Saturday, December 31, 2011

Another Threat Carried Through

And so it was written, thou must awaken on the hour of seven thirty - technically, that's not 'on the hour' but we'll let that slide as I needed the sleep - and drive to Speculation in the mechanical horse know as the auto-mobile. Where upon thou must run to Five Acres, race the Parkrun and return by the same modus operandi. And as written in the prophecy, I didst do all that. And it was good...

Having parked over at Speculation in plenty of time - no shoe issues this time - I was able to merrily wend my way through the forest to Five Acres and the Parkrun. I took it steady as I map read my way across in preparation for the race.

There were quite a few Harriers out for today's Parkrun, the final one of the year - it was my first of the year! Now I've not tried to run quickly for quite some time and it was a shock to the system I can tell you. The route is a bit twisty and windy but that suits me. On the sections of firmer going I struggled but on the rougher, muddier bits I gained ground. Not because I was able to speed up but because I didn't slow down. The course would have suited me even better had there been no firm going at all but you takes what you get and you deals with it.

I finished 7th in a time of 20:59. That sounds slow for a 5k but the nature of the course means it's never going to be a quick one. Even in mid summer I wouldn't expect quick times because of all the sharp turns, and even then I expect it's still a little soft underfoot in places. Still, it was good to push hard.

I started a little too ambitiously and quickly had to steady the ship. I got into it after a couple of minutes running and ran steadily hard for the first lap. By the second lap I had crept onto the shoulder of a group of three. Not wanting to go too soon I held off for a few minutes as I gathered my strength and then made my bid for glory - 'cept it wasn't all that glorious really. I edged past all three in quick succession and pulled out a gap. Then I was able to relax and run the final kilometre or so to the finish. All in all a good speed session.

Then after a bit of natter at the finish I got back out the map and compass and ran back through the forest, following a slightly longer route, back to the car.

The 4.3k run from Speculation to Five Acres, 500ft ascent

An approximation of the Forest of Dean Parkrun route, 5k, 100ft ascent

The return leg to Speculation on a different route, 4.8k, 180ft ascent

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Last Possible Holiday

So I overslept this morning. Not irretrievably so but heck, with five days of holiday left, there's no point in carrying them over just for the sake of it. I phoned in to the boss to get the okay and spent the day tidying the house. No, it's not spring yet but with a few buddies coming over tomorrow to see in a better year, I took the opportunity of tidying the house - thus taking the pressure off for tomorrow. There's still a few things to prepare but most of it is done. All of which means I'm now free to run my first - and last - Parkrun of the year and I'm expecting to see a few Harriers there.

I'm going to park up along New Road and jog on. On over to Five Aches. It'll only be about 5k but that, the race and the jog back will make it close to 10 miles. Then it'll be back of for a last minute tidy before the festivities begin.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Another Wet One

Yes, another gloriously horrid day. Windy - not down to the baked beans - and drizzly rain. We still got out there in the thick of it as planned - although we swapped out Clive for Graham. One day I vow we will once again run with Clive - but not today. Anyway, conditions were pants but that didn't stop us. As we set out I was still feeling the after affects of Tuesday's training and pseudo race. I was surprised to be feeling it from Tuesday but my achy quads didn't lie.

From the off I comfortably dropped to the back of the group. The rain blew in and we kept on battling it. Slowly but surely - don't call me Shirley - I moved back towards Martin and Graham. As we headed across the Malago I closed on Martin but he remained elusively just out of touch. It was hard work out there and my legs felt tired so it was to much surprise that I was almost two minutes quicker than last week's Malago run and surprisingly close to my fastest time over the route. Totally unexpected - but very nice all the same.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Back To Reality

After five days off it was a bit of a shock to the system today - but at least the drive in was sweet. That said I was back into the groove quickly and got quite a lot done. Not up to much tonight. My legs feel a bit achy so I'm taking a rest day - and another early night. Tomorrow I've the lunch run planned with Martin and Clive T is threatening to come out to play - although I'll believe that when I see it. Well that's it for today...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

With Great Age...

Comes senility...

I was up early-ish but most importantly I had plenty of time to get myself breakfast, plan my routes and drive over to the Wye Valley. I got my kit ready, map, pencil, money, and all the other bits and bobs I needed for today's Chepstow Harriers Christmas Treasure Hunt and set off. As I approached two thirds distance on the drive across I went through a few kit checks - as you do when stopped at the traffic lights... Compass - check, map - check, running shoes - f$*%. I had only gone and forgotten my bloody shoes - what a total dick. No option, I had to turn round and go back for them. My old age senility had seriously screwed my plans.

Anyway, I returned home, got my shoes and headed back. Now, sadly lacking the time for the planned run I had to take stock of my options. The first option was to blow the training schedule and drive all the way to Tintern to take part in the treasure hunt without doing any other running. I didn't like that option so I went with second option which was to park up at the Bigsweir Bridge and run along Offa's Dyke (the lower version) to Tintern. It was better than nothing but the timing was tight and I had to really put in a solid tempo run to get me there in time for the start. As it was I arrived a few minutes late - but fortunately they were running slightly behind as well and the race hadn't started. Run number one, 7.9km complete.

Suitably equipped with map and clues we all set off on the treaure hunt a few minutes after 11am. I quickly scanned the map before deciding to go for the outlying, high scoring control points and then make my way back round to pick up the ones closer to home if I had time.

The run across to Tintern had taken its toll as I was seriously knackered. Although only five miles I'd really had to put in some effort to get me across there in time for the start. I started slow and ground out the first few controls before I settled into a reasonable rhythm and things got easier. I seemed to be covering the ground OK but I knew I'd be lucky to get them all - although it wasn't beyond possibility.

I had a major brain freeze on route to control 14, I completely forgot about 12, running pretty much within 200m of it but not giving it a thought - doh. I pretty much knew my chances of victory had evaporated with that school boy error - or is that my second sign of dementia, that and having forgotten my bloody shoes.

I made my way around the rest of the route without too much trouble and got home with five minutes to spare from the cut-off. Completing the 12.4km with 1,300 feet of ascent in 1 hour 25. All in all it was a good race and even better training as I ran hard while dealing with all the map reading at speed.

It was nice to see so many of the harriers out and a big thanks to Dave for organising the fun. After everyone had been accounted for we all headed down to the Abbey Mill for a drink and some lunch. Result.

Then, as people started to head home I set off on the final leg of my training. The 7.3km run back along the Wye Valley Way with its 1,000 feet of ascent. I have to admit the warp engines were shot after about ten minutes of running as I limped (but not actually) home on impulse engines. It took me a while but I got back to the van eventually...

So in total I covered about 28k and about 2,500 feet of ascent. A pretty good days training if not quite as much as I'd hoped.

7.9km, 250ft Ascent from the Van to Tintern
along Offa's Dyke (low path)

12.4km, 1,300ft Ascent - in the Chepstow Christmas Treasure Hunt

7.3km, 1,000ft Ascent from Tintern back to the van
along the Wye Valley Way

Monday, December 26, 2011

Change Of Plan

Well today's run hasn't happened. I feel knackered. Yesterday was a good day - but tiring. Instead I'm putting in a couple of steady hours on the bike before an early night. The aim for tomorrow - provided I feel recharged - is to drive over to Staunton and park up before running the ten miles over to Tintern for the Chepstow Christmas run. I'll do that and then after a short break - in the comfort of the pub - I'll make my way the ten miles back again. That way I get a good long run and enjoy the festive run...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Eaten Too Much

Not much to report today. No training, just tons of eating. Far too much - oh, and lots of drinking - far too much. Going to have to run bloody miles tomorrow...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Well That Was A Surprise...

It was raining and I went out for a run! To be fair I didn't realise it was raining until I opened the front door - had I know before hand things might have been different... but since I was in my running garb and had my new wave harriers on, I decide to carry out the threat and brave conditions.

I ran my May Hill loop again and it was actually quite pleasant once I'd warmed myself into the run. Conditions are deteriorating on parts of the route though, it's definitely winter out there. There's some really slippery, muddy sections - the harriers are well and truly christened.

I put in a bit more effort today, just cranking things up a notch on the climbs. It's nice to push a little on the hills and then ease off once you're over the top. All in all it was a decent little run but I do need to start building the mileage. I'm going to see if I can get myself organised and over to the Wye valley on Monday for a good long run...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Well That's That Then

I've got to throw away all my jeans and buy some of those tartan slippers... and I don't feel a day older than 39 years and 364 days!

