Sunday, 3 March 2013

Blackstone Edge & Stanedge

Date of Walk/Run : Saturday 2nd March 2013

Distance : 17.14 miles
Time Taken : 4 hours 32 mins
Elevation Gain : 2378 feet

I needed a decent outing as I have a marathon at the end of April, so need to keep the miles ticking over. I have become rather bored recently of knocking out miles on the road, and knowing I have a trail run in a fortnight thought it might be an idea to get some off road miles in. Also, my road shoes have been giving me some achilles pain so running in trail shoes should help this. It certainly did.

I set off from Ogden Reservoir in bright glorious sunshine, although it was amazing how cool it went whenever you went into shade. I had no intention of trying to run all my route today as although it was about the right distance for my marathon training, I knew my intended route had a lot of ascent. I ran up onto Tunshill Lane, which is a regular off road route I use in the Piethorne valley, but then cut off across the valley before crossing the M62 for the first time - there is a bridge! Once across the motorway, my route joined the Rochdale Way for a while before cutting below Blackstone Edge which was my first target. I hadn't the stamina to run up the Roman Road and anyone who's walked it will know why! (This photo doesn't show how steep it is!)

Eventually I arrived at Blackstone Edge to meet of my bugbears - summit hoggers!! I've visited here loads of times so just continued after a couple of quick photos. The route back down to the motorway was pleasant, especially as it was going downhill which I hadn't had any of yet! After crossing the M62 again, I then ran up to the summit of White Hill, and this then dropped down to the main road into Denshaw. I did contemplate cutting back to the car here but persevered and decided to aim for Stanedge.

I'm glad I continued as this was the best part of the day as for about a mile it involved running through snow. The run along Millstone Edge was fantastic although the sun was creating rather hazy views. Then I ran down into the Castleshaw valley before the extremely steep climb to Broadhead Noddle. My plan here was to return via the road but as I was in my trail shoes, saw a sign for Piethorne across the moors. This plan was perfect until I didn't trust the path. It was going in the opposite direction to where I intended so I did a bit of off piste wandering. Great fun but it involved dropping down and up a steep valley before reaching the path I had been on!!

A fantastic afternoon and no achilles pain, so at least I know it's my road shoes and not my actual feet! It also helped my train of thought as regarding plans for 2013 as I enjoyed this off road running far more than recent road outings. So off road it will be although still need to consider that I have 26.2 miles of road at the end of April, so will need a bit of mix and match between then and now.

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Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Saddleworth & Tameside

Date of Ride : Tuesday 19th February 2013

Distance : 24.51 miles
Time Taken : 3 hours 36 mins
Elevation Gain : 1358 feet

I have had no outings recently worthy of a mention, either running, walking or cycling. A combination of events have curtailed activity - weather, illness and injury. I currently have a very tight hip, so I am going for a cross training approach with a mixture of running, walking, cycling and am even contemplating swimming which I haven't done for over 20 years.

However, being the half term holiday I decided to have a decent outing on the bike as the weather was fantastic for once. I had run a hilly 9.5 miler a couple of days earlier which was my first decent run for a couple of weeks.

I have a fairly basic mountain bike and am considering a new purchase but I decided to try the new trail on Crompton Moor. After a couple of minutes either I wasn't fit enough for the hills or the bike wasn't as any hills were extremely hard work and downhills caused vibrations via the handlebars. I decided to quit while ahead and head back to the road.

However, this meant climbing Buckstones Road on the bike, and I do admit to a little bit of walking. This also confirmed my perception that I need a new bike. Once I arrived at Grains Bar, I continued down to Denshaw which was quite exhilarating as it was all downhill, and after arriving at Denshaw I continued down to Delph. I thought I was doing really well till a road cyclist came past me much faster than I was travelling.

After reaching Delph, I got onto the bridleway which was the old railway line and continued through Dobcross and then joined the Huddersfield Canal which was my route through Uppermill and Greenfield. This continued onto Tameside where I went through to Mossley and eventually arrived at Stalybridge. I'm just glad I know the area though as close to Mossley, despite no signs, the towpath was shut.

