Monday, April 30, 2012

There's Something..

Uniquely satisfying about sprinkling a little chopped coriander over your home made curry (from base spices) - when said coriander has been freshly plucked from your herb garden - Yumtastic. You can't get fresher than that.

Been back on the bike tonight for a solid hour. My legs feel much improved. The knee tendony bits seem pain free - which is nice. It's my quads that still ache a little. Really pleased my calves held up though. That's where I thought the trouble would lie. Guess I should stop thinking.

All I need now is for the weather to improve a little and then I will once again stand atop May Hill and view the seven corners of the county. Come on rain, I know I was begging for a little, not a lot, I'm still, I'm still Davey from the block.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Time On My Hands

Well my left leg remains a little sore, mainly the bit round the back on my knee, those tendony/liagamenty bits - you can tell I'm not a biologist. Not going to be doing much today - which is a good thing as it is pissing down. Luckily for me the neighbour has a small ark and I've booked me a double - well you are supposed to go on these things two by two according to the song. Any takers?

Back to yesterday's race, I didn't want to pass judgement as to whether conditions in the race were tough or not. Having never run it before I wasn't in a position to say one way or the other. Having now read a few reports from others who have, it appears conditions were on the tougher side, mainly down to the gusting winds although it appears the ground was slightly more soggy than average as well. I'm glad because I found it bloody tough going and if that was an easy year...

That said, although I enjoyed the race and I'm glad to have ticked it off. Not sure it's one I will rave about though. Don't get me wrong though, the organisation was amongst the best of any race I have ever run. It all ran like clockwork - and I'm talking Swiss made. The marshals, the supporters - the tin whistle lady below Ingleborough - and the water stations were spot on - to which I thank them all, but it's been no bed of roses, no pleasure cruise, I consider it a challenge before the  whole human race and I ain't gonna lose - losing it, must.. get back.. reality...

No, it doesn't make my top ten on account that there is so much damn running to be done. Mainly the section from Pen y Ghent to Ribblehead. It just goes on and on - and on. Felt more like a road race than a fell race on that section - although more squiggy underfoot of course. And that's not to say I hated that part because I didn't. I was catching runners all the way - always good - but it was just a total gut wrenching slog the entire way. It was a kind of half marathon within an already tough race. I'm more a fan of races with (the necessary) steep ascent - to which I freely admit I am appalling at - followed by technical, steep descent - to which, I'm not bad at - and if there is going to be some flat it needs to be rocky, tussocky shite that I can, again, make the most of it. None of this level, flat ground if you please.

And now for a bit of number crunching - as you do. I've processed my splits verses the four hour schedule. I was in the region of 10% to 16% better on the descent - not bad, happy with that. I was an awe inspiring 20% to 43%!!! worse on the ascent. Forty-bloody-three percent! That truly is gob-smackingly pants. I think I can see where I can get some improvement with a bit of training...

Can't finish without once again thanking the race organisers and everyone involved for putting on such a well organised race. I did enjoy it - even if it might be low down on my list of races to run again...

Pen y Ghent..

Whernside - a long way off..

Whernside - closer but it looks a lot steeper now..

Ingleborough - dear god, no..

You can almost see the finish from Ingleborough - almost..

Saturday, April 28, 2012

That Went Well?

Did it? I'm not really sure? My time was outside the target but I couldn't have tried any harder. I finished in a time of 4 hours 10 for the 37.5km route with 5,000 feet of ascent and finished in 208th place out of 745 starters. I guess I should be happy with that for an old, fat bastard who's doing almost no training at the moment. So to answer the question, I guess it did go well.

We set out at 10am sharp in unpleasant conditions, spitting, intermittent rain and winds that where gusting - mostly into us. I started in the middle of the field, aiming to pick things and preventing myself getting caught up at the sharp end. I had my splits - and I was prepared to use them - but today was always about survival.

I ran what I thought was pretty strongly to Pen-y-Ghent (checkpoint one) but I was a massive 6 minutes outside the split time. How the hell did that happen? I know I didn't push to the limit but six bloody minutes! I want a re-count [throws toys out of the pram] - 457th place. Anyway, with a rapid descent ahead followed by a flipping 10k time trial to Ribblehead (checkpoint two) I cracked on.

