Slowly slowly catchee monkey

I can feel somethings still not quite right in the legs, mainly at the tops! I’m taking it very easy and listening to my body and not pushing it until I’m happy. I discovered this on tuesday night during a 5 mile mizzle run along the beach and cliffs. I didnt push but could feel tightness and a little pain in the left quad so I toddled on home and am taking it easy- after all I figure I deserve a little R&R

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Good to see the plants colonising the rockfalls
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The surf out in the channel is Nash Sands – Its apparently surfable as I know people who have been out there and done it – I think I’ll give it a miss

Hey legs guess what? Its hurty time again

Saturday morning and the sun is shining so time to uncreak the legs and go and look for some hills. Ok I knew where they were but the spirot of exploration sounds so much more exciting.

The beach was of course beautiful (but had no hills)

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Just enough room to squeeze through
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At the top of the ladders is the Cwm – Just what I was looking for
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Up here and down to over there
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And then back over there again …. repeat

Rinse, repeat, flail about helplessly when the legs go wobbly and then speed off home quads hurting again – Which I think is leftovers from last weekends jaunt.

So I have short sharp hills – now I need long, long long hills to build up the quads.

Bonus photos!

Taken at the Preseli Beast by Robert at www.beerrunner.co.uk

Hop over and take a read!

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Rob caught me in the slate quarries around Rosebush. Guess which I am?
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Short sharp climbs
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Loved the different terrain here

Cheers for sending them Rob, thanks for not capturing my anguished expression!

 

Recovery run?

Not actually sure it’s a recovery run of its 4 days later but it still hurt like a recovery run. I only did 4 miles as everything was still a bit sore but I wanted to try these out – my reward for the training and completion of Preseli

La Sportiva Mutants

Check the tread out on these bad boys!
Can’t judge them until I’ve worn them more and yesterday everything hurt anyway which isn’t a fair test :p 

Was good to be back at the beach though on the relative flat! 

Preseli Beast – What I done learned

Ok so in the aftermath of the Preseli Beast last weekend I promised to follow up on a few of the thoughts I had.  This might not be as interesting as I’ve used up all my photos of the day (well mostly) but will act as a useful reminder next time I’m running this event or similar so bear with me.

Kit

I used my Inov8 Xtalon 212s and they worked superbly – I was pondering which way to go with shoes as they don’t have the most cushioning but I love them for the grip and stability they provide – They turned out to be comfortable all day and the grip while climbing and descending was fantastic. I always trust these if I want to do a technical run and they never let me down.

I used an Inov8 10 Raceultra pack with soft flasks at the front. I was originally going to use my Inov8 Racepak but at 4L capacity it couldn’t hold all the kit required for fellrunning plus enough food and water so this was an investment for the future. It’s an extremely comfortable pack, I didn’t even notice it was there most of the time and it didn’t chafe or bounce at all. My only gripe with it is that the softflasks come with long drinking tubes which can slip out of their shoulder holders while on descents and bounce around in your face but I just slotted them under the chest strap and no further issues.

The rest of the kit was standard stuff, asics tech shirt, sturridge baselayer shorts (although I cricket manufacturer in the main I find their shorts are super comfy) and hilly monoskin socks (no blisters no chafing)

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Hydration and nutrition

As noted earlier I took 2 inov8 500ml softflasks with me, normally I run with a bladder in the back but I preferred this as the weight of the water felt better off my back and didn’t contribute to pack movement. Plus i was able to judge how much I was drinking and was able to refill easily at water stations without removing the pack.  I remembered to keep drinking all the way which was easy when it was hot lower down but once up on the peaks it was much colder with some wind so I was happy I remembered to keep sipping away.

I took a fair amount of my homemade energy bars with me which always seem to do the trick and tucked into the jelly babies on offer at the aid stations – after all why not!  As with hydration I judged this pretty well I think, probably could have eaten a little more and need to teach myself to eat when feeling shit on climbs.

Pacing

I had a plan which I was determined to stick to and it worked out pretty well in the most. I started out deliberately near the back and just hung around there so I didn’t get caught up in the excitement and hare off too fast. I knew there was single track through the forest after a mile or so and moved up in front of the slowest runners so not to get bottlenecked there. This left me around two thirds of the way up the field which I stayed around most of the day.  After around 5 or 6 miles I was chatting to a few guys around me and they were also there just to finish and I almost just stuck with them but realised it was just a mental comfort zone I didn’t really need and struck out at my own quicker chosen pace.

