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.