Monday, December 31, 2012

Lucky Omen?

Just found two fish in the pond. They've been hiding for two years! I thought they'd all been taken by the bloody heron but two have survived. I reckon that's got to be an omen of good fortune for the coming year. Got to be.

Anyway, the coughs and sneezes are easing, the sore throat's gone so I should be ready to score at Parkend - ssh, no, stop it. Mind you, it'll no doubt be a low score knowing me. F*(% where's that PMA gone? Should be good, wholesome orienteering fun though. It'll be the first use of my little dibber in 2013 - ooh, matron!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Fell At The First Hurdle

Well I managed to miss the first race on the list - doh. I've a sore throat that feels like I've been eating sandpaper - I haven't. Sneezing, wheezing and coughing like an old man - well, an even older man at any rate. Decided it would be a bit silly to go race in the circumstances. I have, however, focused my mind - not an easy task - and come up with my target race, or in this case, races... The Welsh 1000s on June the 1st followed by the Vegan Welsh 3000s on the 15th. The entries are winging their way as we speak. The downside to my selection is that it means I probably shouldn't risk running the Ennerdale Horseshoe on the 8th - even for me that might a tad too mad.

Despite not making the race I've managed a workout in the gym, continuing my upper body workout plan. I will have my six pack back. Just hoping this damn cold clears up quickly or at least eases a little so I can go orienteer - as opposed to 'orient are' (hint, Christmas tune) - on Tuesday....

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The List

Well, better late than never, here is 'The List'.... Not definitive and highly subject to change but if I can even muster to half of the 38 races I'll be happy...

planned 30/12/2012 Seven Sins Challenge Off-Road
planned 01/01/2013 Parkend Score Orienteering Orienteering
planned 05/01/2013 Kymin Fell
planned 06/01/2013 BOK Orienteering Brierly Orienteering
planned 12/01/2013 Tor y Foel Fell
planned 19/01/2013 Orienteering Painswick Orienteering
planned 20/01/2013 Mercia Hill Trial Navigation
planned 29/01/2013 Pomphrey Hill Sports 5k Road
planned 03/02/2013 LCL Cross Country Monmouth Off-Road

09/02/2013 Titterstone Clee Fell
planned 09/02/2013 Orienteering Swallow Valley Orienteering

10/02/2013 Long Mynd Fell
planned 10/02/2013 Dursley Dozen Off-Road
planned 16/02/2013 Pen Tir Drop Fell
planned 23/02/2013 Orienteering Mallards Pike Orienteering
planned 26/02/2013 Pomphrey Hill Sports 5k Road
planned 03/03/2013 Tor of Torpantau Fell

03/03/2013 Hogweed Hilly Half Road

09/03/2013 Carding Mill Canter Fell
planned 16/03/2013 Llanthony Fell
planned 17/03/2013 Orienteering Symonds Yat Orienteering

23/03/2013 Ras Y Aran Fell
planned 23/03/2013 Orienteering Mallards Pike Orienteering

24/03/2013 Edale Skyline Fell
planned 24/03/2013 Forest of Dean Half Marathon Trail
planned 06/04/2013 Llanbedr to Blaenafon Fell

06/04/2013 Orienteering Flaxley Orienteering

07/04/2013 Blubberhouses Moor Fell
planned 13/04/2013 Sugar Loaf (Summer) Fell

14/04/2013 Kinder Downfall Fell

20/04/2013 Ras y Moelwyn Fell

20/04/2013 Anniversary Waltz Fell
planned 20/04/2013 Orienteering Harpury Orienteering
planned 21/04/2013 Offas Orra Off-Road

21/04/2013 Gisborough Moors Fell
planned 27/04/2013 Cribyn Fell

27/04/2013 Preseli Beast Bach Fell
planned 30/04/2013 Pomphrey Hill Sports 5k Road
planned 04/05/2013 Red Kite Challenge Fell

04/05/2013 Conniston Fell

04/05/2013 Pendle Cloughs Fell
planned 05/05/2013 Ras y Diafol Fell
planned 11/05/2013 Moel Eilio Fell

11/05/2013 Farfield Horseshoe Fell

11/05/2013 Orienteering Blakeney Orienteering
planned 18/05/2013 Cader Idris Fell

18/05/2013 Old Counties Tops (Team Event!) Fell
planned 19/05/2013 Sirhowy Challenge Fell
planned 25/05/2013 Cwmdu Fell
planned 26/05/2013 Helvellyn Dodds Fell
planned 28/05/2013 Pomphrey Hill Sports 5k Road
planned 01/06/2013 Welsh 1000m Fell

