Monday, 5 September 2016

September already

Thanks to Probes and SA Chris for their positive comments on UKB.  Some people have asked me what socks and shoes I wear, including Plattsy.  The answer currently is some twinskin socks with Inov8 282 GTXs, which may be the problem as my feet can get pretty hot.  I have got some Injinjis but the first time I wore them I got a heel hot spot, although I did try new shoes as well.

I am currently looking to change the set up and plan to get some longer distance stuff done over the next 12 months to experiment and hopefully get a better combo.  I think I'm in the Lakeland 100 2017, just awaiting formal confirmation.  IronMan is in since he marshalled this year.

In the meantime, here's an old video I found on the hard drive - Pig in a Pokey at Nont Sarah's.  Total class, and (whilst not essential) the double toe hook is awesome!

Pig In A Pokey from GCW on Vimeo.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

UTLD 100 2016 - a sorry state

The pre-amble

After a successful completion last year I was keen for another go at this iconic race, hoping to better my time and learn from last year’s experience.  The family had booked a little cottage in Coniston, just up the road from the bridge, to use as a base.  My wife and the kids planned to help out at HQ on an ad hoc basis, and the Iron Man was up to drive the Broom Wagon picking up the broken – he had to be at Coniston for 8am to help out and collect his minibus.  The piles of kit and food were apparently very impressive.

IronMan ready to drive his minibus:

We arrived in the early afternoon and I got myself registered, weighed (4kg less than last year- really??) and dibber attached.  After last year’s completion I felt more relaxed about 2016, and therefore slept a bit better on the Thursday night (falling asleep was a big bugbear last time).  I’d also packed some caffeine pills just in case.  I had tightened up my timings in my plan, mainly to beat the new and tighter cut off times up to Blencathra, but also to aim for a time an hour quicker than last year if I could keep ahead of plan.

Marc at the briefing, having a basketball moment:

Terry receiving his medal and being complimented on his cup:

We had some lunch in one of the local pubs, I had baked potato and tuna mayo.  We then got booked into the cottage and then went to the briefing.  After this it was a case of getting into the pen and awaiting the end of Nessun Dorma, then getting going. 

The event

Leg 1 - Coniston to Seathwaite
Leg:  11.3km  659m ascent
Total:  11.3km  659m ascent
Planned time:  1:50
Leg time:   1:47:41
Planned total:  1:50
Total time:   1:47:41
0:03:19 ahead of schedule

I ran as far as the steepening in the track to the miners bridge.  I carried the poles until Walnar Scar Road, as the initial climb is quite tight and I didn’t want to whack anyone with them.  All went Ok on this leg and got to Seathwaite feeling good.  David Cowburn passed me a couple of minutes before the CP, although he’s a lot quicker than me so I was surprised he wasn’t miles in front.  Quick dib, drink and biscuits and off.  This year I took a small plastic bag to put a few biccies in to nibble between checkpoints, which worked well.

Leg 2 - Seathwaite to Boot
Leg:  11.1km  385m ascent
Total:  22.4km  1044m ascent
Planned time:  1:55
Leg time:   2:06:42
Planned total:  3:45
Total time:   3:54:23
0:09:23 behind schedule

The climb past Wallowbarrow went better than last year, and it felt cooler.  Grassguards was sopping wet though, and with water to mid shin in places wet feet were inevitable.  This is where it went wrong for me this year.  I’d worn my Inov8 GTX shoes, which were great last year for dry feet.  This year, once filled with water, they stayed filled.  It was tough going through the bogs to arrive at Boot, so a bit slower than planned.  Another quick stop and away.

Leg 3 - Boot to Wasdale Head
Leg:  8.6km  297m ascent
Total:  31.0km  1341m ascent
Planned time:  1:45
Leg time:   1:46:59
Planned total:  5:30
Total time:   5:41:22
0:11:22 behind schedule

Since there was minimal moonlight, the torch was on shortly after the CP.  The new compulsory mug was actually quite handy as I repeatedly took the brew with me on the first bit of each leg, which I think saved time.  Unsurprisingly this leg was very wet too, and the standing water around Burnmoor Tarn just added to the foot problems.  I was glad to arrive in Wasdale, as this feels like the start of the event in some ways.  The usual Stroller disco was in full force so I had some soup and sandwich, and took some coffee with me to head up Black Sail.

