Saturday, 27 February 2010

Running the wild boar

I was reminded how Wildboarclough got its name on today's run. When I first moved near this Cheshire hamlet, I read on a website that it was the place where the last wild boar in England was shot. However, I subsequently worked with an expert on wild boar in England. He told me that in the olden days, people didn't call wild boars by that name, so the place name couldn't be related to them.

The most likely reason that Wildboarclough has this name is that it's related to the bore of water that from time to time races down the narrow Clough Brook. The last time this happened was on 24 May, 1989, when the sudden flood destroyed the road bridge. The rebuilt bridge now bears a plaque to commemorate this event, and the local vicar blesses the bridge once a year.

Anyway, enough history - back to my run. It was pretty wet and there was lots of snow just on the point of melting. Here's Clough Brook looking pretty high, but hopefully not on the brink of a flash flood. I continued up one of the three valleys that feed Clough Brook to see quite a lot of snow just waiting to melt all at the same time.

I also encountered what must be the main rabbit and hare high street. Because of the snow, all their tracks were very visible. I considered following a hare track to see where it went, but I've seen hares run rings around my dog (literally) so didn't fancy my chances of even seeing one.

My fitness seems to be getting better slowly. 8 miles today. I plan to do some speed work tomorrow. I also did about 3 or 4 miles midweek from work. It's getting very close to being able to go out in the evenings, which should be when my training really takes off.

Monday, 22 February 2010

10 miles and dinosaurs

I think this was a pretty perfect weekend. First I went for a nice 10-mile run on Saturday morning. Mrs Noel had already been out for about an hour running and when she came back, she informed me 'it's not cold'. Luckily I know she's made of sterner stuff than me so I took my hat, gloves, thermals and fleecy buff. I needed them all, as the picture shows. This is the back of Shutlingsloe.

Luckily the sun came out, and despite the ankle-deep snow I got some beautiful views from Wetstone Ridge. You can really feel like you're out in the wilderness from up here. I have just realised how daft that statement is, given that I was running on a bridleway next to a fence. But you see what I mean. Note how the frost on the fence has detached from the fence and made a frost fence just next to it.

Then on Sunday, we awoke to even more snow. This was an excuse to rope my parents in to helping me (ahem... I mean the kids) make more snow sculptures. This time we went for a dinosaur theme. Here is the T. Rex. Unfortunately, his teeth kept thawing out and he later collapsed. I've realised it's hard making animals that rely on counterbalance to stay upright.

The stegosaurus, however, is still standing a day later. I think in future, I would advise against two-legged snow dinosaurs. I was contemplating a sauropod, but the long neck was too tricky to think about.

After all this exertion, we also built a large snow chair. It was pretty comfy, but slightly on the cold side. I was planning another training run, but instead had to make do with a new form of hill reps. This involved sledging down a slope and then running back up carrying my youngest. He seemed to like the idea too.

The best thing about this 4 inches of snow was that it melted from the roads in a day. This meant we could get out to see the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain who were playing at Buxton Opera House. For those who haven't seen them, here is one of the songs they played: