Up & Down or Rather Down & Up

Gorgeous day today that had me thinking that perhaps … just perhaps spring is here …. and therefore watch it rain tomorrow.  I pondered whether I should be taking a rest day as I had a niggle in my left ankle to go with the usual dull and faint throb in my right knee. But the weather was just so fantastic I coudn’t do it, I couldn’t resist the run and with views like this can you blame me?

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Rest day – I’ll wait for a rainy day

The tide was rapidly coming in so I hot footed it to the sand and managed to competed Traeth Mawr and back before i got cut off (sounds dramatic, I was easily back in time)

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Sun starting to set at Traeth Mawr

So ok I had run when i probably should have rested so time to go home …. but wait it’s still lovely and warm and the sun hasn’t set ….. and I’ll just go up onto the cliffs …. and run to Marcross and back adding another 3 miles or so.  I’ll rest when it rains I swear!

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Marcross lighthouse at sunset

So a really enjoyable six and a half midweek miler. I’m a bit achey in the knee right now so maybe a rest day tomorrow ….

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Sunset over the Nash sandbank

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Cliff run and sunset

Was a beautiful evening and couldn’t wait to get home to run down to the beach, knew the tide was in and wanted to check on the legs before deciding to get up on top of those cliffs! In fact I felt just fine after the weekend and found myself pushing harder than I normally do for most of the run – especially the downhill bits. I decided on sunday that downhill miles are essentially “free” miles and so I need to learn to maximise their potential and save myself some energy. So today I practiced letting gravity take over and increasing the stride length. It can get a bit hairy at times, especially with the steepness of some of the hills coming down from the cliffs but it’s also great fun and a skill I want to improve.

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Tides in so up on the cliffs I go – Between Cwm Nash and Cwm Mawr
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Cwm Mawr – Thats a hill opposite I need to master
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The fields on the way home – I promised you sunsets slowrunnergirl and I do not let down :p
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More sunsets! (Ok so technically the same sunset from a different location)
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Sunset over the stream at the ruins of Monknash Monastory
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Bit close to the edge to be honest but the beach from the Cwm Mawr side
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Sunset as viewed from inside a prickly bush

 

Well …. That was unexpected

I’m proud to say i’ve just completed my first half marathon distance. I didn’t actually mean to. The tide was out the beach was perfect, little wind and weather was fine. I ran from home to Witches Point near Southerndown and back and would normally turn to run the path back home – around a 6 mile run but I felt great. The legs felt fantastic, no stitches and my breathing was fine.

So I kept going, halfway towards Marcross beach the rain started and the wind picked up. No matter, its beach running, it’s a bit of water. On I went! Past Marcross – Now I’ve never run past here before as I know its all rock and no sand but I wanted to take a look. It is indeed all rock but almost paved in places so not too bad. But then the real rock hopping started. I’m not sure I realised how much it was taking out of my legs, I was just enjoying bouncing around the beach, concentrating hard and picking paths. If you were to ask me how I do it I wouldn’t be able to say. It seems to be an ability to flick your eyes up to see which way you’re going for a split second then back down to watch your feet and pick the rocks you’re going to run on next.

It was around the 7 or 8 mile mark (I wasn’t really looking at the distance) I thought to myself “hang on i feel great, just keep going and see what happens” And so I reached Atlantic College, checked my distance and it was around 8 and a half miles. Pretty much perfect for 13 miles by the time I got home as long as I added a small loop of around half a mile.

So off for home I set, now with the wind and rain at my back. I was getting pretty cold by now though despite the running effort. I’m not sure if this had an effect but not far after the turnaround I started to tire. I could almost feel the energy draining away. I had an energy get but it was probably too late by then. Had I known I was going to try a half marathon I would have taken 2 or 3. My spontaneity was now starting to cost me. The journey home was more of a struggle than i’d anticipated. The sand stretch wasn’t too bad but it was taking more and more effort to spring up onto rocks at the Nash end of the beach.

Despite feeling tired I was determined to do 13 so I added a small loop around the rocky part of Cwm Nash and headed for home. Now one drawback of beach running is that you can’t escape the fact that going home is always going to be uphill and as I started the first uphill part I started to crash badly. My energy levels plummeted and I was almost falling over at parts. It was incredibly difficult to run at all and I was almost doubting my ability to get home at all. Even at a walking pace. I’m not sure if this is what marathon runners refer to as “the wall” I honestly felt like I could pass out and running was extremely difficult.

Each field on the way back was a huge challenge, not helped by the sticky mud pulling my legs down, I was literally staggering in places. To be honest it was lucky this hadn’t happened further from home. A lesson learned indeed, be prepared and if i’m going to do a longer distance plan it, don’t just do it on a whim. Still as with everything in life its a lesson learned and an exprience I won’t forget.

Forgetting that last mile though it feels fantastic that i’ve actually achieved a half marathon over difficult terrain and in adverse weather conditions. Today i’m proud of myself and I feel I deserve that feeling for a while. Six months ago I couldn’t have dreamed of todays achievement and while i’m proud of todays particular effort i’m mostly proud of sticking at it and the hundred other efforts it took to get this far.

The route

Outward bound toward Witches – These rocks require some concentration at any speed

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Traeth Mawr – Sandy stretch between Cwm Nash and Cwm Mawr. Beautiful scenery and lovely sand to run on

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Rained a bit lately – Waterfall at Cwm Mawr

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Cave at Cwm Mawr – Inside and out (Kids do not enter caves or go under cliffs like these – its very dangerous. I’m an idiot)

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  Chimney stack near Cwm Mawr

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Undercut rock at Witches Point – Only exposed at low tide

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Marcross Lighthouse from the beach

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Turning Point – Atlantic College lifeboat ramp

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Around 11 miles in these rock steps felt more like a ladder

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Limpets in a line – At this point I may have been hallucinating and willing to take photos of anything

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Second field of hell – Hey cheers horses for really making it as muddy as possible

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13 Miles and i’d like to say “Never Give Way” is more appropriate

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