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!

Old runs, new faces

Misty,rainy morning run to the beach as much to just stretch the legs as anything else as I knew the tide was on its way in.  Had a good play around the immediate area though, some hill repeats during which I found this new face

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Then a hop down to the beach to get some swifter rock running in to satisfy the need to bounce around a bit.

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Pausing to check on the rockfall removal process

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Result – tide needs to work harder

Found a fossil for Mawil1

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Looks like the remains of a big ammonite

Then off looking for a christmas tree – at the beach ofc.  It now seems to be a tradition (if a 2 year thing can be a tradition) to find my tree at the beach. I wasn’t blogging last christmas so I don’t think last years tree made it here, I’ll have to see if I can find a photo.

But here is this years effort!

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I am officially the worlds worst tree decorator (to be fair thats all I have to decorate it with) but considering I ran nearly 3 miles with the very heavy and unweidly thing I ofc love it

 

2 miles of ass haulin’ and 5 of haulin’ ass

I think that sums up my runs at the moment. Always around 2 miles befor it feels good and I want to do more and more! Hop skip jump around the beach.

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Run all the rocks! And past the fishermen!
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Past the fishing boat
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Past rocks with holes
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Past the rockfall – No real change yet – Perhaps this tide thing takes longer than i thought. Im so impatient

Oh yeah and I took a look at runkeeper which I rarely do these days and sometime last week I passed my 1000th running mile!  In fcat I’m on 1020 now :p  Damn I really am no good at stats

I’m back with shoe report!

So a week off running and it wasn’t too bad, I must admit it was tricky to not go out when the sun shone on the way home but I stuck to it for a whole week. And today I got to try out my new shoes (I had to hide them this week in case my will broke)

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Inov8 X-Talon 200

First impressions – very comfy, at first they felt a little snug but they are so soft – like a baby deers furry ass – that they soon felt like they were already worn in.

The reason I got these was for better grip as the weather turns and I’m going to be spending much of the next six months sliding around in mud. I also wanted something for wet rocks on the beach, It’s not like I ask a lot or anything.

It’s been raining all week and so I was sure to find mud

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Mud glorious mud – Sheep track in fact – And the shoes handled it superbly. The bigger lugs certainly grip this kind of stuff. No loss of traction.
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Next test – Wet slippery rocky path with fallen wet leaves.  There were a few hairy moments here but then there always are in the wet. I did feel more confident in the Inov8s compared to say the Altras especially on downhills.
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Sand test – Well lets be fair even i cant fall over on sand but and I was delighted to discover they kick up cool little spurts of sand behind you. I spent the next mile runing while looking over my shoulder.
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They really come into their own on technical rocky terrain, they feel very nimble and precise and covering these rocks was loads of fun. Plenty of spring in them for bounds and leap and they grip superbly even on angled rocks  and slopes.
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Water – I was very surprised by how water resistant they were, nothing got in at the beach but this made me a little concerned, I wasnt expecting them to be waterproof and alas if water does get in (to be fair I was sloshing around in a stream) it doesnt drain out very well.

So overall I’m more than pleased with the Xtalon 200 – They are definitely going to become my technical shoe of choice and I expect to give them a right hammering this winter. The grip is fantastci on mud and rock and they provide an immense feeling of confidence and stability. My only worry is the drainage but with some care there shouldnt be too much water getting in – basically it has to go in over the top anyway.

Oh and I have new shoes but this dude has a new coat – With chickens on! How cool is that (I was kinda jealous)

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Uber cool horsie