Friday, September 30, 2011


Gonna be off the grid for a few days - ooh, sounds like I've joined CI5 - but I haven't - which is lucky, as otherwise I'd have to kill you.

I've pretty much come to the end of my current race schedule. Not really given much thought to races between now and the new year. One glimmer. A twinkle in my eye, mayhap, is an almost dead mid-winter Greenman Challenge attempt? I'm a little tempted to run challenge on the day of my fourtieth Birthday on the 23rd December. It's stupid things like that, that appeal to me. I've already got the day off work and what better way to celebrate 40 bastard years than run 40plus miles around the village of Bristol? I might even have a crack at a fast time - what's the record again?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Oh Dear Lord

That was bloody hard going. I tried to stay with Martin on our lunch run over Dundry. Stupid boy! By the top I was shattered. Running on what felt like the hottest day of the year didn't help neither. I've never felt like stopping to walk on the final run in - I did today. Felt like stopping, that is, not actually stopping. I can't say I was far away from it though. Mentally, I was a broken man.

When I eventually made it home Martin had the cheek to blame me for pushing the pace - cheeky devil. I was quicker than last week - but only by 8s. In terms of extra knackeredness it felt like it should have been 80 minutes quicker - and that's not bad from a run that only takes just over half an hour.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Good Training, Slow Race

Well, here's the report, a day late, of my latest Bridge Inn race. Now before I start, let me state for the record, I didn't take it too seriously. In fact, I didn't take it seriously at all. My right calf was feeling slightly sore and I'm not into injurying myself for no gain. That said it was a decent training run. Slow, yes, but good training all the same.

I set off towards the back. Not exactly last but pretty near it. My plan was to increase the effort on each kilometre to finish fast and strong. I didn't record my lap splits but I definitely felt the increase of effort as I hit the marks. I can honestly say I was hardly moving in the first km, almost jogging but not quite that slow. The second up and over the foot bridge felt good as I eased past runner after runner. The third was run in an equally easy fashion but I started to crank things up a notch especially on the gentle incline upwards. There I began to put in some effort. Down over to the fourth kilometre marker I picked off a few more but with larger gaps I was needing to increase the pace ever upwards. As I entered the final kilometre I wasn't holding back too much and as I climbed out from the final road crossing underpass I really started to kick. With the Bridge coming into sight I was up towards max and as I hit the final 100m I fired up the afterburners and sprinted full on across the line.

It was my slowest race for years but as training it felt pretty good. It was so nice to really stretch out in the final couple of kilometres. It almost makes me want to go run a few speed sessions - damn, did I say that out loud? Honestly though, I have a few stirrings... I think it's time I looked my out a Chepstow Tuesday Night training session... noooooo, say it isn't so. Make these feelings go away...

Monday, September 26, 2011

I wonder...

How slowly I will in tomorrow night's Bridge Inn 5k race? I would say 'how quickly' but I don't want to open myself to a trades description action. That said my legs feel recovered although my right calf is a bit sore - boo. Hopefully I can nudge back towards 19 minutes but what ever time I run I'll be happy. After all, it's not about the kill it's all about the hunt. It's not about the capture it's about the chase. It's not about - what bollocks, it's totally about the time - but I'll still be happy...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

What A Pile Of Rain

Well that's not what I ordered. It pretty much rained all morning and most of the afternoon. No stream clearing for me today. It's a job that needs doing before the monsoon season kicks in. The clock is ticking...

My legs are feeling it today. Didn't think they would but I guess seventeen miles up and down mountains have their price. Today I'm paying it. An hour on the bike is all I could muster for. Other than that it's been a relaxing day. Haven't had such a chilled day for a while. It's been nice. Didn't waste the entire day though. I made panzanelle for lunch and finished up with a bit of baking. It was billed as panettone and I'm no expert but it didn't turn out to be what I consider to be panettone. Do you use wholemeal flour? That's what the recipe called for. I wasn't convinced but never the less, I followed the instructions. So either it's a case for the trades description act or I made it totally wrong. It was more bready fruit cake than panettone but that said, it tasted bloody lush. I actually think it could be my favourite fruit cake. I'll not bill it as panettone but it was lush. Suffice to say I will be baking it again.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The 3 Rules Of Fell Running

Firstly, don't eat spicy potato and cabbage soup on the eve of a hard race, secondly, don't eat spicy potato and cabbage soup on the eve of a hard race and finally, the most important one, thirdly, don't eat spicy potato and cabbage soup on the eve of a hard race.

