Saturday, 30 March 2013

Salford 10km Race

My first ever road race. 10 kilometres of tarmac round Salford. A glorious sunshine, blue sky day at the end of March and a wonderful social occasion with 16 Glossopdale Harriers on the entry list. No wonder with it being the first counter in our road, cross-country and trail championship. I'm not really expecting to score highly on this, but to be honest I probably stand a better chance of gaining points in this championship than the fell one (heavy lean towards longer races, and races further from home - neither my personal preference).

With lifts organised (thanks to John for mine) for everyone we all congregated in the registration room. My first challenge was securing a timing chip - someone had mysteriously taken mine so I was no longer going to be "154" and number buddy with two club mates. Oh well, twenty minutes later and thanks to the wonderful ladies on registration I was now "118".

There was chatter about what kit to wear, long sleeved or just club vest? Gloves/no gloves? Nothing to change for me. I knew the temperature outside was chilly, warming a little in the sun. But I'd decided on my kit, only minor change was ditching the hat owing to the addition of warmth - no icy wind I'm used to on the hill.

Next was warm up. I'd already had a foam roller session at home while I waited for my lift. This was a gentle jog up and down the road, plus some instruction from Caity on gradually increasing speed and high knee lifts.

Soon enough there's a gathering of runners in the road...we'd spied a vague line across the road but I was surprised there wasn't any "Start" sign - no timing mats either? Apparently there was a quick speech by the race starter but to be honest in the middle of the huddle I heard nothing. The next thing I knew was runners were speeding ahead of I followed and quickly remembered to start my garmin.

Now, I've never run a 10km road race before. In fact no 10km race at all. Fell races are usually a random distance. So, I had no idea what time I would run. The club 10km handicap race has been held a couple of times this year but I've always been working. I've run the route which includes two hills, one that drags for 2.5km, and my time was about 57 minutes. I'm reliably informed at least 2 minutes can be taken off for the hills, so my aim was a sub 55 race. My target for the year is sub 50, but I didn't think I had any chance of getting that at Salford, and in fact would have been really happy with sub 55.

Scrawled on my hand was the kilometre paces for 55, 54 and 53 minutes. I'd decided to just run and see how I did, aiming to be under 55 so running less than 5:30 on average. Chatting to other Glossopdalers before the start I'd secured a few targets to help pull me along in the first few kilometres, just to keep me on track and stop me from running too slow. Yes I can keep an eye on my garmin, but knowing others are more experienced at pacing and have run many races before is useful.

So, chatting away to Rachel right before we start, I find I'm running alongside her for the first 500m. She's aiming for about 48. Too fast for me. But I seem to be doing ok with the pace - quick glance at my watch and I'm doing 4:30. Way too fast. I'll slow down soon. But then I wonder how long I can sustain this pace? Will I blow up before the halfway mark? So many questions. Difficult decisions to judge for a road racing virgin.

In the end I stay with Rachel for 2km or so then she's gradually pulling away from me - even with me making as much use of straightening out corners as I possibly can. Thanks to Neil for that tactic on the club handicap run. I probably keep her in sight for another 1km. Nev had also been in sight for a while but he's gone too. I'm all alone. Well not exactly but the runners around me are unknown. Times unknown. No use to me for pacing. I carefully ignore them. Not wanting to get dragged into running too fast or too slow. I need to now pace myself. There's still 7km to go. I'm astounded I've managed the first 2km at about 4:30 pace - thanks Rachel!

I get my head down and try and focus on breathing. It's now laboured and I don't dare think what my heart rate is doing. I know it's hard work. How long can I sustain it. I knew I needed to slow down or I'd have to stop so I even off at around 5min/km. The halfway point comes and goes. It's a steady drag up (not quite a totally flat course) to what will be the finish line and I knew Neil would be there cheering me on...he is, and a few others who shout words of encouragement. It works and all thoughts of giving up are shoved out. Rule #5. I'm halfway. That's my usual point in any run or race for knowing if I've got that far I can get to the end. But just how fast will I be?

