The Physio and I

Its coming up to a year when I entered a hall filled with tables and stands from various companies who gave away free samples of their drinks, gels, socks all in the vain hope you would buy in to their brand loyalty. I quickly skipped past these tables to fail leaving the building with the knowledge that I had not signed up to any year-long deals or emptied my wallet of cash in order to buy the latest in cooling fabric technology or lycra curing tights to ease any muscle aches and pains. No what had happened is my eye caught that of a woman behind a table for a physio practice.

I had for many months been trying to find somewhere that did sport massage as all the forums and mags were shouting from the roof tops how good a deep tissue massage was and it should be part of your training sitting along side your hill, speed, tempo and long runs. I began to talk to said woman about it being my first marathon and how training had gone only to be signed up to a 50% off session. Well I thought, I could always not attend, but then again I would properly need a good rub down afterwards and even then it’s one session.

As we all know I was in pain for the next week. DOMS had struck with vengeance, except it was not so much delayed as ‘You’ve finished? Right lads let make him suffer. Legs, refuse to move and if you do make sure he knows about it’ It was with this that I had managed to climb out of bed and get to my physios table. When he had finished he asked me about mobility and said he could get me to touch my toes, and that a good runner as good mobility and he could help me with this. 

Before I knew it I was attending every month. Now while I get on with my physio, and would say we are friends. I ask him about his house his bought and we chat about running, latest food, exercise studies I feel I am trapped. I don’t feel like I can end the relationship. A little like when people see a councilor or a shrink… Its only those with the power and not the client who know when it is time to finish. After all why would they inform you that you no longer need to attend, that’s basically them giving up work and if they can see you are getting better they have the power to slow down the treatment and drag it out for as long as they like. 

The trouble is, I enjoy it and feel it has helped. As well as being a physio he has also helped me to move better, giving me advice and work outs to strengthen parts of my body that I have neglected, but the biggest part is that he has nipped issue in the butt before they began. Several times I would complain of niggles and within minutes he would be on the scene and instructing me to do exercise X and sure enough within days the niggle was gone. 

I have also seen a vast improvement in my times. When I started seeing him, my PB for 10K was 55, and for the half it was 1:49. They now sit at 40 minutes and 1:35. I find that for my marathon this Sunday, the one where it all began I will be smashing a large chunk of time off.

So while I will be sad to let him go, and have often felt trapped in his clutches, almost like a smoker is addicted to the evil temptress of nicotine, without him I feel my running this year would have ben a very different story. 

To echo the forums and mags, having a physio really is as important to your training as all the other elements. 

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My New Toy

I’ve got myself a new toy. Go me.

With 65 days to go until I board the plane, not that I’m counting. I have manged to sell all my DVDs and CDs that I wanted to get rid off. Some off them I have exchanged for a new toy. Constant thoughts about whether I take my computer or not have been playing repeatedly. Sure I will need it as I am planning to work, but a MacBook is an expensive bulky item to have in your backpack.

A friend suggested a tablet, I can Skype, tweet, Facebook, and read books and do all the other fun stuff with the added bonus of having a lightweight portable piece of kit that can easily be hidden away.

So with this I exchanged some of my DVDs for an iPad mini. While I still don’t see the point of them at the moment as I am still very much attached to my laptop I feel that this toy will certainly be my new friend and will keep me company for the first two months of my travels.

And yes, I did use the WordPress app to write this blog entry. I’d be a fool not too.

A Windy Hill Top – Part 2 of Weekend in the Lakes.

Right lets climb some mountains. We are after all surrounded by the beasts and whats the point of going to Lakes if you’re not going to climb anything. The original idea was to climb the Pike from Great Gable but with the recent dumps of snow the reports were still showing that both peaks were hiding beneath snow drifts and Great Gable was a little icy on some of the more challenging sections of her back.

The back up was to concentrate on the Coniston Fells. I’d already done the Old Man and some of the others to the south, but both of us had failed to do Wetherlam. Once told by a friend this mountain is off the tourist trail but can be reached via several routes.

As we started the walk, the word of the day was ‘Up’ followed by ‘Steep’ Straight away we were climbing through disused mines and quarries and before we knew it we were trekking our way down to the river bed through a forest only to climb out of the gorge to a field of sheep on the side of a hill. As the trail rounded around a corner we found ourselves with Wetherlam looking down on us from the left.

