Saturday, 29 December 2012

'Pull up a sandbag' it's Tour De Helvellyn

The Lake District is a beautiful place and I've had the pleasure of getting to know it more and more intimately over the last 6 months. The Tour De Helvellyn (TDH) a race on the 22nd December 2012, ensured that I saw parts of the North-eastern area that I'd never seen before. 

Physically, I was (still am) carrying an ankle injury and was hoping that it would see the race through. Remarkably the swelling had gone and the bruising disappeared. My ankle has aesthetically/superficially healed incredibly fast. I'm convinced that my speedy recovery owes a lot to my kindness to myself, for eating a super healthy diet. I've now got three months of rehabilitation however I'm well on the mend. Anyhoo, I digress, so, TDH and I was super excited for this race

I'm not going to give a point to point account of my race, there are plenty of blogs that give a far more objective and clear overview of the course that what I can do. The truth about my race is, well, I had a stomer, I was going well, fuelling well, consistently paced and having a wonderful day out. Until the 'Time of Doom' that is. 

Monday, 17 December 2012

I'm no sports injury specialist however, I do take an interest in what may or may not benefit me when i'm broken. I'm currently pondering where to go with giving my wonky ankle some support during it's rehabilitation. Enough support that I can be active on it too. So I have been looking at taping with a particular focus as to go with Elastic or None Elastic tape to aid my recover. 

 Elastic Tape v None Elastic Tape

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

12th December 2012
Cracking run
Yesterday's run wasn't all that productive...
I can run in the natural environment in mountains and on trail for hours/days even and for perhaps those that are not familiar with this type of sport/running, they perceive it as 'dangerous', mental even. And yet, for me, I perceive running on man made tarmac, with all of the obstacles associated with it more risky. Whilst I'm on the subject I suppose I tend to feel 'in the way' on the street when running. There is a sense that pedestrians and motorists alike don't want you there as a runner. I swear sometimes motorists aim their vehicles for runners... haha. Furthermore, I am bewildered by the amount of people that will overly dramatize their fear when they see a runner approaching, I feel like saying, 'I'm running love' I'm not going to kill you, you have the capacity to run too, it's not alien to you'.

I guess when in the hills, there is a level of consciousness and a sense of perception that is  heightened. Perhaps this contributes to less complacency and (for me) very little injury as you have to be aware. Folk out on the hills I find more tolerable of runners, and more often than not there is a sense of peacefulness that road/town and street running rarely affords you. On the roads and pavements, complacency can creep in and I'm afraid my mind was wandering when I stepped on a 'beer can' on the pavement during my early morning run yesterday. I heard a crack and the pain knocked me sick. Carried on the run and whilst it was painful, it was a pain you get used to. In fact it was only when I stopped that the severity of the injury made itself known. So a trip to A&E reveals no break (thankfully) and that the soft tissue damage will take a few weeks to heal. 

Monday, 26 November 2012

24th Movember 2012
Speed Session
10k race

What the he... yeap yeap, I entered a 'hilly' 10k road race... I know I know, madness however, I wanted a structured speed session! So what better way?? haha. So, little to say other than I started, as usual, at the back end of the field with a great plan of pacing myself at a less than comfortable speed for 6miles. Gun goes off, I get my racing head on and moved through the pack for 6 miles. Pretty simple stuff really. Great run, it's not my distance obviously, however great way to get the legs moving quicker, (they've gotten lazy and need a jolt). Had my first carb low an hour later... strange, I can run for hours and hours and get it right and I run for 42 minutes and get a carb low... amazing. So I felt drunk, but really enjoyed that state so didn't fuel up straight away, sat giggling to myself about how great feeling drunk was without having a sip of alcohol.  I then decided i'd better have some fruit.. so I did, and I sobered up, thanks apple, you kill joy!

A colleague (one of three at the race) Gordon, a great Tri-guy who was off to do  a Sportive in Grasmere the following day.

