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Monday, 12 February 2018

Snow fun......

It's possible I'll soon be spending more time in surgeries, hospital waiting rooms, operating theatres  and opticians than I spend running.  Four appointments arrived in the same post last week, three relating to my eyes and the fourth to have my skin cancer hacked out.  "It's going to leave a scar" the doctor said, "it'll look like you've been in the wars".   
"At 85, that'll be the least of my worries, I'll tell people I was shot by a jealous husband" I told him. 
Better get running while I can   (Click to enlarge pictures)
The bumph says swimming will be out of the question for a couple of weeks (which doesn't bother me at all) and full body workouts in the gym shouldn't be attempted for at least 3 weeks.   What I'm anxious to know is whether running, too, constitutes a full body workout?  Answers on a postcard.  I'll adapt the one I like most...
Sunrise  over a frozen landscape   
Sub zero temperatures last week froze the muddy morass through the fields, along Clough Hall Lane and up the slopes onto Castle Hill. 
Moon over Victoria Tower
I got there and back with dry feet and clean shoes which is quite unusual.  I wish it would stay that way for a while for I'm fed up of coming home plastered (with mud, you understand).
Frozen moorland in the distance
I jogged up in the clear air while half of Huddersfield slept, my buff pulled up over my nose to warm the air, and circled a couple of times until the sun peeped over the horizon.
Sunlight spreading over Huddersfield
It's amazing how invigorating those first early morning rays can be.  I launched into a series of 100 metre hill reps before jogging gently back down as the town below warmed into life. 
Emley Moor mast against a dramatic, eastern sky......
Next morning I'd finished my workout long before sunrise but as I jogged home the sky turned a dramatic shade of red that had me dashing into the house for my camera.  Its blazing glory reminded me of a favourite song - Ghost Love Score - though not so much music, more a firework display.  Turn up the volume.  It's a cracker...
......and a strange phenomenon in the opposite direction at sunrise
Watson came running by as I stood outside, leaning against a fence composing shots (pointing my camera towards the mast and hoping for the best).  I felt rather smug having finished my workout as he was beginning his.  After a brief chat, something like Hi Dave, and Hi there, he continued on his way - at great speed!
I strolled leisurely back into the house for some protein laden chocolate milk
 - and breakfast.

Monday, 5 February 2018

A senior moment......

I took some great pictures while out running on Sunday, not just of my wonderful partner.   John Gill's beautiful working collie posed perfectly, and what looked like a white, flat-pack settee was stuck in the middle of the river at Loup Scar with icy water swirling round it, possibly abandoned by a frustrated owner.  Nice, new pictures for my blog, I thought.  Except, when I came to upload them onto the computer I discovered there was no memory card in my camera.  Silly me, I'd been shooting blanks.
What Watson does for me....(Click to enlarge pictures)
Due to a sore eye and inclement weather, not a great deal of running was done last week.  A brief foray around the cemetery on Friday, when my 'guardian angel' - Watson - squeezed another 'fastest time' out of me, and a six mile circuit of Appletreewick on Sunday proved the limit of my activities.
This primrose thinks Spring has arrived
Saturday was a non-day for al fresco events but in the evening we'd a delicious meal in the Clarendon.  From a menu that included mallard, partridge, grouse, pheasant, trout and roe deer we chose the grouse. And an excellent choice it turned out to be.  It limited my intake of Timothy Taylor's famous Yorkshire beer in case it washed away the wonderful flavour of wild, moorland game lingering in my mouth!
Running the riverbank near Appletreewick
Sunday dawned dull and cold but by 11am the sun was lighting up the landscape, tempting us to don our running gear and set off down the river bank.  A guy we saw with a drone at Burnsall maybe photographed us on the bridge as there there was a strange humming noise in the air behind us as we ran across.
A seat with a view
Alasdair on Dragon's Crest near Krabi, Thailand
As cold weather continues, with further snow forecast, I'm a little envious of my eldest son, Alasdair, who's currently enjoying balmy days in Thailand.  
I might have to book a flight...
PS.   I got a mention in a Spanish magazine - Here

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Watson......

I was pottering around the local cemetery immersed in my own thoughts, doing my own thing, a few downhill jogs and short walks interspersed by fast uphill reps while watching the dawn break; an easy, comfortable workout I often do before breakfast, if it's not raining.  Sounds of padding feet, a fair bit faster than mine, disturbed my reverie and a runner materialised from the gloom.  
Dave Watson, Holmfirth Harrier in flight   (Click to enlarge pictures)
"Just my luck", I thought, "I come out for an easy run and who should I meet but probably the fastest runner in Huddersfield, a guy who's lost count of his Parkrun wins, has a 15.02 5K to his name, not to mention a sub 51 minute 10 miles".  He's also very good at talking.  In fact, he rarely stops!
Our route
Slowly and imperceptibly, the pace must have been increasing for I didn't seem to be breathing quite so freely.  He chattered on.  "I've fallen out with Parkruns, they slow me down, I'm much better training on my own".  And I was secretly thinking, I wish he would!
I wasn't surprised..
"Right" I said, "I'm heading home, my stomach says it's breakfast time". He didn't seem to hear this and kept up his endless diatribe as we left the cemetery and jogged through the fields to where I live.  Yards from my door we parted company as he carried on for an extended run over Castle Hill - and all went blissfully quiet. It didn't surprise me when TomTom said it was my fastest short run to date...
That bloody eye
Four hours later, I was laid on an operating table at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary for another cortico-steroid injection to my Rt eye.  It was sore and I felt ill after it so there was no way I was going to subject it to all the wind and rain that lashed Hebden at the weekend.  Even if my wonderful partner had allowed it!
Another glorious sunrise
But away from her, back in Huddersfield, Castle Hill was beckoning through my kitchen window.  "OK TomTom, let's go" I said, and stepped out into a breaking dawn to slosh through muddy fields to greet the sunrise..
They were very muddy fields
I was almost at the top, reaching for my camera to capture the blazing light on the eastern horizon, when I realized I wasn't alone. Approaching rapidly behind me were those phantom footsteps 
of Watson.
My guardian angel?  Watson on Castle Hill
We ran together briefly until he realised my photographic interludes were probably interfering too much with his training.  After a few circuits I jogged home wondering on the way down whether Watson was some sort of guardian angel sent to keep an eye on this old codger in case I might need help sometime.
Whether, in fact, I may be 'entertaining an angel unawares'.
Who knows....

Monday, 22 January 2018

Let it snow......

Travelling home by public transport I listened to passengers relating tales of woe regarding the snowy conditions and how weekend plans had been severely disrupted.  On running forums too there were stories of people staying indoors or resorting to treadmills rather than risk life and limb in the icy conditions.  I kept my mouth shut for fear of being labelled an idiot, or irresponsible, or something worse.....not daring to tell them my wonderful partner and I had been out running on both days and logged a respectable 12 miles.
Running towards Linton Falls    (Click to enlarge pictures)
Saturday's run was the longest, an enjoyable 7 mile route crunching through fields of snow/ice and back by a frozen riverbank path.  We wore Inov-8 Trailrocs and Hoka Speedgoats that gave us total confidence.  I speak for both of us in saying that any negative thoughts of sliding or falling never entered our heads.
Weir at Linton falls
Hundreds of black headed gulls passed over us, flying in the direction of the sewerage fields, as we traversed the big pasture towards Linton Falls and the big weir.
Heading towards thicker snow
From there on we started to climb, 300ft or so towards the hidden village of Thorpe.  As we climbed the snow got thicker, harder and icier but we took it all in our stride.
Dropping down to Burnsall
The road into Thorpe had not been gritted.  Tractors and cars had compacted snow into dangerous looking ice but we were able to avoid it by keeping to the side.
An eerie bit of world we passed through...
We headed towards Burnsall under a lowering sky with a big yellow patch where hazy sunshine filtered through grey cloud.  It gave the landscape an eerie appearance as light increased, then faded again.
A smoking brazier to keep smokers warm
Burnsall was totally clear of snow.  Outside the Red Lion a brazier was kept burning to keep al fresco customers warm, but no-one was taking advantage of it.  We stayed only long enough to take a photograph.
Leaving Burnsall Bridge
The riverbank path was clear around the Red Lion where many people had walked, briefly taking the air or admiring the view before retiring into the warmth of the bar for various forms of refreshment.
Ice
We briefly spotted goosanders, male and female, swimming and diving in the river but on the icy path our concentration centered more on where we were putting our feet rather than on local wildlife.
Sunshine ahead - briefly
As we approached the suspension bridge the sun poked it's nose from behind the clouds to welcome us back to Hebden, and home after 7.12 miles with 605ft of ascent.  If TomTom can be believed.
Alternative to Grimwith on Sunday - High Lane into Grassington
We got up on Sunday intending to drive to Grimwith for a run round the reservoir, but a glance out the window revealed a frozen car that had changed from red to white overnight.  It didn't bode well for Grimwith which sits on the 1,000ft contour.  The approach road and car park would be treacherous that morning in icy conditions .
Dancing on ice
But so, I suppose, was the icy lane up which we set off to run to Grassington Bridge between rimed walls after an early breakfast.  But our trail shoes coped well, even on ungritted side roads through Grassington where we'd to run flat-footed, stamping our studs into the frozen snow/ice to gain maximum grip.
Leaving Grassington Bridge.   Right, let's go...
We crossed the main road at Grassington Bridge, back onto more runnable terrain to join the riverbank path all the way to Hebden. I suspect the temperature of the river affects the state of its banks for snow had melted in places to be replaced with slippery mud.  No problem.
Into the last mile
I should mention that throughout this run we had a sprinkling of snow which, oddly, was pleasantly cooling.  Two years ago, prior to two cataract operations, my spectacles would have been spotted with snow on the outside and steamed up on the inside, thus making running a dicey pastime.  I'm much happier now, running without specs.
Snow speckled runner with Dracula teeth
TomTom said we'd run 4.86 miles, which I'm quite happy to call 5, with a mere 380ft of ascent. As we sat down for lunch snowing increased to almost white-out proportions, but we were back home, snug and warm, a full scuttle of coal at one side of the hearth and a brimming log basket at the other.  
Chores are over.  Relaxation comes easy now,  
and drowsy contentment...
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Monday, 15 January 2018

A good weekend....