Where I struggle on the ascent I bomb it on the descent and soon, for want of a more technical term, pissed it passed a ton of runners. By the time I hit Ribblehead I was up to 318th place and miraculously back inside the target timings by about four minutes, having ripped that split by a good ten minutes.

Next up was Whernside and again, I struggled. With Mr L's magical words of wisdom sounding in my head, I ran every little bit of the climb where it shallowed off slightly - still made s£!t all difference, mind, as I was bloody miles off the split by the time I reached the summit. I lost in the region of seven minutes on the target which means the split was down by over ten minutes! The odd thing was that I was overtaking people a plenty. I don't think I could have made the split if I shoved a rocket up my...

Anyway, another descent to follow - oh yeah, I was up to 269th place on Whernside (checkpoint three) - and I bombed it back down again to the Hill Inn (checkpoint four). Quicker than the split time but not by anywhere near enough to get back on target. 241st place.

The final climb was a bit of a beast, but somehow, because of the made-man route improvements, I found it better going. I seem to like 'em nice an firm - squashy ones don't seem to do it for me. Anyway, I lost a bit of time over the split on the climb to Ingleborough (checkpoint five) but not significantly though. At that point I knew I had no hope of breaking 4 hours but I kept on giving. 227th place.

From Ingleborough the route is all downhill to the finish and as I turned from the summit, into a strong head wind, my left leg started to seize - just what I needed. I pushed on, not wanting those I had just overtaken on the climb to come back at me, and hobbled my way off the top. In fact, I kind of hobbled pretty much all the way to the finish. Provided I kept my left leg fairly locked out, not bending at the knee, it didn't hurt too much - and more importantly it didn't stop me going at it. I had to stop a few times to stretch it but it didn't stop me bettering the split by about five minutes and gaining a few more places to finish just outside the 4 hour mark in 208th.

All in all it was a good day out. Just have to cross my fingers the leg recovers quickly...

The Yorkshire Three Peaks Fell Race

Friday, April 27, 2012

Ready, Set,

Go. In a few short hours - surely there won't be any traffic on the M6 on a Friday?.. I like to dream - I will be up in sunny Yorkshire, the English equivalent of Florida. Most importantly I've got Vera repaired after I noticed a small diesel leak last night as I went through the pre-flight checks. Diesel is expensive enough as it is without letting it leak away. Anyway, it was nothing major, just a leak in one of the fuel return lines and with Longhope Motor Services just around the corner it was easy to get a replacement section of rubber pipe. No more leak. Sorted.

As to the rest of the preparation I've got all my kit packed and checked - I do love a good check-list. The most vital being the compulsory race kit, which, I am reliably informed, will be checked. Hat (I'd hoping to get away with a buff but I do have a proper hat as well), Gloves, Compass, Whistle, harpsichord, waterproof and wind proof trousers and jacket, emergency food, oh yeah, and a map 'of the whole route'.

 Just need to load up the van and I'll be off...

Oh, and if you are sad enough to want to catch the results as they happen you can tune in on the SPORTident website, the race starts at 10am. I'm race No. 105 with estimated splits on the 4 hour schedule as Pen-y-Ghent 0:37, Ribblehead 1:53, Whernside 2:21, Chapel 2:46, Ingleborough 3:15 and the finish 4:00

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Virtually Peaked

Yes, you too, can navigate the Yorkshire Three Peaks fell race. In fact, it's so realistic I don't think I need bother with the real thing - and my calves didn't trouble me a bit and I don't feel at all tired. The best bit though? Yep, it was all over in 214 seconds - unlike the real thing's going to be.

From 'flying' the route I fear it less - probably should have a bit of fear I guess but it really doesn't look as bad as the picture I had in my minds eye. Yes, the three climbs look 'hilly' but the bits in between really only look undulating. Granted, there's a lot of ground to cover - well, it is a 24 mile race after all - but I feel much better about getting round with destroying myself. That's not to say I'm going to disrespect the race as it's obviously a toughie, I just feel better about it now. After all, despite the last couple of months of training decline I have managed a few good training runs this year, and despite the fall off in training in recent months, I have managed a few 25+ mile runs that included more ascent than the race has and I managed a few double header race weekends. I should be fine.