Leg 4 - Wasdale Head to Buttermere
Leg:  11.0km  712m ascent
Total:  42.0km  2053m ascent
Planned time:  3 hours
Leg time:   2:58:26
Planned total:  8:30
Total time:   8:39:48
0:09:48 behind schedule
Now the work begins.  This ascent felt OK this time, maybe the poles helped more than you may think.  Up and up to the gate, then down the tricksy path to the YHA.  The Scarth Gap climb started OK, but then I felt really sick and was heaving as I went along.  I hadn’t eaten since the CP, so I suspected it was a case of needing more on board.  I had a mouthful of water, which very nearly came back.  Using my mother’s old technique of deep breaths, I managed to keep the nausea under control whilst I nibbled on some biscuits.  By the time I got to Buttermere I felt OK.  I walked the lakeside path with a guy (Andy Cole, I think looking at times and John Kynaston’s photos.  He finishes in 37:29!) whose plan was to walk most of the course.  This is what I ended up doing from here on in.  Soup and a brew at Buttermere and off again.

Leg 5 - Buttermere to Braithwaite
Leg:  10.5km  573m ascent
Total:  52.5km  2626m ascent
Planned time:  2:30 hours
Leg time:   2:28:15
Planned total:  11:00
Total time:   11:08:03
0:08:03 behind schedule

This feels like the biggest single climb on the course, and it felt the same this time around.  There had been some land slides from the floods earlier in the year, but in general the ascent went well.  Andy caught me at the Sail Pass summit after having spent longer in the checkpoint, so we stomped down to the checkpoint together.  We went slightly differently at the final drop, but it all ends up in the same place.  Rice pudding for me, and Andy ate two bowls.  I was out and plodding pretty quickly – this was problem number two.
Last year I changed socks at Braithwaite.  This year, the tightened cut off time at Blencathra was preying on my mind for some reason.  Despite being well ahead of cut offs, I didn’t feel that I could take the time for foot care at this point.  My entire focus was getting past Blencathra – I was to pay for this mistake later.

Leg 6 - Braithwaite to Blencathra Centre
Leg:  13.7km  478m ascent
Total:  66.2km  3104m ascent
Planned time:  3:00 hours
Leg time:   2:40:36
Planned total:  14:00
Total time:   13:48:39
00:11:21 ahead of schedule

I was 26 minutes ahead of last year at the end of this leg, mainly as I wasn’t asleep for any of it this time.  The dull bit along the A66 was dull, but seemed to pass quite quickly.  Spoony Lane ascent went fine, and the whole thing was pretty good really. Apart from some pain under my left foot, but more of that later.
The obligatory big up for Little Dave’s Mum’s chocolate cake – I signed the card that was there for her as a thank you – and off I went again.

Leg 7 - Blencathra Centre to Dockray
Leg:  12.3km  417m ascent
Total:  78.5km  3521m ascent
Planned time:  2:30 hours
Leg time:   2:32:17
Planned total:  16:30
Total time:   16:20:56
00:09:04 ahead of schedule

I still don’t really like this leg, even with the amended course and new dib under the A66.  It’s just that coach road.  It’s very uneven, and this was where the feet started to really suffer.  Why I still didn’t change into my dry socks I really don’t know.  The ascent to the coach road was very wet this year, and once on the track itself I just got my head down and put one foot in front of the other.  Half way along I became pretty bloated and my guts were most unhappy.  I was glad to get to the checkpoint, as were my feet, and went straight to the portaloo for some relief.  Phew.  After that I was OK for some soup and sandwiches.

Leg 8 - Dockray to Dalemain
Leg:  16.3km  370m ascent
Total:  94.8km  3891m ascent
Planned time:  3 hours
Leg time:   3:24:59
Planned total:  19:30
Total time:   19:45:55
0:15:55 behind schedule!

Last year IronMan and I ran the downhill road section – this year I couldn’t due to the pain in my feet.  I was starting to find that going downhill was a struggle, but the ups were fine.  It hurt a lot going past Aira Force, but the Gowbarrow contour was OK. I got quite frustrated with the group in front of me who I felt were going too slowly for my plan and ended up going past them before the road crossing and field section.  They all caught me up on the rocky road on the Dalemain estate, where I slowed right down again due to the pain.  At Dalemain I sat on my towel with bare feet for half an hour – trench foot had set in and I hoped allowing them to dry would sort me out. The right foot seemed to do OK, but the left remained very macerated and painful.  A few blisters going around, but nothing major.  Knowing how boggy it had been, I opted to put my second pair of Inov8 GTXs on rather than my Hokas that I used last year.  I think this was the final mistake that broke the camel’s back.

