Sunday, July 31, 2011

My Balls Were On Fire

Said balls, being the balls of my feet and into the last few miles of the Seaview 17 I could feel my poor ol' feet entering blister country - and I didn't bring my passport. They felt uncomfortably hot - and hot in this instance could only mean one thing - blisters - but I'm getting ahead of myself.

The day started at 0530 hours - OK, it actually started at 0000 hours, as every day does, but for me I was only conscious of it from 0530 hours. With kit check done and a dump complete - did you need to know that? - it was to the auto-mobile and the drive to sunny Minehead. The two hour plus drive was uneventful and I pulled into the car park well in time to collect my race number - 63 - and await the arrival of the coaches - as in vehicle type things. As you can see from the route, shown below, it's a point to point race so the coaches get us runners to the church on time - Contisbury Church. This year, a couple of my fell running buddies turned up - which was nice - and at 0900 hours we jumped aboard the transport and shipped out. Right, that's enough of all that boring $£!t on with the race detail - which too might be a bit boring but then you can choose to read or not.

I started towards the front, wanting to get a good start without forcing myself to go too quick too early. After the first couple of miles I found myself in sixth place and stayed there for a few miles. A bit further down the path a trio of Westbury runners came flying past, they had good momentum going and eased away. That dropped me to ninth.

Then a mile or two out from Porlock Weir I was tracking a Team Bath runner while a GWR runner edged past the both of us but didn't manage to pull out much of gap. Somewhere along the lines I think I over took some other runners but my memory is a little hazy. For a mile or two we ran fairly together until I managed to 'cheat' my way past at a turn when the other two weren't sure of the way - I didn't feel too bad because I did manage to pull away from them both in the end and so I don't think it affected the result.

The run across the flats was steady as I tried to lay down a good pace. I could see a few runners ahead but didn't really manage to make any inroads - but not for want of trying. It was just on from there and into the last of the climb of any significance that I did my damage and pulled out an uncatchable lead on those behind while reeling in a couple of runners ahead. At the time I wasn't sure of my position but I knew I was right up there.

Sadly, by the time I got to the top the next runners in my sights were just tiny dots in the distance and my sniper scope didn't have the magnification to have any realistic chance of catching them. With only four or five miles to go I would have needed to up my pace fairly fantastically - and that just wasn't going to happen. Up to then I'd run a fairly conservative race but when the end comes and fatigue sets in, she sets in pretty damn quick. I soon began to run out of steam.

Once I started the descent into Minehead - still with a couple of miles to go - and as mentioned above, my feet started to overheat. To be fair, by then my legs were wasted and my heavy footed running style wasn't helping any. I just about managed to keep one foot going in front of the other but the final half mile was highly uncomfortable - and not to mention, bloody slow.

I crossed the line in a time of 2 hours 46 minutes and 45 seconds, a whopping TEN minutes quicker than last year! Now I know for such a long race in both distance and time that doesn't sound much but when you consider that it equates to about 30 seconds per mile then you realise it's actually quite a lot. (I should say, the '17' in the title of the race refers to the 'as the crow flys' distanace, the race is actually just a fraction over twenty miles on foot with a fairly lowly 3,000 feet of ascent).

I'm really pleased. Now I know I didn't quite win - as perhaps, I thought I could but 4th - yes, 4th - isn't that far off and considering my time this year was faster than last years winning time then all in all I didn't do too bad. Perhaps my mojo is on its way back...

And well done to Fred and Minehead Running Club not to mention all the marshals for putting together another fine race. This race continues to be one of my favourite races ever.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Well There Comes A TIme...

in the day when the blog must written and that time is now.

On the whole, it's been quite a relaxing day although I've not been sat on my arse for all of it - straight up guvnor. I started the day with a massive lie in. Yup, I pulled a 10:30er. OK, so that's not massive by student standards but for a professional such as my self, that's huge. Then it was baking time. I knocked together a nice bit of rosemary and herb bread ready for lunch - but what later turned out to be dinner. That done it was into the garden for a bit of a tidy. Then it was over to the recycling centre - I love the way they call them 'recycling centres' nowadays. I know they do recycle stuff - and most of the stuff I took across did indeed go into the recyclables - but in my day - god I sound old - we just called it the 'tip'. "I'm taking the rubbish to the tip"...

Anyway, then it was into the office for a bit of paper-chasing - you know how it is. Before finally firing up the frying pan with olive oil to then fry off red onion, bell peppers, chilli, garlic and tomato. Then in went a drop or two of balsamic vinegar - yeah, finally got to use it - before toasting off the earlier baked rosemary bread and topping with the mixture - there's got to be a nicer, more professional sounding word than 'mixture'? Cue a final sprinkle of balsamic and a bit of black pepper over the top and there it was, a lovely fresh plate of stuff - accompanied, of course, with a glass of chilled white wine. Oooh, yeah, that hit the spot...

