Monday, February 28, 2011
Now a normal marathon is 26 miles, but oh, they couldn't live with that, no this bad boy is 42 miles - and that's if you don't get lost! And a marathon normally means road race but oh no, not this beast, we are talking the mountains of the Lake District.
I think I'm fit enough. Certainly almost back to my best but am I really? I guess I'll know by Saturday afternoon. And you know what? I'm almost looking forward to it - I say almost in the way that a nettle eating contestant looks forward to competition. The only downside is that I will almost certainly not be in a fit state to run Long Mynd the following day on Sunday, but never say never.
Tonight, was just an easy hour bike session - got to start my taper...
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Funniest part of the run was a short section down from Ystard across the quarry. At one point we just launched off a steep, gravelly edge and sped down using the power of gravity. There was a chap watching as we approached the edge and he saw us just drop off over. Once at the bottom I glanced back to see he'd moved to the edge to see how we'd faired because it really did look a steep old drop - we must have appeared slightly mental - and in some small way all fell runners are - some more than others...
Then it was back to the car and over to the second of the days recces. The ascent to Pen Cerrig Calch. Another very worth while little run - five miles and 2,000 feet of ascent verses the first recce's six and a half miles and only 1,500 feet of ascent. Definitely worth running. There were a few pointers to take note of.
Safely back home now and I'm finishing off with an hours loosener on the bike. Then it'll be time to kick back and chill...
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Spent the day in the gym. Well, my exercise time was spent in the gym. Four solid bike hours. Managed to catch up on a few bits and pieces. Plus later on, when the weather finally did improve, I got outside and washed the car. Followed that by pressure washing the driveway. Finally I installed the new cat flap - a super dooper RFID jobber - that should keep that ginger bastard out! Mind you, Squeaker is a bit timid so it might take her a while to pluck up the courage to push through - she doesn't like 'gadgets'. She'll get the hang of it.
Tomorrow I'm going to the mountains - and yes, I feel guilty I didn't get there today - but I'm definitely heading over tomorrow. Running with Pat again, we'll be covering the last few bits of the traverse route that I'm not acquainted with. Hope the weather holds...
Friday, February 25, 2011
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Took the plaster off my blister after tonight's bike session - and was very pleased with what greeted me. It's healing great. The rawness has gone. Not out of the woods but definately on the edge. Haven't missed too much training and that has to be a result.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
There's going to be some uncharacteristic nerves happening tomorrow. I'm not a great orator, so not looking forward to giving my short presentation to an audience of business people. Needs must and all that and maybe my immense charismatic charm will carry the day - hide that smirk, just joking. I'm more a behind the camera man than an in front of it one. More a director, less an actor. But like Gloria, I will survive. Hence the need for a bit of a rest tonight. Might whack on one of my comedy dvds later - but which one? Oh no, the choice is stressing me...
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Yes, at tonight's Bridge Inn I edged inside nineteen minutes to register 18 minutes and 59 seconds for the 5k race - piece of piss really. Wasn't even close.
To be fair I was fired up. On a mission and out for justice. I was hard to kill. Practically above the law. But fortunately I wasn't on deadly ground. Stop it. Enough already.
I ran a good race. Fairly even splits. A good first kilometre, the second too slow, the third, up the hill, too fast, the fourth fading and the fifth digging deep. And all off the back of three days of 35 mountain miles, nine thousand feet of ascent, three hours of bike and the row - as in concept II rowing machine - got no one to argue with any more.
I have no option but to feel pleased. It was 13 seconds faster than last month. I'm getting faster off the back of zero speed work. It's all coming from the long runs and bike. I have no right to be getting quicker by goodness I'll take it.
Tonight, I shall finish with a Whoop, Whoop and a Toot, Toot.
Monday, February 21, 2011
I've had - or in the process of having - a day off work today. The rest of the week is going to be a bit hectic. In fact, the rest of the month is - but then that is only one further working day. So anyway, I thought I'd use up a flexi before I lose it on carry over at the end of the month.
