Thursday, December 31, 2009

The last of 2009

And so, as twas written in the prophecy, my final training of the year was a bike session. A good solid hour.

Am still undecided as to what to run tomorrow. Shall I race? And if so where? Do I travel to Weston for the Hang Over 10k or stay nearer home for the 5 mile thing in Quedgeley - if they're even doing that? Maybe just a training run somewhere. Questions. Questions.

I'm off in search of some answers...

Oh, yeah, and in case I forget, Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Back to Dundry

Yesterday's Dundry run didn't happen on account of work issues. The weather was appalling so if I'm honest I was glad of the excuse. Anyway, I decided a rest day wouldn't go amiss.

Today Dundry was back on the menu as Martin and myself took to the hill. We could not have been more fortunate with he weather. It rained in the morning. It rained in the afternoon. It did not, however, rain during our five miler up over Dundry - result. And what a result. It was another fast one. Thirty seconds quicker on the anti-clockwise version than I've run it before this year. Martin beat me again - the cad - but I was closer, and he was definitely putting in the effort.

I decided to take a look back through my logs - stop it - to see what times I was running back at the end of 2006. A time when I was at my peak. A time long gone and you know what? Today I exceeded those times. Today 31:13, back in the day 31:22. Not sure how that happened because I sure as heck know my 5k time wouldn't be anywhere near my best if I were to race today - how odd. Still, it's good to know that things continue to head in the right direction.

Now watching episode one of the Triffids on Auntie's iPlayer - sssh, no one tell me what happens...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Two peaks - the reverse

In a turn of fortunes we headed out for the anti-clockwise version of the Longhope 2 peaks route - controversial.

It was a nice steady run and for once there were no chill winds. The sun shone. The birds twittered - they've gone high tech round here! and the Brown Dog jumped stiles and fences like only she can - cocky bitch - ooh, an oxymoron (I think)!

I felt pretty good and actually managed to run all the hills. Not they're particularly steep, mind, it's just that at the moment I'm not particularly good at running. I definitely feel stronger and fitter though. I think it's coming back.

The bike awaits me later for another hour. I rate the bike as a fabulous training and it seems to be working - in my mind at least, which is half the battle.

And as a bit of techno jiggery here is the route...

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Still a few ice patches

Believe it or not there are still a few ice patches out there. We went for an hour's easy run in Flaxley Wood. The temperature was cool but pleasant enough. I didn't feel the most energetic I ever have but then I do plan to hop on the bike later on.

I am severely hoping the threatened second cold snap turns out to be a figment of the forecasters imagination. The fun of the snow has well and truly worn off.


Well the bike session is now complete. I nudged up the rpms ever so slightly again. My legs feel like jelly. Showered. And ready to chill out the rest of the day.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

It is upon us

I managed just 45 minutes on the bike. For all my good intentions - I took my running watch to work in case I felt the urge - it came to nothing. With my lunch run buddy, Martin, away for the hols and the office rather empty, I sat through lunch and munched my way though homemade cheese and ham sarnies instead - they were tasty...

So just the forty five minutes but that's better than a slap in the face from a wet fish.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Birthday run

With the snow having fallen all around us. Children having played - and one assumes, had fun. It's the season of love and understanding don't you know. Merry Christmas everyone. I've even built a snowman - did I type that out loud? - doh.

Me and Helen headed out into the dark, snowy night for the Longhope two peaks. That's up to Mayhill - snow a foot deep - and then over to Huntley hill - snow not a foot deep.

By the time we got back my head torch had just about given up the ghost. My depth of vision was all of 3 inches. It was enjoyable though and we were out there for an hour and twenty. It wasn't fast going but then it never is when you can't see where you're going.

So there it is. I've turned over another of the pages in life's book and started as I mean to go on - the running bit not the snowman building.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Twas the night before the day of aging

Yes, for tomorrow sees me turn thirty eight [duh duh duhh - that's the sound of orchestral music like an old B-movie at a crucial cliff hanger]. Only two more years till I turn proper OAP - I mean vet category. Technically I already am a vet but the v35 category is total nobbery and I renounce it.

