Monday, 26 October 2009

Sunday 25 October. OMM.

Fellow runners amongst the tussocks and reservoirs during day one of the Original Mountain Marathon (OMM) in the Elan Valley, Wales. If you click on the photo, you can see the rain, which sums up the day....

A heavy cold and a heavier heart, plus the prospect of my 7th KIMM/OMM meant a light week of training with a tough finish. I didn't want to be tired for the OMM so had a good excuse to lay off the training during the week (i managed one 12 mile road run on Thursday before the weekend's 2 day race). To be honest, the OMM was an excuse to not train as i really didn't feel like it anyway.

I've recently been doped up and one of the side-effects is a supression of extremes of mood, both positive and negative. This has had the curious effect of also supressing motivation which has actually worsened my mood cos i didn't run. The idea was that I'd feel better! So, I have chucked all medication in the bin as it has backfired - it's clearly not designed for runners! It might be corny, and it might only temporarily address symptoms, but running is my best and indeed my only therapy right now. In a week when I needed it the most, i ran the least. That won't be happening again.

Resting did mean that the OMM went well and i really enjoyed it, despite it being very tough. Paul and I were 42nd in the Long Score from 191 teams. We were 75th after day 1 but had a really good day 2 (the 25th best) and climbed quite a few places. There are alot of good teams in that Long Score event and so we were pleased. I felt strong throughout and really fresh at the end. I think it's shown that i'm in good shape physically and that the months of recent training have had an effect.

It also demonstrated the value of having a really good feed on the Saturday night. Paul did a great job as food quartermaster. We had tea, more tea, soup, cous cous, pasta, cake with custard, but the highlight was the curry. Paul had bought two portions of vege rogan josh from the takeaway, spread them out on a baking tray and dried them in the oven on a low heat for hours. This resulted in a very light, dry and seemingly tiny mixture of curry and rice. A litre of water turned it into a feast, a gorgeous carb-fest which wafted across the overnight camp. Noone at that event ate as well as us! The Jack D was a terrific, sleep inducing finish to our meal!

Our final course - JD! Taken with a timer, which has the habit of making the subjects look startled!

It was a wet day one and evening, with tents hurriedly pitched in pouring rain. The result was sleeping on very bumpy groud. My head was in a hole! The masses of food and little bit of booze might be an unorthodox mountain marathon strategy but it works!

A rainy campsite

The winter BGR training seems to be going well. It's making me stronger in every sense. Having a goal now is keeping me sane as not working and being somewhat directionless in life gets increasingly difficult.

Hoping to get out in the Cumbrain Traverse this week. Can't wait.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Sunday 19 October. A good bad week.

Paul Miller descending to Mardale on a filthy wet day. I love this photo (taken with a phone!)

Despite feeling really crap, mentally and physically this week i did manage a very good training week; 14,500' and some tough road sessions in there too. Thing is tho, i'm gaining, not losing weight. Not working means not stressing all day and not being as active between bouts of exercise. I am eating with my usual appetite, but i think i'm going to have to lay off the crisps and hummus!

I'm getting fitter though - i have proof! On Monday, i finally broke 1:15 for my 'Moel Famau times two' route. I ran really hard and loved it, apart from going out too fast and throwing up on the way up that first climb. Still got the pb tho! In early august, i did that run in 1:34, and the fastest i did it 2 years ago before my summer BGR was 1:15, so my new time of 1:14:34 was most welcome and proof that i'm getting somewhere.

View Interactive Map on
My Moel Famau times two route

It doesn't mean i'm getting that much closer to getting round the BGR on December 18/19 though. I'm conscious that I still need to find time for some night runs and lots of time on my feet. The night runs will come during November once the OMM is out of the way and the conditions start to become comparable. But i did get a very long and wet day in with Paul on Sunday, which was just what was needed. The good news is that i felt good all day, didn;t push too hard all despite feeling like I was coming down with a cold (which has now materialised - grr).

Despite poor weather all day, Sunday was a real tonic and built well on my training to date. We started in beautiful and quiet Longsleddale at the hamlet (farm really) of Sadgill. Paul's ingenious route took us over Grey Crag, Tarn Crag, Branstree and Harter Fell before dropping to Mardale. Then it was up High Street up Long Stile and down to Hartsop before that desperately steep pull up Hartsop Dodd and Caudale Moor before over to Thornthwaite Crag/Beacon and then over Froswick, Ill Bell and Yoke before descending to Kentmere and then over the pass back to the car. Phew, tired just typing it.

View Interactive Map on
Sadgill Run - 19 Oct 09

Sadgill, Longsleddale

In all, we climbed 10,000 feet and covered 25 miles, in just over 8 hours in the wet. Not bad, esp as we had a little break in Mardale and Hartsop for food and fruitless weather related prayers.

Next weekend is the OMM which marks the end of the phase of my training which has been all about fitness. In November, fitness gives way to preparation - longer days, nights, schedules, organising help, equipment, accomodation and perhaps the purchase of an old land rover defender for the road crossing stops (been mulling over getting one for ages...). I think i'll do some night legs of the BGR as well as the Cumbrian Traverse, which i just plain like the look of.

Week summary - 14,500' climbing, 50+ miles

Monday - Moel Famau times 2 - 1:14:34, a record
Tuesday - 3 * 1 mile efforts on the road, found it very tough, first road speed session for ages
Weds - 5 railways, after a long drive to and from Leeds for job interview, here's hoping...
Thurs - 8.3 miles, hilly road run, running club session. Got round ok, but a little off the pace.
Fri - Swim, and massage from Sarah (very painful)
Sat - 30 mile bike ride, easy
Sun - Sadgill circuit, 25 miles, 10,000' very wet, 8+ hours, felt good, a bit snotty

Tune in Head - Stan, Eminiem - god only knows why (maybe it was the Dido bit?)

