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.