All set now for a relaxing evening before the frickin' early start required tomorrow for the drive down to Minehead and the Seaview 17. I go there full on with the intention of claiming the top spot. I'm fitter than last year's 7th place and despite the recent dip in form and loss of mojo, I go there fully fired to win...

Friday, July 29, 2011

Total And Utter...

Rest day. Not doing any training today. Nada. Zip. I need to rest up big style. Activate sofa to bed mode... bed mode activated. Feet moving a pace towards full feet up mode...

Tomorrow is going to be a rest day as well. I've got a few jobs to complete around the house but nothing too strenuous. Might go for a walk but that'll be about it. Yawn, what a boring one - but it a good way.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I Did But It Wasn't Pretty

One of the slowest 'up over Dundry' for a while. I just feel a bit knackered at the moment. It was the anti-clockwise route today and I really very nearly stopped on the climb. Martin's words of encouragement kept me chugging - he was running back with me, first time in a while on account he'd had a good 5k at the Bridge Inn on Tuesday. In my defense - OK, there's no defense - but it was very humid - ooh, did I get away with sneaking in that excuse? No, thought not.

Going to rest up now ahead of the Seaview 17. I had a surprisingly good race there last year, far exceeding my expectation in a time of 2:56 for the 20 mile coastal romp. Wind the clock back a month and I was confident of beating that. Fast forward to today and I'm not feeling so positive. My mojo has gone South for the winter - and it's still the bloody summer. Hopefully a good solid lie in on Saturday followed by a restful day will see me relocate it - I really really hope so....

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

That's The Maps Arrived

My lovely shiny maps of the Lakes have arrived - and I do mean shiny. I opted for those waterproof ones - but didn't consider how much extra weight they'd be. Still, better to retain the use of a map when the weather comes down...

So I've plotted on the chekpoints for the Borrowdale, Wasdale and Langdale fell races but I'm a little confused - not difficult, you say - shut it. On the whole the route's look fairly settled but, for example, in the Borrowdale race, the way across from Aunt Bessie's boot to Esk Haus looks a bit open to interpretation. The rest looks OK. Then in Wasdale the way up to Seatallan looks wide open. From Greendale do you follow the marked path to the east of the river and cross further up and head to the checkpoint or do you go west of Greendale and make your own path the whole way? Investigation required me thinks. The rest of the route looks straightforward apart from the final section from Scafell Pike to the Lingmell wall thing? Not quite sure which way I'm going to be getting across to that bit. There's loads of marked paths - but they don't all join up! Help!!! At least the Langdale route seems a little more defined.

I am right up for it now. Pretty much all set to go - 'cept for one of my gps's packing up! Cue the warranty claim but I'm not going to get it back in time - arse!!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Not Up For It

In fact, I felt a bit off this afternoon. Add in a spoonful of tiredness and my decision was made. I decided to skip the Bridge Inn 5k tonight. Probably no bad thing. Don't want to be getting myself injured. That meant I headed home at the normal, early time - not such a good move. Some nobber decided to flip his lorry on the M5 just after my turn off before Gloucester, closing the entire motorway. Cue, well, a bloody big queue. Taking evassive manouvres - but not in the dark - I came off early - sssh, no, stop it - and dodged down country lanes and the like to bypass most of the trouble. In the end I got home just twenty minutes later than normal - under the circumstances, that's was a result.

Tonight I made up a dough and let it prove while I got on with an hour on the bike. Then it was into the oven with my tomato and black olive topped focaccia while I freshened up. Up next the best bit, the eating - now that's more like it, tasty. Now awaiting the first episode of new season CSI: Miami - could life get any better? Well, yeah quite a bit actually...

Monday, July 25, 2011

Not Exactly The Best Prep For A 5k

But who the hell cares. It was bloody great running conditions out there in the mountains. Balls to running a quick 5k tomorrow. I set out a little later than planned on account of not setting the alarm properly. Not that it really mattered. I was over to Tal-y-bont reservoir for eleven, put on the sun block - yes, it was sunny - and headed out on the anti-clockwise Brecon Beacons Race route.

I took an unexpected gamble on the climb to check point one - or more correctly, the place where check point one will be on race day. Just after the first part of the ascent, the bit through the bracken, just as things level off a little so you can run, I espied a small trod off to the left of the main, undulating path and, using my spider senses, sensed the force was strong in said path. And what a boon, it missed out all the extra sub summits, stayed pretty much level, and although narrow was highly runnable - bargain.

