Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Oh deary me

I'm slow. I couldn't even get inside 20 minutes at the Bridge Inn 5k. That is pants. Extreme, total and utter pants. Skiddy pants.

I took it out steady. 4 minutes dead for the first k. Then I settled and ran back to back 3:56s for next two k's before collapsing in the 4th, out to 4:07 before finishing in 20:10. I have zero speed. No, make that, negative speed. At least, on other fronts, my endurance is building. My legs still ache from the Cotswolds but that's no excuse to running so slow. I know I said I was finished with speed work but I'm going to have to try and run some 800's and mile reps - sometime, and hopefully soonish. I just wish this damn heat wave would pass. It was so humid tonight. I hate the heat.

Monday, June 28, 2010

What to spend it on?

Decision, decisions. What to spend my £1.24 interest - before tax - on? It's a tough one. After tax I come up 0.8 pence short of a lottery ticket. hang on while I search down the back of the sofa... Nope, no joy there. Guess I'll have to invest it. Now what's the number of my financial advisor...

My legs are really feeling it today. Even worse than yesterday. The old second day delayed thingumy bollocks has kicked in. Least I know I ran it hard on Saturday. Going to put in another bike session tonight ahead of tomorrow's Bridge Inn race.

I've been looking through the up and coming races and I've picked out a few I'm going to try and run. Here's the list;

First up - after tomorrow's Bridge, that is - Sundayshill 10k on the 8th.
Then, hopefully, a crack at the Greenman - providing it's cooled down a bit, it's not a race, but a target never the less.
After that it's the double header - it'll be my first for a while - of Pen y Fan and Fan y Big - snigger - on the weekend of the 17th/18th.
Followed the week after by the Seaview 17 on the 25th - always an enjoyable romp around the coast line.
And finally another double header of Waun Fach and Magor Marsh 10k on the 31st/1st

Well, that's it, I'm off.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Arsimus maximus

The old maximus is feeling quite achy today. As too, are the pegs. Coupled with all this damn heaty type weather meant I didn't want to go for a run. Instead I turned to the bike again and watched the back end of the euro trials - yes, once again I completely forgot about the athletics until almost too late. Have the rest of the bike session to complete. The humidity is too much.

And finally, well done to England for not going out on penalties :)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Not quite

Well we didn't get top three - don't know what we did - but the Chepstow woman took first while the mens team had a few difficulties. It's been a draining day. All that sun. All that sun block. Managed to stay free of burn - always a bonus.

I've downloaded my gps now and can confirm that the official 409m ascent is balls. The official gps data - which matches the map gradients - is... over 600m! There really wasn't much flat. Oh, and it was net up hill. All in all a much tougher leg than the 9 miles would have us all believe.

And I should say my plan to run back to get the car had to be cancelled on account of feeling bloody hot - and it would have taken me bloody ages to get back there, so many many thanks to my saviour who gave me a lift.

Well I'm done. Time for an overly late tea...


Well it IS a scorcher and way hotter than I like or prefer. I'm a cold weather runner me - give me a frost any day to this stuff.

Pleased with my run although I would have liked to edge inside 1.15 - but then I only missed by 34 seconds and 15th of 74 is decent enough.

I think the team - that's the mixed A - is going ok. Would be nice to place top three again...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Back home

Well I finished the course - have the certificate to prove it. What a load of nob. I don't want a certificate. I went on the course to learn stuff. I learnt. Job's a good 'un. I don't need a piece of paper to tell me that. Anyway, it was five days well spent. I am now totally expert on all things Allen-Bradley.

No training going on here today. The drive home was uneventful if a little hot - even with the auto climate control thingy doing its thing on the cat walk. It's been a long week so it's feet up to the max ahead of the Cotswold relay tomorrow. I've retained stage 6 after lots of tactical - and some not so tactical - switching, so I'll will be heading to Stroud for my one o'clock kick off. I'm sensing a hot one so I'll be taking the camel.

I've not managed to arrange anything on the car sharing front so I've decided to drive there, park the car, race the stage and then jog back. That way at least I get a good long run - 18 miles total plus ascent. Just need to remember to take some cash to purchase some refreshment in Dursley before I head back. It will be a good gauge as to how ready I am to attempt the Greenman Challenge. I reckon it's a goer - but I guess the next 24 hours will tell me if it's otherwise.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Made it to the water this time

Well I managed to find the canal tonight.

Another interesting day on the course, then straight to the hotel at five before heading out. I spent an extra few minutes perusing the map before I got out there though. Determined to find the river - or as I discovered when I got there - the canal, the 'force' got me there this evening.

