Friday, February 28, 2014

Dodd with hill repeats


We took an opportunistic half day today.  The weather was really fine, one of those cool frosty clear days.

We parked next to the visitors centre at Dodd Wood and spent the first twenty or so minutes doing hill repeats - run uphill for one minute, jog back down, turn around and repeat.  This is a really good session to do with someone who is a bit fitter than you (like Jonathan) because you run for a minute regardless of the distance.

We set off to do ten reps but I managed an extra one (probably because Jonathan was going higher up the hill and so took longer to get back down.

I put a small branch at the minute mark on the path and was pleased to see that I got to or just past the branch on each rep.

After this, we debated going for a coffee but decided to continue up the hill towards Dodd.  We set off with a two minute uphill run and then walked for a bit with one minute runs put in when we felt able to.

Once we got to the turn off towards Dodd summit, and after stopping for photos at the viewpoint, we ran the rest of the way apart from the very last steep part.

After a few pics at the top, we set off on the downhill back to the car.  We took it nice and easy going down, stopping again for more pics part way down.

I really enjoyed this run, it was nice to set a bit of a goal and stick to the plan.  If we hadn't have tackled the hill like this, I would have run for the first three minutes or so and then walked the rest of the way.

towards Derwentwater, Borrowdale and Coledale

Hevellyn range looking inviting

Coledale Fells

flooded Bassenthwaite flats

love this elevation profile - nice even hill repeats at the start - then one big one

6.5 miles

Sunday, February 23, 2014

High Cup Nick Fell Race 2014

High Cup Nick near to the start of the climb

Results are all relative.  My running certainly hasn't been at its best lately and success today would be measured by getting round without trashing my foot.  I found the climbs very hard, was pleasantly surprised at being able to hammer it downhill and was grateful to be able to run into the finish.

As I type this up, the day after the race, I realise is that my greatest success is not having any pain in my foot the day after.  Plantar fasciitis presents itself in the most painful form when first stepping out of bed in the morning.  The injured plantar fascia tightens overnight, while the foot is in a relaxed state, meaning that the first stretch, as part of that first step, is painful.  This morning I stepped out of bed without pain.  I'm very happy with that.

Dufton Village invasion
The High Cup Nick Race is a 9.3 mile fell race, starting in Dufton Village, just outside of Appleby.

We got to Dufton an hour before the race and just managed to get parked.  I imagine there are people living in Dufton who don't enjoy a few hundred fell runners parking on the edge of the green, blocking access and generally muddying up the lanes.  If this is the case, it wasn't evident, everybody was friendly and welcoming.

The village hall was the sign up place.  We sat for a bit, sorting race numbers out etc.  Gerard took us for an easy warm up run down to the first turn off and back and then along a lane past the car park to some interesting looking trails.

Before I knew it, it was time to get ready and line up at the start.  It was difficult to hear the instructions but I managed to pick out that the wind would blow us up the Nick and then we would be running into the wind on the way back (this proved to be true).

The race starts by going through the village before turning left up a track (helpfully signposted 'High Cup Nick 3.5 miles').  After about a mile, the route turns through a field.  This was very muddy and I managed to slip onto my hands (gloves retired for the rest of the race).  There were some duck boards at various stages, which created a bottleneck (also known as a chance to catch breath).  The route carries on until you eventually start to climb and turn a corner to see your first view of the High Cup Nick valley.

first view of High Cup Nick

This is quite a sight.  High Cup Nick is a remarkable geological feature, the visible crags around the valley being of more hard wearing rock than the softer ground around have maintained the U-shaped shelf of the valley top as the ice and water carved the rest of the ground away.

From here the run goes down to the valley bottom, across a small river and up to the top of the valley, where the water flows down (the acutual Nick).  This was very muddy and heavy going.  It's a gradually undulating part of the course but the mud made it the hardest part of the race for me.

at the start of the climb up to the Nick

Towards the end of the valley is a steep climb up to the Nick.  The wind became fiercer as we got to the top but the climb here was not as bad as it looked from further away.

procession to the top

As soon as we got to the top, the ground became firmer.  However, here the running was impeded by a strong cold headwind.  Once the course started to drop a bit, it became easier and a decent track, which was mostly downhill, took us back to the village.

looking back from the top

I manage to overtake quite a few people on the downhill (another small victory).  Races do bring out the natural competitiveness, no matter how much you tell yourself that you are going to take it easy, and I did take pleasure in standing at the finish line, watching those that I overtook come over the line after me. 

