Thursday, July 31, 2014

Race Plan

So I've got my race plan sorted till the autumn. In two days time, the Borrowdale fell race. The weekend after, sweeper at the Steam Bunny Bluff. 23rd August, Brecon Beacons fell race - clockwise, anticlockwise? Who knows. 31st, Four Fans - won't be running out of energy this time - then up on the 20th and 21st September, the RogueRuns Mini Mountain Marathon followed by the Black Mountains race at the end of September.

Sounds like a plan...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

One More Day Till The Weekend

Yep, that'll be me done after tomorrow. I was going to head to the Lakes Thursday but now I'm running, maybe even racing, Borrowdale - also in, said Lakes - I'm going to go for an easy run Thursday, plan things and chill before heading up Friday. Depending upon how knackered I am after Saturday I'll either stay for a Sunday run or head home after the race. Quite looking forward to it. Lakes Classic number two, here I come...

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Well Next Weeks Borrowdale Forecast Looks Iffy

... Happy days - sorry Judith. Looks like it's going to be operation thumb compass with map to hand. That said it might all change be next Saturday. Also, that said, I've only run there a few times so my local knowledge is limited to that of a foreigner.... At least I might not need the water bladder...

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Up, Up and Down

Waun Fach. I think I have covered pretty much all the bases on the best descent route off Waun Fach to the north end of the Grwyne Reservoir. I 'ran' up twice and descended once. Add to that my previous recce and that's four different routes but I'm confident I know which is the best one...

I set off from the Blaen-y-cwm car park just before eleven, sun-blocked to the max and carrying a full platypus water bag of carb drink. One things was not in doubt. It was going to be a scorcher. I headed north-east along the main path, gently upwards to the reservoir. Unusually for the Black Mountains, there were lots of people out there.

From the there I headed up to Waun Fach, testing route B - route A having been used on my first recce a few weeks ago. It wasn't too bad. Slightly indirect, as was A but not hugely rough going. Once at Waun Fach I and headed north along the ridge as planned and then back down the valley, back to the reservoir for ascent number two, using route C. A more direct route but steeper and more of the rough stuff.

Once to the top I turned tail, following route D, to return, once again, to the northern end of the reservoir. This was a deviation from my original plan as I had intended to head to Pen-y-G but my spidey-senses had tingled while I was ascending via C and so I made up route D on the spur of the moment - are you keeping up?

There's no way to eliminate all of the rough ground. There simply is no single path that links the top to the bottom but I think, in D, I have the winner. At least half the distance follows sheep trods and that makes the running much easier. The descent is also averaged out over the distance about as much as it can be. Again, it adds a small but of distance but I reckon you can recover that and make a profit.

Once back to the reservoir, I ran back down the path to the car while attempting to inject a bit of pace but by 'eck were it hot - that's a bit of practice at speaking northern for next week when I head to Borrowdale. Considering the heat - and I'm generally not good when it gets hot - I feel I went okay. I was round the 20k route with its 700m of ascent in two and a half hours and that included a bit of stopped time. The water bag worked well as I was able to keep at pace and drink steadily through the run. Something I'm not good at when using either a) a water bottle or b) streams.

Anyway, I shan't be attempting any further recce's. That's me done. I have the route and will sweep like a champion...

Friday, July 25, 2014

Got My Route Planned

Going to head to the Grwyne valley. Run to the reservoir and up to Waun Fach followed by a run along the ridge north and then back down the valley to the reservoir. Back up to Waun Fach by route number two before skipping over to PYG and back down to the car - won't actually be skipping...

And when will this sticky heat end? I am sweating while not even moving.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Heading Back Out To The Steam Bunny

This weekend I shall be heading back out to test a few more theories surrounding the Waun Fach descent. I want to mix it in with a long run. Probably not massively long because of the heat but I need to acclimatise to it just in case. Borrowdale, next week, could be a nightmare if this heat persists. Might even have to wear the water pack for it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

And Now For Something Random....

Vacuuming is almost fun with the little smiley face of Henry following you around. Can't believe I continued with a certain type of cyclone vacuum for so long. Recently said cyclone broke, and almost falling over on seeing the cost of a replacement I went with the half cost alternative - the smiler. Anyway, can't type all day, I've some dirt to scatter on the floor...

Monday, July 21, 2014

I'm In - Are You?