Well tonight I hit the bike - with a hammer - only joking. Another day, another hour ticked off. I increased the resistance ever so slightly again. I'm definitely getting better as I wasn't struggling so much this time and held a slightly faster pace. All good.

Tomorrow I will forsake the track for the hills - sorry guys. Time for some hill reps of one form or another. Need to make sure my batteries are fully charged - the batteries in the head lamp, although it might not be such a bad idea to give mine a quick charge as well.

Right, I'm off to sample some home cooked cake - but only a little, got to watch my figure...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hasing around the woods

We got up to a light dusting of snow - making the drive across to Tintern and the delights of the Wye Valley slightly steadyer going that would normally be the case. It was slippy in places but we made it there safely. What we did not expect on arrival was a proper organised club event. We were expecting half a dozen runners out for a friendly hash not an organised event - they took our names down and everything guvnor - not to be used in evidence though.

I've never run a hash before but knew the basics of what one was. The Chepstow crew had put on a great one with loads of markers and plenty of false trails. They must have been out right early or perhaps even the previous day to mark things out.

It was great fun. At points I was in the lead then, one wrong turn and I was back in the pack. A few minutes later, miles back and then a few more and it was back towards the lead as the then leaders took a blind alley.

With only a few hundred metres I was in second but then disaster, a final wrong turn saw me down to fourth - doh. All good fun though - and it's not like it's a real race, more a friendly gathering of runners.

Then it was into the pub for a drink, a chat and some grub - all courtesy of the Chepstow crew - very very kind of them and I can tell you, the heavenly stew went down a treat to warm the cockles...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Not quite the full shilling

I turned to the treadmill for my training today. Haven't been there for a while. I chugged away for 45 minutes on a steep hill incline. It was a good effort - in my opinion anyway.

Then I hopped on the bike, fully intending to ride for an hour on my, now normal, interval session - I didn't make it. After 30 minutes I was spent.

Tomorrow we're going for a hash run with Chepstow Harriers from Tintern at 10:30. I'm looking forward to it - oh yeah, and it'll be our 1st wedding anniversary as well!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Winter is here

Working from home, with my view from the window, it looked cold. As I worked from dawn till dusk it seemed to grow colder with every passing minute - I think we know where this is going [wink]. By midday it was snowing. By five past it had stopped. The cold did for me and in the end I didn't get out for a run. On the plus side I did get some quality work done - the back of the coding, the screens and a few finishing touches to the documentation, has been well and truly broken. Moving into the testing phase next week - whoo hoo.

Anyway, back to the world of (non)running I put in another hour on the bike. Over the last few sessions I've been slowly increasing the resistance as my feeling of increased fitness grows. Tonight I decided on the same session as yesterday - and I'm bloody glad I didn't notch it up a bit. It was a flippin' struggle. My legs feel jellified.

On other matters, the battle of the bulge is on again with another Christmas meal on its way tonight. Two in two days can't be good but I have at least managed to shed a few pounds - no, not in the monetary sense, all though now I mention it, anyway - over the last fortnight. Back under the big eleven - topper.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

All done and dusted

No dusting actually - get serious. The ubiquitous hour has been completed. Now I can sit and rest a while. Aiming to get out for a run tomorrow but nothing too fancy...

On your bike

Hard at it - stop it...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Can't think of a good title

Not that any of my normal titles are really that good but they are at least a tad better than tonight's offering.

The weather remained just on the right side of really cold - call me The Mad 'Three layers' Runner - make that The Mad 'Three Layers, Hat and Gloves' Runner.

Sean was pacing around quite nicely on his kilometre reps - I just about managed to keep up - but then Rick and I were only coming in on alternate 300m reps to help with the pacing. Sean was bang on 72 seconds per lap for his five reps. That put me on 54 seconds for my three hundreds which is about as fast as my little pegs have gone for quite some time.

I'm pretty happy with my efforts. A couple of the reps were off a 54s recovery while the other couple were off a two minute recovery - it all depended on which what part of Sean rep we were mixing in on and whether the it the three hundreds came during a rep or split across Sean's recovery or not. Does that make any sense at all? It does to me.

