Saturday, 31 December 2011


For the past year I have been revealing a daily quotation from a calendar which a good friend gave me for Christmas. Each day I have been reminded of not only her, but how life is sometimes too complicated, or too busy, to 'this' or too 'that'. Here are a select few of those quotations that I've kept for posterity, because they mean something to me:

"Be master of mind rather than mastered by mind."
Zen saying

"Even dust can become a mountain." 
Japanese proverb

"It is imperative to base your life on yourself, to take responsibility for you own happiness." 
Josei Toda

"Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it." 

"Turn your face to the sun and shadows will only fall behind you." 
Asian proverb

"Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk. Just live your dream."
Dalai Lama

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow." 
Mahatma Gandhi

"The smallest good deed is better than the grandest good intention." 
Japanese proverb

"Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home."
Matsuo Basho


My year has been full of change. I left the safety and comfort of a good job to set up a business with Tim. Not only that, but we left the familiar surroundings of London, my place of residence for 11 years and Tim's for 5+. I say place of residence as London was never home for either of us. I know we had good times there, I know life wasn't always grim, but it never had that 'I'm home' feeling when you returned from a trip away.

So with bags packed we moved north to Glossop. Our new life began at the start of April. Now, about 9 months later what can I say? Life is good. Our business is growing (sports & remedial massage) and we're still excited by it. I'd go as far as saying we're passionate about it. We have a good social life, both now members of Glossopdale Harriers, Tim also in Glossop Kinder Velo. Best of all, we have Kinder and Bleaklow as our back garden. What more could you need?

I feel so much more content with life now. I feel I have purpose and a real desire to keep moving forwards.


Sometimes the view is clear... 

...and sometimes it's not.

Either way, the area fails to let us down and keeps enticing and seducing us back out there to explore it's popular spots and hidden corners.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Peak 'O' Trial

My first race since moving to Glossop was chosen and the day arrived. In reality I only decided to run it just before Christmas and got to the Grouse thankful that the heavy rain of early morning had stopped. My plan was to just get all 5 checkpoints on the short course and finish. No aspirations to get in the top whatever, just enjoy myself. Registration dealt with and number pinned on leggings.

My race number
 My start time was 10:04, leaving in the second wave of starters. With just 2 minutes to study the map I was pleased to see I knew more or less where my first chosen checkpoint (CP) (#5 - you could get them in any order) was. "Off you go" shouted Gordon....and off I went. Up towards Monks Road, right and along until a track left....I leapfrogged up this track with Mrs Stagger and Helen who were doing the long course together. I knew where the stile was at Knarrs farm and was the first over....around the field and over the stile then after a short search I found my first ever checkpoint. What to do now? Luckily Mrs Stagger and a few others were upon me immediately and pointed out that there were boxes at the bottom of the map - thank you!  Clip. and off.

CP#3 was my next target in a clockwise direction that I'd chosen. Not that I'd made much of a decision at the start about the route I was taking! I knew the first couple of fields then after that I was on unknown territory - good nav practice for me. I came upon another runner who said the scale of the map was too small for him - for me it just fine. Not having run any other orienteering courses I've never used any other scale maps than 1:25k. Up past Rocks Farm onto Cown Edge. The other runner found the flag only a few seconds before I would have seen it and very helpfully shouted to me where it was. Clip. and off.

Now a long run round Coombes Edge....and a windy one too. I was being buffeted and nudged by the wind all the way down to CP#2. A lovely grassy run down - I'll be going there again. Then a bit of cautious heather bashing above the quarry - I didn't want to charge over the top of it. The same runner from #3 clipped just 30secs before me so saved a drawn out search in the quarry. Clip. and off.

