Friday, 27 April 2012

Kinder Trespass

With foul weather shrouding Kinder it seemed more than appropriate for the joint fell running club Kinder Trespass run to be happening last night. Gritty determination of those folk 80 years ago made it possible for us to wander on them there hills today, so a little bit of driving rain, paths resembling rivers and a bit of wind would not put us off! 

I reckon there was nigh on 50 runners assembled outside the Royal Oak in Hayfield for the 7pm start. I chatted with a chap from Goyt, there were plenty of Pennine and Glossopdale runners, a few Dark Peakers and a few others. Running up the Snake Path towards the White Cabin brought back memories of just a few days before, the Kinder Downfall fell race on Sunday - also run in very similar conditions.

Running up the Snake Path from Hayfield, towards White Cabin. Credit to Tim for all photos.

I split off with the lower level group from the bridge at the bottom of William Clough; the other group were heading up, the exact route I don't know. I later learnt they'd gone to the Downfall and round to Kinderlow End, that's some run in those conditions, and with darkness approaching too.  I remember glancing back towards the Downfall, from somewhere under Kinderlow - the Downfall was totally engulfed in cloud which would have been giving the guys up there a super-soaking and zero visibility.

Looking South back towards Hayfield
The group I ran with stayed low, skirting round the reservoir on mostly very runnable paths, just a couple of short sharp ascents. Underfoot it was either totally immersed in water, ankle deep muddy trods, some grassy sections or a combination of the three plus lots of wetness. Only when we were descending back to Hayfield, where we hit the grass (and rejoined the Downfall route), did the ground become less sloshy and just soggy wet and springy.

Gathering before groups split at the bridge at the bottom of William Clough
It was great to run with runners from other clubs, catch up and talk about doing more joint social runs - count me in. The conversation flowed and the pub buzzed as runners came back at various points. The common theme amongst us all was that we were soaked, but all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Thank you to everyone who came out, we should do it again soon (but maybe with slightly better weather!).

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Kinder Downfall Fell Race

Phew. My third fell race in eight days - the first being the Mini Mountain Marathon around the Hope Valley last Sunday, then the local mid-week race on Wednesday night, Herod Farm.

Sunday, the day of Kinder Downfall fell race, dawned early for me. I was awake from 5.30am, feeling very refreshed with only 6 hours sleep - it's only about an hour or so less than a normal night for me so no bother. First breakfast consumed with a coffee then feeling a bit snoozy I lay on the sofa and drifted off for 30 minutes. Nice. Second breakfast and another coffee and I feel ready.

Before I know it we're on our way to Hayfield, in a torrential downpour. Not the most promising of weather to be heading up onto Kinder - the high wilderness of bogdom. The usual registration and socialising comes and goes, then it's a soggy jog to the start area. People are huddled in doorways, under trees and umbrellas - scrambling to keep as dry and warm as possible. There's chat about whether to start with waterproof tops on or off, on or off....I can't decide so go for a short run up the road to gauge my temperature. It's top off for me - I'll put up with some dampness as I'll be hot on the ascent up William Clough before too long.

The race organiser gives us a delightful speech and then his son gave us our starting orders. I shuffled into the starting bunch from where I'd been sheltering....the thing was, this left me at the front of the pack!! Oh well, not to worry. I was pulled back slightly by my mini mountain marathon partner who I was going to attempt to keep up with, then we're off. I was passed by many runners on the road up to the Snake Path...not surprising, I was not one of the fast ones. My pace is good up the tarmac, but I was careful not to go too fast or I'd blow up before White Cabin.

The first ascent up Snake Path
Linds is just ahead so my aim is to stick with her as long as possible. Andrea was initially behind me but soon went ahead. Up to White Cabin and then the narrow trod across the heather, traversing round - no place to overtake on that section.

The field is now a long drawn out string of runners. It's quite mesmerising following the feet of the runner in front. At this point I feel like I could run faster, and perhaps this was my only mistake - I should have pushed myself a bit harder on the final approach to the trod, overtaken a few runners to gain a few places. I can see Andrea up ahead, seven runners separate us.Not bad going I tell myself, she's still within reach.

