Monday, 30 August 2010

Park Life

Woke up to a sunny day and without the slight feeling of sluggishness and nausea I felt yesterday (beer and curry with the lads - not too messy but more than I usually drink these days), so decided a change was in order.

K nipped out for a quick couple of miles early doors, then I put my fell shoes on and set off Halton East-wards for some summer off-road action.  I've said before that whilst I claim to do "a bit" of fell running, that's usually just the Auld Lang Syne on New Years Eve, and that only so I can go and get squiffy with some old mates in Haworth.

However, my excursion up the lane from Halton East to Halton Heights had got me thinking that maybe I'd indulge in some mud 'n' grass fun, so I decided that today was the day.

The great thing about running off road is that you can basically forget about pace - this is "time on your feet" running, where you might just as easily have an 11 minute mile as a 6 minute one (unless you're Holmesy, of course).

The lane up from Halton East was, as usually happens when you've run something before, easier than last time, then at the top I turned right and popped out by the cattle grid on the Barden road.  Straight across it, then onto the main track across to Rylstone Cross.

The moor looked just fantastic today - the heather is purple, and with the late summer sun on it every fold of the landscape was visible - and of course I had no camera with me...

The pull up to the top of the moor felt really hard, and much more uphill than I remembered it, but as I normally walk this path rather than run it, and I'm usually distracted by having to encourage small girls to keep going maybe that's not surprising.

At the top I turned left to follow what's on the map as a bridleway - but I can't imagine a horse has been along it for decades.  There's the occasional bike track, but generally this path's hardly used.  That's a shame, as it's a brilliant run - gently downhill for just over a mile, as long as you watch where you're going you can fly down here.  The view changes every ten yards as more and more of Embsay and the Aire valley is revealed, until you cut right and up onto Embsay Crag for the spectacular vista stretching across to Pendle and Sharp Haw.

Said "how do" to a few walkers on the top of the Crag, then buggered up the descent line and ended up floundering around in head high bracken, whilst trying to look like that was where I'd meant to go all along.  Nob.

Anyway - once I'd regained the path it was a fast grassy blast down to the Eastby road and then half a mile on the road to home.  8.5 miles, an hour and a quarter and a feeling of enormous well-being (as that bloke said in the Blur song).

Sunday, 29 August 2010

A windy blast

We've had a curry and a few beers in the diary for several weeks, so we decided to earn out beer with a few bike miles yesterday afternoon.  I'd originally thought it was just going to be me and The Herb, but in the end there was five of us, with Steve, Bob and Ian Ryder joining us.

Ian is a mountain biker and was on my winter bike - which as he's a good 2" taller than me looked like a TT bike with the saddle racked up.

We set off over Halton Heights with a blustery wind behind us, that brought in a sharp shower as we headed down towards Bolton Abbey and Langbar.  Ian was struggling a bit with my bike - the rear mech seems to be gummed up and the gearing is a lot higher than he's used to, but we managed to keep together with a few pauses.

Langbar was, for me, not as tough as usual, but Ian had a hard time up it, and was looking decidedly cheesed off with life!

We headed down into Ilkley on wet roads, and I had a very near miss coming down the last part of the hill when I went too fast into a corner, braked and locked both wheels.  I could see the rather deep and uneven gutter approaching but somehow managed to remain upright.

We then rode up over Addingham Moorside, with Ian again finding it tough, so we made an executive decision to go back via Bradley instead of the long climb up to Lothersdale, which given the wind direction would have been a toughie.

As we hit the top of the last hill before dropping into Skipton the sun made a welcome reappearance and we dried off nicely before the end.

Just 26 miles at a very moderate average speed, but my legs felt better on the hills than they have for some time, so things seem to be moving in the right direction.  I've even started to get some weight off at last, with 4lbs somehow disappearing in the last 10 days or so.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

And so it continues

A more relaxed day at work yesterday after the stresses of "do-we-or-don't-we" Tuesday and zooming up and down to Newcastle. Decided not to run home on account of a lack of Dazzler to drive me in, so decided to go out after work with Hinsley.

I had something with double figures in mind, but as rich was with me we decided to go from work rather than silsden.

Up to tesco, turn left then all the way along the canal past Ridds and the golf course. We'd decided to carry on past the farm and stay on the towpath for a while further which was dry but less smooth underfoot.

We turned left just before silsden ad cut down to the lane and then back to the farm and the towpath.

As I'd forgotten my watch (again) we were on iPhone timing using rubitrack, so we weren't sure on pace. It felt like 8minute-ish but my legs did express some surprise at still being running after 40 minutes had passed!