On the training front, today is fully a recovery day so strictly no running. But that's not to say no training. I've been on the exercise bike for two hours. One hour higher effort, the other less so. In the gap between bike hours I put out a steady upper body workout on the rower. To you, that's a 3500m session. Finished off with a bit of core work - 74 push-ups, 114 sit-ups in two sets. I'm gradually increasing the reps at a rate of one extra rep per set per session. The benefit of the core work is starting to pay off. The extra strength helps me stay tall - well, five foot eight anyway - allowing me to keep breathing deeply even when fatigue starts to take hold - and that, my friends, I put down to my increased core strength.
The training done, it's time to start looking at my traverse pace schedule. The spreadsheet from Tom G is very detailed and should help me work out a viable plan. Then there's some consideration to be given to which parts of the route need further investigation. I certainly need to recce the A40 up to Pen Cerrig Calch and the ascent from Abercynafon to Ystrad and with those bits done, I will have covered the entire traverse route. After that it's just a case of working out which bits need further practise and optimisation. As things stand it's going well and I feel optimistic.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Before I go on, I have to say, I really cannot thank Pat W enough for sparing me the time to show me around. It's been great couple of days running.
Today's recce was the most useful of all. What I think will be the two trickiest bits in the east black mountains are done. I can tick the box on both the 'drop through the forest' from Pen Twyn Mawr and the 'climb through the woods' on the other side up to Chwarel y Fan. It's all logged safely on the GPS so I can get back over there at my leisure to further familiarise myself with those sections - but I'll try to avoid building too much contempt. To be fair though, the forest drop is, what could be described as, 'a right bastard'. Shit, I think I already have a bit of contempt - doh. We even managed to try a few route variations - as my Nepalese Guru would say, 'You can never over optimise' - and there are a few others I'm going to try in the coming weeks and months.
I'm going to hop on the exercise bike in a bit for an ease down hour. Been a good training weekend. 35 miles in the mountains safely banked with close to 9,000 feet of ascent and the blister is still healing well - I think that deserves a 'Gert mint' rating for a successful weekend. All it really needed to make it a perfect ten out of ten was a good ol' piss up in thrown in there somewhere. Never mind, maybe next week...
Saturday, February 19, 2011
The forecast was spot on. Shit, wet start in the mist. Low visibility but by the time we got to the end of the outward leg - that is the start of the stage, you see we started at the end and ran to the start. Never mind. By the time we got to the other side - no, we didn't pass over, just ran - the mist had lifted somewhat. Giving us almost total clarity for the route recce - but there were still a few spots of low cloud. By the time we finished the sun was only flippin' shinning weren't it!
It was great running with Pat. He had all the split times for a 22 hour traverse and as we progressed we were spot on. We got the route spot on as well - brilliant. We even managed to make a few tweaks to his route, discovering new and faster ways to run sections of the route. Mind, there were still a few bits I need to re-cover to ascertain the optimum but it was a really worthwhile recce and with the good visibility I now have a feel for the lie of the land where once I had none.
In total we covered twenty three and a half mountainous, soggy miles with close to six thousand feet of ascent. In just under six hours that did include a fair amount of stopping to discuss route choices and the like.
The worst part was the six o'clock start to the day. The best bit was the fact that the taping I applied to my blistered foot held up great. I don't think I set back the healing at all. I felt a bit of discomfort during the run but it didn't so any harm - I love the hippopotamustic oath.
The only other downside is the bloody six o'clock start tomorrow to get back over to the mountains again - but tomorrow's run will be a bit shorter. We're recceing the forest section from Pen Twyn Mawr down to the road and back up to Chwarel y Fan - try saying that after a few vodka and coke's - mmmh, mmmh - what? I'm allowed to relax aren't I?
Friday, February 18, 2011
Starting on a happy note, I managed to get out for the planned lunch run. Even managed to drag Clive out with us (Martin and I). He's not been out with us for ages. Possibly more than a year so that was good. Hopefully we can coax him out a bit more.
We ran the flatter Malago route rather than the up over Dundry. I didn't want to get too far from the office in case the 'worst case scenario' occurred. Thankfully, on that front, the blister was alright. I wouldn't say it was pain free but it more slight discomfort rather than pain.
I'm pleased to have got it out the way. It gives me a more confidence that I'll be OK tomorrow on, the now confirmed, long run across stage 1 of the Traverse. It's an early start. We're meeting at mine at 6:45 and then heading over to the west Black Mountains for an 8:30 start. The forecast looks just about on the right side of decent but probably as good as we could hope for. Certainly looks a bit better than that fateful Thursday last week... I shall certainly be taping my foot - big stylie.