08/06/2013 Man vs Horse Off-Road
planned 08/06/2013 Ennerdale Horseshoe Fell

15/06/2013 Cwm Pennant Fell

15/06/2013 Great Lakes Fell
planned 15/06/2013 Welsh 3000s Fell

22/06/2013 Coity Race Fell
planned 23/06/2013 Kinder Trog Fell
planned 25/06/2013 Pomphrey Hill Sports 5k Road

29/06/2013 Foel Fras Fell
planned 29/06/2013 Buttermere Horseshoe Fell

30/06/2013 Callow

Didn't Quite Finish The List

I started it. Some fifty races with a few more to add but I didn't finish it. I ended up back at work - boo - and didn't get home till gone seven - even more volumatic boo. I'm not the happiest chappy in all the world. To add insult to injury on arrival home it started to pee down. On the up side I've decided to go splash the cash on the Seven Sins race over Blakeney way - if I can find the Wenchford picnic site for registration. No lie in for me then.

Fingers crossed nothing cocks up my plan. I really could do with a break from work getting in the damn way all the time. Here's to a less cocked up 2013. I needs me some PMA - don't go getting that confused with a similar sounding synonym...

Friday, December 28, 2012

Couldn't Find A Race

My race to fitness isn't going to be starting tomorrow. I can't find any races close enough to home. Don't really want to travel too far. There's a possible race Sunday but not sure I want to stump the inflated entry - by that I mean three times the price of a typical local fell race. So it looks like my race to fitness will start with the New Years day Score Orienteering at Parkend followed by the Kymin on the fifth. It would be handy if I can find a race for the sixth for a double header weekend.

For the rest of the season I'll be getting my race shortlist up together tomorrow and then the selection process will begin....

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Plan Of Attack

I've decided on my training plan to kick off 2013. I'm going to race myself fit. Back in the day I got really fit racing every weekend and I'm going to try and re-capture that. So far I've picked out about forty fell races from January to June. I want to add some orienteering, some road and some off road races to the list and then whittle them down to try and give me a race each weekend plus plenty of double headers. I want to make sure I add in some of the classics. The Welsh 1000m, the 3000s, Ennerdale, Great Lakes and others. Make a weekend of it. Maybe even a long weekend as things head from Spring to Summer. If that won't get me fit I don't know what will. I've also kicked off the hundred press-up and sit-up training schedule to try and get some upperbody strength.

Training wise it was a bad one. I didn't get home till eight, eleven hours at the rock face left me drained. If things go wrong on site I might be back on the road tonight. I am crossing everything that that doesn't happen. Everyone cross those fingers...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Heavy, Very Heavy

Too much food was eaten yesterday. Far too much food. Feeling a bit bloated today. It was a good day though with the customary arguments - as are required by the family Christmas protocol. A Christmas without arguments would be like beef wellington without the beef.

The weather on the drive home wasn't too bad this morning and I was almost thinking of a run but by the time I got home it was same old, same old drizzly rain. Couldn't face it so I put in an hour indoors in front of the telly. Going to hit the sack early tonight and then tomorrow it's back to the rat race. Oh joy.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Driven Home For Christmas

and it wasn't anything like the road to hell - which was nice. Now down to business. It's time for some bah and a little humbug. I'm ready to slap down the ghost of Christmas past, punch out the ghost of christmas present and give the ghost of christmas future a damn good kicking. Not going to give much thought to training and the like over the next week. What happens happens, what doesn't doesn't. I'd like to get myself into gear for the orienteering on New Years day or whenever it is but other than that I don't have anything planned and anyway I've not got any time off other than the standard days. Then come the new year I start the new regime. Over the humbug fest - I mean festive season - I'm going to put together a mid-range training plan and target races and take things from there...

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Surprisingly Nice Out

Well that's today's exercise over and done with. A pootle through Flaxley Woods and then some bike while watching Gordon Ramsay not having a nightmare followed by Hugh Fearnley-Dick-Whittington banging on about brussels sprouts and other Christmas food. My legs weren't in great shape this morning - they ain't exactly special right now come to think of it. I'm sure it'll do me good in the long run...

