2 weeks out from the first ultra of the year, 6 months of solid training and I go and (probably) break my toe on a baby gate I installed to keep Murph from troubles food ….
13 miles yesterday down to Ogmore and back. When the sun shines and I’m going this way I always think of Soak. I think I’ve mentioned before that when I’m cold, tired and hurting on a run I always imagine that sunshine is brought courtsey of Soaks as a gift. I had sunshine yesterday.
As ever I stopped where we used to play fetch the pebble for endless hours
Sometimes it’s just running and sometimes it’s something else.
Its been two years since I started running and the reason for starting and keeping going haven’t completely changed only morphed slightly. For those new to the blog you can read here about why.
So yesterday the sun shone, I needed a long run and I decided to do a loop taking in as many of the places Soaky and I used to explore as I could manage.
I headed for Witches Point first off
Easy enough going to start, I was running with a pack and water as I was intending to go over 10 miles at least. It was already hot early on though so off came the shirt. With the breeze on the cliffs it didnt really feel hot enough to burn though ….
From Ogmore I cut inland following the river.
It was midday now and getting hotter plus away from the coast the breeze had died away and I was working hard and sweating just to keep a reasonable pace. I was gonna have to ration water or find some.
Seeing all these places was a great way to remember Soak and I was proud I could run the lot. Its only been two years but I’ve come a long way in more way than one. I’m still as dumb as they come in some ways, I’m rather sunburned writing this …. We live and learn!
Warning! This post is about internal musings not a run! No photos (Well I might sneak one or two in)
Last week I read this post on the excellent ultrarunning blog by James Stewart which got me thinking about not just how I run but why. As the winner of the Rocky Raccoon 100 in Texas last month I think its definitely worth a read from someone who’s “done it” and a great jumping off point if you want to get started but have doubts.
I checked with James and he was happy for me to basically scavenge his post in order to present my thoughts – well I said reference but i’m using it as a template. Theft is the highest form of flattery or something.
James uses 4 tips to set his goals. When reading these it made me wonder why I’m running. I kinda know but its not something thats straight in my head. My eventual goal is one that i hope to complete this year – an ultra. The one I have planned is a 32 miler along the Cornish coastal path in August
Which means I will have gone from unfit non-runner who literally couldnt run a tenth of a mile without dying to running an ultra in two years. Thats my goal.
OK I have a goal after all – I just didnt really realise I had arranegd this part without knowing.
- James says “Firstly, I determine why it is important enough to be a personal goal.” Well I have this cracked too. I’m not doing it for bragging rights or as an end it really kind of boils down to a promise I made to a small dying dog two years ago ….
After 16 years I knew losing her would be a huge wrench so I promised her I wouldnt mope about and would do something to get outside and keep my head clear. I still dont know why I picked running but it seemed a good way of continuing to visit the beach where we spent so many happy hours chewing wood.
As I improved fitness-wise the goal of an ultra just slowly worked its way into my head as the miles ticked by – You gotta have something to think about!
2. So next up James says ““Soon” and “One day” and “I’ll need to do that” and allthatshittypassivelanguage needs to be eradicated from your vocabulary.”
You gotta pick a date – Well I have that! I actually signed up when injured in a moment of cabin fever induced madness last year but this years date is perfect!
3. James says “Then, I tell people about it” Ok so this one is a little trickier. Most of my friends feign an interest in what I’m doing but don’t really comprehend it. I’m fine with that, it’s my journey not thers anyway and I like having it. My parents are incredibly cool about it, they read the blog and enjoy my progress and I know they are rooting for me in whatever I do. So the other peeople who get the sharing are you guys – I find writing the blog does two things – It helps me log my training records and photos so there are always reference points. It also gets me communicating with other like minded people. I have 128 followers now – who knew! And some of you I feel I know really well just through the blog. Your support is incredible, I get advice and a sense of community which is important as I am most definitely an anti-social runner out on the trails!
