Todays Haiku

Beware the fallen leaves you ride over
They may or may not
Be a dead rat instead

Gave the legs a refresher ride this morning, a few miles on road and then decided to take the offroad route back along the cliffs. I think it’s my new mantra. When given an option always take the harder route.

Sadly as it was impromptu I had no camera with me but luckily I had a bad of jelly beans provided by my mother (thats what mums are for) which I ate not because I particulary needed the fuel but because I like jelly beans.

So in lieu of cliff photos google provided me with an unexpected panorama of yesterdays run around Pen Y Fan

SAM_0415-PANO.jpg

My first year of running ends on a high (literally)

Yep by my admittedly vague calculations I’ve been running a year. I’ve gone from not being able to run 2 fields in a row to the beach to this……

SAM_0394.JPG

Yep I woke up this morning and thought do something diffent today. So I ran up South Wales’ highest mountain Pen Y Fan in the Brecon Beacons …. the hard way.

I did a bit of googling and found a few routes up it – the “motorway” as its known is an easier path from the A470 which is used by hundreds of walkers … not for me so I ended up at Cwm Gwdi on the other side of the mountain as it promised a much quieter and steeper route with more rugged terrain.  Never ever take the easy option!

So after getting lost in the car as per usual (I’m quite used to this by now) I got there around half eleven and got changed. Chucked my hydration pack on with my nutrition and necessities (I actually took a whistle and foil blanket as I wasn’t sure exactly where I was headed except for up) and set off. Luckily they provide a route map!

SAM_0355.JPG
I took note of the general direction and then promptly forgot about it. Up is up right?

The first climbs were brutal …  I was immediately in the red and wondering what I was doing.

SAM_0361.JPG
The view back towards Brecon. The forest in the middle was my starting point. The scenery was pretty amazing though even if I was blowing out of my ass at this point.

I had to settle into a powerhike for some of the next bit as it was virtually unrunnable for me without putting myself so far into the red I probably wouldn’t recover. Perhaps I’ve learned a few tricks in the last year and one is to hold back, this isn’t a race.

SAM_0364.JPG
Its steeper in reality than it looks
SAM_0368.JPG
Sheep leading the way.

There were a series of false peaks at this poinmt which allowed some running in between but then as I reached the last of these I hit the ridgeline!

SAM_0371.JPG
Target acquired! Nope not the one on the left – Pen Y Fan is the one to the right covered in cloud.

This was now runnable so off I set at a less than fearsome pace!

SAM_0380.JPG
View from the ridge to the right.
SAM_0382.JPG
Now I could see the peak and the cloud was clearing – Looking pretty steep there though.
SAM_0386.JPG
Ohhhh cool I get to do some mountaineering too! I forgot my crampons, at the top of this it’s literally rock climbing for the last 50 yards or so. I was wondering why I’d literally not seen a soul on this route …..
SAM_0390.JPG
The views from the top were worth it though!
SAM_0392.JPG
So yeah …. I ran up there.

From Pen Y Fan its a short trip across the saddle to Corn Du – slightly lower but just as scenic.

SAM_0397.JPG
The saddle to Corn Du
SAM_0409.JPG
View from Corn Du …  Note clouds ….

I started descending on the other ridge and was enjoying the technical bits of the descent. There were only a few walkers who seemed to enjoy watching me hurtle past to my inevitable doom.

SAM_0412.JPG
I was skirting this lake on the left hand side ridge.
SAM_0413.JPG
In fact the trail I was on wound right past it – You can see it above the lake in this photo

And then it started raining – just like that I was soaked, I went for my jacket from my pack and found I’d left it in the car …. Nevermind a bit of water never hurt anyone but I wanted to get down lower out of the wind.

SAM_0414.JPG
A sad moment as I passed the obelisk for Tommy Jones
SAM_0415.JPG
The view back to the two peaks. Basically I ran this ridge right across the photo.

At this point the rain stopped and although soaked through I was low enough to feel warm again just through running.

