Friday, October 30, 2009

Vanity, vanity, all is vanity

I was hoping to call this post something like the "Power and the Glory" but that obviously wouldn't work, or "Beauty and the Beast" which would be half true. Even though this pic of me finishing my half marathon is a pretty poor vanity post, in that I look like a fat fun runner having a particularly torrid time on the loo, I do look as though I'm actually running. This is a first as every other "running" pic of me makes me look like I'm either power walking or letting out a sly one. Apologies for the obsession with bodily functions here but I've spent most of this week fairly unwell no doubt as a result of over-doing it a bit.On a vaguely related note it's always amazed me that Haile Gebrselassie always seems to be able to keep up a continuous smile even after over 2 hours of sub 3 minute km's. Interestingly so does Triathlon uber-athelete Chrissie Wellington. It may have something to do with them reputably being amongst the most like-able grounded athletes in all sport. If so what does my gurning say about me?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

London Lecture

Here's the poster for my lecture for the charity Porters' Progress at the RGS in LondonIt's on at 7pm on 24th November and you can get details and tickets at or by phoning 02085459030

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Leave nothing in the tank

"Leave nothing in the tank" was a phrase or something similar used by Bradley Wiggins about his efforts each big day in this years Tour de France. It really captured my imagination. I guess its like the Spanish climbing phrase "A Meurte" which sort of translates as "to the death" and means to give absolute maximum effort.

A week or so ago I was musing on how you gauge success, and for me on all the achievements I'm most proud of it's where "I've emptied the tank". It's that feeling that you just couldn't have done anymore.

Well I had one of those days today when I ran my first half marathon over at Worksop. It was a beautiful sunny day, but quite a challenging course, with some tricky hills (hills as in a road race not a fell race or mountaineering stylee). The Good run guide claimed it was equivalent to running a 13.7 mile race on the flat (so maybe 3 or 4 minutes slower than a super flat course at my pace). Luckily you run down the biggest hill in the last mile and I think this is what pushed me right to my limit. It was a bizarre feeling falling/running as fast as I could but desperate for it to be over. I almost completely blew a gasket and the involuntary noises I made provided plenty of entertainment for onlookers. The result 1.29.44 (chip time) and 112 out of 1509 runners. Well Chuffed!

Friday, October 23, 2009

More winter inspiration

What do we want? ... we want cold
...we want wilderness
...we want gnarl...we want satisfaction
When do we want it? ....Now!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Special Sheffield Gig

I'm doing a few lectures in November and December, the first of which is something a little different. A double Header with Andy Kirkpatrick. Andy and I know each other far too well having shared many adventures, so it will be interesting to see how this one goes. Andy is getting more "unstable" in his latter years so I've no idea what exactly he has in store - I doubt he has much idea either, but you can bank on it being side splittingly funny. I'll probably dish the dirt first on our epic attempt to repeat the Lafaille route on the Dru, and then talk a bit about our climb on El Cap with paraplegic Phil Packer which helped him raise a Million quid for Help for Heroes.
The title of the show is Freezing Nuts, its on Thursday 26 Nov at The Foundry (not the climbing wall) at Sheffield University Union. Doors open 7:30pm and tickets are £9 (£6 NUS) and can be got from the Union Box Office 0114 222 8777 as well as the Sheffield City Hall, the Sheffield Arena and most Sheffield Theatres.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Winter Inspiration

Here's a few pics for anyone who needs a little lift now nights are drawing in. Get those tools sharpened winter is coming. The hard work... struggling into the Cairngorms on an 80 mile an hour day.
The business... getting stuck into the West Buttress of Beinn Eighe
The dreams... looking up the West Central Gully of Beinn Eighe, Fowlers legendary route and probably the hardest "Gully" in Scotland. The Reward... dawn colours close to the summit of the Ben after an early start.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Some interesting running bits on the web

Here's a few running web links Ive been surfing through and found interesting recently
The busy forums of runnersworld make UKC look like small pub chat although much of it is really only relevant to specific races. One archived thread that I thought was fascinating involved Mike Gratton (London winner 2.09 in 1983) who gives detailed feedback over a 6 month period for those trying to up their mileage to 100+ miles. Imagine having someone like Ben Moon giving daily detailed feedback on UKC for 6 months? His proposed training schedule is above and the forum posts are here
with some of the most pertinent questions summarized here
This is a great list of training resources sourced by Tony Wilson at Glenhuntly, an Australian Athletics Club. Lots of middle and some longer distance stuff by stars such as Coe, Ovett, Snell, Michael Johnson, DeCastella.
This is a fascinating site - basically a blog by 2 Sports Scientists one a South African and one an American. Most of their posts analyse research and races and then translate their detailed opinions into plain English that we all can understand. Some great stuff on pacing particularly in the marathon, plus a very interesting look at doping, the forefoot v heel striking debate, Oscar Pistorius' prosthetics, as well as cycling such as the Tour de France.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Defining Success

I was made to think a little about how we define success recently. Usually you'd think the process is pretty simple; set your goal, make sure its measurable, perform and see if you make the grade or not? Of course life isn't that simple. That was brought home when I was searching through the internet trying to find out what was happening on the Ironman World Champs in Kona over the weekend. I was particularly interested to see how Philip Graves, a 20 year old from York and the youngest male competitor was doing. He'd got a lot of publicity in the build up to race as he's a genuine talent on the bike and some were tipping him as an outside contender.

It turned out that he'd had a fantastic swim (4th out the water) and started the bike like a demon, taking the race lead. But around mile 50 the wheels began to come off metaphorically speaking of course. His eventual bike split was a long way behind the leaders and his finishing time for the whole race well over 9 hours, much slower than many had predicted. From afar it all looked a bit of a disaster and some web pages hinted that he'd been taught a lesson etc....

It was interesting to hear a little post race interview on imtalk with him that put a very different slant on Graves performance. He seemed genuinely up beat, as he said he got to feel what it was like to lead the world champs, he also picked up a prize by Timex for the fastest initial bike split and as he said perhaps in 4 or 5 years time he might be able to get the bike record. Graves of course could have paced better and perhaps come in 30th instead of 50-0dd and been anonymous during the race, instead he got out in front of the world's best and learned an awful lot for future Konas.

On a personal level I've got my first half marathon coming up in just over a week and I've no idea what time I'm going to manage and what should equate to success. I went to the track today on a rainy Sheffield day and again didn't know what to expect. I'd just returned from a weeks holiday in Cyprus staying at a fine hotel with amazing buffets of food every night. I'd managed quite a bit of running and swimming in the sea but my legs felt as heavy as my belly. It was a nice lift therefore to find that I'd made good running progress; repeating a session I did a month ago of 1600m reps and managing each "mile" at an average of 12 seconds faster than last time. Secretly this is what I'd wanted to do, but didn't really want to admit it to myself in case I was setting too high goals. Ive an equally ambitious time in mind for the half marathon and hoping I'm hoping I can surprise myself again. We'll see in just over a week.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hope Moors and Tors

Did my second fell race today the Hope Moors and Tors (8.5 miles). Staggering to the top of Mam Tor at about halfway I was surprised to see Mick Ryan taking pics. Seeing Mick it was easy to smile he's such a cheeky chappie; climbing's equivalent to Peers Morgan with his highly effective "agent provocateur" approach to climbing journalism and of course one of the supremos behind UKC. Although it looks like I'm power walking I was actually trying to run, although having just summitted Mam Tor my legs weren't really playing ball.Photo Mick Ryan
At this point it I was probably in about 30th place. Luckily for me all the good runners were doing the long course - 20 miles! - and so they all turned off leaving me in 3rd place. Yipee!