Sunday, October 28, 2012

A busy week

A busy week this week:

Epic at work

My first 1 mile swim, though I was only supposed to do 1km.

My first run to work.  I wasn't still fell short of the 7 mile target (at 6.875) and I had to walk the last bit as my knee started to hurt.  That said, I wasn't at all sore the next day.

I started the house hunt yesterday on the bike which is always good for a laugh with all the hills in Sheffield.  I refused to ride up one hill which, essentially, means we don't really want to live up there anyway.

In other news, I apparently won a club award for our local duathlon last night.  Shame the tickets were too expensive for me to actually be there.  Still, that's triathlon for ya.

The commuter bike has been cleaned, its wheels straightened for use in the 'cross bike through the winter.  I have mudguards and a new helmet.  I even have snow tyres for when it gets slippery though I still need to invest in some YakTrax.

I have spent the rest of the week trying to get software working to put me in my training zones over time and transferring over all the info from the month of October.

Time to see if the training and "loosening" ride yesterday help towards today's 'cross race.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Good day

Still tired but for good reason today.

Got my mile swim in.  Fast ride to work.  Fast ride 3/4 of the way home.

Now that I've done a mile though, it's a bit scary on where to go next.

On top of this, I made steps forward at work.  Committed money to a project.  Elements coming together.  It's going to be a trouble project but I didn't make it so.  I just get to fix it.

Love life.

sometimes it goes by too quickly.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Small, Personal Victories

I was beaten yesterday by someone who is fitter than me but who I usually beat on the basis of technical bike skills or mechanical failure.  I was beaten by someone older than me and someone else got in there as well.

In my head I had a good training week last week but in actual fact I managed a little swim, a bit too long of a run and one measly loaded ride to work - not exactly speed training.  The rest of the time I spent working, driving or planning my year.

So despite feeling like I was going well all race - getting out of the saddle to accelerate out of the corners -and I felt good afterwards, I was annoyed.  When I got home, still feeling good, I brought all the stuff in the house, washed my bike then went out for a run of about 3.7km to blow away the cobwebs.

I walked the last km with stitch as I hadn't eaten enough post-race but up until that point I was running well.  The legs were turning.

I've clearly made some minor endurance gains as I have never done a post-race run.  Perhaps I am going to be better at this endurance stuff than the "going fast" bits after all.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


New mudguards so I can ride the cross bike on the road through the winter.

Snow tyres for the mountain bike.

A Norton colours helmet

This is the kind of spending that goes with a big race.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

First Morning swim

Ponds Forge closed.  Hillsborough swim which makes me feel sick but made it to 1km. (woo hoo)

Over the hill to work.

Biggest result of the week: Discovering the canteen does porridge in the mornings.

Monday, October 15, 2012

So much for the recovery ride.

Newsome School Huddersfield

Second place.  A right rum battle & an unlucky de-chaining for the woman in third.

I didn't feel like it to start with and I didn't feel like I was going particularly fast but I was pretty happy with my performance.

Time for a rest day.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Cheeky Run

It was one of those days where I'm supposed to want to go out. Impeccable sunshine, clear air.

I did a bit more planning for The Race training, packed my bag for running and ticked one item off my to do list - digging out wheels from the basement for my first attempt at building a wheel - the golden standard for bike mechanics.

By that time I had to get to mum's for lunch so I reluctantly drove over the hill non-stop.

On the way home through Glossop I made a split second decision to go running at Crowden reservoir because that's the way the sun was shining.

I parked up, tried to figure out what time the car park gets locked - if at all.  I didn't have a bag other than my shoe bag so I packed phone, garmin, car key, a nut selection and a fleece.  No waterproof, no compass, no map.

After 2 minutes I had to put the fleece on it was so lovely and crisp. My hands seared in the cold but my skin bristled with excitement.

I was out on my own. It was a little bit reckless but the sky was beautiful and the quarry looked spectacular in the twilight sky. I ran and ran until my lungs hurt then run-walked until I started to get near my turn-around & go back time, 15 minutes in.

Just-on-time some trees appeared and I resolved to take a peek & look for a obvious path down to the trail on the other side of the valley. It was clear that there was a route down and in the spirit of everything outdoorsy, I turned right at the dead sheep.

