Posts Tagged ‘unfamiliar’


Ogden Water is a local nature reserve surrounding a reservoir local to Queensbury where I live. It is a lovely place to go for a run or walk and is very popular with people who visit it all year round. There is a path around the reservoir where you can take a leisurely stroll with children and dogs, or you can go for a nice run safe in the knowledge that there are no cars trying to kill you! Alternatively you can head up into the woods and run the trails that take you through them. This gives you the opportunity to try running off road in a reasonably safe environment without going too far too soon and getting yourself into trouble.

However as I have recently found out Ogden Water is also the venue for a New Year’s day fell race, the Giants Tooth, where competitors race up to the Giants Tooth from the carpark up the trails through the woods and on the surrounding path back to the carpark. The race is around 3 miles and is run at a fast pace.

On Monday 7th I decided to do a recce of the route. I printed off a map I found on the internet of the approximate route and familiarised myself with it. The trial up to the Giants Tooth is easy to navigate and whilst steeper than I realised should not present too much of a challenge for anyone who has been running. On trails it is not too dangerous either although care must be taken when ascending the first climb as there are some wooden sleepers that act as steps but in wet and muddy conditions can be dangerous is a foot is misplaced on them.

Once at the Giants Tooth most of the climbing has been done and you are treated to some stunning views over Thornton Moor, Queensbury and Halifax. If you are racing though you will not have time to savour the views as you will be too busy trying to get your best time! However this was the point where the familiar became unfamiliar and not for the first time I took a wrong turn and whilst not lost I struggled.

I tried to remember the route from the map and decided that out of the three paths in front of me I would take the one that took me furthest away from the woods assuming that this would be the route as the other paths may make the total distance too short for the race. So off I went running through water and mud as is the norm at this time of the year, following a vague trail through the marsh reeds.

Soon I came across a stile, not uncommon and climbed over it and looked for the next trail path. I soon spotted this and began a descent down a step and at times tricky path but one that was by no means unrunnable until I got near the bottom and the path disappeared. This was worrying as I needed to cross a stream at the bottom and begin an ascent back to the woods. I looked around for a stile but could see nothing. Not wanting to damage what looked like a newly erected barbed wire fence I looked for the safest descent to the stream and carefully began to negotiate a steep embankment where I had to create my own path as there was not one visible.

This was where the familiar became unfamiliar for me. I thought I knew Ogden Water and I thought I had walked and run most of the trails around it. However this was a new part of it for me and all of a sudden I felt very isolated from the outside world, hidden in the vee of a valley away from all other life. I was stood at the bottom of a small valley surrounded by nothing but marsh reeds, water and mud. I knew there would be others walking Ogden Water and the moors but there was nothing to indicate any sign of life.

This made me realise how dangerous running off road can be sometimes. You may think you know an area intimately and then decide to take a new path out of curiosity and find yourself in a place that is at once unfamiliar, dangerous and exciting. What is dangerous for me is that I never take my mobile phone with me on a run so if anything was to happen I would be stuck on the moors on my own with no way of telling anyone. If I had broken my ankle on Monday I may very well still be on the moors lying at the bottom of a valley.

Today was not to be that day and I continued my run which was now reduced to a crawl, up a steep embankment looking for anything that might resemble a path. I scrambled up the rest of the embankment and eventually found something resembling a path which led to a stile and back to the safety of the woods.

The rest of the run was on familiar trail paths and my pace picked up immediately, at some points surprisingly so according to Strava! And at the end I had done around 3 miles and felt a sense of accomplishment having discovered another part of Ogden Water. I completed the run in around 42 minutes which isn’t a great time for 3 miles but considering the descent and ascent of the valley I felt reasonably happy with it. If I go a different route I should be able to knock at least 5 minutes off that time.,

I’m sure that Ogden Water has no more surprises for me but you never know! Next time I do a recce of the Giants Tooth I will take a slightly different route that doesn’t go as far off the usual track and also have someone with me who knows the route. That should help me improve my time!

 


Last Saturday I ran my usual parkrun at Horton Park. I’m really getting to like this course as it is a challenge and a great wakeup call on a Saturday morning whether you have been out or not! It was a pleasant, sunny morning and I ambled round at my usual pace enjoying my running. At the end I did my now customary sprint for the line and went to talk to one of the other QRC runners Neil.

Neil has only just started running again but he is fast around 211/2 minutes for a 5k. He asked me if I was doing the Bolton Brow Burner and I asked him what it was! It turned out it was a challenging 10k race the next day, one where you could turn up and just run it. I’ve got the Pudsey 10k in just under 2 weeks as I write this but I thought what the hell, no time to think about it, go for it!

