Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Still On Track

True, it's not been a run day but come on, three in a row, I'm allowed a day off. Not totally off though. After a steady day at work, possibly the best ever drive home with almost no traffic, I stayed focused to the task and managed a sweat inducing sixty on the static bike waiting for the rains to come - that's quite a long sentence!

Tomorrow's orienteering has already been called off and said rains have now arrived. Assuming the forecast is anywhere near accurate it's going to be tough to get out for a run now I've no official event to attend.

On the up side my new head torch has arrived. A Lenser H7. Weighing in at the same cost as a replacement battery for my magicshine, I thought I'd give it a go. It's not as bright. It doesn't turn night into day. More sort of twilighty but I think it will do the job. So if the rains do last all day maybe they'll ease off after sun down and I can run then.

On the diet front, provided I don't snack later, I'm on target again...

Monday, December 30, 2013

Day Two

Of the diet and training plan. Yesterday was a success and I'm on track today - provided I don't snack later tonight, that is... I've struck while the iron is hot rather than make it a big deal as a new years resolution. I'm aiming to shed 10lb of lard in ten weeks. That'll be worth 90s on a 5k just by itself! I really have become too lardy over the last 18 months and it's stopping right here right now. To be fair there hasn't been much planning other than that I must commit more to training and give in less to apathy.

Today Martin and I got out for the anti-clockwise Dundry loop - and it was tough out there, into a really strong headwind. My achilles was sore but that didn't stop me. Earlier in the day I had warned Martin I wasn't running in the pouring rain and gales but, like it was destined to be, the sky cleared, Moses like as unto the Red Sea, in time for our lunchtime run. Still bloody windy mind.

Bring on day three...

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Better Today

It's more about fun than serious at the Christmas Treasure Hunt. I wasn't taking the event too seriously as a race but I was keen to run pretty hard on grounds of training. You see, I've decided to kick off my new years resolutions early. More training - that one shouldn't be too difficult as my recent record is extremely poor. The other is to shed a few pounds (or more than a few hopefully).

Anyway back to the hunt, I managed to visit 16 of the 18 controls within the hour time limit. I say within the limit but I was actually 17s late - smack me. Those 17s were not through lack of trying though. I was piling it on from the last control - which was actually the first as I ran the reverse direction. Despite my best effort I still got back late - damn the owners of the house whose house name plate had been removed leading me to waste 18s searching for it before declaring it awol (control 10).

After the last combatant got back we all headed to the Lion in Trellech for chip butties. Yum.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Hands Up Guv, It Wasn't My Finest Piece Of Orienteering..

There was a good turnout in the woods somewhere north of Chepstow for the Stotts Christmas-O. It was a chilly day but it wasn't raining. Well it wasn't raining until I started....

We were using a work in progress map update of the area but to me it was fine - but then I couldn't see anything for the rain on my glasses, so what do I know?

I struggled in the early stages. It was really just so difficult to see the map while monitoring my progress. I mucked up one and made a bad route choice to four but after that progress was just plain slow until the rain finally stopped and I could see clearly once more. Just a shame that was by the time I got to control nine. From there to the finish I went a lot better.

Good fun though. Looking forward to tomorrow's Christmas treasure hunt and maybe, just maybe, it wont rain....

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Well It's Back To Work Tomorrow

Been a good couple of days. I ate. I drank. I baked and I was merry...

Got a couple of orienteers planned for the weekend and I need to bake something for Saturday's event. I'm thinking my special coconut orange cookies...

Monday, December 23, 2013

Neighbours, Everybody Needs Good Neighbours

Thanks to their quick action I'm not looking at mopping out the ground floor. The water was lapping at the door quite literally. Me thinks a thank you bake is in order... and I think I'll leave the sand bags in place tonight.

Having kept the water just at bay I donned my waders and waded into the brook - well that's what they're for. There were quite a few blockages up stream of the main drain. That was forcing the waters out into the field and at the houses from a different direction to normal, with nowhere to go. The level is now a good half a metre lower up stream which should keep the waters at bay overnight. I'm going take an emergency day off tomorrow to get back in the brook and continue the clear out.

Once again I can't thank the fast actions of my neighbours enough, averting disaster and saving me from a very unwanted birthday present.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Fun Run In The Darkness

...it got even darker after my battery hit empty. Unfortunately I still had a muddy, tree covered descent still to go but I'm getting ahead of things.

It was the first Rogue Runs night race of a four race series. Staged in the mighty Forest of Dean by a formidable team of race experts. It was bloody good fun - until the lumin deficiency. They even made us run through a 40m long tunnel. Selling it as a short cut - shortcut my arse. I got over-bloody-taken - both times! I hate you Creber [in my best 'On the Buses' voice and shaking fist].

On the final climb my battery gave up the ghost. It wasn't that bad on the climb as it was a good, wide track but once at the summit I was fair up a creak without a paddle. Having tried to continue along the muddy, windy tree covered path I couldn't see s*!t. Just had to wait for the next runners to appear to give me some light. Cue a 30s wait. Having found the light at the cost of two places, I finished. I'm looking forward to the next race in the series - just need to order a new battery first....

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Bostock's Brilliant Brunch

The man is a genius with a frying pan. A veritable legend - in his own mind - I jest. Don't do the English breakfast often. Today's was gert lush. Right that's enough of that nonsense I'm welling up. I've I lunch run planned for tomorrow. And no, I'm not going to look at the forecast for fear it puts me off. Up Saturday will be the Forest night run - organised by some right rogues so I've heard. Sunday - or Birthdays Eve as it is oft called - I'm going to be out to lunch - shut it. It's actually going to be out to dinner but there's no corn to be had with that.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Son Of A B!*(#

Traffic on the way home was mental. Getting out of Bristol a nightmare - I'm thinking Brunnel didn't build the plimsoll bridge. It got stuck open causing absolute chaos!

When I did final arrive home imagine my negative joy to find bits of bird and feathers spread around pretty much every corner of the bedroom - lovely, just what one needs after a long day at the office. Then, having cleared that mess up, the damn cat - no, she's not in my good books - decided raw bird didn't agree with her and had a good solid puke all over the floor - aaaaaahhhhhhhhhh! Finally, with that fine mess cleaned up I hit the sofa - hard. Operation couch potato has commenced....

Monday, December 16, 2013

Spitting, It Were Spitting

Yes, it was a wet and windy lunch time run today. You know, it's really rather unpleasant when - to quote Adele - the rain is blowing in your face. Martin and I managed to get out there in the drizzle. Our commitment to the cause knows no bounds. Okay, I'm pretty sure there are going to be a few bounds along the way that we will know but at the moment we are having a jolly good go at not knowing any.

It was the clockwise run today and that meant rain in the face all the way to the summit of Mount Dundry - as it isn't known. I was a little quicker this time than last but not by much. Conditions were on a par with the worst we've run this fair winter season so mustn't grumble with my effort. Things are inching very slowly in the right direction - slowly being the operative word.

Hopefully we'll both be in the office Wednesday for another trundle...

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Recovery Weekend

Recovering, from Friday, that is. I kipped in the van Friday night - well I say Friday night, it was more, early hours of Saturday morning... I did not rise till gone 2pm. Ye olde van is quite comfy. Suffice to say I didn't quite make it home in time to get to the night orienteering.

Today has been continual rain and I've been a bad boy. I did an hour on the bike and fifteen minutes on the rower. In between that I baked up another couple of panettone to take to work - added a few white chocolate drops this time so it'll be interesting to see how that works out. Also made a gert lush winter root veg stew with herb cheese dumplings - to quote a big fake bear, "mmmmmm tasty".

Hopefully tomorrow's planned lunch run will happen, it'll be the more favourable clockwise variant....

Friday, December 13, 2013

Four, A Magic Number

Yes, I've managed four runs this week - if you can call today's effort a run. I was a tad pathetic out there today. Martin and I ran the anti-clockwise Dundry loop and I was almost ready to call for an ambulance by the time I got to the top. Pretty it was not. I eventually made it back and I think it was a little quicker than the last time we ran the anti-clockwise loop. 34:09.

That's it, I'm out on a secret mission, it's the works night out down town.....

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Works Christmas Dinner...

Don't normally do much for lunch - ooh, nice, that rhymed. Three course meal. Too much. It was nice but hardly cooked in the kitchen. I'm thinking it was bulk bought from the wholesaler - is that a word? Moving on. Should've gone for a forty miler to burn it off but I didn't. Have a feeling the week is headed south. I'm out on the town Friday night - and I'm not sure the fifty miler to burn that off is going to happen.... Well it's nearly christmas!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Three In Four

Three runs in four days is possibly a seasons best - only took me till December... To be fair, I think I did run three times in four days some months ago but it's definitely been a while.

It was quite enjoyable, head torch blazing the way - and no, before you say it, I'm not practising my night time off road running for the 21st. Okay, technically I guess I was but out there in the dark it's safer than running up and down the country lanes.

I felt really sluggish in the first couple of kilometres. Maybe that was down to heading straight out after the drive home but if I gave myself time to think I'd probably have talked myself out of running. No, it was definitely better to have struck while the iron was lukewarm. Anyway, with the first few k's out the way I started to feel better and began to enjoy it out there. All done, it was only 9k but I'm happy with that.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Did I Ever Not Feel Like It But I Did It Anyway

Feeling knackered - and that was before I dragged myself out for a run. There was no way I would manage a run in the Black Mountains so I downsized to a run over May Hill instead. Not quite the same. I did stop and take a wistful look out towards the mountains from the top of the hill. It was a lovely clear day and you could make out the entire range along the border. Another day.

I felt lumbering at the start and felt lumbering at the finish but I got out there despite having a raft of excuses as to not bother. I finished off the days training with an hour on the exercise bike. Taking the weekend as a whole it hasn't been too bad. I managed a decent orienteer melded with reasonable mileage and two days of running. My achilles is feeling tight but I think the only way it will resolve is to just keep plugging away and ignore it.

Anyway, can't spend all day on here. It's time to get baking. Experimental cranberry and blueberry pies...

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Wandering Around Woodchester

Wasn't tempted enough so the orienteering it was. I parked up the van on Selsley Common and ran along the Cotswold Way before turning off at Nympsfield and heading along the road to the event. 8km.

Quickly registered, I headed out on the blue course. I didn't exactly light up the world with my speed across the ground, briefly slowing on the ascent to control one to talk baking with Vanessa - you can tell I take this orienteering lark very seriously...

