Thursday, 23 December 2010

happy christmas everyone!

hope you've enjoyed reading my little blog as much as i have yours
happy christmas
and keep on running!
charlie and dd x

Monday, 13 December 2010

forbidden fruits and a little indulgence

driving up to the north east to see my family i went by the lakes. it was a sadastic form of torture as there were the mountains but no time to run in them, but i did find just enough time time to divert into here..

one of the finest running shops ever..

..and have a bit of pre-xmas running retail indulgence

now that's what i call quite good

Monday, 6 December 2010

temporarily sidelined

whilst we've got all this lovely freezing weather, a bout of man flu has curtailed any outings for the past four days. and in just these four little days its amazing how quickly doubts can form in your mind...suddenly i'm questioning my chances of running a race that's 8 months away! madness.

anyway, im hoping i'll pass my fitness test tomorrow morning and get back out in it.

as you can see his nibs is still in chipper spirits, oblivious to any of the mind wobbles i may be having

(photo and outing courtesy of mrs uc..thanks)

Sunday, 28 November 2010

all i want for christmas...

fantastic freezing cold weather here, especially the higher up you go.the wind chill factor really kicked in yesterday so it was full on full body cover on our 21.5m outing

up to 'the cloud' first

the river dane is full flow

ferrel goats keeping a watchful eye on his nibs


hen cloud in all its glory

so to answer my question..all i want for christmas is a little compact camera..i wonder if santa reads this blog? or even mrs uc ;-)

what does everyone else want?

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

winter wonderland

its official and its great! the cold snap is well and truly here
our run out this morning at 0530 was done under chilly clear skies, on a crisp moonlit landscape. absolutely perfect and invigorating. but no pics unfortunately. well it was dark!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

roaches rush hour

today started as a nice local, gentle 17+ miler to get my weekly total up into the 50's

there was a temp inversion and generally all was quiet, except for the odd uncontrollable dog we came across..people of britain,please pop 'em on leads if they take no notice of your 'commands'. thank you. rant over.
anyway it was a nice little trot out from home along rudyard lake to leek, round tittersworth and over to the ....uh oh its the roaches race today! not for the first time have i ventured over here on race day (remember hayfella?)

anyway i scootered through meerbrook just ahead of the start and by the time i got up the field i could see the leaders coming up..i suddenly felt like a fox being chased by the much-speedier hounds..and i'd already done 10 or so miles and besides in a race like that i'd be a back of pack runner anyway
it was all about how long i could go before the inevitable of the front end whippets would come flying past

the leader popped by us just before the trig...then within minutes a gradual trickle continued on by

it was really quite strange to be amidst a race without actually being a real competitor

anyway here's the really crazy thing...17.5 miles here, largely run in mostly slimy muddy fields, took more out of us both than last weekends 28 mile run over stoney mountain daft is that!

Monday, 8 November 2010

brilliant days

this was my first wholy self-indulgent UTLD100 training weekend up in the lakes. looking at what i packed you could have been forgiven for thinking i was actually heading up there for two weeks not two days..a minimalist i am not when it comes to that side of things
a 7am start and two hours later i was in retail therapy heaven at pete bland sports in kendal. i could have stayed there longer, spent more, but with a few new treats (ahem ..i mean essentials) it was a quick drive down to kentmere to meet my good friend meesy aka hayfella for a trip round the kentmere horseshoe, a lovely 13m rollercoaster route climbing around 3600ft
the skies were clear,the sun out,the shades on and we had a great was brilliant to catch up with steve..lots to chat about and after his op and recuperation i hope this was run proved to be a good rehab strategy. either that or he'll be cursing me today

(hayfella and his nibs)

(kentmere horseshoe looking pretty damn lovely)

we said farewell and i then headed off to my next 'appointment' down at wilfs cafe in staverley to discuss all things UTLD100
after a very inspiring chat and a few pots of tea it was off to the kings head in thirlmere..our chosen provider of sanctuary, fine ales and the best cumberland sausage and was absolutely brilliant
rising before breakfast for 'day two' they'd kindly put out a bit of continental fayre but forgotten a cereal bowl.improvisation was the order of the moment so there i was eating muselli out of a very large red wine glass..very posh if not a bit eccentric

our meet up point for the UTLD100 recce was right in front of this glorious autumnal view of windermere. a very familiar face and friend, simon aka safety pin, was there too plus a fellow forumite, denzel aka hot tub alci, and his dog meg