The come back continues...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Keeping it all going

I got out for another lunch time run with Martin - he didn't get out last week while I was away, naughty. We went up over Dundry on the clockwise route. Conditions were cool but it was raining - always a bonus. It was not our fastest effort and to be honest we didn't stop chatting during the entire run. It was still a good time so considering we chatted it wasn't too bad.

This evening I am to climb aboard the good ship Exercise Bike and sail across the living room to a place that I like to call In Front of the Telly - a highly magical place where tiny little people can be seen and heard - it's like having a miniature theatre in your living room - magic...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The end of a long week

Well I felt good and strong on Stage 2 of the Calderdale Way Relay. I reckon my week of boot camp has paid dividends. I was strong on all the climbs which has been a weak point of late. It almost felt like the old me, grinding on up to the summit - not there was an awful lot of climb on our stage, only 1,400 feet but while those around me had to stop I kept on grinding which felt bloody marvellous I can tell you.

I ran with a guy called Rob Rawlinson and although I got the better of him on the up he was a bit more mental on the down and caught me back up so over the nine miles we were about even so we were well paired - as both runners have to cross the finish before the next pair can start - it being a relay and all.

This week has seen me put on just over 62 miles in eight days and more than 15,000 feet of ascent. It's been a right brill holiday and, more importantly, a gert brill training camp.

Right, now I'm off the recover...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Ras Aran Route

I'm beginning to feel the strain from this weeks exertions. Today saw me clock up my fifty third mile on my fifth consecutive day of running, starting count from Sunday's Cardington race. Total ascent is now in excess of 13,000 feet. Tomorrow I need a rest day - and probably Saturday too - I'm running leg 2 of the Calderdale Way Relay on Sunday and want to be on top form for the team.

The Ras Aran route, for those who don't know it, is an out and back affair starting from some villiage that I don't rightly know the name of - and come to think of it, wouldn't be able to pronounce it even if I did - and heads almost due south up and along a ridge to the high point of 905 metres before turning around and heading right back down again.

I struggled to keep up - that is to say, I didn't keep up at all and fell several minutes behind Helen and Brown Dog to the summit but I coped better on the descent. At ten and a half miles and about 3,000 feet of ascent it's a slightly tougher route than it first appears to be. The weather was as best we've seen it this week and with some respite in the clag we could admire the views - it was still bloody cold though, with some snow in places. Still, it's over now and I can put my feet up and relax.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Up the Rhinogs

I can now appreciate why odd fell runner goes astray in the Rhinogs fell race. The terrain is a little on the wild side.

We didn't recce the entire race route as we couldn't be arsed to drive the 30 to 40 miles required to get all the way around to Llanbedr from where we are staying. Instead we drove four miles up the road, parked up and ran across to the Rhinogs from this side.

Our first ascent was up to Rhinog Fach. We found a well defined path which took us all the way. At the top the clag was down but that was no problem for my trusty forerunner gps. From Rhinog Fach it got rocky and the going slowed. Eventually it opened out onto open fell and we motored across to Moel Fre - although some might say 'motored' was a little bit of an exageration, perhaps pootled might have been more apt.

Anyway, from Moel Fre we moved off the race route and headed down to the road and followed that in the general direction of Rhinog Fawr to save some distance. Eventually we made it to the end of the road and headed back into the mountains. After what seemed like hours, miles of boggy swamps and some hundred feet of ascent we made it to the top of Rhinog Fawr. The descent was not without incident.

Top tip, when running a long run - and at 24km and 4,800 feet of ascent, I think we can consider this a long one - do not save the rockiest, most technical bit until you are completely knackered - doh.

The descent was slow going as we traversed from boulder to rock, from rock deep heather - it got even slower when Pedwar became transfixed to the spot with fear and wouldn't go any further. After some cajoling from Helen - not to mention twenty wasted minutes - he finally made it down.

On the final 2 mile run in we discovered that Brown Dog was limping on her front right. Nothing seems broken but it will probably put her out of action for tomorrow's run. Me, on the other hand? Well I've run a lot more than my normal weekly mileage in three days and although my calves ache, my quads burn, my back is sore and my arms have dropped off - I should be good for another run tomorrow.

