Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Grand Arrival

Ok, so it's not that grand. In fact, not grand at all but I've made it up here to Snowdonia. Parked in the shadow of Snowdon - shadow, that is, were it not the middle of the night.

It was always going to be too late to get to the campsite tonight and even if I had pitching the tent would have been a nightmare in the dark. So I took the easy option of dosing in the car in a layby - a nice layby, mind, not one of them 'dodgy' ones. And the car is surprisingly comfy with a pillow shoved here and there.

I'm all set now and ready to take on tomorrow...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Packed It In

All set for lift off tomorrow. The kit is in the bag and the most important item - the map - is waterproofed and ready for action. Well, you've got to plan for it to be wet when you're heading to Snowdonia. I am so up for it now. I am going to kick some Peris ass...

Monday, August 29, 2011

Half Packed

Yep, I'm half ready for Snowdonia. I've got the kit packed, tent, food, camping gear - just need to pack some clothes and I'm done...

I've tried to minimise - but it hasn't worked out that way. I've got bloody loads of stuff! Going to try and do a bit of 'proper' camp cooking this time round rather than heating up a tin of something. That's partly the reason I've got so much stuff - practically packed up half the kitchen.

I'm really up for the Peris race now. In fact, I'm really up for the entire mini break. It's gonna be ace. Away from the rat race again. What ever the weather throws at me I'm going to enjoy it!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Plan

Well there's not much time now till I'm off to Snowdonia. I'll be driving up after work on Wednesday night so I really need to have everything packed and ready to go this weekend. I've got the menu sorted - just need to hit the shops to pick up a few things. Got the gear packed. Campsite picked. The only thing left to do is plan my Peris Horseshoe recce on Thursday and Friday ahead of the real thing on Saturday. Ideally I'll look into the first section across to Y Garn, maybe go as far as the drop off Glydar Fawr. That'll probably Thursday. Friday I reckon to recce the last section from Moel Cynghorion (and maybe as far up as the turn off from the main tourist path) down to the finish - which I assume is in the woods near to the main road. Obviously I need to have a few contigencies for variances in the weather - I don't intend to get soaked - until the race, of course. Hoping it will be good weather though. So much more enjoyable - if 17 miles and 8,500 feet across some rough old terrain can be considered enjoyable - it is in my rather warped book.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

To Chipping Campden And Beyond...

It was a earlyish start. I say earlyish because in weekday terms it wasn't early at all but on BHT it was - that's Bank Holiday Time. I met Pat over at Winchcombe and we drove to Chipping Campden to start our run. And a very pleasant run it was. We weren't running on the limit but we had a decent enough pace going. I know the section to Stanway House pretty well and we stuck to the task. From there it was over to Pat to guide us across to Winchcombe and we got there without issue. In all we covered a respectable, if not remarkable, 19 miles with a very gentle 2,300 feet of ascent in bob on 3 hours - and that included more than several minutes of stoppage.

All in all I'm very pleased with that. Although not the fastest, it felt really easy. Despite the recent training dip I feel I've managed to retain much of my fitness. Today's run does nothing to make me fear otherwise. The only slight dissappointment was the kamikaze wasp that, for no reason, stung me on the leg - so I ripped out its sting and stamped on the little bastard...

Not sure what's in store for the rest of the bank holiday but you can probably bank on a bit of baking and hopefully a bit more running. Finishing off today's workout with half an hour on the bike...

Today's route:-

Friday, August 26, 2011

Along Came A Mate

Just in the nick of time. Just when things were beginning to slip. The roller coaster of ups and downs continues. There's been more up than down but the last few weeks haven't been great. Last weekend was brill and the wrinklies bash a couple weeks before was too but... Anyway, off to run 15+ miles along the Cotswold Way tomorrow - now that's something to get out of bed for. Be good to catch up with Pat, it's been a while. This weeks been a bit stressing. Feelings of guilt over having not run and motivation is low. I need to pull myself together. But it's not all doom and gloom. Time to 'rack' up later - Gadget Show at eight...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Should I Buy A Van

I'm considering buying a van. Should I? Looking at the Nissan Vanette. Be good to be able to head to a wet and windy race and change in the dry. I reckon I can get an old specimen for a grand. Make weekends away easy. Should I? Shouldn't I? Decisions, decisions...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Waiting For My Soup To Come In...

Spicy Tomato and Sweetcorn with homemade sunflower seed bread. Ten minutes to go and counting - but I think I might have slightly over egged the 'spicy'. I think this bad boy might just sting the ring...

