20 August 2017, 10:00
14C to 16C (felt hotter), sunny, breezy, ideal for running.
I’d had a breakfast at 6am and a coffee in the registration area. Lined up in the starting area to listen to the marshall’s instructions. A big laugh went around when he said everyone but one female had managed to successfully put their dibber on their wrists; the odd one out had managed to put it on her ankle, probably thinking there would be timing mats.
I tried to place myself behind the clutch of serious runners on the line, maybe 30-40% way back in total. The route seemed familiar from my recce many weeks earlier. I ended up keeping pace with most around me.
I felt good on the first long uphill. Slipped and slid heading down muddy steps into Limb Valley, laughing. Told another runner in Lady Canning’s Plantation that I thought I’d set off too fast, expected to blow up later.
Along Houndkirk Road was the first bit I walked, on one of the uphills. (Lots of others had been walking well before that point). There were only two other walking spots for me, the steepest bit of the climb up Higger Tor and part of the climb back over Burbage. Pleased to just keep going the rest of the route.
My local knowledge helped me overtake a bunch of slower runners on a downhill (Burbage), darting to the right and throwing myself down a hill while they tip-toed down a rockier track.
Turned right ankle two times, not badly, and scraped my knee slightly climbing down Higger. Drank 200ml water I carried and two tiny plastic cups at the water points. Didn’t need any food.
My tired legs seemed to get stength back later on. Mentally I was trying to keep runners behind me and keep pace with the one in front. Chased down a runner returning through Limb Valley, then passed two more, all in the last half mile. The climb back to Whirlow Hall Farm I was pushing on and feeling great, then along a field and up the last 200m to the finish. Brilliant, felt so good, and then I saw the time…!
Right achilles was sore afterwards, and can feel some DOMS in my quads today (Mon) writing this. Otherwise, I was good enough to go jogging with Emma Sunday pm.
Distance: 11.97 miles (TT) (official – 12.12)
Time: 1:53:57 (TT) (official – 1:55:18, don’t understand the difference)
Avg pace: 9:28 min / mile
Trainers: Brooks Cascadia
I’d definitely recommend this race to anyone. Great organisation, good variety of countryside and great fun.
Really pleased to see that I’d come 28th overall out of 136, and I was 5th in my age group. That’s really encouraging, spurs me on to train well and keep enjoying trail running.
Sunday 13 August, 07:36
9C, cool, sunny, breezy. An 8.6 mile run from Fox House. Training plan called for an 8 mile run, easy pace, so I mapped out a 7.5 mile loop taking in the two parts of the Exterminator I was trying to nail down. On the plan this looks like weekly mileage is pegged to give me a recovery week, hence just 8 miles for the long run.
The route: Fox House, up Houndkirk Road then turn left where it reaches the Exterminator route towards Burbage Edge. Over the edge and I found and followed the route down, across the path to the stone bridge via the ferns. Along the Burbage path to the road, then on to The Surprise. Over the wall and follow the route to CP8 Padley Gorge. Tricky route to find the right crossing, over Burbage Brook and up the other side.
Onto the Longshaw Estate and I used photos to find my way across – eventually!! Wandered through a wood in error and backtracked to make sure I found the best route.
Then I went along Stony Ridge Road, top side of Blacka Moor to Piper’s Gate, and up over Houndkirk Moor to the road, returning to Fox House. Saw a young deer, solo, in the next field.
Kept the pace easy, walked a lot, stopped and took lots of photos. I wasn’t clock watching or chasing a time.
Had 500ml water and 1 powerball. Slight heel niggle towards the end, and could feel slight soreness in right foot too. Think I now have the whole Exterminator route logged in my mind (and some photos). Objective accomplished.
Distance: 8.55 miles
Avg pace: 13:36 min/mile
Elevation gain: 1186ft
Trainers: Brooks Cascadia
Wildlife: 1 deer, and sheep/cows obviously
Sunday 6 August, 06:54
11-16C, sunny and breezy. I had another go at the Exterminator Race route, armed with a better route from CP8 to CP9. Didn’t feel that strong or well prepared so took it steady. It turned out to be eventful.