The path was steep and tiny and very deep streams crossed it in all directions, luring me like the proverbial rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland to break my leg and fall, lonely into that scary and trippy place that is hyperthermia.

I hissed in a breath as I ran through the inevitable almost freezing marsh but I emerged the otherside unscathed, though wetter.  The grasses before me were sodden from earlier rain but I held out my hands as I ran and enjoyed them whipping against my hands and soalking my leggings.

Now I was on the track down I could relax.  Bouncing down the hillside my mind turned to the carpark closing and the headlights just arriving.  I have to get home to feed TSK who was 3/4 through a 200km AUDAX.

So absorbed was I that I ended up at the Youth hostel & not the car park. There was a Mountain Rescue team seminar in progress & as I ran past the window I became acutely aware. a) that their dinner smelled amazing b) that I was out fell running without a map,compass, whistle, waterproof or friend.

I started nonchalantly running up the path behind the hostel, JUST so I didn't have to run past their window again.  I then realised that was silly. I was heading back to my original path just because of a bit of pride. So, I made like a cat and pretended I'd gone up there to take a picture of the building from above before going back past their window.

Investigating another "shortcut" down I found myself on private property & my bail-out path took me through a patch of sludgy black muck which did a great impression of solid ground but actually sucked me in beyond my socks & threatened to rip my shoes off.  At least by this point I had done everything I could to avoid the mountain rescue team passing one more time and I ran off in the opposite direction to join the path to the campsite & ultimately the car park.

Arriving at the car I realised just how dark it had become.  I took this picture of my steaming feet to show just how cold the air was & how dirty I was.  4 degrees according to Maurice. We headed back to Sheffield to pre race dinner & tsk and feeling smug & a little bit lucky.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

First swim of the year

I rode to work this morning. I wanted to do an early swim but someone wanted an 8.30 meeting so I had a lie-in till 6.15 instead.

Andrew wanted to do Sheffield Friday night ride. TBH so did I but I wanted to swim more. A long strength session to work hauling a large gear and swim kit, laptop & lock then a full day of panic.

That feeling that when the day is over, doing one more thing will save you getting into trouble because you wont forget it Monday morning. Well, I had three things. All done I wobbled to the pool hungry and churned our nothing more than 30 lengths on a bottle of dubiously weak protein drink from a machine. Still, I felt like a fish, swam at a decent pace and really really enjoyed myself. 6.30pm on a Friday night would be THE TIME to go for a swim for me. With everyone else going down the pub. Perfect.

I was brave about the ride home. Went straight up through town and up to Walkey. No mincing about in the Hillbsborough valley. Even with the laptop and now soggy swimwear on the back.

This is one Friday night out I might be repeating.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A race

There’s a race.  I want to do it.
It’s a big race, it’s a long race, it’s a hard race.  It’s one of those “…est in the country” kind of races.  I want to do it.

It breaks all preconceptions of what I feel I am able to do and yet it has got under my skin and so I think am going to do it.*

There are rules to me writing about this race.  I'm not discussing it with anyone.  I've told only certain people that I am thinking about doing this race.  Those are the only people I want to talk about it with.  No one else knows about this race or if they do (because they've read about it here) they don’t need to talk about it with me.  They can ask how fit I am or what I'm doing on Friday, or Saturday, or Wednesday, but not how my preparations for the race are going.

I could start a new blog so that no one knows about the race but then it wouldn’t be Trepid Explorer and me and this blog are so intertwined now there’s no leaving this race out of this blog or leaving this blog out of the race.

I don’t want to fail.  I don’t want to have to tell anyone I’ve failed.  That said, I won’t fail just because I’ve told no one that I’m doing it.  I will fail through pure failure, if I fail.

If I don’t fail… I might just tell everyone that it was a success.

*  One of my friends at work who I respect a lot said that if you think about a race then you have to do it and that is the law.  I am tempted to believe her.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Castle Eden Run

A quick 8km run in the middle of the day.
"Every leaf on every tree says live each day as if it were your last" - just as I was starting to feel guilty about taking my lunch at 11am and using it to go running.

