Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

December 28, 2012

Harrogate Rock Climbing Wall

The Harrogate Climbing Centre has been my weekly climbing escape for a few years now...pretty much since it opened.  Great for upper body strength, and fun, too.  Plus a great way to hang out with friends of all climbing abilities, there is a climb for everyone. 

This was Rob's first practice attempt at using Adobe Premiere Elements.  Since his sense of music and timing is much better than mine, guess I'm out of a job!  (Look for the cool time-lapse at the middle and end of the video).

December 27, 2012

UK Countryside (Video)

Rob's rather artistic take on the beautiful country we live in!   (And his first attempt at using Adobe Premiere Pro CS6)

December 20, 2012

Dark/White Mini-MM, 16 Dec 2012

My second visit to the Peak District in less than a week.  Luckily no rain this time, although the clouds were laying low over the tops.   As I was munching an ever-present apple while walking over to the start hall, I ran into teammate Jon and a carload of his mates, all of which I had met at varying events over the years.   Of course they have a friendly rivalry going between them, so the race was on immediately. 

This Dark/White Event was a 4 hour mini orienteering event.  Although 4 hours of running can only be considered "mini" when you consider their flagship event of the year is a two-day overnight with 11-13 hours of running! Collect as many controls worth high points as you can and get back within the time limit.   I always prefer these orienteering-style events to the straight-line distance because thinking and route planning can trump pure speed. Yay for me 'cuz I'm pretty slow.   Now the challenge was to see if my calculating route could beat the hares.  More specifically, Jon and his mates Tim, Mike and Paul! 

Jon and I agreed to start out together, but after a couple of controls it was clear that I was hyperventilating and he was running away from me.   He took off and I was navigating on my own through the fabled bog district that is the top of Kinder Scout.  (I wore a bright orange shirt just in case I got stuck in one and needed to be rescued! )

Navigation was pretty tricky, especially for a few moments when the fog covered the plateau and I could see nothing but lumpy bogs.  There was a lot of elevation involved, including some sliding descents down gullies and heart-pounding slogs back up again.  It was tough going even downhill, as the heather and dead ferns threatened to catch my shoes with every step and give me a wind-milling excuse for a faceplant.  There was even a few snowdrifts left along the trail at the top.   The tough terrain meant that I used my compass more in this race than I have in all my other races combined...my sense of direction was gone today.   Luckily the compass doesn't have off days, even when your own senses make you think it's broken!

As in most races, the navigation went pretty well until the last hour, when I started calculating how long I needed to get back to the hall before I ran out of time.  Then it seemed the hills got higher and the terrain got tougher, until I doubted I would be back in 4 hours or even 5!.  Luckily, with the finish down in the valley, it was a downhill run to the end, and I was only 5 minutes late, not a big deal in this series.  

Jon was already at the finish, looking well rested from coming in 20 minutes early.  My grin got pretty big when I realized I had tied him in points...I still don't know how that is possible.  Tim and Mike were there too, having taken some eccentric route choices, to say the least.   Since Tim hates being beat by women, it was quite fun to, well...beat him.   By a pretty good margin, I must say!  Paul was nowhere to be seen, and since he had started with us, we knew his late penaties were racking up.  He finally showed up 25 minutes late...needless to say, his final points were only marginally above 0.   Paul's adventures had included running 90 degrees off his intended heading for quite a long time, and then suddenly finding a control that was not at all what he was looking for.   Much less being a long ways from the finish without much time left! 

It was all in good fun, though, and a nice day out with even the sun making an appearance.  Although as one of the shortest days of the year, it appears to hover on the horizon and constantly get in your eyes when you're trying to run, as though it is a sunset which never sets.  Am I really complaining about the sun being out?  Surely not?!? 

It was great to see the guys again....I am acutely aware now that I only have 2 months or so left to live in the UK and see the friends I've made around the country.  Although I'm really excited to move to Utah and start a new career and explore desert terrain, I'll be sad to leave the beautiful country and the friendly people here.

Overall Results

Split Times by Class

No photos from me but check out some good ones by Steve!

December 11, 2012

Dark/White MTB Orienteering, 9 Dec 2012

What a wacky weather weekend!   On Saturday morning, I was up in the Dales for a short run, and it was cold, calm and clear with few inches of snow on the ground.  Unexpected, really, as there is no snow in Harrogate at all.  It was cold enough I actually wrote my teammates in the Peak district to ask if conditions were icy down there, as the next day I was supposed to ride my mountain bike in a race.  Never recommended when black ice could be around! 

The Peak district wasn't as snowy, and indeed one of my teammates was racing in the Dark/White event as well.  So we met up early the next morning for the 3 hour orienteering event.  I was miserably huddled in my car, as conditions were definitely not icy anymore.  The temperature had risen considerably above freezing, but with it had come buckets of rainfall (isolated over the Peaks, from what I can tell of the radar after the fact).  It was also what I call gale-force windy...the kind of wind that should not happen unless a hurricane eye is nearby, but somehow does anyway. 