The only other issue to resolve is when to attempt the drive up! I know there will much traffic on the M5/M6 - there always is - just want to try and keep to a minimum the amount of time stopped on the M6 car park...

Three Peaks Fly Through...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Language Barrier

Well, that's the final hurdle out of the way for Saturday, I've found an online English To Northerner translator. With it I'll hopefully survive the weekend, with phrases like, can ah av eur jar o' ale please, followed shortly by, where's t' closet? and racing matters, where's t' start? and of course, 'a far teur t' finish? - I am, of course, taking it on faith that these translation are accurate because I don't understand a bloody word of it... [winks to camera].

Seriously though, I'm all set. I've got my map laminated against the potential of torrential rain and all the rest of my kit bundled up together. And since my project work is on hold until the leak is fixed I've decided to take tomorrow and Friday off. That'll give me a nice leisurely day to pack my kit, check it off the list and sit back and relax. Relax that is, as far as hoping my bloody calves recovery. They are currently still sore from the double race weekend. I shall get my thumbs into them later and have a bloody good dig. I dread the pain but I think it will help...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Feeling Better About The Peaks

Just found out that the Three Peaks race only has just over 5,000 feet of ascent. I thought it was like 7,000-9,000 feet. Spread over 24 miles it's going to be practically only 'mildly undulating'. Feeling much more positive now. Why didn't I check before now? Cribyn was 3k ascent over five miles and that went pretty well. I reckon I'm going to have time for a bit of sight-seeing come Saturday. I might even take my camera...

And Now I'm A Little Scared..

I've been looking through the Three Peaks race info and it scares me a little. I'm not fit enough. Don't get me wrong, I will get round the 24 mile beast, it just won't be pretty. Two months ago I would have raced it. On Saturday I will run it. Four hours would be good but I'll not be disappointed as long as I manage to get round inside the cut-off.

Been busy picking my overnight spot for Friday, a picnic area that looks like it's still there from the last time - according to 'g' maps, anyway. I have a feeling I will get engine failure while parked there meaning I will be forced to stay the night.. Funny that.

Then of course there's the map printing and working out some timing splits, happily all complete - just need to memorise my four hour schedule and, more importantly, stick to it come race day... I don't want to be ambitious but providing I feel OK at Whernside then I will crack on with as much crackability as I have remaining at that point.

Other issues to resolve are, are there water stations along the route? or do I need to provide my own? Don't really want to be lugging that around. Of course I'll need to keep an eye on my sodium levels to avoid the dreaded C-word. So providing there will be water provided I might take along a few salt tablets to drop in, consume and move on. I want to carry as minimal a kit as possible - baring the compulsory requirements. Top of the non-compulsory's will be the sis energy gels. I reckon on eight and down one every 30 minutes. Technically that means I need only seven but best to have a spare. And most important of all, 'the List'. The list of all the stuff I need to take. Operation List is now officially go.

All of which means I'm not running the Bridge Inn 5k tonight - mostly on account of the fact that my calves are totally shot. Really need to rest them. Four days to recover and counting...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Been A Good Weekend

All in all it's been the best end to a week I've had for a goodly while. I raced a little better than of late and it feels like that afforded me some positive training. Still feeling a little frightened of next Saturday's Three Peaks race in Yorkshire. When I entered I was on the up. Last week I felt like I was in a nose dive. And now? Well, I feel like I've manage to pull out of the dive in the nick of time. It might be a while before I start to gain altitude but at least I feel capable of getting around the 24 mile route over Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough. I do need to get some planning done though as I'll need to be packed by Thursday for the drive up Friday evening. I think I know a good place to park up overnight Friday but I need to try and workout exactly where that little spot is - it's in Yorkshire somewhere...

Bloody Offa

Who asked him to build a bloody dyke anyway? Yes, as if you hadn't guessed, I ran the Offa's Orra this morning - and flipping 'orrible it was too.

The route has been amended this year including a new start and finish. It kind of starts halfway along the old route with a figure-of-eight at the half way point. Overall - and I didn't get a gps on it this year so the route is mapped rather than recorded - the route looks to weigh in at a similar distance to the old route - namely 20km or there abouts - with a similar amount of climb - 1,900/2,000ft of climb, give or take.

