Thursday, June 30, 2011

I Had The Trots

- The Tintern Trots. Chepstow Harriers evening race out of Tintern up to Offa's Dyke and back down again. It's an undulating 6 mile route with 1,200 feet of ascent - and a thoroughly bloody good race.

After a longish day at work I headed over the Bridge and prepared myself to race. Sitting at your computer all day drinking copious amounts of strong black coffee isn't exactly the best way to prepare but apart from feeling a little dehydrated I was ready to give it a crack.

I set off at the front and led the race out for the first kilometre - what a nobber. I didn't have a hope in hell of remaining at the front but f$^% it, what a buzz to lead things - even if only for the briefest of moments...

As expected, I was soon swallowed up by the pack but I kept my composure and ran with the flow. The main climb went OK. I kept things steady and chugged my way to the top. My favourite part of the TT is the mile along the Dyke itself. The twisty, meandering, undulating section suits my style of running and I was able to make inroads on a couple of runners. Never quite managing to close the gap completely, I got close.

Then it was the sharp descent down out of the woods and across the meadow to the gently rising track back towards Tintern before reaching the old railway bed and finish at the Bridge Over The River Wye - although I didn't see Alec Guinness or Jack Hawkins.

I finished in a time of 42:55 which I think compares favourably to my PB of 46:47 set in 2006 on the slightly longer course as it was back then. From comparison of various times from 2009 and 2010, on the old and new course, it looks like an offset of just over three minutes, so that puts my run this year in the 'one minute quicker' territory - but it ain't a precise science. Still, my finish position of 14th from a field of 152 is my highest finishing position ever (and that's from the largest field I've run in as well) so that has to be good.

I could feel the groin at the finish but it didn't hold me back. Just wish it would settle. All in all I feel very satisfied with tonight performance.

And finally, well down to all the marshalls and supporters. I always feel a tinge of guilt for running one of my clubs races. Always feel I should be helping instead of racing. Sorry guys :-(

The Tintern Trot:-

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Busy Day And Not Much Training

I'm struggling at the moment. My mojo has gone south for the summer. I know I'm fit. I know, despite a couple of lean weeks, that I won't have lost much fitness but somewhere along the line my enthusiasm has waned. I feel jaded and don't know what to do. Work was a rush and after yesterday I just about managed an hour and fifteen on the bike. It's tough at the moment and I need to dig deep.

I'm going to try as hard as possible to go race the Tintern Trot tomorrow. I need to stop putting pressure on myself and just go have fun with it. Without hope or agenda - just because it's the middle of summer - and at the middle of summer you tell the truth - running needs to be fun and I just want to enjoy...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What A Long Day

and there weren't no training.

I finally got home just gone half ten and until then I hadn't stopped. Work was good - got a good amount of 'stuff' cleared off the desk. Then nine and a half hours after I started I left - but not for home. No, tonight was the Bridge Inn 5k - and I wasn't even able to run. I was official recorder for the night. With Bristol & Wests normal computerists away I stepped into the void - and boy, what a night for it. I was flat out till about nine pm. There was no way I had time to run as well - just as well there's the Tintern Trot on Thursday.

Tonight saw the biggest field the Bridge Inn 5k has ever hosted - and by one hell of a margin. With 205 finishers we are talking 60+ more runners than have ever assembled before for the ever increasingly popular race. To say I was zonked by the end was an understatement. It was full on, flat out hard work typing in all the runners details followed by their positions and times.

Hoping to have a more restful day tomorrow - and perhaps manage some training. I don't mind helping out once and a while though. Just glad it all went OK. Pretty sure there won't be many errors - other than a few spelling mistakes...

Monday, June 27, 2011


The journey home wasn't so bad. Air-con fired up to stave off the humid, heat I made good progress and arrived back sometime after midday. First job was to mow the lawn - oh, the glamour - but it needed doing. The rest of the day is going to be spent relaxing and resting.

An hour on the bike is as much as I felt like doing today. Normal service wil resume later in the week and since I can't run the Bridge Inn 5k tomorrow - I'm doing the registration/recording - I think I'll go run the Tintern Trot on Thursday night. It's not a bad little race. A little hilly in places - well actually, most places - it should be right up my street...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Well That Was A Surprise

I managed to get out for a ten miler yesterday. Up to the edge of Exmoor and back. I was a little bit the worse for wear but felt all the better for it. Rest day today...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Well This Is Goodbye...

For a few days. Smoke me a kipper I'll be back for breakfast on Monday - or maybe lunch - and then they'll be pictures, oh god, the pictures...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Entering Party Mode

Not long now till I enter the magical world that is Butlins. I think I've got everything ready to pack and as I doubt I'll be doing any exercise during the next four days I took the opportunity for a final run.

