What a difference a week makes

Proud to say I ran another 13 miles today, from home to Monknash beach to Ogmore by Sea and back. It’s a mixed route, maybe a quarter beach and the rest is coastal path with lots of undulations and hills. The route (runkeeper says just less than 13 which is odd as it got the data from my Garmin watch which said over 13)

Sun setting around mile 11 and feeling good =)

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The difference from last week? I didn’t crash near the end, in fact I felt pretty damn good for most of it. I had a wobble around 8 or 9 miles – I noticed this last week too. But I think the big difference today was that I was prepared. After last weeks wall slam I bought one of these Inov8 Race Pak 4

I wanted to ensure that if i’m running for longer I need to stay hydrated, carry nutrition with me and also extra gear in case I get too cold and wet again. This seemed a good way to do it. There’s only so much you can get in a flipbelt afterall!

I was a little concerned about running with a pack but I have to admit this was brilliant, its only 4L capacity but it seems more than that and I honestly didn’t even notice I was carrying it after a short while. It stayed snug and didn’t bounce around which was a concern. So a thumbs up for this idea!

As well as physically helping out by carrying my bottle and gels etc I found it gave me confidence too. I didn’t feel so isolated miles from home or people as I had supplies and clothing with me so even if the worst came to the worst I could always walk back in (relative) comfort. So a nice psychological crutch too.

I felt so good on the way back I kept up the same pace for the last few miles that I would on a 4 or 5 mile jaunt.  I decided to start fuelling around an hour in and take it from there with gels or chews if I started to flag but ensuring not to overdo them. As I said earlier I felt a bit ropey around 8 miles in but whacked some sugars into me and felt ok again after a while.

The run itself was beautiful today.

Southerndown beach

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Sunset and little fluffy clouds (for cloud lovers out there!)

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I’ll never get tired of running this beach – Witches Point at Southerndown looking to Cwm Nash in background

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The deeps at Ogmore by Sea

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The hill at Witches Point – Yep I run up that by choice (about 4 miles in)

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New cliffslide at Witches (good subject bad photo)

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Alone and loving it

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Just a quickie

Rushed home, rushed out, ran to beach, ran around beach, headed home.

This was the route

Familiar? Carbon copy of yesterday. Pace slightly quicker and it felt quicker – til I realised I was stopping to take photos yesterday! So what gives?  The wind gives! The wind gives me the screaming heebie jeebies when it springs up from nowhere and makes my dance (for dance read sprightly jog) across the sands of Traeth Mawr into a head down slog. Does the wind slow me down that much? I guess it does (and it makes my poor calfs hurt)

I also noticed that I had a few aches and twinges returning, im putting those down to the wind too – not to my complete disregard for a warmup today. Yes, i confess, my only warmup today was me running from the car, up the stairs, bouncing around energetically while I get my running kit on and then running down the stairs. Normally i supplement this with some admittedly half hearted leg swings and quick stretches but not today.

I really really need to start warming up properly or i’m gojng to injure myself and regret it. This is me warning me – sternly. The thing is right now with the timing of sunset I _just_ have enough time for a lowtide run if I rush home and get changed fast…. Ok its an excuse, I hate warming up. I will, I promise myself.

No camera, no phone today. So in order to bring some colour to this ratehr drab post I bring you pre-blog photos of Soak!

Same beach, awesome dog with her favourite thing – A log to chew!

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I just love this photo of her, taken just a couple of years ago at sunrise at the Deeps in Ogmore

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Midweek Run in the Sun…

Or what was left of it, the weather was perfect this afternoon. No rain, no wind, crisp and cold. I bought some running gloves at lunchtime as my hands were freezing yesterday and was looking forward to trying them out. I drove home watching a beautiful winters sun beginning to set and thought it would make some lovely photos at the beach …. And by the time I got there a bloody cloud had rolled in front of it.

