Sunday, 11 January 2015

Park runs and more

Wow. An odd week- not at work, 2 sessions on the indoor climbing wall and the decision to inject some speed. I signed us both up for Park runs and that of course meant finding some local 5km loops from the house. For me these will never take over from long runs and the hills but I can see they might have a place. When the run is from the door there is little excuse not to just go and when the run is going to take less than 30 mins there is no excuse at all.
My first effort at finding a nice loop from home was comical. I ran out along the Guild Wheel and didn't think too much about pace or hills at first. Then I checked my garmin (which I have barely used except for 2013 when I did my ultra challenges). How could I be so slow? Oh well, half way so start finding a route home and try a bit harder. By the time I was half way back I was putting in serious effort and still the time was ticking by. Surely ultras have not made me THIS rubbish at short distances? And then the penny dropped....  my garmin was set for miles not kilometres! Thank god for that, I had been really worried. So I arrived home knackered  and with what would be a very poor 5km time but quite a respectable 5 mile effort. Once I had recovered we went out for a walk to sort out a possible 5km route.
On Thursday I decided to check out the nearest park run route in Preston's Avenham and Miller parks. It would all be on tarmac but nevermind. I wanted some idea of what it would be like plus the parks and the river are not such a bad place to run. A shade under 26 minutes without much of a warm up and just doing my own thing. Not too bad a start but I want to be faster than that.
Christmas decorations? the tree is not even on a path
On Saturday I bit the bullet and drove to Cuerden. My first Park run. I got there very early and did one lap just to get it clear in my head and in the hope that a warm up would help me go faster. It rained on me so I kept my cag on which was probably a mistake as it was then dry and I was too warm. It might have done if I had not then hung around for 20 minutes. It was nice to see a few faces I recognised and a surprise to see the NW junior orienteering squad there training. I know that speed is not my thing and I know from bitter experience that going off hard will just cause problems before long but somehow I cannot help myself. The gun went and we were off. the downhill start is tempting but soon turns into a steepish uphill. The loops through the woods are beautiful and then it's down to the river before another climb and some more woods. Much of this is soft underfoot and so I prefer it, although I have to confess to a brief walk on both hills. I knew I would pay for the pace.  The course is two laps and on the second I realised that the NWJS kids that had pulled away were now only just in front of me. It made me work harder. The finish is a long steady climb and I almost caught Hannah etc. A quick chat at the finish and then a short drive home. Odd to be back by 10am but quite satisfying to have made my debut.

Not part of the Parkrun course... now that would be fun
Sunday morning saw me back there again with Bob. A nice warm up through the woods and then up to the park run start. This time I did not leave space to get chilled but set straight off. I made a determined effort not to charge off and to be able to run each hill. It did work. I lost a little time at the end of the first lap as an out of control puppy would not leave me alone. I managed to keep going on the second lap and once I reached the woods I was really enjoying myself. Towards the end of the second lap I met the puppy again. This time it had scared a toddler and was all over me. It ignored shouts of "come here" and I ignored shouts of "it just wants to play"... as it charged after me on the downhill it tried to jump up and bite and I lost my temper with the owner.
Blurry- I was shaking with anger at the stupid woman
At long last once I took a photo and said I would name and shame she put it on a lead. So my time of 26.32 should be minus 10 secs or so from lap one and closer to a minute on lap 2. Hmmm maybe going slower and running not charging and then having to stomp the hills would be better.

 I then spent the next hour jogging around the area and just enjoying being out before the rain.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

The Christmas holidays

Although these were my first days of freedom from work it was the usual school holidays and so did not feel special at first. I joined the 'oldies' on Monday to climb. Chris and I lowered the average age quite significantly. I enjoyed it until I came to write that afternoon and found my arms no longer worked. Tuesday saw me join old friends in Preston Harriers for their solstice run. (no photos here, sadly I killed my camera, permanently).The weather was foul- low cloud, heavy rain and a water-logged hillside but we had fun. I felt slow but Roy gallant as ever waited for me. It was good to chat to people in Tillotsons afterwards. Christmas eve saw Bob, Chris and I cycling the Guild Wheel. Somehow Chris, the fittest and youngest, ended up on the fastest bike? It was a glorious day and wonderful to be out.
We even managed a run on Christmas day.