It's fair to say my race did not quite go to plan. Things were going great in the first half. Gaining a few minutes on my splits from last year up to Pen y Gadir Fawr and generally taking it steady. I felt in good shape. I'd had a few rumbles from down below but nothing too severe. Then it was the drop down to the second valley and I took that steady as well.

I ran most of the first half with Matt R. His recce's had paid off as he really knew the route - almost as well as me! I gave him the slip on the climb to Chwrl-thingy and then the ridge run to Bal Mawr. I really started to pile it on at there. For me the race doesn't start until you start to climb out of that second valley. The first part of the race is all about getting to the 'start' in good shape and today I did that.

I hit Bal Mawr four minutes up and bang on my planned schedule. I was then looking to finish strong and gain the all important final three minutes and break three hours. It looked on and more importantly Matt L was in my sights and I was tracking.... By the forest he was blown away - but that didn't last....

As I started the final climb the rumblings from down below started in earnest - who is Ernest anyway? I had to walk more than I wanted - or needed to - until I had no option but to dive in the bushes... Matt L ran on past, he quite literally caught me with my pants down - damn, did I say that outloud? I was always expecting him to come back at me on the climb as he is a much better ascender than me but I hadn't planned on the circumstances. Damn that spicy cabbage...

Anyway, from there to Crug Mawr I struggled with after tremors. It was over and I knew it. I knew, with the stomach starting to cramp as I 'held it in' there was no way I could make it to the finish with the much needed extra few minutes gained. To be honest I was starting to think I'd be lucky to beat last years time. In the end, having reached Crug five minutes inside last years time I was a minute slower on that final split. Where I needed to gain two minutes I actualy lost time. Boo.

I'm not too upset. Pretty upbeat really. Yep, the spicy soup was a school boy error - and I can't even say I'll never make that mistake again but I know I felt physically strong to the finish. I paced the race well and ran strong. Sometimes things just go a bit wrong and today was one of those times. There's always next year. Despite the trouble I did manage to beat last years time. I was four minutes better in 3 hours and 3 minutes and looking on the bright side, at least I didn't actually shit myself - although it was a close call in places...

Well done Matt L, you dun me again you cad, Matt R, for a great first BM race and Mike for his first BM race too.

Today's 17 mile, 5000ft ascent Black Mountains Race route:

Friday, September 23, 2011

Black Mountains Here I Come

Just been checking the race details. I'm well up for it tomorrow and don't want any recurrence of my infamous 'getting the start time wrong' incident. Yep, it's definitely 12 noon tomorrow. Hang on, better just check the day... yep, 24th, that's tomorrow. Definitely 12 noon, Saturday...

I've a couple of last minute pre flight checks to go through, namely, looking out my previous race splits. I want to know exactly where I stand - or rather, run - as I hit the check points. Don't want to gain too much time in any one phase. I just want to chip away at each split in its own context. That way each small gain builds to a more significant one by the finish - hopefully at least. That's the plan.

It's all systems go and best of all, better than any race - well, almost better than any race - it's FRIDAY, toot, toot.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Preparing For Sub-3 Black Mountains

Now, I don't want to go putting the pressure on but I just have to think I'm in shape to go under three hours for Saturday's Black Mountains race. I was seven minutes outside that last year and I wasn't as fit as I am now - or is my improved fitness all in my mind? I hope not. Then again, seven minutes is in the region of thirty seconds a mile quicker and when you think in those terms it sounds a harder challenge - think how much extra effort that would be in a road race... I still think it should be on. In preparation I'm going to be looking out last years splits to Pen Cerrig Calc, 'the first valley', Pen y Gadir Fawr, Charwl y fan - or what ever the hell that unprouncable summit is called [and I can't be arsed to look at the map for the spelling], Bal Mawr and then Crug Mawr. All I need to do is chip away on those splits. Come on. I can do this!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Decade Of Running

