Saturday, 31 July 2010

Dollar Hill Race 2010

Managing narrowly to avoid a deer on the road up to Dollar, I arrived in good time for the Dollar Hill Race. I hadn't ran in the Ochils before and was looking forward to a busy afternoon.
This year a counter for the Scottish and British championships it was sure to attract those from far and wide and sure enough there were cars stuffed into every available corner and crevice with folk doing the back seat shuffle with their gear, pins and bumbags.

The setting in a picturesque and rarefied atmosphere of Dollar Academy was excellent and after pulling on the Hawks vest and meeting a couple of clubmates, I warmed up half heartedly on the cricket pitch, knowing that with 3500ft and 9.4 miles of climbing ahead, I would soon be quite warm enough thank you.

I had put on my garmin and heart rate monitor for a change and was interested to see it shoot up from 60 to 175 bbm once around 200 of us took off up the tarmac road for half a mile before climbing into the woods. From then on it settled down and I focused on the 100 or so runners ahead.

It was like a maze of ants in the woods with a carnival of coloured vests weaving their way up the wooded glen via a number of paths and tracks. I recognised a Moorfoot and a Bellahouston runner but no-one else in the immediate vicinity as we all jockeyed for position. The vista then opened out onto the main climb which took us up and up over thick reedy grass and sedge. I had decided to take the first quarter easy and fell into line at the pace of the runner in front as congestion ahead meant you either left the path or followed the crowd.
After a long slog which involved some handwork and scrambling , we were up in the clouds and the clag came in.

It was cool and I started to make some progress, passing 5 or 6 along the green spongy paths. I dared to look at the garmin again when I felt we had done 4 or 5 miles and to my horror it read only 2.9 miles. At 5 miles I reached for my gel. My jerky efforts to open it meant it burst open and half the contents exploded onto my face and hands and vest. I took what was left as I caught Ali Raw (Bingley) and said 'hi', probably with gunge dripping down my face like something from 'Ghostbusters'.

There was one last almost runnable hill before the descent began and I was going well now, mopping up another 6 or 7 runners on the downhill. I saw the Moorfoot runner ahead and managed to get past him. It was quite a technical descent in places and required determined concentration. Meanwhile the gel had dried on the side of my face rendering my grimace a permanent feature.
Just before the top of the wood, I was passed by a long striding Lomond but stayed with him passing 4 in a desperate chase through the narrow paths in the wood. When we emerged at the bottom with half a mile to go I had no more go-juice and the 4 who I had passed in the woods passed me immediately as I trudged in a mashed state over the tarmac to the finish.
Had the craic with a few before high tailing it south. Time 1:32:24 for 83rd place. 250 ran. Dundee Hawkhill finished 11th team of 65. Quite respectable really.
(Results on the Scottish Hill Running site soon. )

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Ivar the Boneless

I had to be in deepest England yesterday and arriving at around 7 p.m. on a balmy evening, had time to dump the gear at my B&B and think about a quick run. The proprietor asked me where I was off and I said I wasn't sure. He recommended a run along the path that follows the nearby canal towpath. He also slipped in his 3:15 marathon and 1:18 half marathon achievements. I was impressed by his half time and asked where he did this (so that I could have a crack at this secret PB course); he said it was the Lincoln Half which started with a long downhill but isn't run anymore. Drat.

I took off at a steady 7:20 pace and found the route along the canal flat with tarmac for a couple of miles past the many parked and colourful barges and blokes fishing as it wound its way out of Lincoln north before giving way to short firm grassy paths free of human occupation and canine perambulation (if you know what I mean).

It's said to be the oldest stretch of canal in the country, used by the Romans and later the Normans for transporting stone to the cathedral and later by the invading Danes. Wonder if Ivar the Boneless had had a jog along the track. It was established enough to have been recorded as being extended by Henry 1st. All that history below my trainers.

There was a heron among the overhanging willows and some super big damsel flies, one of which took a last minute manoeuvre to avoid my gaping mouth. All in all some 8 miles or so of flat running and absolutely no use for my trip to Dollar (profile from Scottish Hill Racing Website). Looks like the legs are in for a bit of a beasting...

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Grasp the Nettle

Mondays sesh was a series of one and two minute sprints through the lanes in the teaming rain with the crowd. Racing down the hill like loon's we came across a biker laying on a grassy bank by the side of the road at which point we came to a crashing halt. With a woman standing over him with arms crossed, we quickly established through his visor that he was in reasonable shape and that she was a doctor, so as we slowly backed down the slope a shout went up from the back of the group 'only 48 seconds left' and off we went again like the Keystone Kops at double quick time. Farce.
Still carrying a bit of extra weight, but after a couple of very light weeks the aches and pains are a distant memory. Very little running this week. I've been out on the bike again and even managed some golf.

This morning, sat in front of the computer which needs more memory (so said the computer man yesterday), I've had the music up loud for an hour. Eventually everyone's got up and they're strangely grumpy. William Orbits Ferry Corsten Remix of Barbers Adagio at 8:15am. What's the issue?

It'll be an hours run and then I might take myself to the coast to see 150 tri-athletes plunging and splashing around the North Sea, before their 80km ride and 20km run, though I doubt I'll stay for the run though. Its about £30 to enter but for that you get 5 or 6 hours of pain, as much salty seawater as you can swallow and a couple of possible close shaves with weekend drivers. I guess the slower you are the more you get for your money.

I suppose I should also grasp the nettle; better find a pen now and get my entry in for Dollar next weekend. I think this is a Scottish and British counter this year so I should get happily lost in the crowd somewhere.

Its the last few days of the Tour this weekend. Its been a hoot watching the crowds on the slopes, especially on the Misty Tourmalet. Some of the costumes were crackers and I thought some of the guys would come off, pulled down by those running alongside intent on getting on the tele.

The commentary has been class. Best lines so far
'the riders will be sharpening their legs'
'the sprinters will be steaming out of their helmets'
'when he gets back, Contador will have to ask himself a few strange questions' and
'the crowd are getting thicker by the inch' .
All good stuff.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

The Coastal Run 2010

Nipped up the coast with Mr G. to take in the sights and sounds of the Coastal Run. Cruised 6 miles north from Alnmouth before turning and coming back down along the scenic Northumberland coast into a fresh headwind and muggy conditions. A very pleasant 12 miles. Runners taking part in the Coastal Run started to come past in the last mile. For some it looked like it had been a tough day. There didn't seem to be many ladies at the front end.
Some photos of the top 50 or so of the field on Flickr (see link)

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Busy doing Nothing

I spent an hour on Thursday composing what I thought was an interesting and humorous blog about my recent and latest incident. The ingredients of the story were me, my bike, a B Class road, a driver in a silver Peugeot and an overtaking manoeuvre that could be described as ‘unfortunate’.
Anyway, my blog proof reader suggested that no one wanted to read about people (particularly cyclists) having to dive into hedges trying to avoid smart French family saloons, so I ditched that petit work of literature-art and I’m happy to report I’ve reverted back to my normal state of lethargy and inane blogspeak.

During this time of year, I appear ‘busy’ at home, preparing for some mundane task such as mooing the loon or talking the wink for a dig. However, every 15 minutes or so I wander into the lounge where either the Open Golf or Le Tour is on, standing about 4 feet from the Tele with my arms crossed, feet planted, in readiness for the impending task. This stance lasts around 15 minutes on average and rarely involves sitting down. If I did that I would have to admit to the hours I’m spending watching men in colourful slacks, many of them with ‘a nice easy action’ (as the gravelly voiced commentators point out) swinging their way to a living that I would very much like. Golf. I’ll have some of that, I’m thinking.