I had a good run all in all. I won't bore with the detail. Suffice, I didn't make any big mistakes, just one small one that cost me a minute or so. Other than that it went well. If I'd not run to the event I would probably have knocked a minute or two off running the trail sections but for now I'm happy to keep my orienteering strictly for fun.

I finished in 49:06 and 14th place (52 starters). That's my quickest by far and most importantly inside the hour at last. To be fair I think it was a little easier and shorter than normal but hey, you can only run the route provided. And that was the orienteering finished till the next time. With my dibber downloaded I headed home following a route suggested by Pat W and by the time I got back to the van I was fair knackered...

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Almost Tempted...

to head to Snowdonia on Friday night. The forecast looks dry. Cold, yes, but dry. Vera is back on the road after an MOT hiccup so it might be fun. The downside would be missing Saturday's orienteering league match....

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Plotting The Office Cakes

Haven't run so far this week. Nuff said. More importantly it's time to start thinking of what I bake to take into the office on my birthday. Yes, it's almost time to strike another year from the record...

My current thoughts are edging towards an experimental Christmas blueberry and cranberry 'mincepie' with my signature almond paste top.... Well, there's no point in playing it safe, is there?

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Aching Achilles

Doh! l guess two days of trying run quicker wasn't the brightest idea I've ever had. My achilles is sore again so I didn't get out for a run in the Malverns. In fact I didn't get out for a run at all. It was a lovely day though. I'm fifty-fifty on whether to run the LCL Cross Country tomorrow. I'm definately ruling out the Cracker. The question is whether my achilles will be up to slogging round and round some soggy sports field in a far flung corner of the Universe...

Friday, November 29, 2013

Getting Serious...

Another day. Another lunch time run. I think I must have recieved a bump on the head sometime in the last couple of days! It was only the Dundry run but I'm so unfit it felt like I ran a double loop I was so knackered.

The big question now though is, what to do on the weekend. There's the Cardington Cracker on Sunday but I'm honestly in such poor shape it might be too much to suffer. I'll maybe just go for a plod somewhere tomorrow. The weather is looking good. Chilly but sunny. Maybe the views from the Malverns could be a good shout.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Turn Up For The Books

Well that was a surprise. Me, feeling energetic enough to go for a solo lunch time run. More of a surprise, I suppose, was that I quite enjoyed my run along the tow path beside the Sharpness canal.

I headed out from Purton in the direction of Sharpness. After fifteen minutes of running I stopped, turned around and headed back. But not before I took a moment to read about the old Severn train bridge, long since dismantled. Apparently a tanker crashed into it back in the sixties...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Been A Poor Week So Far

Totally forgot about the Pomphrey Sports 5k yesterday - doh. Hopefully I can get a run in over Dundry on Friday with Martin. Sunday there's a possible Cardington Cracker up in sunny Shropshire. Saturday could be a Blorenge blow out but not sure I can be arsed to travel for a two miler - a steep two miler, mind, but still only two miles..

Monday, November 25, 2013

What A Weekend

I reckon I might be recovered by Wednesday. Not sure I have the endurance for the Christmas season. Managed an hour on the bike - I just about managed to get through it without falling asleep. On the work front it was back to it with a bang. The grindstone continues to grind.....

Friday, November 22, 2013

And Relax

I'm happy to report that I've had no after effects from the achilles after yesterday's race. Hopefully that's that put to bed.

I've spent the day doing not a lot. It's been good to do nothing. I did an hour on the exercise bike - it's too cold for my poor hands on the real thing at this time of year. Finished off with twenty minutes on the concept 2 rower. I've let that slip over the last sixth months but it's such a good workout I'm going to make much more effort to include it in my training from now on.

More importantly I continued my baking training. My own recipe vegan pork pie style thing with chickpea, lentil, pepper, carrot and herbs & spices. Pleased with the result but I need to work on my crimping...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Curious Incident Of The Run In The Night-time

Well work had me worried for a moment but it all worked out in the end. I managed to get to the night race in plenty of time. And I'm glad I did. It was great fun. Just my sort of thing. Right up my alley - ooh, matron. Okay, I think I'll stop there.

It was a great route. Two laps of three miles through the wonderful Forest of Dean. Two thirds was on muddy meandering single track. The rest on forestry trails. And it was surprisingly Hilly.

I got held up a little bit on the first lap in the first mile but after that things spread out and I was able to use my death defying powers of mentalness to really go for it amongst the tree roots. I lost my footing a couple of times but recovered without falling on my arse.

I finished 10th from what I heard was ninety starters. Pleased with that. I honestly don't think I would have run it any faster in the day light. I could get to like night running...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Battery Recharged

I'm obviously talking about my head torch, of course. Me? I still feel knackered and I don't know why. Despite the tiredness I should be good to go at tomorrow's night race. I can't promise to get there in time for the early registration. I'm definitely going to take my kit to work just in case I need to head straight there...

Monday, November 18, 2013

Such Hard Work

Who'd have thought running the old Dundry loop could be so tough. We ran the more challenging anti-clockwise direction and to say I found it puff-worthy would be an understatement. Soooo out of practice. It wasn't fun. I did not enjoy it at any point - except maybe the lovely hot shower afterwards. But it was necessary.

Martin and I are determined to up the importance of our lunch run and whenever the opportunity presents itself we will run. Come rain, shine or cold we must run - and it was that drizzly stuff today. The stuff that gets you damp throughout.

Anyway, the achilles felt okay and I've no aftershocks from it this evening so I'm happy about that...

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Yes, that's the distance I covered in yesterday's orienteering! No wonder I was out there practically all day. The other disappointing fact is that, looking at the gps plot, I was not actually very far from the devils control - that's number eight - on my first approach. I must have passed within 15 metres of it. Sounds a lot but in terms of a featureless acre of forest that wasn't actually too far off. And before you say it, a miss is as good as a mile. I know, I know. Now sod off.

Didn't manage to get to the cross country - not that my heart was really in it anyway. In fact I didn't run at all because my achilles is feeling a bit sore and I decided not to risk it. Most importantly though, I managed to bake a cracking pumpkin and sunflower seed wholemeal loaf followed by a pesto topped pizza for dinner.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Orienteerus Horribilis

Night - wait for it, wait for it - mare! I did not have the correct brain installed today. Come to think of it, I'm not sure the legs were quite the right ones either. I pretty much didn't have a handle on things from the start. I don't think I chose my routes too badly. I just failed to execute the plan at almost every turn.

It has to be said the lowest of the myriad of low points came as I ran towards control seven (of 19) while picking my route to eight. Suddenly it registered that control eight was the control I failed to find in the score event a few months previous. My heart sank.

True to form I didn't find it again... at least not quickly. After ducking and dodging around for more than too much time I decided to find a suitable space amidst the overgrowth of foliage for an impromptu spot of meditation - also known as waiting and listening for others to turn up and then use echo location to home in on the sound of them pinging the control....

I did finally complete the course and am I ever glad it was only an informal because I'd have been looking at seriously low score towards the series. There's always cross country tomorrow - but do I really want to do cross country? Cross country? Really?......

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Back From Plympton

Quite a productive two days. It all went okay. Didn't get time for a run last night though. By the time I got to the hotel, after a full day of software testing, it was too late and by the time I'd finished dinner it was gone nine and I was done. It's nice to be back home now.

Still undecided on the weekends action. There's a few events on offer - not forgetting more baking practice of course.....

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Cake Went Down Well

All positive reviews I'm happy to report [wipes brow]. It's official, the panettone is my signiture bake...

Off to Plympton for a couple of days tomorrow. Won't been doing any surfing though (do they do surfing down there?). It's strictly work. I'm going to take my running kit but not sure I'll make it out. The one definite is that it's going to be an early start tomorrow - let's all just hope the M5 takes a day off from being utter numpty!

Monday, November 11, 2013

What A Damp Day

The fog did not clear all day. Still a bit gutted to have missed yesterdays Lyn-y-fan race. Ho hum. Busied myself with some more baking practice today. Used my new Panettone tin. Waiting to slice it to see how I did. Made a few meringue sandwich things with the left our egg white with a black current butter-cream filling. Jamie O's high elbow technique was good for the whisking.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

What A Cracking Day

Just wish I hadn't had to go to work. I imagine it would have been a great day in the hills - for those lucky enough to have been able to go. The early morning sunshine looked stunning - as I drove along that most scenic of roads, the M5, on my journey towards Bristol. Pretty sure the scenery over at the Lyn-y-Fan fell race would have been substantially better. Still, at least I got home in the light but my heart wasn't in it and all I managed was a rather pathetic twenty minutes in the rapidly cooling autumnal sunshine.

Looking for positives, at least I don't have to go back to work till Tuesday as I have a day off tomorrow. Now for the negatives, the forecast doesn't look great. Today will probably turn out to be the last day of sunshine before spring :-(

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Oh Well

No Lyn-y-Fan race for me :-(

I don't normally do emoticons on the blog but I was really looking forward to it. Had the day planned and everything. I was going to park up near the Usk reservoir and jog across to the race for a bit of extra mileage. It looks like being a lush day.

Not going to say where I'm headed tomorrow, except as to say it's somewhere I normally go Monday to Friday - suffice I won't be getting a lie in. Tomorrow is going to be possibly the last best day of the year weather wise and I'm going to be working. Cue grumpiness....

Friday, November 08, 2013

Not Looking Good For Tomorrow

Tomorrow might be a good day for umbrella testing. Just to confirm, I'm not going to be umbrella testing. I was thinking of heading down to Bristol for the BOK orienteering but I'm not so sure now...

Sunday looks better. In fact, if the weather pans out anywhere near what's forecast then it will be a cracker. The Lyn-y-Fan race might actually be quite fun. Looks like I'll be baking the panettone tomorrow then - of course, that could wait till Monday....

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

What A Lovely Pair...

Of panettone tins! Almost can't wait to try 'em out. I've restocked. All good to go on the weekend. It's almost too sad these days that a bit of bakeware trumps a techno gadget everytime!

I've my eye on a battenberg tin....

...what a pair

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Don't Mention Lunch Time

It's been a while but after many false starts Martin and I finally managed to both be in the office at the same time on the same day at around high noon. That's all the ingredients for a Dundry run.

Blimey that was tough. It really has been a long time. To be fair I was actually quite surprised by my time. No, it wasn't quick but, packing a few extra pounds as I am these days, I was quite pleased it wasn't as slow as I feared - and I have been over a minute slower in the past! Maker down it's time to run Dundry as often as possible. It really is about as good a thirty minute training run as you can possibly pack into half an hour....