Paddling in Patterdale
25th Movember 2012
Decided on a chance trip to the lake district in order to have a 30 -40 mile trot around Helvellyn. I say chance as I'd been warned that there were 'floods' a plenty, and I was not encouraged at 5am driving over with the rain coming in sideways. 'all good training' i'd decided to tell myself, and besides, the 'wilder the better' to use Mr Air's words. So, I arrived in Askham, and my running buddy for the day arrived in Askam. I've had a moment of clarity in realising i'm not the worlds worst navigator.. it's official, Ian Bishop is! So, we decided that I'd start the run and would be in Patterdale in a couple of hours where Mr Bishop would have driven to by then. A great day, we had rain, snow, sun and beautiful fell, mountains and running. A record has been set by Mr Bishop who managed a grand total of 10 falls on the fell. Congratulations Mr Bishop, it's going to take a mountain running stuntman to beat that! Some pretty spectacular ones too. I particularly enjoyed your 180 degree one handed twist: Lets do stats as I know some of you folk enjoy the science: 

Miles :28
Ascent: around 1500m 
Snow: On higher ground
Bogs: on lower ground, Barton fell is mushy at the moment.
Ian falls: 10
Ian injuries: 1 (elbow graze..wuss)
Fairy falls: 1
Fairy injuries: (one massive graze on hip, leg needs amputating but, i'm hard, so i'll soldier on)
Road kill: 1, Badger
Wrong turns: 1 up zig zag path to sticks pass. (whoop)
Other runners: x2 doing a Helvellyn recce!

That's not your elbow Ian
 Having the speed session (10k race) in my legs from yesterday I was tired and after 28 miles of great running we called it a day. 
I can do it, I can do it


Torvill and Dean

Stuntman Bishop

Thursday, 22 November 2012

10th November 2012

Lakeland 100/50 Recce in the dark:
Mr Laithwaite and Mr Gilpin had previously asked me to consider being a 'guide' on their organised night recce for next years Lakeland 100/50 race so naturally I agreed. The event/day was in two parts, firstly guest speakers and Mark to advice and offer valuable tips for training and preparing yourself for the Lakeland race and secondly a night (ish) run over part of the course. So, the run was to start in Ambleside in the Lake District at a reasonably early time of 3.30pm giving just an hour of day light and then lots of experience in the dark for next years competitors. I'm unsure of exact figures, however I believe there was somewhere in the region of  70 (ish) runners who ran the 15.6 miles (25.2 km and about 900m of ascent) from Ambleside to Coniston.

Early afternoon I'd met up with Marks team, and hung and popped in and out whilst guest speakers and Mark chatted to their guests. Topics of : Training, Navigation and Selecting head torches were on the bill. Petzl offered to let some of us loose on their kit, so naturally I was first in line and selected the biggest and brightest head-torch  which just happens to be the Nao reactive headlamp. I've been wanting to try this lil beauty for a while, so I was really excited. In my view, 'what a piece of equipment this is', I loved it. I may as well have plucked a flood light from Ambleside FC ground (is there one?) and strapped it to my forehead,. The sensor allowed it to brighten and illuminate just when It was needed and dimmed when it was supposed to. I know others struggled with it, for example when running close with others with headlamps, one chap found that the Nao dimmed too much. I didn't experience this problem. Clever Nao and at 187g it's a comfortable piece of kit.

Nav4 talked all things navigation and I looked forward to the course that Id booked myself onto with them the following day, about time too eh!

During the recce itself I was under instruction to hover around the front runners, however the point was for me to support the competitors as opposed to showing them the way or doing the work for them. I felt cruel when a whole bunch of folk had to stop and read road books and consult maps about turns to take etc, yet it would have done them no good for me to just lead them. It was a great evening running, I met a bunch of strong competitors who are fired up for next years race. It's going to be amazing in 2013's.

11th November 2012
I'd met Joe Faulkner in the bar after the Lakeland recce where I sat and drank milk...pah ha ha ha, and was fortunate enough to get to chat with him all things Navigation. He's incredibly knowledgeable and his willingness to share his vast array of tips and pointers with me is very much appreciated, thanks Joe. He's also the race organiser for the Tour de Helvellyn race in December 2012 and we discussed aspects of the course as I've recce'd that route a couple of time recently.

So the next day on my navigation course I made my way from Keld to Ambleside. I arrived late.... (there's a shocker), I walked in the venue and told everyone that I'd overslept... I hadn't, but I felt that I needed an excuse... and a good one! The truth is, well, I had just been faffing about at G's in the morning. So, late start, being the late one, you're the outcast, and so sat with my tail between my knees all quiet like (I was made very very welcome by the tutors by the way). Folks formed small groups: beginners, mid and experienced. I faffed as usual until I tagged onto a 'mid range' group however, it didn't help my feelings of being the outcast and misfit (due to lateness, see above) when one of the members said 'well that's six of us here now and there are only four over there'! I pointed out that that it really didn't matter ...tsk...and to prove my point my tail removed itself from  between legs and we donned our jackets to get out on the hills for the day.