And a great job it was too. The sun shining. The wind calm. It makes you feel good to be alive. A time to forget your troubles. Up over May Hill, down the the far side, around Newent Woods before heading back over May Hill and home. Ten and a half miles and 1,500 feet of ascent completed in a reasonably time. My speed up the climbs is beginning to improve as well. All good.

I still don't think everything is quite right in the groin area but I do feel it's improving. It certainly hindered me much less than it has and didn't prevent me putting in a few good bursts of speed and effort here and there. I think I've made the right call regarding the long distance challenge. Living to fight another day is definitely the way to go.

Oh, and did I mention I'm off to Butlins! This weekend is going to be such a laugh...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hectic Day At Work

Woe, the stress of it all. Need to nail the last of queries that have been raised against a project. The clock doth tick. Enough of such talk. I'm not in work now.

Feeling really tired tonight after the damn cat played up all night. In out in out squeak rush rush puke rush squeak - only one animal presented for inspection, a small mouse - safely returned to the wild. She just never stopped mucking around, waking me up constantly - and there was me thinking I'd seen the last of being kept awake by a female... A very poor quality night's sleep was had. I'm not sure I ever reached r.e.m. Subsequently I'm flagging a little right about now. Took it easy with a bike session and the rest of the night is operation relax...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Will It Be Third Time Lucky?

On the god damn power cut front. The first came, fortunately, just after dinner was cooked and lasted ten minutes. The second came an hour later and lasted five. The third.... They do come in three's don't they?

Anyhow, it's been a total rest day - other than up at sub-six, off to work and home half five - but I mean on the training front. I can still feel the groin a little so I decided to rest up. I think I'm resolved on the SWT front so it's time to start planning out a new course of events for the next few months...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Last Minute Larry

Been a dodgy old training weekend in the end. The weather didn't defeat me the groin did. I felt a bit of a twinge late yesterday evening and decided it's be stupid to attempt a long run with the risk of being caught in the middle of nowhere. It's all very annoying and leaves me with a decision I don't want to make but know I must. I'm going to call off my Traverse attempt for July and regroup.

Perhaps I did build things up too quickly. I started the year in a rather lowly state of fitness. Not quite at the low point but not a million miles away from it. And then, in the space of three short months I'd run my longest ever run, the forty odd miles of the High Peak Marathon. I wouldn't change things but perhaps the build up has just been too prolific - even by Mad Runner standards. Anyway, I don't want to give away too much of my current endurance but I think I need a month of something completely different - OK, not that completely different but I'm going to mix the training regime up a little.

If things go OK then I may look to a late attempt at the traverse towards the end of September but only if I feel right. I'd rather use the rest of the year to fixate my improved fitness levels and be back next year fitter than ever than risk another blow out. I'm going to play the long game on this one...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Shafted By The Weatherman

Yesterday's mountain forecast for the Brecon Beacons today did not look favourable. I took a late decision to swap my long run to tomorrow and consequently set the alarm clock back for a decent lie in. Imagine my disbelief as to the scene I met upon drawing back the curtains. Bright sunshine and nice white fluffy clouds. OK, I thought, it can be a different matter fifty miles away in the mountains but after investigation of various weather websites, including satellite imagery I can safely conclude that I appear to have been stitched up big style.

There's a lesson in there somewhere - when you make a plan, bloody well stick to it. In my defence, the 28th May still haunts me a little and I couldn't face another outing to the mountains in soggy conditions. The whole 'mis-forecast' affair has left me in no mans land. Do I go for a decent run now or take what ever the weather throws at me tomorrow? I've chosen the later. Suffice to say I won't be looking at the forecast tonight. I'll be setting my alarm for an early start tomorrow, taking a full range of kit and be getting on out there regardless - or so I hope...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Easy Day

The legs are back in good working order but it's been a rest day anyway. Looking towards the weekend the weather still looks dodgy but needs must. I'm still getting the odd twinge from the groin. So Saturday needs to be approached with care. Depending on the outcome I might have some soul searching to do. This years been good so far - well, good in relation to last year anyway. My running is fully back on track and I'm not sure I'm prepared to wreck all the gains I've made...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lucky Lunch Lope

We managed to get back in from the lunch run just before the rains came - and they certainly did come. For a few minutes it ripped it down and I'm so glad we weren't out in it. The run itself was pretty good. With conditions hot but windy we were set for a pleasant one.

