It’s stupid, ridiculous and makes no sense. Why do I get so nervous and anxious the night before a race? I’m never going to win or even finish top 50 so why work myself into a state where I won’t sleep and just think about the race. It doesn’t make any sense but then running over hills and moors getting wet and cold doesn’t either. Unless that is your escape valve from reality for an hour or more. Then it’s all worthwhile and it does make sense, well to those of us mad enough to do it. And my little cat is going mad attacking anything and everything!!

sunlight on rain
reflects hundreds
of years of sweat
and toil of cloth
traders travelling
mile after mile
to make a pittance,
market traders waiting
all day for someone
to buy something,
anything, so they can
pay the rent. people
coming to lunch to
escape the office
for an hour returning
in the evening for
a G & T and a concert.
images merge in rain,
reflected back to the
sky a jigsaw of life

this water tastes better
that one doesn’t have the
floral notes and toffee nose
that this one has. I didn’t
have the heart to tell him
it was all the same water
from the same tap I had
poured into old water bottles
I had got out of the bin.
neither the water or he
were pure and smart

water knows

Posted: February 20, 2020 in poetry, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

Water knows what you’re thinking
Seeping through your mind, flowing
Over every thought, taking it and
Twisting it round and round through
Its fingers, throwing it over waterfalls
Mixing them together in a tsunami
Of images before they come crashing
Down, splintering inside your brain,
Converging as rivers and streams of
Lava flowing down the creases of
Your mind, coming out of your mouth
In one final act of defiance against
The dam that is your mouth and
Flow into an unsuspecting world
To be judged by each and everyone

I’ve a race coming up on Sunday, the tour of Midgely Moor and being sensible I decided to do a recce of the route. While I’ve got a decent knowledge of the area this doesn’t necessarily mean you will know the race route and plenty of people have come unstuck because they assume they will know the race route and on the day find out they don’t. I asked a friend to come along, we’ll call him Derek for reasons that will become apparent. Derek has run around this area for over 30 years and is a good navigator so I was confident that we find the route and get round with few problems. However the best laid plans of mice and men proved to be the motto of the day.

We got to Booth just above Luddenden, parked up and ran a short distance to where the race started. Over a stile and we were climbing up a muddy field straight away. This is the terrain I like, steep, grassy and muddy. We walked up as 90% of fellrunners do, only the 10% or so who are have super human ability and fitness levels run up these hills. Us mere mortals walk them like any sensible person would! At the top of one hill there is another, as is usual in West Yorkshire, and after this one we’re at the edge of the moor and begin the climb up to Crow Hill and the first checkpoint. Navigating this part wasn’t a problem as Crow Hill stands above everything else at this point so it was easy to find it and walk to the top. We got to the top and Derek get his trusty compass out, took a bearing and off we set on a path that would take us over to Sheepstones. Except we went sort of wrong.

With Derek taking his compass bearings we passed the usual path up to Sheepstones and carried on past Churn Milk Joan until we got to a path that sort of looked like the one we needed. We took this path up to Sheepstones across moorland and arrived at the trig point for Sheepstones. Here we took the first path we saw and headed down. This was also a navigational error as we approached Hebden Bridge Golf club and the Calderdale Way that goes across the top of it.
We ran along the Calderdale Way until Old Town was in view and then we took a sharp right across the moor again following Derek’s trusty compass bearing. At the middle of the moor several paths cross each other. After taking one that headed back up to Sheepstones we turned round and headed back down and rejoined the path we were on originally and headed over to the over side of the moor. Yes it was as confusing as that!

We followed the route on the map across what is familiar terrain eventually getting back to the stile we climbed over to get onto the path to Crow Hill and going back down the hill to the finish. It was hard work and we made a few mistakes but we had a better idea of the route and I was now fairly confident that I would find my way round we few problems on Sunday.

That was until I uploaded my map to Instagram. A friend asked me if I’d dropped down into Luddenden Valley. Erm no I replied. Ahh you should do came the reply and the offer to show me the route on Saturday or risk following the pack round and hoping for the best. I took up the offer of the recce because I have been at the back of races many times and have found myself on my own with no-one around quite often. Another consideration is that the person in front may have as little idea as you as to where they’re going and you may both end up lost. This has happened more often than you might think and I know from races I’ve done where I’ve known the route and people have gone off all over the place. Following and hoping isn’t a good idea!

Yes it turns out that we had made a complete hash of our recce. Derek and his trusty compass weren’t as reliable as they usually are and we had done a tour of Midgely Moor but not the tour we set out to do! To be fair this is a fell race designed to test your ability to navigate and doing a recce of the route is essential. The map deliberately misses off many of the usual points of interest and it is up to you to find them. There are so many paths crossing Midgely moor it is easy to get on the wrong one and end up miles from where you want to be.

