Thursday, 31 January 2013

Snow gone

Sunday dawned warm and windy - all the snow gone overnight, as if it'd never been there.

I was supposed to be getting out on my bike, but the wind and rain made me decide that maybe I'd earned a day off - so January ends with just the two bike rides but plenty of running.

This week I've been travelling a couple of days, so just a couple of steady lunchtime four milers so far, but the pace seems to be improving all the time - I seem to have gone from 8:30 being the comfortable pace-of-choice to just under 8's - which is pretty reasonable.

February's objective is to keep the 4 runs a week pattern going, with a regular 10-12 miler at the weekend, but to try to get some decent bike miles in.  This won't be easy with half term and a trip to the Portes du Soleil involved, but as we're not in the Fred then maybe 200 miles a month isn't quite so essential.

I'm still doing ok on the beer/food front - last Monday's weigh-in had me 8lbs down on new year's day, so my 2lbs a week plan seems to be working.

Another steady lunchtime one tomorrow hopefully, then Herb (and hopefully Izzy) will be out Saturday for a longish run - the canal awaits...

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Still snowy, still running...

Two years after buying a pair of 4WD vehicles after we'd struggled to get to work for a fortnight we've finally had a reasonably protracted period of snow (during most of which I went to the Alps...).

However my other purchase from that previous mini-ice age has come in handy today - a set of Kahtoola Microspikes.  I bought them because I was running a lot on the canal, and once a few people have been along the towpath it gets very slippy - as it was in places today.

K decided that the snow might be a bit tiring for Izzy (she's about 98% border collie - I'm sure she'd be fine, but hey ho...), and Herb's away, so I was on my own today.

I ran in trail shoes, and I wasn't really aware of slipping a lot for the first 3 miles, but once I'd put my spikes on I made better progress.  In fact looking back at my stats I speeded up by a good 15-20 secs a mile after I put them on.

I turned at the Tesco road near Crossflatts with 5 mile and a tad over 40 minutes on the watch, then running back was slightly harder work - hardly surprising when I look back I haven't run 10m since May 2011 - and explains why I'm so unfit!

I started feeling like I was getting a bit of rubbing on the ball of my left foot after 8 miles or so, so I stopped a couple of times - I think it's my shoe/sock combination rather than the spikes though.

Anyway - 10m in the bank in just under 82 minutes.  I'm thinking if I can keep getting a 10-14 miler in most weekends, along with a selection of midweek runs I should be in decent shape to maybe do some racing later in the spring.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Back from the snow to the snow

Oh deer, oh dear...

Well after last week's mileage high, I set off to Chamonix on Thursday quite regretting the lack of exercise I was heading for - little did I know...

A steady old day on Thursday up at Grands Montets (apart from a specular drop off an 8' cliff onto a road in completely flat light) led to some proper Brevent-Flegere mileage on Friday.  Saturday was going to be my Pas de Chevre adventure, but unfortunately my guide, Neil, decided that it was all a bit windy and avalanchy so we were off to Switzerland for some transceiver training and a bit of a day tour.
Me and Rob at Brevent with MB behind
The transceiver training was in a car park, accompanied by the bizarre spectacle of me setting up a crevasse rescue in the same car park, belayed to a ski stuck in a snow drift.  Still, useful...

However once we were up on the road to the Lac d'Emosson I was soon skinning up the road like a good 'un.  Slightly disconcerted by the lack of "lifts" though...  Two and a half hours later it had sunk in there weren't going to be any lifts, and I was utterly knackered.  Skiing uphill is hard work.  Skiing uphill with 800m of climbing is very hard work.  Still, I thought, you've "earned your turns" as they say!  Only I couldn't really do any turns - it was avalanchy, scary, deep and in places, steep.  And I was goosed.  So after a bit of gorgeous powder that I really couldn't take advantage off due to my feeble legs, we just skied back down the road on the whole.  Still - I had no qualms that I'd had a hard day, and that it would be paid back in fitness and weight loss (despite beer and chips).

Sunday saw us at a much tamer Les Houches - we went because the forecast said poor vis, but as we looked at the GM sparkling in the sun I was slightly regretting not dragging everyone up there.  However as Tim and Rob had decided it was my "birthday" I spent the morning dressed in a reindeer suit, much to the amusement of most of the lifties.   A nice day was had by all, and after an afternoon of introducing Rob to the joys of off piste bumps we headed off for my "birthday meal" at Maison Carrier.

Home again and back to running - in the snow!  Leeds airport was closed for large parts of Monday but we got home 4hrs delayed and then straight back into work and running yesterday.  Running's definitely getting easier, and the scales suggest I've dropped about half a stone since new year - which is a reasonable 2 or 3lbs a week.

We've not got into the Fred, so my spring challenge is yet to be decided - may try for a late entry, or possibly the Etape du Dales, which I know Bob's having a bash at.  Alternatively I might just make the White Rose long route the main event for the year.

Just a 5 and a 4 miler so far this week - but given the conditions I'm not unhappy with that.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Last one before the snow

Still snowy here actually - so that's a pretty dumb title.  Ho hm.

