Still got it… But we won’t discuss the next day.

Well after two months of being in a camper I needed to stretch my legs. Regular visitors will know that I love to run and after the marathon and Manchester 10k I gave my legs a little rest and its been that way since I touched NZ soil. As those who are new to the blog and following it from the NZ entries, then the soul purpose of the blog started to document my training for the Manchester 10k some years back. But like my running, the blog as grown to express other areas of my life. However today I returned to running in both the blog and life.

Sure I did one or two 5ks on a beach or a quick run around Auckland when I first arrived but nothing to tell my legs or body to keep their form. Well roll on to Wellington and the sight of lycra clad cyclists makes me want to get back on the bike, but the streams of runners that traffic up and down the shoreline inspired me to delve deep into my rucksack and pull out the trainers and get back on a different saddle all together.

Garmin on, heart rate monitor set and I’m off. Running head on into the wind (which is strong) and following the crowd of other like minded folk who enjoy a good workout. The path was flat and being that I had been out of the game I was in good condition, well better than I thought I’d be. I thought I’d only being able to run 5k, but 7 miles later I was saving my activity on the gamin and going in for a well deserved shower.

Now it’s no lie that I did find the 10k distance a little straining, but nothing I couldn’t cope with. What was a real surprise was that I’d kept my speed. The pace was what I’d built up to in my training runs, and the only considerable factor that had changed from having a break was my heart rate. I had managed to get it down to around 152 b.p.m at the 7:30 pace but this run saw it sky rocket to 187.

So while my body has not lost pace or speed (yes they are different) my form is still good, but the three months out if the game as seen my fitness drop if you judge it by HR and the fact that I was ready to stop. Normally I also want to do another 3 or 4 miles. The other substantial factor I noticed that I was not use to running occurred the following day. My quads were acting like I’d just ran for my life, my calves were harder than the earth core and my hamstrings were, well they were behaving like they’ve always done… Stubborn and short.

However role on a day of rest and another run, this time up Mt Victoria, a cruel 3km of steep constant climbing. And only stopping at the top for the views, it seemed that I had not lost my live of hill running. My pace was also sitting at around 8:30 which was darn good.

It’s good to be out running again, and hopefully I’ll be able to burn some of this campervan fat off as snacking on crisps and chocolate in a confined place does nothing to an already shabby figure. The trouble is after today’s hill session I can already hear my tired sore legs complaining, that could see more than just a day of rest. But hopefully I’ll be back out there finding new running routes to fill my garmins memory up and hopefully when I get a job I’ll complete the dream of joining the lycra clad gang and fulling my desire to be back on another type of saddle.

Oh well, time for another stretch and then a shower.

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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.

Hello Mr Magpie

Now I can be described as quite shy. I will often not talk to random people. If I go to a party or a new place of work it takes me time to really open up and start talking to people. However when I run, I’m quite outward.

Now I have discussed this before. It comes under the runners code, for when you see another runner a little nod or wave to communicate that you are in this together. That you are part of the fraternity of runners. If you are able to spare any breath then a simple ‘Hi’ would also communicate this. All to often I see ‘Joggers’ and I will call them such as they ignore this simple rule of acknowledgement and after all why should I expect them to know the ‘Runners’ code when they are just simple ‘Joggers’. After all they only come out when the sun has his hat on or there is a rather large ‘Great Run’ event to train for which they have left too late with their 3 year old trainers that have seen better days. Now I’m not being a snob about running, but the correct footwear is a must.

Now don’t get me wrong. I think any one who runs, jogs or walks at a quick pace is better than those who remain with their buttocks firmly attached to the sofa. But it does annoy me when I see fellow runners who ignore me. After all hill walkers have the same code and they even go as far to stop and engage in discourse. ‘Where you come from?’ ‘What route you taking?’ ‘Have you done this before?’ Off course like with running some hill walkers have little respect for their brethren as I have often passed walkers descending a path only to find out that the path has become impassable from the recent weather. Off course many hill walkers will pass that bit of info on and maybe even stop and discuss the next best alternative route to the top.

Runners as I have said are a funny bunch. We are a strong community, a bond. We share the passion and dreams but yet we seem to carry out the mere function of running alone. Even when we run with a pack or a group we tend to be in our zone but a simple hand wave, nod, brief ‘hello’ demonstrates that you are in this together.

So the point of the title… Well its simple. The the other day I was out running and said hello to around seven fellow runners. Five returned the greeting in their own way while two ignored my efforts. The odd thing is, like me one of the ‘ignorers’ seemed to be superstitious as I saw her salute and greet a Magpie. Now I often say ‘Good day Mr Magpie’ I have no idea why, but I can always remember being told to say hello as it was good luck. The peculiar thing is that this runner wouldn’t waste energy on greeting a fellow runner one of her own but instead chose to waste breath on a bird.

Now lets not get into the nitty gritty. But like walkers, runners often inform one another of the perils or dangers ahead. I was once told you should always say hello to a fellow hill walker so they remember you. Because if for some reason you got lost, standard or injured there would be someone on the ground who could remember your last whereabouts. Surly this is the same with runners. I often see the same faces at races and on the paths of Manchester and a simple hello after pounding the pavements is a real energy boost knowing that there is someone else like you who is feeling the same. Lets face it, a bird isn’t going to give a dam about what you are going through let alone even know what a ‘salute’ means.

So if you have time to say hello to a magpie which for me is important and I always do, then say a hello to your fellow runners. You will be surprised how good it makes you feel.

Ten is the magic number

 

Well those of a certain age will know that ‘three’ is the magic number but for me at the moment ‘ten’ is looking very good.

This weekend kicks of the first of many 10k’s one of which is Manchester’s Great 10k run, the race where my obsession all began. Sure back in November 2010 I had started running to lose the belly and as motivation I entered the race to make sure that the past times I use to loathe and have such distaste for would not beat me  and force me to give up my aim of dropping the excess weight. Up to that put, I would run and then feel shattered so would leave that past time alone. But now I had an aim, a race and further more I was doing it for charity so I couldn’t escape from the torment of running.

But now just almost a year on to that race which opened my eyes to the joy of running, I’m running in several races. Since that first race I have gone on to loose two more stone, ran a marathon, several halfs and a handful of 10k’s all of which sees me running five days a week to a tune of forty miles.

So ten is the magic number. It was the number that got me into running and is a distance I can just beat out before I go to work. It’s also a good race to train for as you can do some good hill and speed sessions and that is where this post is born from. For the last six months I’ve been working on my marathon training and now that I’m rested and recovered I can look forward to my preparation for the 10k races which means I can rediscover all those benefits of speed and hill sessions, not that I ignored them while training for 26.2 but I felt building miles in the legs were a bigger benefit and now I can just run and fit in speed sessions into my weekly training. So tonight at the gym (because I have more control of the speed and inclines) I did a stocker of a session that left me a little drained but still wanting more.

So here’s to one of my favorite distances and races both for what it means to me and the training that goes with it.