Marcus Scotney was leading the naughty group of now six instead of five! Not only is his mountain leadership trustworthy, he's also an incredible runner! He managed to talk me into entering a lil (well big) race for next year. We all took it in turns to amble around and lead the group over Loughrigg. So in true fairy style, when it was my turn, I happily led the grout straight off the path and tracks, over rough ground, through knee high fern, rocky ground and practically shear fell side... boy I needed that! There were a few twisted brow, however yes, I led the group from point A-B and we didn't get lost.... Whhhoooopppp. Fluke!

A great day and afterwards made my way over to  G's place for a kettle bell session, wine and serious talk...pah ha ha. She is strong, that's all i'm saying. So after hours of psycho-billy talk and arranging jam for Christmas it was up the wooden hills.

12th November 2012
Playing around Pendle
It was an early start as I intended to put all of my super new navigation skills into practice and have a mooch around Pendle with a view to entering the Full Tour of Pendle race, I had lofty ideas that I was a proper fell runner now. Lets just say my trustworthy tutor Marcus will shake his head in shame and turn in his hoka's knowing the complete and utter b*ll's up I made of the navigation! So, if you are familiar with the route, I made it to CP 3 and managed to convince myself that I was on the right fence line towards CP 4 climbing Spence Moor. I was no where near the right fence line, had dropped down way too soon and ended up lost. The mist was down and the dark evening drew in... great. Where was the Nao head torch that Petzl rep had lent to me for the Lakeland recce.. oh yeah, he'd had it back.... bah. So after panic, resignation and the threat of tears I started to climb through a new tree plantation ground and by fluke (again) I ended up by the small reservoir. Again Marcus will gasp at my logic in finding the reservoir when met with public footpaths on the Moor. It was nothing to do with taking back bearings or placing landscape to map, hell no, fairy just flipped a coin (so to speak). I adore adventures :) So not quite the recce that I'd planned, but all good experience.

17th November 2012
Kinder Bimble
After all of that,  I took the decision to enter the 7.6 mile Logan's run - Kinder Bimble on Saturday, not least because the route was marked. I promise the navigational stuff will just click with me at some point! So, off I trotted to Hayfield allowing plenty of time to get there. Only, hmm, it wasn't plenty of time because as usual I just drive and think about where I'm going en route, and end up inevitably stopping to punch the address into my phone and hoping to wing it somehow. So, I arrived at the scout hut where registration was with four minutes to the start of the race, which was five minutes away on foot. Like a puppy dog I bounded up to the race organisers, 'am I too late for this race, am I too late', 'you can still enter' was the reply. Sod it, so I did, I was handed a shiny race number (the last competitor most likely) and as I slid across the scout hut wooden flooring they were shouting directions to the race start... haha. So I jumped in the car and screeched about the tiny, quaint, village  How the hell I stumbled across the start line, i'll never know. Yet, there they were the array of brightly coloured racing kit and a whole bunch of great people. I gathered kit essentials that I subsequently dropped over the floor, stuffed the map in my bum bag, panicked I'd left something (a bit like believing you'd not locked the door to the house) and fell out of the car (a bit like Patsy from ad fab). Anyhow, I  headed for the bunch of runners, the race was about to start, the gun was in the air, I had no running shoes on! So as the race starter (Marshall) saw me bounding up to the pack, then bounding back to my car, he announced the late comer!!All eyes on me, the competitors all waited to start their race, I shouted, 'wrong shoes', they all cheered, and waited, I changed (a bit like Mr Ben in that shop) then ran to the pack, I hadn't locked the car, I ran back again, more cheers and then 'boom' we were off. I was last!

So, with that I slowly made my way forward. However, this was only my second fell race and I was racing a distance that I would never usually contemplate seriously. So now the excuses are out, I wanted to just enjoy myself and see how I fair over this terrain and distance. I didn't warm up for 45 mins, legs were tight and solid, calves screamed at me and generally I was a sloth in a gazelle's world, for now! So having accepted that this is not my distance I sat down on the fell side and sorted my shoes out as they were flapping about my feet. Once sorted, I got on with having a great day on Kinder. I started to warm and settle into a reasonable pace after 45 mins and my racing head found it's way on to my shoulders. I had a lot of work to do, given my faffing earlier. I adored this race. It was challenging, marked, fast, and when the mist lifted, revealed beautiful rolling hills. Amazing.