The descent continued a few miles down the valley and i was sure I would pop out near the carpark ….. which clearly wasn’t the case. I’d completely forgotten about the map I’d not so carefully studied at the start but luckily my trusty phone’s GPS told me I was in the wrong valley and a few miles away across another huge climb. Being the sensible being I am I declined freestyle rock climbing and simply followed the path down until I hit a road. From here it was a matter of a few miles up some nasty sodding hills to get back to my starting point.

SAM_0429.JPG
I came out here – Cwm Llwch – In Wales we don’t believe in vowels.

I was wondering if it was worth a 120 mile round trip to do this but It was a great run of around 8 miles of constant climbing and descending with superb views. I was really pleased with how I felt throughout it and that I could even do it at all is something I’m proud of.

EDIT: Just wanted to add this panorama

SAM_0415-PANO

 

Fly my Hawkmen! (NB No Hawkmen in this post)

One day I’m going to do a run where nothing happens and I see nothing interesting. I thought for the first half of todasy 6 miles this would be the day. Weather calm, tide going out, felt good, foot not so bad …. and then ATTACK BY SEAGULL.

IMG_0044
Argghhhhh death from the skies!

The chicks must have hatched or something because as soon as I reached the section of sand near the ladders I was divebombed by gulls until I ran a further 50 yards down the beach (then I ran back into the firing line for the photo op)

They were banking near the cliffs and coming in on a direct line for me before swooping past a few feet above my head. I figured I could stand my ground because if one was to hit me I reckon we’d be equal in a grapple on the sand.

IMG_0050
Coming in for the kill.
IMG_0056
SPARTA!

I managed to take these photos which actually came out quite well considering I was using an ipod to catch a fast moving ball of winged fury.

Further down the beach I came across a far more chilled family of gulls

IMG_0060
Who didn’t care as I ran past – two of these are babies but you can’t really tell. But it explains the air attacks.
IMG_0064
Oh I also met a far friendlier face!

So yeah …. one day I’ll have a boring run …. one day

We’re gonna need a bigger boat

Have been taking it easy since last weds as I did this.

SAM_0352.JPG
It’s still red but less swollen

But yesterday I thought let’s go – tide was out around 4 and the blazing sun buggered off (I prefer to be cool, sun is not really my friend)

So when did 6 miles become a “short” run for me. This has happened really without me noticing. It used to be 2-3 but now I don’t even consider stopping at the beach and always go further. It’s lucky as today it took me towards Witches Point. In a cave near the waterfall I spotted something bright red. I’m like a magpie when it comes to pretty colours and thusly distracted off I went to investigate.

The red? Well that was a boring traffic bollard thingy but what’s this I spy …..

IMG_0037[1].JPG
SHARK! Still inflated too. About 5 foot long and as if it had swum there.
What the hell do you do with a 5ft inflatable shark apart from photograph it. Well what you do is to spend ages learning how to deflate it and then run home carrying it in your beachcombing paws.  I have long since to ignore the stares of people on the beach (MY beach you tripper types) as I hurtle (cough cough) past holding my latest bit of booty.

So now I have a a deflated inflatable shark too. Not sure what I shall do with it but I will think of something I’m sure!

Sadly I didn’t have my proper camera as I can’t find my flipbelt but I took this dodgy photo for you scenery types

IMG_0035[1]
Cloudy, moody and slightly out of focus

Start as you mean to go on

Summer has officially started – I am off work for 6 glorious weeks! Ok now I’ve rubbed that in I shall continue.  Got home from work and immediately into gear for a early afternoon longish run. As I intended on being out for longer and although the weather was …. weird it was still humid so I needed hydration.

Luckily I had already bought a hydration bladder and hose online and tested it out in my racepak. Fits like an Altra! (slightly roomy and weird at first but when you’re used to it you don’t notice)

I also went left again. Look at me getting all adventurous. In fact I was heading fro uncharted territory! Loosen the mainbrace and splice the cat we’re setting sail!

SAM_0295.JPG
First port of call – Sand – Lots of sand, enjoy it as it’s the last sand for miles in this direction!
SAM_0301
Rockfall! Looking pretty fresh. I now get to tag my post :p

For the first couple of miles or so it was plain sailing. The rocks were easy and plenty of sand, I knew that there were rocks lurking past Marcross so I was ready.