We got back to work with just 10m on the clock in a tad over 80 minutes, with no calf pain and just a slight sense of satisfaction to offset the slightly fatigued legs!

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Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Getting better (slightly)

This running on alternate days seems to be doing the trick with my poorly calves, although thanks to a bit of self-massage (ooh! cheeky!) I had a very tender bit right at the top of my right calf this morning.

After the stresses of a day-long "go/no-go" meeting yesterday today was a relatively normal day, punctuated mainly by pigging out on delish home-made Sheesh kebabs brought in as a variation on the normal "bake sale" to raise money for the Pakistan flood victims - ate far too many but put lots of money in the pot and went out for a run after work to make up for my gluttony.

With Hinsley and The Newmanator tonight, I'd decided to wear my compression socks, so was forced to run on my own by the lads as they were embarrassed to be seen with me.  I responded to their cold-shouldering by running the second mile along the canal a bit quicker than we'd originally said, so was pleased to see a pair of slightly sweaty bods when we turned round at the 2 1/2 mile mark, then Hinsley (trying to play it cool) said he thought we were going to do an effort for the fourth mile - so we speeded up a bit.  Quite gratified that it felt a long way from eyeballs out, and the watch beeped at 6:35.  Mind you, how I used to run 6 or 8 miles at that pace in training is slightly beyond me at the moment...

5 miles at 7:34 pace - and no reaction from the legs.

Off up to Newcastle for more merger fun tomorrow, then I think I might make another attempt at running home on Friday - or possible running in if I can be arsed to get up that early!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

A monstrous bike ride Sunday. Plan was to meet Rick and Angry in Otley then ride to York and back via the Flatlands in preparation for the Manchester 100 in a couple of weeks. Herb picked me up in Ken the Kamp and we set off, only to grind to a halt just this side of Ilkley as the road was closed due to a fatal accident. We toyed with going round via Blubbs but in the end dumped the car at Addingham and walked across to the Nesfield road and cycled at high speed to Otley (including a ludicrous race with a pensioner on an addax bike).

Off towards York we went, with Rick on yet another new bike and Angry on a posh Spesh thing with a full size chainset he has on test. It's surprisingly lumpy in the first third, but once you're past Wetherby it all gets nice and flat.

We were wazzing along and looking forward to more wazzing on the way home as we were convinced the wind was going to be behind us.

We stopped at Naburn for a brew then set off back to realise the wind was a westerly and we had 35 miles to go straight into it. By the time we were back at Arthington we'd all had a bad spell (except The Herb who was nails) and Angry was off the back and struggling.

Rick managed to get our bikes in his van thing so we avoided another 8 miles of into the wind struggle back to Ken. 74 miles at an average of just under 17mph, but a lesson in how much fitness I've lost as I was shot at the end.

I managed another steady 4 miler after work on Monday without the aid of compression socks, then biked in today the lumpy way on my own. As I was by myself I had time to study the two climbs and realise that whilst they're steep and gnarly they're not that long. The climb through Draughton and past the stables is only about a milke and a half and took 13 minutes, and the dreaded Holden Lane is only 0.6m and took just over 7 minutes. I got absolutely drenched going in so can't wait for the new drying rooms they're building at work.

The ride home was 3 minutes quicker than last week, mainly due to not rabbitting to The Herb (or maybe I'm getting some cycling legs back after 100m last week?).

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Saturday, 21 August 2010

Up and sort of running

We've got young Milly, K's niece, staying with us this weekend, so as I'm not a blood relative I was allowed out of the trip to the swimming baths this morning.  I was thinking about getting out on my bike, but as we're out for a biggish ride tomorrow I couldn't really be bothered getting kitted up and out.

So - following a few boings around the kitchen to see whether there was any niggle left in either of my naughty calves I popped my vest, and my comedy compression socks, on and set off gingerly towards Halton East.

At the 1.5 m point I considered turning round but decided to keep going to 2, and I reached Halton East with no pain from either leg.  So far so good...

On the way back I started to get a bit of tightness in my achilles on the left, but the calf stayed pain free, and I came home a happy bunny with 4 miles at 7:55 pace under my belt.  Bike tomorrow, and I think the rule's going to be no speedwork for a fortnight and no running on consecutive days until next weekend earliest.

Good stuff - we're on the way...

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Well now...