Soon enough the descent to Kinder Reservoir is before me and the marshalls confuse me. I don't catch what they are saying to the runners, but they're pointing as though they want us to take the higher path, rather than where we've been told and know is the race route straight down. I'm slowed a little in heading across, then hear them more clearly - "take any route down"! Great, now I'm into the heather stuff which I hate running down. I traverse down and right to rejoin the path, while its muddy and slippy it is preferable to me for this short sharp descent. Marshal Carl shouts encouraging words as I turn left up the clough. I recced up here recently so know the distance - it's quite a way up to the top so I knew I needed to push, but not blow up.

I stay on the heels of a female runner for quite a while and we seem to be pulling away from whoever is behind us. It would have been very easy to let her slip away but I dig in and stick with her. Apologies if it felt like I was breathing down your neck...I was, but essentially it was the only way I could keep pushing up, the only way to force myself to ignore my wanting-to-stop-and-rest legs.

After a while my fellow Glossopdale runner Neil came into view. I'd battled with him on Wednesday evening up Herod Farm and knew I should be able to get past him on the ascent, just to be overtaken on the flat or downhill section where he is stronger. My legs worked wonders and pushed up to him, and beyond. We exchanged pleasantries, what I can't remember, but I kept glancing back to check he wasn't on my heels.

Nearing the top I'd somehow left Neil behind before we hit the steps, Nev was in the mix somewhere there but I can't remember if he was in front or behind me at this point.

Am I actually smiling here in the clag as I near the top of William Clough? Photo thanks to SteveC.
Next came a big push to get my legs moving again and round the finger post, down the path and boom....up up up to Kinder edge. Man that climb is brutal. I returned to my mental practice of counting steps. On most slopes it's a 1 to 20 count then repeat, only allowing myself to pause when I hit 20. Today was a race so I was going to minimise the pauses and push hard, breath hard, get the oxygen in and ignore the pain. The steps really are quite steep, I lower my count to a 1 to 10....1 to 10....1 to 10....its a good rhythm. Then somewhere about two thirds up I'm having an internal argument about the depth of the steps - why aren't they evenly spaced, who makes steps this big and uneven etc. Wait, what's happening, I'm almost at a halt and some guy is overtaking me....quick back to the counting. It works, my rhythm comes back and I'm off again.

Finally the cairn comes into view and although still not quite at the top it does level out a bit. I'm hitting the mental game again to get the legs working. It sort of works, but takes me until after the Downfall to feel like I'm running anywhere near well. I don't pick up any of the trods to get a decent line across the edge, just one small one to miss out the Sandy Heys dogleg. I'm also out here alone. Near the top of the climb we entered the clag....and it remained until the descent to Edale Cross. I actually found it a very lonely race up there. For the majority of the run around the edge it was just me, passing a few walkers, and clag. Thankfully dry clag, and not really cold.

The Downfall comes and goes - thanks Julien for the encouragement. I was surprised there were no marshalls there. At Red Brook there's 10+ mountain rescue guys on standby. Quite odd really, surely Kinder Downfall is a ripe place for people to navigate wrongly if they miss the actual crossing?! Red Brook seemed to take ages to get to, so much so that when I got there I had forgotten it was going to be there at all.

The path seemed to get more rocky from there on, my energy seemed to dip a little so I munched half a bar and kept on with sipping my fluid. The fluorescent yellow jacket of the runner ahead of me was slowly edging closer - I'd been getting the odd glimpse of this runner all the way round the edge, but never quite catching up. We pass the trig point almost together and now my plan is to stay close to him on the descent to Edale Cross and beyond. My plan works, he pulls me along ensuring my fear of descents doesn't take hold and slow me.

Passing Edale Cross I head on to the grass bank for the smoother path, legs striding and I'm still in touch with runner ahead. It's here that the clag clears quite spectacularly....there's what I can only describe as rolling warm fog coming up the track. Yes, it was warm, and yes the sun was out. How glorious. I catch view of more runners ahead and suddenly my very lonely run returns to being a race. I had had to keep reminding myself on the edge path that I was in a race, because without those reminders it was just a run out on Kinder in the clag - no signs of the 300 or so runners anywhere!

