Friday, 9 December 2016

Freezing to 12 degrees

10th December 2016
By the end of yesterday I had run 797 miles and cycled 2914 miles so I need to cycle 86 miles before the end of December to hit 3000miles, less cycling than last year but I have managed to run 200 miles further! Given the ever changing weather at the moment I hope I can get the extra miles in for both running and cycling.
Sunday 4th December. The week started off with a very icy Sunday morning, so my cycle ride had to wait till after lunch, when I hoped the ice would have melted, making the roads a little safer. It was however a glorious morning, clear blue skies, little or no wind, so after a bit of hydrangea cutting back and a nice homemade Leek and Potato soup for lunch I layered  up to head out on my bike, at least the ice on the bird bath had all but gone!
The temperature on my Garmin was only 3 degrees as I headed towards the levels and Norh Curry, but, as went down the first descent there was a water leak, from one of the houses, the water spread over the road making it a sheet of ice, I slowed and walked the few feet across to safer roadway. The temperature was falling as I dropped down to the levels, something I often find happens, it’s definitely colder and damper on the levels. Roads were very quiet, I guess Christmas shopping and the cold weather kept everyone at home, same for cyclists, as I didn’t see any on my ride. The low sun didn’t manage to penetrate some parts of the roads where they were in the shadow of high hedgerows, so care had to be taken in places to avoid a fall. I went over North Curry and back round Slough Green, where the climbing back home began. The afternoon was getting late and along with this the temperature was falling and by the time I got to my last heill home, it had dropped to less than one degree, very cold, the low sun was now an irritation as it was shining straight down the road, I couldn’t see where I was going! I got home and noticed I had not really managed to get  sweaty! My layers were still relatively dry. A large mug of tea and a shower soon warmed my up 32 miles covered.
Monday 5th December, In contrast to Sunday Monday was damp and foggy, as I had to work later in the week I decided to get a long run in. the ice had now gone as the temperature was rising, but still less than 5 degrees.  I changed my route today, and headed out along the same route I cycled the day before, the hill that was frozen was now, ice free, I headed over Crock Street towards Broadway before dropping down hill to cross the A358 to pick up the Ilminster to  Chard cycle route along the old railway line, used as the ‘stop line’ in the last war. I was looking to run 10 miles today, to keep up my stamina for the longer distance, the cycle track was quiet and again there was little or no wind, I seemed to be going well with 4 miles covered, everywhere was now very wintery looking, trees were sticks, the trail covered in leaves, everywhere was colourless, greys and black being the winter colours, after a further couple of miles  I left the trail to run round Chard Reservoir, the water looking mirror like in the grey light, ducks, moorhens etc, paddling around looking for food, it was a roller coaster run around the res, but different to usual as I normally go in the other direction. The area is a nature reserve so dogs are not allowed which is lovely, makes a nice change not to think about whether a dog is a ‘chaser’ or not. By the end of the Res I had covered 8 miles, the last couple of miles were now back up hill, I still felt to be going well keeping a reasonable pace , I got home and it was another 10.2 miles added to my total, an enjoyable run.
Wednesday and Thursday were working days, another two day Bikeability course for year 6 children in Wellington, weather forecasts for the two days were ok with light rain forecast for day two. Temperatures were now well up with 12 degrees!!! The children were excited and we had a good first day, day two started with a heavy shower but this soon cleared  and we were able to have a good day. This was my last course until March, so hopefully more chances to get out to bike and run.
Friday, another 32 mile ride , temperatures were warm! 12degrees plus, I had overdressed to day and got very hot, the roads were also very dirty, where tractors had been round the lanes, different to a month ago when I was still riding my summer bike, when I got back I had to get the hosepipe and ‘muc off ‘ out as the bike was filthy, I also noticed the bottom bracket, had a little play, so looks like new bearings soon.

              a very dirty bike from the dirty roads

We finished the day putting up the Christmas tree up and other decorations, Christmas is approaching fast. 12 stone is also approaching fast !! I must make an effort to keep it down through the winter.

Weird weather this week, started off freezing and by the end it was 12 degrees! 

