New things!

Well the beach isnt new – though admittedly ephermeral but I have got some new stuff to show off!

Firstly in an attempt to cushion my feet a little more I’m trying out Hokas

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Challenger ATR2 or something

I want to see if the extra cushioning helps. I’ve run in them a few times now (and am wearing to work too) and yes the cushioning is pretty amazing. They do lack in grip and stability on technical rocky sections as I found out last night. Unlike my Xtalons theres no connection with what I’m running on and I didn’t have the confidence I usually do on the trickier bits.  Maybe that will come with time. However for longer runs where theres less trickery and more grass I think these could well be perfect.

Last night I did 7 miles after work down to Witches Point and back as I was feeling good, the sun shone and … I just wanted too. Bit longer than I planned but hey when the suns shining make hay! I don’t appear to be suffering any after effects today so fingers crossed either i’m on the mend or the Hokas are doing some good.

On the way back I bumped into old and new friends – The calf was curious but the mother not so. I took it easy through the herd, kept an eye on the buggers and got out alive (As one local very nearly didnt a few years ago)

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Running the bovine gauntlet

And finally the BEST new things I have…..

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From the wonderful ceejaykay

Some amazing homecrafted bracelets! My photo skills dont do justice to how awesome they are – one says Ultra Badass and the other says f**ckit do epic sh*t and I cant decide which i prefer so I wear both!  My friends at the pub think theyre great but especially the story behind them. Who knew blogging got ya friends and cool pressies!

So thanks ceejay you made my day!

 

 

 

 

Injury and energy bar update!

Figured I hadn’t posted in a while so here is progress of lack of.  Still getting a small amount of pain in the ankle. Feels like 2 steps forward literally and 1 back. I’m still resting it and showing a degree of patience which I didn’t think I had.  I’m deperate to go out running but something is telling me it’s not right yet and I stand a chance of doing further damage so rest it is.  There are days with no pain and then I walk on it for a while and the niggle begins.  I suspect it has something to do with my work trainers though.

Yesterday I had to make an emergency appointment at the dentists in Cardiff. As they say it never rains but pours, I had extreme pain in a tooth at the back of my mouth and normally I would have waited until my dentists was open after Easter but it was so bad I just had to do something.  So off I went and realised that my route to the hospital wasn’t easy due to the world half marathon running right past the hospital – So I had to park a mile away and walk, I was likely to be late so I tried a little jog – In my work trainers and instantly the pain was there in the sole of my foot. No jogging for me even slowly. However I tried a little shuffle run in my road Nikes earlier today and no pain – Is this a cushioning issue?

Anyway one tooth extraction later and I’m feeling a little sorry for myself and looking rather like the hamster that stole all the nuts. But speaking of nuts I have had my first attempt at making my own energy bars!

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My base ingredients – 1/3 cup of flax. 1/3 cup of chia. Half cup of raisins and half cup of dates. Plus some coconut oil to add some binding.  Slammed all these in a mixer and mixed away to my hearts content ending up with ….

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Gritty Dough ™ – How appetising!

Next up I used my inspiring culinary skills to make them into little bars.

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No-one said they had to be pretty fortunately.  Had the idea of using a rubber mould to make thinner versions too.

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After all a test run is test run, time to find out what works!

Into the fridge they went!

I’ve doen a taste test and they do indeed taste coconutty and seem to hold together well. However whether they hold together well on a run is another issue, need to find a way of wrapping them now. Was thinking of cling film but is that going to be a pain to open while running?

I want to test them of course while on the run but patience is holding up well.  I have another week at least in which I can take it easy – 2 weeks off for schools Easter holidays – I feel I have the best job ever sometimes.

Next saturday I’ve been invited along to the Afan Forest to test a new trail half course that the organisers of the Margam Hoka Winter Half I ran last month are devising. Sounds like a lot of fun and will be interesting to see how these things work. So hopefully another week and I’ll be raring to go!

 

 

 

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!

Back to the trails!

After a few days break – work and weather enforced it was great to get back out running. Managed to fit in an hours run on the beach after work. Felt good today and pushed it a bit harder on the way back for an even split which isn’t bad considering its always uphill on the way home!

Todays route

I was glad to feel good today as yesterday I bumped into a teacher in work who I didn’t know runs and after telling her about what I was up to she told me about this trail half marathon virtually on my doorstep!  The hoka half at Margam Park

I’ve already got an event planned for that date in Avon and that was to be my first but thats only (I say only, I wouldn’t have said that few months ago) 12k not a half marathon  and having considered it for a day I’ve signed up for the half and will drop out of the 12k. I wasn’t planning to run a half until later in the year when I felt I would have the confidence to do it but having run the distance twice in the last few weeks over probably harder terrain than the event its something that I really want to do. I’m not worried about times but I am worried about finishing of course. But I believe that with just under a month to go I can do this! Time to put what i’ve been learning into practice. And i’m excited already!

Other things of note today – it appears that horses don’t suffer from vertigo judging by this lot happily grazing a few feet from a cliff edge with a couple of hundred foot drop right next to them! After taking the photo (poor quality im afraid, the camera hates long distance and ducky gloom it seems) I literally couldn’t watch them as I ran past. I’ve seen sheep doing this before and that was bad enough but the thought of a plummeting horse kept my heart in my mouth. I’m a complete animal lover and this scared me half to death. I’m sure it doesn’t concern them though and I’m glad I was on the beach not on the cliffs as it would break my heart if I was to startle one off the edge.

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Death defying stunt horses on Nash cliffs

Also of note were the first molehills. A sure sign of spring approaching as the earth has warmed up enough for our subterranean friends to start stirring. I can’t wait for spring. Winter running has taught me a lot and I’ve enjoyed running through the changing seasons but a little warmth would go down a treat around now

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First molehills of Spring!