It struck me the other day -  so I asked the local yobs to stop throwing stones at me - seriously, it struck me that I've been running for just over ten years. I started running back in 2001, training for and then running the Bristol Half Marathon and that was meant to be it. But it wasn't. The pain from that race lasted a week. Never again, I said. I lied. It wasn't long before I was looking out another race and stepping up the training and the bug was well and truly caught.

During the past decade of running I've had a lot of highs. I got quicker and quicker culminating in my purple patch in August 2006 when I set back-to-back PB's for the 10k and 5k - 37:41 at Langford on Bank Holiday Sunday followed by 18:10 at Yeovil on the Monday and then a few weeks later I set my half marathon PB of 1:22:52. Oh, those were heady days indeed - OK, not really. From there things headed south culminating, of course, in the low of last year. Happily that's behind me now and I'm back to my best - on the fells, at least. I don't think we'll ever see me running times close to any of my PB's but then again, with the big Four O on the horizon I get to set a whole new batch of 'age category' PB's - result. I wonder what the next decade has in store...

As for today, Martin and I got out at lunch for the Dundry. The wind was strong - no - and we were running the lesser favourite anti-clockwise route. We set off quickly and by the hill I was fading. The climb was damn hard work and once over the top I was so knackered I couldn't really speed up much. Strangely I could feel the weekends races in my legs. Didn't even consider that would happen. Anyway, I finished two minutes quicker than last week and factoring in the wind - no - it was a pretty decent effort.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

Then let the baking begin - well in an hour or two.... Mind, what a pants end to the day weather-wise but at least we've got baking. I was going to have a jog through Flaxley Wood tonight but my enthusiasm for that evaporated in spray on the motorway. It was horrendous and by the time I hit the A40 I had had enough so it's more bike tonight. Tis slightly annoying me but as I look across the fields yonder, through the fine misty vapour, I just can't face it. The reservoirs might need it - but is it the right type of rain? The type that falls and soaks in or is it that stuff which gets you wet but by the time it hits the ground is already evaporating? That is the fifty three pence question...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Muddling Along On A Monday

I totally felt it this morning - fnah, fnah, ooh, no, stop it. The double header weekend hit and I struggled to rise form the pit. Half an hour late, I eventually rose - but not quite phoenix like. It looked like it was going to be a late start - to be fair, there wasn't really any other option on account of not owning one of those new fangled time machine cars - no, my mistake, that was a film. With no time in the bank I'll have to make sure I get it right tomorrow and get in early.

I'm feeling sharper tonight though. Managed an hour and a half on the bike in front of the telly catching up with the news - what a crock of poo that all is, wish I hadn't bothered. The legs felt a bit blunt and a little achy but overall, after two hard races, I'm pleasantly surprised how good they feel. I'm really starting to look forward to this Saturday's Black Mountains race. Sub-three has got to be on the cards...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I Call Foul

I was up for today's race. The inaugural St Arvans Mutli-Terrain 10 host by Chepstow Harriers. Having had a good night's sleep - I know that because I was ready for the alarm had didn't having a problem shifting my butt outa there. The first thing I noticed was that my legs seemed OK - and that surprised me muchly - I love making up words. I really didn't spare any horses yesterday and five plus miles up a mountain is a not un-testing distance.

I took things too hard from the start and flogged myself in the first few miles - most of which was generally upwards. In fact the first half of the route was mostly upwards, the second half mostly down - swings and roundabouts. By halfway I was hanging in there and just about holding 10th but then the next few miles saw me drop back to 12th, where I remained for the rest of the race.

The race itself was a thoroughly well thought out route over trail and road. I hope this one becomes a fixture of the calendar - and not just for the excellent coffee and walnut cake available at the finish - although I would have gladly paid the entry for that alone.

