Tuesday 8 October 2013

Watch out Bolt....

   After a couple of easy weeks the latent fitness generated during a strenuous holiday in Switzerland seems at last
Another of those wild places...
to be taking effect. Over the past seven days I've run a total of 25 miles, 17 of them at a sedate pace with my wonderful partner, but on odd occasions when I put my foot on the gas I was pleasantly surprised how good it felt. Out of curiosity I took an infrequent glance at my biorhythm chart to see whether the mystical or magical circadian rhythms had anything to do with my current feelgood factor. Apparently not, for on the very day I was revelling in a speed session along the riverbank I was bang in the middle of a 'critical' phase. More about this later. Meanwhile, must make a note to plan any future races to coincide with these critical points.
Upwards, into the gathering gloom.....
After two days of easy running, putting miles in the bank, we drove to Clapham at the weekend, supposedly taking advantage of balmy autumn weather, colourful tints and hopefully dry conditions, to re-acquaint ourselves with an area of bleak moorland within Ingleborough's National Nature Reserve to suss out yet another route for one of my wonderful partner's planned U3A walks. Things didn't quite go according to plan.  Opening the car door and changing into running shoes was just the cue for the fickle sun to immediately disappear behind lowering clouds and plunge much of our route into semi-darkness. Undeterred, we set off into the gathering gloom, jogging steeply uphill at a steady pace. The wind got up and a smirring of rain greeted us on the approach to Nick Pot at 1,350ft. Simon Fell and Ingleborough were shrouded in claggy wet mist, so not much in the way of views to stand and stare at.
   Down Sulber Nick most of our attention was focused on where to put our feet amongst the
The sun came out down Moughton Scar
many muddy hazards and slippery limestone rocks. Conditions improved as we turned south to Moughton. Golden plovers piped their welcomes and on reaching the steep ramp leading down off the scar the sun came out and did so sporadically for the rest of our run. After dropping 400ft we left the limestone clints, crossed over the beck and made our way down into Austwick over rough pastures where hardy upland cows and suckling calves didn't bat an eye as we brushed past. I'd a twinge of nostalgia running through the village of Austwick, a village where I lived and worked way back in the late 1940's.

Clapper bridge over Austwick beck....
It was here, in the Game Cock Inn, at the tender age of 15, that I was weaned off many thitherto bland liquids and introduced to Yates & Jackson's Nut Brown Ale - a delectable brew unfortunately no longer available. However, judging by the number of cars parked outside, it seems the 'Cock' has lost none of it's popularity. It recently won a top award for 'Best Dining Pub' and I can vouch for the fact that on the brewing side Thwaites are a very worthy successor to Yates & Jackson. Alas, neither of us carried any money so were unable to poke our noses through the door to sample its current delights. We stepped over a stile in the main street and jogged the two mile field path back to Clapham where we lunched in the car before a sunny drive home.  10.75 miles with 1.400ft of ascent had taken 2 hours 14 minutes. I trust my wonderful partner has memorized every twist and turn before leading her group of intrepid walkers along it in what could be a cold and bleak November.
   The following day, while my wonderful partner was cavorting around Skipton (aka Scottish Country
Autumn colours along the riverbank
dancing), I set off for a very gentle five mile run by way of a 'loosener' after the previous day's activities. Once again, it didn't quite turn out like that, not after the first 2½ miles, that is.  At Grassington Bridge I got 'the urge' for a bit of speedwork on a two mile stretch of reasonably flat path along the riverbank. One of my favourite sessions is a Fartlek ladder: 10 paces fast, then jog or walk or stand and take a photograph, or whatever: 20 paces fast, jog: 30 paces fast, jog - and so on up to a 100 fast Rt foot plonks when I'm fit enough - then back down again, increasing speed as the fast runs get shorter. It's great fun and can brighten up an otherwise routine run on a dull day.
Here's the proof....
Running back from Grassintong Bridge I decided to go up to 60 and set off on what turned out to be a most enjoyable session.  Up the ladder to 60 fast paces came easy, I wasn't even breathing hard and needed hardly any rest before launching into the faster 50. By the time I got down to 30, 20, and lastly 10, I was absolutely flying and felt extremely pleased with myself as I jogged home. After a quick shower I plugged my watch into the computer to read the details in Garmin Connect - and couldn't believe my eyes. And neither will anyone else! Somewhere in one of those speed sessions along that two mile stretch I recorded a speed of - wait for it - 36.7mph!!!
   Now I reckon that's considerably faster than world and Olympic record holder Usain Bolt was travelling when setting his 100 and 200m records.
Another riverbank scene...
Unfortunately, I don't click my watch at the start and finish of each speed run (but I will next time) so haven't a clue where that phenomenal time was recorded. However, unlike the incredible Usain Bolt, who managed to maintain 28mph over a whole 100m, I rather suspect my unbelievable time occurred over as many millimetres when my Lt wrist wearing the watch moved involuntarily at the speed of light for reasons best known to itself, maybe to swat some pesky fly, or something like that.
   Anyway, it made a cracking story that put us all in good humour before the start of our church council meeting later that afternoon. Unfortunately, one of those present was an HGV and PSV driver who knows exactly what 36.7mph feels like and, by the look on his face, plainly didn't believe it achievable by a balding octogenarian and furthermore thought that, amongst the wealth of information churned out by my Garmin, the main thing it's trying to tell me is that I need a new watch.
There's always a spoilsport....


  1. What did we ever do without Mr. Garmin, he tells me so many interesting things, and I often find myself wonder about runs of old, and what he would have told me.

  2. haha! Yes my Garmin also reports some slightly unbelievable information sometimes. Great running. Beautiful scenery as always!