At some point around the 5km point it dawns on me that I'm holding around 5min/km pace and I'm a minute up with doing the first 2km faster. Hmmm. How does that calculate for a sub-50? Just. I could just do it IF I can sustain the pace. I'm not sure. I settle again and keep working hard. Pushing not to slow down. The sun is directly into my eyes on the 6-8km stretch which sort of helps as all I can do is keep my focus on the next short stretch. I glance up to see the bends and keep taking the straightest line possible. Each little bit I etch off a corner is a bit saved. This road running lark is weird I conclude.

But thoughts quickly return to a possible sub50 race. At 6km gone I do a calculation and reckon IF I sustain around 5min/km I could just do it with maybe 30-60 seconds under. It's a big ask. My heart is beating crazy fast, my breathing is laboured and my left hamstring is sort of complaining a little. Like that, I'm about to cramp on you feeling. I stretch out my legs, tell myself to lean into the stride. There's a slight decline just after 8km coming up and I know I can stretch out a bit there, gain a few seconds maybe.

At about 7km I hear a "good running Lynne" or words similar...its fellow club mate the heck did he get behind me? He's soon past and pulling away from me. But I use him to pull me along again. He's quicker than me, I push the puzzling thoughts of why he was behind me out and just try to keep in touch with him....the invisible tether soon gets stretched and I'm alone again.

I knew I needed to be at or under 40 minutes at 8km. I was just about there. That meant I needed to run another 2 kilometres at 5min/km pace. Wow. This hurts. Keep going. Use the downhill bit. I'll need it. The long straight to the finish is slightly uphill again and I knew that was going to hurt.

I round the corner at the bottom of the route and head to the finish. A chap shouts "just one more to go"....he's clearly talking miles as I'm still showing I've about 1.5km to go.

1km to go and a sub50 looks possible. Wow. (I said that a lot). This hurts. (said that lots too). Flipping heck I'm going to get under 50 minutes for 10km. Keep it going.

I know I'll have a welcoming party of Glossopdalers at the finish line...I'd counted on being the slowest in the club. And there they were....shouting words of encouragement, pushing me to the line just beyond them. Where was the bloody line. I needed to stop....there it is. Those blue mats. Wow. I've finished. Click. Garmin off and yes, it's showing sub50. Yes!!!! I just hope the official results show the same. With the confusing start and no chip/timing mats we were going off gun time so there'd be a slight difference in time. I had 49:28 on the garmin and officially its 49:30. I'll let them have 2 seconds. This time.

Here's my split times:











The moments after finishing are a blur of timing chip removal, drinking icy cold water, seeing club mates, congratulations hugs, and a growing sensation of feeling sick. That didn't wear off totally for about 5 hours. Then came the weariness. I've never felt so overwhelmingly tired all over. And the weird thing is my legs actually felt fine (still do). No cramp despite the earlier warning signs. No pain. Just an overwhelming need to not do a great deal. I eventually went for a short walk in the afternoon sunshine and legs are fine.

(thanks for the photo Kirsty)
Many thanks to my fellow club mates for such a wonderful atmosphere, and the support from everyone else, especially Neil who turned up to support even though he wasn't running. A massive thanks goes to the coaches who've been training me over the past year or so. Nik Cook and his running programmes have undoubtedly got me to this amazing time. I would simply not be running so well without Nik making me accountable for my running. Getting out there consistently and pushing those heart rate zones has clearly worked beyond what I knew possible. Sean and Zoran at Strength & Performance gym for the strength and conditioning work. The individual programme that's written for me is definitely helping with the running. Something people would do well to realise this. It's not just cross-training, but training and resting intelligently that allows growth. Most importantly thank you to my partner Tim for all of the support, motivation and inspiration he gives me. I'm clearly biased (given that I'm a soft tissue therapist myself and Tim's partner) but Tim really does give a brilliant sports massage - that's just one part of my recovery, the others being rest and regular use of the foam roller. But nothing beats the hands on work from Tim to keep my muscles working at their best.

