Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Building For A Bad One Tomorrow

It's likely tomorrow will be a dayus horribilis. I do not expect to be home in time for lunch, dinner or even supper. It's going to be a stinker. I go into battle not because I give a damn but because I'm a professional and I respect my colleagues. I'm certain to be grumpy as f*^% by the end of it. All in all it's certain to be top of the shittiest weeks 2013 league table.

On other matters, Phil Lucker, a mate through running, is undertaking a charity mountain bike expedition from Caernarfon (North West Wales) to Thornbury over some of the toughest trails in the UK, covering some 220 miles, climbing over 10,000m in 3 days on the 12th to 14th July 2013. It's in aid of two young sisters who suffer from dystonia and their family, and also to bring awareness to the condition and raise funds to start a support group for Families in Thornbury (and the local area) who have children with special needs. Expedition website and just giving site under construction We are looking for lots of help and support, if you are interested in helping or sponsoring please message this page. More details will follow shortly. His Facebook page for the event is here. Phil Lucker - Escape The Dragon. I'm sure he'd appreciate support and sponsorship.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Still Snowed In...

Need to run a risk assessment - that's a lot of snow...

Yes, I am going for the "I'm the last person south of Worcester to have snow left" award... Bet I don't win - ooh, I'm so positive. To add to the gloom it isn't even February and the bloody valentine ads have started. Pooh.

Didn't manage any training tonight. I stuck my head in the sand and let the world go by. On a positive note I've loaded the car with the genny and light ready for the Pomphrey Hill Sports 5k - still have the urge to call it the Bridge Inn 5k but they blew us out so balls to them. I'll either be running or hitting a training session on the old route. All depends what time I escape work - if I'm early away I will train, if I'm later I will race - although race isn't really the correct turn of phrase at my current level of fitness.

On another positive note, provided I survive the Welsh 1000s and Welsh 3000s in June with the Ennerdale Horseshoe in between (provided they have not made it into a nuclear wasteland by dumping a load of spent fuel rods below that beautiful landscape - ooh, political), I shall attempt to run the entire Offa's Dyke during the Chepstow Harriers relay in July or August. It was a great weekend last year and it really lifts my spirit that it's happening again. No where near fit enough at the moment but if I pull myself together I can do it.

On a third positive note - this is getting altogether too positive, I shall have to depress things a little - my coconut and orange cookies went down a treat at work. There weren't many of the thirty two baked beauties left come home time.

And finally, on a four positive note... Nope, there's no fourth positive note so f$(% off, go on, on your bike...

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Red Baron..

I christened the Red Baron with a batch of gluten-free coconut and orange cookies for work. Did it ever make it easier - although breaking in to the coconut was damn hard work - cue some meat-clever action. It's fair to say I could have made life easier for myself and just used dessicated coconut but I like a fifty fifty mix with the fresh grated real stuff.

They turned out okay. Just wish my oven had a turntable like a microwave. It's always hot toward the front so I have to turn the bake half way through to get an even cook. I'm sure there are baked goods you shouldn't open the oven on until they're done so I might be in trouble when I get to one of those.

Anyway, I managed a recovery run in the woods before 90 minutes high resistance bike workout. My quads were burning come the last fifteen. I was tempted to go for a 'real' ride - ooh matron - but it was just so wet out there - and I'm a right whimp! Really though, I couldn't face the hour I'd need to spend cleaning everything afterwards.

A box of 32 coconut and orange cookies

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Gert Slush...

Didn't quite manage the Cotswolds but I did get out for a run. I had a few things to finish preparing on the work front and it took a little longer than I expected. By the time that was done it was gone twelve whence I donned my lycra, slipped into my harriers - that's Wave Harriers, not Chepstow - and exited stage left.

It was a pretty good run and I managed to keep a bit of focus for once. It was slushy out there and, with the thaw, soggy too. There were still a few icy patches left though. The harriers not affording me much grip on those bits.

It wasn't a particularly hilly route, around 300m in all, but on the few gentle climbs as there were, I managed to keep relaxed and work all the way up them. Certainly not a fast run - not sure I do fast anymore - it was never the less good to know I didn't ease off at all. About 12km in total. Finished off with an hour on the bike watching the food channel.