Well the holiday training hasn't exactly gotten off to a good start. When I awoke this morning, I awoke to the sound of torrential rain - cue, pulling up the duvet even cosier and going back to sleep. Now I don't mind getting caught in the rain while out running but I find it incredibly hard to force myself to start out while it's tipping it down - yes, I'm soft. I consigned my self to an hour on the bike as I set about 'liking' all the birthday messages on Facebook. I am hopeful tomorrow's weather will be better.

And one final item of note, I've mad it to page rank number one for the search term 'mad runner' on Google and the number two spot on Bing and if you search 'the mad runner', it's top spot on both! Result - quite literally! 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

It's Almost Official...

Yes, tomorrow I am legally permitted to be a grumpy old bastard - I've been practising hard...

I had a reasonable final day of work before some white bearded git flaunts his big red sack, oh yeah, and that Santa bloke pops round with my new Wave Harriers - I've been a good boy. No training for me tonight. I am shortly to retire to the couch for the night. Nor is there's to be no last minute cavorting with some nubile young filly - chance would be a fine thing - as I spend my last day as a youngster spent being a total lazy bastard.

Aiming to get out for some decent running this loooonng weekend. Hopefully I can get myself out there tomorrow, Saturday and Monday before finishing off the festive training at the Chepstow Harriers Christmas Treasure Hunt on Tuesday. I'll not be taking any bets on whether I manage to carry out the plan.

Oh, and just one more thing. Amazingly, someone in the office didn't realise I was anywhere near the big four O - and no, said person doesn't wear glasses - although perhaps they should apply for some.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Went Down Well

The mince pies that is. I received rave reviews. The fruity apple cake went down a storm as well. By the end of the day there was nothing left. Result. And on top of all that we only went and managed to get out for a lunch run didn't we. Yipee ki yay. All in all been a much better day today. Only one more working day and then I'm off till next Wednesday. Cue some running - I hope, fingers crossed.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Not My Favourite Day

Well I managed to keep myself busy on what is not my favourite day of the year. I was up early and off to work - that kept me busy and out of mischief. Back at home I set about filling my time with the baking for Birthday Thursday - now Thursday ain't actually my birthday but I've a holiday booked Friday and I'm not about to drive into Bristol just to deliver the cakes. Well, ones got to think of the environment.

First off, a fruit and apple cake. It all went well from the mixing to the baking but I fear it's a little stuck to the bottom plate of the baking tray - I think I'll let it fully cool before I attempt to scrape - I mean, ease it off the base.

Next up, the short crust for the mince pies - and it's not text book. It is my first attempt and short crust and it ain't good. On mixing it all seemed a bit soft. Not wanting to deviate from the recipe by adding extra this or that I stuck it in the fridge as instructed. Hoping, somehow, it would magically come good - it didn't. Come the rolling out phase it was a fairly epic fail. Too sticky - ssh, stop it - as suspected. I have attempted a rescue by adding extra flour to firm things up. It seems better but will now probably taste like bread - but I hope not. Anyway, it is currently cooling in the fridge ready for the second role out. On a brighter note the vanilla almond topping seems about right. Fingers crossed for the second attempt...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Feeling More Human

Well it doesn't usually happen to me but I pulled a sicki today. Didn't sleep a wink last night, suffering really bad, painful stomach bloating. I can't remember the last time I had to phone in sick but I definitely did have to today. Thankfully it's all subsided now and I'm feeling almost human - I'd be worried if I felt totally human. Still feeing tired though, so I'm not going to risk any training. Well when you don't get out of bed until almost three in the afternoon it's your body's way of telling you to take rest.

Not looking forward to tomorrow. It's not my favourite day of the year. I guess I'll just have to keep myself busy at work and then throw myself into some baking when I get home...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Almost In The Christmas Spirit

I almost very nearly, wasn't too far away, in the region of getting the Christmas spirit - and I'm not talking a double vodka and coke. I still find it a difficult time of year but I'm getting there and yesterday's Wrinklies Christmas bash was just the tonic. The twenty three of us had a good night out at the Leukaemia and Lymphoma Masquerade Ball in Bristol. For once I didn't even get too drunk and still had a good time - there's a first.

So, having staved off the evils of the bottle I was up fairly early - well, ten o'clock - or was it eleven? and got back home by midday-ish. Of course all that was left to do then was get my arse in gear and head out into the cold for a calorie burning run. It was cold out there but not overly so as I ran over to May Hill on one of my familiar training loops. Snow was still lying on the high ground but it was turning more to ice. Conditions were slippery but not too bad and I was able to move at a reasonable pace for the most part. There were one or two places of careful walking but other than that a decent run. Just about to finish off with an hour on the bike before relaxation time kicks in...

Today's 12k run over May Hill, Brights Hill and Huntley Hill.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Damn Snow, Go Away

It's been a snowin'. An inch on the higher ground and now the bloody stuff is pitching on the drive and local roads. At any other time it would be nice - but not when one has got a ball to get to tomorrow night and if it keeps on going I could be up a snow drift without a snow shoes. Not good, Not good at all.

On a brighter note I have been busy making my special festive cranberry and brandy mincemeat - ready for my first attempt at mince pies. Give it a week and it'll be ready... I've also been busy baking more cookies. I thought it would be nice to give the neighbours homemade cookies instead of cards.

Now it's time for an hour on the bike - well, I'm bloody well not going out in this blizzard...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hails Bells

It were chilly out there. We started our lunch run during a break in the weather - but the break didn't last long. We went for the Malago again and although the wind was weaker than last week it was far more biting. Half way through the rain came and into the last mile that turned to hail - pleasant. Good to get the job done though and I was 40 seconds quicker this week. Still didn't push too hard. I could easy knock another minute off but sometimes it's nice to run a bit steadier and more controlled. That way it doesn't become a tired, heavy legged stomp by the end. Sometimes it's good to maintain form throughout the run. Looking forward, I can see there is going to be more wet, cold and miserable running ahead but it does feel good after the fact...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Orange And Coconut Cookies

OMG. I have just made the most delicious batch of Orange and Coconut Cookies - in the world - ever! Normally I consider that my cooking is passable at best. Let's face it, I'm never going to get on Master Chef but OMG these cookies are unbelievable - even if I say so myself. So light and so damn tasty. Somewhere between a biscuit and a macaroon. Either way, I am in a state of shock because these bad boys really are bloody lush. Well exceeding expectation for my first foray into the world of biscuit baking.

I found the recipe on 'tinternt. Martin, from work, suggested I try using a fresh coconut instead of the dessicated stuff - which I did, although I did relent a bit and went fifty fifty in the end - but hell, it was hard work getting the coconut out of a coconut - queue the mallet after baking in the oven for ten minutes. That was quite satisfying. And the grating... oh, don't mention the arm aching grating. Damn hard work but the result was worth it. Then in with a few standard ingredients and the grated rind of one orange - more damn grating before a final frenzied mixing - all by hand, none of that electric mixer bollocks here, I thank you - although there might be next time...

Finally it was time to shape the mix into little cookies on the baking sheet and into the oven for 11 minutes and 23 seconds - got to get those timings right. Then finally onto the wire rack to cool. Job done. Gorgeous.

An hour on the exercise bike after work was all I could muster - well, you weren't expecting me to go out in this bloody weather did you?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Good Job

I was up surprisingly early for a Sunday. First things first, a strong cup of black coffee. That consumed it was back to the van. I wanted to get the end pieces on the bed-bench and then to attach the toggle clamps to fix it in place so it won't move around when we're out on our travels.

With the addition of the end ply pieces the whole rigidity of the bench has gone up a notch. All that's left to do to complete the bed-bench is the upholstery - and the mattresses but that can wait a bit. To that end I've been busy browsing the net for some cheap van upholstery stuff - it doesn't exist, or, more likely I can't find any - any that's cheap, that is. I really don't want to spend a fortune. At the end of the day it's mostly cosmetic after all. It's not like Vera is ever going to win any beauty contests. She's never going to be the finished article. She just needs to be functional with a few comforts. A friend told me to search 'trunk liner/lining' but that didn't hit the spot. In the end I've settled for some cheap - or as I like to call it, low cost - hard wearing stretch denim. It might not be the done thing but I reckon it'll finish the walls, roof and furnishings OK - and most importantly, it was low cost.

