Sunday, August 30, 2015

All Trooped Out...

Standing relatively still for five hours is surprisingly hard work! My feet are a little sore - I think my mud claws have more cushioning than today's footwear.

Well done to everyone who ran or helped at today's Severn Bridge Half Marathon. Lot's of smiling faces present both before and after. My favourite moment of the day was helping a few of the gang extricate two thousand five hundred medals from their individual plastic bags. It was like shelling peas from a pod - okay no, it wasn't anything like shelling peas from a pod.

Off for a longer run tomorrow. There is the Machen but it's a longish drive for just 4 miles so be nice to run locally and chill before back to work Tuesday.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Four Fans-tastic!

That's the title I would have gone with, had the hill fog remained during the race. As it was, it was light drizzle throughout and unfortunately good visibility for most of the race. With my navigational edge lost and my fitness low I decided to try out a few new things.

First I used the south west descent off Fan Frynych . It wasn't actually too rough. Steepish but not too severe. It wasn't a bad route but I'm pretty sure it's slower than my normal route. Was all fairly normal from there. The tussocky descent from Nedd. The not too scary river crossing. The direct line ascent to Fan Llia before another slight change from normal.

I took a much more northerly route down into the valley towards the sheepfolds, just south of Nant Mawr. It took the steepness out of it and the entire drop was really fast plus the river wasn't quite so raging - raging enough to be ever so slightly scary though. A quick crossing it was not.

Then it was the slog to the top. I got a pretty good line to reach the top plateau only about 200m shy of the checkpoint cairn. I was pleased with that seeing as how the route choice had been a bit ad-hoc. From there I took the side descent taking a line pretty much directly towards the Storey Arms before picking up the normal path down to the finish.

All in all a good day out 'running' a real proper fell race. Can't finish without thanking the summit marshals out there today because it couldn't have been hugely nice for them - oh, and thanks Andy B for one of the best races in the calendar...

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Not Such A "Sweet Little Mystery"...

Yes, that's right folks. Tomorrow's Four Fans is going to be Wet, Wet, Wet - did you see what I did there?

Conditions looks to be pretty horribly. 80-90% chance of heavy wet stuff. At least it only says breezy so it might be a day for ditching the glasses and cracking out the contact lenses. Either way it's definitely going to be conditions to suit the navigators amongst us...

In summary, make sure you take your full waterproof kit 'cause I don't think the windproofs are going to cut the mustard tomorrow!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

It Wasn't The Best Of Recces...

but at least I have a feel for the other ways down from Fan Frynych. The mountain forecast's "30% chance of precipitation and some good views out of the mist" turned out to be rain the entire time and bugger all views through the extensive hill fog - not ideal conditions for a recce. That's two wet ones in a row. Wonder which recce will be the third?

Anyway, I set off from the van, having parked in the lower layby and headed up to join the Beacons Way. I got a pretty good line across the corner cut considering I couldn't be arsed to get the compass out and visibility was 100m.

From Fan Frynych I decided to try for the south western track as shown on the OS 50k but I wasn't entirely sure there's anything there as I couldn't see it on the satellite maps and the 25k doesn't show it. So I turned off the main path at the cairn and initially dropped off south before contouring to see if I could intersect any paths or trods but didn't find anything decent until I was down to within a few hundred metres of the valley path. I did think about seeing how far that went back up but I was getting soggier by the minute and I wasn't having the most fun I've ever had so decided to carry on. The valley path was quite pleasant even in the rain.

Once I got to Roman Road I followed it up a little (in race direction) to get a feel for how much 'up' it will involved because I am shocking at ascending these days - having said that I'm not exactly good at the flat or descent either but I'm definitely worse going up.

Then I returned to the hill and made my way up, across the rough stuff, to the main path and onwards back to Fan Frynych. I did a pretty fine job of hitting the path even if I do say so myself because I wasn't sure where to head off the Roman Road and couldn't see that far ahead through the rainy fog - and still couldn't be arsed to get out the compass - but I hit it smack on.

Once past FF it was back along the Beacons Way again - no corner cut this time - and back to the van to change into dry clothes for the drive home.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Looking Good For Tomorrow

Four Fans here I come - except it's only going to be three fans. And now I think about it, two of those are going to be the same one twice. Am I making any sense? - I sincerely hope not. It's time I looked at the other route options and tomorrow is that time...

