Don’t Speak

Our memories
Well, they can be inviting
But some are altogether
Mighty frightening

Another week, another cold virus – 5th of the winter so far. As many as I have had in the last 5 years, can only put it down to trains and hot desking as I’ve never been healthier!

Felt better on Friday but unsure about the weekend planned double as energy very low. After helping out at Watergrove parkrun, I decided to risk a trot round Windy Hill Fell Race. Thought sub 1:20 was possible but needing to save legs, was happy with anything under 1:30. I couldn’t take it too slow though as I needed to get back and changed to do the results.

Set off up the track at a nice steady pace gently rising to a short steep climb when I gained a few places without really much effort. Onto the bridleway settled into a good comfortable pace if a little quick and reached the main climb up the Roman Road in good shape.

Immediately struggled with breathing and got effort all wrong seesawing places before finally fading in the upper parts of the climb, lungs unable to cope and no energy in legs. As soon as we were through the gate I picked up and had hoped to gain with a better line through the mist but it was too well flagged.

Upped pace once on to the downhill, revelling in being able to actually run so well on the rocky surface with no real issues with ankle for first time in years. Managed to gain more ground before getting some recovery in on the flagged section. Over the motorway bridge and as soon as I hit the small climb up to Windy Hill breathing was struggling again and legs went. Lost a few places but with just the long downhill finish was confident I would get them back.

However passing the transmitter the ground started to deteriorate, and the mix of soft mud and loose rocks played havoc with ankle and I was forced to back off. Even then was still going over every few steps and slowed even more until slightly better ground allowed a bit more speed but head had gone and had to force myself on.

Finally stopped losing places and held position. On to former ground I was able to start getting a few places back but still a bit tentative and struggled with camber on final run down to field.

Misjudged the finish line thinking we had a bit more to go, so missed out on a couple of places but more than happy with 1:15:31 considering. GPS

No time for a warm down, quick change and a pint whilst sorting results.


Sunday was the Liversedge Half Marathon, a race I had done 5 years previously. One of the only two halves I have ever done, and where I set my PB of 1:36:01 (the other was the slightly hillier Langdale Half). Recent Meltham result suggested 1:33 was possible but didn’t feel fully fit for the distance so closer to 1:35 was probably more realistic at a reasonably comfortable effort.

Despite being a GP race my target was much lower and an improvement of 1 second would do, or maybe 2!

The plan was to get to the mid way steep hill very comfortable, take it steady on the two big climbs and then make any adjustments in the last 3 miles, hopefully coping with the last mile better than last time.

Arrived early and had a light warmup just to get rid of yesterdays aches and stiffness. Lined up and we off, settled into a comfortable pace and went through the first few miles of undulation easily despite being much hillier than I’d recalled.

Deviated from the plan slightly by going a little quicker down the steep hill into Bailiff Bridge, and then knew I was going too quick along the bottom road but was feeling comfortable. Decided to keep going and then ease off on the climb. Tackled the steep climb at my own easy pace, not bothered at a few lost places, surprisingly only lost about 20 secs and arrived at the top in good shape.

On the way up had contemplated pace and options. I was probably on 1:33 pace so could afford to back off in the second half, but then things started going a little not to plan. Just couldn’t seem to get my legs going on the flat, head stated going a little so took a dex tab and briefly felt good again but legs still wouldn’t work.

Didn’t worry too much as had plenty in hand to get a pb and adjusted pace to a lower level in the belief it would see me to the end but more up and legs were shot, head fuzzy and getting slower.

The final hill came into sight – where I had died 5 years earlier – and set an easier pace to come out the top feeling good. The long run in was all sloping and suddenly I was fading again, battled positive thoughts against tired legs. Decided that if I reached the final corner within a minute of a PB I’d go for a fast finish, and just as I was preparing Mel caught up and went past. I tried to respond as we caught a suffering Branny but didn’t think I could, until a glance at the watch showed a PB was maybe still possible, just maybe, if I could speed up.

I immediately hared off slowly declining and crossed the line in 1:36.01.4 seconds to equal my previous time, until UK Athletics unkindly rounded the o.4 up to 1:36:02 – spoiling my brief happiness that I could run the same race 5 years apart in exactly the same time. GPS


Hazy Shade of Winter

Seasons change with the scenery
Weaving time in a tapestry
Won’t you stop and remember me

A decent fall of snow in the early hours meant digging out the car to get to Watergrove parkrun to run direct. Despite being out just after 7am there were plenty of idiots on the roads unable to cope with the conditions and getting in the way. By the time we arrived the run had already been cancelled so it was then a case of finding a parkrun to run at. Started heading towards Oldham but then got word that Burnley was on so turned around. Getting up steep hill on Red Lees which was a few inches deep was a challenge but even managed to overtake car in front as it floundered halfway up.

Much less snow at Burnley but still a decent covering, and ground underneath was not frozen which meant heavy going on the grass, so decided to target 21 mins. Made the most of my bonus run with 3rd fastest time at Burnley (out of ten) in 20:59 GPS

DCIM100MEDIAI knew the snow on tops would be in great powdery condition and probably the closest I’ll get to simulating running in volcanic sand, if a little cooler, so made the most of the great conditions with a 21km run. Generally was running in 6 inches plus, with about half the distance in undisturbed snow. Visibility was very poor at times, down to about 20m with the continuing snowfall and fog. With only a handful of people seen the whole time, it was wonderfully isolating, just me and the snow. No words can describe the feeling but think I may be in love with running in snow. There were a few glimpses of the rest of the World from time time, but most of the run I could easily just have been on Europa or Hoth.

DCIM100MEDIATough in places around the back of the reservoirs as I was unpredictably breaking through snow and ice into unfrozen muddy puddles, but just the one fall. Felt I had enough spare stuff and an emergency bag to give reassurance that should something happen I could survive a night but kept it steady and careful, as didn’t want to test the theory!

If I had had the energy I would have run all day and night but sadly had to head home as I was knackered.


Sunday was an easy 17.4k run along the tops, more along main paths so a bit slippy from other feet that had compressed the snow.

The following Wednesday had more snow forecast so it was an easy choice to head out on the club batrun rather than roads. It was a fast group and I had to work hard as we climbed out of Tod but once on the hills in knee deep snow I seemed to have endless energy. It was still snowing and again would have been happy to stay out all night if I could have. Ran home a long way to add a little more, taking it over 12km for the night.

Saturday I was Run Directing again, almost, probably should have cancelled the day before but with no eye witness reports had to check myself. On arrival the car park was like an ice rink never mind the course. Headed off to Oldham in the hope they had had a warmer night and thanks to a bit of ice carving they were on. Took it very steady for 4km then upped the pace for last km, saving myself for Meltham 10k. GPS

Not keen on the early start, 9:30am, but got there early enough for a decent warmup. Was feeling in a speedy mood but legs still a bit tired from snow runs and still a bit run down from all the viruses. Had Google reccied the course the day before, hilly, likely 42-43 mins would be good. After a small rise there was a significant 8% climb early on, so the key would be to arrive there very comfortable and take it steady. There were then another 3 climbs, before a mile downhill, just that little bit too steep so would need to save some energy to stay strong for it.

Start went to plan, caught Michael and sat behind. Was feeling good so decided to put a bit too much effort in to go by as we approached Harrison Lane. Tried to get get back into comfort zone on climb but had to keep pressing for fear of being caught up. Approaching the top I could see Ben, about 20 secs ahead. Ignored chasing him and kept to plan, making loads of places near the top as others tired. Probably in about 100th at bottom of hill, came out top about 50th according to video.

As it undulated along I managed to catch Amy from Keighley and got a bit of tow whilst I considered whether I was putting in too much effort. Caught Ben at corner and sat in behind a small group while I recovered. Decided to make a move just before the top of the next slope and pushed hard on the downhill to catch the next group before they headed up. This fell apart on the next climb gradually reducing to just 3 of us. It was a long climb and I found it tough but knew I had to hang in. Recovered a bit and kept the effort going before just slipping back a little on the final climb. Managed to hammer down the long downhill and just had enough to keep it going to the finish for a great time of 41:16, more than happy on such a tough course. GPS

Another snowy packrun on Wednesday, this time around 12km on the roads.

Saturday was another cancelled Watergrove, so headed off to Pendle for a heavy 5km. GPS



Afterwards went for a low fuel 20k snowy run round the reservoirs, after just a couple of slices of toast and marmalade to add to the pre-parkrun coffee. Almost managed it but definitely running on empty for last couple of km. Generally a few inches deep but the odd stretch of knee deep in a sharp wind.

Added an easy 8km on Sunday.