Monday, June 30, 2014

The Week Ahead

Going to try and get across the bridge over the river Wye for Thursday's Tintern Trot. Saturday I'm heading out for a recce of this summers new south Wales long fell race, the Steam Bunny Bluff. As official sweeper I feel it's my duty to become one with the route...

Had a pair of new visitors to the bird feeder this afternoon - or more correctly, the spill from the feeder. A pair of pheasants came walking past.

Managed a run this morning and tomorrow it's back to the gridstone...

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Yep, Definitely Still Too Old For This Shit

Been another brill Butlins but my oh my am I feeling it now. I can hardly keep my eyes open. Wasn't the best drive home though. Diverted down the 38 and through Bristol to avoid gridlock on the five. Didn't lose too much time.

Well done to the hardcore crew staying the final night. I salute you.

The ritual of the Saturday morning hangover run took place once again. I was joined, as last year, by Amanda and Simon, as we headed south to the hills above Minehead. We managed smack on 10k and didn't really get wet - so that was nice.

And soon I think I shall be asleep until Tuesday...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Summer Party Time...

Despite the best efforts to thwart it, the summer party will go on. Butlins. Party time. Bring it on.

All being well I will get out for the ritual Saturday recovery run out of Minehead - and I'm not meaning race recovery. Have had a bit of a map failure so it might well be along the coastal path because I know the route well but I'd like to head inland this year. Maybe, reaching the Dunkery Beacon.

Just need the weather to pick up a little and then it'll be all systems go...

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Gone A Bit Volunteer Crazy

Not sure what the hell happened but I've volunteered to help with the Severn Bridge Half Marathon - sign up if you haven't already, how many times do you get to run over the original (and best!?) Severn Bridge? And to follow that up I've signed up to be sweeper at the inaugural Steam Bunny Bluff fell race. Think I must have got a knock on the head or something!!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

I Managed To Gather

Really enjoyed last nights night race - probably on account of my third place overall and first vet. It was a good, gnarly, twisty route - or should that be twisted, having made us get wet feet crossing a stream within fifty metres of the start. It was a shame that a few more people didn't turn up to run because of those that did I think most would have agreed it was a good race. Having said that, if there had been more I wouldn't have been in the prizes.

I'm pleased how I ran but my lack of fitness is still quite telling when it comes to a faster paced run. I managed to hold second place for the first, shorter lap. With Rich C taking the lead in the first few hundred metres I let him get on with it.

I began to fade on the main climb at the far end of the course on the second lap and was soon overtaken by the eventual second place man and also the fourth - he'd run the Malvern Marathon in the morning so I was firmly put in my place. I managed to recapture third spot across the top, on the way back in but by then I was puffing somewhat so was more keen just to end the pain than worry about my finishing position.

Thanks to RogueRuns for a great night race.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Lovely Day To Make Sourdough Bread, Not So Good For Orienteering..

I have to say I was total pants at today's summer orienteering. It's more practice than serious competition - and boy do I need the practice. My navigation wasn't that far off on any of the controls but somehow I just didn't seem to home in on the exact spot. I think I managed to run almost directly over a couple of controls with spotting them before faffing around trying to work out where they could be. Controls two, six and eight were the worst on that front. From my gps I can see I must have practically rubbed against the control kite on my first approach. The last was also particularly poor but by then I'd lost the will to live. I'm going to lay some of the blame on the fact that the undergrowth is more overgrowth at the moment. At one point I almost had to get out my machete to hack through the jungle of bracken!

Have to say my control of the map and compass is improving though. Despite not actually finding many of the controls quickly I really feel I was putting myself in the right place. I made a few dodgy route choices but overall I'm keeping control of my location to the map far better with the new technique. So I'll take away a bit of positive from an otherwise poor showing.

On a more important matter. I've a sourdough loaf on the go and in a few hours it'll be ready for the oven with a bit left for pizza. Then after that I'm off to some bloody stupid night race wot some RogueRunners have organised. 22:15 I asks you? What time for a race start is that? Been a while since I've double raced in a day - and I might just finish on the same day if I don't get lost...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Can It Be Thursday Already?

Where the hell did the week go? Don't seem to have done much but my time has been filled with stuff - just rubbish stuff. Going to be a good weekend I hope. I've orienteering and a night race on the cards for Saturday. No plans as yet for Sunday. Which reminds me, I must look up the details for 'The Gathering'...

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A New Part Of The Forest

A slight change of plan. I kept things to a forest run. I just changed the route and ran from home instead to reduce my carbon footprint. Okay, that's bollocks. I couldn't be arsed to drive. So, with a quick scan of the maps I decided to head through Flaxley woods - nothing new there - and into Haywood Plantation. I've not run there for ages and it's a nice area but a bit too 'tracky' for my liking.