Leg 9 - Dalemain to Howtown
Leg:  11.5km  294m ascent
Total:  106.3km  4185m ascent
Planned time:  2:30
Leg time:   2:42:16
Planned total:  22:00
Total time:   22:28:11
0:28:11 behind schedule!

I set off with brew in hand and went slowly initially (and slower later!).  The right sole felt a lot better after being dried and having new shoes and socks.  The left one had improved but was still very painful.  Passing through Pooley Bridge and up to the Cockpit went OK, and the long down section I ended up walking all of.  Interesting my leg time was still much the same as last year’s when we ran this section.  Down to Howtown for some sweets and biscuits – the team here seemed keen to get rid of their stocks and I ended up with a big bag full of sweets which I ended up finishing off two days later.

Leg 10 - Howtown to Mardale Head
Leg:  15.2km  765m ascent
Total:  121.5km  4950m ascent
Planned time:  4 hours
Leg time:   4:03:09
Planned total:  26:00
Total time:   26:31:20
31:20 behind schedule

Still a leg I don’t like.  Perversely, it had been lovely and cool and cloudy up to setting off and then the sun came out (damn you Fusedale!).  The plod up Fusedale was done in warmer temperatures, but I managed (going uphill still OK).  Heading over High Kop  was really boggy again and we passed a guy in distress (turned out to be Gareth Swain who had entered last year and stopped at Mardale Head – I’d spoken to him when we were marshalling the Delamere nightrunner).  His mate was dropping down to Haweswater to raise the alarm.
The descent wasn’t nice this time, but once on the side of Haweswater my feet slowed me down more.  I was left behind by the others in the group I had climbed Fusedale with, and I started getting more stomach cramps and bloating.  On and on the path goes – I think it’s only about 6km but it feels a lot longer.  I was on my own now but kept on moving, although the rocky path was agony.  A couple of km from the checkpoint my stomach cramps got a lot worse and I was forced to nip behind a bush.  Feeling better, I then managed to make it to Mardale Head with little issue.  This is usually the point where mentally I know I’ve got it nailed, but this time was very different.  I was really happy to get here but also well aware of the last 30 miles I still had to cover, although the remaining thirteen and a half hours should be enough…

Leg 11 - Mardale Head to Kentmere
Leg:  10.4km  511m ascent
Total:  131.9km  5461m ascent
Planned time:  3 hours
Leg time:   3:29:56
Planned total:  29:00
Total time:   30:01:16
1:01:16 behind schedule

The wheels felt like they were starting to come off, and looking at timings (see later) they certainly were.  Gatescarth Pass climb was alright (climbs still went well) but the nasty drop down the other side certainly did not.  Everything I stood on caused pain, and I was going ever more slowly.  I was being overtaken left right and centre now and people were asking if I was OK.  Not a good state of affairs.  I hobbled onwards and was so pleased to hit the tarmac just before the bridge in Sadgill.  The next up section went OK (No hallucinations this year), and then the long drop to the road felt rotten and seemed to last forever.  My brain was going round thinking about timings and what I had left to do, and I was coming to the conclusion that I couldn’t cope with another ten hours of this pain.  I was going to stop at Kentmere and have done – I didn’t feel this was giving up as I simply couldn’t do much more than hobble forward now.

Leg 12 - Kentmere to Ambleside
Leg:  11.8km  491m ascent
Total:  143.7km  5952m ascent
Planned time:  3 hours
Leg time:   3:29:56
Planned total:  32:00
Total time:   33:58:21
1:58:21 behind schedule

