Wednesday 21 August 2013

Darwen Gala Fell Race 2013

The Race

I was advised by my fellow club mates to give this race a go. I'm not fully race fit yet, but it would act as a good marker post to see where I stand.
I did the race back in 2009 where I won my Lancashire U23 medal, so I knew roughly what was in store.
Before the race I was confident that I would do alright so long as the likes of the Hope brothers or some unknown young lad came along to spoil the party.

As it turned out, my fellow clubmate Chris Farrel stood in for the Hopes and had as good as won the race before we'd even paid our £4!
Alastair Murray also appeared, and I resigned to aiming for 3rd place behind these two.
I train with them both each week, and I know that Chris is lightning fast and I'll never be at his level no matter how hard I train. Ali is a beast, and can climb well and is quicker than me on the flat, but I know I can do him on the descents.

Out of Bold Venture Park, it's pretty much a solid 1 mile or so very runnable climb from the start line to the Jubilee Tower on the top of Darwen Tower. Then it's a case of heading downhill down a track, loosing all the height you've just worked bloody hard to gain.
Out of the park, Chris, Ali and myself formed our own breakaway group pretty much straight away, although last years outright winner, Annabel Mason I think she's called, didnt loose complete sight of us straight away.
I stayed with Chris for the first half mile, with Ali dropping off a little, and I had to ease back into my own pace and let Chris have a race with himself.
Once you've reached the bottom of the descent, you have another long gradual climb. It's all runnable, and the wind was battering us, so it made for hard running. I was constantly expecting Ali to catch me, but I was able to maintain a gap. 
I felt like I'd gained on Chris slightly at the top of the climb, as he'd pulled out quite a lead after the initial descent.

On the top you veer left and take a generally flat trod and work your way back across the hill, before reaching marshal who told me it was all downhill from there - which was great news because I was still worried Ali might reappear.
The final mile or so is the route we took on the way out, so it was literally down hill all the way, first down the track, through the woods, across a road and back into Bold Venture park.
According to Strava, that mile was the fastest mile I've ever done: 5:07. I know that's nothing to write home about, but it felt good to set my own little mile pb when running "fast" is my real weakness.

Chris won in 24:22, and I came in 20 seconds later. Had there been another runner of the same class as Chris, that 20 second gap could easily have had a minute added onto it if he was pushed.
Ali came in in 3rd securing a Horwich 1,2, 3. Although I couldn't count for the team prize due to my recent change of clubs, Graham Scofield came in around 15th to allow the lads to take a bit more beer home.

Really pleased with my run. Still lots of work to do, but I know I'm responding well to the hill sessions. 

Thursday 2 May 2013

I made a rubbish video

It must of been....erm...6-9 months ago since I last went out on my bike. Maybe longer actually.

Whenever it was, I decided to go out on my bike, and in the light of fellephants' brilliant videos, I decided to make a really bad, poor quality, totally unedited, video of myself climbing a hill in the dark one handed. With my iphone.

I would normally say "enjoy", bit since its soo bad, "apologies".

Video is here

Wednesday 24 April 2013

Starting up again!

Its been quite some time since I last posted.

In November I gave in to my painful IT bands, and planned to keep resting until after Christmas. Christmas came and went, and I got very behind on my dissertation for Uni.

5 months, and 14,000 words later I have handed my dissertation in.

Last night, in celebration of completing my dissertation I took Joss the dog for our first run since November. My standard run from home is 4.5miles, across farmers fields with a few sections of road linking the next footpath.

Before I got injured in November, I was at the top of my game and I was improving constantly and at a level I never imagined. I was confident that with more training I could maybe achieve my main goal of winning a race. But 5 months later and all my fitness has gone.

My quickest time for the 4.5 miler is about 28 minutes (I think), but last night I did it in 34 minutes. And I felt every single one of those minutes. Joss seems a bit out of shape too!

Anyway, Im going to take it nice and steady and just take each week at a time and hope to see you all out there again soon!

Monday 26 November 2012

David Staff Memorial Race - 25.11.12

This wasn't originally on my to-do list, but after speaking to Pudsey & Bramleys Danny Hope on Thursday during the Horwich hill sessions and him saying he planned to do it, it got me thinking.
I had originally planned to do the Preston Parkrun first thing Saturday morning, but I stayed true to my roots and avoided it to stay fresh for the race.
I was still a bit unsure whether Id do it when I woke up on Sunday morning. Even though Im still a young'un who "shouldnt be injured at your age", Im struggling with a variety of problems with my knees, calfs, shins and feet, but I felt ok so collected my gear and with a soundtrack of liquid drum and bass music blasting out, I headed the relatively short journey east to Darwen.

It was tipping it down when I arrived, but the weather was kind to us come the start of the race. I managed to catch up with a few friendly faces that you get to know through racing and generally taking part in this marvelous sport.
On the start line I had a quick chat with Danny Hope, and we both agreed that there were a few fast looking young lads. The organiser informed us that it was a record attendance for the race, 184 I think. 

Under starts orders, and off we go. Danny and I led from the off, not going off at a too ridiculous pace, so we had a rather large chasing pack sticking with us all the way out of the woods.

After around a mile we'd managed to pull out a gap on the rest of the field and we continued to pull away up the first short sharp climb up a grassy slope. Things went slightly pair-shaped here, as we lost the route and ended up in a boggy field and we had to climb a barbed wire fence and jump a ditch before climbing up onto the track. We both ran back down the hill and Danny asked the current leader if he had any objections with us rejoining the race, to which he didnt.

So we are back on-track, we've lost the lead we'd worked to gain, and we had to do it again. Worry not. The first "proper" climb went by, taking us to the top and past the tower. Neither of us were particularly fresh from Thursday nights hill session, but we pushed a decent pace and stuck together.