(windermere early morning)

today's little outing was to be a 28m, 6500ft recce from pooley bridge back over to ambleside. another sunny morning and the lakes looking its very best

the five of us, pooches included, ran together up to gatesgarth path, when hot tub alci got his secret weapons out (his poles) and powered on ahead, leaving me simon and charlie to continue alone

(safety pin..on our way up to high kop)

anyway, we had an absolute belter of a day (thanks to mark, terry, and the checkpoint folk..they do know how to organise stuff but moreso are just really nice guys too) and finished feeling very fresh, with thoughts of planning our next trip up.i was especially chuffed that id remembered the route and only had to reference the routebook a couple of times.

a pork pie and a pasty for charlie seemed good reward for a cracking day out..the boy's a star.

now where's that diary??

Monday, 1 November 2010

collie's roundup

pleased to say that week 1 of my utld100 training has passed without event and im still on track. with 39 more weeks of training to go and some big mileage ahead there are no heroics just yet, no fetes of massive human endeavour...just 53.5 miles in a variety of climatic conditions ranging from -5 to +15 degrees. all done in the glorious surroundings of autumnal technicolours, though most mornings in the pitch black.
this time im trying to be a good pupil this time round so i've even started putting tempo runs and hill reps back on the menu.
and i can't wait for the weekend (bouncing like tigger with giddiness)..a two day pass out to the lakes with his nibs..saturday with the my good friend hayfella around the kentmere horseshoe followed by a 26 mile recce on sunday of the 100 course from dalemain to ambleside..boing boing!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

dont let the demons in

as you can probably guess due to my lack of blogging i've been away. well either that or i've had nothing worthwhile or remotely interesting to say. or maybe both!
after 7 wonderful warm days in portugal with karen and the kids - just messing about, doing 'bombs' into the pool, laughing, lazing around, banging down huge water slides at breakneck speeds, just stuff you do as a close-knit family, all without distraction or interuption - i landed back home with a huge unexpected bump

maybe not straight away..there was our annual trip to alton towers' 'scarefest'

then a trip up to see the wonderful amy macdonald (if she's playing your neck of the woods pop along and see her..she's absolutely brilliant live)

and then, BANG, back to work
now normally after a holiday im full of get up and go and general positive vibes
in portugal i ran 5 miles religiously everyday..that's all, but enough to ensure my legs remembered what they were created for. then on the plane home i (finally) finished reading 'feet in the clouds' (i started it three holidays ago).
so why yesterday, my first day back at work, could i not muster up any enthusiasm to run or , in fact, do anything that remotely involved physical exertion? why did i completely avoid updating my running log or reassess my training plan?
deep down i know the answer..i know what was trying to drag me down, trying to sap my positivity. coming back to wet, cold, dark britain doesn't help but its more fundamental than that. but i won't bore you with the details..though i suspect hayfella and part time runner know what im talking about
this morning my alarm went off at 0515. time to run. a moment of truth..can i be arsed? can i be arsed to drag my butt out of my lovely warm bed and into the cold dark morning that lay waiting outside? reluctantly i did
it wasn't until 0600 that i finally made it out into what then seemed a very univiting big outdoors. if anything it felt like a chore to start..give charlie his run out (bless him, without a run for 8 days, he was bouncing around like tigger!) and make sure i keep going as i've the small matter of 100 miles to run in 9+ months. '100 miles!!!' i thought..'no way!..i can't do this every morning in the cold and dark for the next 4 months! and work's utterly pants! what if the axe falls on my head next??'.
as you can see, by 0615 every excuse and every piece of early morning negativity was knocking on my door, and pretty loudly too. demons determined to up-end me, my belief, my joie-de-vie, and my plans.
well, for whatever reason they failed again to get in!
maybe charlie's flightiness and general giddiness, chasing wildlife (i couldn't make out what)from hedge to hedge inspired me. maybe thoughts of karen and hollie and will. maybe it was memories of conquering past ultras. maybe i was inspired by my singing (in my head!)amy macdonalds lyrics 'but i will run until my feet no longer run no more'. or maybe it was the thought of facing you the jury, and others like you, and telling you i'm no longer doing it.
anyway, by 0700 and with my home in sight, i was back on form, brimming with positive vibes, planning my lunchtime run, and eager to re-edit my 'next 9+ months' plan
as my journey continues i simply have to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
so come on people. lets bloody well run. and lets run with a smile on our faces. because we can!

