Ecosystems within Ecosystems

Or natural selection – part 2

Shook out the legs today after a few days following the half. Been out on the bike but wanted the foot to recover a bit. So off to the beach for the last day of my summer holiday – back to school tomorrow. I hope the kids are nice :p

Was a bit gloomy and grey starting off. If only I could get up at sunrise to get photos like SRG does.

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Still beautiful though

As the tide was well out I came across this rock which seemed to me to contain it’s own little ecosystem and world.

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A whole world on a rock

On my return journey I stopped where the cliffs get lower to have a quick hunt for fossils. Teh formations here are beautiful – They remind me of sedimentary tetris.

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Layer on layer on layer etc
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Thats a whole lot of layers

Then I started wondering about the greenery a bit further up – Mother don’t read this bit 😉

So off I went, I’m not entirely dull, I wouldn’t climb the cliffs in the photo above but there’s a section where you’re not underneath rock and the gradient allows you up with just a bit of scrambling.  I also don’t like heights and so it’s time to kick that fear in the bollocks – So up I went (come on natural selection poke me in the eye)

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The rocks on the right are climbable and stable enough.

I figured that if vegetation can grow and thrive up here then it’s all stable right? Plus it will bind everything together. Right? I found a whole new ecosystem up there that you can’t see from the beach.

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Green ivy stuff
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Vegetation everywhere
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Plus these things which kind of looked like a cabbage like stalk thing (as you can tell I’m no botanist)

It was great to explore up there a bit and the different view of the coast was cool.

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A different persepective

After I tired of my botanical investigations (it was also cold) I clambered down carefully and rejoined my run.

I spotted this ….

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How?

I mean how? How the hell does a TV get onto the beach – in fact at least 3 miles from the nearest road over rocky terrain and not be smashed. Do TVs float?

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My theory is that we have had a lot of trippers this year who come camping and miss their home comforts – But where do they plug it in? 

Anyway I watched Homes under the Hammer and ran home.

You couldn’t make it up

Narberth Nobbler Race

Haven’t posted in a while – Then again I haven’t been running in a while! Well I have but only just got round to posting about it – Bank holidays and all that jazz.

So last week I didn’t run from monday until sunday as I was signed up for the Narberth Nobbler trail half marathon – Narberth being a small town in West Wales. This meant I had to get up at 6.30 on a bank holiday sunday – I mean really?

But I did and tootled on down there. There was a half marathon and 10k going on similtaneously so there were plenty of people about. The whole thing seemed well organised – red bibs for half runners and blue for 10k. 2 courses that joined for a while.

I wont bore you with too many details, just the things I need to remember really. And sadly the problem with races is that it’s kinda hard to stop to take photos – And we all love photos.

Of course at the start everyone went out way faster than I would dream of normally – However I tried my very best to not get caught up in the first mile madness – Which was mainly downhill so I still ended up with an 8 minute mile – I was happy though letting myself drift right to the back of the pack as I had a plan. It’s not much fun mentally knowing you’re behind pretty much everyone and watching people huff and puff past you. But as the miles ticked by at around 10-11 minutes pace I was feeling fine and the foot was giving me hardly any trouble at all – My main concern.

After maybe 4 or 5 miles I started to slowly reel people in and then started passing them. From this point the course got more technical. I didn’t know West Wales had so many hills – And after rain the night before – So much mud. Slidy, sticky glorious mud.

And this is where I knew I could then make up ground. While people picked their way through the mud and took the downhills cautiously I ploughed straight through and virtually sprinted the downhills. I was running alongside a lovely lady for much of the latter part of the race who could easily pull away from me on road sections on hills but as soon as we returned to the forest I could easily catch back up much to both our amusement. Its the little things that keep you going. I also enjoyed sections where the half and 10k met – particulary because I was actually overtaking 10k runners.

In the end I ran a 2.20 ish – I forgot to stop my watch at the line again which I’m pretty happy with on a humid day on a tough course with very little flat and plenty of mud.

My foot didn’t play up at all while running but was swollen and painful yesterday as were my hamstrings – Unusual

Things I learned

Hydration pack is a must for me – People were really suffering with lack of water. I think the first aid station was around 7 miles in. I sweat a lot and need the fluids even if carrying a pack is a pain.

Don’t be afraid to be at the back. People will come back to you and for me this is endurance not speed. I have to remember a year ago I could run nowhere near 13 miles.