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Let's Hope Tomorrow Will Be Better...

At my desk by 07:00 for what turned out to be a twelve hourer isn't my most favourite working pattern. Still, I learnt a little more as I sorted things out with my colleague. It's always good to gain a bit more knowledge - in the event I find myself deciding to move on....

Hopefully tomorrow will be of a more normal duration and then Thursday I'm off to recce the bits of the Four Fans I've not reconnoitred before.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Legs Recovering..

Jeez, my legs are aching today. Surprisingly it's my quads not my poor cramped calves - they're feeling fine - okay, fine is over stating it...

Anyway, I've been busy in the kitchen today. With a glut of tomatoes, all ripening at the same time, I cooked up some tomato relish/jam/chutney - call it what you will. Harvested the last of the basil for a batch of pesto - some of which I then used on my sourdough based pizza for tea.

Ah well, back to the grind stone tomorrow :-( 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Well That Was Hard Work...

Conditions were good if a little on the hot side for the first hour. Sunblocked up we set off at 10:30 on the 19mile loop and 1400m ascent that is the Brecon Beacons fell race.

I started steadily and eased into it on the first long slog to Carn Pica and then held a good pace across the top and the ridge. The climbs to Cribyn and Pen y Fan weren't quick but not a disaster. The ridge run towards the trig that I don't know the name of, however, went a bit a wrong. I was running okay but I had a few tummy troubles - let's just say we won't mention the name Paula. From there I went down hill fast - but not in a good way...

By the time I got the other trig point that I also don't know the name of (second to last check point) I was beginning to dehydrate and cramp set in. Despite seeing Tor y Foel in the distance it didn't seem to get any closer as my pace took a dive. It took forever to finally reach the base of Tor y Foel and for a moment I was tempted to end the agony and skip it but I have my record to uphold - the never not finished a race I've started thing.

So I eventually made the summit of TyF before the fast descent - okay, not so fast today - back down to the finish. My competitive spirit kicked in, despite losing place after place along the ridge, as I pushed to gain one meaningless place. That, as it turned out, wasn't the greatest thing to have done because as I reached the dam my calves completely and totally cramped and I was reduced to a pitiful hoppy walk affair in order to retain the place I'd gain on the descent. Finally across the line, the agony was at an end. Except it wasn't as I had to get back the van in order to change. I spent ten minutes easy stretching which had a measure of success. After a further twenty minutes, changed and feeling cleaner, I felt more human - and could walk a little more normally.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Looks Like The Beacons Are Go..

I'm finally beginning to believe the forecast for tomorrow. As the rain washed in this morning I thought I'd be giving tomorrow a miss - not actually the day that will be tomorrow, obviously, but the race that takes place on the day that will be tomorrow. The Brecon Beacons Fell Race looks to be a goer - because I sure as heck wasn't going if it was as wet as the recce. I reckon it should be close to ideal - apart from the lack of some mist (dryish mist not wet stuff) to help the slower navigators amongst us...

My target time (that I'm not going to achieve) is my time from 2010 - has it really been five years since I last ran the Brecon Beacons? - 3hr 37mins. Come what may, it will be good to finally race it anti-clockwise...


PS 'race' in the loosest possibly sense.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Well I'm Glad I Took The Day Off Work For That...

The forecast said scattered light showers and some strong gusts - which, to be fair, there were. What the forecast omitted to mention was that, between those light showers and gusts, there would be constant, driving rain and gale force winds. Up on top the rain stung the face like being shot by a paint gun. Pleasant it was not and in the end, conditions defeated us as we beat retreat from the hill via the forest track running below the final ridge.

So in the end our full Brecon Beacons recce turned out to be not quite the full monty. By the finish, wet through - hands wrinkled like I'd been in the bath too long - we'd clock up around 30km with 1350m of ascent. So despite everything it was still decent training. Just wish it could have been drier training.

Oh, and for the record, if the forecast on the day of the race is for scattered light showers then you can count me out because I'm not going through that again...  

Monday, August 03, 2015

Last Time...

I reccied the Anti-Clockwise Brecon Beacons race I never made it to the actual race... In fact, I've never made it to the anti-clockwise race...

Hopefully the weather won't be too unkind during a full recce tomorrow. I feel like I'm getting fitter and stronger but 19 miles is, well, 19 miles and I'm not sure how well I'll stand up to that.

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.