Saturday, June 30, 2012

Not A Stunner...

But I'll take it. I am, of course, talking about my performance on stage 2 of the Cotswold Way Relay. Browsing past results and making a few assumptions I set my sights on 1 hour and 40 minutes for the 19km route with 525m (1,725ft) of ascent.

Not quite up at the crack of dawn - she was a little disappointed - I gathered my kit, lovingly prepared the evening before - OK, more piled by the front door, and headed over to Stanway House. There in plenty of time I managed to squeeze in a fifteen minute nap - toot toot.

Then with the time fast approaching I moseyed on down to the start to meet up with the Chepstow massif to take ownership of a shiny new race number - which I subsequently gave a lucky crumple before pinning to my vest - taking care to avoid giving myself a diy nipple piercing.

I set off towards the front to avoid getting delayed by the stile fest - there are a several in the first mile and I wanted to keep clear of those delays. Into the first climb shortly thereafter I struggled. I can't lay my finger on the reason other than that I am a lardy-ass these days. Just couldn't get going at all as I dropped to the middle order. That said, conditions underfoot weren't great. The recent rain made the going slippery in places and the mud sticky, clinging to your feet to add a little extra resistance to the mix. At least the rain held off though but it was a little breezy in places.

Along the top I went better but not great before dropping down into the villiage of Hailes. Things stabilised a little but I still felt way outside the comfort zone as another few runners sauntered passed. Then before I knew it I hit the outskirts of Winchcombe - halfway-ish - and I felt a little lifted.

The climb out of Winchcombe to Belas Knap, the biggest and claiming the highest point of the stage, went as poorly as the first. I was just about keeping pace with the two or three runners ahead on the flat but as soon as we hit the climb I was pants and they just left me behind.

From Belas Knap, with the clock counting down, I put in a really big effort to close the gap to those few runners ahead. If I could just get back on terms...

The effort paid off as I halved the distance by the time we hit the steep, wooded, twisty downhill section toward Postlip Hall. On that descent I managed to get back a couple of places and more importantly put enough space in between us - even allowing for my shit ascending - to hold my position.

From there I pushed on as best I could to cross the line in a time of 1:42 - at least I think it was 1:42 because I was going by my watch rather than stop watch and got myself a little confused - wot with the effort of the run and all. There is a possibility I was five minutes quicker! On account of working out the wrong target time of day offset from the race start - 8:15. I got it into my head that 9:50 would be 1:40 but it's not, that would be 1:35. In the heat and humidity, with fatigue knocking on my door, I can't attest to what time I actually ran any more. I will just have to wait for the results. Suffice to say I will be more than happy with 1:42 but 1:37 will be a humongous bonus - but I have a fair suspicion that that's just wishful thinking. Top tip of the day, use a bloody stop watch next time you plonker!

Anyway, with my stage complete I took a few minutes to recover. Had a bit of a natter - as you do - and then set sail on the return leg. The 19km back to my car - it was like deja vu 'cept in reverse. A net downhill run of only 360m (1,200ft) ascent. By the time I reached the car - and in fact quite a long way before I got there - I was fair discombobulated but, having committed myself, I had no option than to just keep going.

All in all it's been one of my better training days of recent months. I managed to fit in both a race and a 38km long run with a total ascent of 885m (2,925ft). Not too shabby if I say so myself...

Today's Stage 2 of the Cotswold Way Relay, 19km and 525m ascent
+ the run in reverse back to the car...

Friday, June 29, 2012

Ready For Tomorrow?

Well I should be rested at least - having done bugger all since Tuesday. I've printed my map. Google Earthed the route into my memory banks. Got my kit off - oops - out, got my kit out, ready to rise and go. I'm on at 8:15 for Stage 2 of the Cotswold Way Relay from Stanway House. I'm going to drive there, race my stage to the best of my ability and then turn tail and run back again - well, how else am I going to get a long run in? 19km each way should do the trick - I reckon I might be a tad slower on the return trip...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Potato Eating Season

My first crop. I was going to leave 'em in a little longer but the slugs were starting to get at them. That said there are some fair size spuds in there and a couple had to be junked because they looked a little funny with a few brown bits so maybe it was the right time. Somehow I think I was expecting a few more though. Should four plants have yielded more? Don't ask me. Pleased with my first ever home grown veg - and then, of course, there is always the second crop...

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What's Next?

Designer loo roll? Just seen an advert for designer, bloody, blister plasters! What is the world coming to? I do believe I have seen it all now - baring the designer loo roll, of course, but I'm assuming that's next... Suffice to say I shall continue to buy said product as it is bloody good kit but they don't need gimmicks. Making them a little cheaper would be top of my wish list not fancying them up.

