Monday, April 24, 2017

Zero One Strava - Training Leveller

After putting in one of my highest weekly mileage totals for a week 75.0 miles, Monday morning when Strava has 'Zeroed' your total is a total leveller and a chance to refocus on the week ahead after being number 'One' on various club means nothing...just got keep on going.

After a 50 miler in the week, and a number short recovery runs I was able to do my #20th Parkrun
with a reasonable run progressively building up the pace.

I finished off the week with a steady 7miles on some local trains enjoying the sunshine and having ago at a little known climbing segment to push my CR out a little further by 12 seconds which I was pleased with as I nearly gave up half way as I came to a walk, so there are more gains to be made. the hill work seems to be paying off and feeling strong on the more gentler slopes.

I'm still amazed at the local trails that are within a couple of miles of the Leeds City Centre, running through fields and tree lined trails is an excellent way to unwind enjoying the sunshine of Sugarwell Hill.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

DIY 50 miler - Leeds Liverpool Canal

With the prices of events in general being reasonable, but there are lots of them you just can't do them all as there are other things to pay for like food and bills. So I planned my own 50 miler, with a couple of CP's thrown in for good measure because I like that sort of thing. This is the longest that I have run so far, so this was a challenge and a test of where I am up to regards training.


50 miles along the Leeds to Liverpool canal as I can't afford to enter any more events! No nav required so this was an easy day out and good for concentrating on the running itself without breaks.

Mandatory Kit!
I actually left my waterproof coat/compass by my front door, but I checked with the 'Race Director' and he said it was fine! Carried 1.5lt water/rehydration, waterproof trousers, first aid kit, food, snacks, whistle, map, even an emergency bivvy (which never leaves my kit bag) , spare thermal top...just in case and good to put on at the end, phone and spare cash.

Start -home - my route from home is the same distance as from the start of the canal (Leeds) so I picked it up at the same mile marker at 1 1/4 miles along.

CP1 26.25miles for lunch - using the milestones this was a good encouragement along the way - this conveniently is situated next to the Polish  War Memorial where there is a bench.- with a spot of history thrown in (On September 23rd 1943 the Polish crew of Wellington bomber HZ251 crashed on the banks of the canal with no survivors on a training mission.). The 26.25 marker is whitewashed and just past the memorial so had to take a picture of the 24.25 one on way back.

CP2 36.3miles Café at Five Rise locks - perfect spot on way back and could be used on the way out as well as an additional CP/stop.

Finish 50miles - my watch ran out of battery 0.4miles from the end! So switched to Strava for a final finish which felt like a sprint but was 9+mins average pace.
Overall time 8hr46.59 with an extra 15mins or so spent at CP's. 5mins lunch / 10mins at café.

Outgoing marathon time was 4.08 so the return was really slowed down, as this was new territory, I didn't push at all on the last 20 miles as this was an exercise regards completion.

Drink and food:
  • Large bag of trail mix, nuts varied and raisins -added salt - every 30 mins up to 28miles
  • 2 bananas
  • 2 slices malt loaf
  • 2 sandwiches - brown bread/ham/jam
  • 1500ml Zero tab Re-hydration drink
  • 1 can 7up
  • 1 can Coke
  • 1 cup coffee/milk /sugar
  • 1 banana milkshake
Lessons learnt
  • Struggled to eat trail mix after about 28 miles; as well as eating on the run later on, so had to slow to a walk and eat.
  • Keep drinking - little and often
  • Keep an eye out for narrow boats selling drinks and snacks along route...very handy.
  • Work on core strength
  • More back to back runs required for endurance especially in the second half.
  • 50 miles is tough

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

DNF - Doubts; Nearly; Future - not Failure (Lakes Mountain 42)

The Lakes Mountain 42 has been in the back of my mind for the past 4 months since booking on and making sure that my training had been increased for the climbing. Having had a few shin niggles for a few weeks and writing this introduction before I set off to the Lakes, I'm not sure what really lies ahead, in how I would be able to handle the hills and if my knees and shin would hold out.

They were fine, I just hadn't figured on the hottest day so far for the year and after putting my left leg in a bog full of cold water near Grisedale Tarn which shocked my leg into cramp! That started the downward trend of the day.

The climb from the start at 6am which was a hushed affair and without a sound or warning it must have just turned 6am and we were off. The sky was getting lighter and the air was cold with frost underfoot once we got onto the hills. What a way to start the day! I felt good and tried to keep a steady pace on the ups without pushing, my new trainers Inov-8 Trail Talons 275's were feeling excellent as this was the first long run in them - no complaints at all about them, they seemed perfect on the mixed terrain, fell, hard packed trails and even short road sections, with enough cushioning to not even notice.

It all started so well: the 6am start and frost underfoot combined with the sun rising behind us, it was a fantastic climb up Loadpot Hill and on to High Street. I even managed my own commando roll as I tripped on a stone and in slow motion thought I had better just go with this and rolled over onto my pack and back up onto my feet, expertly done. I have a few aches from that now!


In around 21st place at High Street after about 2hrs and feeling good, I thought fuel, drink, recover and enjoy the run down to Patterdale arriving spot on 3hrs and 15miles done. I checked into the CP and grabbed some food and a customary banana and kept going to catch up with a few just ahead to take the climb up to Grisedale Tarn together as much as possible.

With both thigh muscles cramping up badly towards the top of Helvellyn I knew my day was over as I sat on the side of the mountain with still in the region of 17 miles to go unable to get up onto my feet.  I am doubting myself now as to whether I should have just waited it out and carried on. Well that moment and day has passed and I have to move on and deal with the disappointment:

  • Was it my lack of 'fell' experience on the climbs and descents! The contouring from Grisedale Tarn (shortcut!) was a hard steep descent. I had been putting in training weeks of 12,000- 13,000ft climbing and descending! More off track descending needed. I'm determined to make a difference and come back stronger.
  • Just plain lack of hydration! - as it had started off cool and I wasn't feeling hot
  • Didn't fuel well enough! - must add better salty foods into plan.
  • Did I go off too quick and pay the price later? No idea.

