Saturday, May 31, 2008

Men dips

I went out to the Mendips this morning - the first time I've been there for many many years. It was like putting on a old pair of gloves. I set off from the radio masts by Charterhouse and I was gone. But it was nice to see what I believe must have been the Charterhouse reservoir - made my day. There weren't many others out there - which was surprising - but there was this one really hot woman walking with her dogs. She looked like she could beat me easily in a race if only she wasn't ill.

I took it easy on the run and enjoyed the views. Eleven miles and 1700 ft of ascent later I made it back to the car. Then it was off to the pub for some chips - good honest athlete food - nice. Tomorrow it's up to Ashton Court for an easy hour...

Thought for the day: A road twice travelled is never as long.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Fading memory

Well I managed to get some training in tonight and although my legs felt ok I didn't go very well. Conditions weren't great but it didn't rain, just a strong wind round the top bend and home straight.

Rick didn't make it tonight due to the traffic and Bruce wanted to run an 800m time trial so we decided we would all have a go. We warmed up for a few laps before the trial. My pb is 2:24 - I know, a load of old rubbish and I should be able to go faster. Off we went, my first lap was 72s - not quick enough. My second was even worse. Total time, 2:27 - not the best - that wind in the straight was just too much.

Then after a few more laps to recover we ran some 400's - except I don't think I really did recover. Some of us ran more than others. Namely Bruce and Sean running six and me running four. I felt knackered and just couldn't go quickly enough. I was just about holding 74s off a 60s recovery but I couldn't maintain it and after a very laboured 84s lap it was time to hang up my spikes.

I guess the weekend had taken its toll after all. Speaking of which, stage 2 of the BGR. Pat took his dog, Sasha, on stage 2 - wada mistaka to maka - she decided she knew a better route and they lost her. Pat had to carry on but luckily Harold found her and safely got her home. Having managed to go off course and lose his dog Pat was lucky to not lose time. In fact I think he actually gained a few more minutes. Then it was onto stage 3 - probably the toughest stage of all - ably assisted by Brown Dog, Helen and Mark or Mike - I think his name at least began with an m. Stage 3 went well with Pat gaining yet more time. There was a real buzz as they came into the Wasdale car park. I was sweating buckets before the start of stage 4 - it's not every day you get to drive the white beast on narrow country lanes in the Lake District - a real treat, I can tell you.

Anyway, Stage 4 went well. Pat was beginning to look tired - which isn't surprising as he'd been Up and Running (the best running shop in Bristol by the way) - do I get anything for that Rick? - for over 14 hours. We made a few minutes gain on the first of the climbs before Pat hit a bad spell. It's not surprising really, given the severity of the challenge. He struggled for a few minutes before his mental strength got him through. After we got up Great Gable in good time - gaining yet more minutes - we swiftly moved past Green Gable - but we gave Clark Gable a miss - he'd gone with the wind. Finally, we five appeared, all in a row, storming over the horizon and down to the end of the stage.

I then had to have another go on the white beast - what fun - while the rest of the support crew headed on out with Pat for the final stage back to Keswick. By now Pat was suffering but he's made of stern stuff and when I met him on the road five miles out of Keswick he was in determined mood. He would not be stopped and fifty minutes later he completed his BGR. There was a real buzz as the ten of us - that's six support crew, three dogs - Brown Dog, Pedwar and Santa - and Pat of course came into view of Moot Hall and the Finish. As he knocked on the door it was complete....

... and we all went home for tea - well, ok, sleep - it was gone eleven on what had been a very very long day...

Thought for the day: A smooth sea never made a skilled mariner.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Mr Graham

The Bob Graham Round truly is an awesome challenge and it was great to play a part - only a small part, mind - of a successful attempt. The planning that Pat put into the attempt was amazing and fair pay to his wife for putting up with it - and his parents, whose house we all invaded for the weekend. The Colonel was just brialliant, totally topper.

So now for a bit more of the detail. We set off at 1am on Sunday morning with me and Dave W in support in the pitch black of the night. There was to be no star to steer us by tonight - nor a tall ship. I've never run in the Lake District. Nor have I ever run at night so in the night in the Lake District was a new experience - and one that was a bit iffy in places.

The first of the three summits on stage one was loooong. A far longer climb than I was expecting. We started at the same time as Andy, a chap attempting a solo round, with only his pregnant wife for support at the end of each stage. I digress, more of Andy later.