And continuing on a happy not - there isn't any unhappy today, it's strictly feel good, well, it is Friday - on the blister front I took off my Compeed, not knowing what to expect, and was pleasantly surprised - if one can be 'pleasantly' anything when looking at a manky blister. There has certainly been a lot healing going on but the very centre is still weeping a bit. It's a big improvement though so I slapped on another one to continue the good work. Compeed - I'm a believer...
Thursday, February 17, 2011
So today I was working from home. Working with powerpoint - of a sort, I don't actually own powerpoint so I was using the opensource alternative, Libre Office, and it's not a bad substitute. Didn't manage to get out for a run because I got completely carried away in the the moment. My head wanted to explode by the end of it all but I think I managed to create something workable.
So in a bid to test the blister I decided to try taping with the stretchy, stick to itself tape. And I think it's a winner. For the first time this week I sat astride the rower and pulled for all I was worth - stop it. I beat my previous 3500m time by a minute and I was up at my 2000m pace. The foot was moving around a fair bit in the stirrup but I didn't feel a thing. No pain. No chaffing. Don't want to get too carried away but I'm feeling positive.
Definitely need the lunch run tomorrow but after that I will ease back for Saturdays loooong run in the mountains with Pat. The mountain forecast looks OK - not that it won't be completely different in 24 hours, or even a couple of hours for that matter. Looking forward to it.
Oh yeah, and of course I put it in an hour on the exercise bike after the row. And now I'm off to shower, scoff my smokey bacon stew stuff wot I cooked - after the shower, not during - and put my feet up for the rest of the night.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
The blister is feeling a lot better. Is that because it's healing well? or perhaps it's the 'Compeed' magic? I'd be happy with a bit of both.
Been another 75 minutes on the bike but I'm stealing myself for a 'test' run tomorrow. I'll be working from home on my power-point presentation for the Spanish, the CEO and other big nobs - don't ask - I only hope I don't shit me-self!
A lunchtime run through the woods me thinks - but it'll be easy, very easy and if I feel I'm making things worse, that the heel isn't ready, that I'm doing harm - Hippocrates and all that jazz - then I will abort. Mind you, I've not taken the 'oath'. I hope the forecast is decent though.
For some reason, despite the blister, the lack of running and the dirtiness of my car three days after cleaning it, I'm feeling fully fine...
Been a bloody strange one tonight!!!
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
... I have found the answer - fingers well and truly crossed. Pat recommended 'Compeed'. Hadn't heard of it so I looked it up and went and bought myself some. They are flippin' pricey for plasters and I thought they'd be a let down but not being able to run is doing my noggin in but I'll try anything - well, within reason.
Hands up though, I was wrong - at least after a few tentative, early steps - not running mind, just walking around the house. The pain and discomfort has gone - result. Going to see how the Compeed endures a full day of mooching around at work before attempting a run on Thursday. It's a fine balancing act to be ready for the weekend's training. Do I run too soon and damage my chances? or leave it to late and then find it's all to no avail? No, the Thursday lunch run it is.
Monday, February 14, 2011
I can also happily confirm that I passed today's 17th Edition Wiring Regs exam - bargain. And interpolating the exam result breakdown provided in percentage form, I have been able to determine that I got 56 of the 60 questions correct - result!
Right, now back to the wine...
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Well anyway, I put in an hour and forty five minutes on the bike which was relatively easy in the heel. It's still sore - pants. Not sure how the Dursley's going to go tomorrow but it's definitely still touch and go. Hopefully taping it up will enable me to run. After a rest day - from at least - I should go quick but it all hangs on how much pain I can endure - or am willing to...
Friday, February 11, 2011
Oh yeah, almost forgot, hours bike session completed tonight - remember, cross those fingers...
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Well, as you can tell, I made it over to recce stage one of the South Wales Traverse. I parked up in a lay by at the end of the stage and ran to the start, turned around and ran back. Except I didn't quite get to the start on account of my self imposed cut-off time - two and a half hours. I didn't want to get caught on the Mountain in the dark so once I hit the cut-off I did an about face and ran back.
