Friday, 18 September 2009

Late summer sun

For the past few nights I haven't been bothered to go out running. Tonight, I couldn't refuse a run - it was such a beautiful evening. I took a few photos to share the best bits with you. As always, the shots I thought that would be good, weren't, and vice versa.
Here goes:

Tree growing through barn

Happy to be here

Three Shire's Head looking downstream from the bridge

Sunset through dead thistles. Everything looks pretty in this light!

And finally, sunset.
If days were always like this, everyone would go out running.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Compare and contrast - the real Tour of Britain

Mrs Noel went out to watch the real Tour of Britain today. This is stage 5 of the tour and it follows the same course as my charity tour ride of two weekends ago.

Sadly I wasn't there to experience it for myself but Mrs Noel was good enough to show me a few pictures. It made me think 'how different is the proper tour from what we did?' After giving it some consideration, I think the two events are pretty similar.

If you take away the support cars and all the state-of-the-art bikes, take away a few of our food, drink and toilet stops (well, all of them in fact), and take away the tour riders' ability, including the years of training and dedication to reach that level, then I think what we did was pretty similar.

Obviously, you'd also have to factor in that these guys have been doing this every day for the previous 5 days, and you'd need to account for my usual level of tactical naivety. But when you've taken all this into account, and the degree of mental pressure that the tour riders are under, I think the two events are largely similar.

Perhaps when making such a comparison you might also need to consider the average speed that the tour guys are going - approximately twice what we were. But, to get back to my original point, apart from the support, the bikes, the ability, the dedication, the lack of rests, the day-on-day fatigue, the tactical acumen, the mental pressure, and the overall speed, what we did a few weekends ago was pretty similar to what Mrs Noel witnessed today.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Speed work

After last week's hill reps, I'm now confident I can run (or rather walk, slowly) up Scafell. However, I'm less confident that I can keep my legs moving fast enough to descend quickly. This was highlighted in the race on Sunday when I lost ground on the flat and lost loads of ground on the descent.

So tonight, instead of hill reps, it was sprint reps. This is even more tiring. I think my flat course is about 250 metres, but it's through a sheep field, so it's not exactly perfect track training. I did 8 reps flat out before feeling completely broken. It did feel good to be running quickly again.

Whenever I do sprint sessions I am reminded how good proper runners are. I probably was close to averaging about 4:10 minute/mile pace for 250 metres. At the end of each rep, my heart rate was 165 (from 140 at the start). And yet there are guys who can run this pace for quite a few miles. Amazing.

Monday, 14 September 2009


Again, it was a day of recovery followed by a full-on session. This time it was a race – Padfield Plum Fair Scamper. I did this last year and was reasonably confident of beating last year's time, but wasn't sure if my monster hill rep session would be still in my legs.

Mrs Noel was also keen to do better in this year's race after she got a stitch in last year's race and had to stop for about a minute at the summit. She also was keen to maintain her record, of about the past 7 races, of winning something in every race.

Although I should be sensible and run my own race. It's always nice to be higher in the field. Before every race, I look round to see who will beat me. My hope is that one day all the good runners will not turn up and I'll win. The law of averages tells me that this is unlikely, but I'm still hoping. Yesterday I didn't have to worry for long about what I would do when I crossed the line in first place - Andi Jones winner of the Snowdon race for the last three years turned up.

For about ten yards I was third. I joked with the guy who was second that he should catch up with 'that guy' ahead (Andi Jones), but he was having none of it. This race has a very clear course, that seems to get slightly steeper as you near the summit. The good thing about this is that you can see everyone in-front of you. It's rare that I'll do a race where I can say I could see Andi Jones at the summit. Mrs Noel was in the same boat and later commented to me "you looked like you were just jogging".

I was seventh at the summit but had designs on sixth. Unfortunately, Mark Ollerenshaw, of Glossopdale Harriers, had other ideas and left me for dead on the descent. I think, in hindsight, it might have been my hard Friday night session catching up with me. Either that or I'm rubbish at descending, which is also quite likely. I managed to keep seventh place, 25 seconds slower than last year (maybe my legs hadn't recovered). Mrs Noel was third lady and received a nice running top and an energy bar.

We didn't stay long enough to take part in the coal race. This entails carrying a 25kg bag of coal and running up a hill. I toyed with the idea of showing an interest, but I think I'll wait until I'm a big, strapping, 13 stone farmer-type before I try this one.