In my humble opinion - and it is very humble - the race is now a tougher challenge. The old route used to finish with a mostly flat 4 or 5 miles along the river with 95% of the climb out the way so even if you were completely discombobulated after all the ascending you could still manage to get yourself home on impulse engines. The new route puts the flat section in the first half of the race so only 50% of the climb is out the way - and on Cribyned legs that makes the final 50% of the climb a right bastard. I struggled like, well, a fool who'd given it his all at the Cribyn the day before.

Onto the race itself. With a narrowish start I didn't want to get caught in the middle of the field. Even on tired - or Cribyned - legs I was still hoping for a top fifty finish so it wasn't going to be a race where I started steadily. No this was too be a race of blasting it - well, relatively so - from the gun - or in the case of Colin he had the horn - ssh, no, stop it.

It was pretty much straight into the first major climb. A long and steady affair - but unfortunately, runnable. I probably put in too much effort and after the slippery descent to the river I was fair f*(%ed.

The run along the river seemed to take forever as my stride length started to shorten, yesterday's activities taking there toll. By the time I hit Brockweir I was gone. I dug deep but there wasn't much left. The final climb all the way up to Offa's Dyke, was a struggle. The descent was good but I didn't have the energy to push on. It was more a case of getting to the finish on time.

From the far end of the course time seemed to stand still as I bumbled along to old railway bed back towards Brockweir. Nikki M came flying past and I practically spun round a dozen times, cartoon like, in the vortex she created.

Every bit of climb was devastatingly slow but I only dropped three places from there so I was happy with that. A fourth came past on the last bit of the short second to last climb to the cheers of 'come on dad' but with a final steep descent, even on wobbly legs I got him back, before the final fifty metres uphill to the finish.

I crossed the line in an acceptable time of 1 hour and 39 minutes in 32nd place. I'm happy with that. A top fifty finish more than accomplished and I was 3 minutes quicker than last year. Although not directly comparable, I was there or there abouts.

Well done to Chepstow Harriers for putting another fine race with marshals-a-plenty and, more importantly, coffee and cake at the finish. Result. Going to finish up now with an hour on the bike because I have time on my hands with bugger all else to do...

The route of the new (and improved?) Offa's Orra Race...

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Followed Through

- ooh, nasty - with the plan as I went and raced Cribyn. A reasonably tough 5.5 mile fell race taking in the summits of Cribyn and Pen-y-Fan with a total ascent in the region of 3,000 feet. To be fair it's probably got one of the highest ascent to distance ratios of any short fell race. And I surprised even myself with how well I ran. Mind, I was fair destroyed at the end and almost puked after the finish - is that too much information?

The raced started in chill conditions but at least it wasn't raining. I decided to push things today and instead of the normal sitting back at the rear I decided to go for it. I was fired for it and off I went. Within a few minutes the climb really began and it wasn't long before I was walking - but it was a determine type of walking, a hands on legs, pumping, kind of walking. A walking that brings that bloody taste to the back of your throat - yum. That said, it didn't stop that sod Mr L going past - grrrrh.

With the first ascent to check point one out of the way it was time for a little bit of faster running on the drop down into the valley below Cribyn/Pen-y-Fan. It's a fairly technical section with a few rocks hidden underfoot and some thicker bits of vegetation - my sort of descent and I soon passed Mr L - hee hee hee [that's meant to be evil laughter] as I struck out on my own route - as I tend to do. I take a line to the left of most runners, giving a steeper initial drop but it's more level rather than a contour down as I find it better to get to the slightly flatter, runnable downhill as quickly as possible. The plan worked as by the time I reached the low point - altitude, not state of mind - I had passed several more runners.

I feared the L-meister would be champing at my heels on the climb to Cribyn as I climbed with all my might - which isn't much because I am sloth like on the steep bits of ascent. Gripped by fear I pushed and pushed, running as much of the slightly flatter bits as possible even if it was only for 10 metres to try and keep my advantage. Again, I ploughed my own furrow - ooh, er misses - as I bore slightly left of the normal line to try and hit the more solid ground sooner. Again, it worked, as the chap that had out climbed my over the softer ground, floundered once I hit the solid path will he was still on the softer stuff. Although slightly longer in distance by the time he hit the path I was ahead - and I stayed there all the way to Cribyn. There was still no sign of the L-minator coming past which I thought was odd - not that I was complaining.

