Splendid Isolation

Once again I haven’t blogged in weeks. It’s not like I have nothing to blog about I just never seem to sit down to do it these days. Doesn’t help being back in work after the summer off, having a cold, a mental dog etc etc All excuses of course. Luckily I always have time to get out with Murph.  usually two big walks or runs a day, usually to the beach. I calculated last week I was up in the 60 mile range of walk/run so it’s no wonder my feet and ankles are feeling pretty battered.  Theres not much I can do about it though.

Take rest everyone screams in the running world when you feel injuries and those niggles. Rest it! Rest it!  I can’t, not out of stubborness and stupidity (Been there seen it done it) but because I have aforesaid mental dog who needs the exercise. So I really have no option but to hope things hold together!  Im sure they will, I stretch and roll my feet (Got a great foot massage roller thingy that looks a bit like a sex toy)

So splendid isolation?  Its that time of the year again which I love, I love Autumn not just for the season itself but because the beach empties and I have it pretty much to myself again until spring.  Being a rescue Murph has some difficulties with people and as his confidence has grown his defence mechanism has switched from running away from people to barking at them.  I know he’s fine and wont hurt people hes just saying “stay the fuck away from me” but hes quite large and scary if you dont know him so I almost (almost) feel sorry for people when he charges up to them baring his teeth and barking.  He is responding better to commands though and I can usually haul him off before kids cry.

So here are the latest batch of photos. A random mix of walks, runs and ….. well just see

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Dawn at the beach is always special
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Sunrise in the fields (awful photo technically but i like it)
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Little fluffy (pink) clouds – for you SRG
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Sunlight through the woods
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Splendid isolation in full swing
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Eerie evenings
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Then fun in the sun
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Stroll with friends
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If you’re digging a hole then i’m digging a hole
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Blue skies
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Random cat in a pot in neighbours garden
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poser

Cabin Fever

Still feeling a bit ropey

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Bit ropey ….. geddit?

But it’s half term week and its just Trouble the cat and I in the house together. We are approaching that episode of Steptoe and Son where they divide the room with a painted white line

 

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Trouble – I dont think Koko has much competition in the cuteness stakes

So despite not feeling great I had to get to the beach and actually managed 7 miles. Wasn’t the greatest run physically but it certainly picked me up mentally. Thats what running does for you folks!

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Kinda grey but who cares
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I also discovered a new kind of fungi which I shall call discarded chewing gumgi

And now im off to bed again

Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus!

Or happy St Davids Day!.  St David is the patron saint of Wales, however unlike St Patricks Day which appears to have been hijacked by Guinness to become a global green branding day, St Davids day is much more low key. To be honest you wouldn’t really know it was going on but luckily as I work in schools I got to watch the kids in their outfits performing their Welsh renditions of songs.  I also discovered in this afternoons school that the kids (and I suspect the work of their parents and grandparents in this) had made numerous welshcakes and various traditional Welsh dishes and brought them into school to be judged by the staff. And it was all up for tasting grabs!  Hey it’s my national day too, I’m allowed to shovel cake!

Sadly due to the climate of today I can’t show you any photos of the kids as its strictly forbidden under pain of death to take any so I present you with my last remaining cat Trouble patriotically draped in the Welsh flag.

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Not quite sure why he stayed still so long with a flag on him, I expected a fight to the death over this photo but it was actually very easy

So after all my cake it was lucky the sun came out this afternoon so a quick run to and around the beach was in order! Just a quick 4 and a half miles to get the legs moving again after the weekend. Hamstrings a bit tight but hey ho thats to be expected after a near 20 mile weekend.

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One day i’ll hold the camera level I promise

On the way back some colour amongst the rocks caught my eye so I investigated and found a buoy! Ok so I’m terrible for beachcombing, I love stuff that the sea gives me, usually driftwood and I really really really wanted this buoy! Look it’s orange! This is after I’d actually untied it from the rope and yes I ran back with it. God only knows what i’ll do with it now … Maybe one day i’ll find a whole boat and I’ll already have a buoy to go with it ….

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I so wanted the rope too!

My driftwood finds have at least been more practical. I cant remember if I posted this before but simply chopping up a length of driftwood and screwing it into the wall makes handy pegs for running gear! There you go today has been most educational :p

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Living alone means you can do stuff like this!

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Hoka Trail Half (ish) completed!

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.

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Pretty much my only photo – I went back out to support the runners still coming in after I finished – It was cold but seemed the right thing to do!