Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Down Time

Well after months of training, racing, exams, christmas, more exams, interviews, assignments, more racing and even more training even the best of us need to flake out - as with everything else Caroline does, she doesn't half flake out in style... pictured here with Rocky, wraped up and crashed out in a Quilt cover straight out of the dryer and hot!

Of course the nest track session was only 40 mins away... here we go again

Weekend ...

Well Rob and Andy backed out so the latest is that it'll be just Kev arriving during the wee hours on Saterday morning for some welsh rock - Hopefully the Orme will be dry and not completely arctic - all the recent pictures up on NorthWalesBouldering seem to point towards it being fairly dry (at least in the caves!). I'm leaning towards that direction for now anyways - if its crap, we can try a bit of bouldering, then that 7b in Llandullas, Prime the pump, and then hit Clwyd or Awesome walls with Malaham or the peak as potential destinations for sunday. Oh for some dry weather!!

White Water

Well i finally finished the pupil enrichment activity i thought up over a month ago - brought half a dozen Pupils from my Maths class out for a mornings white water rafting - now there was 6 happy kids!

What does white water rafting have to do with Maths? Nothing much - but it's a fun day out! Tink took a swim while we were playing in a drop and she went under the raft before being hauled back in - hardcore for a wee one!

I learned a fair bit organising this and would like to do plenty more of this sort of stuff in the future - but i need to do more rafting myself - that was hard work paddeling an 8-man raft full of kids that couldn't really put much power into their strokes! Jacked!

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Wet Rock

Well my day was shorter than expected tody in Uni so i siezed a free hour to go and investigate if the rock in the Devils gorge was anywhere near dry - it wasn't! But i used the time to investigate the potential of the problems there as worthwhile projects - Well they're certainly hard enough... It seems to be a style of climbing thats totally alien to me - kinda like Parasillas only with less holds - its a very aggressive steep limestone cave - I've only managed to send two or 3 problems there before but will be spending alot more time there i think (when the weather gets better!)

Monday, 26 February 2007

Last of the Pain Days

Well, Saterday saw my last Cross country race for the season and it was a big'un! The Video below shows the start of the senior womens race - actual speed! Haa!

Well, like i said it was a big race - held at Wollaton Park - Nottingham. It was the fifth and last race in the UK Athletics Cross Challenge sieries and also the UK Intercounties Championship... Plus it gets broadcast live on Sky Sports so anyone whos interested can get to look at you go through pain, Haa!! I scrapped into the North Wales counties Team even though I've been running crap lately due to an injury and the ever present sciatica - but was happy to get the chance to run - it gave me the chance to learn the course for next year. The Race was brilliant, i just set out steady, no intentions of racing my teammates, just wanted to finish the race without further injury and the Team needed me to finish to count in the rankings. The ground was heavy, claggy mud - but it didn't affect the race because everyone suffered equally. Apparently Caroline was clearly filmed in the starting pens at the beginning of the race and Mike even got caught on film somewhere around our race (hopefully the cameras missed yours truely). The main thing is i didn't get lapped, AND that was my second time representing North Wales - Chuffed - AND it was the last cross country race for me for a long while - Phew! Feeling good afterwards all things considered - even managed a 12 mile hill run yesterday - so looking forward now to a summer of hard training and plenty of rock!

Kev and possibly Rob and Andy are still due over this weekend so I've been trying to decide where to hit - LPT, Slate, Malaham or Peak Limestone? I've never tried any of the Peak or Yorkshire Limestone before so might end up wasting more time getting lost and finding our way to the crags - might be best to check those venues out first and bring the lads over during the summer when daylight is more abundant! LPT also has the added advantage of being home to some very likely long term projects that i could begin to work on - Hmmmmm.... lets see what the tides are doing.

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Where am i?

Ouch.... self evaluation!

Where am i without the gloss in order to know best how to get to where i want to be
  • I'm 24 Still!
  • Been fat since i was 9
  • Started climbing aged 17
  • I've onsighted a number of E6's (Some solo)
  • But never tried to lead an E7
  • Lead one dubious French 7c
  • But onsighted up to French 7b
  • Bouldered Font 7b(+?)
  • But dont really care

So from looking at that i can see that either i havn't pushed myself, or I'm just stupid and lucky and have been pushing myself Way too hard and been lucky enough to get away with it!

To get better i have to

  • Shape up
  • Get stronger at locks
  • Get stronger fingers
  • Develop my core
  • Stretch more
  • pick some projects and spend time on them!
  • clock more hours on rock and less hours doing shite!

Too much?

