Thursday, 31 May 2012

Fastest Bob Graham Round Splits

Most people take 13 hours to do half of the BGR.
Billy Bland was nearly in the boozer then!
Billy Blands' record is insane.

They even run relays where some of the countries top fell racers compete in teams of 10 (5 legs run in pairs) and no team has even got near it, although some teams have beaten some of the individual leg times.

Mark Hartell got within an hour and he's been recognised as the top of the tree for around 10 years at ultra mountain running in the UK.

To top it all - when you look at Billy Blands' record above, you will note that he even had the cheek to take nearly a quarter of an hours rest at Honister.

That's just showing off !

Monday, 28 May 2012

Mid Wales Weekend - Sun tastic!

Great family weekend in Wales timed with the best few days weather we've had all year. As the weather was good, I thought I'd take a day off work and cycle down again.
Strava snip of my 153 mile ride there.
Teresa did the Torq Roughride last year too and I cycled there on the MTB which was 110miles from memory, but the weather was dreadful. This year I thought I'd take the road / cross bike as it's now set up to fit me (!). Perfect weather and a tailwind made the ride an absolute pleasure - not a care in the world all day and mostly traffic free on B roads. This year I didn't get lost in Shrewsbury but struggled towards the end with lack of calories on board !

Friday night was a chippy rendezvous in Kington and then head to the Campsite in Walton (3 miles away) so shower and open the vino. Tired.

Saturday Morning : The Campsite in Walton
Saturdays planned walk was short, but in this heat that's no bad thing (5 miles) and had a pub half way in Gladestry. Lovely walking over the Hergest Ridge as we followed signs for Teresa's race tomorrow.

Saturday Walk : Lewis scrambling on
rocks on way to the Hergest Ridge
We were very lucky Saturday night stumbling across one of the nicest pubs I've probably ever been to - The Harp Inn at Old Radnor. Nice Mackerel Pate to start, good real ale, can't remember the main course (sure it was great and no - nothing to do with the beer!) and views to die for watching the sun set.

Pity we had Lewis jumping all over us - never mind !

Sunday was the Rough Ride. T set off early, so Lewis and me sorted the van out and met Teresa at a point that she would cross on the way out and back. It was an amazingly quiet valley - perfect for Lewis to ride a few sheep trods on the way to intercept Teresa. Fantastic day for Lewis and me, finally picking Teresa up in Kington.

Sunday - campervan in distance next to Lake

Sunday - Lewis riding sheep trods whilst
heading out to intercept Teresa

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Bob Graham Round...

Date confirmed as 14th July or 21st July if weather's bad.

Krish / Saul / Graham and Andy Basey in support looks like a minimal crew which is what I want.

Can't wait - wish it was tomorrow !

Totley Moor Fell Race

22nd out of 242 finishers
First fell race for years last night, and I've got to say it was awesome ! Thoroughly enjoyed every minute.
To help - it was amazing weather (first we've had for ages). So amazing that I was actually worried about cramping up on this 5 mile fellrace. Thankfully it didn't happen.

So, how did the race feel ? Well, I was a little uncertain what pace to set off at as I've not raced on the fell for years and years. I set off at fast, but below threshold. Not a bad idea as we'd not started climbing !

Going up the climb 3 guys came straight past me - fine I though - let em go. And true to my estimate, I picked them off within a few hundred yards. It's a steep tarmac climb that then turns into gravel then flattens onto a Bridleway. The climb I took at just below threshold / threshold with me finding it easy to notice when I'd added the extra 5% to push me firmly into the red zone at which point I'd ease off.

Once it flattened out I made up ground overtaking 2 and again once we climbed up the steep singletrack to the summit I overtook another guy or so. After the summit it was flattish over moors for a mile or so and again I was absolutely convinced that guys would come flying past me but they didn't. I was nearly maxing out mind !

Then came the bit I'd feared - the descent. It started off down a tiny path and within a few hundred yds 2 guys had come past. I think that perhaps another 2 came past on the rest of the descent - and considering the path was quite long, I was quite happy with only losing 4 places. What a great descent it was though - fast , long and ever so slightly out of control !

Another climb overtaking 2 to the top of the final descent. To my surprise I didn't lose any here and instead overtook another 2 on the road to the finish line, 22nd overall.

Very pleased really and yes I was red lining it most of the way round. I was going as fast as I possibly could on the descent and these guys still came past me (not that much faster though). I was really having to work hard to go downhill. I had nothing in reserve come the climb.

First short fell race in years and didn't turn out at all bad. 22nd out of 242 is top 10% which is generally as good as I'd ever had gotten 5 years ago. Clearly if the terrain had been rockier I'd have struggle more on the descent, but that'll no doubt come later in the year.

Thanks to Andy B for driving too.

Results here
Strava link here

Friday, 18 May 2012

Training Hours Feb-Mar-Apr 12

Training Hours last 3 months Run & Bike (inc commutes typically 12 hrs / mth)
I've never looked at my training load at all before. Now I'm on Strava, it's a handy place to store all the info.
My natural instinct is to create a spreadsheet, but I wasn't that worried about training effort really, so I thought that if it happens to pop out of Strava then all the better.

