Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cheadle-ward Bound

Took a total rest today. My legs feel hammered. The quads especially so. It's been a while since I've felt so wrecked after a race. Hopefully I can continue to keep pushing myself in races and feel wrecked more often.

Off up north tomorrow for a training course. Got the Google Northerner Translator App safely installed on my phone... Going to take my running kit but I'm not sure how much training I will actually manage to get done. Despite being on the door step of the Peak District if I do manage to get out running it's going to be mostly road based. Something will be better than nothing though. Fingers crossed.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Gert Knackered

Lovely weather. Shame about the running. Just japing. The Black Mountains is a great race. No, seriously, shame about the running.

I decided to try and race it a little bit today. At the Peris I ran to survive. Today I decided to up the effort a little - but perhaps slightly over cooked it. I toned down my three hour splits a little but perhaps not enough. In the early section to Pen Cerrig I subconsciously tried to keep intouch with the Lawsonater. I wasn't really trying to. It just sort of happened in the fog of war. He was just ahead at the ridge before the drop and climb to Pen y Gadir Fawr. In fact I sneaked levelish on the drop to the valley - score one for the holy trial. Then I began to struggle.

I chugged slowly up Penny G - ooh, er misses - she is a hard mistress to tame. I got there outside the three hour split but still a touch too quick really. By the time I hit Chwarel y Fan I was pooped. From there it became a battle just to get to the finish. I decided to try my special route to Crug Mawr but being so knackered it wasn't really going to be an accurate measure of whether it really is an improvement over the conventional route. I dug deep and got though the ordeal in 3:13. Inside my 3:15 target so I'm happy. With hindsight I could probably have survived it better had I not locked horns with the Lawsonator. Good day for the Harriers from Chepstow though. They took the team prize and three individuals. Good work.

I am absolutely knackered right about now. My feet ache. My legs ache. My aches ache. In summary, I ache and I'm practically falling to sleep as I type. It's been another mile - or 17 - on the road to running form. It was hard today - sssh, stop it - but that's what I need...
The 27km of the Black Mountains Fell Race with 5,000 feet of ascent.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Looking Forward To It

Got a busy day ahead of me tomorrow. Looking forward to the race almost as much as the night out. It's been a while. Still need to sort out where I'm kipping.

It's a rest day today. Hopefully I will be fully recharged for the Black Mountains and the secret route.

The timings are tight though. Can't afford to mess up too badly on the hill or else I'll never get home, showered and down to the big city in time. No pressure...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thorn In My Tyre

You know that's all it ever was - but it brought me to a stop. Luckily I had me a spare tube. This is going to be fun, I thought. Anyway, I got me to a safe bit of road, dropped out the rear wheel and within five minutes I'd swapped over the inner tubes, wheel back on and ready to inflate. I was feeling pretty pleased with myself. Annoyed at having punctured but definitely pleased with the tyre change.

Then it all went to cock. Could I reverse the reversible presta schrader fitting on the pump? Could I f@(%. Needed bloody long nose pliers to pull out the middle bit. Only one problem, I wasn't expecting to need pliers and so didn't have any with me. For ten minutes I tried to tease out that bastard middle bit without success. It was epic fail. At least I was only a mile from home and with a light bike. Cue hoisting to the shoulder for the slow walk home - looking like a twat, I should add.

There's a lesson here. When using a pump with reversible fitting make sure you set it up for your tube type BEFORE you go out for your ride. I was a little bit Mr Angry by the time I got home. Grrrrrrr. Don't say a bloody word!

Oh, and to top it. My bloody GPS turned off during the first mile and it wasn't until a couple miles in I thought to check whether it was all working properly. ARSE. One day I will manage to record the whole of my ride...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Another Long Day At T'Mill

and I'm feeling tired. On the plus side that means I can take a flexi tomorrow to recharge. With the schedule ahead I think I'm going to need it. Out Friday. Racing a long one Saturday and out on the night. Then off to Cheadle next week for a training course. I have a feeling there isn't going to be much opportunity for training. Going to take my kit just in case. You never know..

I'll tell you one certainty though, there's no sodding chance of training tonight. It is hammering down. I got soaked to the skin just getting out of the car. Worst still Squeaker has headed out into the rain - and that can only mean one thing... code red, animal alert activated. I wonder what she's going to hunt out tonight? Rat? Squirel? Pheasant? Rabbit? Guess I'll have to wait and see...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Generator Primed...

Yep, that was pretty much the highlight of tonight's Bridge Inn - scratch that - Pomphrey Hill Something 5k race. Really must find out the proper name of the renamed race. Setting up the generator and the start/finish light really was the highlight. That pretty much says it all. Oh, and I suppose the fact that forecast hurricane didn't materialise was right up there.

As to my run tonight? Shameful comes close. I knew I'd be slow but my performance was nothing short of terrible. Can't even bring myself to post the time. The only way from here is up.

I set out in the middle order at a steady pace. First kilometre felt OK, overtaking several people. Number two felt pretty good too but it was slow. Still picked up a few more places. Three was even slower. I had nothing. I had the pedal down but there was nothing there. I pretty much lost all hope at that point but I still pushed to gain places. Four was no better. Five was maybe just a little better but I won't be writing home about it. I crossed the line is a very disappointing time of - nope, still not saying.

In defense of the indefensible the course has been re-measured and is now about 40m longer. Now in my book that's worth at least 90 seconds... What? You got to give me credit for trying.

I will come back from this. This is going to be as poor as it gets - and you can take that to the bank.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Lovely Weather

To be fair it doesn't look too bad this evening but heck was it ever terrible this morning. The drive to work was a bit iffy once I got into the Bristol area. There was flooding a plenty all over the roads. I got there in one piece though.

Anyway, I'm taking a rest from training tonight. Not even mustering for a bike session. My legs feel a bit fatigued, as do I in general really. My new philosphy is to take the rest as it comes and not fret that I've missed training. I think it's working. Going to put it to the test tomorrow with the first of the Winter Pomphrey Hill 5ks. I have absolutely no expectation. I'm guessing it is going to be very slow but then again I can't expect anything more than that. I've not run more than a couple of speed sessions over the last few of years - you don't train fast you can't expect to run fast. I'm going to try and improve the situation but mainly by racing some shorter races - even, dare I say it, a few more on the road! I might even need to get myself a new pair of road shoes - I'm thinking about taking my current pair to the antiques road show...

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Nailed It

I do believe I've discovered the ultimate ascent to Crug Mawr for use in the Black Mountains Fell Race. I've studied the map, examining every contour and I've run a couple of recce's without success - until today, that is. It's shorter than the conventional route by some 400m but has about the same amount of climb. And I'm even willing to post the route of today's recce including the ultimate ascent. Dare you use it without knowing the secret marker points though???

I tried to push it a little today although conditions deteriorated on me within 45 minutes. At the start it looked like the weather might just hold but I was wrong. The cloud descended until I was running in the rain with visibility down to 100m. The wind picked up a little causing the rain to sting my eyes - although fortunately it did not ring through my ears nor did it in anyway sound like a Spanish lullaby. Oh, and it was cold. Glad I had my buff round my neck on the run to Bal Mawr. It came in handy as I was able to pull it over my headed to shield me from the direct contact of the increasingly strong winds.

I was round the 19.1km with 2,600 feet ascent  in 2 hours and 7 minutes which was eight minutes quicker than last time and run in worse conditions and because of the rain I couldn't wear my glasses so I couldn't see well which always slows me down on the descents. I felt strong though and definitely have more ascending strength although there is still some way to go before I can truly claim to be back to form. I guess next weeks Black Mountains race will be a good indicator. How close to the magic three hours will I get, I'm not sure. I'd be happy with 3:15. Anything quicker will be a bonus. Anything slower will be a tad disappointing. Really looking forward to it though. Especially to try my now not so secret route to the Crug.

Today's 19.1km with 2,600 feet of ascent

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Oops I Did It Again

I started the orienteering without getting into the zone for the 10,000 map scale. Control two was my downfall. A mere 250m from control one it took me over fifteen minutes to locate - aaahhhh. Talk about a massive overshoot. I faffed like a novice - oh, yeah, I am a novice but to all intents and purposes, it was game over. With 17 controls still to find I would be lucky to make it home before dark. Looking on the bright side, my Chepstow Harriers coloured dibber looked impressive - stop, it.

But I'm getting ahead of things. It was the Standish Wood orienteering. The first of the league season - not that I'm in the league me being unhinged and all, I mean unattached. Got there early. Had a quick chat with Pat W before getting under way. Right, I've set the scene now back to the report. Today's post seems to have a slight surreal tone - must have been the low oxygen levels afforded by the high altitudes of Standish Wood.

So back to the report. After eventually finding control two I was onto control three pretty well although I was a bit hesitant, not wanting to overshoot again - there's nothing worse than someone overshooting too often, or so I'm told...

