Welcome Murphy

Everyone say hello to the latest addition to the trailrunning community. I give you my new dog – Murphy!

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First day I walked him

Murphy is the reason I was down West Wales last week and why I’ve been doing a little less running – I’ve been driving a 3 hour round trip every day to walk and bond with him and finally I brought him home yesterday.  The scary thing is that completely by accident he looks like a Soaky copy – Purely unintentional I orignially inquired about a different dog which had been rehomed and they mentioned Murphy.

Hes had a bit of a rough start to life and is very nervous but already he’s starting to improve.  We’ve been to the beach already and he’s settling in nicely. Him and the cat basically ignore each other – I think Trouble just assumes Soak has been missing for a few years and now returned.  At the moment Murph is like a shadow but slept hapily in his crate last night and we’ve just had a short run at the beach as he is going to have little choice but be a training companion – And thankfully he seems to love to run, he gets a goofy grin on his face and just lopes alongside with no effort while I puff and pant.

So if you dont like dogs I’d stop reading the blog now cos it’s likely to include a lot of Murphy from here on in. Oh and Mawil – the rope is for him to chew on and play with 😉

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Day two and off lead already – Im being very cautious and no fields with livestock but he’s sticking like glue to be fair and at 6 in the morning he’s safe enough as there’s no-one about
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We have a few issues with stiles – Not sure he’s ever had to climb one before – He’s getting there though
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Beach dog!
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Getting up to speed
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Good look Murph
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I had a shower and thought i’d lost him already then I realised he was on the sofa in my middle room which has a black throw on it – His eyes gave him away after I’d searched every room for him

 

No fear, no heights just miles

Ok going back in time …. these two runs were the friday and saturday before the Fan Brycheiniog hike.  Around 10 miles each time and incorporating a nice little loop I’ve found which tacks on as many miles and hills as I like.  Along with the hike thats over 30 miles in 3 days so today is most definitely a rest day.

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This is the close to home training hill of Witches Point – Currently at 3 repeats

Google finally synched all my photos to the cloud so I don’t have to manually drag them here like the last post so have some more fan brycheiniog hike photos

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Yeah we go up there!
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Pretty steep
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This was after I stopped having panic attacks and could go nearer the edge again
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Just stunning
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The path is the line running diagonally
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Snow at the peak!
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Tea break in the saddle
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Gore-tex dog
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Fell running time

Brecon wander

Went up the Brecon beacons yesterday.  Out into the bits people don’t tend to go and just hiked around a bit with the dog.  It was pretty cold, then hot, then windy then not. Hey im a poet! We didn’t follow the paths mainly as there weren’t any. Its quite liberating and definitely fun to just go where you please. This did mean we spent a few hours or so falling in bogs, marshes and swamps (we havnt worked out which is which yet) but wet feet is a given these days.  Plus Tilly the dog loved every minute of it even if she couldnt see over the grass much of the time I guess.

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Pro tip – Park the car by a big obvious mountain like this one so you dont lose it
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Technically we should have been over there but I cannot tell a lie – my directions are shit
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Standing stone doing what it does best
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Waterfall – slightly on the wonk
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Frozen “waterfall” / trickle
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Is that the mountain by the car? Oh …
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Look I CAN take photos – Tilly in her snazzy coat
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Ok we put the dog with short legs on the rock for a photo shoot, she didnt leap there – tiny legs and all that. Though she did exceptionally well seeing as its not really short dog terrain
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Reservoir points to car (backup in case of loss of mountain)
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“Over there is bog…. over there is marsh ….. over there is swamp” ( I fell in most of them)

Frozen dog stops play

Couple of days ago I went up to the Brecon Beacons with a friend and her mums dog to find some snow.  We appear to be missing out on the fun down here in the South but I guess one of the beauties of living in Wales is that there are always mountains a few hours away at most.

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Short dog and deep snow issues

Tilly aka ratdog did actually do quite well and had a whale of a time in the snow. But after a while it was clear she was getting pretty cold ….

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So this is me doing an impression of a South American paramilitary holding a frozen dog hostage

So after thawing her out we heaed home where I realised I was technically in my running gear anyway and so it would have been amiss to not get down the beach too so go to knock out seven miles as well.

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How much warmer does this look?  (It wasn’t though)

Tour De Soak

Its been two years since I started running and the reason for starting and keeping going haven’t completely changed only morphed slightly. For those new to the blog you can read here about why.

So yesterday the sun shone, I needed a long run and I decided to do a loop taking in as many of the places Soaky and I used to explore as I could manage.

I headed for Witches Point first off

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Note the blue clear skies – More of that later

Easy enough going to start, I was running with a pack and water as I was intending to go over 10 miles at least.  It was already hot early on though so off came the shirt. With the breeze on the cliffs it didnt really feel hot enough to burn though ….

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Ogmore by Sea – As Soak got older she couldnt make it to Monknash beach due to the stiles and hills so I used to drive her here so she could have a play.

From Ogmore I cut inland following the river.

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Ogmore river plus floodplains.  We used to come here as it was easy to park and let her play in the dunes on the otehr side.

It was midday now and getting hotter plus away from the coast the breeze had died away and I was working hard and sweating just to keep a reasonable pace. I was gonna have to ration water or find some.

