#Augustbreak2013 – The complete set (including the days I didn’t make)

I really enjoyed participating in the August break challenge. It was so diverting just when I really needed something completely different from work to think about! Looking back over the pictures, while some of them were taken during holidays and at previous points during my life, most of them were from this month. I think they show the variety of my experience and things that I do. I know, there are loads to do with cats, bikes, and climbing – but there are also pictures of flowers which I see on my walk to work; churches on the skyline and loads of other things!

I loved the creativity of this challenge so much, that I’d like to do something similar for September. Is anyone undertaking a challenge in September?


Where I nearly drive into the back of a tractor

I’m not a confident driver. I learned late, as I didn’t see the point until I moved to Sheffield and even then, I didn’t have a car for a couple of years after I passed my test. However, it became increasingly clear that the OH loves to drive, and loves taking road trips. This means that I really ought to suck it up and get more confident on motorways. They’re most definitely not my happy place. To this end, we’ve been taking occasional trips to see the folks and popping here there and everywhere. I suggested that we go to Nottingham this weekend, so I can become a bit more confident.

We picked up others who were coming with us and set off in the direction of Nottingham. It’s very different driving with a full car than just me, the OH and a couple of bikes on the roof. One of our friends was in a particularly good mood and was a bit distracting. So much so, that I really didn’t click that there was a tractor pulling out to overtake a cyclist. On a dual carriage way, in the middle of a Sunday. The OH shouted brake!!! I braked. That was probably the only noticeable slip up on the way there.

Nottingham Depot is a great place. I love how they’ve kept the old tiles and some of the heritage of the place. It’s really open and inviting, although I found the music a bit boring. It was also wonderfully clear as well – something to do with the rather nice weather outside.

We warmed up and enjoyed playing on new problems. I wasn’t feeling as great as on Friday, probably because I’d only had one day recovery, and my fingers were feeling a bit tweaky. I completely powered out on a long roof problem – all jugs – but loads of them! And I got the sequence wrong the first time around.

After recharging with coffee, I then tried some of the harder problems and got shut down on two in quick succession. The first was a pink competition one (in case anyone is going there soon) and was on a kind of stepped slab (starts as a slab, then steps out and becomes more overhanging) where the starting crimps were. You had to use the crimps to stand up and go for a bobbly sloper (see below) thing that you had to guppy with your left hand. Then stand up, and rock over on your right foot to reach for a massive jug with your right hand. I couldn’t reach. I really tried to rock my weight over and then give a little pop or hitch to get that extra 2cm, but it didn’t work. I didn’t feel like I could really get any momentum going to get a dyno or a jump involved. In sum, it made me grumpy.

Sloperz set 3

It looks a lot like the one in the top right.. Pretty easy to hold, but not quite good enough. Source: Holdz Climbing

The next problem was similar. Two small crimps, some small foot holds and a jump to latch onto a not great, but good enough hold. The OH and others could  just stand up and flash it. I could jump, but do the usual thing of not latching. After getting more height and improving my jumpy technique, I stopped and went to work another problem that I flashed.

I worked some harder problems after that, but was definitely tired. I also started to trying to figure out how to shoot a photo ‘looking down’ for the august break challenge. After a couple of tries, and getting incredibly pumped, I got a shot I was happy with.

After playing on some more problems, I finished off with some core exercises. I’m trying an app by Caynax called ‘Caynax A6W’ which contains a workout schedule and different core exercises. Surprisingly, the first session was actually quite tough and I definitely felt the burn! I was thinking of putting ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures up, but I’m not sure I can face doing that. I might tomorrow.

