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


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.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Brief update

A few updates since my last post.

Leeds Abbey dash went better than expected.  I secretly aimed for sub 34 and just sneaked in with 33:51, the last mile was tough which showed up my lack of speed endurance.  I was happy all the same.

I missed the North Eastern cross country due to not putting my name down before the deadline.  Instead I went for the Simonside Cairns race.  A cracking 11 miler starting in Rothbury.  This time my speed endurance paid off, battling with a young whipper snapper in the remaining three miles.  I broke free and ended up winning.  Champion!

Morpeth 11k was a cold affair and a good way to start the year.  It was very quick considering the long drag up Morpeth steads.  I was happy with the result and felt quite strong at the end.  Pilates is paying dividends.  1st v40, 13th overall.

I have no targets this year in particular.  I have, however, sent off my application for the North East Masters.  

I am quite happy getting in some consistent training weeks and picking events when they crop up. No doubt I'll be swayed into trying something daft......

All the best.