I had a couple of pints at the club that afternoon but was in bed early as I am not very good at getting up on a morning after a session on the beer. Sunday morning came and I was up bright and early, feeling good and ready to race!

I set off early as I am well known for getting lost and today was no exception. I drove past the venue at least once and ended up miles out of my way. A journey that should have taken me 15 minutes ended up taken me 1 hour 15 minutes. The lesson here is to never let me give directions in any form of transport.

But I finally arrived at the registration point and within minutes I had entered my fist 10k race not knowing where I was, where the race was or what the course was like. All I could see around me were hills, steep hills so I guessed I would be running up at least one of them at some point.

Off to the start we all went a car park at the side of the canal but as good as anywhere. After hanging around for around ½ hour during which most of the men were running off to have a pee, we were told to line up and then we were off!

The race started on the canal for a mile or so, just nice and steady and I settled in looking for a suitable candidate to follow and pace myself against. Unfortunately for me they all took one look at me and increased their pace as soon as we turned off from the canal and headed for the hills.

Before I knew it I was at the bottom of Bolton Brow and it was scary! Very steep and covered in gravel, it was not an easy hill to climb especially if you had never been near it before. I got talking to a lass of a similar age to myself and we walked up it together discussing running. The thing I really like about running and runners is they’re always happy to talk to you about running and relieve past glories.

At the top of Bolton Brow the lass left me for dead but I had never run 10k before so remembering what my fellow club runners had told me went at my own pace. This proved to be a good strategy because once I started to head back down I was keeping the lass in my sights and not letting her get away.

This proved to be going well until I had to stop and pull my shorts up. I’ve lost a lot of weight recently and I’ve dropped several sizes in shorts and jeans. However this was quite embarrassing as my shorts were falling down and my boxers were on display for everyone to see. After managing to give some people an eyeful I was back on the trail safe in the knowledge that my shorts weren’t halfway round my bum.

But now I had some catching up to do on unfamiliar trails. The lass had gotten quite far in front, but there was a young lad not too far up ahead so I targeted him and used him as bait to drag me round. And it worked. I had a couple of runners in front of me due to my shorts adjustments, but I soon passed them and set about catching the young lad. And then the lass appeared in the distance too and I decided to do my best to keep them both in sight because you never know what might happen.

Through Copley Woods we went up and down, sloshing through mud, diving down wet rocks and stone steps and generally just enjoying it all whilst trying not to fall and damage myself. I would certainly run it again as I enjoy off road running but for today I concentrated on just getting round and completing the course and avoiding injury.

And then I was through the woods and running back down Bolton Brow towards the canal. For some strange reason my downhill running has got slower recently and I am going faster uphill and on the flat than I am downhill. I’ve no idea why or how this has happened but it had and today was no exception. I sort of lumbered down Bolton Brow and only felt like I was picking up speed when I reached the flat at the bottom.

Up until this point I had no idea where the lass and the lad where. For all I knew they may have pulled a mile on me and be out of sight. But as I turned onto the canal I saw them both up ahead and I thought ‘they’re not too far I front’; ‘I can catch them’. And with that thought in the back of my mind I set about maintaining my pace and seeing if I could catch them.

The only problem with the canal is that it is quite boring by its nature being flat and beside a still water, but encouraged by walkers and homeowners who obviously revelled in the sight of a middle aged man trying to kill himself through running I carried on until I reached the end of the canal and began the home straight back to the registration point at the school.

By this point the lad had pulled quite a distance on me so I resigned myself to not catching him, but the lass was slowing, and by quite a bit too! I had her in my sights and I could visibly see myself gaining on her until I was right behind her and then past her. I don’t think I said anything to her as I passed her as I needed every single breath I could muster at this point.

And then there was the finishing line at last. Or at least I thought it was until I realised I had to do one of those convoluted finishes that involve going in and out of fencing and rope until you see the sign that says finish.

But finish I did in a time according to my Garmin of 1:14:26. I was very happy with that. Under 1:15 for my first ever 10k and according to the runners around me if I could run this one I can run any. My official time was over 1:15 but this was due to my shorts stoppage so I’m going by my Garmin time which is a more accurate reflection of my performance on the day.

And I got a very nice metal medal too for all my efforts. At the end of the day I left Bolton Brow a very happy and satisfied man knowing I had accomplished something I never thought possible which is run 10k.

Now my next challenge is looming up quickly, the Pudsey 10k. I am prepared for this mentally although I haven’t been round the course, but I know I can run 10k on any day and I know I will give it my best. I would like to go under an hour but I am aiming to get as close to this as possible. All I can say is that I will give it my all and do my very best.