Later I'm off down to Chepstow for the Harriers - now that is the club, not the shoes - Awards Dinner. I've urged them to include an award for the 'athlete most in decline' but I'm not sure I've convinced them...

Friday, January 25, 2013

Can't Fail This Weekend...

I've no race on the calendar so I can't possibly fail not to run it! I'm thinking of heading Cotswold Way-ward. I would go mountains but can't quite face the snow that's sure to be crisp and deep and even... more than a foot deep. At least it's finally warming up. Maybe in a week or two. Haven't really decided which part of the CW to head for. Need to stay reasonably close to home because I've the Harriers Awards night to attend tomorrow night. Quite looking forward to letting my hair down.

Of course, work might yet kick me square in the nuts...

Thursday, January 24, 2013


You can't run as fast across it. Nor can you drive as fast on it - as one young pup found out today at great cost. Heading out from site, on a still frozen section of road, I drove past a van in a hedge on the bend. The young chap was out of the van, on the phone, no doubt calling for help. With his back wheels off the ground he wasn't going to be driving it away any time soon. And with a twist on the rear - I'm talking about the van rear axle - it was probably going to be a scrapper. Now here's a tip, when it's snowy or icy under-tyre drive slowly. Today that young lad has learn't a valuable lesson, with damage to the van only, he was lucky today.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Actual Training? Me? Surely Not...

I managed to get across to site this morning. I awoke to another 4cm of snow this morning but it hadn't gained much of a foothold on the roads - at least not locally. The roads around site, atop the Cotswolds, were slippy but so long as you trundled along carefully it was okay.

Anyway, I finally managed to get my butt out of the warm site cabin for a lunch run. I ran north along the Fosseway for 15 minutes then turned tail and ran back again. It was icy for the most part and my studs didn't gain me much traction along the ancient Roman roadway. Despite all the slipping I ran with a decent effort and was breathing hard in the last five minutes. Not going to look how far I ran as I know the pace won't have been high. Still, I've been out and run. Hopefully I can build the momentum and get out more regularly - and maybe even extend the time of feet. It'll be better once the ice has gone. I even managed to put in an hour on the bike once I got home.

Looking forwards, I'm thinking of maybe trying to get away for a long weekend towards the end of February. Maybe pick a race somewhere north of here and tie it in with that for a weekend of training and racing. Maybe the Peak District. Have to see what races are on...

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Plant Plan

Time is marching ever onwards and before I get a chance to blink I'll have missed the chance to sow my seeds - sssh, stop it. I am of course talking veg. I've been busy planning what to grow and when - and the when is fast approaching being now. For the herbs in the conservatory at least. Going to try and make a better job of them this year. I think I was guilty of over watering last time.

With my plan written I've ordered in a job lot of seed from the friendly Mr Fothergill. Chilli-wise I've gone for two types. One an interesting compact variety and the other, well, that would be scotch bonnet of course. If you're gonna burn you might as well go inferno... I'm also going to try a mini variety of bell pepper. Be interesting to see how that goes.

Tomato-wise I'm growing cherry only this year. Two varieties, one a fairly common upright variety the other is an experiment of a type for planting in hanging baskets, Cherry Fall. I'll sow those a little later in the season once the weather starts improving. The rest of the veg is going in raised beds - once I've managed to build them...

Been a day of baking, oh, and jogging. Back and arms are aching from yesterday's snow clearing. Apart from that I'm good. Baking-wise, I made some ginger cookies to take into work and a cinnamon and raisin brioche, well, for me to eat.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Back Breaking

That clearing the snow lark. Fully expect to ache a little tomorrow. Kept things simple after that with 90 on the bike. Hoping to get over to Dursley tomorrow for a training run around the Dursley Dozen route. Yep, I've decided not to risk travelling all the way to Church Stretton. I think the roads will probably okay but I'm sure the journey will take a bit longer than normal plus there is still a threat of further snow.

