Saturday, August 01, 2015

Show Time....

The Llanthony Show that is. I've never been before - and never will again.... Just kidding. I really enjoyed the relatively uncomplex fell race. A pootle up to the Offa's Dyke ridge. A pootle along the ridge. And a pootle back down to the showground. I had a reasonable run. True, I was pants on the way up. Wasn't too bad along the ridge and then came into my own on the descent. Relatively rough, stoney technical followed by rutted, break your ankle fields. Mint. I do like a race with a good finish. It was once at the finish I was verbally abused - by Vanessa. The implication of me finishing not far behind Matthew wasn't that I had had a good run, more that he had run like a one legged donkey - and despite protestations that she didn't mean that, the hole that was being dug just kept getting deeper... ;-) And I can't finish without mention of the great Show announcer man, the man on the microphone, the host with the most - okay, I'll stop now. He gave a great commentary on all of the days events - although he didn't mention Dennis' rosette in the dog show.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

A Very Social Run...

So the weather was true to the forecast. It was close to perfect as we, that's seven of us, set out from Tal-y-Bont on our loop of the reservoir. It was quite a far reaching loop though. First heading up to Craig y Fan before heading over to Allt Lwyd. From there it was down to the road at Abercynafon, following the South Wales Traverse route.

We deviated off the route a little on the way towards Cefn yr Ystrad to avoid the field, and followed the main track instead. Back on route I drew comments of 'are you sure?' on the way back onto the hillside - and to be honest for a few moments I wasn't quite sure myself! But it had to be right, it was in the right place just not as 'pathy' as it should have been. Turned out it was right, just very very overgrown and under used but we came out at the stile so that put an end to the doubts...

From there it was fairly open, rough running up and across to the quarry but the views were great. It's not often I take a moment to look at the views and with the sun shinning it was worth doing just that. Upon reaching Ystrad summit Matthew convened a forum to discuss if we were actually on the summit or not. Resorting to the map, we decided we were. It was then he sneakily loaded a rock into my back pack! I caught sight of him trying to add another - only at the time I didn't realise it was rock number two...

We headed off from the summit out of the quarry and down to the forest, to the north and a very pleasant path back towards Tor y Foel. Upon reaching the base of Tor y Foel Matthew decided to unload my backpack of the extra weight!

Finally, having gone up and over, and a minor deviation, we reached the dam and our days running was complete. I felt pretty good at the finish and it was pleasing to get in 25km with 4,000ft of ascent. I'm feeling fitter with every run...

Friday, July 24, 2015

Looking Forward To Better Weather Tomorrow...

It's forecast to be really good - but when has that ever mattered when it comes to the weather.. Let's hope for once the forecast is correct. Should be a good pootle around the hills near Tal-y-bont.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Day Off Number One...

Didn't do much really. Spent an hour and a half pressure washing the van - it was really really filthy. The tree in the front garden seems to shed sap on it when it rains. It ain't exactly sparkling even now but it looks slightly less anti-social disorder/neighbour from hell...

Up next, I made a dash to the recycling centre - or the tip, as we used to call it. Street side collections are great an' all but not when they don't collect half the stuff I have to recycle.

So then it was run time. A nice loop of the Sallowvallets area. It was quite a good run. I'm feeling stronger. I'd almost claim I'm getting my old climbing legs back but that would be a lie. Give it another couple of months though..

Finally it was paperwork time as I prepared the stuff needed for Novembers orienteering. And now it is time to chill...

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Little Bit Of Green...

Been out this afternoon checking the green course for Novembers Trellech. I do believe I'm almost there on all courses bar a few minor tweaks. Just need to get all the paperwork sorted now...

Surprisingly, despite not racing yesterday, my legs were quite heavy. Which hopefully means I worked quite hard yesterday. So it wasn't the greatest training but I did run some bits - when I wasn't fitting the forest. And I can say the forest was really bloody overgrown in places but it should be died down by November.

Anyway, looking onwards to the comeback, I'm keen to get my travel arrangements booked for Octobers Mourne Skyline Mountain-Trail Race - only 35k race, incorporating 3,370m of ascent - should be a doddle! Once the travel is booked that'll really focus the mind...

