Monday, 30 January 2012

Kinder Trial.

Last week was a bit of a mess. I was really worn down and got ill, taking a day off work on Wednesday with a 'flu light, if you like. I don't like being Ill and never seldom take days off, but this time I felt completely hopeless. I'm hoping this is my annual '24hr-bug' been and gone.

I travelled home, the long way as Woodhead and Snake were snowy, but still via a big queue in Peak Forest, for the Kinder Trial. The benefit of having to sit in a snow-induced traffic jam was that there was some snow to run in on the Saturday! Having missed the December glut (but viewed it enviously over the internet) my heart was lifted when I awoke to a Simnel-caked Kinder on Saturday morning. Everything was good with the world again.

A Nav-leaning race on my local hill - should be a great event for me but I was just happy to be running around in the snow. I ran anticlockwise, to get Mount Famine and Dimpus Clough out of the way early on, before a quick forray into the top of the Edale Valley before finishing on Kinder's western flanks. Nav skills went a bit out of the window (OS nav on the move is a bit of a weakness), and whilst I know the paths on Kinder well, I don't spend enough time on her flanks, where most of Andy's excellent course was focussed. This resulted in me trying a few 'more direct' lines - one of which went through Cluther Rocks, resulting in me losing a leg in a hole. Thankfully just a couple of cuts and a slightly painful knee once finished - which were pretty slow but fun nonetheless.
Punching a control on the Brown Knoll path - courtesy Nick Ham (permission asked for)
As you can tell from the picture above, there was enough snow to make the day good fun, but not enough to be too inhibitive (well, for me as a late starter there wasn't as a lot of it had been broken by those off earlier - thanks guys!). The are more photos of the bluebird conditions on Tim's blog (and also one of me in a flat-cap).

Two hours and a little-bit on a snowy Kinder was a great way to spend the day. I also felt I was running better up hills than I expected, which was most welcome! The day was finished with cracking soup and cake in the Scout Hut. Many thanks to Andy for this fantastic event year on year, and especially for this year's weather. I intend to be back next year, whatever the weather!

I was completely bushed by the time I made the Pennine meal in the evening, and as such I'm having a few days rest now before getting on it again in February for 4-5 weeks of heavy training before a busy March/April turn. As such, here's a stat attack for my January:

In the 31 days ending 31 Jan:
activity # timemileskm+m
  Running - Road and Trail18 11:49:08 93.59(7:35) 150.62(4:42) 1153
  Running - Trail + Terrain7 7:11:29 45.23(9:32) 72.79(5:56) 2571
  Swimming4 1:56:30 2.95(39:28) 4.75(24:32)
  Orienteering2 1:49:02 9.16(11:54) 14.74(7:24) 71023 /30c77%
  Orienteering - Urban2 56:42 7.23(7:51) 11.63(4:52) 17429 /34c85%
  Running Intervals1 28:55 4.47(6:28) 7.2(4:01) 17
  Total30 24:11:46 162.63(8:56) 261.74(5:33) 4625

Not quite as big as previous yeas, but I'm feeling good (and hopefully won't get injured in early Feb like I often do!)

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

EUOC Big Weekend - back on the O

For my first Orienteering of the year (and what felt like ages) I ventured into auld enemy territory - Edinburgh.
Sheffield and Edinburgh University O clubs have a good-natured but strong rivalry, as befits two of the country's (well, as we're still one country at the moment) foremost exponents of the dark art of map, compass and running hell for leather. I've wanted to head up for EUOC's Big Weekend for the last 3 years, but exams and looming deadlines always got in the way. However, not having these frivolities to worry about any more, (or the perceived stigma of being a current ShUOC member!) I was looking forward to hopefully kick-starting my O year and seeing just how rusty I'd be after what felt like an age away from the map.
I didn't get many pictures whilst up there. This is about the pick...
Saturday's entertainment was a City Race taking in Edinburgh Southside, the Castle Mound, Royal Mile, Dumbiedykes estate and Pollock Halls of residence. Having looked at previous courses I was worried that I'd forget how to marry running and navigating.
Around the Royal Mile (North West) and Dumbiedykes (East)
An iffy night's sleep (thank you hostel dorm) slowed me down just enough that I could keep on top of the navigation. However, this didn't stop me making some silly mistakes, especially towards the end of the course where I was finding it difficult to pick up all the map detail and make quick decisions. I was also finding that my legs didn't have all that much in them - although maybe this was due to the fact that I was trying to make them run uphill in some instances - most unusual given the bulk of my current training. The 6.9km course yielded just over 10km of running - so as you can tell from my average pace of 4:50min/kms I wasn't shifting too much.
However, despite the fears of forgetting how to orienteer, and not feeling too great about my run, it was enough for a top-10 finish in a pretty good field. OK, so not all the top guys were pushing it (Spongey took a 12-minute 'comfort break' en-route), but of those who beat me only one was not a local.