Whilst the last leg had only taken a few minutes longer than last year, it felt infinitely longer and had been pretty grim and I was now suffering a lot.  I managed to drag myself up the steps into the checkpoint, and there was the IronMan to greet me.  For some reason I hadn’t expected to see him at all during the event, so it was a nice surprise for him to be there.  I’m sure I didn’t look great at this point, and I recall moaning about my feet.  However, since he was there I couldn’t drop out now even though the cut off for Ambleside was under four hours away.  Eventually I ate some pasta, and stubbornly walked out the door as the IronMan drove his bus with a couple of runner in it in the other direction.  I knew I was to be in for some fun.  I got pretty cold at this point and ended up putting on both my thermal layer and my Minimus jacket.
Once more, the uphill was not too bad and I rapidly overtook a lady called Lizzie (who would pretty soon leave me behind on the other side).  I felt good on the uphill, as long as I was extremely careful where I put my feet.  Once at the top, I again found that I was struggling.  The rough track and the descent were a real trial, and Lizzie passed me easily (to finish in 39:56).  It seemed a long way down to Troutbeck, but the climb around Robin Lane was not too bad (uphill again) until the drop down to the left.  Slow again here, and then came the woods.  What can I say?  This was horrible, the tree roots and rocks were misery on every step and I wished it was over.  Once on the tarmac I had hoped to speed up but it wan’t to be, and the cut off time was fast approaching.  I was going to be timed out before hitting Ambleside.
Through the back roads I went, and for some reason struggled a bit finding the archway you pass through off the main road.  A marshal in the street egged me into a “run”, pushing me to make it in time.  I did, by a matter of under two minutes, and passed straight through (despite me telling him I was done, he seemed to compel me onwards) into the park.  A couple of guys left with me, asking if I thought I could do the next leg in the allotted two hours – I said I doubted it.

Leg 13 - Ambleside to Chapel Stile
Leg:  9.0km  234m ascent
Total:  152.7km  6186m ascent
Planned time:  2:30 hours
Planned total:  35:00

Once more, I managed fine on the ascent and kept up with the two guys without difficulty.  Once on the rocky open fell road, I hit the descent which leads down to Skelwith Bridge and was really in a mess.  I started the drop down but after a few hundred yards I’d used up 40 minutes and got nowhere fast.  I was hugely indecisive, turning back and then going on, but eventually admitted to myself that I was in no shape to make the next CP.  I turned round and went back to Ambleside – the 40 minute uphill took me 1:20 on the way down.
At Ambleside, the checkpoint was closed, packed up and locked.  I had to phone Chris to let him know, as I was still active on the system and they wouldn’t have known where I was.  A minibus was duly dispatched. I texted my wife to let her know, and when she got the text she thought it was the update to say I was at Chapel Stile.  ‘Fraid not.  A bit of a text mix up meant that she came to pick me up, but the minibus got to me first.  Back at base I was logged as stopped, picked up my drop bag and wandered back towards the cottage.  My wife picked me up on the way, and took me back.  Taking my shoes off revealed blood blisters over the toes, and nasty maceration under the left foot.  A bath and then a few hours sleep revived me, and frustratingly I felt generally far better than last time.  My left foot and ankle are like a sausage though, really swollen and painful.


William Naismith described a calculation for walking speed way back in 1892, essentially stating 1 hour for every 5km plus an hour for every 600m ascent (although he described it in imperial).  If we apply this to the stages of the Lakeland 100, we can see where the wheels (feet?) came off this year.  Basically I’ve divided the distance by 5, the ascent by 600 and added them together.  Comparing this to the time I took on each stage gives a ratio of actual vs expected speed.

I’m a bit surprised that the Leg to Mardale Head hasn’t a higher figure too, as I hate that bit and it felt like a long slog along the side of Haweswater.  Dalemain to Howtown is slightly skewed as I spent half an hour at Dalemain checkpoint.

Part of me is pretty gutted that I didn’t finish, clearly not the result I wanted.  However, up until my feet became unmanageable I was on for a reasonably comfortable finish and physically I was pretty good.

So what now?

Next year.  I don’t want to end this tale on a low, so I think I’ll have to have another try next year.  I have, however, learned more and can think about how to apply these.