Saturday, 3 December 2016

National Trust Kilerton and very cold weather

4th December 2016

I never did get my Wobblies ride this week ! a phone call to ask me to cover a colleague on Bikeability on Wednesday morning had me driving over to Bishops Hull for the morning, very cold and frosty it was too, but bright sunshine. I only had the morning to do before driving over to Tatworth for a one to one training for a child who missed out on the course a few weeks ago.

Given the frosty morning, a Wobblies ride would have been quite dangerous with frost in places, whereas the Bikeabilty in the town was perfectly dry and safe, and surprisingly warm in the sunshine with no wind. It was a quick dash for the 15miles to the afternoon session, lunch was eaten on the drive over. It was a lovely day and as I was well wrapped up I was toasty!The afternoon session with the child and his teacher went well, the child getting more riding and practice as an individual rather than a group of six.

 An email dropped in my inbox informing me that Bikeability had now reached its 2,000,000th success for level 2, I just hope that some of those practise what we preach to keep themselves safe out on the roads. One final two day course this coming week before the Christmas break, I just hope this dry weather lasts the week! Cold we can do, cold and wet is difficult!

This week I have managed two 9 mile runs around the town, so pleased with that, both at a reasonable pace, but no real cycling since last Sunday.
Tuesday saw me driving over to National Trust Stourhead to meet up with an old work colleague for coffee, it was lovely day again, brilliant sunshine, I took the van for a good outing, and keep it running through the winter, it was busy as usual.

Friday was a dull, cloudy and cold day, me and Mrs IanB went to the National Trust property of Killerton near Exeter, they usually have a really good Christmas decorations, this year it was themed around the ‘Grimm fairy tales’ with rooms decorated with themes, Hansel and Gretal, Little Red Riding Hood etc, they were beautifully laid out, and lots of work had gone into it, we were very lucky as it was quiet when we arrived so were able to enjoy each room virtually on our own. We followed the house visit with a walk in the gardens and we had brought coffee and homemade shortbread biscuits with us so were able to sit in the grounds and enjoy the wintry views across the park. Well worth a visit. A couple of photos that don't really do it all justice, but give a flavour!

I noticed on the Grizzly run facebook page that its now 99 days to the event day! It soon comes round. I need to try to get another 100 or so miles cycling in before the end of the month to reach my 3000 miles this year, which will be less than last year, but, I have run over 700miles which is over a 100 miles more, My daughter in her first year of running is hoping to reach 365 making it a mile a day for the year, I hope I can get to help her complete it.

Sunday today, I should get out for a few cycling miles, forecast is for very cold and dry, so might have to leave till after lunch, cycles and icy roads don’t match!

Monday, 28 November 2016

Weather improvement, a little running and cycling

29th November 2016

After the heavy rain of last Monday, and again on Tuesday when we got very wet on Bikeability the rest of the week remained cold and dry, another two days of Bikeability with some very immature year 5s meant no real cycling days out. I did manage a couple of runs of 5 and 6 miles round the town, which given my lack of getting out went well.
Sunday I was able to get out with Mike for 38 miles over the levels, some parts showing flooding! despite all the money spent on the attempts to stop it.

Saturday saw us in Sidmouth, a little light relief after the trauma of the week, White horse café as good as ever, we did manage a little Christmas shopping.

On another story, M had to go to Gloucester late on Tuesday last week when one of the twins unexpectedly went to hospital with a breathing problem, and was kept in overnight, so a worrying time for all, including his twin brother and older sister. Fortunately, all turned out better by the end of the week and all are now well.

Yesterday, after a day round the shops in Exeter a good 9 mile late afternoon run round the lanes in nice sunny weather, went well, I am trying to keep to 3 days a week for a run and cycle twice a week, March and the Grizzly will soon be here.