Off down south later to over eat on Chinese food stuffs so I'll be needing more exercise tomorrow - after I get home from work. Then before we know it, it'll be the big day itself and more over eating. Will all the over eating ever cease? Going to try my best not to but it will no doubt be an epic fail on that front. Oh well.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Very Soggy Skirrid

It sure was very boggy out there today but I'm glad I made the effort to go. The Skirrid fell race has the makings of becoming a favourite in my fixture list. I almost didn't make it though - but not as almost didn't make it as The Finch, who had a spot of car trouble (hope he made it home okay). The road down to Monmouth was closed due to the weather so I had to find an alternative. Fortunately I'd set off early so had plenty of time to go around. Even with the detour I got there in plenty of time and registered as lucky number thirteen.

I was mighty surprised by the turn out. There must have been 60+ runners on a day where you'd have thought people would have struggled to get a day pass. To the race itself it was a boggy start across several fields of varying steepness - all upwards though. As I struggled along in the middle order I realised how terribly unfit I have become. Runnable inclines - weren't. After a slow trudge things got even slower on the first climb proper. Finally to the top a smiling Lou directed us over the top. The drop was steep and rocky. I wasn't able to go quite as quick as I'd have liked due to congestion - but keep that quiet or Boris might try and bring in charges.

After no time at all it was time to climb the nose back up, to the summit this time. I was surprised that I actually over took someone on the climb and pulled a little gap on a few others. With lungs bursting I finally reached the trig point and from there it was all down hill. To be fair I was a bit namby pamby on the drop. It was steep and I had my new leggings on and didn't want to get them shredded. The course was ripe for a bum slide - ooh er misses - but I stayed on my feet.

After a bit, the descent shallowed as the route returned to the fields and some slip slidey fast running. Laurie, Neil and Nikki were right on my heels on the run-in but I managed to keep ahead. Not sure of my placing but somewhere in the middle no doubt. I'd really like to be in the top half though. Then it was back to the Skirrid Inn for the prize giving before the journey home.

Well done to Mr C for a great race and thanks to all the marshals. The Skirrid was a joy on a such a grey winters day.

Approximate route (didn't take my gps):

Friday, December 21, 2012

Not The Most Spectacular End Of The World

Well I guess it wasn't the end of the world after all. So unspectacular in fact that it didn't even rain much so no risk of being washed away. All in all a very poor effort by the Mayans. For the school report, must do better next time.

Hurrah for the weekend. It's been a tiring week. I struggled to shift my arse out of bed this morning. I managed a go on the rower and the exercise bike tonight. Couldn't face anything more effortuatous - that's another of my new words. Hopefully I'll be feeling energetic enough tomorrow to make the journey across the boarder for the Skirrid race.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Better Wish Everyone A Happy Christmas Now While There's Still Time

Yes, that's right, another year is almost complete and another end of the world almost upon us. Apparently the Mayan's have forecast the end is nigh and if they forecast that we'd all be washed away then I'm more than a little scared...

What rubbish weather it is though. It's getting beyond a joke. Got caught in some mystery traffic on the way home. No reason for it all to come to a grinding halt on the A40. Can't find any reports of problems. An odd one. Talking weather - a British speciality - the forecast for Saturday's Skirrid race looks absolutely pants. It's a new race and looking at the terrain, likely to be very wet underfoot. I'm going to need extra special motivation in order to shift my arse over there if the forecast is even half right.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


After a month off the road for various reasons, and after a few test drives, Vera is good to go again. I am definitely going to get away to the mountains in the coming year. There are many hills and mountains I've yet to run across. I'm going to book up some holiday - 33 days of it with carry over - and then, come hell or high water, I'm going to use it. Unlucky for some, twenty 13 is going to be a good one for me. Have to admit I'm not a great one for new years resolutions but this coming year I'm making it a focus to 'try' and get to Chepstow training on Tuesday night's. I'm going to get me some speed to go with the endurance. I'm going to shed me some lard and I'm going to fly. I'm going to soar like a rather portly eagle...

On other matters, I have finally managed to get some sense out of BT - not too much though, mind. After six or seven calls and a couple of hours wasted time I have finally got the number for compensation. Mind you, it's not one of those fancy 'you're in a queue' style affairs. No, this one gives out 'engaged' so you have to keep re-dialing - in my case, about a dozen times before I finally got through. Can't understand why it hasn't got the normal queuing system of all their other numbers - it's like they want to make it really really difficult for you to get recompense for damaging your property. I should hopefully receive the claim form tomorrow or the next day. Oh, and the number for the BT Legal Compensation line for any one else unfortunate enough to be done over by BT is .... drum role .... 0800 671130. That's 0800 671130. Come on Google do your thing and index this number. That's 0800 671130 for the BT Legal Compensation telephone hotline...