Been feeling tired today. I think the weekend has hit home so I'm taking it easy with a glass of red. An hour on the bike is all I could muster. Not sure I'll get much running in tomorrow either but I'll try...

Monday, August 22, 2011

What An Offa

I really struggled to raise this morning. I was just about to switch to a late start, having switched off the alarm, but suddenly remembered I had an early morning meeting. Would not have been good form to miss it. Things soon picked up after my ninth cup of coffee - joking, it was after my fifteenth. Amazingly my legs feel OK and best of all my back feel tons better. Not quite fixed but I'm no longer moving around like a ninety year old, more late sixties...

Anyway, here, for the record, are my runs - I'll rephrase - my stages from the weekends Offa's Relay. It really was a great weekend and I can't wait for next years. Especially as I'm hatching an idea to run the whole lot, and utilise the relay weekend as support. I reckon a 60 hour attempt could be on. Start 6am Friday morning and finish 6pm Sunday. Meaning three 12 hour days of running with two over night camps. It tempts me.

6.5 miles, 900 ft ascent run with Laurie

4.5 miles, 850 ft ascent, solo

6miles, 700 ft ascent (net downhill) run with Sue

7 miles, 1350 ft ascent, solo

6.5 miles, 580 ft ascent (net downhill) run with Berta and Denise

9 miles, 650 ft ascent run with Lou, Rob and Mark

3 miles, almost flat run with lots

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mission Compete

The final day all went to plan. I ran with Lou and Andy (aka Rob) and there were no incident on the 9 mile stage in to Monmouth - although we did almost need to put Mark out of misery after a recurrence of an old foot injury. The rest of the stages all went well although there was a slight wobble out of Brockweir after a mishap on the finish / start location. The finishers finished were they thought they should while the starters were waiting at a different point on the Dyke path. The two groups met in the end and the relay baton continued its journey towards Chepstow and its final destination at Sedbury. Incidently, I ran the 3 mile section from the Bigsweir Bridge to Brockweir, taking my total for the three days to 44 miles. I feel far more knackered than those 44 miles would indicate. The mental strain of chasing down from stage to stage, following in the cars and navigating through the country lanes is as mentally tiring and the physical bit.

It was great to have so many harriers arrive at the end of the Dyke for a mass run to the finish. Been a great weekend but I'm gald to be home now. And finally, a big well done to Gerry, Sue and Judith for organising the whole thing.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Little Unexpected

Well it all went a little off piste. Lou and Andy (aka Rob) got a little lost. 45 minutes of lost. That knocked the schedule so the dicision was made to run the last three stages of the day concurrently. That meant someone needed to head out to assist the final stage runners. Despite being a bit knackered I gave it a go. Thankfully we got through the six to seven miles over to Hay-on-Wye without incident.
The one thing I could have done without was the campsite. It was quite honestly the worst place on earth. Hell seemed like a better option. The one thing I really needed after a hard days running was a nice hot shower. To be honest I would have taken any shower. And that was the one thing they didn't provide.

And this is no reflection on the G-meister, he's done a great job running the relay and we'll be fit and ready for action tomorrow but we just had to f%*& off and camped in the mountains instead. No noise. No other people. Bliss, god damn bliss...

Stormed It

Had a great run this morning on stages 21 and 22. I put the boot in to claw back some time on the schedule. I started a couple of minutes down but finished four minutes up - nice to give a bit spare for the outgoing runners.

Great stages though. 21 was flat as a pancake and straight as an arrow. 22, hilly as you like. It was nice to actually run along the Dyke. By the time I reached the finish I knew I'd run. That's me done for the day...

All Set For Another Day

Up early, weather's looking good. Only hitting the Dyke for seven miles today. The back feels a bit better and I'm saving myself for 26 miles tomorrow (all being well)...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Third Stage Of The Day

Another good run. Bang on schedule - the six miles really was six miles this time. That's 18 miles for the day. 11 more tomorrow and then Sunday...

Been a great day. The sun shone. And the Chepstow Harriers have completed day one of the Offa's Dyke three day relay. 60 miles down, 120 to go. Now for the camping in my bloody tiny tent - I farted last night and almost suffocated...

Stage 2 And 3

Of the Offa's Dyke relay complete. Got a bit of a scare on stage 3 though. My target time came and went and I was no where near the finish. Was I going that slow? I certainly shifted up through the gears from there. Finished seven minutes adrift. Ah, I see, my 3.5 mile stage was in fact 4.5 so the 35 minute target on the 'undulating' route was never going to happen.