Altras worked really well – the cushioning helped and they did remarkably well in mud. Quick tip for road runners – If you’re running a race advertised as a trail race then wear trail shoes or you’re gonna have issues.

I probably won’t do another half for a while unless the course really takes my fancy – Preferably one with no road whatsoever.  I think I’ll prefer training at my own pace for a longer distance now. We shall see.

Mooove along, nothing to see here

Am taking it easier this week with only shorter runs as I have a half marathon on sunday and would rather my foot not niggle me all the way through, just the second half would be good.

But I still saw some things….

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Inquisitive calf

I was wary here as these cows have already hospitalised one local man and attacked another – Protecting their calfs is natural but this lot do seem to have a mean streak.

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Look at the glare I’m getting off the one in front – Thats one mean cow
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First blackberry of the season – Which I promptly ate (I also collected some sloes) Time to start taking bags with me for fruit booty!

Hurdle hay while the sun shines

A trot around the cliffs today as the tide was in. The wind is still strong which made it hard to almost stationary going on the clifftop (apologies fro the quality of the photos I only had my ipod to take them with today)

 

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Clifftop view – Shame you can’t see the gale!

So did around 5 miles or so and with the olympics ending today I invented my own sport of 400 metre hay hurdling – I need to work on my trailing leg I think

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Haytime!

Low Tide – High Spirits

After taking four days off running with just some biking to keep fresh in order to let my body recover from the efforts of last week (Yes Sergei I showed common sense!) I waited today until a very low tide to get back out for a 9 mile run. Was out for around two hours but managed to do some rock scrambling at Witches Point and took a look around at the different features which can only be seen at the lowest tides.

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Low tide between Monknash and Wick Beach
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Thee rocks are covered much of the time – The erosion makes for interesting formations and a fun scramble
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More rocks!
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These slabs were fun to cross
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Rock!
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Low tide exposes …… sea stuff (TM)
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Im not saying the snails here are slow but they even have mini limpets growing on them!
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Coral type sea stuff (TM) – Not actually sure what it is – some sort of organisms building homes I think
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The usual gratuitous shot of my playground

You’re going for a what now?

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Is it just a Welsh thing? Adding superflous words to sentances. You’re going for a what now? Is exactly the same as You’re going for a what? Yet we feel the need to add the now. We also have a habit of saying nonsensical things such as “I’ll be there now in a minute”

I digress.

Was off camping in Pembrokeshire in West Wales with some friends over the weekend. Haven’t been in a tent for years and now twice in a week!

Woke up saturday morning feeling a little tired and clearly so did everyone else – I had the cure though – “I’m going for a run, anyone coming?”  to which the incredulous reply came “You’re going for a what now?”

Clearly no-one was coming so I did around 8 miles of the coastal path and was so glad I did – Stunning views and although the first few miles were hard I hit my usual mile 3 groove and all was good in the world.

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Skomer Island
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It feels easy when you get views like this
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Destination – Sand!
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The sea is properly blue here!
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Skomer from a different angle
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#spottedtheship
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Pre run meeting with Ramsey the dog (at around four in the morning)

When I got back a few hours later there had been very little movement at the campsite. I however felt great and proceeded to tell everyone how great I felt. I had to stop telling everyone how great I felt as I was in danger of being nailed to the nearest tree.

Did I tell you that running makes you feel great?

I feel great.

Evolution & Natural Selection

I went for a recovery run yesterday – Legs still feeling the efforts in Snowdonia but after a few miles they sorted themselves out again. Toes healing …. again.

What was interesting to me wasn’t so much the run but an example of both evolution and natural selection and how nature gets it right an humans get it wrong.

Evolution – I found these little dudes everywhere

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Jellyfish with sail on back allowing them to drift with the wind – Amazing when you think how creatures evolve to fit their ecological niche.

Natural Selection – I took a photo of this dude

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As I ran the length of the beach he spent at least 30 mins or so right under the cliffs – Amongst all the angular rocks which have clearly just fallen and not been eroded. He was with his family so at least they could see him get squished from a great height. He wouldn’t be the first to get killed around here. I was going to warn him but then thought nahh I’ve been told to mind my own business enough times by idiots I’d rather see natural selection take its course and weed out the gene pool.

So I concentrated on the view

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Where did the mountains go?