Friday, August 31, 2012

Grisedale Pike fell run

"If you want something done, ask a busy person" - Lucille Ball

Sometimes it seems that I get to the weekend and crash - having filled my weekday evenings with being awesome, the sudden availability of time at the weekend results in a less urgent wish to get outside.  It's Friday night as I write this.  On Tuesday I had a little run around Sale Fell, on Wednesday I went for a run over Rannerdale Knotts, yesterday (Thursday) I went for a run over Grisedale Pike:

The first time I went over Grisedale Pike was a walk I did, setting off at 4am lit by a full moon.  The second time was a fell run in beautiful hazy conditions.  An ex-work colleague of mine would run over Grisedale Pike whenever he could, racking up 200 visits before moving to Scotland.  I can see why he liked it so much, it is a beautiful run with great views on clear days like yesterday.  It has the added advantage of being 20 minutes from home.

Force Crag Mine
We took a route along the track to Force Crag Mine.  Now, we did this once before, aiming to get up onto Grisedale Pike and finding ourselves on this lower track along the side of the valley.  There is no clear track up onto the ridge and at this time of year, with the bracken up, it would be almost impossible and certainly very unpleasant to find a way up onto the ridge.

On the last occasion, we headed to the left at the end of the valley and tackled a steep and pathless ascent of Outerside (tick!).  This time, we decided to stick on the path up to Coledale Hause before cutting back over to the ridge path between Hopegill Head and Grisedale Pike.

Force Crag Mine is an old lead and zinc mine owned by the National Trust.  It was the last Lake District Mine to be closed, shutting down in 1990/1991. There are occasional days when it is open, we just missed one.

There has been a lot of rain recently.  The picture on the left shows the main path over Coledale Hause being overflown with water.  The waterfalls at the head of the valley were in full flow and water was running down the paths on the way up.

Crossing Coledale Beck was a bit tricky as the stepping stones, just below Force Crag Mine, were submerged.

We both managed to get across and stay fairly dry and before long we were climbing up onto the ridge that runs along to Grisedale Pike.  The sun was setting, there were white fluffy clouds in the air and the visibility was great.  I had brought my proper(ish) camera, rather than my iphone that most of my blog pictures are taken on, so I took full advantage:

looking over towards Keswick, I think that is Outerside and Barrow
Eel Crag
the Dodds behind the other side of the Coledale Horseshoe
Blencathra and Keswick
Ladyside Pike, the Solway Firth and Scotland beyond
up towards Grisedale Pike, one last climb
Grisedale Pike on the right
Grisedale Pike on the left
looking back towards Grasmoor

Summit Dorks

from the top of Grisedale Pike, there is a steep descent before the ridge path evens out, eventually reaching the forest
looking back up the classic view of Grisedale Pike.  If you look carefully, you can see Jonathan in the middle of the picture on the path, which gives this picture some scale.
a beautiful evening - this is the Dodds in profile.
brilliant route - about 7.5 miles

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Rannerdale Knotts after work fell run

Rannerdale Knotts is a fairly small fell but it is beautifully situated prominently on the Crummock Water shoreline.  I walked up here in horrible weather in December and came, too early as it turned out, to see the famous Bluebells in April.  Tonight, I just fancied a quick run somewhere where I couldn't get lost so I parked up at the car park just before Hause Point and set off on the path that is signposted a bit further along the road that eventually leads to the summit.

across Crummock Water to Melbreak, another great run but take the steep side first
the path soon gains height - steep sides of Melbreak more obvious now
Hause Point below (good swimming spot) and Low Ling Crag and High Ling Crag across Crummock Water.  The cars on the road give a sense of height and scale
Whiteless Pike on the right and Whiteless Edge behind with Rannerdale Beck weaving its way between these and Lad Hows on the left from the top of Rannerdale Knotts
over Buttermere towards L-R Robinson, Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks on the far right.  The summit cairn of Rannerdale Knotts is just in front on the left of the picture.
looking East down Low Bank, Rannerdale Knott summit is behind me here
Down the historic valley Crummock Water at the bottom with Loweswater visible behind
and here is the route I took

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sale Fell Sunset Run

It was a last minute decision to go for a run this evening.  I drove home from working thinking that I would go for a run but then decided it was more fun to play with my daughter.  Once she was in bed though, and after eating dinner and some of the chocolate cake we made this evening, I decided that I still wanted to go for a run.  No better place for a quick run than Sale Fell.

first steep bit, good reason to stop for a photo

Dodd and Skiddaw

I zig-zagged about a fair bit and managed to find the old quarry on Sale Fell which was also a bit of a dead end.  Psychologically, a 5k is the minimum distance I can put in and feel like I have done a decent run so I looped around like a plain taxiing at an airport to make up the distance and then eventually descended to land at my car.

Then it was back home for some more cake.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Penrith Triathlon 2012

If something can go wrong, it did today.  I still had a really fun day though, I suppose I lost a few battles....

nice helmet

We had arranged to meet at 8am at my house, I was just putting the bikes on top of my car when Jonathan turned up.  It had been raining but the forecast was that things would improve.  After lots of yawns 'n' stuff on the way there and a plan to get coffee to 'get things moving', we arrived at Penrith Leisure Centre.  This is a great leisure centre, there is a pool, gym, cafe (with a bar), a climbing wall and probably other stuff that I missed.  It's all pretty new and modern.  We got to the leisure centre at about 9am with plenty of time to sort out our gear, have a coffee and rock up to the race briefing all nice and casual at 10am.  There were no parking spaces left at the leisure centre so I manoeuvred my car onto the curb and shifted some cones out of the way.  After taking our bikes off the roof, I realised that I had left my helmet at home.  No need to panic, a quick trip to local super outdoors store Go Outdoors and, thanks to Jonathan's membership, I got a nice Raleigh helmet for £10.  Of course, on the way there, I took the wrong turn off the roundabout and ended up heading towards Scotland on the M6 - oops!

Back at the Leisure Centre and no chance of a parking spot now, not even a makeshift one, so we parked in the Sainsbury's car park next door and still got back in time for the race briefing.  Now I know there has been some trouble lately, at the Bassenthwaite Triathlon, where a marshal sent people the wrong way or something.  The organisers pointed out that it was up to the entrants to know the course.  Personally, I'm happy to let marshals tell me the way, if one of them gets it wrong one day, I'll probably take it on the chin.  Anyway, this course seemed to have more twists and turns than the average.  Luckily, there were loads of helpful volunteers as well as plenty of cones,tape and clear signs.

I was in the second group for swimming, starting at 10:50am.  Jonathan was in the first, starting at 10:30am.  There were six swimmers to a lane.  For the first time I had to tap someone on the ankle to ask to pass.  Swim etiquette is that, if you want to overtake, you tap someone on the foot or ankle and they are supposed to let you past when you get to the end of the pool.  What you need to remember is that things look a lot closer under the water than above.  I tapped this man's ankle and then had to swim frantically to catch up with him.  He didn't seem too impressed but he let me past.  The swim was 400m or 16 lengths of the pool.  My best swim has still been my first one, at Cockermouth.  This swim was ok though, six swimmers was a lot to a lane but it worked out fine and I was soon hopping out and on my way to transition.

It was quite a long run to transition.  It was set up so you had to run right to the end before turning back into the bike rack area.  Once set up, it was out onto the roads.  I managed to mount my bike without event and set off.  I had decided to take it pretty easy.  This was an odd distance sprint (400m, 22k, 5k) and so would not really be comparable with other sprint tri's I had done.  The cycle was quite hilly and it was after maybe 15k that there was a sharp left hand turn and then a steep hill.  I tried and was unable to shift onto the small ring on the front of my bike and so had to big ring up the hill.  Of course, once the hill levelled out, my gears changed and I was spinning away.  Then I couldn't get back onto the big ring.  At the top of the next hill, I realised that I had a puncture.  I asked a marshal how far it was to the end, he said it was about 3miles but it was more like 6miles.  So I pulled over and went to fixing my puncture.  The marshal was really helpful, in fact, he did most of the fixing for me.  I carry a mini hand pump and we got enough air into my tire to get me back to the transition but it was definitely sub-optimal and this definitely made me decide to just enjoy the day and not race.

