Monday, March 02, 2015

The Inverse Pain Distortion...

Arm feels almost pain free today. I twanged it yesterday on the final descent, saving myself from a fall. Today. Almost don't know it was injured. How does that work? Thinking of jaming my arms, legs and head in the door multiple times - if recent findings continue, I'll have the arms and legs of Arnold Schwarzenegger and the intellect of Albert Einstein...

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Walk In The Park...

If said park has a snow and hail machine and a massive cold air wind turbine....

I am, of course, referring to the conditions that presented themselves half way through the Tour of Torpantau. As I arrived at the car park in the middle of the mountains, conditions looked good. Vera did me proud in her herculean effort of hauling her massive frame up that bloody steep hill up to the car park, albeit if down in 2nd gear. Cold wind. Strong wind. Still, you can't grumble at not raining and some blue sky. Blue sky I tells ya - not sure why I went a little pirate there, moving on.

For those not in the know. The Tour of Torpantau - or TT as we don't call it - is not for the faint-hearted. Not only do you need to take a compass, more importantly, you need to know how to use it. A Full Kit Required fell race. Real belt and braces stuff - although they aren't mandatory. It is what we in the West Country call 'a proper job' fell race.

This year, being crap, old and slow, I decided to try something a little different and went west of Craig y Fan Ddu on the way out (and also on the way back but I always do that). I think it has some merit and if I could have found the trod I found on the return it would really be a goer. Said trod is around the 650m contour at the northern end and 620m at the southern end but doesn't go quite all the way to the main path.

Anyway, I pootled my way over the hill and far away, finally making it to check point one, summit Fan y Big. Conditions were starting to turn though. No longer was there blue sky. Pen y Fan now shrouded in hill fog and the wind felt a little more biting.

From there it was down into the valley and straight into the slog up to Cribyn. The first part is steep before becoming a more gently upward ridge run to the summit and check point two. Here conditions full on took a turn for the worse as the weather gods let rip with missiles of hail and a little snow - and that, my friends, is why we take full kit even when the sun is shining in the car park...

The return off Cribyn is normally a lush, fast descent. Today it was just a descent and I was glad when the hail eased a little. Face stinging with the cold, I took my normal slightly wider line on the approach to the steeper section, despite adding a little distance I find I can bomb down far quicker without having to apply any breaks.

At the bottom it was straight the final climb and before long - okay, who am I kidding - after many minutes I final got to the top ridge. The hail kicked in again on the climb before turning to rain. From there I retraced my steps back towards the southern end of Craig y Fan Ddu. Found the trod and the rest, as they say, is history.

I was glad I took Vera. There is nothing better than being able to change out of wet clothes without the wind and the rain lashing you. Okay, there are actually tons of things better than that but at that precise moment I couldn't think of any.



Thanks to the brave marshals at Fan y Big and Cribyn. It was not a day to be stood on a mountain. Well done to the runners and riders who braved the elements and lastly but most importantly, thanks to Andy B for putting the event on. His races are proper races and long may they continue...

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Ready But I'm Not Sure If I Want To...

The forecast for tomorrow in the Brecon Beacons doesn't look as dire as some would suggest - but it'll probably be nasty. Anyway I'm as ready as I'm going to be for the Tour of Torpantau. I think my arm won't hinder me too much - my lack of fitness might... It's going to be an early start for a Sunday though. Half seven is bad. Still at least it means we'll all be off the mountain by midday and pootling home shortly after that.

Gave Vera a spin today. Definitely needs a new battery. Half empty after just a few days but happily, with my new special technique, she fired on the second attempt tonight - will be taking the jump leads just in case though. Please note, no one is leaving the race car park after the race until Vera is purring!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Might Go The Other Side Of The Hill On The Way Out...

You know, I really might. Would be controversial but what the heck. The forecast is favouring the navigator - aka, it's going to be dire out there. I am, of course, talking about the Tor of Torpantau Fell Race on Sunday and yes, I think I will be able to run. The arm is much less troublesome so I say, bring it on.

Probably going orienteering training tomorrow and maybe even pick up a new battery for Vera on the way back. Yes, after much experimenting I have concluded I must've let the battery get too empty through lack of use, doing permanent damage. Going to set up a bi-weekly reminder to put the ol' gal on charge from now on...

