Tuesday, October 30, 2012

No Race But A Run

I made it over to the Pomphrey Hill Sports 5k... but I didn't race. My legs were still feeling achy after Sunday and, fearing another really bad performance, I decided to go for a run before hand. I headed out on the old summer route and despite it being pretty pitch black for most of it I managed to get round the 5k route only 15s slower than last months race time - how the hell does that work? On the up side, I guess it means I would have been improved had I actually raced. I ran hard tonight but not on the limit plus I couldn't see the foot in front of my face - not that my foot was in front of my face but you get my drift.

Hasn't been a bad day today all in all. Work wasn't bad. Quite productive really. I managed some training, as mentioned, and I got home before ten. All set for operation sleep...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Feast For The Eyes

The Malverns seems to be the place to go for a spot of bird watching... There were half a dozen fine specimens out there today running strongly. And hardy too because it was none to pleasant. There was a chill in the air coupled with fine drizzle that gave way to full on rain. Not pleasant at all. Still, at least I wasn't in the Howgills.

I went for a slightly different route on the way out as compared to the normal over the top route. I took a couple of side paths, missing out a couple of climbs but adding a little extra distance and facilitating a faster pace. I also added the circumnavigation of North Hill, Table Hill and an ascent on the summit of Sugarloaf - Hill, not the mountain in Wales - before finally climbing to the Worcestershire Beacon and the journey home. In all I covered 24.8km with 718m of ascent. pleased with the time of 2:23. I pushed quite hard today.

Plus I got back a couple of my Strava records after someone stole them mid week. Grrrh, mine, all mine...

Anyway, going to finish off with an hour on the bike in front of the telly and, most importantly, in the warm. Tootle pip.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Fall Back

Yeah baby, extra hour in bed tomorrow. Operation lie in is sooo going to happen.

I managed to get out for a shortish run before I turned my attention to clearing up the massive pile of pruning I created a couple of weeks ago. I was waiting for the leaves to drop so I could recycle them onto the garden. Cue two hours of cutting and bagging, sweeping and picking. It looks much tidier out front now. All set now for a day trip to the local recycling centre. Let's see how my back feels tomorrow... Hopefully it won't stop me getting out for a long run - after the lazy bastard lie in, of course. Not sure where to go, cue some cogitation.

Oh and finally, a belated good luck to all those OMMers out there getting rather cold tonight me thinks. They won't be making best use of the extra hour in bed... seems like a school boy error to me...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Square Cake, Round Tin

Just won't work...

Tonight's almost constant drizzle has kept my indoors. It's that really nasty stuff. The stuff that doesn't feel like much but gets you soaked through to the skin - and in some cases beyond. I cranked up the bike resistance and fired out an hours worth. Not the best but it'll do.

Anyway, back to the headline, I'm going to attempt a battenburg for the Chepstow bake night and just realised my round tins weren't going to cut it. A square one's what I need so I've gone and got myself one of them yer new fangled silicone ones. Have to say I'm not sure about silicone - ooh er. Is it legal? Do they work as well as you common or garden metal ones? I guess it gives me something to blame if I get an epic fail...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Does The Sun Still Exist?

If it does, I've not seen it this week. It's been a week of mist. Anyway, I'm not Michael Fish so I'll shut up talking about the favourite British topic of conversation.

Haven't managed much training this week - read none. It didn't happen today either. I took my kit to work but somehow the time never seemed right. I've been here, there and everywhere so far this week. Perhaps tomorrow will be more productive on the training front...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

What A Grey Day

Hasn't been a bad day on the work front today. Got a few bits and pieces sorted - including the auto summer clock adjustment software for one of our sites, just in the nick of time. Found more bugs in a recently contracted control system. Eventually I'll have it all working correctly.. The drive in was a bit depressing mind, none stop drizzly rain, road spray, fog and mist. Grim. Bloody glad I'm on a rest day so I don't have to head out into the gloom. My calves are feeling sore from yesterday's long hill session - means I worked hard. The Malverns really are one of my favourite spots for a hill session without the boredom of a hill session.

