Sunday, June 30, 2013

Gettin' Too Old For This Shit....

I'm home safe after the Butlins Summer Party but I feel wiped out. Two nights of partying hard have taken there toll. I couldn't muster for a third. Feels like I've run two Welsh 3000s back to back.... and sleep? I think I might sleep from now till Tuesday!

Back in the real world, hopefully I will be good and rested up for a bike ride through the forest tomorrow - provided the weather is half decent...

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Ritual

And this year there was three of us out for the sobering, morning after the night before, run that has become my Buttlins Summer Party ritual. Views across the top were great as we wended our way over to Bossington Hill. Somewhere near 20k in all. Right, no time to spare I need my power nap before the party starts again tonight...

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Signed Up For The LDMT

Well, that's the autumn goals set. I've entered Sea View 17 at the end of July. Then early August there's Chepstow Harriers Offa's Dyke Relay weekend - or an attempt at about ninety miles of it over the three days. And I'll be capping it all off with the aformentioned Lake District Mountain Trial Classic Class - bit of a mouthful, essentially the longest, toughest of the three classes - of course. You know me, I don't do the easy option - although I'll make an exception for Mountain Marathons. I'll be happy on the beginners class there....

Anyway, that's me done for the week. Up next, operation Butlins....

Ps, I will be taking my kit for the ritual Saturday morning run on exmoor. I say ritual but it's basically just me. I say basically, it is just me. I have managed a run every time I've been down for the big summer paarrrtay though, so it's my ritual. Over to Bossington Hill and back this year...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pootle Tuesday

I'm still in the chilling zone. With the Butlins Summer Party - toot, f*^(ing, toot - up this weekend there ain't no point cracking on with real serious training. So I've decided to relax for another week before getting back into the training zone. I'm thinking of entering the Exmoor Sea View 17. A low key race run by Minehead Running Club - but a really good one, along the south coastal path. Could be a good interim target to go at. I've run it a few times and have always surprised myself with how well I've done. I've definitely got the endurance for it this time round and with three weeks solid training starting next week I could get myself in some good shape for it. I reckon it could be a good focus. Right, I've almost convinced myself... Anyway, just a pootle tonight. It was too 'sticky' out there for anything more....

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Not Gonna Lie

I could not be arsed today. Is that really so bad? I'm thinking I'm permitted a week off to be a lazy git. I just couldn't find the enthusiasm and resigned myself to being an idle so and so. I fired up the slow cooker for a one pot veggie curry. I love that you can just lob it all in - even the rice (towards the end) - and it comes out topper. I even used a few of my first tatties of the season. I reckon I'm just a couple of weeks away from harvesting the first earlies proper. The garlic doesn't look far away either.

I wasn't a total lazy bar steward, mind. I was up at eight to cut the grass before the rains came. Then I was back over to the garden centre for more pots to sow some lettuce and more spring onions. Okay so that wasn't exactly 32 miles over Snowdon but is anyone really counting?...

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Relaxing Day

The weather held so it was bike time. I was out there 90 minutes. I didn't go fast. I just enjoyed it. It was a bit windy - ssh, no - in places which made it harder work but not a big problem. Then I popped out to the garden centre for some large pots and I planted out the french beans and sowed some chive and mint in them. Not all in the same pot just to clear that up. Oh, and I've sowed some wild strawberries. Need more bloomin' pots now!

Next up was harvesting more basil for pesto and I finished off baking cypriot olive and coriander bread, one from Mr H's 100 breads. Mmmmm, mmmm. With the rest of my time this fine Saturday, I have been doing absolutely sod all - and it's been bloody marvelous. Some times it's nice not straying far from home and taking it easy.

Looking forward to the rest of the season, having run my two target races, I need to pick a new focus. Up in a month or so there's the Chepstow Offa's Dyke relay of course and I'm aiming to run 30 miles per day over the Friday to Sunday event. Going to work out some timings once the relay times have been issued. I'm intending to set off ahead of the relay each day with a target pace in mind - ahead, dead slow - that gets me the 30 miles before the relay catches me at which point I will continue on with the relay - sitting in someone's car rather than running. One day I'm going to bag the whole lot but not this year.