Too hot though, far too hot so I only managed about six and a half miles - but at least I got out there. And unlike Monday I managed to locate the hotel in one upon my return - although I almost stopped at Mr Whippies van.

Showered and into the bar for food I ordered the Gammon, Egg and Chippies - gert lush. And oh what service, I had barely sat my arse at the table - that is, on a chair by the table, not actually on the table - than the goods arrived - and they were indeed good, hardly touching the sides as it went down.

As I sit now, typing this, I stare down at my ever growing gut - and it stares back. Is it winking at me? No, but it's definitely bigger than it should be. Either I'm going to have to start running more or cut down on the pies. This staying in hotels is bad for you. Very very bad.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Lost in Milton Keynes

Up at the crack of dawn - nice girl - I had a decent journey up. No major hold ups meant two and a half hours later I arrived at the training center at quarter to nine. The course has been very interesting so far and I've learnt at lot already - with four more days to go, I'll be a rocket scientist. Lunch was in the MK-Dons Stadium restaurant - a two minute walk from the training venue. Very nice, very nice.

I headed straight to the hotel after the finish, donned my kit and headed out for a run. For those that don't know MK, it's all very samey. Footpaths and roundabouts. That's pretty much all there is to it. Footpaths and roundabouts. Yep, that's about the measure of it. I had an idea in mind to head east and pick up the river and it's north south path for an out and backer - I never made.

A profusion of paths sent me northwards too soon. With the plan out the window I just ran. Left. Right. Straight on - and sometimes backwards but not too many times. I travelled them all. Eventually I found myself out in the countryside. Was I concerned? Well, actually, yes, a little. Anyway, I picked up the North Bucks Way which seemed to be going my way - by this time, that's south. And some minutes later I was back in the suburbs.

I ran on. Randomly guessing my way until eventually I spied the Hotel. Once in view I headed for it. Under a road crossing and up the other side, shit where'd it go? Ah, there it is. Bugger, it's no closer. Under another crossing. Bollocks, it's gone again. Ten minutes later and numerous road crossings I finally managed to get back. Weird. Very weird.

I was out for an hour and fifteen and covered just under ten miles which I'm reasonably pleased with. Not too bad a pace considering the stop start nature of the run as I made my route decisions.

Then it was into the pub for some grub - chippies...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Well again

The sore throat is no more - which is nice. My hip is a bit sore so I decided to do a bike session instead - especially as I realised it was the European Team Championships - to which I had missed day one and most of day two - and could watch while I rode. It was good to see Pavey running well. She didn't win but she didn't lose lightly. Also, second to the Russians is a good effort. Anyway, I had a good solid effort on the bike. Sweating buckets by the end - nothing a cool shower didn't fix though.

I'm off for a week of training to one of England's most historic cities, steeped in ancient history - Milton Keynes. Historic, that is, if your idea of history starts circa 1960. I'll be taking my running kit so hopefully I can get out once or twice but I'm not sure how scenic it's going to be.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

You'd think they want you to

go thrashing around all over their crops trying to locate the public rights of way. I decided to follow a bit of the Three Peaks path, then picked up the Two Rivers way before heading back on the return leg of the Three Peaks. It was great weather for it. Just the right side of too hot.

Some bits of the route were excellently clear - some bits were not. On one particular section I followed the way markers into a field and after tramping around the edges, up and down, up and down, couldn't see any sign of a stile, gate or crossing point. It's like those stupid f#'&er farmers want you to flatten their crops or something. Here's an idea, why not trim back your bush - stop it - so we can get straight to the point and leave your field with minimal disruption. One thing you can be assured of, Mr Nobhead Farmer, is that by letting things grow wild, covering all trace of our ancient public rights of way, is not the way to stop us exercising those rights. We aren't going to go away and ultimately it just means we trample more of your crop than we need to - or want to. It's your call - I just guess you ain't a very clever man, Mr Nobhead. Moan over - f#@$ers.

I wasn't feeling great before the run. Sore throat and all. The throat isn't feeling any better now - funnily, it feels a little worse. To be honest I'll put up with that. I ran slightly further than I planned, in all just over eleven miles with 1,500 feet ascent. But I feel better in myself for having run. I was beginning to get down with not getting to run so I'll suffer the consequences like a mouse - I mean, man - squeak. Running is the life raft that I cling to...

The route (with many ditherings)

In a quandary

Do I run today? If so, how far? Haven't run since last weekend. It was recovery time Monday and Tuesday and come the end of the week I'm not feeling great. I still have a bit of a sore throat but really feel like I need a run. Wanted to go long - twenty plus miles - but I'm not sure that's sensible as I need to get over this as quickly as possible. It's a right pain in the arse - well actually it's not, it's the throat. What to do? The day is slipping away and I can't find the wisdom to apply...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Was it all worth it?