I'll do some training later but for now it's time for the gallery, work in progress...

End ply pieces attached...

Toggle clasps fitted...

Bed extended...

Another view from the inside...

And finally, with the bed retracted...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

More Work On The Van

I enjoyed another lovely lie in, a cup of strong coffee and then I headed outside into the cold. It was time to lay the flooring down in the van. Well, it wasn't going to magically just happen, now was it? I am not a fan of flooring. One little mis-measure and it's curtains - well, actually it's still flooring but flooring was a gap. Don't know why I suggested it would be curtains.

Anyway I measured the width and length about seven times in all - can't be too careful. Measure seven times, cut once as my Nepalese ghuru would say. Then I set about cutting and shaping. I marked up the centre line on the vinyl and the van floor and then carefully laid it into the van. Standing back I realised there wasn't really going to be an easy way to cut round all the nooks and crannies. I wanted to let the vinyl slide up the sides slightly so it would retain water, much like a wet room. It is inevitable that rain will get in the van and with the sides retaining the water it means it can gentle gravitate out the back rather than creeping under the flooring - that's something I want to avoid at all cost.

So I set about carefully, slowly, slowly fitting the vinyl to the van, small cuts at a time and it all went ok. It would have been easier to cut the vinyl to the edges but then at best I'd have had to have gone round with sealant afterwards. This way I was able to hide a few gaps in the ply lining here and there. It's fair to say the edge around the walls is a bit uneven but I intend to deal with that when I upholster the walls, overlapping that over the vinyl to give a straight edge. It's all in the plan. I finished off with a couple of sections of aluminium angle foot plate to protect the edges by the door - just need to get myself one more piece for the back door. All in all I am quite pleased with my efforts. In fact, the floor looks so tidy, I think I need to get a few door mats and operate a no shoe policy...

Funky vinyl flooring, an extravagance but heck, I couldn't resist

On the exercise front I put in an hour on the bike. My legs are feeling it a little from yesterday but hopefully I can't get myself out for a decent run tomorrow...

Friday, December 09, 2011

First Snow

Mission accomplished. Traverse training has resumed. I repeat. Traverse training has resumed. And it felt great - if a little tiring.

I didn't get off to the earliest of starts - well, what's a day off for if you can't have a bit of a lie in. Now I've got my pocket sun it doesn't really matter if gets a little dark out there - I made sure I took my head torch just in case. Looking out across the sky from the warmth of home it looked like quite a nice day. Even so I checked the mountain forecast - and it showed promise but you can't take chances with the mountains so I made sure I packed a few extra layers. I even took my balaclava - but that was in just case I felt like a bit of bank robbery on the way home...

The drive over with Vera was good.. She handled the journey with aplomb and come 11 o'clock we pulled up in the Llanthony car park. It was great being able to climb through to the back to get changed and prepare. She kept the cold wind off my back as I got ready for the off - and believe you me, it was a cold wind. Soon ready, I set out on the Llanthony loop. A 28k loop starting and finishing at Llanthony Priory following a clockwise path over to Bal Mawr, up to Twmpa and back down Offa's Dyke.

Once up to Bal Mawr and onto the ridge the wind was biting and not to mention blowing a damn gale. All the way along I had to contend with icy patches and that damn wind pummelling me. It was so very energy sapping but I gave short shrift to even considering the escape route. No, today I was in it for the long haul and I just churned out mile after mile.

I always forget quite what a sh!t that ridge is. So boggy and now the temperatures have dropped, icy - the waterproof socks really help on that front. I'd not be without them these days. It was damn hard work but I wouldn't have missed it. About two thirds of the way up it actually started to snow! My first snow of the winter. Well, I say snow, it was more sort of very small hail but I'm calling it snow and that's that.

I was glad to get to Twmpa though, the running gets better from there. No more of the damn boggy peat for a start and the wind was on my back at last. The run in along the Dyke is always a bit mind numbing, as it was today. It's a case of more of the same for 10 kilometres but you can at least get some speed up on the firm going although the wind didn't seem to be on my back as much as I thought in would, more sideways and annoying - not too mention bloody cold.

By the time I started to drop down off the mountain the sun was sitting low in the sky, casting a glorious golden orange hue down the valley. It was an amazing light - but not warming in anyway. Finally I made it back to Vera. Started her up and got the heaters going full blast. Meanwhile I hopped in the back to change for the journey home. Oh, what a godsend being able to change in the dry and relative warmth.

Anyway, it's a nice feeling to have kicked off my traverse training with a descent run, all the more descent for the tough conditions - although I should get used to running in tough conditions as I have a feeling there's going to be plenty more to come...

Today's route (28k and 2,500 feet of ascent);

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Malago Park

A horrible day but a good lunch run. We even managed to coax Graham into running with us - that's Martin and I. And despite the strong winds and driving rain in parts it was really enjoyable.

Looking forward to tomorrow's run - with intrepidation. Lord knows what the weather holds for me but I'm guessing not warm sunshine... If the winds are as strong as they were today then I may well need the escape path across the valley.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Traverse Training Resumes Friday...

Yes, it is time. I didn't want to kick things in too soon but nor did I want to have to increase things too quickly later on - like last time. I think the timing is right to resume South Wales Traverse training.

It will be the first time me and Vera have been to the mountains - come to think of it, it'll probably be Vera's first time ever. I'm thinking east side to start with, maybe Llanthony, over to the Grwyne Valley and then back on the 'Route'. Might even head up to Pen Twyn Mawr to test out if my markings of the forest drop are still there. No doubt it'll be pants weather - but heck, that's part of the whole point of Vera...

So, that's the plan, with my day off this Friday I'm heading back to black, the mountains that is...

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Oh So Knackered

You might guess by the photos below that I did not make it to the Cardington Cracker. It's a great race and I'm not overly pleased to have missed it but my body was aching from all that bashing through forest, hurdling felled trees and the tearing through bramble that went on yesterday - I am still picking out bits of thorn from my arms and legs. In fact after an early rise I knew I wouldn't enjoy the race as I should so I went back to bed.

I haven't wasted the day though. I decided to finish the main build of Vera's bench-bed. The only weak point in the design was whether I could support the front legs rigidly enough without requiring some sort of bracing. Ideally I wanted the sliding section to sit flush to the main bench when retracted - as you can see in the picture I managed that  - and without sacrificing structural integrity. A trip to the local(ish) diy store to the purchase of some f*(% off big brackets did the trick. I think the brackets I bought are more likely intended for holding structural steel together than a few bits of wood but they did the job lovely. The front legs and top do not move a millimetre.

All I need to do now is ply over the front legs and back section, upholster it and then purchase some foam to make up a couple of mattress sections, one 9mm thicker than the other to balance off the step to the slinding section. Oh, and of course, some toggle clasps to clamp the bench in place.

After that it's on to laying the vinyl floor and upholstering the walls...

Bed, Extended

Bed, Retracted

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Flaxley Track

Well, after pressing many combinations of buttons. Long presses. Short presses. All together. None together. Some, then others. In out in out shake it all about my forerunner started working. Still pisses me off how dodgy the thing is so I am definitely going to look for an alternative. Anyway, moan over, here is today's spider trail of my only just less than three hour orienteering ordeal...

Scraped In

With a three hour cut-off time you'd have thought I'd get round easy. Get round I did. Easy it was not. It was unbelievably tough. As is normal for a novice orienteer, I entered the black route as I said I would. But being a beginner I made sure I got under-way as soon as the course opened - I had an inkling I might be needing all the time available...

Navigationally things got off to a slow start as my achilles heal kicked in. Nothing to do with my physical achilles, just my ability to royally cocking up the first control - and it was only 200m from the start - arse. That wouldn't be so bad but for the fact there was another 25 of the god damn things to go.

Anyway, with that finally under my belt things picked up and I got across to 4 in good shape. 5 was bloody miles away and rather than battle through the undergrowth - and believe you me the undergrowth was pretty bloody dense - I stuck to the forest tracks. A much longer route but far quicker as I got there ahead of those I was with at 4. Then it all gets a bit hazy. 6 was good but 7 sure as heck wasn't. Another cock up royale. It was so bad I decided to cut my loses, dropped down to the forest track, located a feature I could associate with the map and take a bearing back. That done I was then straight on it. From there I think I went OK round to 13 - I say think because my brain has gone and I can't really remember. I know 14 was another poor one though. It went alright from there all the way to 23 but I was getting tired and my brain was on its last legs. At one point I started running 180 degree the wrong direction but luckily my spidey senses were still working and I quickly stopped, took stock and started running in the right direction.