I finished in a respectable time eventually, and whilst I was way down in finishing 5th lady, I was happy to take 1st in my category. These short races I'm sure will help to bring my speed up.  The race was won by Helen Fines and Christopher Leigh, I stand in awe, great inspirational folk. A huge thanks to everyone who entered that race for being so friendly, good spirited and welcoming of a novice.

18th November 2012
Montane Ultra Trail 26: Grizedale Forest.
No run today as had volunteered myself to marshal at the Montane Ultra Trail 26 race in Grisedale Forest. The rest will stand me in good stead for building back up to a couple of heavy weeks training next week and the week after  The race was amazing and lots of familiar faces as well as meeting a few new ones. Garry Wilkinson a sports injury specialist/therapist kindly massaged my calf and helped to settle my broke achilles. His pal then taped me up and it was amazing how I could instantly walk without the pain I've been experiencing for nearly two weeks from a strained achilles/calf. Thanks guys and Garry well done for finishing 16th in the Full Tour of Pendle race, a cracking run for you and well done Clayton le Moors Harriers for taking first team. Raj had a good Ultra tour race given his lack of distance training recently and Marcus Scotney my navigation tutor and quality runner, won in an amazing 3hrs and 12 mins. Not before throwing himself at the trail and seriously taking a layer of skin of his chin and knee. Some people will do anything for attention... jeez.


Montane Ultra 26 

Marcus Scotney 1st Male

There he goes

Ian Syminton 2nd Male

There he goes

The course sweepers! Or Hairy McNair and Mr Prior 

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Snow and Air 

3rd November 2012. 

Took a trek up to the lakes to hook up with Stuart Air and Raj Mahapatra. Stuart and I met last year on a mountain in Wales and have been running together on many occasion since then. He is one to watch in the near future for ultra Trail and Fell running. Raj I met on Paul Tierney's Bob Graham round in May this year, we were strangers huddled in a car eating Paul's mothers home made cake, keeping warm until said Tierney decided to come down off the mountain for a cuppa before heading up the next one! The cake went quickly, I think Gaynor Prior ate most of it! 

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

12th October 2012 -26th October 2012
Heels back and feet up
A couple of weeks with gentle ticking over in the run up to the Original Mountain Marathon (OMM).   I've completed more road miles than usually during this period. I'd forgotten how much it trashes your legs doing longer miles on tarmac, however,  surprisingly I thoroughly enjoyed it. Taking it easy, no fast sessions, or pyramids, or fartleks, no running on Vo2 max here or  Intervals there, just.... just running..... comfortably, effortlessness, what a treat. 

The OMM has been unfinished business as last year was a real eye opener as to the enormity of what competitors have to put themselves through. These events (as I've alluded to previously) test your orienteering skills, fitness levels, psychological strength and team playing capacity. They are not for a novice and to enter you have to be slightly unhinged! Well at least to enter it a second time it helps. So....This event is completed in pairs, so Ant Bethell and I had entered as a mixed team in the A Class. You can follow the link here in order to peruse the event and category explanations.

Saturday 27th October 2012
The weather was cold, freezing in fact. Even some of the strongest and capable runners I know had donned their leggings having reluctantly climbed out of their shorts. It's a staggered start and our time allocated out of the blocks was 7.50 am. The next 6hrs 23 mins turned out to be an amazing day of hard running in the Howgills. To attempt to put some things into words is futile as rarely what you are attempting to describe is given justice through the inadequacy of speech, and... well... unnecessary too. So an overview:

Wild Boar Feel and Baugh Fell region: 
2200m Ascent 

The navigation was spot on, a few minor dithery moments, however good route choices, played to our strengths and turned out to have been wise decisions. The Wild Boar fells and West Baugh Fell are not easy or fast runnable parts of the land. The ground remained frozen for most of the day, and lower in the valleys, it was marshy and boggy. The grass was knee length (for some of us) and I became Bambi most of the day, slipping sliding and bouncing up out of the grass only to disappear into it again across the fell. It was like a scene out of the 'Sound of music'.. only not as pretty... or tame. So at the end of day one, there was plenty of energy left in the tank, I felt fired up for day two and looked forward to my cup of noodles (and anything else that I could eat). We'd finished 9th overall, 2nd in category of mixed pairs and the leaders were 3 mins in front. We'd ran the last hour with them, very strong on navigation and whilst clearly strong runners and were certainly going to give Ant and I a tough competition tomorrow  it was my view that one of the team was tired and that factor would be their Achilles heel on day two.