After that I headed north into Harryhill Plantation - straight up, that's what it's called! Finally reaching the Mitcheldeanmeend Inclosure and then Lining Wood. Never run there before and it was proper woodland. After the initial wide forest tracks it went all single track on me. Slightly overgrown in places - hence why my legs are cut to ribbons on the brambles. The only downside was not being able to match the tracks on the maps to the actual tracks on the ground. Hence a slightly meandering route at the far north of the route.

The highlight was running along side a pretty sizeable water treatment plant. It looked to be more strategically important on the ground than the impression the map gives. It was only a shame there wasn't a Stobart lorry parked on the drive....

So having meandered my way out of Lining Wood the next section was entirely fail. It was so overgrown there was no way I could make my way through. Instead I had to run the road into Mitcheldean before heading up over Heartbreak Hill.

It's not the best sign to read when entering a field you have no choice but to cross to get home, 'beware of the bull'. That coupled with the fact that two fields previous the whole heard of cows spotted me quietly jogging down from Breakheart Hill, minding my own business and decided to charge..... I made it to the stile in the corner, barely touching the woodwork as I exited stage left, in quicker order than I thought possible at my current level of fitness!

After a few more miles I was home and quickly headed for an hour on the bike to finish me off. Been good training. Thirteen miles run (2,000ft ascent) and an hour on the bike. Job done. Feet up for the rest of the day before it's back to the grindstone Monday morning...

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Been Off Colour

But I feel better now. Going to head out into the forest tomorrow. For a run. Might do the spring half route. Then again, might not...

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Curse You Vile Slugs

They've decimated my small crops. Barely any onions have survived their evil onslaught. The beetroot has suffered equally badly. The french beans are just about surviving and in a last ditch attempt to save the crop I've covered them in clear plastic - fingers crossed. The potatoes look just about okay. Thank goodness for the conservatory though or I'd be facing a disaster. The chillies, tomatoes and basil are all healthy and growing strongly. Infact I've frozen my first two bags of chilies already.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Almost Over It

My quads still ache but apart from that I'm over it. I feel so unfit yet I coped with 13 hours, 35 miles and 10,500 feet ascent. I reckon I need to plan me some races and go on a racing spree. I think operation race myself fit should commence...

Monday, June 09, 2014

And Now For The Stats

No wonder I feel broken, I've just plotted the routes on my digital OS maps... Day 1 we covered the 27km with 2,000m of ascent for 220 points - that's almost 17miles and 6,500 feet of ascent in old money - in a time of 6 hours and 57 minutes (three minutes inside the limit). On day 2 we ran even further! We covered 28km but with only 1,200m of ascent to score 140 points (that's 17.5miles and 4,000 feet of ascent) in a time of 5 hours and 56 minutes (four minutes inside the limit).

Our efforts on day 1 left us in 16th place of 72 in the overall score class and 7th place of 45 in the vets. Me and Neil were pretty chuffed by that. Our day 2 result was even better, notching up 10th/5th for the day. That moved us up the rankings slightly to finish a confirmed 13th place in the overall classification and 5th in the vets. I can't be more pleased.

In all we covered 55km with 3,200m of ascent (34.5miles, 10,500feet) and I am extremely pleased with that. I've lost so much fitness over the last two months I can't believe I was actually able to cover that kind of distance. My back holding up to the effort was a definite bonus. Everything is still aching though...

Approximate routes (Day 1, blue, starting south west. Day 2, red, starting north east corner):-

Day 1 profile:-

Day 2 profile:-

Sunday, June 08, 2014


Totally totally broken but I did survive - just. Myself along with the Chepstow Massif were on the road Friday by 7am and after a great, jam free drive, arrived at the race HQ by 6pm. Before long I was to tent to get an early night ahead of the Saturday start of the 2014 LAMM Score class.

Neil and me set off just gone 8:30 and generally had a good run but not before we'd made life hard. Beasting ourselves on the 7k we'd left ourselves to get to the finish in just fifty minutes from 700m up a craggy mountain. We easily made the 7 hour cutoff in the end 6:57... We were 16th of 70ish.

We were fortunate with the midcamp having fine weather till the late evening allowing us to at least cook tea in the dry. My back held up dor the run but really stiffened up through the evening. Then the rains came down and we went to bed.

We were awoken by the screech of some bastard playing the bagpipes at 5:00! It was a bit rainy but we managed to get breakfast cooked, packed the kit, tent down and the off again. My felt freer at least.

With the miles on our legs we plotted an easier route but still decided to make life hard. We got to our last chosen control only a couple of miles from home but with just under two hours left headed back into the mountains. We managed to claim another couple controls but once again left ourselves a big ask to get back down in time and really had to beast ourselves to get the job done.