Well, provided I pass the entry conditions [winks at camera]. I'm talking about the inaugural RogueRuns Mini Mountain Marathon towards the end of September. I think it might just be my thing. Like a mountain marathon but without the scabby 'camping in a microscopic tent' bit. I'm in for the long linear in my beloved Black Mountains, west side - that's the rough bit in case you're in doubt. Don't think we'll see any of that Motorway quality trail to Pen y Fan - thank goodness.

I think it'll be a cracker. There's limited entry this first year and it's an absolute bargain - no, I'm not on the payroll, honest. It'll be the best few quid you'll ever spend. Seriously, if you want to dip your toe in the mountain marathon waters you'll not do better than having a go in this one. Google it. You know it makes sense...

Friday, July 18, 2014

Muggy Malverns

I went for the tried and tested out and back across the Malverns, starting and finishing from Hollybush - that's the southern end. It's a route that combines a long run with a hill session. The hills are all short and sharp. Some sharper than others and to be fair I struggled. I think I struggled more with the weather conditions than the hills though. Although looking back I was pretty feeble. The mugginess was horrible. I got really hot and it didn't help that an energy gel leaked in my bumbag so then I ended up getting hot and sticky. The gel got on everything - not good.

There were loads of people out enjoying the hills today but the views weren't as good as they can be. Seemed more than normal but that doesn't seem to be helping the paths from getting overgrown. A few of the early sections were quite overgrown. Hence the reason I'm sporting a fair number of bramble scratches and nettle stings.

I slightly spoilt the finish of the run. From Midsummer Hill I followed the left path towards Pillow Mound - yes, it's really called that. I've never tried it before and there were a few path off-shoots from it - one of which I should have followed, because before long the path I was following started to head in the wrong direction. I followed it for a bit to see if it would turn back in the right direction but it didn't. So then I decided - rather stupidly as it turns out - to try and cut back through the woods. Fail. I eventually ended up back on the path having had to abort on account of requiring a machete to continue. Yes, it would have been easier just to have back tracked along the path in the first place - but where's the fun in that?

Anyway, eventually I picked up the correct path a before long arrived back at the car. Was I ever hot though. I was practically melting and when I opened the car door the heat wave nearly took my eyebrows off. In all I covered 21km with almost 830m of ascent in a fairly slow 2 hours 15 minutes - seasonally adjusted the hiccup at the finish.

Haven't decided what I'm doing tomorrow. I think I'll probably give the Waun Fach fell race a miss but I might re-recce some of the Steam Bunny Bluff to work out the best descent line off Waun Fach and in the process catch the race at the summit.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

And That Makes Three

Well I made it across to Caerleon for the LCL Road Race tonight and I didn't go too badly. Didn't set the world on fire but I think I ran about as hard as I could have. I certainly pushed myself into the sick zone on both of the last climbs and the finish sprint.

I went off steadily, towards the back of the field and warmed myself into the race. Picking up places the entire way. It's surprising how much that helps. At first I made big gains but by half way things were more settled but I continued to steadily edged my way past runner after runner until the finish.

I finished the 9.7km in a non-too-speedy 44:45 but it my defense - and this sounds like operation excuses excuses - it is a reasonably tough, undulating course and more importantly, I am very very slow these days...

Glad I ran though. I'm going to try and put some more road races in my race calendar. Let's face it. Trying to knuckle down to some speed sessions, at this stage is going to be a bit optimistic so for now I will try and use a few road races as my training. It's worked for me in the past so hopefully will again. This all sounds a bit like deja vu but I really am going to try this time - honest Guv!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Unfortunately It Wasn't Full...

So it looks like I'm off to run the Borrowdale fell race at the start of August - bloody lucky me! My entry arrived this morning. I have just nineteen days to hone my fitness and speed, oh, and strength, come to think of it, I could do with a bit of improvement on my ascending as well. On the plus side, I think I should be okay on the descent as borne out by my splits from the Pen y Fan race. I think I have the stamina for it at least. I might not go quick these days but I can still go long - ssh, no, stop it. The one thing that is not in doubt is that it's going to be a tough one.

It's been a couple of years since I reccied the route and even then I didn't do the entire thing. A look at the map might well be in order. Having said that, I'll be heading up Wednesday night before or early Thursday so I might go for a few short, slow reccies of a few of the easily accessible bits. And I guess I need to sort out a few locations to stay. In the end I might actually have to book a campsite for once - almost unheard of for me! Any suggestions?

So, to tonight and I am resting. I've an extremely important race tomorrow night and I need to be fully recovered from the weekend. To be fair I'm not actually feeling too bad. By tomorrow I should be firing on all of my 0.17 cylinders...

