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Monday, 15 January 2018

A good weekend....

Well, it was mainly good - apart from two things that temporarily put a spoiler on things.  Huddersfield Town getting hammered 4 - 1 at home and consequently sent crashing down to 14th place in the Premier League, does not bode well for them to stay in one of the world's most watched footballing divisions.
Setting out on Saturday's run  (Click to enlarge pictures)
The second was more personal, and more serious. While carrying four bottles of wine from the car into the house they slipped out of the box and one of them smashed.  It was a favourite Chilean Merlot that left a dark red pool in the lane, like someone had been murdered.  Fortunately, there were still three bottles left to drown the multitude of sorrows accumulated from both catastrophes. 
Romping up the rough Crag path
Disregarding gloomy thoughts of Huddersfield Town and moments of mourning in the lane, things weren't really all that bad in sleepy Hebden.
Through the mossy stile
  In order to lay the ghost of last Sunday's disaster up the Crag path, when I was shaking like a leaf and aching in every joint after that ignominious fall, we decided to attack that same route again.
Up 400ft in ¾ mile
A series of hill reps during the week had stood me in good stead, enabling me to romp skywards through 400ft of rocks and dead bracken to justify that Fitness Age of 58 TomTom awarded me..
I'm dreading TomTom discovering it's got those digits the wrong way round.
A bit muddy running to Mossy Mere
Feeling good, we continued up onto the moor, past Hedgehog House and Scar Top, along the muddy track to Mossy Mere.  The sun was being shy but it was fine and not too cold.  Good for running, except for our shoes.
Impasse
Deep water in a flooded gateway slowed us down as we maneuvered our way across, one at a time.
Running up to Cupola Corner
We dropped into Hebden Ghyll, crossed over the beck and took the rising track to Cupola Corner where flocks of sheep are present day representatives of long ago lead miners.
A flock of Swaledales at Cupola Corner
With the wind in our sails we headed up Moor Lane to the remote hamlet of Yarnbury.  A glance back revealed two other runners crossing a trackless waste below us at a fair old lick, certainly faster than us but also, we suspected, a heck of a lot younger than our combined 157 years.
The pool at 1,200ft
We stopped for a short breather at the 1,200ft contour beside a great pool of water that accumulates in a hollow along the track and seldom dries up. 
Lots of wet grass to clean our shoes - but not for long
That was our high point.  From there on it was mostly downhill - through wet fields and muddy lanes.
Passing Garnshaw farm
Parts of Tinker lane in particular had stretches of glutinous mud, over our shoe tops in places, and impossible to avoid. 
One of the drier parts of Tinker Lane

 I remember saying, lanes never used to get into this state in my days of farm service.
Running down to Pickering End

Back in the 1940's, we had horses and carts with narrow, iron shod wheels that weighed a fraction of modern farm machinery and caused but a fraction of the damage.
At Pickering End

We diverted down a grassy track to Pickering End, a holiday cottage with an amazing view across the Wharfe valley.  
No-one was in residence.
Tying the gate shut to a rotten post

From there on it was a fast run back into Hebden Village, to a Keelham pork pie and some welcome fluid back into the system to replace all that soaking my thermal vest and inside of my beanie.
  An enjoyable six miles with a little over 800ft of ascent.
Must get some new glasses - didn't think I was running fast enough to bend that.
Only kidding!

After Saturday night's libations with anaesthetising rocket fuel (aka Chilean Merlot) I was rarin' to go on Sunday morning.  
My wonderful partner was patrolling the moor on Ranger duty for the Yorkshire Dales National Park.   Time for a fast run.  Without going into details I opted for a fairly flat (a mere 370ft of ascent) run into Grassington and back by the river.
Striding out down the river bank.

I could tell I was shifting a bit, the ground flying under my feet, and sure enough TomTom afterwards reported it was the fastest long run it had so far recorded for me having improved my pace by 0.54 min/mile.
Couldn't agree more

The so-called long run was in fact just 4.46 miles, but added to Saturday's total it took me to over ten miles for the weekend.  
I decided such an achievement deserved a glass or two of Bowmore, or Glen Marnoch, or Laphroaig by way of celebration.
Oh, and while I'm here, here's a toast to all my running friends and blog readers.
Cheers!

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Hey Antonio, I'm back......

