Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Austerberry Variation

What a corker of a day. Almost too corking to be thrashing yourself across the rugged west Black Mountains. I ran a better race than last year and didn't crash and burn but overall I'm just a fraction less fit so that all added up to a slower time in the Four Fans Fell Race.

It's a proper fell race. There is some route choice and even when you've made your choice you still have to be able to run a bearing for a mile or two at a time. From my GPS trace people might think I drew it with a ruler on the descent of Fan Nedd and the ascent of Fan Llia. Also, pretty much nailed like an arrow the corner cut on the way to Fan Frynach to the fence line - although speaking of that there might be a new way to try for next year...

About the only thing that could improve the race is if Andy B, race organiser, can arrange for the clag to be down next year with 50m visibility - now that would sort the men who can use a compass to the boys that can't....

Back to the Austerberry variation. After extensive data analysis the Austerberry variation wins. I was a massive 16s quicker from the end of Fan Dringarth to the fence by the road below Fan Nedd this year. That doesn't tell the whole story because this year I started that section 3 minutes down on last year so that becomes 16s and I was running slower this year. [Doffs cap, stage left].

I have given much thought to the naming of the route from Fan Frynach to Fan Nedd and in homage to both parties I've decided to use the first part of Judiths name added to the last part of mine, henceforth the route name shall be know as the 'Aus-tin' way...

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Needn't Have Worried..

Because it turned out great. I was worried last weeks tomato chutney was going to taste of nothing but vinegar and be a total waste of those precious tomatoes, lovingly grown - okay, there wasn't any love just a watering can and water. The whole kitchen smelt of bloody vinegar for several days after I cooked it up but I needn't have worried. I just made myself a cheese and tomato chutney sandwich and it was lush. Possibly even falling into the category of gert lush. The chutney only went and tasted like proper flippin' chutney, didn't it! I reckon I could sell the stuff - if I had more than one jar, that is.

Anyway, onto things more running related. I had a little pootle over at Bracelands in the Chairman's Challenge score orienteering. I didn't go great. It wasn't a disaster - apart from one control that eluded me quite badly. It's been a while since my last orienteering and I feel I'm back into the map now. My heart wasn't fully in it though and with over ten minutes left I headed back. It was definitely good to get back into it before the proper events start.

And up tomorrow, of course, is the Four Fans Phantasmagorical Fell Race. I'm torn between wanting a nice dry day for a scenic potter in the mountains or for the clag to be right down with zero visibility and potentially a better placing in the race. Let the weather gods decide....

Friday, August 29, 2014

Doing The Double

Should be a good weekend. It's the Chairman's Challenge orienteering up Saturday followed by the Four Fans fell race Sunday. I'm a little disappointed that the Chepstow track thing isn't earlier as I would have had a crack at the 100m, 400m and 1500m as well but when it comes to that or an hours orienteering, the orienteering wins. Would've been good fun on the track though. It's been a few years... Maybe next time - and perhaps with the steeple chase added to the programme...

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Veg Preservation Society...

All that trooping yesterday must have taking in it out of me. Six hours in, how shall I say it, not the most comfortable attire was quite hard work. I was a bit dehydrated - to be fair, better that than the other, it wasn't like I could even cross my legs. I think that led to my rubbish nights sleep but I'm all sorted now.

So anyway, I've been busy in the kitchen. I did get out for a tiny short run but couldn't get into it. So, to the kitchen. I pickled my chillies - ooh, matron. Roasted my peppers - ssh, stop it - and preserved them in olive oil with chilli and garlic. I'm hoping that I will be left with some tasty chilli garlic oil after I've eaten the peppers.

Up then was the bake. A sesame seed sour-dough three plait. The dough had been on the go since Saturday morning! It was a good bake but my plaiting skill requires some honing. Finally, I finished the kitchen business with tomato chutney to use up a) some of the many tomatoes that decided to ripened all at the same time and b) the apples that were just on the turn. At the moment, as it simmers to thicken, it's smells a little too vinegary but I did follow Beryl's Let's Preserve It so I'm hopeful it'll come good in the end...