As to training I'm giving it a miss tonight. I struggled to get out of bed this morning. I think an early night is in order...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Loaded Again

It was the Bridge Inn tonight and rather than run, I was behind the computer punching in the entries and pumping out the results. I was on fire on the keyboard entering the 162 entries in possibly the fastest time ever. However, the results went a little pete tong as I've been brain washed into using the categories SF - senior female, F35 - Female 35 etc but the existing result spreadsheet used SL - senior lady... Cue two sets of results for the women - doh. Error located and fixed, albeit at the cost of a little lost time, and that was a wrap... Quite enjoyed it really - well I am a bit of a nerd.

So I was working from home today - so many emails to file, so many documents to update and so little time... I headed down south for the race early and got myself out for a run before hand. I didn't want to risk getting stuck in traffic so I eliminated the risk and got myself to the race HQ ahead of the game. As is the theme for the next week or so I carried my 12lb pack again and ran out from Shortwood to the south and east to pick up the community forest path before making my way back to the race HQ. I covered about 10k in around 55 minutes. Not great but not too bad considering the payload. Hasn't been too bad of a day, all in all....

Monday, June 25, 2012

Now That Was Tasty

Greek potato, pea and tomato soup. So easy and so tasty - and all that veg going past it in the fridge combined into a healthy meal. Who would have thought parsley and dill could taste so yummy?

Taking the night off from it. I was so tired this morning I think it's time for a bloody good lounge on the sofa. Have it...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Low, Low, Low

My back was feeling a bit achy this morning. A bit of muscle strain. The result of yesterday's run with the backpack - combined with some late night limbo dancing - god, I looked like a knob on the dance floor. It wasn't so much 'move like Jagger', as move like John Sergeant. On the upside, I did indeed go low, low, low.

Anyway, I managed to get out for a bit of a run this afternoon. I stayed local and tried out another couple of little footpaths I've not run before. It really wasn't much of a run but it was better than nothing. The new paths weren't the greatest. In fact I'm not sure one section has been used for years. There was no visible path through the knee high grass. Not easy running. Still, it was good for the knee lift. After that, it was slippery, boggy mud paths before another section of overgrown grass and no path before I reached old faithful, Hobbs Quarry and then, shortly after, home.

Despite being a route of only 7km it was surprisingly hilly with around 200m total ascent. In old money that's 150ft per mile which makes it BS - keep it clean people, keep it clean, I'm talking fell classification. The back feels less achy now so going to hit the bike for an hour to finish off...

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Heavy Load To Bear

Pretty pleased with today's run in the Forest. Building on last week's run I added another couple of pounds to the pack, a twelve pounder this time out. Carrying that weight makes a hell of a difference. The first few miles were hard going but after awhile it all seemed to click into place and my running became more fluid - although no easier.

I had a basic idea of a circular route without actually mapping anything. In fact, I didn't even take a map - although I was packing a compass just in case. I just ran in the direction that felt right and took in a few new paths I've not travelled before. In particular the section over by Upper Soudley was new to me.

In all I covered 20.5km with a fairly minimal 300m of ascent, most of which was in two section over Upper Soudley way. Surprisingly, those two climbs felt OK despite the 12lbs I was carrying. All done now I can relax for the rest of the day. Must get out again tomorrow though...

Today's 20.5km with 300m ascent

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Feeling a little jaded today. I don't think the disappearance of the sun helps - it being midsummer's day, high summer - or not. I can't face a run in this dreadful weather. Just not man enough to get out there tonight. The sofa beckons and I am powerless to resist its wiley charm...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Should I plan For The Weekend?

Well, shoud I? I am desperately hoping that nothing scuppers things. I want to go run a bit more of the Cotswold Way fully packed with everything I'll need for the Saunders mountain marathon - and I mean everything. Compulsory gear, tent and even my sleeping bag. I really do need to be acclimatised to carrying a heavy pack. Sad I may well look - OK, sad I will look - but I need to be ready. I really should head to the mountains but I reckon a hilly section of the Cotswolds will suffice.

Tonight I got out for 45 minutes. Took things pretty easy. If I make it to the Chepstow Handicap tomorrow, I'll be ready - to run slowly - and if I don't I'll get back out again.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Definitely A Good Idea

... to load up the pack yesterday. My back is aching today. I think the plan to load up on my next run - tomorrow? - is a good one. If I can get a bit of strength in the support muscles I reckon it will help come the mountain marathon. A session on the bike tonight. High resistance and high revs. My legs are jelly'ing up as I hit the final ten minutes and I am quite literally dripping - nice (or not)...