Four was another bad one. My tactics were iffy. Not coming into it from a know point presented my with the problem as I switched to headless chicken mode - not recommended. Eventually I came to my senses and found it. So having taken over half an hour to locate the first four controls and having only travelled a theoretical 1.1km - I say theoretical because I probably ran three times that - I was starting to give thought to finding a suitable campsite to bed down for the night.

From there, however, things did improve as I began to become one with the map and all thought of the campsite evaporated in the hazy afternoon sun. Controls five through fifteen were pretty spot on. I even managed to use the symbols correctly to locate the correct feature from the multiples on offer. Sixteen wasn't great but seventeen was a disgrace. I totally misread the meaning of the high resolution orienteering map and rather than running the bearing across the open land ran to what I thought was the copse on the map - only it wasn't. Resorting to 'let's see were everyone else is running to' technique I finally found it before picking off eighteen correctly and then a longish run in to nineteen, again collected without problem before finally reaching the finish.

I fully expect to come last. If I had acclimatised to the map at the start I reckon I could have notched up well inside the hour. As it was I completed in a rather pathetic 1:17:55. OK, when I say rather pathetic what I really mean is down right appalling. You'd have to try really hard to clock a slower time than that. I did, however, find all the controls - but not necessarily in the right order. Seriously though, they were all in the right order - so perhaps I might not come dead last...

Anyway, here for your amusement is my estimated route - and before you say it, no a spider didn't crawl across the page... (and in reality the squiggles for one to two and three to four were probably far more spider like than shown). Despite another poor showing it was still a highly enjoyable little jaunt. These woodland orienteering courses will be the death of me though. Why can't there be more courses set amongst the mountains, home turf so to speak.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Listening To The Old Creaker

My legs feel a bit achy today so I decided to ease back on the plan and take in a gentle, local jog instead. I still need to get over to the Black Mountains though to retry my (not so) secret route to Crug Mawr before the big day and time is running out... Looks like Sunday's the day.

Planning to 'run' the Standish Woods orienteering tomorrow. I'll be opting for the 'long hard' blue route, as stated on the NGOC website - now that just sounds plain wrong. Being a woodland course I will no doubt struggle more than usual with the map symbols. Looking forward to wading through the shrubbery though.

Oh, and while I think about it, the official Peris Horseshoe results are out and I improved a place to 21st, but I prefer to claim the 14th place in the old timers category. Well, there's no point being over forty and not using it to your best advantage is there? One can't be expected to compete against some young whipper snapper 39 year old, can one?

Well, it's almost time to go. The lure of the slow cooked veggie chilli black bean stew is drawing me in. As too, is the freshly baked rustic sunflower seed loaf, hot out of the oven...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Tinge Of Disappointment

Up early-ish, I headed out there for my longest ride to date. 31 miles over a mostly flat route although the section out of Upper Lydbrook to Ruardean and Drybrook was steep and had me using the new lower gearing afforded by the Ultegra 11-28. I didn't want to be too ambitious and I really enjoyed it. The tinge of disappointment? Well I mucked up my GPS and only realised it wasn't recording when I stopped to check the map in Ruardean - dooh. I missed the first 2/3rd of the ride!!!! Which included the main climb which I was really interested to see how slow I'd been. School boy error.

Anyway, what I had captured of the ride I uploaded to my new favourite online gimmicky thing, I can see myself becoming hooked on it quite quickly... As to the ride stats it was just over 31 miles with somewhere in the region of 2,250 feet of ascent with the largest single climb being that from Upper Lydbrook to Ruardean weighing in at around 500 feet. I managed to maintain an average speed of 15.3 mph although I took it fairly easy on some sections to take in the view and generally just enjoy being out there.

One of the best aspects of the ride was getting out there and seeing new parts of the forest. You cover so much more ground while riding over running and I've made a mental note of some new places to go for a run. There looks to be some nice forest down by Soudley and Yorkley. All in all it's been a good mornings workout.

Today's 31 mile ride...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Off Till Monday


Decided to give my legs another days rest. I seem to be responding better and improving more quickly by having more rest days. Even when I miss three days in a row it doesn't seem to stall the gains. I'm all for more gain from less pain.

Well I didn't manage to plan anything for the mini-break so I'm going to make it up day by day. Tomorrow I'm going to go for a long ride - as ranked on my novice cyclist scale - through the forest. At this point I'm not sure quite how short - oops, I mean how far 'long' will actually equate to but it will definitely be my longest ride - well, I did tell you I am a complete novice.