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Sunday 11 October. Bring on the night

It's been a really good week this week for training, if nothing else. I stepped it up a little and felt pretty good. This week I started training twice a day. Not every day, but I've started to add a couple of short evening road runs after a early fellrun. I've really enjoyed them, running fast (well, ish) on heavy legs is quite exhilerating, provided the road run isn't too long.

As well as the two hill days described in the previous entry, which were brilliant days out, I did some good faster running on the hills and feel like the fitness level is moving up a notch. My Moel y Gamelin route, an out and back along a lovely ridge which takes in 3000' climbing and about 8 miles went well this week - i ran it faster than ever before - 1 hour 23 mins, faster even than my pre-BGR 2007 days.

Not that i'm fitter than then, not yet. I've been getting in well over 10,000'/wk (over 16,000' this week) but my longest day so far has been 7.5 hours and all during daylight.

It's time for night runs. And for some super long outings... If I can squeeze them in. It's round about now that the training has start to becoming specific to this round, 16 hours of darkness and all that.

I'm quite excited about it....

Week summary:

Mon - 8M 3000' Moel y Gamelin ridge in record time - 1:23:54
Tues - 2500', 6M - Gamelin reps
Weds - Seathwaite round - 6000' (see previous posting)
Thurs - BGR leg 1 - 5500'
Fri, Sat, Sun - wedding, away

Totals - 17,000' 50 miles

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Thursday 7 October. Chin up.

Just found out that I didn't get shortlisted for a job I really wanted. Really upset about it. Don't know why, will find out tomorrow. App was very strong I thought, and I worked long and hard at it, but wondered whether short stint in my last role before redundancy put them off? Perhaps I just fell short in the face of strong opposition? Not good, I thought that I was strong opposition!

However, there are other opportunities. Got to keep going.

Time to cheer myself up with some images from 2 cracking days in the hills this week. Weds was a beauty, Seathwaite to Green Gable via Mitchell Gill (nice quiet route), Great Gable, down to Sty Head, up Great End via The Band (not the Bowfell one, but the steep spur in the first photo, it rises left to right behind the cairn you can see in the shot to Great End's summit - a new route for me up a summit I've done dozens of times). Then onto Ill Crag, Broad Crag and Scafell Pike before whooping down the scree run (the same one as from the Borrowdale race) and then down the Corridor Route (saw Jenny Turnbull's dad - what are the odds!) and then down to Seathwaite from Sty Head.

Great End from Gable

Scafell Pike and Broad Crag from Ill Crag

North from Scafell Pike

Overall it was about 6000' climbing and a stunning day. Felt quite strong but didn't hammer it too hard.

Then today i revisted Leg 1 (clockwise) of the BGR, just a lovely day. More great weather. Pacewise i took it easy and was actually 2 mins down on schedule going up Skiddaw (i'm always way under) but was then 12 mins up onto Calva so I knew i was going well. Then the plod up Blencathra....always a pull and i just waded down through the heather andthen up the other side, just taking in the autumn sunshine. As I neared Blencathra, I looked at the watch and realised I was bang on schedule. I touched the cairn 70 mins and zero secs after leaving Calva at a stroll, exactly on schedule. The view was familiar of course, but something about autumn sunshine enhanced it. Then that exhilerating descent to Threlkeld on that rocky ridge, fantastic.

5300' of climbing - 14 mins quicker than BGR schedule, just took it easy and enjoyed it.

SW from Blencathra

Days like that should make you thankful that you've got the health, skills and fitness to do things like the BGR, or even one leg of it. Perhaps I'll feel like that in a few days rather than knowing that's what I should feel like. Right now, i'm knackered and pissed off!

Time for a beer....

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Sunday 4 October. Summer has gone, time to get serious.

The last two months have been a good re-introduction to running regularly again. Since the start of August and my return from holiday, when this madness of training for a mid-winter BGR started, I've averaged 11,500 feet per week of ascent, only twice dipping below the magic, fabled 10,000 per week mark that conventional wisdom dictates is a minimum training requirement for a big round. I'm not sure that it is but it shows i;ve been doing enough, so far...

That's the question that bugs everyone training for something: Am i doing enough? YOu know when you've done too much when you're injured or overtired. But confidence can leach away when you fear that job is hand is getting further away from you and not closer with each week. Last week's disaster at the Colwyn Bay XC was awful and made me feel, and look to others, like i was nowhere near BGR fit. But then i ran the Hellvellyn range on Tuesday from Threlkeld on the BGR leg 2 route in heavy rain and no visibility and a strong wind before turning back and coming back over the range to my car - all inside 5 hours, which is good going! THat's about 6700' and 14 miles.

The next day i did a shorter run in the same weather over the southern end of that range to re-tread some confusing ground and ran equally well, 3600' and 7 miles in 2:15 and in awful weather. I guess it proves that i'm good at what i'm training for and i should remember that...

11 weeks remain, and 2 of those will be tapering so i have to get in some 12 hour+ days sooner rather than later. Some real prospects on the job front have been good news and have taken much of my time, but still the need is there to push hard for a long time in the dark and in poor weather.

Time to get serious...

Week summary:

MOnday - rest
Tuesday - Helvellyn range from Threlkeld and back again! 15M, 6700'
Weds - Dollywaggon, Fairfield and Seat Sandal from Dunmail - 7M, 3600'
Thurs - 4M road, brisk 27:56, heavy legs but enjoyable
Fri - 7 Tattenhall railways, 2300' - felt good, ran them all from top to bottom
Sat - quick bike ride before Cath and NIck's wedding
Sun - recovery from wedding, real tired

Total - 12,600' ascent, <40miles + Bike ride

Tune in head - Uprising, Muse