  1.  It is possible to complete the event in time whilst walking the whole thing.  Whether this is desirable or not I don’t know, but my times weren’t too shabby until it all went wrong.
  2. GoreTex shoes were good last time, but certainly don’t convey advantage once water is in them.
  3.  I should have stopped to change socks before getting in as much of a mess.
  4.  Whilst I failed this time, I have one completion and one 90 mile retirement under my belt.  This is a reasonable record to take forward to next year.
Bottom line?  I need to sort out a method to avoid foot issues and blisters.  This is always my problem, and I’ve never retired due to anything else.  As far back as I can remember I've always suffered from blisters, whether doing running, fell walking, Scottish winter, Alpine or whatever.  I have 12 months to find a solution……

See you all on the trails, and at the Lakeland 100 2017.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Four weeks and counting

Well, a lot has happened since the last blog. Brexit, the collapse of labour's shadow cabinet, our PM's resignation and the subsequent battle for his job. All very worrying. From the Lanky point of view, I've tried to get some miles in as well as some ascent. Iron Man and I have had some trips up Pendle Hill and the Lakes, basically trying to find the hilliest bits we can. We also did the Pennine 39 which was an excellent low key event, taking in some great scenery in an area I have been remiss in not visiting. No more events planned until the big day. I'm going to try to get out for another longish run with hills, but then ease off again to avoid any risk of injury. For the same reason I've not been on the Board at all. I did, however, invest in a pair of Montane Minimus trousers and a jacket. These pack to less than half the size of my old waterproofs, and weight a lot less too. That leaves more room in the pack for pork pies.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Seven weeks to go

The last few months seem to have flown by, and we are nearly halfway through 2016. That's a bit scary.

Other than a few snatched board sessions, I've not climbed much at all. I've tried to get out running a bit, and done a couple of enjoyable events.

7/5/16 I did the Malhamdale Trail Challenge, which was a nice low key event. 22 miles and some nice hills, on a really hot day. No medal for this, just pie and peas at the end. I went a bit slower with the heat, but came in under 5 hours which I was happy with. I complained about how hot it was, but was soon to realise it wasn't too bad!

15/5/16 The Iron Man and I did the Howgills Trail event, me doing the 26 and him the 13. It was even hotter than last weekend, so my time was slower than last year. Disappointing, but it's all miles in the legs so no real problem.

A few weeks back, LAA and I had a wander up near Wycoller. We went over Lad Law, and I noted the Abbott Stone up top which has a hard looking wall- crap edge right hand, thin mono dish left and a pop to a side pull sloper thing. There were quite a few other blocks up there but nothing of consequence. In the valley heading back to the village is a hippo block which may yield a decent sloping roof problem, and further on another outcrop opposite Fosters Leap, which looks like it has some easy stuff on it. I may go back if I ever get on rock regularly.

29/5/16 The Iron Man and I did the Pooley Bridge to Ambleside recce. This was the hottest day of the three, really nasty and no wind. I went through 5 litres of fluid and still it wasn't enough. 33km in and the Iron Man had to call it a day at Kentmere, partly due to heat and partly knees. I plodded on to Ambleside, but the 29 miles took a lot longer than last time. Considering the timings on the 100 are tighter this year, I'll need to think about where to push it.

Last weekend we had a run in the Lakes, ticking 5 Wainwrights - Steel Fell, Beda Fell, Angletarn Pikes, Brock Crags and Place Fell. Good day out with some good hills. The weekend after next we are doing the Nav4 Pennine 39, which will be my 23rd marathon/ ultra distance. Considering I said in 2012 I'd do one marathon, that seems ridiculous.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

April update. Fast walking with a small amount of rock sprinkles

I've not blogged for a while, mostly because I've not done anything worth mention, so it's all saved up into this one post.  Again, a lot of what I've been up to is based around the Lakeland 100 training (or lack thereof) so here's a bit of a round up.

After how much I enjoyed marshalling at Delamere NightRunner, I also marshalled at the Rivington NightRunner 16/1/16 and at Parbold Duathlon 13/3/16.  The former was on a very cold and snowy night, and getting my car all the way along George's Lane to Belmont Road was hard going.  It was even worse coming back down and I had to get a tow from a passing 4x4 enthusiast.  Great experience though, and I bet it was a great one to run with all the snow.  Parbold was a good one to do too, a tough duathlon and nice to be able to hand medals to the SHARKS who took part.

20th March saw a visit from the BeardyBeast.  After pastries and coffee at Chez Lank, we opted to look at Knowle Heights (yeah, not sure why after all) and dropped R-man and Pasty Lord a text.  R-man agreed to meet us there, but Rick was apparently doing some DIY (crap excuse methinks).  Anyway, I was crap and did very little.  Beardy Beast got the FA of a 7a wall, which R-man repeated, and R-man got the FA of a new 7a+.  Classic esoterica of the highest degree, but a fun day out and good to catch up.