Well can you have it? Too much that is... Its getting ridiculus! Everywhere i look there sending going on! And it's motivating me past critical mass!!! On one hand you've got Neal - me mate! Out in the wilds of Thailand finally sending routes and projects and steaming towards his first 8a, 8a+, 8b etc... after years of climbing and being generally strong...

Neals only setback was being born Irish (also our biggest asset :) ) and having no bolted rock within 4 hours drive from his home! Its a setback we all have to endure - plus the fact that there are no decent training facilities in the country to allow even a half-decent chance at building up some stamina - well obviously thats a bit of an exaggeration, if you really want it, you'll train for it on whatever you've got and get it! Neal is proof of this...

Then theres MacLeod - projecting his next new hardest ever boulder problem and wandering up E7's and 8's all over the place! Plus these guys know how to blog! Maybe thats helped by having something to blog about!? Hmmmm...

Well Not much i can do on that front at the moment - Caroline is at this moment going through an interview for a post graduate course - so needless to say the last week or so have been spent collectivly preparing for that. But the End is nigh.... Kev is due over in a week and a bit and i've been concentrating on training solidly and more importantly consistantly for the last while. Hopefully i'll have a benchmark for progress throughout the year after Kevs visit.

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Whats the point?

Just a quickie about something that has come up recently - What drives us to do it? I climb because i love it - dont know why exactly - i just do. I'd prefer to work and send a beautiful route, finally making it through the redpoint crux that has stopped be on previous attemps and clip the chain or reach the belay, rather than winning some competition. But for some they need something more fixed, more measurable - Caroline has recently gotten all stoked up by climbing again, training is back in full swing and shes looking for Comps to aim for - its a side of the sport i never really acknowledged. In fact it IS the Sport side of climbing - according to the literature, everything else is only leisure. Routes on rock, bouldering, anything other than a comp is leisure. Well thats where I'm at - But i dont think that means i've taken the easy route - i'm gonna progress through my leisure and push myself more than any comp could ever do - variety - its great!

Monday, 19 February 2007

Above the clouds

Sunday morning began with a very sore, stiff, aching Dave hauling himself out of bed for the Sunday Long Run. Normally we run up to 14 and a half miles around our nearest big lump of hill, Moel Famau. Last week had been brilliant around there - lots of snow and no sign of anyone except for us nutters out in our shorts and T's. This week i felt like i had been run over by a truck after Saterdays race. Either way, we made it up to the Carpark and began the run, despite being determined to not let saterdays setback affect my training i was aware of a very sore Hamstring - its on my mind and I'm not really chipping in with the oul chat as we leave the road behind and start up the stoney farm track. Each stride aches and i am thinking of stopping so as to at least try and get a decent weeks training and recovery in before the next big race. Putting all such thoughts out of my mind for now, i just set myself a goal, make it to the saddle and the Fence. At least there i have some options. Up to this point it was a fairly unremarkable morning in the hills as far as weather goes, bright, cool, still with the odd cloud lingering around and a bit of mist lying in the hollows - but once up on the saddle, the ridge leading to the top, Offas Dyke, the view over Ruthin and out towards Snowdonia was Inspiring! A complete inversion... thick white, dense, level cloud lay across the entire plane right out towards Snowdon. It was incredible. totally obscured all signs of human existance. there was no sea, no towns, no masts, nothing, just pure white, partly encircled by an immense horseshoe of rocky peaks. I let the others go on and finish the full run while i nursed my leg round a easier 9 or 10 miles -all the while being carried around by the spectacular view. I stopped at a cairn once, on the ridge, just to take as much of it in as i could before heading back around the hill through the farmland back to the car. It was almost like a sea itself, ebbing and flowing like the gently swell of a late summers sea. you couldn't focus on any one point of it though because it was an illusion - the complete serenity and utter stillness was composed of endless motion. like currents within the clouds, if you tried to capture the stillness, you lost it in focus and motion - it was beautiful. Thats why i enjoy those runs - i took such a striking vista to hammer that fact home to me. I enjoy them for the process of doing them and where they take me. Sometimes with running and climbing its easy to forget why we do it and just get caught up in numbers and goals - they come eventually i suppose but they're worthless if we dont appreciate the journey we took to get to them...