This is for my good friend Antonio who sounded a little concerned about my sad appearance after last week's fall.  Just to prove you can't keep a good man down I was out this morning long before first light running a comfortable 5K that included 15 short hill reps.  A favourite little mid-week workout.  All went well and I returned home feeling good.
Getting younger......  (Click to enlarge)
  TomTom automatically syncs with my Smart phone as soon as it comes within range.  While sipping a glass of chocolate milk to top up protein levels I glanced at my phone and was quite surprised at what it read.
......and faster
After 6 hours sleep, not only had I run the 2nd fastest 5K TomTom had recorded for me but it said my Fitness Age is now an amazing 58!  
So rest assured Antonio, Saturday's ignominious little faux pas is well and truly behind me.  Old Runningfox is fully recovered and back in action.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Life gets in the way......

After two excellent mid-week runs, the first of which TomTom said was the fastest short run it had recorded to date, life and a minor injury got in the way of any further running last week.
 Tuesday's 3.08 miles, 280ft of ascent with 15 short hill reps to boot, and back home before sunrise, was pretty nifty, I thought, for an ancient octogenarian.. A blood red sky at breaking dawn was an added bonus but I'd no camera to record it - so here's a picture from the week before.
Crow's nest with a view      (Click to enlarge)
Thursdays run was similar but a little farther with a couple more hill reps and a tiny bit slower.  At my time of life short mid-week runs with bits of intensity thrown in to boost the heart rate are ideal for maintaining fitness to enjoy longer, relaxed runs around our glorious countryside at weekends.  That's the theory....Last weekend things didn't quite go according to plan.  
A sack of logs arriving  (Picture courtesy of Anchor Logs)
A phone call at noon on Saturday heralded the arrival of a large dumpy bag of kiln dried logs.  To his credit the wagon driver maneuvered the bag as close to the log shed as he could but we'd an awful lot of work transferring and stacking. 
Wobbling my way up the crag on Sunday...
At some stage, while trying to drag the bag nearer the shed door, my feet shot from under me and I fell heavily backward, wrenching my Lt shoulder and bashing my Rt elbow. 
I didn't feel like running after that!
...and recovering in the sun at the top
Nor on Sunday when I was maybe still suffering some after-shock.  We walked up the crag but I was terrified of slipping and jarring my shoulder again.  And I'd been forbidden to swallow 600mg of Ibuprofen having already taken that amount before Church in the morning.
I'm not sure when I'll run again.  Outside the window is a white world rimed with frost and the forecast is for fog and 34ºF.
I may have a lie in...

Monday, 1 January 2018

A Happy New Year to runners and readers......

"Just sign this form to say you realise the risks associated with this procedure and are prepared to go ahead with it".  It was the nurse speaking before injecting two different dyes into my arm, a green one and a fluorescein one she said might make me sick.  Then we talked about running while both eyes were examined deeply to determine what the hell is going on at the back of them. An hour later I used a loo in Sainsbury's and stained it a brilliant shade of deep orange.  Fascinated, I was reluctant to flush it away - wondering if the next user might be interested?
Jaws  (Click pictures to enlarge)
On a more cheerful subject my globe trotting son, Alasdair, brought his lovely young lady along for a meal one evening and entertained us with stories of close encounters with exotic birds, mammals and reptiles.
Close encounter with a male Orang-utan in Borneo.  
For the past four months he's been on a natural history tour of Africa, Madagascar, Mauritius and Borneo.  He's home for a few day rest before flying to Bangkok for an exploration of Thailand, then to various parts of India and foothills of the Himalayas. 
Close, but staying at the right end of this snake
My wonderful partner joined me for a final run of 2017 on New Year's Eve.  It was cloudy, cold and blowing a gale as we set off in darkness up the road to Castle Hill.  Turning up the steepest part the wind was fortunately behind us and virtually blew us to the top.
Being chased by the wind round Castle Hill
 It was one of those sneaky winds that allowed no shelter.  Not even on the usual leeward side where we attempted one or two hill reps.  Stinging earache sent us scurrying home prematurely, back to a warm kitchen, hot coffee and breakfast.
Running high - and cold
A light lunch was followed by a short nap, knowing we were going to be awake well into the wee small hours of 2018.  Sticking a CD into the computer I lapsed into semi-dreamland listening to waves lapping far off shores, gulls crying in the Hebridean blue and the haunting sound of a clarsach that made a fitting background to all the wonderful poems Kenneth Stevens was inspired to write on his visits to Iona. Here's one of them....
The Small Giant
The otter is ninety percent water
Ten percent God.
This is a mastery
We have not fathomed in a million years.
I saw one once, off the teeth of western Scotland,
Playing games with the Atlantic-
Three feet of gymnastics
Taking on an ocean.
 Karen Matheson - Gaelic singer extraordinaire
For a breath of Scotland we slotted Capercaillie into the DVD player and relaxed to the dulcet tones of Karen Matheson lilting through a choice selection of her Gaelic repertoire.
A haggis we'd bought from a butcher in Threshfield was the worst we'd ever tasted, a thick, disgusting, glutinous, greasy paste we'd great difficulty in swallowing - no matter how much whisky we marinaded it with.  "It's from Scotland" the butcher had said, by way of recommendation, and we thought "Aye, and they'd be damn glad to get rid of it".  It elevated the accompanying tatties and neeps to the food of the Gods.
Running Bear says he'd like a sip of bubbly...
We cracked open a bottle of fizz to freshen our mouths and drink to the New Year as Big Ben counted up to twelve.
Goodbye 2017, welcome 2018
On the chimes, London once again put on the most incredible firework display that had us spellbound for a whole 11 minutes while crowds of sightseers by the Thames whooped with joy.
Great fire of London
It was going up 2am when we crawled up to bed. Having failed to get the cork back into the bubbly, and finding certain chocolates irresistible (thanks Linda and Terese), we (mainly me) felt compelled to do justice to such celebratory items before retiring.
A Happy New Year to all fellow bloggers and anonymous readers throughout the world. 
Don't be afraid to comment.
May 2018 be the year all your precious dreams are fulfilled.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Run and stay young......

