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January 21st, 2017

09:57 pm: Trying the SW Youth Comp boulders
Arriving at the Quay just as the day was winding down, we stopped in the cafe while the results of the youth comp were announced. Once things started to settle, we went down to give some of the competition boulders a quick try. The problems were fun and challenging — not a surprise given the effort the setters had put in ahead of the comp — but they were obvious set with smaller body shapes in mind, so a lot of it felt pretty bunched up; even E, who isn't exactly towering, commented on it...

11:00 am: Fifty-third parkrun
Another week and another less than great start to this morning's parkrun. Staring somewhere back from the front, I had to pelt the first section before settling in to a more manageable pace. Thanks to the congestion of people I couldn't really force my pace so I found myself holding back over the first klick only pushing hard once the press had thinned out a bit, allowing me to sustain a more even pace.

As we ran along by the leat I realised why we'd had some extra safety information at the pre-run briefing. Someone had been busy lopping down trees along the footpath and the heavy vehicles they'd used had churned up plenty of mud along the edge of the tarmacked part of the track. The section leading into the field was pretty muddy too and I hate to think what it was like after two hundred people had passed through.

Despite or, maybe even because of, my slow start, I picked up the pace over the last kilometre completing it at around the same pace as my opening K. Then, when I noticed that there was a chance I might be able to finish in under 20 minutes, I accelerated hard and completed the last section as quickly as I'd run the intervals at the start.

In the end I missed my target and finished in 20:06 but I'm not at all unhappy. Despite not managing another sub-twenty, I was within touching distance; I had enough left in the tank to push hard at the finish; and, best of all, it felt much easier than it had any right to feel.

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January 19th, 2017

08:10 pm: Reset central!
With the first round of this year's BMC Youth Comp rapidly approaching, the Quay was heaving with setters. The regular crew were working hard to reset the first boulder cave — I think the second is down to be stripped tomorrow. The area around the prow was also closed off, with Ben West and Cailean Harker down from Bristol to set some new lead routes. Should be good.


January 17th, 2017

06:58 pm: Solving the landfill problem...
I can't believe anyone else hasn't though of this:

Pure genius!

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January 16th, 2017

09:55 pm: Climbing and post-weekend mopping up
As I suspected based on news from E that there had been a power cut in Pinhoe on Saturday and the missed calls I'd got while we were out and about in the afternoon, most of the day was lost to mopping up a few last little things. I also discovered, slightly frustratingly, that the deadline for the paper I'd submitted last week had been extended by a week; hopefully this means that they're short of contributions and hence more likely to accept my proposal.

Went for another climbing session in the evening. E continued projecting the 6c she'd attempted on Saturday, successfully completing the crux and latching the big pinch but without enough in the tank to send the whole thing. After a few tries, we moved on to a fun 6c+ — another one of the routes Cal had set just before Christmas — with a set of opening moves with sketchy feet followed by a big bridge and an interesting top section. Although neither of us completed the route, together we were able to cover all the moves: I struggled with the few moves but crushed the rest; E managed the first moves very elegantly but couldn't reach through the bridge.

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January 15th, 2017

09:43 pm: Sunday distance running
With a rest from climbing on the cards, I went for a run instead and pushed the usual Sunday route out to 18K. I finished in a satisfactory hour and 18 minutes, putting my pace at around 4:20 a kilometre or around 90 minutes for a half-marathon. Not too bad for a training session...


January 14th, 2017

09:43 pm: How not to fall off your bike...
My parents have had an eventful week. Leading a ride for his cycle group, my dad was going round a right-hand bend when he discovered a car in his path. Swerving to avoid it, he hit the kerb, came off his bike, and collided with a tree. His helmet took the brunt of the impact but he seems to have hit his shoulder going down. His bike had survived unscathed, so he hopped back on and finished the ride. Despite a slightly tender shoulder, he went another ride with no apparent ill-effects.

Then, late at night, he was woken by a pain in his now-very-tender shoulder. My mum was a loss for what do when sudden the shoulder popped and the pain went away; clearly he'd managed to dislocate it while he was asleep and managed to put it back into place after waking up. The next morning, they went to A&E where X-rays revealed that he'd sheered off part of his glenoid cavity — the socket that joins the humerus to the scapula — in the accident, presumably triggering the later dislocation.

The consultant who examined him has decided on an extremely conservative wait-and-see course of treatment: he has to keep his arm in a sling, avoiding any activities like cycling that might jostle his shoulder, and they will check in two weeks to see how it is progressing. They told him that if he'd been younger and didn't have complicating medical conditions, they'd've considered surgery; but in his case it just wasn't worth the risk...

07:29 pm: First top-rope of 2017
Fun afternoon of climbing top rope with E, crushing a bunch of routes set just before Christmas. There was a 6a+ with some moves that E found reachy but which I could power through. There was a nice, balancy 6b on one of the slabs with a tricky start and a couple of fun hand-foot matches at the top. We both flashed a 6b+ route with lots of slopers which felt easier than the 6a+ and much easier than the other 6b we tried.

The afternoon's most difficult problem was a 6c which required a nice combination of power and technique. The route started with a balance on a couple of little foot chips and a shoulder press up to a right hand-foot on the first hand hold — a screw-on on the first volume — with the left hand on a screw-on on the second volume. This was followed by a pull up on a terrible pinch to get a foot on the second volume. The first few times I tried it, I lent out right and got my foot up parallel to the wall, making it almost impossible to generate any leverage.

I switched places with E, who came up with the right beta: putting enough trust in the pinch to lean out from the wall and get a left foot up perpendicular to the wall, making it possible to pistol up into a nice hands-off rest. We swapped over again and I gave the route a go with the new beta for the crux. The next hold was a sketchy little pocket that actually worked better as an sloper followed by a tricky smear to get enough height to latch a huge, open-handed pinch up to the right. Pulling up on that gave enough reach to get to a decent crimp out left and a little balancy move for the final hold. After I'd sent it E had another bash, but lacking my span she struggled to get enough height to latch the pinch; even with a smear she was only able to tap the bottom of it, but it was a solid effort and she was only held back by her lack of reach.

Pausing for tea, we were surprised to find the cafe much busier than normal. Despite seeing the email, I'd failed to remember tonight was the night of the BMC's South West Area Meeting and the place was busy with people waiting for it to start. Once the meeting had opened, things calmed down and we settled on one of the sofa for tea and a natter...

11:30 am: Fifty-first parkrun
A decent turnout despite the cold temperatures and an unpleasant northerly wind making the return leg distinctly unpleasant. Finished in an adequate time of 20:31 despite a terrible start: I was too far to the right and had to wait for a bottleneck to clear before moving off. I still managed to finish 12th out of 327 and I was only a second behind the person who finished 11th. Not too shabby, presumably because the whole field was impacted by the arctic headwind — I was certainly glad of the extra protection given my new 50 club t-shirt!

M was there for her second week in a row and pulled an impressive one out of the bag: sub-30 minutes and two minutes quicker than last week's time.

While I was waiting around at the finish, a guy on a bike cycled past and I didn't realise it was local MP Ben Bradshaw until someone else pointed it out. Kudos to him for braving the ice...

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January 12th, 2017

09:47 pm: Sniffing out infections
Via the Guardian the charming story of Angus the springer, who has been hired by Vancouver General Hospital to sniff out sources of c. difficile. He's a very photogenic chap — the article mentions that they picked a floppy-eared breed because they didn't want people to feel intimidated. He even seems to have his own ID card, prompting my sister to ask whether the piece mentions if he is eligible for free parking...

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