Ended up having a pretty good weekend all in all - The Herbs turned up and we all went to the pub.  Then on Saturday I decided to give my sore calf a weekend off so we did family stuff including getting lost in a maize maze (with Maisie, oddly...) and on Sunday we went to Forbidden Corner which is near Leyburn and is just weird.  Reminded myself just how beautiful the Lune Valley is up that top end, and vowed to go back and run over Barbon Fell and perhaps a Howgill or two very soon.

Having been so responsible and not running I was happy to go out with The Herb Monday after work, and all was going swimmingly for a couple of miles then in my left calf (you know, the one that hurt last week before the right one decided to hurt - yeah - that one) a familiar feeling.  Even more annoyingly it happened the moment The Herb said "all's ok with your calf then?" - and of course it was.  Just not the other one.

So - back on the running bench for a few days.  It's not (I don't think) serious as it didn't feel like a proper tear, but it has been a bit sore since.  Been up in the North East doing merger stuff for a couple of days so haven't really missed running, but I am going to have to find somewhere to run up there as it looks like a day or two most weeks will be how it'll be for a few months at least.

So today, feeling my belly growing by the moment, I decided to risk it and cycle in to work with The Herb, who's been doing lots on his bike and has been cycling in the lumpy way over the moor.  This involves a couple of seriously steep climbs - one up through Draughton and then Holden Lane between Silsden and East Morton.  Now the sign at the top of this says 20%, but that's only 1 in 5, isn't it?  Nah - there's bits on this that are nearer 1 in 4 - and at half seven in the morning it's hard going. 

Still - it's 26 miles and a couple of hours of CV exercise done.  A long bike on Sunday then I'll give my (by then hopefully) pain free legs a run out - part of the build up to running a bit quicker, hopefully!

Friday, 13 August 2010

Grim up north

Currently sat in our new tent (which is lovely and very quick to erect) watching steady drizzle turn into pissing rain then back to drizzle. We're here because m'lovely daughter Maisie wanted to go camping with her mate and this is pretty much the only weekend we could fit it in.

The weather is supposed to be better tomorrow, so calf permitting The Herb and I are going for a run over Middleton Fell, which will be nice as I've never been up there before - however that depends whether this bloody deluge stops.

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A better week, but a sore calf (again)

Seedhill on Wednesday as promised and it proved good to be back on track.  It was busier than last time I was there (which I think was February!) but with The Newmanator and Hinsley along for the ride we decided on a relatively gentle reintroduction with 6x800m off 200m recoveries.  Plan was originally to run at c40min 10k pace with Rich, and see if he could hang on.  That's roughly 1:35 per lap, but as we went through the fist one in 1:28 and feeling not overly stretched I adapted the target to 1:30's.

This proved slightly more stretching, but even off relatively short (65-70s) recoveries I managed to hang on to almost the target pace, with the traditionally tough rep just after half way being the slowest
I had a slightly tight spot at the top of my left calf towards the end, but nothing that felt too serious, however I popped some ice on it afterwards.

The plan was then to run home on Thursday as that's the last day of the working week with today being a day off.  I set off feeling fine, and with no trouble from my left calf, but after about 5 miles my right calf tightened up - nothing approaching the pulls I've had in the past, but having learned from that I decided to bail out - fortunately The Dazzler, a workmate, was driving my car home, so I called him and got picked up on the Aire Valley by-pass - so my first run home ended at 7 miles, but at a comfortable 7:50 pace I don't think I've done any damage.  I've dug my ridiculous compression socks out for this weekend's gentle fell bimble up at Barbon though, so hopefully no lasting damage.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Back to work, back to running

A fairly hideous few weeks at work awaits as we get ready for the merger we're all working towards, but I'm determined not to let it bugger up my pursuit of the inner thin-bloke that is somewhere in there.  Knowing I've got a trip up to Newcastle tomorrow that will make running a bit tricky I had put a very firm "run" in the diary at lunchtime today.

Out with Hinsley, and having had to give him some bad news about his job last week I was pleased to find we're still talking, so I gave him the choice of routes.  We went with the route down to the Fisherman's then back up a couple of hills to 5 Rise then back to the office.

I'd managed to forget my Garmin so I was reliant on Rich for pace information, but I managed not to fret too much, nor did I nag him for pace every 50 yards.  The climb up the muddy track after the canal was hard, as was the steep climb following, but the long drag as we turned for home was les of an effort than I expected. 

This run's usually just short of 6 miles, but as we went up past the Royal instead of our usual route it came in at 5.3m, with an average pace of 7:40 - which is respectable given the state of our fitness and our bellies.