Here are some screen shots from the Android app:

Ab workout A6W PRO - screenshot thumbnail

Ab workout A6W PRO - screenshot thumbnail

 Some stats:


  • Good number of blues, purples and blacks to warm up
  • Topped a couple of the competition climbs
  • Worked some reds, yellows and pinks


  • 6 x Series 1 A6W
    • 6 x single leg lifts
    • 6 x double leg lifts
    • 6 x single leg crunch
    • 6 x double leg crunch
    • 6 x single leg crunch hover
    • 6 x double leg raise


Climbing is so fun when everything clicks

Friday was such an amazing day for a number of reasons:

  1. I found out that the editors of a journal were interested in my abstract that I submitted, and recommended that I draft an article for publication (obviously they can still reject the article, but I’m still taking it as a positive).
  2. I discovered a really yummy climbing snack which fits most of the paleo/anti refined crap requirements that I try to restrict myself to (I’ll pop up the rather vague recipe later)
  3. It was sunny
  4. The Works had reset the competition wall.
  5. The Works was playing an awesome mix of music, from Tom Jones, Prince, Led Zepplin to Santana and various others.
  6. I climbed really well.

Diane and I warmed up really slowly. The competition wall was rammed because it had been reset and there was no point starting on it as I’d blow my arms out of the water. So, we started on greens and green/pink spotties, making sure to do everyone one of each on each section of wall. I was feeling really light and giddy. It was a good feeling! My finger wasn’t even feeling that bad either.

We then started to integrate some purple spotties into the mix, gradually increasing the difficulty but focusing on volume and playing rather than difficulty. The Works was also playing some very happy music which meant that I was pretty much dancing up the walls, trying to move in time to the beat. I’m not sure if anyone noticed, but it was really fun.

Diane then stopped to help some climbers who were trying #1 of the Blacks set, opposite the entrance to the wall. It starts on a tufa-like hold, and you have to use the arête and the tufa to step up and sort your feet out before moving your left hand to the next hold, another tufa and essentially letting your body swing over to the hold and catching the swing with your right hand. It’s really shoulder-y and I love that kind of thing. They guys didn’t get up the problem, but they managed to break it down and work different parts of it. Hopefully they’ll be able to link it the next session. I tried the problem too, and found that it aggravated my right hand’s weird RS; saying that, I managed to link the problem in two sections. Hopefully, I’ll also be able to link the whole thing next time.

By this point, our other friend had turned up and was working on the whites. He suggested I try one which he was working on – it was definitely too hard for me, but I could do some of the moves individually. I then eyed up a wasp that I hadn’t tried and gave it a go. I flashed it, even though I very nearly came off the top move! After that, I really wanted to work harder problems – I was psyched – so tried a couple of yellows and another wasp. I couldn’t do any of them but I think I was getting tired by this point.

Luckily the competition wall had cleared by now, so we decamped to try some of the new problems. I flashed two slab problems – which required me to actually trust grip paint. I then tried another yellow one, and got pretty high until I had to go with my right hand to a large, flat volume. I got the height, but couldn’t latch the hold. I think it’s a very tension-y move, and I’m not good at engaging tension very quickly. By this point, I was truly bolloxed and went to do some core work before cooling down. After that, we went to the pub.

Some stats:


  • Topped a lot of greens
  • Topped a lot of green spotties
  • Topped a couple of purple spotties
  • Worked 1 black; 1 yellow on the comp wall
  • Flashed 1 wasp; 2 slab problems on the comp wall


  • 3 x 30” side plank
  • 3 x 30” front plank


New black circuit at the Climbing Works

The last week has been very, very busy. I’ve had a chapter due which took me a long time to revise and get sorted in my head. By wednesday I was very worried about it and also resented that it was taking so much mental and emotional energy to draft. I think that’s why Wendnesday’s climbing session was such a write-off. I was drained by the time I arrived at the Foundry.

Friday was much better. I had a bit of a lie-in so felt more refreshed and broke the back of my chapter by the end of the working day. The OH and I then went to the Climbing Works to meet some friends and try out the new black circuit.

Shoes & feet. Photo: Canadiankate

Because it was the only new circuit, loads of people were trying it from the beginning. The OH and I started somewhere in the middle. The moves were pretty fun, on the whole. There were some quite big moves and some balancy step overs in problems, but I got up most first or second go. This is such an improvement from earlier this year where I still found the blacks quite hard going.

I think there is something psychological about them as well. They were my nemesis for quite a while because they were right at the edge of my ability. This was really frustrating as most of my Friends could get up them really easily. Also, the holds used aren’t my favourite types.

