It aint always pleasant….

But I always love it nonetheless.  After a day of fairly nice weatehr by the time I got home from work it was getting dark and raining, sometimes hard rain sometimes just mizzle. The temptation was to stay in and pretend to stretch or something but sometimes you just got to get out of the door.

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Was worth it to capture the only sunlight left in Wales (he exaggerated madly)

Up on the cliffs it was cold and wet and I still loved it. I said hi to all the sheep of course.

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Witches Point in the mizzle

I did the 4 or 5 mile trip around to the barrows at Wick beach and headed back. Once again negotiating the haunted woods ™ by headtorch

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Path to haunted woods at dusk – Fortunately I know pretty much every inch of ground here

So yeah its always worth getting out even if the weather says no the lesg say yeh!

And finally a big hello and hug for my mum who’s not been so well lately but hopefully on the road to recovery!

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!

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

Onwards!

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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

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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!

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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

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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

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Merthyr Mawr Castle in all its stony glory
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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.

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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
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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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 …

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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.

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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 =)

Went looking for my mojo

Found it down the back of the sofa, made it fix my Garmin which it kindly did then took them both to the beach. Seven and a half miles in around an hour and a half with plenty of rock hopping and general zooming around. Mojo and I are friends again and the sun came out to celebrate.

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Hello sunshine

If ever you need a happy song try a dose of this. Plus they’re Welsh!

A tale of two dogs

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.

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Soaky – The best friend and companion I could ever have asked for.

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.

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So I borrowed Ramsay from my friends – Quite the handsome little devil.

We ran for around 6 miles and then went for a pint or two.

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He loved the run, the nutter adores water
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Luckily not my job to clean him though 😉

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

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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

Common Sense?

I have decided to take a week (at least) off running. Which won’t be at all easy as I love it but I think after the summer the body is telling me it needs to recuperate a bit and the sensible thing to do would be to listen. The last year or so has probably been a bit of a shock to it after all :p

I have to admit that although its far better the foot isn’t fully healed and although I can run on it I’d rather not being running through avoidable pain. My right knee has begun its dull twinge again and in the last week I’ve felt tweaks in the left hamstring and right quad. Not much but all added up I’m guessing the right thing to do is take a short break.

Plus the tides are all wrong and the forecast is grim for the next week so if there ever was a time it’s now. Wish me luck I’m gonna hate it =(

I can look back on a summer of adventure, fun and improvements though. I ran up Pen-Y-Fan and Snowdon, the highest mountains in Mid and North Wales. I ran the Welsh Coastal path plus an inland half marathon in West Wales. Ive covered 225 miles in less than 3 months which is a lot for me.

My favourite photo from the summer

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Not the most exciting, scenic or interesting of my Snowdon run but I took this when I turned a corner and saw the path and distance ahead and wondered whether to run to the summit that day or leave it til the next. I’m glad to say I ignored the voice saying “take it easy” and went for it. Thats why the photo is special to me.

Quick runs and new shoes

Got home today and they had arrived already – Have to recommend sportsshoes.com for extremely quick delivery!  And they fit perfectly too.

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My new winter mud shoes – Inov8 X-Talon 200. When the trail gets slippery I shall grip!

I didnt actually wear them out today as I wanted to wear the altras as the foot had been feeling a bit wonky this week so new shoes might not have been the best idea. Plus they stay shiny for a while longer. But when the rain and mud arrive I am ready!

Just did around 5 miles today, my garmi wouldnt and wont pick up signal for some reason …. Hope it’s not buggered as I just spent the money I’m earning tomorrow on the track on shoes :p

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Caught this moment of sun shining through on the sea
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Sheep with non matching ear piercings