With Pat setting such a hard pace me and Dave struggled to keep up and it was decided that Dave W should head back to make sure he got to the end of the stage with the spare kit. So the three of us - which now included Andy - made it to the summit ahead of schedule.

The next section was just plain nasty. As we started the descent the wind kicked up a gale and the cloud came in. My visibilty with glasses was zero and I could not keep up. I tumbled three times before shouting to Pat to carry on without me. My only hope was to try and catch up across the flat once down below the cloud - but I didn't fancy my chances. I switched to gps mode and just followed the arrow - hopeing there were no cliffs to fall off - there weren't [wipes brow].

Fortunately, I managed to catch back up, praise be to the gps. The rest of the stage was fairly uneventful before Pat finally pushed on leaving me to make my own way to the end of the stage. I went a little wrong on the final descent, missing the ridge and going down one of the very steep scree slopes. That was a big mistake and my descent was just plain aweful. I have never wanted a descent to be over more than that one. It went on for what seemed like forever. At points I had to turn to face the mountain and climb down sections - something not for the feint hearted - especially in the semi darkness of dawn. Finally, after half a lifetime, I made the end of the stage with Pat long gone onwards to stage 2...

Oh so tired

I worked out that I only slept about 7 hours during a sixty hour period on the weekend. Suffice to say my brain has turned to mush and I'm completely knackered. The drive home was - to say the least - very hard going but we made it ok and the traffic wasn't too bad either.

All in all it really was a good weekend. I'm not sure how well I'm going to go at the Bridge Inn 5k tonight - funnily I feel shagged. I found the reason why my ankle hurts - probably didn't tell you about that - but it's swollen up, but as I'm indestructible I reckon I should be able to break the hour [winks to camera].

Thought for the day: If you don't sleep much you're going to feel completely knackered.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Praise Bob

Congratulations to Pat W for completing the Bob in - wait for it, wait for it - 21:51:23 - RESULT.
I also managed to keep up on the second of my stage assists, stage 4 -RESULT.
I also ran out 8k from Keswick to meet the crew on the run in - and then the 8k back to witness the final victory charge - RESULT.
More to follow but I must memtion that Brown Dog ran 2 stages including the hardest but I covered 53k and 12,000 feet of ascent so I'm pleased as well.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Bob's left leg

Well Pat's attempt got under way on the dot of 1am. We met Chris Bland at the start and he wished Pat all the best. Then we were off.
I'll keep this short suffice to say I got dropped twice - yes twice. Pat was hammer down.
After the first summit I struggled with vision through my fogged glasses and got separated. I switched to my trusty gps and - having never been to the lake district before - obviously beat Pat to the bottom to catch him back up!
Pat dropped me again on the final climb after I had given him the last of his in flight food and drink.
He finished the stage 45 minutes up - just hope he's not going to hard - having ground both his support runners into the ground.
Both me and Dave W, the other support, are off to get some sleep before duty calls for stage 4 - just hope we can keep up next time.
More to follow when possible...

Thought for the day: 1am is bloody early.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Bob is approaching

Well it'll soon be time to head up north for the BGR - as it's known in the trade. I'm still a little worried about my capability and my fear of failure is looming large in my mind. I know I can run the 13 miles of my stage but I dread not being able to keep up and thus hinder rather than help. I guess one way or the other I will soon find out...

Thought for the day: Do radioactive cats have 18 half-lives?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Mentally tired

I was completely drained after a mentally tiring day at the office. My mind was mush - but then again, isn't it always? The mental fatigue was so bad that it made me physically tired and since I'm off up to the Lake District to help Pat W with his Bob Graham Round attempt on Sunday I guess it's probably best for me to rest up ahead of that.

I'm only going to be running a single stage with him - or maybe two!! But that's nothing to the 66 miles and 29,000 feet of ascent he'll be doing - and all within 24 hours. The round splits nicely into 5 stages so that we - the loyal helpers and support crew - can aid him as he goes the distance. I just hope I can keep up...

Thought for the day: A winner is someone who recognizes his God-given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills and uses these skills to accomplish his goals.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tiring out at the track

A third day in a row saw me enter the theatre of dreams that is... Whitchurch track - so maybe more of a nightmare then.

It was the regulars plus one with Bruce, Sean, Rick, me, Helen and of course, Bruce's dad. We ran ten 300's with a jogged 100m recovery that barely gave me enough. It was hard but good. I averaged around 55s - which was about the recovery as well.

So in summary, a tough but reasonably pleasing session.