The descent of Aggies Staircase was a bit slippy but nothing to worry about too much. Danny took the lead here and I started to loose him slightly, but managed to pull him back by the top of the climb. I couldnt hold on to him from here. I looked at my watch and we had a mile and a half to go.
      Holding on to Danny - Just.

Danny continued to extend his lead, and I kept falling over. I looked behind and couldnt see anyone, so just concentrated to try and keep a decent pace going and see if I could at least cut down Dannys lead.

Awesome Image by Andy Holden. 

I came in 18 seconds behind Danny, and 3rd place was a little under a minute behind me. After speaking to people at the finish, it sounds like we weren't the only ones who took a wrong turn, as people apparently took alternative routes to the correct race route on the return back to the finish, but thats one of those things.

I bagged a nice 4-pack of Corona for my effort, and enjoyed a nice cup tea with a sausage butty. 

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Out in the dark

On Monday after work, I did what tens, if not hundreds of thoasands of people will have done - gone out and trained.

It was either a short 3 miler on the road, or a muddy one with the headtorch. I chose the latter and once Joss was wearing his harness (which I hand-stitched the reflective material from a high-viz jacket) we set off out the door.
A Rather dirty sign, on an extremely tall post...

Ive only posted this because it abit "different".


Poor timed blink, or a poor timed photo?
We ended up doing just over 6 miles across lovely muddy fields, with only maybe half a mile of road in total linking strings of fields together. I only once scared the living daylights out of myself thinking someone was coming up behind me in the dark, only to realise it was just the wind whirling around the winter crops.

Unlike our run on Saturday, we didnt see any deer, but I caught the eyes of a fox shining back from the light of the headtorch, various rabbitsand we startled numberous flocks of sheep. Joss is good with sheep, and I just keep talking to him and he completely ignors them.

I had a bit of foot pain which spoilt the run a bit, but otherwise a fantastic night to be out.

My foot hurts

I dont know whats wrong with my left foot, but it absolutely kills.

It suddenly started hurting walking the dog Sunday night. I went for 6 miler across the fields on Monday night and it was excruciating 

Its the underside of my foot, towards the inside - kind of in between the ball of my foot and the arch. I usually do a gentle-ish 3 miler on the roads on a Wednesday night ahead of the tough hill session Thursday.

Might have to do a session on the turbo-trainer and then stick my foot in a bucket of water for an hour and hope that helps.

These damn little aches and pain. We all get them, but they dont stop being a pain (pun intended).

Monday 12 November 2012

Dunnerdale Fell Race 2012

This weekend I met up with a large gathering of Preston Harriers, and four car loads of us headed up to the lakes, to an area I’ve never visited before, for the Dunnerdale Fell Race, the final race in the Harriers club championship.

Dunnerdale is regarded as a bit of a classic. In the build up to the race, I spent some time on google, various blogs and the FRA forum, trying to get to grips with what was install, and everyone agrees that the race is a bit special. A mini-lakeland classic one person described it as. 5mi with 1804ft. So it was going to be a good’un.

I wasn’t feeling fantastic Saturday morning, and nearly went back to bed, but I convinced myself to go and warm-up and go from there. There was some debate whether it was “just vest”, but I wussed out and went with a t-shirt under my vest and gloves too boot.

The start was the usual disorder and shouting by the organiser, as we all tried to hold a decent starting position, much too far ahead of the start line. In the end the organiser basically just yelled GO and we were off – legging it down the road.

The route follows the road for what must be near on half a mile, climbing uphill most of the way and eventually leading to a stone track and the climb up the fell. I didn’t really have a plan for the race, so held back a bit when Id usually gun-it from the off.
In the run out, I felt I wasn’t really putting in enough effort so made my way through the field and held about 15th as we hit the fell. Mike Johnson of Bowland was infront of me, and he went straight into a walk up the hill rather than run, so I followed suite and decided to stick with him. I started to out-climb those around me, and pushed on and gained a few places. Up to the first checkpoint of “The Knott” there was a lot of swapping of places and apart from the front 4 who had pulled out a big lead, the “chasing pack” still consisted of around 20 runners. By the time we got to CP 2, I was 7th, chasing Iain Ridgeway of Eyri. I was starting to feel it from here, and my arms were bursting with lactic acid and the mind games started. I managed to pass Iain and Hugh (surname escapes me) of Ambleside on the descent, but dropped back to 6th just before the road crossing as Mark Roberts of Borrowdale flew past me on a mission.

The climb up the Stickle Pike was short, sharp and steep. A quick hailstorm shower trashed it down just before I hit the summit too, and with my body in oxygen-debt, I asked the marshals where to go and dropped off the summit starting to feel pretty crap.
I could hear Iain and Hugh pulling my in, and they passed me on the boggy trod leading onto the final summit.

The descent off Great Stickle was flagged, all the way to the finish actually. It was quite loose under-foot and I started to catch Iain. As we hit the track at the bottom, I knew we had a mile to go and I needed to push to hold my position. Catching Iain was out of the question as I wanted to vomit. Richard Melon of Bowland was coming!!!! I know this guy is a good runner, but Ive never raced him before and to beat him would be a big confidence boost. So I fought hard and made it to the road still in position, climbed the uphill track and with one final push (and a big retch) I crossed the line in 8th position.

The pie back in the hall was worth it all. Absolutely sensational! I took a while to recover and feel normal, but had a nice chat with a few of the guys who finished around me, and got dressed and dry.

Certainly a race you’ve got to do if you haven’t. One I think I’ll have to revisit as I think I could knock some time off if I was really on form. 

No pictures yet, but I’ll upload them if any appear online.

1st: Carl Bell – Howgill Harriers - 41:48
8th – Me - 44:23

243 finishers.