Back to the race. I was closely monitoring my progress on the gps and as the miles passed and I was looking good for 70 minutes. Looking good, that is, until some evil man - read Matthew L - decided the race wasn't challenging enough and so added an extra three quarters of a mile through the woods. Having not run any of the recce's I didn't know it at the time but I got a bit of an inkling something was up when the mile from 6 to 7 took over ten minutes - and it was all downhill.

My twelfth place was never certain and as we entered the last few miles I was really starting to pay for yesterday's race. I was slowing. Stomping along and worse still, looking back over my shoulder - something I never condone normally but I needed to know how quickly I was being reeled in and if there was a chance I could hold on to twelfth.

As my GPS clocked up ten miles I could see we weren't anywhere near the finish and every step seemed to take unfathomably long. I was running on empty. The last vestige of my energy was spent. It was all I could do to stay upright. My sense of humour failing, the air turning blue as I cursed, the finish finally came into sight and as it did so my twelfth place was in jeopardy. Time for one last herculean effort as I fired up the afterburners to burst across the finish field and hold my place. I finished in 1 hour and 16 minutes over the 10.8 mile course with about 1,200 feet of ascent.

Despite the long measure - I shall be having words with Mr L, worry ye not - it's definitely a race I'd run again and recommend to others - and not just for the cake, although that is a pretty damn good reason in itself. Congratulations to Lou S for a great race, all the marshals and lastly - and most importantly - the bakers.

Going to finish off with an hour on the bike before putting my feet up and enjoying the last of the weekend...

The erroneously long St Arvans Multi-Terrain 10 route:-

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Return To Form?

You decide...

Now that we are approaching the winter fell running season the race start times are moving backwards - and that's good - and that's bad. Bad because most of the day is spent by the time you get home afterwards. Good because you can have a damn good lie in - and that I did in fine style.

Conditions, as I set out, looked good. I decided not to wear my contacts - what a mistaka to maka. On arrival there were spots of rain in the air. By the time the race got underway it wasn't long before there was proper rain. Only gentle at first but becoming more persistent. Mind you, it was nowhere near as bad as the rain of the past two weekends but I think it still classifies as three wet races in a row. I'm not likely the precedent that's being set.

Anyway, back to the race. Unlike my recent races I took it out fairly hard. For those not in the know, the Llyn y Fan race climbs gently - but steep enough so that you damn well know you're going up hill - from the start all the way to the top ridge. The approach to the ridge gets fairly steep. My now ever present mantra of 'come on, you can run this bit' was pulsing in my mind as I pushed myself to run every possible stride - not sure if I should blame a certain person for that mantra or not...

Once to the top ridge I knew the run like the back of my hand on account that it follows the route of the South Wales Traverse. I ran hard but steady. I ran quickly down and climbed, what I felt was, quite strongly for once. The rain came on harder and harder and by the final summit it was full on rain and with it my vision suffered - the choice not to go with the contacts was coming home to roost. As I approached the fast, rough downhill I felt optimitic of getting down to the finish quickly. Once the rain hit - and with it a little hail! - I knew I would struggle - and that I did. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't terrible on the descent but I struggled to spot my mark and I know I could have gone better. Half way down there was a huge crankle of thunder and I was glad I wasn't still at the top! In all I reckon the rain cost me 30 seconds. Ho hum.

I don't know my position and it was a strong field consisting of the Jones brothers so my points will be pretty worthless towards the Chepstow Fell Series. Despite that, it was a pleasing performance. I finished in 52 minutes and 57 seconds for the 5.5 mile race with 2,000 feet ascent and that, my cheery chums, is over one and a half minutes quicker than the last time I ran the race way back in 2008 - and that was at a time when I was at my best. Today's race has been a real confidence boost. I ran well on the up - first time for ages - and over all, felt strong. All systems go - but perhaps not for tomorrow's St Arvans 10. I tried bloody hard today so I think I might just feel slightly sluggish tomorrow. Whatever, bring it on...

The route of today's Llyn y Fan fell race:-

Friday, September 16, 2011

And Don't Forget...

