Monday, 13 November 2017

TomTom says I'm slow for my age......

Last week should have been a rest week, no running and nothing very energetic until the course of antibiotics was completed on Friday.  But "the best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft aglay"... and not just for old Rabbie Burns.  I terminated the medication on Tuesday and went plodding off through fields for a steady 4 miles before sunrise on Wednesday.
It turned frosty last week   (Click pictures to enlarge)
It was cold, very cold.  I made a mental note to seek out more thermals when I got home.  It's  winter.  Extra layers are needed now to lag my old bones.  Before I'd even crossed the first field a little demon was shrieking at me to 'have some sense man, abort this crazy run and get the hell back to where it's warm'.  I reminded him my central heating boiler is broken down....and carried on running into the sunrise.  It's probably more mental than physical but it's amazing what a difference the sun makes as it peeps over the horizon, imparting it's energy and warmth.
TomTom can manage maps but it doesn't know much about geriatrics
My new GPS watch is full of surprises.  It old me today that men of my age (85) 'typically' run 10K in 1.04.21 so I should quicken up!
The cheek of it!
 I told it to sod off and come back when its got my age digits the right way round (having said that, I recall my 10K time was a little over 37mins aged 58 but I don't think that was 'typical' either).
Revelling in Sunday's beautiful conditions
I was blowing a bit after Friday's cemetery run which I'd shortened a bit in order to do it faster.  Don't ask me why, that bloomin' TomTom I suppose...
Saturday was a non-day so far as running was concerned.  My wonderful partner's upstairs phone, next to her computer, had given up the ghost, so we bought a new one.  Having plugged it in, that wouldn't work either.  I fiddled around but the only way to make it work was to place a micro-filter at both ends of the extension lead which is a big no-no.  Her WiFi disappeared and wouldn't come back.  We rang Plusnet to do a check from their end.  They concluded her router was rather ancient and were posting a new one to us poste haste.  We await its arrival.
View from Bridge at Linton Falls
Sunday dawned clear and bright so it wasn't long before we were donning our running gear ready for a slightly longer run to make up for Saturday's lack of mileage.  We set off up river to Linton falls and were amazed how recent frost had brought down all the leaves from Chestnut trees that were so colouful the previous Sunday.
Linton Church and Armistice celebrations left of picture
Outside Linton Church the congregation were gathered around a memorial for the Armistice Day service.  Their singing voices drifted up to us as we ran across fields high above, a beautiful poignant sound.
These stiles get narrower..
We were sure upright stones in old stiles had tilted closer together over the years making it more difficult to squeeze past.  Indeed, one lady of generous proportions got herself jammed and had to be forcibly dragged free.  Fortunately, we're still slim enough to wriggle through.
Berries and bum, Thorpe village
We reached the sleepy, hidden village of Thorpe where a photographer sunk down on one knee to film us as we ran through.  I stopped to photograph a bush dripping with red berries and it wasn't until I'd blown it up I noticed a bum sticking up over the wall beside it.
Running towards Burnsall
Fine weather had attracted hoards of weekend walkers many of whom we ran past on the trail towards Burnsall which I believe was once voted Yorkshire's prettiest village - though there's not much of it! 
A few autumn colours left on the way to Burnsall
 Seventy years ago names like Burnsall, Grassington, Appletreewick, Barden Moor and Bolton Abbey read like a litany but were all quite inaccessible in my teenage years.  Little did I know that years later I'd be running through these places on a regular basis.
Resting by the new sign.
Chicken liver paté was on the menu for lunch.  I'm not sure which bottle(s) were used to enhance its flavour but it was absolutely delicious.  My wonderful partner had lovingly made it to feed guests at a wine tasting group she hosts once a year.  Meetings are held at members houses on the third Tuesday of each month and we mistakenly thought the next one should be this coming Tuesday.  It was pointed out to us by a lady not yet prone to 'senior moments' that the third Tuesday is in fact the week after.   
We've a lot of paté to eat.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Off colour?

