Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Recovery of sorts

I didn't want to work too hard tonight. It's Oldbury on Sunday and I need to recover and taper. I had a 'moment' last night. A lifting of the fog. I don't want to trundle along any more. I don't want to scrape just under twenty minutes anymore. It's time to make my stand. Draw the line in the sand and get down to it. I can dilly dally no more. Tonight was the start.

I ran three 1km reps tonight off a two minute recovery. My reps were 3:45, 3:40 and 3:37. It felt reasonable. Yes, I worked hard but not on the limit - Oldbury on Sunday remember, what, what.

Over the next few weeks I want to build to six reps off the same two minute recovery. Then the aim is to bring the time down. At the moment 3:40 is well beyond my 5k pace. It's going to be hard work but I need to do it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I didn't bridge the gap

What a bag of poo. From that you can take it I didn't quite run as quickly as I wanted to. In fact, I was really bad. Worse, in fact, than I feared. I don't want to blame Saturday's race - I should have recovered shouldn't I? No, it was an eye opener tonight as to quite how slow I have become - 65 minutes at Oldbury is looking well dodgy but I'm a fighter and I'm going to give it a shot - my best shot.

I've decided to elect the October Bridge as my next focus race after Oldbury and I'm going to make sure I do at least four kilometre or mile rep sessions between now and then - and you can slap me if I don't.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Quickly does it

The blog post - not my running.

No training today on account of achy, sore legs. They do, however, feel improved this evening - just in time for me to run really quickly at tomorrow's Bridge Inn 5k - that's a laugh. I haven't a clue what time I shall run. I will just run it and see how it goes.

Then up is Fan Fawr on Saturday and the Oldbury 10 on Sunday - I wouldn't normally race the day before a target race - stop laughing - but I need to run Fan Fawr so I can qualify for the Welsh Series Mug. Only those who run all seven races 'win' the coveted Welsh Series Mug. I missed out last year by one race so I'm out to 'win' it this year - hence the need to run it this coming Saturday. It's a hard life...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Just a walk on the hill

May Hill - and boy are my legs knackered. Just trying to walk up the hill was bad enough I can't contemplate running.

As I don't think I mentioned it in yesterday's post I was round the BM's in 3 hours and 27 minutes. So I just about scrapped inside my self imposed 3 and a half hour target. I really did not have much to spare. From the third hill that target looked well easy but on that climb to Crug Mawr doubts began to form so I'm just glad I managed it. I was 27th out of the 70 plus runners, so on what little fitness I have that's pretty good.

There is a very small chance that I might climb on board the ss exercise bike later but it really is a very small chance - we're talking lottery style odds.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A little bit knackered

As I stood on the start line looking like a cross between John McEnroe, almost a runner and a one legged donkey I thought ahead to the challenge that lay before me - the Black Mountains race. At 17 miles and 5,000 feet of ascent I wasn't really sure I could finish. At high noon we set off. The field of seventy plus hard men and women of the fell, with grit and determination in their eyes - damn that wind whipping up a dust storm, just kidding - headed out of the village and into the mountains.

I went out steady but soon realised that steady was not going to cut it. Through check point one I was OK. Then it was out along the ridge before heading down into the first valley. Miraculously I found the Holy Trail - which is like the Holy Grail except more of a path. I skipped on down the mountain gaining good ground on those who failed the quest and took a steeper, slower descent. From there the pain began.

The climb to Pen y Gadair Fawr hurt. The descent from Pen y Gadair Fawr hurt. The climb to the summit beginning with C and ending 'y Fan' - my map is smudged - hurt. The run along the ridge was good but I was tiring and fading. The descent to the road crossing was alright - but nothing to write home about. Then it was time for major jelly baby eating on the ascent towards Crug Mawr through what would have been lovely woodland where it not for the fact that I was 12 miles into a damn fell race.

Once at Crug Mawr it was down hill to the finish but I had well and truly had it. With almost every step my legs where on trying to cramp. As the last mile or two counted down agonisingly slowly the last vestige of my energies were draining away. With the sun beating down I passed the finish line and my self inflicted torment was over.

Helen won the women's race a few minutes ahead of me and as pen the last of this post my eyelids droop with what be soon to come restful sleep...

Tomorrow I'm heading out for a 20 miler - like f#@k am I!

Friday, September 25, 2009

The day before

Well I've been taking things easy since Wednesday. I felt like a run today but I know that I'm going to need all my strength for tomorrow's big one so I rested again - as I did on Thursday - 'cept on Thursday I didn't feel like a run so no harm done there then - gosh this is a long sentence, practically a paragraph.

