Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Ultra time

The TDS is only two weeks away. I’ve had a good summer with some great results and some fantastic close, “real” racing.  I love running fast and my hunger has been re-ignited to get faster. 

I’ve certainly learned that I am good at the short, quick races and I feel that I could really kick on if I focussed on this more. I never thought I’d say it but I want to put myself on the line more frequently with the best in my age group and face my fears and anxieties.  It’s completely different to long distance running where you spend most of the time on your own with your own thoughts.  It’s nice and relaxed but for me it’s more of an adventure and a day out. I think I need the excitement of a close race.  I’ve been working a lot on mindfulness recently which is giving me confidence.  I’ve not entered races in the past because of putting too much pressure on myself.

I didn’t anticipate regaining the Chevy Cup this year, especially with the expectation on others to win.  This was good for me as the pressure was on my rivals.  It was good racing for the first half with young Will Robson and then kicking on from Hedgehope using my experience of the race and the miles I’ve put in.

This year has been strange having not been to Morpeth harriers very much and ultimately leaving the club.  I do miss the group but I needed a change for many reasons.  I’ve been floating about doing my own thing and dropping into training sessions at North Shields Poly.  After the TDS I’ll be committing to a club and setting a few targets.  One of which will be aiming for another England vest in 2018.

So, I am off to Chamonix in a couple of weeks.  My last visit in 2015 was an amazing experience and I’m looking forward to a different course, although the TDSS is longer with more ascent.  It will be tough.  Having enjoyed the short stuff this summer, I do realise that I have neglected the long days out but I hope I am fit enough and strong enough to finish the race.  That is the main goal.  I do not intend to “race” it.  The wheels could come off and I could end up injured.

We’ll see how it goes…

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Low cloud at High Cup Nick. 9.3m, 1500'

It was a gloomy, muggy, clarty, slippy and wet day at Dufton yesterday for my first High Cup Nick fell race.  A far cry from the previous weekend up at Wooler for Glen McWilliams' splendid Border trail race where the weather was amazing.  It is, of course, usually grim weather for Glen's races so I'm not sure how he managed that!

I've heard some great reviews of the High Cup Nick race saying it is quick with stunning views.  Unfortunately with the low cloud I wouldn't be able to appreciate that but looked forward to the route.  There were four NFR's and a strong contingent from North Shields Poly with this race being in their championship series.

The start was ridiculously fast, hindered more-so by my mid-pack positioning, but I made my way through.  The first few miles were easy going but then there was a long boggy, tussocky section which I found heavy going.  Then we were climbing High Cup Nick.  The rocks were very slippery and my x-talons were useless!  Once on top the visibility was poor and I was on my own but luckily I could spot the race markers and followed the route down.  The descent all the way to the finish was long a quick.  I had North Shields Poly's Will Robson in my sights but he wasn't to be caught.

Will R finished in a great 16th place.  I came home in 19th (70 mins).   Fellow NFR and car passenger Chris Winter finished in 84th (81mins), Colin Archer from Morpeth Harriers was 54th in (77 mins).  Also in attendance was Jason Taylor making his race comeback plus one other NFR.  Results are not out yet so I do not know where they finished. 

Tom Addison won the race in 61 minutes with the ladies winner Victoria Wilkinson in 11th overall coming in just under 67 minutes.

The soup and roll at the end was tremendous, accompanied by some homemade flapjack.

A grand day out and one to do again.  Hopefully next time I'll get to appreciate the views myself.


Monday, 28 November 2016

To be continued....... I will make time!

Days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months all too quickly these days. Where have the past eleven months gone?!  Routine is all well and good but when it distracts you from the important things in life and you see time pass by you realise what is precious and what you should make time for. We all have priorities and it is healthy to be reminded of these now and again.

My last post was dedicated to the Chevy Chase back in July after finally bringing home the trophy.  It is sitting on the living room book case still waiting to be engraved.  I can tell it is annoying the Mrs being there but tough, I have it to enjoy the memories of such a great day.

There have been some changes in my work life this year with a secondment which went really well.  Initially, it was out of my comfort zone but I gained new experiences and met some lovely people who I will meet up with.  Needless to say I'm back at my substantive role full time.  This has given me an insight into what is out there and given me confidence to explore new opportunities.

I've been running a lot more with Jasper, my spaniel.  He loves being out in the hills as much as me and there's nothing quite like running with your dog.  

I've been racing quite regularly since the Chevy with a couple of road 10k's, trail races (including one of my favourites in the Gibside fruit bowl), the Hodgson fell relays and also representing England at the British and Irish Masters cross country championships in Glasgow.  That was a fantastic experience and I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend.  I even kept the vest!
Top bunch

This year has been as varied as it could have been.  Next year I'm thinking of more fell races in the Lakes, Scotland and the Peak district, one or two trail ultra's and I'm very tempted to do something abroad again.  I do believe variety is key to keep things fresh, I must have lost my mojo several times over the past few months.  I went out on a 17 mile run around the Simonside Hills yesterday but didn't see it.

It's never a good idea to plan too far ahead but I have a few ideas bubbling away.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Chevy Chase 2016

It's now just over two weeks since the 60th Chevy chase fell race. Legs are just about back to normal and the result has just about sunk in.

This was my 5th Chevy, although it should have been the 6th having had to miss last year due to my bad back and the lack of training leading up to it.  This year I was determined to give it a good go. From past experience of this race I have tried several strategies.  In 2013 I started steady and finished strong in 3rd place. In 2014 I started too quick and ran out of fuel in the last few miles but finished second. I planned my tactics with the aim of trying to keep with the leaders up to the Hedgehope descent and then push on if I felt good.