Welsh XC Champs

Well Saterday came and went and so did any notions i had of actually putting in a decent race. Despite the wonky Hamstring i've had for the last few weeks i felt training was going well - Tuesday and Thursday on the track felt good - I couldn't really push or accelerate too fast but if i took it easy i could build up to top speed easily enough without any real pain from the muscles. Wasn't enough though, Saterdays race was in Ruthin, a great course, arouns 3 flat fields to begin with then out onto 3 more, slightly hilly fields. Ground was reasonable underfoot, nothing major, a bit claggy in places but nothing really bad. I was feeling grand for the flat, just like i had during the week on the track - i was begining to feel quietly confident that if i just kept things on the boil i might put in a decent race and start to pick off a few plodders as the race progressed. It was not to be - the minute i hit the first downhill and my stride lengthened, Ouch! the Hamstring played hell! then again on even the slightest uphill, and AGAIN through the Claggy Mud that kinda sucked your feet in, just providing enough resistance to each stride that it pulled against a nearly-healed injury - Feck!!

One interesting thing was that this was the first XC race in which i tried to race in my Fell runners. The Advantage of the Fells is that i can fit my orthotics and Heel-lift into the shoes which greatly helps in keeping my sciatica at bay! The downside is that after one lap I've collected about a kg of mud and corruption on each foot! Also making the grip next to uselss...Haa!! No worries, i had to try them out at some point and at least my Hip feels reasonably ok after the race... normally after a race like that in my spikes i'd be limping for nearly a week on account of not being able to fit in the Heel-lift! So swings and roundabouts and lots to think about.

I finished the race in a foul mood! I hate that competitive side of me but i tend not to bottle things up too much (or at all!) so it was pretty obvious i was pissed off. Not at the fact that people beat me or that i finished lower in the rankings than i had expected - none of that! It's just that i hate not representing myself (and the people i train with) to the best of my abilities - That was not ME running, that was me just finishing the race... I need to deal with setbacks like that better... By the time i got home i was determined - Yes, even more determined than before!! - to improve through every aspect of my daily routine - not increasing the training, but focusing it. Concentrating on getting the most out of each mile! Diet, time wasting - everything has to be examined and made work towards improving some aspect of something. What will help my running will help my climbing aswell - there are goals out there that need achieving. Taking the positive out of failures and recycling setbacks into pure distilled, motivation is an essential step towards where i have to be...

Vid Clips

I've thrown up some ancient video clips i had taking up space on my hard-drive. They can be found below the links on the right hand side of the Blog. Nothing serious, just a few bouldering clips and the Rope Jump from Verdon circa 2003?

Friday, 16 February 2007


Whats better than being given £300?!?! I now know for a fact that being sure you're going to have to fork out £300 for something that wasn't your fault - £300 you dont readily have to waste i might add! - and then finding out it was all a mistake and you dont have to pay anything! That is a nice feeling! Trust me! Phew!
This experience of trying to organise a fun adventure activity as a kind of thank you to the pupils i had being teaching has woke me up! not that it has put me off trying to do similar things for the kids in future but just to be extra careful about booking places and not to take their word that they're interested... I was nearly forking out for two empty white water rafts myself!!

The carrot at the end of my stick...

So heres my short term goal ... or more of an incentive really... In a few weeks a mate is planning on comming over for a spot of cold clipping. What better to get someone motivated for some dedicated training? Nuffin! Now where to go a clipping? where indeed? this place is always an option although i doubt if it's the nicest hole in the ground at the moment... probably a muddy swamp below a seeping, dirty rockface at this point in the season - but I'll check it out anyways.

The other option is LPT ..... Hmmmm alot to go at there if we're feeling good. But again... what will the weather Gods grant us? I'd love to get a couple of decent days down at LPT to kick off the year, get some good routes in, and try a personal project or two early on in the season. We'll just have to wait and see what we get on the day.


How crap am i at organising anything???? I'm doing this PGCE course (thats a teacher training course) and i have been struggling to keep up with all the planning, writing etc... that needs doing outside of school hours. Basicially, i do too much outside of my work life to be able to keep on top of it all. So where does that leave me? pretty screwed actually - i either back off the training or just knuckle down and type whenever im not working, driving, eating or sleeping. Not much of a life is it? the only light at the end of the tunnel is that hopefully it'll all be worth it when i am working as a teacher and can climb and run all summer long :) The most frustrating thing is that i am actually really interesed in the philosophies behind alot of the learning theories ... but i just dont ever seem to have the time to explore them enough. Ah well - such is life...

So I've got to arrange and take these teacher tests - Pain in the arse but no biggie. Have to type up more of my lesson plans complete with self evaluations - Long and boring and pretty urgent. And i have to do more reflective writing. Haa... maybe this blog thingey will keep me tipping over on the reflective writing front so that when i come to typing some academic reflections i'll already be switched on and can just channel the flow of waffle more easily or something - or maybe im just typing this as a way of avoiding doing any real work... Hmmmm..

