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.
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.
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 ….
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.
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
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 ….
From Ogmore I cut inland following the river.
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.
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!
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.
- 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 ….
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!
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.
On friday I headed down to West Wales to stay with friends again and of course I managed to fit in a run.
In fact I fitted in a 15 mile run along the Welsh coastal path. I intended to do around 10 but I felt great and it was a beautiful day so I just grabbed the chance to go further. The thing about coastal paths is that they are very rarely level – My watch reckons I did 2500 feet of elevation gain! I have to admit that some of the climbs were steep but I had the common sense to walk the worst and managed to keep my heart rate down for the whole thing (Im a good boy)
So 15 miles, lots of hills, controlled breathing and heartrate, good nutrition and hydration. Things are going well right now! (touch wood, don’t jinx myself etc)
And all this followed by a few hours in the kayak and some beers with Iolo the dog.
To be fair i’m amazed after a looooong weekend I got out at all today but fancied a qick trot – Which turned into 9 and a half miles and two and a quarter hours.
At the beach I went right …. view below. Cloudy but warm enough to run without a shirt which is always nice.
I got divebombed by the seagulls again – I thought I had gone far enough out to avoid them but I think rather than defending their turf this is just a game to them now.
Got to the end of that section of the beach and felt fantastic – So I kept going, up over witches point and down to Southerdown beach.
I crossed the beach and found some quite cool rocks which were fun and challenging to run on.
And of course at the furthest point from home it started to rain and the wind picked up – A headwind of course. You know what though? Any day trailrunning is good no matter the weather so despite being wet and cold I wasn’t miserable. Especially as next up I met Mr Darcy!
Covered the remaining 3 miles back home in record time and now it’s feet up recovery time!
Rushed home, rushed out, ran to beach, ran around beach, headed home.
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!
I just love this photo of her, taken just a couple of years ago at sunrise at the Deeps in Ogmore