SAM_0305.JPG
It takes a lot more effort to run on this, all dainty foot placement (ish) and having to really concentrate on not tripping.
SAM_0306.JPG
Atlantic College sighted! Whereupon it was rocks 1 dainty footwork 0 as I sprawled in a heap. Luckily I got away with a few bruised toes which insisted on throbbing for the next few hours. Of course they were on my injured foot but another advantage of Altras is the wider toebox – At least they weren’t squeezed in.
SAM_0310.JPG
The slipway at Atlantic College is the furthest I’ve run left so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. What I found was tricky to run on without breakages. A chance to slow up and recover. Experience is teaching this old dog new tricks.
SAM_0313.JPG
Whats that? More tagging? Caves! Like they were put there for a strange community of semi-aquatic villagers (You never know around here)
SAM_0317.JPG
Now the beach changed to IBB’s or Individual Big Bastards (TM) which require exquisite skill to traverse at any pace. Despite not having this I managed to get across without a single limb snapped in twain.
SAM_0318.JPG
Cave – And it’s a big bugger. Like the village hall for the semi-aquatic locals.

At this point I’d modestly like to step forward for a bravery award. I went inside. Basically I’m petrified of being in caves and underground. My mother took me to Big Pit once and I was terrified (to be fair we didn’t know I have this issue until we were down there)

But it was worth it – Take a look at the ceiling!

SAM_0320.JPG
Nature is the greatest craftsman of all.  I was awestruck by its beauty … at least I would have been had I not been shitting myself at the thought of about 2 bajillion tonnes of rock above me. Intriguingly there are little birds that live in there which cheeped at my intrusion. I figured birds are infinitely more attuned to nature than me and as long as they were in there I was safe.
SAM_0326.JPG
You know what I did? Just for my loyal readers I went to the back and this was the view out. Either that or I just got crushed by 2 bajillion tonnes of rock and am walking into the light.
SAM_0329.JPG
On I went over the rocks past the awesome house that lives right in a small bay by the beach. I would love to live there but I bet its rough in winter!
SAM_0331.JPG
Final destination, Llantwit Beach – Note lifeguard hut – Note how far tide is out – Note tiny weeny dots that are people. If they are drowning he A doesn’t know this and B will take so long to get there the poor buggers are fishfood anyway

My route back was different in that I shifted myself a hundred yards inland and used the coastal path. I was actually glad to get off the rocks and so I could run with proper form and stuff – mainly uphill or so it felt

SAM_0333.JPG
I did find what I think is an old WWII pill box – tastefully repointed it seems
SAM_0335.JPG
The house I mentioned earlier? Oh it’s more like a mansion by the way. Look how close to the beach though! Bet it costs a few quid

I was starting to tire now, I think the legs had taken rather a hammering on the rocks earlier and I was into a CBH (Complete Bastard Headwind)(TM). My hydration pack was working fantastically though. the only drawback being the sloshing noise behind me (Like being chased by a particulary aquatic Dr Who bad guy) but after a while I was used to that too. No biggie.

SAM_0344.JPG
It’s always nice to see the beach you’ve just run over from above. Lends a kind of perspective.
SAM_0343.JPG
Marcross lighthouse. Looked like there was a wedding going on judging by the VW Beetle with flowers on outside. I ensured I blew a particulary long stream of snot out as I went past hoping to get in the photos.
SAM_0348.JPG
From the lighthouse it’s a not so bad 2 miles on a steady incline. That seemed to be about my limit today. I was tiring more and the foot was starting to hurt. All that was left was for me to put a spurt on for my adoring fans on the other side of the stream and head home.

Altogether it was 11 miles in two and a half hours which seems slow but over that terrain (I wonder what its “worth” on road and with cave stops ‘m very happy with it =)

Testing Route Mapping

Playing with maps

I did this route in google maps a while ago (and I think posted it agggges ago) and wanted to play around with it and see if it could be embedded in WP – which I think it can be it seems!

Might start doing a few more of there to geographically locate runs and things I come across … until I get bored of it :p