They really love their Yew Trees at Castle Eden

Great graffiti art

The hard-to-find Castle Eden Castle

Monday, October 08, 2012

A Plan is Forming

But first here's some stats

September Bike - 352.21km, 14.2kph, 3436m
September Run - 14.3km, 8.1kmph, 183m
September Hill walk - 34.16km, 3.6kph, 2092m
September strength - 45 minutes

August Bike - 138.3km, 15kph, 1932m
August Run - 6.3km, 8.2kph, 159m

July Bike - 312.6km, 12.6kph, 2771m
July Run - 7.87km, 9kph, 63m

June Swim - 5.9km,
June Bike - 374.64km, 20.2kph, 4357m
June Run - 31.7km, 7.9kph, 787m

May Swim - 5.47km
May Bike - 438.5km, 11.9km, 5381m
May Run - 53.84km, 7.8kph, 1017m

April Bike - 349.6km, 15kph, 5736m
April Run - 44.97km, 8.3kmph, 1237m

Dear Cold,

You have been here for over 2 weeks now.  Have you not heard of "overstaying your welcome"?

Get lost.

Regards, Trep.

Monday, October 01, 2012

3 Peaks Cyclo-cross

Sunny morning
You can hear it
Siren's warning
There is weather on both sides
And I know it's coming
Just like before
There's a black dog
That scratches my door
He's been growling my name saying
You better get to running
Can you make it better for me
Can you make me see the light of day
Because I got no one
Who will bring me a
Big umbrella
So I'm watching the weather channel
And waiting for the storm
Sheryl Crow, Weather Channel

Over and over going through my head all day long.

We left Helwith Bridge in a great big group and quickly settled down into scraggly  clumps of people.  I resolved this year to avoid the mele and ride at a simple pace to catch dad up somewhere outside Horton village.  The plan worked and we climbed the last few steep roady hills together before the turn off to farm tracks.

From there I said my "see ya laters" and headed off into the rain.

There were no flocks of sheep frolicking in the fields this year.  They were mostly huddling from the rain.  It was soon obvious that it was going to be a difficult day when I found myself walking across bogs that I'd normally ride over.

I caught up with my friend Anna at the bottom of Simon Fell, amusingly disgruntled that I was passing her.  Quite frankly I was merely surprised.  I took the fell runners route up Simon Fell, choosing to slough across the grassy wall instead of hauling up the stone wall.   Joined, as usual by an army rider, we zigzagged slowly up.  It went by quicker than usual - not that it hurt any less - I think I'm still relatively hill-fit after Scotland.

Reaching the styal over the wall, the wind hit.  No blustering, simply consistently around 50-60mph, the rain flying sideways across the moor, passing in a blur like a ghostly high-speed train.  I started riding my bike but  was soon blown sideways towards the wall at high speed.  Trying again, I went to ride to my left so at least I had 3 ft before hitting the wall but I was constantly blown into sharp and lumpy rocks and risking flying off the bike.  The bogs arrived and so we all reverted to walking again.

Keeping dry feet had at least gone by half an hour earlier so bog-stomping ensued.  Someone tried to zip my waterproof pocket up for me but we really didn't want to stop long enough and his fingers couldn't release the zip in the cold.

A final ascent through the rocks to the summit.  A gentleman asked what our challenge was.  "The three peaks" I said.

"Are you nearly finished?" he asked.

"Nope, this is the first one!".

The summit plateau was more difficult than usual.  It's never rideable - despite it being so flat - because of the chossy rocks which bounce out from under wheels as I try to ride it.  In these conditions it was hardly walkable.  Carrying the bike wasn't an option.  The wind would blow so hard, its pressure on the bike would accelerate me to a speed where my feet could not land on anything fixed and I floundered to put a foot on a solid rock.  I put the bike down and tried to lean into the wind.  That meant the bike was upright and my wheels were getting blown up in the air. I resorted to pushing my bike at 60 degrees to the ground, leaning into it to put some weight on the wheels.

We battled back to the edge, to the drop off and started the run down.

Once it eventually became rideable the descent off the mountain went by quickly.  Dropping out of the cloud to see the bottom 100m of the valley was a relief.  The view was finally back in colour.  I continued to ricochet of the side of the footpath but finally it was controllable.