It's the St. Arvans Multi-terrain 10 this coming Sunday. Run it or be doomed. OK, you won't be doomed but you'll be in my bad books. OK, you won't be in my bad books but you'll be missing a great race - and of course, you'll miss the chance to beat the Mad Runner. What better reason to run do you need?... Race starts 10:30am. Registration in St. Arvans village hall from 9:00 and there's cake at the finish... Details on the Chepstow Harriers website (google search it).

Little Trouble In Leafy Longhope

Don't Panic! Don't Panic! My morning drive bore witness to the first time I've ever come across congestion in the village. A fire up yonder caused traffic chaos. At the first whiff of trouble I shot off on a diversionary route which got me around without too much loss of time. Oh the joys of Android and it's traffic apps.

Taking things easy today ahead of Llyn-y-Fan tomorrow. I know I can't catch Matthew L in the race for the Chepstow Fell Series crown but I can enjoy the race. I was really looking forward to a head to head battle for the title but after his blisteringly brisk Beacons race he is - like Al Capone - untouchable. I does doth my cap to him.

Instead of any major exercise I'm looking forward to a spot of cooking tonight. The fridge is packed with veg and I've got to use it up before it goes south for the winter. Some sort of chunky stew me thinks... Also going to attempt homemade ciabatta. I need to kick off with the starter for ten and then finish it off tomorrow. Apparantly ciabatta has that sour dough type thing going on. With the result - good or bad - I'm up for red onion bruschette and an attempt on a panzanella salady effort...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Long Time No Lunch Run

It has to be well over a month since Martin and I got out for our, now not so regular, lunch time run. The old up over Dundry and it was good running. A little overcast but mild. Really rather pleasant. We ran. We chatted. The pace wasn't too high but we still got a good run out. Took us in the region of thirty four minutes for the hilly 7k route. Tonight I finished off with a session on the bike. Good day.

Finally managed to get my hands on the results of last weeks Friends 5, nee AXA 5, race. I was 57th of 240+ - not great and a long way back from my best but I did have that tough mountainous race a few days before. Martin was 20th and top M50 while Dan 'Oops I missed the start' Massey cut through the field to 17th. The final crew of Andy, Graham and Silv gave the back up to give the team a well deserved 7th place of 49 (unofficial). That, if the result stands, is our best result of recent years, beating last years previous best of 14th - now that is a result. I'm eagerly awaiting the official result so can I post the good news on the work intranet - maybe it will motive a few others to join our running ranks - then again, maybe not...

Pretty much set for the double header weekend coming up. I don't care what results I get as I know I'll enjoy the Llyn y Fan and St Arvan races. Be good to get back to the heady days of double headering. Bargain. Right, I'm off to cook up my final portion of homemade potato and cabbage soup from the freezer - is it my imagination or is it getting windy?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Back To Work

and not too much of a shock to the system - thankfully. A busy day and reasonably productive and after a spot of moonlighting I was home just in time for the Great British Bake Off - back of the net. It's going to be a bike session as I watch the baking - or is that a bake session as I watch the biking - well, I could get the wrong channel and tune in for the Tour of Britain instead...

Monday, September 12, 2011

No Wonder I Feel Knackered

I've now had time to plot my route from yesterday's Lake District Mountain Trial. Could my route have been so terribly off the scale that the planners '15.5' miles turned into my 20 miles? Also reckon there were an extra few feet of ascent for a total in the region of 7,000 feet - and we ran the shortened, bad weather route. Heaven knows how far I'd have run had we done the full measure...

Was a great weekend though and I feel I am continuing to go from strength to strength. A month or two I had a bit of a slide backwards but I feel firmly in forward gear again. Although I struggled a little on the steep ascents I felt strong going over the rough terrain of thick grass, bog and heather. After all that I'm pleased my legs don't feel too bad but I am really tired. Took the day off work today to recover - not as young as I used to be. Been a good rest.