The next deviation from the main route was on the ridge not over the river Kwai. I took the corner cut but erred a little too much on the side of caution. That wasn't such a bad thing. The running was good and I made some gain over the main path. Just need to veer a little to the left of the pool and I reckon I'll have it spot on. The jury is out on whether I will use it in the race. You definitely gain time but not without risk. I think I'll base my decision according to the weather conditions on race day - and the size of my balls.

From there it's all standard fair although I did seem to ascend pretty strongly today. After the first steep bit towards Cribyn I was able to run all the way to the top. Then, after the 'walk' to Pen-y-Fan I was able to run up Corn Du and Duwynt. In fact, baring the walk up to Pant-y-Creigiau - snigger, more on that later - I was able to run the rest of the route back to the reservoir. From Duwynt along the ridge and down past the Neuad Reservoir was mint. You could see for bloody miles. The road and forest section were a bit mundane but then came the final climb to the trig on Pant-y-Creigiau - snigger.

I decided to follow the tree line fence and I could make out quite a bit of crushed grass and reed - me thinks others have been this way... I stuck to the fence line all the way. Over the rusting gate and up, still sticking to the fence. There was a nice track, shortish grass, on which to chug towards the top - still keeping close to the fence. Then as a small crop of trees came into view and the hill dropped away sharply to the right I turned to where I deemed the trig point to be. Spot on the money. After having to cross about 200m of rough grass I hit the top. That my friends, is the way to do it.

Finally I tried my 'Path' option. I dropped away from the normal race route and descended rapidly. I soon realised that this was most definitely not the way to do it. Once the descent shallowed off, despite only being 500m from the edge of the forest and the path, it was horrendous terrain. Really tussocky, tall, reedy grass. The going was slow. Too slow. Any gain made on the path would not counteract the time given away getting there. No, this one was a definite fail. Not even close to being a maybe. I shall be sticking to the top on race day.

Well all in all it's been a successful day. I reckon I've refined my route in a couple of places. 19 miles of running with 5,000 feet of ascent - I missed out the final climb to Tor-y-Foel on account of being a lazy bastard - completed in just under 3 and a half hours on a gloriously sunny summers day....

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bored, Can You Tell?

Heck I'm bored. Shit all on TV. Naff all to do. Have had to resort to looking at maps. Oh joy. On the upside I've got that third route sorted for my upcoming Lakes trip - a recce of the Langdale fell race. It fits in well from my Wasdale base camp. The itinery as it stands at the moment is a recce of Borrowdale on Friday - but starting from midway. Saturday I'm going to be spectating this years race. Sunday, the Langdale recce and Monday the more challenging Wasdale recce. Then Tuesday, the journey home. If all goes to plan I'll have clocked close to 100km and that should set me up a treat for the Brecon Beacons race on the 20th. Oh, and while I remember, he's the route of yesterday's Waun Fach Fell Race with its 2,000 feet of ascent:-

The Plan

While I take it easy today - only a couple of hours on the bike - I'm busy planning for my recce tomorrow. To be fair I know the Brecon Beacons route pretty well but looking at satellite imagery I reckon there are a few improvements I can make. A tweak here, a tweak there and who knows? - yes, I'll probably get lost and lose an hour...

First up on my list is the infamous 'corner cut'. I've never tried it anti-clockwise and, come to think of it, I've not tried it the other way for a couple of years either but it's worth a couple of minutes if you get it right. I don't think there are any other improvements to be made along the top ridge past Cribyn, Pen-y-Fan and along until you drop down to the reservoir and the forest track.

Looking at my route last year over the first 10k - this year to be the last 10k - I was quite a long way off optimal. On this section, up from the road, I'm going to see if nipping in close to the tree line for 2/3rds of the ascent before cutting up to the trig might not be a significant improvement. If the terrain looks too rough then I'll go for keeping it close to the fence line until I sight the top.

Then - and this is major controversial - I might try dropping down to the forest path. The path is like a motorway and on tired legs could provide significantly easier running. The downside will be significant loss of altitude which will need to be re-gained before the ascent to Tor-y-Foel. Will the easier running on the path be offset by the extra climb it will entail? I will need to see the lie of the and in flesh before I know which way I'll play it. If I decide not to try that route I will be making sure I pick a good line across the top. Last year I contoured way too much and added far to much extra distance. If I don't try the forest path drop then I will try to make sure I go over the top in a fairly direct line to minimise distance increase.

Once back onto the main track the route to Tor-y-Foel is standard fair and with nothing more to be gained it's follow the leader down to the finish. The only slight gamble is to take a look at the old path which has, over the last few years, almost entirely closed over with brambled, wild plant growth - might need the machette for that option...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Usual Suspects

at the Waun Fach fell race. The seven mile race up to Waun Fach, around a bit and then back down at break neck speed is a good bash. I wasn't anywhere near top form - mostly on account of last weeks races still in my legs. Despite that I was hoping to better last years time but alas, it was not to be. I was focused. Splits from last year memorised. Gentle warm complete and off...