R-man repeating "The erotic fiction of Robyn Moolah" 7a

R-man, FA of "Darkthrone" 7a+

Nik on "Hash Lee" 7a+

 Other than a few other plays in the Board Room, climbing has taken second fiddle to running.  14/3/16 I ran the Rivington Trail 26 route as part of training, finding it hard and being slower than the last two times I've done it.

This, and previous experience, prompted me to buy some poles as an experiment.  The first test of those was a 19km stomp with the Iron Man.  Hills certainly felt better, and he thought I was quicker (well, that's a relative term).

The next pole test was the Lakeland 100 recce two days ago.  I didn't do the Coniston to Buttermere recce this year as I had taken some time off running, so this was the first I've done this time.  This was the 33 mile section between Buttermere and Dalemain, containing some of my least favourite sections including parts I slept through during the 2015 event.

Mentally, I split the Lakeland 100 into four sections.
  • Coniston to Buttermere  42.0km 2053m ascent
  • Buttermere to Dalemain  52.8km  1838m ascent
  • Dalemain to Ambleside  48.9km  2061m ascent
  • Ambleside to Coniston  25.3km  904m ascent
Clearly, getting to Dalemain means you've completed more than half the distance (94.8km out of 169km) and the ascent (3891m out of 6856m) which is a big psychological boost.  My aim has always been to hit Dalemain before the 20 hour mark.

The recce at the weekend can be broken down into four legs, as per the road book:
  • Buttermere to Braithwaite  10.5km  573m ascent
  • Braithwaite to Blencathra  13.7km  478m ascent
  • Blencathra to Dockray  12.3km  417m ascent
  • Dockray to Dalemain  16.3km  370m ascent
I used the poles for most of the time, except I put them on the bad between Sail pass and the Spooney Green Lane ascent.  Up and over Sail Pass felt fine, the bit along the A66 was as boring as ever.  I got to Blencathra in under two hours, feeling good.  After this I started to suffer from the heat, a perennial problem for me and not helped as there was no water at Braithwaite and I only drank 750ml and ate nothing before Blencathra.

The altered section of the route and the climb to the Old Coach Road got me feeling worse and worse.  I was knackered, hot, sweat pouring and demoralised.  I was very glad to get to Dockray where I ate a couple of my sandwiches and had a lot of water.  Looking back at the Strava times I still did well, so maybe the poles do help!

Jogging down the road to Dockray village whilst eating was OK, and I started to feel a bit better (well, less bad) through Aira Force.  The trek around Gowbarrow felt reasonable too.  I got to Dalemain after 8hrs37mins - when Iron Man and I did the informal recce last year we got to Dacre in 8:34, without the last 2km to Dalemain, so despite feeling like crap my times were OK.

I'm aiming to get a marathon plus distance done each month from now, and practice with the poles.  My shoulders are aching after Sunday, so the muscles have clearly been used.  Let's see how things go...

Thursday, 31 December 2015

2015 round up

It has been a funny year in some ways.

Sport wise the first half of the year was all about running, with a small amount of time on rock mixed in.  The few times I got out were mostly good days, apart from popping a hamstring at Roundbarn.  WiltonFest was an entertaining day out in September, and a chance to catch up with Ginnster and Probes and finally meet Mike Adams.
I had never been around the Guild Wheel, which felt a little remiss of me.  I ran it clockwise on a very wet and windy day, got cold in the last few miles and then had a week feeling rough.  Never mind, I'll probably have another jog around it in decent weather since it's mostly a nice route through some interesting scenery.

As part of my UTLD preparation I had aimed to run a marathon distance each month.  February was the Grizedale Trail 26, which I had done in 2014 with the Iron Man.  He was busy for the 2015 event so I went myself.  I was slower than last time but I wasn't too worried about that.

Solar Eclipse month!  The day itself I had a trip up to Higher Chelburn with the new Lancashire Bouldering guidebook.  I did quite a lot of the easier stuff and had a really good day.
I also had  visit to Stronstrey, for old times sake, although everything felt very hard and it was a very hot day.  Been a while since my last visit here.
As I mentioned above, I also went to Roundbarn for the first time and did a few things.  Damp streaks and pulling a hamstring weren't highlights.  I had a couple of months of painful physio after this visit, desperate to get sorted for July's big event.