I need something to aim for towards the end of the year - donning the thinking cap... I also have three long weekends to plan. One in July and two in August. I'm thinking the peak district for one, maybe two of those weekends as I've not ever run there - in the daylight. I have the maps so I might as well get some use out of them. I guess it would be rude not to take a trip up to the Lakes as well. I've not been up this year. Oh, and of course, there's the Lake District Mountain Trial to enter, taking place first or second week of September. Maybe, that could be my focus race...

Friday, June 21, 2013

Weekend Without A Clue

I was thinking about a bike ride through the forest tomorrow after I found out the Crickley Hill orienteering swapped with Hartpury. I fancy being in the forest not urban. Not sure if I want to get soaked though. The forecast doesn't look good. It's not so much the getting soaked but the not being able to see well as the rain washes across my glasses. I guess I'll just see what's what tomorrow and then decide what to do. How ever if pans out I definitely need to get to the garden centre. I can't believe how quickly the french beans have spouted. They definitely need potting on.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Going To Seem Strange

I've nothing planned for the weekend. No trip up to Snowdonia. No stupidly long races. What am I thinking! I think there is some orienteering to be had on Saturday so I might look out the details of that. Going to be a chilled weekend other than that. I need to get some large planters. I've some french beans kicking off that I need to plant up and I'm going to put up some trellis up on the front of the house for them to grow up. Then there's the chives and mint I want to start off. Oh, and some lettuce which I'm going to try in window boxes!

Oh yeah, I didn't quite make it to the mob match. I'm a little disappointed with myself but I needed a bit of lounging around. Been a tiring, long week so far and tonight was much needed feet up time.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Not Going Out

No, it's a rest day. Had a good day at work. Got mucho mucho done and the legs are feeling much better - it looks like a bit of a tempo run is good for wrecked legs! All being well, with a good rest in the bag I will be up and at 'em in tomorrow's mob match with Thornbury. I'm working away but should get back across in time to kick some ass. Okay, there won't be any actual kicking of ass and okay, any virtual ass kicking will no doubt be on me but it'll be another good training run - provided I make it. The kit is readied and awaiting transfer to the car. My club vest might be a bit stinky though as I've not managed to wash it from yesterday. Oh, well, just call me The Minging Runner...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Madness Continues To Return

After a long day at work, with the legs still painful to the touch - so I stopped touching them, I followed through - ooh, er - with the plan and made it over to Cearleon for the LCL road race. I am not about to deviate from the comeback trail. If I give in to lackadaisicalness - what a word - I may never get back into the habit - and no, that's nothing to do with nuns. So I made it to the race. I wasn't ever going to run fast but that wasn't the point. The point was making it to the start line and then stepping across it.

There was possible a million Chepstow Harriers out tonight. I've never seen so many. In fact, I didn't know there was so many in the club! Anyway, I set off towards the back of the pack and plodded my way through the field. It was the down that hurt. I was okay on the ups. Not fast, mind, but it wasn't as painful. The steepish descent just plain hurt. By about 7km Andy 'The Power' Ost came into view. I got target lock and started tracking.... As we turned the final corner, into the final climb, I had edged ahead.... The final stretch, less than a kilometre, was all uphill. Not steep, just steady, but 'The Power' lived up to his name and powered past. I was humbled but very pleased to eventually reach the finish. Cue another bout of hurling. A drink of water later and I was recovered. After a short spell of hob-nobbing with my fellow harriers I departed stage left for the drive home.

The comeback continues....

Monday, June 17, 2013

Still Aching

Two days later and everything still aches - but not quite as badly. I'm able to descend the stairs at a much greater pace. I can very nearly take two steps at a time....

Been a long ol' day and I think the last of the weekend is finally catching up with me. I'm still intending to run tomorrow's LCL road race though. I am determined to keep the come back going. It looks like the route from a couple of years back so I think I know how to get there. I won't score - I'm no good at the chatting up bit, ahem, cough, I mean there's sure to be plenty of faster Chepstow runners ahead of me so I won't be in the points but it'll be good to stretch the legs. All I need to do now is check the start time. Is it 7pm or half past?...

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Everything Aches

Well my legs are trashed - as, in fact, are my sholders and upper arms! All that scrambling, dropping down off the lower Snowdon ridge to Nant Peris, I guess. There was a fair amount of lowering myself down, holding on with my arms and then letting go to drop down a couple of metres to what appeared firm ground. I don't think I can remember a time I've heard the cheers of people at the check point echoing across the valley as they watched my antics. Backing that up, on arrival at said checkpoint, I also can't remember a time I've received a hug  from a young lady in recognition of such mad descending.

