69 Days and the UK lockdown loosens a bit more

Sponds Hill trig at Sunset
Sponds Hill trig at Sunset

It’s been another warm and dry week in the UK (and especially Manchester where that ball of fire in the sky isn’t seen as often as it might be). The weather has been great to be able to get out into, although the downside being that the parched earth is like tinder with several moorland fires in the last week alone due to the careless and idiotic people discarding BBQ equipment carelessly.

I’ve had to enclose myself into a more robust ‘bubble’ over the last few days. The news, coupled with the various reactions to said news, the behaviour of our Government, the behaviour of our citizens. Sometimes it appears that Stockport is an ‘intelligence sink’, filled with more than its fair share of morons. I sometimes wonder if this pandemic is nature’s way to try to restore some order before it’s destroyed completely….. Anyway, with all that in mind, Twitter and the news app have been deleted from my devices. So if you’re trying to contact me on Twitter and wondering why I’m ignoring you, that’s probably why (contact me on here if you want to get hold of me).

Anyway with that micro-moan out of the way here’s what I got up to during the week.

Day 63

Having run every day since the bike fall I was getting concerned that sooner or later I’d overdo something and break myself. With at least one virtual event planned in June, having avoided booking others previously in the lockdown for various reasons, I don’t want to spite myself now.

So I decided it was time to vanquish the concerns and get back onto the bike to prove to myself that I could still ride it without randomly toppling off. Although I elected to leave the cleats in the house, just in case I was wrong on this not-falling-off lark.

As with many of my lockdown workouts, today’s underlying plan was that there was no plan.

Day 63: unplanned duathlon

Day 63: unplanned duathlon

Actually there was a vague plan as I was trying to think of a location to film a video later in the day, but within about 2 minutes of my setting off I’d decided this, and such it featured no further in the plan.

I headed off through Poynton with a dialogue in my head discussion why I shouldn’t go and cycle ‘the brickworks’. This is a long hill climbing out of Pott Shrigley up to the high road between Macclesfield and Disley. My rationale for not going was that I’ve done plenty of hard workouts of late, and my body wasn’t thanking me for it. Recovery was needed, not load.

Still I continued off towards Pott Shrigley regardless. I was following a couple of other cyclists who seemed to be stopping and waiting for each other before cycling off again and as I approached the turning away from Pott Shrigley it was pretty obviously that the Brickworks was their destination, although at least one of them didn’t know how to get there…..

The Shrigley Road I’d joined heads back to Poynton but I remembered that there was a bridleway which cut around the back of Shrigley Hall that I’d been eyeing up for a trail run at some point. So as I passed the junction, I thought I might go and see what it looked like, despite being on skinny road bike tyres. I cycled to the top of the road, but once I got to the bridleway I knew it was either go back or carry the bike.

I did the latter. Because, well, it was now a recce, right?

I got talking to a chap who had got into running a few years ago but had managed to bust his knee in the gym and was pretty much crawling the walls at the moment being unable to run. He asked if I did triathlon; a valid question given I was walking on a flooded bridleway, carrying my bike. We then chatted about various trail and fell races before he had to dash. And I needed to keep on climbing the hill. I chatted to a lady who said she walked the route quite a bit, but would normally go into Lyme Park from here, although with it being closed at the moment, she had a different route planned.

I continued up the hill, and decided that I ought to get some photos given I have a blog to write up! I guess this one could be called ‘road bikes that shouldn’t be here’.

Road bikes shouldn't be here!

Road bikes shouldn’t be here!

The climb to the top was great with  views across the Plain in one direction and along the rocky edge of the Plain in another.

It was then down the other side. I realised, looking at Bakestonedale Road below that I was coming out in a different place to the track I’d looked at on the map; the track I’d crossed over earlier must turn into that one. I met a few walkers coming up who thanked me for not riding down on the bike. Apparently the mountain bikers hurl themselves down this side and into anyone coming up. I had to smile to myself with the paired thought of me tackling any sort of technical terrain on a bike (given my propensity to fall off) let alone on skinny tyres!

I got to the road and just as I tried to set off realised the chain was off! At least with fighting with the turbo trainer the exercise of reattaching the chain took me less time than it did to turn the bike over. And then I was off. Up the Brickworks!

Now whether it was because I’m a lot fitter than last time, or (more likely) because I’d had a walk up and down a hill depositing me part way up the climb I’m not sure. But the Brickworks didn’t seem as tough as I remembered it. Although it was heaving; I reckon there was another 2 dozen cyclists on that road whilst I was there. But as soon as I reached the top, it was time to drop down the other side, something I find far more terrifying than any hill climb. But I survived, and turned off towards Disley and then home.