I rode back from Stalybridge via the main road but just before Glodwick I found a cycle route through Leesbrook Park, which was interesting as I think I could plan a few trail runs round here. Eventually after getting across a very busy junction at Cross Street I rode home.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Todmorden by bike

Date of Ride : Saturday 12th.January 2013

Distance : 24.02 miles
Time Taken : 3 hours  
Elevation Gain : 657 feet

When looking back at last year, I had too many spells where I was struggling with an injury of some description. Although this never went in my 2013 goals, I decided that this year I am going to try and cross train more to hopefully avoid some injuries. So after a week of getting my running going again,  decided to get the bike out and clock up a few miles.

I still haven't bought a new bike yet as I need to install more security in my shed before spending quite a few pounds on a new model. (I'm talking about a bike here!) My current bike copes well on canal paths unless you hit cobbles, hence there will be no totally off road cycling until the new one arrives.

Today's ride set off from home and I then cycled to Hollingworth Lake. This is quite a pleasant ride once you get past Newhey/Milnrow. I hate that route as lorries whip along that road at a rate and a speed. I do feel that Rochdale seems to provide more cycle lanes and it seems much safer once over the boundary.

Once at Hollingworth Lake I decided to add a loop of the lake which while it added a couple of miles to my distance, resulted in a  rather slow loop due to the amount of families taking advantage of the weather. Looking at the splits on my watch, I've run round Hollingworth Lake quicker than I cycled it this afternoon!

After leaving Hollingworth Lake, I took the main road out towards Todmorden, heading through Walsden. Despite it being a major A road, it seems so much safer than the main road out of Shaw. I vaguely remembered walking round here a few years ago when  training for The Oldham Way walk but I've never cycled out there. I was contemplating going as far as Hebden Bridge but as my ride didn't start till 1pm, I was concious that I only had about 3 hours of daylight, so decided to stop at Todmorden.

After turning round, I returned via the canal which was a pleasant and enjoyable route, before joining the main road in Milnrow and then heading home, although once again I wasn't too happy on the main road heading into Shaw.

On reflection, I was quite pleased with my afternoon out as it seems a while since I've got out on the bike.

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Running (wb 7 Jan)

Not the greatest week of running I've ever had. I am still unclear how I did it but at some point over Christmas I tweaked my sciatic nerve, so exercise was extremely painful, especially when involving any form of uphill. However, I have managed 3 runs this week, at quite a slow pace, only totalling about 10 miles, but with no reaction I can now push on a little bit. It's only 15 weeks till Manchester!

I did have a half marathon scheduled for next weekend but I feel it would be crazy to do this with my current fitness and mileage. I am still hoping to be fit enough for the Tigger Tor Fell Race in a fortnight but have no hill fitness whatsoever at the moment. I will decide on that nearer the time.

Saturday, 5 January 2013


Date of Walk : Thursday 4th January 2013

Distance : 9.53 miles
Time Taken : 5 hours 22 mins
Elevation Gain : 3396 feet

This walk involved a very early start from Oswestry and getting out of bed at 6am, we wondered what we were doing as it seemed so dark. However, as the day continued, this early start was most definitely worth it. The original plan was to walk in Snowdonia but upon driving over, it was looking extremely grim, so a unanimous decision from myself, Gary and Neil was made to head for the Ogwen valley. A better decision couldn't have been made. as Snowdonia seemed to be shrouded in cloud all day.

We parked on the A5, and started by heading up Pen Yr Ole Wen following the river which was flowing rather quickly, especially when I missed an easy crossing, but eventually I rejoined Neil and Gary without the need for mountain rescue. We continued up the mountain before starting the scramble up to the summit. Our route turned at the outflow to Ffynon Lloer before following the ridge to the summit.

The cloud was creating spectacular effect on the way up, with perfect views of Tryfan on the way up and then the whole range would disappear in swirling mist.

I was hoping that we may be lucky enough to witness a brocken spectre, as conditions seemed similar to one I had experience previously in the Lake District. However, one never arrived although walking across the plateau the sun was creating spectacular effects. Eventually, we reached the summit although we didn't linger for long as it was extremely windy.

Thanks to Neil for the photo.

Despite the slight disappointment of no brocken spectre, the awesome cloud invesrions more than made up for it. I've never seen one as clear and the only thing missing was a peak poking through, but it was still a fantastic sight.