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Path up to St Brides common – I was now being slowly roasted alive.
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Golf course – sans any water. However I did have some miserable old gits shout and wave their clubs at me as I cut through – Sod you its common land.
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I cut through the common and past the quarry and across the road to the Castel Upon Alun side.
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Through the bracken. We used to walk a lot up here because she loved chasing rabbits – Never caught one but she liked trying.
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Down to the ford – I judged I had enough water to not have to fill up here as I didnt fancy stomach problems as well as heatstroke.  Another favourite Soaky spot where she would splash about.
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Had to come home via roads …. No real choice as my next destination was Wick.  For some reason Soak loved it up here too, not sure why but was spent a lot of time on these back lanes just wandering about together.
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15 hot tiring miles later I fell into my friends pub for a pint of Gwynt Y Ddraig cider. Well if you run out of water ….. You got to toast your old dog with something!

Seeing all these places was a great way to remember Soak and I was proud I could run the lot.  Its only been two years but I’ve come a long way in more way than one.  I’m still as dumb as they come in some ways, I’m rather sunburned writing this …. We live and learn!

 

 

Goals and intellectual scavenging

Warning! This post is about internal musings not a run! No photos (Well I might sneak one or two in)

Last week I read this post on the excellent ultrarunning blog by James Stewart which got me thinking about not just how I run but why.  As the winner of the Rocky Raccoon 100 in Texas last month I think its definitely worth a read from someone who’s “done it” and a great jumping off point if you want to get started but have doubts.

I checked with James and he was happy for me to basically scavenge his post in order to present my thoughts – well I said reference but i’m using it as a template. Theft is the highest form of flattery or something.

James uses 4 tips to set his goals.  When reading these it made me wonder why I’m running. I kinda know but its not something thats straight in my head. My eventual goal is one that i hope to complete this year – an ultra. The one I have planned is a 32 miler along the Cornish coastal path in August

Which means I will have gone from unfit non-runner who literally couldnt run a tenth of a mile without dying to running an ultra in two years. Thats my goal.

OK I have a goal after all – I just didnt really realise I had arranegd this part without knowing.

  1. James says “Firstly, I determine why it is important enough to be a personal goal.”  Well I have this cracked too. I’m not doing it for bragging rights or as an end it really kind of boils down to a promise I made to a small dying dog two years ago ….
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Soakys favourite thing ever – Destroying wood – Sticks, branches, logs, firewood – anything would get chewed to destruction.

After 16 years I knew losing her would be a huge wrench so I promised her I wouldnt mope about and would do something to get outside and keep my head clear. I still dont know why I picked running but it seemed a good way of continuing to visit the beach where we spent so many happy hours chewing wood.

As I improved fitness-wise the goal of an ultra just slowly worked its way into my head as the miles ticked by – You gotta have something to think about!

2. So next up James says ““Soon” and “One day” and “I’ll need to do that” and allthatshittypassivelanguage needs to be eradicated from your vocabulary.”

You gotta pick a date – Well I have that! I actually signed up when injured in a moment of cabin fever induced madness last year but this years date is perfect!

3. James says “Then, I tell people about it”  Ok so this one is a little trickier.  Most of my friends feign an interest in what I’m doing but don’t really comprehend it. I’m fine with that, it’s my journey not thers anyway and I like having it.  My parents are incredibly cool about it, they read the blog and enjoy my progress and I know they are rooting for me in whatever I do.  So the other peeople who get the sharing are you guys – I find writing the blog does two things – It helps me log my training records and photos so there are always reference points. It also gets me communicating with other like minded people. I have 128 followers now – who knew!  And some of you I feel I know really well just through the blog.  Your support is incredible, I get advice and a sense of community which is important as I am most definitely an anti-social runner out on the trails!

4. James – “In the words of MC Hammer (and many much better rappers) I then break it down.”  break things down into smaller manageable chunks.   This I’ve already done naturally without even knowing it.  I’ve seen myself go from nothing, 1 mile, 2, 3 etc  I remember when 8 was a huge deal, 13, 15 and now 20.  I know I can keep adding and pushing a little bit til I get there.  I have one big race in a few weeks – The Preseli Beast which is 24 miles of fell running which is going to be a huge test as its going to be a lot of steeeeeeeep climbing over a distance Ive not covered yet. I’ll give it my best and remember its just a bitesize step – Just a huge chewy painful bite.

Just as they say pick your fights carefully then pick your goals carefully – but pick them. Get off yo ass and pick them!

As I said at the start of this post (and well done if you waded this far) many thanks to James for his motivational post which got me putting all this into words. And again congrats on the Rocky Racoon win – I guess youre an elite now!

Oh and one more photo!

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Doggles!

 

 

Long runs and ultra competitive fishing evidence

Sunday was time for a long run, haven’t done anything more than 10 miles for a few weeks and I’m very aware I now have less than 6 weeks to the Preseli Beast 24 mile fell race….

A lovely spring morning though so I strapped on my pack with a litre of water, homemade energy bars and headed out.  It was a complete pleasure to get out and run and I felt great for the majority of it. I planned 13 miles to the rivermouth in Ogmore and back and ended up doing 15.  The slow introduction of speedwork seems to be working as it feels like I can run further at the lower speeds now.

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You can see why I was enjoying being out
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Looking back from Witches on the way to Ogmore
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Gorse in bloom over Southerdown
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Looking back from the deeps at Ogmore – destination far headland.  When I look at photos like this and think I can happily run these distances it never fails to amaze me
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On the way back at Southerdown beach there was a dachshund convention. At least 20 dogs all going mental. I found this little dude in his bee/ladybird costume
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Oh yeah the ultra competitive fishing reference, I did some scrambling at Witches Point as the tide was so low and up on the ledges I found this painted on. Apparently Mike Rowley cheats!  Well who knew. Im guessing its a fishing thing, who the hell else comes up here! I’m not even sure how you cheat at fishing unless its bringing fish with you and claiming you caught them… or by using dynamite. Its a funny old world as they say