Anyway, I've been analysing my Malverns Strava from yesterday. Okay, not really analysing as such, more having a glance at the stats. I actually got some CRs - he shoots, he scores. I guess what that really means is that only slow runners Strava the Malverns. Still, they're up there now to be shot down - I might even have another crack at them in a month or two if not before...

Malverns In The Cloud

I thought I'd leave it a bit before heading out. To give the sun a chance to burn off the early morning mist - it didn't. So I headed over and up Hollybush - careful - onto the Malverns anyway.

It was quite chilly on the top with the mist or was it low cloud, blowing over the tops. Never been across the Malverns with visibility down to fifty metres in places. It was quite nice actually. Just when the going started to get tough on an ascent another ghostly figure would shimmer into view. Well, couldn't stop then could I and appear like an amateur. No, it was a good incentive to push onwards and upwards. This time I managed to run the entire way except for the stupid steps on the Herefordshire Beacon.

The mist did finally start to dissipate on the approach to the Worcestershire Beacon. As I headed into the final climb I was actually above the mist. It appeared like the Worcestershire Beacon was high enough to be above the clouds - except it was only mist but it looked odd in a nice way.

I'm pleased with how it went today. I was out and back in just over two hours and that included a compulsory stop to water the plants and the odd stoppage to admire the views. Well, I've learnt over the last few years that there's no point being up on the hills if you don't actually take a minute or two to look out across the vista. In fact, I was ten minutes quicker than my last outing. That doesn't a lot until you realise that's thirty seconds a kilometre quicker for the 20k route with around 2,750 feet of ascent. Suspect my legs might be achy tomorrow. I really did put in some good effort on the climbs.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Bit Of The Old Blue Peter

I've still got it - been to the doctor and they couldn't cure it, boom, boom. I am, of course, referring to a touch of the old Blue Peter sticky back plastic magic. A discarded cereal box, an old washing up bottle, the cardboard tube from a toilet roll... Okay, it was really just the sticky backed plastic but I still got it. Voila, one orienteering control list arm holder - back of the net. Here's one I made earlier...

Pretty pleased with my effort. Should do the job nicely...

Training wise, my back is still playing up but edging towards better. I reckon I need to get me into the mountains and practice more descending at speed. I think that's what did it and I think that's what'll cure it - or stop it happening again.

I went jarring free today with an hour on the exercise bike. Wanted a bit of a rest day. I thought about a proper ride but felt I'd work it too hard. I'm all about training days and easy days rather than banging it out every day. Quality over quantity - apart from double race weekends of course. Can't give up my double headers.

Fifty fifty for the cross country tomorrow. I think the last time I ran the cross country at Bridgend was back in 2003, almost a decade ago...


Friday, October 19, 2012

Mud Glorious Mud

It was another day of DIY as sadly the back is feeling like it did yesterday. All very annoying. Having reached the boredom point by midday I decided to go and run anyway. So it wasn't going to be the mountains but hey, I got out there.

I drove over to the recycling centre near Broadwell - two birds, one stone and all that. I dumped my load - shut it - of recycling and headed out for a flatish 8 miles. It was very very muddy in places. Perhaps not the best route choice I could have made. I had a few more twinges from the back as I twisted and jerked to avoid going down - not even going to bother with an ooh er misses on that sentence.

Had a pretty good run on the face of it. I tried to run at a fair pace. Not on the limit by any means but I knew I was working. The couple of climbs, as there were, felt okay. I pushed reasonably hard, maintaining a steady ascent. All in all it was a pretty good work out and you can knock a couple of minutes off my time for all the gates, styles and a spot of watering the plants. Just over the hour for eight miles on a muddy route ain't bad. Pretty pleased really. Just have to wait and see how all that jerking - ssh, no - has affected the back.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Backed Out

I felt a twinge in my back during yesterday's run for just a few strides. Didn't think much more about it. I have today. It's not like I'm crippled or anything but I've had to take a step back now and then.