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Christmas Panettone Test Run

I managed to get out for a shortish run before the rains came and I headed back indoors. Finished off in the dry in front of the telly on the exercise bike. After last weekend I just couldn't face being out there in the rain for too long.

From thence - is that really a word? - I focused my attention on a spot of baking. Christmas panettone. It really is a wickedly rich bread. Practically wiped out my supply of eggs. After a slow first prove I added the fruit. After an equally slow second one, Tony finally made it into the oven. In between times I cooked up a kind of fried rice come paella 'thing'. I was happy with the result - although I ate too much.

Back to the 'ttone - yes, I will type it differently each time I refer to it. Best attempt yet! I tried a different recipe to the last time I tried a PT and added my own tweak - it worked a treat. That's Christmas sorted then...

Friday, November 01, 2013

What To Do On The Weekend?

If the forecast wasn't so pants I'd be heading to the Black Mountains. It is so I'm not. I can't face back to back weekends getting soaked - I've only just died out! Guess I'll be running locally but you never know, I might think of something completely different come the morning...

On a sad note, it looks like National Drive Like A Complete Tool Month has been extended into November with some numpty caravaner managing to flip his (or her, don't want to be sexist) caravan on the M5 above Falfield, causing me much sadness during my extended duration drive home. Still, on the upside, that's one less caravan to hold us up on the A roads....

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

No Bake Off For Me

No, I couldn't make the Chepstow Harriers bake off tonight. Quite disappointed by that but I'd long previously arranged work funding for entry to the Pomphrey Sport 5k so had to show my face. There were four of us. Not too bad a turn out. I've a few more names for the next race in November.

As to my race it wasn't really. I decided long before the race I'd treat it as training. I set off at the back of the field. Running a simblimely slow first kilometre. From there I nudged up the pace kilometre by kilometre - well there was only another four until the finish - but rest assured at no time was I in any danger of running quickly.

In summary, it was a singularly unimpressive run. But that wasn't really the point. As training it was a great session. I laid my marker down and will just up the effort over the coming months...

As a final note, I hope the next bake off is booked in for a Thursday to eliminate a clash with the Pomphrey race. Either that or don't pick the last Tuesday in the month..

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Soup Incident

Some might go as far as to say Stovegate. Firstly, a bit of advice. Don't use the OMM as proving ground for a new stove and definitely not one using a fuel you've not used before...

Anyway, as the weather was always looking to be mild - wet and windy, yes, but also mild for the time of year - I decided it would be a good idea to try my solid full stove. At 13g it weighs less than a fuel block, which weighs in at a heady 14g. Each block is capable of a twelve minute burn to bring 750ml of water to the boil. Let me tell you now, learning that it doesn't quite do that at the midway camp at the OMM is not ideal. Cue one mildly tepid cuppa-soup - hence forth, to be known as 'the soup incident' - for the pair of us as a quick, not so warm you up after the finish of day one.

It got better from there. Neil fashioned an impromptu porch using my emergency string - never ever go camping without emergency string - and hay presto. We were able to shelter the stove from the conditions and fully boil 500ml of water almost effortlessly - albeit taking full on twelve minutes a pop. Okay there was a bit of finger crossing but from there it was hot food and drink all the way. With disaster averted there won't be any need for an inquiry into Stovegate....

Moving forward to today, my legs feel okay. My shoulders ache but I was expecting to feel a lot worse. Even managed a decent hour on the static bike in front of the telly. I'm still feeling a bit of the buzz from the weekend. I almost feel there's another mountain marathon in me....

ps and for the record I'd definitely consider solid fuel again. Maybe with a bit more testing beforehand next time - dammit, did I really just say 'next time'? It takes up so little space and weight it has to be worth it!

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Yes, two M's. It's not everyday day you run the Original Mountain Marathon. I feel tired and my back aches but my legs feel okay. I suspect it may be more a case of what doesn't ache when I wake up tomorrow morning. One thing you can guarantee tonight is that I will sleep soundly.

The weekend started on a high note, with a visit to Cuoco Neil's Italian eatery and accommodation on Friday night. I've never eaten so fine, the bread was divine. We then got up at five for the drive to the devil centre - I mean, event centre. With our official start time of 8:23 and a 45 minute walk to the start, we timed that about right.

Using a mix of cunning and map reading trickery we managed to not get too far lost on the Medium Score event. Our second control of day 1 went a bit pear shaped and we wasted a bit of time but that may well have helped over the long game as we then focused the mind a little more. The mist was down, the rain intermittent we just drifted too far right and bam, operation faff kicked into operation. Ten or so minutes of further faffing and we eventually found the control before moving on and doing better.

We picked a route with options and ruled out a few and pulled others into play and reaching the finish with twenty minutes spare there wasn't too much more we could have done. There was maybe a control earlier on we could have nabbed for another ten points but that was about it. Day 1, 230 points on the board and 38th place from a field of 200+. We were happy with that.

The over night camp was a mix of sunshine, rain and gales. Having arrived at 14:30 we had plenty of time to kill with nothing better than to dive into the tent when the heavens opened - which they did frequently. Still, at least we were able to get the tent up in the dry and, with fresh clothes donned, warm up a little.

It was a long night, and going hard core, sleeping on gods solid earth - no of this balloon bed funny busines (although I've heard they are excellent and well worth a purchase for the less hard core amongst us). Suffice, I didn't sleep much. At one point the gusts got so strong I thought the tent was going to blow away - but it didn't thankfully.

Day two began with more wind and rain. Neil and I played a ten minute game of find the contact lens after he 'thought' he dropped it. The game was eventually called off after finding said contact lens already in his eye, which he then repositioned so that he could see. After that small interruption, we were again lucky with tent based operations, being able to take the tent down and pack up during a small break in the weather. With the kit packed we made our way to our 9:08 start.

It felt colder and soon it was gusting and raining. That was to be the pattern for the day but with more rain and less gaps in it than yesterday. With the bad weather courses called, we only had four hours of scoring. That meant a fairly linear route with few options. We set our plan and basically followed through - oh, nasty. After a little hiccup at our third control, losing a few minutes, we eventually made it home inside the time with a score of 155 and 29th place - toot toot. That moved us up the score board to scrape into the top thirty in - yes, you guessed it - 30th place!!! Well happy with that and being old bastards we finished 13th of 89 in the old git category - do I hear a whoop whoop? I think I do.

Thanks to Neil who roped me in, although I wasn't entirely chirpy at every moment, with the wind and rain biting, the food at Cuoco Neil's Italian Eatery made up for any lows. Thanks also to all the organisers and the the mud slide finish - which had all the hall marks of 'A Creber Special'.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Twas The Night Before Hell

Have just eaten a fantastic last supper at Neil's. If I don't make it back from the forbidden valley tomorrow and Sunday then I can't think of a tastier final dine.

The kit is all packed. The death warrant signed - I mean the disclaimer signed. Everything thing is good to go. All that's left to do now is go endure the worst the mountains have to throw at us. Could be a long couple of days...

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Oh Joy, The Clocks Go Back

Brilliant. On any normal 'clocks going back an hour' weekend I'd be well happy. An extra hour in bed - brilliant - but not this weekend. Oh no, this OMM weekend that extra hour means an extra hour of suffering in the cold and wet. Happy days.....

Forecast still ain't giving me the joy vibe...

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Yep, Forecast Still Not Looking Great...

If it's to be believed we might get only slightly wet on Saturday morning before it all turns nasty later in the day and on Sunday. Why, for the love of sanity, did I agree to run the OMM? A mountain marathon practically in the middle of winter? What was I thinking? I guess it'll form one of those memories you look back on in future and remember fondly... maybe not.

The big decision, gas or solid fuel? Solid is going to take up less space for sure and maybe weigh a bit less but it burns cooler. Will that matter? I'd be more confident of definitely having enough fuel for the weekend. But the last two mm's have been with gas - ssh, no, stop it. To asist the solid fuel burn i'm designing a near zero weight wind shield burn funnel.... Oh the decisions...

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Weekend Ahead

I'm feeling pretty positive about the upcoming OMM. Yes, I'm going to get very cold. Almost certainly soaked to the skin. Definitely knackered beyond belief. Achilles destroyed. But with death the worst outcome what's not to feel up beat about? Should be a bit of a laugh. The plans are made, the count down begins....

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Well That Was Hard Work

Who'd have thought that today's orienteering would be so energy sapping. I only made one smallish mistake, losing maybe four minutes but other than I got the nav spot on - or about as spot on as my current level of technique allows. I was planning the route ahead as I ran, aiming off and even attempting to count my steps for the first time. The step counting worked really well. I'm well on course to be 'alright' at orienteering with another three years of training...

Despite the nav going so well I still took bloody ages! With the official route for the brown course rated at 10.3k, I reckon I ran closer to 12k+ by opting for a few sections of path running where there were quicker, more direct options directly through the woodland. Despite the extra I reckon it still saved me time.

I was knackered by the time I finally reached the finish, some 1 hour and 43 minutes later. Still can't quite get my head around the fact that I ran hard, made few mistakes and still took bloody ages - doh. Going to sleep well tonight.... Oh, and the achilles feels a little sore but I don't think it's anything to be too concerned about.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Gee It's Good To Be Back Home

Home is where I want to be. We had a good drive home. Scratch that, we had an great drive home. Three hours ten from Sheffield to Bristol on a Friday afternoon. I'm almost in shock. Mind you, it wasn't without incident.... All of a sudden, in heavy traffic, all three lanes on the M5 came to a rapid stop. The roof rack and stuff from a poncy Jag came flying off just ahead of us, leaving its debris sprawled across the middle and outside lanes.

It was a miracle that no one hit it and everyone managed to stop without hitting the car in front. Some workmen where on hand to clear the motorway almost before the dust had settled. Lord knows how badly the ripple effect kicked on back down the road. I reckon there would have been serious delays about five miles back as the ripple reached its maximum crest...

I'm feeling pretty knackered but I don't feel tired - if that makes sense!? Looking forward to the Compass Sport Cup on Sunday but think I need to give the cross country a miss tomorrow as my left achilles is feeling a little sore.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Knock To The Head?

Possibly - as Martin and I headed out for another 6:30am run. The circular route again. In reverse this time. Not sure which way was best. Today's finish was definitely a steeper affair but somehow the rest of the run seemed nicer. Though the downhill section was a little dodgy under the tree cover as the sun hadn't yet risen. Not sure we'll manage it tomorrow.