Stiff Neck

Don't know where it came from but as I set out from Speculation heading to Ellwood I got a spasm in my neck and from there on I had neck ache. It did ease but made the first half of the outward journey less enjoyable than it should have been.

Despite the discomfort I put in a reasonably hard effort along the firm going of cycle path over to Cannop Ponds. From there I knew I would slow. The softer ground of the Nagshead Planation was plenty wet - yikes, I sound like an advert for kitchen tissue - and, not to mention, plenty slippery. Two feet forward, one foot back.

I finally made to Ellwood and circumnavigated the race route in reverse until I caught the front of the race. From there I snapped some photos of most of the racers before continuing the reverse of the route back to the start which was actually the finish.

It was great to see so many Harriers out and after a brief natter it was time to turn tail and head home. I went a bit steadier on the return. Mostly on account that I was surprisingly knackered. That fast start on the way out had certainly taken its toll and by the time I got back to speculation, some 19km total running later I was glad to see the van.

Here's a link to photos of the runners and riders in this years 2012 Forest of Dean Christmas Tree Race. I think I managed to snap most people although my camera is a bit old - like me, shut it - and isn't very fast - like me, I said shut it - so I might have missed a few... (and it might take a while for all of them to appear while they upload through the ether to the 'tinterweb).

Saturday, December 15, 2012

There's Nothing Like A Spot Of Cooking

And a right tasty Chicken and Chorizo Jambalaya it was too. Just the job after a leisurely afternoon run through the quagmire that is the Gloucestershire coutryside. Despite not seeming to rain that much over the last day or two it was never the less as wet underfoot as it was during the Great Rains of November. The brook was well up again. The water table is just so high. Not sure it's going to lower much till the summer - and even then it might not lower that much going by last summer.

Anyway, back to important matter, the jambalaya... So easy and so damn tasty. Fry off diced chicken, add onion, diced bell pepper, chorizo, finely chopped garlic and the secret blend of cajun spices - paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, oregano and thyme - doh. Finally add a can of chopped tomato, long grain rice and vegetable stock. Give it a stir and simmer for twenty minutes until the liquid is absorbed. Then scoff like there are pirates about to invade - not sure where that came from.

Thinking of running tomorrow's Forest Christmas Cake Race - or what ever it's called. If I don't muster in time then I think I will park up away from the race HQ and go for a ten miler or so taking in some race spectating. There is sure to be tens if not hundreds of Chepstow Harriers out. Quite like the idea of jogging round the route cheering the runners on.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

When You’re Going Through Hell

Keep going...

Another day not at the office. Another day of unfulfilled expectation. Another day of not being able to find a contact within BT who can help me with my compensation for wrecking my drive. I've left messages on their claim line but no one calls back so it looks like I'm going to have to get a solicitor on the case. Not sure why BT would want to pay out more than they need to. It's a pretty clear cut case. They dug up my drive for no reason. Does that count as criminal damage? If they put a brick though my window it would be. So does shredding your driveway, private property, count too? If there are any solicitors out there who want to make themselves a few quid get in touch...

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It's Been A Daniel Powter

So busy at work. So much to do and so little time. Even missed the office Christmas lunch. Come to think of it, I missed lunch. Half seven to five pretty much without a break. More of the same tomorrow and the day after that... Getting fed up. Anyone need the services of a top ICA engineer?

Adding to the injury, BT have dug up part of my front driveway - and the house isn't even on BT. I'm number 10 and they should have f$&ked up the garden of number 18 - if only BT employees could read. Not happy. Not happy at all. Could well do without. Adding insult to the injury can I find out a contact point to complain and get compensation? Can I f^&k. Been pushed pillar to post. Five phone calls and still no joy. BT you will pay, believe you me. You can dodge but you cannot hide. Even if I have to drive up to London and ram-raid through the foyer of you're head office, YOU WILL PAY...

Monday, December 10, 2012

Been A Long Year

And thank heaven it's almost over. As Christmas fast approaches it's time for the all important review of the year...

Let's face it, it ain't been great. True, it's not been as bad as 2010 - to be fair it would have to go some to trump that particular vintage. Training has been, what can only be considered, poor. Work has been... busy. What races I've run, I've enjoyed. I'm slower than ever but still enjoy the chase. I am counting off the days until I try to turn over a new leaf. Soon into my 41st year I want to break some new ground. 2013 is going to be a new hope....