There was going to be a fifth item on the itinerary but I ran out of steam - well, a bloke can only spend so much time in the kitchen before he actually dissolves! I shall test out my vegan chorizo style sausage on another occasion. It's been interesting research it though and it'll be a mix of various ideas I've read about. Certainly won't have used quinoa before! I know it sounds like a stupid thing to attempt, after all, chorizo, like bacon is flippin lush but it ain't very healthy and I eat too much of it. I reckon a vegetable based alternative, hitting a few of the flavour notes but without the unhealthy elements might be a good thing.

Friday, August 22, 2014

That Worked Quite Well...

A tasty vegetable stir fry for tea. Lacking soy sauce I gambled with balsamic vinegar with a little more salt than normal and a drizzle of sesame oil. Worked really well. Who needs soy sauce?

I've decided not to run the Brecon Beacons. I'm just not fast enough. Going to go for a long run in the heart of the forest instead - keeping away from the Caddihoe out of bounds area of course...

Up Sunday, I'll be 'trooping' over to the Severn Bridge for marshalling duty at the half marathon. Monday? Well, I've no plans at the moment.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Blimey, That Was Odd

I actually went to club training tonight! [pinches self] Ouch! Yes, I really did. It was just the steady run night but I enjoyed it. I put in a reasonable effort. Certainly more than a plod. Twelve and a half kilometres clocked.

I must make more effort to get along much more often. Once in a blue moon is not good enough....

Monday, August 18, 2014

Tuna Mornay Tonight

Crepes filled with tuna mornay, topped with cheese and baked till crispy for tea tonight - but is it right? It was flipping lush but can this be sustained? The main flavour isn't the tuna... it acts as just a source of protein... I find myself questioning...

Friday, August 15, 2014

Almost Stuck Up A Mountain...

Twice, yes twice, I almost ended up stuck up a mountain. The weather was good - claggy on the tops - but otherwise good, so I braved the north ridge of Tryfan. I wasn't going for anything fancy just your bog standard north ridge.

For the main part there are fairly obvious paths to follow. Lots in fact. Once or twice they led me to the precipice, meaning a bit of back tracking. On a couple of the times the back tracking was not so easy - and I was reminded as to why I don't like heights - twas a long way down.....

In a couple of places there was no option to scramble. To say I was slow would've been an understatement and at one point I ended up attempting to be a contortionist but eventually I found myself on the summit of Tryfan. I think it's safe to say rock climb is not ever going to be my thing.

The southern descent wasn't as straightforward as it could've been on account of the low visibility but before long I found the col and made my way up to Glyder Fach. I managed a little bit of wandering on the flat summit, almost coming back round on myself before I decided I best get my compass out. After that it was an easy crossing to get to Glyder Fawr.

As I descended from Glyder Fawr the sun very threatened to break through the mist - but it was only a threat and in the end it didn't. Then I followed the gentle ascent to Y Garn before taking a new path - new to me, not an actual new path - back down to Lyn Ogwen following a north easterly path skirting the edge of Llyn Idwal.

Before long I was back to the van feeling thoroughly knackered. I didn't cover as much ground today as yesterday - and I took an hour longer to not cover it...

Yesterday's Carneddau

It looked like being a really bad one. I arrived just gone midday and promptly started hammering it down. I watched a couple of brave souls - or should that be fools - setting out. Me? I climbed in the back of the van for a nap, hoping that the forecasters where going to get it right for once and that it would brighten through the afternoon.

Fortunately for me they got it right and by 2pm I was hitting the trail. It was far from warm on the ascent of Pen yr Ole Wen mainly on account of strong, cold winds but it was dry and I was happy with that.

The summit was in the clag but as I headed to Dafydd even that lifted. It was still bloody cold though. By the time I reached there the sun was out. I then headed to Llywellyn before taking the east descent back down to the A5 but not before tagging on the minor scramble up Helgi and a lovely, grassy run off.

