Thursday, February 28, 2013

Hitting The Low Point

Training hasn't been great this week. On the ebb at the moment and keen to find the flow for the weekend. Need to plan in another long run Saturday before the Tor of Torpantau on Sunday. Looks like a bit of an out and back but should be fun all the same - apparantly some chap from Chepstow Harriers has his own special route towards the finish but I'm not sure I want to follow it!

Managed a short run today finished off with a go on the bike but some how the ebb has hold at the moment. Bring on the weekend's flow...

Monday, February 25, 2013

Not Been Good Today

Woke up in the early hours this morning feeling right bloated with stomach cramps. After that I couldn't get comfortable and didn't sleep a wink. Didn't get into work. In fact I didn't get out of bed until gone one. Still feel a bit bloated even now but less so and I've managed to eat a little bit. Suffice to say I'm not doing any training. Not sure what caused it. Haven't really eaten anything different over the last couple of days apart from maybe some sweet potato yesterday. I've eaten it plenty of times before though so can't see it was that. At the moment I still have wicked sulphur breath - even the cat winces and turns away when I burp - that's a first, out breath-weaponing the cat! Oh well, fingers crossed I'm all back to normal tomorrow.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

For Every Pleasure There's A Price

From the positives of yesterday come the not so positives of today. I woke up this morning with a stiff neck and back ache. Slept awkwardly? I don't think so. More likely all the jerking around in the woods yesterday - ooh, nooo, stop it. There were a few areas of new growth that I ran through where the branches suddenly flicked out at your face. I think my cat like reflexes, yanking my face to safety, avoiding a branch slap, have taken their payment today. I decided not to risk the arduous trek south for the Ironwood.

Anyway, having risen early and then made my decision I jumped on the exercise bike for two hours to burn the pent up energy - not to mention the coffee high of two cups of super strong fresh coffee. (For those wondering, it's still to cold for me outside for a real bike ride, my hands just cause me too much pain). I spent the rest of the day coming down from that caffeine high with a bit of baking to relax the soul. Although I'm a tad disappointed not to have run this morning, as everything is feeling much less achy now I think it was the right shout.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

That Worked Out Rather Well

I manage to stick to the plan, got up early(ish) and headed over to the Haresfield Beacon car park in plenty of time to make way over to the Painswick Orienteering.

As I arrived at Haresfield it begain to snow. Not a lot but by god 'eck it were chilly - I could feel me cockles shrinking. I switched out to a thicker top before heading out. I took it pretty steady and just enjoyed the scenery. After five minutes of running I was fully warmed. It was perfect conditions really. The slight frost firming the ground so it wasn't too muddy through the woods.

Some time later I arrived over at the golf course above Painswick and duly began to get right bloody cold. I registered my run but then had to wait about half an hour before I could go orienteer. I put on an extra layer but it didn't really help. The biting cold bit me and my hands began to go white, as they are prone to do.

Once finally underway in the orienteering my hands did finally warm up with about ten minutes to go - doh. Control of the compass was trickier than normal on account of the cold and even folding and re-folding the map took more time and effort than normal.

As to the actual orienteering I final broke my duck. Just like last week I made no major cock-ups, a few dilly-dallies but definitely no massive 'I don't know where the hell I am' incidents. However, unlike last week, I finally smashed the hour barrier on the blue course. Well, I say smashed. Does 59 minutes and 59 seconds count as 'smashing the hour barrier'? It does in my book anyway - which, coincidentally, is the official book of smashing the hour barrier as authorised by the National Association of Smashing the Hour Barrier.

Anyway, with the orienteering complete I didn't hang around too long to get cold again and promptly set off back to Haresfield to complete the days training. In all I covered a little over 24km with 560m ascent, breaking down as 10.5km/250m to Painswick, 7.5km/150m for the orienteering and 6.2km/160m for the return journey. Job done I'm all set for tomorrow's Ironwood Challenge and really rather buoyed by the fact I'm managing to keep the momentum going - I might not die on the Welsh Mountains in June after all......