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Bit Of A Surprise

My shoulder feels a lot better today! How did that happen? It was bad after my slip during yesterday's run. Maybe that slipped whatever was wrong back into place. It's still painful but ten times better. Whatever, I'm feeling more positive now. Not really going to be ready for the 20:20 but I think there's a chance I can make it the distance - if rather more slowly than I'd like.

Hopefully I'll be able to run Sunday's Tor of Torpantau now. Maybe even manage the orienteering training on Saturday too.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

That Wasn't The Plan...

Headed out for that run mid morning, after the strong winds had died down. The sun was shinning and it was warmer out than in - so I left it out - ooh, matron.

Route planned. I set off for the heart of the forest but I never made it that far. Barely past Flaxley I slipped and jarred my shoulder again. It had been feeling better but now I feels like it's back to square one. Dejected, I plodded back home.

From here on in over the next couple of months work is likely to be full on but maybe that's a good thing and will give the shoulder a chance to really mend. The Tour of Torpantau (this Sunday) is definitely in doubt which is a bit of a bummer as it's one of my favourites. I might go run it anyway and pretend I'm the safety back marker.

So the 20:20 and the come back hangs in the balance. Looks like we might be seeing the Trooper at that event instead. They do need some extra marshals by all accounts...

Monday, February 23, 2015

First Anniversary...

of the sour dough starter. I've actually managed to keep it going a full year - and not discarded too much that I didn't bake into something. Year number two begins...

So I've the day off work tomorrow - ahead of a somewhat busy period about to hit at work for a couple of months. I'm hoping to go for a flattish run in the forest, sticking to the tracks and trails. The aim is fifteen - miles not minutes. All depends on how annoying my arm becomes. Yes, it's still not good. It's improving but far from right and still painful. Not good. Hopefully the weather won't be too unkind and running in the forest will afford me some shelter. Fingers crossed...

Monday, February 16, 2015

Vera's Been Playing Up..

Haven't been able to get her going - ooh, er misses. I normally give her a spin once a week but after the sub-zero temperatures a couple of weeks ago she wouldn't go when I tried. Charging the battery didn't help. Still no joy so I decided to wait till this week and warmer temperatures. After a full charge she was still in a strop and wouldn't start. She cranked - slowly - but just wouldn't fire. Grrrrhhhhh.

Finally, the penny dropped... Why not use my car, parked not two feet away, to jump start her? So, car running, I linked the batteries with my bad boy jump leads - never quite sure which connection to make last - and cranked it....

Slow, barely better than when trying under the steam of her own battery, she stubbornly refused to fire but with the infinite - okay, not quite infinite but certainly many hours of power from the Kia C apostrophe eed - I tried again. And again. And with each attempt the cranking seemed stronger. Was that almost ignition? Again. Again. Fire godammit, fire. Again. Again... and finally the sweet purr of the engine as it lurched into life - sssh, don't mention the clouds of dark grey smoke hanging over Longhope! Thank f#(% for that. I was really beginning to think my plans for a trip away at the end of the month were in doubt.

Anyway, with the engine singing I took her for a twenty minute drive to shake out the cobwebs. When I got back, I switched off and left for half an hour to see how she would start - neigh, if she would start again.... Bang, first time. Almost instantly - so I went for another twenty minutes - just to make sure those cobwebs were well and truly blown away.

Hands up, I'm no mechanic but I wish I knew what the cold snap did to poor Vera. Mental note for the future, when it gets cold step up the weekly start to a daily one. Second, mental note, next time - if there is a next time - which I'm pretty sure there will be knowing me - remember I have a car which can be used to jump start....

Anyway, here endeth tonight's inane ramblings..... until the next time.....

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Less Painful But Still No Cigar

The shoulder is definately on the mend but remains very annoying. I managed a steady run today. It was the right call regarding not going to the cross country as I had to keep my arm still to avoid pangs of pain. There's no way I could have run hard. Hopefully the shoulder will be back to normal in a few days.

I ran the Flaxley loop, clockwise today. I'm not sure which is the easier direction - or, indeed, if there is an easier direction. Anyway, I really need to knuckle down to the training. The 20:20 Fission is fast approaching. At the moment I am confident I can make it round the twenty miles - just not confident I'll finish before sun down....

Friday, February 13, 2015

Yin And Yang

First the Yin. It didn't rain that much! I pretty much picked the gap in the weather to perfection. I had ten minutes of light drizzle to start and ten minutes on the run in as I headed back to the car. It was misty on the tops but excluding that the rest of the run was full on dry and I even had around thirty minutes of patchy blue sky.

