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...