Tuesday 29 January 2019

Sunday's run....

January 27th, 2019......what we pensioners do to keep warm in winter......

Monday 21 January 2019

Wild runner......

I normally run Tuesdays and Thursdays before breakfast, weather permitting, but appointments at the eye clinic on both those mornings last week put paid to any thoughts of getting out into the hills.  I was looking forward to Saturday's run in the Yorkshire Dales but that too went by the board after my back went into spasm.  Bent like a banana I'd difficulty getting up and down stairs, let alone running.  I sometimes wonder if I'm becoming an old man?
Hebden Crag and resident jackdaws   (Click to enlarge pictures)
Lashings of Voltarol gel and a few 600mg tablets of Ibuprofen took away the pain sufficiently for me to be able to walk straight again.  On Sunday morning I was rarin' to go.  We'd awoke to thick, freezing fog but it was forecast to begin clearing by 10am.  My wonderful partner was on National Park Ranger duty so left home at 9.15am to patrol Grassington Moor with an accomplice. 
Dwarf ferns
 It was  11am before fog cleared sufficiently from the village to allow the sun to lure me out of the house.  Setting off at a fast walk up the ghyll, interspersed with a few gentle jogs, it wasn't long before I'd totally forgotten any back problems and settled into a steady run.  A clattering of jackdaws wheeled around the crag.  Scores of them nest there, once allowing a kestrel to reside amongst them.
Getting a bit icy up Hebden Ghyll
The sun still shone as I crossed the old Miner's Bridge where beautiful little dwarf ferns sprout from moss on top of the wall.  Ascending higher it wasn't long before the track became icy.  A nithering rawness prompted me to don a jacket and move faster to maintain a reasonable body temperature.
Looking across Hebden Beck to Bolton Ghyll
 A party of mountain bikers were pedalling up the lower slopes of  Bolton Ghyll, possibly bound for  Mossy Mere. 
Farther up Hebden Beck
  I carried on following the beck, rising into thickening gloom towards Grassington Moor. The 'bent tree', a moorland landmark just below Cupola Corner, was shrouded in mist.
Bent tree in snow speckled landscape
  From henceforth any views would be severely limited, but I've run across this moor on scores, maybe hundreds, of occasions so it held no fears.
Stone man - the high point at 1,500ft
The same could not be said for the lady accompanying my wonderful partner on Ranger duty.   I'd noticed their footprints on an icy track rising towards Mossdale, and the same footprints returning from a point a mile or so farther along.  The lady was frightened of getting lost, she'd said.  My wonderful partner assured her she'd run the circuit scores of times and knew exactly where she was.  Ah well, it was icy and the lady had forgotten her trekking poles.   They aborted and turned back. 
Shepherd's or gamekeeper's vehicles had churned up the track past the 'Stone man', most likely the latter as they went about regular duties checking their traps.  Footprints in the snow indicated a fox may have been checking for small game ahead of them!
setting off down the Long wall...
I'd expected much more snow as I set off running down the Long wall for it tends to drift there, sometimes as high as the wall top, but it was relatively clear on Sunday. 
...and still running to the sheep pens by Moor Lane
It's exactly a mile from leaving the Mossdale track to sheep pens at the end of Moor Lane.  In spite of rough underfoot conditions, in marathon training days I'd run it in 6 minutes - the first of three measured (downhill) miles on my way home.  Nowadays it takes twice as long with no chance of attempting another two!  
Happy runner
 Jogging back down the ghyll I emerged into sunshine again and felt a gentle warmth on my face.  TomTom registered 7.48 miles with 923ft of ascent.  

 'Run Happy' 
it says on my cap, and happy I certainly was.

Tuesday 8 January 2019

Happy New Year....

At my time of life I see little point in making New Year resolutions, particularly in regard to running (though I no longer consider it safe to book holidays very far in advance).  I've run my sub 3 hour marathons, sub 40 10K's, enjoyed moderate success on the fells, track and x-country and topped the British rankings over several distances in various age categories.
Reasons to run - a glorious dawn sky   (Click to enlarge)
Now, approaching 87, it's time to rest on my laurels for there's little else left to achieve running-wise, other than to enjoy it. 
I'll never be 10th in the world again - at anything
Parkruns aren't the same, no prizes, no podiums, and even the possibility of setting age group course records doesn't really appeal to me any more.
On Ben Hope.  The glory days running the Scottish Munros..
(Picture courtesy Dr Stuart Scott)
Yet I can't stop running, though my body often tells me I should.
It doesn't come easy any more though I still enjoy it in a masochistic sort of way.  There are no more runner's highs or euphoric out of body experiences. No more airplaning down hills at breakneck speed and plunging into rivers to cool off.  No more running Scottish Munros in sunshine and snow with soaring eagles, ptarmigan, ring ouzels or snow buntings for company.
Those days have gone.
Running by Hebden Beck on Saturday -  to Hebden Crag and Mossy Mere
But in the past week, mostly with my wonderful partner, I've clocked a little over 17 miles with a respectable 2,097ft of ascent.  So a good start to the new year.
The sun shone on the righteous - missing us
Weather was not kind to us last weekend.  It was sunny on Saturday morning - until we locked the door behind us for a hilly 4 mile run up Hebden Crag and circuit of Mossy Mere, Bolton Ghyll and Tinker's Lane.  The sun immediately dipped behind the clouds and didn't show its face again until we got home.

