Hey legs guess what? Its hurty time again

Saturday morning and the sun is shining so time to uncreak the legs and go and look for some hills. Ok I knew where they were but the spirot of exploration sounds so much more exciting.

The beach was of course beautiful (but had no hills)

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Just enough room to squeeze through
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At the top of the ladders is the Cwm – Just what I was looking for
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Up here and down to over there
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And then back over there again …. repeat

Rinse, repeat, flail about helplessly when the legs go wobbly and then speed off home quads hurting again – Which I think is leftovers from last weekends jaunt.

So I have short sharp hills – now I need long, long long hills to build up the quads.

Bonus photos!

Taken at the Preseli Beast by Robert at www.beerrunner.co.uk

Hop over and take a read!

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Rob caught me in the slate quarries around Rosebush. Guess which I am?
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Short sharp climbs
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Loved the different terrain here

Cheers for sending them Rob, thanks for not capturing my anguished expression!

 

Preseli Beast 2017

So having completed the Beast Bach last year which is the Beasts offspring at 11 miles yesterday it was the full Presesi Beast over 24 miles and 4500 feet of climbing.  Was to be a new challenge for me as I’ve only ever done 20 miles in training and the climbs on the beast are excruciatingly long and in parts steep. I’d trained for this for many months so determination was high but how the body would cope was the question.

I won’t do a blow by blow account here or go into depth, when I’ve had time to work out what happened I shall probably write a bit more.  I finished in a few minutes over 5 hours (as is tradition here I forgot to stop my watch on the line so I await official timings)  I think I probably would have gone under 5 easily had I not made some mistakes which I can now learn from.  Oh and the marshalls at this race who are utterly brilliant all seem to have the most beautiful dogs which meant stopping to stroke and chat with every one (dog not the marshall) including one staffie which reminded me of Soaky so much I could have cried. At that point I was in pain and a low point and seeing that particular dog reminded me how far I’ve come and the promise that brought me here – Perfect timing Soak!

I didn’t win – LOL like that was never a thought – The race was part of the Welsh Fell Running Championships this year so there were some seriously fast fell runners – Winner took 3h 5m apparently! Thats inconceviable considering the terrain. I dont think I came in the top half – No matter not why i was there.

I obviously didn’t come to win – I came to finish, learn and enjoy. I did all three.

As I say I’ll flesh out the thoughts below a little later

I learned a huge amount about longer races.
I learned that there is a huge step up from trail half to a long fell race.
I learned what works kitwise.
I learned more about pacing myself (though I’m very happy with my plan and how I pretty much stuck to it)
I learned how to fuel and hydrate sufficiently
I learned that in fell racing there is so much time to be made on quick descending, what you lose climbing you can easily haul back with quick feet and a lack of common sense
I learned that its true that climbing decides winners and descending decides DNF after I managed to blow out a quad after 9 miles
I learned that you do have to learn to cope and adapt physically and mentally as the race progresses.
I learned that with a determined and positive outlook physical issues can be overcome.

After all that you’ll also be glad to hear that I paused quickly to take a few photos this year – I couldn’t resist treating you guys who have been so supportive. Many came out a bit blurred as I wasn’t really stopping for long but I got some good ones. Enjoy.

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5 or so miles in – An easy one
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Probably the first of the steep ones but short
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The town is down in the bay at around the halfway point. I started to struggle on this downhill with my quad. No paths on some sections is fun but punishing on the legs.
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Its a long long drag out of town back to the peaks – This was the first killer – The Beast has a horrific second half.  The top section is pure scrambling up the rocks – Yep you climb to the very peak and over
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Looking back to the town
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The views are stunning once youre up there. As I noted to another runner though with no paths you spend the entire race looking at your feet.
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The Beast itself – just a case of running to the bottom left of the photo and then up to the lefthand peak then along the ridgeline to the second peak – By now it was 20 miles in …..
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Ponies!
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Homeward bound – Theres a half mile or so of forest – half boarded and half not – Issue here is picking your feet up over the roots
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Spot the flat bit – No? There isn’t one!

Its a fantastic race. I cant praise the organisation and marshalling highly enough.  The whole village is there to see you off and cheer you home with horns and drums. Every marshall is cheerful and supportive as were everyone we met on the course. A favourite part was the water station around 14 miles in which was 3 old farmers in a farmyard with water and jelly babies. They were obviously loving the day as much as we were.

Im very proud of achieving something I put my mind to. There were doubts in training, there were doubts in the race but 24 miles is just 24 miles, more important is how far I’ve come in the last 2 years. From being unable to run a single field to running in the Welsh Championship fell race over long course just shows what you can do when you put your mind to it.

Winding down …. ish

Tuesday it was back to normal following the Easter weekend. Well I say normal but of course I’m still off work 😉

So a quick 6 miler in the sun to stretch the legs. Along the cliffs to Cwm Mawr and back.

It feels a little odd at the moment with just over 2 weeks to go until the Preseli Beast. I’m now trying to maintain where I’m at without getting injured which feels almost like I’m putting the brakes on myself when the weather is sunny like this. Perhaps its overcaution but I really don’t want to screw myself over after 4 months of training for this run so I guess it’s listen to the body and force myself to rest every few days …. like today … hey I get to catch up with everyones blogs (and mine)

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Bane of a trailrunners life or a chance to stop and take in the scenery?
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Competition time – Spot the crow?
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Woods at Cwm Mawr which is the perfect turning point for 6

Goals and intellectual scavenging

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.