Anyway, there were about 35 problems in the circuit and I did about 27 of them on Friday. There were 3 that I found very difficult to downright impossible. 4 that I didn’t even try, and a couple which I expect I should be able to do after a couple of sessions.

On the plus side, I really worked on using my hips and glutes to rock over instead of my lower back. I felt like this really helped with standing up and staying in control. So there were two problems where I actually felt my hips engaging.  Both involved a press.

The first was on a slabby/off-vertical wall and I had to get a heel up onto the start hold rock over and then match on a very small crimp before reaching over to another very small crimp and then standing up to the final hold. This was very difficult for me. I found the crimp was too small to be able to match on it and as a result, I tried to turn it into a press and miss out the very small crimp. This really didn’t work. I think that I’ll be able to crack the problem on a cooler day.

The second was on an overhanging wall and involved a press/rock-over to a a very good hold. I tried, and tried and just couldn’t rock over far enough to reach it. My Friends complemented me on this move and said they could really see my hips flicking to try and reach it.

By that point I was pretty tired and most of my Friends were packing up to go get curry. There is something pretty amazing about the first pint post climbing.

As an aside, I’m also taking part in the Instagram #augustbreak2013 photo challenge. I’ll incorporate each days’ picture in my blog. It’s likely that they’ll be a day late, and a bit out of sequence, but I’ll try to make it clear which day’s task was which.

Friday’s #augustbreak2013 challenge was #circles. I took a photo of my pint.

Beer. Photo: Canadiankate

However, the day didn’t end with curry. Once getting home, it was clear the cat was not in a good place. He had recently fought off an abscess near the base of his tail which needed antibiotics. Clearly, he’d been in another fight and was suffering again.

The OH tried to pick him up, and the cat cried. I’ve never heard a cat cry, and I don’t want to again. We took him to the emergency vets and she gave him heavy painkillers and antibiotics with instructions to return tomorrow to have it cleaned out.

So, Friday was a very full day!

Spotties and sushi

Photo: Canadiankate

Photo: Canadiankate

I decided to shake things up a bit this week and went bouldering on Tuesday. I met up with Friends and climbed a range of grades, from some of the spotties to repeating some yellows and then onto the comp wall. It was more of a social/play session than an out-and-out training session, but I think I’ve been too much in the training mindset recently so wanted to do something about it.

I ticked off another one of the spotties that I hadn’t done – it was very easy actually but my head was in the right place. I was quite pleased that I repeated some of the yellows. I didn’t get any new ones, but that might be the task for Friday if we go inside.

Towards the end of the session, I did some pull-ups and campusing (possibly not the best idea as my shoulder and wrist are still sore) and then had cravings for sushi. I rang that through and collected it on the way home.

Photo: Canadiankate

Photo: Canadiankate

While waiting for it to be packaged up, I came across this delightful sounding drink:

Fancy any sweat? Photo: Canadiankate

Fancy any sweat? Photo: Canadiankate

I shouldn’t take the piss before trying it, because I’m sure that it’s actually quite nice. However, considering that I was sweating buckets at that point, it made me LOL.

I got home to a very hungry cat, made even more so by the smell of sushi. Here he is trying very hard not to look like he’s eyeing up my dinner.

Photo: Canadiankate

Purple spotties at the Climbing Works

I went to the Climbing Works on Sunday for an easy session. I wanted to work on endurance because I feel that I’ve been working at such a high level at the Foundry that my endurance and enjoyment of climbing had been eroded a bit. This is mainly because the Foundry set is so hard now. Also the heat has something to do with it as well.

We started on the purple spotties and the first couple were very easy. Basically wandering up slabs and using footwork to rock over. I made them harder by not reading the problems at all, so having to use strength instead of grace.

The spotties included a range of different styled problems: from slabs to vertical walls; over hanging walls to roofs. I usually find that I’m best on vertical walls with small holds, or overhangs with larger holds. This seemed the case today – other than the fact that the ones set on vertical walls seemed to be rather tall.

I didn’t do 4 of the problems and I’ll outline my beta and why I didn’t get them (which I should have as they’re 5+ dammit!):

Problem #4:  set on a vertical wall and arête.