So the training course is nearly over and it's been pretty useful. One more day and we're heading back. Really not looking forward to the drive home via the M42. Not sure busy covers that stretch of road...

Up on the weekend is the compass sport cup on Sunday. I'm off towards the front of the field on account of being a little bit pants at orienteering. I'm not a total disaster but I ain't going to be winning any prizes but I'd like to think I won't make too many mistakes.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Don't Stray Off The Path

So we didn't. We did actually get out for a run though - I know, what were we thinking at 6:30 on a cold, damp, misty morning?...

Martin and I carried through the threat and managed a five mile circular around the hotel. It was a tad dark to begin with but by the time we finished it was light enough to see where we were treading.

Haven't seen the ghost yet though...

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Almost Stopped Raining

Well I've been acclimatising to the altitude up here in Sheffield. Haven't got out for a run yet and at present I am looking at a possible run tomorrow morning early doors. Forecast looks feasible. If that's a fail then a run tomorrow might end in fail again as another wave of rain heads in...

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Lazy Day

Okay, I've been a lazy git today. I admit it. I'm off up north tomorrow for the week. Sheffield. That's up North, right? I've printed some maps so I should be able to get out for a couple of runs after I clock off. Training courses - you can't live with 'em you can't live without them.... something to add to the CV though..

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Source Of The Usk

Yes, we located the very source of the river Usk. I suggested we play Pooh sticks and see whose stick would arrive in Newport first. Neil put a stop to that nonsense.

Anyway, we set off in reasonable conditions. It was exactly sunny but the tops where clear and it wasn't too cold - at least, not with three layers on. We started from the A4067 and headed over the unnamed summit, swam the river Tawe and followed the Nant y Llyn up to Fan Brycheiniog and Fan Foel. Then we dropped off the top heading north west to our target of a small stone circle marked on the map before turning back towards home. Next up was the said pilgrimage to the source of the Usk before winding our way back towards and over the unnamed summit and the car.

I've never run the open expanse north of Fan Foel before. I was somehow expecting it to be rough going but it wasn't. It wasn't a bowling green but it was perfectly traversable. There were lots of little sheep trods to pick up and scenic views. I see no reason why I won't add that area to my list of places to run.

By the time we got back to the car, the forecast weather had arrived. The cloud layer, lowering by the minute. The last thirty minutes were spent in the drizzle and the tops where shrouded in cloud. Good job we got there early. Just about timed in right.

In all we covered 19km and 2,500ft of ascent. We didn't hurry. We had no need to. We took our time studying our maps and picking our lines - I picked mine and made it bleed. Yet despite the leisurely pace I still feel quite tired now, as I sit here typing...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I Got Me Scallops

[Snigger] Saw them on offer during tonight's weekly shop and thought I'd give 'em a go. Never eaten them before let alone cook them. I'm thinking that's Saturday's dinner for one sorted.

Tomorrow's run is sorted as well. Okay, the start time at least and the starting point. I'm heading over for a bit of an explore in the west. Maybe try out some of the rougher ground. Let's face it, it's only a bit of fun. It's not like I can cover every mile of it before D-day - or should that be O-day....

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

There's A Chill In The Air

I'm thinking the thermals will definitely be needed for the OMM. And speaking of all things the OMM I'm looking to head over that way Friday for my day off. The forecast looks acceptable if not great - read, it's going to be cold and lightly damp at best. Suppose that's about right for this time of year. Best pack my thermals - I can see they're going to be out now till the spring...

Haven't worked out a route yet. I'm thing of parking in the lay by below Fan Gyhirych on the A4067 and heading west....

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

A Busy Start To The Week

But not unpleasant. I don't mind busy when I'm getting things done. Over the coming months keeping my focus on running is going to be a challenge though. My work diary is starting to look flipping full for the months ahead. At least there's my day off on Friday to look forward to. Me thinks the mountains await me - but the weather might be a tad against me.

Next week I'm away to Sheffield for a training course. Being so close to the Peak District and not being able to get out for a run there is going to be a bit galling. If only the training course had been at the height of summer....

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Can't Get Better Value Than That For A Pound

One pound doesn't buy you a lot these days but entry to the Phantasmagorical Fan Fawr Fell Race it does. I don't usually travel all the way to the other side - of the Brecon Beacons for a 2 miler but I had a plan.....

I headed over early - stage 1 of the plan. Stage two was a warm up run up to Fan Fawr to look at the side descent. My instincts told me it wasn't a good route. Blasting back from the summit across the top must be quicker. In such a short race there's no way the ascent can take everything out of your legs. The sprint along the top has to be possible however hard you went at it on the way up - ssh, no, stop it.

Anyway, warm up done, I waited and chatted - as you do. Then a nice young lady from the University, as part of a study, measured my appendage - ooh matron. Also known as my right leg.

Onto stage 3, the race itself. Having discarded the rubbish route as an option I planned to stick to the proper route. Anyway, as I got to the summit Pete Williams was running so close to me I decided to prove once and for all what a sh!t route the side descent is and cut off on the diagonal...

Yep, it's truly sh!t and I lost ground on Pete. To be fair, not a huge amount but enough. It didn't cost me any places though so it was worth trying if only to rule it out for the future. I finished 18th in 22:46. Happy with that.

After the prize giving a few of us, including my OMM partner, Neil, completed stage 4 of my plan. A four and a half mile loop up to Corn Du visiting the little known Y Gryn on the way.

All in all a top afternoon of fell racing fun in the awesome autumnal sunshine. Big thanks to Toffer and Wheeze for hosting a cracking little race, this year celebrating 25 years since its first running.....

Thursday, October 03, 2013

A Busy Day

But enjoyable. Out and about in the car, visiting sites, fixing things, making things go. Sometimes it's good to get back to basics. A day without meetings is like a honeymoon in Vegas - no, I don't know what that means either.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Bloody Drizzle

That damn stuff that gets you wet. Couldn't face it. Now I know the days are drawing in but the murk made it double gloomy double early tonight. Rubbish. Flipping rubbish. I think I feel a little S.A.D.

Put in an hour on the exercise bike but it's not the same. Think I need a long run to blow away the cobwebs. That's not going to happen until the weekend though. The big decision will be do I do the informal orienteering on Saturday and a mountain run Sunday or am I risking bottling it that way? Should I just get the mountain run out the way Saturday and then something else Sunday? Okay, it's not exactly decision of the century....

Update, forgot Fan Fawr fell race so will probably head there Saturday...

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sore Feet

I survived yesterday quite well really but my feet are sore today, sporting a few blisters as they do. I'm not normally one for blisters. I put it down to the river crossings. Oddly - and unexpectedly - my back is also sore. I think it's a bruise caused by my bumbag. I think I tied up my waterproofs so tightly that they've caused the bruise. Suffice, I've not done much today. A bit of baking, of course but haven't really done much else. Oh well, there's always tomorrow. Did I say I'm not back to work till Tuesday - result. Hopefully my feet will be back to normal tomorrow and the sun will be shinning. Thinking maybe a trot over the Malverns...

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Happy With That - But I Don't Know Where It Came From!

Suffice to say I exceeded my expectation - despite grumblings from some... Without further ado, to the race. The Black Mountains Death Loop Challenge Race - okay, I added the Death, the Loop and the Challenge.

I set off very steady with my three and a half hour splits implanted firmly into my memory banks. Taking my position in the middle order I made my way up to Pen Cerrig Calch. Hitting the check point in 36 minutes. A tad inside my split target but only by a minute. The running to Pen Alt Mawr went equally steadily and despite it all feeling very easy I gained another couple of minutes on the schedule to reach there in 49 minutes (all timings from race start). The target was 52.

Next up, the danger zone and I was looking at it taking me 53 minutes. I am, of course talking about the drop into the valley and the hell climb back out. Go too hard and it would be game over. Too easy and I'd fall too far behind to make anything up. I led a few runners onto the holy trail and another couple joined half way down - didn't they V? I didn't charge too ferociously down as trashing my legs at that point wouldn't have been a good idea but I put in a fair effort.

Into the main climb, the one climb to rule them all in this race, the climb to Pen y Gadir Fawr I elected for the new route that a few of us had investigated last week. To the far right of conventional thinking but after hitting the top I am convinced it is the best route - at least for me. Despite not really pushing it, with the going so much easier with only a few short sections of rough stuff, I hit the top nine minutes inside the target, in 1:36. I have to admit to being pretty amazed. The aim was to get there feeling okay and then start racing. Not to get there feeling okay and be up on the schedule by that much already - back of the net.

The next couple of sections down and up to Charlie Fan and the ridge run to Bal Mawr were good. I was starting to ramp the effort and grabbed a few more minutes off the target. I stuttered a little bit on the climb through the forest to Crug Mawr, failing to really run well on the main track back out of the forest. The distance was starting to tell. I walked from the edge of the forest to the top ridge before running all but the very last bit to Crug Mawr.

From there it was all down hill and despite starting to feel the odd creak here and there I was still able to run steadily if somewhat unspectacularly. I eventually reached the finished in 3 hours and 14 minutes and 16th place. Not as fast as once I could run it but far faster than I'd hoped to dream. Can't grumble at that - although there were one or two grumbles from someone else.... With a bit more training, shedding a few pounds, I reckon I can see myself heading back towards the three hour mark for next year. Now there's a challenge....

Race distance 17 miles with 4,500 feet of ascent..

Friday, September 27, 2013

Getting Very Dark...

Some might say black. As in mountains... Yes, after last weeks recce it's time for the real thing tomorrow. Not feeling entirely confident of a fast run. That makes it sound like I think there's a chance I will run fast. There isn't. There is a chance I won't be horrendously slow. There is a chance I will run steadily enough to enjoy it. I'll get round. I always get round but it won't necessarily be pretty.

I'm going to target a three and a half hour trek. My way markers along the way will be an hour forty five to the summit of Pen y Gadir Fawr - via the new route. If I can then get down and up to Charlie Fan by two hours fifteen with something left then I will try and pick things up a little - but not too much. I want to get to Crug Mawr with something left. From there, the three miles to the finish need some running. Last year it was hell from there. This year I want to be the one doing the over taking not the one being trampled all over...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Made It Out Of Plymouth Alive

A close thing though. Felt like I was in an episode of the Walking Dead. No, not really - what am I talking about? No, I don't know either.