I have to say that despite there being zero visibility and the terrain being amongst some of the roughest the Black Mountains has to offer it was a thoroughly splendid way to spend four hours and fifty minutes. In terms of a recce it wasn't great on account of the low visibility. The cloud was down for pretty much the entire run so I couldn't really get a feel for where I was running. I'm pretty sure I hit all the peaks I was supposed to but can't say absolutely.
But by god was it ever rough going and from the moment I had to make a river crossing in the first couple of miles I knew I was going to head into blister territory - and as was written in the prophecy, it came pass. The wetness never really let up. It was pretty boggy running across most of the stage. The sustained damp softened the skin on my feet and over the last five or so miles I could feel the attack of the killer blister edging upon me. And, back at the car, once I built up the courage to take my socks off, there she was on my heel, the size of a ten pence piece, red raw and smiling up at me - aaaaaaahhhhh.
What a stage though. It will probably seem easier with some visibility but I reckon it's going to be the toughest of the traverse. There wasn't much good running. The section down from Garreg Las was a kind of rocky version of hell. It was really energy sapping and I'm glad it's stage one of the traverse because I wouldn't want to tackle it when tired. There's no doubt I need to get back over there to recce it a few more times because I'm sure my route choice was far from optimal - I bloody hope it was far from optimal the length of time it took me to cover the distance! It took way too long but then again navigation was tricky to say the least. Still, need to speed it up next time.
In all I covered almost exactly twenty miles and 5,200 feet of ascent. I am, as they say in the trade, a bit knackered. Time to put my feet up - and eat the last of my curry.
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Tonight it was time to rest so it was only a light training session. I've a long one in the planning for tomorrow. Going over to recce the first stage of the South Wales Traverse. Haven't done much on the far west of the Black Mountains so it should be a bit of an adventure... I'm aiming for around twenty five miles but whether I manage all of that? well, we'll just have to wait and see.
This evening's session was just a fairly relaxed hour on the bike. Nothing too strenuous - I have an inkling I'm going to need all my strength for tomorrow to battle the wind and the rain. Fingers crossed the weather improves a little but I'm not too hopeful.
And now for something a little different. I'm going to be testing out my GPS tracking capability tomorrow. The map below will hopefully show my position in real time - or as real time as my limited phone reception in the mountains will afford me. I'm aiming to set out on the run around eleven o'clock so if you check back to the blog after that you should see my progress - or, depending on conditions and route finding, the lack of it.
I'm going to try and have real time tracking available on my Traverse attempt in May so tomorrow will be a good test of (a) whether it even works at all, and (b) whether, based on battery drain tomorrow, it will be capable of tracking for the full 24 hours. Fingers crossed to a successful test - and recce...
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
I've also booked another days holiday for Thursday to go run another recce in the Black Mountains but sadly the forecast ain't looking great. I'm committed now though - to the day off - and to the training, for the matter. This Mad Runner is going for it.
Monday, February 07, 2011
Definitely feeling yesterday's effort in my legs. They are sore - but no more sore than you'd expect after a solid race performance. Still pretty made over by how well I ran. But there's no time to sit back and reminisce. It was back to training with - if not a bump - certainly a gentle tap. Martin and I got out for another lunch run but I had to persuade him that a run through the Malago Park rather up over Dundry was the way to go - he wasn't too sure but my legs sure as hell were.
So we headed out for a easy four and a half miles but it was anything but easy. The wind was howling and I found the going tough. I wasn't sure if I would make it round the full normal route because my legs didn't feel great and the wind was sapping my remaining strength - but I did. Had to laugh - or cry - on the run in along Brunel Road though. A couple of strong gusts did actually bring me to a complete dead halt. I took two or three steps on the spot before recovering forward traction. I was mighty glad to get in out of the wind - but also bloody glad I got out there. Will have done my legs the power of recovery.
Tonight I eased it with just an hour on the bike. I've deferred the rower so I'll hit out 5000m tomorrow - Rome wasn't built in a day - two wasn't it? Finished off with the now standard push-ups and sit-ups - the six pack is looking greaaat, even if I do say so myself - vain bastard.