Up Friday I'll try and head to the mountains with the Standish Wood Orienteering on Saturday. Sunday? Undecided on that. Maybe a run. Maybe a cycle ride. See how I feel. Might see if I can find me a local-ish race. Something short and sharp maybe.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Day Off

Training that is, not work. No it was back to work for the full two day week before I'm back off again, Thursday and Friday - toot toot. I am giving myself the full recovery treatment and by that I mean, I'm doing sod all tonight. Going to relax and hit the pillow early - urr, that just sounds kinda wrong. Tootle pip.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Out On The Mountain...

The mountain bike, that is. I decided I didn't want to go too far on account that my legs are still sore. Surprisingly they do feel better than yesterday but they definitely need a rest. So I looked out the old GT - no, I didn't miss out the 'i'. It's been left unloved in the back of the shed for years. Caked with aeons worth of dust, dirt and grime. It looked a sorry sight and I set about stripping it down and cleaning it up. I got a little bored as it was taking too long so it's about fifty fifty on the clean stakes. I checked out all the gear changes and everything seemed to work OK. Could do with a proper overhaul really but that means taking it to pieces and cleaning each component. Haven't really got the time for that - or the bike maintenance expertise, so I'd probably put it back together wrong.

With the bike ready I put it to one side and set about clearing away the pile of cuttings and dead branches that's been sitting unsightly out the front of the house. It's been there since I cleaned the brook so I decided it was time. That job done and still feeling in the tidying mood I cut the lawn. I'm hoping I won't have to cut it many more times this year. Fingers crossed.

So with the morning gone I finally hopped on the mountain bike and headed into Flaxley Wood for a short ride. Short it may have been but it was surprisingly hard work. My quads still had no power and the climbs almost defeated me, the lactic acid burning. I cut my route short, managing just over six miles with 650 feet of ascent but that was enough. I think I'll have a total day off tomorrow.

That's me done for the day. It's time to put my feet up and relax.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

I Is Feeling A Little Tired...

Or more accurately put, my legs are f*£&ed. Anyway, me be slightly off my trolley, I decided to continue with the plan regardless. So it was over to St Arvans to race the multi-terrain 10 - although 'race' is nor really the appropriate word in this case. My legs felt sore and my heels painful from all the rough terrain yesterday. I was able to walk though, so that was a bonus.

It was a good turn out - stop it - and I set off near the rear hoping to overtake a few along the way. I'll not lie I found it tough going and I got a few disbelieving looks from some of the marshals that know me, wondering why the hell I was so far back in the field.

It was an enjoyable route with around 800 feet of ascent although there is a fraction too much road in it for me. As always, it was well marshalled by the Chepstow massive. And the finishers cake and coffee was a welcome tonic at the end but I'm jumping ahead.

After the first couple of miles my legs stopped hurting - or rather, I could no longer feel the pain. Steadily I moved through the field to somewhere near the middle and interestingly - in a boring sort of way - I gained most on the ascent despite having no leg power what so ever and it feeling so interminably slow going.

Into the final two miles I just wanted the end to come. I wanted the torture (self inflicted) to end and after a few more ticks of the clock it was over in a record breakingly slow time of 1 hour , 18 minutes and 43 seconds. Not unexpected and at least I have an excuse.

Back home now, my legs have almost completely seized. Hopefully, they will free up a little in order to afford me a bit of a cycle tomorrow. I need to take a look on Strava to find me a route somewhere in the forest. All in all it's been a good weekend of training. Another rung up the ladder.

The route of today's St Arvans MT 10 (mile) race;

The route of yesterday's Peris Horseshoe race;
The 17.5 miles of the Peris Horseshoe Race with it's 8,500 feet of ascent...

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Bit More

Back home now after a decent drive. God am I ever tired. Still buzzing. I was eleven minutes slower this year! - but then we did run the full route this time.

The first half was pretty standard. I set off dead last and stayed there as we wound up through the quarry. Then into the top part of the quarry I felt confident enough to start moving through the field all the while keeping myself in check. Conditions were good if almost too hot. Elidir Fawr was text book followed by a good run to Y Garn and then down and up Glyder Fawr. My run off Glyder was a little wayward. The top half was fine but I faffed a little towards the bottom. Ending up in the bog to above the knees. Pulling my feet clear I tramped on down to Pen-y-pass.

I ran pretty steady on the miners track before turning to the energy sapping climb to Lliwedd. The cloud closed in and the ridge run towards Snowdon was 'fun'. Having never recced that part of the route I relied on my instincts. I had a vision of the map in my mind and although I don't think I was any where near optimum I don't think I was too far from the right route. With the west peak of Lliwedd collected I headed down and then back up towards Snowdon. The ascent from Lliwedd was a total sod. So step. It sapped the last of my strength and upon finally reaching the summit I was pretty knackered.