Over the stile and onto the narrow path traversing under Kinderlow End. I'm keeping the guy in front close, using his descending to pull me on. Over the ladder stile I lose a bit of time, but then its grassy fields to the farmhouse - just a few big patches of mud and a few stiles to negotiate (one of which I almost stacked it but held my upright posture just about!). I think it was in the first field that I felt I could overtake the runner ahead. I didn't think about trying to run fast, just trying to lengthen my stride and run easy, run light and see what happened. It worked, I got past him and somehow held on to the lead. It was a very determined runner I became from here on, not wanting that guy to get his place back. I had a few glances back over the fields and he wasn't that far behind, but then somewhere on the tarmac I couldn't see him anymore.

looks like hard work now. Photo thanks to ChrisJ.
Dropping down the road towards Bowden Bridge carpark I catch sight of a couple of runners, maybe three. No shirts I recognised, but I was digging deep to keep going, using the slight decline to let gravity help me move forwards. Through the campsite I started to think I could catch the next guy....there was a lady up ahead of him who just seemed out of reach but the guy....he was going to be my target. Trouble was, as soon as I'd hit the level ground my legs felt so heavy. I should have eaten something more on the way down as I really could have done with some energy...and my emergency gel was safely tucked far from reach in my rucksack. Note to self: stash emergency gel in front pouch next time. 

Me, the guy and lady ahead are closing in on each other, then at the dog leg into the playground I seem to be on top of the guy and take advantage of either him slowing or me going just that little bit faster to get past him. Now I really am breathing hard, pushing legs to keep moving, the finish line is in view but I have to run past it and double back to cross the stream. I beeline over the playground, ignoring the path as it deviates from the straight line. I am definitely not going to catch the lady but am holding the lead on the guy (I think)....heart pounding I enter the finish funnel and then the finish line.

Wow. I'm tired just recalling how that felt. What happens next is unbelievable....Neil is still out there and running to the finish line! I had been convinced since Sandy Heys he'd taken a better line and over taken me in the clag. Totally gobsmacked we hug and congratulate each other (I'm not sure he'd crossed the finish line at that point!!). I really did think he would have been in before me. Looking round I see Andrea and a load of other Glossopdalers, plus other runners I knew and there's lots of "well dones" and banter about the race.

I can't see Tim, I keep asking everyone I see if they've seen him....he must be back, he has to be back. What could have gone wrong? Oh well, people convince me he must have gone back to the scout hut so I dip into the river to cool my legs, clean off the mud, and then realise I may never get out as the river wall is quite high!! Or so it seemed after 16km of fell race!!

I wander back to the scout hut and IDP asks if I've seen Tim - I thought that was my line!! It's only now I learn he's got a migraine and has gone to lay down. I find him huddled on Carls sofa under a sleeping bag looking not so peachy. Poor lad. But what an amazing run he had finishing in 18th place.  I leave him to doze while I nip back to the hut for prize giving and socialising. Great to meet up with Dave Taylor, aka Fell Running Guide and chat to him briefly, and a few other about various injuries and ailments. I didn't see Mr Green of the Porter Valley Plodders, he too had a great run. Good job I caught up with him at the start.

The results are out and can be viewed here - where you'll see I managed to come in under 2 hours, great stuff. For all you stats geeks here's my garmin track too.

I'm quite proud of myself for pushing hard on the descent through the fields. I ran faster than I've ever run, building the relationship of trust between brain and fell shoes a little stronger. I know that the ascents will only get easier with actual practice, but descending is much more of a mind game, and one I'm working on.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Herod Farm Fell Race

Well that was exciting for my lungs and legs!! Oh, and a tad damp and muddy underfoot. But then it was a fell race and just about what I'd expected it to be like. This was technically my first fell race since moving to Glossop a year ago. I've done four orienteering fell races since the end of December (Peak O Trial, Kinder Trial, and two Dark & White Mini Mountain Marathons in Macclesfield and the Hope Valley), but I've not done an out and out fell race. I've stood at the start and finish lines of many races, cheering on Tim and other Glossopdale Harriers, so I knew exactly what to expect - all except how my legs and lungs would cope.

I've rather enjoyed the orienteering side of those races. While you are technically competing against other people you can't judge how well you're doing until the final results are in. It's just you, one foot in front of the other, and the clock.

As the day of this local midweek race drew closer I found myself getting nervous. I'm not really sure why, I've run lots, and I've run with other people - just never in a straight up fell race. Perhaps it was because of the elevation profile of this one that got my heart racing?


Perhaps it was because quite a few folk from our own running club choose not to run this race. I kept hearing comments about how tough this race was and things like 'oooh, that one's a killer, I'm not doing it'. I'll let them off for not running - as this is a Glossopdale Harriers organised race many of our own we're out braving the wind and rain on marshaling and organising duties. Thanks to everyone for their encouragement and if you had put on your running shoes then I would have certainly been a few places lower down the results!!