Now for a few fartlek sentences. I've got my map printed. My compass primed. The route remembered. Bum bag at the ready. It's time to rock and roll...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Did he jump or was he pushed?

Back on the undulations of the grass again tonight - the last time until the spring on account of there being naff all light come the last rep - use the force Luke, use the force.

We ran a double, single, double and single to finish. I took a two and a half minute recovery. After the first rep Sean and I extended the loop to add an extra undulation which made it a more testing lap. As we headed out on the last lap the sun was all but set. Tired as I am, my achilles is in good shape so it looks like I'll be racing on the weekend. From here on in it's taper time - can't touch this.

And well done to Sean for his run in last weeks Midland Road Relays. Although relegated to the incomplete C-Team the lad ran like a demon - practically possessed by the Devil himself. He ran a much faster time than five of the six B-Team runners - and we're talking 16 seconds plus. In fact it was only the mighty Phil P from the B-Team who ran quicker - and then only by 2 seconds. So well done Sean.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

On your bike you muppet

I decided on a bike session tonight. Having bunked off yesterday and, in a way, today as well, I at least managed something. Plus I worked the upper body with the the dumb bell as I pumped those pedals while watching CSI Miami - oh flip, did I type that out loud? - bugger.

I have dripped everywhere - too much info - and my legs are jelly. Bring on the Black Mountains Race...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A right nice day out

in the Black Mountains. Once again it was recce time as we guided ourselves around parts of next weeks Black Moutains Race. I am almost on the cusp of running. I now I'm not really fit enough for a challenging 17 miler with 5,200 feet of ascent but then we ran 11 miles today with 3,000 feet of ascent. I know I can get round the course but it won't be that quick is all. Still, it'll be a good training run and I know enough of the route now to be able to get completely lost so I think I shall run. Then I shall taper for the Oldbury 10 - providing I get an entry after leaving it late. Fingers crossed.

It was a great day for a run and for once the visibility was good. We ran up the middle ridge towards some top bit referred to as the tumps. From there we headed down to the valley along the mystic track - which many seek but few find - and then up some hill bit what I don't know the name of but goes on and on upwards for ages. From there we headed along the ridge towards Crug Mawr with the Sugar Loaf in the background before cutting down into the valley once again and back to the car. We didn't run at great speed but I fell pretty good and even on the big climb I felt OK. Now I know it wasn't race speed but it felt easier going than a month ago.

And before you all mention it, no I didn't race yesterday on account of feeling a bit dodgy. I slept fitfully and didn't feel well enough to run - in fact I didn't feel well enough to get out of bed so I stayed there till 3 in the afternoon. Today it was a different matter and I'm completely back to normal - or as normal as that happens to be for me - shut it...

Oh, and Helen broke the Llyn y Fan record yesterday by all but 2 minutes - topper.

Friday, September 18, 2009

What to do when the rush hour traffic is bonkers?

Why go for a run, of course - and that's just what I did. After failing to turn right out of the works drive on account of a massive long queue of traffic I decided the journey home was not to be - at least not at that time. Spending 45 minutes - possibly an hour because it looked real nobber out there - just getting to the M5 is not my idea of fun. So instead I cut loose and went for a run up over Dundry on one of my long forgotten routes - but no so forgotten that I couldn't remember the way.

I took things steady but still found it tough on the steep grind to the top but once there and with my breath back I started to relax and enjoy it. At points I actually started to run - as opposed to stomp - getting up off my heels and striding out. It was perfect conditions and in a weird way I'm glad the traffic was bad because without that I'm sure I would have put my feet up on arrival home. This way I got a good 11k in - and I was only a few minutes slower than I used to run it. No, it was a fine effort and I shall not be neglecting old Dundry for so long in the furture.

And finally, I've filled in my Oldbury 10 entry form ready to post tomorrow. It is my target race so I only hope I haven't left it too late. Oh, and I shall be starting my taper right about now for tomorrow's Llyn y Fan race - I reckon I've got a full seventeen and a half hours...

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Well just call me Half Day Harry if I didn't only just go and pull an 'arf day. After the drive home and a few moments to reflect me, H and the canines went for a jog - I'm loathed to call it a run on account of the speed, or lack there of. We went into Flaxley for a pootle through the woods on what is officially referred to as the clockwise loop - where the officialdom came from I do not know but there it is. Tomorrow I may or may not go for a go on the official anti-clockwise loop.