Saturday, December 08, 2012

The Pit and The Pendulum

The pit of doom. The pits. Pit-iful. Yes, it was another fail. I'm beginning to think I'm a little bit shit at this orienteering lark. At least this time I was surrounded by a couple of decent orienteers who where in as big a pickle as I was. Eventually they conceded defeat and headed home. I didn't. Nineteen minutes later I eventually found the pit that was control eleven. It was just such a damn confusing control. There were literally tens of pits in dense-ish forest. I was in the right area (the far right of the route trace) but just didn't lock into the right pit.

Up till then I was going okay. I had hit the controls pretty well and hadn't made too many mistakes but I wasn't able to cover the ground as quickly as I'd hoped. I kept getting snagged up in bramble. I got a bit shredded on a couple of occasions. You get to the point where you are losing so much time you just have to push through and take the pain - cuts and all.

Although I still think I'm improving, I can see it's going to be quite a while before I'm any good. However, I'm sure the skills I am taking on board will be helpful out in the mountains for proper racing...

Friday, December 07, 2012

Knock Knock

Who's there? The Knockalls Orienteering of course. Looks like it's going to be dry but cold and I'm looking forward to it. I've run in the Knockalls Inclosure before and it was soggy back in the summer so I'm expecting it to be very very soggy at the moment. I am hoping I can avoid any major mistakes tomorrow. Going to try and put in a bit more speed between controls. Fingers crossed...

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Brain Drain

It was a mentally draining day in the office for me today. My arse hardly left the chair. I got a lot of work done. The only problem is that there is still an awful lot more to do. Yesterday was another decent day. I managed to tick off four items from the todo list - only problem was I added a further eleven. One step forward... I sense this isn't going to be the best week of training but at least there's the orienteering to look forward to on Saturday - I wonder how I will balls it up this week?

Monday, December 03, 2012

I Feel It Not In My Fingers

Nor my toes. I do, however, feel it in my quads. It was one of those days where I got stiff every time I sat down for more than a few minutes. Now you may think I missed that - but you'd be wrong. Fnah fnah, ooh er misses, no, stop it, sssh. Right, that's set things straight.

I managed a decent effort on the exercise bike tonight but didn't have much leg power. I want to try and make it across to training with the Harriers tomorrow but not sure how realistic that's going to be given that I'm going to working on site in the afternoon doing a bit of pumping - snigger - and won't be leaving until enough water has been pumped. I'd like to think it will all go swimmingly - wrong choice of words - but these things never go to plan. Fingers crossed.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Cream Crackered

or should that be Cardington Cream Crackered. Hell it was tough underfoot in this year's Cardington Cracker. None of the expected frost mind, just lots and lots of sticky mud. I'd gained three inches - ssh, no, stop it - in height by the time I exited the first of the fields at the first road crossing and they made us go around the field edge instead of the normal straight across route as the farmer had ploughed it ready for barley. Right that's my excuses in...

Anyway, I ran like an old festering pile of poo but never the less enjoyed the outing. I was the slowest I've ever been - but not by as much as the results have me listed. They must have missed one of the earlier runners time because they have me a minute slower than my already slow time of 1:37:12. Still, I squeezed into the top hundred in 74th place. Did I mention it was really heavy going underfoot and they made us run further this year?

Aside from running so pitifully slow I ran it about as well as I could have. I set off steady but not far off full effort and then picked it up from half way atop Caradoc. I descended pretty well picking up loads of places and from that half way point I reckon I collected ten or so places. Somehow the last few miles weren't as bad as normal. Despite the mud - did I mention there was lots of sticky mud - I had plenty of endurance to keep me focused through the last fields - full of mud, not sure if I mentioned that, oh, and a liberal sprinkling of cow sh!t.

I'm glad I made the effort to go. This time next year I'll be a millionaire - er, no, I mean - this time next year I will knock minutes off this years time or I will let people hit me with sticks as penance - but only thin sticks, more twigs really.

Any finally, praise where praise is due. Well done to the race organiser, his team, the marshals and most importantly the cake bakers and soup-sayers on this, the races 25th year.

Today's 9 miles and 700m ascent.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Well I Ain't Fit For It

But I'm gonna go run it anyway. I have an inkling it could be chilly on the tops and more than a little icy. I am of course talking about the Cardington Cracker. Last time out I managed 1:33 for the nine miles of undulating Shropshire countryside. This time I'll be happy with sub 1:40.

After the disappointment of yesterday I pretty much spent the day busying myself doing nothing. I did find time amongst the nothingness to charge up Vera's battery and rev her engine. Not going to risk taking her with me tomorrow just in case the battery is on its way out. Can't be getting stranded. I shall monitor things but I need it sorted by next Friday..