Thursday, 29 April 2010

24Hr Cotswold Way attempt

A quick post to say that this weekend, Mike's going for the all-in-one attempt with a view to making a new record. I'll be pacing him on the first night section before heading up to the Lakes the morning after.

Further details, sponsorship etc

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Three peaks race

Much more enjoyable run this year. A minute slower than last time but don't think this matters as I did put in a few stops along the way. Dry conditions and quite hot. Took care with my hydration and thankfully there were no cramps to contend with. I seemed to have a fair amount in the tank during the second half of the course. Fuller report to follow:

Friday, 23 April 2010

Three peaks anticipation

After a piled-high plate of beans on toast at the caff, I enjoyed a leisurely potter around Ingleton in the bright spring afternoon sunshine. Knowing that but for that wonderful thing called flexi-time I would have been working made the experience so much the better; coasting along, enjoying the river and irregular symmetry of the walls.

Am currently sat in a layby at Ribblehead looking at the viaduct and how Ingleborough and Whernside seem to be quite a long way apart. Also thinking that PyG is further away still.

The curlews are calling and the skylarks are burbling.

Memories of last year’s race in no particular order:

…running along the top of Whernside and thinking, ‘Great I didn’t get any cramp,’ and then both legs locking up.

…mixing up my hydration drinks powder by eye, so that when I arrived at the Hill Inn I had a ‘thirst quenching’ bottle of syrup for refreshment.

…the long run-in of Ingleborough and the guy in front retching every few steps.

…getting cramp in my knees on the climb up Ingleborough.

…at the finish, being unable to get the dibber off my wrist and a woman snipping it off with scissors.

...seeing Rob Jebb come bombing down PyG when I wasn’t even half way up.

...being given a great bit of advice by another runner on top of PyG – “When you get to the viaduct, you’re only half way…”

...the look of pride on my dad’s face

Conditions are dry but if I even match last year’s time of 4:15 I’ll be happy.

Come on legs – do your stuff!!

Monday, 19 April 2010

Recent runs

Last Sunday

Took the map and mostly tried to avoid any footpaths I'd previously been on. A tundle of a run with lots of stops to enjoy the different views on a glorious spring early morning. Wood anenomies were just beginning to raise their fragile heads.

The surreal view of a Narnia-like roof above the hedges. A bandstand in a field. It could only be polo.

Lambs. I closed my eyes and listened to their calls in the warmth of the sunlight. Just great

Tuesday eve

Met up with Mike for a trot out from Lecky Hill. Off the familiar footpaths again, seeing where the map took us. Ran with my old Petzl Zoom headtorch which was about as much use as a candle in a jam jar. Mike's Cotswold Way attempt taking shape. A brisk run, about 7min miling...

Thurs eve
Up to Lecky hill for 'Hills'. Again, keep off the main paths. Follow the trods. In the zone.

Saturday aft/eve
Ran out from my house down yet another new footpath and zigzagged through a housing estate. Headed up towards the Crippetts and found a small fishing lake along the way, which was a bonus.

Edward Wilson (buddy of Scott of the Antarctic) used to visit the Crippetts in his day and there are some nice watercolours of his in the local gallery. An exclusive spot to this day, the only views I could glean from the re-routed footpath were of Victorian pitched roofs.

And then to a real gem. Shurdington Hill a little visited, gorse and turf-capped point on the scarp. The views are the expansive.

I contoured around the side of the scarp following a bridleway that rapidly got diverted back onto the main drag higher up. It pisses me off just how many landowners seem to 'allow' rights of way to lapse.

Excercising my right to roam, following the map carefully and ready for an altercation, I climbed fences that took me into dilapidated territory. An old '50s van loaded with crap gradually collapsing into the brambles. A static caravan, windows broken. The contents of a home stacked in a sideless van tilted to one side. Nature and time in the ascendancy.

Over another fence where there should be a stile. A derelict farmhouse, water pissing out into the garden from the upstairs overflow into the back garden. There's a light on. Mr Todd's place - Tommy Brock inside crashed out with his boots on.

Wound my way around to Brockworth eventually.

Made my way back up the road to home with the phone tuned in to a le Carre play on the radio. About 3.5 hours. Couldn't be bothered to stay out for longer...