The first climb found me wanting. I was a minute down on the split despite really trying. The legs just didn't have it. The run aross to Waun Fach was better - but stil not good. I tried with every step but couldn't sustain the quality - or the pace. From Waun Fach I faired better - the route starts to head downwards from there. The final couple of miles bore witness to the best part of my race. The fast and somewhat rocky descent to finish. Throwing caution to the wind I legged it as fast my legs would carry me and gained three places to finish in a time of 1 hour, 1 minute and 50 seconds. That was a minute slower than last year and only good enough for 15th place - but my split for the descent was a little quicker than last year. Not all bad then.

Going to take it easy tomorrow and on Monday's day off work I'll be off to recce the Brecon Beacons race. I've raced it three times before but only ever in the clockwise direction. This years race should go anti-clockwise so I reckon its worth giving it a go that way around. Should be a pleasant enough twenty miles...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Getting To The Route Of It

Well I'm now fully switched into planning mode. Making lists left, right and centre. Kit list. Food list and, most importantly, route list. I need four routes for definite - Friday to Monday - and a couple of spares might be handy to allow for conditions. If you hadn't guessed, I'm talking about my up coming trip north. Really looking forward to it now. I'm right in the groove for it.

To be honest, other than attempting to recce the Borrowdale race and the Wasdale race - so I'm all set for a crack at them next year if the timetable allows - I don't really know any of the Lake District. Not that I really know those routes to be fair, but I can at least dig out a route for those off the 'tinternet. Ideally I need something to fill Monday and possibly a quickie on Tuesday but I really don't want to be leaving too late and will no doubt be wanting to get back home to avoid the traffic - if that's possible.  I'm aiming to mooch around the Borrowdale route area on Saturday and catch some of the race action. Anyway, I'll leave it there for now and wait for the arrival of my maps before I start making detailed plans...

As to today's training, rather amazingly, the lunch run actually happened. It took us all the way till Friday but we finally got there in the end. My legs still feel a little, well, not quite right, but surprisingly I went quite well. I was trying to take things steady. Nice easy strides and just get round in one piece. Imagine my surprise to get 'over the top' in 16:10. That's not far off my quickest and I was easing it somewhat. Still puffing near the top, mind - the Dundry climb can never be said to be easy.

Once over the top I took it really easy on the descent. I felt I could seriously hinder my chances for tomorrow if I came crashing down the relatively steep descent so I pootled as Martin shot off into the distance...

I got round in 31:30 - which was nice considering I had at least two more gears available had I wanted to use them. All in all a very pleasing run.

Tonight I finished off with an easing back 45 minutes on the bike to get me in tip top condition, fine tuned and ready for action in the Waun Fach fell race tomorrow - just need to check the start time - don't want any mistakes...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Break To The Lake

I've finally committed. I'm going up to the Lake District in a couple of weeks time. The weekend, and a day or two either side, of the Borrowdale Fell Race. I was considering this one but after the problems of the last months I decided against it in the end.  But as I'd already booked the Friday off work I decided to add on the Monday and Tuesday to make it a mini break. It will be good to spectate the race and will also give me a chance to finally do some running in the Lakes - not actually 'in' the Lakes but you get my drift. I've been up there a few times but haven't run much - other than leg 1, leg 4 and the last half of leg 5 of the Bob Graham Round - and even then I didn't 'see' any of leg 1 on account of it being run through the night. This break will finally give me the chance to see some of the glorious scenery the area is famed for.

To mark the occasion I've splashed out on a new tent - that and the fact that I chucked the old one out as it was wrecked. Haven't broken the bank, mind, but the reviews of the Vango Omega 350 make it sound like a reasonable mix between value and strength. It's also supposedly a three person tent but more likely two and since there's only me I'll have a good deal of space and comfort. To be fair I don't think the tent would survive a hurican but from the reviews it should withstand some pretty heavy wind and rain.

It'll be my first time proper camping since childhood and by proper camping I mean under canvas for the entirety so I'm looking for a campsite in the locality of the Borrowdale valley to watch the race and hit some of the central mountains during the rest of my time there. Suggestions for a good campsite on a postcard please...

As to training today I missed the lunch run on account of the legs still being a bit sore so it's been the same old story of an hour on the bike tonight - while the cinnamon loaf proves... Hopefully the legs will be alright for a loop round Dundry tomorrow and then of course, it's Waun Fach on Saturday. I'll be treating it as training but I should go fair to middleing after my performances last weekend.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I Remember When...