Mostly down hill from there I tried to keep it together. I came a right pearler on the tourist track trying to dodge through the hoards but didn't do any damage and spun back onto my feet in one fluid motion. Finally onto the rangers path it was all pretty straightforward from there. Although I find the rangers damn hard on the feet. I had a good battle with a guy from Todmorden but he got the better of my on the final climb and got too far ahead. I gave chase but he managed to keep ahead into the finish.

All in all a good day. I reckon I will sleep soundly tonight...

Well Happy With That

I got my arse round the 17 miles of the Peris Horseshoe Race with it's 8,500 feet of ascent in a cracking time of 4 hours and 38 minutes to finish 22nd of 88. Well pleased. Far exceeded my expectation. Bring on tomorrow's St Arvans 10 Mile Race...

Full(er) report to follow.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Wagons Ho

Well that's me packed. Not that there was a lot of packing to do. More checking I've the right selection of kit and all the required items. Don't want to be finding out I've left my whistle behind and with the forecast holding things are looking good. I'm  all set to rock and roll. Going to roll out somewhere around half past five.

I was tempted by a ride on the bike this morning but then I decided not to be stupid. Don't want to go knackering my legs before the big day. Instead I decided to swap out the rear cassette and install the Ultegra 11-28. I'm now set for easier hill climbing. After that I gave the bike a very quick spin just to check I hadn't mucked up the gear changes. I hadn't so it's all good.

Nothing left to do now but await the anointed hour for take off...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Yeah, The Weekend Is Here...

and tomorrow I head north and a little west to Snowdonia. Really looking forward to the Peris Horseshoe now. I am right up for it. Totally in the mood. It's the first time in a while I've (sort of) tapered ahead of a race. Even the weather looks OK. To be honest, I'll be happy if stays half as good as forecast. I'll take any improvement over last years torrential rain and strong winds. This year I want to soak up the views as I pootle around some of Wales' high points - rather than soaking up the rain like last year.

If I'm honest the 8,500 feet of ascent scares me a little. OK, It scares me a lot but then again, it's only 17 miles. As to the game plan, I really need to keep myself in check over the first half. I'm going to climb real easy to Elidir Fawr, Y Garn and Glyder Fawr. From there it'll be a case of surviving. Providing I follow the plan in the first half I reckon I should survive OK. Never been over Lliwedd so that should be good. Last years race missed it out due to the poor conditions. I think at this point I'm supposed to type the words 'bring it on...'. So here goes. Bring it on...

And all being well, having kicked the horseshoe's ass, I aim to recovery race Chepstow's St Arvans Multi-Terrain 10 Miles on Sunday. I've been told it's actually going to be 10 miles this year - are you listening Matthew?... It'll be just like the good old days. A double header of tough races. Perfect!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Marvellous Maiden Voyage

There was to be no putting it off. Helmet polished - sssh, no, stop it. Shoes fastened. Padded pantaloons donned and despite the rain I headed out to ride the Mekk. I didn't want to attempt anything too fancy or lengthy breaking her in - or more aptly, breaking me in. I haven't ridden for years so I picked a circular route taking in one small climb at the front end.

Setting out through the village on a slight incline, I didn't find the going too bad. Geared on the fifty and midway on the rear I got up some speed. Onto the country lanes I kept a steady, if somewhat slow pace and before long it was time to roll out the Barrel - Lane, where things started to slow. Dropping to the thirty-four on the front I soon found myself also dropping through the gears on the rear to the bottom end - ooh er, sounds rude. I managed to avoided the ignominy of hitting the very easiest gearing but I was only one off. It's a hill that gets the blooding pumping to run but riding? It got flipping everything pumping. I was off the seat and breathing like an asthmatic in a field full of combines at harvest time. F*(% me this cycling malarky is bloody hard work!

Over the top things got much easier - and faster - but not overly so. I kept my hand pretty close to the brake as the descent got steep. Then onto the undulating but generally flatter roads I tried to keep the pace up. Well, as up as it was ever going to be for my first time.

Towards the end I found myself pulling up on the pedals almost more than I was pushing down. Seemed funny to be able to 'pull' the pedal with that much force*. It felt odd but seemed to make me go faster with less effort and it happened quite naturally. I shall have to experiment further...

Anyway, buoyed by a successful first skirmish I can already feel that the cycling is going to pay dividends for my fitness. At points I got such a great 'burn'. In the thirty five minutes I was out I got a far better workout than that of the exercise bike. The heart pounded. The lungs close to bursting. Quite marvellous.