So, the race - advertised on the FRA as 4.8km race with 335m ascent it's basically an uphill, across a bit, downhill, across a bit, then up up and steeper up, then the final descent. Lining up in the start huddle I was next to fellow club runner Becky - we've been out on club runs together and I know she's about my pace, if not a bit faster. My aim therefore was to stick to her heals as long as possible. She did know my intentions of course!!

Before I knew it we were off and plodding up the lane. The fast guys had gone before the first corner, not to be seen again by me until after the finish line. It wasn't long, and still on the tarmac section, before I was having to tell my inner voice that was calling for me to walk to quieten down (though not so politely). As runners came past me it amazed that anyone can run so fast uphill. Yet they do, and clearly I need more practice.

I don't recall which marshals were at the various junctions, but each one got a thank you. Having friendly faces dotted around the hillside was a real bonus. I was really impressed by how well the route was flagged as well - it was good to keep looking forward seeing the next flag and just aiming for it. At the top of the first climb I forced myself to start running again and switch my legs into downhill mode. There was a clear distinction in how my muscles felt between the ups and downs, and the transition felt quite brutal, almost not enough time to compute what was happening. Me and Becky had had fellow Glossopdale runner Lindsay also keeping us company on the first ascent, but somewhere in my daze of climbing the first hill I never saw her again!

I'm not the best at descending. The phrase quoted by many fell runners "brain off, brakes off" is firmly implanted in my head, it's just a difficult one to actually put into practice (for me). Somewhere along the way I've developed an irrational fear of falling - not the best thing for a fell runner eh! So, my descending skills are tentative at the best. I'm still with Becky on the muddy path through the heather, pushing myself to just get on with it. Having a runner so close behind me was also motivation to just keep going...

Running on the mud trampled path through the heather on the first descent. Photo thanks to ShaunP.
As we hit the grass Becky started to open a slight gap, and the stiles at the bottom of the hill give me time to catch up a little.

Bottom of the first descent. Photo thanks to IanO.

We're not that far from each other as we run along soggy fields to the bottom of climb number two. We're also in touch with another Glossopdale runner, and while he's much faster descending than me I'm able to stay with him on the slippy steep climb back up to the Nab. I even manage to dig deep and pull away from him slightly towards the top - with lots of encouragement from him that I should not let Becky get away. The thing was, I just knew if I pushed to stay with her I wouldn't get to the top!! Finally the top does come into view, and some lovely words of encouragement from Beryl and Carl.

Top of the second ascent...and yes, the sky really did look that horrible and yes, it was raining!! Photo thanks to ShaunP

Now came the final transition from the lung busting ascent which required hands on the deck in places, back to running on grass and descent. It was certainly a mind game as the ground levelled out. Legs wanting to stop, brain've a lead on Neil, can you keep it? Within not many seconds he's charging past me. I'm annoyed I can't just let go and fly down the hillside like other runners. I vow to get out there and practice more!

I'm still close to Neil as we pass over a couple of walls but on the final heather section before hitting tarmac he just edges away. Fear of twisting an ankle overtakes the brakes off approach once more. The final marshal  cheers me on and then its just me and tarmac. I hear footsteps behind; a quick glance and there's about 10m separation to the next runner behind. I'm now really determined he is not going to catch me as I push on down the lane. Which, I might add, seemed to go on for ages. It is about 500m to the end once you get on the tarmac, and while I knew this, I hadn't really appreciated how long that would feel.

My legs keep moving and moving, you could even say I was sprinting. I wanted to look back but had Tim's words running through my head....'you don't look back, just keep going'. Finally the finish line comes into view and before I know it Neil and Becky are there congratulating me. Thanks for pushing me to run harder guys, appreciate the help. The guy that was behind me runs in 17 seconds later - well done mate, but you weren't having my place.

It's over. My first fell race. Jogging back to the registration tent confirms that my legs are quite tired. I slow to a walk and after a chat with a few other runners, and changing into dry clothes it's time for the prize giving. Well done to the Pennine ladies on the team prize. Shame it wasn't Glossopdale - we must do better next year. Does that mean I'll be running it again? Probably. I have a time to beat now, and the 40 minute barrier to break. I'd set off thinking it would be good to come in under 50 minutes, so being just over 40 was brilliant. A massive thanks to Tim for all his encouragement. He had a brilliant race too, beating his time from last year - read all about his race on his blog, testedtodestruction.