I used to go to the track on a Wednesday and run around and around and around. Those days are gone - but perhaps not forgotten. My legs didn't feel anywhere near as bad as I thought they would but still couldn't raise myself for training. Been feeling sad but the good ship Facebook has raised my spirits - or more acurately those who sail aboard her. Don't know what's going on with me at the moment. One minute I'm up, the next I'm down. Got to pull my god damn self together. Perhaps it's time I put myself back on the market...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Taking One For The Team

and had it not been for the team I might have pulled out of the race, thereby ending my 'never not finished a race I've started' record. Even being for the team it was a close call. Every step tonight was painful - and I really do mean every step. My quads are destroyed. I'm not sure I'm even going to be able to hobble tomorrow let alone walk.

Being a team race - and the fact that I don't do giving up, even when part of me wants to - I dug pretty much as deep as I've ever had to. I was losing ground pretty much the entire run but somehow managed hang on in there. From 3k out I was hurting. By 7k I was preying for someone to shoot me - no one did. And some bastard even had the affront to try and close me down with 500m to go - well I wasn't having any of that. Legs buckling and in pain I wasn't giving away any more race positions. I flipped on the after burners for a final surge to the line and held.

With ten to score per team I'm happy to report I was ninth so all the blood, sweat and tears - without the tears - was worth it. In the circumstances, my time of 40:51 was highly surprising on the just under 10k road course. Really quite pleased with that - despite the fact I might need a wheel chair tomorrow...

Monday, July 18, 2011

A New Beginning...

to the week, at least. My legs are flippin' shot. Agony I tells ya. Not sure how the heck I'm going to raise my game to run the Leisure Centre League road race tomorrow night. I guess it's 24 hours away so my legs might be recovered. I'll try some gentle massage tonight - but only very gentle as the pegs are quite tender to the touch. Fingers crossed. As to training, I'm going through the motions tonight. A fairly easy 60 minutes on the bike - that at least doesn't feel painful. It only hurts when I try to walk - and don't even mention running.

Reflecting on the week just gone, I'm pleased with my running. I've done a good long mountainous run and two fine races and the groin strain remains in remission. If I was going to get a twinge I'm pretty sure today would be the day. The weekend felt a odd in other ways but I remain upbeat. Things are headed in the right direction.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Mission Accomplished

Two races. Two PBs - and two thoroughly shafted legs. On the up side my groin seems fine at the moment so I reckon that problem is behind me now, although I won't feel fully happy until I've a few more problem free running weeks in the bag.

Conditions for this years Fan-y-Big race were more harsh than last year. The visibility was better this time round but the wind was much stronger. Add my sore quads in to the mix and I didn't feel confident of bettering my time from last year. My quads were down right painful but in for a penny - I'd paid my entry...

So onto the race. I set out towards the front but didn't feel strong - leg power was definitely lacking. With a couple of miles out the way I reckon I was top thirty - and was fully prepared to take that. Then, as the steady climb progressed I gained a few places here and there. By the top I was inside the top twenty and from there on in things were settled.

I lost a place along the top ridge but with Matt R just ahead I dug in. He was insight and just ahead for most of the race but it wasn't until the steeper bits of the descent that I was able to make any inroads. As we hit the road he was about twenty metres ahead and I knew I had a chance. I gave it all I had and by the time we hit the village, with 500m to go, we were level. By then I'd given everything and fully expected Matt to step it up one last time but the attack didn't come - and I was glad because as we turned the corner into the last 200m of road I was fully f&^%ed. If he'd anything left at that point there was no way I could have countered. Fortunately for me he didn't and I crossed the line in a repeat of yesterday's 14th place. Matt and I are pretty closely matched these days as to be so close together for pretty much the entirety of a ten mile race - I better watch out in the Black Mountains Race...

From the way my legs felt before the start I am well pleased by today's run. I was 14th from a field close to 100 and set a new PB by over two minutes, finishing in 1 hour 30 minutes and 13 seconds on the 10 mile route with 2,200 feet of ascent.

Away from the race I feel a little melancholy on account of certain things but it will lift. As to the next race, I'm not sure I will recover in time for Tuesday night's Leisure Centre League road race over in Caerleon but I'll run regardless - my word is my bond - and I've given my word.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

And The Results Are In

And from the look of them my performance today was almost identicle to last year - apart from being that minute quicker of course. Queue the statistics boring bit...

I was 16th to the top this year verses 14th last year - but more importantly, I was 17 seconds quicker this time round.

Then, this year as last, I gained two places on the descent and had the 9th fastest descent both years - but again, more importantly, my descent was 51 seconds quicker this year.