Anyway, back to the start. Having arrived the night before and managing some reasonably kip, in between being woken by the thunderous rain drumming on the roof of my van, I headed to the start car park around 4am. Then it was a case of working out what kit to take. I decided to start in my pertex jacket and take my gortex in my rucksack just in case things went pear-shaped. Kit packed, we set off at 5am amidst a frenzy of midges feasting.

Friday night's view...
(because I wasn't able to post it Friday on account of no signal)

It was a steady, gentle ascent to begin with before turning steeper and me walking. I knew I had to be on my best behaviour in order to get round. My plan was to walk when I needed to, to conserve my reserves, run when I could and try my best to get the balance right. There was a slight nav cock-up on the way to Bwlch Main. I merrily - I say merrily but there wasn't really much merriment amidst the drizzle - followed the runners ahead - school boy - but it wasn't too bad. I knew where I needed to be and could just make it out through the mist and rain. A quick cut across open grassland and I was back on track. No harm done. From there on I cut my own path.

I think the climb up Bwlch Main would be nice in good weather. There would be some good views to be had - but not with visibility down to 50 metres. Surprisingly it was soon over, as the Snowdon cafe came into view - at 6am, it wasn't open. I did a loop of the summit before deciding there wasn't a marshal present and headed down to Ugain. Half way down a marshal popped out - ooh, matron - to take my number, which was a bit of a relief because I didn't want to get myself DQ'd.

Not much to say about Ugain. With the weather poor and the gusts strong, the organiser had taken the call to switch to the bad weather route. That meant following the tourist path for a few minutes before keeping straight on where it turns under the train track. I don't think I managed to find the intended descent route as what confronted me was steep, slippy and rocky but after descending 50 metres already I wasn't going back up and you know I made it down. I was over the first section in just under two and a half hours, which was about my schedule. I was pleased with my choice to go with the pertex jacket. It was wet through but did the job of keeping the wind out perfectly.

After a few minutes at the food station check point to consume some food and take stock, it was time to head to the Elidir Fawr climb. On and on - and on. A grassy, hell  climb, of around 800 metres straight. I was with a few other runners at that stage and we chatted a little to break to monotony. With Elidir Fawr finally ascended the route over Y Garn, the Glyders and Tryfan was all very standard. The rain had stopped and the mist thinned. I think I almost saw the sun. I descended Tryfan on the west corridor as required but cut north down the steep scree field to gain a few places. In all I picked up five places on that section but I was drifting off my schedule, taking 3:15, fifteen minutes behind - he shoots, it goes out for a throw-in.

It was on the climb to Pen y Ole Wen that I knew I was in trouble. I struggled. One foot in front of the other, small steps. It seemed to take for ever to reach the marshal atop the summit. With the wind still blowing strong I found a sheltered spot just off the summit and sat down to absorb some food while not on the run. I was passed by a couple of runners but I knew I needed to regroup.

After about five minutes I got back up and carried on. I didn't feel much better but I wasn't about to not finish a race and break my career record of finishing every race I've ever started. I ran the gentle descents. The steeper stuff was too much on my legs. I walked the ascent to Carnedd Dafydd but managed to run quite a bit of the descent. The contouring towards Yr Elen went really well. In fact I ran the perfect contour to reach the coll between Yr Elen and Llewelyn bang on the low point. That raised my spirits as I'd closed the gap on the those two runners that had come past while I was sat eating my pik-nick back on Pen y Ole Wen. They had been out of sight. The weather had also improved. It was still blowing a gale but the sun was daring to show itself from behind the cloud.

From there I think my bad spell was broken and once reaching Llewelyn most of the ascent was behind me. I won't claim to have run fast over the closing miles, over Foel Grach, Gwenllian, Foel-fras, Drum and then down the road to the finish but I did manage to run quite a lot of it. The final sting in the tale was the last kilometre down the road. Steep? It was killer downhill. Thud, thud, thud. It was destroying my legs and I took it real slow. I was praying no one would sneak up on me and overtake as I honestly wasn't sure if I would be able to pick it up and run. I kept looking behind. Ahhhhh, with what must have been 500m to go a couple appeared 50 metres back - and yep, I could run. Instinct kicked in and I bolted. Legs screaming, I wasn't about to give up my place cheaply. I finally got to the finish in 10 hours and 49 minutes. About 49 minutes slower than my schedule but all in all I can't grumble. It's been the longest, toughest challenge I've tried for a few years.