24 wasn't a great one. I was now going so slow I began to lose track of pace and distance, taking far longer to cover the ground I began to question my judgement. Luckily I kept going on the bearing and got there in the end. The final couple were equally poor. My distance judgement was shot and I could barely operate the compass I was so bonked. As the cut off fast approached I really thought I wasn't going to make it. I pushed on, the last of my strength ebbing away. Fortunately I made it to the finish inside the cut off but it was oh so close.

I don't think I will be last as I am sure some won't have got round in the time. Today's black course was a real eye opener. A true test of both navigational skill and bloody minded determination. In all I ended up clocking up 16k over the 10k course! And I am so totally shattered I really can't say whether I will have recovered enough to run the Cardington Cracker tomorrow. I want to but I just don't know if physically I will have recovered.

The only sour note on what's been a good day is that my bloody forerunner 205 has broken! So I won't be able to post my 'spider has crawled across the map' track of today's outing. It was working fine. I turned it off when I got home. Then plugged it in to charge from the computer and nothing. Nada. I've tried all the reset methods mentioned on the internet but zilch. This is the second one and I only got it replaced a few months ago. Garmin watches are really beginning to piss me off. Going to have to look at alternatives I think. For kit costing as much as they do you'd think they would use quality components. I guess they're like to make 95 pounds profit on a watch costing 100 - greedy mothers...

Thursday, December 01, 2011

All Tooled Up...

Another day, another power tool. This time it's a mitre saw - yeah, baby. I figure I have loads of wood to cut as I fit out the van and this will save me loads of time. In addition to that I think the accuracy of my angles will be much improved as well. The first part of the bench took me a while to cut the wood to size not to mention the fact that my manual mitre angle block is not the most accurate - leading to a few gaps here and there - but nothing too bad, mind. With the purchase of this manly power tool I'll save time and get a better finish. Cooking and power tools, what a combination...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Looking Forward

To a weekend of racing. Up Sunday is the Cardington Cracker - which I hope to make it to, provided I make it back from Saturday's Flaxley Wood orienteering!! I'm going to run the black course which is like the long, hard - stop it - blue course but, well, longer. Bargain. I should have home advantage - or maybe not. I did all right at the Mallards event so I'm crossing my fingers... But up first is the Chepstow quiz and prize giving this Friday. There I collect senior champion in the fell series - not such a great honour since I think I was pretty much the only one to complete enough races in my category.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Not Quite The Way It Was Meant To Be

Feeling immensly tired after a rocking weekend I decided not to run the Bridge Inn. Instead I decided to go for an easy run before the start and then rig up the generator and lighting for the finish funnel. It didn't quite go to the plan. It's dark out there don't you know?

I set off aiming to follow the old summer route - an undulating 5k.. It's dark out there don't you know? And in that dark I went well off track - big style. As the minutes passed my easy, steady 5k became increasingly more frantic - and not to mention, faster paced. By the time I hit the A420 I realised I was way off track. So cranking up the pace I re-doubled my effort to get back to the race start in order to rig up said lighting. By the time I got back I'd covered just under 8k in 34 minutes! I was eye balls out for the last few kilometres - and I needed to be. I just about got the light going by the time the race started - but it was close.... I'm pleased to have been able to push so hard when I needed to but annoyed that the easy run ended up being not so easy. All in all I may as well have raced...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Brill Weekend, Worn Out

Great weekend but I am so knackered now. Sunday night was a bit of a quite one but all in all its been another great one. Got home midday after an uneventful drive. Then unpacked and with a load of washing done I set about more work on Vera.

After making a final few mods to the bench/bed design - namely widening it by 50mm after marking out the intended size and realising it was just a smigeon on the narrow side - I set about building the main bench section. I'm pleased with the progress. Once I've constructed the pull-out section she'll be like the Death Star from Return of the Jedi - no where near finished but fully operational...

 The Bench/Bed goes in..
Bracing it up. Sturdy as she goes..

The route of Saturday's run, all 1,300 feet of ascent of it:-

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Ten Miles At Butlins

As is now written into the Butlins folk lore, after a somewhat slow start to the day I donned the Lycra and headed out. Destination the hills...

It was a thoroughly bloody great run. Not too cold and the rain held off. I didn't know where I was going - nor where I'd been. I just ran and let the gods decide. The views across to exmoor where lush. In all I managed a circular route of just over ten hilly miles - the perfect way to run off the night before....

Friday, November 25, 2011

I'm Off The Radar

I'm writing this before I go off the radar but it will hit the web after I have gone deep deep deep undercover - aka Butlins. No doubt by this time I will be a little tipsy...  but I can't be writing anymore because otherwise we might get into various paradoxicle issues. I'd be in danger of some kind of back to the future style issues. If another post pops up tomorrow it will no doubt have been written before this post which has been written in advance, from the past to the future but tomorrows might be from the future to the past - but probably not. None of which relates to running - but does appear to be more than a little mad.

On other matters I have made more plans towards running the Greenman Challenge on Friday 23rd December. It won't be a record attempt but provided I get round I might try for the record early next year.

Right, back to the past, future and present. It's time to get down and groove to the funky beat...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

B Is For...

Oh yeah, it's time, once again, to head south for the Winter. OK, not the whole winter, just the next four days of it but hey, that's enough winter for me. Time to forget the calorie counting - I'll just record it as 'lots'... and lots. Brilliant. Bring it on. I'm going to take my kit and plot a run in hills behind Minehead for Saturday morning - provided I can rise from the pit. I managed it last time so hopefully I can again.

Today's lunch run was aborted on the grounds of work playing a trump card but heck, that's the gamble. So tonight it's once again back to the bike.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Woa, Another Full Day

And I'm glad to be home. Got loads done at work but still loads to do. Busy, busy, busy. No work on the van tonight. Just an hour on the exercise bike before I rustled myself up a quick soda bread loaf dough and popped it in the oven. Then it was upstairs for a lovely hot shower and a change of clothes before it was time to get back to the kitchen to take the soda bread out of the oven. Result. Just the thing to go with another portion of my butternut squash soup. mmm mm.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sides Up!

Yes another day and another four hours spent in the back of the van. But a highly successful four hours. The insulation is in and the side walls are ply lined. Good job. The first panel took a time. Measuring, estimating - on the safe side - and cutting, then more measuring and cutting until finally the panel fitted. The second panel was a doddle having got a near perfect template to work from! And my new power tool worked great, the ubiquitous jig saw - with laser sight. It was like the scene from Gold Finger as I made light work of the shaping. The second panel has smother curves than the first but then I like it a bit rough - ooh, no, stop it. To be honest if I had a spare fifteen quid I'd pop back to the store and get another sheet of ply, to make a matching pair but by the time I cover the walls with some kind of material/carpet you won't see the rough bits - even if I do know they're there. The years will no doubt dull my memory of them...

The most surprising thing is that I feel knackered after a bit of diy. That's not right! It's more achy in different places rather than out and out tired but I do think I will sleep well tonight. Managed another easy run late afternoon and I so totally know what's on the cards for tonight - sadly, not that - no, it's just me and the TV I'm afraid and then most likely as not I'll be turning in early.

Insulation going in...

First panel in place - a bit rough in places
but it won't show once I contour it off with the wall covering

Ply lining complete

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Slow Going And Missed Opportunities

Well I had a damn good day working on Vera. Too damn good in fact. I started at nine and unfortunately worked right on through to the end of the days light just before five. The dew was beginning to form on my tools so I thought I better call it a day - plus I wanted to get across to the night orienteering. Now I say unfortunately because when I checked up on the orienteering to see what time I needed to head over to Ledbury I realised I was too late. I thought night event meant sort of evening at least. Apparently not. It's actually half past five! What the hell is that all about? Well it's my mistake. I suppose I should have checked earlier - possibly even yesterday - but still, you would of thought it was happening later than that... Instead I did a Flaxley loop of 9km with my head torch. Not too bad a session.