It rained on both weekday mornings when I stepped out the door for my dawn runs.  It was fine when the alarm went off at 6.15 Thursday but by the time I'd made coffee and donned my fell shoes the heavens were starting to open.  I changed back into trail shoes, donned a hat and jogged down to the cemetery for a few short but fast hill reps, thinking I'd be back in ½ hour.  
The nearest I got to Church last weekend......  (Click to enlarge)
Not surprisingly, as soon as the rain realized it had failed to send me back to bed, it stopped, leaving me to enjoy an extended session with the world to myself.  Well, almost.  As I launched into my third rep an urban fox shot across my path and disappeared among the tombstones.  I suspected it might be holed up in one of the many collapsed graves and wondered whether there'd be cubs to brighten up my runs in the Spring?
......but this was a good substitute
  With 3 miles and 15 reps under my belt I jogged home a happy man to enjoy an extra glass of double chocolate milk to boost the protein levels. Come Friday, when my wonderful partner arrived, I'd been suffering for almost 2 weeks with a painful blister pushing out from under my Rt thumb nail (don't ask!).  "Get yourself down to the chemist and see if they can do anything about it" she ordered.  So I did, although it was already late afternoon.. 
The path to Linton Church
 "I'm very sorry" said the young lady pharmacist "but it's badly infected. Just look, it's gone yellow at the end.  It needs an antibiotic and I can't give you that without a prescription". 
"Oh spit" (or words to that effect) I said, and stormed out of the chemist thinking I wouldn't get sorted till the following week.  But lo and behold I was back again ½ hour later, all smiles, after a sympathetic doctor (or someone unseen behind closed doors at the Surgery) had kindly signed a prescription for a week's supply of Flucloxacillin 500mg capsules.  
Grogging along......
Although the enclosed leaflet said 250mg was the normal dose and warned people over 50 to have words with their doctor before taking them, I happily swallowed 2 before going to bed, hoping they'd alleviate the pain I'd been suffering for the last fortnight.  We double checked the leaflet for any warnings about washing them down with alcohol and were pleased to note we couldn't find any.  After all, it was Friday!
Chestnuts along the River Wharfe
I'd already taken 4 (one every 6 hours) prior to Saturday's run and, to be honest, was feeling a bit wobbly as we set off through saturated fields towards Grassington.  I blamed the chicken we'd eaten, in a Cabernet Sauvignon wine, part of a £10 meal for two from Tesco's where they give people an extra bottle of wine in case there isn't enough in the main dish!You can't trust chicken! 
Autumn tints
  My wonderful partner sensibly suggested we cut our run short, from 5 miles down to 4, and hopefully get back home before I keeled over.  So we did, and I didn't.  I was glad I hadn't succumbed to that nasty little demon that tried to push me over and shouted at me to turn back.  The air was crisp and invigorating while the sun shone from a cloudless sky, enhancing all the fantastic autumn tints as we ran beside the horse chestnuts lining the riverbank. 
"Stand under that tree" she said
 Oh, and I was wearing my brand new TomTom runner 3 GPS watch, an amazing piece of kit that measures heart rate at the wrist without having to wear one of those uncomfortable chest straps.  From a resting heart rate of 42 I managed to get it up to 138 while running which prompted my watch to instruct me to take it easy as I'm already fitter than most men of my age.  Only 'most'?
Sun on the hills back o' Grimwith
It syncs all the data to my phone along with maps of routes and a little man who whizzes round registering pace and heart rates at any given point.  He seems a lot quicker than me!  Also, when I got home today and switched on the computer all the TomTom data had mysteriously appeared on there too.   Something to do with Bluetooth, I'm told, which is all very confusing to my 85 year old brain.  I've enough with my yellow thumb...
Well wrapped up for a frosty run
The silvery light of a full moon, a hooting owl and white frost greeted us as we slid out of bed for a dawn run round Grimwith reservoir on Sunday.  There was a pinging noise and a frost warning popped up on the car dashboard as we set off up the road in breaking light.  Hundreds of partridges and pheasants scattered ahead of us.  We'd have run over them if we hadn't slowed. 
Sun's up - thank goodness
 As the moon sank in the west the sun rose in the east, lighting the hill tops around us with exaggerated redness that within minutes had flooded the entire landscape and tinted the reservoir till mallard were swimming in blood.
Mallard - I think
It was a good run but bitterly cold as we circuited the reservoir anti clockwise at what TomTom tells me lies on the 1,000ft contour, and I'm sure it knows!  A skein of greylags came arrowing in from the south, bugling noisily, sounding like they were having an argument, before splashing into the water.
Those wonderful colours
It was another beautiful run but it felt good to get back into the car and drive home to a warm cottage, porridge, toast and hot coffee. The sun continued to shine, late into the afternoon, as I went for a wander up Hebden Ghyll to capture elements of autumn and breathe the invigorating autumn air.
On a stroll up the ghyll
Of all the seasons of the year, autumn is the most colouful and, as keen frosts arrive, probably the healthiest too. 
Red against blue
 It encourages the feelgood factor and boosts morale prior to the onset of winter snows, sunless days and long winter nights.
Ash keys
Except maybe for wobbly old folk with yellow thumbs, groggy with over doses of Flucloxacillin, and possibly a glass too many of their favourite Merlot, as they stagger round frozen fields and cemeteries in dawn light with temperatures around or below zero, waiting for the sun to warm a little life back into bare legs.
Ah well, once a runner.......

Monday, 30 October 2017

I've had enough......