I read somewhere some great advice – Never run something at the start that you wouldn’t run at the end. I had to modify this slightly as otherwise I wouldn’t have run anything over a 1% incline but its solid advice and keeping it in my mind meant that I didn’t overexert on the ascents.

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Descending

Descending gets a section of its own as it could well have been where the race was nearly over for me and was a major cause of pain and slowing down later on. I love descending, just as I love running quickly over rocks on the beach, it’s a thrill and a joy to speed along just at the edge of what my reactions and body can cope with.  However I’m not used to descents that last over a mile over rough terrain and so although it felt fine to fly down (And trust me I made up a lot of time and places doing this in the first 10 miles or so, everyone who went past me going up was caught going down) and it was sooooo much fun to descend quickly at the limits my quads simply weren’t used to this sort of extended pummeling. By about 10 miles I had a pain in my left quad that was making me start to alter my stride and the longish descent into the town suddenly switched to tarmac and I couldn’t sustain any sort of pace without serious pain in my legs.  This was then repeated for the next 14 miles – every descent was as painful as the climb. No rest for the wicked!

So I know I need to really work on my downhills to build up the muscles there that tend to get neglected. The next race in August also has a lot of climbing and descending though its coastal nature means shorter bouts of it.  I intend to identify places where I can do repeat hillwork – And everytime I get fed up of it then remember the pain and problems my quads caused last weekend and do it again. If I hadn’t suffered so badly with the quads I could have knocked a fair amount off my time and although the mission was simply to finish it’s always nice to give it a real go!

Mentality

I will quite happily admit I was nervous going into the race. I hadn’t run 24 miles before and certainly not in a fellrunning environment.  However I was coming in with a gameplan and a goal – finishing. The race had cutoffs too which was new to me and they added a little to the stress but in the end were happily immaterial. There were many times, especially once the quads were hurting, that I thought “I cant do this for many more miles” and each time I told myself to suck it up and keep going.  I cramped badly in my calves after the penultimate climb because it was so steep I was constantly on my toes and at that point I thought I was done (I’m not used to cramps) but I didn’t panic and just slowed to an amble and figured I could get by with a weird shuffle step until it passed – If it didnt pass I was on top of a bloody mountain so I was coming down one way or another anyway.  People passed me at this point and it didn’t matter, it was me versus my legs and the mountain. After a while and a bit of stretching the cramps faded and I could pick up pace again.

So if theres one thing I learned its DONT PANIC. Things will hurt, things will feel like they are so broken that you cant possibly finish. Get the pain under control until its managable, if you cant run then walk a bit.  At one point I had to sit on a rock to remove stones from my shoes, I sat for less than a minute. When I got up my quads were miraculously cured – for a short distance but it took a while before they reached def con fucking arghghghghhhh again.

Its a long day – its a long race and at the end of the day when you look at it time and places are immaterial. If you need to stop to regroup do so. There are no medals for running every step, there are no medals for breaking yourself to achieve a time or placing.

I hope I remember to read this and remember it before the next race. If I can do that plus add some hillwork I might just get away with pain instead of agony

 

 

Preseli Beast 2017

So having completed the Beast Bach last year which is the Beasts offspring at 11 miles yesterday it was the full Presesi Beast over 24 miles and 4500 feet of climbing.  Was to be a new challenge for me as I’ve only ever done 20 miles in training and the climbs on the beast are excruciatingly long and in parts steep. I’d trained for this for many months so determination was high but how the body would cope was the question.

I won’t do a blow by blow account here or go into depth, when I’ve had time to work out what happened I shall probably write a bit more.  I finished in a few minutes over 5 hours (as is tradition here I forgot to stop my watch on the line so I await official timings)  I think I probably would have gone under 5 easily had I not made some mistakes which I can now learn from.  Oh and the marshalls at this race who are utterly brilliant all seem to have the most beautiful dogs which meant stopping to stroke and chat with every one (dog not the marshall) including one staffie which reminded me of Soaky so much I could have cried. At that point I was in pain and a low point and seeing that particular dog reminded me how far I’ve come and the promise that brought me here – Perfect timing Soak!

I didn’t win – LOL like that was never a thought – The race was part of the Welsh Fell Running Championships this year so there were some seriously fast fell runners – Winner took 3h 5m apparently! Thats inconceviable considering the terrain. I dont think I came in the top half – No matter not why i was there.

