Saturday, 24 December 2016

Christmas day

Sunday 25th December

Done my run for today, 3.1 miles! Round town, didn't see anyone, no cars, lots of lights on in houses, assume opening their Christmas presents. Still only 6:45 am, looking forward to family coming today and tomorrow.
Happy and peaceful Christmas to anyone who reads my blog!

Friday, 23 December 2016

Back home and back to running and cycling

Sunday 18th December

Sunday was a bright day compared with what we had in the lakes, after a lazy morning, sorting etc. I spent the afternoon working towards my 3000 miles on the bike for the year; I am only 86 miles short.
It was good to be out on the bike again, the Garmin said it was 4 degrees, but there was no wind. A ride round Hatch Beauchamp and Ilton gave me 26 miles towards my target for the year.
M was off to London on Monday for a few days with our daughter, so I took them to Taunton to catch the Berry’s coach. I waved them off and then headed home to prepare for a nice run down the coast. I took the van and headed for Beer Head car park which was strangely quiet, no other cars were parked up. I kitted up, locked the van and set off down the coast path, towards Beer Head, the weather was warm, and the sun was trying to come out from the clouds. The paths were muddy but not too much to make it uncomfortable. I ran over to Branscombe , not seeing anyone, the views over the sea were and towards Sidmouth were stunning as usual, the descent down to Branscombe I met a couple walking up, greetings were exchanged as I worked my way down the path, arms ‘flailing’ to keep my balance. I was soon down by the now closed café, and started my climb up the other side; new steps had been put in place by the National Trust which meant I now had to pick my feet up so I did ten steps up on each leg, before swapping to relieve the pain! I was soon on the ridge, quite muddy in places, the trees had now lost their leaves so it was good to look across the village of Branscombe, and you seem to gain a lot of height quite quickly. The final field before dropping down past the Fountains Inn was very muddy, churned by the cattle normally there, but! It was good to see they weren’t there today; I don’t like crossing fields with cattle in them, especially when they have youngsters with them. I hit the road and had a pleasant run down to the village, helped because the road was closed as one of the houses was having a new Thatch and scaffolding was out into the road.
I ran down to the beach once again before climbing up to the undercliff path, this was a really pleasant and quite warm, sheltered from the wind, the path is really good to run, single track, in and out round rocks and up and down, never really getting to close to the beach. It was soon time for the ‘stairway to heaven’ and as usual, I walked, I heard voices as I neared the top, to find several people sat on the seat, as I approached they did offer to move up and leave space for me to rest, I declined their offer and continued over the top. It was a steady run back to the car, the views over Seaton making it look quite Mediterranean from a distance with the curve of the bay and a couple of high rise blocks of flats. Soon back to the van, still the only car in the car park, change of clothes and then coffee and flapjack looking over the bay, - living the dream!!!! 6.80 miles and 1000ft plus climbed.

                              looking down on Branscombe
              View from the Van at Beer Head car park ,over Seaton whilst drinking my coffee - living the dream!!

Tuesday I did another 26 miles on my bike same route as Sunday! Getting me closer to my 3000 k target for the year.
Thursday after a supershop round Tesco first thing seemingly stocking up enough food etc. to last till July, or at least get us through the Christmas break with our family visitors over Christmas, late afternoon I managed a 5.1 mile round town on a chilly afternoon, legs felt quite heavy today, not sure why??
Friday we took the Van down to Seaton, to have a coffee on the front before storm ‘Barbara’ comes in after lunch. The sea was already rough, and clouds were scudding across the sky, seemingly getting darker and thicker as we walked out along the front. There were a few people out, all well wrapped up against the wind and the fine drizzle.

Christmas eve tomorrow! Lets hope the storm goes through quickly with the least damage caused!

A break in the Lake District

Week Beginning 11th December 2016

A year ago we had a phone call from our booked accommodation in the Lake District informing us that they had to cancel our booked holiday at Fallbarrow Park because they had been flooded out, that was the great storm of December 2015!
So we thought we would try again this December! This time we were successful J
So Sunday we drove up to the Lakes, calling for coffee to see our Grandchildren in Gloucester on the way. We were booked into the caravan on the Monday, so we had to stay Sunday night elsewhere, we chose Morecambe Travel Lodge so we could enjoy the fantastic scenery of Morecambe Bay.
The M5 was very busy as usual, with loads of road works, bringing the speed down to 50mph max at times. At least there were no accidents etc., it still took us 6 hours!
Once checked in the hotel, we walked out onto the front, to see a spectacular sunset over the Bay, the ‘Tern project’ sculptures silhouetted against the setting sun.

