Thursday, July 22, 2010

Running up mountains

Last year, on August the 8th, I did something quite daft; I wanted to see just how fast I could make it over Pen-Y-Gent. Getting the train to Horton is really, really nice; it takes slightly less time than driving there, it's much more relaxing, a return costs about the same as petrol+parking for one (if there's two or more it's cheaper to drive, but what the hey) and it takes you through some fab countryside that normally you can't see because there's a bloody lorry ahead that's taking all your concentration. Plus lovely little towns that make you think "ooh! Can I jump off here and have a look around?". The downside is that the train departs Leeds at 6:19 am.

A couple of weeks earlier I'd gone in a group and we did it in 3h 33m, and I reckoned I could knock the 33m off if I was sure of my footing and felt like running in places. Here's my trip according to my Garmin:
See the red bits? Serious exercise moments. There's three bits on the downhill where I really was running flat out and keeping my footing, with a HR over 168bpm. I'm quite pleased with that. This time, rather than go up the steady face and down the startling bit, I decided to go up the startling face (which is a killer on the legs and lungs) and down the steady bit. I was passed by four people on the initial climb, two of which were fell runners, one was a 3-peaker (don't forget, it was only 8am) and one was a kid carrying nought but a bottle of water. On the rocky startling bit I started passing people who were having trouble (thanks to my trainers I was actually having fun), and got a few nice snaps on the way.

(yes, the summit is in cloud. That was very changeable).


And on the summit? Were the views better than last time?

But on the downhill, the cloud started lifting in a really pleasant way:
Clouds forming patterns on the fields. Lovely.

So I made it down, running for quite a lot of the way, and stopped the clock. My time? 2h 14m. I'd knocked an hour and twenty minutes off. Now, I'm very pleased with this; I would have been happy with under 3 hours, but this was excellent. However, now I know I can do it that quickly I want to knock the time down further; I want to get back to Horton under two hours; if the trains are running to time I can get off the train at 7:24 and get back on a train to Leeds at 9:21 if I'm quick enough, and be back in Leeds for 10:30. What sort of morning constitutional is that? "Just off to climb a mountain, dear. I'll be back for elevenses." As a heartstarter, I can't think of many things finer, or more civilised.

So, does anybody fancy doing the Pen-Y-Gent run that I did last year? We get a stupidly early train out of Leeds to Horton, climb a mountain, and then get the train home and be back in Leeds before lunch. The caveats are, though: this isn't a "no man gets left behind" thing, it's a "get a personal best time, and try to beat it the next time we do this" sort of affair; we're not really competing against each other, just against the clock, so it's not as cutthroat as you'd imagine, but it is still a race. Current club record (set by me, the only member of the club) is 2:14. If you think you'd like to have a go at this, let me know. I'd schedule it for the same weekend (Aug 7th), but there's both Geof's Tea Olympiad thing and Iron Cupcake on the 8th (hence a need to bake), so it'll have to be the weekend after, August 14th. All welcome!

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