Not lost …. Just misguided (with added beavers)

On Tuesday afternoons I work up in the valleys and I always look at the surrounding hills and wonder what it’s like to run them. This morning I actually remembered to throw some kit and shoes in the trailmobile(tm) so after work it was time to get some elevation!

Elevation, pace, breathing blah blah blah lets get on with the photos

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Starting point – Pontycymmer, home of houses hanging off 45 degree gradients
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Ok not so steep I can handle this
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Jesus H Christ in a chickenbasker did I just run up that?
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Which led to another dirtroad – Which climbed up and up and up and up forever. Still it was sooooo peaceful, not a single soul anywhere to be seen.
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Purty flowers (Any excuse to stop to take a photo while going uphill)
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Reached the top and the views were stunning – sadly my camera and skills do not reflect the mountainous majesty at all
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More hills with annoying tree right in shot
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Believe it or not this is not the same road as before …. By now I had passed lots of turnoffs and every road looked similar and the identical trees were giving nothing away ….
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After even more climbing a clue – However the little yellow arrow is clearly pointing to the treacherous path of death while the nice smooth track leads away upwards ….hmmmm
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Of course I took the treacherous path of certain death and found it led to …. Valley of the Beaver. Well maybe not but I like to imagine our furry woodchipping friends doing all this deforestation.
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In a not very surprising twist of events the Path of Ultimate Treachery led into the Spooky Forest of Doom
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Which had the worlds tallest and straightest trees
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And apparently the worlds tidiest beavers who stack logs in neat piles everywhere
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Emerging from the forest and by now wildly guessing at the way to go by just heading downhill I realised I was actually running on the old spoilheaps created by the coal mining industry years ago
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I also found some very tasty looking mushrooms disguising themselves as Cornish Pasties (note kids DO NOT eat random fungi no matter how well baked they look – you will die or at least go on a trip you are unlikely to forget for many years)
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I “think” the identical roads run through that forest … maybe.
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Aha! Saved – A trail marker …… of utterly no use whatsoever seeing as you could indeed go three directions from here not two.

In fact I just kept heading down down down until I found my bearings. It was close though! I didn’t fancy spending the night in the woods with the roaming OCD beavers

Actually it was only five and a half miles but a fun and challenging run

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A journey into nosebreathing

It had recently come to my attention through the efforts of my personal training advisors  (you know who you are) that by breathing through the nose will prevent going over the heartrate threshold (or something like that, at least it acts a a bit of a regulator) so I set off for the beach last night to try it out.

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Gratuitous beach shot

First impressions – felt a bit odd, I’m clearly an inveterate mouthbreather when I run, usually in some sort of gasping fish out of water style. After I while I got more used to it, I think I should have been counting steps and breaths or something but I’d forgotten what I was meant to count and how much I should be counting to anyway so I just made it up.

It does actually seem to work, if I was finding it hard to breathe through the nose and felt like I needed a gulp from my mouth then I knew I was pushing too hard. Mainly the uphill bits it seemed as I could happily cruise at around 10 min per mile pace on sand while nosebreathing.  In fact the hardest part was remembering to do it once I got into the zone and started enjoying the scenery and terrain.

I actually covered seven and a half miles and it didn’t feel like I was putting out too much effort. Maybe this slow/chi/noserunning technique has plenty going for it. It was kind of a definite comeback run for me. Every day as I travel to work I pass at a distance the hill of Witches Point at Southerndown and I can just make out the wall on the side of it. Throughout my injury it has teased me with its presence and every time I’ve gone past I’ve sworn my revenge on it.

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Who’s in charge now then wall?

Yesterday that time came and when I reached the wall I took a photo of my vanquished foe, gave it the two fingered salute and pranced around it just to demonstrate my return and put this completely inanimate object back in its place – I’m king of the hill again!

Instead of the beach on the way back I ran the cliff route which means lots of hills to test out the nosebreathing. I have to admit to switching to my mouth a few times before remembering why I’m doing this in the first place.  Gob shut I continued slower.

