Saturday, August 13, 2011

Lucky Bitch

2 days in one of the most beautiful places on earth, in my book.

Absolute knackeration after 12 hours of travelling each way.

A 5km run and a bit of swimming.

I'm going back again.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Helvellyn Training Run on the Peak

2.4km (approx) of swimming would never previously have been a good warm up for a run for me but I'm a triathlete now and these things must be done from time to time, especially when you're trying to persuade yourself that you can achieve the seemingly impossible. In fact, the efforts I put into packing my stuff for the run stopped me from remembering half my swim kit but luckily friends lent me hat and goggles and I had to stop myself short of doing another lap knowing I was going onto run training.

In Edale I arrived at the very busy parpark, 2/3 full including a teetering hayload on an old, lumbering truck. Clearly, the village carpark was the best place to offload some feed and a smaller forked vehicle pottered around, busily unloading it.

I didn't have three pounds in cash with me and the Edale carpark hasn't been updated from Luddite machines which don't take cards or telephone payments so I vanuued on up the Barber Booth road. To my joy, I discovered that the luddite attitude stretches to the Barber Booth carpark which still doesn't have a pay and display machine at all. I also got a freshly available, last spot in said car park.

A few map re-checks to refamiliarise myself with my favouritest ever valley and I was set off up Jacob's laddre path. First good deed of the day was to relay a message from two ladies at the base of the hill to their friends waiting at the top. Not without stopping to fill my water bottle from the stream, this time I managed it without pouring powdery lime back into the water.

The climb was fairly well paced. I didn't manage to run it all but I made a damn good effort to the calls of a few walkers. Said hello to one group of teenagers at the top, out of politeness and the fear of being declared a miserable cow and had a, "you go girl!" back from them as I sprinted by, trying to look like I was going to run the whole thing.

Suddenly phone sprang into life with intermitent texts from friends and TSK updating me on progress in his 200k. Friends wanting to know if life was good. "Yes, running on Kinder" I replied.

I ran over to Crowden clough. I knew it was going to be a steep descent - heading straight down the contours that appear on the map about 2mm together. A mother and teenager were looking out across the valley as I bounced down to join them in the stream bed. As I approached, I'd concluded that the only path I could possibly take was to the right of the stream although it didn't seem to go the exact right way, instead skirting along the contours out onto the grassy hillside. At least, I thought, I would get a good view of the other side and if the path was over there I'd see it. As I set off down the path, I heard the mother say to the teenager, "There is a way down that way but its really hairy!"

As I ran across the top of a rocky overhang dangling 150 ft above the flat valley bottom below, I saw my path down and realised what she meant. The path resembled a landslide and somewhere where mountain goat may go to shelter from the wind. I down-scrambled my way down, sitting on the mud and placing my hands in the scraggy grass and heather to either side of me. With every foot placement I thought, if I slip here...

Reaching the bottom of the slope, I suppose I let my guard down and went over on my ancle, sure I felt the bones knock into eachother as I went. Thankfully, I limped a bit as I ran on then resumed normal gait. Beyond the steep drop-off the path meandered playfully along the stream bed and I carefully kept my feet dry, if only to avoid getting any blisters.

My plan had been to turn around at the bottom of the Crowden path and run straight back up it to repeat my circuit in reverse however, the thought of running straight up the mudslide, despite my studded shoes, filled me with dread and may well be overdoing the Helvellyn training. I'd already half-run-half-fallen down something far steeper than anything I was ever going to experience in the race (though I did think it was excellent Three Peaks training).

I stopped for lunch at the bottom of the waterfalls because I heard voices in the stream. I expected to see a family playing in the water but it was a group of canyoners scaling the cliffs alongside the tumbling water, the instructor saying, "this is the worst one, that's why we're using the pulley, we don't need the pulley for the others". I wondered who he'd just had to haul up the first climb.

The map check that went with lunch pointed me to a path I hadn't used before. I followed the hoardes on the motorway path that became the penine way for a short time before striking off straight up hill a short way and diverting along a wall which led back into Crowden Clough. Once I hit a rib going straight up, there was supposed to be an unclassified path which zig zaged its way up the hillside.

On the Penine way I laughed and joked with a family who were being put to shame by their very small, very tired little boy. Though he clung desperately to his mum's hand, he was leaving his large, panting sweaty dad behind and his friends and wife ribbed him mercilessly as the little boy determinedly plodded to the gate onto the penine way. I tried not to make it worse by sprinting past like a gazelle to head off straight up my hill... but I did.

I couldn't see this unclassified path for toffee so I took to plodding up the tufted grassy slope. The area had obvioulsy been mined at one time so the hillside had drainage features across it which were easy to climb and also easy to fall into, filled with bog at the bottom. I managed to achieve the shoulder of the hill, suddenly alone in the peak. I had a view over the whole valley and was no more than 100m from the Penine way yet 7-8 kestrel and 5 buzzards wheeled around in the sky above me - obviously looking for tasty treats in the long grass away from the crowds of people.

The last journey to the tops of Kinder for the second time took me up a very steep grassy slope and rather than take the more relieved line of the drainage ditch, I made a beeline up the steep slope. More 3 Peaks training, this time for Simon Fell. Although every step made my calves burn, it still wasn't really steep enough to be fair and I was still relieved it was over. For the first time, I felt glad that Simon Fell is at the begining of the 3 Peaks.