And now for the Yang - and it's quite a big Yang. I have somewhat injured my left shoulder. No, not a fall. I think if I had fallen I wouldn't have got injured at all. No, it happened before I'd even got to Pen Cerrig Calch as I was crossing a boggy section - and there were lots of boggy sections up there today. I wasn't in a hurry and slowed to a walk. With great care I placed my left foot on a small grassy tuft - I find they tend to be firmer footing but as fate would have it, not today. It wasn't in anyway what could be considered solid ground, as my left leg sank beyond the knee and I lurched forward. With cat like reflexes my left arm shot out to arrest the fall but as I pulled myself free of the quagmire I got a shooting pain in my left shoulder.

Taking stock, as I'd only gone about 2km I decided to carry on but it wasn't entirely pleasant running despite the conditions being relatively favourable. Any small movement of my arm caused sharp pain in my shoulder so I ran on, left hand clutching the waistband of my rucksack to immobilise as far as possible my left arm from moving.

I was pitifully slow across Pen Cerrig to Pen Allt Mawr. The conditions underfoot were wet and icey so I just pootled. After that it became more runnable but I was still bothered by the pain in my shoulder. Finally, having reached Mynydd Llysiau, having struggled a little bit with balance across the flat frozen marshy plateau, I decided it probably wasn't wise to continue on so dropped down into the valley and headed for home.

In all I covered just under 22km and 800m ascent so I'm glad I got the run in but it remains to be seen if I'll make it to the orienteering tomorrow or, indeed, Sunday's cross country. I suspect my shoulder will feel even worse tomorrow. These things tend to feel worse before they get better...

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Just My Luck...

Day off tomorrow for a trip to the hills... and it's forecast to rain, rain and rain some more. I'm going to try and keep the faith despite that. Aiming for a loop of Pen Cerrig, Waun Fach, Pen y G and back down onto the road for the final two miles home. Provided I don't bottle it, it'll be a steady 25km - if somewhat soggy...

Up Saturday is the start of the Orienteering season - assuming I haven't missed one already and for Sunday? Yes, I shall be plodding round a muddy flat field. Yippee for leisure centre leaue cross country! It's a shame to have to miss the fell race Saturday hence why I'm planning a mountain run tomorrow to make up for that.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Well Not Quite..

...as I had it planned. My legs were sore so I downgraded to a short run through Flaxley Wood and another go on the static bike. Didn't take my gps so don't know how short a run it was but at 25 minutes - and at the pace I was going - it wasn't far.

The revised plan is for a better run tomorrow...

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Almost Proper Training...

Okay, not really that proper but I did at least head out with a plan in mind. The aim was off road, undulating and steady for the first half and then onto the road and push the pace to the end. It went okay and I stuck to the plan - although the start was a little more steady than I was intending. I couldn't seem to get going. Maybe it was the cold wind getting into my old bones.

I was pleased with how I finished along Blaisdon and Velthouse Lanes. I managed to maintain a pretty constant, increased pace all the way to the end. An effort of around 6km. Although my fast pace isn't really very fast at all it felt good to push hard and maintain it.

Strangely, I've never run today's route before in all the years I've been here but that's mainly because I either go for an off-road run or a road run and never before gone for a run of two halves! In all I covered just shy of 10 miles. I'm going to try and pick out a path in the woods on May Hill to eek out the extra 300m to make it into a full ten miler.

Once I got back into the warm I finished off with 45 minutes static bike, medium effort and then a beautiful warm shower. Ahhhh, just the ticket.

Anyway, I have no races planned for tomorrow. I've missed the boat for the Dursley Dozen which is full and I would quite literally die if I attemped to run the Long Mynd Valleys fell race so it'll be more of the same tomorrow although I might delve deeper into the forest if I'm feeling brave....

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Cheese!

Mozzarella cheese. I'm pleased with my first attempt. It didn't go exactly like the instructions said but turned out alright in the end. Oh, and I must get me some rubber gloves - ooh, matron. The kneading, stretching phase only works when it's hot. The instructions said I'd need the rubber gloves but I didn't have any.

Anyway, after a few short zaps in the microwave, some stretching as best I could manage without burning myself and a sprinkle of mixed herbs, it went from lumpy yuck to smooth herby mozzarella. It maybe ended up going a little stiff - ssh, stop it - but now I know how the process works hopefully I can completely nail it next time. Oh, and it tasted alright too, topping off my sourdough base pizza.