That cycling thing looks good fun as well. Meet up with 10 or so of your mates, grab your bike and pedal around France every day, waving to the crowds, having your drinks brought to you and your legs rubbed every afternoon. They’re equally colourful but sometimes I get the impression they seem to be making hard work of those climbs. Some of them seem to take those sprints a bit seriously though. Very excitable. When I’ve finished a ride I’m chuffed and usually pleased I’ve come back without half of a hedge stuck in me jumper. Apparently, someone got asked to leave in the tour yesterday.
They need to take a ****** chill pill’ as Auntie Agnes occasionally blurts out from the slit in her Anderson Shelter. I knew it was a mistake letting her build that thing in the garden.
The running mileage has dropped off the scale, but I’m happy to report the bikes in daily use and to such a degree that I actually caught someone 2 days ago and I even had a puncture yesterday. Happy days.
Denying my fast twitch muscles all these years hasn’t been easy, pretending to be an endurance athlete, so this autumn I’m making a last gasp pincer movement on Two fronts. Firstly, I may have a late splurge on the track over short distances and try a few different fell runs with my rediscovered quads. I may also enter a few 10 time trials on the bike..... Hang, on... that’s a 3 pronged affair. Fighting on too many fronts. Now,that's what did for Napoleon. n-est-ce pas. What was his time for the 400m anyway? Would I want the same fate as him..mmm. Well if it means being taken to an isolated island to live out the rest of my days, could be worse. As long as it had a few hills and I had my trainers.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

On the Edge

Turned out with a decent crowd on a sultry Thursday night in Alderley Edge to run the Wizard 5, a trail race round a National Trust Property. Good run out. Not much to report other than 31.29 and 16th.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Fat Ears

As I pedal my way around the lanes and past the fields bulging with corn and barley, I'm hoping the biking is going to refresh some parts of the leg that other forms of exercise leave underdeveloped. It was such a nice day on Saturday that I got completely carried away and ended up somewhere around Otterburn. After 2 hours I had to stop for tea and cake at Elsdon to give my back a rest. There was a vintage motorcycle rally on and I was interested to see some bikes older than mine. I didn't know Raleigh did motor bikes in times gone by.
After several large mugs of sugary tea and Missus Miggins fruit cake, I took advantage of the freshening tailwind and belted east home on a 52 x 13 gear (which is big ring, little sprocket for those a bit hazy in the gear department).

On the running front, last night was 8 miles with 10x1 minutes thrown in for good measure with a select few. Most in these parts are going to Tynedale to do the 10k tomorrow. I'm trying to steer away from road races at the mo. Chasing the clock is too much like hard work.
As I'm away to Manchester on Thursday, I had thought about doing the Bull Fell Race somewhere near Ramsbottom, but might go for the easier Dragon 5 trail race if I get finished work in time. A wander around Alderley Edge, home to the rich and famous. I might pick up the new Planet X store in Sheffield on the way (well, its not really on the way, but who's to know).

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Antique Roadshow

It's taken more than a few days to get myself straightened out after Eildon. I managed the 15 mile Sunday run fine but on Monday I felt like I'd been in a fight - the way I used to feel after my first few games of a new rugby season. This enfeebled weariness meant no exercise on Monday. Instead I found myself surfing through some biking websites and I came across a few guys I used to train with who are still out there cranking through the lanes on 2 wheels. Later I came across some results from some old cyclo-cross races and recognized a few names from the fell running world. Maybe a few days on the bike might do the job.

Its always dicey going into my garage; you never know whats in there and what might drop from the ceiling or wall, but as I pushed the heavy creaking door back, deftly sidestepping old Auntie Agnes as she launched herself at me like Kato, vaulted over last years Christmas tree complete with bobbles and cut away the blanket of grey dusty cobwebs with an old broomhandle, I found the lightweight machine that would have been the envy of no one in 1993.

So the last few days have been an hours spin on 2 wheels wearing my blue bibshorts from a now defunct cycling club and some old antique fluorescent racing vest advertising a pro-team that probably didn't even exist. Considering the bikes been away all winter in the garage, it's been fine with only a little air in the tyres needed and a skoosh of oily lubricant for my joints.

Yesterday somewhere out in the rural hinterland I lost 2 plates from my shoe clip which meant that I couldn't get the leverage to pull that foot out of the pedal and I nearly came to grief at a road junction. How exciting is that...
The bike is still perfectly good for a 16 mile an hour trog and I think more of this lark will help build up the quads while giving my calves a bit of an easier time. There are also some good cycling blogs out there to discover. Change is as good as a rest.