Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ciabatta So Wet It Was More Pancake Batter

The sourdough starter needed a feed today. It's been in the fridge but the dreaded watery layer was forming. Cue an impromptu ciabatta with the discard. Using 'The Force' as my guide I added the flour, making a very sticky dough. Instead of adding a bit more I decided to try a hands off, no knead approach. It really was too sticky to handle. So with the flour and starter well mixed, I left it for eight or so hours to 'brew'.

To say the natural yeast was active was an understatement. Pouring the sprawling mass onto the baking sheet I kind of scooped it into shape and left it another half hour to rise slightly. Now baked it actually looks proper! I've not cut into it yet, so it might just be one big hole but surprisingly it does look the part...

Oh, and I started a run but knocked it on the head early because I still can't run fast enough to be worthwhile. Instead I resorted to ninety on the bike. On a positive note, I don't think I'm far away now. I certainly felt more comfortable than Monday. Hoping to squeeze in a steady longish run early Saturday before going to the Ball.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Swings And Roundabouts

On the upside, my back feels okay. It was bad last night but it's feeling pretty free today. On the downside my ribs feel a bit worse. A short term downside I'm hoping.

So it's been a rest day today. Hopefully, with continued rest, I'll be up to a run tomorrow.

Monday, April 21, 2014

I Battled The Back But There'll Be A Price To Pay Tomorrow

I'm glad I ran the Gilwern Grunt today but almost every step sent pangs of pain to my lower back. The ribs, on the other hand - or torso - were fine. Mainly on account of the fact I was never able to run quick enough to require deeper breathing. They maybe gave a little discomfort on the ascent of Gilwern Hill where I was able to do some overtaking, requiring more air in the lungs. I was able to ascend almost as quickly as I was able to run the flat.

The 10 mile route was interesting and pretty much as described, ticking all the boxes of all terrain types. There were tussocks, a little bog - but not too much, thankfully. There were a few technical sections - up and down. A steep descent. A steepish ascent. Some steps up. Some steps down. Some woodland paths. A little bit of Monica in my life. A little bit of Erica by my side. A little bit of Rita is all I need.. I mean some road, some track and perhaps just a little trail. Pretty much everything. The only thing it didn't have was a lap of the running track but there was one at the school so perhaps next year....

The organisation, as ever, was spot on. What you can never take into account for is that the local yobs taking down some of the route markers. Why they do it, one can only surmise. Perhaps they believe it to be the crime of the century, earning the respect of their dim-witted peers. Or perhaps they are truly are just witless numb-nuts with zero imagination, charging head long into a life on the dole and petty criminality before an early grave from obesity - we can hope on that bit at least.

I, along with most of the field, did not follow the route over or around Gilwern Hill on account of lack of said markers but we picked up the path on the other side - of the hill, not the afterlife - and carried on to the finish without further issue. I reckon it probably shortened things by half a kilometer or so. And if I'm honest, being completely uncompetitive, plodding towards the back of the field as I was, I was happy to reduce the pain - I mean distance.

I'm guessing I will be paying the price tomorrow though. I suspect, just getting out of bed is going to be a challenge...

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Is Going To Grunt Tomorrow

Fact. My ribs are still sore. I can't lift my legs by themselves but I'm going to run - although I think I should get half price entry on account of only going through the motions. And if tomorrow's Gilwern Grunt race ( isn't the greatest multi terrain race in the world - EVER - then I shall be having words with Mr C. I'm practically standing up, picking up my mat and running for this one...

Tonight's homemade pasta and homemade pesto with chilli (first of the new season - yippee) and chorizo - not homemade - should be good carb loading.

Hoping the rain stops though, it's piddling down!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Still Not Quite Fully Operational

I'm saving myself for Monday's race so I decided to miss today's Sugarloaf race. Not sure whether that's sensible but when did that ever worry me. Still, I've not wasted the holiday weekend. I got my potatoes out - ooh, matron. My onions sown - shhh, stop it - and I've also sown a couple of rows of beetroot. The digging wasn't easy and despite being in raised beds and only lightly compacted, it was still a bit back aching. And I'm not going to mention cats. Bloody cats... Raised beds are not litter trays from the land of the giants, grrrh.

I've also sown another batch of basil and coriander as the first batch doesn't seem to be doing much. Maybe I started them off too early. Hopefully this batch will be substantially better. I can't wait to get cracking on some more home grown pesto. On the chilli front, they are starting to kick into life. Hopefully I'll have my own supply again before long. My stock from the freezer ran out a month ago so I'm currently having to buy them in! And lastly but not least, I've sown the tumbling tom tomatoes.

Well, that's the fruit and veg report over for the time being. Hopefully I'll have some actually running to report soon. The Marlborough Downs Challenge in three weeks is looking a little dodgy.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Still Doubtful For The Grunt

Haven't been as freely moving today as I'd hoped. I'm still a little way from fully mobile. I'm keen to run on Monday (see ), if just to see that it lives up to the hype - and knowing the organisers I'm pretty sure it will. So not one to be missed me thinks. Come on tomorrow, make things right...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Back To Bikesics

I managed an hour but it was a little uncomfortable but not what I would call painful. I'm moving a lot more fluidly but still I'm still seizing a little bit when I've been sat down for too long - yep, there's a solution there..

I'm looking forward to feeling much improved tomorrow. Maybe the RogueRuns Gwil-something Grunt on Monday might not be out of the question. I hope I'm able to run. Fingers crossed...

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Pretty Sure It's Just A Bruised Rib

Don't make me laugh, cough, sneeze or move quickly. It's a bit of bummer. Not sure when I'm going to be able to run again. Can't even manage the static bike at the moment. I'm hoping tomorrow will permit me at least that. I'm not sure I'll be running till next weekend...

