Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Time for an update to kick start the ultra season

I did say there would be a gap and a delay... Skiing was wonderful as always. I love just being away in France in the van. Val Cenis had plenty of snow unlike some areas.

 It was ****** cold at minus 20 plus wind chill but dry and sunny.

We managed picnic lunches each day but did seek a sun trap for vin chaud on a couple of afternoons.

We drove down through France at a fairly leisurely pace intending to do some Via Ferattas. The first one, which would have been new, did not pan out as it was market day and there was nowhere to park the van. We continued south west  and revisited a tough little feratta at St Series.

The last time we were there it was over 30C and people were jumping in the river. First time I have done a VF in long trousers and at least 3 tops! Still, it was fun  and brought back some good memories.

We then found a new VF (and climbing area) a bit further inland near some huge show caves. The VF was easier but interesting. Then we were off to Spain to climb. I did also manage three decent runs while we were there- love exploring even if it means less speed.

 It took a little while to get used to things but we loved it.

We climbed at more than half a dozen crags plus a  big day on the Bernia Ridge and a couple of VF.

Loved inland (but not the coast), wonderfully warm people and I am sure we will be back. The drive home was interesting with blizzards in central Spain, gales in France and so on. We did stop off at the highest sand dune in France for a little bit of hill training. We had a day in Dieppe and this allowed me a fast run on an old rail track that is now part of the green London to Paris cycle route. Very flat, could see ahead for miles - not what I love but it did make me run at a fast pace.
The plan was always to be back in time for the Anglezarke Amble which is a local LDWA event with a great route to kick start the training and the ultra season.

  I knew it would be tough on the back of no training and I was right. It didn't help that it was muddy and the Pennine Moors had a dusting of wet snow.

There seemed to be fewer runners than in the past but perhaps it was just that walkers and runners had separate start times this year.  I caught up with friends - Pete and  Dave from Preston Harriers, some of the Winter Hill gang and also Nick from Runfurther.(thanks to him for the photos that day).

 For the first mile or so Nick was ahead and I could not keep up. I was worried about how much fitness I had lost. The descent off Winter Hill was so slippery on compacted snow and frozen grass that it was a slow job.  Near Turton I started to struggle a bit but pushed on the best I could.  Climbing to Darwen Moor I caught John G who was 'having a moment'. We chatted and ran together to the Tower before he found fresh energy and pulled ahead on the way up Great Hill. I stopped at Slipper Lowe for a cup of tea and Isaline caught me up here. Isaline, Dakota and I reached White Coppice together but again I slowed a little and they finished just ahead of me. It was my slowest AA  ever, but only by about 8 minutes which considering the lack of training and the mud was perhaps not so bad.

Valentines day saw us playing catch up and doing a 'late' street O run. I ran my heart out and was convinced I had done well but later found Matt D had done SO well that my points were disappointing. Ah well. In true romantic style we ran round in the cold and dark, met back at the van and had a bag of chips on the way home.
The next weekend saw us in the Lakes. Saturday's forecast was not great so we ran from Oddendale near Shap.

I explored a bit going further east than usual but then coming back on route, passing Bob and returning via Crosby Ravensworth. At the van I decided to add in a bit down to Shap and then also north exploring new paths that gave me another load of climb back up Oddendale itself. We moved to Askham and prayed the overnight rain would stop.

I had planned a L42 recee for distance and climb but it wasn't that great on the tops. The valleys were warm and sunny so I binned High Street and dropped deep into Martindale, climbed the Nab and made my way to Angle Tarn.

Bits were slow in bog with no paths but I saw close on 100 deer and had a great time. After dropping to Side Farm I continued on towards the whole in the wall but again saw clag on the tops. I dropped to Glenridding for a pie to fuel me up and over Place Fell.

The top was misty so I didn't hang around but pushed on to try and catch Bob who would probably be on Askham Common somewhere by now. Around the cockpit I spotted him ahead but on a different path.  It was not all fast running but a great day out and with over 2000m of climb.
clearly my garmin died.......

Next up was a trip to Newton Stewart for a friends birthday party. We went up a day early and ran around Glen Tress.