Full results are now up on the Glossopdale Harriers website. My final thanks go to Joe Barber Plumbers Merchants for their generous sponsoring of this race.

And my final comment is to all you out there who would like to have a go at fell running and possibly racing - just give it a go, in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson "Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow."

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Dark & White Mini Mountain Marathon #2

About a month ago I did the first in a series of three mini mountain marathons. On Sunday it was the second race...and I was on home turf, the Hope Valley, actually setting off from the village I lived in (Hope) and where I still have family. We set off from Glossop nice and early, collecting a friend and two other Glossopdale club members on the way. Quite pleasingly the weather was glorious, and held for the whole race - blue skies, fluffy white clouds yet not too warm or cold.

I was running the race with a friend. She's a good runner and I knew I could rely on her to motivate me up the hills - the one place I an learning that I need to be pushed on. I was helping her with nav practice in exchange.

Checkpoints were scattered around Win Hill, Lose Hill, the Mam Tor ridge across to Hollins Cross, down into Edale and the edge of Kinder from Edale village eastwards to Hope Cross. After dibbing to start we got our maps and were off....well, officially started anyway. There was a decent conversation between me and my partner about route choices, and it seemed to fall into either the Win Hill side or Lose Hill half. We opted for Win old stomping ground and favourite hill. The route left us a few options for additional checkpoints at the end, in case we had spare time or energy.

discussions at the start on route choice

I made a slight error at the start with my garmin, only starting it after our route choice discussion so I had to mentally keep note we had about 3 minutes less time than shown. No bother, that won't be important till much later!  Running across the fields behind the village felt good, I knew exactly where the first checkpoint (CP2) at Killhill Bridge was without needing to consult the map. I knew exactly how the gates opened, what stiles were coming and that it was a flat start. Good. CP2 dibbed and we're off along the track, past the cemetery, a campsite and onto tarmac to pick up CP14. More tarmac through Aston, then fields, that's the last tarmac we'd see for most of the run, great.

Climbing steadily my HR monitor gave its first bleep that I'd reached my target zone for a training experiment I'm going to be doing. I'm wanting to increase my capacity to tolerate lactate, and see if I can raise my lactate threshold....but that's all a different story and sufficed to say, by the time we'd dibbed CP15 it was starting to annoy me. My HR levelled out as we traversed towards Parkin Clough. I know this path and as we began the steep descent I turned off the HR zone bleeper before we doubled back up the muddy, steep ascent.

Looking back over to Win Hill which we circumnavigated but never summited on this race (though I've been there many times)

CP21 acquired easily for us in the clough...I'm sure the guy in front of us won't have been the only one to run straight past this CP. The steep narrow rocky, muddy path requires total concentration at walking pace (which we were close to) let alone running down so missing this out and back CP will have been costly to some. The path continues to drop right down through the trees, to the road at the bottom, so anyone missing the CP would have had about 200m to climb instead of about 100m.

Contouring round the top of the forest we picked up CP16 then CP12, and onto CP23 - nice easy running down the grass and mud track. We started to wonder at what point Tim would jump out with his camera. He wasn't racing, but was out for a long easy run, vaguely around some of the race route. Later on we'd be wishing he was there to greet us with a picnic, but we forged on without coming across him once.

A fellow Glossopdale Harrier on the path somewhere between CP12 - CP23 - CP18

Next up was an easy run along the path and slightly down to CP18, then a short double back before dropping down into Jaggers Clough along the stony track. We saw a fellow club runner as we headed up to CP19 then another on the way back down. Next we headed down Backside Wood, and onto a path I don't think I've ever been on before. Careful footing required here - lots of slippy tree routes in and amongst the mud and grass on the narrow path. As we emerged from the woods on to the grassy path by the stream we commented that this would be a perfect picnic spot. I settled for a geobar and a swig of hydration drink and we continued. Good spotting of CP11 by my partner saved us descending beyond it on the lovely grassy path - a reminder to me to keep an eye on the map a little closer as I get more tired.

Crossing the main road from Hope to Edale we ducked under the railway bridge and onto another path I'm fairly sure I've not trodden previously. Shocking to think that, given that I lived so close by. Note to self: make sure I explore all paths around Glossop - always try new routes and don't settle for the ones you know well.