All in all my Pen-y-Fan race this year was an almost complete action replay of last year - 'cept a minute quicker.

Bring forth the Fan-y-Big race tomorrow, for I fear thee not...

Pen-y Fan Your Thoughts...

The weather just about did us right in the end but it was touch and go there for a while. With a reasonable field assembled (78 runners) and with the sun just showing an edge through the clouds and mist with set out on the 6 kilometres of the Pen-y-Fan fell race. With 1,800 feet of ascent it's a short sharp blast up to South Wales' Highest peak and back down again.

I was looking to improve on last years time, which, as mis-reported in an earlier blog post, was not 31:57 - that was my summit split - but in fact 43:28. Could I do it? More importantly, did I? Oh yeah baby - but not by as much as I thought I could have.

My race was steady if nothing else. I went well on the climb, running much of it except for the steeps bits. and the descent was OK but if I had to say which was better, for once it would be the ascent. I feel the old climbing legs are slowly returning. That's not to say the descent wasn't good. I picked up a couple of places so I have to be happy with that.

I finished in 42:20 - a whole 1 minute and 8 seconds quicker than last year - but for all the extra effort it didn't feel like it was enough. I reckon I was inside the top twenty, perhaps even the top fifteen but we'll have to wait and see. All in all, quicker is quicker so I mustn't grumble. It will be interesting to see how my summit split compares to last years (if they managed to capture them). The race is well organised by Crispin of Mynydd Du and there's no reason to suspect he won't get all the data up together as per usual.

Now, as I blog, my quads feel fairly destroyed. I'm not thinking tomorrow's Fan-y-Big race is going to go quite so well as today's but you never know. Going to try an easy half hour on the bike to get the blood flowing and hopefully aid the recovery of my poor old quads. Then, of course, I have to hope the groin strain doesn't raise it's evil head. Everything feels OK at the moment so fingers crossed...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Brought To Tears

Heck, that was a gert strong onion! My eyes were streaming. It was so bad I had to take my hands off my chopper... and stop chopping - why? What were you thinking?

Complete rest tonight. No, I'm not even going to fire up the bike. I want to run like the wind tomorrow but the weather is looking iffy. I was looking forward to a weekend of sun and run but I'm not so sure it's headed that way. Looking more like rain and pain. From memory it was wet last year as well. Is this weekend in July some sort of Bermuda Triangle of bad weather?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Proud Owner...

of a Pestle and Mortar. My first - and she's a beauty. All set now for the meal of the week but I'll tell you what, all this cooking is costing me an arm and a leg! Might go back to the preprocessed junk food - the hell I will, not now I've invested so much effort.

Managed to get out at lunch for the anti-clockwise Dundry loop. Neither me nor Martin seemed to have it today. Maybe it was the heat. Maybe something else. Either way we weren't quick. It was pleasant enough and the climb was steady if nothing else. To be fair I don't think we were that slow to the top. I think most of the slowness came about on the casual pace of the run in. Good to get out.

Tonight, after the shopping, I put in a final half hour on the bike and now I'm all set to go kick butt at Pen-y-Fan. Rest day tomorrow - or maybe a very easy half on the bike...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Yes, it's that time of the week again. That part of the week when thoughts turn towards the meal of the week and for next week I've decided to try the Italian dish, Calzone. It's a totally different type of dish than any I've tried before so I'm allowing for a fall back option of Spaghetti Tomato Tuna with Black Olives. Bugger, now I've made myself hungry because they both look gert lush - on paper at least. Just hope I can do 'em justice.

Took things easy tonight. I've a bit of an achy back and have had for the last couple of days. Feels a bit better tonight. It's all the tossing and turning I'm doing. Tonight I must get a good solid night's sleep - with absolutely no tossing what so ever - oooh matron.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Can't Stop Yawning

and I feel a little melancholy tonight - what the hell is going on with me! These damn sticky nights, the heat, it's preventing me sleep properly and it's getting annoying. In the word's of Mel Gibson - 'Gimme back my sleep'.

Looking forward to the end of the week - jumping ahead there - I've a double race header. It's the Pen-y-Fan / Fan-y-Big race weekend. Sunday's Fan-y-Big is part of Chepstow Harriers fell series but I've missed so many that there's no point in saving myself. I'm going to race hard both days and I'd like to beat last years times of  31:57 and 1:32:32 respectively. If I'm honest I will be even more melancholy if I don't because I'm definitely in better shape! Things can go wrong though. There are no sure things in this game. Still, I'll be a tad pissed if I don't...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Easier Day And A Bit Of A Lie In

Couldn't raise myself from the pit this morning and that's despite getting myself off to bed early last night - there's no sense to it. No sense at all, I tells ya. That left me with the late start drive down through the forest in bright sunshine - that set me up for the day.