Here's the results for the Glossopdale Harriers gang - congratulations to Nev on his category win:

Pos   Num   Forename   Surname   Cat   Team   Perf%   GunTime   
8580MichaelMawbyMGlossopdale Harriers72.6000:37:09
119175SteveCrossmanM45Glossopdale Harriers75.2000:38:26
147254ThomasSkeltonMGlossopdale Harriers67.8600:39:45
192432CharlieEatonMGlossopdale Harriers65.0000:41:30
202156CaitlinRiceFGlossopdale Harriers71.1200:42:04
257155KirstyJohnsonFGlossopdale Harriers67.6600:44:13
264264VaughanMcKayM60Glossopdale Harriers73.5100:44:33
29046AndyBurnettM45Glossopdale Harriers63.5400:45:29
2936NevilleMcGrawM65Glossopdale Harriers75.5100:45:36
315114IanMcGarryM40Glossopdale Harriers60.2800:46:14
354444RachelHigginbottomF40Glossopdale Harriers65.4800:47:40
379480JohnStephensonM50Glossopdale Harriers61.5800:48:46
389118LynneTaylorF35Glossopdale Harriers60.5900:49:30
425366MalcBrownM45Glossopdale Harriers56.3000:51:20
438562SharnWhaitesF40Glossopdale Harriers60.0400:51:59
447521RachelWaltonF35Glossopdale Harriers57.1500:52:29

Full results are here and my garmin track is here: Salford 10km Race - have a close look at the average and max heart rates...I'm speechless. No wonder it hurt so much!!

The result also means I've achieved one of my 2013 Aspirations#1   Run 10km in under 50 minutes. Complete and coaster obtained.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

2013 Aspirations - Update

My goals for this year were defined. I'm coming up to three months into the year and thought it timely to have a check on where I've got to so far.

#1   Run 10km in under 50 minutes
On the club handicap 10km route I've run 57:50. There's 135m ascent, which includes a long uphill drag for about 2.5km so I'm told by club runners who do flat 10km races that you can take a couple of minutes off that. Well, we'll see tomorrow what my flat 10km time's time for the Salford 10km race in the morning.

#2   Run Glossop to Hope in under 3hrs 45mins - see my Home from Home blog for my 2012 run.
I've not done a lot of longer runs so far this year. I'll be looking to run this route about the same time of year (June, maybe later) so will build up to longer distances.

#3   Run Herod Farm fell race quicker than last year's race. I'd be happy with under 40mins.
Not long until this year's race on 17 April. To be honest, with all the snow and ice we've had my off-road running has taken a back seat. The focus has been on hill reps and building speed. How that translates when it comes to race day will have to wait. Best get my fell shoes out soon though, this race has a couple of lung busting hills.

#4   10 chin ups - this was on last years list, and I did reach 7 at one point...must try harder this year.
I'm back up to my high point of last year. Yesterday was a good day in the gym. Not only did I get a pb on bench pressing (6x40kg on my 5th set), I did 7 chin ups. Even better, that was also my 5th set, so I'd already done 4x4. I reckon I've a couple more in my if I go for it fresh. Soon. I sense this one will come soon!

#5   Box jump onto big box (will measure it next time I'm at the gym - its 31 inches high)
Box jumps are off the training programme this month and I've got hurdles instead. I was about 5 inches off target so it seems feasible.

#6   Complete my Walking Group Leaders Award training
Done. I did the training last month - the blog report is here.

#7  Successfully achieve my Walking Group Leaders Award (won't know if this is possible in 2013 until the training has been completed)

#8  Handstand press-up
I continue to build my confidence with handstands and at the end of each gym session I do some handstand holds. Even after a heavy training session yesterday which had tired my shoulders I managed a 30sec, 20sec, 20sec hold set. Other strength work is building up shoulder strength. My particularly least favourite is the push press with a 20kg bar.

warming up for push press

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Snow Update

Tomorrow was scheduled as the Dark & White Mini Mountain Marathon over in Totley/NE Peak District. I learnt this morning it was postponed because of the snow that arrived yesterday and overnight. I'm both sad and relieved, I don't like running in snow as I am so slow it ends up being a walk. So the relief is that the race will be rescheduled. The weekend was also meant to be the Edale Skyline race, that too has succumbed to cancellation because of the weather. Hard to believe it's spring!

As usual I was up early and decided to take a wander round Derbyshire Level - the back road above where I live that goes from Glossop golf course to the Chunal road over to Hayfield. The snow drifts were amazing. Our compact camera is travelling with Tim this weekend (he's doing massage work with a ladies cycling team in Gent, Belgium) and the driving snow, high wind and moisture in the air didn't encourage me to take out the SLR camera. So, just for memories, here's some photos taken on my phone:

I really should have worn gaiters...those drifts were 2-3 feet deep across the road and deeper against the walls. It was nice to get out and be the first set of footprints out there. 

