Thursday, 9 March 2023

In the snow

This afternoon I'd got leave booked and was initially disappointed by the poor weather forecast. "It'll be magical" I was told by a keen runner at work just before leaving the office. Indeed, the woods in snow could be lovely. 

So I wrapped up well and made my way rather slowly up to Oxstones.
Near the stones the snow was quite deep and relatively undisturbed which made the final bit of ascent tiring. Even downhill along the pavement was slow as the path was slippery. Near the school I slipped on compacted snow and ripped a small hole in my overtrousers (and my skin).

I'm pleased I made the effort to go out and being 30% slower was probably what I should have expected!

Sunday, 12 February 2023

Sensible progress

I realised that I hadn't posted for some months. I have been running regularly, although not swimming, but at a good steady level with no injuries so, in many ways, no news is good news.

Since Christmas I've tried to do 3 runs per week. Of course this doesn't always happen, but that's not a problem. Importantly, I've introduced a weekday evening 5km road run. A loop to a local road junction is within 1% of 5km judging from repeated GPS tracks an that's good enough for me. I'm still a plodder but over some weeks there is a trend to gain pace. The route starts with a distinct ascent so it'll never be a PB route, and that section must be taken gently as part of a warm-up.

In January I've also been low on alcohol intake as dry-January was ongoing and I mostly joined-in. I'm not sure if this has helped pacing or whether it's simply the result of ongoing training.

This week I've got very close to my long term plan to run 40km weekly. Yesterday I ran nearly 25km, although some was walked and the rest was at a jog pace. Nonetheless it exceeded 20 km clearly. I'm wanting to do a long run in spring, or perhaps a few this summer, but haven't chosen a route yet. There's a loop around Castleton that looks interesting, or perhaps rather demanding, but the Liverpool-Leeds canal is also a possibility. A shorter canal might be a good practice first.    

Sunday, 18 September 2022

Hathersage 20 miler

 With an extra bank holiday for Monday, I felt that I could afford to get a bit extra tired today. I'm hoping to do some more long runs in the (near) future so in my very casual training plan there's a ned to get some longer training runs under my belt. The Cuckoo Way was certainly completed with too little training and I think I was lucky to achieve my goal. Another day I might not be so fortunate. 

A circular trip to Hathersage from home is around 30km which is 50% more than my traditional Saturday run so this felt to be perfect. On the way out I discovered a permissive path to  the south of the Redmires reservoirs which avoids around 1.5km of rather dull tarmac. The old byway to Stanedge Pole and beyond is mostly runnable as the gradient is fair and the stones not too sharp. It gives a great view of the Kinder plateau in the distance.

It's an easy and picturesque descent into Hathersage although I was just in time as the course was laid out for the Fat Boys Stanage Struggle and competitors were jogging up to the start area. A little later and I would have been swept back uphill.

After coffee and half a flapjack I headed for home via Mitchell Field, Higgor Tor and Oxstones. Much of the ascent had to be walked! Altogether there was just over 800m of ascent so not too trivial. Close to home my legs were very heavy and again the pace dropped. I'm happy that even with a cafe stop my pace was below 8:30min/km.

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

New GPS phone

Just over 6 years ago I wrote a series of entries about using a budget smartphone with Viewranger as a mapping GPS tool. I bought a fair few tiles of offline maps for UK, Spain and Tenerife and found it to be a great tool. My waterproofing was a freezer bag and as I try to avoid being out in foul weather this worked well, although on occasion I moved  the phone inside my waterproof jacket. 

I had no need to change system as it was self contained and with adequate power and space. An 8GB SD card seemed to be practically limitless. Unfortunately Viewranger were bought up by Outdooractive and so the app and tiles became obsolete in February 2022. There is plentiful online debate about the problems with the Outdooractive app, much of which I disagree with. However it does need more resources and the closure of the Viewranger server means that fresh tiles can't be bought. My old Alcatel phone GPS works fine as is but can't have fresh maps if I travel to a new area. The Android 4.4 operating system means that it won't run the OS app either. I tried an old spare Moto phone with opensource OruxMaps but once again, the processor wasn't able to cope. 

