Monday, 27 February 2012

What not to do

So yesterday was a typical first day; up late after a long day travelling and then a lot of driving around to spot routes.  I forgot the binoculars, which is a right pain.  We eventually decided we should do some climbing, so parked up by the side of the road.  I thought I better check the car would move, and surprise surprise, it was stuck.  A kind chap pulled over to help James push and so we drove a couple of hundred yards further away and I pulled over again, and yes, you guess it, stuck again.  This time, big stylee - the car wouldn't budget an inch and all the power was going to one wheel (how do you turn off traction control on a Fiesta?!).  Eventually an even kinder local came along and tried to tow us out.  As I tried to reverse, with him pulling, there was a loud bang - his rope had broken (my knot held firm I might add).  He retied it and then we broke it again.  Finally on third go, we budged.  All that had been stopping the car was a tiny dish, maybe 1cm deep, that the wheel had carved in the ice.  By this point it was now too late to climb.

I can't honestly say there seems to be huge ice potential on Senja, but lots must be buried.  And I am sure more will reveal it's self on further investigation.

So that was day one.  Today we returned to do the roadside route, which was probably WI4/4+.  Apart from some near-puke-inducing hotaches it went off without drama.  Almost.  On the final abseil, I unclipped the icescrew from my harness after connecting up my belay plate to the ab ropes, leant back and to my horror the plate wasn't attached to me.  Thankfully I have a tendency to 'hold on' to things as I unclip and check everything before weighting the rope or gear.  Good thing too, as at this point I was only held on by my gripping the quickdraw.  I guess the belay plate came unclipped as I struggled to pull the ropes up under their own weight.

Apart from being pretty scary, this is a healthy reminder to check, check and recheck.  It's noticeable how few good climbers die on very hard routes, and it's probably because of the concentration required. Complacency is a much bigger killer.  Lesson learned, or at least refreshed, and we move on, with full concentration!

James didn't really appreciate the twig we abseiled off either, but he was too lazy to climb up to something better (really, it was fine!).

That's what not to do, tomorrow, however, will be a masterclass is safe yet daring climbing.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Welcome to Norway

Today we arrived in Norway for three weeks of ice climbing.  I won't be usurping James as Chief Blog Correspondent, but will post up the old tale of our adventures.  His blog is here:

Our car is a beast with five doors and self folding wing mirrors and heated seats and climate control. It's also a Fiesta.

The Gucci bag

Thanks Gav and Jane!!!

Friday, 24 February 2012

The final run

...for three weeks at least.  So this morning, I found myself at my halfway-ish-to-work checkpoint after a record equalling forty-five and a half minutes, so decided I may as well get a spurt on.  I got to work is 1hr 25mins, smashing my PB by over five minutes.  Assuming that was all gained in the second half, that means I was doing a minute-a-mile faster than my previous record.  Go Nick. 

That was the first run I have done this week, so although small in volume, this last week before the enforced lay off, with the ultra included, has been high quality.  I want to incorporate more of these faster runs to work when I get back.

For now though, I am of to the great wilderness of northern Norge, completely de-trained for ice I fear.  James is still limping, as is my hope.

Wedding photos

Finally, I have some.  Except they are photos of photos.  I will replace with originals at some point, but until then..

 You have deal

It's how you tell 'em 

Job done

Monday, 20 February 2012

Part 2 - the stats

Here is a graph of speed against time:

What can we learn from this?  Garmin seriously need to improve their data smoothing algorithm!

My average speed was 5.1mph, with a slight speeding up in the middle third and a bit of a slow down in the last quarter.  Which is probably how it should be.

Averaging 5.1mph would put me at the 70 mile checkpoint after 13hrs 43min, just over five hours before the cut off.  Not that I am suggesting I could do it that fast.

Oh, the glory.

Nick does an Ultra

I proudly now have my first Ultra under my belt.  Yesterday I took part in the London Ultra 50K (32 miles).  I think, on balance, it was about as hard as I expected – not terribly difficult but not easy either.  Though it should be borne in mind I was not going for a fast time, just merely using it as a barometer for how my training was going.  More on that later.

So, I did the 31.5 miles in a time of 6hrs 8mins 27secs.  I hit the 26.2mile marathon mark at 5hrs 4mins – of course I wouldn’t have stopped as much to navigate or fuel in a typical marathon so am confident I could run one a whole lot faster than that (the furthest I have ever run until yesterday was about 15miles, about 12 years ago!).

