Cycling from Alnwick to Shilbottle, Northumberland

I am getting so far behind in my blog posts! I apologise – but my PhD is somewhat more important!

So, here’s a blog post about my trip to Northumberland (21-23 February). After running on the Saturday, I went for a ride on the Sunday. I definitely chose the wrong day to ride – it was stupidly windy, not very warm and a bit dreary. I felt shocking!

I lagged out far, far, far behind my OH and the other friends. It made me miserable because I was trying to keep my heart rate down to a sensible level (i.e. Zone 2) as I was ‘actively’ resting. At one point I was lagging behind by about 1/2 km. It felt like such a ridiculous effort to keep myself in that Zone.

That, in addition to the very difficult gusts of wind, made the whole thing not particularly fun. Perhaps the ‘best’ moment of the ride was when I was heading down hill to a dip and a kink in the road and the whole of the bike was picked up and set aside. I whimpered lots at that point and began to really hate the whole experience.

Luckily we were heading back to the cottage by that point. We started to get the wind behind us rather than to the side and that made the ride back much easier. I also discovered that my brake callipers had been adjusted by the wind which meant that I effectively had the brake on the whole time.

We got home about 10 minutes into the Olympic hockey final. I had a stretch, quick shower and settled down to watch Canada trounce the opponent to win the gold once again.

Some stats:

  • Distance: 15.12 km
  • Elevation gain: 261 m
  • Time: 54:21
  • Speed: 10:4 minutes/h

Running and Cycling in Lesbury, Northumberland

I have been meaning to go to Northumberland for a very long time. It has castles, beaches, really good bouldering and quiet roads; so when the opportunity arose to go for a long weekend I jumped on it. Unfortunately this trip didn’t include bouldering, but it did include running and cycling around Lesbury – and it was such a good weekend!

We arrived on the Friday and got settled into the house. Unlike earlier trips with this group, we planned the run on the Saturday morning and then went to bed fairly early. Clearly we’re all getting older.

Saturday dawned bright and clear. I was in a dither of whether to go for a run with the rest of the group, or go for a ride with the OH. The weather was better for riding on the Saturday, but as I was still trying to rest ‘actively’, I figured I would be able to do that easier while running than by cycling. So, off I ran.

Once again my Garmin took ages to get going. For some reason, it doesn’t seem to be able to find satellite information for the first 10 minutes of the run. This meant that I ‘lost’ about 2 km of the run. I’m having a fair number of problems with Garmin at the moment – but that is another blog post.

The day was so beautiful. It was quite windy – and the wind was cold, but considering that I haven’t really run in the sun for a long time I wasn’t complaining. We ran from the rented cottage through the village of Lesbury and then out onto the flood meadows by a small river. It was quite muddy here, but that’s to be expected considering the amount of rain recently. The river was very pretty – with proper loops and a meandering course. After running along it for about ½ km, we then climbed up a hill and ran along the road through Alnmouth village to the beach.

Running along the river. And getting a bit lost. Photo: CanadianKate

The tide was out and the sands were glorious. It was one of those very bright days, and because of the wind, the sand was being blown into beautiful patterns over the top of the beach. We ran along it for a while before heading back inland to the cottage through Alnmouth golf course.

Alnmouth Beach. Photo: CanadianKate

I managed to keep my heart rate in Z2 and felt fine for much of the run. Luckily my friend was also happy to run at such a slow pace as well and we had a catch up while the boys scampered in front. By the time we got home, I had logged the longest distance since mid January and I felt fine. However, I’m not entirely sure how ‘restful’ it was!

Alnmouth Beach. Photo: Jerry Ibberson

Some stats:

  • Distance: 8.8 km
  • Time: 1:07:07
  • Elevation gain: 111 m
  • Pace: 7:36 km

Year to date:


  • Distance: 104.7 km
  • Time: 12:42:00
  • Elevation gain: 2008 m
  • Runs: 18

October Travels – Fontainebleau

A while back I wrote a post about managing expectations and climbing goals. For a number of reasons, this summer was really difficult and I couldn’t train or work on my target problems as much as I wanted to. This meant that I didn’t send Weedkiller, or really train in any target sense. Towards the end of August I decided to let go, and simply focus on the enjoyment of climbing while still recording what I achieved/worked on/found difficult during my training sessions. I felt a sense of relief that I was not chasing after grades and simply climbing certain problems because I liked the look of them.

At the end of September I took a leave of absence from my PhD due to personal reasons, and this meant that I could really focus on my climbing and reclaim the enjoyment of moving and pulling hard. I started to climb four times a week and this usually included three sessions with Diane Merrick. While she wasn’t specifically coaching me, because we climb so often together, she gives good insight into where I am weak on a problem or alternative body positions that would make the moves easier. By the end of October, I felt really strong.

So, with that background in mind, I didn’t set any targets for this trip to Font. The last couple of times I have tried to send Lapin ou Canard. However, I’ve always held off going there until the last day, when surprisingly, I’ve been tired and generally sore. It’s never gone. After the last trip, where I drove home quietly crying in the car, I decided to let go of that goal and return to Font without any intention of sending anything hard.

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September Travels – A roundup

This post completes my ‘September Travel’ series. I really enjoyed looking back over photos and writing about what I enjoyed in the different places that I visited.

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September Travels – Zingaro Nature Reserve

Zingaro Nature Reserve is beautiful. It’s just past Scopello, Sicily and is completely off-limits to cars.

We went there on a ‘cool’ day (27 degrees) and decided to hike around on some of the trails, rather than chill out on the beaches. The OH isn’t a great fan of swimming, especially in the sea and even more so in the Mediterranean sea. So, we parted ways with the rest of the group and set off up the mountains.

We had a small map which was given to us when we entered nature reserve and enough water to last a good hike. In general, the map is detailed enough to get an approximate idea of where we were in relation to the sea, other paths and fairly obvious landmarks. We had planned to hike across the whole reserve, from the Scopello entrance to the San Vito Lo Capo entrance and back again. However, we clearly didn’t take a correct turn, so our hike was curtailed somewhat. Saying that, I was really glad we only hiked about 7km up and down rather than the 15km we had planned. The trails are not particularly flat and we had not taken any food whatsoever as we were still very full from breakfast when we left in the morning and had decided to eat at the restaurant that evening.

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October Travels – Pre- Font packing

Do you think that I’ve brought enough shoes? Granted some of them are for the OH but still, 5 pairs between 2 of us?

Photo: CanadianKate

Photo: CanadianKate

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September Travels – Segesta

As we had visited Selinunte, it only seemed fair that we also went to Segesta as well.

So Segesta is famous for being one of the major cities of the Elymian peoples who were indigenous to Sicily (one of the three). As I said in my last post on Selinunte, Segesta and Selinunte were at war with each other quite a few times in their history. Historians think it was because Segesta was trying to gain a port on the Tyrrenian Sea. In 307 BC Agathocles sacked the city, changing its name to Dikeopolis and from the flat area behind the temple, catapulted 8,000 of Segesta’s inhabitants into the ravine below. When we were there, I looked down the ravine and it would have been a pretty gruesome death.

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