Looking towards the rest of the month I've the Llyn-y-Fan race next Saturday which I don't think suits my style right now on account of it being a fairly quick climbing course although I hope to hold my own on the sharpish descent. Then there's the St Arvans 10 on the Sunday where I think I'll go better. The following week sees the Black Mountains race and I've set my sights on going sub-three hours for the first time. Looking beyond that I want to run a few orienteering events but longer term I need to start building up the miles - and so it starts again...

My route (estimated) from yesterday:-

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Have To Mention This...

I cannot believe there is a summit called 'Great Cockup'! Seriously, there is. There's also a 'Little Cockup'. Unbelievable. Who names these things?

My First Solo Navigation Event...

and I was pleased with the result.

Conditions were not brilliant but they were much better than the forecast - and much better than last weeks Snowdon race. There were a few strong gusts and intermittant rain. Some heavy. Some less so. Within the first hour everything was soaked through but it wasn't cold and the decision to wear the gortex was spot on. I was hot in the first half hour but then, in the winds, it kept me at just about the right temperature. Not too hot. Not too cold. I felt comfortable all the way. Anyway, to the race.

I was determined to finish. My time? well I didn't care. I wanted to get round. That was my goal. I was prepared to give up time checking the map in order to get the navigation correct and minimise any cock-ups. This was my first true test of navigation. It was time to put all my 'I'm good at navigation' bragging to the test. Being my first attempt I obviously picked the full distance - in for a penny...

I set off steady. Checking my location and picking what I believed was the best route for me. It was time to live my mantra of 'mimimise the ascent and contour, contour, contour'.  I hit checkpoint one OK. I was a little off after the major climb but not actually too far from the right spot. I did better round to two although I did curve round slightly too much and lost a little time on what would have been the perfect route. Then came the longer traverse to three. I got a little confused with the map being a version I'm not used to and had to take a little time to pinpoint my position. That done, I selected my route and stuck to it. With hindsight I don't think I took the best line but neither do I think it cost me too much. Then came the long stage.

The trek to checkpoint four was the longest by far and I took a somewhat wildly different to everyone else. Difficult to describe but I was on my own. Me, the map, the compass and my belief - and believed... Despite feeling a bit odd running against the tide of runners near the checkpoint I still believe I had a good route.

The climb out of the valley and across to six was - for want of a better word - a right bastard and I was beginning to tire. The river crossing was even worse, not to mention a little scary - and believe it or not it does take quite a bit to scare me - but with the water above my waist and flowing pretty fiercly I was glad to reach the opposite bank. The final climb to the tarn and the checkpoint wasn't too bad - mind you, by then I was going much slower - and even more steady.

The final two checkpoints, seven and eight, were fairly short but as I climbed up from the tarn I was all for giving the organiser a slap. Once at the summit - the final summit thankfully - the drop to seven, eight and the finish were ticked off in relative short order. Never has it been more a pleasure to finish.

For those that spotted no mention of checkpoint five - well done, award yourself five point. Due to the weather the course was reduced to the 'bad weather course' meaning it missed out checkpoint five and went straight to six. The 'as the crow flies distance' was 15.5 miles. In all I reckon to have covered quite a bit more than that but not in a bad way as I think for the most part my route planning was pretty good.

I can't finish without putting a massive thank you to Pat's parents whose home we - that's Matthew and I - invaded on Saturday night. They put on a fantastic spread and my gift of a homemade cinnamon and raisin loaf seemed sadly lacking. They are topper people, absolute gold.

My finish position was 51st out of 120+ starters of what was a quality field. My time was 5 hours 16 minutes and I'm happy to report I kicked the ass of both Mat and Pat - just joking, not about beating them, that was true, but about the kicking of ass. We were all very closely packed and heading up there pair of them really made the weekend. Looking forward to my next one now I've started to prove my navigational boasting...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Pre-Flight Checks

Hat - check, gloves - check, waterproofs - check, torrential heavy rain forecast all day Sunday - check.... doh! At this stage it looks very much like it will be more of the same this weekend as last. Back to back wet races - that's not a precedent I want to set. Well in about three hours we - that's Matthew L, Pat W and me - will be starting the long drive up to the Lakes. Not something I relish but needs must and at least we are attempting to minimise are carbon footprint by car sharing. Minimising, that is, if you can call a five hundred mile round trip minimising! So, as inferred, the kit is packed. All the compulsory items are in the bag so to speak. I've decided on the rucksack so I'm not bothering taking the bumbug. The rucksack is more comfy any way as it doesn't bounce up and down quite so much. Well that's pretty much it. I'm ready to go stomp through bog, descend at break neck speed, climb every mountain and run through rivers deep...