Morcambe sunset 'Tern Project'
 We followed this with a visit to the ‘Eric Morecambe’ Weatherspoon’s pub for something to eat; this is where the disappointment with WS begins. We noticed they had a nice veggie Wellington on their xmas menu, so went to order, none left! Okay we will have the spicy burger with cranberry sauce, sorry no cranberry sauce! So we settled on veggie burger and chips! Let’s have some afters with a coffee, oooh! Look, mince pie or Christmas muffin, sorry sir! Only 1 mince pie left and no muffins!!!! So half a mince pie it was to finish off, at least the coffee was hot.
After a good night in the hotel we drove on to Bowness visiting Grange for a walk, even though it was pouring rain.
A visit to Booths the supermarket in Windermere for some extra groceries before finally arriving at ‘Fallbarrow’ at Bowness.
The caravan was the usual very high standard, lovely and warm, the site was very quiet. After a nice cup of tea and chocolate digestives a walk down to the ferries by the Lake before it got too dark. The mist was now starting to form across the lake giving an eerie effect as it was just above the lake surface.
Tuesday the weather forecast was poor, with heavy rain, but! It wasn’t too bad, but we stayed local and walked around Bowness and down to the ferry that crosses to the road leading to Beatrix Potters house, again the mist produced some magical views across the lake.
Mists over Windermere
Mists over Windermere
 Wilfs Veggie Chilli
 House on the Bridge in Ambleside
looking towards Catbells over Derwent Water Keswick

 A real winters view, with greys and blues, the trees now stripped of leaves, leaving there black limbs stretching into the sky. There was even some sunshine poking through at times. The town was very Christmassy but there were lots of Japanese/Chinese tourists, photographing everything and everyone in sight!
Lunch was at ‘Wilfs’ in Staveley the best café in the country, his veggie chilli, always hits the spot!!! Followed by caramel shortbread and tiffin! Ambleside was the next port of call, their Christmas lights, very beautiful. A quick visit round the various climbing shops, all full of the same kit at the same price! No bargains to be had. A late afternoon run around Bowness and Windermere in the ever increasing gloom of the oncoming evening, though very warm. My head torch was useful at times, 6 miles covered.
Wednesdays forecast was better so a walk over Grasmere way was planned, parking at Rydal Hall, unfortunately the parking had been withdrawn so we had to find parking elsewhere. We parked at Whitemoss and followed the coffin road over to Rydal Hall tearooms for coffee, a shocking £2:75 for a Latte, no scones!!! So shortbread instead.

Rydal Water

Rydal water

                                    Caves above Rydal water

We continued our walk round Rydal Water via the Caves which are always impressive. The day was dark, damp and misty, but warm. The views were lovely, there were even signs of patches of snow on the higher peaks we could see and we saw very few other people. We saved lunch until we got back to the car, so a late lunch of cheese and pickle sandwiches!
Thursday was Keswick day, we drove over the newly repaired A591, badly damaged in last winter’s storms, closing it for a long time. Coffee and scones in Booths supermarket before a visit to the climbing shops, I even purchased a new cycling jacket, a Paramo Ciclo waterproof, I am a fan of Paramo as I think it works for me better than Goretex and can be reproofed.
Wetherspoons curry was lunch, in the old law courts complete with cells!

Derwent Water near Keswick

Derwent water near Keswick

Afternoon was spent along the shores of the Lake, looking very peaceful in the grey winter light, Catbells dominating the skyline. It was very quiet with few people around. An evening in with Mulled wine and salted peanuts, but I did manage another 6 mile run before tea again.
Friday we were due to drive down to Lancaster and stay overnight before the long trek back home, calling again to see the grandchildren. We were up early, tidied the van and then loaded up the car, there seemed a lot more to pack in than when we came up! We had a last walk down to the lake, it was beautiful and peaceful, ducks and swans upended searching for their breakfast, and a low mist hung over the lake, time to depart once again.  We dropped the key off at reception and then headed for Wilfs for a breakfast, pot of tea and a double egg butty with brown sauce, lovely!!! We fully recommend Wilfs in the yard at Staveley near the bike shop.
We drove to Lancaster down the back scenic route, hitting Lancaster just before lunch; the traffic was horrendous as we tried to find the hotel and a car park close to it!! But the one close to it was full so parking at that time was at least a quarter of a mile away, a downside of a Travel Lodge in a city centre. We had a wander round the very busy city, eating a sandwich in front of Queen Victoria near the impressive building that was the council offices. We had had enough of the busy town so decided to escape to the coast once again and a pleasant walk along the front once again at Morecambe. By the time we returned back to the hotel we were able to park in the car park outside the hotel, phew!!! That’s saved some work carrying our bags. A cup of tea and a rest before it was time once again to find somewhere for tea [or if you prefer dinner! This is where we were utterly amazed, it was six o clock the town was heaving with party goers, most pubs and restaurant very full and most advertising ‘no food after 5pm due to parties’ so it was a visit to Sainsbury’s for a sandwich, crisps and cake, an evening back in the hotel rather than a night on the town.
Saturday we were off by 7 am to try to avoid traffic, which went fine until junct 14 on the M6 they had closed the motorway because of an accident, fortunately we were only stopped for 20 minutes, the rest of the journey went without incident but it was a good four hours before we saw the grandchildren once again, we had a pleasant afternoon, playing with them all before our final last bit of the journey another hour and a half. We were glad to arrive home, tired and hungry, a trip to the chip shop filled the gap!