Bob does have a whole left leg really.
The boys insisted they would NOT be getting up early and did not want to be woken for a walk. Bob and I drove to Pendle and had a great couple of hours. There were more people out than we expected. The weather got worse during the morning and we just made it back to the van as the rain clouds gathered and it chucked it down with rain and hail, but not before we met other fell runners in the car park and were treated to bucks fizz and brownies.

Down in Somerset we squeezed in two excursions to the Quantocks, the first for a run and the second for a walk. The run was superb with bright blue skies and very firm frosty ground. It wasn't long or fast but just a joy to be out.

 The walk was interesting as we explored away from the main ridge and took in some deep valleys.
After the New Year we took the van to the Lakes and prayed for good enough weather to allow Bob to complete his Wainwright Challenge. Friday ticked off Green Crag and Slight Side. We did not get wet but the afternoon was tiring with gale force winds. We had also made the mistake of not swapping maps as we passed the van and so went beyond Slight Side and up onto Long Green just to make sure of the summit.

 Had I not been struggling to stand up we might have taken in Scafell too. Instead we explored what we intended to be the direct line back to the van - through lumpy land of minor hills and marshes. Thank goodness for dry-socks.
We saw almost nobody either morning or afternoon. Saturday started very early in the hope we could pack lots in. On the first loop the weather was grim with low cloud and rain but we persevered and took in Middle Fell, Seatallen and Buckbarrow crag. It was good to escape into the van for shelter and food. By the time we lefty Brackenclose for the afternoon peaks the weather had perked up lots. As we left the bridlepath to Eskdale and struck up towards Illgill Head the sun came out.
Nice view to the morning's peaks, especially Buckbarrow.
It was further along the ridge than I remembered but the views were great and it made up for the wet morning.

After Whin Rigg we debated the return route. I think contouring was perhaps not the best idea in the end although it seemed favourable compared to up and over at the time.

 If Bob was going to complete this weekend I knew we had to take in Lingmell today. I knew the way as it was almost the same as one of the legs I ran on my first SLMM Klets.
We do not walk at the same speed- but it makes for some better photos
We stayed higher and only dropped to the wall at the last minute. Heading to Brown Tongue Bob was obviously tired but I pushed on, determined that we could do it today.

Looking up to Mickledore there was a good covering of frost and some snow but we stayed lower and in the fading sunshine. We made it to the summit as the sun was setting over the Cumbria coast and with amazing views in all directions.
 Despite carrying torches we did not need them. The cloudless skies kept the daylight for longer and there was a full moon. We picked up a trod heading downhill and west until we hit the main path on the ridge spur.

It was steep but we were back in the van before it was really dark.

I think we both knew that ticking of the last Wainwrights the next day was now very possible. Bob had left Yewbarrow, Red Pike and Pillar to the end. Pillar was to be the last summit.

 After an easy start along a frosty but not too slippy road we began the long pull up to the summit. Again we were blessed with great views. The northern descent was a bit steeper and rockier than I had realised and the weather started to close in.

Before Red Pike we were in low cloud and the wind got up. By the summit we were surprised to find not just frost but a thin cover of snow. It got a bit slippery but not too bad. We had left the katoolas in the van. The path to Pillar had more snow and the wind was fierce, although thankfully not as bad as when we had been on Slight Side. I raced ahead to the shelter stones. I had carried up a can of Murphies for Bob to celebrate.

It was too cold so we made do with photos at the trig point and a chat with 3 girls. Then Rosie and Graham Watson appeared so there were more congratulations and a chance to realise we were not the only people out in fell shoes and running kit. We had receieved some very strange looks over the paast days, especially today in the snow when one guy had ice axe and crampons at the ready.

 We laughed as we passed Wind Gap - not going down that way again! Part way down Black Sail we started to thaw out and slowed the pace a little.

We celebrated All the Wainwrights in Bob's 70th year with an alcoholic hot chocolate and enormous sandwiches in the pub at Wasdale Head.... and then champagne at home. A double celebration as for me the reality of not going back to work in the morning suddenly became real.Perfect timing and well deserved treats.

 It was wonderful not to spend Sunday thinking about what I would teach, to not spend the evening on last minute marking and to just relax with a shower, a meal, and to have time to sit and talk to the rest of the family and even watch TV.