Free Stuff! Not for you … for me!

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.

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Yay for free stuff!

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.

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Margam Castle itself is quite pretty (But not what i’d call a castle to be honest – Where’s the battlements, arrow slits and murder holes?)  Spot the mist hanging above it …

 

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That mist is hiding the forested hills of the park itself which i’m going to be going up and over tomorrow!

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!

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Will catch you on the flipside tomorrow for celebrations (I hope)

 

Last trails and hills before the half

A beautiful day to get out today, had things to do this morning so had to run when tide was in (grrrrrrrr) but as I’m learning every cloud has a silver lining and all that. I decided to run along the cliffs so I could get a few hills under my belt.  It was so lovely I couldn’t resist taking my camera as well as my phone to see if I could get better resolution photos. I quite like the way some have turned out, feels much more natural than using phone filters.  As for the run it was just under 5 miles and at a steady pace for the terrain. I started in the usual place at Cmw Nash

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Blue skies at Cwm Nash – First hill done
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Looking from Cwm Nash to Marcross. Keep an eye on the cliffs at the far end of the bay – I shall appear there in a few photos time.
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Arriving at Marcross – The lighthouse is in the distance. I believe these are Iron Age barrow mounds. Great to run on and around.
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Here I am at the other end of the bay from photo 2! It’s a beautiful run along these cliffs but you need a head for heights to come up here to take this photo.
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Oh and to get up there to take the photo you have to climb this beast – I managed to run the whole thing, well sort of run, more of a powerhike
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Hey look at the amateur photographer with his shadow in the photo :p  Anyway thats the forest I get to run through on the way back. Much fun on a narrow slippery trail =)

So all in all a great run, everything felt fine so now some rest until sunday – To be honest I’m glad the forcast is for rain tomorrow otherwise I’d be itching to be back out there

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Just a quickie

Wasn’t going to go out today, it’s rained non-stop for about 18 hours but it’s half term and I’m therefore off work (the joys of working in schools) and I just couldn’t sit around inside anymore. Just a couple of miles through the fields now converted to streams. Felt heavy on the legs but also felt like it worked out some stiffness too.  Good news is sunshine tomorrow – I hope!

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More grey than blue today
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Angry seas

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When Trail Running goes a bit Blair Witch

Thought I’d have a change of scenery today so I ran the trails around St Brides common (St Brides being the next village to us). I used to walk Soak up here a bit so I knew a little of the area but not that much, today was as much about getting out into different conditions, finding a few hills and just going where the trail took me.  It turned into an 8 mile jaunt which I didn’t really intend to do but I felt fresh and the way i’m feeling at the moment i’m not too worried about the legs for the half on sunday so while the weathers good why not do a little more?

So my journey in photos

 

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Nice easy trail to kick off with some sand to get the muscles working
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Looking down on the River Ogmore
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I ran floodplains
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And saw some geese (Possibly Canadian Geese I don’t know, I’m no avian expert)
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However I know a swan when I see one
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My phone kindly made a panorama for me without being asked
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Climbed a hill – ended up on a golf course. Variation is the spice of life and all that
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First lamb of the year spotted!
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Ok so when is a left turn not the right turn?  When the trail stops and you end up in the woods running along a 45 degree slant with no path.
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Still lost in the woods and it’s all going Blair Witch (Ok I’m using some poetic licence here, I sort of knew where I was I just couldn’t be sure. We used to play around here as kids but it looks different now)
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Success! This is where I was trying to find. the old quarry at Castle Upon Alun.  Scarily we used to happily climb these cliffs as kids with no safety gear whatsoever. Ahhh the feeling of being an indestrucible young un.
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It actually gave me chills realising how steep these things actually are
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Took the scenic route back – All uphill it seemed
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I pass this tree everyday on the way home from work. I call it the “fuck you tree” For some reason it was felled years ago but in defiance it is determined to sprout again and keeps growing year on year.  Can you draw inspiration from a tree?  I do, it reminds me that whenever life beats you down you don’t give up. You get up, dust yourself off, say “fuck you” and grow again.

So all in all a great run which put a smile on my face, especially the ending with my inspiring tree which i’ve wanted to take a photo of for a while and today serendipity happened.

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Blowing away the cobwebs

Well I awoke with a bit of a hangover, a legacy of celebrating the Welsh win against Scotland yesterday (Though the performance wasn’t great I fully admit). So I slothed around a bit until the tide went out and decided to go for a trot to make me feel better inside and out.  And around 10 miles and just under 2 hours later I got back.  Seems like I can run fine with a hangover, in fact it actually got rid of it, I feel fantastic while I write this. Plus on a bright sunny day I got fresh air at the top of cliffs like this.

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Also happily no knee pain today, I wore the Adidas Kanadia which I try to avoid doing in wet and muddy conditions because they’re not in any way, shape or form waterproof. I’m guessing that if it turns out they’re better for my knee then I’ll be sticking with them full time, watery feet or not.

So in a weeks time I will have completed my first trail half or will have perished in the attempt and today was a good confidence boost. Plus I decided to put in some hills for the practice. In particular this bugger which i’m proud to say I made it up in one go!

 

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Cwm Mawr hill training

 

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Looks even steeper from the bottom.

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Dem Bones

A lovely evening to run after work, managed to fit in around 7 miles all offroad by getting to Witches Point at Southerdown then returning. The tide was way out and the sun was setting making it quite the spectacular run down there.  I can’t believe I ignored this place of tranquility and beauty for so long, well at least I’ve rediscovered it now thanks to running.

I felt a bit off for the first 2 or 3 miles today as if something wasn’t clicking then as usual I felt fine afterwards and by mile 6 I felt like I could run forever. Does this ever happen to anyone else? Of course I always beat myself up for the first few miles that it’s going to be a bad run and it so very rarely is. I need to stop listening to my inner voices. Plus a week sunday i need more than ever to be confident and know that it will all come together by halfway!

Oh the title of the post yes …… Dem bones indeed. I mentioned in a post a while back about the bones of local 12th century monks being found buried in the soft part of the cliffs at Cwm Nash.  Well the latest storms have uncoverd more which I actually discovered yesterday but didn’t want to post about until I’d informed the local archeological authorities.  Well they responded to me today that they would investigate so i’m posting as the tide will remove them anyway very soon. Of course as its not the first set of bones found its not national news anymore but I was kinda excited to find them.

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Looks like a leg to me (I’m no doctor)

So yeah – 800 year old bones (or 4-500 year old depending if they’re monks or shipwrecked sailors)

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The storms completely eroded this soft chalk cliff back about 2 or 3 feet in one night by my reckoning
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Todays obligatory sunset photo
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Not Soaky and I making prints anymore but someone had passed this way and it made me feel happy inside that at some point this afternoon a dog has had the time of it’s life at the beach.  If you have a dog give them a cuddle right now – I command it! Every moment you have them is a gift.
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Todays Route

Another Midweek Bounce

Beautiful evening – What is it with wednesdays at the moment! Having been stuck inside and in a chair on a course all day (I haven’t sat in one place for that long for literally years) it was great to get out and head for a run. The tide was out but coming in fast so only time for a short rockhopping session (Yes I do remember vaguely saying I shouldn’t do this but I just can’t help it)

Today I love running =)

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Sunset at Cwm Nash
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Aaaaand this is what happens when you play with the filters on your phone – Looks like i’m running on Mars
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Todays Route