Monday, 18 March 2013

Rhinogs Running

The Rhinogs are mountains in north west Wales, more or less south Snowdonia. Though much quieter than the popular areas, the beauty of the hills, lakes and wildlife is better for there being less people. I've visited the area quite a few times now, and this last weekend was another memorable trip - this time with 15 of us from Glossopdale Harriers descending upon the cottage that nestles in the hillside above Llanbedr.

Me and Caity drove down Friday morning - the advance party - to arrive in daylight so the fire could be lit and welcoming for the rest. This also meant we had a few hours of daylight to pull on our fell shoes and head up the hill for a short, easy run. Having both recently been on navigation courses we took the opportunity of the unfamiliar area to do some micro-nav, I taught a little about pacing and we spent some time discussing tactics for navigation in orienteering fell races - we're both doing the Dark & White Mini Mountain Marathon on 24th March. The weather was on our side for fell running, but not great for navigation practice since the cloud base was way high and visibility good. Not to worry, we had imaginary blinkers on and got on with it.

Wall junction + sheepfold located

Caity on top of the cairn on Foel Ddu - superb navigation to this spot height

Looking back towards the cottage and the sea in the sunshine

The ground was really wet under foot, more so than I've ever seen in the area. I met up with a neighbouring farmer the following day and he told me the winter had been really wet, on top of the wet summer last year. Not surprising then that marshy areas are turning into mini lakes and paths into rivers. The afternoon turned to evening and the rest of the Glossopdalers trickled in. The log fire was stoked, lots of chat about routes for the Saturday run and a few beverages sampled. 

From left: Sikobe, Zoe, Caity, Julien, Tim and Alasdair....route choices being pondered
With the forecast predicting rain, possibly heavy, from 3pm onwards we jollied everyone along and managed to set off running just before 9am. Not bad for a group of 15, some of whom really wanted a lay in. We'd arranged to set off together, sharing the first part of the runs together. I'd planned to run round Moelfre on a route I've done previously - there's no steep or rocky ascent and it would give others who didn't want that sort of terrain the option of a decent run on fairly easy ground. At the split point the 4 in the fast had already whizzed off up Moelfre, into the cloud and above the snow line. 

A quick discussion left me on a solo run...everyone else opting to go for the summit. I plodded on down the road before turning south and onto a path which traverses around the hill, joining a decent track up to Llyn Bodlyn. The plan was for me to meet up with the 10 in the B group somewhere over that side. I pulled on my windstopper beanie soon after leaving the road - the drizzle had turned to sleet then driving snow. The snow was slippy underfoot and I was beginning to wish I'd worn my mudclaws and risked a blister (which happened last time I wore them).

The track steadily rises to the lake and I knew if I found the right pace I should be able to keep running. Trouble was, it was so beautiful I just kept stopping to look around, enjoying the views and searching the hillside to see if the others were heading down yet.

I got to within sight of the lake and could see 4 runners dropping off Moelfre....then they started running away from me. I was confused, not realising until later it was the fast party and I'd beaten them to the far side of the hill. What I didn't know is that conditions on the top were far from quick running terrain with knee deep snow to slow them down. But at that point I thought they were B group and heading off their intended route. Hmmm. Should I chase after them? No, I chose to stick to my plan so Tim would know where I was. I'd left a decent set of x-talon footprints in the track so Tim would know I'd headed up to the lake. 

footprints in the snow, looking back towards Moefre (summit in the snow cloud) from the track up to Llyn Bodlyn

I started to climb through a small boulder field, opting not to lose height before going up to the saddle in between Moelfre and Moelyblithcwm. After a few minutes I could see more runners coming off Moelfre...and Tim in a yellow jacket...the plan to meet up had worked.

Me with Llyn Bodlyn in the background

The B group plus me, Moelfre still in cloud behind us

bye....I wave as I head off and the group turns east towards Moelyblighcym then onto Y Llethr
A few photos snapped and a quick chat....the rest of the B group were running strong and still wanted to keep on with their plan so I found myself again, solitary on the hill heading down to Nantcol. It's just so peaceful, just me, a few sheep and tweeting birds...several buzzards sighted and maybe red kites. The path down to Nantcol was interesting. In the snow the normally damp path was a river, and with the moss and hidden stones it was a slippy river. My choice was to bound down the tufty grass in the snow which turned out to be easy than tufty grass running in the Peak. My x-talon grips aren't that sharp anymore so there were a few interesting slides and no-one to hear my whoop-whoooops! Reaching the road I was feeling tired. I'd been drinking and eating but now about 2 hours into the run my legs were feeling it. 