It had been a lovely week away once again, the weather had not been too good, but it was very warm and lovely and quiet around the lakes, it’s just the journey these days, far too busy on the M5/M6 it would be nice to go again next Christmas.

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!

Monday, 24 October 2016

Hard cycle ride and the Minehead 'Stumble' run


After my struggle round the HerePath route on Monday a days rest required before joining the Wobblies on Wednesday morning, but! only two of us turned out with other Wobblers visiting vets, in Germany or in Scotland etc. the trouble is the other Wobbler was a fitness Instructor from the local Gym 1610, he takes the Spin classes etc. We decided to head over to Hestercombe House

by a circuitous route, it was a lovely morning, a chill in the air but the occasional view of the sun created warm spots!!! the trees were now turning very Autumnal so the ride over the Blackdowns was particularly colourful, a long down hill to West Buckland before crossing the main road and heading over to Bishops Lydyeard, 30 miles already completed, at a fast pace, [ remember I said he was a fitness Instructor] we finally arrived at Hestercombe where a welcome Latte and large piece of white chocolate covered apricot flapjack was consumed, to give me the calories to get home! and keep up with Paul!! its a lovely setting with the local Sandstone coloured buildings blending nicely with the autumn colours. We were soon off once again heading over Creech St Michael and North Curry, up over Rock Hill and back over the levels, all at a faster than usual pace for me 61 miles covered and over 3000 ft climbed, a good average speed of over 16 mph I was tired when I got home!! but a lovely hard ride with glorious views. A good morning out and good training I am sure.

Friday was fine tuning day before the Stumble on Sunday, so a 6 mile run around town.

Saturday was a glorious and sunny day so a little shopping in Exeter where I managed to get some Inov8 running gaiters to stop stones going down the tops on my shoes when running off road, will try them on Sunday and report back, they look good! we also managed a walk on the front at Exmouth where it was actually hot, and walking in short sleeves was called for.

Sunday dawned, cold, cloudy and misty with a cold east wind. I drove over to Minehead with lights on because of the mist.

Parking up signing on there was lots of hustle and bustle so after picking up my number I went a walk up to the start area 

Where this fabulously coloured leaved tree stood I walked further up the combe to remind me what it was like, it was very cold.
On return to the car park, discussion and banter between runners about how cold it was and what to wear etc. I felt quite chilly in my short sleeved tee, but confident I would soon warm up. I opted today just to take a gel, in case, having had my usual Jam sandwich 45 mins before the start.
The start time soon arrived and as it was so cold I did for a change do a warm up run or two!!!
we soon had the briefing to be told the course had changed because of permission form Crown Forestry wouldn't allow the run on their land!!
we were off and soon heading up hill, up a wide stony track, steep in places to the first ridge, it soon had people walking [ there were 93 in my event and 190 in the Stagger which went up to Dunkery Beacon, I will do that sometime!!] making it difficult to run myself, the singletrack made it worse and we were queing at one time so stopped altogether, a few minutes lost here.
the route up seemed easier that last year, and we were soon running along a 'Roller Coaster' of a ridge, I was still wary of any more big ups as I didnt know the route so cautiously didnt run quite as fast on the downs as I could. the half way water point 3.5 miles in was reached and I knew then there was little more up hill, we climbed back up to the main ridge, the route can be seen here:-

as we went along the main ridge I was feeling good despite the cold head wind and knew the down hill was coming up, not the usual descent, infact it was steeper and stonier, but I let it go and found my self descending fast, overtaking a few others, it was great!! the Speedcross shoes doing their job and the new gaiters excelling at keeping the stones out, I was soon averaging 7 minute miles at times and as I hit the tarmac at the bottom I looked at my watch and noticed and under the hour a possibility, I ran as fast as I could passing a few more runners, looking at my watch, to try the under hour, sadly despite my effort I finished the 6.3 miles in 1 hr 0 minutes and 39 secs a great time and 7 minutes faster than last year.