Thought for the day: Why do weeds grow where flowers fear to tread?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Praise be for grannies

I was going to do hill reps and then hit the gym but after work took slightly longer than expected I decided to come home and do hill reps up Dundry - only once I got home I didn't fancy hill reps so I tried mile reps instead.

I haven't done long reps for - well, bloody ages - and boy, did it ever show. No wonder I've been clocking slow times at the Bridge Inn 5K - I'm shit. I only did four and after the first two it was only my mental strength that kept me going. My legs were buckling beneath me - and the splits weren't even very quick - but thank the lord for grannies. Without grannies I would have been lost - maybe forever - then again, maybe not but I might not have been able to complete all four reps.

So why the grannies? Well, when I was on the first of my 2:30 recoveries, pacing up and down, looking in such a state that a dear old granny came across to me and asked if I was lost - I thanked her for her concern but told I was doing penance for my sins and not lost - other than my soul - or should that be sole? Anyway, that took my recovery out to 2:45 and I kept it there for the rest. Without that extra fifteen seconds I don't think I would have made it. Perhaps she was an angel, sent from up above, my very own Clarence - maybe not.

Anyway, my disgraceful splits were 6:05, 6:01, 6:07 and 6:13. The only possible saving grace I can scrape from the session is that I completed it and the rep is now officially measured as - hang on, the only two saving graces are that I completed and the rep is actually just a smidgen over 1.02 miles - that's an extra 2% distance or about 5s in time terms - but still, I need a lot of work - it's a long road back from perdition...

Thought for the day: Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Not giving up

I just about managed to raise myself for a run. I was tempted by the Hogweed 10k but just couldn't lift my game sufficiently. I was then going to try for 90 minute steady - but couldn't muster for that either. I finally managed about 12k up over Dundry. Intended as a steady one but once underway I really couldn't be bothered. I just wanted it finished and upped the pace to get it over with as quick as possible. In the end it turned out to be my second quickest on the route - but that doesn't make me feel much better.

Thought for the day: Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Busy busy busy

Didn't have time to train tonight - had to see a man about a dog.

Alright, I completely made that up but I still have a few clients from my self employment days - ah, the memories. Seriously, I can't just dump them and run, that's not my style so on the odd days when I can fit them in - [silence, no comment, control, control] - it has to be evening's and weekends - and since I'm strangely busy on the weekends these days it means the evenings have it. Anyway, the rub is that I didn't get home till 9:15 and I ain't doing nuffin' now.

Looking forward, I'm racing on Saturday in the Moel Eilio British Championship race - so that should be nice. Toddle pip.

Thought for the day: An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made, in a very narrow field.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A bit of the ol' quick step magic

It was a lonely place at the track tonight. No Bruce. No Rob. No Bruce's dad. No Rob's dad - but then that's not really that unusual as Rob's dad doesn't ever come - just thought I'd mention it. Tonight it was just Sean and me with Rick on drums - I mean, Rick on stop watch.

It was almost ideal conditions except for the head wind down the back straight - but since we didn't run the back straight what did we care? - nice one.

As you might gather from that, we were on the short stuff - 200's. Yesterday hill sprints. Today sprinty sprints. Tomorrow? - the world - maybe not. Yep, tonight's session was all about leg speed - leg speed to infinity ... and beyond - calm down, calm down [reaches for the ritalin].

Anyway, to the session. We ran ten 200m reps with a sloooowwwwww 200m jog recovery. After yesterday's session and my slightly heavy legs I was well pleased with my times. Sean was quicker but I was more refined - it comes with age.

For the record my splits were; 32.8, 32.7, 32.1, 31.6, 32.2, 31.7, 31.5, 31.6, 30.8 and a final - pb rated - 29.2s - he shoots, he scores. Average 31.6s. Sean's average was down at 29.1s but seeing as he's half my age with loads of talent I'm pretty satisfied.

The best part about tonight's session? Giving Sean a shock on the last one. Rick knew I would go for him hard on the last one. I have the ability to completely finish myself. And on that final one I damn near almost did. I sat on Sean's shoulder round the top bend. Closer to Sean, by far, than on any of the previous reps. Then on the home straight I made my move. I began to close him down - and he knew it. With fifty to go I just didn't quite have enough and even with Sean tieing badly in the last ten I was never quite close enough. Still, there's some speed in the ol' legs...

Thought for the day: Don't try to be everything for everyone, try to be something for someone.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Hilly is good

I was in two minds this evening. I couldn't decide on quite what to do. A hardish 45 minutes or some hill reps? Such tough decisions. Oh, it's a hard life. In the end I couldn't decide so I ran around the perimeter of Ashton Court at a steady to hard pace for 25 minutes before launching into some hill sprints.