"It shouldn't be that difficult to get this far" was my overriding thought.

Near the base, TSK was shouting directions at me from the other side of the bog.  I think I resorted getting off and running over to meet him for my food stash and drink, dodging the crash site to the side of me.  I left saying that Anna Cipullo was behind me and dad wasn't sounding healthy.  He'd been wheezing a bit on the hillclimbs.

As I departed I asked for a change of shorts, a wool top and another pair of socks at the next control.  I'd been thinking about them all the way down the mountain and not asking for them seemed silly, so I asked.

The marshal called out to me, "you'll have to do the ride of your life now!" which I took to mean, I had to rush to get to the next checkpoint before cut off time.

He was right but the road section to Chapel le Dale was heavenly and panic subsided.  The roaring wind which had plagued us was now on my tail and I ripped along the road, all the way stuffing food and drink down my neck as it's the best place to consume.  A turn onto the steep hill leading to the turn off for Whernside made no impact on my legs and I knew that I'd be in good shape to finish as I'm normally struggling by this point.

I passed a man heaving himself up the hill in a massive gear and thought, "what a tosser" but then realised that he'd snapped his derailleur on Ingleborough and had done his best to shorten his chain and drag himself along fixie style in the middle of his block.  We had a brief laugh about the turn of events before I headed onto Whernside.

The marshal at the bottom said, "You're over the cut off time so you can stop now if you want to but I'll let you through".  Thank god.  There was no stopping me for I had found my legs and still had a lot of places to make up from waiting for dad.  A small man in a red coat with a little beard?  Get thee behind me Satan, I am going up this 'ill.  It was 12:03.  We had started at 9:30.  The only saving grace was the warmth of the weather.  Any colder and the windchill could've been deadly but the mountain rescue team are clever about exposure and they were content for us to continue.

I had a snicker with a man sporting a white beard about how we'd sneaked through by a whisper, though they continued to let people through for some time after.  I didn't know it but dad got through at 12:09.  At the water station I said hello to Eric Taylor, rivalling my dad at 39 events.

On the trudge up Whernside I passed on as many tips as I could to people carrying their bikes like a big kite or paraglider instead of putting it to their backs like a sail and using the wind to help with the climb.

I was alone on the climb, passing everyone I could, yet not catching anyone in front. I thought of Andy Smith face-planting on the descent last year and of the lady who broke her ankle and of the man who crashed on the way down Ingleborough two years ago and over strained his neck and I looked at the rain flying sideways across the hillside and I realised that there'd be no helicopters today.  I concluded that if I died on that hill that day I'd die happy.  I grinned and kept going.

On the summit ridge a Mancunican lass and I talked of the North and epic weather.  On the descent I ran past her teetering on the limestones slabs as I skipped by in the bog - feet already wet but happy to stay warm by running.

I caught up with an old friend - Ruth Gamwell on the bottom of Whernside in more ways than one - physically and verbally - our annual exchange of news.  I passed her and two people with her, jumping on my bike to finally find a rideable section.  We passed another man having a stretch with an agonising wrangled face of pain protruding from his helmet.  That was me a few years ago - completely unprepared for the task at hand.  I'd sworn my way all the way up PYG that year.  This year I felt good and bounced my way across bridges, stepping stones and river crossings - all over 12 inches deep in bubbling peaty water.

I saw Po at the signal box along the railway line and reported that I didn't know whether dad was coming or not.  I passed the same message on to Andrew.  Because I was still warm, I didn't take on the dry clothes or the warm top but carried on as I was and it wasn't a problem for me at all.

The ride to PYG was frustrating - back into a headwind.  I just got on with it though.  Phil Thackary passed, offering up energy gels from his car.  I declined but others sat in his slipstream which pissed me off quite a bit.  To be honest though, I wasn't bothered about trying to catch a wheel as I didn't want to use excess energy pushing myself on the road.  Ruth stuffed a sarnie in her mouth as she sat on my wheel and I got a lift back off her for a while but once I started taking on food, I couldn't be bothered with racing.