I obviously didn’t come to win – I came to finish, learn and enjoy. I did all three.

As I say I’ll flesh out the thoughts below a little later

I learned a huge amount about longer races.
I learned that there is a huge step up from trail half to a long fell race.
I learned what works kitwise.
I learned more about pacing myself (though I’m very happy with my plan and how I pretty much stuck to it)
I learned how to fuel and hydrate sufficiently
I learned that in fell racing there is so much time to be made on quick descending, what you lose climbing you can easily haul back with quick feet and a lack of common sense
I learned that its true that climbing decides winners and descending decides DNF after I managed to blow out a quad after 9 miles
I learned that you do have to learn to cope and adapt physically and mentally as the race progresses.
I learned that with a determined and positive outlook physical issues can be overcome.

After all that you’ll also be glad to hear that I paused quickly to take a few photos this year – I couldn’t resist treating you guys who have been so supportive. Many came out a bit blurred as I wasn’t really stopping for long but I got some good ones. Enjoy.

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5 or so miles in – An easy one
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Probably the first of the steep ones but short
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The town is down in the bay at around the halfway point. I started to struggle on this downhill with my quad. No paths on some sections is fun but punishing on the legs.
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Its a long long drag out of town back to the peaks – This was the first killer – The Beast has a horrific second half.  The top section is pure scrambling up the rocks – Yep you climb to the very peak and over
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Looking back to the town
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The views are stunning once youre up there. As I noted to another runner though with no paths you spend the entire race looking at your feet.
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The Beast itself – just a case of running to the bottom left of the photo and then up to the lefthand peak then along the ridgeline to the second peak – By now it was 20 miles in …..
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Ponies!
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Homeward bound – Theres a half mile or so of forest – half boarded and half not – Issue here is picking your feet up over the roots
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Spot the flat bit – No? There isn’t one!

Its a fantastic race. I cant praise the organisation and marshalling highly enough.  The whole village is there to see you off and cheer you home with horns and drums. Every marshall is cheerful and supportive as were everyone we met on the course. A favourite part was the water station around 14 miles in which was 3 old farmers in a farmyard with water and jelly babies. They were obviously loving the day as much as we were.

Im very proud of achieving something I put my mind to. There were doubts in training, there were doubts in the race but 24 miles is just 24 miles, more important is how far I’ve come in the last 2 years. From being unable to run a single field to running in the Welsh Championship fell race over long course just shows what you can do when you put your mind to it.

Thicker than a sheep – yep thats me

We are definitely in bank holiday season and yesterdays run was likely the last before Preseli while I do this taper thing and eat stuff (you know for the race etc and not just because I wanna eat stuff)

So a quick 5 miles which meant I met this very very very newborn dude

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Welcome to the world!

And while I do sometimes mention that sheep are a bit thick they had nothing on me today.  I reached the headhigh rape seed oil field and it had poured down during the night. One step into the jungle and I could tell it was pretty wet.

The options were plough onwards or go back. Or I could have opened my pack ( I was practicing with the kit I am running in on saturday) and put on waterproofs. As the race is part of the Welsh Fell Running Championships it means we have to carry full wind and waterproof kit plus compass, whistle etc.

Guess what – I forgot I had waterproof gear in my pack so I just ploughed on through. It was like similtaneously having freezing cold water poured down my front and into my bottoms while being whipped with heavy wet laces. Thank god I wasnt in shorts

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Drencherated and covered in sodding petals

How do you work the gears on this thing?

Up at the crack of dawn (8) looking forward to a super easy few miles just to keep the legs turning over. However it appears that my gears are broke, it actually appears to be difficult to roll along at a slow pace. If I don’t concentrate and start thinking about other things like clouds and fluffy kittens (admit it you all do it) then I naturally increase pace to one which I wouldn’t want to sustain for 20 miles. I’m gonna have to be super careful not to go out too quickly next week. Combined with adrenaline my winky gearing might kill me off.

I was enjoying myself so much I ended up doing 8 miles along the cliffs trying to get some climbing done in the cwms. When it’s hard I think oh fuck I’ll never do this for 24 miles next week and then after a while it all flies again and I think I’ll be gone. 2 things to remember.  Don’t go out too quick and don’t panic when I’m blowing outta my ass halfway up a mountain cos it’ll pass and I’ll feel good again before long.

Cowslips at clifftop
I was on the cliffs as someone had flooded my playground
Don’t pick the flowers
So …. pollen anyone?