I started fast and on good tracks but then decided to revisit some of the lochs and beaches from the OMM.

 I was unable to cross one stream

which resulted in a big drop and then a climb but I was happy with 20 miles or so even if it was rather damp.

It was hardly on the way home really but I was desperate to do a reccee of the Wolds Way. I have never walked or run there and had no real idea of what to expect in terms of terrain, ground/ path conditions or route finding.
Very old garmin has long battery but no way to upload data

 For logistical reasons I started on Monday near the middle (close to Kilnwick Percy) which allowed Bob to move the van to Filey and get a run of his own in. The weather was varied  and the damp made editing Jon's route notes annoying but I really enjoyed my day. Exploring new places is always fun and some of the grassy dales were lovely. It was also muddy. Not the black peaty sloshy mud of home but thick slipperly clay mud.I managed 4.8 mph which included phone and toilet stops and writing changes to the race route notes. I regret not taking a camera now but knew I would struggle to use that as well, plus I didn't want to get it wet. The WW is actually pretty well way marked and only in 2 places were Jon's notes essential. I am though happier to know what is in store and to have checked out a new area. Even the run from Filey school to the Brigg was slightly different to my last Hardmoors race so just as well I checked.
We then drove to Hull and checked out the race start. Tuesday saw me doing the first part of the race from Hull, along the Humber and then the first section of the WW.

 Overnight there had been a slight frost but it was cold, breezy and bright. Sadly the rain from the previous few days had turned much into a mud bath. Hopefully it will be drier underfoot in May.  The urban part was interesting  and although I had a bit of a panic when the path along the Humber seemed to be going on forever. I think I had edited Jon's words to nothing as this bit was so obvious- keep the water on your left and head for the big bridge! It was a relief to reach a couple of his landmarks and know all was well. From the bridge the route climbed which was hardly a surprise. I had started at a good pace and was pleased as this was on top of yesterdays run. Then the mud and flooded land started to slow me down. I had good grip today but it didn't stop the mud from sapping my strength. I got a little despondent as my pace reduced and I could not get the average mph back up no matter how hard I ran the good bits.  Again, the route was mostly straight forward although again I found one section which went on longer than I expected and caused me to question my navigation.
Last weekend was Peeler's Hike.

 It is a fairly local LDWA event but I have never done it before. I have been urging my Mountain marathon partner to do some LDWA events for years now and am pleased that she has decided to give it a go. I was planning to use this event (it's not a race) to do more at about 4.7 mph and get used to it. It turned out rather differently.

 There were not many runners which was a surprise but Josie, Albert and Tony were there. The forecast was a bit grim and although the rain wasn't heavy it was wet for much of the day. I knew Rowena could easily out run me on at least the first 18-20 miles and told myself to just let them go. A combination of banter, safety in number with the nav and their pace all pulled me along. It didn't take me long to suss that we were doing more than 6mph. Every time I backed off I seemed to then close up and we were together again. In the end I decided that the damp day was not a day to loiter and it would be best just to run as a loose group of 6 (6th person was ankle tag man- don't know his name or his crime but he contributed least to the nav that's for sure). Up until Affteside I was too hot but then having got damp when I undid my cag I was soon chilly once we skirted the firing on the army ranges and emerged at Peel Tower. Chill kept me running to escape the moor and descend to Helmshore. An error in lampost numbers caused some confusion but not for long. I had worried the route back would be a tarmac trail along the sculptures. It wasn't. It was very varied and I don't remember much sculpture. I recognised some bits near Nuttal Park from a street O run and liked Burrs Park area. This last section also had some of the wettest fields on the route but by then we were wet and muddy so sploshing through did not matter. On the edge of Bury Josie and Tony found second wind and pulled ahead. Albert slowed to be kind to a sore glute and I ran hard to keep Tony in sight with Rowena not far behind. We were all given the same time at the finish and this was 10 minutes faster than our garmins showed? Not a great excercise in self discipline on my behalf but a great day out with friends.

Phew. Written in a hurry but now up to date. I have aimed high (very high) with the Hardmoors 200 but hopefully it will be a good adventure. I am scared of failing but then on the otherhand what is the point of easy targets? and what if I succeed?

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