New Shoes

A few days ago I wrote about how my old pair of trail shoes were falling apart (read about it here). I therefore decided to book an appointment at the local running shop (socially distanced and I was the only customer).

Ian, the owner, brought out three pairs for me to try, including a revamped Saucony Peregrine with much tougher uppers. I tried them all with a short run on the treadmill and despite the Peregrine feeling good I went with the pair of Asics Trabuco Max. Plenty of cushioning and plenty of grip. They also don’t look too bad. They are the pair on the left in the photo below.

I also needed a new pair of road shoes. Most of my running is done wearing road shoes so I like to have two pairs on the go at once, and as my current pair of Brooks had reached 500km it was definitely time for a back up shoe. My older pair of Brooks had done over 800km and have been relegated to walks in the park.

Ian brought out a couple of pairs of Brooks, an Asics and some New Balance. The latest version of the Brooks Adrenaline had changed slightly and didn’t feel quite right, however the Brooks Glycerin felt really good. I definitely wasn’t sold on the Asics, which is funny because for ten years they were always my go to shoe. When I tried on the New Balance 860’s they felt brilliant and as you can see from the photo they came home with me. The colour isn’t ideal but I’m not too fussed about that. It is also the first time that I have ever run in New Balance.

I’ve not run in either shoe yet, but me and my lovely wife are planning a good ten mile trail run tomorrow so it will be interesting to see how the Asics manage.

Saucony Peregrine

My go to trail running shoes for the last few years has been the Saucony Peregrine. They fit my feet well, have good tread in the wet and mud, and they aren’t too bad on harder trails or small sections of road. Unfortunately the uppers don’t last very well. My last pair managed 410km, but my current pair have fallen apart at only 350km. I do only use them when I know my route will be tough. If I’m going to be running on a good trail I often just use road shoes, so any trail shoe that I use will take a hammering.

I know that the trails around Lancashire are tough going and therefore will be very hard on any trail or fell shoe. However, at £100+ a pair I think I’m going to have a look at something else.

I read some very good reviews about North Face Vectiv Trail shoes, although I’m not keen on white. I also heard some very good things from Inov-8, possibly the Terraultra G 270. We’ll see what my local running shop can manage, and maybe 350-400km for a trail shoe in Lancashire is about right.

Ingleborough in the Sun

Lockdown has eased which can only mean one thing, mini-adventure time. At the end of last year I blogged about the Virtual Howler Series that my lovely wife Helen had signed us up for (read about it here). The series consists of ten 10 mile routes, named after US States, although this being Howler there are the odd extra ‘free’ mile. We managed ‘Dakota’ at the end of last year in the snow, which was an amazing run/walk (read about it here). Yesterday we opted for ‘Indiana’, which started and finished in Ingleton and headed up and over the peak of Ingleborough, the toughest of the climbs on the Three Peaks Route.

With Helen’s new Garmin Fenix 6 watch, with detailed maps and the route, we set off from Ingleton Falls car park and headed up Oddie’s Lane. We stayed on the road until a footpath took us near to the top of the falls path, with Nelly pointing us in the right direction. Our first major climb of the day was to the plateau Nelly was looking at.

We weren’t in any rush and was more than happy for Helen to take as many photos as she wanted, as we walked up the hills and ran on the flat and downhill sections. It wasn’t too early in the morning but it was cold even with the sun. We slowly wound our way up to the limestone plateau, only encountering two other people.

Along the top there was one well defined bridleway and a number of small undefined footpaths, but with Helen navigating we stayed on course. We stopped for a couple of minutes when the Ribblehead Viaduct came into view, although the photos didn’t come out very well. Nelly on the other hand decided it was time to make a silly face for the camera (my face is also quite silly).

From here it was a nice steady descent into the very small village of Chapel-le-Dale.

Over the main road and onto the long climb up to the top of Ingleborough. We soon joined the main Three Peaks route and even though the sun was out there wasn’t too many people. In the summer there can be thousands of walkers and runners. Fortunately the path is easy to follow and very well maintained.