Check it, peeps.

The race organisers provided a coach from the finish to the start, which mean the run was a pleasant point-to-point affair rather than a big loop.  It finished in Perivale, NW London, and to my surprise the coach drove clockwise round the North Circular (meaning I did a full circumnavigation of London yesterday).  Driving back almost past my house did hit home quite how far the run would be.  The route followed the ‘Capital Ring’, a funny old route – I’m not sure why you’d want to walk it, but people do.  It goes from main road, to park, to suburbia, to woods and back again, never keeping much consistency, but I saw some of London I am not familiar with – Crystal Palace, Wimbledon Common (no Wombles though), Richmond Park.

Apologies, best I could find.

After a bit of hanging around the race began at 0915hrs, and there seemed to be a couple of hundred runners.  We soon spread out, with me being toward the back I think.  I think I got my fuelling about right – I only ate a fajita, four flapjacks and some jellybabies and drank about 2 litres.  I coped fine with eating while running.  For sure I will need to ingest a lot more on the GUCR, and although I go quite tired in the last few miles, I certainly didn’t bonk.  In fact I think I have felt worse on some runs home from work.  From about mile 18 I would say I was generally overtaking people up to about mile 29.  Up to that point it was all remarkably easy.  Then the hip flexors started aching, especially the right one and by the end I was limping.

Medal winning Nick.

So why was it relatively easy? I am sure it was down to psychology.  Train for six months to run a marathon and a marathon will be hard.  Train to run 145miles, and less than a quarter of that will seem easy – I had convinced myself it wasn’t all that far.  And having done some bike rides that are double that time, I guess six hours really isn’t that long to keep oneself moving for.

Today, I have relatively few ill effects – though I did get the train in (it was cold this morning!).  The hip flexors seem much better and not aching as much as I would have predicted given the pain they were in while running.  My left ankle seems a bit wobbly though, I wonder if it’s possible to have stretched a tendon and so lost some stability?  It’s a bit painful, but nothing too serious.

What does this all mean for the GUCR?  Well, I am not too sure.  I can’t say I can imagine running four of what I did yesterday.  In fact, I would still be running now.  But then, I suppose the trick is not to try – just get to the next checkpoint, then the next, then the next.  It wasn’t hard enough to worry me, nor easy enough to be particularly encouraging.  If my hip flexors do that again, I will be in big trouble (I am wondering if they are under developed due to not being used as much for cycling – complete guess, but I shall investigate).  So I’ll just keep plodding on with the training (after a three week layoff for climbing).

The last stretch was actually down a bit of the Grand Union Canal.  Where I saw a bloke in full motorcycle garb being hauled out of the drink.  He had a very wet Staff, so suspect he must have jumped in to save his dog, but it cheered me up for all of a hundred yards.

I came 131st of 188 – that’s in the 69th percentile you know.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Norway dispreparation

Well, I have to say, this must be the worse build up to a big trip I have ever had.  Let me chart the series of unfortunate events for you...

Oct - despite niggling injury, I go to Spain and redpoint 7b
Nov / Dec- I redpoint a tough (for me) 7a at the Castle
Xmas - do not a lot
Jan - have weekend in Brighton for two chalk sessions - first cut short due to getting caught in the football traffic, second cancelled due to hangover
Jan - manage to do one hour solid bouldering, 'good good' you may say, but blisters force me off climbing for over a week
Feb - go to the chalk, fall off, bash elbow. James falls off, is still on crutches four days later, only nine days before we go
Today - I go for a climb, decide to try the fat campus rungs for some endurance work, ruin hands. Pretty much sums up this year so far.

Given I did manage that hour bouldering I think my endurance must have been pretty good from pre-xmas - the question is, have I done enough to keep it that way?  It certainly won't have improved.  I suppose these things are sent to try us.

Apparently conditions are excellent out there, I just hope we make it that far!

I have decided that, after Norway, my climbing training needs to get a bit more scientific - more training, less 'hmm, perhaps I'll climb that next...'