But now where to go. I'd not had a chance to study where I was going to go so just climbed out of the quarry and pondered whether to run up the road from just north of the quarry or back to the path, joining the road further up. The nearer section of road had 2 of those 'very steep' markers on it so I took the path back eastwards joining the road higher up. CP#1 was my next target after the slog up the road. Whichever direction I was running the wind was straight into my face making breathing for me quite difficult. I pushed on, forcing myself to do a short run then walk, just about keeping in touch with another runner who'd passed me back where I'd joined the road. Left and past the house that's not marked on the map! Over the fields towards Whiteley Nab. I knew this bit so didn't need to study the map at all. Past the trees then down the north side of the Nab, then a bit of faffing trying to find CP#1 at the well....I dropped lucky again. I was in the right place but hadn't quite gone down far enough when two chaps searching for the CP found shouted waved "it's here" to his mate, bent over and clipped.....I beelined for it and ran both feet straight into the boggy well. Great. I'd had dry feet up until that point. Oh well, mudclaws aren't meant to be clean and shiny. Clip. and off.

Now for the best line to CP#4. My last CP. I felt pleased to have got this far and feel fairly ok. My time was over an hour so 1.30hr may just be feasible....perhaps. Not that I was too bothered, but under 1.30 would be nice. I contoured round on the path, making sure I didn't drop down to Herod Farm...then used the long wall above Chunal to handrail me to the southerly point. I had a suspicion where the CP would be - secret local knowledge of Des' favourite spot on that hill - it proved right. What I didn't know was how to get there precisely from above it.  I floundered a bit in the marshes north of the wall and got a tad distracted by a male runner heading into the clough until the voice of Tim came back to me...'ignore all other runners - run your own race'. Good advice. I went to where I thought the wall dropped off down the hill and it turned out good - over the wall and jumped almost straight onto the CP. Clip. and off.

And down - not my favourite, and my least comfortable part of fell running. I realised that if I were better at running downhill I could break 1.30hr but it was not to be today. After pushing up the grassy field and over the gate I managed only a few short running sections. My legs were tired and heavy. The wind was bothering me more than I should have let it, but my lungs were complaining. I force another short run on the road, walk a bit in the layby and then run the last 20m to the Grouse (can't finish walking!). I'm finished. yey. and I got all 5 CPs. 1:32:26 was my recorded time and 10.82km (6.72miles). Best of all I was first lady on the short course, but only just - I was apparently only 10 seconds faster than the next lady. That'll do nicely. My first win as a Glossopdale Harrier.

CP order: 5-3-2-1-4 (6&7 were for the long course)
A few things to note. I had incredibly cold feet for at least the first 2km. It puzzled me until they'd warmed up, or when I stopped noticing it. I'd been inside until only 5 mins before I started and they couldn't have gotten so cold so quickly. What I now realise is my shoes were still wet from running up Win Hill on Monday so the cold wind just whipped into them. I also had cold hands but had deliberately set off without gloves to stop faffage with map, compass and at CPs. As usual, my hands warmed up within 10 mins. Back at the pub I noticed my hand was aching from gripping onto the map so tightly. I didn't want to lose it in the wind. Must practice that a bit to get used to it. I feel like I could have run bits faster, or run more than walking had the wind been less. That's the joy of fell running. Even though I set out to do my own thing I can see how it's hard not to get competitive when you see another runner heading the direction as you. I was certainly pulled on and pushed myself harder because of people just up ahead of me than if I'd been running alone. Must get my Glossopdale Harriers vest for my next race.

Thanks to Des et al for organising the race, and to the Grouse for their hospitality, delicious soup and cakes. The log fire was most welcomed when I got back. Good to see familiar and new faces too.

Here's my garmin track if you're here and Tim's blog if you've not already seen it.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Headtorch Horrors

Upon deciding I need to run with the club lots next year came the realisation that either a) some of those runs will need to be in the dark, or b) I'll have to run more often during the lighter summer nights. And herein is a dilemma for me: I've never run in the dark before, well never off road anyway. I've barely done any hill walking at night - the views after all are a large part of why I walk or run so darkness makes that a somewhat pointless exercise.