Thursday, 30 September 2010

keep off the moors...

..stick to the roads

0530. its pitch black outside. and a pea souper. so it's on with the headtorch and charlie's flashing collar

out we head. into the thick of it. i can bearly see a thing. i see things only once I'm on top of them. my light illuminating only the nearest vapour drops flying through the air at me.

we leave the road. charlie goes off lead, into the darkness

the occasional moth divebombs my face
im garrotted time and time again by low lying cobweb lines
as i pass the lake a kerfuffle someone in there trying to bag wild ducks?? i can't see, only hear. whatever it is im not hanging round to find out so i put my foot down
every so often i call out for charlie, just to check he's still around and we're agreed on the route
a light in the distance comes closer. a cyclist. i bid good morning as we pass. no reply. not even a mad ha ha ha laugh, grim reaper style. i pick up the pace again to make good our getaway.
gradually the dark fades, the fog starts to lift
we enter a field. charlie sends rabbits scattering in every direction.
the bullocks stir, their eyes lit up by my torch, their minds lit up by charlie. time to get the lad to heel
soon we're home. no sign of life yet apart from sid sat by the back door awaiting his breakfast munchies

so here we are again, another 5 months plus of this until spring, and its light mornings, comes and visits us once again

if you can't change something, embace it

Friday, 17 September 2010

taper time

its taper time in our household. but not for me and charlie. for these two little chaps (or chappesses).

born around 10-12 weeks ago in our barn, i get the feeling they're preparing to leave soon with their mum and dad.

they'll be travelling over 5000miles to spend their winter in South Africa. 5000miles! they travel through western France, across the Pyrenees, down eastern Spain into Morocco, and across the Sahara.

they migrate by day at low altitudes and find food on the way. despite accumulating some fat reserves before crossing large areas such as the Sahara Desert, they are vulnerable to starvation during these crossings. migration is a hazardous time and many birds die from starvation, exhaustion and in storms.

migrating swallows cover 200 miles a day, mainly during daylight, at speeds of 17-22 miles per hour. the maximum flight speed is 35 mph.

i'm in absolute awe of these little fellas and the task that lies ahead of them. hats of to them. the swallows have been coming to our house ever since we moved in 15years ago. nesting in the same barn amazes do they pinpoint it with such accuracy? their arrival and departure signal change.

it kinda puts doing 100 miles into perspective don't you think?

Monday, 13 September 2010

one step beyond (OMG)

the entry is in
the date is set
now we (me and raldiss) have just over 10 months to get ourselves into the kinda shape needed to get round the UTLD100


(and in case you're wondering, my 4 legged sidekick will be doing all the training/recceing and then nearer the time we'll take a call on how much of the 100 he'll do, subject to logistics of drop off / pick up pooch points)

Sunday, 5 September 2010

The Four Trigs Traipse

well my friends i can forgive you for asking ''what is this 'the four trigs traipse'?''

let me tell you.

its a TOTALLY NEW anytime challenge that involves traipsing around, yes you guessed, four trigs!

having spent more time in the pub than out on the moors since the Lakeland 50, this weekend was earmarked to signal my return to a longer distance outing. i was down to run the ldwa's 'where eagles fly' yesterday but a number of reasons culminated in a decision to stay local. so sitting outside my local, the Knot Inn in Rushton Spencer, on a glorious Friday evening, quaffing a couple of alcoholic beverages, i pondered a route i hadn't done before in its entirety to try to avoid any issues of repitition and boredom. and this my friends was the result of said ponder.

you heard it here first. i'm sure its bound one day to be registered as a 'classic'!

right then the traipse.

its a 27mile round robin (with anywhere between 4000-4500ft ascent, though i really dont have a clue) that starts from the Knot Inn and traipses up to The Cloud, Shutlingsloe, The Roaches, The Gun and back to the Knot. About 3 miles tops of tarmac the rest off road.

And here it is in glorious technicolour.

Trig 1, The Cloud.
an early start meant we were rewarded with the back end of sunrise. in the distance you can see our next trig, shutlingsloe, waiting our arrival.

from the cloud, its down the gritstone trail leaving it eventuality to head into wincle, up to the wild boar, hammerton knowl, higher nabbs, dropping down to the cragg inn and then up to..