However I took photos as the sun struggled to shine through. More because i’d taken the camera and was going to bloody well use it!  And what do you know? I’ve just looked and some of them have turned out ok!  I’ll post the better ones below – I’m no great photographer, in fact i’m an awful photographer – point, click, shoot, hope. Perhaps I should have a look at the camera settings sometime…

But I hear cries from the audience – How do you carry a camera, phone, headtorch, gels etc all at once?  Don’t your pockets bulge and bounce?  Nope I reply! I have one of these – a flipbelt

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Flipbelt

I must admit I was sceptical at first, how does it stay up? Doesn’t it squeeze your middle? Answers in order – magic and no. Its basically an elasticated belt with pocket access through slits all around it allowing you to slide items you want to carry into it. As I said I was sceptical but had a go anyway, mainly for somewhere for my phone as I hate anything bouncing in pockets – and I love it. It simply works. If you dont need to carry too much and nothing too bulky (You arent going to fit a waterbottle in it easily) its great, I did my half marathon over a rocky beach on saturday carrying a phone and camera in it (and one solitary gel – still an idiot) and didn’t even notice they were there. Recommended gear (Please note I have no affiliation with flipbelt manufacturers whatsoever – But if they do want to send free stuff my way at any time go ahead!)

Anyway – gear review over, todays 4.5 mile route – Monknash beach

I shake my fist at your clouds!

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Oh … Ok it looks kind of cool anyway

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Reflections in the clouds on Monknash beach at sunset – I’m truly fortunate to have this as my running playground

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Goals? Motivations? Or just the joy of running?

Took a few days off, my excuse is resting my legs but also its been cold, windy and raining when I’ve arrived home from work. Two of these in any combo I can hack but all 3 – Then it becomes a chore and thats something I dont want it to become.  In a similar vein runkeeper keeps nagging me – “Set a goal – people who set goals are more likely to achieve” etc etc and I was considering this. At the end of last year I set that I wanted to do 220 miles by the end of the year (I cracked 300 in the end) and I found that I was going running either when I shouldnt because of tired muscles and therefore risking injury or even when i didn’t want to – all to keep bumping up my totals.

So when runkeeper nags me to set a target I refuse – I refuse because I want to run to enjoy, to feel alive, to leave pain behind for a while, to remember the good. I want to run to get better in my own sweet time, I want to run for the joy of freedom and the feel of the ground skipping beneath my feet. I want to taste the air and take in the views. Live in the moment – my moment with every step I take. I want to stop to think, to ponder the beauty of where I am of who I am, to think how far I’ve come and to look forward to the journeys ahead. To forget my watch ticking away to itself, it can tick. I’m a minute slower because I stopped to smell the roses? Who cares? I don’t have a training plan, I have my own plans, I’ll get there. I’ll get there when I do. Don’t wait for me, i’m happy doing it my own way.  My running isn’t statistics. My running isn’t a job. Don’t get me wrong I love milestones too. The first time I ran a mile I smiled. Back from the beach? Smiles. 2 miles, 4, 6, 8, 10, 13 – They all meant and mean something to me but i’m not pushing for them. They will come if I am patient and I can enjoy them all the more – just like my running.

Todays route   Just to the beach at Monknash and back in the cold, wind and rain. The tide was out but  slogging through evil conditions was going to take any fun out of it. I can wait for sunnier days.

The body felt fantastic today too, I noticed in work today that there were no aches and pains at all. No tight muscles, nothing. Looks like a few days of rest (well sort of rest, I walk a lot in work) can do the world of good. Looks like I’ll need to look into tapering before any events and maybe a few days rest or only light running beforehand if it makes me feel like today!

Rest day

After yesterdays exertions I decided on a rest day. I was actually amazed when I woke up that I wasn’t aching but I think it’s just starting to kick in. The thing is, I do actually want to run. This is a relevation in itself to me. Before I would have looked for any excuse but not any more it seems. But I think its best to let the body recover a bit, especially after I crashed yesterday. Will spend the time looking further into nutrition, it’s something i’ve not really thought about before until I read a post from slowrunnergirl.wordpress.com

I do eat healthy foods, at least much more than I used to. usually fruit for lunch (I skip breakfast which is probably not good) and then something made from veg and pasta or a veg curry later on. I might be missing out on proteins and other nutrition gubbins so time to have good read up.

So without a run I did some DIY with some wood I beachcombed. Carrying wood back from a run is a pain but it’s worth it.

Mounted a piece of driftwood that caught my eye

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And made some handy running coat and shoe hangers from cut down pieces of wood

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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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