The evening's entertainment involved a ceilidh, haggis and Edinburgh Student's Union. Needless to say this didn't set me up fantastically for Sunday's Mass Start event on Arthur's Seat.

I do enjoy the start-line banter, fun and head-to-head competition of mass-start O events, even if they don't really let me practise my technique as much as I need, tending as I do to just thumb the map whilst following using those more gifted than myself.
Quickroute of my race. Green = fast, red=slow
Despite the previous night's excesses I actually felt quite perky - for the first part of the race. I got in a quite good group around the butterfly loops and was really enjoying running on such a nice day. However, once we got to the long leg I decided to take the high option, and was dropped. I was still within sight of some good orienteers, but didn't have the energy to get back to them. As we got into the MicroO section on Sailsbury crags my race went to pot; I couldn't think straight, my legs died and I really struggled on anything that didn't have a bit of downhill on it. I just about managed to hold of the best of the vets, finishing in 14th place.

The microO section of the race. I just couldn't really hack the change of scales on this occasion!
There's a more all-encompassing review of the weekend's happenings on nopesport. I really enjoyed my first proper trip to Edinburgh, and was pleased to come away with the positives that I'm not as rusty with my Otech as I feared. However, there's still a lot to be worked on both technically (hoping to hit up a lot of events in the next couple of months) and physically (HILLS! and lots of them).

Sunday, 15 January 2012


I never normally succumb but seem to have had more than my fair share since arriving in Teesside. Last week's was pretty rough but I managed to get through the week OK, our little cohort of newstarts (although we're no longer the new-starts) and a new choir kept me busy whilst I was of running - evening entertainment and a trip to Whitby were good, but with maybe a bit too much alcohol for optimum recovery.
acting every inch of my shoe-size.

Whitby Abbey

I lined up at Clay Bank East Fell race today to shake things out a bit. A couple of weeks ago I was really looking forward to pushing this and having a good race, but that was off the cards so I trotted round enjoying the frozen North York Moors. I managed to finish around 10th and pick up a few hopefully useful points in the Esk Valley winter series whilst maintaining an OK pace for an aching, tired body with old-man lungs, but it was frustrating to be able to see the leaders within range of me if I were healthy. Needless to say I declined the inner urges to race the afternoon's XC race, taking lots of photos instead.

Hoping I'm getting back to normal now and can pick up with the good training I was putting in before mucus got in the way. Edinburgh next weekend and the Kinder Trial the weekend after.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Epic Mash

First up, a tip from someone who still thinks he's a student: whack a teaspoon of Marmite in your mashed potato (and carrot if you're me) with butter and dash of milk. It's epic.

Anyway, I digress.
The 2012 racing year got under way today, a nice, undulating 5.5mile 8.6km road/trail race from Hart near Hartlepool, Hartlepool Burn Road's Old Monks Race. There was a fair amount of road and a bit of trail, and 2 short steep muddy wooded descents, each followed by a short ascent.
A fast first km, with Kev Patterson (Alan Musgrove)

Two guys went off the front early on (fast downhill start) and I sat in 6/7th place. On the first downhill I put my descending skills to good use, gapping a group of guys to get on the shoulder of fellow BMHHer Gary. We pulled away on the trail after the uphill. I couldn't quite keep up once on the road but closed the gap on the next slippery path descent - but the paths were too narrow to get past Gary. I just about kept up on the next short climb but didn't have anything to motor onto the flat afterwards. Gary got away and another bloke ran through me.
Couple of clicks to go (Alan Musgrave)

Now it was just a case of dig in and not look behind to maintain 5th place. Every now and then I could hear someone behind, but once onto the last road stretch I managed to widen the gap to finish in just under 33 minutes. It was a good turn-out from BMHH, with 4 guys in the top 12 (alas there were no team prizes) and 34 runners out in total.

For the first race of the year and after a heavy training week I was quite pleased. However my performance on the climbs, even though they were very short, was pretty shocking, even more so for a supposed fell runner! More work (and less food in the long run) needed!

Next weekend: Fell Race. Followed by XC 3 hours after. Go Hard or Go Home

Sunday, 1 January 2012


So 2012 is a leap-year and I'm looking to take another leap in my running enjoyment and achievements. Anyway, before looking forward it's good to look back at a rather intense 2011.
Lose Hill Ridge and Win Tit from Mam Tor, NYE 2011.