Always intended a rest day today. I could definitely feel the weekends training in my legs so it was just an easy hour on the bike. That done, I'm done. Time for me to kick back and relax - sorted.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Rehabilitating Nicely

What cracking run. As I drove across to the mountains I hit torrential rain - nooooo - but once I arrived it didn't even look like it had rained. Without wasting any time I hit the trails and was soon headed up towards Offa's Dyke. I ran pretty well on the ascent. It got real steep in places but apart from the odd moment I was able to grind my way up to the top ridge. From there it was a lovely meandering run along the border of England and Wales for five or so miles before dropping off the ridge, down to the road and up the other side towards the Chwarel y Fan ridge.

I followed the ridge back south and finally dropped back down, through the forest. To be fair, it all went a bit tits at that point - and I knew it would. It always does. I never quite seem to be able to cope with dense, bushy undergrowth - stop it. Paths that appear on the map don't seem to match those on the ground and consequently the gps route ends up being pretty useless. At one point I came across a way marker pointing to the Llanthony Road - excellent, or so I thought. I followed it for about 400m before, well, it just ended in the middle of dense woodland with no sign of where it was suppose to continue - I'm guessing it doesn't get much use.

Anyway, finally, after a bit of faffing I made it back to the car. In all I covered about nineteen miles with 1,800 feet of ascent - the ascent mainly completed of the two major climbs. All in all a fine run and without a hint of the groin strain. Even had a pretty descent pace going for quite a lot of the route. Without the hiccup in the forest I'd have been round in about 3 hours and that's not a bad time for a training run of that distance.

It's been a good weekend of training. 32 miles clocked up and the groin seems to have settled down. The rehabilitation is well on it's way... just going to clock off with a final half hour warm down on the bike.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

King Arthur's Cave...

but no Holy Grail. Nice run though. Instead of the mountains I headed to Staunton and a run through the woods towards Symonds Yat and the River Wye. Wasn't quite as hilly a route as I had in mind - having only 1,800 feet of ascent - but I made sure I put in good effort on the climbs. Some steeper than others I ran them all. All in all I felt pretty good. The cold, although not completely gone, isn't cause for concern any more. It was a good solid run.

Starting out from the lay-by just outside Staunton I followed the edge of the woods, past the campsite and over to Symonds Yat. Then I dropped down to the river and followed south towards the foot bridge. I crossed the bridge to go in search of King Arthur's Cave. Didn't really know where it was 'cept for in them yer woods. I found myself a couple of foot paths one of which ended up the top of a right steep climb and ... the cave. After a quick looksie I was back on my way, back down to the foot bridge to resume the route along the river. A couple of miles further on I headed in land and wound my way back in fairly general easterly direction before finding my bearings and getting myself back to the car.

On route I stumbled across half a dozen deer and the highlight, a kestrally bird of prey type thing - with wings and everythin' - sat on the side of the path eating it's catch. Wasn't close enough to see what it'd caught and as I approached it took to the air with it's takeaway meal and disappeared into the forest...

Today's run was a little over 13 miles so I'm planning another run tomorrow to make up the numbers. Just about to hit the bike for a 30 minute warm down to prepare the legs.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Good Pick For A Day Off

NOT. What a bag of poop on the weather front. I was waiting for a break in the storm - it never came. Well not until this evening anyway. Too late for me now. The forecast for tomorrow looks better so I've decided I'm going to head over to the BMs for a loop up the Dyke, round the top and some how wending my way back down. After some torential down pours throughout the morning and into the afternoon I decided the longer run option was off the cards. In the end I put in two hours on the bike. Not ideal but at least it's been a restful day. Think I'm going to relax this evening with a glass of wine - or two.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

It's Proving Time

Not really sure what just happened? For some reason - and I really can't remember what triggered it - as I drove to work this morning I decided I wanted to bake some bread. Not your simple throw all the ingredients into a machine, switch on, wait and serve. No, I wanted first princples stuff. Oddly I had all the ingredients apart from some wholemeal flour. Not that odd really - now I'm in full training to be the perfect wife...

As to the training I had a good day. Martin and I got out at lunch for the old clockwise Dundry run. I was puffing hard on account of this damn cold I've gone and got me. Not sure I sounded much like a runner, more a fifty a day cigar man. Still, I got round in a not awful time of 32:15 and under the circumstances I was happy with that. As soon as I finished I almost coughed up my lungs but that soon subsided. On a happier note, didn't get a single twinge from down below - now that is a RESULT - and we completely avoided the rain. How lucky was that.