In the end it wasn't as long a day as I thought it might have been but still quite tiring. At least I get a bit of a lie in tomorrow, not having to get up until 6:15 as I do. So what has this got to do with running? Absolutely nothing. Just chilling, kicking back - what ever that means - watching the bake-off and then heading to bed early. My legs feel tight from the weekend but should be back to normal tomorrow...

Monday, September 23, 2013

Bloody Plymouth

Not that I've got anything against Plymouth. I'm sure it's very nice. Right next to Dartmoor. It's just that it's a flippin' long way from Bristol - not to mention a little further north. Going to be a loooong day tomorrow...

My legs are feeling achy today - not surprising. Due to the Plymouth proceedings I can't be running the Pomphrey Sports 5k. I was hoping to run the series but that's been scuppered due to work. I've really got to stop this 'work' malarky doing me over. What's this, a business meeting in the office, in the afternoon, recurring on the last Tuesday of the month? Yes, I think I need to make something up and put it in the diary so I'm available for the rest of the series...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Five Go Running Up A Mountain

It was an early start - well early for a Sunday. I drove to Raglan picking up New Dave on the way to
rendezvous with Judith, Matthew and James to continue the journey to Llanbedr. Kit checked, shoes donned we set out. Five went running up a mountain.

The pace was steady - although for me at the moment it was a little bit of faster steady than I was hoping for. Not to mention my legs were feeling surprisingly bad after yesterdays orienteering and warm up cool down runs.

It was a good recce. We managed to try a few route tweaks. Some good. Some not so good but that's the point of the recce. There were few points where we were tempted to play Beat the Blore but we decided against it in the end - just kidding. We all got round and we were all on speaking terms at the finish - always a bonus. I didn't win the lottery and so will have to go back to work Monday. And we all arrived safely home afterwards - at least I am assuming we all got home safely otherwise Judith was on The Facebook while she was driving...

So, some facts and figures of the day. Despite being much more overgrown than last year the alternate route to Crug Mawr is 1416m as compared to the the 1584m of Mushroom Alley. A whole 168m shorter. And even more interesting nee amazing is, that despite it being really really slow due to the overgrown plant stuff, and my confession that, due to the afore mentioned grounds, I won't be using it in the race this year, my ascent time, as clocked from the start of MA was only about a minute slower than my ascent time via MA in the 2011 race (adjusting for the call of nature incurred back then)!!! In a less vigorous growing year I really think it might have some merit.

Now the alternate route to Pen y Gadir Fawr on the other hand, has far more merit. Despite being a full 133m longer than my normal 'straight at it' route I was only 3 minutes slower than back in the 2011 race and we really weren't pushing at all on the climb today. Chatting, looking at the views, the ice-cream break, route discussion - as you do. I can't divulge the secrets suffice to say for me, 'The Track' is a goer and I will be utilising it in the race.

Anyway, that's the end of the stats and the end of the post. So it's goodnight from me and well, I got nothing else. Goodnight.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Not A Bad Result

And the cock-up-ometer was well off the money. I think it needs recalibration. I'm talking about today's orienteering. I was far from being the quickest but equally a good way clear of the slowest and I didn't make any major mistakes - which is nice. I had a couple of wobbles and a few iffy route choices but overall I'm happy with my run in the first league match of the season. I've been reading my Crowood Sports Guide to Orienteering and today I was focusing on planning my route to the next control while still on the previous one - is that right? I've confused myself. My speed over the ground was a little slower because of that but I was definitely quicker through the controls. And even if that is a load of cobblers I definitely felt a bit more professional.

I started the day with the drive to Painswick where I parked up for the 5k run over to Sheepscombe. After a natter - as you do - I headed back to Painswick. At that point I was lying in 7th on the Blue but I expect to be relegated outside the top ten by the time all the results are in. Still it's a good start to the season.

Up next, a group of us are heading over to the Black Mountains to trace the route of the afore mentioned race taking place next weekend. Not sure how well I'm going to survive the 17 miles but at least the pace will be steady - it will be steady won't it? Please tell me it will be steady...

Friday, September 20, 2013

Lazy Bastard Friday

I couldn't be arsed for anything tonight. It's been another reasonable week at work but most definitely busy and I've more work on the books than I have hours in the week - that I'm paid for - to get it all done...

Moving on. It's the start of the orienteering season tomorrow over at Sheepscombe. If I'm reading my cock-up-ometer correctly - ssh, no, it's a real device. It's like a barometer but predicts at what point I'll go wrong in the orienteering rather than the weather. Anyway, it's predicting somewhere early to middle with the outside chance of a bad one in the last two or three controls... Umm, sounds about right - I'll let you know....

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Sun? Where Did That Come From?

Staring out of the window, from the cool of the control room, it didn't look like the rain would stop. However, back home, as evening dawned - not sure that's right - the sun forced its way through the cloud layer. It's mildly warm rays luring me out, I ventured forth. I ran my familiar route through Flaxley Wood - having not yet been sold off, the 'Forest' not being for sale, of course, although the small notice posted by the Forestry Commission would beg to differ. Job done.

On other matters, I survived the first harvest of my Scotch Bonnet, used in the cooking of tonights tea - or dinner depending on your upbringing. Too be honest, I wasn't overly impressed. I left the seeds out in fear of its famed 350,000 scovilles but in reality it wasn't any hotter than the bird-eyes. Next time I shall leave the seeds in....

Monday, September 16, 2013

Feeling Hot...

Not that kind of hot! I hope I'm not coming down with something. I've a pretty full week ahead and can't afford to be off my game.

I was expecting to be recovering today after the Mountain Trial. As that didn't happen, I went for a run this morning amidst the nothingness. It's been a relaxing day. Pesto pasta for lunch and seafood fried rice this evening - and, before you ask, I was feeling hot before I ate the prawns...

Oh well, back to the grind stone tomorrow

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Praise Be To The Lawson

He put me off and by Friday evening we'd cancelled the trip north. As it turns out, Mystic Meg Lawson was bang on the money. The Lake District Mountain Trial was cancelled due to, what I call, piss poor weather. Never am I more glad I didn't drive five hours to the lakes to not get hypothermia for six hours running in the mountains and then drive five hours home. Hats off to Mystic Matthew. Now, the only decision is what to do on my recovery day tomorrow... A spot of baking perhaps....

Friday, September 13, 2013

Today, I Have Been Mostly Driving My Car

Okay, not my car for all of it. I had a pool car for two thirds but still, eight hours is enough for one day. Hasn't been a bad week all in all. Got quite a lot done. The list of things still to achieve is massive but one thing struck from the list is a small battle won.

Anyway, I'm really looking forward to Sunday and the Lake District Mountain Trial. With the forecast looking the way it is, I shall be lucky to survive. I might see if I can borrow a wet suit for the day....

On other matters of insanity. I'm now entered and committed to this years OMM in the medium score. To be honest, I haven't scored in years - I'm just no good at the chatting up - da dum dum chaaa [that's drum and cymbal noise onomatopoeia in case you were wondering]. It's a done deal now so I shall just have to put my local knowledge to good use in the west Black Mountains.

PS, I'm not really looking forward to the LDMT any more on account of the weather but I've paid my money so I'm bloody well doing it - unless they call it off. Fingers crossed.... Do I mean that? The jury's out.....

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Sunday's Looking Grim

Well I've been continuing the taper... mainly because the achillies still feels tight but I'm going to be Lake District Mountain Trialing come what may. The forecast looks like being a repeat of the last time I ran - think rain, un-ending rain. The word 'disappointing' springs to mind. To rub salt in the wound, the weather for one of my favourite races, which I side stepped this year on account of it being in the British Champs, the Peris Horseshoe on Saturday, looks like being pretty fine. Now that is not cricket! No, it's fell running. I call foul.

Still, work's been reasonable this week - and that's despite it being a five day-er! Hasn't even been that much of a shock to the system. I've managed to get loads done - still have a list as long as your arm to get done,mind, but it's a start. Off to sunny Hampshire tomorrow - cue a stupid early start - boo.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Got Called The Wrong Side Of The River...

and by the time I got home I couldn't face driving down to Cheppers. In fact I couldn't face anything, so I put my feet up and chilled. Tea was the left over portion of veggie spaghetti bolognese from yesterday. It was almost better today. The sauce, so rich and syrupy. One word, lush - or two words, gert lush - ;-)

I'm not too worried about training. If I do nothing before Sunday I won't be too ashamed - or unduly worried. Sunday is going to be a beast and make no mistake - but I'm bloody looking forward to it....

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Oh Hell...

Do I really have a five day week coming up? No days off? That can't be right. Let me check the diary... Sh!t I really don't have any holiday booked. Bank holiday? Nope. Oh deary me I really am going to have to work five days back to back. Oooh, that's got to hurt. Going to be one hell of a shock to the system..

Anyway, my achilles still feels a little sore so I did f*(% all today. Sometimes you just gotta do, well, nothing at all. Despite the nothingness I am determined that my come back will continue. I think I need to go on the record and say I'm going to have another crack at the South Wales Traverse next year. There's no point namby pambying around. It's either all in or walk away. So, for the record, I'm not walking away...

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Legs Trashed

Well I think I made the right decision to return home. My quads are sore but more of a worry my achilles is tight again. As the day's gone on the achilles feels better, the quads more sore - ho hum. I don't think further mountain running would have been sensible. It was a really good couple days training though. I really feel boosted by the sections of ascent. I started to struggle by the end but I also feel I pushed the effort a little bit more than I normally do when out in the hills. I've got plenty of time now to recovery before next Sunday. Saying that, the 17 miles of the LDMT Classic will no doubt be twenty plus by the time you add in the navigation. It's not like you can actually run in a straight line across the mountains is it? And despite some good ascending practice yesterday, the 9,500 feet of ascent worries me a little! It's definitely going to be a race of steady, steady, steady. I really don't want to be hitting 'sense of humour' failure with five or six miles still left on the clock. That would not be good. Not good at all. I'd rather finish with something left, feeling I should have gone a little quicker than be wiped out. Still, I'm looking forward to it. For the first time in a few years I feel I can see sunnier climbs ahead, so to speak. Provided I can keep the momentum building, slowly slowly catchy monkey, I can see myself having another crack at the South Wales Traverse next May/June and maybe even get back inside twenty for the 5k.

Today was a bike session, not wanting to risk breaking the legs...