First of all, the stats:
Looking at my Attackpoint training Log, in 2011 my total exercise hours totalled 302:28:51 hrs and 3103.03km with 67773m of vert. The breakdown is thus:
     Activity                               Time        Miles              km                    height(m)
  Running - Road and Trail167 108:34:15 816.82(7:59) 1314.54(4:57) 19666
  Running - Trail + Terrain74 90:55:49 571.53(9:33) 919.79(5:56) 315109 /14c64%
  Orienteering39 44:42:20 198.91(13:29) 320.12(8:23) 11045589 /886c66%
  Warm up/down58 9:51:14 56.09 90.26 1264
  Running Intervals22 9:17:12 71.8(7:46) 115.55(4:49) 869
  Orienteering - Urban19 8:19:50 60.58(8:15) 97.49(5:08) 979277 /359c77%
  Biking11 7:51:49 97.1(4:52) 156.27(3:01) 1633
  Other Sport13 7:20:00
  Swimming8 4:54:40 7.15(41:12) 11.51(25:36)
  Running - Track/XC10 4:39:03 42.91(6:30) 69.05(4:02) 725

...with the remaining 6hrs being made up of some drills and core exercise.
(The ratios and %s in the last 3 columns are spike-rate for Orienteering controls. The time in brackets is average pace in min/km etc.).

Here's some of last year's resolutions:
Last year on 21L before moving up to 21E: Podiums at JK and BOC on 21L, 21E at Scottish was a bit tricky.
Quicker Decision making: nope.
Minimise stupid mistakes (maintain contact better): was going OK then went to the Lake District and Scotland.
Improve Bearings: Thumb compass now so hopefully getting better.

Work towards 17min 5km: didn't focus on this but down to 17:18 (in the morning)
More long Races (~3:45hrs at Edale): 3:09 at Edale. Sedbergh Hills. A few more needed.
Better interval training: Quantity is lacking, quality is OK, but not great.
Run Home from Sheffield: yep. 26 miles, 1000m+ climb.
Lakeland races: done 3, 2 classics.
Enjoy Running and Listen to my body: the former YES! the latter YES (then ignore)
Castleton - took it easy up to Lose Hill as feeling a bit off, before putting the boot in.

At the beginning of the racing season I decided to alter my race strategy - in short races at least - to push myself harder from the off, man up and endure the pain of fell-racing. Thankfully this worked to a certain extent and, by being sensible and running my own races I could still utilise the end-of-race kick I consider my 'speciality'.

Orienteering wise, I just need to get out and do more!

I've really enjoyed running with Pennine. I don't get to much in the way of club runs (especially now I'm in the North East) but we've become quite adept at packing runners in close together when racing - out of the senior cohort I've beaten everyone and everyone's beaten me during the course of the year. Hopefully next year I'll not make stupid mistakes on the relays like this year...

Closely marked by Noel at Coombs Tor
Closely marked by Steve at the Downfall (I think this is a Rich photo I pinched!)
Races of the year:
From a personal view, Eccles Pike (4th) and Coniston (the section after Weatherlam, where I just seemed to go through people) were my highlights. I really enjoyed the atmosphere at the Hodgsons, FRAs, Sedbergh Hills champs race and Wasdale (Marshalling).

Keeping on Adam's heels in the closest Pennine race of the year - Myself, Dan, Daz, Adam '1shoe', Noel, Steve and Dave within 1.5mins of each other - Eccles Pike (pic Geoff B)

On the Orienteering side of things, the closest I've got to the feeling I think you're meant to get when Orienteering - running well, flowing through controls and spiking everything) was on JK day 2 at Sleive Croob. The best feeling I had was controls 2-15ish on the last day of the Scottish 6 days where everything managed to come together. Unfortunately I couldn't hold it together for the whole course (including control 1 where I lost 8 mins...). Unsurprisingly both these 'good feelings' have come on open hillside terrain, but I've started to enjoy tough technical terrain much more.
Best event? ShUOC's Harvester will take some beating in this country!
End of a long, tough (technically and physically) course at Creag Mhic, day 3 of Scottish 6 Days (Photo - Wendy Carlyle)
Graduated, got a job I enjoy with people I can stand (and who tolerate me) within 20 minutes of some hills and 90 minutes of the Lakes, so I'll call that a success. Hell, I could be in Reading!

More Orienteering. More running in terrain when Orienteering. Focus more. Eat Better. More concerted training. Work towards sub-3 at Skyline in the next few years. Work towards 16:30 5km. English Champs Races. More Lakes races, including Classics. Saunders MM.
These would all be nice, but as long as I enjoy myself and am happy, it's all gravy.

Bringing (no) class to proceedings since 2007.
Hope you had a good Christmas and New Year. I'll see you on the fells!