The afternoon was quiet at home. I sat down writing some notes with which was going to use as a script for the training video. Whilst accepting that I’d probably freestyle it anyway given my inability to read text out loud, especially in front of a camera.

I headed out once it was a bit cooler and off to my chosen location. Which I binned-off before I got there as I realised I had a better idea that was closer to home.

We’re looking at some training ideas within the running club, that we can roll out to people to have a go at during lockdown. In a coaching zoom meeting somebody had suggested doing a ‘Bleep Test’, and being as I was the only one with experience of it, I said I’d put something together……

Location hunting

Location hunting – looks like the Pirate Map has (sadly) been replaced with a Wild West Map!

I don’t think the BBC will be chasing after me with a presenting contract. Nor do I anticipate a career change to be a professional YouTuber. But it did the job and the rest of the group seemed to think it made sense, which was about as good as it was ever going to be! You can watch it here. (The pain of video editing was another key to e not lusting after the pro YouTuber lifestyle!)

Day 64

After the highly structured (!) day of Monday, Tuesday was always going to disappoint.

In fact I had a job to get out and do in the morning so headed out on the bike to pop over to Bramhall, before cycling back ‘the long way’. By which I mean I veered off to Poynton and then cycled my loop through Norbury Hollow.

A fairly uninteresting bike ride

A fairly uninteresting bike ride

Having recorded something running related every day for nearly a fortnight, I finished off the afternoon with a loop around the block. It’s only 2 miles but that was fine; the body was still sulking (although Garmin had finally decided that I was now in ‘Recovery’ mode rather than telling me off for doing too much!)

2 miles before bed

2 miles before bed

Day 65

A whole week since my last long run and yet my body was still feeling the aftermath of it. It’s the continual getting out doing running things that’s the problem I’m sure, although now is around the time that my hayfever starts to kick in, with the elderberry trees coming into blossom.

Net result was a decision to keep it simple and low key. So I cycled to the airport and back. Bosh!

Yup, you've seen this before!

Yup, you’ve seen this before!

The evening was one with my yoga class across the internet, followed by an evening walk. Because I didn’t want that ‘run streak’ to  finish on day 13. Jeez…..!

Keeping the streak going

Keeping the streak going

Day 66

At some point in the hours leading into Thursday, I hatched a plan that involved a hill and a sunset.

This did mean that I had to get through the whole of Thursday daytime without going on.

I’m not great at not doing much but I did at least sit down and finish that pesky track that’s been lingering around since last week. I can’t say I’m blown away by it, but after a lot of tweaking and fiddling, it was fine to be unleashed to Soundcloud. As it was 30 years ago, it was a project that never seemed to want to come together in the way I wanted it to. And the dilemma here in 2020 was also that as I had ‘recreated’ all the other tracks from the 1991 album, should I try to re-write this one, or just recreate it. In the end,  the reality was somewhere between the two.

Evening came and I headed out of the door. I decided that my target location was going to be the trig point on Sponds Hill. It’s close enough to make for a reasonable run, but out of the way enough for it not to be full of people. As I headed up the road I saw Heather & Jane, both from Lyme Runners, and they were off to do something similar to me but in Disley. Then it was off across the trails to the canal before the climb up to the trig.

Off to Sponds to watch the sunet

Off to Sponds to watch the sunet

I was a bit concerned at the time due to the number of people that seemed to be out walking. And by the fact that I’d gone out wearing (prescription) sunglasses to watch a sunset before heading home. That could end spectacularly badly if I couldn’t see where I was going and ended up in the canal or worse. Hmmmmm.

Anyway, my fears were unfounded. I had Sponds trig to myself, along with a lot of sheep. Very nice!

The sky wasn’t as clear as I’d hoped and there was a veil of lower cloud on the horizon. I concluded I had probably seen the best of the evening’s display and, being visually impaired on the way back, decided it would be better to get the trail descent out of the way whilst there was still plenty of light. As I left the trig a group of walkers were heading south along the Gritstone Trail; they didn’t appear to be going to the trig, but it was a surprise to see anyone else up there really.

The run home was thankfully without incident. A nice evening, great views and very peaceful.

Day 67

What I learned yesterday was that if I run late in the evening, getting to sleep is much harder. Actually I think I’d learned that on a previous late night run, but anyway, I had a rubbish night’s sleep and felt quite groggy.