Back at transition for the second time, I remember thinking, "oh, that was a bit quick, I'm going to have to run now."  Setting off on the run which twisted and turned but was all marked out with tape and cones.  Two laps of some playing fields, at this point I decided that I should really try harder and overtook some people.  The run was hard, due to the grassy surface and some hills but I think I got a decent time.

My eventual time was 1:39:28 I'm not sure how much time I spent fixing my tyre but it was an ok time considering the issues I had with gearing and the puncture.  It seems as though my timing chip didn't register the different splits, it has my run as 25:17 which I think is really good for the course.  

We had a beer in the leisure centre and then headed to great local cafe Number Fifteen where they were happy to veganize some Huveros Ranchos (Noveros Ranchos?).  Post race analysis confirmed that I had actually tried quite hard and was pretty knackered and maybe we should look at doing some actual training to try and go a bit faster?

We thought briefly about the upcoming Ulverston Triathlon before realising that an 8am swim start would mean a 6am set off time and decided to look at other events instead.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Swimovate PoolMate Pro review

Much like when I learnt to run, learning to swim has been a case of building up the distance rather than concentrating on speed.

I eventually got past the point where I was losing count of the number of lengths that I had done and so needed some way of keeping a tally.  The first thing I tried was a cheap finger counter like the one on the right.  It was about £10 on ebay and did the trick for a while.  Eventually though, probably because of swimming pool gunk or rust, the button started to stick and I wasn't sure if my presses were registering.

Looking at other options available, at the time it was a choice between the Swimsense by Finnis and the PoolMate Pro by Swimovate.  I read a few reviews and settled on the PoolMate Pro.  Opting for the PoolMate Pro versus the standard PoolMate meant that I got the ability to use the software to record and analyse my swims.

PoolMate Pro Software
The software is pretty good, it keeps a record of the length, time, rest time.  It analyses your progress over time and splits your swim into different sets if that is what you did.  It also measures your efficiency, stroke rate and stroke length.  All good stuff.

a swim session consisting of different sets

Data from the sets in the session above

Using the watch to record your swims is really easy.  You press the same button to start, stop or pause the workout.  You can review the swim, and previous swims, on the watch itself but this is a bit more fiddly and I did manage to accidentally delete a session when I was doing this.

The watch is hard to view when you are swimming.  If you do want to look to see how many lengths of a pool you are at, you pretty much need to stop to do so.

The watch syncs with the computer via an infra-red connection.  You place the watch on a pod once you have clicked the upload button on the software.  I found this to be a bit fiddly and it took a few attempts to get right the first time.  The software was also a bit of a pain to install.  Once it was set up, the watch syncs pretty well on most occasions.

I am really happy with the watch.  I have been able to keep a log of my swims and it is much easier, and in greater detail than doing so manually or by using something like Dailymile.  It does very occasionally seem to miss a length.  I only know this because I have ended up with an odd number of lengths despite starting and finishing at the same end.

I see that Garmin have released a swimming watch and also that the forerunner 910xt records swims.  These were not available when I bought my watch and I would be very tempted to go for the 910xt if I were buying a watch now, particularly as I am now a triathlete.  I also like the Garmin Connect system and it would be great to have all this data recorded in one place.

Records details of swims
Good software, lots of data for comparison
Cheap compared to alternatives

Sometimes issues with syncing
Occasionally misses a length
Garmin have something that does more

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Training Update, Running Errands, Collecting Junk, Setting Goals

I feel that my running has taken a bit of a backseat at the moment.  I have made amazing progress in my swimming, last year I could barely swim at all.  These days I swim most lunchtimes at work and the minimum is 20 lengths (400m).  I have also been getting over some of the major lakeland passes on my bike (still need to work on the speed a bit).