Oh, yeah, and Ernie - the not quite fastest sight hound in the west - got stuck under the final fence and needed a bit of a shove to break him free - he's a one. Sometimes he's a two, three and even a four - but never a five - that's reserved for Brown Dog and Brown Dog alone. Mr Pedwar? Well he's numberless - but a winner never the less, claiming best Lurcher in Sunday's Dog Show in Gloucester. We eagerly await his engraved Champions Cup...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Heavy breathing

I was really very tired tonight. It all started with needing a quick forty winks before hitting the track - not something I'm used to but welcome all the same.

Tim W came across and together with Sean and Rick we ran some short stuff. I didn't spike up because I still conscious of the sore achilles but I needn't have worried it was fine. We ran three reps consisting of a 200m then 100m jog, 300m then 100m jog and then 200m to finish. The aim was speed and I felt fast but also very tired after the third, sneaking an extra slow jog before the last 200m - believe me I needed it. Sean and Tim looked quick.

Currently pedaling away on the exercise bike - as I type one handed, the holding the 'puter - to make up for the shortness of the session. I'm going to improve if it kills me. Snooorrrrrrrrrrr - or I fall asleep.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Another good day in the land of training

I was out there at again this morning - stop it. The sun shone, my Bristol Water vest cut a dash through the autumnal colours in Flaxley wood and Mrs B ran dead slow. Slower, even, than me - if that's possible - and I assure you in Mrs B's case, it was.

I ran my normal Flaxley loop but to jazz things up I went in the reverse direction - I'm a one. It was a steady run but enjoyable enough. By the time I got back I was fair puffed. You see I'm not used to all this running stuff.

Anyway, once safely home it was onto the bike for an hour and to spice that up I wore my 3kg leg weights - I don't know what got into me. I was like a man possessed. That might be stretching things but never the less it was a good days training backed up with yesterday's solid work out.

Now for a rest - but strictly no pies...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Pulling a school run

I didn't quite make it to the BMs. To be honest, I bottled it - those Mynydd Du boys are scary - not to mention that I'm terribly slow. I could not face 19 miles at their (or Helen's) pace. I would suffer at best and look like a right tart at worst (after taking an almost certain shortcut at some point, that is). I'm a little sad because the weather is great and the views would have been breath taking. Still, I guess if I want to go running in the mountains with the big boys - or Helen - then I've got to raise my game.

Instead, I went for 10 miler around home, including May Hill and friends with about 2,000 feet of ascent. So not exactly equivalent to a run in the Black Mountains but enough for little ol' me.

Later I intend to hop on the bike for an hour like in the old days but for now it's time to pull a school run - that's hop in the car to drive 400m, but in my case it's to the shop not the school plus I haven't got a four by four so it's not like a full school run. Mind you, it's a long 400m, practically 500m, perhaps even 600m and after the return journey that would almost be three miles [raise eyebrow to camera]. Yep, better take the car...

Friday, September 11, 2009

I've only had to taper

I'm going off to the Black Mountains tomorrow with Helen and the Mynydd Du lot. They are running the Black Mountains race route. I will be too - which is why I've had to taper 'cause it's a damn long way. I will need more than all my strength - I'll need to flipping well borrow some from somewhere.

Anyone know how to tap into those magical leyline?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Trackless track session

We ventured forth from the safety of the track over to the wild, lawless grasslands of Whitchurch. Spidey senses tingling, we warmed up with an easy jog. Fortunately the brigands were raiding elsewhere tonight so it was down to business.

We ran an undulating loop of about 720 metres (GPS measured). Sean was miles ahead of me at every turn - he practically had time to make and eat some cucumber sarnies in the time it took me to finish - doh.

We ran a single, double, single, double and a final single and after all that I was knackered. I almost gave up after the first four reps but I decided I needed to dig deep and complete. Recovery was 90 seconds except for the last which was only 50 seconds on account that I seemed to have lagged everyone else and was playing catchup. My splits were 2:33, 5:26, 2:39, 5:39 and 2:47.

It was a hard session and at 5+ km it was my longest for ages. I'm pleased I stayed the session and the achilles seems to have survived ok as well - that's a bonus.

Sunday, September 06, 2009


No, not a season best. The 'SB' of the title refers to my 'September Best' in the Beacon 10k, Haresfield. In truth, it wasn't actually far from a real SB - 17s. I'm quite pleased. I ran well for the first 7k. Paced myself well. Got target lock on the runner in front. Eased towards them and then passed before getting the next target lock.