Trig 2, Shutlingsloe
again in the distance, our next trig, the roaches

descending shutlingsloe we head over, via tagsclough hill, to gradbach yh (the cafe was closed and our supplies were getting low) and up through forest wood to roach end
(here we were met with what i thought was a mirage which turned out to be real and a saviour too, supplying cold coke and crisps to revive dropping energy levels)

and then, coke and crisps in hand, we arrived at

Trig 3, The Roaches
i dont need to say it but if you look carefully you can the distance

from the trig we head along the roaches to rockhall, windygates and cross country to meerbrook. here we head on to lower wetwood and up to oldhay top before our final ascent over the gun moor to

Trig 4, The Gun

off the gun, and head down back into rushton village and whatever takes your fancy at the knot

for any racing / event anoraks out there this route covers in bits the following events

cloud nine, kipling kaper, shutlingsloe, the roaches, passing clouds, xmas cracker, leek half, meerbrook 15, gun run

so there you have it, the birth of a new anytime challenge, The Four Trig Traipse. simply four trigs to traipse around.

i hope you get the chance to enjoy it too

Monday, 23 August 2010

Friday, 13 August 2010

Monday, 9 August 2010

wansfell pike

great things come in small parcels
or so the saying, or a derative of it, goes
for me, this short run ranks way above any other i know of

start at the low wood hotel on windermere
run uphill for around 2.5 miles and 1400ft up to wansfell pike
do not disturb fell ponies as you pass

get to cairn, in the clag, out of breath for photoshoot opportunities

pause for more breath, taking close in shot of upper cairn

start descent of 1400ft over 2.5 miles
run for your life on bottom fields
way faster than feels safe
legs can hardly keep the pace gravity demands
so fast its totally liberating

brake before kissing gate
compose oneself
walk through gate, back to 'civilisation', wearing a massive grin

love it

nice one charlie

Sunday, 25 July 2010

stick or twist?

right guys..prior to doing the lakeland 50 yesterday (though finishing today) i started banging on about doing the fully monty ie the utld100 next year. having just done the 50 im now not so sure. put it this way..if , as i entered the finish area somebody said 'right off you it all again' would i have been willing? no. able? no. so why should i think that with another 12 months training things could change so dramatically? and i'd be running it only partly with my sidekick which wont be the same. the jury's out. watch this space.

so to this years 50.

firstly, to folk i know..great to see britnick, claire, danny (from a distance), will, kate (hope the ankle is on the mend), and my good mate part time runner (purveyor of fine tentside teas and ale). and to all the new friends we met alomg the way. and to'll be back i know it.

secondly, to the organisers marc, terry and all the plethora of support crew..thanks a million. what a top event. really. it must require a masters in logistics. that said, i think the initial four mile loop could be better spent on the fells round high raise/street area than round the estate..for what its worth.

thirdly, to all the randomly located supporters and all the people of support and a great reception for which we're mega grateful

fourthly, i had a decent outing..finishing in the top half..would you believe it! but more importantly had a good back end over the last 17 or so miles largely in the dark from ambleside to consiston..leading a pack of runners that didnt know the route..i have my uses i guess

and finally, but most the first dog* home...what an absolute superstar, inspiration and utter joy to run with. terry, the race director, gave the lad his moment of glory announcing his finish (and win) to all! as always, he made friends with lots of folk during the run..a true 4-legged legend if ever there was one

*(what he ate along the way..1.5 cornish pasties, 10 sticks of flapjack, 2 slices buttered soreen, 2.5 bowls beef stew, a dog treat from kate and gerraint, and x litres of water fresh from the fells)

Sunday, 18 July 2010

running high interrupted

yesterday we had a great run, our first outing of any real distance since the coast to coast. i was on a high, a bloody massive high. but today is a different story.

ahead of next weeks lakeland 50 i thought it would be good to recce the last 17 miles, some of which im guessing we'll be running in the dark on the day.

having been in a bit of a post c2c 'what next? if anything' dip, it was great to feel the thrill and excitement of being out there amongst it all again. just me, the pooch and a little adventure to be immersed in once again.
i was a little worried beforehand that it might feel like a chore. it turned out to be totally the opposite.

