Thursday, 31 January 2013


I've been quite diligent in posting a photograph each day over on aminus3. Here's why I started doing this. I knew that by signing up to that photography community site I would be pushed to review old photos, take new ones and actually go out with the purpose of taking photos. I've had at least 3 purposeful wanders around the hills were I live, taking photos and putting a little thought into taking them, rather than just snapping away. I don't claim to have created any amazing pictures, but I like what I've posted. Snow has dominated the most recent photos, given that Glossop was white over for a good week or so it was hard not to get inspired.  If you've not yet seen my portfolio over on aminus3 head over and click through the photos, let me know what you think too - always good to get feedback.

James Thorn, Lower Shelf Stones and Higher Shelf Stones taken on 22 January 2013

Tuesday, 29 January 2013


Occasionally I get hooked on a song or poem, a photograph or a thought. My current obsession is with this track:

I just keep wanting to play it, over and over again. Unashamedly I sing along to it. Loudly. (when I'm alone).

It's nice to have something to make you smile, move a little and express yourself. Enjoy. I am.

Thursday, 24 January 2013


I've been out with the camera taking advantage of the glorious weather and snow covered hills. Here's a few snaps for you from a walk in the sunshine on Tuesday:

and some from a wander with Tim and Matt at the weekend, well it was only right that we did a bit of sledging...

Thursday, 17 January 2013


I missed the chance to take a few photos of the sunrise yesterday - it was one of those mornings with glorious fluffy clouds splashed with intense red from the rising sun. Better luck today at the ready and the sky gave me some beautiful images. For several moments I witnessed clouds being formed, almost like a fire burning over towards Kinder.The wind whipping up clouds and the sun painting them a brilliant red.

The far right cloud on the horizon was the place they were erupting from, just like a volcano spewing lava...wind pushed the clouds to the left, over an invisible mound, perhaps reflecting the shape of the land underneath.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Fluffy snow

The snow was falling in light flurries as I ran from home, heading out towards Bleaklow. White, light, fluffy flakes drifting down and settling momentarily, before being warmed and melted in the bright winter sun. How glorious to live just a few kilometres from the edge of Bleaklow. I wasn't planning a long run, just a leg stretch after the two races at the weekend (Park run on Saturday and Lambs Longer Leg fell race on Sunday) and a hard gym session yesterday. I knew it had been cold enough to put some ice down so I packed my Christmas present, a pair of katoola microspikes and the camera. I planned on seeing how the spikes coped with whatever conditions I met. And also how I got on with them.

It turned out that today's snow was too fluffy for my katoola microspikes, but I gave them a good go for their inaugural run out onto Bleaklow. The main issue was fluffy snow balling up underneath. Unlike standard crampons on boots where you can just give the boot a good kick and the snow falls off, with the microspikes the snow seemed to get moulded into a snowball with the metal in the middle of the ball. Kicking to release the snow had no effect. This meant I had to stop and literally scrap the snow off with the other spikes, and hence had a disjointed run. I took them off to see how my kanadias would cope and found running on the same angle/terrain had me slipping around a bit more so they were definitely helping to keep me stable, but not very efficient or smooth running.

I didn't mind the distraction of sorting out the spikes, I was too busy enjoying being out in the snow, the sun shining and not much of a breeze blowing. I had the hill to myself, and I was distracted with loads of photo opportunities and just soaking up the views. Here's a few I snapped:

Looking back down from the end of Shelf Benches

Me with James Thorn in the sunlight behind

James Thorn in all it's glory

Shelf Benches to the left, James Thorn in the sunshine

Looking south (more or less) from the end of Shelf Benches

Just a bit of balling up of snow here; at other times it made 3inch diameter sized balls

Yellowslacks across the valley

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Lambs Longer Leg Fell Race

I had been put off by the profile of this race last year. This year I felt more at ease with just turning up and seeing what I can do. Plus I've put myself down on the FRA forum champs table, so it was a big motivator to get some points on the table this month. The other option for points is at Kinder Trial, but if it snows I probably won't run it (for reasons not to do with the actual snow, it's more to do with the fact that I like having to navigate rather than follow footprints).

Somewhat complicating logistical factors for today's race is that it coincides with the Trigger, a 20 mile race which Tim was running. The short explanation is that I got a lift to the race (thanks Nev/Neil), and then a lift with someone different (thanks Stagger) to Edale to see the Trigger runners finishing, and then a lift back home (cheers Carl).

Anyway, the race. It hurt. A lot. I can see why I didn't really fancy running it. From about 100m in on from the start the ascent and cold air made my lungs hurt. I had to walk fairly soon and was close to last by the half way point. I plodded on. I dug deep and made it to the top without stopping. Then down down down into Dimpus Clough. I was swapping places with a lady all way down, only because she kept falling over. After crossing the stream she left me on the traverse. A different lady was behind me now, and I was determined not to let her catch me on the way back that hurt. As the angle leveled a little I saw someone up ahead start running again. Not me. It was a false summit and I could do little more than pant heavily and just keep putting left in front of right and vice versa. I beat her to the top...and managed to gain some ground on the undulating section to the metal gate just before the descent. She caught me at the stile and I was sure she was going to take me on the last section of grass into the finishing field but with some encouragement from Matt and an amazing enthusiasm from forumite Stagger (cheers guys) I kept her behind me. 