My descent from Cribyn was acceptable but not great. I was a little timid but with the climb to Pen-Y-Fan up next I guess saving a little bit in the legs might not have been such a bad thing. It wasn't long before the lactic began to throb through my veins. Up, up into the mist as the hail stones began to fall. Still no sign of the L- exocet. I was beginning suspect something was awry - either that or he had one hell of a master plan waiting around the corner. Turns out he'd done his back - and there was me pushing, pushing, pushing for all I was worth. Still, there was a new battle to commence as one chap had the indecency to over take me in the final 50 metres of ascent to the summit - I wished him well though, grrrrh.

Next up the descent and I was good to go - on my now wobbly legs. I pushed a little too hard, too quickly to regain the place and, having pulled out a bit of lead, got a bloody stitch and had to slow. Bastard. It was agony. I ran on for a few hundred metres but I knew I had to do something as I was down to a jog and half the field would soon be flying past any second so I stopped and massaged the area of the stitch. It was then I realised the gap was larger than I had thought and that there was still a small chance I could keep ahead.

With the stitch easing I got going again but he was on my heels. I couldn't go at full capacity over the rough terrain as it seemed to aggravate the stitch. I knew if I could hold him until the field that I'd be OK. I was confident the stitch wouldn't rear up running across the smother terrain - and I was right as I rammed along, all guns blazing to cross the line in 1 hour and 8 minutes. Over two minutes quicker than the only other time I've run the race - which was a surprise. Still not really very good though but after the last two months of spiralling ever downward I'll certainly take it. Cue a coughing fit and - no, I'm not mentioning the other thing again.

It's good to know I can still raise my game when I need to, to draw on every ounce of strength and be able to drain the tank down to empty. It was the first time I've felt a wrecked after a race for quite some time. I just hope I can start to get some more stable training done over the next few months. Gives me some hope I can get things turned around once I get some stability.

Well, it's about time to wrap things up here. It was a hollow victory over the L-xocutioner today and battle will recommence once he is mended - which I hope will be soon. Up tomorrow is Chepstow Harriers Offa's Orra with it's all new start/finish location and slightly amended course. At 20km I'm not expecting another 13th place finish...

The route of today's Cribyn Fell Race..

Friday, April 20, 2012

Not Quite The Way I Saw The Day Ending

And it was all going so well to start with. The works started up the best it has all week. Not perfect but things were certainly headed in the right direction. It was all looking good. As I said, not perfect but definitely in the category of, what I like to call, going well - and then we sprang a leak - doh. Didn't see that coming. Don't panic, don't panic. OK, on second thoughts, panic, panic. That somewhat impinged on what was going to be an early-ish getaway for tea and biscuits with the Bro and Sis-in-law. I was looking forward to that so I hope we can get things rearranged in the near future. I did manage to escape eventually and despite the setback I can definitely see the light at the end of the tunnel - and it's not just a train coming in the other direction...

Off to Cribyn tomorrow to race like a one legged rabbit. The forecast looks pants. The route's too steep but like Mr Gump, I shall run, rabbit, run.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Time For A Big Bang

A double header tonight - ooh er misses. I feel like a bloody good laugh. Might be the medicine I need. What's that? I think I can here a bottle of wine calling to me, 'open me, open me'.... OK, if you insist. Going to continue with the theme for the week so it's feet up, sit back and think of England. Just the ticket. I shall be attempting another double on the weekend but this time it'll be a brace of races. Cribyn Saturday and Offa's Offa Sunday. Feel a little apprehensive for Saturday's race as it holds memories but I think it's about time I got it out of my system.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Ooh The Rain

Really entices me to go for a run - I think I'm missing a 'negative' in there somewhere. Still, it's good for business. Can't summon anything upbeat to pen so I'll leave you with one of my earliest web posts from way back in May of 2007 - yes, I have been posting all this time. In fact I started way back in the latter months of 2006. Anyway, think Pam Ayres...

Oh I wish I had stayed on my feet,
But the mountain was just far too steep,
Arms flailed in the air,
Without any care,
Oh I wish I had stayed on my feet.

Oh I wish I had stayed on my feet,
But my running style wasn't so neat,
I charged like a horse,
And struck with full force,
Oh I wish I had stayed on my feet.