I should get out with the Wobblies tomorrow before  one to one Bikeabilty training in the afternoon.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Quiet couple of weeks

22nd November 2016

Since the Drogo 10 a couple of weeks ago the changing deteriorating weather, dark evenings and working 4 days last week have meant a great reduction in my outdoor activities, so much so that yesterday I went to my first spin session since April. Yesterday I should have been teaching youngster’s cycle safety, however the left over heavy rain from Storm Angus meant we had to cancel it. It was very hard!!! I noticed my HRM consistently high, and it seemed a long session.
So in the last couple of weeks I have only managed to get out with the Wobblies once, a very nice morning ride over the Blackdown Hills to the garden centre at Wellington for coffee and cake!! The changing colours as autumn lingers on were stunning, but falling leaves making the roads slippery in places, the highlight of the morning was the climb back up to the ridge 15%-18% for most of the two mile climb!
Running has been sparse only managing to get out twice for a 5 mile and 2 mile run, the second time I got a soaking! On a dark wet evening run!
Last week I spent 4 days at a local village school for two courses of Bikeability, Course one went well, even though the children were quite noisy, behaviour was however good and they all achieved their level 2, weather was quite mild, and dry, I was also able to cycle from home each day, all my materials etc in panniers. The second course, however, was much different, day one was cold and windy with the threat of rain, this didn’t materialise until I was cycling home at the end of the day, I got very wet as I didn’t put my over trousers on. Day 2 was a different story! The threat of heavy rain from the start. We started the day with Q&A about road signs etc. as it was pouring down at 9:00am, after half an hour we decided the rain had eased off, and prepared to go out, we got down into the village before it came on to snow!!! Which the children loved, but! It didn’t last and turned to very heavy rain causing the children to get very cold, most with inadequate gloves complaining of cold hands, we returned to school for a warm up and a break. After break we had to use the video showing the children the various actions required to carry out right turns in and out of major and minor roads. As we did this the sunshine came out, the children had dried out enough for them to be enthusiastic about going out again, which we did, although there was a brisk cold wind. We managed to give the children sufficient practice on each of the turns for each of them to achieve the required standard for their level 2, so a good end to the day, I even managed to ride home in the dry, although with the evenings drawing in I did need my lights as it was very dusky.
Last weekend saw us with the grandchildren for the day, and went along to the Gloucester lantern parade, a precursor to the turning on of the Christmas lights in the city, the lanterns were wonderful, as school children paraded their paper lanterns, most having an arctic theme of whales, igloos, seabirds etc. well worth a look and a lovely day out with the grand daughter and her twin brothers.

I am not sure how much running and cycling I will manage over the next couple of weeks, as I have several Bikeabilty courses, and my next event is the Grizzly in March, I was thinking of the 10mile Bicton Blister on Woodbury Common this coming weekend, but my lack of training I think means I will give it a miss.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Drogo 10 Fell Race

7th November 2016
I sat at my computer on Saturday morning, with the sun streaming through the windows, even though it was very cold with the northerly wind I started to think will I , wont I ? That is, entering the Drogo 10, the 10 mile off road run on the National trust Castle Drogo estate on Sunday? It is classed as a Fell race and comes under the FRA rules.

My finger hovered over the enter button, then pressed it, paid the fee and I was in!!! So an exciting day was planned for the morrow!! More later?? whats pleasing as its only a £13 entry fee and half of that goes to the National Trust.
Saturday was spent driving over to Dorchester for a look round and a bit of pre-Christmas looking, and shopping.

Sunday was forecast to be extra cold, so at least this time I took my long sleeve Paramo vest with me to the race. An hour’s drive down to Castle Drogo, down the narrow single track lanes on the edge of Dartmoor to the castle, the fields were white over with frost and the trees and hedgerows stunning in the morning sun.

The car park was still quite empty, as I arrived early [as usual] and strolled down to the registration tent in front of the castle to collect my number, 269, the castle was covered in scaffolding as they are doing major restoration work to stop the Dartmoor rain getting in, but the position overlooking the Teign Valley is spectacular. I walked down to the top of the last climb of the day to Sharp Tor the ‘Hunters Path’ a good stiff climb, it was also the top of the steep first descent of the day where because its single track, very stony etc. you need to be somewhere near the front of the field as you hit this section after a couple of hundred yards, so a quick start will be needed!

The views across the Teign Valley on such a beautiful morning were stunning, with all the leaves now turning, on my photo you can just pick out the scaffold of the castle to the right of the picture.