Friday, February 22, 2013

Eminently Sensible Suggestion

Well I'm not heading for the mountains tomorrow after all. I'm planning to take the eminently sensible suggestion put forward by an expert training consultant - trying saying that after a couple of beers - and park up over by the Haresfield Beacon to then run the 10k or so along the Cotswold Way to the Painswick Orienteering. With that, the orienteering itself and the return journey I reckon I'll clock up 25 kilometres or so. That should be enough. It might have been slightly foolish to have run back to back weekends of over-extending mountain runs. This could be a gentler alternative while still getting some good distance with reduced risk of breaking myself - and I should have a little something left for the Ironwood Challenge on Sunday - provided there are spaces left....

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Day The Buzz Ended

After a good weekend followed by some proper training I came down today. Mustn't grumble though. Apart from today, which has gone a little flat, I'm generally feeling more positive towards my mid-year race goal. I definitely need to keep the momentum going. I think I need to plot myself a route for Saturday and then commit it to the diary. Not sure I can trust myself for another mountain run without scheduling it. I am going to run another long one Saturday. I am. I must. I must...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Day To Recover

My legs are improved - read, I can at least walk normally now, if not totally pain free. Managed a bike session tonight which I think helped with the healing. Ready for proper training tomorrow - aka a run. Other than that it's been a supper of special cauliflower cheese finished off with Operation LBFU - that's lazy bar-sterward feet up.... job done.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Heck The Pegs Feel Sore

Despite the pain I actually feel pretty good. Good in that I feel I actually had a good a weekend of training. True, walking is painful but I'd rather feel the pain of walking than feel the pain of regret for not having run some decent mileage... I was starting to worry that the mountain I'd set for myself was too high to climb but now I feel confident I can get myself in shape for June. There's going to be no room for complacency mind but I feel my Welsh 1000s and Vegan Welsh 3000s dream is now at least achievable.

By right's I'm no where near fit enough to have run the black mountains route on Saturday having struggled at the Dursley Dozen the week before so it's comforting to know when I have to dig deep I still can. Really looking forward to more mountain running in the coming months. To avoid the curse of work I'm going to book up some long weekends for April and May and then bloody well stick to them. Be good to head to Snowdonia at least a couple of times before the big days.

Been a bit serious tonight, darn it, can't be setting a precedent...

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Ruined By The Wrekin

It was the Compass Sport Orienteering and I was up for it - but my legs weren't. They feel didn't great before the start - and by the finish they were fair wrecked. The Wrekin ain't exactly flat. I didn't really have any choice but to take it steady today. Physically I wasn't capable of anything more than steady and so it began...

 So as my start time approached I bid good day to team and headed across the field towards the start, some 600m away in the woods. To much amusement and the sounds of 'good luck' still ringing in the air I managed to catch a bramble not thirty metres away, in full view of everyone and stumbled to the grass - what a cock. With an omen like that I was going to be lucky to survive let alone finish. I did eventually manage to locate the start with no further incidents and, with compass to hand, set off at just gone eleven on the brown course - that's long and hard for those not in the know - ooh matron.

Unusually I made very few errors. A few 'cautious' entries - shhh, no, stop it - onto the controls but nothing I would call a major cockup. I'm figuring my utter lack of speed today enabled me to focus much more closely on the navigation. I think slow and steady is the future. Get the micro-navigation skills firing on all cylinders and the speed look after itself - well, that's my new theory. My current method of firing off quickly - I said stop it - and then getting the nav a little off kilter isn't going to win me any awards. It was definitely much more satisfying to come in - that's enough now - to the controls from the right direction...

On the score front it was a good day for the club. We won the trophy and so qualify for the finals in October - I say 'we' but I didn't actually score - story of my life....

And here is my not so 'looks like a spider crawled over the page' route from today...
(ps for the record, the bit on the far left was a decision
to out and back to the control not a mistake - truth)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Yep, As I Suspected

I'm not very fit at the moment. In toss up of short race verses long run, the long run won. A short sharp race will do me some good once I've attained a basic level of fitness. At the moment that's lacking so that's where I need to focus. Perhaps though, running the reverse route of the Black Mountains race wasn't quite the right choice. Not, that is, when your previous longest for a while was last week's Dursley Dozen. Bumping the distance another five miles and almost trebling the ascent in the mountains of South Wales probably was a mite silly - some might even say mad...