Crossing the moor towards Mossy Mere
I think we enjoyed the atmospherics though we'd have liked it a little warmer for there was a chilly wind blowing over the tops causing my wonderful partner to sing a little moany song.
Warming up on a sprint past Mossy Mere
My solution, usually, is to run a little faster to raise my body temperature but then it drops again as I wait for her to catch up!
Descent into Hebden Ghyll
There were voices as we dropped into Hebden Ghyll, the first we'd heard since setting off on our run.  The weekend walkers were arriving and a few passed us as we crossed the beck and struggled to open the gate into Tinker Lane.
Arriving at the high point on Tinker's Lane - Bolton Ghyll in background
From there on a rutted, steep ascent led to open pasture where sheep were grazing mainly in the lee of a high, drystone wall out of the nithering west wind.
Avoiding the muddy bits on Tinker Lane
Tinker's Lane is invariably wet and muddy but after recent high winds it had dried out sufficiently for us to run along it more or less dryshod.
Dropping down to Hebden having left Tinker Lane..
Away from the walled part of Tinker Lane there are amazing views of the Wharfe valley, across Hebden Ghyll to Scar Top and over to the grouse moor beyond.   It's one of my favourite places to run though I don't get there as often nowadays.
Leaving the horses and almost home.
After stroking the horses we were only minutes away from stepping back into a warm kitchen when, as you'll probably have guessed, the sun came back out!
Crossing Hebden Beck on Sunday's run to Bare House - and beyond
We both felt a bit stiff on Sunday morning so there was talk of a short(ish) flat run.  In fact we ran three miles farther than Saturday with 795ft of ascent!  Not only was it another cold, sunless run but I don't recall seeing a single bird.
Springy turf, much better than tarmac for the old knees
It was almost lunchtime when we set off so quite a few walkers were ahead of us up the ghyll.  This can be embarrassing as some walk almost as fast as we can run, especially as the first three miles are mainly uphill.  A good reason for quiet, dawn runs!
Dancing down to Grassington.
From the high point at the end of the lane beyond Yarnbury there are two miles of wonderful fast running, all of it on soft springy turf, right down to Grassington.
Old stone stile
A bit of rough stuff...
Then the final swoop down to the last stile before Grassington
Posing in stile...
 I can't resist picking up speed to run as fast as my little legs will go, invariably getting well ahead of my wonderful partner, but stopping here and there to take photographs of her.   I do stop for the occasional picture, mainly at gates or stiles where I have to stop anyway!
On High Lane
 From Grassington the wall to wall floods we'd encountered previously along High Lane had completely dried up making it more pleasurable to run those last two miles back to Hebden.  As I bent to take off my studs there was an anguished cry from the kitchen:
"Just look, the bloomin' sun's come out"
How does it know?

Wednesday 2 January 2019

A final fling...

Monday was one of those days, a three in one type of day, at the end of which I wondered  "How on earth did I survive that?"
 I must indeed be 'fearfully and wonderfully made' (Psalm 139 v14)
Snug as a bug in a hoody   (Click to enlarge pictures)
It had begun with an early morning shopping trip, mainly to exchange an item of clothing, a present from a friend in Canada that was far too big.  The present, not the friend.  I returned with a snug fitting hoody that has hardly been off my back since.
Last run of 2018
A strong coffee was called for after that stressful meander among the fleshpots, and also to work out the next item on the agenda.
A satisfactory route for a final run of 2018
Oh yeah.....
Of course, it had to go over Castle Hill, eventually, but for a change we set off in the opposite direction, down Almondbury Common where a sign reminded us of some rather unpleasant goings-on in years gone by.
There may have been others since!
Through Mollicar Wood
After a mile we turned westward through Mollicar Wood, shuffling through a carpet of decaying oak leaves on a path running parallel to Lumb Dyke.
Stone stile with Castle Hill in the distance
Leaving the wood we climbed steeply through a field where, in late summertime, I've seen roe deer flouncing through ripening corn to the shelter of adjacent woodland. 
They ran a lot faster than me!
Still going up...pleasantly
Over a stile the trail continued uphill, past holly and hawthorn bushes stripped bare of berries by recent raiding parties of Scandinavian winter thrushes.  Fieldfares and redwings.
Nearly there
Once past the neat row of cottages at Farnley Hey we had the gorse covered flanks of Castle Hill directly ahead of us.
Couldn't resist the odd 100m hill rep
In a few more minutes we'd planted our feet on the summit only to be met by a vicious north westerly wind intent on blowing us back down.  After just one circuit and the odd hill rep we jogged home to relax for a few hours before stage three of the day's activities.
Hogmanay feast before the midnight chimes
Both of us having lived, walked, run, camped and climbed in Scotland at various points in our lives, it was inevitable that tatties, neeps and a haggis suitably marinated with a certain 40% golden distillation should appear on the Hogmanay menu.
This will take some running off...
 The delightful meal was helped on its way with a fine bottle of Prosecco which our ancestors may not have approved of...
2019 arriving with a bang and a blaze of colour
but it suited us until, just before the midnight chimes, it was time to pour a large dram of single malt to welcome in a New Year full of hope, good health, happy holidays and, of course,
many more wonderful miles running the planet...

SlĂ inte mhath and a Happy New Year everyone