Friday, September 06, 2013

Two Good Runs In The Mountain

Decided to come home tonight rather than stay over for another night. The weather forecasts was questionable but I got away with it for both of my runs. You've already heard about yesterday's run. Today I decided to go for the Peris Horseshoe race loop albeit missing Elidir Fawr and Y Garn. I ran up from Nant Peris up to Lyn Cwm and then followed the race route from there. I'm happy today's run was pretty much route optimum - in my humble opinion, of course. I'm not sure there's any much quicker way to run it. The only question mark I have over the route is whether there is a faster way off Glyder Fawr. I follow the curving, fast runnable path but I've seen others dropping more direct on a steeper line. I should really try it one day but I just feel the running is so reasonable on the curving path that you couldn't possibly go quicker - could you? - no need to comment.

It was really good to run Lliwedd in good visibility. For the first time I could see the benefit of traversing around the first two pointy bits. The path goes across the tops but you only need to find the check point on west Lliwedd and today's traversing route was spot on the money.

All in all I'm a bit disappointed I'm not running it this year. The recce won't have done me any harm for next year though. I'll be doubly ready for it.

Anyway, for the stats, today's run was 22km and 1800m ascent - that's just about 14 miles and 6,000 feet of ascent in old money. I was around in 4hr 11mins but there was plenty of pausing to see the lines and route. I feel a bit tired now which was part of decision to come home as I want to be fully re-charged for next weeks Lake District Mountain Trial. I feel today's ascending practice has helped. An interesting side note, Strava says my ascent up Cynghorion (spelling?) was quicker today than in last years race! I wasn't going quick today so I must have been right pants in the race - and more than a little pooped, from memory.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Where Did The Weather Go?

I leisurely gathered my kit together this morning before leaving for north Wales in bright sunshine. By the time I arrived at my further than half way point it wasn't bloody shining anymore - grrrr. Still, at least it wasn't raining. The tops were in the cloud though and it didn't look overly warm up there..

It wasn't a bad little route although there were one or two bits where, despite showing a path on the map, there wasn't any path to be found on the ground, so to speak. All good navigation practice.

In all I covered about fifteen or sixteen kilometres and some ascent. I would tell you the exact distance except I must have knocked my GPS after just one kilometre and didn't notice until I run another two to three k - doh. I should have realised by the lack of beeping but I was too busy navigating....

Anyway I then mosied on up to just out side Llanberis for the night. And now it's time to cook tea. Then it'll be an early night and a longer run tomorrow. Pip pip.

Tonight's sunny finish...

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Not Quite All Set

But nearly... I'm going to travel up pre-midday but not by too much. Did I mention I've another couple days off work? Well I have - whooo hooo. And by 'up' I'm talking up to Snowdonia. I'm going to head to Llangollen for a short run on the edge of the Berwyns before heading on the rest of the way to Llanberis or there abouts. By short I mean 10-13 miles as I don't want to over do it.

After a night at the laybys I'm then going to run over the main Snowdon type area. You can't beat a bit of Snowdon... Then, depending on the weather situation, I'll a) stay another night for a run Saturday and then head back, b) head back a ways, layby it and run on the Long Mynd or c) just come home. Whatever the outcome the certainity is that I shall be tucked up in bed back home come Saturday night. With only ten days till the main event, the Lake District Mountain Trial, I don't want to over do it. I'm just trying to get a few extra miles ascending mountains before then without wrecking my chances of having a decent run. I'm looking forward to it but fear I'm just not quite fit enough to really enjoy it.....

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

AXA Five

This year I managed to coax out fourteen colleagues for the annual companies five mile race. That's about ten more than normal. We even had a women's team. That's a first. Three full teams. That's a first. What a result and to be fair I didn't actually need to do any coaxing, they all volunteered willingly - the poor fools. I think they all enjoyed it really - after they'd had chance to recover, that is - and if they didn't enjoy it hopefully they took some measure of achievement away from it. I must apologise to R for not putting her straight when she kept mentioning the '5k' race. I did come clean once she'd turned up to run as to the five and a half miles she was about to run - sorry. Me? I had a decent run. A minute slower than last time (two years ago) in 38:36. I can't grumble. Roll back a few months and I would have even further off the pace. My achilles held together and it's another road race complete - that's five this year! It gives me something to target at next years race - when I will have a lot more training under my belt. Up next is a trip to Snowdonia on Thursday. Not sure where to run but I'll have something planned by then...

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Who Put That Wall There?

It was a bit of a hot one out on the hill. The Four Fans Race, what a cracker. I had a good run - until it went bad. On the final climb I hit the wall and from there my race was over but I'm getting ahead of things.

I drove over with Matthew and the Stotts - they were late to the pick up point but we won't mention that. Over to Storey Arms with plenty of time on the clock we each prepared in our own way - as I'm not into their meditation malarkey. At the appointed hour of the clock we set out to climb four hills and come back down from a mountain.

I ran with M on the first ascent with Judith just ahead. As we approached the corner cut off I, well, cut off the corner. M and J carried on along the track - unfortunately he had misconstrued my advice as where to cut off... oops [winks to camera]. As we approached the first Fan I was ahead by half a minute but I knew it wouldn't last.

Most of the runners were running on down from Frynach but I doubled back to follow the fence line and the contour of pleasant running - as it isn't known. M caught me and pulled away and by the time we hit the Fan Nedd climb so had J. We had all taken slightly differing contours below Cefn Perfedd but I think we can all agree mine was the most pleasant. M and I stayed geo-stationary but J was flying - I reckon she'd borrowed a big kite from someone and glided down...

Anyway on the Fan Nedd climb I was pants. Both M & J climbed like gazelles. I climbed like a decrepit walrus. From there, despite taking differing lines again, the gaps remained fairly even on the descent and climb to Fan Llia. Judith, the wily campaigner, took the half way angle between M and I - sounds like a musical - on the climb to hedge her bets. Fair play.

It was on the final climb, just as I was making a little head-way towards J - M was dead to me at that stage - that I quite literally died - and I'm permitted to use that phrase now as the OED has changed the meaning because so many people mis-used it in the past. From the half-way point on the climb it was effectively race over. I started to go backwards. Losing four places in the last couple of miles. The gaps were massive but the legs had nothing. I could not run save for the final down hill section. Even the flat was too much. Gill asked me to run for the camera atop Fan Fawr. At that stage I couldn't have run to avoid being run over by a bus - not you get many at the top of a mountain.

It was very enjoyable and the race itself has all the markings of a classic - especially when the cloud is down - which hopefully it will be in future years. All in all it's been a good weekend of training and my achilles feels fine so that one less thing to worry about. Massive congratulations to Judith in her first proper fell race. I think she was eighth overall which is a high five style impressive.

Roger, over and out.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Took My Eye Off The Ball....

Again! I was going okay at the Ninewells orienteering until I bumped into a certain chap. I kind of switched off for a few minutes, made a bad call and from that point, subconsciously, I gave up trying. It's not normally like me to give up but I didn't really see it as a race in the true sense. For me it was another spot of training. Up to the point I dropped the ball I was naving quite well. I was into most of the controls quite accurately. So on that front I was pleased.

It was a score event today with minus points for every minute not back inside the hour. I was back with five minutes to spare but couldn't be arsed to go collect the three controls within a few hundred metres of the finish. I had plenty of time to get them I just couldn't be bothered.

On the plus side my achilles seems okay, it felt a little tight on the jog back to the car but overall I'm pleased. On a few on the longer controls I pushed the pace - as far as me and pushing the pace go - and everything was okay. Should be fine for the main feature of the weekend, the Four Fans Fantastical Festival Fell Race. A brutal challenge of strength, endurance and navigation in the mist or a stroll in the late summer sunshine as it looks like being. I say again, boo.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Well The News?

The achilles feels okay - which is nice. I went for an easy run and despite sweating like a b*$tard - I don't why - there was no tightness. Should be good to go for the Nine Wells orienteering tomorrow but more importantly the Four Fans Sunday. The weather is not looking good though. It looks like there will be no mist or low cloud - boo.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Where The F&(% Did That Come From?

What a waste of time that was. I had my route planned. Night stop over picked and I was ready to go. That, of course, was yesterday. Today I awoke to find my left achilles sore. Where did that come from? An under-use injury? Certainly can't be an over-use one... Disappointing. But you've got to make the best of these things. I really want to run Sunday's Four Fans Race so I am not going to wreck things now. It's a worry though. (I've saved the routes for another day).

I went for a short ride this morning just because it was such a bloody nice day. This afternoon I went for a very steady jog through Flaxley Wood. My achilles felt tight the whole way. Can't get my head around why the damn achilles is playing up. I'm inclined to cut my leg off - that would definitely solve it.... (Joking).

Hopefully normal service will be resumed tomorrow. There's gonna be trouble if my achilles doesn't feel better.....

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

And That's A Wrap...

Stop what you're doing. Put down your tools. The working time is over.....

I still haven't decided what I'm doing tomorrow. The one thing that's certain beyond doubt is that I won't be going to work. The west Black Mountains still lure me and the forecast looks okay. The only slight question mark is that I'll be back there Sunday for the Fantastic Four Fans Fell Fiesta - it's not really called that, I just got carried away with all the Fs....

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Two Days Off The Pace

Well it's been two days away from running but I'm not unduly worried that I've lost the faith. Not sure I'm going to muster for much tomorrow either. It's going to be a long one at work me thinks.... Still, there's always Thursday and Friday. Did I mention, it's my last day of the week tomorrow - result. I'm thinking of going for a two day wild camp Thursday/Friday over in the west Black Mountains. Possibly with a partial recce of the Four Fans again but heading further west, night stop over and then heading back with more recce of the FF at the end. Looking to go 20-25 miles a day with full pack. Is it just me or does that sound like not the most relaxing break in the world ever? I'm thinking Carlsburg probably isn't going to be involved in the planning....

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Back To The Old Hunting Ground

Had myself a thoroughly bloody enjoyable run this morning with Rick back on my old stomping grounds of Ashton Court and Leigh Woods. It wasn't like we were going rocket speed or anything but the pace was strong enough that I knew I was running. Running solo you get used to plodding along. Running in a pack - albeit a small pack - there's more urgency to things. It wasn't a race. It was even a tempo run but you do push that little but more. You don't ease back on the hills so much. In every way you work a little harded and it was just what the doctor ordered.

We ran through Leigh Woods and eventually ended up on the tow path before heading straight back up and towards the A369. A trio of fairly hard core mountain bikers came past just before the path turns steeper. To Rick, that was like a red rag to a bull and he climbed strongly, comfortably hanging on to the tail of the last biker. Me? Well I lost a few metres but despite that I managed a decent effort.