Well done to the vegan runner organisers and marshals - I'm not really sure of their official club, status, etc. Everything seemed to go off okay and the food at the finish was most welcome.

The (bad weather, missing Crib Goch) route (south to north)
of the Vegan Welsh 3000s,
all 32.5miles and 13,000ft of ascent...

and the profile...

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Gettin' Too Old For This Shit

I am shattered. Been a bloody long day. The race started at 5am - in the pouring rain. Although the rain did actually stop about ten minutes before the start. Of course, then the midges came out and they were hungry...

The route is slightly different from the classic Welsh 3000s walking route. It takes in all the same peaks - but not necessarily in the same order - the order is the same really. However the race starts at Nant Gwynant and goes up to Snowdon over Bwlch Main and is 35 miles verses to classic route of 24 miles. Never been up that way before and it was interesting. I expect there would have been some great views except the clag was well and truly down to 50m visibility.

Anyway, I'm too knackered to put together a full report , it'll keep till tomorrow - and I'm not really getting too old for this shit. I've got years more of this shit ahead of me.... Pleased with my 5th place. Not so pleased with my time...

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Not Quite All Set But Nearly

Okay, so really I've just made a list but it's a very good list. I can't be arsed to get it out tonight - ooh matron - so I'll do it tomorrow instead. I'm looking to head away early afternoon. Not sure how the Friday traffic will be during the afternoon but it's really only the bit around Shrewsbury that might be any trouble. I'd prefer to pootle my way up and get there early evening rather than go late and get there, well, late. With a seriously early race start time of five thirty, yes, not a typo, and registration from four I need to be getting off to the land of nod as early as possible. Probably won't sleep a wink but got to try.

It's looking likely now that the bad weather route off Ugain will be used. That means missing Crib Goch summit. That'll be a bit of a shame but won't affect the overall stats too much. I don't think it will get much shorted because of it but will lose a few hundred feet of ascent. Still, better safe than sorry I suppose. I will, as ever, abide by the race organisers decision. It's their head in the firing line - not sure that's quite the saying - if any goes wrong and I'm sure nothing will...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What To Say, It's Wednesday

Pretty much all set for Saturday. The forecast is looking - fingers crossed, toes crossed - okay. A bit of the wet stuff and not too much of the sunny stuff and I'll be happy. Really looking forward to it now. Is there anything better than 35 miles out there in the mountains? No, I didn't think so. Snowdonia has to be my favourite - at the moment.

I've got the last of my supplies sorted. I'm pretty much all set. The niggle was all in my mind. Apart from the old age, the beer gut and my poor level of fitness, I am ready to kick butt.....

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Niggle

I woke up this morning, duh, dah, dah, da, duh, my right knee was sore, duh, dah, dah, da, duh. Right, shutting up now. Doesn't really feel like much but with the BIG one just around the corner - that's Saturday - I don't want anything to go wrong. Not aware of doing anything to trigger it so it's probably more paranoia than anything else. Still, can't be too careful. I'm not going to gain or lose anything in four days so I've decided to chill. I did 75 minutes on the static bike which felt okay and walking around this evening feels fine so I figure what ever it was, wasn't anything of significance. Monitoring...

Anyway, other than the above blip, I think I'm all set for the Vegan Welsh 3000s race - all 35 miles of it, not forgetting the 12,000 feet of ascent. I'll be using completely natural foods during the race. Not only will it be vegan, as stipulated in the rules, it will be old school too. I won't be using modern energy gels and such like. I've baked up some stomping, sticky flap-jack (oats, dates, hazel nut, sunflower seeds, raisins, apricot, a little syrup and sunflower oil instead of butter). I'll also be using other semi-dried fruits and nuts and as I'm not intending to set the world on fire I will be doning the camelback to make sure I've a good supply of fluid (and okay, I'm cheating a little by adding an electrolyte tablet or two). Little and often is the key to keep the energy levels steady...