As to the stats. I rode 8.5 miles with 750 feet of ascent in 35 minutes, giving me an average speed of just under 15miles an hour. Doesn't sound very good but it's a start upon which to build. From small acorns grow mighty dwarf birch trees...

Today's 8.5 miles with 750 feet ascent

* where the term 'that much force' actually means a bit more force than I would have thought you could pull up with but in the grand scheme of things isn't really very much force at all :-)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I Was Going Out For A Run...

Until, that is, I took delivery of my new road bike! After reading copious reviews and beginners guide I finally decided to waste - I mean spend wisely - my money on the Mekk 2G Poggio P2 Shimano 105. I'm not sure it has much street cred amongst real road cyclists but it looks pretty smart and due to its carbon frame weighs less than my love handles. I've nothing to gauge it against as to whether it'll be a good buy or not. So however it handles I'll think it's good.

I also got me some Shimano race shoes with floating SPD-SL cleats - christ, I don't know what I'm talking about. They feel quite scary or more accurately the fear of not disengaging my feet from the pedals when I stop. I have a vision of the only fools and horses bar scene... The last bit of kit was an upgrade of the 11-25 cassette thingy to a Shimano 11-28 Ultegra one. I think the 25 that the bike came with was too small for a beginner like me. I needed a couple of extra teeth in there to help me up the hills. Oh, and then the whole point of the thing, I also got a turbo trainer in order to replace my crippled exercise bike. Does one get a spare wheel in order to avoid damaging/wearing out your proper wheel? Time to hit the forums again.

Can't wait to give it a proper try out...

Monday, September 10, 2012

First Principle Fajitas...

My on/off holiday from work ended up being on. Suffice to say I never made it in. My car was into the garage for new brake pads so I was taking Vera out for a spin. First up came the traffic jam of doom on the approach to Gloucester - and this one really was a car park. Not a thing was moving. Turning to my Android for the cause, it was apparently the recovery of a broken down bus causing the chaos - bloody public transport. I decided to turn tail and country lane it around. From there things went from late to not making it in at all as Vera's clutch stuck during a gear change. Half an hour later the nice AA man told me it was f*(&ed - the clutch, not Vera although she's now in my bad books, the moody cow. Anyway, the AA man gave me a tow back to the garage. The owner couldn't believe his luck. I'm single-handedly keeping him in business...

Now to the running, my legs are definitely feeling the strain of two races in two days. I am buoyed by my performances. Mediocre against my old standards but I feel fully ready to take on the challenge that is the Peris Horseshoe on Saturday. To give the legs a chance to recover I pedalled my way to an easy hour on the ever more loudly clanking exercise bike.

And to top off the day I've been de-stressing with a bit of baking. There's a tasty herb loaf in the oven as we speak. Then, still in the mood, I made myself some whole wheat tortillas to go with the fiery veggie fajitas I had in mind. A couple of the tortillas were slightly over-crisped but I got the technique sorted by the end. As to the fajitas, they were from first principles as well. I knocked up a spicy marinade, threw in some home grown tomatoes, chillies and garlic - although the garlic wasn't homegrown by me - a few other bits and bobs. Job done. They were gert lush.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Wonderful Woodchester

I definitely made the right call. My quads felt just a little stiff - matron - and I think I would have struggled - read suffered - badly come the end had I run the Skyline. As it was, the Woodchester Park race was about the perfect distance for me.

I set off towards the front, deciding to see what I had in the tank. I felt good in the first couple of climbs. None of which were long but some were quite steep. As the race progressed I picked up a few places on the ascent or rather running off strongly from the top after the ascent. I was taking things just easy enough on the climbs to get running quickly. I think steady would be the term to use.

Anyway by the halfway point (the loop section to the east being run in a clockwise direction) the placings were pretty much settled. I couldn't see the runners ahead but had a couple chasing from behind - ooh, chase me, chase me. I estimated I was somewhere around 15th - I was wrong...

I started to wilt a little in the strong sunshine and the pack, sensing blood, closed in for the kill. A runner from Westbury Harriers came past as the others down the distance between us. I had nothing left to give, hanging on as best I could. Then after a mile of flat running we hit the final section of climb and on the steepest part I could feel chasing pack literally breathing down my neck. I pushed as hard as I dared, knowing if I emptied the tank I wouldn't be able to get running on the flat sections to follow. I just held them off to the top of the climb and luckily for me they had given too much as I quickly pulled out an unassailable lead that was to remain through to the finish.