The strap, which Garmin prefer to call a band, has broken for the third time on my Forerunner watch and, of course, outside the warranty.  As many will know, it's not possible to just replace the strap on these watches.  They've been so designed that the whole caboodle has to be replaced, refurbished watch with new strap - at great expense and with up to 14 days delivery time.  The current cost of this is £49.20 + however much it costs to return the old watch to Garmin by registered post.  Garmin are on to a good thing here, squeezing upwards of another £150 out of customers just because their perishing straps keep breaking.  Well I reckon it's time to say goodbye to Garmin, bin their watch and change to a different brand.  It's a shame, I've never been able to fault the actual watches, they've always performed perfectly, but I'm blowed if I'm going to keep handing over £50+ every time a strap breaks.  
TomTom here I come.
I'm considering one of these    (Click to enlarge pictures)
Things got worse.  Until I find a replacement for my GPS I strapped on an old Run-Tec watch to time my runs last weekend.  As I stripped off my running top there was a slight thud on the floor.  You've guessed it.  The strap had broken.  So there's another one to join the Forerunner in the bin.
Enough is enough....
Running didn't go too well on one day either.  I mentioned in an earlier post the hock deep holes beef cattle and their calves have made in Castle Hill fields.  They've now excelled themselves by joining up all the holes to create a quagmire of slushy mud that's impossible to run through.   My shoes and legs were in rather a mess when I got home last Thursday so breakfast got somewhat delayed.  Reluctantly, I'm going to abandon that route until the beasties have gone elsewhere and the ground given chance to dry out again.
We have lift-off
I'd another couple of enjoyable runs in the cemetery, the last one on Friday when I ran and hung around for slightly longer.  It was cold, maybe a slight ground frost, but there was a beautiful clear sky that heralded a glorious sunrise I didn't want to miss.  It didn't disappoint.
The sun appeared to rise out of the ground at the very base of Emley Moor mast before rising into the sky to light and enhance all the beautiful autumn tints around the graveyard.
A nice place to run
  I don't know whether it's an age thing but the Personal Trainer and his client carried on chatting with nary a glance at the pageant unfolding around them.
A braw morning at Grimwith
We were up at 6.30 on Sunday morning for an early run round Grimwith reservoir but as we stepped out into the lane we were stung by cold, driving rain.  Looks were enough. We retreated and went back to bed until breakfast time!  We finally got out into brilliant sunshine to find the car park at Grimwith filled with cars and a noisy flapping of sails as yachts went scudding across the choppy water.
Autumn glory, back o' Grimwith
Greylags elected to stay ashore with low honkings and buglings, talking about whatever it is geese talk about.  Mallard formed a loose bobbing raft out on the water with never a sound as we ran by.
Greylags resting and chuntering.
A pair of young runners past us at great speed, fortunately going in the opposite direction or we'd have been most embarrassed.
Glad those two runners were going the opposite way....
Most walkers, I'd say 90% of them, had dogs in tow.  Or were being towed by dogs.  It was strange because the number of walkers by no means equated to the number of cars in the car park. 
Running days don't get much better than this
 I reckon most were enjoying the warmth inside their cars while gazing across the water to the autumn tints and sunlit hills beyond.  Perhaps that's what I ought to be doing. 
If I was allowed!

Monday, 23 October 2017

Opposites make the perfect match....

My wonderful partner, the one who shames me into doing all sorts of things I'd never do under my own volition, is looking for a new project.  Something to keep her occupied through the winter months.  Parish Clerk duties, secretarial work for a local Trust, zumba, yoga, U3A walks, theatre visits, National Park volunteer ranger duties - not to mention reading half the books ever written - still leave her with far too much time on her hands. 
Oh, and she runs too...   (Click to enlarge pictures)
She gets bored if a few seconds drift by when she isn't actually doing something.  When I left this morning she was preparing to treat her living room ceiling with half a gallon of Cuprinol in case there might be the odd woodworm lurking up there in the boards.
They create dust and it might fall into our sherry.
On my longest run last week - 4 miles   
Come winter, I'm exactly the opposite.  Shorter days are a wonderful excuse for doing as little as possible; longer nights mean more time tucked up in bed, something I regard as perfectly natural for homo sapiens.  Especially those of my vintage.   Besides, being a Yorkshireman, I long ago discovered it's  a good way to limit gas and electricity bills!
Long nights are OK for owls and fornicating foxes, or those bloomin' badgers that scrat holes in the lawn.  But not for me. Between sunset and sunrise lethargy rules.  Sometimes for a little longer....
So, whatever new project my wonderful partner finally decides upon to while away the woebegone winter I pray it's nothing remotely energetic or, more importantly, nothing to disturb my semi-hibernation.  I have a book on 'Up Country Swahili'. That might keep her quiet...
Dawn sky and mist in the valley
Many would think I was preparing for winter last week with my pathetic 10 miles of running.  But it rained every day, it was windy too and on Monday it appeared the end of the world was nigh when sun and sky took on a strange, dark orange glow weathermen said was due to clouds of dust from the Sahara.  I stayed low for three of my short morning runs, each just two miles of hill reps in the local cemetery and home in ½ hour.  A fourth run, 4 miles around Castle Hill was interrupted by various people who wanted to talk!  I got home just as it started to rain again.
Mist before the rain
I'd an MOT at the local surgery on Friday, the usual urine, blood and blood pressure tests, and mentioned to the nurse about a Personal Trainer putting clients through their paces in the cemetery - skipping sideways for 10 paces, then back again; then doing step-ups onto a 4" kerb, all the time chatting away. 
 "How can that do them any good? Surely they need to be doing something that doubles their heart rate. I probably treble mine in the short efforts I do. I reckon they're wasting their money". I said.
"Yes, but paying money probably gives them incentive to get out there and do it" she replied "and that's a good thing".   
Well maybe, but it sure wont make them into sub 3 hour marathoners....