Now here's a photo of my vegetable curry with homemade naan bread. The trouble with a small one - freezer, a small freezer - is I can't always fit it in - ooh matron. Hence another portion of yesterday's curry fresh-ish from the fridge instead. Not a problem though as it still tasted good.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Enjoyable But...

It felt like I was going way too slow for the effort I was putting in. Can running in the snow be so much more energy sapping? I quickly became discombobulated on each of the slopier climbs. Dragging my feet up out of the snow on every step... hard work. It was pleasant running across May Hill once I got up there though. And the views... fantastic. I was surprised there weren't more people out sledging - but then again, I guess the two mile walk to get there would put off all but the hardy.

Sad news on the Painswick front, the orienteering is deferred until another day. Not a surprise really but a shame never the less. I can see the Mercia Hill Trial going the same way. Maybe with an extra day to thaw it might be a goer but I shan't be travelling seventy miles to get there along country roads unless it's safe. Guess I shall be heading out for another snowy run tomorrow.

Right, my cauliflower and lentil curry has been simmering away in the slow cooker for a couple of hours. Its enticing aromatic spice wafting forth from the kitchen. You can't beat that blend of coriander, cumin, turmeric, mustard seeds, garlic and fresh ginger and not forgetting fresh chilli. I can hear it calling to me. Just got to wait a few more minutes for the garlic naan bread to finish proving, cook them and then it'll be eating time...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Don't Have Much To Say

Looking forward to Sunday's Mercia Hill Trial. Fingers crossed the snow - if it actually shows up - shows up on time so it's gone by Sunday. And provided the snow - assuming it shows up - doesn't cancel the Painswick Orienteering I'll be heading there Saturday for a bash. All that assumes work doesn't get in the way. Other than that it's been a rubbish week of training. Don't have it at the moment but I'll get it...

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Phew, Looks Like The Snow Will Miss Me

They're forecasting 15cm overnight Thursday!!! Guess that means no snow then...

Didn't manage a run today. Got thoroughly cold in the god forsaken cotswold country stuck in a remote site. I was only there an hour but my bits were beginning to shrivel up and shrink faster than the waistline of a patient undergoing liposuction. By the time I made it back to the mother ship I was chilled - but not in a cool way, dude. Couldn't face heading out after that. Managed an hour on the bike, some abs crunches and press ups. Hoping to get out for a go tomorrow before the great winter storm...

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Day Before The Storm

and it is likely going to be a very big storm. My legs are feeling it from yesterday but I managed an easy recovery run. It's been a corking day weather wise but the storm clouds have well and truly gathered on the work front. For the foreseeable future I am mostly going to be living at Shipton Moyne. My new hope for the new year are going to be tested - probably beyond breaking point. There is little hope of making the Tuesday night training sessions. I am going to need the mental strength of a behemoth in order to stay sane - some would say I already lost it a long time ago - and they'd be right. Ho hum. Smoke me a kipper I'll be home some time in 2013...

Saturday, January 12, 2013

First Snow Of The Year

It was a struggle to rise from the pit this morning but I had a race to run was determined to go run it. The alarm went off - and I struck snooze - but before I had time to snooze I yanked - careful - back the sheets and got to it - stop it. One lovely strong cup of coffee later and it was like I'd never been to sleep. Buzzzzzz. I gathered my kit so I was ready and then waited - I would say did a bit of housework but that would make it sound like I spent more time at it - stop it - than I did. Anyway, before I knew it, it was time to load the van and head to the hills.

The weather seemed to be holding on the drive across and in fact it turned out to be a cracking day. I arrived in plenty of time, registered, mingled a little before warming up, getting my kit on and heading to the start.

I set off in the middle order - and stayed most of the way. I over took a few early on before we got stuck into the main climb. I always forget how much climb there actually is to Tor-y-Foel. Somehow I never give it quite the respect it deserves. It's pretty much a one climb race, that climb being about 350m from start to finish although it's probably a 100m/250m split in terms of shallow climb to steep climb.

