Monday, 30 March 2009

the kipling kaper (an exceedingly good run)

after my navigational mishap and the resulting dissapointment at not pb'ing at the hobble, i had it in my head to make ammends at the ldwa's 28mile kipling kaper. its the most local long distance event to where i live so the chances of going the wrong way should have been zero.

these events are so sublimally low key you could be forgiven for just sitting round chatting, drinking tea and forgetting to set off. but set off we did at 9am when the 'starter' said something along the lines of 'right you can go whenever youre ready'.

i was expecting really wet and windy weather so it was a nice surprise to set of with some blue skies and sunshine on show.

the kipling kaper really is a run of two halves. a relatively flat route for the first eleven miles or so then the fun starts with shuttlingslow and beyond.

we were ticking the miles off quite nicely chatting to another runner called andy (training for another 100miler)and the weather kept going from sunny intervals to something cooler and more blustery.

the spirits were high but for some reason around the 11-12mile mark the doubts and questions started to seep into my mind. can i be bothered any more with all this long stuff? am i enjoying it anymore? shall i just take the shorter course ?etc i had to get a hold of myself and set out the objective of pb'ing the full 28mile course. head down and with new resolve we set off up shuttlingslow.

this was the first time i could gauge how we were doing in relation to other runners as we started meeting a few coming off the hill as we were starting up it...arghhh!
a very smiley britnick was one such runner..out came his camera for a quick photo opportunity of me and the pooch before he sped off to leave us to continue our stiff climb.

next up was the joy of checkpoint two..a teddybears picnic if ever there was one! a quick cup of coffee and a few sausage rolls for us both before we passed on our gratitude to the helpers and headed off towards cumberland brook.

to keep focussed and stop any further negativity drifting into my mind i split the rest of the run into 6 chunks with goal times to reach each point. it seemed to work in spurring me on as we started passing people on a regular basis.

by the time we reached the final checkpoint at gradbach the weather had gone totally tits up as we had to fight our way through a sleet storm and howling winds. but even that wasnt going to get in our way. off we headed up to the roaches for the final long upward slog, arriving at the trig point some 10minutes ahead of my newly made up schedule. this gave me more determination and across the roaches we went with real purpose.

the final leg, mostly downhill or flat across muddy fields, went by with ease, passing a few more runners before we turned in with a time of 6hrs11mins..a full 20+ minutes faster than last year!. result!

ok so i'm never going to challenge the front half of the field but i took great comfort at the resolve i showed in the face of self doubt and the shear pigheadedness to see through, with flying colours, what could have been a really tough challenge.

a coffee and pork pie (one for charlie too) amidst a quick chat with a few people then off home for a shower.

it would have been the perfect day with just a 5minute drive until mrs uc's car packed up on us just two minutes up the hill! ah well, you cant have it all ways i guess :)

Friday, 27 March 2009

taper angst

the one thing i find really difficult about long distance running is the taper during the week of the race. i guess i'm not alone here. but it still doesn't make it any easier. in the last 5 days i've run once! still eating like a proverbial horse!
anyway, by 9am tomorrow the taper will be over as we head out for a very local 28miles followed by another 14 on sunday....i think it going to be a bit blowy on the tops!

Monday, 23 March 2009

where borders meet (saturday 0630)

this coming saturday we have our second outing of the year - the kipling kaper. now with it being my local event, there should be no excuse for taking a wrong turn (or two) but with the memory of the hobble still lingering i felt i couldn't chance not knowing every single bit of the 28m route inside out. from memory there was one small section that had some vagueness in my mind, so off set early doors on saturday to put that right.

a simple run across the moor from the cat and fiddle over to three shires head - where the shires of cheshire, derbyshire and staffordshire all meet.

simple yet beautiful.
nobody around except from a few wild grouse and some hardy moorland sheep.

it was the kind of run, albeit brief, that makes you glad you're a runner and can run. perfect

Friday, 20 March 2009

the russians are coming!

its amazing what you sometimes come across when youre least expecting it!

this morning as usual me and the pooch headed out at 5.30am (no headtorch required..yipee!) and over to bosley cloud. it was a lovely morning and as usual we had the run to ourselves......well almost

that was until we came within sight of the trig point to see some sort of aerial right next to it sticking up about 12feet into the sky. the closer we got we could see it tethered by 4 guide was some piece of kit whatever it was!

then, as we approached the trig at around 6am, there sat next to it was a little man..kitted out in all sorts of headphones and other radio paraphanaelia (spelling?). i wondered what on earth he was up to? listening to aliens? talking with bin laden? monitoring the russians? should i ask him? i said a cheery 'morning' to which he seemed to just mumble something incomprehensible back. maybe he was a spy. maybe he thought i was on 'the other side'. so without wishing to further interupt whatever it was he was eavesdropping on he headed on our way back home.

i wonder if he thought we were a little odd also?

Monday, 16 March 2009

title undecided

so what became of our first outing of the year at the haworth hobble?

well here are some clues...i couldn't decide on which title best summed up the race for us so here they all are..i'll leave it up to you to choose the one you think is the best match to our woes (for which should i take 110% blame)..

'on going the wrong way'

'dont follow the lost'

'excuse me we're not from these parts and we're looking for..'

'chuffing nora!'