As to the work on Vera I managed to tint up the read window. It isn't perfect - applying that stuff is damned difficult - but it's passable and worst comes to the worst I've got enough tint left for another four attempts. With the tinting done I got down on the floor. I put down the rest of the battens and then started about cutting the front section of the ply sheet. Cue lots and lots of measuring. And lots and lots more. Measure twice cut once. Having said that and I measured more than twice in most cases but still managed to get it wrong - doh. Luckily for me it was the cut-out around the wheel arch on the passenger side and unbeknownst to me the passenger wheel arch is twenty mill shorter the the other side. That meant a quick fix to cut an extra 20mm out of the driver side - sorted.

Then I needed to make sure the front seats were still able to fold back - which you do need to do for access to the engine on the cookily designed vanette - that Vera, she's a odd 'un. I decided there wasn't an easy way to meaure this ahead of the detailed shaping for the wheel arches so with the floor in place I folded the seats back and decided I needed to trim about 20mm off the front edge.

Next up the insulation and I carefully cut up a roll of loft insulation into strips, placed between the battens and finally dropped the floor into place. And before you ask, I had marked up the location of the battens and fixings onto the floor ply so it was an easy job to screw down the floor to the battens - back of. Many pilot holes and screws - no, ssh, stop it - later the front section of the flooring was complete.

Floor, front section with insulation

Then it was on to the back section and more measuring. The back section was easier and with no folding seats to take into account I was able to cut the ply to size in one go. More insulating and finally a bit more screwing - ooh, matron. Job done. All in all a good days work. I only wish I had checked the race time though but having said that it would have meant packing up before the flooring was complete and I must say it was quite satisfying to have that bit in the bag - and more importantly to a decent standard - and by decent standard I mean the floor fits, it's flat and there's no big gaps anywhere.

Floor, complete

A view to the tinted rear window

Tomorrow I'm going to attempt the walls. If I can nail them - or more accurately screw them - no, ssh - with full insulation then the pace can slow because it's onto the funiture which will be batten work and that means it will be easier to do a little at a time. I'll be really chuffed if I can get the walls up tomorrow but not too disappointed if I don't...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Getting Started With Vera

Well it's been a full day but somehow quite restful - although I haven't really stopped. Vera started up effortlessly and we drove over to Gloucester together to buy the wood with which to kit her out. Three hundred quids worth - omg!! But that should be it - I hope... Then after a brief respite for lunch I started work. First removing the existing flooring before making a start battening out the walls and floor. That is almost complete with only a couple more struts required on the floor. Tomorrow I'm going to finish the floor and batten the roof. I'm not intending to actually panel the roof  just yet. I think that will be one of the final things but I want to get all the battening complete. Next up will be the floor and its insulation/sound proofing.

On a slightly sour note, chuckless drills are pants. I want one with a god damn chuck so I can actually tighten the bloody drill bit in place. OK, that's harsh, for medium and large drill bits the chuckless is fine, there is enough contact with the bit for it to stay tight but for small bits - like the 2mm one I was using today - it was bloody useless. I had to re-tighten after every single drilling. Pants. Total and utter pants.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Eve Of The Day Off

Result! Going to be - you guessed it - doing a bit of van work. Definitely not going to rush things though. Slowly, slowly, catchy monkey - just hoping I catch the monkey before I die - might be close with diy skill - or lack of.

Totally knackered from work. Don't know why. I slept quite well last night. It's been quite a busy week though so I'm glad of the extra rest day I'm getting. Tonight I hit the bike for another hard session and now, as I cool down, I am a bit stinky - pewy. Showering in T minus five minutes...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Not A Bad Run

Well that was a surprisingly enjoyable lunch run. I really enjoyed the chase today. Martin was fully in my sights as we ran the anti-clockwise route. As we hit the climb I actually started to bridge the chasm between us. As he went over the top the gap extended but he never got fully away. I pushed. He pulled - oooh, no, matron. As we hit the common I was still in touch - and he knew it. I continued to run hard but never quite got back. Still, a bloody good run and a decent time.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Heavy Going

At work - but it's not too bad really. Just lots and lots of small questions to answer. Myriads of little tasks to complete. All of which leads to the whole being greater than the sum of all fear - hang on, I'm not sure that's quite right... oh well.

I've a lunch run planned for tomorrow but have to admit that I chickened out on tonight's run - yes I am a pussy. I arrived home fully intending to head out but being a southern softie it was too chilly. I have to man up. I must do better. Just a bike session instead but on a plus note I am slowly cranking up the resistance. Tonight was my first full level 11. I started back on lowly seven, months and months ago. I was sweating like a bar steward come the end.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Outline Design

I have been busy setting out the initial designs for the conversion. I wanted to get some working drawings up together so I can start to get the ball rolling. I can see it's going to take me some considerable time. I've worked out the sliding bed mechanism, and a location to store the mattress for it when not in use. I've also pencilled in the cooking area and vertical storage unit. As long as I don't try and rush the build I think I should manage it.

As to training, I went for a leisurely run and a bike session - couldn't stay away from the designing for too long.

Anyway, here is the outline design. As you can see it's not complete, showing the inner workings for the most part rather than the enclosed finished product. (Bed is shown fully extended).

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Yes, she is to be known, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health as Vera the Vanette. The entymology, from the Russian, meaning faithful, seems apt - providing of course she doesn't run off with the first VW Campervan she spots... I'm hoping she lives up to the name.

Anyway, I've been busy planning the conversion. I'm going for quite a technical build - well, technical for me at least. It's going to have a  bench seat on the drivers side with slide out section to the front of the van to extend into a single bed. That bit of the build is going to be a bit of a challenge for the likes of me. I have the mind of a designer - but the carpentry skills of a small child. I can see this is going to take me quite a while.

On the passenger side I'm going for a full height cabinet towards the rear - stop it - and a mid height worktop with sink and cooker inset, all enclosed in a hinged lid to cover while in transit. I'm thinking to start the build with that bit as it's more straight forward and should hopefully allow me to hone my limited skills a bit before attempting the more challenging part of the build.

First off though, I'm going with ply on the floor finished with vinyl tiles for easy cleaning. Then I'm going to ply out the walls. Hopefully I can squeeze in a bit of loft insulation. I'm thinking to maybe lay a bit below the floor as well, not to act as insulation as it will be compressed flat but more to act as a buffer to absorb a bit more of the drive noise and reduce rattling. Then finally, once I've finished all the other bits I'm thinking to finish it off with carpet on the walls and various parts - but with my skills it may never get to that part...

And here she is, in all her glory (or not):-
Vera the Vanette

Friday, November 11, 2011

White Van Madness

Well I finally did it... I went and bought myself a white van. She's got a few knocks but overall, for her age, she seems quite fit. The cab is surprisingly tidy for an oldie. The seats don't show much sign of wear and more importantly she goes - fnah fnah. I'll not be entering her in any races - unless I want to collect the wooden spoon. She's got almost no power, climbs hills at a steady pace - dead slow but cruises along on the motorway just fine. None of that is a surprise. I've read the reviews, seen the specs and knew what I was getting. If I had more to spend I would have gone Dispatch/Expert/Scudo but I just wasn't able to find one of those cheap enough that wasn't, well, totally hammered.

So in the end the vanette it was and with only 84k on the clock she should last me a while. The only surprise to all of that - and it was a nice surprise - was that the engine noise wasn't as loud as I was expecting from the reviews. Yeah, it was loud but not horrendous like some of the reviews had led me to believe. Just goes to show - but I'm not sure what.

So back to the start of the day. I was up at the normal time, having managed to scrounge a lift into Gloucester by my very kind neighbour. Then it was on the chu-chu non-stop to Burton-on-Trent - apart from the many stops along the way at those long, flat concretey things with people standing, waiting - that would be train stations then. Anyway, it was a good journey and only got in a few minutes late.

Then it was out with the maps, on with the running shoes - already had those on but I needed something to write - and started the clock. The climb out of BoT was steady up for about a mile and a half then it basically undulated pretty much all the way to Ashby-De-La-Zouch - or Ashby-DLZ, as I like to call it - and where did it get such a pimped up name from anyway?

Finally an hour twenty later I rolled up to the van centre, ten and a half miles from whence I had started the run. Met the man. Took her - that's the van not me calling the van man a 'her' - for a spin and did the deal. The drive home, some 95 miles, was pretty good. Flowing traffic all the way, a steady 55-60 for me...