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Weapon of Choice

Heres my baby... my home board. Only used to keep me ticking over through times of no money for fuel or even money for the not-so-local climbing wall - untill now that is. I'm stoked! stamina training on such a small board has obvious limitations and its bloody boring, soul-destroying stuff - but it makes me stronger, and all i need is enough stamina to hang onto a steep board for long enough to lead a decent route. Or so i figure anyways...

Nothing by way of a big hold on the board - infact my large campus rungs ate the biggest holds on the thing so i find even the easiest sessions do my finger strength some good. Not that its a killer or anything!! i mean i am the worlds strongest advocate of not overtraining on nasty holds - Avoid injury at all costs! All forms of indoor climbing is only a means to an end. The holds are flat at best or sloping pinches. Basically it just makes me pumped and over time, i can train to hang on for longer and deal with the pump - maybe not the most scientific approach but I'm hoping it'll work. I throw in a mix of hangs and pulls aswell - building up my one-arm hang strength slowly aswell. Time will tell how much good it does me on the crags - hopefully I'll have some improvements to report back with in this blog thingey

Running Man

Great Film wasn't it? Got it on DVD a few weeks back - Arnie kicking bad-guy ass all over the place! Anyway, Also the title of todays post - I run a bit, Well the last year I've been running alot. Manage to just creep over the oul 50 miles per week to include two track sessions and a decent long hill run at the weekends (up to 14/15 miles). Since i was a fat kid i always had a phobia of running... i kept that all through Uni and even when i started to push myself at the oul climbing i always had this deep underlying knowledge that i was and would always be unfit and fat. The remnants of a Christian Brothers school upbringing eh? Well, thats not entirely fair - the school had nothing to do with it, it was one crap PE teacher that did the real damage.

Anywho, I met Caroline - Running fanatic, and good too! and i started to run... once a week at first, gradually building up over time to where im at now. Even started to join in with the Races during the last year or so and managed to get selected for the North Wales Team a few months back. Over the previous 12 months or so we've been training under the guidance of Mike - a Legend of a coach, running partner and Friend.

So far on the Blog I've mentioned alot about my climbing goals and motivation and not much about anything else - well Although i started running just to get fit for climbing, now that i've adjusted to a decent weekly milage, i've got some half-decent running goals at the back of my mind aswell. So here thay are, so i cant deny them or avoid them. want to run under 2 min for 800m (I've managed 2:06 with no specific training so hopefully...), want to run under 17 min for a 5km. Thats it for now .... I'm easy to please :)

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Living the dream

I read this mans entire blog today whilst avoiding doing any of the pressing matters that i really DO have to get through this week... typical!

Anyway, his Blog is the business ... its here at go read it... or just look at the pretty pictures and make up your own stories to string em together. The mans motivated - and strong - thats should result in some pretty awesome climbing by the time he finds his feet over East. Good luck! He also has, very generously i might add, decided to grace his blog with the odd snippet of useful training advice - kinda like if i was to alter the training i did knowing what i know now kinda thing... His first post on this subject was like picking a giant scabb in my brain! He wrote down in words exactly what i felt in Siurana last year - but forgot! I needed to train on smaller footies! Simple as that! Having the man out there in the field is like having a brain-scout out there refreshing your mind to all those little things that gradually fade in importance once you come back from a sports climbing trip... It will be done! And things will happen

Monday, 12 February 2007

A Purpose

Well now.... I've been motivated! Anyone who knows me will know thats not too hard to do, and actually I'm usually The motivated person pacing the base of a wet crag convinced it'll dry - well this was different. I've been in a bit of a slump, climbing wise lately. No rock since one wet day in Wicklow over Christmas and I've not even had that much rock last year due to money matters and changing careers etc...

All the while this has been going on I've been keeping up a steady base of running so for the first time in my life i am less unfit than most people! Actually it has always been a kind of underlying goal to wipe the slate clean one year, put my climbing on the back-burner and tear myself down to the basic frame - I figured i had progressed much further than a fat, weak-boy should have really and it was time to change things and start building some specific strength ontop of a fit, healthy frame.

Well, its hard to see where you're at sometimes when your head is slumped on your chest wallowing in self pitty and moaning about how little climbing you've done lately. At times like that it seems every email and news item i read is about all my mates climbing everything in sight and ticking silly grades - Panic! But fear not, all i neaded was a wake-up!