I must have been doing something right over the Christmas period for according to TomTom my Fitness Age improved from 62 to 61.  I felt good, even in cold rain and snow, and could happily have run further than the 16 miles logged in my diary. If TomTom is to be believed, it was quality and increased speed that influenced my Fitness age.
Yippee, I'm getting younger!
Thieving Magpie dancing in the Solstice sunrise   (Click to enlarge pictures)
A Solstice run over Castle Hill was interestingly interrupted by 'Thieving Magpie', a group of noisy drum beating, stick clacking Morris men who dance at sunrise to the music of an animated accordion player on the 21st of every June and December.  Always, I'm invited to join them.  Always I decline, pointing out I'm a runner, not a dancer.  Each to their own.
Being blown around Grimwith in breaking light
According to a local weather forecast Christmas Eve morning should have been clear and dry for our planned run round Grimwith reservoir.  We were falsely lured out of a warm bed to be greeted by a blustery sou-westerly and stinging rain.
Battling against a sou-westerly with 200m to go.
Wind determines which way round we go so we chose to run clockwise to only have head wind for the short run back to the car.  Wind had dried the ground making it easier for running - which I reckon TomTom must have taken into consideration when assessing my Fitness age.
A young 61.  My new Fitness age...
We gave running a miss on Christmas Day.  First on the agenda was a 9am appointment to 'salute the happy morn' with Rev David Macha at a Communion Service in St Peter's.  I'm not sure how or why but my tenor voice returned for the occasion.  Could have been something to do with alcohol lubricating my vocal chords the previous evening?
A picture to remind friends and relatives what we look like
A  splash of sunshine lured us out for a stroll down to the river later in the morning.  Water was high and noisy, swilling the banks and  drowning the stepping stones.  We posed for Christmas day pictures to maybe email to far off relatives, to remind them what we look like, before scurrying back for the main item on the day's agenda.
The opening of presents.
Let the celebrations begin
This is always preceded by the uncorking of Champagne - also known as Cava or Prosecco - and handy placing of various tasty nibblies to sustain us through the strenuous performance of tearing off gift paper and ripping off ribbons to hastily discover what mysteries they conceal.
Resting between opening presents. 
That large box is hinting my house needs a clean up
'I was hungry, so they gave me nuts, chocolate and shortbread.  I was thirsty so they gave me Port wine, Merlot and malt whisky.  I was short of inspiration so they gave me running books to have me reaching for my studs (Zatopek should do it).  I told them I've lived here 40 years so I was given a vacuum cleaner!   For whatever other reasons I was given tooth picks, a miniature thermometer and compass, Radox and a CD of Kenneth Steven's wonderful poetry (which I suspect is to lure me back to the beautiful Island of Iona, my Spiritual home)'.
Ultra fast Hoka Speedgoats
I'm not going to list all the fantastic presents my wonderful partner amassed - mainly because I can't remember - but a star of her collection was an exceedingly fast pair of Hoka  Speedgoats.  She'll henceforth have not the slightest excuse for lagging behind.
'ere, wait for me
Actually, she tested them out on Boxing Day and they were indeed light and fast.  Most of the pictures I took of her were rear views as she streaked along the riverbank and up steep fields to the tiny hamlet of Thorpe.
A fair bit of water at Linton Falls
We'd started off in sunshine but the weather Gods must have seen us step out the door and it wasn't long before they sent a shiny white shower hurtling towards us from over Grassington way.
Rain sneaking up behind
Undeterred, we pressed on through wet fields towards Burnsall.  Noticing we still hadn't turned for home the weather Gods sprinkled some bits of white stuff over us.  That did it.  We buckled and took the short cut down Postman's Steps instead of continuing into Burnsall.
Postman's Steps leading to the river bank
TomTom told me I'd run fractionally over six miles, climbed 548ft, burnt 733 kcal at an average heart rate of 122 bpm and improved my pace since the last time I ran that distance.  He's very clever and very flattering, telling me I'm growing younger by the day.
I might have found the secret of eternal youth...

