Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Drifting into 2020

I have been running, just not as much as I hoped in terms of distances or frequency. I still cannot get my foot to mend properly and although it often seems OK there are some exercises it just won't do at all. So in between the running I have been doing massive litter picks on the flooded sides of our local canal and stream, helping a son to convert a campervan and some bike rides with Bob.
It has also been the second half of our very competitive winter Street O season. I did not have a great run in Lancaster as my legs were still tired from Pendle Way and my route choice was less than optimum. It will be one I discard. Adlington went much better and I was very happy with my route. I got wet and muddy but nothing like those who ventured across the fields in search of points. Won on age adjusted scores so happy with that. Boosted by this I did another street O the very next night. It meant travelling to Warrington so to make the drive worth while I stopped at IKEA first. This was my first trip for many many years and I was very restrained spending less than £25. I did not know the area at all but knew there would be lots of 'new' housing estates. It was just like Buckshaw but on steroids- lots of cul de sac estates, green areas and small woods with paths and all disconcertingly similar. I had quite a good run and despite a couple of minor panics when things didn't quite look as I expected my route was fairly sensible. I did get slightly lost in the NE corner and started running off the map but soon out this right. The map at 1:10,000 was nice and easy to read and I had no issues with traffic as the busy main roads had bridges. Won on age adjusted by a fair margin- they won't be wanting me back again and it's a shame the others in the series have been too far away really.
Sometime around now I also spent a few hours running around our local streets checking control sites for our end of season prize giving event. I am not a fan of urban running but this gives me a sense of purpose and it's amazing how many miles you can clock up, especially when you have to go to every control rather than being selective. Another local run allowed me to check the map and control sites for the schools orienteering event we put on as a qualifier for the Lancs School Games.
As we moved into March there was the last Street O for points in Wigan/ Winstanley. I keep all my old maps and was worried to find I had got lost in an open / park area last time- somewhere to avoid perhaps. Having been warned of a busy road to the east I set off north. I saw nobody after the first 10 minutes or so and while it  was nice to have no distractions it was also very disconcerting. I was happy with my choices and probably had as many options for points as going east, just that they were faster runners! 4th overall but points deflated by a storming Matt D. A huge % of runners were late back- perhaps they went through the dreaded open area? Tonight's prize giving street O is less serious and has a mass start. After a run today I thinking picking a route to avoid the head wind could be vital.
It hasn't all been urban.
More clumsy running- luckily not on race day
 Early February saw me return to the Anglezarke Amble. I run on the area often but have missed the race sometimes as we are away skiing. It's my local LDWA event of about 24-25 miles over all the local hills. Usually it is muddy and the weather can be pretty dire - it is February in Lancashire after all.There are always lots of friends there and this year was no exception. The weather was pretty good! I tried hard not to be dragged along too fast at the start knowing that I would pay for it as the hill got steeper.

First stop is Rivington Pike and then on to Winter Hill with the enormous TV mast.

I was a bit cautious on the drop to the Belmont Road  but my foot is slowly improving. The CP had moved to the end of the lane so no short cut over the gate this year. I had been running with Josie but she bailed to the shorter route now. Then the boggy section as we head over to the Turton-Bolton Road. The tussocky bit under the pylons was not as bad as I remembered and I was soon flying down to the reservoir CP. We were now fairly spread out but I was also caught by Isaline and then Maria and friend. They ran really hard up onto the moor and I thought it would be the last I saw of them.

 Once the gradient eased a little they never really pulled far ahead and by Darwen Tower and Slipper Lowe we were back together again. I grabbed a small amount of food but Isaline stopped for more. The pull up Great Hill was a killer in the mud but the run down the otherside is always good fun.

By White Coppice I had a lead. This meant pressure from there to the finish as Maria and friend were never far behind. Running with Daz helped " Don't let them catch you now". I was tired and said I didn't care, but really I did and so made the effort with constant glances over my shoulder as I ran alongside the last reservoirs and down the lane towards the finish. So first lady i think in 4.30. Happy with that and managed to stay just ahead of the three chasing me. Refuelled with stew, peaches and cups of tea I drove home to more van conversion with Chris.
I nearly missed the 10 Res's inaugral race as I thought it clashed with the Haworth Hobble; it was in fact a week earlier. Glorious weather on Thursday meant I went for a run on Bowland despite my tired legs after Wigan.  It was beautiful and as usual I saw almost nobody.

 I even had a brief sun bathing lunch stop by Langdon Brook.

I wanted to explore the  shooting tracks and link them up with wet quad tracks. I did- but then got carried away and before I knew it I was heading north down to Abbeystead.

Not good as my car was near Oakenclough on Delph Lane. I had promised to be back and thought Bob needed the car so decided to hitch the last few km to save road running. The first car stopped- what a lovely man, taking his huge car out to charge up the battery. Door to door service and an invite to call in for a brew next time I am up there. Sadly the next 10 mins went less well and my car lost power steering making for a very tiring drive home. For this reason I set off for 10 Res's and Saddleworth in the van.  I loved the area when we had the long O before the Runfurther Awards last November and was keen to try the tracks and paths now.
It looked like being a nice day out. There were a few faces I knew but most were strangers. The first few 100m were very steep but then it was fast running down to the reservoirs and along good tracks.  As we climbed towards the head of the next reservoir the track stopped and it was a pathless climb up through heather onto the moor. The boggy top led to the first road crossing and a CP with some supplies. I didn't stop as I had all I needed. The next section should have been great as it was mostly downhill but I have become a real wuss on greasy slabs and so actually lost time to others. Very frustrating. My inov8s grip well in mud but skid on the flagstones. Eventually we hit a wider track and I knew where I was- it was part of the White Rose ultra route climbing to the road where I had the terrible hail storm once. Another CP but again I didn't stop. By now the weather was changing and it was a fierce wind. The climb up Black Hill wasn't too bad and the flagstones here seemed less greasy - or perhaps it was because we were going up now. Towards the top there was some firm snow but not much. The top was what I had expected  more of- boggy moorland and peat. I had one scare in a bog and was stuck for a couple of minutes. I was now suddenly cold, and soaked from the thighs down. I stopped and put cag and gloves on. Chris D caught me here as did another lady. The section down to Crowden was gnarly and not easy for me. we made it even worse with a nav error. Grr. by the CP I just wanted to make up lost time and so forgot about the promise of beer and whisky. I could still see 2nd lady. We climbed over a big lump where I had a control in November and then headed along the good path to Laddow Rocks. As we turned off and steeply uphill here we caught Mark D and 1st lady who had lost her partner. Chris, Mark and I tried to race on the best we could- it was hard work along the big reservoir. Even when we hit the tarmac and downhill it was an effort and both men pulled ahead.  I could still see the lady ahead but thought it unlikely I could catch her. On the last lane I spotted the other lady who had been in the lead. I was actually pleased she had caught me up and we ran down to the finish together. 3rd and first old lady.- a lovely pint glass as my reward.

I knew I needed to get back home to more van work so after a cup of tea and a mug of soup I said my farewells. We all made it closer to 26 miles than 24!

 Sadly I returned to the car to find I had left the lights on and the battery was totally dead. Between them the landlady and Chris D came to my rescue and despite his car being tiny we did get the van started in the end. What a numpty. Sunday was spent marshalling the 'book' CP in Roddlesworth woods for another event.

 It gave me 5 hours on and off to do physio exercises and try to ease my foot which was not happy after my efforts on Saddleworth Moors.

Next up the Hobble. I suspect it will be a suffer fest for me. I think I might be getting a bit bored with it too, so perhaps my last one for a while.

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