Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Saturday 13 April 2013 - A Run, A Walk, and a Camp

We've had a busy day.
Lancaster parkrun in the sun. Undulating and slow, but good fun.

Coffee and shortbread with Marian in Patterdale. 

Then Sue's first backpacking trip for nearly three years, and my first such outing since May 2017!

We set off at noon on a cool, breezy, sunny day. Crookabeck, Beckstones, Bridgend, then a steady pull up Hartsop above How. Lunch on the ridge. Stale oatcakes. Recycle them.

On upwards above Deepdale. Quite a few folk coming down. We plod on to Hart Crag. Good views to Windermere and Coniston Water. Easily on to the cairn strewn summit of Fairfield. West down steep gravel past wheatears towards Grisedale Hause, turning left to reach a spring and flat ground at Hause Moss.

Set up camp here at NY 350 115. An excellent spot. Tent up and brew on by soon after 5 PM.

Plenty of room in the Hilleberg Nallo. Now 15 years old but seems to be ok. We'll find out if it gets windy!

Friday, 12 April 2019

Thursday 11 April 2019 – Egg Hunting at Dunham Massey


The two Js and their mum popped down from Bacup to Dunham Massey to hunt down some eggs. The only evidence of that activity within this posting is the title on the pieces of paper they are holding above in their attempt to play hide and seek with granddad.

I’d walked from Altrincham, across the golf course, to meet them in the park, where the deer were munching happily and the House was gleaming in the warm sunshine.


Some of the early season colour has now evaporated from the Winter Garden.


Little monkeys. Still trying to hide… ?

 
There are a few flowers adding colour to the garden.
 



There has been some recent clearance.


Here’s the C18 wrought iron gate.


And here’s one of the three boars’ heads.


After the excitement of the egg hunt (the eggs were found in a large box labelled ‘Cadbury’), we wandered happily around the garden, and then around the wider grounds. The children must have walked about 4 km, including a number of tree trunks, and had plenty of energy left to play frisbee in Newton Park when we got home.



Well done Kate for spending a happy afternoon with J and J and me (and Sue later), when, after finishing work at 12.30 after a busy term, she could have just gone home and crashed out.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Monday 8 April 2019 – A Moore Lane Bike Ride


On a lovely sunny Monday morning, Paul and Jeanette met me at Seamons Moss Bridge for a ride to Moore and back. The rapeseed in the fields near Stockton Heath has recently turned a brilliant yellow. Spring colours abound, with bluebells now a common sight in the canal’s hedgerows.

We took the TPT to Lymm, then the towpath for a short distance, before minor roads past Appleton Reservoir, where the fishermen weren’t in evidence in their usual large numbers today.


We got back onto the towpath at Acton Grange Bridge, where Paul and Jeanette posed dutifully in their striking outfits, after we had taken some arguably unnecessary refreshments.


A little further on we left the towpath at Moore, outside the shop/Post Office that (note for Richard and Alastair) sells hot pies if you call them with an order.

Maybe I need to review my stylish cycling gear?!



Soon we had crossed the Ship Canal, passed the nature reserve, and re-joined the TPT. LD24 café at Stockton Heath provided more sustenance, rendering our earlier stop pointless.


Was it Paul who designed the onion on Jeanette’s coffee?


At this point, everything fell apart.

Well, Paul’s bike had a flat tyre when we emerged from the café. His is a newish bike with tubeless tyres, and this was his first puncture. How do you mend a tubeless tyre? Anyway, it was decided that Jeanette should rush home to bring the ‘blood wagon’ to collect Paul, so she shot off.

Meanwhile I pootled on along the TPT to join the old railway line at Thelwall. A lovely green avenue.


A call with Paul indicated that he was making progress with his recalcitrant tyre, with various strangers pausing to try to help him. I think he eventually managed to fix a temporary replacement tube and cycle slowly home.

Meanwhile, on the lovely sunny day, I decided to leave the TPT in Lymm and cycle home along the towpath, which is remarkably firm for the time of year. No mud! Here it is near Agden.


Dunham Woodhouses soon came and went, and I was home by lunch time,


Here’s today’s 50 km route. There are lots of alternative options. Allow 3-4 hours. As usual, click on the image for a better version.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Sunday 7 April 2019 – The Manchester Marathon


Here I am, being greeted by my masseuse and her daughters just beyond the finishing line. Can you tell that it was a successful outing!