So now we're mentally on the way back towards the finish. The village of Hope comes into view as we contour around Lose Hill and we keep a few options open for possible CPs to get on top of the ones we know we can definitely get. CP10 is easily dibbed, and onto CP5. It's getting around Townhead farm that gives us our only slight nav error of the day. First we go over the stile then second guess our route choice so jump back over and explore a field with a tantalisingly good looking track heading over the brow in the right direction. Compass out time. Careful check of the map. Nope, we definitely need to be going over the stile. A few minutes wasted, but not a disastrous error. I should have just trusted my first thoughts - there is only one path off Lose Hill here!!

Now for a decent bit of ascent to Losehill End - CP5 dibbed and continue to a fork in the path. Choices choices. Do we climb up for CP6 which some walkers were adamant was literally just over the rise - but our maps indicated was a fair distance and a good amount of ascent higher. Or, do we go down and get CP1 then decide if we can get CP7 then CP3. Down it was. It felt like with our time remaining, plus the ascent up to CP7 I just wouldn't have had the energy to get up there and down in time. Maybe it was more of a mental game. Once you feel like you're returning does that stop you pushing?

CP6 - which is exactly where I knew it would have been, and a lot further up the hill than the walkers claimed!

Anyway, our choice was made and we returned to very familiar paths for me. I knew exactly where CP1 would be and it was. Now to contour round towards Castleton and Spring House Farm. More paths I know. Our final choice of the day. CP7+CP3 or just CP3 and back. A quick calculation of distance gave us about an additional 2km, that meant another 12-15 minutes of running and would have got us just back with a big push and no let up. Our aim of the day was to enjoy ourselves, and we'd done that. Both of us had that heavy leg feeling, and not surprising really. We'd already covered about 17km, it would be around 18km to the end from this point. This is around my longest distance to date and my partner was also feeling the creep of fatigue take its grip. That made the decision. We'd drop down from Spring House Farm, dib CP3 and have a leisurely jog back to the finish.


Clearly we were both more tired than we thought - as dropping down the track we had a walk when really there should have been no need. We could relax, enjoy the sunshine and puzzle over why the little lambs were wearing orange jackets?! A frosty night ahead, or some other reason?

600-700m later we're turning into the car park at Hope playing fields and dib the final time to end our race. We had about 24 minutes remaining. It would have been tight to get CP6 towards the top of Lose Hill or CP7 towards Castleton. A good choice to return as we did. I wanted to sit and rest but my legs told me to jog around the field a little, and to keep drinking. I must avoid the cramp. I knew I'd still got some fluid left so I gulped it down safe in the knowledge a toilet was close!!  The paths were busy today with little opportunity to find a quiet spot!

We changed into dry clothes and got a brew as we waited for our club mates to return in. Tim joined us; his run was over before ours and he had enjoyed a brew and cake at the Woodbine Cafe down the road. Many thanks to Tim who took all the photos in this blog.

The sun was still beating down, and as someone said, it was just enough to combat the chill of the wind. But only just enough. I was thankful to have changed into dry clothes otherwise I know I would have chilled very rapidly.

Hope Pavilion, chatting with fellow competitors at the finish

The results were being posted outside the pavilion every few minutes and at one brief point I was second in my category. With the final results out I've placed 8th out of 9, and 100th out of 133 overall. The order we visited CPs was: 2 - 14 - 15 - 21 - 16 - 12 - 23 - 18 - 19-11 - 10 - 5 - 1 - 3. Here's the split times:

      8       56 Lynne Taylor                                                                                      185          2:36:58                                    185 
               102(10)  114(10)  115(15)  121(15)  116(20)  112(15)  123(10)  118(20)  119(20)  111(10)  110(10)  105(10)  101(10)  103(10)        F          
                  7:11    15:08    25:48    38:46    50:35  1:03:55  1:10:20  1:19:50  1:31:44  1:44:20  1:54:15  2:09:07  2:20:51  2:30:15  2:36:58          
                  7:11     7:57    10:40    12:58    11:49    13:20     6:25     9:30    11:54    12:36     9:55    14:52    11:44     9:24     6:43 

Here's my Garmin track if you're interested and the full Dark & White results.

The next mini mountain marathon in the series is being held in the White Peak, starting somewhere around Dovedale. Looks like it's a longer drive to that one, but there'll be company again from club mates and I'll also have a partner for that one too which is brilliant news.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Kinder Downfall fell race recce

Sunday was a glorious day, sunshine and a cool breeze - perfect for running in the hills.  I'd arranged to run the Kinder Downfall race route with a friend, just to get a feel for how I'll get on during the race which is coming up on 22 April. To my delight Beryl and Carl from Glossopdale Harriers joined us so their past experience of this race was going to be useful in learning a few quicker lines around the edge of Kinder.