We convinced ourselves that since we were there, we should get out of the car and go race.  Gavin and I stuck together for company in our miserableness, along with Nick, who left us behind on the first big hill.  Starting out of a valley town called Hope, as in I "hope" I get back to the car so I can warm up and dry off!, so our only option was to go up a hill.  We choose to go up a hill into the wind, and struggled just to go forward.  At one point, I was pushing my bike up the hill, and a big gust of wind stopped my forward progress, and pushed me back down the hill a few steps.  Impossible to describe how scary that is. 

Gavin met a woman halfway up the hill who had lost her map to the wind (it was probably in London already) and gallantly gave her his map, so he was stuck with riding by my navigation then.  She went on to beat us, how fair is that!?!

Once at the top, our route choice took us along country lanes flooded with rainwater.  Except that the day before they had been frozen, and still had large ice chunks floating in them.  At that point I bitterly regretted not wearing my waterproof socks for warmth!  Although after riding through a deep puddle with water up to my bike axles, it would have gone over the top anyway.   My feet started a slow decline into a state of frozen numbness. 

Our route choices kept leading us farther from Hope, only to be taken partially literally.   In a few lucky sections we flew along with our backs to the wind barely touching the pedals with our frozen feet.  With an hour to go, we turned for home and found that there was a lot of downhill between us and Hope, and even the wind wasn't an issue.  At some point the sun had even come out, which between the wind and the puddles we hadn't really noticed!  I guess there is hope for us after all.  We finished 10 minutes early, which wasn't a minute too soon to save my wooden feet, which I thawed out with dry socks, warm tea, and the car heater.  Plus I gave Gavin a ride to his in-laws and got invited in for a meal! 

Postscript:  After taking my map off my mapboard, which had been folded on fairly carefully to avoid losing it to the gusts and wet, I noticed that we had missed a nearby control which was under a crease.  Bummer.   The trials of wind and rain.  

But it was fun anyway.  Did I just say that?

December 5, 2012

Open 5, South Downs, 2 Dec 2012

England is bigger than I thought when I got here.   Mostly that's good, because there's a lot to see and discover.  But also bad, when it comes to races which are just a little further away from home than I really want to travel.   But with only 3 months left to live here before moving back to the States, surely that is justification for a little more sightseeing before I leave?   In any case, I had never been to the South Downs, and the Haglofs Open 5 race down there gave me a reason to visit. 

See a little video about the Open 5 Series here

It was close, but my car managed to fit 3 bikes, 3 people, and assorted gear inside for the trip down from Harrogate.  After collecting Tom and Rosemary in Leeds, we were on our way late into Friday night.  Making a weekend of it allowed us to have a leisurely ride around the area on Saturday to give us a feel for the location.  I don't normally recce any races, but I must say it was nice to actually have time to stop and admire the terrain rather than rushing through it.  We even had a chance to see some huge pandas on top of Black Downs hill!  (Tom informed me that they were actually some sort of black and white striped cow with a long name).  A photo of said pandas is on Rosemary's Blog.

Anyway, the weather for the weekened was gorgeous.  Cold but clear, sunshine and frost.    Unfortunately not enough frost to freeze the mud puddles solid, but at least it hadn't rained for a few days and they weren't too bad.   The terrain was really pretty, lots of holly and rhododendron trees bushes? to make everything look green even in the middle of dead winter.   The hills were small, but the multitude of tracks and trails make the navigation pretty detailed. 

My race went really well until it all went bad.  Evidentally I have a problem with the 4th hour of racing.  In retrospect, my brain just doesn't function that well in regards to decision making when trying to go fast.  Anyway, I started out running, as usual, and had a nice round of not getting lost and getting back to transition within shouting distance of two hours, which is always my goal.   Near the end of the run, I was just arriving at a control when three blokes looking lost also dibbed into the checkpoint.  Since they came come the opposite way I had, when they started following me back the way they had come, it seemed a little fishy.  I asked them which point they were looking for, which turned out to be where I had just come from.  They were going the wrong way, which seemed to be a trend for them as they had just spent 45 minutes looking for the control I had just led them to!   My hurried directions went something like "bash north until you hit a fence, follow it left, and then through the gate".   At any rate, they went away and I went to transition. 

My bike tires weren't flat, always nice, so the bike started off well.  I zoomed down from transition to the first couple controls (do you sense a hill at the end?), and managed to collect quite a few in my first hour.   Just the opposite from last month where I was bogged down and panicking at my slowness.  I guess at that point I got a little greedy and tried to do too much.  Perhaps I was just yo-yoing from last month, where I was finished a few minutes early and passed a control which would have gotten me the win.   This time I thought I would take a chance on some high points and gamble, passing up some easier, lower points nearby.  I gambled a bit wrong, didn't get the points, and still got back late.   Oh, and that last hill was a doozy.  Not really a surprise since the transition was on top of the tallest hill around! 

I came back 7 minutes late, but that seemed to be the trend of the day.  Tom and Rosemary were also back late, much later, losing 45 points!  That didn't stop Rosemary and Lucy from winning their class with ease, congrats to them.   It was 2nd place for me by a close margin, another frustrating end to a really fun race, but that just means the race is on next month!   What's a race without some great competition, anyway?   Just a jog in the park. 

Tom has an early start running through the frosty ground

James Kirby finally stars in his own photo!

Rosemary out of breath at the hilltop finish.