Back to the bread making, I started by preparing the yeast - don't ask me. Then after half an hour, allowing it to do something - don't know what - I added in the rest of the ingredients. Apparantly I could have left that first phase to do it's thing over a 24 hour period - sod that. Bit by bit I added the last of the flour until finally the dough mix took good form and I was able to knead it into sumission. Two sticky hands later - stop it - I seperated the dough into two lots. Finished the kneading and lobbed 'em in the loaf tins. Those bad boys are currently proving in the warmth of the conservatory - least I think that's what their doing.

Currently waiting patiently for them to rise before I bung them in the oven. Almost can't wait to see how they turn out - I bloody hope it'll have been worth the effort.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Best Day Ever...

Met three lovely ladies today. Jennifer Jane, Lauren Rachel and Tanya Louise. Yes, it's not often you pass three Stobbart lorries in a single day. Can't recall a single occasion off the top of my head. A special day indeed I think you'll agree - or maybe not. What am I on? Not sure but you definitely don't want to catch it.

Another tiring day and with a small school boy error to boot. Nothing I can't sort out tomorrow morning, first thing - and I will. Didn't get back into the office for the lunch run today so trying again tomorrow. Tonight it's a fairly solid effort on the bike. I've cranked up the resistance for a quad burning 75 minutes.

And how's this for a bargain. I've only gone and remembered I booked a day off work for this coming Friday. I was going to go run Wasdale - I'd entered and everything - but I can't really risk it despite the fact things are finally beginning to feel as though they're on the mend. It would be fool hardy at the very least. Down right ridculous at the other end of things. Plus I've no tent for the camping. No, instead I'll head over to the mountains for a walk, a run or a bit of both. Or perhaps a visit to a stretch of the Cotswold Way and a lunch stop somewhere on route... just hope the weather is sound.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Having A Lazy One

The cold's not a lot better - not actually any better but at least the throat's no longer sore. In addition, I'm feeling a modicum flat so I decided to give training a miss tonight. Hopefully I'll feel perkier in the morning. On a much more positive note the Biryani tasted even better tonight after a blast in the microwave.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Um, Not Sure About This One...

'This One' being my veggie Biryani. I've followed the recipe but I'm just not sure the rice is taking the water quite as it should... I'm thinking it could be a tad dry - when I say 'tad' I'm talking more 'Sarah Desert' dry. Oh well, I suppose you can't win 'em all and I've won three so I'm due a fail. What's the worst can happen?...

Anyway, my cold is no better and I'm just as nasal if not slightly more so - but I'm straying into the realm of too much information. On the upside, my throat feels improved. Definitely less sore so hopefully that means I'm on the mend. Still feeling tired though so I had a massive lie in this morning and what with my legs aching a fraction I decided to knock out two hours on the bike. Going to pull a late start tomorrow to follow up on an early one tonight. Hopefully that will seem me recharged and ready for action...

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Pleased With That

After a slightly later than intended start - I was really congested first thing and my throat sore. Thought I'd give it a few hours to see if things improved. Fortunately they did and by midday I was ready to go run. In view of the late start - and the fact that I'd already decided I was going to go run there anyway - I drove over to and just beyond Staunton to start my run.

From the lay-by on the bend I headed over to Redbrook to pick up the Offa's Dyke Path and then followed it along in the direction of Tintern. The plan was to run for as far as I felt good for, then turn tail and return over the same route. The throat started to get a bit dry and sore by the time I reached Brockweir so, having been running for just shy of an hour and a half I turned around and headed back.

I was pleased with the way I ran. It was pretty good quality and I felt strong. I definitely knew I'd raced on Thursday, my legs didn't feel fresh, but even so, I felt good on the climbs - and for those that know the Offa's Dyke Path - there's quite a few of those and some go on for quite a while... Yep, all in all it was a good little run.

I covered just about 17 miles with 4,000 feet of ascent in a time of two hours and fifty seven minutes - and that's not too shabby for me. Off to finish things up with half an hour on the bike and, with luck, I'll be ready for a shorter recovery run tomorrow.

Today's route:-

Friday, July 01, 2011


The legs aren't feeling too bad and I can't really feel the groin strain. Hopefully, if I'm able to race full on and not get too many aftershocks, things are on the mend. I'm looking to get out to the mountains tomorrow. I'll probably stay this side of things and maybe get a run along Offa's Dyke to Twmpa. Failing that I quite fancy a run along the Wye Valley so I might drive over to Monmouth and take a loop down the Wye and re-visit the site of yesterday's run amongst other places. Have to say now I've typed it, it tempts me. Especially if it's hot since much of the route will be tree lined and shaded. Yes, yes, sounds more and more tempting...

Been a fairly tiring week what with the race and helping out at the Bridge Inn. I've not had much me time. It's Friday night and time to relax. Maybe a glass of wine....