The day I outran my watch

So I need a new watch. Not because it’d not working (an update fixed that problem) but it seems like the battery life is limited to around 4 hours …. And yesterdays long run went over that. Yes indeed, probably closer to 5, sit back and I’ll tell you all about it.

I knew it would be a long run so I took my energy bars and hydration pack (Pro tip from a non-pro:  If you’re also taking a lightweight jacket then wrap the bladder in the jacket which helps stop the water warming from your body heat)

The tide was right in so no choice but to run the cliffs which meant more climbs, in for a penny!

DSC01956.JPG
Above Traeth Mawr there are some Bronze Age burial mounds.
DSC01957.JPG
From the mounds you get an elevated view of the beach with the tide in.

Onwards!

DSC01950.JPG
Sensible warning – Keep dogs on leads around livestock. Simple enough but so many people think their darling dog couldn’t hurt a fly, perhaps they won’t but chased animals also miscarry or fall off cliffs so don’t let Fido get blown away by an angry farmer and keep it on a lead around livestock people!

So the descents … and ascents are kinda scary, exhilarating and painful at the same time

dsc01963
What goes down must sadly go back up

Shot through Southerndown and Ogmore like a raisin fuelled rocket and normally I would turn here to return home making it 13 miles. Today I had bigger fish to fry, I was off to Porthcawl! Thing is when you get to Ogmore there’s a wide rivermouth and the only place to cross is a few miles up the road meaning I would be on a big detour. Ah well It was a nice day, detour me up baby!

DSC01968.JPG
In case you were wondering why I didn’t try and cross the river – Its a bit wide 😉

The detour happily led me past some swans – One of whom clearly thought I had bread so sailed close before paddling off in disgust

DSC01974.JPG
No bread no interest

I reached the stepping stones where I could finally cross the river next to Merthyr Mawr castle – Or what’s left of it

DSC01976.JPG
Merthyr Mawr Castle in all its stony glory
dsc01977
Stepping stones – Note woman freaking out on far side as she simply couldnt make a 12 inch hop to the next stone. Had to wait a good five minutes here til she finally cleared the stones. Of course I showed off by running them in around 20 seconds – Should wear trail shoes my dear!

My detour now led me to Merthyr Mawr dunes which I’ve run before but only after driving to them.

DSC01984.JPG
Yay I’m 10 miles into a run and I get 1:3 gradients of soft sand. Thank you Lord for your kindness to all trail runners :p
DSC01979.JPG
Soft soft soft sand

Running through the sand was a leg killer, I could feel how much work my calves and hanstrings were doing to get me up these hills. Felt like running in glue. There were a class of youngsters there with some endurance school logo on the back being trained to sprint through sand – That should put them off endurance sports for life nicely

The dunes lasted around 3 miles and put a few dents into my previously unquenchable confidence. Should I turn back, I knew I was now going to be in previously uncharted distance territory by the time I got near to home so I obviously plugged on, I was determined to reach Porthcawl.

DSC01987.JPG
Top of a dune and looking back towards Ogmore

I got to Porthcawl – Where back in march I met up with my family for a day and we wondered how far it would be to run back along the coast to home – 12 miles (including detour)

Porthcawl had joy of joys an ice-cream van! I had a can of coke and huge icecream as I figured I needed all the help I could get on the return journey. I followed the beach back before turning back into the dunes for some more punishment

DSC01990.JPG
Oh look the beach has soft sand too – Glorious!

I found a sandy track back in case I wasn’t fed up of sand. This is now around 15 miles in and the legs were really starting to suffer. Nutritionally I was fine the muscles in my legs were just getting wasted by the sand.  I knew from here on in it was just going to be a painful grit your teeth and guts it out effort to get home.

dsc01981
I did see some purty flowers though.

At this point the photos appear to have stopped being taken with any regularity. I think this was as much because I had to keep going as stopping and starting just hurt more.  I followed the detour and then changed course to trevel up over St Brides common before dropping into St Brides itself. I was bringing myself back on the roads but knew that it was pretty much all uphill from here as I was headed to Wick which sadly for me is the highest point in the Vale of Glamorgan (Ok its not Everest but it felt like it yesterday)

By the 18th mile my legs were pretty much gone and I was walking most hills – It’s trail running we get to do this right! (Another pro tip form a non-pro to new trail runners – Walk the hills if they are going to leave you blown up. Everyone does it and its nothing to be ashamed of. Wish I’d known this at the start)

The rest of me was fine just the calves, hammies and glutes had very little bounce and just felt dead. Strangely I was still enjoying it, the foot was playing up but then again I had been out for over 4 hours and nearly 20 miles.

