Last weekend I planned to camp near St Davids in West Wales with Murph, we packed the van and headed off. Things didnt go quite according to plan … First off I went to set the tent up and no tent poles – god knows where they are but they weren’t in the tent bag. It was also clear that Murph wasnt very happy with the campsite, he’s very nervous anyway and new situations plus people meant I could tell he wasnt going to enjoy the whole thing as I had hoped. So what do you do when life gives you lemons – go for a run!
We did around 9 or 10 miles (I’m not wearing a watch at the moment as the plan following the ultra is to just enjoy it again) along the coastal path and it was Murphs first “proper” run and he did fantastically. I kept him on lead all the way as I dont know the area well enough but it wasnt a problem. He’s pretty good at judging pace (though he clearly doesnt notice hills like I do and doesnt slacken off) so I would imagine we knock along at 8 to 9 min/mile pace which he seems to enjoy best. I even had his lead tied around my waist (its one of the fancy ones with a clip on the handle to accomodate this) and that works too. The only problems we had were on technical sections where he tends to choose the best line (Ie the one I’ve also picked) a split second before me.
Yesterday was Preseli Ultrabeast day. 2 years ago I ran the Beast Bach 11 mile race linky and last year I ran the Preseli Beast 24 miler linky and yesterday I completed the hat trick with the Ultrabeast. I was to be honest a little concerned about it as although training has gone well and I feel in good form, breaking a toe on a baby gate 2 weeks ago was going to make it a different proposition plus I know what the course is like – as Carwyn the organiser puts it “As if the original wasn’t hard enough for you! And if the 32mile route doesn’t grab you enough, then what about the 6,000ft of ascent it now has! Be warned this is no easy walk in the park. This is proper hardcore fell running terrain. This route really does take it to the extreme and those thinking of running this one really must be physically and mentally prepared.”
32 miles, 6000 feet of ascent (and the quad shredding descents which by the end are worse) through fell country, not much of this is run on any sort of trail and most is barely a sheep track. It had pissed down constantly during the day before and there was a lot of mud, the evil black sucky mud you only seem to get on the beacons (Preseli is the westernmost end of the Brecon beacons). There were moments when you went up to your knees in it, at one point up to the groin. You just could tell until you hit it. All part of the fun but it just sucks and sucks at your legs.
For the sake of the marshalls (who were superb as ever here – especially the one dressed as a lobster) the ultra started the same time as the 24 miler. This made pacing tricky as everyone set off around the same lick and it was hard to judge what the extra 8 miles would be like.
The option was also there around 20 miles to skip the 8 mile extra loop out into the wilds and still get a qualifying finish in the 24 miler. You make this decision at the top of the longest steepest hillside there is and apparently quite a few took it and I cant blame them. By then things were really hurting and the thought crossed my mind but not for long. Those extra 8 miles were beautiful singletrack and took us out to parts i’d not seen before including a monolithic hillfort. There were more climbs, more descents and more pain than I care to think about now but by then I had grouped with 3 other lads who were in a similar boat and were happy for me to tag along and for once I was happy for the company. Sometimes its ok to suffer in silence and sometimes misery loves company. When its not just you stepping into knee deep freezing mud for the hundredth time it makes it easier to bear.
The last peak was finally done and all that was left was a 3 or 4 mile descent on busted up everything – Sometimes its that last drop that kills. But finish I did in 7 hours which I’m well pleased with considering the toe and the terrain.
Dunno where to go next …. who cares
Anyway if you read all that you get the photos – Beauty of ultras with fuckoff big mountains is you feel better about stopping occassionally for a photo op.
I believe in karma. Or essentially what goes around comes around. It works both ways, bad and good karma. Learned the hard way and seen it happen thankfully to others who deserved it (Yes I have a mean streak a mile wide)
So yesterday I had to go out mid morning and decided to fit in a quick 4 mile or so run to the Barrow mound on the cliffs as the tide was in. When I got there it was beautiful and sunny.
So I headed back and passed coming the other way a group of kids doing their Duke of Edinburgh type stuff, all with their packs on etc I met one group at a stile and the first two kids just ignored me stood there dripping with sweat and breathing hard and then a girl at the back said “wait everyone let the person through” (Im not sure that they knew what gender I was due to the long hair) and so I hopped over and thanked them and ran on.
A mile or so later I got to the beach and found one of them had dropped their sleeping mat. So what do you do? I was in a rush as I had an appointment to keep, I had already run 3 or 4 miles hard pace and they were headed in the opposite direction and all uphill. You know what – the tipping point of making me grab it and run as hard as I could to catch them (they move fast these damn kids) over 2 miles or so at 6-7 minute uphill pace (good training hey) was that the girl had called out to let me through and they did.
So I caught them eventually utterly fucked and they were I think amazed that I had done that for one of them – all I could gasp was “Its a bastard sleeping out without a mat” and trotted off – thankfully downhill and home. Ok so I was a little late. So what – And thats karma. Just the little things can come back to you. And maybe those kids saw a small gesture from a stranger and might just try it themselves.
Had a few things going on lately so only a few runs this week. At the moment it feels fine and the body can probably use the lessened milage. Its only three weeks to the Preseli Ultrabeast and in a way I feel like I peaked in the last few weeks so it’s more a case of just keeping the sharpness there. I don’t want an injury. Though I have noticed that despite not running for 3 days the fankles still hurt as normal. I guess they’re just damaged in general although the amount of time I spend on my feet at work doesnt probably help much.
Hill sprints yesterday at Cwm Nash. I never quite know how many I’ve done so I used nature to help me count. Sprint up, jog down and pick a buttercup on the way, drop it in a pile at the bottom of the climb, I think it’s 20 its kinda hard to tell. Whatever the exact it’s almost inconceivable that I can run around 20 of these, 2 or 3 used to kill me not so long ago. Plus I ran back home at pretty much full beans. Feeling good. Please body hold out a month like this :p
Kids do it naturally as do animals so why do adult humans prfer to walk? Just one of those “while im out running thoughts” I had while another 9 miles flew past yesterday in the sun (and then the clouds came in but hey)