As it was set to be another hot day, I decided that a morning run would be the best option, given my ‘discovery’ about late night runs.

I wasn’t really feeling it, to be honest. I set out with the intention to do a Norbury Hollow loop, but by the time I got to the other side of Poynton my heart wasn’t in it. Instead I cut across the trails that span that area and ran/walked my way home.

Not quite the Norbury Hollow loop

Not quite the Norbury Hollow loop

Ironically the route was still 5 miles in length, but a change is as good as a rest. Although a rest would be nice! The only reason I’m maintaining an exercise streak is to give myself some structure to the day, but it does feel a little like things are a bit the wrong way around on that front at the moment.

Day 68

After a pretty good night’s sleep I decided to get straight up and out of the door. Yesterday’s run was a little later than ideal and it was pretty roasting even mid-morning.

It was a keep-it-simple 5 mile clockwise loop around Hazel Grove. I felt a little tired, but actually not that bad and for the first time since the Cown Edge loop over a week ago things seemed to be a little more normal.

Hazel Grove loop

Hazel Grove loop

I got home and realised that my total running/walking mileage for May was now up to 183 miles which was a pleasant surprise. With one more day in May to go I wasn’t anticipating getting to 200 miles, but following on from reading a post online, I started making my May 31st running plans. I’ve run a section of trail called the ‘Ladybrook Valley Interest Trail’ many times as it’s part of my route out from home to the trails I love. I discovered it extends out much further than I realised, in the opposite direction towards Cheadle. Planning that route as an out and back was about 13 miles, which was tantalisingly close to bringing my total up to 200 miles for the month.

I’ve only ever done that once before. It’s not actually a huge total for most runners, but it is for me.

Having crunched the numbers I realised I was just sitting in my lounge on a gorgeous sunny afternoon. So I had my lunch and went for a short walk outside to get the benefit of the day. Oh and to get those bridging miles to get tomorrow’s total over the 200 mile mark!!!

Day 69

Sunday started less promptly than I had intended, however I was out on my run at 9.30. Ish. It was already warming up a little so I didn’t want to hang around any longer than necessary as the planned route would take a couple of hours I reckoned, even though it was only 13 miles.

As I headed out towards Bramhall I bumped into an ex-colleague, who I’d not seen in a couple of years who is also a great runner. Although today he was in cycle mode. Great to catch up anyway! And then I was off into Bramhall Park looking for signs that mentioned the Ladybrook Valley Interest Trail.

Except I didn’t see a single one. I think the only one I’ve ever noticed was coming off the Middlewood Way in the other direction from home. So despite it being listed on the LWDA website, you wouldn’t know if you were on it or not because there were no clues.

Ladybrook Valley Interest Trail

Ladybrook Valley Interest Trail: redefining the word ‘interest’

And herein lay the problem with today’s run. It was mostly OK up until the outskirts of Cheadle, except that the distance was way off. I made an error on Demmings Road as I tried to follow the cycle track (onto which the LVIT had joined) rather than follow my nose – literally as the Brook I was following was somewhat odorous……

A few circles later and it seemed to be a challenge to work out where the Brook had gone. That was until I was downwind of it and could follow my nose.

All fine again until crossing Wilmslow Road, but again the footpath and the cyclepath seemed to part company, but without letting on. I had a return loop up Broadway before heading back to find the Brook again which had gone off diagonally from the road (the cycle way went along the road). A few more errors later and I finally arrived on Cheadle High Street; NINE miles into a supposed SIX mile outward leg. I didn’t think there was much more of the LVIT to follow, but to be honest I’d lost all interest in it. So I headed back up Wilmslow Road and took a slightly more direct route home, albeit with a bridge-out diversion. My 12-13 mile planned route was over 15 miles by the time I got home, and only that because I’d not done the last section from Cheadle or followed the trail all the way back home.

A very frustrating  trip out all in all.

It was only when I was home that I realised that had I travelled an extra 0.8 miles I would have equalled my furthest monthly mileage ever, with December 2017. So in the evening I set out to remedy that with a short walk around the block!

Two miles to round up May

Two miles to round up May

May 2020: Lockdown stats

I ran & walked 206 miles over the 31 days and climbed 17,134ft in the process

I cycled 155 miles over the month and climbed 7,975ft.

Cumulative total to date

Since the lockdown was declared on 23rd March 2020:

I have run & walked 388 miles and climbed 31,488ft in the process

I have cycled 393 miles and climbed 20,897ft.

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