Note that this is hours, not miles and it includes running and cycling (and commuting on the bike which is 12hrs per month typically). Hours is more representative as miles would not differentiate between bike and run.

The reason I'm more interested this year is that I seem to be doing less training than ever, but feeling stronger than ever running and on the bike. I can't help but feel that I'm training way too little - but conversely finding Ultras very easy so I can't be doing too much wrong. I think if / when I switch to short fell races again then I may find them hard. One way to find out....

Think I'll try and find out how much other people train and seem how I compare. Will update soon...

Monday, 14 May 2012

Bob Graham Round Reccie, Legs 3-5

Note the amount of Cars parked for the Keswick / Barrow run!
4,400m & 45 miles, 13h

Saturday I awoke to clear blue skies and the forecast was good all day, so I knew that it was going to be a great backpack.

First shock though was that it was the Keswick / Barrow (40+) run and I couldn't even park anywhere on Dunmail Raise - couldn't believe the level of support and just how many were cooking fry ups !

Intention for the day was to take it steady checking lines and get around Gable then get the tent out and carry on to Keswick the next day. The first opportunity to check out lines came sooner than I thought at Calf Crag where before I knew it I was heading to High Raise and not Seargant Man. Oops !

View from Steel Fell
I started running with Ray and Ian (attempt on 15th June) from High Raise so it was fun having some company and picking up advice on lines. Lots of small climbs and some good running up there with time for a photo stop at Pike o stickle. The ascent to Rossett Pike was the first opportunity for a mistake - we took it spot on but visibility was perfect and in clag it could be tricky - need to make a note of the bearings...

Rossett was where we started to encounter rocks and from there we eyed up "Billy Blands rake" - it seemed quite obvious from below but once you're on it, it never seems so clear ! The climb to Bowfell passed a lot quicker than I'd feared, and it was here that I bumped into Duncan and his support crew. I soon found out that he was on sub20 schedule so I hooked up with them as I knew they were doing all the route (and more) that I intended.

The pace could best be described as "keen" but manageable and with a full pack on I didn't know how long I'd last but figured it ought to MTFU and at least try !

View from Pike o Stickle
It was on Scafell Pike that Duncan and me got chatting and I found out that he'd finished the Fellsman 2 weeks ago just in front of me - 13hours vs 13h15 for me.  Handy for knowing at the back of my mind that we must be similar in pace... Not often you get to see all the Scafell massif so now I know the lines - I've got to memorise them for when I'm in the clag as it's nearly always in cloud up there. I also got a good look at Broad Stand which didn't appear too bad, but Duncan is a good climber, so I'm not sure how that would convert to me !

Summitting Yewbarrow - photo courtesy of Bill Williamson
I missed Scafell out simply as they'd taken the rope up with them and if I'd done Foxes I'd have been well down. Leg 3 down, now for a 10 min break in the sunshine at Wasdale before leg 4.  A new support crew for Duncan now - Bart, Chad and Matt. Yewbarrow was bad, but there was a path all the way. What I had wiped from my memory however was how huge Red Pike, Pillar, Kirk fell and Gable all looked. This leg was a major undertaking in it's own right !!! We all ran out of water coming off Kirkfell and I've since found out there's a spring on the Wasdale side of Black Sail pass which may help next time.

Energy could best be described as "adequate, could do better" as the guys descended the rocky stuff a lot better than me (partly due to full pack, partly due to being crap at rocky descents) so I used up more energy keeping up with them.  The gable climbs and descent were both very rough - going up a scrambly gully then down through lots of rocks - lovely!

Buttermere about 7pm
Once you're past Gable on the Bob Graham it's in the bag really as the rocks convert into grass after that - a huge relief as it was my toes (again) hurting and not my legs. No pain killers taken though and I know I'd take them on the day. Lovely running again to Honister and a biggish crowd for Duncan - truly putting in a heroic performance now as he had not slowed at all.

No one was really clear on the schedule that we may hit and it wasn't for a while that we knew he'd be well under 20h and closer to 19h30. He only hit one tiny rough patch up Dale Head on the whole of the round, and after that was as spritely as ever ! The climbs never cease with Dale Head being big as was Robinson but as Robinson was the 42nd and final peak it didn't matter how big it was. The sun going down over Buttermere had to be seen to be believed - no time for a camera stop now sadly ! A 'keen' descent from a tree off Robinson meant my toes were well and truly mangled just in time for the 5 mile road run home. Nice.

Pace was then very slowly upped all the way back and thankfully my energy levels didn't dip below "good" so I found it comfortable. 19h 32 was Duncan's final time at the Moot Hall - very very impressive and I think I'd been running for just over 13 hours.

So - gotta be pleased with that - the stats...

45ish Miles, 14000ft of ascent and descent, 19h30 schedule and a full pack on, 13h+ on my feet.

In my mind that day was harder than the Fellsman 2 weeks ago - simply due to the pack I was carrying - so that probably makes it the hardest run I've ever done. Glad I felt good at the end of it, with virtually no lows all day. The difference here was that I had enough food - I didn't on the Fellsman.

Just gotta sit down with a map now a try and remember all of those damn short cuts I should have remembered !
BGR 3-5 : Starting far right, around Wasdale,
then heading north to Keswick