Then I had the watch battery warning which surprised me but at least I had the sense to note the time and distance it finally died – Which as it turned out wasn’t too far from the finish.

This rather boring photo though will always mean a lot to me – its where I was when I hit the 20 mile mark for the first time ever

DSC01996.JPG
Those verges actually saved my foot from tarmac, in fact the last few miles I didnt have to go on the road – Thankyou verge cutters everywhere from teh bottom of my heart.

At 21 miles I reached my destination – Not home for once, I had decided to reward myself …

DSC01998.JPG
My hydration pack ran dry just at the end so I had to refuel at the Star in Wick. And why the hell not! 

I had a couple with some friends here who didn’t seem to mind the sweat and then finished off by running home – Amazing how the legs start to recover immediatley after cider 😉

So all in all a tough run. Proud of it though, my previous best was 15 miles and I did 21 miles (not including the jog home after pub) and over 4 and a half hours on my feet. Ran through a lot of oh crap moments and pulled it together.

untitled
Gotta love those hills right at the end! The figures are slightly off due to watch dying but not by much, just tipped me over 21 =)

I ….. Am ….. Back!

Last night in bed I had an idea (yeah I know sad isn’t it, saturday night and the only thing I’m getting in bed is ideas about running) about where I could test out my foot – Merthyr Mawr!  A few miles drive away is a big nature reserve type area chock full of trails and most importantly on dunes!

SAM_2622
Lovely, dry and most importantly soft sand!

Off I set, a little tentative and just waiting for the foot pain to start up. I was especially nervous as I knew that too much pain and I was definitely out of next weekends half marathon (which I’m well aware I still might be depending on how today and tomorrow go)

It was great to be out running again and the niggley pain ceased as I took the pace slow and kept to the sand as much as possible.

SAM_2625.JPG
Most of the paths were like this
SAM_2629.JPG
I can see the sea!

After a while the terrain changed a little and became a little more scrublike and the sand wasn’t so deep but the foot kept of feeling fine and I was really starting to get back into the swing of things – as in my breathing was hurting more than the foot! Ah it’s good to be back :p

SAM_2633.JPG
At the beach between Ogmore and Porthcawl – Thats Porthcawl in the distance. 

I was also glad to be out in this area as I could treat it as a recce as Merthy Mawr is the key to crossing the river at Ogmore so when I’m fully fit again I can turn my 15’s into 20’s

And then it happened! No not a foot injury – Only one creature leaves prints like this….

SAM_2631.JPG

Badger! And juding by the size of the paw it was a big bugger – I was scared, out here alone. As everyone knows a badger swarm can take a lone runner down in seconds and strip them to the bone in minutes and here I was in badger country and unarmed (badgers hate spatulas – always carry one in badger country)  All I could do was push on and hope they weren’t tracking me …and then …

SAM_2640.JPG

Badger shit! (foot for scale) definitely a big badger! Run! Run like the wind!

I was on the homeward stretch now and as I neared my car realised I’d been running for an hour! I reckon it was around 4 miles (I forgot my watch) which is slow going but I was happy keeping a low intensity and the sand was tough going on the legs. This is definitely progress =)

By chance I also bumped into an old friend out walking his dog so all fears of badger attack forgotten we spent a while chucking sticks into the river for her (the dog not the friend)

SAM_2645.JPG
Dog!

And I got to go on the worlds bounciest bridge – seriously if you run on this it bounces so much you simply can’t keep step

SAM_2641.JPG
My friend Al helping me make the bridge bounce.

So all in all a great morning, I’m writing this while rolling and stretching my foot and I’ll admit theres a little discomfort but not as much as I feared.

I hope all your sundays rock too =)

(PS Disclaimer I may have made some parts of this post up, everyone knows badgers are attracted to spatulas, always carry an eggwhisk to deter them (and thats horse not badger shit))