I survived - but only just. Conditions were fantastic. It was pleasantly cool and no wind - shut it, I made sure I didn't eat any beans yesterday. I set off from the forest car park below Bal Mawr at about 11am. It's surprising how different the route is running it in the wrong direction. That said, I've finally nailed the perfect route to said, Bal Mawr.

I took in the views across to Chwarel-y-fan and down into the valley - scaring a couple of walkers as I shot down the descent almost silently before offering a 'good morning' to make them jump a foot off the ground - oops. Once into the valley I took the diversion down the road to use the foot bridge rather cross the river at the normal point. It's never good to go deeper than the length of your water proof socks - they hold the water in just as well as they keep it out and I didn't fancy carrying the weight the rest of the way round.

The climb to Pen-y-Gadir was pretty 'bog' standard and once to the summit I decided to descend down into the next valley taking a route further south than I'd normally use. There seemed to be a track and although not massively firm it was pretty tussock free. I kept on the track a little too long but I think there might well be some mileage in it for the race. Basically, race direction, you follow the forest line up a ways from the stream crossing and then spot out the grassy patch amongst all the crap. It needs a recce but I think it has possibilities...

I made it up out of the valley past Pen Twyn Glas in good shape and across and up Pen Allt Mawr before the gentle plateau'ed run to Pen Cerrig Calch. I was reckoning on and 3:40 for the journey but it was on the descent from there I began to feel the strain and by the time I headed out of Lanbedr into the final sections of ascent I was, to use the technical term, f*&%ed. The climb back up on the mountain through the woods was mental agony. My legs just didn't have anything to give. Time moved ever onwards - but I didn't.

Eventually, after what seemed like forever, I did espy the final trig point of Crug Mawr in the far far distance, and with those bloody terrible words scarring into my subconscious, 'come on, we can run this bit...', I pushed on with what little I had left. Eventually past that last summit it actually was all down hill from there. Finally making back to the van in a slightly sad 3 hours and 57 minutes. I need to make a lot of improvement. Still, it's good to have got the 28km and 1,500 metres of ascent under the belt. The journey to the Welsh 1000s starts here...

Not sure I've done my Compass Sport orienteering chances much good though...

Friday, February 15, 2013

That One's Going On The List...

My top recipes list. Tuna Mornay Crêpes. They were flippin' lush. Have to say I pimped 'em up a little bit. Topped them with grated cheese and lobbed them in the oven for fifteen minutes till golden and crispy. Gert lush - but I ate a bit too much. It was just as well I got out for ten this evening.

I've two routes planned for tomorrow - and neither will be the Pen Tir Drop race. With the orienteering Sunday I can't afford to lose a long run this weekend. I desperately need to start cranking things up. Option one is the Malverns out and back from the holly bush. Option two is spectating the Pen Tir race by running a long run to coincide with the race - haven't got a route picked out for that one yet though.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Been A Bloody Expensive Valentines Day

She is eating me out of house and home - that 'as good as it looks' cat food ain't cheap but she's a fussy sod. Turns her nose up at anything else. Still it was on offer and when it's on offer I pile it high, hence the expensive day.

Took it easy today, just a bike session. Want to put in a decent 10 miler tomorrow and then make my decision on the fell race or a longer run Saturday before Sundays Compass Sport Cup. To be fair I think I need the longer run - but then I do also fancy a racing burn up. Decisions, decisions...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Finally Made It Back To The Office...

It's been a while. 35 days in fact. Almost can believe it's been that long! It's been so long I didn't recognise half the staff. Was a pleasant surprise to find I still had a desk though. Happy days.

Been a lax day of training - read, I did sod all. On a brighter note I had an email reminding my of the Ironwood Challenge on the 24th and since I've nothing planned I think I'll add it to the race planner...

Short and sweet tonight. Tootle pip.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What's To Cook?

Why pancakes of course. Now I was going to go all savoury and fancy... but in the end I thought balls to that and went with the classic lemon and sugar...

I used Michel's recipe - yes, we are on first name terms - from the my new Eggs book - and yes, a whole cookery book just about eggs! To be fair the pancake recipe - or crepe as I like to call it even though I can't type them funny foreign 'e' jobbers - is a pretty standard affair. It's all in the cooking anyway and I managed to create some pretty decent thin, almost see-through, ones. Can't say it was the most healthy dinner I've ever cooked but it was tasty. Have some of the mix left over so maybe I'll try some savoury ones tomorrow.