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Didn't Make It To The Malverns

I went for a little pootle locally. About six miles in all. I decided a twenty miler wasn't going to boost my chances next week. To which, I'm really looking forward to beasting myself over the 35 miles of the Vegan Welsh 3000s. I've cooked up some super dooper energy flapjack. I'm forgoing all the new sciencey fandangle. If I'm to go vegan then I'm going to go back to basics. There'll be no energy gels. I'm gonna kick ass with all natural foods...

Friday, June 07, 2013

Can't Decide

Where to run tomorrow. I've not heard back from the Man v Horse race so I'm not going to risk travelling all that way on the off chance. It's a popular race so maybe next year. I'm tending to think Malverns. Vera's clocked up somewhere in the region of 1000 miles over the last month. That's quite a lot for the old girl - not to mention the cost of fuel... She could do with a rest - and so could the wallet!

Anyway, can't be arsed to plan it tonight so I'll plan and go tomorrow morning...

Thursday, June 06, 2013

There Be Treasure

Managed to wend my way over the water again tonight for an easy run through the woods above Llandogo. The woodland is looking great this time of year. It wasn't a training session as such. It was a social orienteering event and it was very enjoyable. I ran with Lou and despite failing to find one control - and we were at the right location for it but just couldn't see it amongst the shrubbery - we got our route about right. It was a one hour score event and despite being a couple of minutes over we didn't really push things. If we'd really tried we would've snuck in within the time limit. Good fun.

Then there was a bbq afterwards which was great. Thanks to everyone involved, was a good evening.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Feeling Tired

I think the weekend has caught up with me. I'm feeling tired tonight. That said I had a spot of work tonight so wouldn't have managed to get to across to training anyway. Looking forward to Thursday's training/orienteering though. Moving towards the weekend I need to find myself a race for Saturday. Nothing too strenuous as it'll only be a week away from the big one...

Sunday, June 02, 2013

The Joy Of Nothing

I've hardly done a thing today - and it's been bloody brilliant. My quads and calves feel surprisingly good but I've a slight niggle on the outside of my left knee. Don't think it's anything serious but I want to let it settle. All being well I am aiming for more Chepstow training in the coming week.

A spot of baking - a traditional wholemeal loaf, some fresh pesto for lunch and, using up that cauliflower and the last of those mushrooms - cauliflower mushroom cheese for dinner. Blogging from the front garden, listening to the nothing-ness. Bliss...

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Wow, That Was A Toughie

But a goodie. Didn't get to see much of the scenery, in the early stages at least. The clag was down. Looks like I was right to not say never. Sadly, it still looked okay from the safety of Llanberis and still fearing the forecast, I actually applied sunblock before the off - f$*(ing waste of good sunblock. We set out from Aber at nine am, to climb the falls and beyond. It was a fair slog all the way up, pretty without respite, to Carnedd Llewelyn. I very nearly made a mistake running off Foel Grach in the clag. With visibility down to 75m I took a line to far left but my spidy-senses alerted me that something didn't quite smell right. So I whipped out - ssh, no - I whipped out my map and compass. Re-combobulated my position and got myself quickly back on track. I hit Llewelyn and there were no more hiccups.

I beasted my legs on the run off Carnedd Dafydd. I got carried away and piled it down. I paid for that about twenty minutes later... The climb up Gribin was slow as my legs teetered on the brink but I enjoyed the rock climby bit at the top. I actually scrambled like a mountain goat and gained so much time over a whole group of runners and eventually reached Glyder Fawr before the run off down to Pen Y Pass.

The final section up the Pyg Track was torture. As I approached the last couple hundred metres I was very almost being overtaken by walkers! Oh, the shame. I did say 'almost'. Finally hitting the tourist trial the climb to Ugain, back down and up to Snowdon seemed okay though. Somehow I was able to run a little. I guess I was lifted knowing the end was nigh.

I'm not sure it was as tough a race as Ennerdale but at 20 miles and 8,000 feet of ascent it was a bit of a beast and definitely one for the list of races I'd do again - once the pain has subsided. The worst part though, with the race finishing at the summit of Snowdon, means you still have to run the five miles back down to Llanberis - but at least the clock was off - and it was downhill. Glad to be home now though. I feel totally shattered... Oh, yeah, and my time was 5 hours 40 minutes (or just a minute or two quicker because I forgot to stop the clock - doh).