         You can just make out the castle in between the trees

10:30 soon came, I had, had my customary jam sandwich before the start and carried my bottle of ‘Tailwind’ energy drink along with a gel, just in case I needed a boost at the end of the 9.6 miles and the 1661 feet of ascent. I wore my long sleeve under my short sleeve as it was very cold at the start, but I still kept to 3/4 tights as I thought I would be too hot with all the climbing [as you can see from the profile in the map above] I used my Fell raisers[Shoes]  as even though it was not expected to be too muddy they are good on stony ground.[it turned out to be muddy on several of the forest  track descents.]

I made my way near the front [but not too near] and after the usual Race Directors address we were off a field of 300, all aiming to get to the top of the steep single track descent first! It was a fast start, I did manage to get a good position for the descent and as we hit the bottom, the girl in front took a fall, here partner helping her, bloody knees showing, I think her race was over! Down we went then on a wide track down to the River Teign below Hunters Tor, across the new single track footbridge [ the last one washed away in the last storms] and to another potential bottle neck, a stile over a wall, I was lucky here and managed to get across the bridge and over the stile without waiting, it was then a roller coaster run along the valley next to the river, a very stony track, covered in leaves, I soon came across another victim of the stones, after tripping up. I now started to recover from my early fast start, but other runners were overtaking me, I couldn’t do anything about it deciding to run my own race pace, After 3 miles we came to Fingle Bridge, a point we would revisit from another direction, here the arrows pointed right and the track went up! Very steeply, we were now all walking, on the rough stony track, numerous bends meant you didn’t know where the top would be, it just got steeper, It was hard but I felt in control and ‘plodded’ on, no one overtook me, in fact I passed a couple !! When we finally reached the top it was an anti-climax as there was a short sharp descent, before climbing once again, I estimated the climb of about a mile, we ran along another roller coaster forest track before an even steeper descent down, I enjoyed these bits determined to make up lost time on the ascents.

But with every down there is always an up another mile of steep forest track, before yet again plunging down to the River Teign, again I let the brakes off to gain time I lost on the ups, knowing full well that younger, fitter runners would catch me on the track along the valley, people out for a Sunday stroll must have thought us bonkers!

It was a good two miles along the valley, minor ups and downs along the way, I felt my pace slowing, I was doing 8.15 min miles but as I progressed down the valley I counted 4 runners come past me, I looked again and my pace had slowed to 9:30 a mile, the valley seemed never ending! But finally the water station came in sight and Fingle Bridge again, we had to dodge the walkers over the narrow bridge then negotiate our way through the visitors to the pub [ it’s a very nice pub] before a sharp right took us onto the last climb of the day, a very steep narrow, Hunters Path that leads back to the finish, we were all walking, I was holding my position, I decided a gel was necessary so quickly took in the liquid, hoping to feel the benefit quickly to get me up the hill, people coming down the hill were kind enough to let us past, I still felt to be going well and pleased with my progress, a mile later we were at the top, only half a mile to the finish, then 400metres [a long 400 metres!!] the runners in front had disappeared from view, and there was no one behind me, again it seem to go on for ever , then the final bend into the finish area, quite a crowd were there and I got lots of clapping and cheering, which was wonderful, I crossed the line in 1 hour and 41 mins and 39 secs, 9.65 miles and 1661 feet climbed, I was happy with that, it was a good hard run that I felt I had done well on. The results also show that I came 188th out of 297.

Runners were still coming in as I recovered in the warm sunshine collecting my goody bag from the tent, and it was the best goody bag I have had!!! I walked back to the car to change before returning just to check if I had won the over 65 category again!![It was the same person that won it last year and he beat me by 10 mins!]  I didn’t I came second! Never mind it was a lovely run and if I am fit enough will return next year. Well organised and friendly in a beautiful setting.

I must return to visit the castle, I remember once[ 20 years ago]  bringing a group of students rock climbing on Sharp Tor, and very large ants nibbling me as they climbed the ropes ahead of me!!!

Friday, 4 November 2016

Quiet week

11th November 2016
After the thrills of the last month with 4 running events, things have now gone a little quieter with no events planned till spring next year, the main one being the Grizzly in March. There are a few runs I may do, at short notice, for example the Drogo 10 is on Sunday and I am undecided, there is an Audax in Devon in a few weeks, I am un decided, I wonder if I have got into winter mode already, as the temperatures have plummeted with the first frosts this week.