I'm recovering well from the traumatic weekend. Still feeling tired but my legs seem remarkably topper considering the abuse I threw at them. Not up to running just yet so that's where the exercise bike comes in. Currently half way through an hour session.

As to mountain marathons, will I be running another one any time soon? I'd have to err on the side of probably not. That's not to say I won't run - or rather walk, stumble and crawl - another but it's not going to be on my immediate radar. The one good thing to come out of the weekends exploits - in a non-good way - is that I need to seriously start running some hill sessions. The hills killed me.

Time for a fresh start...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Can't feel my legs

That has to go down as one of the toughest races - scratch that - THE toughest race I've ever done. How much difference does carrying a rucksack with all the compulsory kit make? - A bloody huge one.

I ran with Matthew L, a Chepstow team mate - I was standing in for his partner who was injured and we set off on the mystery coach tour to our start point at 9am on Saturday morning.

There are six classes from Elite down to D and an orienteering style score class. We elected for the B class - I'm bloody glad we didn't run the A as threatened 'cause I'm not sure I'd have made it round the A. Each class starts from a different point. You get given your checkpoint list as you set the clock running and have to quickly markup your map, plan your route and then the hard bit, start running. We set off just before 10am in near perfect - if a little too sunny - conditions.

I soon realised just how hard the task ahead was going to be as we started to climb towards checkpoint one - and it wasn't really that steep as compared to that which would be coming up later in the day. We found that one quickly and continued up to the ridge above and headed to checkpoint two. We made an error on route and gained more altitude - and wasted energy - than we needed too before dropping into checkpoint two. In fact we picked up so much extra altitude we might have well gone the extra few feet and bagged ourselves a Munro, Ben Vorlich.

From there we rapidly descended and picked up three before a long stretch of tussocky open fell and another steepish climb to four. The route to checkpoint five was a tough call. Over the top or extra mileage around? - and we probably made the wrong call and went over the top. Although, from discussion with others at the overnight stop, the over the top route was possibly quicker it was far tougher. It really took it out of me and for the rest of the run in I was absolutely wiped out.

Anyway we made it over and down to checkpoint five before a long section on track, again adding extra distance but by then I couldn't face more tussocky grass. It was runnable - only by this point - I wasn't.

From five we got six with a bit of searching before a straight forward seven and then a long downhill - but tussocky - run to checkpoint eight and the finish - of day 1. We covered somewhere near 26.5km (16.5mi) and 6,800 feet of ascent and I was knackered beyond belief and had to lie down for half an hour to recuperate.

Then it was camping time, tea and - very soon after - sleep. It was very cosy in the tiny tent!

The midges struck in the night as we woke to find low mist and rain so it was on with the wet weather gear. We'd finished day one in sixteenth place and forty minutes off the lead which meant we were in the 'Chase'. That means you get to wear a race number so you can spy out your direct competitors - and they can spy out you. From there on it's pretty much a straight race to the finish. You are set off in race order by the amount of time you're behind the lead. With our numbers called we collected our list of checkpoints and marked up the map - only for it to rub off in the rain after an hour or two.

For the first hour we were in a chasing group of four teams. We'd caught B15,and B10 but had been caught by B18. We picked off checkpoints one and two relatively painlessly but we lost ground at checkpoint three having followed the wrong stream bed. We eventually found it but by then the others were out of sight not to be caught again.

Four was also a cockup - and we almost missed it out altogether but for Matthew's expertise and experience. We then headed up to collect it but again gained too much height, hit the higher of two knolls and had to drop back down - I could have done without that.

The slog to five was difficult and navigationally tricky. Not so much tricky in that we couldn't get to the general area but with so many stream runs coming off the mountain it was tricky to pick out our checkpoint at the crossing of two such stream amongst all the others while making sure we'd gone far enough but not too far. Oh, and of course, it was a large climb from the bottom of the reservoir to where the checkpoint was.

Five to six was an even longer slog and there was little choice but to head further up and down into the valley before climbing almost to the top of Beinn Bhuidhe, another Munro, contouring around the top, through a coll to the east and down sharply. I did a beautiful pirouette descending maneuver on that bit. As I lost control, going too fast, slipped and spun through 180, landed a foot without regaining control, spun a further 180, landing the next foot and carrying straight on with a little too much speed. Thankfully the steep incline gave way to a shallower one and I could lose some speed and regain control of my legs.