Some concern about my endurance levels for the PPPs...

Monday, 12 April 2010

Poetry please...

Found this in an aromatic hardback with a faded spine...

'Climbing Suilven' by Norman MacCaig

I nod and nod to my own shadow and thrust
A mountain down and down.
Between my feet a loch shines in the brown,
Its silver paper crinkled and edged with rust.
My lungs say, No;
But down and down this treadmill hill must go.

Parishes dwindle. But my parish is
This stone, that tuft, this stone
And the cramped quarters of my flesh and bone.
I claw that tall horizon down to this;
And suddenly
My shadow jumps huge miles away from me.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Recent runs

Tuesday night
On top of Cleeve Hill, the blown hail forms countless white lines through the headtorch beams. The wind of this sudden storm is strong enough to empty puddles. Running into the wind I am in low gear; on my toes and making small steady steps. My forehead aches with the cold and it feels as if mother nature has put the end of my John Thomas in a vice and is mercilessly applying the pressure. A different noise by my ear, a straining flag, and I realise that two pairs of mudclaws have just made their way across a sodden green - oops.

The evening had begun with fine views across to the Black Mountains, dramatic areas of fiery light in the windswept landscape. The wind moaned in through the masts and, later, the sagging wires between the pylons.

I took photographs, but it now looks as if the crap argos camera has finally packed up, unable to cope with the wet. I've put it in the airing cupboard - see if it gets better...

Eight and a half miles with hills.

Thursday night - hour and half of hill reps

I pick up a stone as a counter and begin to run up to the top of lecky hill. The air is sodden. Through the trees I can see the linear outline of the Malverns. There is birdsong. I see yellowhammers.

Up and down. Up and down. Each time carrying a stone to stop me from losing count. The light fades and the town below begins to light up with pinpricks of neon glow that to my tired mind seem to connect with the flowering gorse.

Showers come and go and when the line of stones at the top number twelve, I go home for my tea.

Saturday night - Chipping Campden to Cleeve 24.5 miles.

I remember wet clay - lots of it. The ground was at run off. We were surrounded by sodden air.

This was Mike and I rehearsing for his all-in-one Cotswold Way attempt. It is coming up the first weekend in May. Special dispensation has been granted by the missis to enable me to help out by pacing the first section - we'll be going on holiday a day late!!

Six glowing green points in the night become a ewe and her lambs. At the Broadway tower, I reflect with surprise at how normal it feels to be doing this. Other side of Broadway we lose the path but quickly realise our mistake. Move on. Steady away.

An old oak recently blown over, its rootplate totally cooked and decayed.

Through the impossibly twee village of Stanton, the smell of woodsmoke and the cosy sight of warm rooms through lit windows.

Hot cross bun at Stanway and my legs are feeling less springy. Walk up through the sloppy clart and into the cloud as the temperature drops away.

I get an insight into the dynamic of long-distance family drives in Mike's family when he begins the game of:

"Name me five new romantic bands.." There's bugger all visibility, a couple of metres at best.

"Duran, Spandau, Blue Rondo a la Turk, erm.... Ok: 5 motown artists..."

We squelch down the fields and into Winchcombe. Water is running off across the track in many places. The pubs have been shut an hour. I eat a banana by the war memorial.

Out through the other side and up the filthiest quagmire of an apology for a field that I have ever been in. People will move to the country and buy too many horses...

I go in over my knees and treat the night to all the profanities I can muster up. Mike falls over and joins in. We're laughing like idiots.

At the road at the bottom of Belas Knap Mike changes his headtorch batteries (i don't have any spares). The new batteries are flat by the time we get half way up the next hill so we run on with one beam.

"Hey Bungalow Bill, what did you kill Bungalow Bill...?" My thought processes are in a loop.

Run past the deserted barn and surprise some stoners. Pick up the Gallops. Down through the wood, slip-sliding our way. Mike falls on his arse.

And then back to Mike's, into the van to pick up my car in Chipping Campden. Home at 2.30 and crashed out in my sleeping bag on the sofa so's not to wake up the family.

A good adventure, and necessary miles in the legs for the 3 peaks. Home improvements the following day were fuelled by ibuprofen and a couple of stong coffees!