Now I'm a fully paid up member of the Glossopdale Harriers I was a little excited by the prospect of a winter solstice run. So my hopes were that there might be a large turn out - I donned running gear and set off with Tim to join the head torch gang. My plan B was to do a little solo night navigation/off road running by head torch to see how I got on with it. Secretly I had hoped for a few members to take me under their wing and do a short but equally enjoyable easy night run. It wasn't to be. The 10 club members consisted of most of the fast way was I going to keep up with them so plan B it was to be for me.

The guys (I was the only lass that had turned out) headed up to Kinder Downfall via Kinder low end and were then descending somewhere west of the fall to the reservoir. For me, I took a steady run up the track to the reservoir and then turned left to the white cabin. Nothing too far - no need to be ambitious on my first dark run. I had darkness and navigation to deal with, so my aim was to break myself in gently.

The gate at the bottom of the cobbles was held open by a Pennine runner...most kind, thank you sir....I think he thought I was one of their stragglers, though stating my name didn't bring any recognition....just thanks from him that I'd given him a reason to have a pause from running.

At the top of the cobbles I got the map out....heading to the cabin was a new route for me and although easy in daytime I wanted to ensure I was on the right path. My map was an a4 photocopy which also added to the challenge - all black and white didn't help easy recognition of features so more time was spent ensuring I had the right black line and the wall I was following was the wall on the map, if you get my meaning. Note to self....take the full colour map next time!

Before heading up the hill I turned my light out and looked east....not much moonlight, cloud base above Kinder Scout, features easily recognised and yep, that's the guys over there I can see, about 8 or 9 lights bobbing up and down. They're making great progress along the edge towards Red Brook.

Returning to my run I follow the path upwards and diagonally across the slope....I'm now totally alone....and in total darkness apart from the beam from my head torch. It was quite mesmerising and surreal. My only night running prior to this run has been on road, without a torch on well (or fairly well) lit roads. This was a totally new experience. When I say run, what I mean is walk. The path was a fairly boggy, leaf sodden path  mixed in with plenty of ankle twisting rocks. I have no idea how anyone can run on this stuff. OK so it's uphill, and I'd more than likely be walking anyway...but run, no way. My body and head resist.

At the same time as my physical struggle I have an inwardly building psychological battle happening. I'm a good distance from the nearest dwelling. I have no real or logical concerns that a malicious person is about to jump out on me and harm me. Yet at the same time I have a nervousness growing that isn't settling. Now I'm really laying my heart out there for you all. I'm sure I can't be the only person who has some reservations about being out there, alone, in the darkness. It is all encompassing. It is totally irrational and I know that. Yet this inner voice plays cruel tricks on me. I fight it, it fights back, I refuse to give in.

I push myself to go on. Push myself to climb higher and further away from the 'saftey' of the car park at Bowden Bridge. I just have to get to the cabin. That's where I said I was going and that's where I shall go.

I work out the confusion of paths and look in the direction of the cabin, and sure enough, there it is about 200ft from where I'm standing. It's here that the voice inside my head which is saying irrational things takes hold and I chicken out completely from walking the final bit up to the cabin....I turn down hill, check the map so the confusion of paths is clear for the return leg and retreat downwards. A strange relief comes over me when I reach the familiar path and cobbles. I pause and ponder whether to head uphill instead of back to the car, knowing the lads will be at least 30-45mins behind me, and knowing what will turn out to be about 4km won't be long enough. Nope, I can't face another heebie-jeebie moment so it's down for me.

Back at the car I'm annoyed and disappointed I haven't done a better run, though realistically I can't figure out how I could have run any more in the dark...head torch beam bobbing, unstable ground underfoot and my lack of experience off road don't add up to a good combination. I need to build up to night running gradually. I know I'll have ages to wait if I just stop now so I run down the road towards Hayfield, back to the car, and then up the other lane for a bit and then settle in to wait for the others to get off the hill.

