Sundays for speedwork

Sort of … it was meant to be a recovery run after saturdays 14 miles but the legs felt really good and the tide was out and I felt like running quickly … so I did. Sod common sense I wanted to run for the joy of running and if that meant fast then fast it was!

Met some new friends

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And went out of my way to warn these people that walking right under the cliffs at this time of year is suicide – You can hear the rockfalls all the time.  I had to laugh as the older lady (who wasnt under the cliffs) replied with “well yes but he is a geologist” …. Like ok well at least he will know what kind of rock staved his head in then I guess.  To be fair I was more worried about the dog with them, splattered people I could cope with but not a dog. With a cheery cry of “Natural selection will out!” I sped on my way

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Of wavecut platforms and glute battering

Saturday morning was cold but bright and so I decided it was time to tackle a longer run again. I chose to head left towards Llantwit via Atlantic College along the cliffs so I got to see the sandbank.

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Nash Sands
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Past the lighthouse

At Atlantic College I kept up on the cliffs through the playing fields. Not sure why they are named after King George but they are …

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I turned at Llantwit and headed back along the beach, I don’t normally do this as theres precious little sand and around 4 miles of non-stop wavecut platforms but I fancied something different and for those 4 miles my legs got a great workout due to the constant stepping up and down on the rocks.

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The series of caves just past Llantwit
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Caves closer up
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4 miles of nonstop rocks does screw with your legs eventually

I did find some rocks with numbers painted on – I’m guessing someones doing an experiment in tidal movement – And now I have to come back to check out the results myself

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After that it was plain sailing as I worked my way back around towards Witches Point creating a 14 mile loop.  Considering the terrain I was happy to get it done in under 3 hours though my glutes took a bit of a battering.

Some days it’s just great to spend time outside to clear the mind.

Old to New

Time to semi-retire my Inov8 xtalon 200’s I think. They can go in the back of the van for impromptu runs.  I think probably the best recommendation for running shoes is that I bought exactly the same pair to replace them. I find them that comfortable (for a stripped down shoe) and wouldnt run in anything else if I know I’m doing technical stuff. The grip is utterly fantastic and I love that I can really feel the rocks under my feet. I feel confident in my foot placement so much more in the 200’s.

But after around 3-400 miles I can see materials starting to tear and I want to run Cornwall in them – or the same model at least so I’ve got a new pair to break in ready.

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This is what hundreds of miles of battering on all sorts of terrain does to a shoe. Im mystified as to how they appear to have shrunk but both old and new shoes fit me perfectly well (they are both size 11) Its a testament i think to the quality of Inov8 shoes that they have lasted this long and to be honest there are miles left in them.

To be honest the new ones don’t even take any breaking in, I did 7 miles in them yesterday and felt perfect from the off.

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We did seaweed and rocks
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We did more rocks and revelled in the grip
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We did sand in lovely patterns
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We did forest trails

Welcome to the world new shoes – I’m gonna wreck you!

 

 

West Wales – Wet, Windy and Wonderful

Spent the weekend down in West Wales with a couple of friends and their dog which of course meant I got to do some running at last. The idea was to do a few miles of the coastal path in glorious sunshine and take in the views. This being Wales of course it was blowing a gale and raining on me from the outset. I was not to be deterred though!

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The beach at Newgale. Not accurately represented here is the howling gale

I was actually really enjoying myself despite the wind, cold and rain and was happily putting out enough effort to prevent hypothermia. The only times I got cold was when I stopped to take photos for you my dear readers. The sacrifices I make!

 

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Newgale is tiny, thats about it – The river cuts between the pebbles to make its own channel which is pretty cool. Well it would be if the sheer amount of pebbles wasn’t forcing the closure of the road

I had forgotten to bring my energy foods with me and so my friend had given me some marshmallows and chocolate but as I didn’t want them to melt in my pocket we shoved them in the only bag we had available – an (unused) dog poo bag.  A bags a bag but I decided to eat while crossing the bridge in the photo – So there I am in front of the cafe shovelling marshmallows straight from a dog poo bag into my mouth. Always make a good first impression when visiting a new place.