As I came over the top onto Kinder, two last obstacles were ahead of me. A flat plateau marked on the map with two small lakes and marshland symbols and a short climb up to another gritsone outcrop that are such a feature of Kinder. I didn't think I'd ever been to this one, it being so close to the motorway Penine Way. I got to terms with the prospect of getting my feet wet but it just didn't happen. Clearly in years gone by this was worse but this year it's just been so dry. There wasn't really any hint of wet ground. I scrabbled up the slope to the craggy edge and stopped in the lee of a rock formation to take a photo and eat some more food.

To my left I could see the Penine Way. Most people didn't even notice me sitting amongst the gritstone in black clothing. One or two did notice me and looked at their map trying to figure out where I'd come from. Stretching out across the plateau I'd just crossed I could see where I might've got my feet wet and could see the flattened grass of the unclassified path I could've taken to get there. I preferred my route. There was no-one on it, it was further away from the crowds and it was dry. I wasn't bothered it was so steep. I put my jacket on to cope with the initial breeze and sudden cooling which came with not going up anymore.

Running across the tops I saw a group heading off down Crowden Clough on the wrong side of the stream and directed them the right way. I tried to avoid it, I really did but they were convinced they'd been along the route I was suggesting and couldn't see the way down. I said it looked like a mudslide and they still wouldn't bite. I had to admit I was doing laps and had already sucessfully descended it once today. The woman looked at me with incredulity then they set off on their way down.

I said, "Hello again" to one couple I'd seen on their way up Crowden Clough as I was on my way down. She said I was going good. I said, "wait till you see me on the way up that hill". Sure enough at the top of the slight incline to the top of Jacob's ladder, I was sitting amongst the gritstone eating more food and emptying the last of my drink as they came by".

As I reached the top of the ladder my left knee started to hurt quite a lot. Without over-dramatising, a kind of bone smacking into other bone sort of hurt. I had a stretch figuring muscles and ligaments were probably getting a bit tight. I was about to descend out of the wind so opted out of putting on waterproof trousers as that would just ruin my enjoyment of the end of the run. I looked at my Garmin. I'd done 749m of climbing so at least I wouldn't have to do another loop to get my elevation in.

The stretch worked momentarily and I descended the ladder via the mountain bike route for a bit of variety, spitting out into the stream bed where I'd filled up my bottle 2.5hours earlier

I decided I should have a rest to celebrate. As if I hadn't had enough open water that day, I stripped off shoes and socks and sat with my feet in the stream as I drank fresh water from the bottle without the sticky taste of lime. Had a chat with a mountainbiker who stopped to wash his wounds in the river and obviously felt the need to share his tales of daring-do with someone other than his long-suffering partner who seemed a bit fed up of the lad falling off his bike all day.

All I had to do now was jog down the slightly downhill path to the village and then pick my way along the tarmac road to the vanu. My knee held out until I reached the village where I held the gate open for the masses rather than rushing through alone. I was glad of every rest. By the time I reached the campsite I was crippled to walking pace or short bursts of run-hopping. It was time to call it and walk slowly down the road. Thankfully the weather had sorted itself out and I basked in the sunshine which shone on my glory. I had overdone Helvellyn by 1 mile of running and in 3h 6min and all after an over-distance swim.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Notes on the week

Monday - hauled around the trunce with heavy legs and still managed just over 40 minutes - 40:28
Tuesday - first rest day since 28th July. Vanu all the way.
Wednesday - serious swim session at Ponds Forge. Appart from a cramp break, the swimming felt amazing. Always good to do swimming when rested.
Thursday - What's that - another rest day?
Friday - Sluggish bike to work, slightly less sluggish lunchtime hillclimb run, ride home nothing to write home about - neither sluggish nor kicking.

In general, hoping that the sluggishness starts to die down with the previous form of the end of July coming to the front in time for raceday.

Must be careful not to overdo the resting with holiday on the horizon. Must be careful not to overdo the training before the big day and peak too early. New project at work will be challenging so need to make sure I'm getting plenty of training - and rest - around it.

I feel this is my opportunity to slightly adjust parameters in my life. To be more effective and managing work and play instead of lurching from one to the other with more co-ordination. I hope I can come back from Cadarache a better person and not just a duller one.

The fact that last time I wrote anything really positive about work was September 2009 is a little sorry so I very much hope things are on the up.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Project Overseas

This is why I'm never going to be in any way a successful Triathlete. I'll become a better one over time but I'll always drop it or that tasty project that comes up. Until those projects stop being quite so tasty, I'll always drop Triathlon for them.

It's simple really. I like nice stuff. My family isn't rich so I have to really earn the money it takes to stay alive and buy expensive kit. In that priority order. Occasionally I spend money on other stuff.

The only way I can see things going the other way is when the amazing projects run out and this one has to be the best, most amazing, most unlikely project ever. Maybe after this one is completed, my life, my triathlon and I can get to know eachother properly.

For now, I'm sitting in Manchester airport 5 days before my next major event, flying half way across Europe, just to turn around and come back again in two days time. It's a brilliant opportuntiy for resting on the plane and a big opportunity to do some swimming and running when I get there but I'm quite sure there will be expectations.

It's started already. I'm never sure wether to tell them that I'm doing a triathlon that they could never even conceive of completing them lazy selves. That I entered this race months ago. I entered Helvellyn almost 12 months ago and have litterally been training for it since, promising that I wouldn't let anything get in the way of it as usual.

Monday, August 01, 2011

What was yesterday

An amazing 70 mile ride with 1704m climbing has rendered me knackered. At the end of a running week, I fear this ride has rendered me unable to survive today. However, it's the Trunce tonight.

After that, really, I'm going to start tapering... or maybe one more hilly run... but in a tapered fashion... really.