From there we headed around Abbots Pool before the final climb back up and into Ashton Court. A lap of the top field, with just over 10k registering on the watch we reached the sanctuary of the top car park. It was good to catch up and I really must get back down there more often. A few sessions like that would definitely help the old me return. I might even try and plan in a trip south to Bristol once a month...

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Never Going To Be A Great Day When.....

There's a fault with your sewage pump - not a euphemism - and you have to delve into the depths of the 'waste' sump..... mmmmm, lovely. Thankfully it wasn't a major fault, quickly fixed but I had to wash my hands half a dozen times before I was happy they were properly clean!

Anyway, to more important matters, I royally screwed up today's orienteering over at Cranham. I got off to a steady start, navigating myself around the first 9 controls reasonably efficiently, using the map well to steer myself around the course. It wasn't the easiest terrain though. Whether it was just down to my poor route choice but I found that on certain bits the only sensible way to a control was to go through some of the denser woodland areas. It was that or a long way around. Maybe it was just me.

It all went wrong on the way to ten. In truth it was my own fault. It was a long traverse and the obvious way was to the follow the footpaths... I took my eye off the ball - or more accurately, the map. The organisers notes on the website made it clear that some of the paths shown on the map might not exist in quite the way appear on the map and that some new paths wouldn't show on the map at all. With that knowledge I should have stuck to closely monitoring the map - but I didn't. By the time I realised I wasn't where I thought I would be I was a little lost and had to follow a bearing to pick up an obvious feature. That lost me much time. Eventually to ten I rushed off towards 11. I should really have taken my time and regrouped but I didn't. With my ability to map read temporarily deserting me I did, what some might consider, a bloody good impression of a headless chicken - what a nob. Anyway, after almost deciding to jack it in I finally found eleven and from there to the finish the route was pretty much all obvious paths.

Despite it being a total disaster it was definitely worth going. Hopefully I will learn from the lesson and the cob webs have definitely been blown away ahead of the start of the season in a few weeks time.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Trouble With...

Taking a couple of days off work? You get to do five days work in only three afterwards. To say I've been a little busy at work is a slight understatement. I've practically been to the five corners of the empire since Wednesday. Almost not looking forward to next week's two day week.... I did say 'almost'....

Was raining heavy by the time I got home and I couldn't face it. I know I should have but I didn't. An hour indoors on the bike instead and now it's rest time. Not sure what's up tomorrow. I quite the idea of orienteering but we're still on the summer 'training' fixtures. The league doesn't start till next month. Still quite fancy it though and I could make a bit of a longer run out of it. It's over at Cranham in the Cotswolds so I could run a stretch of the CW there and back. Looks like being a wet one though...

Might see if my old crew - oooh, ganster stylee, jeez what kind of sad do I sound? - retorical, don't answer. Digressing, I might see if anyone is running from Ashton Court on Sunday morning as I'm down to Bristol for lunch. And Monday? Too far into the future... Looking even further forward I need to plan something for next Thursday and Friday. If the plan is anything like the weather forecast that far ahead, reality will be totally different to the plan....

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Strava 5k PB

You gotta laugh. Almost certainly set on the long downhill stretch last night although the long downhill wasn't 5k by any means so there must have been some ups in amongst it. Still, it's pretty sad how bad my Strava times are. If ever there was a focus to get a little quicker its the challenge of getting a descent 5k time on the books. Worse still than having a really sh1t set of PBs on Strava is the fact I flippin' missed the first of the new series of the GB Bake Off - aaaahhhhhh. Thank the lord for iPlayer......

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Trelleck Twenty

It was the final LCL Road Race of the season this evening over at Trelleck and it was my fastest. Okay, not technically the fastest as they are all varying distance but I equalled the pace of the previous one and this one was a mile longer. I completed the very undulating 9.9km in 43:22. A time that I known I can lower significantly if I can knuckle down and get some sort of training habit going. I think I've improved a little during the season just by getting out there for four of the five races. Now if I could tag on some actual training that would be all the better.

I started the evening off with a slowly jogged 5km up to Trelleck from the Bigsweir Bridge. I took it very steady to save myself for the race. After the race, with my magic-shine shining bright - but not like a diamond - I jogged the 5km back down to the car.

Been a tiring end to an other wise restful couple of days. I pretty much did sod all Monday but got on with a load of spring cleaning and tidying the garden today culminating in a trip to recycling centre. I think my batteries might actually have a bit of charge in them. All set to get back to the daily grind tomorrow - booo.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Silt Busting

Well that was damn hard, back breaking work. Although not strictly a riparian owner, if I don't keep the brook clear it's going to be me who pays the price when the great floods come... Okay, so it's not exactly a brook but the waters do flow for ten months of the year, only drying to a boggy channel during the hottest periods of the year. It's source, 'The' source of the River Napping - as I don't ever refer to it, and is completely made up - is the run off from the fields, 100m away. It never actually dries up completely though. It is however, a fertile oasis and becomes overgrown at the end of every summer.

Today was the day I got stuck in and cleared that bad boy and this year I decided I needed to dredge the level a little. The last few years have seen the silt levels increase quite a bit. Shifting half a tonne of heavy silt was blinking hard work. It looks quite tidy now though and won't need much more work before it'll be sufficiently clear to cope with the rains that winter will deliver.

It was sweaty work. Down in the jungle of overgrown plants. With humidity close to one hundred percent. I was dripping within the hour. My shirt soaking. Wiping the sweat from my eyes, I did not tire from the task. Well, okay, I didn't tire for another hour. Was a good job done though - if not entirely conducive of a weekend of rest....

Friday, August 16, 2013

Closed For The Weekend, Come Back Wednesday....

Yes folks, I ain't back to the daily grind till Wednesday. Res - wait for it, wait for it - ult! But oh, what a drive home. Night - wait for it, sod it - mare! Massive slow down at Almondsbury... Massive slow down at Falfield because a car with a trailer carrying a police car managed to slide itself off the motorway and into a hedge. It wasn't affecting the motorway itself but as always, amateur drivers gorp and slow down. Another twenty minutes lost. Arrrgggghhhh. Finally moving swiftly, that's it right? Maybe a slight slow down through Gloucester but that's it right? Nope, hitting the home stretch, another massive slow down. Cue ten more minutes of crawling. God, had I ever had enough by the time I finally reached the sanctuary of home a mere forty five minutes late. At least the sun's shining outside - this evening at least....

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Well I Was Hoping To Head To Chepstow Training Tonight...

Seeing as though I didn't get clear of work in the Big Apple - that's Bristol, we like our cider - till gone 18:45 the chance was gone. Didn't get home till just gone eight. Tired after a long day I could not be arsed for training. It was raining. That bloody drizzly stuff, the stuff that get you soaked without the decency to present itself as proper, wholesome rain drops. No, I'd had enough of the day. It wasn't all bad though. The mystery bowl of frozen food I took out of the freezer this morning turned out to be macaroni cauliflower cheese - and it was bloody, gert lush. So far this week, I'm up a flexi-day already and there's still bloody Friday to come. Over and out.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Well On The Way To The Weekend...

and it's going to be another long one... Toot, toot. Yep, that's right, Monday and Tuesday are booked. What to do? Where to go run? Need to give it some thought. There is the Nant y Moch fell race on Saturday - where ever that is! Maybe stay over and run a bit more on Sunday and Monday? I'd quite like a decent race. Or I might head to the peak district for the running I had planned a month ago but had to cancel because of work. Decisions, decisions.

Tonight I put in an hour on the bike after a goodly day at work. My legs feel recovered from the weekend. Was good to get the blood pumping. And that's a wrap.

Monday, August 12, 2013

I Think I Need A Holiday...

To recover from the weekend. I feel right, gert knackered. Unfortunately my next holiday is booked for next Monday/Tuesday - that might be too far off... and even then I'll probably be camping and running bloody miles so it won't be very relaxing. Suffice to say it was a rest day today. Not sure what's up tomorrow. I'm almost tempted to run the Rose Inn 5k... but we'll see...

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Roger, Over and Out

My engine finally ran out of steam. After down grading to the Pandy stage (36) from the Hay Bluff ridge (34+35), I still found it hard going - and not to mention slooow. After two tough days I knew enough to know I was done. I was really hoping to break the 100km barrier but it wasn't to be - this time - as I called it a day at 95km and headed home. Physically worn down but with the legs, surprisingly, feeling only a little sore. Probably going to have a rest day tomorrow - apart from work, of course. That, sadly, is going to be more hectic than ever. And when I say 'probably' you may as well fill in 'definitely'...

It has been a great weekend though. Was nice to get know my fellow harriers a little better - even if I did earn the moniker 'Old Dave' vs the newer, quicker, stonger 'New Dave' - grrrrrh. Still, I suppose it's better than 'Slow' Dave vs 'Fast' Dave......

Saturday, August 10, 2013

22 And 17

Okay, it was really 22.5km and 16.5km but the total of 39km. That's 82km for the weekend so far. Too be honest I'm not really very confident of making the planned 30+ tomorrow. I am f*(%ed.

Going to see how it goes tomorrow. Am re-scheduling from running the Hatterall ridge to running out of Pandy and seeing how things go. Planning to finish off the weekend running Brockweir to the finish of Offa's Dyke.

However it pans out it's going to have been a bloody great weekend of running and merriment with friends...

Friday, August 09, 2013

28 And 15

Not a bad days running. Not feeling too much the worse for wear. Pleased to have got in 43km run. The outside of my right calf is feeling sore but I'll be ready to kick off day two at 8am tomorrow morning....

I'm hoping to run the first three stages which will only be about 22km so I should be okay. If that goes alright I'll tag on some more in the afternoon. Guess we'll see in about nine hours time how well I've coped.....

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Pretty Easy Drive

Well don't you know, it only takes three hours from home to here. Thought it would take a little longer. Smashing. Here, by the way, is Prestatyn and the start of Offa's Dyke. Tonight we ate for tomorrow we run...

We're starting around eight and relaying though the day to Four Candles, I mean, Four Crosses. It's going to be a long day and I'm looking forward to my stages especially the bit over the Clwydians - thinking that's not how you spell it.

Wake me up in the morning...