The course undulates a bit causing continual pace adjustments but it was more the wind - stop it - that made it tough going - especially over the last 3k which, combined with my ever tiring legs, made it very hard work. Still, it was good solid training.

Then I hopped in the car. Made it home and ploughed on with an hours interval - easy/hard - on the bike. It was like turning back the clock a couple of years to how I used to train on a Sunday - a hard run washed down with a bike session - nice.

My legs are now shattered. In fact, I'm shattered, never mind the bloody legs. And now it is time for a shower and lunch. Tootle pip.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Going for a race

My achilles was a bit sore this morning so I decided against a run in favour of an hour of the bike instead. It feels much improved now and as a bonus I didn't need to get down and dirty in the pit of dooooooom. No, today was a strictly clean affair - bonus.

Tomorrow I have lined up the Beacon 10k from Harefields as a racing training run. It should force me into a good solid tempo run - although I suspect I may fade towards the end. Still it will be good fun.

Right, now I'm off to design the new control circuit for the pump. High level warning indicators, manual control override, data logging - oh, yes, the new pump control is going to have all the bells and whistles...

Friday, September 04, 2009

Road kill

No, there weren't any deaths I just went for a blast on the roads after work. The 'blast', however, didn't amount to much. It might have loosened a few pebbles but it sure as heck wouldn't have brought the rock face down. I was very poor.

From home I ran out of the village and up to May Hill taking the road route. I struggled. My speed on the hill was all but treading water. Don't think I've ever been more glad to hit the top just so I could going back home. On the upside, at least it really was all down hill from there. Some five miles and pathetically tired legs later I made it back home. Poor. Very poor.

So, what to do tomorrow? That, my friend, is the million dollar question...

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Alas no track

My legs felt much better today. No sore hamstrings. No sore achilles. So, it's all good in running land but - there's always a but - I couldn't go to the track on account of being fifty miles away and covered in sh#$. Yes, the sewer sump pump is at it again. This time I've taken no prisoners. I've bought a new pump. More powerful than the last and with a state of the art - OK, they may be going a tad far - titanium cutting grinder on the feed to the rotor. That bad boy isn't going to take any sh#$ from no one, that's for damn sure.

Me and Andy, my next door neighbour, set about raising titanic from the pit - that's the old pump in case you where wondering. With the tank full to bursting I tried one final attempt to fire her into life to clear the tank down before we got down and dirty. With her capacitor shot, she struggled. She hummed. She buzzed and just when I thought it was time to reach into the murky, nasty, nastiness - and I can't emphasise how nasty - she spluttered into life and emptied the tank for us just one final time.

Then it was out with the old and in with the new as we fended off torrential ran to finish the install. Finally, with the finish line in sight, pump in the sump, cables connected to the control circuit, me shivering in my wet overalls, we crossed our fingers and fired her up and, to our relief, she started up first time. With a gentle ramp, she revved up to full throttle with effortless ease. Grinder grinding. Cutter cutting - well, what else would it be doing? She made light work of the newly deposited substances. With our work complete we retired to the dry of our respective houses. Now it's time to blank the entire episode out of our collective memories - forever...

Finally, on a note of actual running, the results from last night's race are in. I was 55th in a poor time of 36:57 - 2 minutes and 52 down on my previous run in 2007 when I was 13th - ho hum. The rest of my Bristol Water team placed 31st (Daniel Massey) - and yes, I was well beaten - 78th (Martin Bailey) and 87th (Danny Ball) from a field of 352. We hold our heads up high! As a team we were 15th of 52, so again we hold our heads high. Well done lads.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Swinging the axa

The team did me proud. Yes, it's true, we weren't the fastest. Nor were we the wettest - on account of the fact that there were tons of runners still piling in after we had packed up and gone home - and it was still pouring down. We were pretty wet though. But I'm pretty sure we all enjoyed it and with the four of us all inside 39 minutes for the 9km course, I think we'll have placed pretty well up the field.

On the downside my left hamstring and achilles are both now sore. Too be honest my hamstring was sore before I started. Not that it really affected my run but there is a lesson here. Don't try pilates for the first time the day before a race. It's amazing what muscles you can strain from some gentle movements.

So what was my time? Not great and certainly a lot slower than my time of two years ago - at least I think it was two years but it could be three. Either way, I was a lot slower. True, conditions were far from great with heavy rain and medium to strong wind but it doesn't disguise the fact that I'm really not quite there yet...