Friday, September 09, 2011

Ready, Steady...

I just hope that, come Sunday, all systems are GO. It's been a funny old week. I feel rested but tired. I've only done a few bike sessions - oh, and that road race - so I should be rested but somehow I don't feel quite right in a running sense. This week also saw in a very happy 100th for my Gran - but I ate a little too much food.

I'm looking forward to Sunday's Lake District Mountain Trial - although it might end up becoming the Lake District Mountain Ordeal. Not sure whether to use the bumbag or innov8 rucksack in the race. I guess conditions will dictate that but looking at the current forecast I reckon it'll be the rucksack - together with a few extra things. Let's face it, I'm hardly going to be puahing up things at the front of the field. If I lose a few minutes here and there because of the extra weight, so be it. I'm more determined to go steady, take my time and navigate carefully than run it too hard, wander around aimlessly and end up running myself into the ground. I have feeling, for me, the Trial is more about surviving than eye balls out...

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Routing Things Out

I've been busy testing my route planning ahead of the Lake District Mountain Trial. Using RouteGadget I've been going through previous events, picking my route and comparing it to the route the fast runners and course planners took. On the whole I've been on the money. Parts of my route plans followed those of the lead runners while other sections followed those of the planners. I'm hopeful I can do as well in the real thing but knowing my luck I'll pick a route only an idiot would choose...

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Not So Friendly Five

Well it was the Friend 5 tonight (formerly the AXA 5) and I ran like a potato - and a very slow potato at that. I was pleased with my teams performance though. A full compliment of six with four to count - although one member of the team did manage to miss the start... But Dan redeemed himself as he moved through the field to eventually finish as first scorer for the team just pipping Martin to the title as fastest man in the water works.

My time of 37:34 was almost a minute slower than last year - but then again I didn't run over Snowdon a few days before the race back then. That's no excuse though, as I am a lot fitter now than then. It was mainly the wind - stop it - that did for me. It was killer on the bottom section of the course. That bottom run - stop it - normally drags but when you're running into the full force of the wind - also stop it - it drags double. At points I almost stopped when the gusts hit but my tactic of starting slow, towards the back of the field, helped and I was able to keep focus by overtaking runner after runner pretty much throughout the race.

Eitherway, I'm not too worried about my performance - or lack of it - tonight. It was a good training session in light of the longer game and I think the team will have scored well. I'm hopeful we will have topped our previous best of 14th. Fingers crossed...

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Home, Sweet Home

Been a good few days but equally its nice to get home and I've finally dried out - but it was touch and go for a while. The drive home was good too. Three hours twenty and almost no numpties. However, I've a mind too stand for parliment to legalise the use of stringer missiles on slow drivers. Drivers, who for no accountable reason, drive well under the official speed targets. Why would anyone drive at 35 in a 'national speed limit' zone? Legalised use of stinger missiles, that's the answer. Anyway, as I said, it's good to be home. Thoroughly bloody knackered now though and that's despite a sound night's kip.

Hopefully my navigation skills have been honed ahead of next Sunday's Lake District Mountain Trial. Going to have a look at RouteGadget tomorrow to try and get a feel for the kind of route the Trial will send us. What ever it throws at me, I'm sure I'll cope. The only thing I really would like, what I would really really like would be a dry day. Can't face another soaking...