In the distance Ingleborough rises up, with a notoriously difficult climb up the almost vertical slope, with very steep steps. Fortunately there were very few other people, no wind and no pressure. Nelly had a couple of little whimpers as we climbed but we were all happy to reach the last easier section to the very top. Obligatory photo at the Trig Point as we admired the amazing views and made the most of the sun. Once again Nelly was pointing the way we needed to go.

From the top it was a mostly steady 5km back down into Ingleton. There were plenty of people out walking, many with their dogs, and it was also good to see lots of young people out, including one woman running uphill quicker than we were running down. Once back at the car we gave Nelly a drink, although we had stopped every time we crossed a stream, before I opened a bag of Haribo for the journey home.

We had thought about doing a different Howler route just south of Burnley, but Ingleborough in the sun with very few people was an absolutely amazing day out. Eight more Virtual Howler events to complete before the end of the year.

One final note about Nelly. She is an English Pointer, renowned for being one of the fittest breeds, and even though she is getting on a bit she was still pulling at the lead at the end of the four hours. We had only taken her out for one short walk the day before, and the the day after will be the same. She is a tired old girl who is currently curled up on our bed, and without doubt she is the best dog in the world.

Book Review: Twisted by Steve Cavanagh

There is a whole load of twists and turns within this book, as expected with that specific title. It is quite difficult to review this book without giving away too much, but the basic premise is that an successful author famous for writing thrillers with unexpected twists possibly knows more about a missing person. Another less successful author is hiding because he knows too much. His wife is having an affair. The local police are trying to piece it all together.

There are a couple of minor details which didn’t ring true to me, but if you can gloss over them then this is a cracking thriller. My lovely wife read it in a matter of days and when she handed it to me I did the same. I have to admit that I guessed the twists at the end of the book, although only a few pages before they were revealed, which didn’t spoil the ending for me.

There are some very unique ideas in this book and it is also very well written. I gave it 4 out of 5 on Goodreads and if it hadn’t been for a couple of minor details I would have given it 5. Overall a very good thriller without too much gratuitous violence.

Nutty Apple Loaf

I felt like baking again this weekend, although nothing too difficult. So when my lovely wife Helen was making an indulgent chocolate cake for friends who had done us a big favour, I made a nutty apple loaf.

The recipe was from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, which has some very tasty looking cakes. As with almost every cake you start by creaming together butter and sugar. This was a little different as I was using brown sugar and the two tablespoons of strawberry jam. Once this mix was nice and smooth a couple of eggs were added, and then the flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Finally nuts, apples and chocolate was mixed in. This was left in the fridge to cool for a few hours before baking on a low heat for just over an hour.

The end result was an incredibly moist and tasty loaf cake. Very impressive and very easy to make. Another one to add to the hit list and almost too good to share with the neighbours. I will definitely be trying something else from the Hummingbird Bakery in the future.

Ward’s Stone

Keeping with my plan that every other Friday should be a long run I decided to give Ward’s Stone another go. Ward’s Stone is the highest peak in the Forest of Bowland and one of the highest peaks in Lancashire, topping out at 561m. I’ve run up there before almost 18 months ago, when I started from Tarnbrook (read about it here). This time the plan was to start and finish at the small car park at the top of Littledale. This wasn’t the first time that I had attempted this route, as just over a year ago I started out but turned back due to snow (read about it here).

Anyway, the weather was much warmer and there was even a bit of sun as I set out. I was running in trail shoes as over half of the route was off-road and then only a couple of miles on-road. The first mile was all downhill and then the next four all uphill. I’ve been up the shooter’s track many times but I’m always surprised by how steep and long the climb is. It was also quite windy so I pulled on my gloves. There is also a magnificent Andy Goldsworthy land art sculpture just off the path which is well worth a look.

Soon I was at the Clougha Pike footpath crossing and unlike the previous times I could see the top of Ward’s Stone and the footpath to get there. I tried to dodge most of the standing water, but fell running in Lancashire is always wet. At the top I took a photo from the trig point and then headed along the plateau to the next trig point.