Overnight Camp: was great, it stayed dry albeit cold until late evening. I caught up with a few friends, whom we'd spend the evening before dining and game planning with, Dale Colclough, Jon Whilock, Simon Summerville, Rich Piggot, Bryan Carr, all amazing fell runners, raw talent, old school, unassuming wise men. Unlike Fairy, overtly eager, egoic, competitive and opinionated.... ahem. So, the chaps were all pleased with their performances and rightly so it was smiles all around. I bumped into Jen Gaskill, and we exchanged Montane kit stories and complemented each other on our glamorous Montane cat walk look  (which turned out to be a life saver for me, Ok Fairy also exaggerates but more on that later). Iain Ridgeway a good friend was about and he'd finished incredibly well in the 'Elite' at the end of day one with his team mate Sam Smith. However 'needle in a haystack' he'd said it was after attempting to find my tent.. I'm too lazy, I didn't attempt to look. The thing is, everyone seems to wear black, have two plastic bags on their feet and lives in a green tent. It's all a bit... well, clone like. So, I was more than happy to climb into my sleeping bag at about 6.30 -7pm and had a night of waking every hour to sleep again five mins later. You know how it is! I layered better in my sleeping bag after the RAB's. It was all very ad hoc though, I'd taken thermal socks as my luxury item. So layering on feet and legs: 

Lycra Tights: x2
Socks: x2 pairs (Injinji's and thermal)
Montane Atomic Water proof bottoms x1
OMM Raid sleeping bag x1
Plastic rucksack liner x1
Montane Ultra Tour 22L Rucksack x1

This was my layering system to keep my feet warm... like I say... Unhinged.... laugh you may, feet..toasty. You work out in what order they all covered my feet. 

Sunday 28th October 2012
We had a chasing start and were out of the blocks early doors. I was feeling strong, running out of the start  area and up the hill to the road. The fire was there, I had my competitive head on and was excited to race. Day two covered more runnable sections of the Howgills for A class, and whilst there was a lot more climbing and descending, it was all very runnable comparably. 27.9km and 2300m Ascent for the whole course day 2. The rain had settled in for the day which made the conditions really tough as the howling wind made it incredibly cold too. Nonetheless, in spite of the poor visibility through the clagg, causing some navigational errors, we managed to hold on to a realistic view that we could still fair well in this event. Checkpoint 6-7 was a long section and we'd taken a risk by taking the path towards Randygill Top, dropping into the valley, following the stream, then climbing out to pick up the path which takes you to Bleaks Head and then Fell Head (which is where we needed to be). Anyhow, it was a longer route yet less climbing up and down to get to Fell Head than the more direct line. 

The nightmare started when we dropped down from Fell Head to find the re entrant where the checkpoint  (CP) was. The CP was not there, and after 10-15 mins of looking for it, we climbed back up as it was obvious that we were at Bleaks Head and had dropped too soon (recall the clagg was down and visibility was zero, we were on a compass). So we carried on, I could feel the race slipping away, what a strange feeling.. we got to Fell Head and dropped down to find the re entrant, again, it was not there. another 10 mins, and whilst Ant ran around the fell side, I stood, realising we were lost, understanding that it was not going to be a day of doing well in races. I tousled with myself for about 10 mins with this and made the decision to retire. Ant came back up from the spur looking bedraggled, wet and distraught, and I put the retirement to him. He seemed relieved. So, that was that. I packed in, not through illness or tiredness or suffering physically, but because I was not going to do well in this race. In my view too much time had now been lost to make up in the last 3rd of the race. It sounds egoic, it is egoic, and yet.. it's the truth. 

The standing around had been a poor decision under these conditions. The cold had taken me and I started to shake and shiver, I could not run. I've been caught by the cold before (Manchester marathon) and it's amazing how it brings you to a stop. I don't fair well in the cold. The rain was fierce, the cold was bitter, and I could do nothing but shuffle. Amazing, I was a gazelle 20 mins earlier. There was no warming up, and then Ant suggested I put my waterproofs on, (my own reasoning had gone), all I could think about was to get down off the mountain. So I donned my Montane pants, and the feeling came back into my legs, thank you Montane, I picked up speed and as we dropped into Sedbergh I started to feel human again. 

Long faces and lessons learnt, the experience has been invaluable. Thanks Ant for being an great team mate, an amazing fell runner and a far better navigator than I am......