Boot camp continues...

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Rhobell Fawr

With the rain just about holding we went for a recce of the Rhobell Fawr race. Parking at Tyn-y-Groes, some 2 miles away from the race start, we pootled up hill along the road before heading onto the bridle path and the race route proper.

It's one of those out and back affairs but interesting all the same. The section across the open hillside was bleak - not to mention boggy. The summit was in the clag and visibility was low. Helen pulled away from me as we approached the top but due to my superior line I arrived at the summit first - I shall, of course, pay for that last comment - oh well. Not wanting to get too cold at the trig we didn't hang around long before heading back down.

In all we covered 11.5 miles and just over 2,500 feet of ascent. After my third day in a row I feel a bit tired so I need to rest up. The worst is yet to come as we head off to recce the Rhinogs tomorrow. The terrain looks fearsome and it's going to be a much longer run than anything we've run so far...

Monday, December 07, 2009

Easy but wet, very wet

We rolled out of bed late - what are holidays's for if not to have a massive lie-in? Then it was up and at 'em as we headed out with B and P for an easy run.

It was pouring with rain and more than a little chilly. At one point it almost stopped raining but that was me being silly - of course it wasn't going to stop raining.

We covered 11km and 1,200ft of ascent in an awe inspiringly slow time of one hour and fifteen minutes - simply stunning.

Tomorrow we have a more strenuous run planned up some mountain. Do you know you can't move for mountains up here in the Snowdonia National Park? - funny that.

Boot camp is well underway. I intend to have lost a few pounds by this time next week, coming home a leaner, meaner running machiner...

Sunday, December 06, 2009


First off, Helen claimed her third consecutive victory in a row in the woman's race, a feat never before achieved - I, on the otherhand, did not.

Well, with the pleasantries out the way, I had a gert ace race. I was 3 minutes quicker than last year and believe it or not, a pb!!! My first pb for - well, I can't remember how long - but we are talking at least two years if not three. Mind you I have only run the race once before and that was last year when I was at my most rubbish. It does at least mean that maybe I have reached my nadir and that I'm finally on the way back up.

We met Pat W and Mike B at the start. Helen beat Pat but not Mike. I beat neither. Still I had a bloody good run, really worked hard and did I mention, beat last years time by three minutes.

I'm a bit knackered know but it's good to know that upping the training a tad is beginning to show through.

And it's stopped raining, here in Snowdonia. For how long? No one knows...

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Thirty five

Yes, thirty five seconds quicker on my lunchtime run up over Dundry than I've gone before (At least this year). Neither Martin or myself really felt up for it but within a few minutes we were tanking along. OK, 'tanking' is probably over stating it a tad but we went well. It was our ascent that gave us the time, reaching the top those 35s quicker than the previous fastest. From there we held things together back to the office - although Martin did pull away in the last kilometre as I faded a fraction. I have to say I felt much the better for it.

Onto tonight's session - yes, for it was yet another double day for me - I ran the same six 400m's with a similar recovery as last week. Sean started 100m back and just about caught me on the first few. Rick is starting to pick things up ahead of next Sunday's Gwent League.

My splits were up on last week but my legs felt heavy. Within the first 50-200 metres of each lap I was relying on my mental strength to keep me pushing to the finish. I kept it together to register splits of 81, 80, 78.5, 76.5, 74.5 and 77s. Which statistically speaking - nerd-i-ness alert - means I ran the session a cumulative five and a half seconds quicker than last week - and that's in addition to the quicker lunch run - I believe the statement 'booyaka' is in order at this juncture.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

What is this thing we call winter?

It's taken till December but today saw the first frost of the winter - at least in my neck of the woods. Is it me or does December seem well into winter for the first frost? And I chose today - or rather work did - for an out of office experience. It was cold. I wore an extra layer but by the end of the day I was chilled. Anyway, enough of the sob story.

I didn't feel like a run in the cool evening breeze - even though it wasn't raining for once. I chose the bike again. Better than nothing but not quite a run. Still, I feel it in my quads. Up tomorrow is a lunchtime run - hopefully - and then my usual evening track session.