Managed a short run today but my legs are still aching. Mostly in the calves now. The quads seem better and the arms don't ache at all. Finished off with an hour on the bike. And that's a wrap.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Can't Understand Why My Legs Hurt...

Oh yeah, I'm not fit and I ran the Dursley Dozen yesterday - silly me. My quads ache, my gluteus maximus aches and strangely, the inside of my elbows from where they were crooked in the running position - you can tell I haven't raced properly for a while. Comes to something when your f&*%in' arms ache after a race! Still, it's good to properly ache...

Looking to the week ahead I'm feeling well up for the Compass Sport Cup on Sunday. Can't be letting team NGOC down. Going to hit the zone - I think I'll use a baseball bat - and give maximum orienteering focus. This could be the first time I don't make a right balls up - then again....

Sunday, February 10, 2013

I Am Pants At Running

At the moment at least... I think that was my worst Dursley Dozen - ever. Not unexpected mind but in my heart of heart it's disappointing to have declined so far. Still, it was fun of a sort and I like the new route from mile three to five removing most of the road section. Makes the course a tad slower but more in the spirit of the event. Conditions under foot were the muddiest I've encountered during my previous three outings. So muddy that I actually had to use the rope on the final climb for the first time. Normally you can gain a bit by foregoing the rope but I was struggling for traction today. I finished in a fairly lowly 76th place overall with a 15th place in the old fart category. And to think I once made the top twenty. Those were the days....

I set off towards the middle front of the field - or was it towards the front of the middle? I knew I wouldn't have the endurance to full on race 12 miles so I set off steady. I climbed up through the woods on the first climb up to the golf course in reasonable shape before picking up a few places in the muddy woodland section before once again emerging onto the golf course. At mile three I knew I was on for a very slow time but kept on plugging away anyway.

Then it was quickly back into the woods for the new route. Muddy, rugged going even in the shape I am - or is that, the shape I'm not - was still beneficial to me as I picked up a few more places. The next few miles were more of the same, muddy, slippy, wet woodland with a few ups and downs before finally reaching the last climb. In the mile or two before that climb I pretty much ran out of steam. I'd stopped gaining places, in fact I was losing them. Still, I was confident I was inside the top 100 which had been my humble target.

The final two miles across the top and then down through the woods to the finish were painfully slow. My mile splits must have been horrendous. I was running - questionable use of the word - on vapours as I eventually reached the finished in an awesome time - and no I'm not telling, if you're that interested you'll have to search out the results...

As I sit here typing, despite the slowness, despite knowing I'm capable of so much more, despite the encroaching years, I'm still glad I ran. I can honestly say I still enjoy the racing and so long as I continue to do so then I'll still be heading back for more...

Massive thanks to Dursley Athletic for a perfectly delivered race and all the marshals who braved the pretty horrid conditions, soaking themselves to the skin for our benefit. Thanks.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Chilling And Resting

Turned out to be a chilled day of baking in the end. My veggie pie didn't exactly go to plan though. The flavours were great but I haven't quite mastered the art of short crust pastry just yet. I can't allow myself to use shop bought stuff until I do. Tonight's effort didn't have enough water so the short crust was so short it could have been one of Ken Dodds Diddymen.

My wholemeal loaf, on the other hand, was a far more satisfying affair. Other than that I really haven't done much at all today and you know what? All in all it's been a totally relaxing day. Sometimes you just have to laze around, busying yourself doing nothing and now I think I'm all rested and ready for tomorrow's Durlsey Dozen. To which I'm all set. I've checked the road closures due tomorrow for the Gloucester 10k and plotted my alternative drive. The kit is packed. The GPS charged and my number ready. Shoe-wise, I'm going with the Innov8 Quagmire-Claws. I reckon it's going to be as muddy as ever I've run it. I'm quite looking forward to the torture...

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Is It Friday?

Well, is it? It's been a brain draining couple of weeks. I'm to the point where I have to think real hard what day it is. It is Friday, isn't it?