My 12 miles complete, the story continues...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Just About Ready

Well that's the gear - no, not 'that' sort of gear - all gathered. I've tried to go minimal - but it doesn't seem to have worked out that way! Seem to have too much kit. I'm looking forward to 'living' in the new Terra Nova Laser for three night's though. Just the thought of it is giving me the urge to go wild camp back packing in the mountains... I'm thinking forward to next year and a three day Bob Graham recce at some point. Carrying all my kit and being fully self reliant - then again I may hate it! But at the moment the idea excites me. Tonk.

I'm down to run on all three days in Chepstow Harriers Offa's Dyke 25th anniversary relay. Ten or so miles a day but I am looking to run an extra stage or two. I might even attempt to run the final day run in from pre-Monmouth to the end but as that would make it a 27 miler I might feel different at the end of three days on the road. Either way it should be a good bash...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Well That Went A Bit Wrong

Did not make the LCL race tonight. Work went on longer than planned and it meant that I did not have the time to drive half way across Wales from Bristol to make the start. I could have made it had my helicopter pilots license come through in time but it didn't. Still it's not all bad. I just realised I was royally about to balls up in a style that puts my previous 'late' race appearances well and truly into the shade.

I had it down in my diary that the Offa's relay was next weekend, starting on Friday the 26th. It's not. IT'S THIS WEEKEND! At the back of my mind something didn't feel quite right each time I browsed the diary but I didn't twig it till a couple of hours ago. Being an entire week late for an event would have put my previous best of a day late well and truly into the category of an also ran - then again, had I not realised my mistake it would have been next weekend as a total also ran. Disaster averted...

PS I would have been highly surprised had my helicopters pilot license come though seeing as I haven't actually applied yet. And now I come to think about it, I haven't actually had any flying lessons. Technically I've not even been in a helicopter - not really a technicality more a statement of fact. And one final thought, I'm not actually intending to either...

Monday, August 15, 2011


Oops, just got carried away with looking at tents - how sad am I? - don't answer that. Just ordered up the Terra Nova Laser Competition 2! She looks like one mean mother - not to mention flippin' light. She weighs in at a mere 1.2kg. For a two person tent that's pretty damn cool - cool as defined by nerdy geeks. Pretty much commits me to running some mountain marathons next year... Although she'll be good for a bit of longer distance wild camping running as well. I'll try her out during the Offa's Dyke weekend coming up shortly.

Resting tonight. Total rest. It's the leisure centre league road race tomorrow night and I want to be fully recharged for it. The back is still playing up a bit but it's better than it was and I reckon it should see me complete - just need to make sure I take my kit with me in the morning as I'll be heading straight there after work - where ever 'there is' - mental note, read up on the location details I was sent...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Weekend Away From Training

Twas a good night out on the town last night. Yet again, as my fellow wrinklies can attest to, I managed to stay the distance. No falling asleep. No drunken stuper - well not much of one - and I made it to kick out time from the club again - back of the net. I do fear, however, that I may have peformed quite a lot of 'dad dancing' of the very highest calibre known to mankind - but that's a story for another day.

I haven't run this weekend. I've quite a busy schedule of racing coming up - and mostly long distance ones at that - so I decided be good to recharge the batteries. Got a good bit of work done in the garden - filled the green bin - and I put in three hours on the bike yesterday and today so I didn't rest up entirely. The first of my races is this coming Tuesday, the Leisure Centre League road series, and I'll use it as a good solid tempo session. A bit of speed ahead of the longer stuff.

And now I finish off the rest of the chilled weekend...

Friday, August 12, 2011

That's The Peris Entry In The Post...

Well, I've sent in my entry for the Peris Horseshoe fell race... Can't believe there isn't a route map posted anywhere on the internet. To be fair apart from the first section up through the quarry the rest looks pretty 'straight forward' - as to whether I manage to follow said 'straight forward' route remains to be seen...

I did manage to find a map of the quarry section courtesy of Yiannis:-

"Route through the quarry"

and this is my best attempt at routing the rest of it. There are a few parts of the route that are across open expanse so I guess the best line on those sections is down to experience - and seeing as I don't have any, this being my first attempt at the event - I'm not reckoning on anything special. As normal I will rely on 'The Force' to guide me down...