  1. 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 ….
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Soakys favourite thing ever – Destroying wood – Sticks, branches, logs, firewood – anything would get chewed to destruction.

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!

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Doggles!

 

 

Go Go Power Stations!

Well sunday was long run day and with spring unleashing its full range of blue skies and sun upon us I was looking forward to getting out and making all my bits hurt…. which I certainly achieved … more of that later.

But starting out I decided to head east not west for a change, I havent actually been more than 5 miles this way along the coast and have always stopped at Llantwit beach and returned so I planned to do a few more miles to see whats out there and then return.

The tide was high so it was all going to be a cliff run which is a pleasure all to its own when the weathers so good. The only drawback being the number of people walking the path later in the day. People aren’t so bad really but I just prefer to be alone while running.

So I was out by 9 – on a sunday!

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Looking inland its all green and blue! 
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Passed the lighthouse at 3 miles in and feeling awesome!
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Sun shining on the Bristol Channel at St Donats

I was happily cruising along at 8-9 minute miles and felt like it was very little effort, it was getting warmer but I had my pack on with a litre and half of water so I wasn’t too worried. I also had a range of food going from my homemade energy biscuits to boiled eggs and a new weapon – Minstrels. for those of you not acquainted with there they are small chocolates with a crunchy outside shell. Their selling point way back in the day was that “they melt in your mouth not in your hand”  and I figured that this was ideal for long distance running in heat – And it worked! No melty chocolate at all. Pro tip!

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Tides right in
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Nothing was hurting at all at around 5 miles in or so until I met this gate. Note the curved metal bar which stops it swinging open?  Well I was mid stride and pulled the gate open by grabbing the top of it without seeing the sticky out curved bit and slammed it straight into my nuts.  I had to take a few minutes to recover from the eye watering agony and so took a photo of the offending metalwork.

These things happen on long runs so I was soon off again!

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Looking back having gone several miles
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I had now covered around the distance needed to turn it into a 16 mile run but ahead I could see the power station at Aberthaw. Cant be too far!
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I passed hundreds of huge concrete cubes which were setup as tank defences in the war
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And finally I reached Aberthaw after 10 miles. 

So 10 miles out and feeling pretty good. I followed the same path on the return and it wasn’t until around 17 or 18 miles that the pain really started. Everything seemed to have a whinge and a moan but I guess we’re all in the pain game to some extent so despite seriously tired legs I pushed it home completing the full 20 miles.

24 miles over mountains in 5 weeks time is kinda scary but I can always walk the final uphill (it really is a beast) so right now I seem to have hit some sort of form at the right time. Now to avoid injury and keep things ticking for a while.

You just gotta love long runs in the sun!

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Spring has sprung so keep young!

I just enjoy saying and thinking it. After a seemingly endless winter its here … I swear it this time!

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Sunset over the Bristol Channel

A quick 5 miler but done at a quicker pace – Nobody shout at me I’m doing this properly and keeping an eye on impact stress – its all about quick and light feet not overstriding and causing a braking effect. This is as technical I get but I do understand the theory now to put it in practice.  So the 5 miles was done at 9 minute mile pace which quite frankly amazed me as it was a cliff run so included both elevation and wind!

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Spring evidence – These dudes were new to the world and just enjoying playing together in the sun. Important metaphor here people – As lambs get older they stop playing and just stand around and eat all day, they lose the joy in the world youth brings. I swear its just a mental thing though …. keep your mind young and never stop playing ….maybe more of this later ….. (warning teaser)

And this is why ….

I love trail running ….

grass, rocky path, grass, gravel, tarmac, grass, forest trail, tramac, grass, pebbles, rocks, sand, rocks, rock steps, grass, gravel, grass, earth track, grass, cornfield, grass, tarmac, grass tarmac

Were the different conditions underfoot on a 12 and a half mile run today to St Donats, Marcross, Monknash beach, Witches Point, Wick beach, parents house and home.

Or put it this way.

fields, paths, fields, road, fields, forest, roads, fields, paths, beach, fields, roads

Either way you look at it I had a great time just chilling for nearly 3 hours and doing my own thing. Legs still felt good at the end and heart can’t have gone much above 140 at a guess.  On days like this it almost (almost!) feels effortless.

Onto the photos!

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Way out – tide is in so clifftop time
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Haybale season – I love these, always reminds me that Soaky used to love jumping up on these when she was young.
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Early morning giant horn
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Look carefully for a surprise castle
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This is what we’re doing to our oceans – countless pieces of plastic have come ashore again. If this is a small microcosm of the oceans imagine the dreadful pollution worldwide killing sealife and destroying the marine environment. If we don’t do something soon there will be nothing left here for future generations.
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A view worth saving
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#spottedthebird – A kestrel (I think) just hovering effortlessly looking for prey
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This sheep is confused. This sheep thinks it is a dog and instead of running away like all its friends it allowed me to pat it – note stylish blade of grass  in mouth (which is how I knew it was a sheep)
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“There’s an idiot in our cornfield taking photos”  “Don’t worry it will just be Gareth from down the road being an idiot”  “Ok ok that explains it”
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#spottedthebird2 (at the back the front one looks more like a deformed squirrel