Was a nice change of scenery yesterday. I think I need to get out and about trying new locations from now on. Plus it also gives me a chance to keep my eye in with the compass.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Did That Really Happen?

Having had a mensis horribilis on the training front I really did get out for a run. Hard to believe, I know, but true. Not content just to run I carried a 10lb pack just for the fun of it. Seriously though, I wore the pack in order to try and get myself ready for the Saunders. It was the first time I've used my Innov8 Race Elite Rucksack and it felt pretty comfy all in all - just wish it hadn't weighed ten bloody pounds! Got to get used to that though - and more. I'm going to load up for every run between now and the Saunders - which is quite likely to be not very many. Still I feel much better for actually having got out for a run.

I set off from Winchcombe at just gone ten and picked up the Cotswold Way. I hadn't run that section before - except that I had but not in its entirety. I'm like an elephant - nothing to do with the size of my trunk - when it comes to location. I remember. Doesn't matter how long ago. Something triggers when I've been somewhere before. Parts of the route seemed familiar and then I realised it must have been from when I raced the Cleevewold 14 back in 2007.

None of the climbs seemed too bad - or rather, they wouldn't have been had I not been packing. Sod how slothenly I felt. It was just bloody good to be out there running.

Going to finish off today's training, having already covered 16.6km and 480m of ascent (that's 1,600feet in old money as everyone seems to be going metric these days), with an hour on the bike before I head south for the summer, I mean, for the Sunday.

Today's recce of leg 2, Cotwold Relay (2nd Half)Out and Back for a total of 16.6km and 2,100 feet ascent

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Well That Wasn't Supposed to Happen

Another Saturday. Another day back to work. Second Saturday in a row. A habit I, in no way, want to establish. Pretty much ruined the day. Can't last much longer though - can it? I bloody hope not. With my wasted day I'm going to get over and recce the last section of my Cotswold Relay leg tomorrow. I've set my alarm. Got out my map. Fingers crossed nothing goes wrong.

Friday, June 15, 2012


Life is getting me down at the moment. Don't think I've ever found things so hard to be motivated. Really struggling to get the mojo. Haven't actually run for over a week! Not good. I still want to run but I can't get motivated to go out for leisure. No races planned for the weekend, I fear I may not get out for a run. I am struggling right now and I hope I get through it.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


I'm full of it. Lethargy, that is, not the alternative meaning of 'full of it'. Can't seem to find my mojo. It was there a couple of weeks ago but work has somewhat ground me down. Add to that, all this bad weather. Mix in a sprinkle of tiredness - see item one above - and you have all the ingredients for loss of mojo. I really need to get it back and quickly. The Saunders mountain marathon is just around the corner...

Looking forward to getting out on the town on Saturday night. A time to reboot the system me thinks...

Monday, June 11, 2012

This Global Warming Is Getting On My Nerves

I can remember weather like this from summer holidays when I was a lad - although I didn't realise we were supposed to call it global warming back then. Seriously though, what is the point of the MET office? A few months ago they were spreading prophecies of doom... Hose pipe bans... Standpipes... Civil unrest over water shortages - OK, they didn't go that far. What is the point of spending all that money on super computers to do a piss poor job of forecasting the weather any further into the future than a couple of hours? Might as well just go by the old 'red sky at night.. red sky in the morning..' adage. Be about as accurate - and a damn sight cheaper.

On other matters, as expected, my back is indeed aching. My arms too. Good job done though - and just in the nick of time. Home from work, I couldn't face getting soaked so an hour on the bike it was. I cranked the resistance right up and really pumped those pedals. Dripping. Yuck.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

I Was, Honest...

But I didn't because I remembered I'd mentioned to the neighbour that I'd do my bit to clear the brook. They were busy yesterday cutting back and strimming and I felt guilty as I wasn't able to help.

I was up by nine and, strong cup of freshly brewed coffee in hand, plotted a route for my leg of the Cotswold relay to allow me to run a circular loop. All set I was preparing to go when I suddenly remembered my promise. To be fair I've been intending to get out there into the brook for a couple of months as it's massively over grown and if we don't keep it clear we flood! So, waders donned, I headed in...

What hard bloody work - you can tell I'm an office boy. Twenty minutes in it was off with my top. I was down to my shorts and waders - a sexy combo if ever there was. At one point I thought my waders were leaking as my feet were feeling wet - it was a sweaty business wearing all that rubber - ooh nasty! Four hours later the undergrowth was vanquished. The brook was flowing freely and I was thoroughly knackered. I wouldn't be surprised if I had a few aches tomorrow and at least I've got my route all setup for next week...