The next bit is steep uphill through some old mine levels. I knew what was coming so a steady plod and walk ensued. I promised myself fizzy sweets at the top. Incentive to get up there as quick as possible. I wasn't quick. Firstly I spotted some wild goats with a baby billy goat scurrying through the land below me, then a buzzard being chased by a crow. Then I looked towards where the B group would be and kept trying to spot them. I didn't see them, but the sun was shining brilliantly on Y Llethr and Rhinog Fach so I had to take a few snaps - poor quality as they're taken on my phone.

at last, the cloud on Moelfre lifts...I've just run around that hill

The sky out to sea was quickly turning to rain and heading my way so I made a massive effort to keep running. It was so tempting on tired legs to walk. But so close to the cottage I didn't want to get soaked. I turned northwards and was faced with a snow covered Foel Ddu - the hill me and Caity had run up yesterday - no snow then.

Foel Ddu with a snow covering

I ran into the snowline again then turned west and thankfully downhill back to the cottage. My tired body took some coaxing but I got myself sorted, showered, ate lunch, got the fire going and drank a pot of tea. By which time a few of the others were returning and over the next hour or so everyone came back with lots to tell about their runs+snow+scrambles+summits.

The evening was lovely, food eaten, beer and wine drunk, over home made beverages, cakes and chocolate sampled. A massive thanks to all the contributors and everyone who came along. It was a great weekend. Even the power cut on Saturday night was fun - eating and drinking by candle light was so cosy, the log fires keeping us warm.

Sunday morning came and went in a flash with everyone chipping in to help tidy and clean. Cars departed with various groups setting off for home....via somewhere for another run. Me and Tim were both on a rest day so gathered our belongings, locked up and headed home. I finally managed to stop at a shop I've been meaning to stop at for a while...Glassblobbery near Corwen. The chap was making a dragon while we were there, very talented and there were loads of lovely sculptures. Next stop, the farm shop for a few supplies then back home. A fantastic weekend in the Rhinogs. Snow on the hills, good running and excellent company.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Navigation Training

I joined Dave Taylor, aka FellRunningGuide on his intermediate navigation course yesterday and learnt loads. We met at the wonderful Crowden Youth Hostel and started with a short classroom session. Dave explained the structure of the day, quizzed us about our goals for the session and gave an overview of the key navigation skills we'd be covering that would help us reach our goals. For me, I needed help with pacing when running, running on bearings, contour interpretation and knowing what to do when not really sure exactly where you are (that's different from being lost, honest).

The Crowden valley gives lots of opportunities for seeking out tiny features - river junctions, kinks in groughs, sheepfolds, ponds (that may or may not be there), spot heights, trig points, wall junctions. These were all features we were tasked with finding. But the object of the day wasn't just to locate the feature. Dave was really good at teaching us how to work out how long it might take to get there, what may slow us down, what to use to help you find something (intermediate features, bearings, handrails and attack points) and how to know when you might be close but not quite on the right track (not that we spent very much time on tracks or paths!). All very useful given that a good proportion of the day was spent in the clag, with snow billowing around us making visibility greatly reduced. I was thankful I'd packed hand warmers as the stop-start nature of learning to navigate on the hill meant my extremities quickly chilled.

All photographs courtesy of Dave Taylor, Fell Running Guide.

Westerly bearing following a grough....until ground drops off, turn north for 400m....then find a pond 100m to east (which we did).

see's snow, buff over the ears to stop them filling up!

the most layers I've ever worn when out running, it was quite cold

more clag, following a grough but still climbing

success, the wall junction was located

The key things I learnt during the day were timings and pacing when running - it is totally different to walking. That sort of goes without saying, but you try running on tufty grass, following a bearing, dealing with sleet and snow being blasted into you at 20mph, counting your paces and watching the elapsed time - it's a lot to take in. To get a grasp on this a little better is great. It's all the stuff I do when running round on orienteering races and often when I'm just out on the hill. So if I'm better at making decisions I should in theory be quicker. Learning how to cope with all the demands, and understanding the subtleties of the terrain so you know exactly where you are (or when not quite in the right place) is brilliant.