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Two Down, Forgot About Tuesday, So One More To Go

So I had a good race today and timed myself somewhere in the ballpark of where I expected. Today's effort was possibly slightly improved on a time/ratio/cost-analysis basis - not sure of that last bit - when comparing yesterday and today with my efforts back in 2011.

The weekend's weather was far better than the forecast led us to believe with only the merest smattering of rain last night and absolutely nothing during either race. I won't grumble and say it was almost too sunny today - doh! It was a bit of a scorcher.

As to today's race. My quads felt sore before the start but not overly stiff. I set off mid pack with the intention of not getting carried away early on. That worked out okay as I was able to grind out most of the climb although I was reduced to a walk in the first, steeper section and a couple of other steep bits. For the most I was able to plod away, ever onwards and upwards.

I started to over take people as the summit of Fan-y-Big came into view so my plan of a steady start worked to some degree. The ridge run, as always, seemed to have more frequent and steeper undulations than memory would suggest but I held steady before picking up six places on the rough but gentle descent.

Three of those places I politely handed back once I reached the road section for the last mile and a half. My pace on the tarmac can only be described as pitiful, as three racing whippets came storming past - and a fourth, Nikki M, was trying her best to emulate them but fortunately for me, the finish arrived just soon enough.

I didn't wait around for the results, feeling somewhat discombobulated I decided it was home time. All in all, it's been a good way to while away a sunny weekend. I've even managed to catch some of that sun - didn't think to apply the sun-block, what with the iffy forecast. I might pay for that later when my shoulders feel on fire...

Up Tuesday is the LCL Road Race where I will be, once again, donning the blue and red for Chepstow - although, with my poor performance on the tarmac today, I'm not sure how much of a dent I will make in the score sheet but I'll try my best - as always I do, when I'm wearing the vest - nice.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

One Down, One To Go

It was a sparkling day - to start with at least. The tops disappeared into the mist half an hour from the start but the rain held off until much later in the day.

It wasn't my greatest ever race but I performed in the ballpark I expected. I did not ascend very well, resorting to walk jog walk jog but I got to the summit - eventually and a lot slower than the last time.

The descent was better, managing to approach somewhere near my previous races. It will be interesting to compare my splits and positions for the ascent and descent. I could be top twenty in one - and a long way from that in the other...

So that's one down, one to go but my legs are feeling it from the crashing descent. Maybe they'll recover... Bring on Fan y Big tomorrow - ooh matron, sounds a bit rude!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Not One But Two...

Runs today! What the hell was I thinking? I ran five miles, on the road at a steady pace and then five more back, at a almost imperceptibly quicker pace. It was quicker but only by a couple of minutes so not a drastic increase but an increase never the less.

I'm all set for tomorrow's double. Okay, I'm not really. Haven't readied a thing but then I really only have to chuck some running kit in the van, fill the water tank, pack some grub and hit the ignition... As to whether I my ignition works, out there on the fell, is an entirely different matter. It's been three years since I last ran the Pen y Fan race, my time then was round about the 43 minute mark, with a descent time of 10-11 minutes. I'll use those to gauge things. Thirty one to the top?... One can dream.

I've got a couple of stop-over locations picked out so I won't have the an hour and a half drive there and back twice. Oh, that reminds me, add 'reading material' to the packing list. With the stop-over planned that can only mean that the Fan y Big race is go. Funnily, it's also been three years since I last ran that as well - who'd have thought? My time then was 1 hour and 32 minutes. To be honest I'll be happy if I can get inside an hour forty.

And if I survive that, I'll be in action Tuesday night on the pancake flat Caerleon LCL Road Race - four runs in five days, haven't been there for a while...

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Well I've Sent My Entry Off...

Can't find any info on whether there are still places available. It's a popular race so, in the words of Mr Eastwood, playing the esteemed crime fighter Harry Callahan in the film Sudden Impact, I might be 'shit out of luck' but I thought I'd send off an entry anyway. Oh, yeah, I should mention I'm talking about the Borrowdale fell race. Bouyed by my recce last Saturday I feel confident I am fit enough to challenge...... the cut off times :-)

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Tonight's Decision

So I've decided. I am going to run the double this weekend. The next decision is do l head to the Lakes on the 17th or the Peak District? I think it should be the Peak District. I've only ever run there once before - and that was for a race during the middle of the night so I've never actually "seen" any of it. After that I've another trip north at the end of the month and that will be to the Lakes, no questions - and if Borrowdale isn't full I'll give that a crack while I'm there...