I finished 4th from last in 46:50. That gives me 0 points for the FRA forum champs. I'm more than a little disappointed with that. But I ran. I finished, and I had some amazing views of the crisp icy landscape. I just wish my lungs would work better. With all the training I've put in it seems I've gained nothing when it comes to racing.

A big well done to my fellow Glossopdale Harriers, Caity was 2nd lady, Rachel 1st v40, Beryl 1st v60 and Nev 1st v65. 

Saturday, 12 January 2013

5km PB

I ran my inaugural park run today at Marple, with the delightful company of several other Glossopdale Harriers - thanks for the course recce/warm up and company before and afterwards. Many thanks also to all the volunteers and marshals on the course - a cold and windy day to be stood around. I did thank a few, but in my attempts at regulating my breathing it wasn't always possible. My shoe choice was good, opting for x-talons I had no sliding around on the muddy patches we ran through.

Your barcode
the barcode, a great way of timing and logging results...more races should have this system

I'm pleased to report I came 9th lady, 48th out of 147 runners and got myself a PB with a time of 25:40. Here's a link to the results. I shall be back at some point to run this race again. A sub-25min is my aim.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013


Here's my strength and conditioning programme for this month...filled in with the three sessions I've done so far:

Fear & Handstands

I've never been very agile. At school I never mastered the technique of kart-wheels or handstands. I was always happy to be sitting on the swings carelessly rocking back and forth. My school time version of handstands had me walking my feet up the wall so if I faced ahead I would be looking at the wall. In recent years the closest I've come to doing handstands was a failed attempt at a headstand...that ended up with me off work for a few days with a very sore neck, ooops.

My strength training has been building well, if rather erratically in the last few months of 2012, but what I did manage to do was one handstand, properly, and without assistance. Now this might not sound much to some people, but as a couple of the guys at the gym will testify to, I was far from confident about even trying them. The feeling of being upside-down actually makes me feel sick. Like really ill. On my first few attempts I couldn't even open my eyes. But I wanted to persist. I wanted to be able to do one. Just one. If only so I could dance with glee around the gym knowing I'd accomplished something I have long feared.

My training on Monday included 4 x handstands with 30 second holds. I managed them, but only with Tim helping me get my legs up and actually holding me in place. I even had my eyes open. Forcing them open. Forcing myself to breathe. Today's training didn't include handstands, but at the end of the planned session I was keen to do some sort of finisher. However, my 10km PB on Monday and a tough fell run yesterday (9.4km with 430m ascent) had left my legs less than keen to be anywhere near the prowler or sleds. My arms also didn't show enthusiasm for some monkey bar swinging or rope climbing. The other option was a sandbag hold, but I'd done that on my last two training sessions (holding 40kg for 10 mins).

What the heck, I may as well have a practise at my handstands, not holding, just trying to kick my legs up. So, with a little encouragement and close by supervision (but no holding) Sean got me going. And what do you know, today was the day. I appear to have cracked the nausea and the inability to get my legs beyond 45 degrees. Today I kicked and kicked and eventually got my legs to the wall. I even held it for a few brief seconds before lowering back to the floor. Could it be a fluke? I gave it another go and after a few attempts got the handstand again. And again. That's when the gleeful dancing happened. Yes, I'm quite chuffed with myself. Just to be sure it wasn't a three time fluke I did a final handstand and called it a day there. My shoulders will know they've been worked hard today. But damn it was worth it.  And here's the proof:

Today I won. And I had confidence.
I've updated my 2013 Aspirations blog. Now that I have been successful at the handstand I have added another goal - the handstand press up. Best get those shoulders strong.

Monday, 7 January 2013

10km PB

My running club, Glossopdale Harriers, has a 10km handicap race once a month. So far I've not done the route, that is until this morning. I decided I'd just go and run it, and try to go fast without breaking myself.

I live about 1km from the start of the route, so ended up running 12km in 1:08. The first 10km of that was in a new PB of 56:40, and just the handicap 10km section in about 56:35.

While this course isn't massively hilly, it does include about 140m of ascent with two main climbs. The first comes very close to the start but only gains about 20m. The second climb is the hard one, at around the 5.5km mark (on the race route) it drags on for 2.5km and climbs 120m. Good news is that from here it's all downhill to the end.

I'm really pleased with my PB, now to get training and shift another 6 to 7 minutes off the time.

Here's a link to the garmin track: 10km GDH handicap route link by cyclopsrunner at Garmin Connect - Details