As mentioned Newcastle tomorrow then back to the track at Seedhill on Wednesday to give the old legs another shock!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

An offroad jaunt

Despite claiming to do a bit of fell running, it's pretty rare that I venture off road these days - I've sort of got it into my head that fell and trail running doesn't do me as much good as a steady or a fast run on road - mainly, I guess, because there tends to be a few slow bits, some steep bits and even some walky bits.

However today as I set off for Halton East with slightly achy legs, having been shamed into going out by Karen and Lily who managed 3 miles in the rain, I decided to have a bit of a variation.  So on reaching Halton East, instead of the usual "shall I go round the village or carry on a bit" I turned left up towards Halton Heights.  I've mountain biked down this track several times, but never run up it.  On the way up there was a group of mountain bikers, who I'm pleased to say I caught and passed, and I managed to run at a respectable lick all the way to the gate at the top.

I think I made a minor error here because I turned left again on the footpath, which although it was flatter than the track to the right, was narrower, slippier and nettle-ier.  I did have a short walk to avoid some muddy puddles, but eventually I hit the road a mile after Halton East.  The road back down through Eastby was pleasant, and I cut across the fields by the church and finished with 41 minutes on the watch and 5 miles on the GPS - so not a whole lot slower than a normal road run and a decent amount of ascent to boot.

I'm now thinking I might do a few longer off road runs to give me some variety whilst we still have the daylight - maybe up to Halton Heights then across the moor, then back down via Embsay Crag.

I did manage to read 150 pages of corporate guff today AND tidy the shed, but I also spent an hour or so reading this thread on an MTB forum - it's a year or so's worth of posts about a guy called Mark who's got incurable (so far - I've a feeling he might beat it!) cancer and who's currently riding LEJOG (well, JOGLE to be more accurate) - inspiring stuff.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

A quick slow one between showers

One of the effects of this not being very fit business, and one I'd forgotten about as it's a while since I've been this blobby, is that getting out becomes a mental effort, even when it's an easy run.

So it was today - mooched around doing all sorts of stuff to avoid getting out (and going for a run is a displacement activity for the stuff I should be doing, which is reading 250 pages of corporate governance guff in preparation for our forthcoming merger), but eventually at about 4 o'clock I ran out of other things to do.

Plan was for a short, easy run, so off up towards Halton East I trotted, looking to keep the HR nice and low, which proved to be something around 8 min pace.  When I got there I decided to do a loop round the village rather than just turn round, so I ended up with 4.5m at just about bang on 8 min pace.  HR averaged 127, which is ok given the pace and the fact it's undulating, even though it's pancake flat compared to the Garfagnana.

My legs have noticed something's changed - more activity and more weight to carry whilst doing it - so they're feeling the last couple of days, but I think I'll take them out for another trot tomorrow to get a decent start to the "new me" campaign.

Bike's back from the menders with shiny new gear cables, a greased headset and (according to Mr Mender) a shagged back wheel. Having given it a bit of a wobble it does feel a wee bit goosed, so I've been perusing the information superhighway for some new ones. I think the plan may be to get something decent but not mega, as I may splash the cash on a new summer bike next spring, so whichever wheels I end up with could well finish up on my winter bike. Current thinking is some Eastons, which I think might be the same as Our Kid got for his last bike (him changing his bikes like the rest of us change socks - pensioners, eh?).

He's back, and he's chubby...

Back from a couple of weeks in the Garfagnana, which is a lumpy place north of Lucca in That Italy. Despite several attempts before and during the holiday I didn't manage to hire a bike, which was a great shame as the roads look ace. I managed one 4m run but gave up after that as we were staying at the top of a mile long, very steep hill - so in the end I ate pasta, steak and chips, and drank beer.

I am now, I reckon, one English Stone overweight - having told myself I'd never get porky and unfit again. Well I've managed it in about 6 weeks. Arse.

However, I know what to do - run and bike more, eat and drink less. The Programme officially starts Monday but I'm going to try and get a few miles in this weekend to get things going. Did 5 yesterday up to Halton East and back which was ok - pace was about 7:40 and it didn't feel like a massive effort, however it's a very easy pace when you think about it.

So: the targets for the rest of August -

4 runs every week including one speed/track session and one run home (or run of at least 12 miles), building up to a 15 by the end of the month.

50m per week on the bike absolute minimum - either via commuting or long weekend ride.

No canteen lunches - sandwiches/soup only

Target is to lose half a stone by the end of the month, which sounds a bit daunting but I'm starting from a high base!!

We'll see...

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