Today's Route all the way up in sunny Burton-on-Trent ('cept it weren't sunny):-

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Ashby-De-La-Zouch-ward Bound

After several months looking. Much umming. Even more ahhing. I've finally spotted my van - and on Friday I'm off to go get it. My journey to that far flung corner of this great country starts with a bit of hitch-hiking - sometimes referred to as a lift into Gloucester by a neighbour. Then I must ride the great steel horse. On arrival at the sacred gateway to "some place a bit to the right of Birmingham" - Burton-on-Trent - I must face my fear and brave the bus ride of doom before a short run to the emporium of van on the edge of Ahsby-De-La-Zouch. Awaiting me there is the magic mystery mad running mobile....

Tonight it's more bike as I work out my travel arrangements, insurance and tax

Monday, November 07, 2011

Good Hard Servicing

Ooooh Matron. I quite like a good hard service now and then - but mainly after 12,000 miles or more. Don't get me wrong, I don't like the cost, that bit makes me want to cry, but servicing the car does allow for a short blast into work - 3 miles and then the repeat blast back after work. Tonight I really caned it. I decided to see what I had in the tank - and I liked what I found. In fact, I was quicker both ways than I've been before. I quite like pounding through busy city roads. Dodging in and out of the pedestrian traffic. Racing the cars along the busier roads and generally giving it a bit of a burn up. And after all that the drive home was pretty relaxed, the traffic surprisingly light. Good training.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Home and Garden

But more garden than home and not really that much garden. After a great night out yesterday it was back to normality today. Worse than normality I was down right lazy. I managed a lowly hour on the bike but I did manage a bit of tidying up in the garden. Other than that I've been sitting on my backside watching the tide roll away. Slaps writs and gets back to watching the remake of the Man In The Iron Mask - not impressed so far, preferred the original but it might pick up.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

The Orienteering Express

I managed to retain the motivation and followed through with the plan. Up early(ish) I got myself sorted and drove over to Cinderford. Parked up and then ran the 5k over to Mallards Pike for the NGOC League 2 Orienteering Race - do you call them races? Whatever. I got there in time for an early start, registered, collected my dibber - I do like a good dib now and again - and got underway.

I chose the Blue route - the most difficult, of course - and was hoping not to make such a damn hopeless mess of it as my first race last year. So having dibbed through the start I collected my map and walked the first couple hundred metres as I focused on the map. Got my bearings. Got my mind set on the map, it's gonna take time, a whole lot of precious time, it's gonna take patience and time, ummm, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it right - where was I? Oh yeah, focusing on the map. So, having zoned in on the scale and all the rest of it. I took my bearing and started ticking off the controls.

As you can see from the gps plot below, I didn't do a bad job today (the orienting event is the part of the track in the bottom right corner). I only made one slight error on control five (of sixteen). I overshot but knew I'd done so almost immediately and didn't waste more than a minute or two.

Overall I reckon I made pretty good route choices. I picked up the main paths provided they were within 100m or so of the direct line. That way I was able to pile the pace far quicker than picking my way through heavy woodland. I also purposefully picked a couple of routes where I could out and back to the control so I knew where I was headed once I dibbed.

All in all I ran a far better race than last time out and I was less than half the time! Still don't have a clue on the symbols, mind, but provided I navigate well it doesn't seem to matter much. I hit 75% of the controls spot on and those that I didn't were close enough to be located inside of a minute. Job done. 65 minutes. Keen to see the official results to see how I've done but what ever the outcome it was a much more pleasing run. Looking forward to the next one. And after all the excitement I ran back to car.

Todays Mallards Pike Orienteering, plus the run to and from. Total distance 11 miles and 1,500 feet of ascent:-

Friday, November 04, 2011

Well The Luck Had To End Sometime

Today it ended. Martin and I got a little bit, what I like to call, wet. It rained. We've been lucky pretty much all year so mustn't grumble. Today, almost at the exact moment we stepped out the door it started to rain - and didn't stop until we stepped back through the door.

I ran like - what can only be described by those in the know, commentators eye an' all that - a right turd. Although I was over the top in reasonable time, I was f&£&ed as I crested the summit - it's not really a summit though. Don't know why it took so much out of me. And I must have worked hard because my eyes were stinging as the rain washed into my eyes. Anyway, I cruised - shut it, not that type of cruising, thank you - on the rest of the run in. My time wasn't great - or rather it was great but the aim is for it to be small. Oh well, always next week.

Bit of a crap drive home but the pegs are well and truly up now. All set for the Mallards Pike orienteering tomorrow. Chances are the weather is going to be poo but what the heck. I'm going to drive half way and then run the rest of the way so I get a descent run in as well as the orienteering. Then it'll be off down to Bristol again for operation drinky-poos...

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Busy Ol' Day

Work is really beginning to crank up a notch and I'm not sure things are going to ease much of 'till gone next May. In fact I don't really things are much started! So much paperwork, so many actions to resolve. Still, there's always the baking. And on that front I baked up the friendship cake I was passed last week. I went slightly off piste, a little loose cannon may-hap, and cooked up an apricot almond version from the sour dough base. Smells gert lush but it remains to be seen if my colleagues will give it the thumbs up or not. Finger - or should that be thumbs - crossed.

On proper matters I put in an hours bike session and all being well Martin and I should be lunching it over Dundry tomorrow. Then on Saturday it's the Mallards Pike Orienteering which should be fun - provided I manage to get my ass over for it. Following that I'm off to a Firework Night Party and I'm looking forward to it. Should be a good weekend.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

My Head Hurts

Another brain draining day. No heavy duty calculations or rocket science just general, run of the mill 'stuff'. Hard work all the same. There was no building myself up for a run during the drive home though. I espied my first Stobbart for a while - with a name that twanged the heart strings. Ho hum.

Managed an hour on the bike followed by the last of the left overs for dinner - thank god they're gone, a man can only take so many left overs...

Monday, October 31, 2011

What The Hell Just Happened?

I think - therefore, I am - that I just went for a run after the drive home from work! In the dark - but not that dark courtesy of my miniature head-sun - and the rain!! I think I must have had a knock on the head or something but heck, I bloody-well enjoyed it.

Out the front door, I headed into and around Flaxley Wood. A bit soggy underfoot in places. Misty in others and just a little Spooooooky - I ain't afraid of no ghosts. Although my pace didn't seem that quick I got round in a surprisingly nimble 46 minutes and that's not too bad a time if it was in the daylight. At six miles and 800ft ascent, it's not the longest route in the world but you know what? It's just the ticket after a hard day at work. The best bit though, was the final 400m. Not because it was the final 400m - although, that is a pretty damn good reason for it being the best bit. No, it was the best bit because, kitted out head to toe in black, I scared the crapola out of a load of kids as I ran across the field - nice work...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Well That Went Off OK

...I think. Didn't have any kitchen disasters and I was so on schedule I was actually ahead of it and managed to squeeze in a hours bike session - and shower - before the clan arrived - result. Now that was a long sentence [gasps for breath]. I think I even impressed myself a little bit - with the cooking not the long sentence, although that was pretty impressive - not. That was the most adveturous bit of cooking I've tried so far. So many dishes in so little time - OK, I had a fair bit of time, but it was still a step up from trying to crank out a single dish [pats self on the back]. All I need to do now is master the 'pudding' and I'll be there.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mad Runner, Domestic Goddess!

I've been busy preparing for the family coming up to visit. I didn't get across to run the Sugar Loaf today but that's not exactly a bad thing. It's a good race but it holds a few memories... so I'm not overly disappointed. Now is not the time for maudlin. So instead I stayed at home and ran a little, biked a little and then got down to prepare for tomorrow's visit.

It's surprising how much more difficult it is to prepare five dishes instead of one. OK, probably not that surprising but it all went well. As ever, tidying as I cook, I worked my way through the schedule. Cheesy garlic loaf - check, quiche lorraine frittata - check, cheese, leek and potato tortilla - check, penne tomato pasta - check and finally tomato, cucumber salad - check. That's it for today. Now it's just the pizzas, sunflower bread, patatas bravas and chickpea chorizo salad to go but that's a story for another day...

And now it's finally time to put my feet up, kick back and chill. Sorted. 

Friday, October 28, 2011


Oh, the end of a long week. Thank heavens - that's the polite interpretation of the post title! Work has been heavy and the fear is more of the same in the coming weeks. Got to man up and take it on - and I will.