Has the experience knocked me off my feet, has it bollo.......traala la la la... (unhinged remember folks, unhinged)

Monday, 15 October 2012

Short and Sweet

Saturday 13th October 2012
I've planned to race in the Tour de Helvellyn in December and so as I'm taking it easy for the next few weeks in the run up to the OMM,  I decided to go and have a mooch around the Helvellyn course today. What an amazing route it is too. Open fell, a few climbs, woodland, deer, hound dogs, Withnail (he's the chap in a Land rover who boomed 'you're lost' (in his very English accent), when he slowed and opened his window... the cloud of smoke from the fag hanging out of his mouth dissipated and he ushered me off of his land, politely. Whilst I'm name dropping, the 2nd time I got lost was when looking for 'sticks pass'. Prince William who had been following me, was clearly lost, so was I, when I stopped he approached and we both perused the map, (he was going to Raise). I say Prince William, I use the name loosely, as... well.. he looked like Prince William, and I suddenly felt inadequate in every way you can imagine. So, 38 miles of amazing fell and trail completed and a lovely recce it was. Buggered my knee (strain on day two of the RAB), however a bit of rest will soon have that sorted, but not until after tomorrow!

Grisedale Tarn (Fairfield in background)

Where Prince William hangs out

Over to madam Priors Saturday evening who had rustled up a fabulous turkey and sweet potato curry and dhal. She then forced me to drink alcohol and we caught up over a cheeky glass. Check out the nutrition section for something similar to what we ate. She's a great cook.

Sunday 14th October 2012
Barely walking (see above re knee)..... however I'd be damned if it was going to stop me doing hill reps on Skiddaw today. So I persevered and madam Prior legged it and I limped it, up the crazy lil mountain, then .... legged and limped back down. A little claggy on the top otherwise visibility was great and well, just another amazing weekend of running in this beautiful Country. Happy days. 

Now I rest....... I say rest....

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Dark and White and Heathery

This is the second year I've entered this event with  fell running friend Ant Bethell. We'd entered the mixed pairs category and were excited about improving on last years experiences. This is a fun race and will test endurance as well as navigation skills. Ahem.... Obviously not an event that plays to my strengths then.

It's a two day mountain marathon. In the Standard Class we had a time limit of 6 hours day one and 5 hours day two. You choose the course you want to take, you choose the check points you want to visit, you choose the routes to the checkpoint. Once you figured all that out (and are prepared to make any changes along the way) then it's about getting to those checkpoints as fast as you can.

Day 1 was hard going initially, the Cheviot hills are heathery, very heathery, and little legs don't like heather, so the event for me, became more about how to dodge heather. Nonetheless, there were some fabulous climbs and some runable trail. Descending was challenging as the hills are knobbly,  knolly and rocky and if that's not enough, then add in fern and heather and lots of it. So, given that there's not much sense in my world of sticking to path when there is an obvious direct route down a big hill or mountain side, some of the descents were slower than we'd have liked because direct descending in the heather and fern requires a lorra  risk taking. Consequentially, concentration and some sense (what..haha) were necessary if there were to be two ankles left at the bottom. So, a great day one, we had a good route choice and great navigation. Thanks Ant. So we were sitting a comfortable 4th place overall at the end of day 1. First mixed team. We were fired for day two.

Team pal Ant Bethell.. looks in pain

Base camp
The weather was gorgeous the whole weekend. It made base camp pleasurable, and so with the pocket rocket and a metal cup, I had coffee. The two day event you have to be completely self sufficient carrying all of your equipment and food etc with you, so the food i'd taken was primarily chosen for light carrying weight in mind coupled with lots of calories and carbs as opposed to taste and healthiness. So, I used gels on the hoof and had taken, dehydrated pasta, meat sticks (peperami), 3 small squares of flapjack, a few squares of chocolate and  a pkt of mini cheddars! My 'tin' coffee cup was also my dinner plate. I ate with a tiny plastic spoon that i'd broken the handle off to save on weight. You'd be amazed at the lengths I went to in order to keep my rucksack as light as possible.