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Feeling Knackered

...and I've not even managed any training this week. It's been a draining one so thank goodness that's it for me. Been pushed and pulled in all directions this week and I feel like I'm about to explode. The worst thing about it though, is that I'm leaving my colleagues in the thick of it but I've two days holiday booked and as I'm an unimportant cog I ain't going to be cancelling them. A man - or rather, this man - can only work so many 11 hour days. It's not like I'm a spring chicken anymore. If I was a horse they'd be melting me for glue.

I'm looking forward to the Offa's Dyke Chepstow Relay starting Friday and I'm hoping I can chill for what's left of today and tomorrow morning before heading north. I've not fully sorted my travel arrangements for the extended weekend. In fact I've not sorted the arrangements at all. Better get a move on! Still hoping to run twice on each of the three days and cover somewhere near 20km per session. That's going to be a tall order so the main focus will be completing any of the stages where I'm running solo so as not to break the relay. Right, that's it. I'm done.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Dodgy Direction

Well that was some kind of navigation. Definitely not good navigation, mind. It was bloody horrendous out there. Didn't stop raining the whole time and with the strong wind, it was slightly stinging in places. V and I reccied the Four Fans fell race. My main interest was the route choice from Fan Frynych to Fan Nedd. I was reasonably sure of the best way. The recce confirmed it. Ssssh, can't tell.

After that we took our eyes off the ball. Despite being low visibility we couldn't be bothered to get out the compass. We probably should have... Rest assured the compass will be to hand in the actual race. So, chatting about food and baking - as you do when out recceing in the mountains in poor conditions - we pretty much went off course on every other aspect of the route - good work. I wasn't bothered as there isn't really any route choice from Fan Llia. So with compass to hand there will be much less wandering off line. In poor visibility, like today, it will all be down to the compass as the ground is quite unremarkable underfoot with few distinguishing features.

Anyway, we descended way far to the right - doh and then had to cut back. We climbed to Fan Fawr before really going astray again... We put ourselves back on track after we had descended a little to regain some visibility - and an extra mile or two - doh. The river crossing was fun as we clung together to get across - there's been a fair bit of rain this last week from the torrent that was raging. Made it home in one piece. Been another two good days of training.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

The Impassable Pass Passable

Well that was a nice surprise. The impassable path of two weeks ago had been completely cleared. I was going to run the upper path through Blaisdon but seeing the lower path clear I went there instead. Ooh hang on, now I'm worried. Does that mean the Forestry Commission are tidying things up ahead of selling it off?

Anyway, back to the start. I set off over to Flaxley intending to run steadily and try a few more new paths. I went out the far side of the woods, down the road a little, towards Little Dean and around the back of Welshbury Wood into Flaxley. There's some money in that yer Flaxley Abbey. Must be worth a bob or two.

From Flaxley I took the steady climb across the fields into Mugglewort Wood, Blaisdon Wood, Hobbs Quarry and home. In all I covered just shy of ten miles as I'm saving myself for a tougher day of it tomorrow over in the west Black Mountains. Not looking forward to the heat though. The forecast is looking warm again but with some of the wet stuff. Going to be hard work in this kind of heat with no cover. Got to be done though.

Friday, August 02, 2013

The Fourth Run

In a week. It's been a while since I've run four times in one week.59k ain't exactly miles - no it's kilometres - but it is the most for quite some considerable time. I'm definitely going to build from here.

Tonight's run was refreshing if slightly broken. I knew the path along from Hobbs Quarry would be overrun and took the scythe for a spot of bramble slashing. Strava is pretty good at stripping out the slow moving/stationary sections so it doesn't look like I stopped at all. Most importantly I had no internal battle with myself about getting out there and I enjoyed it.

I'm undecided about the weekend. I'm looking forward to a recce of the Four Fans race on Sunday - the recce not the race on Sunday. Not sure about Saturday yet though...

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Nout But Work Today

It sure was a long one. I left home six thirty and finally got home with a few minutes to spare from nine pm. It was successful but long. The flag-ship cap-zone treatment works - the only one on the company - ran the full planned twelve hour shift plus an hour without a hitch. With things complete by eight we did not hang around long - and didn't need telling twice before getting the hell out of there.....

No time for training then. Still, it's not been a bad few days on that front over all. Can't grumble.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Third Race In Four Days

I was coaxed out and over to the LCL Road Race tonight. I can't say I ran the fastest I ever have but I tried as hard as ever I can. I decided to start towards the front, go out hard and hang on - and by the end I was really hanging on. It was a pleasant course but I didn't like the hill - especially second time round. Saying that, wasn't really much of a hill to a fell runner but then I don't feel much like a fell runner at the moment. I found it tough going on that second loop.

Anyway, I'm glad I was coaxed out to run. I actually enjoyed the pain of a 'relative' fast pace. According to Strava I clocked a PR mile, kilometre and half mile and 2nd fastest 5k all within the 8.3km race. That says more about how few road races I've recorded with the GPS while on Strava as opposed to actually running any faster of late. Still feeling the new found love of running....

Monday, July 29, 2013

So Lazy

Despite feeling pretty wrecked at the finish of the Seaview 17 I don't feel too achy today. It was bloody nice not to have to get up at six - so I got up at nine instead - result. That was earlier than planned and only to feed the damn cat who was squeaking at me for breakfast. Bloody women! If she hadn't bugged me I could have lay there all morning - and possibly into the afternoon....

Having got up I brewed a coffee and ate authentic muesli - Alpen is costly but good - while studying the route and stages for Chepstow's Offa's Dyke Relay. I'm not fit enough to run as much of it as previously planned - Sunday proved that. Instead I want to try and run 20-25 miles each day, split into a morning and afternoon session. For the rest of the day I generally pottered in the garden - between showers - and around the house, catching up on the chores.

The achilles is tight today but not sore. I put in a bike session while the rains poured. Tomorrow I want to get out for an easy hour on foot provided the achilles feels okay.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Oh Well, Not So Great

I'll cut to the chase, that was disappointing. I know I'm a little out of sorts fitness wise but come on, when has the Mad Runner ever struggled to raise his game on a double header weekend? This weekend, that's when - boo. God, I was rubbish.

I set off towards the front as if you start too far back you get well scuppered on the single file track. After about 2 miles I knew I was in for a battle. I struggled on even the lowliest of climbs. Not good. Not good at all. I quickly realised this was going to be about finishing the race to keep my record going rather than doing anything special. By the time I reached Porlock Weir I was really struggling. As I ran across the flats towards Bossington Hill I was all for jacking it in. The only thing which stopped me calling it a day is my record of never not finishing a race I've started. I was struggling but by god I was going to get to the end - even if it was going to kill me.

The climb up Bossington Hill was awful. I was grinding ever so slowly to a halt but I eventually reached the summit. All I could think about on the run across the top was, shit, there's still 10k to go. I was dieing on my feet but fortuntely no one came past - until I hit the sea front... As I stuggled along the front a couple of runners came past. There was to be no hanging on to get them back.

To put the icing of an already poor run, as I ran up Seaview - that's the name of the final road- the bloody train crossing barriers came down. There I was, stood, helpless but unable to go any further for an agonising two minutes. As I stood there twiddling my fingers a runner turned the corner and into view behind. I was urging the barriers to lift... and they did while there was still enough gap between me and him to see me home.

Never has buffet lunch been more welcome and the shower was heavenly. With my left achilles feeling sore I decided to call it a day on the camping and came home. It was a really draining race and I'm not going to be capable of much tomorrow. The achilles will probably be fine as I've not really ever been prone to problems on that front but it would be a pisser to have stayed down and then not been able to do anything. Anyway, I had a quick 30 minute nap before making the drive home, fully ready, nee expecting to have to pull over at some point for another recovery nap but it wasn't needed and I finally arrived home safe and sound.

I've still got Monday and Tuesday off so I will see how I feel tomorrow before doing something...

Penny Fan, Nice Lass

This one is going out late on account of that old fashion lady called no reception in the back of beyond. To be fair I wasn't that far out the back, just a mile or two up the road from Dunster in Forestry Commission entrance. I thought being up high might help - fail. Anyway, to the race. The weather held and after a brief speech by the race president we set off. I followed the roman road towards Fan y Big for four fifths of its length before pulling off direct to the summit - ooh matron. My descent back down was pants. I had a stone in my shoe, making it really painful. As the coll neared it seemed to disappear. Happy days - or not. The ascent to Cribyn was okay. I'm not as strong climbing as once I was but held it together. The descent was a totally disaster. That stone hadn't gone and had worked its way into an even more painful position. With hindsight I should have stopped and got it out - but I didn't. A normally strong part of my game was a total flop. Suffice to say on the ascent of Pen y Fan I did stop and take the rock out of my shoe - a case of after the horse has bolted. Once to the summit of PyF it was just a case of keeping things together on the rocky sections of the ridge - which I did. I finished in 1hr 20minutes. I'm happy with that. After all I'm soon to head out on the 20miles of the Seaview 17 so I'll claim I saved a little bit for today. Okay that's a lie but only a small one...

Friday, July 26, 2013

Back In Love With Running

These last few years me and running kind of fell out of love. I never stopped but it felt more like a chore. That's not to say I've not enjoyed the racing but that's about all I have enjoyed. Anyway, these last couple of months I've started to feel differently about my running and I've started to enjoy my pootles through the countryside - and they really are just pootles. It's no longer feeling like a chore.

I spent the morning dilly dallying. I fixed the van windscreen washer pump this morning in preparation for my camping trip. Harvested the last of my potatoes and red onions and then spent the rest of the time sitting in the sun listening to the birds and animals go about their business.

This afternoon I went for a run. I decided to take the footpath that follows Longhope Brook at the end of Mill Lane. Haven't run there for ages - and I didn't get to run there today either! At the end of Mill Lane the footpath was roped off with a Highways notice stating that the footpath is closed! Apparently there was a landslide a year ago which has made it impassable and unsafe. Obviously to someone such as myself I could have no doubt got past without trouble but I obeyed the notice and went around another way.

Looks like it won't be back in action any time soon though. The notice says it's due for re-instatement by November 2013 but it all looked very overgrown so I'm thinking there hasn't been much action on the fixing it front. It's a shame because it was a nice little section under tree cover along by the brook. Anyway, I took the detour past the sewage works - that was pleasant - before re-joining the original route again. I continued along into Flaxley Woods and pootled home.... It was hot out there but never the less very enjoyable.

Going to cook up some of those potatoes from earlier. I'm thinking of doing tuna and tomato bake topped with sliced potato. It'll give me a chance to use some of my cherry tomatoes and basil...