I'm a little disappointed my double race weekend isn't going to happen. On checking the final details of the Sallowvallets Western Night League score event I've realised I've had a bit of a diary malfunction - it ain't even this Saturday, it's next week. What a nob. To be fair I did add the event to the diary way back in September time and I've a feeling I was looking at the pre-finalised fixture list. I'm just bloody glad I checked 'cause I'd have been mighty displeased to have turned up a week early. I've been an hour late. I've been a day late but come on, a whole week early? Now that would have taken school boy error to a whole new level. Thank god I checked. Got to find myself something else to do tomorrow...

Change Of Plan

I've been taking my kit to work on the off chance for a few weeks. Now I was intending to head to Chepstow tonight but in this game you takes your chances when you gets 'em. A window of opportunity presented itself - and I grabbed it. And so it was I headed out on a lunch run along the Fosse Way. Out and back, inspiring it wasn't. Training it was. I reckon it was about six miles total so not quite as far as what would have been tonight's session but far enough.

I headed out fast, well, relatively fast, okay slow - but it felt fast. By the turn I was blowing, that bloody taste at the back of my throat. Felt good though. I turned tail and eased it down for the return journey. Going to try and repeat the session tomorrow...

I finished off tonight with an hour on the bike. Finally a day with a bit of quality-ish training.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

A Bit Of A Run

But nothing special. Finished off with a go on the bike. Really need to start adding some quality. Oh well.

On more important matters, I'm all set to sow my seed - ooh matron - not that seed you rude devils. I am, of course, talking rosemary, thyme and sarah, uhh, I mean sage amongst other. Yes, my Mr Fothergill's order has arrived. I've readied the new shelving in the conservatory, prepped the compost and grit. Pretty much all good to go.

Heading to Chepstow training tomorrow, all being well. Haven't a clue were Itton or Shirenewton is but I guess I'll find out tomorrow. There, I've said it, got to go train now [crosses fingers work doesn't go pete tong]

Monday, February 04, 2013

Couldn't Get Out Of Bed

The alarm clock sounded at a quarter past six but all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse - or in my case, a cat. With a grunt I reached out to cancel the cacophony before beautiful sleep once more enveloped me. I wasn't going to be first to site this morning. A week of pent up stress finally released. Can't take too many more weeks like that. God, I must be getting old - Noooooooooo!

The week ahead brings the Dursley Dozen. The shape I'm in now I will be lucky to get round. Be good to know how much work I've ahead of me. I really need to make special effort to make some me time where I don't let work rule my life. Got to learn to say, sorry, busy, talk to the email cause the phone ain't getting answered...

Sunday, February 03, 2013

It's Been A Long Week

Now I know there are a few hours left so it could still go wrong but with only one call-out the weekend was better than I expected. Could have done without the 5:30am wake up call this morning though. I won't grumble. It's part of the job once it gets to the sharp end. If the next two weeks go the same way the sum of all my fears might not reach too high a total. Mind you, I haven't really caught up on the sleep. I am fading fast this evening.

Training was poor. A run almost not worthy of calling training. I'm going to try and plan a long-ish run on the Cotswolds next week in a long lunch. Going to program up a route, load the GPS and then be ready to rumble when I get a break. The downside is that I will be a stinky bastard for the rest of that day - shut it, that isn't the norm - site lacking the luxury of shower facilities and the like.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Walking Dead

Oh god that was a long day. Thursday was somewhat of an anticlimax - albeit a twelve and a half hour one. Suffice to say there wasn't any training action going on by the time I got home just gone nine. Friday was worse weighing in at fifteen and a half hours, eventually making it home at gone midnight having arrived at site bright and early at half seven. We did at least have a measure of success and by the time the success arrived the pressure that had kept me going through the day - and the night - dissolved as a wave of tiredness hit me on the drive home.

Not sure what I'm going to manage today because right now, I'm hanging. This week has been a write-off. I think I'm going to rest today and then, depending on how I feel tomorrow, either attempt the Monmouth cross country - although I really don't feel like racing at the moment - or more likely a bimble through the forest. I really need to start getting some training done. I've only got four months to get myself back to some sort of fitness for the Welsh 1000s. The clock is well and truly past merely ticking...