Yesterday was Preseli Ultrabeast day. 2 years ago I ran the Beast Bach 11 mile race linky and last year I ran the Preseli Beast 24 miler linky and yesterday I completed the hat trick with the Ultrabeast. I was to be honest a little concerned about it as although training has gone well and I feel in good form, breaking a toe on a baby gate 2 weeks ago was going to make it a different proposition plus I know what the course is like – as Carwyn the organiser puts it “As if the original wasn’t hard enough for you! And if the 32mile route doesn’t grab you enough, then what about the 6,000ft of ascent it now has! Be warned this is no easy walk in the park. This is proper hardcore fell running terrain. This route really does take it to the extreme and those thinking of running this one really must be physically and mentally prepared.”
32 miles, 6000 feet of ascent (and the quad shredding descents which by the end are worse) through fell country, not much of this is run on any sort of trail and most is barely a sheep track. It had pissed down constantly during the day before and there was a lot of mud, the evil black sucky mud you only seem to get on the beacons (Preseli is the westernmost end of the Brecon beacons). There were moments when you went up to your knees in it, at one point up to the groin. You just could tell until you hit it. All part of the fun but it just sucks and sucks at your legs.
For the sake of the marshalls (who were superb as ever here – especially the one dressed as a lobster) the ultra started the same time as the 24 miler. This made pacing tricky as everyone set off around the same lick and it was hard to judge what the extra 8 miles would be like.
The option was also there around 20 miles to skip the 8 mile extra loop out into the wilds and still get a qualifying finish in the 24 miler. You make this decision at the top of the longest steepest hillside there is and apparently quite a few took it and I cant blame them. By then things were really hurting and the thought crossed my mind but not for long. Those extra 8 miles were beautiful singletrack and took us out to parts i’d not seen before including a monolithic hillfort. There were more climbs, more descents and more pain than I care to think about now but by then I had grouped with 3 other lads who were in a similar boat and were happy for me to tag along and for once I was happy for the company. Sometimes its ok to suffer in silence and sometimes misery loves company. When its not just you stepping into knee deep freezing mud for the hundredth time it makes it easier to bear.
The last peak was finally done and all that was left was a 3 or 4 mile descent on busted up everything – Sometimes its that last drop that kills. But finish I did in 7 hours which I’m well pleased with considering the toe and the terrain.
Dunno where to go next …. who cares
Anyway if you read all that you get the photos – Beauty of ultras with fuckoff big mountains is you feel better about stopping occassionally for a photo op.
I believe in karma. Or essentially what goes around comes around. It works both ways, bad and good karma. Learned the hard way and seen it happen thankfully to others who deserved it (Yes I have a mean streak a mile wide)
So yesterday I had to go out mid morning and decided to fit in a quick 4 mile or so run to the Barrow mound on the cliffs as the tide was in. When I got there it was beautiful and sunny.
So I headed back and passed coming the other way a group of kids doing their Duke of Edinburgh type stuff, all with their packs on etc I met one group at a stile and the first two kids just ignored me stood there dripping with sweat and breathing hard and then a girl at the back said “wait everyone let the person through” (Im not sure that they knew what gender I was due to the long hair) and so I hopped over and thanked them and ran on.
A mile or so later I got to the beach and found one of them had dropped their sleeping mat. So what do you do? I was in a rush as I had an appointment to keep, I had already run 3 or 4 miles hard pace and they were headed in the opposite direction and all uphill. You know what – the tipping point of making me grab it and run as hard as I could to catch them (they move fast these damn kids) over 2 miles or so at 6-7 minute uphill pace (good training hey) was that the girl had called out to let me through and they did.
So I caught them eventually utterly fucked and they were I think amazed that I had done that for one of them – all I could gasp was “Its a bastard sleeping out without a mat” and trotted off – thankfully downhill and home. Ok so I was a little late. So what – And thats karma. Just the little things can come back to you. And maybe those kids saw a small gesture from a stranger and might just try it themselves.
Went up the Brecon beacons yesterday. Out into the bits people don’t tend to go and just hiked around a bit with the dog. It was pretty cold, then hot, then windy then not. Hey im a poet! We didn’t follow the paths mainly as there weren’t any. Its quite liberating and definitely fun to just go where you please. This did mean we spent a few hours or so falling in bogs, marshes and swamps (we havnt worked out which is which yet) but wet feet is a given these days. Plus Tilly the dog loved every minute of it even if she couldnt see over the grass much of the time I guess.
Did 11 on sunday and got back into running with a pack. Its not particulary necessary but the extra water and bananas are nice and I’d better get used to it as Preseli is signed up for (32 ultrabeast) and thats about 10 weeks.
Went along the beach and as the tide was dropping went out past Southerndown on rocks rather than cliffs. The terrain there is a little tricker.
Who doesn’t love new stuff – this isnt actually that new to be fair I’ve had both a month or so but I kept forgetting to post about them. I also ran on thurs – I couldnt remember what I did until I looked at the photos and realised it was hill sprints until dark. It was actually a good workout and my legs are coping with the bursts much better and part of that is due to this monster thang ….
I invested in the climber so I could do some “hill” work without impact as im still keeping an eye on my foot which likes to scare me from time to time. This thing looks easy and feels it for about 2 minutes and then it really really hurts. After 10 minutes you get off it an almost fall over with bambi legs. So I guess it does me good. It’s also handy for warming up and down after runs which is why its by the front door. Ok ok its by the front door as thats where I put it together and I cant be arsed moving it.
New thing number two is much smaller and less hurty
Oh yeah I mentioned hill sprints until dark ….. It was worth the pain to see this from the cliffs
Running with someone else has given me a bit of a jolt in that since …. I’m not actually sure when …. I’ve been running in a bit of a comfort zone. It’s been a case of mileage being king, more miles the better and thats it. Time on feet is important but I’ve realised I’ve been doing most of my training in a relatively easy zone, how often am I really training “hard” I’ve slipped into the habit of slow hills and nice easy runs. If I was recovering thats fine but all the time?
So a little speedwork here and there, some of the old fartlek type things have come into play plus hill sprints. Speedwork I quite like, hill sprints I do not. But I think all these things easy, fast and fuck hills need to come together if I want to make the improvements to run well for the rest of the year. Oh and listening to my body (before it breaks down not after)
When you’re out enjoying a run and it’s getting dark and you kind of forgot your headtorch (again) and you don’t want to turn around because it’s so beautiful what do you do? Common sense says turn around before you lose the light. My sense said stay out as long as you can, keep going and trust your local knowledge and senses to get you back.
It actually worked and I didn’t fall off a cliff or into a river or anything and it meant I got to enjoy a beautiful sunset