On gardening matters the first of the tomatoes have started to grow. Fourteen proper little tomatoes - how sad am I to count them? - don't answer that...

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Please Let That Be The End Of It

Having wasted most of the day I feel a bit down in the dumps. Having been up till the early hours of the morning I didn't wake up till eight. Don't think I've ever stayed up so late while still sober! By the time I'd woken up fully, it was time to jump in the car and head back to the crime scene - I can think of better places to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon. Once all the usual suspects had assembled we started work trying to solve the mysterious failure of the ozone system in the night time. Four hours later we had it beat and it was time to disband the band of merry men and head home.

Back home, gone five, I headed into the garden to cut the damn grass - a dirty job but someone's got to do it. Feeling a bit down in the dumps now. Still reeling from the fact I had to forego today's race. I was really up for it - would have run like a donkey but it would have been fun. Oh well, maybe I'll get lucky tonight...

with my numbers on the lottery.

And That Seals It

I finally got away from work at half past midnight. At 16 hours and forty five minutes, that was a long day. Finally got home at just gone one. Need to be on available for work tomorrow morning so that puts paid to racing a horse, or in fact, racing anything. I'm not happy. I will be glad to see the back of 'the project' so I can finally start making plans - which I can actually follow through with.

Friday, June 08, 2012

In Doubt

The horse race may not happen. I am still at work, some thirteen hours since arriving for duty. Likely as not I will be here another hour at least. That means I'll not be home till midnight at best. The knock on is that I may not make the early rise required to get across Wales for the registration.

I am more than a little disappointed as I was well up for a leisurely blast through the forest tracks. I was half hoping to get across after work tonight for the pasta night. That's gone but there is still a chance I will race. It all depends how quickly the works restart and just how tired I feel in the morning. It has been a draining day...

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Call Me Mickey

Squeak, squeak but I'm not going out in this bloody weather - I'm not a triathlete - my swimming isn't strong enough and I don't want to drown. My legs feel much better though and had it not been p!%$ing down I would have gone for a run. Instead I cranked the resistance on the bike right up and got a good sweat on. Much happier I'll be ready for Saturday's race.

On other matters, with 28 days holiday left this year I need to start using it - or should I just work a four day week till the end of the year? Mini break up to the Peak District in July? June is out on account of booked up every weekend. Mid July I reckon I'll be free of things. Might take my laser and run some of the Pennine Way on a two/three day run, full pack and all. Then maybe a bit of luxury with a cafe lunch after I'm done. Ah, the open road - and the open fell...

And Still My Legs Hurt...

I'm beginning to worry that I'm a southern softie! Just kidding, I know I'm a southern sof... Soft or not I've paid my twenty quid to race some bloody horses on Saturday so I have to be ready to run the twenty something miles come what may. Can't be wasting that kind of money. There is, at least, a silver lining to the clouds of hurt - it's not a fell race so should be much flatter and less rough and rocky underfoot.

Took it easy tonight on the bike. Cranked up the resistance a notch because my quads do feel a little less sore today. Don't want to go pounding the streets just yet though. Depending on how I feel tomorrow I might try an easy 10k through Flaxley Wood after work. Not going to be doing any speed or hill work just yet. I'll leave that for next week.

Finished off tonight's workout with a good solid ab session - the session was solid, the abs, sadly, are not - and fifty push-ups. Like a potato that's been left on the shelf too long I've gone a little to seed so it's time to work off the flab...

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Wasn't Expecting My Legs To Be Hurting Still...

So it's now been three days since I conquered Ennerdale. I think we all know by 'conquered' I mean survived the brutal race. Still, I wasn't expecting my legs to remain so sore today. I was planning to get out for a jog but I don't think it will do me any good. Still a bit of recovery to go through before I get out for a run me thinks.

Can't do nothing though which means I must do something. A bike session. Nice and gentle. Makes me feel like I'm doing something despite setting it back down on a light resistance. After all I've got to be ready to race a horse next Saturday.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Feeling A Little Off

The heat and the effort have taken their toll. Feeling a little off today. Difficult to nail down exactly what's wrong. Just don't feel quite right. Suffice to say I have been resting. No training today. My quads are wrecked but over all my legs feel better than I thought they would.

So what's a guy to do when he's resting up? Why create a new website of course. To that effect, I've registered I'm going to slowly add the routes and race details of fell races as I run them. My back catalogue may take a time to post up but little by little I will add them. I want to build a resource for fell runners. A one stop shop for routes, checkpoints, gps tracks, parking, campsites and other general information. The driver for this project was the difficulty in finding the relevant information for the Ennerdale race. I can't believe in this day and age the lack of readily available online information. I know fell running is an ancient sport but it too can get with the digital age.