The night was cold, the temperature dropped to at least freezing. We were in a ultra-lightweight tent and if you know these things, they are very er... cosy. Good job i'm a tot, because team mate Ant is not. So with nose to canvas, well not canvas... tissue paper tent walls, I settled for a very unsettled night. Lets cut to the chase here, it's the last time I use a balloon bed, and I need to layer more when the temperature drops. On the positive I was using the OMM Raid sleeping bag which is an amazing weight at just 460g and was a 'god send' in terms of contributing to the overall light weight of my rucksack as these things get heavy over two days. I'd layered with a silk and was wearing all of my kit, including my jacket, however i'd only a thin pair of running tights and this was just not enough to keep my legs warm. My feet were frozen too, does anyone know of thermal socks you can run in? Anyhow, oats for breakfast along with a couple of 'cliff bars' courtesy of the event organisers, and off for the hills.

Day 2 was hard going all day. Ant and I were tired and this was evident pretty early on. The pace was slower and we weren't as sharp with decision making and navigation. It's difficult to remain focused and fired up when the little errors become more frequent and we were losing time dithering and pondering rather than running hard. So a difficult day and hopefully many a lesson learnt, however we picked it up in the last half an hour and managed to put a last big effort into a climb to a checkpoint which gave us an extra 20 points, and jeez...we needed them.

So a disappointing day two, however managed to finish the whole event 9th overall (Standard class) and 1st Mixed team. 

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Bob, Gordon and Paddy walk into a bar......

I'm a Paddy girl at heart, however, I adore supporting any of the 'three rounds' and have been lucky enough to have experienced all of them at some point. I'm likely to trot around a Paddy soon enough and I'm rather enjoying the Bob's at the moment too. So, if you have no idea what the hell i'm talking about have a look at this taa daa and i'll move on.

So at the weekend a good friend and awesome fell runner Dale Colclough asked me to join in Marc Ryder's attempt on Saturday, the words were barely out of his mouth before my fell shoes were on.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

You're nicked mate

I'm a weekender

I took an ad hoc trip to the Yorkshire Dales on Saturday and have a mooch over some of the mountains there. The intention was to get some navigational skills developed without the pressure of running for recce's or for training. What a beautiful day it was too. Map and compass and a set of legs, what more do you need. 

 On the way up to Ingleborough

Sunday, 16 September 2012

HIgh Peak 40

I ache. The High Peak 40 is no easy race. It's challenging on many levels. The mixture of fell, road, technical, ascent/descent and public dodging makes for an interesting day in the Peak District.

I've recce'd the course a couple of times and am pleased that I did. However this course is marked, really well, really really well so those who are tentative with a map, this is a race that will suit.

An early Saturday start driving over to Buxton, I circled the event area at the school three times trying to find the entrance. Things were not looking good from the start! 

Monday, 10 September 2012

It's not what you know...

It's who you know but mostly it's a bit of both!

I've been having a fun packed weekend in the Lakes with my buddy Gaynor Prior. She's recently moved, temporarily, to a lil place called Keld, near Shap. Saturday was spent mostly moving and shifting from Grimston to Keld, however we managed a little run in Gaynor s new back garden Saturday evening. I'm soooo jealous, she falls out of the back door onto trail, fell and just a little further,  in the mountains. The evening was beautiful, the fell was soft and inviting and the company was grand and the weather was warm. We skipped over little rivers, panted up inclines and flew down the other side, tsk, such fun should not be allowed, it dangerously makes you smile. 

Gaynor managed to talk me into Marshaling at one of Epic Events pool Triathlons on Sunday, so it was going to be an early start Sunday morning to drive to Ulverston which was about about an hour away. Here is a link to the race details (results) for those who are interested in how the other half live (Ulverston Pool Triathlon). So Saturday evening was spent with nice food, Gaynor cooked the most amazing Chicken in lemon and white wine sauce with gorgeous broccoli and sugar snap peas, we drank a cheeky wine and I spent the rest of the evening learning how to tie figure of eights and 'stoppers' in very big ropes! Gulp!

An early start and the the boss drove us to the leisure center, after saying hi to a few familiar faces from the Lakeland 100/50 race, I was ushered into my marshal position and the race started. I became, traffic warden, marshal, general supporter and Tourist Information center, come spokes woman. My brain hurt. It was good fun to watch the guys (and girls) do their thing, particularly interesting was some of the 'attire' the fast chaps don, my gawping caused a few traffic near misses and pointing in the wrong direction... I was just stunned ok! 

So, we returnd to Keld, (after a little stop in the New Balance outlet) a quick salad and threw on the running kit. We had an amazing couple of hours discovering what will be Gaynor's training ground over the winter (most likely). She is about six miles from Mardale Head. So a nice warm up on the open fell to Mardale and then hill reps up Gatesgarth Pass on my next visit. I have my own bedroom and a key.... I'm so so lucky. Of course it's an open house to all who know her, she's that kind of girl. haha. 