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Not A Bad Days Marshalling...

The weather was almost glorious - for those running it probably was full on glorious but the wind was chilling as I stood at check point three waiting for the runners to arrive and department.

So anyway, I set off half an hour before kick off, loaded with my backpack that included a litre of emergency water - didn't expect that. That made it a little harder work but all the better training effect. As I neared the location of check point one, just before the race due to start, back down in the valley, I began to worry I'd left it a little late....

I began to up the effort rate a little in order to make it to my marshalling spot. It's surprising how much quicker and runnable the route gets after the main climb is out the way and as it turned out I needn't have worried as I arrived at my position with plenty of time to spare - about fifteen minutes.

As I said, the wind up top was chilling and I had to put on my waterproof to stave off the worst of it. Before long the runners started to arrive and it didn't take long for the entire field to pass through. Making sure I'd seen the last runner through, and not wanting to hang around as I was getting cold, I set off down to the finish - and I didn't hang around.

I descended quite well, and okay, I had a bit of a rest at the top, but Strava tells my I got a segment PB on the final fort climb! A good days training all in all.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Waun-ted To Run But I'm Helping Instead...

... at tomorrow's Waun Fach fell race. I'm still going to run the route though - albeit with a huge midway break as I marshal the summit. It won't quite be the same but someone's got to step up or there wouldn't be a race for anyone.

Anyway, it's not been the greatest of training weeks. Ahhhhh, I'm slipping... Managed to get out for a run this evening. Bit of time trial to see how I'm progressing so that meant the Hobbs Quarry loop. I should quantify that 'time trial', in this case, meant trying to run at similar effort level to my other runs over the route. Another 37s quicker with similar average heart rate so, despite having a bit of a slack week, things are still moving in the right direction. I'm two minutes up on my time set a month ago.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Wiped Out...

Well I did it and boy am I feeling zonked now. I was a minute slower than last year, most of that lost on the ascent. Conditions at the start were less than pleasant as intermittent strong winds and rain blew through. True to my word, I was Chepstow vested up today - none of this wearing of water proofs nonsense. No, I stared into the face of the rain - and it pissed all over me. It didn't last though. By the time I eventually made it to the Fan y Big summit the rain had all but died out and it wasn't long before the sun came out.

I was better on the descent, making up a good number of places. By the time I reached the road section I was down to empty and fully expected to be overtaken - but I wasn't. In fact, I gained one more place before eventually making it to the finish.

Big thanks to Mynydd Du, as always, well organised and some great after race snacks. The weekend has provided more decent training as the come back continues...

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Well That Was Bloody Hard Work...

and it's going to be even harder work tomorrow. The Fan y Big race is double the distance!!

Back to today and the weather was just about perfect. Almost too perfect, in fact, but as I broke out the sunblock the cloud subsequently closed in.

I was pants as ever on the ascent. The Pen y Fan fell race is pretty much all about the ascent. You can make something back on the steep descent but not as much as you can lose going up. I lost just over a minute on last year, summiting in a lowly 34:40. My silver lining was indeed making something back on the descent. 18s quicker than last year. I was slower overall but only by 50s. I'll be faster next year....

Friday, July 10, 2015

So No Training Tonight..

It was on the schedule but in the end I went out with the family - and no, I wasn't about to go out for a run at eleven after I got home. Going to fill in with a very easy run tomorrow ahead of the weekends double header - don't want to tire myself out. Almost have withdrawal symptoms for not having run. This time, after many false dawns, the comeback really is going to happen....

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

It's All Closing In...

Talk about brambles and nettles. I was reduced to a fight through the undergrowth on a few occasions tonight and have cuts a plenty and itchy nettle stung legs for my efforts. I ran two 5k efforts but with the state of the public footpaths I really wasn't very fast. I think it's time for the hand scythe...

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Final Days Rest...