The only minor disappointment was that last two mile slog along the road. It was always on the cards though. Today, provided conditions permit, I'm looking to head up the north ridge of Tryfan, across the Glyders and then make something up on the return to the van...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Reminisce The Steam Bunny

Well here it is. My little video from Saturday's Steam Bunny Bluff. Been years since I took the ol' video camera out for a run...

Oh, and I've been looking at routes for tomorrow and beyond. Staying with the Carneddau tomorrow and the Crib Lem scramble to Carnedd Dafydd. Friday, the weather 'should' be improving, the north ridge of Tryfan and then Saturday, no scrambling, just a loop up to Snowdon following Bwlch Main and back over Lliwedd.

Obviously all this might change based on conditions on the ground - as they say in the trade...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Been Reading The Cicerone.

Still have no idea what Snowdonia routes to follow this weekend. Am thinking a day on the Glyders. A day on the Carneddau and a pootle over the big one. That, of course, assumes the weather is not totally pants. Friday/Saturday looks alright. At the moment the plan is drive up early Thursday to Ogwen for Glyders or Carneddau. Stay there Friday and then over to Snowdon Saturday and home. All I need to do now is find a couple of scrambles. Nothing too testing - I'm not good with heights - but something I've not done before...

Monday, August 11, 2014

That Almost Went Wrong

I'm off to Snowdonia this weekend. Been a while since I've summited the big one and friends. Was planning on running The Four Fans race on the way back home. The only problem with that plan - and it's only a small problem - is the race isn't this Sunday. I'm really not sure how it ended up in the calendar for this Sunday since it's actually at the end of the month. I am just glad I checked things out before heading away. It would not have been a good end to what I hope will be a good few days in the mountains to be hanging around the Storey Arms car park waiting for no one else to arrive... I've arrived an hour late before, I even missed one race a whole day late but never have I been two weeks early. That would've been a new one on me. Disaster averted.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

What A Cracking Day

An early start and a long one but good. I arrived in Hay just as the race briefing for the inaugural Steam Bunny Bluff fell race was ending but then I wasn't really needed for that anyway. My job for the day, together with fellow sweeper Paul, was to run slowly at the back - not a problem. Fast at the front would've been an issue but slow at the back, easy peasy lemon squeezy. Having said that, I feel like I've been run over by a bus. My legs are aching more now than after my recce, some 90 minutes faster.

Conditions were pretty much as perfect as they could be for a 24 mile fell race. It looked like being a tad too hot for a moment there but as the race got under way the cloud came over a bit to give a little shade. The wind was pretty calm all though it blew a bit more strongly on Pen y Gadir Fawr across to Waun Fach. Not entirely unwelcome. There was even a little rain as we approached the last few check points - again not entirely unwelcome. In all we were out there for just about 6 hours and 30 minutes and I am now feeling pretty knackered. That's the longest time on feet for some considerable time.

Well done to Wheeze and all the marshals for making it all possible and well done to the runners for well, running. I think things went off pretty much without a hitch on the day. This is a good race, following a lovely route and deserves to become a permanent fixture in the calendar. Let's get the advertising campaign under way for next years race....

Friday, August 08, 2014

Looking Forward To A Bit Of Sweeping

I think I'm all set for tomorrow's Steam Bunny fell race. Okay, I've not readied anything but then I only need my standard race kit plus a few bits and bobs. Should be fun, a weighty seven hours in the sunny Black Mountains. Looking forward to it.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Been A Bit Of A Lazy Week

I decided I needed a recuperational week - and I really haven't done much. I've prepped myself for sweeping duties in South Wales' newest long fell race, the Steam Bunny Bluff, though. It is definitely going to be a looong day. The race starts at 10am and I reckon I'll not be back to Hay till at least 5pm! Might try and find myself a race for Sunday - but not if the threatened storm hits...