Some pics included.

From G's house

Albert helped with some unpacking 

Figure of 8's and Stoppers and wine

A road bit


Bionic woman.... or Gaynor



Playing on a summit
Trees and some green

The gate to wonderland

Stumble out of the door

Kid in a candy shop sees the treats (sheep)

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Kit stop

There's been a Revolution

I've been excitedly waiting.... for my latest bit of kit. UltraAspire let me loose on the Revolution (REV). I've a few packs and sacks that I tend to swap around according to what i'm doing, however I was in need of a product that works for me during ultras. Nothing too big as i'm more likely to put the kitchen sink in there and lets face it the kitchen sink is superfluous on a run! I don't need half of the stuff I pack in a bigger rucksack and so in my quest to 'whittle it down' I opted for something small, however it needed to carry my bottle for me, as: I'm lazy, and: I like my hands free... oh, and I hate hydration tubes and that floppy bit of plastic that you fill with liquid! Bladder.. yuk

Waist packs, I love em, however they can be a faff when you've shoved everything in and it all falls out every time you open it. The gel I'm fumbling for is often found it's way to the bottom, at the back, under all the kit (that I don't need) and it's everything out then everything in to get at it. What started out as a really organised pack, everything in it's place and carefully packed, ends up being a mix of clothing, empty gel sachets, crumbs, plastic bags and a sticky compass. Oh... and a hair clip, I always find a 'hair clip' in my sacks and packs. I don't use hair clips when running... yet there is always a hair clip. Regardless, waist packs are great for the shorter races when minimal fumbling is needed, yet, not user friendly enough for me on the longer stuff.

So, a pack that is small, has everything to hand, none of this stopping lark to faff for bits and bobs on the move and the REV looks like it might satisfy.

So, I'm not about to launch into a full review, that's not the point, however I wanted to let you know about what I thought generally. 

I tested it yesterday for the first time. I had a run with a friend and seriously awesome runner Iain Ridgeway. He laughed and sniggered every time the bottle fell out of my lovely new Rev. However, and importantly, this was the only real design (ish) fault I can complain about. The bottle only fell out (spilling all contents) when I was taking the vest on and off. During the 20 mile run, the bottle stayed exactly where it was housed... In it's only lil pouch! In addition, I'm a tot and I had the straps pulled as tight at they would go and it was still too big! I'll just have to eat more cake!! 

Otherwise.. it's a great vest, the pockets are just about big enough for essentials, they are conveniently placed, everything to hand, there was no 'rooting around' I knew exactly where my kit was and it didn't look like all of it had been thrown in a washing machine together at the end of the session. I couldn't over load it, (yey) and It was just about big enough to carry the essentials! I like my new toy, but I liked Mam Tor mor....

Monday, 27 August 2012

Welsh Weekend

I've been missing Snowdonia. It's usual for me to go playing there, however, my efforts were concentrated on the lakes for a while and the welsh mountain's nose's were pushed out a little. However.... It's great to have them back... whoop :)

So, the weekend has been amazing. A friend Ant Bethell and I headed over to Wales on Friday with the intention of some massive days running mountains. Ant and another friend George Bate have entered the Tor Des Geants race on the 9th September and Ant was hoping to get his last mammoth training session in before his mammoth taper. And I, well, I just wanted to run in the mountains I've been missing so so much.

My plan was for an early (ish) start on Saturday, however those of you who know Ant know he doesn't fair well when the sun raises, so I took off alone knowing that Ant would catch up when he was in the land of the living.

We'd decided to go with the flow and see where the day took us however to start  at Ogwen Cottage and heading for the Carneddau, taking in the first 5 peaks: Pen Yr Ole Wen, Carnedd Dafydd, Carnedd Llewelyn, Pen Yr Helgi Du, Pen Llithrig y Wrach and down in to Plas Y Brenin.

 Armed with map and compass, I headed like a little soldier towards Pen Yr Ole Wen. This is Llyn Ogwen on the right and the twenty min road run I took to the start of the ascent up Pen yr Ole Wen. I was excited about finding a fast route up and hopeful to have ascended within an hour. Pah hahaha haha.

I'd consulted with Ant t(who is very knowledgeable about the north Wales mountain ranges), the day before and he'd given me a few pointers to look out for like... 'when you come to the end of the shingly bit, bear right', 'it's about 3/4 of the way up the mountain'!