This is surprisingly painful

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Exploding chalk syndrome

We were quite psyched for a decent session on the chalk today, and I had emotionally committed to three hours of training.  But as seems to be the way of late, it wasn't to be. I was traversing a steeper section when the chalk my axe was in ripped off, sending me bicycling backwards through the air - I wasn't very high, four feet off the deck maybe, but high enough to wonder how much it was going to hurt as I was falling.  Well, quite a lot actually, as I seemed to land mostly on my left elbow.  I was able to carry on after a bit of a break, and got two hours in in total.
James wasn't so lucky, his chunk of exploding chalk landed on his knee, which is now pretty swollen.  He has two weeks to recover.

Me doing a completely pointless fig4:

Ronhills and stripes, it's how I roll

Update: Monday - James' knee is not broken, confirmed via x-ray, and my elbow really hurts still.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Nick ruins Saturday, almost finds 'Mark'

I plotted my run on gmap pedometer, let my lunch settle and was preparing to get ready for my 14.97 mile run, only to find I had left my running shoes at home. This apparently ruined the day as Holly was planning to get on with 'pottering' (tidying her room, again) so I was told to take up the least space possible:

A bit bummed at not running (though not enough to go home and get shoes) but at least I had a decent training session at the wall yesterday, admittedly on the screw-on-smear training wall which only really involves crimps - not exactly transferable to ice, but it was nice to feel enthusiastic for the first time in probably a month.

In other news, the drying cupboards in the changing room at work have seen the return of the kit-moving poltergeist (or as I prefer to call him the arsehole tosser).  Periodically we go through phases of finding everyone's kit dumped on the floor of the cabinet, presumably because someone thinks drying their kit is more important than drying everyone else's. I have even found a boot in the bin before.  Anyway, after emailing the below photo to the building manager (and getting naff all response), I was chatting with a fellow changing room user.  Still in a foul mood, I had another moan about the aforementioned tosser (I have been sure for years it is down to one guy), and he thinks he may know who it is!  Apparently he dumps everyone's kit on the floor, uses the dryer for his kit while he showers and then takes his kit, leaving all ours still on the floor! The cheek!  So I am now after a guy that may or may not be named Mark, may or may not be tall, may or may not go to a gym, usually during an early lunch, and may or may not kickbox.  The kickboxing element rules out any preemptive strike of violent force, don't want to get my ass whooped - but stealing all his clothes while he is in the shower may be an option.  I am shifting my gym pattern next week to engineer a encounter.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Nick does a Gold...

...expedition. Sort of.

Another 50 mile week, but this time in only four days. I must admit it has left me feeling quite fatigued.  I hope to go for a run on Saturday so should break the 60 mile barrier for the first time.

Once again its knocked my Norway training for six though – went to the wall on Tuesday and froze my ass off on the cycle there, which sucked all the enthusiasm from me, I lasted less than an hour.  So I have potentially five training opportunities left, two of which should be on chalk – so I am targeting twelve hours of quality training.  Its a bit ambitious but needs must.

Re my earlier post linking Ben Goldacre’s summary of the NHS reform bill, here is a petition against it:

Friday, 3 February 2012

Regrets of the dying

I will be happy just as long as my last regret isn't 'I really wish I had checked that kno....'

Which does make me think about if I fear dying.  and I don't think about it a whole lot but perhaps the ends that I fear the most would end with the following going through my mind:
‘Oh bugger, I must have fallen asleep at the wheel’
‘Shit, avalanche, please don’t let me die’
‘I don’t think this pillar of ice should move like that, oh, its collapsing...’

I think of them all, death-by-avalanche would be the least pleasant due to the potential to take quite some time. Not that I am morbid...

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

How to speech

My process for writing a best man speech began with me writing it word-for-word, essay style.  I found that, pretty much, the first ideas to pop in my head ended up being the main content for the speech.  I then stripped that back down to quite brief notes and divided it into logical sections and practiced each section separately.  After a few run throughs, each section had evolved so I expanded the notes again to cover the new bits or altered turn of phrase.  In the end I had a few extra points that were really just one-liners and didn’t fit in well, rather than disrupt the flow, I binned them completely.  I figured I would rather have a shorter speech that one filled with waffle.  In my last practice, it took 9mins 30secs – I have no idea how long it took on the day – I spoke too quickly but then had the odd pause for the audience to recover(?), so I would guess a similar time.   This ‘essay-note-sections-practice-revised notes’ system worked well I think.

I promised myself it would be written way earlier, and practiced way more, but I am not sure that would have made much difference.  In a way, I think over practicing can be dangerous – too learned and if you get lost, you’re stuffed.  So just blag it.