You cant teach an old dog new tricks? I dont believe in that or I wouldnt be running ultras right now and you can certainly teach a young dog lots of tricks. What I am learning is that I don’t really need to batter my body to pieces in order to keep at a good level of fitness, my running milage is lower but the quality is higher and I am guessing my overall milage if you include walking has risen thanks to Murph.
I could be running more but it seems less important than just spending time on my feet and making Murph happy, dont get me wrong he loves running too but sometimes its just nice to chill and enjoy watching him play especially when its hot. I can judge how im feeling and turn up and down the intesity but Murph doesnt have that option, he’s flat out no matter how hot it is and its the responsible thing to do not to push him. Its a nice balance im finding at the moment. Plus I’m suffering less pain in the ankle and toe and figure it cant be a bad thing to let things heal a little, it was a long hard training block up to Preseli and although its hard to switch off from that mentally its the right thing to do.
So I havent run all week but have been to the beach a dozen times and only this morning we ran and it was a nice change and was nice to run pain free, only 3 miles but enough
As for young dogs learning new tricks – This week we nailed sit!
Murph and I ran another 6 miles yesterday – He loves it, puts me to shame, when im flagging and he gambols off into the distance its a good feeling though as I know he’s not even really putting any effort into it and clearly enjoys the whole thing. Today we just walked 4 as the ankle still plays up a bit. Its good to be able to do either as I feel. So yeah … lifes good!
I’m running but completely failing to post about it! Perhaps it’s because I’m not really measuring what I’m doing but in the last week or so we’ve done a few 7 milers to witches including today and a few shorter ones.
Everything’s feeling remarkably good considering what I did to it a few weeks ago, even the ankle isn’t protesting too much. I’ll continue in this new relaxed manner while I work out what murph can and can’t do. Well actually he’s a flying machine but I’m just erring on the cautious side especially in the heat. And now some photos!
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.
A week afetr running the ultrabeast in Preseli I went back with Claire and the dogs to walk in the hills. To be honest I dont think i’d get bored of that place. Was strange in a way to walk the paths I’d run the week before and a damn sight easier. We actually ended up doing the Beast Bach 11 mile route with a bit tacked on so we could reach a rocky outcrop so a 12 mile walk in the hills on a sunny day – cant fault it. The dogs had a whale of a time plus (and this was intended) we didnt have to endure a single second of anything royal wedding related – Win Win!
I also realised yesterday Im doubly blessed – I loved running the ultra (Yes once again a week later I’m no longer saying never again and I’ve forgotten all the pain) and I loved walking up there with the dogs. I can do either happily and not miss the other. Thats lucky
Today I felt like running again, the legs have been a bit wrecked this week – monday was horrendous/hilarious depending on whether you were me or watching me. But today although they are still a little tired I could feel the spring is back and I can drive again rather than shuffle. Murph loves running – well he trots at a gentle pace, I think he’ll make a pretty good training partner.
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.