Sunday, March 29, 2015

Forest Spectation

The forest, at the end of March, can mean only one thing. The Forest of Dean Half Marathon. And no, I didn't run it but I did have a little bimble about watching some of it.

From where I parked up I cut it fine but just made it to the half way point to see the leaders go through and at that point they were three minutes ahead of the rest. I had to run solidly to get there.

I stayed there for quarter of an hour before heading out again to warm myself up. My next and final spot of spectating was about a mile from the finish. I put in bursts of effort on my way there, watched for ten minutes and then headed back to the car. In all I covered about twelve km with some good efforts mixed in amongst the bimbling.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Absolutely, Definitely, Without Any Doubt, Getting Too Old For This Shit...

Well that could've gone better. My return to the road was not entirely successful. When I say not entirely successful, what I really mean is, it was agonising total fail. I did complete the twenty miles though, so at least I keep my record of never not completing a race I've started.

It started off okay. I was like the pacing version of a metronome for the first ten miles. Almost every mile was a 7:35 give or take a few seconds. As soon as I hit ten though, it was an altogether different story. In the space of the next couple of miles I was down to a crawl - almost literally. The pound of the tarmac took its toll and my legs decided they'd had enough. The last eight miles were a hobbling, stopping to stretch and rub, unending nightmare - except it did finally end once I reached the finished.

The race itself, the 20:20 Fission, 20 miles or 20km, was a good route, well organised and marshalled as you'd expect from the Rogue Runs crew. Not a huge fan of race T-shirts as they usually look naff - hark at me, style fashion guru - but this one bucks the trend.

I think I'm going to stick with it though. I need to toughen up a bit - and actually do some training - but then I always threaten that....

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Not The Best Prep...

It has been a busy week at work, starting with 14 and a half hours on site Monday - and that's not counting the 3 hour drive there and back. That has pretty much zapped me for the rest of the week. I'm getting old. Once we started the upgrade of the control system, and the point of no return was reached, then we had no choice but to keep going - the same could be applied to the 20:20 Fission I guess.... Definitely hasn't been the best build up for a tough race. I am severely hoping that tomorrow goes well and we get finished early.

Sunday, March 15, 2015


Well that was a bit of a thorny disaster - I think I should've gone to the cross country instead! But I'd committed to the Compass Sport Trophy qualifier before I realised there was a clash so had to go.

On the upside of a really crap run, I finally saw the 'monument you can see to the south of the Malverns ridge run' up close - and in case you were wondering, no that's not its official name. Yup, it's a big, tall monument thing. I've always looked at it from the ridge and 'thought one day I'll pay it a visit'. Today was that day although I didn't have time to stop and get a proper look.

Now had the monument been in the middle of the bramble fields I found myself trapped in - not once but twice - then, quite possibly, I'd have had time to take some etchings and a few sketches for my scrap book. As it was, I was happy just to get free with only minor cuts although it cost me lots of time. But then everyone was in the same boat so musn't grumble.

On the whole I didn't navigate too badly but the couple of errors I did make were big and those combined with becoming bramble-fast twice meant I had a really slooooowwww time and fully expect to be close to, if not totally, last.

Now relaxing in the chill zone back home. Yes, the boiler broke down yesterday and I'm crossing my fingers it can be fixed early this week - without costing too much. So not only am I two coats at work I'm now two coats at home too!!!

We didn't qualify for the final :-( but I was, if the results are correct - and I'm reading them right, part of the scoring team! And that's a first! If only I hadn't got myself bramble-fast....

PS, I don't actually have a scrap book 

Thursday, March 05, 2015

A Two Coater..

Yes, on site for an operational test I took - and wore - two coats. A fleece lined jacket and my puff jacket over the top. Just call me the michelin man - and it very nearly kept me warm - I said very nearly. By three my feet were chilled to the bone. A successful day though so musn't grumble.

Looking forward to Saturday's Dare Valley fell race. My arm is all but sorted - famous last words. Should be good fun, five times out and back along the flat road by the car park....

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....