I came 40th out of 93 finishers, but the icing on the cake was i came 1st in the over 65 catagory  even though there were only 3 of us!!! but! no prize except another Tee

A technical one this year and quite a nice fit. Tea and cake followed before my drive home. a great event well organised and run by Minehead running club, perhaps next year I will manage the 15 mile 'Stagger' !!!!

Just the Herepath Half Marathon next week now, I hope I can get a run of the route tomorrow as its pouring down with rain today, this will prepare me well for next Sunday.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Herepath route run and coffee in Lyme Regis

17th October 2016

Since my last outing to the Quantocks I have been able to get out with the Wobbly wheelers for a lovely ride over to Lyme Regis, 8 of us were out , via a number of back lanes I had never been down before , after  climbing Lamberts castle Hill we then crossed the A35 to go down a long winding hill through Harcombe Bottom and Rhode hill, a lovely road in pleasant sunshine,but! The dappling on the road making it difficult to spot pot holes!! We exited at Uplyme where we continued into Lyme down the main street, surprisingly busy for a Wednesday morning. I was also surprised that I wasn’t feeling the effects of my previous days run on the Quantocks, but I seemed to be going well, climbing as well as the others.
We cycled down the narrow street to the   Town Mill Bakery

a quirky coffee shop where you take what you want ,pastry, toast etc. apply your jam, peanut butter or whatever , order your coffee and pay on exit. Great atmosphere and lovely pastry, my cinnamon whirl and latte certainly helped get me home!!! I can recommend a visit but I think its busy at times ,we were very lucky to find it reasonably quiet.
When we were all fed and watered it was time to move on, as we were at sea level, the only way was up!!! But we managed to find a steady climbing route out, going round the lanes once again through Shapwick and under a superb Via duct that used to carry the old railway line down to Lyme, still in great condition, sadly there is no access to it, make a great cycle route into Lyme. We climbed Combpyne hill before descending past River Cottage HQ to Raymonds Hill crossing the A35 once again and heading for Blackpool corner. Heading back down the lanes through Tudhay , crossing the river Axe at Broom before the long stepp climb upto Tytherleigh , on into Chardstock and picking up the NCN route back to Chard. 36 miles covered on a lovely cycling morning but also 3000 ft of climbing, I felt surprisingly good so pleased with the effort.

Friday I decided it was time to revisit the Here Path route

being as its only 2 weeks to the event. I parked at Staple hill which is the highest point on the route. The weather was decidedly poor, there was thick mist and there was also slight drizzle as I ran across to Neroche, a route I have done many times. Down the fast couple of miles to the B road before ascending on the road towards Bickenhall Farm, my least favourite part of the route.
I was soon into the woods before emerging into a large field with a path around the outside, very hard work this bit!!!
At the road once again and after a few hundred yards turned off for a nice downhill it to what is normally the finish at Thurlbear, but not today as I still had another 6 miles to go back up to Staple Hill carpark. After Netherclay it was all track, climbing steadily until I hit Underhill lane where the organisers send us on a loop through some very muddy areas before the final climb to Staple Hill. It was particulary muddy as cattle had clearly been along to path recently, their hooves turning the path into a very wet quagmire that took some negotiating to keep my shoes on in the glutinous mud. Once through it the hill steepened to the highest point on the route and fortunate for me back to the car. I was tired with 13.6 miles covered and over 1300 ft climbed, but it was a good run and the sun came out just to round off the day.My time wasnt great 2 hrs 33 mins 

Sunday a 32 mile cycle ride to try to loosen my very sore/tight right calf muscle, it seemed to do the trick until later in the evening when it returned!!