Had a power ball on the run down to CP2. Nice. It seemed a long climb to Piper’s Gate, but made it fine over Houndkirk and Burbage Edge. Rather than head through the ferns to the stone bridge I ran the short distance along the Burbage path and down the rough path. Found a better way up onto Higger Tor, turning right earlier than I’ve done before.
On Stanage Edge saw a couple of paragliders enjoying the thermals, and a few climbers getting their ropes and gear sorted. Heading over the edge, I went slightly left, then made 10-12 steps right and landed on a good, mostly cleared route down to the road through the ferns. Best effort yet.
The downhill run to Hathersage was surprisingly tiring for my legs. Lots of walking up through Mitchell Field. Went over on my ankle between CP6 and CP7, and had another power ball.
After Padley Gorge pump house I started the alternative (better) route. I was stunned to be approached by a Jap tourist, asking me if this was the right way to Padley Chapel, or something. Then just missed my turn to the bridge, went back 15 yards. From there it was straightforward up to the road and white gate. To cross Longshaw I’d drawn a straight line on my route planner and put it in my TomTom watch. This took me across marshy ground, heavy going and slow. I could see the stone steps in the distance, and headed for them. There was a better grass path to my right, I realised as I got to the steps. I need to figure out the proper route from white gate to stone steps, should not be hard.
Had another power ball on Moss Road and my legs felt OK running to CP9 and down the hill to the finish. Knocked 13 minutes off my second trial run, this was a better route but I still walked lots. In a race I would push myself more and take a few risks, so hope to run even faster.
I had Fitbit on left wrist but also wore TomTom on right wrist because I had the route plotted CP7 to CP8. So, plenty of stats, interesting to see the differences:
Distance: FB 16.71 miles; TT 16.62 miles
Time: FB & TT: 3:42:55
Avg HR: FB 130bpm
Avg pace: FB 13:20 min/mile; TT 12:53 min/mile – TT adjusts taking static time off
Calories: FB 2243; TT 1951
Elevation gain: TT 3125ft
Trainers: Brooks Cascadia
Sunday 30 July, 07:18
12C, bright and sunny. A 14.6 mile long slow run. Training plan called for 12 miles, but thought I'd see how I feel towards the end and possibly tag a bit extra on. Stunning weather, a bit chilly in T-shirt and shorts but not too bad. There was cloud down below in Hope Valley, the brisk breeze lifting it up and over the crags.
Had a quinoa bar on the drive over for breakfast. During the run I had a Bounce Energy Ball Peanut Protein Blast at 4 miles and another at 9 miles, with 500ml water. Tried the power balls as a fuelling alternative to gels. They were substantial, felt ok on the stomach, and I didn't have a drop in energy.
Followed the same 12 mile route from Fox House that I've done before. Out via Longshaw, Froggatt Edge and Curbar Edge, returning via Big Moor and Flask. Then I added a bit along the top of Blacka Moor to Piper's Gate. I found an alternative, more direct Exterminator route across Houndkirk to Burbage Edge, down over the edge to the trail path below. Returned across the heather to Fox House. Tired towards the end and right heel niggle only became tight with a lot of walking in the last mile over Houndkirk and Burbage.
Distance: 14.6 miles
Avg pace: 11:33 min/mile
Elevation gain: 1465ft
Trainers: Brooks Cascadia
Sunday 23 July, 06:16
11C, bright and cool with full sun later on. A 16 mile run on the Exterminator route again. To try out a few alternative paths. Marathon schedule called for an easy 10 mile long run, but want to maintain where I'm at now. Judged clothing right with just t-shirt and shorts.
I could not find the alternative trail to checkpoint 1 on the way up, found and tried it on the way down/to checkpoint 2 but it was slow going through heather etc.