After missing the CP6 turn off, I had gone a bit further than I should have, and had to double back - so much for that shortcut.


What a place to DNF - I was gutted, I turned my Garmin off and it didn't even save my run. I had to borrow some sticks and hobble back down to the CP6, just taking in the views and trying to encourage passing runners who were still going up and onwards. I will return.

Joe's email to participants is some encouragement  - referring to SMJ 'Sound Mountain Judgement' by those that had to retire from the race. I'll have to take the 'Nearly' to 'Next' and focus ahead rather than just look backwards.


I've spent a few days trying to figure out in my own head what went wrong... I went out the next day and to make sure my head was still in the game and did a good run of 6.6 miles and 1250ft of climbing... I just picked the steepest hills nearby and went up and down. Thinking of the future rather than what can be seen as failure.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Slammer: From rookie fell runner to first ultra: In the Dale Trail Series classroom

I'm signed up for the full 2017 Dale Trail Series Grand slam and having done the DT20 over the weekend with 'SLAMMER' written next to my number it feels good to be back competing in such an awesome series. 

These races just have to be in the diary. Over the last year I have gone from doing my first fell run to completing my first trail and then a mountain ultra. The Dale Trail Series has been my learning curve and still is after a minor route error on the DT20! I have been thoroughly enjoying it and learnt so much over the last year about trail running.

OS map OL30 is more than sufficient for any recces and on the day not really needed at all as such due to the course being well marked and marshalled.

The races are three varied and enjoyable events (once completed that is) with each having something in challenge more than just the increasing distances, but that should not put you off as they are genuinely 'do it again' races and I would recommend the Grandslam to give that added incentive for every place when racing and if you like medals it's the only way your going to get one. Last year I managed an overall 29th place as a 'Slammer'; but this year after having done a course PB (46th) with last year coming in seems 2017 in the DT Series is going to be more competitive this year. But there is plenty of time between each race to put in the training miles and get out on those hills.

DT 20 Reeth

This is a favourite, the shortest but certainly not the easiest, with Fremington Edge looming large at the start, technical descents as you drop into the hush (gully) and signs to warn and taunt you like 'don't eat rocks' on the descent off Calver.

The start is a race to the first gate with a muddy/wet or 'dry' route which is a short detour round the walled lane for a non muddy option...mud it was all the way for me.
DT20 2017 Muddy option
The first mile of this race is a beaut, this year I was determined to go at it from the start and see how I faired, as I was aiming for a race PB. It's always surprising after the sprint for early positions and the charge through the 'muddy puddle' route option... which is my preferred favourite, that the first hill of Fremington Edge takes its toll earlier than expected - it is a dig in and keep moving climb, a run, hike, just keep going effort. The drop into the hush is a favourite section of descending, although this year, my head was down chasing feet and a few of us went down one too soon and had to climb out once we realised that we had got it wrong... losing time gained and a good number of places to boot.  Coming down from Fremington Edge there are two bridges to cross, a stream then the river and even a graveyard to run through before you cross the road and start the ascent to the top of Calver- which is of varying terrain. 
The final mile or so on undulating trail turns eventually into the field where earlier had been the scene of hard efforts from all to the first climb becomes the sprint to the finish looking over the shoulder to make sure no one catches you as the muddle puddle comes back into play.
DT20 2016- Fremington Edge in the background

 DT 30 Muker

DT30 2016
This race is by far the most sociable with the camping option near to the registration and a short walk to the start line, makes it an all in all a 'weekender' or at least an overnight trip. I went on the Friday night last year, but many stayed over the Saturday night and enjoyed the specially brewed 'recovery ale' around the camp fire. 
The start of this race is pretty special along side the river, and is a great location at the end of the race to relax and dip your feet, sit on the banks of the river Swale for that all important debrief with fellow runners. In 2016 it was a hot sunny day which surprised many of us. I didn't get my hydration sorted and suffered with cramp from 9miles in and with Swinner Gill still to climb that wasn't so clever. Lesson learnt because it turned what should have been the glory miles back down into Muker and through the meadows into a trudge. I'm hoping 2017 will be better for this race, as I feel I have unfinished business with the DT30.
DT30 2016 Swinner Gill
At the top of Swinner Gill was an water stop and having already given up on really racing last year by this point a quick turn around to look at the view was very rewarding. 
DT30 2016 Top of Swinner Gill

DT 40 Semer Water

This is a scenic but challenging 'marathon' distance trail race. Starting and ending at Semer Water. This was my best effort in the 2016 series and more the kind of distance I enjoy running, although saying that it still has to be run and fuelling well on this is important as by mile 15 when it starts to kick back up, it is at the point where I know I need that little bit extra to keep going both fuel and determination and it can be the breaking ground of any close fought Grand slam as it was last year in the women's race which I was able to witness in race... some great running, with sounds of the gates in your ears, listening as to whether ground is being made or lost.
The views on this route when the clouds allowed in 2016 were wonderful especially when your nearly back to Semer water and you catch a  glimpse of the finish in the distance.

After all its only 92km for that medal - worth it! I'm still using my La Sportiva mugs from last year. More importantly you'll meet some great folk at these highly recommended events. There are so many running events these days without character and soul and try to make up for it with a goodie bag or a crazy looking medal. The DT series are not those races, they have plenty of characer, great routes and by the end of it...they will leave you with a sense of achievement and memories of the ups and downs of being a 'Slammer'.
Grandslam 2016