And finally I've continued with the healthy(ish) living theme I started last week with a Veggie Bhuna. OK, so the bottle curry sauce is perhaps not the healthiest but at least I can control all the veggies I chuck in and I'm not quite up to do the curry bit from first principles just yet - give me time - no, second thoughts, don't think I'll ever be there. Also, learning from last week I cut back on the chilli's tonight and even though I say so myself it was flippin lush, just about the right 'hotness' and I've put two spare portions to the freezer for later in the week. Yum. This home made malarchy is working really well; put it all together, lob in the oven, go exercise, shower and then consume - brilliant!
Well anyway, I'll stop boring you now. Onwards, ever onwards, I've got the bit between my teeth now...
Sunday, February 06, 2011
I had a bit of a lie in - but not too much. On with the coffee maker - max strength java - while cooking breakfast - OK, so there's not actually a lot of cooking to be done to Weetabix. Then, with the couple cups of coffee's downed, the days news read, it was time to head over to Huntley and the May Hill Massacre. I decided to do my bit for the environment, left the car on the drive and jogged over to the start - a nice warmup in anyone's book, weighing in just under three miles.
I was wearing my skin tight kit - I like to scare the laaaadies. I arrived with fifteen minutes to spare so timed that pretty well. And then before we all knew it, we were off on the eight and a half mile race, that is the May Hill Massacre.
I started near the front - I was going for it. After the first hill section I was lying in 26th place - I was happy with that and would have gladly taken that as my finishing position in a field of 400+ (or at least 400+ entries).
Then as we headed on the second climb up to the top of May Hill I gained a few more places. I was feeling strong as I blew my competitors away with my powerful display of hill climbing - well, some of them anyway.
Then over the top of May Hill I was net even as I gained a couple but lost a couple on the muddy descent - I knew the hills to come and wanted something left in the tank. I ran steady through Newent Wood before switching up a gear on the now gently ascending part of the course before the final major climb. I gained a few more and was up to fifteenth.
The final climb went well. I gained another couple of places as I ran the hill, slipping and sliding in the mud as oft you do in the Massacre.
With the last of my strength waning a little I was controlled on the two mile descent to the finish as two runners came past. By then I had no more left to give and was settled to let them go.
So I finished in a respectable 15th place from a strong field of maybe 400+. Each year the competition at the front seems to get stronger and 15th is a big improvement over last years 29th place and I was over four minutes quicker to boot. But the best part, the part that sees me well and truly back, is the fact I was over two minutes quicker than my fastest ever time over the course. A time set way back in 2007. I am made up. I knew things were headed in the right direction but now I know how quick they're moving there.
Well there it is. 1 hour, 1 minute and 32 seconds for the eight and a half mile route with somewhere around 1,500 feet ascent that is the May Hill Massacre. I'm so chuffed I could crush a grape. Oh, and then there was the little matter of the three mile run back home...
Friday, February 04, 2011
If the weather tomorrow is kak I will rest up and kick butt in Sunday's race. If it's half decent then I'll go run 10+ miles and then treat the race as a tempo training session. Really not sure which option I prefer at this stage. I know I'm not quite back to my 2007 level but I do honestly feel I'd run it pretty close. And if I do end up resting up tomorrow then I'll try and get a day off next week to head back over to the Brecon Beacons for a good hard one - ooh matron, no.
Thursday, February 03, 2011
Looking forward to Sunday's Massacre now. I'm in the mood to give it some but I still don't think I'll rest up Saturday. I'm going to aim for about 10 miles. And I think on Sunday I will jog over to the race from home, that'll be about three to four miles and should be a decent warm up - and of course, warm down - well, how else will I get home?
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
I'm not too concerned about the race as a race. For me it'll just be a hard hilly tempo run. Training is more important to me right now and in my mixed up world a race is damn good training. I was aiming to get 'First Local' at the Massacre but even if I rest up on Saturday I don't think I'm quite there yet - next year, bring it on next year and I'll be ready. But having said that, despite not easing off the training schedule ahead of the race I reckon I should beat last years time...
Tuesday, February 01, 2011
As to training tonight, I'm resting the leg, which I hasten to add feels much better so yesterday's run did no harm. Bike and row - what else would it be if not running? Probably a bit of ab and pushups as well no doubt. Not going to push to hard, this cold is dragging me down a little. Want shot so I can crack on with my mission to conquer South Wales' largest mountain range.