Some Stuff About Me ......

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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 ...

Monday, 17 November 2014

Tour of Pendle

I don't like the idea of DNF'ing a race, I've never done it (unless you count my abortive BGR attempt #1) and so seriously considered pulling out of Saturday's Tour of Pendle fell race, preferring the DNS option. I suspect that most people have already heard me whining about it, but I really have been struggling with injury lately and suppose that in typical fashion, I haven't been giving my body chance to repair. Anyhow, I had a last-chance physio session on Thursday where my lovely Aussie fizzikal therapist decided to shove needles into my bum, exciting eh? I'm normally fine with acupunture and am a great believer in it, however on this occasion the horrible little lump of scar tissue that's causing me all the problems decided to hold on to the needles and only released with some persuasion, so it was pretty painful. Once home, Helen pummelled and massaged the offending body part to the point where I was begging for forgiveness, I could only hope the whole thing was going to loosen up and let me run on Saturday ..... as it turns out, it did

It still wasn't great, but for the first time in a couple of weeks it felt like I could thrust off my left leg. It still hurt (quite a lot) deep in my glute and I was struggling to fully lift my knee, but I reckoned that a double-dose of ibuprofen and bit of teeth-gritting might see round. I have to be honest and concede that the Tour of Pendle is not really the place to exercise unwarranted bravado; it's the last AL race of the season and is properly tough, it slowly grinds you down like few other races and there are three monster climbs in the last six miles that makes most runners shed a tear or two. Of course, it's also late in the year, meaning the weather is frequently crap. The eagle-eyed among you will be recalling the heavy rain that we had on Friday night, yes? Oh yes

Saturday dawned and the mist was low over Pendle. We got there early and having registered (just seven quid for a race of this calibre - and that included a technical T shirt!!) Bobs brewed up in the van while I went through a pretty emotional stretching and warm-up routine. There was a record attendance from our club - I think there were six of us - and of course all the usual suspects were in attendance, so lots of pre-race gossip and banter going on.
 
Off we went and I tried desperately to keep things in check, it's WAY too easy to overcook the ToP at the start. As it turned out, I was absolutely fine going up hill, but it started to get a bit painful on the admittedly few bits of level ground and the downhills were just agony, I suppose it must have been the jarring impact that did it. I knew Helen was going for a PB and based on recent form she had every right, therefore I wasn't surprised when she scooted past me just before CP1. Physical discomfort notwithstanding, I was feeling OK and very strong on the climbs, so all in all I wasn't having at all a bad race and it occurred to me sometime after CP6 that my PB for this race, admittedly "soft" at 3:40-ish, could be beaten today. All was going well and I even had a good effort up Big End from CP9 (this is a mean climb, trust me), but things started going a bit wrong as I topped out on Pendle summit/trig point and CP10. I've ran this route loads of times and know the importance of getting a good line down to CP11 and the kissing gate, but in the thick clag and poor visibility I really buggered it up and strayed quite a distance to the West. A smart fellrunner would have had his compass primed and ready to go with a bearing of 185, but I'm not a smart fellrunner and chose to rely on my internal gyro compass and memory, in retrospect a colossal mistake and fail. Big Fat Hairy Fail actually.   I reckon I drifted about 200 - 300 metres in the wrong direction and it was only when I got below the cloud line that I reallised what a balls-up I'd made of it and immediately cut across the fell to get back on the proper line, it was very rough ground and time was ticking away. Back on the correct trod, I bombed down to CP11 and then legged it for the finish, but the sub 3:30 I'd been hoping for was a forlorn hope and I crossed the line in 3:33:05.

I shouldn't be too disappointed, this was a 7-minute PB on one of the hardest fell races around, however I know I could have done it so much better if I hadn't been restrained by my stupid sore glute/hamstring/whateveritfuckingis. My bad navigation coming off CP10 probably cost me at least 3 - 4 minutes, so the sub 3:30 was there for the taking and it's my own fault that I didn't take the opportunity. And I damn well KNEW it was wrong, you can just tell that some things aren't right and this was the case here. On a good day I reckon I could get closer to 3:20, so it's back to the drawing board and hope that I can do better in 2015. 

Helen had a terrific race, staying in front of me all the way and rather annoyingly getting the line correct down to CP11, finishing in 3:24:37 and 5th LV40 overall, that's pretty good at this level. My clubmates all did well, but one did take a minor fall early on it the race, meaning scraped hands and a sore knee - it didn't seem to slow her up much though, so 10/10 for bravery and cracking on to finish the race in a good time. I know a lot who would have pulled out at the first sight of blood!

We had a nice cuppa back in the van afterwards, before crossing the road to the Pendle Inn and a post-race pint. Great to catch up with mates, one of the very best things about fell running is the social aspect and it was with some regret that we tore ourselves away: The Tour of Pendle, it's brutal, but a fantastic experience - I wouldn't miss it for the world.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Self-Flagellation

Last weekend Helen and I went for a little run around the head of Nidderdale and I'm sorry to say that it hurt, at 15 miles my left glute was sending deep stabbing pains down my leg, so I've had to succumb to the inevitable - my various niggles are not getting any better, so I'm on an injury-induced period of no running. Truth be told, I haven't been in good shape since doing the UTMB, I definitely didn't get enough decent rest afterwards so I suppose I've only got myself to blame. It's hard to stop though isn't it?
A friend told me to focus on swimming for the time being and that's what I've done, I'm doing 3 x 1hr sessions a week and things are coming together a bit, I hope to be back up to last year's standard before too long and I'm already looking at some potential 2015 triathlons.  But, it's not enough to keep mind and body going so I have again resorted to the gym and renewed my acquaintance with the hill climb machine. If you've ever dipped into the dubious annals of my blog, you'll know I've used this machine extensively over the last few years and it's undoubtedly done wonders for my leg strength, but I hate it with a burning passion. In fact, "burning" is a great word to use in this context because that's exactly what it does to your legs: I do 3 x 10m intervals on it with about 20secs break between each in order to wipe the sweat off and let the lactate drain from my legs, it is truly agonising if done at the correct tempo. I usually set a minimum threshold of 90ft/minute, meaning I come away with 2700ft in the bag at the very least. I've been trying to push this a bit though, and last night managed 2906ft, nearly killing myself in the process. Jesus, it was hard .... those first five minutes are probably the worst and it's hard to push through the pain as your legs get accustomed to it. Looking back over my training log, 2906ft is my best effort this year so I suppose I should be pleased, however it doesn't come close to the 3000ft in 28.17 I managed pre-BGR in 2012 (still the gym record). I can't see me getting close to that any time soon if I'm honest, it would take some severe work. Anyhow, I finished off the session with 10 minutes on the elliptical trainer to gently let my legs recover and then into the weight room for some strength work. It might sound odd, but I have got one quad that's bigger than the other so I'm trying to even things up a bit - single leg presses are the order of the day.

Tough swim sesh this morning with Em, the pool was busy and the resultant chop on the water's surface made things tough. We cracked the set as planned, but both of us were tired. Em led the last interval of the session and it was our slowest, just within our self-induced limit. I suppose it's been a hard week, notwithstanding the fact that I'm not running at the moment. I wonder if I'll be fit for the Tour of Pendle next Saturday? I'm guessing not.

It's my birthday this weekend, so I intend to take things easy. I was hoping for a bit of nice weather so I could get out on the bike, but it's very wet and bleak here in Yorkshire right now. It might be a weekend to sit in front of the telly with a decent bottlle of red.