Hopefully will fill a gap and provide a valuable service to fell runners everywhere. I have a feeling it's going to be a long road but the journey to a full catalogue begins with a single race....

The Hardest Race I've Ever Run

It truly was. In a different league to the Yorkshire Three Peaks race of a few weeks ago. I'm not sure my legs will ever work again...

I parked up overnight about 45 minutes from the race start. Up early, I completed the journey, registered and got my head down for an hour - heavenly slumber. Then with an hour to go I got myself, my kit and my final preparation done. Splits written on my race number I was good to go. Between the time I worked out my ascent-distance based splits and the morning of the race I had decided to ease things back to a 5 hour 30 schedule.

I set off towards the rear of the field and took it easy across the flat section before the largest climb of them all from zero to, well a long way up, to check point one, Great Bourne - nothing to do with Jason. I was a little quick hitting the summit 3 minutes 30 inside my target. To Red Pike (CP2) I picked up another four minutes. All very straight forward. From there things started to diversify as the runners ahead (and behind) all started to take differing routes. Without having reccied the route I just tried to follow someone who looked like they knew what they were doing.

Luckily I spotted a lady nip round the side of one of the smaller hills and I set off in hot pursuit. That was a great save and although I did faff a little a mile or two later I managed to get to Blackbeck Tarn (CP3) having only the lost just under three minutes from that split.

I gained those three minutes back on the climb to Green Gable (CP4) at which point, as a summary, I was just about eight minutes up on my 5:30 schedule and I felt pretty good. I was taking on plenty of water and gels and feeling confident.

Kirk Fell (CP5) was another poor one. Having decided to take the trod round Great Gable rather than speeding down and back up I lost three minutes. I felt it was a worth while sacrifice to try and save my legs - it didn't work as they were beginning to feel somewhat knackered anyway.

Pillar (CP6) was another bad one, losing almost four minutes. I was beginning to fade. Now just one minute inside my schedule it didn't look good. The rough ground was quite literally, grinding me down. My feet were beginning to boil and I could feel blisters on their way but I had picked me up some good company along the way to numb the pain.

Surprisingly I rallied on the section across to check point seven, Haycock - stop it - mainly on account that there was a good section of grassy running to be had. I picked up three minutes to bring things almost four minutes back inside the schedule. I was beginning to think I might actually get inside five and a half hours...

The run to Iron Crag (CP8) also went alright, gaining another minute and I still felt OK. That feeling didn't last long and it all started to go a bit wrong on the climb to the final check point, Crag Fell. Coming out of the woods I began to feel a bit dizzy and had to ease back. I could feel my heart pumping and I had a slight feeling of nausea. I needed to take my foot off the throttle in order to make it to the finish in one piece. I yielded two minutes to the schedule but I was still inside by three minutes. There was still a chance...

The final descent was steep and runnable but seemed to go on for ever - and in the wrong direction! It was a marked route that you had to follow and direct to the finish it was not. By the time I hit the bottom I was destroyed. I could barely run. As the clock ticked on my progress in the final mile was agonisingly slow. I could hardly run. Finally, after what seemed like a life time I dibbed - ooh matron - that one final time at the finish - and disastrously I was 45 seconds outside my target. NOOOOOOOO.

So having completed the 23 miles, 7,500 feet of ascent, endured the full force force of the sun and been eaten alive by midges I finished in a time of 5:30:45 in 59th place. I think I might sleep through tomorrow...

The Ennerdale Fell Race... 

Saturday, June 02, 2012


'Expletive' me that was hard - don't even have the energy for a ooh matron. I made it round in the kind of time I thought I would. I'm satisfied with my run but it does show me there is much hard work ahead. Full blow by blow - stop it (getting my energy back) - report to follow...

Friday, June 01, 2012

Embarked To Ennerdale

Well I'm on my way - and no, I'm not blogging as I drive because that would be illegal. No this is a scheduled post, written using my mystical powers to see into the future. Right about now I am slowly making my along the M5 towards the M6 - or as I like to call it on a bank holiday Friday, the worlds longest car park. With luck I will reach the Lakes sometime today. The earlier the better but not even my powers to peek into the present from the past can presuppose my arrival time.

I've picked out a couple of places for a stop over. One near Kendal and the other a little further on towards Thirlmere. I'm not intending to make it all the way to Ennerdale tonight. I shall resume my journey onwards in the morning. With the race not starting till 11am it won't mean a massively early start which ever stop over I use.

Here goes nothing...