9.3 miles in total

This is a really nice race, a bit tougher than you expect, probably due to the mud in the valley bottom and the wind at the top.  A very nice route.  There is my benchmark, now to build some leg strength and flexibility in my foot to come back next year.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Anniversary Waltz Fell Race Route Recce - February 2014

Dale Head - just past the half way point, looking back to Robinson on the far left and Hindscarth in the middle, two fells we have just been over.

Today was supposed to be a weather window so I was very keen to get out.  Jonathan was looking to get a run in but is struggling with an injury where a wall jumped out on him so I met up with Gerard for a recce of the Anniversary Waltz course.

The race is held each year to commemorate the wedding of Wynn and Steve, a couple who obviously loved the local area and were married in Newlands Church which is near to the start/finish of the race.

We parked near to Swinside and then about a mile later, Gerard pointed out the starting point.  The course heads along the Newlands Valley, climbing steeply up to Robinson, then onto Hindscarth, Dale Head and over to High Spy, Maiden Moor and Cat Bells before taking a side track down Cat Bells back to the road.  Course route is about 11.5 miles but you can choose your own way between the checkpoints (Robinson, Hindscarth, High Spy and Cat Bells) so you may go a bit further.  The record is under an hour and a half.  Today we were out for just over four hours

view over to the snowy fells we will be running around

steep climb up towards Robinson.  Reservoir at the
 top of Scope Beck below
The run was fairly flat until we got to the reservoir at about four miles in.  This is the same track as the last part of the Bob Graham Round so Gerard was reminiscing about putting road shoes on and feeling great getting back on the level.

I'm not particularly fit at the moment so it was easy going to this point.  We took a sharp right up towards Blea Crags.  This is one of the places where there are multiple options and Gerard pointed out the various routes people take as well as the return track for the Bob Graham Round.

We took Gerard's preferred route.  I was happy to bow to his greater knowledge and experience. 

Once up on the ridge, there was a fair amount of rock climbing to do.  We took it steadily as the rock was wet and icy.  A bit further on, we reached the snowline.  The snow continued until we got to Cat Bells.

The incline mellowed slightly and we ran over to the flat top of Robinson.  Fairly misty at this point but brief interludes of clarity as well as familiar territory meant that we stayed well on course.

looking down over Blea Crags after the steep climb up

in the other direction, a rocky climb up to the snowline

in the snow now, "we'll catch them!" heading up to Robinson

up and over Robinson (where we encountered a mild hailstorm) and heading down Littledale Edge
which had soft fluffy snow on it
which was great on tired knees

Gerard heads up towards Hindscarth

from Hindscarth looking over to Dale Head

looking east to Maiden Moor at the end of the ridge

along Hindscarth Edge with Honister Pass far below

Decent size cornice on Dale Head

never get tired of this view

looking back to Hindscarth (to the left of the cairn),  Robinson (to the left of Hindscarth) and Coledale fells beyond

beautiful day

heading down to Dale Head Tarn
From Robinson, there was a nice soft snowy run down Littledale Edge.  Gerard ran up Hindscarth while I dawdled.  We then took a nice path over to Dale Head, scooting around Hindscarth Edge.

Dalehead is one of my favourite photo spots in the Lakes.  It didn't disappoint today but there was a very large cornice on the edge of Dale Head.

We took a diversion from Gerard's usual route down to Dalehead Tarn as the snow was becoming a bit icy.

Once off the top, the snow was nice and soft, perfect skiing snow I would say.  We headed down and were soon at the tarn where we had a snack and a drink.

We took it easy up to High Spy before setting off on the nice levelish run over to Maiden Moor.  Gerard showed me an easier way off Cat Bells and then we both (due to our chronic injuries) took it very easy on the final bit down to the gate and along the road back to the car.

High Spy

beautiful light.  I would guess that Great Gable is the pointy fell on the right above the cairn with the Scafells to the left

snow starting to run out, heading down from Maiden Moor

Coledale way

Cat Bells ahead, final fell - usually an easy one but I was done in by this point

ever popular Cat Bells

route taken.  We did 13.2 miles all in.