Once the path started to drop I was on the look out for a long fence. Follow the fence to the right and you end up in Tarnbrook, to the left takes you back to Littledale. This short section was the only part of the route which I’d never done before, and it was classic fell trods, or tussocks. Very difficult to run on as well as being very wet. I also had the wind in the face at this point and when the hail arrived I quickly pulled on my hat.

I tried to hurry down the fell to escape the worst of the wind and hail, only tumbling over the once. The footpath here doesn’t really exist so I just followed the breadcrumb trail on my watch. Soon the hail stopped and I was down in the Roeburndale Valley. After a short climb the muddy track soon joined the road and one last climb and I was back at the car.

Almost 19km with 667m of climbing is what I call a good run, and as an added bonus my legs didn’t feel too tired the following morning.

Strava activity can be found here.

Next time that I run in the area I might start from Tarnbrook again and head up to Wolfhole Crag, which is almost as high as Ward’s Stone. It is fantastic to have these amazing fells within a couple of miles of where we live.

Lockdown Weight

I’ve put on a bit of weight during lockdown. Mentally I have struggle with not being able to go on adventures with my lovely wife Helen and our silly pooch. Last summer when the lockdown eased we went on loads of mini-adventures and even had a brilliant week staying at Helen’s brother’s caravan in the south Lakes.

Since Christmas I’ve got myself into a bit of a habit of buying biscuits and chocolate. Helen doesn’t start work until 1pm and then works late, so I would walk with her on her way to work and buy myself some diet coke or pepsi, and sometimes a small bar of chocolate. This soon became biscuits as well. This didn’t help me mentally and I started to spiral downwards, feeling worse and then eating even more rubbish. However, getting my first vaccine jab seems to have helped. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Lockdown restrictions are due to ease in a few weeks with swimming pools opening again, and hopefully we’ll be able to go for run/walks in different counties as well.

Anyway I weighed myself for the first time in a couple of years and I was 83kg (13 stone 3 lbs). I would like to drop down to 75kg. I have eased off the biscuits and chocolate, and I plan to alternate Fridays with a long run or a long bike ride. The long run being at least 2 hours and the bike ride at least 100km, with the aim of completing a couple of 100 milers later this summer. I also want to do another ultra run, although exactly where and when is yet to be decided, possibly Panther takes the hindmost in October again.

We do have some adventures planned, with Helen and her friends having another go at the Bay Limestone Round, with each of them taking a different leg. We’ll have to recce the route a few times which I’m looking forward to. We also have the Castle to Coast Triathlon in July to look forward to, and I have a 5 mile swim in Coniston in September as well. That’s all though. Like most people we’ve not entered anything as we’re waiting to see what the summer brings, but with over 40% of the UK population already having one jab the future is looking brighter.

I will never buy from Wiggle again

Over the years I’ve bought a lot of stuff from Wiggle, including a Colnago, shoes, nutrition, Garmins, etc, but I will never buy a single item from them ever again. Why?

Early March is my lovely wife’s birthday. I knew that she wanted a new Garmin. We’re both using the 920 multi-sport watch, both purchased separately, and both second hand. They are great watches and do nearly everything we could possibly want. Helen had done a whole load of research and decided that the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro was the watch she was going to save up for and treat herself to later in the year. I decided to surprise her by getting it for her birthday. Knowing that there are a lot of scams out there I opted to buy it from Wiggle, even though it was a little more expensive.

It arrived a few days later and I had a sneaky look before wrapping it up and hiding it. Helen was ecstatic when she opened it, and half an hour later we were out running. We uploaded our runs and then Helen went to synch it with Garmin Express. I was making coffee in the kitchen when Helen shouted that Garmin was saying that it was a Fenix 5. Sure enough in very small writing on the back of the watch it said Fenix 5. I immediately emailed Wiggle and didn’t receive a reply. So the following day I used their chat function to complain. They said that they would look into it, but if I wanted I could keep the watch and they would give me a £30 refund.