I feel much more confident about being out in claggy weather (or at night) and knowing how to locate somewhere. I sort of did know this before the day, but had been very reliant on just following my nose and 'sort of knowing' where I was. I'm sure one day I'd have come unstuck, and given the rough terrain and wilderness on Bleaklow and Kinder (my back garden as I call it), the last thing you need if you suffer an injury is to know 'sort of, vaguely where you are'. Mountain rescue will get to you much quicker if you can give them an exact location (plus grid reference) should they ever need to be called out. I now feel better equipped and will be out there in all weathers practicing. I've got a race coming up in a few weeks too so will see if the practice pays off.

The day with Dave was great, I'd highly recommend him as a navigation and fell running guide. Even though I know he's a much faster, stronger runner than I am I felt at ease and not once under pressure to go faster or feel like I had to keep up. The day has also consolidated the great work of Ruth Taylor and Andy Turner, the two guides I had on my Walking Group Leaders Award training from Peak Mountain Training. Many of the messages from all were repeated and while the day with Dave focused on running navigation the principles from each were strengthened.

Shiny Shoes

The road trainers I bought last year have started to feel a little less springy so I decided it was time for new shoes. And one can never have too many running trainers, can one?! I spotted some Inov8 road-x 238 at a reduced price and decided to give them a go. I like the fell shoes I have which are Inov8, so this was a good opportunity to try some of their road shoes. The road-x 238s have the same 3-arrows as my roclites which I'm happy using on short road runs so figured I'd be able to cope with the 238s on the runs I do.

Don't think they'll stay this clean for long...
I took them out on their first run today and they were very comfortable. Around the heel felt good and although the toe area feels much roomier than my x-talon 212's this didn't seem to give me any issues.  Today's run was 10mins warm up, then 8 hill reps (1min steep up, fast down, 1 min rest), and 10mins warm down. The shoes felt good, grippy on the damp tarmac and light.

Monday, 4 March 2013

WGLA training

With my new Osprey Aura rucksack packed and ready I met up with the 5 other candidates and our trainer for the first day of my Walking Group Leaders Award training on Wednesday last week. After a talk about the aims for the next three days we were off to Ladybower and the Derwent Valley for our first day on the hill learning about and practicing navigation and leadership of groups.

Our route took us from the western side of Ladybower, past Fairholmes and up onto the Derwent Edge side of the valley under Back Tor and Lost Lad. Along the way we found spot heights, re-entrants, wall junctions and other micro features. Hard to be truly challenged with micro nav when you have a clear blue sky day, but the instructor did a great job of ensuring we were all kept busy and brains taxed.

Looking down to the reservoirs from the eastern side

On the second day we were walking out from Hayfield, parking at Bowden Bridge and walking past Kinder Reservoir, up to Kinder Downfall via Sandy Heys and several tiny features we were tasked with locating.

Kinder Reservoir

Kinder Downfall....the river was still flowing under the ice

Following the glorious two days we had been lucky with there was of course an obligatory rain shower. It coincided with the night navigation training (of course), starting with a chilled damp mist being blown over us as we worked our way from Burbage north, Higger Tor and down to Carl Wark. As the direct bearing we walked on took us back west my head torch was highlighting stronger rainfall at a decent angle - luckily I'd prepared well and was wearing my waterproof over trousers and staying warm and dry on top in my buffalo smock. Thankfully the evening session was quite short. No photographs, just memories.

On the final day of training we were taken to an area I know, but no where near as well as Ladybower and Kinder so it was brain fully engaged for micro navigation. The small area we wandered around was perfect for micro nav, lots of tiny ring contours, sheep tracks galore to confuse with the numerous paths and sufficient walls to keep anyone busy checking they'd got the right one.

Bretton Clough, south west of Abney

A dead shrew spotted on the path as we returned to Abney
Shrews are apparently not very tasty to cats because their scent glands produce a distasteful liquid. Whether or not cats know that before the chase and kill....who knows! No evidence of what may have killed this little one, but if it was an owl then it's unlikely it would have been left behind.