The day began earlier than necessary on a chilly (8C) overcast Manchester morning. Fuelled with a chocolate croissant, and carrying a banana and some chocolate for a pre run snack, I caught a tram from Timperley to Old Trafford soon after 8 am. Lots of friendly fellow travellers with a common purpose. I should have set off 30-45 minutes later, as I finished up spending the best part of an hour at the start, dressed in a bin liner.

First, a visit to the athletes’ village to find a loo and say hello to some of the Wythenshawe parkrun helpers. They have a really long and busy day – possibly harder than actually running! Then it’s a stroll down Warwick Road to Chester Road and onwards to the starting area.


It might be fine dressing up for a 5 km run, as I do at Christmas time, but for a full marathon?…these people really must be crazy.


With about 14,000 entries and separate relay and wheelchair races, the start has to be carefully orchestrated. The wheelchairs go first, and the relay runners go last. The mass of 14,000 is split into eight groups that are corralled in separate holding areas, with different coloured numbers for each area. Most people stick to their allocated area, which is based on their rime estimate given to the organisers. I was in the seventh area (G), with the light blue numbers. This suited me fine as I was near the 4.45 pacer. Starting at the back of my group, I was just ahead of the last group of starters – you can see them below with the ‘H’ flag strapped to the back of the 5 hour pacer. My target was to stay ahead of him.


We were entertained by the starting team, and a fairly lengthy interview with Vassos Alexander (formerly of Chris Evans’ Radio 2 breakfast show) who was hoping for a time of under three hours.

9 am finally came around, and the first runners, way out of our sight, set off. The departures continued, each wave leaving five minutes after the previous one. This keeps people well spaced, together with runners of similar ability, and the official timings are based on ‘chip’ times, the chip being a piece of electronics (a chip!) embedded in each runner’s number, that is activated at the start and gives times at certain recording points along the route.

After a while, we slowly eased forward, and I was at the back of a large group that set of at 9.30. Even then it took me a couple of minutes to cross the start line. I don’t know about childbirth, but in the picture below, we have started to move forward, but the start line is still out of sight.


I was aiming for 6 minute 20 seconds (6.20) to 6.30 kilometres, but without Sue Strickland to keep me to that as she did last year, I was running closer to 6 minutes. A loo stop during kilometre 8 took an extra minute, so my time of one hour and two minutes for the first 10 km wasn’t too embarrassingly fast. I passed the 4.45 pacer and didn’t expect to see another one – I would be delighted if 4.45 stayed behind me.

Colin saw me in Stretford – a photo may follow, and it was good to be cheered on by Selwa, Amro and Zakariah at the end of their road in Sale Moor. There were lots of people in the streets supporting the runners. Lots of water stations, mostly ignored by me, but I did try a ‘gel’ that was on offer along Brooklands Road. Yeuch.

Sue was positioned on Stockport Road near the centre of Timperley, and after taking the next picture she presented me with a bottle of coke and a very tasty banana. This was at the 16 km (10 mile) point, so was most welcome. I’d been going for well over an hour and a half and was only just over a third of the way.


As Altrincham is approached, there’s a section where runners entering and leaving Altrincham meet on opposite sides of the same road. This can be both distressing and heartening. Cheering from the Barber family in the middle of Altrincham was definitely heartening.

Soon after leaving Altrincham, another pacer appeared in the distance ahead of me. It turned out to be the 4.30 pacer, who would have set off about five minutes before me in the wave that started at 9.25. Whilst I felt I must be going too fast, I settled for a slightly slower pace in quite a large, chatty, group behind this pacer.

Sue had positioned herself on the railway bridge on Park Road, and I’m seen here approaching my second and last ‘banana and coke’ support point. Plus vaseline for a couple of sore bits.


Then off I went for the last ten miles or so. I’m seen below some way behind the 4.30 pacer, who is just to the left of the green traffic light. (Click to enlarge the image.) This is familiar ground. We live about 200 metres away, down some steps at a gap in the railings behind green jacketed Sharon from number 26. I’m sure we aren’t the only people to discover friendly neighbours by supporting the marathon from outside our homes. Sue got blisters from ringing our ‘dinner’ bell. My feet stayed mercifully blister free though at this stage my dodgy right knee, and a sore left calf, were both concerning me.


Sue took a few more photos, whilst I trotted on after Mr 4.30. You have to admire James, in this rather warm costume, on Timperley Bridge.


Having caught up with the 4.30 pacer, I decided to try to stay with him up to beyond the 30 km point. That actually involved dropping my pace a little, so after being my quickest 10 km split last year, this year the 20 to 30 km section was my slowest 10 km split (albeit in the same time as last year).