The next three or four kilometres were, once again, navigationally tricky. With poor visibility it was difficult to pick out features and find checkpoint six. We traded places with another couple running the B class a few times across to six. That was a good thing as it gave us confidence that we were headed in the right direction. Finally we picked off six and headed downwards for the last time - and no more up thank goodness - to seven which we collected quickly. The final, sharp descent was a right bastard. We had to drop over 1,200 feet through bracken and rocks. It took a while on my dodgy, ever weakening pegs but finally we reached the track at the bottom and ran in to checkpoint eight and the finish.

We were fully expecting to have dropped down a few places so it was a pleasant surprise to find out was had actually gained one, finishing in 15th place.

I don't think I ran as well as I should have but overall I was pleased with my first mountain marathon. I do feel like I let Matthew down a bit though, as he was much the stronger and quicker. He could have been top ten with somebody faster to partner.

Will I be doing another MM? I'm not convinced. It was just bloody hard work. My entire body is aching. On day 2 we covered about 24km (15mi) and 4,100 feet of ascent. So in total we covered around 50km (31.5mi) and somewhere close 11,000 feet of ascent - and I can feel every single metre and foot. In all reality, what with meandering around, you can probably add on an extra kilometre or two and a few hundred feet - that's not to say we took a less than optimal route because obviously to suggest such a thing would be heresy.

It was an enjoyable weekend though - apart from the pain - and the company of the other Chepstovians was fab. I was a novice while they'd all run many many before. Special mention has to go to Steve C and Gill S for managing to accumulate -236 points - yes 'minus' 236 - in the score event after day one having arrived at the overnight stop three hours outside the seven hour cut off, time penalties wiping out all their checkpoint scores and then some - and they weren't even last! Big thanks to everyone one for letting me tag along.

Day 1

Day 2

Thursday, June 10, 2010

All ready

At least in terms of compulsory kit - my bag weighs a ton - doh.

I've been feeling really flat today. Life has got me down this week and I only hope I can raise my game for the coming weekend because I don't want to be a miserable git.

Physically I feel good so I'm confident of getting around the course. Talking of which, the details of where we're running have been released. The registration is near Inveraray and some world renowned oysters - nasty.

Hopefully I will be feeling brighter tomorrow but don't count on it.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Knocking it out early

Early, in this case, being lunchtime.

Martin and I set off on the Dundry route in hot, humid conditions - and the pace was hot too. It was like Martin hadn't run for a week. Hang on, he hasn't run for a week. He had a fresh set of legs - a set obviously much faster than mine - I'm thinking of taking mine back and getting a refund.

From the off the pace was much quicker than that of my solo run last week. I struggled to keep up along the flat but just about held it together to the top. Thirty seconds quicker.

The run down to the A38 was hindered by a shoe lace coming undone. I had to stop to retie and when I looked up Martin was out of sight - to be fair, there were a few bends in the road. But by the time we got to a straight bit he REALLY was miles ahead! I tried to chase but I knew there was sod all chance of closing the gap.

He finished fifty seconds ahead but I was fifty seconds quicker than last week so I was pretty happy all in all.

Monday, June 07, 2010

A scintillating cycle it ain't

This week is a total taper week. I want to be totally rested for the weekends challenge but tonight was a good bike session never the less. I felt a good burn by the end.

The more I think about long distance challenges the more I think they're going to suit me. My days of slogging mile reps, four hundreds and other quick stuff are behind me - to be fair I haven't really done any of that stuff for a while now anyway. But that's not to say I won't have a change of heart - in the words of Sean Connery, 'Never say never again'. It's just that if it comes to a choice of mile reps verses a nice five hour run in the mountains I know where my money is - at least at the moment. There's nothing quite like it for taking your mind off the stresses and strains of life.

Oh, and just one more thing, I've got my entry in for Minehead's Seaview 17 in July and their Exmoor Stagger in October.

Saturday's route

(and how about the QR code to view the route on your mobile:

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Brain ache

Today's another rest day - at least for the body. I've been cross referencing the Green Man instructions with my maps and Google's satellite views. Stages 1 to 5 are pretty well covered but now my head hurts. I've been at it for hours - stop it. Possibly two and a half hours worth tracing the route out.

I wanted to try and get the whole route roughed out but Bradley Stoke has broken me. The sad thing is that there are less instruction points but that hasn't stopped it confusing the hell out of me. If I was a guessing man I would guess I might be taking a few detours on Leg 6. The power of Bradley Stoke.