Its also been very foggy this week , and Tuesday saw me and Mrs B driving up the A303 to Stourhead to view the Autumn colours, we had picked Tuesday, unfortunately it was also very foggy and didn’t clear! But it was lovely round the gardens, a couple of photos show how it was, I expect when the sun shone the colours were stunning with the reds and yellows. 

                     From the Pantheon

We walked around main lake  path which was beautiful in the mists, but somewhat very cold, glad of my large coat. There were lots of visitors, many with their tripods and cameras. They are outstanding gardens at this time of year. The Pantheon building was wonderful, its hard to imagine someone building it for entertaining! We went in the house this time as before when we have been its always shut. We were a little disappointed, there was little history other than references to ‘Harry’ which is now a themed story, of a son killed in the first world war. The house had been burnt down so we assumed all history had gone with it, and rebuilt later. A good day out followed by Omelette at Morrisons in Wincanton as the café at Stourhead was full!
I managed a 6 mile run when we got home just in time before it got dark, now the clocks have changed, I felt ok despite my Sunday run.

Wednesday the day after was different again, a stunning morning, chilly but bright blue skies and sunshine. A wobblies ride this morning another trip down to Lyme Regis where we were able to sit on the front at an outside café, in the warm sunshine and no wind, this is probably the last time this year we are able to do that. After several puncture in the group we had covered 38 miles so a decent morning out with 6 fellow cyclists.

Thursday after my school volunteer stint, I managed a short run of 4.5 miles, it started to rain after about 2 miles so I decided as I was getting very wet to cut it short, I have to say my legs did feel heavy today! Perhaps that’s why I hesitate about the Drogo 10.

Friday, plans to cycle out for a few hours were curtailed when it threw it down with rain in the first half mile! I cowardly turned and rode home, not fancying another soaking and spent the rest of the morning doing an Equality and Diversity training package on the computer for Bikeability, a requirement of Somerset County Council, not the most thrilling of mornings. Ironically its now 2:30 and the sun is shining, but too late to get togged up and get out on the bike as its dark by 4:30 ish, I am too lazy!!!

Now will or wont I do the Drogo, looks a good course on Dartmoor, all off road road Castle Drogo, lots of steep ups and downs and 9.6 miles!!! We will see!

October I ran 111 miles and cycled 193 miles, I should be fit and lean, I dont feel either!
so far this year I have run 728 miles compared to 603 for the whole year last year and have cycled 2624 miles so far compared with a final figure last year of 3371 miles.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Here Path Half week

31st October 2016
After the Stumble run last weekend I was feeling quite confident about the HerePath. Monday I had a rest day, the weather was still really nice to say it was late October, except Monday it poured down!!! All day, I could just imagine the HPH route being even muddier after the cattle had been there as well.
Tuesday I decided on one last long run before Sunday, so I was parking at Thurlbear church late on Tuesday after noon, it was warm and quite humid as I set off up the road. I felt ok and reached the Staple Hill car Park in a good time, deciding to avoid the muddy section. By the time I had got round to Bickenhall and 11 miles gone I was feeling it once again, despite a gel after the descent of Neroche, little did I know this was to repeat its self again in the race. I got back to the car 12.4 miles covered in 2hr 13 mins and a pace of 10.53. I told myself this was a training run and I would be quicker on the day!!! Famous last words me thinks!
below are several photos from the route

                                                    Thurlbear church, the starting point of the race
                              first hill
                         sign for another 1.5 miles uphill
              at last in the open
                        this is a steep track, much steeper than it looks in the photo, definitely a walk
                                            Part of the 2 miles down hill bit after Neroche