Oh I wish I had stayed on my feet,
But the deadline I just had to meet,
Near the finish, I fell,
Bashed my knee, hurt like hell,
Oh I wish I had stayed on my feet.

and a new verse...

Oh I wish I had stayed on my feet,
But I wouldn't admit to defeat,
Legs starting to buckle,
Spectators did chuckle,
Oh I wish I had stayed on my feet...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Nout To Report

Been another naff day of training and I wasn't even home that late. I just can't seem to be arsed anymore. I thought about on the drive home but by the time I pulled up on the driveway I couldn't be bothered. Not good. Not good at all. I have totally lost my mojo.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Calm Before The Storm

It's been a relaxing day today. Haven't done much at all to speak of. Pottered in the garden and a short jog across a few a fields and that's been about it. I can feel another busy week as the storm clouds form so I'm making the most of the calm by doing diddly today.

Anyway, for those who want to relive yesterday's Sugarloaf fell race in 53 seconds, here is a virtual tour of the route - you really couldn't tell I've done sod all today could you? Where did I find the time for this...

Virtual Sugarloaf Fell Race (Summer Route)...

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Not So Sweet

As expected, today's Sugarloaf race was more aspartame than sugar. I was a massive four plus minutes slower than last year as my form continues to nose dive. It's got to flatten off at some point but I still think there's probably a bit more diving to go before that happens. I enjoyed it though and that's the main thing and it was good to see so many Chepstow Harriers out.

I set off towards the rear - matron - and took it steady on the first climb up the road and through the woods onto the Deri. A sensible move as once onto the Deri I was able to pick up the pace nicely and reel in a few runners. Mr L was still just in range but getting towards the point of no return.

My heart wasn't in it on the second climb up to the summit of Sugarloaf. I took it too steady as the snow gently blew in - didn't expect that. I didn't push on where normally I would and Mr L, well he was out of sight. There would be no catching him on this day. In fact he must have been practically supping tea back in the finish area by the time I eventually reached the summit.

The descent went better. More like my normal self but somehow I still held back a little. Never really finding top gear. My eye wasn't on the ball today as I finished in a poor time of 63 minutes and a few seconds. That's my first time outside the hour for years but I'm not really that disappointed. I knew it was on the cards and I know when things get back to normal that I will once again start to soar like an eagle with the wind beneath my wings - which reminds me, I really must cut back on the beans...

The 7 miles and 1,800 feet of the summer Sugarloaf Fell Race...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Off To Sugarloaf

I managed a little pootle on home turf on my day off. Cut the grass. Sowed some beetroot and now I'm all set to go run Sugarloaf tomorrow. Mustn't get the 11am start wrong - that always haunts my sleep from the year I turned up half an hour late. Not sure I'll break the hour this year but I might surprise myself... To be honest I'm not that bothered. I just look forward to getting out there. The energy sapping climb onto the Deri. The fast run across the top - provided you've saved a bit - before hitting the final runnable - or at least it will be for some - climb to the summit. Then the best bit. The super fast descent pretty much all the way to the finish. I can guarantee there'll be no saving the legs like there was during the Llanbedr to Blaenafon race...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

There'll Be No Traverse

Sadly I'm going to call off my South Wales Traverse attempt in June. It might only be April but my training has taken a nose dive and when I'm not working I'm too tired for it - ooh matron. If I try and force things I'm just going to wreck myself. Hopefully I can keep the long training runs going on an intermittent basis to keep things ticking over. After all, I've got to keep some semblance of form for the Saunders Mountain Marathon. With luck things will ease off in a couple of months and I can get the mojo back out of the cupboard, dust it off - oooh, no, ssssh - and get things going again. When things do ease I will have to consider my options. A late traverse? or maybe just put my full focus into the Offa's Dyke attempt. Three days for the 180 miles?...

Tomorrow I'm hoping to find enough motivation to head up over May Hill - read Flexi-Day off work. This weekend is going to be my last few days of freedom from it for a while. Sugar loaf Saturday. Lounging around Sunday and then back to the grind stone...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Will I Ever Run Again?