The problem sequence asked me to start one hand on the vertical wall and the other on the arête. I had two footholds, but they were slightly off-balance. I then had to stand up to go for 2 vertical holds, one above the other. At full stretch with my foot on the starting hold, I could reach them.

So, I tried to move my feet in and up. Stood up, but had painted myself into the arête and couldn’t get enough height to go for the next vertical hold. Repeated a variety of different foot placements and none of them felt great. Became grumpy, I moved on.

Problem #12(ish?): set on vertical wall

The sequence was quite straightforward. What made it more interesting was the fact that the final 3 holds were minute and required a delicate step across to get to the final hold. Because the holds were so small, this needed to be in control. I kept slipping off the two mini holds and fingers started to feel creaky. I moved on.

Problem #13(ish): set on arête of vertical wall

This problem was very easy if of taller stature. For me, I couldn’t use the 2nd hold. This meant that to get established, I had to start on a different foot, and then do a balancy stand up and catch a small hold move.

So, the sequence went: left hand on arête, right hand on crimpy starting hold with my left foot on starting foot hold. Stand up and put right foot on second foot hold, tuck left foot around corner. Stand up and grab crimpy button. Miss, and swing off the arête. And repeat.

Hopefully, this will go next time. I think arêtes are definitely a weakness of mine.

Problem #(?): set on another small arête/vertical wall

This was definitely a head game. The moves weren’t difficult and once established on the arête, all I needed to do  was rock over to a higher foothold and then stand up. I really didn’t like it!

Problem #(?): Big move on the skips

Powerful move and definitely the fact that I didn’t have the reach. Essentially, all I needed to do is to rock over and swing up towards a small hold. No matter how much I swung, I really couldn’t get the hold. I was always just a fingers width away.

So, there we go. Most were nice and straight forward. I had a really good work out and felt like I could actually climb.  

Some stats:

  • Completed the purple/pink spots (graded 5+) bar 4.
  • Did 50 crunches

To Bakewell and Back

I went for a long ride on Saturday. We aimed to ride to Bakewell and back, via some wiggles to get at least 60km or more under our belt.

So the ride started a bit scrappy but became lovely. After leaving the house late, the OH and I had to pretty much sprint to meet a friend at the bottom of Froggatt. On the way down, I came across a friend coming up. I waved, he waved and we moved on. I was really surprised at how my legs felt considering that at the beginning of the ride, I had a niggle in my right knee, I felt like lead and generally wanted to turn around and go back to bed. That might have been because we had to pretty much go flat out for about 20km right off the bat.

After meeting up with my friend at the bottom of Froggatt, we headed up past Hassop and towards Bakewell that way. I really enjoyed the road. It was quite busy, but also really undulating and it felt like one that would be great for pushing harder, rather than poddling along having a chat.

Rose in Bakewell

Rose in Bakewell. Photo: Canadiankate

We arrived at Bakewell really quickly – only about 30km into the ride, and then had a quick break to fuel and water and then set off for Chatsworth. My OH loves 13 Bends and we ended up doing that twice in the ride. We also explored some of the side roads that we have never gone down and came into Pilsley, which was a lovely little village. Eventually we joined 13 Bends again, and I was hoping that we would go back through Chatsworth, but other peoples’ legs weren’t feeling that great so we headed back towards Sheffield.

The OH and I set off up Grindleford and I tried to keep my HR underneath 170 the whole way up. This meant sitting in granny and not putting any effort in. That said, I could turn a harder gear than the OH and I ended up having to wait for about 10 minutes at the top for him. This pattern continued throughout the rest of the ride and I took the time to take the snaps at the end of this post.

All in all, while I didn’t enjoy the beginning, I really enjoyed it in the end. Not trying particularly hard was a novel experience, and I constantly had to fight not be pushing myself the whole time. It was a strangely liberating experience, but I still felt bad not trying to beat my time up Grindleford.

Roper Hill sign up roper hill

Some stats:

  • Average HR: 147
  • Max HR: 179
  • Max speed 54.4 km/h
  • Total distance: 63.7 km