Arriving at PYG I caught up the Mancunian lady again and we both sighed with relief that we only had to do this howling wind one more time.  This year it wasn't about the mountain climbs.  The crowd at the bottom of PYG seemed louder than ever and most had assembled around a large puddle part way up the road.  A voice shouted, "it's rideable on the centre left" so I rode as fast as I could at the spot where I remember the land rover tracks used to be.  Water sloshed around my hands and thighs and soaked through my shoes but I pedalled and pedalled and popped out the other side to rapturous applause.  On I rode around the corner, up the side of the corners until finally, my strength ran out at the 90 degree bend.  I pushed for a while and me and Manc lass rested on our laurels for a moment for there were no more deadlines.

Eventually we got back to riding.  It seemed just recompense for the weather that they (I assume the parks authority) had resurfaced parts of the climb on PYG making it mostly rideable up until the first passing through the gate.  All of the steep rocky sections have been filled in with shaley gravel saving the legs both coming up and down.

Just as I started wallking, Lynn Bland flew by warning me that she couldn't squeeze the brakes and then I noticed through the corner of my eye the shaddow of the main that was Crispin Doyle and his broken collar bone, walking off the mountain - carrying his bike in a sulky fashion (who can blame him?)  There was too much noise in the wind for me to hear what had happened to him.

I took some water off the ever-present helper on PYG which was very welcome to wash down the last of the energy bars that I had guzzled on the road.  Jo Jebb sprang past me on the summit climb with Owen Henrickson close by and Andy Smith updated me on Crispin's status when I saw him walking the opposite way down the mountain as I was on my way up.  They were a welcome relief from holding up my hand to protect my face from the searing stinging rain blowing straight at me at 60 miles per hour.  When I went to put my bike down, a large puddle had built up inside my waterproof coat in the crook of my elbow and it sploshed down my arm and through my already sodden glove.

The top of PYG is where I usually put on my waterproof to give me warmth on the long descent.  This time I was a little worried about what I'd feel like without another layer.  I ran away as quickly as possible, bog hopping to avoid the rocky path then dropping steeply away wherever possible.  It didn't take long to get to a point where I could get on my bike but as I did my hips slid forward, the bike started to move but my fingers didn't.  No matter how much I wriggled by elbows to get the brakes to pull on,  my fingers would not respond.  I simply reverted to dropping the bike and running away before it took over on its own.

A second, flatter attempt to get on was more successful.  The drains flew by in a blur and I was back out of that wind before I knew it, though still shifting my gears with the opposite hand to make it feasible to manipulate the lever.

Only now did Queen take over in my head, "Don't stop me now, I'm having such a good time, I'm having a ball".  The man behind me said, "just don't fall off infront of me".

The puddle on the descent was about 6 inches deeper and slippier.  I went to take my previous route but sadly my pedals released and I reverted to getting off the bike to push out.  A disappointment for me for riding it would've been so satisfying.

I was dismayed to see dad's bike on the back of the Vanu when I returned to the road and at the same time relieved that he had come down off Whernside and that Andrew wasn't stood around still waiting for him.  I also knew that it meant the vanu would be waiting for me at the finish so I wasn't going to have to go and camp out in the Norton Wheelers camping park until Andrew and Dad returned to the finish.

Four of us hit the road together.  Me and Steve Loades both agreed to ride together nice and steady on the basis that we both get leg cramp on that final hill to the finish line.  The Manc Lass and Karl Brown rode off ahead (obviously not been trying hard enough).  To combat the cramp I reached into my tool bag and recovered the 3 inch slab of Kendal Mint Cake that had been lurking there in a plastic bag.  As the Vanu rolled past I was ripping into it with my teeth and after I'd eaten a chunk I shared it with Steve.  We both made it over the hill top and freewheeled into the finish line together.

It's a relief to get to the end of every Three Peaks but this one was especially satisfying.  I didn't do a great time but I didn't bomb out either.  I enjoyed every moment of it and didn't do too badly considering I'd had 2 months off training to get married.  I hope there will be more 3 Peaks and I hope that one day there will be another one just like that.  For me it's the hardest thing I've ever done.  Harder than ADIL this summer because of the wind and the terrain.  It's given me a yearning for another event and an urge to go further and be fitter.

This years 3 Peaks has sent my head somewhere special & I think I'm probably quite looking forwards to getting there.