As far as running goes though, well, I think I have lost my focus.  I did have a lovely little run on Saturday over Catbells.  It's always great to get out and do a fell run and I took even greater pleasure in getting out and doing a run on a pretty rotten day weatherwise (although the sun was out in the afternoon). 

I have been a little bit reluctant to wander too far into the fells since my GPS broke.  I am ok with a map, I have done some navigation training, but the GPS just gave me that bit more confidence to go out.

A major achievement in 2012 has been getting my first triathlon under my belt.  I now have done two and have a third coming up this weekend.  This is exciting and something I definitely want to develop and build on in the future.  I'm still getting to grips with open water swimming and will look to enter a triathlon or swim sportive with a lake swim at some point.

I have also been doing loads of yoga and I'm loving it.  I signed up for a my yoga online subscription and have definitely got my money's worth.

But running is what originally got me heathly, it's what changed me from this:

to this specimin of physical excellence:

The time that I have been most successful in my running has been when there has been a purpose or a clear goal.  The best experience of this so far has been marathon training.  Marathon training, following a programme, really focuses your running.  The only problem is, it kind of stops you doing other things.  I think if I signed up for another marathon, I would miss being able to feel run, go on big bike rides, epic hikes and enter triathlons.

run to Asda
I still think that my primary goal for this year is to tick off more, if not all, of the remaining Wainwrights.  Marathon training would really get in the way of this.

My recent running, apart from the fell runs, and the 5ks in the triathlons I have entered, has been of the 'just go out and run' variety.  It doesn't make you any faster but it gets you out there.  This is known in proper running circles as 'doing junk miles'.

My running has had a purpose though, other than the usual getting out for a run, clearing my head and enjoying some time alone.  This week I ran to Asda, met my wife there and did some shopping.  The freezer section in Asda is good for a post run cool down.  Nice 5k done.

run to Halfords
I also needed to buy a new chain for my bike.  I estimated that Halfords was five miles away (turns out it was eight) and that it would take me 45 minutes (make it an hour and ten) to get there.  My, ever supportive, wife met me at Halfords.  After going inside and deciding that they did not know what they were talking about and being frustrated that the chains were on the wrong tags, so that the £15 chain I selected rang up as £25 at the till, I decided not to purchase a chain but was glad to have got 8 miles under my belt.

I have an entry to The Great Lakeland Three Day Challenge for next year and, after the Penrith Triathlon this weekend, this is what I need to train for, this will be my A race.  This event has a number of challenges, it is about a marathon distance on each of the three days.  Competitors are told the start venue (somewhere in the Lake District) about a week before the start but the map is not given out until the night before the event starts.  The first challenge for me is going to be the navigation.  I have been practicing this on walks and runs but still lack a bit of confidence.  The map is the 1:40,000 Harvey type map which I think are more difficult to navigate with than the OS 1:25,000 I have been using.  I have tried practicing with the 1:40,000 map once so far, on the Dove Crag walk.  These maps have a lot less detail, some major features are not included so I need to practice using them more.

Competitors have a 50L (I think) allowance for luggage which is transported between the campsites by the marshalls.  This has to include your tent, sleeping bag as well as any nutrition, clothing etc.  This year the organisers made a mistake and published an allowance of 100L.  I would like to practice some runs with a camp out and then another run in the morning, using this allowance to see what kit is going to work.

I need to up my distance a bit for the runs.  This year, I think the first day ended up being 30 miles, the second was 27ish and the last about 18.  I did a 19 mile run a few months back which was ok but wiped me out.  This is probably the bit of training that I am least concerned about and am looking forward to getting some long days in.  Obviously, running these sorts of distances on consecutive days is another thing that I would need to practice.  I imagine I will be utilising the 'standing in the river' method of cooling the leg muscles off that I learnt on the fell running course that I did.

So there we have it, goal set.  Although a Fred Whitton round would be good, and I still need to swim across a lake...