Well today was going to be a rest day after yesterdays fifteen. When I woke the sun was shining down and hey the legs weren’t feeling too bad at all! So on with the gear and out for a slow recovery run. Although the tide was in the beach was as ever beautiful this morning.
I didn’t bother with music today and it was great to hear the birds trilling away in the woods and the stream rushing by. I forget sound can be as important as sight when you’re taking in nature.
On the way back I did a detour through some fields – Just to see what was there really. What was there was some very soft marshland so I managed to get some resistance training done on my recovery run … ooops
It really is a beautiful place to live and run though and it was good to ease back and reflect on how lucky I am to have this and how far I’ve come. Seven months ago I could barely run across one field without having to walk the next. Now I can run 15 miles offroad and then get back out the next morning – purely because I want to not because I feel I have to.
I’d just like to say a big thanks to everyone who reads, comments and likes the posts on this blog. Originally it was intended for myself to keep a track of my runs and thoughts and I figured it would never get read and be lost in the sea of internet blogs. But the kind, thoughtful and encouraging words from people have both surprised and cheered me on. So yes a big thankyou to everyone!
After a good win for Wales over France last night (good not great, we seem to have difficulty crossing the line) I actually left the pub early, not that I wasn’t enjoying myself but I knew I wanted to run today. How times have changed!
I felt good today and planned to do a long run so took my pack (did I mention I love my Inov8 pack) with me. Lucky I did as I ended up doing 15 and a half miles! Basically it was the half marathon I did before with a trip along the beach to Marcross tagged onto the end. I must admit I felt pretty damn good for all of it up to about mile 12. At this point i came off the lovely smooth flat sandy stretch back onto rocks and found my legs were stiff and it was difficult to pick them up higher for the rocks. This did abate after a while, I’m guessing that the low stride of the sand locked them a little. Will have to remember this – pick those knees up on sand!
Speaking of knees I had very little trouble with them today. I deliberately set a slower pace as I knew i’d be out longer (not that it was much slower according to the watch by the end) and concentrated on my form. I’ve been looking at chi running, as much because I try to keep an open mind and i’m currently devouring anything running related. So I was trying to stop myself from leaning back which I tend to do on flat ground. This may have helped the knee or it might have been the slower place or the moon may be in Aquarius or something, all I know is it doesnt hurt.
I was feeling the distance in my legs by the end but I guess no pain no gain and all that malarkey. A good rest day tomorrow should help matters. I also found a fuelling formula today that worked for me. Start fuelling 45 minutes in and every half hour after that. It seems to be about the right interval to keep me going steadily.
So all in all i’m really happy with today. The distance, the pace, my mood and it really feels like i’m progressing – albeit slowly – but at my own pace and in my own way. Enough burbling, to the photos!
Noticed today that I had no niggles at all during the day and so of course that gave me the green light to run …. as if I needed an excuse. The knee did start vaguely complaining after 3 or 4 miles but then I did give it a bit of hammering on the rocks at the beach.
It always amazes me that I can run along rocks such as these and leap from one to another without falling or stopping. My brain can clearly process the information fast enough to just allow my legs to adjust in time but there’s no way i can do it consciously. In fact if I think about it while doing it I will slow and miss a step. There’s a word for this which I did stumble across a while back and now I can’t find it again! I used to watch Soaky on the beach doing the same thing but controlling four legs with ease. We are all the most incredible beings when you stop to think about it – Just don’t think about it while you’re doing it maybe
So just a gentle run today – around 4 and a half miles. Figured I’d get it in as tomorrow night is Wales vs France (I need to take it easy as I fancy a longer run on saturday)
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?
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)
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!
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 ….
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.
I now know the meaning of bittersweet. It’s been a bittersweet kind of weekend. Around an hour or so after I posted yesterday, my eldest cat Spoon had his food and then a short while later lay down and simply passed away. He was 18 so a good run, I guess old age finally got him. At least he died peacefully and with me here with him. This didn’t really put me in any mood to run, I get so attached to my animals I’m heartbroken but I figured as with everything in life it’s the setbacks that make you stronger when you overcome them.