Still feels a little achy but it has improved through the day. I wasn't really in a fit state to risk a run so I set about more jobs around the house. It was quite therapeutic to re-wax the windowsills. The downside, the house now smells all solventy. Hopefully the back will be, well, back to normal tomorrow and I can go for a run - no doubt the weather will be pants...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"It Looks Quite Nice Out", I said

"We might not even get wet"... Maybe not the best thing to say on the anniversary of the 'Michael Fish' incident. Might not get wet? Within five minutes of getting out the gates, on the lunch run - yes, you heard that right, the lunch run - it was pissing down. Martin and looked like drowned rats by the time we once again reached the sanctuary within the company gates. But it was bloody good to get out there despite the torrential rain. And would you believe within five minutes of getting back inside it stopped raining and the sun came out - toss.

We set off steadily, heading for the clockwise Dundry loop. Eyes stinging with the rain, we hit the top in 16:45 - that was a surprise. Splashing through the ever increasingly deep puddles we continued to run steadily. I finished a little behind Martin in a time of 32:29. Two and a half minutes faster than the last time out. Pretty pleased with that, especially as I was holding back a little. I was thinking ahead to the next run, I know I should be able to knock a bit more off - using a bit of the old psychology...

Been a good day. Got quite a lot of items ticked off the to-do list at work and that's me done for the week. The weekend starts once again... No sure if I'll make it across to the mountains tomorrow. The forecast looks a little bit pants. Think I might wait out a ride and get out there on the bike when there's a break in the weather. Not sure I'm going to like it on the wet roads though.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Back To The Humdrum

Well the enjoyable weekend couldn't be sustained into the week. On the plus it's another three day week so I don't have to suffer long..

The results of Saturday's orienteering are in and I got a bit of a shock. For a moment I thought I was 10th of 12. I knew I mucked up a few controls but two from last? Surely not - fortunately no, there was another page of results! [phew, wipes brough] 10th of 30 isn't quite as bad. It's not great but I managed to claim the fastest split for control two. OK, so it was only an informal event but in places I think I'm getting there. More practice is required picking out the features on the ground but I'll get there...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Doddfather

It was a pretty good day for the Harriers of Chepstow. We acquitted ourselves with aplomb at the British Fell Relays - I wanted an apple but we had to settle a plum. From a large field of 176 (although I think there were actually only 162 on the day) we managed a pretty decent 41st place. That makes Chepstow the 2nd most premier fell running club in East Wales [smirks to camera].

Matthew 'The Lawsonator' Lawson got us off the a cracking start, putting us firmly in the top third of the field. Next up were Peter, Paul and Mary - 'cept Mary had the day off. They stormed through the field to put us somewhere towards the top twenty or there abouts.

Then came the doddering duo of Paul 'The Doddfather' Dodds and little ol' me. We were pretty evenly matched. He outpaced me on the flat but I caught it back on the ascent but neither of us got too far ahead or behind and all in all we paired up pretty well. We had the navigation leg and all in all did a good job. Can't really grumble on our choices. We brought the team home in 29th at the end of leg 3.

We handed on the 'theoretical' baton to Mark 'The Butcher of Bakersfield' Harvey. Mark is more at home - at home - but he put in a steady performance never the less. At the finish he could be heard complaining about fall pretences and muttering something about where were all the roads he was promised...

So all in all a very credible performance. Top quarter is pretty darn good in the British Fell Relays. The weather was great. The sun shone down all day and not a drop of rain was to be seen. It really was a great day out.

Now for the stats, my leg was 11.5km with only 1,600 feet of ascent. For the Shropshire hills we got away lightly - result. The time? 1:17:44. I think I sleep soundly tonight...

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Another Heap Of Kak

Another day. Another orienteering event. Another couple of horrendously badly run controls - and I even managed to get off to a good start for once! I guess that was my downfall. I got cocky - except I didn't, not really. I just plained screwed up a couple of times. At that cost me. Ho hum.