Followed the same route as before across Houndkirk Moor, and over Burbage Edge, but slipped and fell just before the bridge. Knocked right knee on a rock. Drew blood and plenty of expletives, but no real damage.
Had difficulty finding my way up onto Stanage Edge, tried 2-3 places and struggled. Seemed to find it easy previously. Going down from Stanage I headed through the ferns but they were shoulder high and I could not find a consistent path, plenty of hidden rocks and I paddled in a small stream. Need to find/pick a clearer path or head to the right. Lost a lot of time here.
After Grindleford I climbed alongside the stream and again got lost in the heather and ferns at the top. Headed left and found the trail, and also a few other runners taking part in a race. Need to trace that back to Haywood for next time.
Had a gel at home, one at 6 miles, then got fuzzy head and hungry about 10-11 miles. Dipped in my backpack for some Trek Cocoa Peanut Peak Protein Energy Chunks; they were great. Had another gel at 13 miles and drank 500ml water.
Today seemed slow, I would push harder in the race. Finished nearly 2 minutes quicker than first recce/trial run. Didn't seem as tired at the end, in spite of the very heavy going following lots of rain.
Wore calf compression socks, to see if they helped with all the climbing. They seemed to, and had the added benefit of giving protection from some foliage/nettles/brambles. The Inov-8 shoes performed well on the very soggy ground. Not so good on rocks though.
Distance: 16.49 miles
Avg pace: 13:24 min/mile
Elevation gain: 3379ft
Trainers: Inov-8 X-claw 275
Wildlife: lots! Plenty of sheep and cows en route; chickens and geese; a squirrel and a large pig!
Sunday 16 July, 07:15
14C, overcast and drizzly. A 7 mile run on the checkpoint 7 to checkpoint 9 loop I’ve done before. It was 18C at home and forecast sunny and getting wamer, but arriving at Fox House there was low cloud, drizzle and a forecast for more of the same. Probably overdressed changing to a long sleeved top.
Thought I’d follow one of the recce loops again and still got lost at one point where high ferns and heather moorland obscured any obvious trail path. In spite of this, I was 25 minutes quicker than last time I did this route (run #1302) and ran 0.75 miles less.
Felt strong, ran more of the uphills and enjoyed it. Drank 500ml water and had a gel at home, another at 3 miles.
Wore my new inov-8 x-claw 275 trainers today. Thought I’d better break them in and expected that a few rainy days may have left softer ground. The trainers were great, nice and lightweight, lovely feeling running on grass and soil, no problem on some of the rocky paths. Today the ground wasn’t as soft / muddy as I’d expected. Feet still got wet though due to wet grass and foliage.
It is 16 weeks to the Indianapolis Marathon, so I’ll start following a training schedule. Have downloaded one from the marathon website and it seems OK, but I’ll not be sticking religiously to any plan, I need to build good fitness and mileage and accommodate a few races as well. Would be nice to get under 4 hours – apparently it’s a fairly flat course – but my main concern is managing niggles and getting to the start line able to finish the course.
Distance: 6.98 miles
Avg pace: 11:24 min/mile
Elevation gain: 1003ft
Trainers: Inov-8 x-claw 275
Wildlife: 1 squirrel
Sunday 9 July, 07:06
15C, bright, sunny. A 5 mile run from Fox House past Higger Tor and back along Burbage Edge. I was checking out a possible route skirting around Higger Tor, instead of going right over it for a future race. The trail I followed petered out in the heather and foliage, so it may be just as quick going over as trying to follow a much flatter but wider route around.
Drank 500ml water. Turning back at Ringinglow Road the return was easy and mostly downhill along a good path, so a much a faster pace than I’ve been doing of late.
I’ve enjoyed this past two weeks on leave, having the time to do lots of trail and hill running in the Peak District. Back to work tomorrow, so I will be using Rother Valley and run-commuting again as the marathon training schedule gets near.
Distance: 4.87 miles
Avg pace: 10:38 min/mile
Elevation gain: 549ft
Trainers: Brooks Cascadia