First real test for the hamstring - Howgills Trail 26 with the Iron Man.  This is a great event, with most of the climbing in one big lump within the first five miles.  Again, slower than last time but all miles in the legs.
I had also entered the LDWA Red Rose 100 miler this month.  I was going well up to 68km (Downham), but psychology wasn't right and I called it a day.  Disappointing, but again it was good to get more distance in.

Since I'd missed the Buttermere to Dalemain recce due to my hamstring issues, the Iron Man and I decided to recce this ourselves.  We rented a cottage in Thornthwaite as a family, and the Iron Man popped up for a day.  We had a good 53km recce, making an excellent time, and a good weekend in general.  Great weather, and a lot different from what was in store for the Lake District in November/ December. 
The other event in June was the Three Rings of Shap.  Iron Man and I set off on this one, but he had some knee issues so we did the first two rings (68km) then stopped - no point in getting injured the month before the Lakeland 100.

This was the one.  The UTLD Lakeland 100 completed.  Amazing.  This was a huge undertaking that neither the Iron Man nor I were vaguely sure we could achieve.  Goes to show what's possible.  And then in a euphoric state I entered again for 2016.  Iron Man was more sensible.  I think I'll have a look at poles for next time.

Two week in France on the Vendee was a great family holiday, although the hire car was shocking.  Lots of sea food on the barbecue and really nice to get away and chill.  We flew each way this time, which was probably quite fortuitous considering potential issues at Calais due to the migrant situation.

I'd not been doing very much running at all after the Lakeland 100, but I opted to marshal the Delamere night runner event which was really good fun, and nice to give something back.  I'll be helping out at the Rivington night runner in January, so may see some of you there.
Cooked a goose as well, which was excellent and therefore provided fat for the roasties at Christmas - this may become a new tradition.

Another great family Christmas, albeit fewer numbers this year.  Food was fantastic, the presents were great and we all had a brilliant day.  And all the leftovers have now gone, and we got a great selection of meals out of them.

Less good things from 2015
Quite a lot has happened this year.  The Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris was a shocking start to 2015.  November brought more Paris attacks, another reminder of terrorism close to home in a city I have visited a number of times.

Over the past two months the weather has been the other big issue.  Floods in the Lake District were shocking to see.  The family were on the annual CentreParcs trip (Penrith) where the weather was terrible and we sat watching breaking news of widespread flooding.  This must have been a terrible time for the locals, and some familiar features suffered.  The collapse of the Pooley Bridge bridge was particularly poignant as we ran over it doing the Lakeland 100 only four months before.

On a personal note, it has now been over a year since we have had contact with my daughters.  After four years of difficult times with me ex, matters came to a head at the end of 2014 when her ongoing attempts to threaten or blackmail us meant it was no longer safe to see the kids.  An incredibly hard decision to make, but there wasn't really an alternative at that point.  We have had no communication from them since, which is no doubt what was planned.  Interestingly, as soon as contact was stopped I got a letter from child maintenance service wanting more money due to reduced contact - very interesting timing.  Since then I have learned that CMS are entirely on the side of the claiming parent, who seems to be able to do anything whilst the paying parent has to do everything within a week or CMS come after them.  I can now see why people dress up as Batman, as there is no other choice.  It's just a shame some people have no self respect and behave despicably whilst still wanting more money.

The last couple of weeks showed us more rain, and more flooding this time in places like Yorkshire and our nearby village of Croston.  Croston has flooded before and this time was worse than ever.  We've lent our dehumidifier to the Sports Hall for people to use, but the place has taken a battering.

Anyway, enough of negativity, let's end the year positively.  I'm up to 53 out of 100 books read for the BBC list, slowly getting there. A Prayer for Owen Meany was a highlight, excellent book.  On my way through David Copperfield at the moment.  Some interesting looking books to go.

So, our smaller family unit is doing very well and we are all happy and looking forward to another year.  We are very lucky with what we have.

So, 2016 aims?  Obviously the Lakeland 100 is the main sporty thing this year, but I want to get back out on rock after a bit of a washout year.  Other than that, maybe drop a bit of weight and do more core strengthening.  Apart from that, more family time, a good holiday and generally more of the same good time.

All the best to everyone for 2016.  Happy New Year, and maybe see you out and about.