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View from the clifftop

Once again for those that reached the end of the post I give you the brave … I don’t care that you are photographing me …. lamb

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I swear if that little face doesn’t make you vegetarian then I don’t know what would

Foolish, stubbornish, happyish

Woke up, the suns shining, the tides out – and i’m injured…. Sod it, the ankles been improving and recovery has hit a flat spot. I’m on my feet every day and there’s been no pain, more of an ache when I get home.

So off I went on an exploratory run to see where I’m at.  I didn’t run the quarter mile of road to get to the fields and started on grass – There was no pain just slight discomfort although I was running at a very low intensity with a very low stride height to minimise impact.  The fields felt fine and I was enjoying just being back out on the trail.

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Loving the morning sun

I sensibly didnt run the rocky path to the beach – go me for resisting!

And this is what I was looking for – low tide and wet sand – destination soft!

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Traeth Mawr – Let’s get on that sand!

Picked up the stride height and pace on the sand and it felt comfortable, I was experiencing what I believe they call in sporting circles – a niggle. Niggle away I thought, I’m enjoying this!  I got to the far end of the sand but went no further – I didn’t want to push too hard on my test run – Have I really learned patience?

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Worth it for views like this!

On the way back I had a thought – If the pain is in the ankle when the rear of my foot impacts – I could do hill repeats on my toes couldn’t I? Well it makes sense to me.

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So I did hill repeats up this little monkey! Full on hill sprints in fact and I was right being done completely on my toes meant no pain whatsoever If the worst comes to the worst I can at least do these!

After my hill test I ambled back up the path and across the fields. Admittedly I was limping slightly at this point and if not in pain then discomfort.  I may have pushed too far for today but I felt I needed to see where I was at with a few races approaching. I think next sunday is too soon to do an offroad half so sadly I’m letting the Offas Dyke half go but still hope to get down to West Wales in three weeks for the Preseli Beast (though the name is scaring the ankle already)

I’m writing this with my feet in a foot spa thingy I discovered in my spare room which I vaguely remember borrowing from someone years ago and never returned – I may be suffering karmic rebounds!

So far so good but the real test is now how it feels for the rest of the day and tomorrow morning (Which is my birthday! Best present I could have is an improving ankle)

And finally – Spring is here!

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Never forget to stop to breathe and enjoy the world

Sunday Update – No pain at all this morning – ankle feels good, resisting temptation to run today though, sense prevails!

 

 

 

 

Hope I never catch normal

To be honest I know I’ll never catch normal but just throwing it out there as a thought. Why do I say this? I don’t seem to do normal things, or think normal things … But I guess normal is different for everyone. In this case I mean the vast majority of people I know or meet in work who do the same things day in day out, they bitch and moan about work, their kids, other peoples kids, their other halves, how expensive things are, what happened in some TV programme ad neauseum and it leaves me cold.

I’ve never been married, never had kids, never done this “normal” life thing, I tend to do things on a whim – Like leaving my super secure council desk job to run a pub.  This summer I have the six weeks off as I work in schools now but I’m not planning a 2 week holiday on a beach somewhere or planning to grout my bathroom, I’m planning where I can go to do some scenic running on my own.  Is that normal?

Anyway all that came from my run home today. I was knackered and thinking “Why am I doing this again?” Of course it didn’t help that I was carrying a huge driftwood branch back from the beach (yes more beachcombing). It didn’t help that a leisurely trot to the beach had turned into me beasting myself up steep steep hills six times in close succession for no good reason other than “I wanted to see if I could”

Then again I would imagine the vast majority of the population would think anyone reading this blog and thinking “Hey that could be me” is not normal.

See? you’re not normal either.

I’ve confused myself now so i’ll stop

To the photos!

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Beautiful sky tonight – I was promised a sunny end to the day and it delivered
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Hill one – repeat 3 times
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Hill 2 – Repeat 3 times
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More scenery
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Out of focus and out of my mind for carrying these back – The one on the floor was todays prize!

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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