Whilst waiting around one evening, idlely surfing, i came across and watched a Dave McLeod vid clip of him sending "Pressure", a font 8b problem up at dumbarton, Scotland ( ) ... over 100 days working one problem?!?! 4 winters!! Why didn't this click with me before?? I've never worked anything for more than an hour or two! I've never even redpointed a route properly in my life! PLUS I've spent that last year running my legs off and now finally have a decent base frame to build on... I am exactly where i wanted to be... And need a Goal!

I've climbed some pretty respectable things through sheer want and drive up untill now. I've always pushed myself to the edge of my abilities and managed to hang on. What could i achieve if i was actually fit to climb? I need a goal and i need to write it down so i cant avoid it! 8a for starters, anything with an 8 in it infact - trad aswell. Not that i want to turn it into a numbers game ... I just want to push myself - properly. I want to use these numbers as a bench mark to gauge where im at and hopefully help myself develop. Last september i took a brief trip to Siurana and then moved onto Ceuse when Caroline had to go to Turkey for the World Mountain running Champs. We hadn't climbed all year but in Ceuse I could work the 7c+s in Demilune to the chains no problems in quarter of an hour... but i had no stamina, i was soft to the pump. Thats gotta change. Thats my Goal.... now, how am i gonna do it?

First day at the Beach of 2007

Well the final cross country race of this seasons North Wales League was cancelled due to snow so we found ourselves with a day off - yep, Hit the Beach! Drove out towards Hollyhead to our favourite spot for some fresh air. Bit of a freak day - blizzard conditions near chester and beautiful calm warm spring evening further west... heres some pics

More Snow...

Drove out to Llangollen on friday to tidy up some loose ends only to find that everything had been closed down due to snow... having all the sensible people off the roads did make for some nice driving though...

Friday, 9 February 2007

Importance of blog

Just home after a lenghty drive through less than ideal conditions to a destination that i was assured would be open only to find it closed due to snow - ah well looks like the good people will hae to contain their excitement for another week. Anyway, on the way to and fro, i listened to some banter on the radio about the importance of keeping a diary and an honest one at that. Blog = Diary? cant really say - never was much use at keeping a diary - i never understood how people in the movies could get soo upset if someone read their diary, i mean whats the point of writing something if you never intent anyone to read it - i kind always thought it was like women wearing something revealing and then acting shocked or disgusted if a man stares at them... was that not their intention? Anywho... I really do like the thought of throwing out all the daily thoughts, scattering them out and trying to define each and in doing so make some sence of them and possibly make a decision on them as a result. This is what i hope this turns out to be. The fact the anyone can stumble across it adds to it in a way, for me at least, as it acts as a kind of mediating factor - if i try and be honest and just type without sensoring myself and what comes out reads like the anal rantings of a self obsessed chimp then thats what i must be at that point - and as such i need a wake up/kicking! A big part of my current training revolves around reflective writing - learning theories, styles etc... good practice and how i can better myself through critical self analysis and reflection. Well why should it stop at a professional level? If i act like a Shit to someone i should be able to pull myself up for it and try to correct it before it happens again etc... etc... yadda... yadda... yadda...

I really, really want to climb - Its been a while

Tuesday, 6 February 2007


Woke up this morning and dragged meself outa bed for the oul morning 5 miler completely oblivious to the fact that it had snowed overnight - one step out the fron door and i did a quick U-turn back in to put some leggings on! Deffinately not Shorts weather...

Rocky wasn't too sure what to make of all that cold white stuff either

Anywho, up to my short-N-curlies at the moment with work stuff so will post later with some more of whats actually going on in me noggin...

Monday, 5 February 2007

A new beginning....

Right then....

I've resisted and resisted and refrained and just not bothered until now - but i've given in to some tiny part of my self that wants to post into one of these blog things. I think i'm going to use this mainly as a means of just getting out some of the jumble thats in my head and in doing so hopefully make some sence of the assorted debris myself.... But what the hey - hopefully no-one will read the garbage i come out with anyway and i'll have just typed this out to myself

Get it? Have i got it?!? Lets try...

Lots happens to me - stuff happens all the time infact - constantly! The most recent thing of note - or maybe it's not the most noteworthy thing but its the thing thats still bouncing around my thoughts the most is I've said goodbye to my thrusty old Astra - my first ever car - and got meself a 307 with a bit of poke! Great! Money be damned - I've a diesel at last and can go wherever to do whatever, whenever i want! Great! Deffinately a good thing.

Heres a little Tribute to an abused and often under appreciated Opel Astra. This Car had driven over 80,000 miles with myself behind the wheel over a period of only 2 and a half years!! It had been all around Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales and even drove the entire length of france and back just to get me to the next crag and back! I salute you!

And heres the next Victim... Hmmm, Nice!