I've about 30 minutes to wait in the end....plenty of time to ponder my efforts and work out a strategy for how to throw the demons out of my head. I reduce it down to a couple of things...start short, start on familiar ground, and start with a bit of company. I've already lined up the latter so the first two will be easily dealt with. That said, if anyone has any tips on how to run in the dark I'd be most grateful. Essentially I guess it just boils down to experience and more time on the hill.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Strength training

It's been a while since I wrote about my training down at the S&P gym...I got a bit caught up in the fun of it all, and then got ill - starting with a cold that developed into a chest infection and wiping me out for a good 3 weeks totally, and then took another 2 weeks of lighter sessions. I've started a new training programme for the coming month and I'm most excited about it. I felt ready to train today, and excited about doing body weight chin ups - 4 sets of 2. I actually surprised myself and did all 4 sets. Brilliant. It really is very satisfying to see the progress I've made since I started back in July. Back then I was doing chins with the assistance of 2 massively strong giant rubber bands....and struggling to do 4 sets of 8. I can now do (or did last Thursday) 4 sets of 8 with the smallest band.  When I do my body weight sets I always warm up using the strongest band for 3 or 4 reps...doing that today just felt easy. I guess you can work out I'm quite chuffed with my progress!!

Session #1 - Mondays

Session #2 - Thursdays

I was told by Coach Keefe today that my 'finishers' (the metabolic training which comes after these sessions) will be stepped up a gear in the new be honest, I think I've been getting off a bit lightly with them. Maybe I've hidden that fact a bit, but there's no hiding anymore.

I also need to write down my goals (aspirations) for Coach Keefe - that way my training will be more focused and assist me to get to where I want to be....out in the hills running!!

Glossopdale Christmas Social

Yesterday was my second ever club run with the Glossopdale Harriers, and it was to be a fun one. Saturday morning brought a covering of snow, maybe an inch at best by home. But yesterday was much better.

Tim as camera man
It was the club social - a morning run and and afternoon of merriment, awards ceremony and socialising. I thought I'd make the effort to get out with the club given that I'm joining in a few weeks. I was disappointed Mr Budd couldn't join us due to his phantom toe injury but I'd announced I was going so run I did. It was strange though, him holding the camera and me running off up the track. Tables turned for once. Or so I thought.

Path up to Spring Cabin above Mossy Lea

It was also strange running on the white stuff....a new experience for me. Our route took us from Old Glossop up to James Thorn, a route I know well. The stony track was not totally snow covered, in parts a river was flowing down it so careful foot placement on the way up was called for - I didn't want icy cold feet at the start of a 2 hour snow run. That'd be daft. The track soon disappeared into fog and the run took on an eerie feeling as leaders in front and those behind me were fuzzed out of sight.

After a couple of regroups we all made it to the pond below James Thorn. We then split into A and B groups - the snow was making running a challenge to say the least and it's good for moral if the slower runners don't feel like they're holding back those that were bestowed with mountain hare genes at birth. It was here that a strange creature in mountaineering boots, crampons, walking sticks and a big rucksack came charging up the hill.....yey, Tim was chasing us. What a surprise, though I'd secretly thought he might do just that. I know he was utterly gutted not to be out running, so having done a few short walks in hard boots he'd discovered it didn't especially bother his toe injury.

Footsteps in the snow
So, with Tim joining the B group we turned northwards and into a icy blast of wind. I quickly discovered the jacket I'd borrowed from Tim wasn't windproof, as I'd I slipped on my Montane smock and was happily getting cosy again.

A few of the B group  heading north towards Dowstone Clough

It's here the terrain turned interesting. We'd been following a trod already flattened by the rest of the group, but now the 6 of us were route finding over peat groughs and into snow drifts - lots of fun, if a little hard going. There's no path anyway, so it really is just a matter of trying to find the best line. A brief stop was made very merry by the warming hip flask containing blackberry vodka, thanks to Tim for carrying that!  
Gladly the fog lifted and we were rewarded for our efforts with amazing views, the sun warming us a little, and sightings of a few real mountain hares who were disturbed from their snow holes by us.