Monday, 18 December 2017

Black ice - not nice......

Tuesday's dawn run round the cemetery was a bit iffy, lots of ice and crazy patterned skid marks where cars had been sliding around.  But it was one of those occasions when all thoughts of danger were cancelled out by the sheer joy of being outdoors on such a beautiful morning.
Tuesday's sunrise over the War graves  (Click to enlarge pictures)
I pottered around effortlessly at an easy pace, breathing the pure, cold air under a cloudless sky and never met another living soul.  Not a solitary dog walker or Personal Trainer putting clients through their paces.  I was in the zone. I didn't want to go home. 
Until my stomach reminded me it was way past breakfast time!
A bit skiddy
Come Thursday I rose early, donning running gear as the kettle boiled for that first mug of reviving coffee.  Then I happened to glance out the window and didn't like what I saw.  A long line of cars with dipped headlamps were crawling down the main road towards the village.  My worst fears were confirmed when I stepped outside to investigate.  Black ice.  I didn't even reach the garden gate, it was so treacherous. 
Studs can cope with this - but not that black variety
It was the same on Friday.  Three times I attempted to get out and three times I turned back, clinging to the wall.
Black ice frightens me.
Long sleep, low pulse and a convoluted route on Tuesday
Saturday dawned clear and beautiful but the dashboard thermometer was recording -3ºC as we drove back to the Dales.  There was ice on footpaths and verges but roads had been gritted, so we'd no problems reaching Hebden village.
It must be Christmas
It wasn't until we'd had coffee and changed into running gear that I discovered TomTom had run out of juice.  It was a blessing in disguise for while it recharged we were able to drag the Christmas tree into position and bring all its baubles and coloured lights down from the loft.  Meanwhile, bright sunshine was melting most of any remaining ice and making it safer for us to run.
At 11am TomTom was ready to go.
Reflections at Burnsall
We chose a riverbank route to avoid any slippery tarmac.  Conservation workers long ago levelled rougher parts of the river path with tons of gravel to make it accessible to wheelchair users - thereby making it ideal for runners too.
Easy running along the River Wharfe
My old Canon camera doesn't like cold weather, especially if the battery is starting to run low.  I'll start to focus on a subject and the darn thing closes up causing me to miss getting the shot. 
Watching a male goosander fly up-river.  Can you spot it?
On Saturday the opposite occurred.  The lens stayed open, for a change, as I focused on a female goosander.  But just as I was about to press the shutter the duck dived out of sight.   Fooled again...
Taking a breather at Loup Scar.  I'm allowed to at my time of life!
Other than a pair of goosanders and a few mallard we saw little in the way of bird life.  A dipper flew by as we approached Loup Scar and that was it.  Roll on Spring.
I love these mossy walls near Postman's Steps
By lunchtime, any ice on the road had cleared so we ran home through Burnsall and down what we call 'Postman's Steps' to make it more of a circular route.
According to TomTom......
TomTom said we'd run 5.83 miles with 388ft of ascent but I don't always believe him.  He can be very flattering at times.  Like when he says I have a Fitness Age of 62.  I wish!   At 62 I was running sub 3 hour marathons at around 6min 36sec/mile pace.  Nowadays I can't even run a mile at that pace, let alone 26 consecutive ones.  My current pace is almost double that time.  I don't know who the 62 year old guys are that TomTom compares me with.
They must be lousy runners.