In the end we made it with ease. Completing the 6 hour cut off in 5:56... But we had moved up to 13th overall and around 5th or 6th of 41 in the old bastards category.

All we have now is the ten hour drive home - in progress... Not to mention that I am completely wrecked. Pretty everything aches or hurts.

All in all a good weekend with exceptionally brilliant company of the Lawsons - still just about married, Judith and Allan - 5th place prize winners and elite Ben, not forgetting my partner in crime Neil - now happily off sailing.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

No Turning Back

Yipee, I'm packed and ready to go. You might even say, like a LAMM to the slaughter... [winks to camera]

Well when I say packed I mean all the kit is gathered and stashed in bags.. I won't complete the final pack until I'm up there in Sunny Scotland and have made the final kit selection. Hoping to get a good night's sleep before tomorrow's relatively early start.

The highlight of today though, was seeing a green woodpecker chirping away this morning, on the fence out front. I knew there was a great spotted nesting nearby but it was the first time I've seen a green.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

I Have Got My Dates Wrong?

Did I fall asleep for four months and wake up in October? Are we on are way to the OMM this coming weekend? - because it bloody well feels like it. The roomstat is close to kicking the heating into life. In June? What the hell is wrong with the weather.

The LAMM. In the Summer time. A pleasant pootle over the Scottish mountains. The reality is looking somewhat different to the dream. Come on sun. It's just three days till we set out onto the hill. You know you want to...

I've now completed my kit list and gathered some of it together. Looks like tomorrow is going to be busy night gathering and packing the rest...

Monday, June 02, 2014

Not Feeling Too Bad

I seem to be in one piece after yesterday's road race. My quads are a little sore as too are the hips - that's what pounding the tarmac gets you. Overall the after affects haven't been too severe. Just need to rest up now for the LAMM coming up this weekend. I think I will do my kit checks tomorrow so I have time to get anything I'm missing. I only hope the weather isn't pants. It will be so much more pleasant if it's not teaming down the entire time - although on the up side of that at least it will keep the midges at bay...

Sunday, June 01, 2014

I Made It

How tough was that! My first road half marathon distance for close to four years but I survived - despite the best efforts of the sun to melt me with its laser rays. Why pick today of all days to make an appearance?

As we stood waiting for the off, stage 8 of the rack raid relay, V mentioned we were the leading A team and B team - I was running for the B team. No pressure then. I was glad of the support along route from Sam, Matthew and Dick not to mention all the other teams. Never have I accepted more water on route.

Anyway, I set off back in the pack. The early pace was almost too fast but as it was pretty much the only flat bit I decided to get a bit of time in the bag. All to soon the first climb was upon us and I went okay. It wasn't pretty but I dug in.

By about the 10k point I have to admit I was feeling it but Matthew was keen for me to catch the runner ahead, running for team Dracula I think he said. If I'm honest I was pretty keen too. The old road running was coming back to me..

As I approached the top of the third and final climb we were neck and neck and with an almighty, some might say, herculean effort - okay, it wasn't herculean - I pushed past and kept on going. Never looking back - a sign of weakness - but pushing on to the point where I felt a bit sick and had to ease off. Fortunately I hit a down hill section and was able to relax and ease away.

Then, in the distance, maybe 200m ahead, on the approach to Trelleck Grange, I spotted another runner. The mist of war descended and I put in my charge... I managed to catch him by the time we reached the pond on the final road section to Tintern but despite catching him I was spent and he was able to hold me off building back a 20m gap which he kept through to the finish.

It wasn't a fast time, 1:45. In fact, I'm almost ashamed how slow I ran - but I honestly couldn't have gone any quicker. I'm just happy I was able to put in the effort and my back held up to the strain - it's aching a little now, mind, but didn't affect my running.

You know what's the worst part of today's race? I think I rather enjoyed it!!! It was my first 'trying to be' competitive road race for a long long time - and, yes, I do believe I did enjoy it...

And Now, The End Is Near

Hopefully it won't be the final curtain and nor will it entail travelling each and every highway but it's going to be a struggle. It's now T Minus four hours till I slog from Usk to Tintern with it's 1500 feet of ascent. More ascent than your normal road half marathon. Oh the shame of very likely be walking bits... Added to that the fact I've not run that far on the road for several years it's going to be tough!

I ran a couple of 10k's last year and a couple of fives but it's about three years since I've pounded a half marathon on the road. Tactics. Steady start, erring on the slightly slow. I've got a pace in mind which I think I can manage - so no barracking if it looks like I'm going slow. With luck I'll have a little power left after half way and pick it up a little.

Did I really say I'd run the Rack Raid Relays this year? Did I? Not sure I did.....