As it was an informal/training event you get the map before you start but I didn't look at it other than to fold it in an appropriate place. I wanted to treat it like the real thing. So I dibbed my dibber - and then I dibbed my electronic score card to start the clock - fnah fnah.

I decided to focus on choosing the right route rather than the straightest line. It worked well to begin with. I picked off one and two quickly. Made an error of judgement out from two to pick up the path. The undergrowth was too dense and it slowed me. I really do need to start learning to read these fancy pants orienteering maps.

Once I hit the track I got over to three, four, five and six quickly. Seven was alright but I cocked up to eight. I misread the path I was on and faffed somewhat before realising I hadn't travelled far enough. I lost myself three or four minutes on what was really a very simple control.

Nine and ten were on the money but I monumentally mucked up eleven. I knew what I was looking for in terms of the symbol - an earth bank - but on the ground I really wasn't seeing it. My gps track looks like a spiders got at it. That pretty much spoilt what was going to be a decent performance - for once. Still, as long as I can learn from it I'll have a more chance of knowing what to look for in the future.

From there it was all pretty easy apart from a slight blip on fourteen but I didn't cost me too much time, maybe 15 seconds. All in all I pretty happy with how I orienteered today. I'm starting use the map features more and the compass less - and that's a good thing. I'm starting to run to the map and not solely the compass and it seems to make one hell of a difference.

I'm finally starting to get the symbols but I still have a long way to go with the map features, mainly the density and feature boundaries. As my Nepalese Ghuru would say, there's no alternative to practice, practice and yet more practice. I really enjoyed it out there today. Oh, and did I say I jogged a couple of k there and back for warm up and cool down. All that's left to do now is pack my kit for tomorrow's Fell Relays and then sit back and relax. Come on the Harriers let's do ourself proud - by not coming last...

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Bit Of Nothingness

It's been a day of, well, nothing. I managed a little pootle in the morning before the rain came and since then I've been busy doing nothing. And very relaxing it has been.

Looking forward to mucking up the first three or four controls in tomorrows Nine Wells orienteering - as per normal. I'll no doubt run far to far to the first couple before I get used the scale. And if the pattern of my orienteering holds true I'll complete that last three quarters of the course in the time it takes me to run the first quarter. I really hope I can break the pattern...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Today Was A Bit Rubbish But Ended OK

Called to site for urgent issues this morning I eventually got the particularly painful nut cracked. Ooh er. It's been a thorn in my side for a few days going on a few weeks. Mind you, it's been even more of a thorn for the lads that get called out during the night to re-start things. That said my reputation was being shredded. Increasingly vilified by my worshippers and with my magic fading I had to come good if I was to get out of there alive. The natives were beyond getting restless. The drums were beating and the fires stoked.

Finally, as we sounded out ideas, the answer revealed itself - now I could make some reference here to the ghost of Mr Saville flashing but that would be in tremendously bad taste, so I won't - as the sun set in the western sky. With the last vestige of daylight lost to the horizon I downloaded the last of the modifications and with that the plant purred into life and the harmony of the universe was restored - of course, then some bastard pulled the plug and we had to restart from scratch - ahhhh, but I got home eventually... 

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

A Rest Week

Going to take it easy this week. Last weeks racing and training was pretty good and with a double header weekend coming up I want to be rested. Up Saturday is the orienteering - I wonder if I can get past the first few controls without a major ballsup - no, probably not. Then Sunday it's the Fell Relays in sunny Shropshire. Feeling pretty confident for the navigation leg - assuming I'm still down to run it. I can't claim to know the lie of the land as well as I do the black mountains but I think I can get by...

Sunday, October 07, 2012

A Time To Prune

And by 'eck did I ever. The bush - stop it - in the front garden - I said stop it - was out of control. It ain't any more. I was pretty brutal but I'm sure, come springtime, it will fire out the green shoots of recovery - unlike the economy, oooh political, right, I'm stopping there. To be fair it does look a bit wrecked but I'm sure it will be fine and honestly, it really did need to be done.