At this angle she looked like any other mountain, a sheer cliff face with a ridge over looking a valley floor. But as the path took us in a kind of horse shoe route up and down to her base, the true scale was revealed.

This was not going to be a usual ‘stepped out’ climb of the lakes. It was not going to be a steep walk. This was a scramble, this had scree, and as the clouds wrapped around the peak and the wind blew in the mist to haze our view of what lay ahead. We began with earnest to climb.

The start the hike was as you find on Crinkle Crags, or climbing to the summit of Bowfell. Steep rocks, with a kind of worn path leading you to the summit. From the start we spotted cairns every couple of meters suggesting this was not the straight forward walk we thought. Before long we had broken though the mist and clouds to find that the path we were following which zig-zag its way up the side was slowly being blocked and cordoned off by snow.

The sheets of snow that prevented us from continuing were just that. The water that was running down the mountain was melting the snow from the bottom up so what you had was a sheet of thick snow bridging across rocks leaving often large voids beneath. It was at this junction I thought best to turn back but my walking buddy found a way.

So we scrambled around snow covered path to find the path further on ahead. All the time trying to spy the next cairn and find a safe route to it. Say what you like about them, but these piles of rocks have helped me to navigate my way to the top and back down again several times when the path and visibility has not always been great. Onwards we trekked  and as the scramble turned into a bit of a rock climb as the steep path turned into a sheer climb, we hugged the rock face shouting warnings of scree as we clambered nearer to the summit.

The top of her was patched up in snow and as we navigated around the snow drift to attack the summit from the south we found that the wind carried us up to her crown. The wind ripped and roared past, over, below and through us, and with every gust it tried to push and shove us over in a playful spirit but with sense of underlining menace . Occasionally the wind would  get a little more frustrated that we were not playing and decided to out right attempt to blow us off the mountain in angry from s refusing to play its games.

The original idea of the walk was a circular one, taking in several more peaks before we returned to the car and as we headed east to come off her snowy peak we encountered several snow drifts, some on the edge. The wind was not getting restless at beating us black and blue and the wind chill was not adding to the fun. We decided that the only safe way back was the way we knew and to head on down. As we descended the cloud broke and we saw snow filling the ridges and troughs, giving the impression that the mountain top was flat like a dining table. While we were sticking to the path and making sure we were with insight of cairns we both agreed that we could have easily strayed away and  seeing how the snow was bridged further down the hill-side with the water melting the drifts from bottom up we knew we had made the right choice. None of us knew this mountain and I didn’t want to dance along on the carpet of snow to only to be buried at waist height, or sink into a tarn, swamp or bog.

I think that while the day was filled with excitement, the fear factor was stronger than when I walked Grib Goch, and there was something about the fairy tale opening of the walk with the empty mine shafts and blasted   out  quarries that nature had reclaimed which slowly changed into the bleak stoney atmosphere of a foreign planet with a mix of climbs as we grew closer to her summit.

The Lakes has always been a place at the bottom of my list. But the more I visit and the more I bag, my opinion of the landscape looking samey changes. But with the scrambles and scree this makes yet another Wainwright and mountain that makes me want to visit the Lakes more.

The Langdale Express – Part One of my weekend in the Lakes

The weekend was not going to be a rest day by any means. I had walking, camping and racing planned and that is exactly what I did.

Come Sunday morning I was waking at 6am ready to drive to Ulverston to meet a friend who would be participating in these activities. But first we had to get there and as my friend volunteered to navigate along the stereotypical roads that crisscross and meander through the valleys and around the foot of the mountains that stand tall and survey the landscape we found ourselves in Langdale.

The main object of the weekend was the Langdale 10K race, an undulating little number of there and back. Last year it was held over two days and had reached its 500 capacity on both days very quickly. This year had a capacity of 750, but for reasons unknown failed to get more than 100 on each of the days. As the rain lashed down and thoughts that I would finally get to wear my rain jacket which was a direct result of being left out in the rain for too long at Manchester Marathon, and the knowledge that Snowdon Marathon was notorious for its wetness I decided that a decent running waterproof was in order. Apart from the odd training run I had never really got to use it. But as the wind buffered the side of the car and the rain carried on falling I thought I would finally be fulfilling it’s purpose.