The race is about 16km with around 600m of ascent. The route is mostly uphill from the start to about the 5km mark, then it undulates round the edge to Kinder Low and for the last 5km or so it descends back down to Hayfield.

My reason for reccying the route was because I was curious to know how long it would take me, I've done bits of the route before, just not in one go. It's not a route I needed to worry about navigation on either, knowing the area and all the paths removes that obstacle.

I'd mentally broken the ascent into three sections - up the Snake Path to the White Cabin (followed by the short sharp descent to the reservoir), then up William Clough, a short slight drop to the bottom of the final brutal climb up to the top of Kinder corner. The run wasn't about speed, I was just out to get a feel for the climbs and see how a bimble-run time would compare to previous results.

Heading up William Clough - the second of the three uphill sections

Beryl almost at the top of William Clough
Near the top of the final climb to Kinder corner.
Carl is looking back northwest as I've just spotted Tim + two other runners + dog. We'd dropped them off at Monks Road on the way over to Hayfield. We later heard they'd run towards Little Hayfield then over to Sandy Heys. A decent leg stretch for Tim considering he ran 38km only a couple of days before.

Me and my shadow....looking back towards Kinder corner with Mermaids Pool clearly visible

The edge path...undulations and rocks....important to pick your feet up or risk tripping

Leaving Edale Cross behind we head off down to Hayfield

This run was the second outing for new fell shoes - INOV8 x-talon 212's. I have to say, they are very comfortable, light and grippy. Just what you need in the hills, though in the dry conditions on this run did give me a bruised heel a few days later. I'll have to consider the shoe options carefully on race day.

It was a stunning day to be out running. I did more eating and drinking practice (to avoid the cramp scenario like I got at the end of Kinder Trial) and felt really strong. We rolled back into what will be the finish area down near Hayfield cricket ground after about 2hrs 15mins and 15km. There were plenty of stops to check out better lines, trods and just to enjoy the views. I'll be aiming to run into the finishing funnel in under 2 hours on race day. Wish me luck!!

Sunday, 1 April 2012

3 months

Yes, it's already 3 months into the year, isn't it wonderful how time flies when you're having fun. But how's my progress doing against my 2012 Aspirations?

#1 - 24 GDH runs: only managed 1 run with the club this month (making 5/6 for the first 3 months of the year). Work came in on the first Tuesday of the month (hard to turn it down when you're self employed), and two other Tuesdays I was out on the hill during the day doing long nav runs. The weather was so good the opportunity to get on the hill in glorious sunshine was just too good to ignore so I missed one club run but gained a whole lot.
#2 - run 3 fell races: 2 complete - Kinder Trial on 28 January and Dark&White Mini MM on 18 March.
#3 - cover 25km in one go: max distance 19.25km (Kinder Trial).

#4 - 10 body weight chin ups: maximum in one go is now 6, an increase of 1 since the end of February so progress is steady and good. Only 4 more to go before I hit target - I should easily do that in the next 3 months.

Just me, a map and a compass....and a whole lot of Bleaklow bog!
At the end of February I had a short review and noted a few things in my training that needed to be addressed, here's how they're going:
  • run 3 times a week - achieved during March. I've worked hard to ensure I get out there and run more and I'm thoroughly enjoying it. If anything has been dropped out of my training programme it has been turbo recovery sessions, swapped for pure rest, now that can't be a bad thing?!
  • weekend away - nope. we had planned to have a day in the Lakes this week but the mass hysteria of the petrol crisis occurred and we didn't want to get stranded.
  • more time on the hill doing navigation and learning the local area - achieved. I've had one night navigation session, an MR night exercise, and I've been deliberately choosing new areas for my runs to increase my familiarity and practice navigation. I also did the mini MM which was all about the nav! Plus I'm spending time looking at the map, google earth and revising previously visited areas.
  • increase running distance - achieved, overall I've been doing longer runs and feeling stronger on them. There's not been any massive hike in my distance but that would be a bad thing. In the past month I've done two runs at +17km and two at +12km. 
Running down from Dog Rock towards Yellowslacks at the end of a run across Bleaklow
April is shaping up to be a busy's the plan for my training. It's starting off well....I'm off for a run around the Kinder Downfall race route this morning.