Another long day at work but on the bright side much was achieved. The downside is that I'm totally knackered and now I've finally made it home I can't even be arsed to get on the bike let alone go for a run. Then again it's pissing down so I wouldn't have got out even if I was sprightly - which at my age, isn't often. My batteries are starting to fade. My old nickel hydrides aren't a match for these new fangled lithium ions they're installing these days. I need a damn good recharge - and no, that's not a euphemism, thank you very much. I am muchly hoping tomorrow goes well so I can pull a flexi-day Friday - and being the 13th I think I'll just stay in bed all bloody day...

Monday, April 09, 2012

A Day Of Nothingness

Can't summon the will for anything much today. The weather outside is frightful, and since I've no place to go, I think I'll retire to the sofa. The highlight having been the trip to the recycling centre - whoop, whoop. With the stew slowly cooking - as it does in a slow cooker - there's nothing much left to do but relax and enjoy the last of the bank holiday as it fades, damply, into tomorrow. Oh, and while I remember, here are a few photo's from the Shropshire jaunt...

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Maiden Voyage Complete

and not an iceberg in sight - although there were still a few patches of snow hanging around. I can safely Vera passed with flying colours. The bed was fairly comfy for a few pieces of foam and the curtains, front and back, kept out most of the light. In fact they worked too well as I overslept and my 8am start slipped back to 9am.

So, up late I cooked up breakfast, brewed up a strong black coffee and headed out. My legs felt OK but I wasn't sure I'd replaced enough calories after yesterdays (corrected) training stats of 21.5 miles (up from 20) with only 4,500 feet of ascent (down from 5,000). I had already planned to reduce today's target on account of how tired the legs felt last night. I estimated the new route to be about 15 miles - but I was wrong as it turns out, it was almost 18 miles and another 4,500 feet of ascent.

My fear of not having consumed enough last night became a sure thing and I struggled... I took a bucket load of gels with me and was shoving 'em down at regular intervals but when you've emptied the tank no amount of temporary top-ups can really get you back on track. That wasn't to say I didn't enjoy the run. In a way I enjoyed it all the more as I was able to take in the views more thoroughly than I normally would.

Anyway, I wound my way west and north to pick up the Shropshire way - that path seems to be everywhere! At about nine miles I linked up with the Offa's Dyke for the section out from Churchtown (just to the west of Mainstone) and followed both routes until they split just below Hergan hill. From there the route (back on the Shropshire Way) wound its way down to the village of Clun - and why does almost every village in the area begin with, end with or generally have the word 'clun' in it? Clun, Clunton, Aston on Clun, Clunclun - I made that one up, Clungunford - that one's true, Clunbury... Then again, I'm guessing it has something to do with the River Clun...

Anyway, having safely made it to Clun and viewed the ruins of Castle Clun, which dates back to William the Conqueror, I headed back north from whence I had come. Back at the van I packed things up, secured my little nik-naks - shh, no, stop it - and camping wot-nots and headed home having had a thoroughly carefree couple of days. Back to normality I suppose...

Day 1: 21.5 miles and 4,500 feet of ascent

Day 2: 18 miles and 4,500 feet of ascent

Saturday, April 07, 2012

And The Mystery Destination Was...

Shropshire. Not the Long Mynd though. I wanted to run somewhere new so I parked up just North of Clun and headed out on the Shropshire Way heading east and North. The weather was a bit rubbish but at least the rain held off.

I was surprised by how hilly the route was. You expect hills on the Mynd but not so much on your run of the mill countryside. And the views.. and that was despite the murk.

In all I covered about twenty miles and around 5,000 feet of ascent. Thoroughly bloody knackered though. I think I might have to downgrade tomorrow's route a little... Planning to head west and pick up Offa's Dyke - fnah, fnah - north of Knighton.

As to the camping, I've found a great little spot. Cooked up some dinner and now the murk has lifted I'm going to head on out for a short walk to the Bury Ditches Fort on Sunnyhill - although I have some trade description issues with the name. Tootle pip...

Friday, April 06, 2012

Not Straying Far

Been busy putting the final touches to the van and now I'm all set to head off tomorrow for a trial run. I've decided that it'd be silly to drive miles for a single nighter so I'm going to head off all week - just kidding. No, I've decided to go with the other alternative to not stray too far. I can wander further north than I'll be going tomorrow on future trips plus staying close-ish will allow me to iron out any minor niggles without being in the back of beyond. All of which relies on me waking early tomorrow with my enthusiasm still intact...