I intended to take it steady. My left calf was still a little tight but everything else seemed in good working order. Once we got going I actually seemed to go quite well. The wind was a bit challenging in places but I was running well within myself and the calf was holding up.

The hill climb went well. I did't go all out. Just stuck in low gear and chugged away up and over the top. 17 minutes. None too shabby. I then took it steady on the slightly bone crunching descent and oddly for once Martin wasn't too far ahead. He wasn't catchable but he was well in sight for once.

I finished in 31:10. A pretty descent time and within a minute of my best (I think). Boy was I hot though. After a quick warm down it was shower and back to the grindstone. Then five minutes out from the shower came that horrible re-sweat phase - nasty, really flippin' nasty.

Finished off the days training with an hour on the bike and then it was time for a well deserved chill out on the sofa - even extracted the bed section for the full lazy bastard effect - ahh, bliss...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

We Hadn't...

In fact, organised a lunch run - well yesterday I did say I couldn't remember what we'd planned. Turned out we hadn't planned anything at all. We put that to rights and pencilled it in for tomorrow. Just as well really because early doors I was suffering that old favourite, the second day aches. My calves were pretty tight. Things are feeling much better tonight after a good steady hour on the bike. Fingers crossed, it should be all systems go for tomorrow.

With an eye to the weekend I am intending to head back to the mountains. It's been a week or two plus it needs to be a long one. The forecast looks poor but there's time. I shall be monitoring things closely.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Recovery Day

My calves have tightened through the day. Everything felt in good working order this morning - keep it clean, please - but through the day it all stiffened up - I said, keep it clean. A bike session later this evening and things feel easier. Not sure what we decided in work regarding a the lunch time run. It was mentioned and I made a note to re-stock but I can't actually remember if we pencilled anything in the diary - been a tiring day, mentally.

On other matters, my spice date and walnut cake went down a treat. At least, that is, it went down. There wasn't any left by the end of play and the feed back was positive - though there are one or two greedy sods in the office who'd eat the sole off an old pair of shoes if it was going free so I'm not sure I can rely on their opinion.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Oops It Went Again

But not as bad as last time. To be honest, I couldn't really call it 'going again' but I definitely felt a twinge. Unfortunately I'm talking groin strain but it didn't really strain this time and it was only the left side. Any takers for the official position of Chief Mad Runner Groin Massager? No, thought not.

Other than that, oh, and the appalling weather - is there a some kind of greater power working against me? - I had a good run.

Today I was on duty for Chepstow Harriers - a great honour - on Stage 14 of the Welsh Castles Relay - a cracking event organised by Les Croupiers running club. More a festival of running rather than a race. All the teams cheer on all the others. If you've not run it you should. This years race was a first for me on two counts. This was the first time I've run it legit - the two previous occasions have been as a 'ringer' - albeit a very poor quality one - and as an under-age runner in a vets team (declared as such to avoid any suggestion of fraud).

As we - that's my fellow competitors and I - gathered on the start line I felt somewhat overdressed as compared to the rest adorned, as I was, head to toe in SealSkinz beanie hat, compression top, SealSkinz gloves and finished off with full leg compression leggings - officially called 'tights' but I don't want to get a reputation so we'll stick to leggings. As we stood there it felt cold. Experience told me that once we got onto the mountain it would be colder - and wetter, although it actually couldn't get that much wetter because it was pissing down.

The first six and a half miles out of Builth along the A483 were deceptively undulating. I've never run stage 14 before, only driven it in the car. In the car you don't really notice how much up and down there is in those first miles - you bloody well do when you are running it. The name of the game is to not kill yourself on those first miles. Once you turn off the main road at Garth and head to the mountain that's where you start to work. Once you hit the climb at mile seven there isn't much respite.

I was pleased with the way I went on the climb. I managed a fairly sustained, steady pace and good solid effort all the way to the top. I didn't blow up but nor did I have much spare but I felt good and I felt strong - a lovely pair of ladies, they didn't mind.

With about a mile to the major summit the wind really picked up. That doubled the effort required. I ducked down, dug deep and just pushed on through it. It was really sapping.

Over the top and into the short, sharp descent I felt a twinge from the groin. Nothing major and it didn't stop me running hard but I was conscious of it from there on in. With the quick blast out the way it was the final shortish but never the less steep section to the finish. I pushed all the way and was glad when the finish finally came into sight. Over the line, I clocked 1 hour 20 minutes and 27 seconds. My aim was to get inside 1:20 but pretty much the strong winds put an end to that. In conditions I'm sure I would have been on the right side of it. All in all I'm pleased with my run.