I lost a few places on the main ascent but then got most of that back on the rougher, faster, slippery descent. I really enjoyed that bit but soon the wheels - or should that be legs - fell off. Once into the forest it became more like a road race and I was soon moving backwards through the field. Laurie pissed past like I was, well, stood taking a piss against a tree and so did half a dozen others. Do I ever need some speed. And as I lost those places there was a gentle flurry of snow - read a few flakes. The first snow of winter - well, for me at least.

Anyway, with one final rough, slippery bit before the finish, it was soon all a distant memory. It won't have been my best result ever but it's the first time in a while that I tried hard enough to get the bloody taste in the back of your throat. Happy with that. I also notched up what I think is my highest VAM score on Strava (what ever the hell that is! The VAM bit not Strava).

Anyway, that's me almost done. All's left to do is decide whether to cook the more involved and ever so slightly tastier chicken & cashew nut or go the potato & leek soup route. Why has life so many difficult decisions?

Today's Tor-y-Foel route;
7.2km with 350m ascent...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Bit Of A Rubbish Day

and it was my first fail on the abs and pecs fitness regime. Don't panic though, I will catch up tomorrow. Just been a long work day and by the time I got home I could not be arsed. I am definitely aiming to run Tor y Foel tomorrow though. I don't give a damn if the gods spew forth hellfire and brimstone I shall go run. Sod it, my work mobile might even accidentally run out of battery. And I might even wear my shinny new Innov8s just for good measure - well, I got to wreck them some time...

Doing The Dursley Dozen

It's been a few years since I last ran and always a tough call as to whether to enter or not. It always seems to clash with the Long Mynd and that's a corker. The Dozen won out this year and I've just received my entry, number 246. Unless there is a miracle I'm expecting it to be as muddy as ever I've run. Up Saturday is the Tor y Foel fell race. Apparently the new route is pretty good. Looking forward to struggling my way to the top - possibly in the snow if the forecast is anywhere near close. Personally, I'm hoping they get it wrong - although it will fit my sub-zero temperature prediction by the end of January before getting back to normal mid February.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

A Very Tiring Day

Home late, there was no hope of any training. Ho hum. On a happier note, yesterday's orienteering was probably my best result to date - but, as usual, it could have been so much better. From Control four my splits started to compare to those of the better orienteers. Lesson for the day; I need to get out of the blocks quicker. I was 26th of 71 finishers (with another 10+ not making the grade) but I could have been ten places better - but then everyone says that - apart from the winner. I am going to crack this orienteering lark by the end of the next millenium... and even if I don't I definitely feel it's improving my overall navigation skill - which I may well need come the Welsh 1000s and 3000s...

First Race Of The Year

Finally I manage to get out there and race. Not sure if orienteering can actually be classed as racing since it's more involving than merely placing one foot in front of the other as quickly as you can. And despite a 'glitch' at control two the rest of it went pretty well. I made a few slightly suspect calls on route choice but overall it was probably my most successful orienteer to date. To be fair, that doesn't necessarily make it a particularly good orienteer, just better than all the shite that's gone before - and there's been some really stinky stuff.

I got off to a good start. Control one wasn't difficult but even so I was straight on it with no deviation. Two, well, that was the squiggly bit on the track plot. There was a bloody great big new track which drew me in, and having then wasted five minutes caught up in its confusion, spat me out. From there on it all went okay, Three was a big one - fnah fnah - and maybe going over the top wasn't the best choice but it was at least a good hill rep. Four, five and six weren't too tricky and were all quite close together. Can't really remember seven and eight. Nine was okay before another significant choice. Over the top or around to ten? Again I plumped for over the top and I was happy with that,

Eleven and twelve were probably my best of the day before an acceptable thirteen, slightly iffy fourteen  and a pretty good fifteen. Sixteen was pants but luckily I followed Stotty to it. From there our paths diverged as he took the low road while I took the high road - and I got to seventeen afore he.. And that was that, job done.

At the time of my finish I was actually in the top ten at eighth spot but I don't expect to remain there for very long. Even so I'm happy not to have had my usual total disaster and best of all my foot was fine. It's still a little tender but nothing as to what it was. That's a result in my book. Right, now I'm off for a relaxing hour in front of the telly (on the exercise bike).
Ps, The last little squiggly bit on the map is me forgetting to stop the watch...