Anyway - we're gripped by the arctic here - -5ยบ this morning and forecast for freezing fog tomorrow.  Hopefully Jet2 can get us to Geneva as conditions in Cham look A Bit Good.  Bag's packed, including new avi airbag just in case the Pas de Chevre decides to drop on my head on Saturday.

Whilst gripped by the arctic I decided to make up for last night's failure to do anything by going out at lunch.  The novelty of running home and just over half a mile along my normal Halton East route is still there, so I quite enjoyed it.  I enjoyed less the fact there's only one shower at work - a poor do compared with the luxuries of UKAR with 6 showers and Tomes' ubiquitous nob.

4 miles, a bit quicker than last time - 8:01 pace.  Getting better...

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Sunday, Monday stuff

Out with the club on Sunday, in very cold conditions.  Plan was to again ride with the fast boys then cut off - our plan being to retire to the caff in Settle as the A-Team headed off to Feizor for long-tailed scampi and amazingly attractive waitresses.  In the event Tim, the strong man of the club, couldn't wait to show us all how feeble we are and sped off, taking two or three guys with him.

Herb and I, partly out of chivalry but more out of an inability to keep up, stayed with Fiona and Bob, as Skipton is starting to get a bit butch in its tendency to drop people.  I mentioned this a few rimes, as we'll have trouble attracting people to ride with us - I've been a new club member at both running and cycling clubs, and one of your worries is always "will I keep up?" - with Skipton CC of late the answer seems to be "you'd better, or you'll spend a lot of time on your own".

Anyway - our happy band made its way (via a "deflation incident" for Herb) along Littondale and up the climb from Halton Gill where we found Iain, who'd stayed with the fast lads until they announced "no cafe stop - haven't got time" - so he turned back and rode with us.

Up to five of us now, we wended our way to Settle where we had beans on toast and much tea.  The ride back through Wigglesworth and Gargrave was cold but those beans (and possibly some slight weight loss) made the ride home infinitely more pleasant than last week.  We stayed together pretty much all the way back to Embsay, as Fiona lives in the village too.

53m in the Bank of Fred (entries have closed but we don't know if we're in yet...).

Then yesterday I used my new psychological insight that running after work is much easier if you do it from work instead of when you get home - just 5m to carleton, but it's getting easier and I'm getting a tiny bit quicker.

I intended to get out after work tonight (track was a bit hopeless considering the snow), but I had several parcels arrive (including my new avalanche airbag - useful as it's going to hoss down in Chamonix this weekend) so needed to go home to play.

I'll try and get another lunchtime one in tomorrow then it's a few days off running, back on beer and hopefully knee deep in powder snow.  Chamonix awaits...

And I finally seem to have lost some weight - about 5lbs has gone - 23lbs to go...

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Saturday dog walk...

We were out for a posh meal last night (Box Tree, Ilkley - not really us) so as the diary was more spread out than usual I nipped out for 4 at lunch - slightly quicker than of late where 8:30 miles seem to have become my pace of choice - through the park and out towards Carleton in daylight.  Pace crept under 8 min miling, so whilst not even brisk it's faster than normal.

Today I'd arranged to go for a long(ish) slow(very) one with The Herb.  Silsden again, but we took Izzy with us this time, as she's got a lot better off the lead.  She disgraced herself immediately after we set off by zooming around, but pretty quickly got into a rhythm of trotting and sniffing.

We were (I think) slightly slower than last week to the 3.5m point where we turned round, but there was a definite headwind today.  However we hit 4m in about 34 minutes and headed back.  It all felt a lot easier, and apart from expending a fair bit of energy shouting at the dog (road crossings mainly) it was a classic easy run - chatting with a mate, enjoying the movement and feeling pretty good.

Back at the car with just over 8 miles done at a tad over 8:30 pace.  Away skiing next weekend so I'll go back in a couple of weeks and try to do a 10 miler - which'll be good to get done less than a month after starting.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Weird lunchtime run

I'm working a mile and a half from home this week, so my lunchtime run consisted of running home, half a mile past home, turning round and running back past home to work.  All very steady, but another four miles and hopefully another couple of hundred calories burned.

Good news last night (apart from the increasing likelihood of snow in the Chamonix valley) is that one of Lily's friends has expressed an interest in going to the track for some training - so Lils has agreed to give it another go.

This is Good Stuff - it means I'll get to go down there and run a bit faster than i have of late.  Looking back at my blog from the Days When I Was Fit I was running steady runs at 7:30 pace.  Not busting a gut these days by any means, but I'm running a minute a mile slower than that, so it'll be good to do some faster stuff once a week.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Easier? Or just less unpleasant?

Didn't manage a run yesterday - went to get more aware of speed in harrogate then had some work to do at home before heading off to Bratfud for a naughty curry (no starters, mind) and a raucous evening at the football.  Everyone else was moderately tanked up, and blathered on excitement after the mighty Bantams put three past Aston Villa to go into the second leg with a two goal cushion (sounded like I knew what I was talking about there, eh?).  I was on coke, and the assumption at the Bradford City ground is the only people who drink coke are children and ladies, so I only got little glasses of it as well.  Surprised they didn't get me a bag of crisps and sit me outside.