So this morning I buried him and then laced up and got ready to run my first event – The Hoka Trail half marathon at Margam park. The weather was still atrocious with gusting winds, cold and miserable drizzle. I got there about 45 minutes before the start not knowing what to expect and there didn’t seem to be much direction to anything so I just sort of hung around and kept warm. There were still large queues of people registering as we got close to the start time of 10 and the time hanging around dragged but I didn’t feel nervy. Hey after burying your cat first thing in the morning a trail half is easy :p
In fact we got going pretty much on time although no-one could really hear the tannoy announcements (unless you were at the line I guess) everything seemed to be done by general consensus of the crowd following each other like sheep. Once we were underway though I felt fine. I didnt know really what to expect from the course or myself so I decided to keep it fairly easy and just ran the pace I normally would by myself. After a few miles I was still at 10 min per mile pace which was fine by me. I knew i wasn’t pushing too hard. Then the hills started, though the first was a single track with hardly any opportunity to pass, as it was still early in the race and I’m used to hills I wanted to run it but knew I couldn’t waste the energy slowing and stopping continously to pass people, without my usual even hill climbing stride I figured I’d screw myself so I just walked it with the others.
After that the track widened and I really started to enjoy myself. I won’t bore you with details of the whole thing but I felt fine and under control all the way, in fact the more painful parts were me were the downhills which caused me some knee pain because of the impacts. I did enjoy flying the downhills though …. until what’s this? The leaders coming past going uphill! At this point the realisation that I was going to have to come back up the hill I was currently enjoying was a sobering moment.
In fact the long slog back up wasn’t so bad, I picked a lady in front of me who seemed to be doing the same metronomic pace and stride as myself and simply followed her up. Apologies to the lady in question, I just needed a pacer at that point to keep the legs turning over.
Once we were back on the downhills I knew there were around 3 miles to go and opened up the legs to see what I could do. I was pleasantly surprised at myself. I hadn’t been out of breath at any point and the legs felt fine so at this point I felt like I was flying and could run all day …. but to my surprise we appeared to be reaching the end of the race early. Someone on the side called outonly 400 yards to go and I figured they were trying to give us a boost … but it really was 400 yards. Unbeknownst to pretty much everyone it seemed the course had been shortened by almost 2 miles (I’m presuming due to the weather conditions at the top (The mist meant visibility was down to 10 metres or so in places)
So with plenty left in the tank I motored on in for a time of 1.49.21 which meant a dead on pace of 10 minutes a mile which i’m really pleased with! I’m obviously disappointed by the short course but I do know that i had loads left to give and would have easily finished in a good time.
Unfortunately not everyone is as easy going as me it seems as many of the more serious runners were annoyed by the short course and it’s taken no time for the complaints to start on the internet – why they can’t just talk to the organisers I don’t know.
I must admit there were a few things apart from the short course that bothered me. There were no facilities to change whatsoever and no bag drop so I had to leave everything at risk (we all did to be fair) and the organisation overall at the start left a little to be desired.
On the flip side this was a first trail event of this scale for the organisers and they did well to get it going at all in these weather conditions. The people I spoke to on the course seemed to be enjoying it and I did thoroughly and can’t wait to do another. I’ve already dropped a quick email to the organisers thanking them for their time and efforts, i’m sure as with everything it’s a learning curve for them and teething problems can be remedied.
So yeah it’s been a strange weekend, veering between sadness and exhilaration. I’m proud I have this event under my belt and look forward to the next.
Registered today for the Hoka Trail Half so I can have an extra half hour in bed tomorrow. It’s only a half hour drive so no rush anyway but it settled a few nerves anyway. By now you’ll know (as I’ve been banging on about it forever it seems) it’s my first event of any description so now it’s real.
The bad news is the utterly atrocious Welsh weather – What, did we think we would get away with a trail half marathon in Wales in February without getting wet? it’s not only raining it’s positively evil out there a solid wall of drizzle and gusting winds too.
I signed my name on the dotted line (I exaggerate – the guy crossed me off his list with a highlighter pen) picked up my goodie bag and strolled back off into the rain. Inside my bag was a t-shirt and sun visor! Yes indeed they will come in handy tomorrow! Nah only joking, I didn’t expect anything at all so it’s a nice touch by Hoka.
The event itself is at Margam Park which I haven’t been to for many years (maybe since our sixth form party ended in a riot over 20 years ago) so it was nice to have a quick look around.
Oh and of course I nearly forgot my bib number! So if you happen to be freezing to death at Margam park tomorrow and see number 656 then give me some encouragement – I think i’ll need it!
Will catch you on the flipside tomorrow for celebrations (I hope)