After 32 km I was feeling ok, despite being in the rather less populated zone along Carrington Lane and Flixton Road. I decided to pretend that I was just starting a ‘10 km in an hour’ run. The next three km were my fastest of the day; they seemed even faster, as I was overtaking lots of other runners – I probably overtook about 3,000 during the course of the marathon. By the time I entered Urmston, and lots more encouraging support, my legs were telling me that perhaps my brain had been wrong to cast away memories of the first 30 km, but it wasn’t until the last 4 km that my pace dropped significantly, and rather annoyingly, just near the end, the 4.30 pacer jogged past and I couldn’t maintain his pace.

Never mind, I finished just behind him, in less than 5 hours after the 9 am starters. Can you spot me at the finish, just inside 5 hours?


I was then accosted by Michelle the masseuse and her daughters, one of whom took the title picture for this posting. Sue had recommended (and booked me in with) Michelle, after she had helped bring Sue’s Achilles problem under control, and a 45 minute leg massage on the Friday before, and the Monday after the marathon certainly did me no harm!

With lots of people finishing all the time, the Wythenshawe parkrunners team had their work cut out to keep people moving through certain pinch points at the finish and in the athletes’ village, so it was just a brief “hello” to Andy and others after collecting my t-shirt and making my way to the tram stop.

By 2.30 or so I was at home in our garden with Sue, celebrating a most successful outing.


Shown below is a screen dump of my results. (As usual, click on the image for a better picture.)

My position of 9367 is taken from the 9 am start, so my ‘chip position’ would be much higher, perhaps around 8000, not that it matters. The ‘Good For Age’ time that gives one a better chance of getting into the London Marathon is 5 hours for those of us aged over 70. That was my target, and I’m delighted to have met it. (I could even have popped home for a cuppa when passing our house, and still met that target!)


There’s something wrong with the position data in the above information, as I would have gained many places after the 30 km point, not lost them, as it appears. I’ve noticed the same with other athletes, so I guess the position data should be taken with a pinch of salt.

I’ve summarised my Garmin and my ‘chip’ data for all my marathons below. This time I seem to have finished slowly (it certainly felt like it), but my Garmin measured 2.7 km rather than the 2.4 km on previous runs, probably compensated for elsewhere as I noticed the Garmin was telling me I had gone slightly further than the markers on the course indicated.


For anyone interested, here’s this year’s route. The upper ‘runner’ waypoint is the start, the lower one is the finish on Talbot Road. There’s lots more on the Marathon website. Next year the route will be changed to include part of the city centre.


Having gained a qualifying time under the current London Marathon rules, I hope to be there next April, again raising funds for the Levana School Partnership.

My fundraising this year is going well, with my current target of £1,500 having almost been reached as I write, but with quite a few ‘regular’ donors still absent from the ‘attendance list’. Here’s the link!

The reports on my previous marathons are shown (for my benefit) below:
Toulouse 2016
Birmingham 2017
Manchester 2018
And all my ‘Marathon’ labelled postings are here.

Phew! And thanks again to all who have supported me.

Monday, 8 April 2019

Saturday 6 April 2019 – Greg’s 400th parkrun (at Hyde)


A few Wythenshawe parkrunners went ‘on tour’ to Hyde, where Paul and Jeanette’s son Greg was due to celebrate his 400th parkrun. Greg lives nearby, so was last to arrive, hence his absence from the first group photo. As usual, click on the images for better resolution and a slideshow.


The focus of this small park, aptly named ‘Hyde Park, is a bandstand, where runners congregate before their run.


Greg eventually deigned to turn up, and more group photos were taken by Owen’s mum Jenny.

From L-R: Martin, Owen, Jeanette, Greg, Paul, Sheila, Sue, Andrew
 

With only 130 or so runners, and a very loud voice, the Run Director managed fine without a megaphone.

 
Duly briefed, we embarked on three laps of this pretty park. Greg shot off for a top ten finish, Sue and Andrew jogged round in 30 minutes, Jeanette tried a bit of speed walking/jogging, for which she suffered later, and Paul, Sheila and I kept Owen company for a leisurely 40 minutes.


The route passes through lovely woodland that is just starting to come into leaf.


There are a couple of small hills. ‘Team Owen’ conquered them all. Three times.


Afterwards, Greg posed behind a picture frame, and we all went to the park’s café for a leisurely natter. 90p for a large coffee. Excellent!


Full results are here.