Not sure I've ever run in worse conditions in a road race. The rain was pretty much torrential the entire time - I'm bloody glad I was fully suited and booted - who's overdressed now, eh? The support crew on hand at the finish were welcome sight. I don't think it would have taken long to get very very cold. We didn't hang around long. Into the van and away to catch up with the race...

"Drover" - 11 miles and 1,500 feet of ascent.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bring On Drovers

I fear thee not.

Been a restful day. Got a good bit of personal and letting paperwork done. Drove down to Bristol, checked out my tenants. Ready for my new ones now. Then drove home again.

Also got a good bit of baking done - two spiced date and walnut cakes. Couldn't resist trying the fruit of my labour though. Tasty. That's my verdict anyway. I guess we'll see if my work colleagues agree on Monday. And of course tomorrow evening it'll be King Creole time, with my Jambalaya...

All set to chill now. Ready to drive over to Builth tomorrow morning to take on the might of Drovers. Droves I smite thee!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Easing Up Ahead Of Stage 14

I'm looking forward to Sunday's relay leg in the Welsh Castles race. Not hugely keen on the sub-seven alarm call I need to set in order to get across there - it is the weekend after all but needs must. I've been looking over the route of stage 14. It's only eleven miles but the hill at the end scares me a little. Although I've been running up a lot of hills these last six months none of them have been run particularly quickly. So in order to maximise my chances - and I do feel I'll have a descent run - I took things easy on the work-out front tonight. Am I taking it too seriously? Don't be silly, can't let down team Chepstow.

Also - and this is sad, really bloody sad - I'm quite looking forward to another session in the kitchen tomorrow - cooking, a session of cookery. Been to the shops. Got all the ingredients. All set to Jambalaya my Creoles - ooh er misses.

Bring on Drovers...

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Off Topic Tonight

The state of UK politics deplores me. Things go wrong, sure. They always have. They always will. Accidents happen and sometimes so does negligence, mis-management and even criminality. Lessons need to be learnt when things go wrong. However, these days the politicians seem to think calling for an ‘Inquest’ is some kind of magic fix or, far more worryingly, a way of scoring points - all at the tax payers expense. It’s got so bad, the other day, Ed Miliband called for an inquest after someone let one go in the lift. Lessons need to be learnt when things go wrong but do we really need to be throwing tax payers millions at the already rich lawyer and barrister elite? I don’t think so. I think I heard calls for about five inquests today - FFS! And anyway most inquests result in stating the bloody obvious. Coming to conclusions most of us could come to after an hours discussion. These ‘inquests’ take months, cost the tax payer millions, make the rich elite even richer and ultimately achieve very little. Not right. Not right at all.

Well this was a cheery one tonight - and that's after a decent enough day! Better out than in...

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

A Quiet One

Bit of a rest day. Just sixty minutes on the bike and that's me finished.

I'm going to try and get across to tomorrow's Chepstow / Thornbury mob match. Only 5k but should be good fun. Ideally my schedule calls for a longer run than that but I can always add a bit of distance on the warm down - and that, of course, assumes I make it there at all...

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Another Successful Workout

What a lucky day. OK, not really that lucky but Martin and I did manage to avoid the showers for our lunchtime run. It ripped it down not ten minutes before we set out and again five minutes after we got back. Result. In fact, just getting out for a run was a bit of a result. My commitment to the cause - the BSP - is amazing even me. Managed a further hour on the bike tonight and some more crunches.

The run itself was better than I expected. It wasn't the fastest but decent enough especially as I could feel a bit of Monday's run in my legs. I chugged up the hill OK. The old hill climbing swagger is coming back to me. I'll be all sorted for Drover's on Sunday, you mark my words. Another couple of runs Thursday and Friday - that's a run on Thursday and a run on Friday, not a couple of runs on each day - should see me ready for the challenge. With a day off on Saturday to recharge the batteries I'll be set to rock the hill...

Monday, June 06, 2011

Following Through The Threat

Yes, I really did manage to get my butt out for a run after work. Got to stick to the work out plan. I'm into the final critical stages of training now. No, not for the Traverse, although that remains high priority. No, this training is towards a far more important goal - the Butlins Six-Pack. Only 18 days to go! Beep beep.

I ran up to May Hill along the road and back across the fields. Oh what magnificent views in the glorious early evening sunshine. Although there was a bit of a school boy error. Deep in thought. Cogitating other matters. I went the wrong way off the top from what I had intended and ended up half a mile short - only clocking 5.5 miles but in an acceptable forty minutes - well, it is hilly. Still, I've made amends with an extra fifteen minutes on the bike. Just the abs to crunch and I'm all done for the day.