I finished in a time of 59 minutes and 28 seconds for the 12.2km course with 1,200 feet of ascent. I'm pretty pleased with that. Scratch that, I'm very pleased with my top ten finish, scraping home in ninth spot.

There were a few fellow Chepstow Harriers out there with me. Nikki M claimed 1st Woman, Neil G 1st older than senior man category but I'm not sure which - that is an official race category by the way - and Lou S 1st FV45. In fact the only Chepstow runner present not to win a prize was me - but just hang on a minute, with my 9th place and Nikki and Neil well inside the top twenty we only went and took team gold. Making it a 100% Chepstow runner to prize ratio. It's not often I get a mention in the results so I'm really pleased - and for once, I actually took the applause at the ceremony - although I was a little disappointed they didn't play the national anthem for us as we stood atop the podium...

Oh, and well done to Stroud Athletic club for hosting the race and thanks to all the marshals and helpers.

Today's 12.2km Woodchester Park Race with its 1,200 feet of ascent

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Out The Way Early

Well that's today's training done. Another twenty one minute Park Run. I've run it four times and on three occasions ran bang on twenty one minutes - although today's might possibly be rounded up by a second. I might be slow but at least I'm consistent with it!

I'm actually quite happy with the time. I thought I would be slower. The one thing it does emphasise is the fact that if I want to speed up there's no option but to do some training! The thing is though, I enjoy racing but I don't really care about the times any more. For me it's about enjoying the heat of battle not whether I win or lose. That said, I really think I should try and factor in some proper training for the sake of my dignity. Twenty one minutes for 5k, albeit a twisty, boggy 5k, is diabolical when you consider a few years back I could nudge close to eighteen. I know I'm a little older but come on, it's disgraceful.

Friday, September 07, 2012

To Stretton Skyline or Not Stretton Skyline...

That is the question but what is the answer?

With the Peris Horseshoe next weekend it is probably a little silly to entertain the thought for even a moment... but... you know me... If sense does become me then I will run the Woodchester Park race instead. Stretton does call to me though. Last weeks Long 'O' was practically a recce of it or bits of it at least. It's almost like I'm fated to go run it. Being only eight kilometres longer than last weeks run I should be able to cope and recover for the Peris. I'm not going to commit just yet. I'll the door open and see how I feel on Sunday morning.

Tonight I put in a bike session because I want to try and have a go at the Park run tomorrow. I'm thinking I might get a nasty shock. A PW?...

Thursday, September 06, 2012

What A Bore

Every day, in every way, SAP annoys me more and more. It's so intuative to use - NOT. I think the company must have put a clause in the tender that the new system be as complicated and unintuative as possible. On that front, they scored ten out of ten. Moving on...

Managed a short run after work but more of a pootle than anything special. Just needed to clear my head really. Job done and now the feet are firmly in the up position.

On the bike front I've been look at commuting routes. At the moment I'm thinking of parking up at one of our sites, north Bristol, and riding in from there. The commute could be around 17 miles - which is probably too much for a total novice. Eventually I want to stay on the Welsh side of the river but that's something for another year! I think I'll need to train up for a few weeks first - or months, depending on how rubbish I am (and I'm suspecting I'll to be very rubbish) - before I attempt the commute. I could save myself a few quid each week. The cost of the eventually purchased bike could almost be recouped by the time I retire...

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Horton To Hawkesbury And Back Again

And back again and back again. It's fair to say I had a little modem trouble this afternoon. It's also lucky that said locations are only three miles apart. Even so, after the third time of driving down the bumpy track, opening the gate, closing the gate, unsetting the alarm system, setting the alarm system, opening the gate, closing the gate - you get the picture - it gets a little wearing. Fortunately I got it sorted in the end but by then I was both hot and bothered. Grrrh.

Didn't managed to stir up the enthusiasm for a run tonight which is a shame because it was nice out. I make no excuse. I let lethargy beat me. Hopefully I will feel more up and at 'em tomorrow and with luck Martin and I can get out for the lunch run.

Been further pursuing bikes this evening. Minefield doesn't come close...

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Back Home

It's been a long couple of days. My brain aches just a little bit and I'm glad to be back home. I can see work is about to crank up a notch - again. Haven't managed much training so I really need to get out tomorrow.