4. James – “In the words of MC Hammer (and many much better rappers) I then break it down.” break things down into smaller manageable chunks. This I’ve already done naturally without even knowing it. I’ve seen myself go from nothing, 1 mile, 2, 3 etc I remember when 8 was a huge deal, 13, 15 and now 20. I know I can keep adding and pushing a little bit til I get there. I have one big race in a few weeks – The Preseli Beast which is 24 miles of fell running which is going to be a huge test as its going to be a lot of steeeeeeeep climbing over a distance Ive not covered yet. I’ll give it my best and remember its just a bitesize step – Just a huge chewy painful bite.
Just as they say pick your fights carefully then pick your goals carefully – but pick them. Get off yo ass and pick them!
As I said at the start of this post (and well done if you waded this far) many thanks to James for his motivational post which got me putting all this into words. And again congrats on the Rocky Racoon win – I guess youre an elite now!
Oh and one more photo!
No hangover this Sunday due mainly to everyone being depressed by the Welsh rugby game and going early and my apparent determination to run so calling it quits was easy.
So off I went into the blue skies and sunshine for a quiet 5 miles or so along the cliffs – Damn you tide dont you know its the weekend!? About half a mile in I realised i’d forgotten my camera =( Ahh well
Two things struck me about this run. Firstly for the first 2 or 3 miles I feel like it’s hard work and I can’t get into a rhythm and then it suddenly just clicks. Now I’m treating anything under 6 miles as “short” this isn’t too bad but it does mean that every single run I’m questioning myself about how I feel for a good while and I’d much rather be enjoying myself.
Secondly I ran in my old Adidas Kanadias and the difference felt huge after running in the Inov8 Xtalons (As I was going to visit my parents on the way back I knew there would be a mile or so of road which doesnt suit the talons) The Xtalons give sooooo much more grip on the trail. They are without a doubt my go to technical shoe now. They give a much more comfortable ride too. The Kanadias are fine but I wouldn’t want to do anything more than a short run in them these days.
As I had no camera there are no photos but with everyone talking about cold snaps and the approach of winter I give you some photos from 2010
On sunday it was a year since little Soaky died. I knew that as my main inspiration to run I wanted to mark it with a run to the beach but I didn’t want it to be a sad day or run, more just remembering how much fun she had there for so many years.
So I figured what better way to remember Soak than to give another dog an awesome afternoon out. Soak would have loved the day and at the end of it all making another dogs day was as close as I could get to making Soak happy. I know she’d have been looking down on us with love.
We ran for around 6 miles and then went for a pint or two.
So what could have been a sad day wasn’t and although I miss Soaky awfully even now after a year it does my heart good to spread a little happiness where I can. She taught me that lesson well =)
Love you Soaks
Rushed home, rushed out, ran to beach, ran around beach, headed home.
Familiar? Carbon copy of yesterday. Pace slightly quicker and it felt quicker – til I realised I was stopping to take photos yesterday! So what gives? The wind gives! The wind gives me the screaming heebie jeebies when it springs up from nowhere and makes my dance (for dance read sprightly jog) across the sands of Traeth Mawr into a head down slog. Does the wind slow me down that much? I guess it does (and it makes my poor calfs hurt)
I also noticed that I had a few aches and twinges returning, im putting those down to the wind too – not to my complete disregard for a warmup today. Yes, i confess, my only warmup today was me running from the car, up the stairs, bouncing around energetically while I get my running kit on and then running down the stairs. Normally i supplement this with some admittedly half hearted leg swings and quick stretches but not today.
I really really need to start warming up properly or i’m gojng to injure myself and regret it. This is me warning me – sternly. The thing is right now with the timing of sunset I _just_ have enough time for a lowtide run if I rush home and get changed fast…. Ok its an excuse, I hate warming up. I will, I promise myself.
No camera, no phone today. So in order to bring some colour to this ratehr drab post I bring you pre-blog photos of Soak!
Same beach, awesome dog with her favourite thing – A log to chew!
I just love this photo of her, taken just a couple of years ago at sunrise at the Deeps in Ogmore