Wednesday was a Wobblies day, a good run down to the coast and Coffee and cake in West Bay, another 38 miles clocked up in good company, I am still riding my summer bike as the roads are not too bad, as well as wearing three quarter tights.
Thursday I did a short run round town to keep my legs ticking over 4 miles covered.
Saturday was visiting Grandchildren day as it was Mrs IanBs birthday on the Sunday. We were greeted by, banners and balloons! We had a lovely lunch and spent a great day with the twins and grand daughter, much cake eaten as well! The children particularly enjoyed the balloons and the year old twins, seemed to enjoy reading the birthday cards.
Sunday race day, the clocks had gone back the night before which meant an extra hour in bed, although I was up at 6 :00 thinking about the day ahead. Breakfast, energy drink made, gel in pocket and cereal bar ready to eat an hour before as it was a 10:30 start.
Picked up Rachel at the top of the lane, who informed me she hadn’t run this week and only once the week before!!! Ermmmm!
Parking was easy even though it’s a narrow lane, the joys of being early. Numbers collected, I was number 2 this time for some reason.
Race Director gave us the information as usual, then it was start line, we were quite near the front, purely by accident. The weather was misty, no wind and reasonably warm, unlike the cold wind at Minehead the week before. There was a full field of 200 today.
 We were off and the first mile is mainly roads so there was a fast pace, 8 minute miles! Too fast for me to keep up for very long , we hit the first off road section as the path started to climb, the pace still quite high, runners over taking us on the narrow tracks, as the paths went up and the miles increased we did slow a little and the field thinned out with lots of heavy breathing !! I kept trying to sip my ‘Tailwind ‘ drink to keep topped up.
We were soon at the first road where we turned off for the very muddy and wet section, the path twisted in and out to start with, through very wet dips before emerging onto the hillside and the narrow path that was a cattle run, full of deep mud and water, this was a walk, over the stile, but fortunately the runners were spaced enough to avoid queuing. The mud continued till we met the road again. My Inov8 gaiters now giving their worth by keeping it out of my shoes. The track steepens here and we were soon walking , as was everyone else. We continued to the top of the Blackdowns and Staple Hill before descending a little to the first water point, where we were greeted by Rachels schoolchildren cheering us on and at one point running with us! [ Rachel is a teacher in a local school whose children  man the water stop, she also runs the school running club] this did give us a boost. 6 miles gone, just over an hour so going well,  mostly uphill, I was feeling OK, a couple of sweets and a drink of water before descending on a steep downhill towards Britty Common, this is one of my routes so I was familiar with it. Crossing the road once again we climbed up to Neroche Castle before descending a good 2 miles down a good Stoney track to the road, I remembered my descent the week before on the Stumble, but sadly couldn’t replicate it, especially with 5 miles to go, so not as fast as I would have liked to pick up time.
  I decided it was time for my gel [ I had taken an out of date one May 16!!!] before the final 4 miles. As we hit the road section near Bickenhall I started to feel tired, legs were getting slower, Rachel seemed to be going well [ as usual] drink stop again before a mile of uphill road running, I could feel the energy starting to drain away and Rachel started to pull away, I couldn’t stay with her, we entered  Bickenhall woods which seemed to twist and turn for ever before emerging into brilliant sunshine and my most hated bit of the run round a field, quite sticky mud, just managing to lift my feet enough to clear it, back into the woods once again, lots of mud this time and more uphill, but!! I knew it was the last uphill and I know I always struggle on this section, only 2 miles to go and the last mile is down hill. I walked and Rachel did wait for me at the end of the woods. We ran together round the road to the final down hill through more woods on a forestry track, seemingly going on for ever. Time was moving on I knew I would be slower than last year. The fast start I think didn’t help. We finally came out of the woods and the final 200 metres uphill to the finish, 2h 22 min 58 secs that’s 6 minutes slower than last year. I was very tired, it had been a hard run! I still don’t understand how Rachel manages on so little training!! ‘youth and agility’ obviously outweigh ‘age and cunning’ !!
We collected water and our momento, this year a glass with the race and date on etc. before driving home for a well-earned shower and lunch!

I thought I would have gone better than I did, so a little disappointed, I think I went too fast too early and made a mistake of an old gel, clearly not as effective, in fact I didn’t notice any difference!
We did manage 113th out of 200 which was quite good and I noticed I was 2nd in the over 60 category, there were 4 of us.
Monday a nice surprise when I had a package delivered, it turned out to be a trophy from the Minehead  Stumble, for coming 1st in the over 65 age group, I didn’t know they had one other wise I would have stayed to have it presented! My first trophy for running, a very nice paperweight.

The HPH is possibly my last event before the Grizzly next March, what I do know is I need to get more miles in and hours running before then!