A catch up…

It’s been a while since I just posted a general “this is life in retired land” post so here it is.

Things are going well I have been out a bit more than usual and drinking a bit more than usual and eating a bit more than usual all linked in with this period of time and celebration we call Christmas and Hogmanay!

Carol is on holiday from her work  and she has been busy preparing for Xmas or rather Xmas eve meal at hers which was lovely.  We spent the evening together with her son and daughter eating and opening presents in the continental way.  While she was off we took the chance to visit the European market in Edinburgh and see the Virgin light display which was pretty good.

We went to a carol service with her mother, you don’t always know how things will go when you take Toni out and Carol was on tenterhooks but apart from a slight decline in table manners everything went ok and the carols, my first, were good as well.

 

Rupert the cat AKA as the Roopster seems to have settled in well,  since his little bid for freedom he is never far from my side even when he doesn’t want food.  Of course the penalty he has to pay is that he is constantly rubbed and played with especially with his new Xmas toys! I am led to believe from Carol the cat woman that this is the cause of his grumpy attitude and that if he wants to sleep I should let him.

The weather countrywide has been terrible but Fife seems to have escaped the worst of it so although there are bad spots we have had nothing like the North of England.  Training has continued cycling mainly on the turbo although I have been out on the 29er a few times and as far as running has gone its get wet or don’t go basically!

I have begun to set up a web site for the bike tours I intend guiding in 2016 so watch this space for news of that and if you are reading this and would like to know more about them or have friends that would like to try a guided tour in Scotland get in touch.

That’s all for the mo my next post will be just after Hogmanay a round up of 2015 and a look forward to 2016.

N is for Northumberland Coastal Marathon.

Quite possibly a race I should not have done!  Still suffering with cold symptoms I decided to do the race and just take it as easy as I could and still get around.

The weather was good not too warm with a cooling breeze coming in from the sea.  We set off along the beach from Alnmouth heading for the first food stop at Boulmer about 3.5 miles up the coast.  Each food station had the same supplies-water, coke, haribo, jelly babies and Ribena.

I set off at an easy pace already near the rear of the field I was more concerned with the coughing and spluttering I was doing than position in the field.

Terrain was good and dry paths in the main well defined and visible, however we did use the beach on several occasions.  Second drinks station was at Craster and it was come and gone in the blink of an eye.  Onwards heading north sea to the right the final drinks station at Newton Links then comes the turnaround point and down we go sea to the left and beach stretching out before us.

Covering the same ground I was feeling strong after the turn around but decided to keep to plan A and headed homeward.

Unofficial result dist 26.03, time 5:28:25 climb 1300ft.

My N marathon prep

The best laid plans etc etc.  I woke up on Thursday morning with a wee tickle at the back of my throat as the day wore on it got worse and worse and by 6;30pm and my Jog Scotland group run the last thing I wanted to do was run!  After the run I headed to Leven to spend the evening with Carol and ended up in bed for 10 after a bath and a hot toddy!

After a 10 hour sleep albeit disturbed I was feeling slightly better and headed home to do some tasks there and wait on Carols arrival for our trip to Edinburgh to visit her brother and see the Handlebards at the Botanics.  I may have thought I was feeling better but the urge to climb in bed for an afternoon nap meant otherwise.

A pleasant visit and tour of the new Black des res was followed by food and a cycle to the botanics for the oudoor performance by the “Bards”.

By the time we got back to Octavia St I was fading again and after another bath and hot toddy I was sound asleep for almost another 10 hours.

I woke up showered, packed and headed south.  I met Keith and Chris, old friends of mine from Sunderland, in Alnwick and spent some time with them before I set out in the car to check the route to the start and the parking.  With that done I headed to Alnwick YH where I am penning this.

Hopefully I will be able to report completion of my N marathon in my race review.

 

N coming up

A week Saturday I shall be lining up for no 3 of 4 marathons planned for this year.  The Northumberland Coastal Marathon.  An out and back course north from Alnmouth.  Multi terrain it even has a stretch or two of beach included.

Plan for this one is to drive down Saturday meet a friend for a bar lunch and spend the night at Alnwick YH.  After the race head straight home and prepare for Carol’s birthday on the Monday.

A-Z M marathon RACE day

I may not have been up with the larks but I was certainly wakened by them the dawn chorus at 0413!

I lazed till ninish and then got showered and dressed had a chat with some fellow racers and headed to the village shop/cafe/emporium to have some food and charge phone and of course do this!

Registration opens at 1400 so plan is to stay hydrated, snooze and stretch for the rest of the day then register and have more food before a final doze then the race.  Registration was a quick and slick operation admittedly I did go early.


After registering I had a short walk around the village and on the canal and headed back to the campsite to await the race brief.

At the HQ I met Phil Adams a fellow 100Km club member whom I had not seen for years Phil is well on his way to 250 marathons!

After the briefing we all miles around and then we were off right on time.  A few yards walking then a few more nearly jogging as we went through the village and up onto the Taff TRail and out around the North of the Talybont reservoir, through the forest and. Reached CP1.  The trail was undulating and on forest paths a. Not unpleasant beginig to the race CP 1 time 1::28:12 7.5 miles 1:23:32.  As we were running along we could see the low cloud enveloping the peaks and feel the water vapour landing on our bodies..  As we left the forest we were following the Beacons Way which although it went to the summit of Pen y Fan we left to climb up Graig Fan Las which took us out along a ridge and back to the way for another short stint.  The field was well spread out as was the trail markers but with only one large obvious path to follow the route finding was easy enough, staying upright though was another thing altogether.  The terrain was a cross between the cobbles of the Royal Mile the boulder fields of the Lairg Ghru and the dirt of the Fife coastal path and as the surface got wetter it also got slipper!