So I was back to considering Garmin hardware, opensource maps, IP68 sealed Android phones and so on. The nominally waterproof smartphones appear to fall into two categories. First are top of the range phones from major brands at a price that I wouldn't want to fall out of a pocket. Second are Chinese Android brands which have fair specifications but very mixed reviews. I almost committed to a Ulefone Armor 10X Pro at around £160 but the price was a bit more than I wanted and there are those dubious reviews....

Eventually I settled on a iPhone SE (2016) with 32GB storage from BackMarket for £65. The phone is low spec by today's standards but with a 4 inch screen it's little larger than the Alcatel and actually a fair bit more powerful. Importantly it can run iOS15 which is fairly contemporary, it will not run the recently (September 2022) released iOS16. Due to the massive sales of the iPhone SE/5S there are a range of supposedly waterproof cases available and I went for a Punkcase Extreme for around £20.

I still have free access to Outdooractive Pro+ so that's my current offline map provider but hopefully this phone will give me more flexibility of provider in the future, including the mapping that comes when you buy a paper OS map.

The 'refurbished' phone is in great condition and has reportedly 91% battery health. This was my biggest concern about a used phone, would it need a new battery straight away and would that be any good anyway?  After a few runs and hikes it appears that I can leave Outdooractive tracking for at least 5 hours and that it lasts for longer without live recording. The GPS shows a lock promptly even without tracking so it must be live when the phone is sleeping. As before I don't have a lock on the phone but it must be activated by two presses on the home button. This seems to be baked into iOS and I can't find a way to wake from sleep with the top button which is less than ideal.

The camera is usable and takes fairly good pictures although the HDR mode is rather to saturated for my taste. This might mean that I can save the weight of a camera but taking pictures uses a fair bit of battery life. I suppose this is mostly due to extra screen backlight usage.

Sunday, 11 September 2022

Peak Raid 3 #1 North Kinder

It's a few years (actually a few more than I thought) since I last tried one of these fell- based orienteering events. I suspect that I'm inherently cautious and reluctant to leave my comfort zone. However I do like a challenge and the combination of a new location and some navigation makes for a good morning's exercise. 

The start was a good trek up from the parking. Apparently this half hour was going to be in the event but the organisers felt that runners would be unlikely to finish in time. The ascent revealed the remains of an inversion and mist on some peaks. To the north of the A57 the moor was wet but passible. There were few paths but the checkpoints were fairly easy to find on a bearing although progress between them was slow for me and some other runners in a similar schedule.
After crossing the road the terrain was steeper and the checkpoints scattered on and below the edge of the Kinder plateau. I picked a route that looked manageable both physically and in complexity with the mist now blanketing the area. Two checks needed a tough ascent and then there was an obvious route to the finish.

I managed to squeeze in a check which was close to the path. During the descent there was an option of a check but as I wasn't sure of it's position in the mist I decided to miss it and hopefully avoid a time penalty.
I finished with a few minutes in hand and mid-placed in the field. I'm amazed that some competitors managed to reach all points. I walked most of the 14km of my route but running the majority of it is unimaginable to me. Their navigation must be fast and accurate too!

Monday, 1 August 2022

Reverse magnetised

A few weeks ago I saw that the compass that travels daily in my rucsac had become reverse magnetised. Luckily I was in a field and could compare with my watch and the sun. It might have been more serious on a hillside.
Apparently this is quite common now and believed to be due to the strong magnets in the speakers of the devices we carry. Certainly I often carried the compass next to a mobile phone and camera.
I've read that Silva will remagnetise the needles so I've sent them an email. Although I understand the theory I'm not going DIY as it seems like an accident waiting to happen.

Saturday, 9 July 2022

Post-Covid run

A week after completing the Cuckoo Way I had COVID. There was a headache, then a cough and ultimately feeling rotten. It took 2 weeks for a negative LFT result and some more days until I my chest felt normal.
I don't think the infection was related to the long run, more probably the outbreak at work. At least I get paid sick leave.
This morning I decided I was fit enough to try a short run and headed to the woods. I took it very easy but was relieved not to experience any ill effects, save a lack of training.
Hopefully things will be fine tomorrow.

Incidentally, the only after effect of the Cuckoo Way is a single black toenail.