We continued along the ridge before climbing to Carnedd Dafydd, and then moving on to Carnedd Llewelyn. The final summit of the day was Pen Yr Helgi Du. Hopefully I've got all these summits correct, but my GPS log confirms visiting these summits! All in all it was a spectacular day in the mountains, and was worth both the early start and the decision to change our planned route.

A massive thanks to Neil and Gary for their company on a great mountain day. A brilliant start to 2013 and hopefully there is more weather similar to this on many days this year.

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Moel Sych & Pistyll Rhaedr Waterfalls

Date of Walk : Wednesday 3rd January 2013

Distance : 5.02 miles
Time Taken : 2 hours 40 mins
Elevation Gain : 1801 feet

A short walk which started close to the Pistyll Rhaedr Waterfalls in the Berwyns. These waterfalls are quite spectacular, especially with the amount of rainfall deposited recently. As we had parked near the waterfalls, we decided to visit them at the end of the walk. The walk was to the summit of Moel Sych, but this is certainly a summit I need to revisit at some point as sadly views were non existent.

It was a soggy and damp walk to the summit, and in fact it rained so much that the camera never left my bag until the waterfall, with the exception of a quick summit photo, in order to imagine the view!

The waterfall is the tallest single drop waterfall in the UK. (240 feet) I would certainly recommend a visit if you are in the Berwyns.

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Sunday, 30 December 2012

2013 Goals

It's time to set those goals for 2013. I did contemplate running 2013 miles but not sure that is quite achievable. However, while that wouldn't be impossible, I want to go for different types of goals and maybe 2013 miles or something may arrive.

I started by looking at my major races for 2013 and after a couple of marathons in 2012 I still feel I can run one much faster. My first attempt saw Manchester return to winter, despite it being the last day in April. Nobody really expected windchill below 0 and just getting round was probably an achievement. Despite an ankle injury wrecking my summer training, I felt much more prepared for the Loch Ness Marathon at the end of September. I knew I hadn't got the miles in my body that I should have done but still felt a 4.15-4.30 finish was on the cards. Unfortunately, I slipped on a bottle going down hill at mile 15 so the last 11+ miles were rather painful. I had got to mile 15 in just over 2:30 so I was definitely on track. Anyway, for 2013 I have targeted another Manchester attempt and hopefully there will be no winter weather! A marathon at the end of April means the second week of January will start a 16 week training schedule.

Looking at other goals, I decided to focus on times and look at chasing a few PBs. Looking back, life has taken quite a turn. After the sudden death of my stepson in October 2008, I foolishly agreed to run a half marathon in his memory. I say foolishly because at the time I was heavily overweight clocking in at well over 16 stone. However, somehow I scraped round the Silverstone Half Marathon (March 2009) in just under 2hours 45 minutes. After embarking on a major health and exercise program, I have shifted about a couple of stone but can't get my half marathon time under 2 hours. I have come close with a 2:01 and a 2:02 so a sub 2 hour half marathon is out there. In achieving this I can hopefully chop some time off my 5k and 10k PBs. (Currently 24:53 and 54:27). I would be pretty happy to get down to sub 24 and sub 53.I also want to start fell running. This was a 2012 goal but only did 1 fell race so 2013 is my year to get going!

Whilst all this running is great, I feel I've not walked enough in 2012 although the weather has been fairly responsible for that. I've only 48 Wainwright Peaks left to complete a full round, so aim for those to be completed at some point during 2013. Also, I've neglected more local walks so aim to get out regularly nearer home. However, I also want to explore more of Scotland and Wales at the same time. Work does get in the way at times.

Finally, during 2013 I aim to buy a mountain bike that will allow for plenty of off road cycling. I currently have a bike that is fine for riding canal paths but once you hit rougher paths, the rest of your body certainly feels the vibrations!

So to sum up my 2013 goals:

At least one marathon (sub 4:30)
Half Marathon (sub 2:00)
10k (sub 53:00)
5k (sub 24:00)

Finish my Wainwrights.
Walk more in Scotland and Wales.
Buy (AND USE) a mountain bike!

I'm sure I'll add to these during the year but at least it's a start!