Sunday, August 03, 2014

My Legs Feel Okay

Perhaps I didnt run fast enough yesterday. My quads are a little sore though and I found a cut on my right ankle. I whacked it - sssh, stop it - on the drop off Bessy Boot yesterday but didn't think I'd cut the surface. No permanent damage though. Should be fit to run embarrassingly slowly at the LCL race on Tuesday.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

1st Place!

Oh, um, typo, 201st place. I had a mare. Conditions were terrible and I was out there battling Borrowdale for far too long. Way outside my target. 4:55. I'm not impressed. Having said that, it was a tad more challenging than I was expecting. With driving rain for three hours, drizzle for an hour and the bonus of an hour without rain it was not hugely fun. Add with strong winds and stormy gusts, pleasant it was not.

I set off mid pack and started okay. I got to Bessy Boot in good shape just a minute outside my target. From there to Esk Hause was were it all started to unravel. Running head long into driving rain and rough, boggy terrain pretty much destroyed me. By the time I reached Esk Hause I was ten minutes down.

By the time I hit Scafell Pike, with more battling against the wind and rain I was further adrift. And don't mention the rocks. I nearly came to disaster a few times. It was like they were made of ice and after those few times I slowed to a crawl across the rocks from then on. Better to survive in one piece to run another day. Then after the scree descent off Scafell Pike my shoes were full of bloody grit. I ran on for a time before I had to stop, struggled to undo my double knots, but eventually managed to get them emptied.

The corridor wasn't the speedy descent I was hoping for. I just had to take it steady in order not to kill myself or worse, break a leg, on the slippery stones. Half way up the Great Gable ascent I was reaching sense of humour failure. I just wanted it to end.

The run to Honister didn't improving things much and by Dalehead I was down to a slow crawl. The ascent took forever - and then with my legs drained, so did the descent. I still managed to overtake a few people though - obviously suffering more than me. Possibly the worst part was when the car park came into view and knowing it was still over two agonising miles away.

The silver lining was that at least I showed how soft us 'southern softies' are - not very. I was the only person I saw who didn't at some point put their waterproof jacket on. There just wasn't any point really. It wasn't cold, a bit cooler on the tops but let's face it you didn't hang around there long and with the rain the way it was, a light weight waterproof wasn't going to keep it out for that length time.

The final insult, and I kid you not. Literally - and I can use it here as it's been redefined by the OED - the moment I crossed the line the bloody sun came out. I kid you not. I entered the finish tent to drizzle, exited, all of ten seconds later and the sun was shining. Impressed I was not.

Didn't hang around long, got some food in me and then headed home on the five hour drive, hitting some pretty scary lightning storms on the M6. Home safe in the end though...

Friday, August 01, 2014

It's Looking Decidedly Damp

I'm all packed just need to hop in the van later and set sail for the north for tomorrow's Borrowdale fell swim - er, I mean fell race. Have you seen the forecast? It looks grimmer than the reaper himself. I don't know whether to wear my shorts or a pair of swimming trunks. At least it doesn't look like it's going to be cold, so that's a silver lining.

To the race itself, I've worked out some splits. How accurate they'll be is anyone's guess. Starting from the premise that I don't really know how fit or otherwise I am at the moment, I've picked a 4 hour 10 minute target - where the hell did I get that from? No, I don't know either. Anyway, that's the target. Trying to work that into splits is even more random considering the terrain. So for the record, here they are;

Bessy Boot 00:45
Esk Hause 1:30 (0:45)
Scafell Pike 2:00 (0:30)
Styhead 2:20 (0:20)
Clark Gable 2:50 (0:30)
Honister Pass 3:15 (0:25)
Dalehead 3:45 (0:30)
Finish 4:10 (0:25)

I've got my maps printed and have a feeling I might be needing them. It's going to be low visibility so it'll be a good test of navigation. I've run bits of the route before. Bessy Boot to Esk Hause will be new to me as will be Honister to Dalehead and down. It's only 17 miles with 6,500 feet over some of the best rugged bits the Lakes have to offer. Should be fun...