Well, it was mainly good - apart from two things that temporarily put a spoiler on things.  Huddersfield Town getting hammered 4 - 1 at home and consequently sent crashing down to 14th place in the Premier League, does not bode well for them to stay in one of the world's most watched footballing divisions.
Setting out on Saturday's run  (Click to enlarge pictures)
The second was more personal, and more serious. While carrying four bottles of wine from the car into the house they slipped out of the box and one of them smashed.  It was a favourite Chilean Merlot that left a dark red pool in the lane, like someone had been murdered.  Fortunately, there were still three bottles left to drown the multitude of sorrows accumulated from both catastrophes. 
Romping up the rough Crag path
Disregarding gloomy thoughts of Huddersfield Town and moments of mourning in the lane, things weren't really all that bad in sleepy Hebden.
Through the mossy stile
  In order to lay the ghost of last Sunday's disaster up the Crag path, when I was shaking like a leaf and aching in every joint after that ignominious fall, we decided to attack that same route again.
Up 400ft in ¾ mile
A series of hill reps during the week had stood me in good stead, enabling me to romp skywards through 400ft of rocks and dead bracken to justify that Fitness Age of 58 TomTom awarded me..
I'm dreading TomTom discovering it's got those digits the wrong way round.
A bit muddy running to Mossy Mere
Feeling good, we continued up onto the moor, past Hedgehog House and Scar Top, along the muddy track to Mossy Mere.  The sun was being shy but it was fine and not too cold.  Good for running, except for our shoes.
Impasse
Deep water in a flooded gateway slowed us down as we maneuvered our way across, one at a time.
Running up to Cupola Corner
We dropped into Hebden Ghyll, crossed over the beck and took the rising track to Cupola Corner where flocks of sheep are present day representatives of long ago lead miners.
A flock of Swaledales at Cupola Corner
With the wind in our sails we headed up Moor Lane to the remote hamlet of Yarnbury.  A glance back revealed two other runners crossing a trackless waste below us at a fair old lick, certainly faster than us but also, we suspected, a heck of a lot younger than our combined 157 years.
The pool at 1,200ft
We stopped for a short breather at the 1,200ft contour beside a great pool of water that accumulates in a hollow along the track and seldom dries up. 
Lots of wet grass to clean our shoes - but not for long
That was our high point.  From there on it was mostly downhill - through wet fields and muddy lanes.
Passing Garnshaw farm
Parts of Tinker lane in particular had stretches of glutinous mud, over our shoe tops in places, and impossible to avoid. 
One of the drier parts of Tinker Lane

 I remember saying, lanes never used to get into this state in my days of farm service.
Running down to Pickering End

Back in the 1940's, we had horses and carts with narrow, iron shod wheels that weighed a fraction of modern farm machinery and caused but a fraction of the damage.
At Pickering End

We diverted down a grassy track to Pickering End, a holiday cottage with an amazing view across the Wharfe valley.  
No-one was in residence.
Tying the gate shut to a rotten post

From there on it was a fast run back into Hebden Village, to a Keelham pork pie and some welcome fluid back into the system to replace all that soaking my thermal vest and inside of my beanie.
  An enjoyable six miles with a little over 800ft of ascent.
Must get some new glasses - didn't think I was running fast enough to bend that.
Only kidding!

After Saturday night's libations with anaesthetising rocket fuel (aka Chilean Merlot) I was rarin' to go on Sunday morning.  
My wonderful partner was patrolling the moor on Ranger duty for the Yorkshire Dales National Park.   Time for a fast run.  Without going into details I opted for a fairly flat (a mere 370ft of ascent) run into Grassington and back by the river.
Striding out down the river bank.

I could tell I was shifting a bit, the ground flying under my feet, and sure enough TomTom afterwards reported it was the fastest long run it had so far recorded for me having improved my pace by 0.54 min/mile.
Couldn't agree more

The so-called long run was in fact just 4.46 miles, but added to Saturday's total it took me to over ten miles for the weekend.  
I decided such an achievement deserved a glass or two of Bowmore, or Glen Marnoch, or Laphroaig by way of celebration.
Oh, and while I'm here, here's a toast to all my running friends and blog readers.
Cheers!