Me in the blue jacket....attempting to stay upright!
Over the top of Dowstone Clough we now turned west and were soon at Dog Rock and without any delay we were swallowed up by the rest of the group who'd been up to Higher Shelf trig. I should have mentioned before, some of the club had turned up in fancy dress - most amusing. The image of a nun (John H) chasing a man in a kilt (John S) down Yellowslacks will stay with me for quite a while.

The A group running towards Yellowslacks
A brief chat ensued after the two groups had fully become one again then it was off...and off at a pace too. I've never run in snow before, not really walked in it much to be honest, so this was all a very new experience for me. So far I'd managed to keep up with the group...well the slower ones anyway. Now it was different. As soon as the slope took on a decent degree of downwards slope the whole lot of em were way I was keeping up so I slowed and walked the last bit.

Looking towards Glossop from Yellowslacks
How they managed to all stay upright running down Lightside is beyond me, but it did look fun! When I got to the track they'd all gone! I expect they thought I was walking off with Tim but he could have easily run down even in boots and crampons, it was I that was the slower one, I that didn't know how to run down a steep slope in snow, I that was scared of falling over and hurting myself. I'll work on that one - it's surely a mental battle I need to overcome. Still, some guidance or support on that final bit would have been good.

So, off home to shower and change then over to a club members house for an afternoon of good food, various homemade beverages and lots of socialising. There was also the awards ceremony for the club, which this year included a few new trophies, including best newcomer ...and that award goes to Tim...well done. Now he's got a trophy for the mantelpiece and is a happy lad.

As I wrote in my Aspirations blog I plan to join the Glossopdale Harriers....we I have done just that. Paid my dues yesterday and will be obtaining the club vest very soon. More thoughts and ponderings on running with a club will no doubt follow.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Aspirations for 2012

I'm not really one for making new years resolutions, but my thought process on how my training is progressing, how my running is going and my overall fitness has been on my mind for a few months. With the gains I've seen from my training at Strength & Performance I feel much more confident about how much I can push myself (or how much I should be pushing myself), and to gain clarity for the coming year I've decided to make some written notes about my aspirations for the year.

In 2012 I plan to run more. To achieve this very vague aim I shall be joining the Glossopdale Harriers (the local running club) and intend to join the club training runs at least twice a month. I'm not sure this is a realistic aim...just because life doesn't tend to include fixed things at regular times, so, we'll see how it goes. I was a little apprehensive of going running with the club after I'd been out with them once back in May this year. Coming from a very sporadic (at best) running background around the streets of London it was a fairly challenging 10.4km run that took me nearly 2 hours. Now I've done more running, and particularly more running off road, I think it's time I started to get on with it more seriously.

My backyard. Just waiting to be explored.
I also intend to run a few (some, no specific number or target) fell races. I received the FRA fixtures calendar yesterday and have highlighted all the local races - noting there are very few short ones!! I fully intend to have some fun, share conversations with other plodders at the back of the pack and generally immerse myself in the fell running community properly (rather than from behind the camera lens). Actually, I should set myself a number, just so I don't slack off too much.

In addition to just running more, I'd like to build up my distance. This is partly because my reasons for running in the hills years ago was so I could travel further in the same time. Walking in the hills just felt too slow, so it was good to stick in some jog-shuffle sections and travel a few kilometres more than on just a walk. Since moving to Glossop I've possibly lost a little of that exploration factor, but I intend to get it back. So far I seem to manage about an hour or 10km run. I need to get away from the figures and stats and get back to just plain exploration and enjoyment. I think some of that is accepting that fell runners do walk, even when they say they've been for a x-distance run! By the end of 2012 I would like to be able to 'run' 25km in a respectable time.