CP 2 is at the summit of Pen y Fan 1:58:34. Tot time of 3:26 Dist app 14 summit height 886m.   So began the descent following the Way once more for a short distance before going down Tor Glas and into Taf Fechan Forest and onto the Taff Trail to CP 3 at 19 miles 1:13:45 tot time 4:40:31.  Food, drink, head torch and glow stick and we were back on our way.  Following the Taff Trail now all the way to the finish.  Strangely this was one of the hardest parts of the race a mix of tiredness and darkness I expect.  Finish time of 6:09..

 

A-Z Marathon M Road trip day 1

Up bright and early Friday morning fed, watered, washed, packed and off for 1000.  A long drive ahead approx 39o miles mainly in rain and spray from other vehicles.  There were some bright spots and I usually got out and stretched off when they presented themselves.

Through Scotland , England and into Wales.  As I got off the motorway and onto A then B roads the countryside got greener and the sky got bluer.  I had checked the forecast before I left which was for wall to wall rain luckily it did not materialise and I had my tent pitched and a brew on without a drop of rain falling.   I arrived at my campsite just after 7pm a drive of almost 9 hours.  Tallybont farm camp site is a lovely wee place plenty of room with all the normal facilities.  I had a walk around the village and found the closed shop not surprising considering the time.  I was in my bag and snoozing by 10pm.

A-Z Marathon M

Wednesday evening and with a busy Thursday ahead I decided to get everything packed ready to go on Friday to the Midnight Mountain Marathon.

I was camping so had quite a bit of stuff to look out.  I erected the tent in the garden just to check it was ok and give the cat someplace else to play! Obviously.  Hung my sleeping bag and liner up to air and checked that my stove was in working order.  With the camping gear sorted I turned to the Race Instructions.

A comprehensive booklet with all the information I needed including a compulsory kit list of 16 items that I packed in my OMM runsack and tried out on a small run.  Fairly confident that everything was sorted I decided to wait till Friday morning and give the forecast a final check before I zipped bags up and got the car packed.

 

 

 

Northern munros road trip. 

The four most northerly munros can, with a wee bit planning and some resolve be done in one 3 or four day road trip.  So planning done and resolve packed I headed up the A9 on Sunday 30th April on our way to the first Munro on the list, Ben Klibreck.  I was travelling with a friend, Graham, our plan was to leave Kirkcaldy 0600 eat on way up and climb Ben Klibreck then head for the Altnahara Hotel and meet the other two in our party at the bar! 

We left Kirkcaldy at 0610 made good time North and stopped at Aviemore for a bacon roll and a cuppa in Cobbs.  The drive to Ben Klibreck is just over 200miles and as you get closer to the hill the roads get narrower, traffic gets less and it becomes a drivers nightmare and a passengers dream.  Miles of nothing but loads of views.

We arrived at the designated parking spot and set off across a footbridge and onto a well defined path.  The path did not last very long and soon we were trying to follow faint trails through bog and peat hags.  The weather was great with blue skies and sunshine to cheer us up.  As we climbed SE up the grassy slopes of Ben Klibreck we began to follow an excellent path which seemed to contour around the hillside.  This led us to the ridge and the final climb to the summit. 

 

Time taken was approx 6 hours with 2600 ft of climb.  Our home for the first two nights of the trip was the Altnahara hotel and as we picked our way down the slope I had a text to let us know that our other two friends were in the bar waiting to order food and could we get a move on!!

The next day our choice of Munro was Ben Hope at a little over 4 miles with 3000ft of climb this turned out to be a stiff proposition and there was more than one expletive aired on the way up the steep bouldery slope.  There was no mistaking where the start point was with a large sign proclaiming Ben Hope car Park!  It was at the end of a lovely strath and there was already 4 vehicles there when we arrived.   We headed up the well trodden path which morphed into a myriad of intertwining pathways all heading up.  The views from the top of the hill were amazing and I am sure if the haze had not been there we would have seen the Orkney Isles.


Coming down from the summit Ian managed to bend his walking pole on the stony ground.

We headed back to Altnahra 4 happy but weary walkers.  However there was mutiny afoot and by the end of the evening I was the only one headed to Conival and the Ben More Assynt the following day to finish off the quartet of northern munros.

Graham gave me a lift to the start point at Inchnadamph and he set off on a low level walk to while away some time whilst I bagged the final two munros.

Leaving the Inchnadamph hotel car park you cross the bridge and follow the path towards the traligill caves.  You then take the left fork and head for the beallach between Beinn an Fhurain and Conival.  This is marked by a small stone cairn.  Up to this point the going has been fairly easy but from now until you are back to this point on the return leg the going is harder with large stones and boulders underfoot.

I was on my own today the others deciding against this longer day and whilst the going was good decided to speed up.    The cloud was blowing in and out over Ben More and the view of the ridge from Conival when the cloud lifted was spectacular.   The hill was busy as had been indicated by the other vehicles in the car park but walkers were fairly well spread out along the route.  I reached the summit of Ben More and did not tarry as the summit was covered in cloud and a strong wind was blowing.  

I followed the same route back and once again when I reached the easier going started to increase the pace.  I had been dropped off and arranged a pick up at the hotel.  With time to spare I visited the caves a 10 minute detour well worth the extra K or so.

A great trip which took my Munro count up to 232.