I’ll be doing the race twice in 2 days, but it will be worth it as I’ll know where I’m going. I’m not going to win anything so someone showing me round the day before won’t out anyone at a disadvantage and might prove helpful if I see someone lost during the race. And this is why I love running and fellrunning in particular as it is easier to get lost up on the moors and find yourself in unfamiliar terrain and not knowing where to go. You make mistakes, lots of them and learn from them and you don’t give in. People help you to get back on track and in turn you pass on your knowledge to others. Life for me mirrors running in so many ways and this is one of them.

this water tastes of
barren, bleak moorland
of sheep sheltering from
hail, rain, snow and sleet,
of the footsteps of the
Brontes their words pouring
down cloughs into rivers
and streams creating
puddles of books that
glisten in the rain.
this water tastes of
farmers wellingtons
smelling of cows
of hikers boots
telling tales of
hill and dale
the flimsy shoes of
fellrunners feet wet
through from the marshes.
this water tastes of
sweat, pain and tears
from those who have
traversed these moors
long ago selling cloth
to traders and merchants.
this water tastes of life,
the lives of everyone
and everything that has
crossed over the paths
and heather that cover
this moors. this water
is the life blood of the
moors feeding its soul
and spirit and allowing
life to flourish and survive

I woke today to rain and wind as much of the country has done and my first thought was ‘should I run’? it’s another Monday morning and the East Pennine Orienteering Club (EPOC) run. Secretly I was hoping that it would be cancelled, and I could spend the morning in bed but us fell runners and orienteers are a hardy bunch so deep down I know this wasn’t going to happen. It didn’t stop me checking the Facebook page every five minutes just in case but 9:00am came and it hadn’t been called off so I got in my car and drove the ten miles or so over to Rishworth and the Truly Scrumptious café where we were all meeting.

I arrived in plenty of time for once and had a chat with some of the other runners as we waited for Graham our run leader to arrive with the map of the route. Graham was a bit late due to roadworks but soon we were off heading down to the River Ryburn and a run on the embankment. I’ve had some injuries to contend with recently and these were at the back of my mind as picked up our pace. The wind and rain had cleared, and it was now a bright, winter morning, perfect running conditions for me and I was wrapped up warm and enjoying myself. My right knee and left ankle that have been giving me trouble felt good. A couple of days rest and squats seemed to be making a positive difference.

We came off the riverside and headed back up towards the A58 where we crossed over and started our first climb of the run towards Soyland Town. I was wearing my Mudclaw 300s, ideal for running off road but not for on the road. I am getting used to running in them on the road and my pace and confidence is improving. We climbed up a road and soon we were crossing muddy fields, my favourite terrain, and marveling at the ability of the orienteers to run and read a map at the same time! It takes all my skill to remain upright and I have a very limited ability to read a map never mind do the two at the same time!
It was over the fields that my right hamstring started to ache and I began to wonder if this was going to be one of those days when all my old injuries flared up and I would begin to wonder if I should carry on running or find something else to keep me fit and active.

We came to a road at the end of the fields and turned right to head back down towards the A58. The pace was nice and steady, and we were having fun. We crossed the A58 and the River Ryburn and headed down towards Kebroyd. After we crossed the Ryburn there was a short but tricky part where we had to climb a small path up from the riverbank to the path above. One slip and I would have ended up in the Ryburn but luckily, I managed to stay calm and I was soon at the top of the hill running again. It was here we had a chat about the recent Windy Hill fell race part of the Calder Valley club championships. I didn’t enjoy this race at all. I thought there was too much road and it was more technical trail than fell. Some agreed with me, others didn’t. everyone is different and has a different experience of the same race. We agreed though that it wasn’t really what we would consider a fell race for the reasons above and it would be one for us to avoid in the future.

We turned right and headed towards Rippendon. Dropping down to the park we climbed again to what we assumed was an old railway line long gone now. This part of the run was relatively flat and I was able to put some pace into my run and open up my legs. I felt good and was moving with ease and I didn’t notice any aches or pains! Bonus! This path carried on for a couple of miles until we dropped back down to Rishworth and we were back at the Truly Scrumptious café for a well earned full English breakfast. A good run with good friends. I explored some parts of the Calder Valley I haven’t run before and my knee, hamstring and foot all feel better for the run and have the minimal aching. I’m really looking forward to next weeks run up and around Mytholmroyd. The EPOC runs are a perfect way to start the week.

be kind

Posted: February 16, 2020 in poetry, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

be kind to yourself
be kind to your friends
be kind to strangers
be kind to everyone
let’s make the world
a place where we’re
all kind to everyone

I like to write about my running the day after as this gives me time to reflect and think about what has and sometimes has not happened.