Looking forward I can see I need a plan in order to manage my training. Taking it one day at a time ain't going to cut it. My exercise bike is hanging. I have just about destroyed it. It clanks and whirrs in ways it shouldn't and I have decided that I should replace it with a real bike and a turbo trainer. Then I can get the benefit of an indoor workout for those days when I can't be arsed and a proper ride on the days when I can. Hopefully I will also be able to factor in a partial commute a few times a month - by that I mean drive to Chepstow and ride the rest of the way. The biggest problem I can foresee is just what the hell to buy????? I don't want to spend a fortune but equally I don't want something sh!t that weighs half a tonne. From surfing the net it looks like I need to learn a whole new bloody language in order to work out what to get! There are so many terms. So many different types of the same component. A minefield I tells yer. Then, of course, there's the risk of buying something that 'real' cyclists pooh pooh. Operation learning curve is commencing...

Monday, September 03, 2012

Bloody Littleton...

Can't get away from it - even when I get away from it! Staying at The Littleton Arms tonight, aaahhhh.

Legs felt ok today but I stiffen up a little - ssh, no, stop it - when I've been sat for too long. And still itching to see yesterday's results. I gert needs to know how I dun...

Sunday, September 02, 2012

O So Long

Well I survived but was it ever hard bloody work...

We - that's Pat and I - arrived just before ten which gave us a few minutes to get ourselves ready and then we were into it. I set off first since I was pretty confident that Pat would defeat me. Dibber dibbed off I set. Not wanting to balls it up inside ten minutes I got out my measuring stick - oh, matron - as I jogged on and got my brain programmed for the 1:15,000 scale. Then it was all systems - or as much of systems as are currently functional - go.

I was straight onto control one in 5:19. Two was reasonable, 15:04, but I did lose some time as I dropped to the wrong craggy bit and had to regain some height into the control. Three was - for want of better words - a total f#&%ing balls up. I don't think my idea was too bad but the execution was piss poor - pardon my french. My route choice was based on minimising ascent albeit at the cost of distance. After eventually finding the control in a rather awesome 32:21 - read it a weep, I know I did.

I got myself back on track with some reasonably splits over the next few controls. They were fairly straight forward and there really wasn't much route choice. The terrain was hard going though. In fact the terrain over the whole route was hard going. Knee high heather. Waist high ferns. It was draining my energy. Four 4:58, five 17:24 and six 12:31. Seven was a disappointing 6:53 as I had to stop and do my shoe lace up. Suffice to say they didn't come undone again - I've still got them on now... only joking.

I'm not sure I really picked the best route over to eight but I don't think it was too bad. With hindsight there probably were better ways but in the heat of battle you makes your choice and you runs it. 33:32.

From there to the finish there weren't really any route choices and as I reached nine, 17:06, I knew my game was up. The scrambling through heather on the short section off the track had sapped the last of my strength. From there on in I was well and truly into plod mode as I picked off ten 5:20, eleven 13:24, twelve 11:38 and then the heather overloaded finish in 5:46 for a total time of 3:01:08.

I'm really happy with my time. If I could have bought that at the start I would have. Most important though - OK, second most important - is that I now feel ready to take on the Peris Horseshoe in two weeks. Before today's race I had doubts. Now I don't. The most important thing, of course, is how badly Matthew kicked my ass. We conveyed ourselves to the valley of death - fearing, perhaps, just a little bit of evil - by different carriage. Like ships passing in the night we didn't see each other nor did I espy the other Chepstow runners. Pat skinned me though, posting 2:49 (I think) but he also made a few mistakes. As my Nepalese Guru would say, better to get the mistakes out of the way this week. He's now all set for the Lake District Mountain Trial next week so fingers crossed he has a good one.

The 19.7km and 3,100 feet of ascent that was the Long Mynd Long 'O' 2012...

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Butterflies, Grasshoppers and Dragonflies

The garden is awash with them, although to be fair the dragonflies might be damselflies. Oh, and bees. There's plenty of bees out there too. It's great to see nature going strong. The butterflies where mostly Red Admirals although there was one Peacock (butterfly, not the bird). The pond is teaming with life too. I was thinking of getting shot but I think it should probably stay.

On the running front. My Peris paperwork is in the post. I'm entered for the Full Horseshoe so the 14 day countdown begins.

This afternoon I got out for an easy 9.3k although I should have taken things easier than I did. I picked a hilly route - flat isn't really an option and stupidly worked on the ascent rather than taking it easy. There's no aches or pains but I do wonder whether I shall pay for it tomorrow. Not being totally back to form I probably should've pootled. Ah well, what's done is done.

Anyway, as it's such a nice day there's no time for sitting in the house. Time to get back out there and into the garden...

Today's 9.3km with 1,100 feet of ascent