Saturday, 31 December 2011

A big HELLO to 2012

2011 has been an awesome year: Skydiving/ jumping out of planes, cliff jumping in Scotland and Wales, charging across the hills and mountains in Scotland, England and Wales, 156+mile run from Scotland to Wales, kickboxing, running around the Isle of Wight and finding out that I can run 50 miles in a day are only a few of the highlights of 2011.

Taking part in these different activities has led to meeting some awe-inspiring people who each have their own passions, achievements and story to tell.... if you ask quietly and listen hard enough.  It does seem that the harder that you have to listen, the deeper and more amazing the person and story that follows.  Over the next year I have a feeling I will meet even more - I can't wait.  

As 2011 draws to a close I have spent a little time reflecting on what I would like 2012 to look like and what I will take forward from 2011. The annual pulling out of my bucket list and dice has so far decided an interesting mix of wing walking, high lining, potholing, volcano boarding and street lugging for 2012. This will be in addition to the joining of a running club, one stage Lakeland 100miler and I hope, 103m UTMB (Ultra Trail of Mont Blanc). 

So, although I am sad to say goodbye to 2011, I am extremely excited about 2012.  Not long now just 4 3/4 hours to go before the big HEEEELLLLLLLO 2012! 'Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today!'  Happy New Year everyone. xx

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Weekend in the snowy Lake District 10-11th December 2011

After a wasted mad dash to Manchester and the third change to accommodation plans I quite literally skidded to Ambleside youth hostel arriving just before 11pm.  Snow was on the hills and the earlier rain on the lower ground had turned to ice in the freezing fog.  Perfect rally driving conditions - and I am very pleased to say that I haven't lost my rally driving skills learnt many years ago.  I guess the grit man and his van had bigger roads to cover!

Snow .... not much ... but there was
a patch
Saturday morning was spent trying to drive over to Buttermere (the original destination). I tried all three passes - the first got me up to the mine/ top of Honiton Pass but no further, the second pass was a road of pure black ice and the third was closed shut. So with an even longer detour I arrived at Buttermere youth hostel where I quickly unloaded the car and headed for the hills.

There was snow on the hills, not too much but there was hope that I could put my shiny new running crampons on. It was very cold and windy though.... thermals were on with my trusted Buffalo - stopping was not an option.   Backpack with running crampons at the ready, I chose a mountain and just went - time was not on my side and I didn't want to be caught at the top of the mountain at sun set.

That was the lower hill - lovely
little ridge
3000ft later I  decided to head back down again and hoped to trot along the lower hill for a bit before it got dark.  Buttermere youth hostel was fantastic.  Great food, great bed and great people running it.  Can't wait to go back there again.

So, a quick recap of the last couple of weekends - night with hills, mud with hills and this weekend was snow and ice with hills... whats next?? ahhh that's right ... another day in the Lakes.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Brecon Beacons Trot

Up and down the hill in the distance 
and then  back up and down the
hill that this  picture was taken from.
26 miles with 4397ft elevation gain (and therefore the same loss), with tonnes of mud, standing water and more mud made this run one of the hardest that I have had to do so far.  Weather was perfect: no rain, some sun and cool temperatures.  It was breath takingly windy on the top / on the open moors but it was the amount of water and MUD that made it tough and running extremely slow.

Running in thick guey mud up and down hills means that a) you use different muscles to keep the legs together (aka not sliding down the hill) b) spend more energy keeping up-right c) lifting feet the out of the mud 'zaps' energy d) settling into a smooth pace is impossible. Interestingly there were only a few women who turned out for the event all of whom were either in the super fit or mega super fit category.  Of course, I didn't stand out like a sore thumb at all but hey at least I wasn't thought to be a marshal  - oh hang on.....
Moorland - wet and windy
My preparation impacted my run.  Organising/ attending the work party the night before, sleeping for 1/2 hour and driving 4 hours to get to the race for a 6 o'clock start with a stinking cold was not clever but a reality for a full time working person who needs to pack in hill and distance training into their weekly scedule.

What I learnt with this run was that you have to go into a race completely committed.  I spent the first 2 miles looking for a reason to stop. I was tired, feeling miserable with a cold and quite frankly I just wanted my bed and not spend lots of energy plodding over several mammoth and very muddy hills. However, all of that was wiped away as I knew I wasn't going to stop and I wasn't prepared to bore myself any further with any more negative thoughts. Of course there was a humongous hill that needed some attention as well - a great distractor.
The climbs were often long inclines
I much prefer short and steep

Taking that this was the second time that I have been up the Welsh hills within a week I think that I am getting some good hill practise in.

So, only 26miles but with 4397ft elevation and tonnes of mud to get in the way - I will happily take this trot as a good and worthwhile training session. More next week too..... and with a good nights sleep before, I know that it will be a good one.