I've been meaning to try out the hill sprint session ever since reading about it in Runner's World. Basically I picked the steepest section of the hill - about a 1 in 4 gradient - and sprinted up hill for 20s all out effort. Then I walked back down for a 90s recovery before repeating a further 14 times.

The last five reps were very hard and it was agonisingly tough in the last five seconds of each rep to keep the focus and push it to the finish - but I did and that's just dandy.

Then it was a further 15 minutes of running back to the gym - but that was strictly warm down as my legs were f#@ked.

Thought for the day: A pint of example is worth a gallon of advice.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Not a million miles away...

... from my best on the exercise bike - which is nice. After a longish day at work I headed down the gym. I felt a bit hot and bothered and couldn't face baking in the still hot sun - should make the most of it really shouldn't I? but I'm a cold weather person and struggle in the heat.

Anyway, that was a big mistake, the gym was boiling. Still I managed my hour on the bike and a none too shabby performance too boot. Then it was all washed down with a nice work out on the weights as my biceps bulged and my abs flexed flexingly - all right, they didn't actually do that but I can dream - vanity must see me rid myself of the onset of middle age spread...

Thought for the day: We all take different paths in life, but no matter where we go, we take a little of each other everywhere.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Not quite the full measure...

...but close enough for me on what was a stormingly hot day. Total distance was about 11 miles on an up and down route in the Wye valley. I actually really enjoyed the final climb. A steady gradient which went on for over two miles. It was just about the perfect angle for me. One of those climbs where the ol' stomp technique can just - well, keep stomping.

I feel like I've had two good training runs this weekend and I definitely feel the hill strength is on its way back. OK, so I know it wasn't like I was running on steep, fell style climbs but all the same I felt a lot better than I did a few short weeks ago. I've just got time for a few longer runs before my mission to help Pat W with his Bob Graham round at the end of May. Plus, I feel OK for next week's Moel Eilio fell race - although no doubt a certain person will still thrash me - but I'll be trying my best...

Thought for the day: Friends are God's way of taking care of us.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Feeling tired

I had a bit of a work day today but amazingly I still managed to get out for a run. Admittedly it was only 45 minutes but I plan a much longer one tomorrow and it was at least a bit hilly. In truth, I'm actually pleased with how I went up today - stop it. A few weeks ago I would have been walking but today I just kept grinding out those climbs. It's difficult to gauge whether I was going up fast or not but I felt much stronger.

I've finally realised why I'm lacking the enthusiasm to train - I don't have a target. It's the first sustained period of time since I started running where I haven't really had a focus, a key race to train for. Well that's all going to change. I'm going to decide upon a fairly tough fell race. Probably the Brecon Beacons race taking place around August time but I might plump for a classic, such as the Borrowdale fell race - a race covering 17 miles and 6,500ft of climb - that should be fun...

Thought for the day: Though one should conquer a thousand times, a thousand men in battle, he who conquers his own self, is the greatest of all conquerors.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Night of a thousand flies

I managed to haul my butt over to the gym after a long day at work and out for a run around Ashton Court. What is it with the flies? I had two near misses - that is, two of them pesky little beasties landed on my tongue and I was able to evict - I ain't havin' no squatters. But a third one went right down - cue lots of gagging, coughing and general spluttering before coming to a grinding halt to recover. Didn't really matter though because I've seen joggers run faster than I was capable of tonight. Useless, utterly utterly useless.

Thought for the day: Progress is like a wheelbarrow, if you stop pushing the wheelbarrow it stops.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


It was just the elite group tonight of Rob, Bruce, Bruce's dad, Sean, Rick and me. Phew, got that out of the way. I was hot on the track tonight - zip it. It was a balmy evening. Practically Mediterranean - OK, maybe not - but conditions were almost perfect, if a little humid - but mustn't grumble.

We ran a session of 400, 600, 400, 600 and 400m with a long, jogged lap recovery. We set off in formation running. That is, I got a head start followed by Rob and Bruce a few seconds later and then speedo Sean a few seconds further back.

I have to say, the lads were flying. On the first 400m both Rob and Bruce came screaming past in the home straight and Sean was breathing down my neck. I'm not sure what they were lapping in but bygum it were mighty quick. I think it was around 64 seconds. Sean was even quicker at about 62! So in fact, I did know what they were lapping in - I'll get my coat. I managed an `I'll go quietly` 70 seconds - which wasn't really too bad.

