Some Stuff About Me ......

My photo
I live in Harrogate, North Yorkshire with my wonderful wife and soul-mate Helen. I have two incredible sons - Evan and Matthew - who are occasionally show up at home, usually when they're hungry or need money. The three of them are the best thing that ever happened to me and I love them all. I spent over 24 years in the Royal Navy, but since I packed it all in and got a proper job my life has gone from strength to strength and I've never looked back. I am a die-hard soul music fan and this remains a serious passion, but in recent years my life has been dedicated to running on the fells and trails of Northern England, it's what I was made for. Please read about my adventures and experiences ...

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Robbed With a Smile

Had to take my car in for its second service yesterday, I knew that would mean expensive and braced accordingly.

I have to say, the team at Harrogate Audi are robbing b*****s of the very highest order but by golly they do it in a nice way. I bumped up there at 0800 and was met in the Service Reception by a whole flock of heavily made-up and mini-skirted girlies, all [apparently] desperate to make me a cuppa and escort my weary legs to a comfy seat. A brisk, professional exchange of keys took place - lots of lipstick and teeth going on here - and very shortly my appointed bimbette whisked me outside to my courtesy car, her high heels beating an impressive stacatto on the showroom flow. And what a nice car it was - a brand new Audi A6, less than 600 on the clock and enough buttons inside to baffle a fighter pilot. Naturally, I stood no chance and nearly caused a major pile-up in Knaresborough town centre due to my inability to operate the push-button handbrake.

Returning at 5.30pm, the smiles and lipstick had faded a tad, and I daresay the poor lasses were entertaining thoughts of comfy bunny-rabbit slippers, but it was still slick as you like and I had a couple of posh oatmeal cookies to accompany my gourment cuppa. My account was recited to me with a beaming smile and having parted with the best part of 300 quid, I was invited to rate my service. Naturally, I was "exceptionally satisfied". Anything less, I felt, would have been greeted with consternation and goings-on, but not resulted in a reduction in my bill and in reality kept everyone from their slippers.

Reading the service schedule, I've just parted with all that brass for what was effectively an oil change and a good look round the car - no remedial work was required. Of course, what I DID get was the service stamp in the logbook and maintained the integrity of the warranty, Audi know this and that's why they get away with it.

A licence to print money? I should say.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Old Enemy

So, last night I headed up to the gym to renew my acquaintance with the Jacob's Ladder machine, aka hill-climber or stepper. I used this device extensively during my BGR training last year and hate the thing with a passion, however it's effectiveness is indisputable and it helped me build the leg strength required to even stand a chance at a successful round. Anyhow, my usual session on this is 30 minutes broken down into 3 x 10m segments, at the end of every segment I coast down to the ground and towel off, quick drink and stretch, then back on - so maybe 20 seconds of recovery. When I first started I maintained around 80 feet of climb per minute, however as time went on and I matched it to aerobic heart rates I upped that to 90 feet per min and that was my target yesterday, the goal being to climb 2,700ft minimum. All went well to start off with, heart rate was nicely below my threshold and I felt like I was moving well, however by the third segment I was starting to feel it and was struggling to keep the 90ft cadence going while maintaining a sub-143 HR (or 75% WHR). It crept up inexorably and so I decided to just to hold the cadence and see how I finished .... it was ugly. Sweat was dripping off my face in torrents and my legs were crying for mercy, I just held on to the end before collapsing in a snotty heap on the floor. Final figure was 2,835ft in 30m, but I allowed my HR to get up to lactate threshold in the final segment and that won't do at all. I intend to work at this and get some leg strength back, I could do with rebuilding my "guns" a bit anyhow! It's all a far cry from last year when I clobbered the gym record with 3,000ft in 29.17m, that's an average cadence of 102ft/m. I won't be troubling that again methinks.

Good swim session this morning. My swim partner Emma has been selfishly absent for the past few weeks (away on courses and recovering from a couple of 50-mile ultras. Pffft), so it was nice to have some focus today. A good hour in the water and some very telling drills, I think I've identified some significant weaknesses in my stroke and we'll be working on that. A few more like that and I'll be well happy.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Surprise PB

Helen and I headed up to the Lakes early on Saturday morning, it was going to be a big day: Not only was it the Langdale Horseshoe fell race (one of our favourites) but it was also the bi-annual BGR dinner and I daresay wild horses wouldn't have stopped me going.

Anyhow, despite fairly poor weather in Yorkshire, things brightened up a great deal as we got closer to the west coast and it was clear that conditions were going to be pretty good. As we drove up Langdale, I could see just a little bit of cloud hanging over Crinkle Crags and although the summit of Bowfell was pretty much obscured, I knew I could navigate up and over it without too much of a problem. Well, we had a cracking race: It was the usual mad dash from the start as things start to bottleneck when you begin the long slog up to Stickle Tarn and everyone wants to get as far up the field as they can, but I honestly enjoyed every minute, it was one of those moments where I knew exactly where I was going and what I had to do, things unfolded much as I wanted. Yes, the traverse under Esk Pike was as horrible as it always is and I made a couple of minor navigational faux paus, but nothing worth writing home about.

My goal - based on a previous PB of around 3.37 - was to finish under 3.30, but as I reached the CP on the summit of Pike O'Blisco I realised that I was comfortably under three hours and that I was going to destroy that time. I belted across the summit plateau like a fool and soon picked up the runner's trod for the descent to Langdale. A mate from Horsforth Fell and Dale was on my heels all the way down and I believe we pushed each other to an entirely unexpected PB of 3.14.44, that's 23 minutes up on last year!

I'm over the moon with this. I don't expect PBs nowadays and run on the fells for the joy of it, not to chase rainbows .... however this result tells me I'm doing something right and all the work I've done this year on my descending technique must have paid off to some degree. Bobs wasn't too far behind me, she lopped 17 minutes off her PB for this race too so all in all we did pretty good. It's a curious thing though, you'd have expected me to do my best at this race off the back of all that BG training I did last year, but apparently not!

A quick cheer for the winners at the awards presentation (along with a few of the famous Langdale Horseshoe pasties) and we off to Shap for the BGR dinner, lots of mud to scrub off. Well, I did anyhow; I believe several people mistook a good layer of Langdale grime for Helen having a nice suntan from our recent holiday. 

I'm going to be writing a close-out BGR blog shortly, so details of the dinner will have to wait I'm afraid. Suffice it to say that it was a proper good 'un.