Monday, 16 October 2017


It's got to that time of year again when fields around Castle Hill are full of hock deep holes that squirt mud and water all over my bare legs whenever my feet accidentally land in them - which is quite often on my pre-dawn runs.  Charolais herds and their cavorting calves make a real mess of the place from September onwards, particularly in gateways that are impossible to avoid and more so after heavy rain. 
The culprits    (Click pictures to enlarge)
After Thursday's run I returned home plastered.  Not with alcohol, you understand, but with mud, glorious mud.  So my new bathroom, courtesy of Kirklees Council, is proving a real blessing.  No longer do I have to stand outside in a bowl of water to wash my filthy legs after those messy runs, but for the first time in 39 years, I have a shower!  A power shower with wonderful hot water.  
Old Runningfox is at last moving into the 21st century!
Nice to meet you, now can I have some shut-eye?
Meanwhile my eldest son, Alasdair, is stepping back in time as he roams through darkest Africa photographing many of the wild creatures and exotic birds that inhabit that wild continent..
Yeah, I'm a bit tired too...
 His pictures give the impression gorillas would like to shake hands with him, lions adapt posing positions in trees as soon as they hear him coming and crocodiles delay their return to the water until he's finished shooting. 
Can you see me better now?
One night a leopard graciously moved into a lighted spot to provide a better view for him.  Dunno how he does it...
Dunno what this was that came to say hello to him?
Meanwhile, back in sunny Huddersfield I have to make do with more mundane stuff - like the goldfinches that were having a punch-up the other morning. I was wondering, how many goldfinches make a 'Charm'?  There were nine of them squabbling at the feeders.  
Goldfinches building themselves up, ready for a punch-up
Regulars hog the same perches day after day and there's hell to pay if an intruder tries to muscle in.   Not very charming at all.
Come to think, I'm a bit the same - always sit in the same seat at my friend Abdul's fish restaurant, same at my regular coffee shop and yes, maybe feel a bit aggressive if someone else is sat there.  Guess it's only natural really.  Hmmm, God help anyone I find sat in my pew next Sunday!
The state of the moor
I'd a good 8 mile run across the moor on Sunday though it was a bit saturated after all the rain.  Regardless, I'm pretty much in my element up there, relishing the wildness, wind whispering through the coarse grasses, grouse kek-keking, plovers piping, wandering sheep and nary another soul to interrupt my reverie.
Hebden Ghyll
Hebden Ghyll was beautiful in the morning sunlight but there was a fair amount of water in the beck which meant I'd get wet feet where I crossed a mile higher up.
Atmospherics beyond Cupola Corner
Sunlight paled as I ran out of the ghyll and onto the moor at Cupola Corner.  Atmospherics enhanced the character of the bleak moor.
Bell pits - a long way from civilisation
I ran out of track and into much rougher country, old lead mining territory, of Mear stones and bell pits of which warning notices advise walkers to be very careful where they tread. One local lady was terrified when the ground opened up in front of her, swallowing her dog, never to be seen again.
Some hardy sheep
Grassington Moor can be a very dangerous place made more so where local gamekeepers have set hundreds of snares to destroy any creature that might prey on their beloved grouse.
And maybe some that don't...
Almost at the top..
I was still running uphill and my 85 year old legs were beginning to feel it.  Garmin reckoned a total of 884ft and I wasn't going to argue with it.
A few rocks on the way down
A few rocks and peat hags mark the topmost point but from thereon ½ a mile of gravel track sets one up for the glorious run down the long wall and back into the ghyll.
Parting shot before the jog home
Almost home and the sun came out again.. sod's law!  It called for a parting shot from the same spot by the Miner's bridge where I'd taken one on the way out.  It was a perfect ending to the week, one deservous of a well-earned dram that evening.
Just a wee one you understand, didn't want to get plastered...