Anyway, it was more of the same on the next two reps except for the fact that I kicked in the afterburners to hold Rob off each time in the home straight. I lulled him into my trap as he drew level before I kicked clear in the last fifty metres [winks to camera] - have it - as I completed reps of 1:46 and 67s - beauty.

Then on the next 600m it was time to curl up and die as I hit 400m I was gone and pulled out with a time of 71s. I was ashamed of myself but my legs had gone. Rob, Bruce and Sean carried on flying.

I regrouped. I was determined to do better as we set off on the final 400m. At the end of the lap I pushed on through the pain to add in those missing 200m from the previous rep and recorded a final 1:48 for a 600m which really wasn't too bad considering. It was quicker than I thought it would be.

So in the end I managed a set of 400, 600, 400, 400 & 600 in 70, 1:46, 67, 71 & 1:48. So as you can see it was a bit inconsistent...

Thought for the day: Why isn't there mouse-flavored cat food?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Some legs, some legs, my kingdom for some legs...

My legs were not the best today. More than that, after a loooong weekend I am completely knackered - and to top it all I have the beginnings of a sore throat - and I never get ill, I'm indestructible. Still, it won't last long. And to put the tin lid on it I feel hot - no, shhh - I got a bit sun burnt yesterday and have struggled to rehydrate myself. And before you say it, yes I did wear sun block from the start as I'm sensible that way but no I didn't take any top up and I was out there a wee bit longer than I had intended.

Anyway, the results from the Y Garn fell race are now online and I came 22nd out of 93 and although that isn't bad I should be capable of a lot better. Suffice to say I will be going to the track tomorrow - barring major catastrophe...

Thought for the day: Do you have trouble making up your mind? Well, yes or no?

Monday, May 05, 2008

Brown Dog

Just one more thing (now I'm back in the land of the computer). I must mention the physical prowess of the super canine. The mutt maestro extraordinaire. The one and only Brown Dog. Yep, Mrs B destroyed me as well - and no doubt could have run it all again - backwards - with one leg tied behind her back - well maybe not quite but I bet she'd have given it a bloody good go...

Thought for the day: How do you know when it's time to tune your bagpipes?

PS, As I didn't state it before I ran about 13 miles including about 4,200 feet of ascent - maybe a little bit more but I don't want to be greedy.


Yes, after defeat in yesterday's I was totally destroyed in today's recce of the upcoming Moel Eilio British championship race. The weather was so glorious that we decided to add in Snowdon - and since I've never been up Snowdon it would have been rude not to. Anyway, I completely ran out of steam but made it there and back - but only just. I severely bonked - stop it. At least I made it up to the summit - even if I didn't fully complete the recce. Not that it really matters - Helen will destroy me in the race what ever i do...

Ps, just posting this as we pack up and leave Snowdonia from my mobile. Normal service will be resumed soon - as will a damn sight more training to improve my staying power...

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Bank holiday weekend


So, what of the pole vault? Well, actually there was no using my pole today - boo. Owing to low athlete numbers - for various reasons and those of coercion to the A-Team - the B-Team was a no show - boo boo. But travelling all the way to Nottingham for the four oldies (me included) in the team didn't really seem worthwhile. Not that I wouldn't have given my all - cause I would but the idea is to facilitate - I like that word - people to come and have a go - if they think they're hard enough - just kidding. So with just the four of us it just wasn't worth it and calling off was, quite simply, a good call.

Anyway, I'm over to North Wales tonight ready for the Y Garn fell race tomorrow up in sunny Snowdonia - yipee. So I'll be entering the radio dead lands for the next few days but rest assured, I'll back...

I hope...

Thought for the day: If you can't be a good example... then you'll just have to be a horrible warning.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

It's Thursday

As you can tell, I'm full of ideas tonight. Can't you just smell the thought that went into the title?

Well I managed to get down the gym. Didn't fancy a run after two hard days so I hit the bike for an hour. My arms don't half ache - it's hard work whacking the exercise bike with a stick for an hour. Seriously, it was hard effort and I was a long way off my best but it was all good effort. Then I pulled some weights before off home for tea.

I'm away for the holiday weekend - but I'm going to fit in the track fixture up in Nottingham - goes without saying. The B Team Athlete of the Millennium (or whatever it was) can't miss the opening fixture. Where would the team be without him? - shut it, no, you're probably right - a few points better off. Still, I'm definitely going to try that pole vault malarkey...

A Few Ways to Piss People Off: Ask people what gender they are.