Well I don't know when the results of the Black Mountains race hit the inter-web but my 10th place from 69 finishers doth please me greatly and it was a legit 92.5 point score - unlike the cheating 98 pointer from the Brecon Beacons race that a certain person scored! But to be fair said person beat me on the BM's so I'm not bitter. Honest, I'm not. Truth. The disappointment of not hitting 3 hours is lessened by the fact that the winner was less than 18 minutes ahead - and he was a bloody good runner!

Over all I'm lacking a bit of motivation right now. I know what I want to achieve next year but I also know that it doesn't really matter. I reckon I might be a bit SAD - shut it - that's Seasonally Affected Disorder - aka, shitty dark mornings, dark afternoons and basically just dark all over. Bring on the summer...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Long Tiring Day

Well I finally made it home - but it was a bit of a battle. I knew it was going to be. The rain always causes havoc. It seems to instill a kind a fear in some people but it really doesn't need to. Having had another brain draining day at work I could have done without that so I just cranked up the volume and boomed out my tunes as I settled in for a slow one. Annoying? Yes, but I'm used to it now and it doesn't stress me out - not much, anyway. So, realising it wasn't going to be an early home, I decided I might as well go totally the other way and called in at the supermarket for the weeks shop - and this one was a biggy! The family is coming up on Sunday and I'm looking forward to impressing them - assuming, of course, I manage to pull it off - stop it, matron! My menu is planned and I think I picked up all the ingredients but there's bound to be something I've forgotten.

Finally home, I hit the bike for an hour before cooking up a little tomato, onion and chorizo on toast with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Simple but tasty and now it's time to chill out before it all starts again tomorrow...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lunching It

Martin and I got out for our regular lunch run. I ran like a sack of spuds but ended up running a respectable time. Conditions were good but I just didn't have it.

Better things tonight though. A lush meal down San Carlo on Corn Street, Bristol. The older I get the more I'm drawn towards fine dining. Another good night.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Top Tip Number 17

When attempting to run a 5k race always remember to take your running shoes... And so it was that I was unable to run at tonight's Bridge Inn 5k - doh. Apart from that I was totally organised. I'd remembered the light and generator ready to provide their glorious illumination at the finish. I'd remembered my shorts and vest, socks and watch. I'd remembered the walking boots for cable tracing across farm fields - that was for work - and I'd remembered the tool kit - also for work. So all in all it was a pretty good effort - just not good enough. In the words of the great prophet Roy Walker, 'It's good but it's not right'...

Oh well, maybe next race will go a better. Let's face it, it'd be hard pushed to go any worse...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Taking It Steady

Ahead of tomorrow's Bridge Inn Race but that may not be enough. I have a full day at work to get through first and that includes tramping across fields with my magic box of tricks to locate a break in an underground signal cable. The weather looks like being a bit pooy so things might be headed boggy... Then I've a meeting to get to - provided, of course, that things go OK out in the field - literally. I'm hoping I don't feel too knackered by the time I reach the Bridge Inn but it's going to be a looong day.

Tonight I put in an hour bike session, sit-ups and some press-ups - although I got a few of those done on Saturday night...  Not looking for anything too fantastic tomorrow but I'd like to finish strong however I go. Fading at the finish is not an option I want to select.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Great Night Out...

In Bristol. That put paid to being able to run the Exmoor Stagger but sometimes you've got to look at the bigger picture. There's a time to run - and there's a time for fun. It's all about getting the balance right - and yesterday was definitely the right time for some fun. I never really enjoyed 'clubbing' - other than seals - just kidding - when I was young but now, as I approach the big 4 O, it's a right laugh. A bit of booze and I'm up on that dance floor quicker than a ferret up a trouser leg, dancing like me dad - and not giving a damn. Good days.

For the week ahead there's the Bridge Inn 5k on Tuesday - and I might actually try and run a bit faster this time - but not too quick mind, wouldn't want to strain anything. Then next Saturday is the Sugar Loaf Winter Fell Race. It's a good race. One of my favourites in fact, but there is a chance I might not make it on account of preparing for the family visiting the next day and I'll have a bucket load of preparation to do. Hopefully I can be organised enough to do the race and still have time to get everything ready for the visit. To which, I've finalised the menu and the schedule of preparation is well developed - it's going to be like a military operation...

Friday, October 21, 2011


Now I know it's not spring but I felt like a bit of cleaning and, as I sit back after pottering around for most of the day, I can't really see where all the time went! The damn place doesn't look much tidier - doh. Managed to get out for an hours run but I didn't push too hard. Cooked myself up a tasty moroccan style meatball and apricot stew for dinner and now it's time to chill. Aiming for another run tomorrow morning before heading down to Bristol to go get Wrinkly...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Making A Hash Of It

First off, a big thank you to Paul and Joc for putting on a superb night time hash run - and what better way to finish than with a pint and a chip butty, bloody marvelous. I made may way over to the Rising Sun, Moseley Green for 7:30, signed up on the dotted line and set off at the back of the field. I really like these informal runs. There's no need to chase away at the front like an idiot. There's no glory for winning - some think differently and go out all guns blazing - but for me the hash run is a social affair. With my portable sun lighting half the forest I found the going really good. The route, with it's many gotcha's, mainly followed the main tracks but there were some deviations onto smaller, narrower paths. On the matter of the Gotcha's I seem to have an almost god-like ability to pick the wrong route choice. I reckon I was 80-20 in favour of selecting the wrong one. Still, on the plus side you get a little extra distance to the run - bargain. With my mini-sun blazing, it was practically like running in daylight and I was able to ease my way along. At the half way point I moved into a comfortable second place - that was a surprise and down to the fact that a whole group of the leaders went wrong, missed the turn and added on a great chunk. From there I have to admit to running a bit harder. In fact, I pushed on the climbs to keep ahead and ended up moving further clear. I finished the 6.5 mile route in 51 minutes. Not a bad time considering the first half was so pedestrian and there were a few hills. Then it was all into the pub for said grub, a pint and a chinwag. Good night. Today's hash route:-

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Planning The Menu

Couldn't be arsed for much training. After yawning through a few meetings - albeit worth attending for the heads up and my meagre input - I really wasn't up for much. Hence another bike session but peddled in a more positive mood tonight.

I called by Sainsb - ooh, stop there, this is an advertisment free zone - a supermarket on the way home to pick a few items. The family are up at the end of the month so I've got to get planning my menu - and more importantly, testing that a) I can cook what I plan and b) it's edible. Tonight I cooked up a chorizo and mozeralla pizza (homemade base) - that's one for the kids - and without bigging myself up it looked totally professional and tasted even better - that's definately one for the menu. I'm going to take a gamble on the hawiian - well there's only so much pizza one can eat.

I'll tell you what though, this planning a menu malarchy ain't easy. As sad as it may be, I've never tried this type of thing before and by that I mean cooking a menu rather than buying ready made goods that you just heat up. As the day fast approaches the pressure is on. Trying to get the quantities right, a good range and simple enough food that I can actually pull it off - fnah fnah is tricky, very tricky. As it's a lunch menu I'm going 'picky' food. I'm thinking a few tapas dishes. A couple of salads and some homemade bread. Together with the pizza I think there'll be enough. Desert, I'm afraid, is going to be an off the shelf affair. I don't really do desert so I'm not going to risk cooking my own... That said, with two weeks to go there is plenty of time to change the menu between now and then...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Highs And Lows

I had a great day yesterday. Back to the hum drum and the rose tinted spectacles broke. My legs feel achy so it's another bike session tonight. By right, I should feel good. The 'extra few pounds' waxed on during the summer when my mileage dropped but the eating didn't are finally on the wane - well, I need to be ready to fit into my Butlins outfit next month... My running form is good and still edging upwards - although the upcoming Sugar Loaf Fell Race will provide a more scientific measure of that. My homemade mixed fruit and white chocolate panettone went down a storm in work and I've another four day week... But I still feel a gap. Ho hum, perhaps I'll find a new set of specs tomorrow...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Close To Home

I got up and out there before I had time to fritter the day away - well, we didn't want another yesterday did we? And what a great morning it was too. After a bit of a lie-in I planned today's route over a freshly brewed, strong americano - or as I like to call it, a black coffee - and headed out. I started off running up and over to Hobbs Quarry and down into Blaisdon Wood which, at this time of year and with the early morning mist still lingering, was an autumnal masterpiece. It won't be long before it becomes a boggy quagmire but for now it's just about perfect. I continued over to Flaxley Wood. The sun, clear and bright, finally vanquished the mist and as I hit Edge Hill and woods above Cinderford the views all around were fantastic. I wasn't going fast but I climbed well. In fact, dare I say it, I'm almost feeling strong on the climbs - no, I daren't, there is still much work needed on that front but things are definitely improving. In all I ran about twelve miles and a fairly decent 2,000 feet of ascent. A good run indeed. Today's circular loop:-

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Well That's That Then

The first firing of the central heating this winter. It's been close a couple of times but tonight was the night. So that's that. Winter can't be far away...