And here, for posterity, is the slightly abridged Peris Horeseshoe route:-
As you can see, I got some pretty good lines - read no major cocks ups, navigation par excellent

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Running Exhausted

All in all my mini-break recce and race long weekend didn't quite work. That's not to say it's not been good. It has. Even the weather being it's usual damp squib hasn't detracted. No, it's more the concept of 26 miles of recce in the preceeding two days to what is already a tough race. Add in terrible conditions on the day. They had to miss out Lliwedd and take the miners to the top on account of dangerously strong wind - sssh, no, stop it - along the ridge and you're not looking at a quick one - I said stop it. The final nail in the coffin was the gale force winds - NO - over night. I hardly slept a wink. I honestly wasn't sure she could take it for so long - here we go again, No - she being the tent. But she's a strong old gal and I needn't have worried. But I did and adding that to the mix, I was fair exhausted before the start.

As to the race, that went well. Well, that is, until I ran out of steam. I was taking on energy gels pretty regular but it wasn't enough. Despite getting to the halfway point in just outside two hours I was a spent force and for a brief moment I almost called it quits - you actually are allowed to and downgrade to the half Peris race. But you know by now that's not my way.

By the time I reached the second from last summit I was beginning to feel a bit dizzy. More gels didn't help much but I just kept on giving. Fortunately it was mostly down hill from there.

Even the slightest of up hill running brought me to a near standstill but I stuck to it, held off a late challenge and finished in 4 hours and 27 minutes. Slow, I know, but I finished - and I really wasn't far from not actually being physically able to.

In all it's been a good training camp if nothing else. 43 miles and around 16,000 feet of ascent over the three days. I feel all set for next weekend's Lake District Mountain Trial - assuming I recover - oh, and of course, there's Tuesday's Inter-Companies 5 miler for which I will almost certainly not have recovered for.

Just about ready to head home tomorrow. Oh joy, it's just started to rain again...

Friday, September 02, 2011

Not Such A Nice Day...

But I still got the job done. A shorter, slower recce today but on count back it still had close to 4,000 feet of ascent - and that was the same as yesterday's ascent.

With the weather threatening rain I set out from the campsite and headed for what is the last check point in the race, Maesgwm. The weather held but as I ascended to Moel Cynghorion I ascended into the cloud at about 500m. Following my bearing I hit the check point (or what will be tomorrow ) spot on.

Then a quick down back out of the cloud followed by a rather longer, slower up along the Rangers path back into the cloud and up to about 1,000m to the point it meets the numpty trail - oops, I mean tourist trail. Then it was a quick about face all the way back to Maesgwm - although I did try out a few short cuts which seemed to work.

I then followed the race route towards the finish. All went well until I met up with the road just after the rail crossing. The map shows a path across a field at the bend in the road which continues into the woods to where I think the finish will be. Only one problem, there didn't seem to be much of a path where it should have been. There was a feint trail, even had a home made bridge across a tiny stream but it kind of faded out by the time I hit the woods.

After much dilly dallying through said woods I finally hit a good path which took me to the finish. That final part of the race leaves me with many questions. I shall try and find someone before the start - preferably with local knowledge - to ask the way.

Anyway, completely f*$%ed now after today's ten miles added to yesterday's fifteen, so I'll probably be lucky to make the half way cut off! Let battle commence on the morrow...

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Another Tent With A View

And what a view. In fact, what a day. The sunshine is fantastic. Almost too hot. Scratch that, it was too hot - too hot for running - but I did anyway.

The first photo is my view east to Snowdon. The second, to the north, shows the summits, left to right, Elidir Fach (we skirt that in the race), Elidir Fawr, Y Garn and Glyder Fawr - to be traversed in the first half of Saturday's Peris Horseshoe fell race. And that's where I've been today.

Was a pretty good recce - even if, at 15 miles, it was a little too far. Not completely certain I took the best route to Elidir Fawr - might have to follow an Eryri runner on race day!

Across to Glyder Fawr was straightforward and I got a good descent down to Pen y Pass. Wasn't the most direct but I seemed to follow a path/trod for most of the way and it was pretty runnable. I think I'll try for that route in the race.

Then it was a plod back to Llanberis down the road :-( and now let the cooking begin...