WTF? A Fenix 5 is approximately £150 cheaper than a Fenix 6 Pro. Are you serious? You send me a cheaper watch and then want to overcharge me for it. I wasn’t happy. To me it seemed obvious what had happened. Someone at Wiggle bought a Fenix 5 but swapped it for a Fenix 6, hence why the 5 was in the box for a 6. After a few more days Wiggle eventually agreed to take it back and give me a full refund. I then ordered the correct watch from our local running shop, who even matched the price Wiggle were selling it for. They also delivered it as their shop is still closed due to Covid restrictions. In hindsight I should have gone to The Runners Centre (website here) first. (Note, don’t be a moron and ask a local shop to price match after they have spent half an hour finding the right running shoes for you.)

Ian, the owner of our local running shop, added that the wrong watch would never have been put into the wrong box by Garmin. I wouldn’t have been so annoyed if Wiggle had replied sooner and apologised for their mistake, instead of dragging it out for almost two weeks. They could have offered to replace the watch with what I ordered, but a refund was the only option that I was given. I would even have accepted the Fenix 5 if they had offered to refund me the difference between the two watches. I would have then used the 5 and bought Helen a 6.

Anyway, that is why I will never use Wiggle again.

336 Metric Centuries

A few days ago I wrote about how I had run a half marathon 71 times since I’d joined Strava (read about it here). This got me thinking about various other statistics. I have completed 100 miles on 113 occasions, although the most recent 100 miler was a couple of years ago, but I was completely gobsmacked when I saw how many 100 km days I’d had. The title of this blog post is correct, on 336 days I have completed 100 km. That is on average 38 times a year. Most of those have been cycling, although on a few times I might have been out and cycled slightly less and then added in a few extra km with a walk or a run. Sadly there isn’t a single day where the 100 km target has been passed with running only, maybe one day.

As for elevation, I have climbed at least 1000 m on 350 days, and on 272 days I have completed at least 5 hours of activities. I’ve also been given Kudos 100 times on 266 occasions, although that is slightly more arbitrary because if you want more Kudos just follow thousands of people and many of them will follow you back, giving you extra Kudos.

I have to be honest and say that I’m surprised by these figures and had probably forgotten just how much training I used to do. I think the mix is a little better now a days, as I enjoy going out with Helen and our silly pooch for long walk/runs, or cycle touring with just Helen. Cafe stops is something we are definitely looking forward to once lockdown 3.0 is over, as well as exploring new areas again.

What about swimming? Last year was a terrible year as I only went for a swim 30 times, and over half of those were before the first lockdown. Looking at my stats and I’ve swam 1 mile on 316 occasions, 2km 300 times and 1 hour 177 times.

Astra Zeneca Vaccine

Yesterday afternoon I had my first vaccine jab, and it was the Astra Zeneca variety. I arrived at the vaccine centre, had my name ticked off and followed the signs down to the basement, using hand sanitiser a couple of times. I answered a few routine questions and had my jab, all very quick and painless. I was also given a leaflet detailing possible side effects. My brother in law had his first jab earlier in the week and he felt sick all night. I was warned that I might feel tired, which I definitely did when I took Nelly for a walk around the park, although that could have been because of the 100km bike ride I’d done that morning.

Anyway, that evening I started to feel very tired and as suggested I took a couple of Paracetamols. In bed in the wee small hours I started to have the chills and couldn’t get warm, even though I was burning up. In the morning my temperature was 37.8 and I had a banging headache.

It is now 11am the morning after and my temperature has dropped and I’m starting to feel a little more human, but I am not planning on doing anything strenuous today. In fact a day on the sofa reading is my plan.

Edit: Update a couple of days later and it took almost 48 hours for me to feel human again, but I was back out running again on the Monday morning so the side effects are very short term, which is good. Mentally I feel much better. I feel like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and that me and Helen (not forgetting Nelly) will be able to go on mini-adventures once again, up to the Lakes or even further afield. This last lockdown has been tough, especially seeing so many people ignoring it and just heading off for long walks or runs in different counties. On a brighter note, swimming pools will be open in a few weeks and then in early June parkrun will hopefully be back again.

Have you had your vaccine jab yet and did you experience any side effects? Apparently one in ten people will suffer from some kind of side effects.