in the 90sec it was in my stomach. I picked up the pace now with about a marathon on the watch. Following the course happily along the canal crossed the bridge and I knew there was a fork to the right coming up. sure enough there it was. I bounced down and jammed on the brakes. The path had a big fence across and some sort of police notice. bugger.I headed back onto the towpath and carried on slow, deciding what to do. The next runner caught up and we tried to figure a way around. Not much luck and after ten mins of head scratching up came RobbIe and a few others. None any the wiser about directions we set off heading at a guess the direction of the finish. I had reached 50k on my watch in about 4hours 2mins and I figured out a rough position on the map and seemed to turn into group navigator. When I stopped to walk and check the map so did the others. It seemed pretty much 2 straight roads to get us back on course... maybe 2km? then about the same distance onto the finish. Robbie moved ahead and managed to find someone passing by who had actually heard of 'PerIvale' where we were set to finish. As I got close to the junction to take me back to the course I zipped across the road and left my tail and set about chasing down Mr britton over the final field with the finish flags in sight. I think I rolled in 6th. but ill check that. 4hours 23min 54.8km. Pretty disappointed with the time. Although I did get better value for money... more miles for the same entry fee! Running fast is great if your going in the right direction! Vale my transport coordinator... I would still be lost within the tube somewhere without her... and now newly addicted ultrarunner managed a solid sub 5hour time just a whisker behind ladies favourite Trinity, in her first ultra marathon!! Lots of regulars out in force too big well dones all around!

Good finish location. A shower powerful enough to take your skin off. Some nice mugs big enough to drown a triathlete and his pointy bike helmet.

I've been writing this during my coach journey home with the ever reliable N******* E******. Comfortable, cheap, timely and you can always rely on a good quote from the driver
my most noteworthy from a previous journey...
After enquiring if the bus was travelling to London as it had the correct code but the destination said something else... the driver was kind enough to entertain me with the response
'it says f***ing India on the Tyres too but am not going there neither' 
Tonight wasn't quite so exciting....
whilst boarding bus 'wheres ya ticket mate?'
here, as I handed it over
'where ya goin mate?'
'Is that the date?!'
'Get on then'
I felt like royalty being talked to so politely.
There are some photos from Ultra Race on the following link.
That pretty much concludes the race, incredible how lost you can get when following signs!
All in all quite a hilarious/disastrous race.

Friday 17 February 2012

11th Hell Runner, Cannock + 12th Mad Dog 10km, Southport!

Hell Runner, for anyone who hasn't experienced it yet, is basically an off road running race in the region of 10-12 miles incorporating a couple of swamps and bogs, as many short sharp hills as the venue allows, a bit of technical trail running and on this occasion ICE!

Went down to Cannock with a friend Christian Roach, both all the more enthusiastic about the early start when we felt the temperature outside! At the venue the sun was shining although the temperature still hadn't quite nudged over 0C. We had a quick look around the start area and a warm up jog before becoming lost in the crowds. The start finish area was a little cramped between the baggage marquee and some trade tents making it a bit difficult to move around but we coped! Bumped into Ria Bright who had gone to all the effort of getting me a birthday present!!! Thanks for that!

Everyone huddled into the start line ready for the slightly delayed start, I think it was deliberate to ruin any attempts to warm up. Some very competitive looking chaps around and from the start a small group of us pulled away down hill towards the first short sharp hill, the kind of gradient you can just about run up. A few lying branches and patches of ice to contend with I found myself in the top 5 as we began to thin out a little, there was a small loop about 1 mile before passing by the start finish area and heading off across the forrest on a long track, mainly covered in ice making traction when you're trying to run fast a wee bit difficult.

I can be seen on the 4th and 5th image of the middle row, the water was about to get a lot deeper!

The course seeked out every short sharp hill within a 3 mile radius of the start line, occasionally detouring into some wicked single track twisting and turning through the trees (up and downhill of course). I was really enjoying the single track although my legs were 'a bit heavy' (ie stiff as!) after my 3 days 'holiday' in the Lake District the previous 3 days. After a while we passed a swamp kind of rectangular that was around 60m long with tape at the far end to funnel us in, except this time we were only running past, that was saved for later, just a quick glimpse of it now to torment any tiring runners. More hills and a very twisty section in the dense woods where I managed to build up a good gap with the runner behind (I could no longer hear him breathing or his footsteps pounding down the hills at least). After that I came to a track with an arrow pointing right..... great!  but which right is it? Is it right on the main track or right on the single track? The runner behind caught up, I shouted 'If you know the way jump infront 'cos Im guessing!' I scrambled up over the mound in the middle and decided to follow the main track after about 30seconds I spotted the next arrow so picked the pace back up leaving said runner.
When your Adidas trail shoe attacks you

Out into the open again and we turned, in the distance there was the 'Bog of Doom!' during Hell Runner at Delamere I had a nice leisurely wade through the bog as I had a substantial lead, this time however I ploughed on through straight into the ice. The shins took a bit of damage but the legs were pretty frozen after about 60 seconds of wading. This was roughly 13km. I was expecting another 5km then I would be finished. The runner behind was close again but as soon as I noticed him behind I moved away again as we hit the track heading back towards the finish, one last diversion into the woods and I figured unless there was another surprise loop before the finish we must be almost done? With that I sped up a bit and pushed on to the finish which gave me a total of 15.1km about 2 miles shorter than I expected which was a surprise!

I finished in 5th, 1.11 for 15km which was a little slower than I would have liked but considering the  pre fatigued legs I was quite happy! Had a bit of a shoe issue with some Adidas trail shoes... one of the rubber knobbles in the tread pushed through the sole into my foot creating a nice sore patch, under the ball of my foot, which I wasn't overly happy about.

Shins post hell runner, they stung in the shower!
After a quick change I proceeded do dig through the goody bag for any item that was edible and chatted to a few people here and there whilst Christian was now in the finish line funnelling system which had started to fill up. For someone who isn't a keen runner and entered for a bit of a laugh not bad at all!! Home via a pub for birthday lunch (thanks mate!) and ready for Sunday

Mad Dog 10k Southport!
Its 2nd year and already proving to be a very popular road race. Last year an incredible headwind gave me a finish time around 41mins which turned out to be about 8th position off the top of my head. This year a little bit of a dull day but no gales.

The legs didn't feel much worse after Hell Runner, although my shins were a little sore from breaking ice with them. The venue was pretty full of people collecting T shirts etc I managed to bump into my little brother doing the fun run 1mile with his pal and also one of my clients, Diane who tries her best to arrange her runs with bad weather!

As we all squeezed out of the start and off towards the Coast road there was probably around 100 people infront of me. I began to edge past a few, the traffic free roads were nice although there wasn't much in the way of scenary. Quite a few runners passed me back maybe around 20 up until the water station at half way, I passed half way in around 20mins and began to pick the pace up, moving my way up the field gradually.

Nothing all that exciting to report, im not going to write a lot about a 10k road race, I rolled in 38mins and some seconds 34th out of the 1120 finishers. Not my quickest but with the continuing trend of tired legs over the previous 5 days, quite happy with that!

 Diane did brilliant! Smashing her previous pb by over 5mins and blowing the 50minute target out of the water! Coming in at 48mins! She has been training hard and putting in a lot of effort which shows in her results! Champion!
Di incredibly enthusiastic about the start! Raring to go!