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The views were great despite the weather
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And the path was fun, technical and steep
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I returned via the beach and missed the point where I could rejoin the path home so I kept going to see how far the beach went
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Found some really pretty rocks while scrambling along

Then I came to a dead end, the only way was to go back the way I came or so some scrambling up a scree slope. I am not one to be deterred by a challenge so off I went

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Up here – This was actually loads of fun until I got to the top of the scree and realised there was a 20 foot vertical bank up to the path covered in gorse and brambles. Having already cut and scratched myself to bits I decided to let sense rear its ugly head and retreated back down. Only added about 4 miles to my run …..
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View from halfway up a scree slope

I eventually got back after about 3 hours, tired, cold and wet but happy. The quad is still not entirely happy but then i cant really blame it after a dozen miles and a climb up and down a bloody scree slope.

In the afternoon we popped into St Davids – The Smallest city in Britain.

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St Davids Cathedral

More importantly than sightseeing we took Iolo the dog to the pub

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Stare into my eyes and give me your Guinness

How low can you go?

As far as the tide here is concerned it’s this low …

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A very low spring tide at Nash Point. Normally the darker reef on the shoreline is never exposed.

Which is awesome when you get to run on it all morning. It was a fun training type run of around 10 miles at an average pace of under 11 mins a mile which I’m really happy with considering it was cliffs and beach. I can definitely feel progression happening. I can comfortably keep up a quicker pace for longer now and the wheels don’t seem to fall off as quickly. In fact I positively raced home from the beach.

As the tide was so low I explored Witches Point at Southerndown for a while as I could get to bits normally cut off.

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Caves in the cliffs.
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Wait what?  Looks like someone has been practicing their underwater climbing technique
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The erosion of the seabed here makes for some amazing rock formations
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More rocks
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Loved this one

 

 

Somedays its a breeze

So what causes the difference between one run and another. This was seven miles and effortless.  On days like this the thought of the 24 mile fell race in a few months doesn’t worry me in the slightest. On other days I feel like I’ll never make it.  If only it was possible to bottle the feeling on a run like this. I think flow is the term. I need to remember the days like this when I get self doubts.

It was a day full of our favourite weather too – Mizzle!  Which turned to drizzle and then back to mizzle.

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A grey and not very inspiring day for photography.  When the mist lies on the English side of the channel though this section of coastline appears to become detatched like an island. I only wish I could capture the effect better. I need a new camera with superzoom facilities I think.
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At low tide I found this which at first I thought was an old piece of weathered wood but in fact turned out to be a piece of solid black rock. Almost like ebony. Weird

6 metres and falling

Saturday morning and a new training cycle begins (yes I’m still calling it that as it sounds like I know what I’m doing) so a wait for the tides and off out again for a 10 miler along the coast. I’ve worked out (It’s only taken me 20 years of visiting this beach) that I can get out to run the whole thing if the tide is lower than 6 metres give or take.

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6 Metres and the sand appears

It was a misty and cold which meant I had the beach to myself whch is the way I like it. Everything seemed to be ticking over nicely as far as the running went and I had great fun on the rocks pounding my legs. I know that doing this leads to fatigue around mile 7 or so. It’s got me to wondering when fatigue would kick in if I didn’t run on the rocks at all. But that would mean …. roads. Nahhhh i’ll keep wondering.

I notcied that at the point between Nash and Wick beaches that there are numerous quartz veins amongst the rocks. I’ve never really paid much notice before but noticed today how cool they are.

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Quartz veins

Many of the rocks split along these veins.

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More quartz

Sometimes it appears in very random patterns

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No wait – Thats seagull shit!

After investigating the quartz and guano it was up and over Witches Point and around Southerndown

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More ammonites for the fossil crew

Right on cue the legs started hurting around mile 7 so I switched into my run all day pace which means dropping the pace and expend less energy covering the rocks, picking lower lines and not leaping around like a fool.

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Running across these takes it out of the legs but is so so fun – Until you fall

I planned around 10 miles and it was spot on. Let the cycle run on!