With regards to strength I'd just like to be fit, strong and healthy. Being strong is difficult to quantify. I'm not thinking I want to be a bulging muscular 100kg lifter. I'd just like to be lean and strong. To have the type of physique that is noticed for being healthy, and to feel proud of my body. Building strength is one thing that I do to help with running and being in the hills when walking. I'd like to be able to do 10 body weight chin ups. I can do one right now, and with 10 seconds rest I can do another. I think 10 is achievable and something not many women can do (perhaps not many men?). I'd be happy with that.

#1 - 24 GDH runs
#2 - run 3 fell races
#3 - cover 25km in one go
#4 - 10 body weight chin ups

It's amusing, I wanted five aims but can so far only come up with 4, and there they are. I'll review them monthly, and report back on progress as and when.

Friday, 16 December 2011


With just a spinkle of snow on the lower hills I took myself out for an hour's walk this afternoon. Here's a few photographs for you to enjoy:

I was rather hoping for the foggy mist to lift so I could get a few shots over towards Bleaklow....but it wasn't to be.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011


I appear to be on the mend. Taking a second course of antibiotics seems to have shifted the lurgy from my tonsils and I'm back out running. Yippee. I ran last Tuesday and for numerous reasons didn't get out as planned on Friday (one reason was seeing the doctor for meds).  I've managed a couple of almost full on sessions at the gym and strength is almost back to where I was about 5 weeks ago. The best bit is I feel like doing the training, and that's great.

Today's run was on road, I sort of chickened out going on the fell because I was only going for about 5 or 6 km and unless I drive I'd only get a couple of kilometres off road anyway. Not an excuse, just reality. But, the draw of the green hills was too much and at Old Glossop I hit the track up to Mossy Lea. Nothing taxingly off-road, I nice rocky track with amazingly stunning views up to Bleaklow.  So the shoes weren't ideal for the river bed that the track has turned into, and so I was dropping in the odd walking break...the scenery was worth it. I forced myself to run some of the inclines, walking only as a last resort. Grit and determination got me up the final pull above Mossy Lea Farm and it was downhill all the way home (with the exception of a little blip on road as I extended the direct route home via a longer loop that includes a steep first 50m).

The headwind on the final few kilometres was pressing into my lungs and they have paid for it. I've coughed like a good'en since getting home. Good news is that feels more like the asthma I deal with than infections. Next trip out should be Friday if snow doesn't block the Snake Pass and prevent me meeting a friend for a 10km loop of Ladybower Reservoir. I'll run either way though.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Wonderously Tame

What a wonderful day today is. I went out for my first run in way too long. There's been a few days of snow in Glossop, beautiful white hills just above town. This morning brought us slushy wet white stuff on the roads and pavements down here. I had a run planned for today and as it's been about 5 weeks since I last went out I just wanted an easy road run, so before venturing out I waited on the weather. Not being chicken, just realistic for the sake of my health. By lunchtime the pavements were clear of slush and the sky looked promising for a dry half hour. Perfect.

Shoes on. Garmin on. Gloves on. Buff on. Leggings on. Extra layer on top on. Montane smock on. Inhaler in a pocket. Phone in another. Key attached to bra strap. And I'm ready.

I really wasn't under any illusion that the run would be far in either distance or time - that was the point - keep it short, wake my legs and lungs up gently. I opted for a fairly flat run too. I am recovering from a chest infection after all and my tonsils are still not 100% (how annoying is that eh!?). But cabin fever and feeling strong after an almost full on training session at S&P yesterday won the day.

And it was just a little run, 20 minutes and 3.34km with about 38m elevation gain. Tame to say the least. But great to get out and move. I kept about 6min/km pace and ran the whole way. Now that's brilliant news. My pace hasn't dropped. I sense it won't take long until I'm back up to full fitness.

The lungs played up for a while once back at home, the pesky cough returning temporarily (I hope). I'll review how I feel in the morning - I feel positive all will be well - and then I'll plan my training for the rest of the month - returning to regular runs, full training at S&P and getting fitter fitter fitter.