Keenly awaiting the arrival of my maps so I can memorise ever inch of the land...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Still Backing Up

Well the back is not mending up quite as quickly as I'd hoped. On the flip side, at least it's no worse. We missed - that's Martin and I - the lunch run so I put in an hour on the bike tonight - between baking up a couple of wholemeal french stick type loaves to go with tonight's portion of red lentil chilli soup. It's our last chance this week for that lunch run tomorrow. We got to man up and get out there - not easy when the Balloon Festival is on - the weather will obviously be sh!t...

Looking towards the weekend I've no races - boo. Going to be another quiet one I guess - yeah, right. Sod being a quiet one, bring on the Wrinklies night out. Toot Toot.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Plan Ahead

Despite the back - which I know will be 'back' to normal in a day or two (or though it feels a bit shit again today) - I've been busy planning things. I'm going for another camping break at the start of September to Snowdonia into which I will incorporate the Peris Horseshoe - full version, I'm not namby - on the Saturday. Going to head up Wednesday night so I can squeeze in a couple of mini recce's on the Thursday and Friday. Apparantly the Peris Horseshoe is a bit of a beast so a bit of a recceing might be wise - bring it on.

Found a nice little campsite on the edge of Llanberis and within walking distance of Pete's Eats - which is possibly the finest eating lodge in all of Wales. Mind, eating there by myself will no doubt feel a bit odd but you can't not do things - I think I double negatived myself correctly there - just because of the memories they hold else you'd never do anything ever again.

Looking forwards through the next month I've a good few races coming up. In a couple of weeks there's the Brecon Beacons race and then after the horseshoe I've the Lake District Mountain Trial the week after and then the Black Mountains race two weeks after that. So that'll be four AL fell races in a month - now that's what I call running.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Back To Work Tomorrow

Already? Can't believe it's come round so quick. A bit of a rest day today. The back is getting better. It's not there yet but it's on it's way. Put in a bike session to avoid loading the back. Going to try a run tomorrow. Martin and I pencilled in a run last week so hopefully work won't get in the way - and hopefully the back will take it...

Monday, August 08, 2011

Home Early

Yes, a slight disappointment but my back is still aching and with the rain 'h'issing down I realised a run in the wet just wouldn't be any fun. I could've coped with a wet run if I was fully fit. After all, it's good to get the navigation practice but I just felt I'd not entirely enjoy it and not wanting to dampen - did you see what I did there? - my holiday spirit I decided to head home early. But that doesn't detract from what has been a great break.

My days in the hills have been 20 miles with 8,500 feet ascent, 7 miles with 1,800 feet ascent and 16 miles with 5,500 feet ascent. It's been great to finally trek and run in some of Englands greatest landscape. Reliant solely on map and compass. To view the mountains from different angles and pick out the features.

Then when I wasn't out there in the hills I was relaxing doing absolutely sod all - except the 2km walk up towards Scafell Pike to get mobile reception to send out my blog post! Other than that walk there was no extravagance. Peace and serenity ruled. Looking up at the sky or into the hills. Watching the clouds and mist roll in and then back out again. Watching the leaves rustle in the breeze. Letting my thoughts drift to where ever they wanted to go... It might all sound a bit boring but I can honestly say I didn't once feel that way. No shops. No hustle. No bustle. It was just great and I am already thinking towards my next camping expedition. North Wales maybe...

Sunday, August 07, 2011

From Pillar To Post

After today's recce it's safe to assume I won't be doing the Langdale recce tomorrow - my back is f^%&ed. After taking it easier yesterday my back felt much better this morning - but that was before the descent off Whinn Rigg. I set out on my Wasdale recce at 9am and headed up into the cloud. Visibility was low so I put my faith in the old compass - and she did me proud.

After coming down from Whinn Rigg and across the valley to Greendale I knew I wasn't going to make the full distance - but on the plus side, the cloud had lifted and the rest of the recce had for good views. I headed round the route - passed Mr Naylor coming the other way. Through Pillar to below Kirk Fell. There, the route goes round under KF and up Great Gabel. I'm fairly okay with that bit of the route and onwards down to Sty Head, across to Esk Haus and up to Scafell Pike and I recced the Lingmell finish in reverse on Friday. So from below KF I followed the Black Sail Pass back down to the campsite.

Despite knackering the back it was a useful recce. I have at least covered all the parts of the route - if not all in one go. In all I reckon to have covered just over 16 miles today with a useful bit of ascent.