Been a bit of a wasted day today. After yesterday's good came today's less so. No real reason other than I didn't sleep too well and couldn't get up this morning. Coupled with the fact that my legs felt achy, I decided to give the orienteering a miss. That led to the guilt of being a lazy bastard. I spent a couple hours on the bike but it's not the same and the day just somehow disappeared...

I need to make sure I get out for a run tomorrow. I really do.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Mooching In The Malverns

With all the shop rage of yesterday faded and forgotten - although I am still available for a private shopping optimisation consultation - I headed over to the Malverns on my day off. Oh yeah baby, day off. Four day week - back of... And with all that rage, I forgot to mention any of yesterday's training of which it was actually a good day. Martin and I got out for the lunchtime Dundry run and I was over a minute quicker than last week, running what turned out to be my quickest time since May and most surprisingly I wasn't pushing. There were moments when I felt the urge to surge - nice - but I was controlled and steady so it was with much surprise that I clocked my quickest time since May. I finished off the day with an hour on the bike to prepare for today's training.

As to today's run, I headed over to Holly's Bush - ooh no, stop it - for the old out and back to the Worcestershire Beacon. The weather was fab if a little hazy so the views were good but they weren't right. The Malvern Hills are a great place to run. Not only do you get a medium distance run - today turned at the Beacon rather than looping round North Hill so I only ran twelve and a half miles - you also get a chance to run a hill session.

My pace was steady as I effortorised - that's another one for my dictionary - the hills. In all there was about 2,500 feet of ascent but no individual hill took more than a couple of minutes to ascend. I put in the effort to run the hills and eased the descent and the flat. It was a good session. I have to put my hands up and say I didn't manage the full session - aka, I was reduced to a walk on a couple of the final climbs on the return but by then the lactic acid in my legs was really kicking in.

A Good day.

Today's route across the Malverns:-

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Shopping Lessons...

Yes, after another sloooow check-out at the supermarket, I've decided to offer my services to the local store. Tonight I witnessed a myriad of school boy errors at the checkout. Why put all the soft, squiggy stuff on the conveyor first? You know with that amount of junk food in your trolley its going to get crushed by those crates of shandy. Then, forgetting to bring your re-usable bags - you do have re-usable bags don't you? Think of your children you wasteful planet killer. School boy. Then generally taking f^&%ing ages to actually put your shopping into all of those 36 plastic bags - you do have opposable thumbs I assume?

Now, supermarket shopping is one area of life where we can learn from Hitler. His Blitzkrieg technique into Poland is what we should all be aiming for when we do our weekly shop. What we're looking for is in, shop and out. Optimum route. Nothing else will do. No dilly dallying back and forth. Planning. Planning. Planning. Know what you want. Plan your route through the store to get it - ooh matron, damn it, not now, don't start -  no doubling back. Then, goods trollied, get your ass over to the check out. Now think, what order should you load your bags? Think, plan and load the conveyor. Then open up all your re-usable bags before you begin to load up and go go go, red leader. Mind, we don't want any fumbling at the death, now, do we? - yes, locate your club card before you head in to the store - that's right, it isn't going to do you any good languishing in the bottom of your handbag is it? You know you need it so get it ready and be ahead of the game. There we go again, thinking and planning, not really too complicated. Finally, splash the cash and get the hell out. Simple.

I reckon, with my assistance and guidance to teach optimal shopping for beginners, I could save the supermarkets a fortune - and earn myself a tidy sum in the process for my efficiency saving fees and save the public about half a lifetime in saved time - think of all the extra time you'll have to drink all that shandy. It's win win. Everyone wins...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Not A Lot...

To report but I can't go two days without posting. Had a brain sapping day at work. Non-stop paperwork. A productive day.

Home late. Near darkness outside but for the gentle shimmer of the moons glow through the cloudy evening sky. Feels like a great night for a run - or rather it felt like it would have been had my magicshine head torch been charged. It wasn't. Cue the charger. Would have been a nice - god I hate 'nice' - run through the woods. Oh well, more bike.

On a brighter note, four day week - 'ave some.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Feeling Stuffed

Oh god, that pizza was too big. Way too big. It was healthy mind but turned out bigger than I expected - not often it turns out bigger than expected - ooh matron. My first ever homemade pizza, black olive and peppers on homemade dough base. Surprisingly the actual preparation time only took about fifteen minutes to make the dough and fry off the topping - almost quicker than buying one in the supermarket!

After proving the dough for an hour I tried that 'spin the dough around in your hands malarchy ' like wot you see on the telly - but quickly gave that up as a bad job and rescued the base onto the baking mat before it became a horrible sploge on the kitchen floor. On with the topping, a sprinkle of cheese and then 15 minutes later, out of the oven and into my tum, yum, god damn, yum.

It's a bike session tonight but I'm having to crank up the sixty minutes to ninety...

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Not Tonight Dear, I've Got A Headache

Well, I almost felt like using that excuse. Despite it being a glorious day, my heart wasn't in it - and my mind was elsewhere for most of the time as well. I did get out there though but not for anywhere near as long as I should have. I am disappointed in myself and were I religious I'd be due to perform a couple of 'ows your father's... I don't know why I was full of melancholy. I just was.

As to the run, I decided to try some road running and perhaps that's part of the reason I struggled. If I'm to attempt the Greenman I need to get my road legs back, or at least some semblance of them. The route itself was pretty scenic for the most part. There's no lack of quiet country roads round these parts. I ran just under 12 miles with 1,500 feet of ascent. There was meant to be a whole extra bit south of the A4136 but by the time I reached that point I wasn't in the mood and just pootled on home. I'm going to pay penance in the form of another hour on the bike.

On a brighter note, my first loaf after the curious incident of the replacement element in the night time was a success. Nice, light and airy with a hint of rosemary - nice girl - and I made good use of my latest gadget in the process. To be fair it's not really that much of gadget and at twenty quid it was quite expensive for what is, for all intents and purpose, a mat. It is a pretty special mat though. A super-dooper silcon fibre-glass affair and what it means for baking is flour-free kneading. It can also be used directly in the oven up to 230 degree centigrade if you fancy one of them yer roundish, natural shaped loafy efforts instead of the more boxy shape that results from using a loaf tin - although I've not tried that yet. It has to be said it's a bit of a luxury but what the hell, it's good to treat yourself now and again.

Today's disappointingly shortened route:-

Saturday, October 08, 2011

About Face

Not exactly the way it was supposed to be. I spent far too much time in my big ol' boots this morning. It never ceases to amaze how time flies when you're in the thick of it. So, after a couple strong cups of coffee, a peruse of the news, I jumped straight in - to the brook. That job didn't actually last long. It was surprisingly clear and didn't need much work. It should be clear enough to let the river flow all winter long.

Having spent less time there than I expected I made a start on the front garden. My dense bushes  - sssh, ooh, no, stop it - were in need of a prune and general tidy up. And that was were the time went. Tidying your bush - ooh matron - is a bit like eating pringles - once you pop, you can't stop. And so it was, once I started hacking, slashing, cutting and chopping, I didn't know when to stop. 'That looks good, just that last branch, and that one, oh and that one, and ...' I did eventually decide the job was a good 'un. The driveway is reclaimed - not that it was hidden but it was on its way. Now it's nice and clear. There's still a measure of tidying up to go but I've broken the back of it.

Anyway, by the time I'd packed up it was gone two. Now that's not massively late but by the time I'd cooked up some lunch it was time to get cracking on the HP film-o-thone - well, every now and then one's allowed to be a sad git. I'm going to hit the trail tomorrow instead. I kicked things off with the Goblet Of Fire as I'd seen the first three films about a month ago and for that don't know, the HP films are looong so I did at least muster for two and a half hours on the bike as I watched - couldn't be a total couch potato could I? Later I'll be firing up The Order Of The Phoenix - god I'm a saddo...