Monday, another HPH route day, this time starting at Thurbear, it was a lovely bright sunny morning as I set off, determined to take my time, I did the long climb up to Staple hill and felt fine, but!! As I hit the last 4 miles from near Bickenhall, it all started to seem very hard, I was struggling to keep a pace and found my self walking where I normally run, jelly babies, dextrasol and energy drink didn’t seem to address the issues, so I was pleased to be on the final descent to Thurlbear. I had missed out the very muddy section today but still managed  12.7 miles. I was very tired when I got to the car and recovered slightly after a granola bar and a bit of stretching. I can only assume I hadn’t recovered enough from my efforts last Friday. I will give it some rest for a couple of days before a short run, before the ‘Stumble’ at Minehead on Sunday. My calf muscle is very sore so will have to get the foam roller out and massage it to see if I can improve it before the Sunday run.

Its been a good week all round with a trips to Exmouth and Seaton  in the van, coffee overlooking the sea etc. I even managed to get a bargain at Cotswold Camping at Darts Farm, a Montane featherweight windproof with a full zip. I have an overhead one that is getting a little old now so the zipped one with be more practical, but, it doesn't fold as small as the overhead one, but still fits in my cycling jersey pocket. 

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Plymouth 10k and a run on the Quantock hills

Today was a contrast to Sunday! I drove over to the Quantocks at 7:00 just as it was getting light, well, it would if it hadn’t been for the thick mist on my drive through Taunton. My aim to run 12 miles across the Quantock’s as preparation for the Here Path Half at the end of the month, 13 miles with lots of climbing!! More later ???
Back to Plymouth 10k  - it was my daughters second 10k and she had put in lots of work for the event after Taunton, despite a heavy workload in her job as a Primary Teacher. I had spent the time since Taunton 10 k getting out a couple of times a week for 6- 10 miles round the lanes, as well as some Bikeability at several village schools. The weather has been really good lately, even with a chilly easterly wind. But I am finally in long trousers; last week’s Bikeability was a little chilly in the morning.

Mrs IanB and I were booked into a Plymouth Hotel for Saturday night as daughter and her bloke were also staying over, but our plans for her to have a night in a 4 star hotel were thwarted when my son and the grand children came down for the weekend for the local Carnival on Saturday night. So after a busy day looking after the twin boys whilst mum, dad and Gdaughter went shopping in Exeter I drove down to Plymouth on my own and checked into the already paid for room. A pleasant evening out in Plymouth with daughter and boyfriend, at the ‘Wildwood restaurant’ Pizza etc.
The dawned beautiful, sun and no wind, a lovely day ahead. The start for the event was close to the hotel so we could stroll down to the start at 8:30 just in time to warm up. There were over 2000 runners involved and street in the town were closed off.
We lined up mid-way down the crowd and we were soon off, trying not to get caught up in the rush, it was good to be in the middle of the runners of all shapes, sizes and ages. The weather was just right for running, no wind and at times it was a little too warm. The run was down one side of the road and back up the other side, but we ran along the picturesque embankment, with good views over the river. As we approached the 5 k mark we could see the leaders going the other way, daughter’s boyfriend included, he was clearly doing a good time! We felt good as we hit the turn and it inspired us when we could see all the runners behind us. There were several long slopes on the return from the 5 k mark and we found ourselves walking just to gather breath and take on board some water. We were soon on the final descent before the final climb to the finish so an extra spurt was needed. 1hr and 5 minutes!!!! That’s a minute faster than the Taunton run, we were pleased with that! We came 1600th out of 2100 so a good finish. Daughter’s boyfriend came 26th so a good run by him at 36 minutes, the winner did 32 minutes.

                                                        Taunton medal left, Plymouth right

A really nice medal [compared to the plastic Taunton one] see photo, a goody bag and tee shirt. A good day out in fantastic weather. I got home in time to spend an hour with the grandchildren before their return up the M5 to Gloucester.
In contrast my run across the Quantocks started in thick mist and a cold easterly wind, in a long sleeve jersey, Gilet and a hat! The run up Wills Neck was chilly the mist finally clearing as I dropped down to Triscombe stone, it was starting to warm up and as I ran my usual Dead woman’s Ditch the sun felt quite warm. It was interesting running along the side of the road, as people were driving to work. The ground was very dry  throughout the run, I had applied DEET around my legs as a precaution against Ticks as I was brushing bracken and heather.

On the return I walked up Hurley Beacon and managed to snack on jelly babies  and for the first time washed down with flat coke [ the first time I had tried this] I still felt ok as I had run over 7 miles and hitting 10 miles before my final climb up to Wills Neck , I walked in places, the wild ponies completely disinterested in this mad person running!! I got back to the car, 11.63 miles covered in just over 2 hours, the weather was a fabulous with great views all around, it had been a few months since I had been on the Qauntocks , I will certainly revisit as soon as possible, perhaps on my MTB!!!!