'i can laugh about it now'

anyway, off we set at 5am-ish, arriving in howarth in good time and to be greeted by chance by a very cheery john k,who kindly looked after the pooch whilst i did all the registration stuff etc. we had a good chat as usual about our planned adventures for the year and before long we set off from the start at 'hovis street'.

it took a few miles to settle into a good rhythm and with a strong-ish wind in our faces it added to challenge. but overall it felt good.

as the race went on the field was thinning out, as you'd expect,and we were alone with two guys and girl about 150m ahead of us, moving quite nicely. so we ( ok, i!) decided we would keep them in sight, to help us (me) maintain our momentum rather than needing any route-finding help (as i felt i could remember the course from last year)


the three runners in front then took a wrong turn right (heading down to todmorden)..the same error we (i) made last year. i was about to shout to them but they'd vanished round the corner and out of sight so off we head the right way...then doubts started to set in...who was right...3 vs 1? maybe they knew where they were going, maybe i didn't...self doubt started to creep in so i decided on compromise. being higher up than them i could see them making a descent into the town so i decided to try and somehow come off the ridge i was on and meet then lower down (though they weren't to know this). anyway to cut a long story short i lost them and in being so fixated by where they were i totally lost my bearings in todmorden, trying to get to stoodley pike, which i didn't know until i saw a shop i passed driving to the race. problem was that shop was at the opposite end of the town to where we needed to be. instead of maintaining any composure at this point i started swearing like a trooper (to myself) and then asked a young girl (no joy)then the next unsuspecting passer by for directions.


off on a wild goose we went..up a steep a dead end..then back down..

despondent, dejected..i felt like throwing the towel in and getting a cab back to haworth..the only thing was that i doubt any cab would have taken us in the clarty state we were both in.

up to the point of realising we were lost we would have been on for a course PB of about anywhere between 15-30mins. now all was lost as we added an extra 3 miles to the official 32! and i was so low that i walked them in protest at my own stupidity.

but hey! all was not lost...heading up to mankinholes i met a guy (i think he was called george somebody) who informed me that he was the inventor of the route and original race organiser when it first started 25 years ago. with my routefinding (through the towns only) confidence shaky i felt like i couldn't have been in better hands to see me accurately through hebden bridge. so i decided to run at his slower pace for this added security that i might have needed that lay ahead.


as we started our descent off the moor into hebden bridge he then told me that he hadnt run the course in years, couldnt remember the exact route and did i know!!!!?
by which time we'd overshot the point of where we should have dropped down and instead ended up with another extra mile along the canal into the town.

i bid george farewell and thanked him for his company as he headed off for a bottle
of milk

the next 8 miles or so were emotionally scarring (the whole had become that way post the 16-18mile mark). i walked loads, soul searching...did i really want to continue to do these blah blah blah...

i was also feeling a queasy stomach and couldnt face anymore gels, sweets or carbo-drinks. then up popped the last checkpoint with HOT TEA! it was like a mirage in the desert. i thanked them so much as we headed off up the last climb. once we crested the top i thought 'right, come on now lad, lets get going'. and so we did, going past about 7-8 people in the last three miles with a nice steady run..finishing in...a lot lot longer than we should have.

sorry charlie!

back at the finish, a quick cuppa as i recalled my sorry tale to a very sympathetic brit nick (another smashing chap)

well the upsides were : charlie had a belting day out and was (mostly) oblivious to my angst and foul mood; we covered 35miles (good training for time on your feet given how much of that last 12miles we walked); we eat pork and pickle pies on the way home; and did a nice 5mile warm down the next day giving us 40m for the two days.

lessons to be learned..and as for giving it all up....

...i can laugh about it now;)

Monday, 9 March 2009

perfect 10

friday afternoon. sun in the sky. no hat. no gloves. just one top and a pair of capris. 22miles of blissful running. it felt great and i felt great.

so now we head towards the hobble and charlie is now suitably ready too with his new springtime look!

clipped and bouncing like tigger

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

dusk to dawn (agli antipodi)

last night as the light was fading fast there i was in the driving rain and gale-like winds battling round our waterlogged, filthy track doing an 800m rep session. it wasn't pretty and it wasn't easy but with gritted teeth i fought my way through to come out the other end feeling a sense of real satisfaction.
so i was amazed this morning when we left the house at 5.30am to find a cool calmness had enveloped the land. everything was so still, a clear sky and a crisp chill in the air. what amazed me even more was how quickly my legs wanted to run, as though they'd been sprung like a coil after last nights speed episode. so off we went for a 7mile clip round the lake and it felt amazing.

one thing that's dawned on me recently after watching charlie more is that every run he does is best described as a fartlek. this morning his arse was on fire along the shore of the lake chasing shadows, smells, maybe even squirrels. but it made me realise just how much energy the boy has to be forever going from a steady trot to all out sprinting time and time again, especially over the long distances we cover.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

easy (morning light)

one of my best mates who also knows a thing or two about running always says ' if it was easy, everyone would be doing it'. it's not, so that's why i guess not everyone is doing it. and why i guess it sometimes feels like bloody hard work.

so today as me and the pooch set out for our early morning run we did this particular route clockwise. this way being we climb a mile at both ends of the run (so its the harder way round) rather than descending at the start and finish (easier). the significance is simply that this is the first time this year we've gone that way round. i felt i needed a bigger challenge at 5.45am in the morning right from the start. and it went ok.

as the weeks are progressing so too is the morning light. at 6.20am i was able to switch off my head torch..

...light mornings are coming our way and with them a whole host of optimism...and a feeling of being on top of the world