it lashed it down, i got drenched. the trails were flooded, my feet soaked very early on but it was brilliant! i took a very quick and very unexpected tumble onto my backside and laughed..i think charlie laughed too.

the whole place, shrouded in low menacing dark cloud and moody vistas of falling rain, provided an atmosphere so unique to the lake district

i feel i've finally got the real adventure bug..i finally feel i have the fitness and the confidence to go out there and have a proper blast. it feels so liberating and energising.

once in coniston, having started in ambleside, we bussed back and eat raldiss's infamous lamb and mint pies to refuel. the bus driver deserves an he managed to get that huge beast round the tight lanes whilst negociating with less than cooperative tourist cars is beyond me

i bought charlie a little thank you present too..though i reckon the ham sandwich he had once back in ambleside was more welcome!
homewardbound we popped by for a cup of tea at hayfella's and mrs hayfella. it was lovely to see them in their new lovely abode..hopefully he'll be back in his innov8's in the not too distant future

and so to today.
at 1am last night we were knocked up with banging at the door. it was our neighbours, yelling frantically. one of our barns was ablaze. fortunately they heard / seen it in time before it spread to the other barn with the horses in.
the fire engines pitched up and battled with the inferno for a couple of hours. no lives lost thank god, but my 46 year old tractor and loyal servant, little blue, perished along with 150 bales of hay and 12 large bales of haylage. karen's horse trailer was rescued having partially melted in places. the firemen were superb. but thanks goes out to our neighbours, the shribmans, who in effect saved the lives of our two lovely irish boys. its a sorry sight down there today. the clearup will probably start tomorrow. but to borrow a cliche..we count our lucky stars

Sunday, 4 July 2010

day 7 - this is it

day 7 - glaisdale to robin hoods bay, 20 miles 1600ft

after the previous nights shennanigans, the final day was upon us accompanied with great anticipation and rising spirits. the 20 miles would come and go with the great dark and menancing north sea getting ever closer

no trains to robin hoods bay

the route was no less dramatic, no less beautiful than any of the previous six days but im not sure we paid as much attention to it. we were waiting to see the sea and moreso, the cobbled tight streets of the stuning robin hoods bay.

midge hall

richard ditches the salad cream sandwich for..

very relaxed we ran some and we walked some. some of us still hoping for lots of stick throwing capers

nearly there

there it is!

having been brought up further up the coast from here, i felt quietly emotional for the north sea to be our final destination point, like coming home in a strange kind of way

the 3 mile cliff top route from moor wyke hole seemed to go on and on, but each turn brought yet another stunning and different view of the coastline and the huge vertigo-inducing cliffs

then round from ness point there it was..our finish line!

striding down through the steep, narrow street that leads to the beach there was no welcoming reception, no cheers or handclaps. we were just two guys and a dog quietly ,and with our own probably very different thoughts, about to complete an adventure of a lifetime

we ran past the bay hotel and the finish plaque and went for a last minute sprint finish to the shoreline...though i guess it looked nothing like a sprint to any other eyes

some woops of delight, some high fives, we'd done it! 194 miles done and dusted!

id love to know what went through charlie's mind though i'm pretty sure he was too preoccupied messing around in the sea to really notice or care

after lots of photos, texts and calls loved ones and friends, celebratory beers were in order and the signing of 'the book' in the bay

once the euphoria had died down a little, and the realisation that all that fun and the huge challenge was over, an eerie silence began to descend upon me. its funny now to think that such an immense high can without notice start to dip so incredibly
quickly. there was a real 'what now?' in the air.

there was nothing blase about it. richard had achieved what was previously in his mind the unachievable..a completely loony idea i had suggested just six months previously that he never thought possible.
i always felt, or should i say made myself believe it was doable. but i was just so bloody relieved that i got us across and that my navving duties were finally over!..for now anyway.

our final watering hole

and charlie? i think he had the week of his life too. always leading the line, always wagging his tail full of fun, abounding energy and spirit..he was a great inspiration to us both. without him, i wouldn't have ever thought of tackling this.
and along the way, i gradually learned to become more patient with him. our bond has strengthened and im really grateful that this trip could have such an unexpected positive effect

sweet dreaming

this was our adventure. our adventure of a lifetime. 7 days of pure exhilorating fun where time seemed to stand still. a moment away from the maddening world. a time never to be repeated, never to be compared with. it was what it was. and it was bloody bloody brilliant!