I joked that once we started the rain would ease off, and sure enough seconds after the gun the rain ceased to be. This must have been the strangest of races I have lined up for. I think in total there were 39 other people positioned ready to start and as I ran and ran fast it felt very much like a training run. The pack broke up quickly and within the first 30 seconds the distance between the runners were spread out along the valley road.

After a strong race, where I kept my position and managed to over take a guy in the last two miles my legs didn’t quite have the energy to pass the woman 500 meters in front of me but I still crossed the line in just over 43 minutes, that considering the course was a good time.

After the race we set up camp in the National Trust campsite which was empty apart from some rabbits and several flooded pitches. We found an area that we thought would remain dry and set up camp. After the comical chasing of tent bags due to a large gust of wind in which the blog takes its title we were set up. Now it was time for a walk.

The weather was still unsettled and a little apprehensive in what it wanted to do, but we began the climb to Pavey Ark. The river that runs down from the tarn was in full flow as it rushed down the valley, leaping off rocks kicking spray into the air. The usual route across seemed a little dangerous as the stepping-stones across the river were covered with white foaming water rushing along. After seeking an alternative we made it to the snow topped tarn and looked for a way to climb Pavey Ark. Again the river and streams were full to bursting and current was faster than a penderlino from London. We concluded no safe way and as the cloud cover and storm clouds began to circle we thought it wise to turn back for food and ales.

After a good many drinks and a very typical English tradition of paying Draughts, which I lost, we turned in for the night. This was when the fun began.

As I tossed and turned to get to sleep, I heard the rumble and howling of the wind coming off the mountains as she sped up running toward the valley and the campsite I heard it rush past the tent. Then there was silence, and like the after shock of a quake the full effect of the wind took hold. With no noise the tent blew, and shook trying to be lifted from its moorings, and then nothing. Then five minutes later the same effect. The noise of the wind followed by silence followed by the effect. This went off throughout the night and into the morning which made the packing of tents a very enjoyable experience as we battled with the gales to un-pin our shelters from the ground while still trying to keep said tents firmly in our grasp.

I later find out they call this the Langdale Express and sometimes the wind come from both directions and crashes in the centre of the valley.

After packing away and checking the forecast we moved on to climb Wetherlam. But that is a different story all together. As I when I say climb, I mean climb.

The first part of this weekend break was a fantastic adventure with good company. I had ran a good race, walked in one of the few places that I hold dear to my heart next to Snowdon and had a lot of good ale and fantastic food.

Being Rooted

A while ago I did a play where the over all theme was how young people deal with a death of a friend. One of the characters had moved on after a year where the others were still coming to terms with the loss. The director gave the note that the character was grounded. He was rooted like an oak tree. He knew who he was and the direction of his life.

Turn the focus to me and a number of text messages between my best mate and myself with the subject New Zealand and I slowly reveal why New Zealand is on the cards. You all know I have a strong dislike for my job which is getting stronger by the week. But after so many years I still feel lost. My life is not what I want it to be. I have not found myself. Sure I know I like running, hills and Wales. I know what I would like to do… But as all my friends are settling down and buying houses or getting married I still find myself alone and spinning in circles.

New Zealand is an extension to the running. Running has helped me to keep far enough away from the black dog biting and taking hold, it has helped me become happier and more confident but yet my life is still missing pieces to make it whole.

So New Zealand is in some ways a way to escape, and rediscover who I am and what I want to be. Spending time away to think about me. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but NZ is hopefully going to be a life changing event. Maybe if I come back I will know who I am and may even begin to settle down. Maybe move to Wales and walk the hills. Maybe I will be just like the character out of the play. Some one who is strong and knows who they are.

Several people have commented and made similar statements to the one below that was made by a work colleague and friend.

“No offence… But you’re not happy in here, NZ will do you good. It’s good to get away from people and places that don’t make you happy”

Three Weeks Tomorrow.

Tomorrow will be Sunday and in three weeks, I will be racing the Manchester Marathon and I am shitting it.

Training has not been good. But next week I will be doing a nice temp run in Langdale with some good hill walking before I begin to taper and spend those extra hours where I would have been running to concentrate on core and do some cross training.

I need to squeeze one long run in again and maybe doing a 15 miler at speed just to convince myself that I am ready.

Oh well off to what has been distracting me and preventing me training the way I wanted to. Thats right Work.