Yesterday was one of those times when reflection has proved valuable. I was going to run yesterday morning, helping with my club Calder Valley Fell Runners on their weekly Resolution runs. These runs are an introduction to fell running and are for people who have some experience of running but want to try fell running. They have proved popular and plenty of people have experienced what life on the fells can be like.

I woke up and felt rough. I was tired, exhausted, coming down with a cold and my left ankle and right knee were aching as they have been for a while now. With storm Dennis approaching I had to make a decision, do I go out feeling far from 100% and risk further injury and being a burden on the other runners?

I struggled to get to the toilet so took the decision to stay in bed and rest. It would have been foolish to go out driving and running feeling as I did. Today I feel a lot better, the rest has done me good. I’m not as tired and my ankle and knee aren’t aching quite as much so it seems that the rest has done me good.

I messaged my fellow run leaders at CVFR to let them know I wouldn’t be running and they were understanding and supportive as they always are. Sometimes it best to not do something whether it’s running or something else however hard that decision may be. You may feel that you’re letting people down but you’re not. You may be helping them by reducing the burden on them and you will be doing yourself a favour too by resting and hopefully feeling better for it.

I went out for a run yesterday, a run that had been going round in my mind since Wednesday when I discovered a new route that connected everything up for me. I won’t go into detail explaining it as the route is off road but it means I can do a loop rather than an out and back and this makes the route a bit more interesting for me.

I parked up at Ogden Water and set off feeling good. The aim was to do the route, time and pace didn’t matter. It was more about how I felt mentally rather than going out getting PB’s plus the wind put paid to any thoughts of going fast as it got stronger throughout the run and at times was pushing me back.

I set off on a familiar route back out towards the main road before a sharp left turn and up a rough track that takes me to the moors. I made good progress up and over the moors and soon I was at the top of the hill that leads to Leeming Reservoir near Oxenhope. I ran down the hill to the conduit and turned left here to run alongside it for a mile or so. This is the new route I learnt that makes a loop here possible.

After a mile or so you climb up the steep hill directly in front of you, the route is the old Ovenden fell race one. The path bends round to the right and I wanted to see what was round the corner, I’m very inquisitive when it comes to running on paths and trails and have to know where they all go!

Round the corner was another fine example of Victorian engineering, impressive stone and iron work ensured that the water drained off the moor down to the reservoir below. There are so many fine examples in the South Pennines you are always coming across them and I marvel at the hard work it would have taken to design them and build them in remote places.

I saw a path leading up the hill and decided to take this rather then climb over the stile that was at the side of the conduit head. Up and over the moor I went and soon I was on the path that I intended to come back on! I had missed the path I wanted to take entirely and ended up where I wanted to be. It wasn’t a problem, just a simple navigation error. Looking at my route at home I should have gone over the stile so that I would be on the path at the top of the hill. You live and learn.

Going back on the path was hard work as much of it was ankle deep in mud and water. It wasn’t unexpected but knowing this didn’t make it any easier to run! Soon I was back on the path that would take me down the side of Thornton Moor reservoir before a sharp right would take me over the moor and back to Ogden Water.

Except it didn’t work out like that. For some inexplicable reason I took a left on the path and ended up going down a road towards the Dog and Gun pub at Leeming. Instead of stopping I carried on, I hadn’t been this way for a long time but I knew it was wrong yet for some reason I carried on the same path until I got to the bottom.

At the bottom I looked for a path off road, that would take me back up the hill and back onto the path I should have been on but I couldn’t find one. It was a weird experience as I knew where I was but I felt lost and slightly confused as to where I was. I could see the Dog and Gun and the Long Causeway road, both I have travelled on and past many times on my way to the Calder Valley. Today they seemed strange and unfamiliar and I felt disconcerted as to where I was and how I’d got there.

Eventually I did what I should have done earlier and went back up the hill and rejoined the path I should have been on. It turns out I should have gone straight ahead rather than taking the left turn I did. Back on track I plowed on until I reached the gate that marked the path back to Ogden Water.

Running at this point become a slog. The ground was thick with mud, my legs were tired and I was running against the wind. I was grateful when I reached the crest of the hill and the path that leads to the carpark as it meant I could relax a bit and enjoy running. Except I didn’t. usually at this point my legs free up and I can sprint back to the car. Today my legs and mind felt tired and there was no sprint in me. I went faster but it was hard work and I was glad when I got back to the carpark and I could stop.

It was an interesting run. I’ve found a new route that means I have a nice run on my doorstep with plenty of variation in it. I made a couple of navigational errors too, one I recognised straight away, the other left me feeling lost and confused for a bit. And a combination of mud and wind left me feeling physically and mentally drained. I did enjoy the run but it did give me lots to think about too regarding my physical and mental state at this moment.