The weather was much better than anticipated although there was a headwind on the way out.  The first few miles were awful. I felt really heavy and quite lethargic. I was in a leading group of 3 or 4 up to the Cheviot summit. Coming off cheviot I took my time to try and save the legs. This allowed other runners to catch up and track me. I assumed the two on my shoulder hadn't run the route before as they followed my every move down to the burn then up to the Hedgehope summit. 

Skirting Housey Crags I began to open a little bit of a gap and I was feeling quite comfortable having eaten and made sure I was taking on water at regular intervals.  From this point on I didn't look behind me.  Not once.  This was difficult as there's nothing worse than being hunted down.

I passed through Brands Corner then Carey Burn and Hell's path.  I hadn't been caught up to this point so I began to think I was in with a good chance.  I put the hammer down, knowing that when the road section was reached that I had the pace to challenge if needed.  I turned the corner into the Wooler Youth Hostel and was greeted with cheers, it was all rather exciting that i'd actually done it. I had won the Chevy chase!!  I was overjoyed.

As always, thank to all the organisers, volunteers and supporters.  Best in Northumberland!

Monday, 18 April 2016

National 12 stage road relays, Sutton Park 16th April 2016

I landed a place in the B team for this annual event down in Birmingham.  Morpeth had two teams who qualified from the Northern relays a few weeks ago (in which I didn’t compete).  This was my first visit to Sutton Park since I was a wee nipper, or so I was told by the Club official.  
It was a long journey, around 3 and a half hours travelling with Messrs Snowball, Alder and Haswell.  We embarked on a recce around part of the course to see what was in store for us, and it was going to hurt.  I was on a long leg (approx. 5.4 miles) and was fifth in the pecking order.  I had envisaged a lot more teams being involved, there were around 60-70 in total and by the time I headed off on my leg the numbers were well spread out.  I was on my own for the majority.   I wasn’t overtaken and made up around six places.  
The course was tough. There were a few steady climbs which felt like they went on forever and the ice cream truck at the 2 mile mark took a long time to come into view.  There was good support around the course which was most welcome.  I’m so glad I wasn’t on the 12th leg, it would have been the longest day ever waiting around.
The A team finished eighth and the B team in the low 50’s.  It was a great performance by both teams and an experience to remember.
I aim to return in four weeks for the National Masters relays.
It’s the Yorkshire 3 peaks race in two weeks’ time.  I have no hills in my legs so I may have to give it a miss.  The Cheviot/Hedgehope pendulum race is on the Sunday which would be more manageable at half the distance.  Apparently there’s a drone filming it………

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Brough Law report 2016

There was a great turnout today at the Brough Law fell race in the Ingram valley.  82 runners registered and duly completed the 5 mile course on a very mild, dry and wind free day.  Perfect weather and the strongest hint yet that spring is in the air.
Setting up the course early doors
First back was an in form Lee Bennett in his recently renewed NFR colours in 37:45, closely followed by last year’s winner David Beech in 37:59.  Third place went to Morpeth’s Mark Snowball in a very good time of 38:38.

Mr Bennett taking the win
In the women’s race, Karen Robertson crossed the line first in 44:13 with Katherine Davis second in 46:39 and Claire Bagness in third with 49:51.

A special note of thanks go to the following people for their invaluable help: 
  • Mike Steven, Richard Kirby (+ son/wife), Jane Briggs, Michael Briggs and Andy Richardson for their support and help on the day.
  • Ross Wilson for permission to hold the race and for dismantling the course after the race.
  • Northumberland National Park ranger (Mark) for the use of the new facilities at Bulby’s wood. 
  • Stuart Ferguson for the support from Hangar 18/FRA and guidance in making sure everything went smoothly.

A total of £220 was raised for Northumberland Mountain rescue.

Thank you to all who took part.

FYI – apologies to Marie and Jeffrey Emmerson who should have received prizes and didn’t.  George R was mistakenly given a prize, but I’m sure he enjoyed it.

Any queries with the results, let me know fellrunner1975@gmail.com


Sunday, 6 March 2016

May the glutes be with you....

A long time ago in a backside not too far away.......

Glutes.  Pretty important.  Especially for a runner.  They are the largest muscle group in the human body and need to be taken seriously.  This came to the forefront in my running life over a year ago, and I'm still playing catch up.  I have so many glute stretches and strengthening exercises in my sporadic cross training routine that I could write a book about it.

The main problem is that I work in an office.  I'm on my arse most of the day, which is the worst thing in the world for the glutes.  They become lazy and don't 'fire' correctly when running.  This results in other muscle groups overcompensating which ultimately results in overuse injuries and tightness, meaning more stretching.  In particular the adductors on my right side become very tight as well as my lower back.  This doesn't stop me running but it does mean I have constant reminders that I need to increase my bum size.

So, I am doing squats, bridges, lunges, rolling on a tennis ball on a daily basis when time permits.  Active stretching before a run to wake up the glutes and my new found love for Pilates!

I have also discovered that I have a tight Piriformis and stiff hip capsules.  Again, from the office work.  It's easier said than done, but getting off your chair in a busy job every 15-20 minutes is sometimes impossible.  The battle continues....

On a positive note I ran in the Masters North East cross country championships at the beginning of February.  I did better than expected in finishing 4th overall and 2nd V40.  I also ran a park run at Newcastle last week and achieved a parkrun PB of 16:13.  Not far off my 5k PB.  There are some good signs there, the key is to consistent training.

I'm organising the Brough Law fell race next weekend so I won't be racing until the Thrunton Thriller 10k the week after.  Then of course the Good Friday relays.