Before I crack back on with the training. Feeling more restored to normal today so I did a very easy session on the exercise bike while catching up on some paperwork. Tomorrow I resume the proper training. Well when I say proper training, I mean general running about without any specific focus. The plan is a run tomorrow, a run Thursday, rest Friday and then hit the Brecon Fans races on the weekend...

Sunday, July 05, 2015

The Saunders Supremacy...

The road trip 'oop north' started well - we left on time but then it started to go a little wonky half way up the M6 as we crawled along at a snails pace for mile after mile - it wasn't a good omen. We did finally make base camp though and Neil, Paul and myself were in good spirits as we stood back to admire our marvellous erections - the tents, you grubby lot. I was almost looking forward to the two days of running around the Coniston area of the Lake District - I did say almost. The rest of the gang, Vanessa, Matthew, Esther, Andy C turned up and apparently Andy and Gill were already there - but chose the executive campsite over slumming it with the hoi polloi...

Anyway, we needn't have set the alarm clocks for Saturday morning as we were awoken to a most massive thunder storm - the tent held up though. Luckily the rains stopped before we needed to head out and with breakfast cooked and consumed we made our way to the start. It was from there things went a little wrong....

We had somewhat of a navigation failure on the way to control one and lost many minutes but we soon worked out what we'd done, relocated and soon found it - but not before meeting Andy and Steve. They left us in their wake on the way to control two but neither them nor us achieved success in finding it quickly - although I blame the map - and that's my last word on the matter. After having finally found the right stream and the associated bend with the control marker we headed down and across to control three - which we equally poorly failed to find quickly but eventually did.

From there things picked up as we absolutely nailed control four and five - I won't mention that they were part of the mandatory crossing point... Seriously though, from there we didn't really make any more mistakes and finished in just over six hours and good spirits, At the end of day 1 we were sitting at 23rd overall (of 52ish) and 6th vet team - better than we expected bearing in mind our rather less than good start...

We pitched our tent and successfully cooked dinner and a brew - nothing wrong there. Chatting with the rest of the gang we awaited the arrival of the late finishers. It was from the moment Matthew arrived that it all started to unravel... I suddenly came over nauseous. I'm only joking about any connection between my feeling sick and Matthews arrival. But I did feel seriously nauseous and although I wasn't actually sick I couldn't even consider the cheese and biscuits. In fact I felt so off I just climbed into the tent in the hope I'd feel better - it didn't work - and I didn't sleep much that night either, as my stomach rumbled and bubbled like the witches cauldron from 'The Scottish Play'.

In the morning, determined not to retire, Neil and I prepared for the day ahead - although I wasn't feeling much better. I managed the cheese and biscuits from the night before and some water but couldn't manage anything further - not a good sign of things to come...

And to debunk those unfounded rumours circulating on the internet that The Un-dynamic Duo of Neil and I retired after Day 1, NO WE DIDN'T. We started day 2 and made an okay start. We reached control one in a reasonable time but I was struggling and shortly after I threw up. We carried on and headed to control two. I tried to stay hydrated but even sipping the drink made me feel nauseous.

We navigated to control two - or rather Neil did and I just tried to follow as best I could but I knew at that point I couldn't make it. We sat down at control two for a couple of minutes and I ate a gel but that made me heave and without being able to get the fuel in I was in trouble. There's a time to dig deep and there's a time not to die... so we took the decision to head home. We had a decent escape route back to the road. Had we attempted to get to control three it would have been a much more difficult task to extract myself off the hill.

Glad to be back home now and feeling much better but still a little off. Hopefully a good night's sleep will see me sorted... The worst part of the whole weekend was that I wasn't able to drink my pre-ordered can of Scrumpy Jack at the half way camp - see, I told you I was ill.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

And The Trot Makes Twelve...

Even if I was a little naughty by running the Tintern Trot tonight with the Saunders Mountain Marathon on the weekend. I took it very easy for most of the race though and it felt good to run the climb steadily, almost comfortably - and I know two weeks ago that would not have been the case. I can feel the desire to run the fastest race I can is returning. Merely going the distance doesn't feel good enough any more. It's time this old nag started acting more like a race horse again...

PS, I'll be fully recovered for Saturday Neil, honest.