Anyway, I managed a ride this afternoon although to be fair I didn't feel like it. Wasn't really up for doing anything but I forced myself to get out there. Would have regretted wasting the day in its entirety if I hadn't. All that's left to do now is look myself out a recipe for dinner...

Saturday, October 06, 2012

I'm Back On The Road Again

I decided to take the bull by the horns. Lace up the old road shoes and get out there for something a little quicker. I chose a reasonably hilly route. Nothing too steep or sustained but enough of a challenge that I was reduced to a asthmatic wheeze once or twice. Surprisingly it wasn't too boring. Almost enjoyable if the truth be told.

I set out at steady pace along Velthouse Lane. Half way along passing a nice bit of eye candy running towards me - cue the pulling in of the stomach, reduced wheezing and trying to look more like a runner than a plodder - it didn't work.

The run out of Blaisdon generally wound it's way gently upwards before crossing the main road for the larger of the climbs to May Hill village, Glasshouse and May Hill itself.

I pushed along the flat, held my own on the ascent and as the run progressed I ever so slightly increased the pace. The last couple of miles, down hill, were great. I really focused on my form and pace. It felt like I was going at a fair lick come the end - probably wasn't but it felt pretty good - although I was beginning to blow come the last half mile.

All in all a very satisfying run. I covered the 16.4km in 1 hour and 18 minutes with somewhere in the region of 1,000 feet of ascent climbed. Job done and now I sleep...

Today's 16.4km road run with 1,000 feet of ascent

Friday, October 05, 2012

Finally The Inbox Is Empty

I very nearly lost the will to live going through the inbox. It took all day but it's done and I'll be starting next week on an even keel. Phew [wipes brow].

Haven't managed to find myself a descent race for tomorrow. I can't be arsed to drive ninety minutes for a two miler to Fan Fawr and back. Part of me quite fancies it but the non-mental bit says, don't be a dick. Guess I'll be staying local. I quite fancy trying to run a little faster for once. Perhaps I'll run alternating fast and steady bits...

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Gee It's Great To Be Back Home

Home is where I want to be. I've been on the road so long my friend, And if you came along I know you couldn't disagree.

The training was really worth while but it is definitely nice to be back on home turf. The drive went well apart from the stretch between Bromsgrove and Worcester on the M5. The highway agency - or total dicks, as I prefer to call them - had the signs showing 2 lanes. Everyone else seemed to interpret that as panic, panic one lane closed. Panic... Only there wasn't any lane closures. We had the full shilling. All three lanes were open for business. The mad rush to two lanes causing stop start traffic for miles was totally unnecessary. Is the death sentence for highway agency bosses too severe? No, I didn't think so either.

Putting my feet up right about now, ready to climb aboard the good ship back to work tomorrow...

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

More Bruntwood

Back out there again. It looked like we were headed for a wet one but the dark clouds held firm their grip on the wet stuff. All the better for us. We managed another half hour session but we ran a little faster tonight. With a little more effort and it felt pretty good.

So it's the final day of training tomorrow followed by the drive back down south. There'll be no time for training and I'll be glad to get back.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Bruntwood Park Golf And Country Club

Okay, so it was only a pitch and putt... After what was a slightly boring day we managed to get out for a half hour run. It didn't rain so we were happy. Not the most exciting but there it is. All being well we should get back out there tomorrow. With the lie of the land sorted we could probably take it out to forty five.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Sunny Cheadle-shire

Ok, so I lied about the sun. It has not been sunny. In fact it's been raining quite a bit. Apparently that's normal up North.

Not going for a run tonight. Been a long day. The drive was surprisingly flowing and the course has been okay so far. It got a bit boring there for a while but the trainer rallied late on and I managed to stay awake.

Looking towards tomorrow it's going to be another long commute... I reckon the walk will take somewhere close to four minutes. All being well we - that's Graham C and I - hope to get out for a run tomorrow.