So today I was determined to get out and do something.  I've decided that it's psychologically much easier to go out before going home - either at lunchtime or after work.  Even though work is a solid mile and a quarter from home - there's something difficult about getting in and then going out again.  So tonight I got changed at The Bailey, strapped on my headtorch and headed off towards Carleton again.

Headtorch makes it much easier on the road to Carleton, and (whisper it quietly) whilst i wouldn't say I was was enjoying myself, it definitely felt less onerous to be out running.  So I kept going for a bit - turned at 3 miles and so did my longest midweek run for...oooh...ages.

Don't think I've lost any weight - still look hugely fat, but if it feels easier I must be getting a tiny bit fitter.

I'm also getting rather excited - promise of some snow in the Chamonix valley, which is where I'll be off to next week.  That'll be five days of no running, but I've got a day out with a guide where there may well be uphill ski action, so something to burn the inevitable beer off.  Can't wait!

Monday, 7 January 2013

Woo hoo!

I am feeling triumphant.  Today I have passed a significant milestone in my running career.  I have, in the past six days run a total of twenty and one half miles.

Now that doesn't sound like much (well I suppose it would if I did it in one day.  Or two and a half hours) but for me to go out tonight, after work, at twenty past six, is.  Much.  Could be a false dawn (Lord knows we've had enough of those) but the easy option would be to go home and slonk - and 5 flat miles was in the diary, so 5 flay miles I did.

I was feeling yesterday's accidental 50 miler in my legs so it wasn't speedy by any means, indeed it got positively pedestrian by the time I was running in the pitch black on the road to Carleton (having cunningly left my headtorch in the car), but I felt if not good, just about ok.

I am pleased.  So I rewarded myself with oven chips for tea.  Which I weighed....

I might grab a short run tomorrow as I'm working from home in the afternoon before going out for curry and football at night.  Go Bratfud.  And go me.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Still going!

After my slippy sloppy fally-over run on the canal on Friday I decided that I quite like flat running - just not flat running in mud.  So I roped The Herb (reluctantly) into a Saturday morning "long" run.  Unwilling to do battle with the bogs of Broughton Rd stretch we drove down to my old stamping ground in Silsden and set off towards Bingley.  Very steady, very chatty and very not muddy.  Lovely.

We'd agreed to turn round at 30 minutes (well I did say "long" not a naked, un-inverted-comma-ed long), and I must say I'd thought we'd do well to get the Riddlesden swing bridge, but in the end we got a fair bit further and turned just about bang on 3.5 miles.

The run back was a wee bit slower, but we were pretty happy with 7 miles at a gloriously pootly pace of 8:40.  Still - that makes over 15 miles in my first 4 days (and I'm always hungry because I'm eating better too - this'd better be worth it, Fred...).

Then today, wanting to take advantage of a rare dry day (and a series of dry nights - I've given up beer as well) we went out with the Skipton club in our new long-sleeved tops.  After our exertions we''d decided that we'd go with the B group, so when we got down to Dave F's and found only five other blokes, all looking lean and speedy (apart from Bob, obviously) we realised we were now, reluctantly, "out with the A team".  Oh bugger.

"Still," we thought, "we can always cut it short.".  Unfortunately the chosen route didn't really give a lot of cutting short options, so in the end we stuck it out.  Gargrave, West Marton, Barlick, up onto Pendle then back via Downham (cup of tea, no cake - of which more later), Bolton-by-Bowland and Hellifield.

It was after Hellifield that two things happened; I realised I was utterly shagged out, and Iain V-T started getting punctures.  I can't imagine the two were connected, but I suspect my condition was caused by a lack of cake (and being very, very unfit) and Iain's by crap tyres.

Anyway - when he had his third I'm afraid a desperate need for food and Herb needing to get home meant we carried on.  The climb through Stirton was hideous - bottom gear, cramping up, so slow I was lucky to remain upright.

However we did it - just over 50 miles in the "Bank of Fred", to be withdrawn some time in May on Hardknott...

Onward and upwards, as they say...

Friday, 4 January 2013


First lunchtime run since I started here last May.  Wanted something flat so through the park, along the canal, flat on my arse.

Twice.  I hate mud.

Keighley road next time, I think. Still, 4.6m in 37:44.  Blistering.

New year, new belly...

Back in 2009 I said I wasn't going to let myself get fat again.  Well having turned 50 in December I decided to change that, and utterly blobbed out.  I'm not going to admit to how fat I've got, but let's say trousers that were loose are now tight, and I need to lose about 2 stone by May.

Because I've entered the Fred.

Oh lordy.

Anyway - runs will be done (plan is 3 per week), bike rides will be done (2 per week - one long commute and one ride at the weekend, tricky when work's only 3 miles away).

Anyway - I'm back blogging and shortly I shall be out for a lunchtime run.