Bring on tomorrow and another step towards a honed BSP...

Today's run:-

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Total Wet Out

It has hardly stopped raining today. There may have been one or two breaks but nothing to write home about. Crapola weather indeed. I turned my attention to another bike session instead of a run. A good solid two hours. The forecast for tomorrow looks better so the intention is to go for a run after work.

Tried my first recipe from the Best-ever Low-Cholesterol cook book. It worked well. Quick to prepare and non to complicated - always an important consideration. Definite result in my book - or should that the cookery book. I shall be fanning its pages again to choose the next meal and maybe another bit of baking for the office - spiced date and walnut cake sounds nice...

Oh, and what a surprise, it's coming on heavy again - the rain - what joy.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Nettles Nettles Everywhere

...lucky I thought ahead and took my scythe. Those stingers didn't stand a flipping chance and I like to think I was doing my bit to keep Britain's public rights of way open for business. On the downside my run took bloody ages on account of all the gardening that was going on.

I plumped for a run in the most easterly section of the Black Mountains. In fact it was so far east it was practically in Longhope. Ok, it actually was in Longhope. Couldn't be arsed sit in a stinking hot car for two hours so stayed home instead. On the upside, I was able to cut the lawn and a few other odd jobs before heading out.

I decided to try a few new footpaths. Some were definite additions to the route repertoire - where as others were most definitely not. In fact at one point I ended up in the middle of a small wood with no hint of a path visible. It was there on the map. Even had a way marker but fifty metres in there was sod all happening. Suffice I crashed my way out into a field and re-routed myself using the map.

In all I covered almost fourteen miles and 2,250 feet of ascent. A decent little run by all accounts - especially the bits where I was actually running and not chopping down vegetation or getting lost in the middle of a wood. Got a few good sections of pace going now and again. Hot though, really bloody hot. When I got back home and sat down I started to drip!

I finished off the days work out with half an hour on the bike. A good day indeed.

Today's route:-

Friday, June 03, 2011

I Swallowed A Fly

Hope I don't die - which is a possibility. Under normal conditions swallowing a fly isn't too much of a worry. You cough and splutter a little but that's pretty much the worst of it. What concerns me a little is when you run past a steaming turd, disturb a swarm of the buggers feeding on said turd - and then you swallow a fly... I'm not feeling so good...

Anyway, after an afternoon debugging some software I got out for a run in the early evening sunshine. The view from May Hill was stunning. You could see right across to the Welsh mountains - arse, don't remind me of those bastards. The distinct shape of Sugar Loaf prominent on the skyline. Superb.

It was another good effort on my part. I wanted to push things on a bit more from Monday. Only seven miles but the route took in May Hill, as mentioned previously, Bright's Hill and Huntley Hill and I ran fairly strongly up all three. Took me a solid 56 minutes. Now that's not hugely quick but then there was 1,350 feet of ascent. That's not far off a category A fell race and certainly well over that required for a category B! And wowzers, am I ever boiling now. Sure was a hot one.

Off to the Brecon Beacons tomorrow for a medium run. Perhaps fifteen give or take. Just need to decide upon the route.

Today's Run:-

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Lost For Words

Yes,for once, I haven't a lot to blog about.

A good drive home - calling by Argos to get myself a blender, to ready myself to get cooking ... - and I was ready for a high level resistance bike session. A good abs workout and push ups done. The rest of the evening was relaxation all the way. I think I needed that. Looking towards the weekend I shall be heading over to the Black Mountains - gee, can't remember when I was last over that way...

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

I've A Date...

To get back on the horse. This horse, of course, is the South Wales Traverse and the date is the 9th of July. I've too many things planned for June - including BUTLINS, whoooooo hoooooo - so I've chosen my first free weekend after that. July wouldn't be my ideal choice but I need to get this bastard out of my system. Worst case scenario will be high day time temperatures but that's nothing water and sunblock can't counter. And I've been a lot better in the heat these days so I don't fear that as much as once I did.

On other matters, it was another late arrival home tonight so just 75 minutes on the bike while I caught up on various paperwork. I cranked the resistance up and really ground it out - sweaty bastard alert!

This coming weekend has sadly become free - and no, it's too soon for that... Sad because I was off to visit my oldest mate. His son is unwell and getting him well is most important so that means - yes, you guessed it - a trip west of the border to the magic mountains of Wales. I think fifteen to twenty should do the trick. I'll pick a route with a few get out clauses just in case but I don't think there'll be a problem. The horse is going to re-mounted shortly - ooh er...