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Back In Business

Courtesy of the Minor Injury Unit at the Dilke Hospital. The nice nurse picked away the flesh surrounding the foreign body. Climaxing in a quick yank - sssh, no, stop it - on the fine nosed tweezers to finally rid me of the evil shard of glass. It was about 3mm wide and 5mm deep so there was little chance of it breaking free the surface all by itself. Anyway, that's all in the past now. It's a little sore but with a day to settle I'm back in business for race four from 'the list' - BOK Orienteering at Brierly. Never have I been more stir crazy to get out there and run to get the 'race myself fit' training campaign underway...

Friday, January 04, 2013

Yep, I Need To Visit The Doc

Well I've finally determine the nature of 'the shard' stuck in my foot. It is in fact a piece of glass. It's making it's way to the surface - but I'm not sure if it's going to pop out anytime soon - ssh, no, stop it. From proding and poking - snigger - I can see it's a bit like an iceberg - the tip is clear of the surface now but the other four fifths is still under the skin and, on inspection, appears to be sort of pyramidal - and that means what's left under the surface ain't gonna fit through the tiny hole, and there in lies the problem. Hence the thinking I need to go get it cut out by a professional...

Somewhat scuppers the weekends racing. There's no way I can run on it now. Just walking isn't hugely comfortable. Guess I'll be chalking up fails three and four from 'the list'. The start to 2013 is not going well. Anyway, I've made a poultice using magnesium sulphate paste and a micro 'donut' bandage fashioned from sports tape to provide protection so I don't bash it - ooh er misses. It's going to have to be a fantastical poultice in order to draw out the foreign body stuck in my foot and I don't fancy it's chances - boo.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

A Little Bit Of Nothing

Didn't feel like anything tonight. If that's bad so be it. Work was pretty productive. I batted away a few issues and picked up a few others. Once home, I took the night off. I'll be back to it tomorrow. On the racing myself fit, I've entered the Dursley Dozen. It was a toss up between that and the Long Mynd. Not quite fit enough to do myself justice at the LM so Dursley takes it. Oh, and I've had my A Class Welsh 1000s entry accepted! Bring on those bad boy mountains....

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

The Hard Work Continues

And do my arms ever ache. Not to mention my abs. The exercise plan seems to be notching up the difficulty more quickly than my body wants it to. I think my arms and abs might go on strike if it continues. Feels like it must be doing me good though - even if I can't lift my arms. Finished off with an hour on the bike and then a roast veggie bake topped with crispy cheese - well, you can't be too healthy. All that done and apparantly there's still an hour go until the peak internet dating hour of the entire year - well there's only been 44 hours of it so far... but I'm assuming they mean peak as in an historic study of previous years. Who pays to fund such bollox? Not that I give a damn. Got to watch the clock and make sure I'm switched off well in advance of that.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Not Exactly The Start I Had Planned

Well that's a fail on the second race on the list. This new start, this race yourself fit, is going so terribly well. Having donned my kit and packed the car well ahead of schedule I was all set to go score some big points but then the phone rang... and that was that. Like the seven dwarfs it was off to work I went. My best intentions are being dashed - and if I get my hands on the those two 'lucky' fish, grrrrh. I've a mind to go scoop those little bastards out the pond and fry 'em up with a nice chianti. Lucky? Lucky my arse.

Anyway, with the work thing sorted, I drove back home and proceeded to go out for a run through Flaxley Wood before finishing off with an hour on the bike. It was cooler out than it looked and the shard in my foot, despite thinking I might have got it out a week ago, is obviously still in there. I tweaked my foot on stone and now its stinging like it's touching a nerve. I'm thinking I might need to go seek medical attention to get it cut out with a laser scalpel or maybe just an ordinary scalpel - the laser scalpel would be way cooler though.

Anyway, that's me done for the day. Not feeling quite so grumpy now. Still grumpy, mind, just not as grumpy. So all that's left to do is roast my vegetables and cook me up some dinner...