Monday, July 07, 2014

Almost Decided

I haven't done the double for a few years now so I am quite tempted. Saturday's 24 miler has shown me that I'm not that unfit - slow, yes - but unfit, no. Not sure l ran either last year... I am, of course, talking about the Brecon Fans weekend of the Pen-y-Fan and Fan-y-Big fell races. l think it will be a good training session to do the double. Not sure I'll be in too good a shape for the LCL Road Race the Tuesday after though. That'd be further decent training though... Three races in four days? ... I've almost convinced myself...

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Surprised How Good My Legs Feel

The soles of my feet are on fire, mind, but my legs don't really feel stiff at all. Have to say after yesterday's epic recce I was expecting to have lost the ability to walk.

It's been a day of chilling. Marked up the Steam Bunny Bluff route on my mapping software. Went out on the bike for an hour. Fiddled with my sourdough - oooh, matron. Had a little nap in the afternoon. Made bacon pizza - lush - and watching Johnny English Reborn. Hap - pleasant times...

Saturday, July 05, 2014

24 Miles! The Tin Only Said 22!

Yes, I went for a recce of the Steam Bunny Bluff today - I'm taking my duty as sweeper seriously - and despite not deviating from the official route, turns out to be almost 24 miles (with close to 6,000 feet of ascent). That's a lot of twisting and turning to add on two extra miles!

I went over with Pat W and despite not being hugely fit - me not him - he managed to somehow drag me round in a rather pleasing 5hrs 4minutes and that included some ten/fifteen minutes of stoppage, checking the route and such. Over all it's a pretty good route with some great views if the weather permits - like it did today for example, almost had to reach for the sun-block.

Right, so now to the important matter of the extra miles. Where did they come from? Did someone secretly place them into the bumbag while we weren't looking? Okay, we did go wrong in the first mile, along Offa's Dyke, missing the way marker - school boy error - but we knew exactly where we were so no harm done and that didn't account for any extra. Then there was the one or two other little variations and investigations - as you do on a recce else what's the point? The biggest of which was on the Waun Fach descent where we changed our minds and looped back a little but wouldn't have been more than a few hundred yards. Nope I simply reckon it's a 23.5mile fell race - but there's no harm in that.

I also tried out my secret route improvement. Turns out it's a couple hundred yards longer but, and read this carefully, I shall say this only once, two minutes quicker. Pat went the standard way and I trusted my spiddy senses. We both attempted to remain at the same effort level so I think it's fair to say it was quicker. Two minutes quicker - oops, I said it again.

Really can't stress how pleased I am to have got round in such reasonably order. I was tired come the end but not completely out for the count. I don't deserve to be at the level of fitness I am but I'll take it. With some commitment I could be good again...

Friday, July 04, 2014

Looks Like A Wet One

Off to recce South Wales newest fell race tomorrow, the Steam Bunny Bluff. Looks like I might get a little wet. Added to that is the fact that 22 miles and much ascent over rough mountain is not going to be a walk in the park. I could be out there a while...

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Not An Unpleasant Trot

Not my finest but not a total disgrace all things considered. The things to consider, mainly my total lack of fitness and the absence of any proper training - in fact, the absence of any training at all.

My time was only a minute slower than last year. I feel quite positive really. If I can cover the ground like I did on the training I haven't done then I could actually be dangerous with even a little focus...

As to my race tonight, I think I ran it pretty optimally. I started mid-pack. Taking care to ease along the 2km flat section. That left me in good sted for the steady climb where I went, well, steadily. Strangely I got a stitch as I approached the top - work that out? I went well across the top before the mad downhill charge. I picked up places the entire way but got a stitch again on that downhill. I lost one place in the final 400m but as it was I was on the edge of being sick so there wasn't anything I could do.

Thanks to all the Chepstow Harriers out the marshalling and helping. Another well organised race. Top job.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Got To Have The Trots

Chepstow Harriers Tintern Trot, that is. Tomorrow at around 7:40pm I will be rudely reminded of what a tough little race the TT is. I say 7:40, the race starts at 7:30 but it's not till the end of the flat section that the race begins - or as I say, the pain ensues - that would be the start of the climb then...

It will be interesting to see how un-close I get to last year's time of 46:37. I suspect quite a lot un-close but I might be surprised. One can live in hope...