And I can't finish without a nod to Victor Meldrew - what is it with air beds? We didn’t have those in my day. Camping is meant to be roughing it - at least a little. If you want luxury stay in a hotel. Camping is meant to be beans straight from the can. Cooking on a single burner. Burning your sausage on a naked flame - ooh matron.  I swear I saw someone taking an Aga out the back of their 4x4...

Right, where's that Bombay potato in a can...

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Achy Breaky Back

My back has been a little achy since last week's Seaview 17. Now, after yesterday's (Friday) Borrowdale recce, it is full on achy. Oh god, age is catching up with me.

I decided to limit things to walking only and set off up to Sty Head at about 10:30 to make sure I was in position ahead of the race. Hopefully the gentle walk hasn't aggravate the back any. Feels ok at the moment.

Now I'm not stupid enough to attempt the Wasdale recce tomorrow if the back isn't significantly better. In which case I'll plan an alternative walk route instead. Be slightly disappointed though, if I have to do that but it'll not detract from this being a great break from the rat race. No tv. No radio. No news papers and only limited Internet. Well, you can't expect me to turn my back on the Internet - even if I do have to walk half way up Scafell Pike to get reception on my phone! It's just great to head into the mountains or just sit and reflect. Simply brilliant.

The highlight of today (Saturday)  was the walk up to Sty Head. Met a slightly framed old guy wearing a pair of fell shoes. We chatted as we ascended. Something told me I was in the presence of greatness and I enquired, "Might I ask your name?"
"Of course, it's Joss Naylor".

We continued to chat as we made the rest of the way to Sty Head to watch the race...

Scafell Double

Never been up Scafell Pike - so in typical Mad Runner style I went up there twice today! (This is Friday by the way, as I'm not sure when my phone will get some reception and this will post). I basically followed the Borrowdale Fell Race route - or at tried to. The quickest way to join the route from my base camp at Wasdale was - you guessed it -head up Scafell.

On the whole I managed to get myself round on approximately the right route but I am suspecting I was far from optimal. Well it is my first proper time in the Lake District and I even forewent the GPS. OK not strictly true as I did have my eTrex in the pack but navigation was strictly old school - just map and trusty compass. I can't claim to be a man of the mountain without proving my prowess old school style.

Having said that my line down to the Honister pass. Couldn't make up my mind and dilly dailied my way down like an old woman. I missed out Dale Head on account of time issues - a somewhat later than planned start to the day. OK, and the fact I was feeling a little knackered.

Basically got myself back on to the route towards what would be the start of the race and made my way home. OK, I missed out Bessyboot - have you seen it! Went up Glaramara instead. Dropped across to Esk Haus and back up to Scafell. Then just the down hill back to base camp. Sorted. Good day. 20 miles and some not insignificant ascent.

Tomorrow I'm going to head back up to Sty Head to spectate this years race...

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

All Packed

and loaded into the car. I know I don't leave till tomorrow but I don't want to stress out on the drive home from work and then risk forgetting stuff. This way I can get home worry free, have dinner and ship out. Then just the matter of that god damn awful five hour drive - and of course, the remembering of all the things I've forgotten.

Totally easing back tonight. Just chilling on the sofa. Typing this and watching TV - call me square eyes... (oh dear lord isn't Wednesday TV awful!)

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Road Trip

OK, not so much road trip as long drive. I'm going to head up to Wasdale Head after work on Thursday to be ready for a full day of action on Friday. I've got my kit list done - now I just need to pack it all - yawn. I've also got my itinery all worked out. I'm going to be putting in some longish miles while I'm up there but I'm not attempting to run it all. This mini break is all about a mix of running and walking and spending the day in the mountains. More importantly, I guess, it's about getting away from it all. Relaxing and taking in the scenery. I don't plan on doing much else other than hitting the hills and chilling. Once I get there the car isn't going to see any action until I need it for the journey home. Tonight I'm still taking it easy. Another go on the bike is all - I want to be fresh to enjoy my break.

Monday, August 01, 2011

A Time To Heal

That's what my poor over heated feet need. More specifically my right foot. It really is quite blistered and said blisters - 'said' is my word of the week, can't stop using said word - are slightly bloody. Nice... They'll heal up quick though. Well, they bloody well better do.

My legs feel OK. Not great but certainly nowhere near the  wrecked state they were in after a measley three and a half miles round Pen-y-Fan. Yesterday's race was more road race than fell race. It certainly wasn't flat but there were long sections where a sustained fast pace was required and that's what did for my feet. All in all I'm really pleased with my race but I'm thinking I'm going to be requiring much tape for my feet during my trip up to the lakes - and compeed of course...