Anyway, I'm knocking it on the head for now. Oh yeah, and another thing, I've noticed a number of definite short cuts to the Green Man challenge route as compared to the Community Forest Path - but I'll not mention it if you don't.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Not sure the official stats are quite right

A pb on the length of the title possibly? Anyway, I'm not so sure the official stage 6 Cotswold Relay ascent is on the money. Today I ran from Dursely towards Ebley (reverse of the route) until I hit the common above Ebley, turned around and ran back. My total recorded ascent was 2,900ft today. Extrapolating the data, combining in the fact that my start point (Dursley) was 100m below my end point (edge of the common at Ebley) - meaning that the split of the 2,900 feet ascent running in the race direction splits into less ascent and more in the reverse - but then factoring in the 150m official start point of stage 6 being below my end point (edge of the common...) I come out with total stage ascent at around 530m - and this is backed up by my measurements in Fugawi.

So, what am I saying? Yeah, what am I trying to say? Oh yeah, the course notes suggests 409m ascent on stage 6 but I am suggesting a whole lot more. So it may only be 14km but it's just taken a four to five hundred foot jump in the climbing. Still, it was a bloody nice run.

Once out of Dursley the route - and remember this is the reverse - heads across a few flatish fields before crossing a minor road and the first climb up to Cam Long Down. The views from the top were outstanding - well worth spending a few minutes to look around contemplating - especially if you are ahead of me on race day. Then there was a steepish descent across open fields before a very short road section and the second climb, heading into covered woodland.

The next few miles were nearly all through lovely woodland and undulating - quite steeply in places. The route pops out of the woods for another section across open fields before back into the woods again. I met GWRs Veronica and Simon there - possibly reccing the route do you think?

Finally I popped out of the woods overlooking Stroud. I took a few moments to espy the route across the common before turning tail and legging it all the way back. In all I covered about 14.5 miles with said 2,900 feet of ascent. It was a great route and a good run. I look forward to race day.

Once back to the car I saw a couple of ladies starting out towards Stinchcombe hill - reccing I reckon. Then as I pulled away another chap got out the car wearing running gear. A glance of recognition - he was definitely reccing...

Friday, June 04, 2010

Tomorrow's run

I've planned my run for tomorrow. Up early to Dursley where I'm going to trace my allotted Cotswold Relay stage back towards Ebley Mill. I shan't be going all the way - ssh - to the stage start but close enough to work out all the tricky bits. I estimate it should be about 20k - don't want to run too much mileage from here on in.

Then I need to get in a spot of shopping - aaarrrrgh, doom that is shopping. Still need a few items off the LAMM compulsory kit list, including a decent lightweight, waterproof top layer and some thermals - I fancy one of those all in one things like you see in the cowboy movies - with integral bean stew stains. Nice.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Melting away

I managed to get out for a run at lunchtime. The old up and over Dundry jobber. Picked the day for it. It was baking.

My hopes of a quickie - stop it - were low. I got to the top about forty seconds down on my best so it wasn't looking too bad really - not liking the heat though. Me? I'm a cold weather runner. Give the frost and the snow anytime - just kidding.

From the top I coasted down to the main road and cruised back in - although cruising is slightly overstating things - it was bloody hard work in the conditions.

My time was OK. Not my fastest but not down with the slowest either. Some might say, towards the middle.

Then it was in for a shower, a Tuna baguette with JalapeƱo peppers and a coke - not at the same time, mind. That would be mental - the bread would get all soggy - and I'd have no where to stick my cola - ooh er!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Big thanks

to Chepstow Harriers for giving me a spot in their Cotswold team - well, one of them, not all four, that would be silly. As a recently joined member I'm grateful they've given me a spot in the 'A mixed team' and I will not let them down. I know I'm not as fast as once I was but I am continuing to claw my way back and I'm definitely getting back my old strength - if not the speed.

I've landed stage six, Ebley Mill into Dursley, the third shortest - which is fair enough at my current level of ability. Hopefully I can sort out a recce on the weekend with the others running that stage - but if I can't tempt any of them out I might tempt myself to sneak in another long run by doing a straight out and back recce from Dursley. After all, it'll only be 18 miles - that's not even that long, really.

It was another bike session today. A long work day on site, walking and standing around left my poor feet achy - that's my excuse (and I'm sticking to it).

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Knee time to worry

I didn't suffer much reaction on the knee front to Saturday's long run. It ached a bit on Sunday but considering the 25 miles the day before that wasn't bad at all. My world isn't filled with cheer just now so I'm glad I can get out there and just run to take my mind off things for a while.

I'm on the bike tonight as I really want to be ready for the big one, now under two weeks away - to which, I can't believe how much kit we're going to have to carry!

And I've made contact with the Greenman Challenge man - which makes my intended attempt seem a bit more confirmed. Knowing me right now, it wouldn't take much to end up putting it off and off and off... but it now seems a bit more chiselled in stone.