The only slight worry is that the low left ribs seem to flex inwards, more easily than the right - with associated pain - but I'm hoping that's hypercondria and there's really no difference.

But what a weekend of sunshine - and I couldn't properly enjoy it. If ever there was a time for me to live up to my claim of indestructibility now is it. Running by Tuesday...

Friday, April 11, 2014

Over Garlic'ed The Pizza

But it was still good - and has the positive side effect of keeping the vampires at bay. I went with wholemeal to the starter discard this time. It worked really well. I think tomorrow's sourdough loaf is going to be a wholemeal...

I managed the hill reps yesterday but somehow I wasn't quite on it. Tonight, saving myself for what will surely be a awesome display of orienteering tomorrow*, I put in an hour on the bike. Been a short week but as challenging as ever. Bring on the weekend and partay time.

* stop laughing

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Not Quite...

Ready for the reps but I'm pretty sure I will be tomorrow. The legs are much better but not quite ready to sustain hill reps. There is an outside chance work might do me up like a kipper tomorrow but other than that I'll be ready.

Looking towards the weekend there's the Minchinhampton orienteering on Saturday and then it's partaay time. A night out in Bristol. Been a while and can't really afford to turn it down. Unfortunately, with the Bridge over the River Kwai - or Severn, as it's more commonly known - closed on Sunday there's almost no chance I can get to Offa's Orra in time by going the long way round. Of course it'll have absolutely nothing to do with the fact I meet be a little the worse the wear.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Still Hamming It Up

But I did run. Just not the hill sprints. Not even hill reps. Instead, being in the office with a pair of still tight hamstrings, I hastily arranged a lunch run over Dundry to avoid the curse of the sofa. TCOTS is a scary one that'll have you cowering behind, yes, the sofa...

It was far from fast and I just couldn't stride out. The uphill was okay, my stride short. It was the downhill and flat where I could feel the tightness. Don't think it's done any harm though and I'd rather run a slow one than not at all. Having said that, I'll be surprised if my legs are functional enough for reps tomorrow.

Monday, April 07, 2014


My hamstrings are still feeling tight but other than that I feel okay. Not sure they will be recovered in time for my planned hill sprints tomorrow. May have to push them back to Wednesday. I certainly don't want to risk anything snapping or going pop. Still feeling buoyed by my run on Saturday.

Turning thoughts to more mountain training, I've been looking at possible routes for my next Lakes trip at the end of May. This certainly isn't fixed but the following is a possible itinerary (see the map below). Distance and ascent respectively for the three routes; 27km with 2300m, 24km with 1900m and 28km and 2100m. As you can see I shall mostly be concentrating on ascending. The only way to improve at ascending is to go do some ascending. I'll also be taking a look at part of stage three of the Bob Graham.
Day 1, Scafell. Day 2, Coniston. Day 3 High Raise

Sunday, April 06, 2014

A Spot Of Orienteering Training

As to how much I've learnt, I guess we'll see next week at the Minchinhampton informal. It was good though. Thanks to all involved in organising things and handing out advice and tips. Hopefully some of the things we did will sink in - although old dog and new tricks springs to mind.

My hamstrings are tight now. I was expecting them to ease up but they've got worse. Will see how things are tomorrow but it's looking like a shorter run than planned but you never know. Tomorrow is another day.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Better Than Expected

I got myself up and over to Blaenavon with plenty of time to spare. I never like leaving it to the last minute. With lifts arranged it was over to Llanbedr for the start - after a little compulsory chatting of course.

I set off steadily mid pack. For me this is one of those races where to go off too quick can be disastrous. I had my splits for three hours stored in my head and ideally was hoping to chip a few minutes off those as I ran without being over ambitious. I was to Crug Mawr spot on the 29 minute target. From there I managed to edge a minute or two  inside on the comfortably fast run off down to the road.

From there it's a bit of a slog around to the main climb up to Sugar Loaf. A long split with plenty of opportunity to drift off the target time, or worse get to wound up racing someone and chip too much off. As it turned out I felt quite good and managed to run - or jog, some might have called my pace - a goodly amount. Hitting the top six minutes inside the target, having picked up a few more minutes. Feeling good I wasn't overly concerned that I'd chipped off too much..

The descent was good if a little foggy. There was good probability that some of the runners may have taken a wrong turn in the low visibility. There are a few paths and unless you know exactly the route it can be difficult in those conditions. My legs felt good and I pushed a little on the descent and also the road section through Abergavenny. I hit the bridge - not actually 'hit' the bridge, I should add - still six minutes inside but I was feeling pretty certain the three hour target was mine at that point. I was confident I wasn't going to die on the Blorenge climb as I felt full of running.

I took my normal route through Llanfoist, picked up a few places and then began the climb... I wouldn't say I flew up but I got into a nice rhythm of four steps and just pounded my way to the top. Picking up five places in the process - although I wasn't really concerned about that. I hit the climb top (as opposed the actually top which is half a kilometre further across the top) in 2:20, a fairly significant fifteen minutes inside the target. I knew I was home and dry from there and for the first time in, well, pretty much ever, I found myself not entirely despising of the Blorenge.

Across the top I had a little tussle with a couple of runners but my heart wasn't in it. I had more gears in the gearbox - and it's been a bloody long time since I've felt like that - but I just didn't have my race head on today. For me it was all about the time and gauging how my comeback is progressing. Having run metronomically for nearly two and a half hours I just couldn't switch my head into race mode. I finished the 25km with 1350m ascent of the Llanbedr to Blaenavon fell race in a respectable 2 hours and 47 minutes.

It's been a good day, chatted with some nice people and now I go to bake bread.