Anyway, here are a smattering of pics of the finished article. Vera in all her humble glory...

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Weekend Away?

Considering heading off to South Snowdonia this weekend. Late notice, I know, but I've not the time to plan an Offa's recce. Shouldn't take me long to bundle my gear into Vera and head off. I'm thinking of maybe following the Rhinogs race route on day one and then something else day two. I've got my maps, what else would I need? All I need is a tall ship - that's Vera - and a star to steer her by... after all, I must get back to the mountains again, to the lonely mountain and the sky...

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Good Day

It's been a good day. The light at the end of the tunnel is much brighter. Things went well today and I can finally see the exit strategy. True, my legs still feel muchly knackerated but I don't mind that. My Wednesday target of being pain free is looking good. All in all things are headed in the right direction.

Been reading this evening and I realise there are so many areas of this fair Isle's countryside that I want to go run. I reckon if I started running tomorrow I'd never cover it all. It makes me want to head to Snowdonia, the Cairngorms, the Peak District, the Lakes, the Yorkshire Moors... the list seems almost endless. I'm itching to go for a road trip with Vera Vanette in a couple of months.. scratch, scratch...

Monday, April 02, 2012

Shuffling Along

Conjure up the image of a ninety year old geriatric shuffling along... That's me, that is. And don't mention stairs. I cringe at the very sight of them let alone trying to descend 'em. I feel there is more shuffling to be done tomorrow. I'm targeting Wednesday to be pain free... Provided I hit that milestone I will plan my little weekend jaunt along Offa's Dyke from Knighton down past Monmouth and then back home. I reckon I will be ready to cover the 120km in two days carrying full kit, tent, etc. It'll be two long days, a slow pace and plenty of time to empty the mind of all distractions. Of course, that's provided it fits with work. Fingers crossed on all fronts...

Sunday, April 01, 2012


One who attempts to run a half marathon the day after a reasonably tough 15 mile fell race... Yes, by that definition - to be included in the next official edition of the OED - I am thoroughly wrecked or, more accurately, my legs are. They seem to have stopped functioning.

I got myself out of bed and ready for the race. The quads felt sore but the calves seemed OK which was a pleasant surprise. I drove over to Brierly, parked up and jogged the two miles over to Speech House for the start. The jog over seemed OK and I think it did ease my slightly stiff, aching legs a little. I timed it about right so there wasn't too much waiting around. Collected my chip, met up with my fellow Chepstovians and set about the business of running the Half Marathon.

I started way back from where I would normally start such a race. In fact, I was so far back it took me somewhere in the region of 75 seconds to get across the start line! But I wasn't unduly worried. The worst thing I could have done today would have been to have gone off too fast - I certainly didn't do that - in spades. As it was I set off on a workman-like pace of seven and a half minute miles and I surprised myself by keeping to that pretty consistently throughout. Because I wasn't on the edge of my cardiovascular capacity I was able to step up the effort on the hills to keep the pace constant.

Steadily, as the race progressed, I reeled in runner after runner which is always good for the focus and mental well being. There's nothing worse than being overtaken continually, all the while knowing you're fading. As it was I kept it together and almost managed to reel in Mr Stott at the death, he having overtaken me at about 2 miles out. I was closing him down in the last couple of miles but in the end, having closed him down from out of sight to just 15 metres, the finish just came a mile too soon for me...

All in all I'm please with my run, finishing in a gun time of 1 hour 37 minutes and 38 seconds with an expected chip timer nearer 1 hour 36 minutes. That would make it 7:15-20 mile pace and I can live with that. Oh, and as expected the Lawson's did the double with Mrs L thrashing me out of sight. Then after a bit of natter at the finish I jogged the two miles back to the car except it was more of a fast walk - and even that's possibly using a bit of poetic license...

Anyway, I can now confirm that my legs are now officially f*$%ed. I almost fell out of the car on arrival home. Having swung my legs out I leaned out the door only to discover that the legs had remained steadfastly within the car. I can, at best, manage a slow shuffle - and don't mention stairs. I'm off to look at bungalows...

Today's Forest of Dean Half Marathon