Trainings picking up very slowly but very surely which is a good thing because on the 3rd August I’m running my first 50 miler! Been planning it a while and it’s one of the reasons I didnt start the Preseli Ultra last month. The injury has been a knockback on the trianing front but I’ve still been walking Murph 30 odd miles a week and now back to running.
The raace is around the Epynt Way in Mid Wales and as I say is 50 miels with around 8000 feet of elevation gain and loss. Its a big challenge for me but one to look forward to. There will be plenty of walking the ups no doubt! Link to race details is here https://www.pegasusultrarunning.com/the-eddum/
Plus here is the good bit there is extra motivation – I’m doing it to raise money for charity – specifically the dog sanctuary I got Murph from. Its a really special place that homes dogs no-one else will take, sometimes for life – they call these “the forgotten ones” which breaks my heart. They rehome dogs like Murph that people generally don’t want because they are emotionally scarred – Murph is still very scared of people (but improving slowly with lots of love). They always need funds as it’s privately run and recently they’ve suffered terrible flooding so need money to repair and strengthen flood defences.
Any donation is appreciated, much of my fundraising will be done in the local village and in all my schools that i work in but with the kindness of everyone off and online I hope to raise £500. It’ll actually be odd not running purely for myself, Im expecting to feel some sort of extra pressure to finish but I’m also expecting it to act as an extra spur to get to that finish line no matter how long it takes. If I have to walk it I will. Luckily I have a friend coming to crew me and she will also be bringing Murph and his little pal Tilly so I’m sure seeing them at aid stations will be a great boost.
So for now I’ll leave you with some pictures of the reason i’m doing this… If it wasnt for lizzies Barn this little monster wouldn’t have a life like this
Well you cant fault the weather – Well unless its due to climate change in which case in the long run I’d prefer snow but I guess thats another story. It does mean that every morning we get out for a beautiful walk first thing for 4 or 5 miles and then get some training done in the afternoon. I have some weird tight pain in my glutes still – I mean its being going on for ages – but in fact running actually helps it. its when i sit for any lengthg of time it gets angsty – so hey ho if running fixes it then im down for that!
Every time I feel like im getting into a groove something like flu kicks in. This week has been mainly a writeoff, to be fair the flu didnt properly kick in until later in the week but last weekend saturdays run was around 10 miles and I felt amazing. Then on sunday everything was broke. Just felt bleuuurgh from the off. So you know what, I walked a lot of it, we did 6 miles or so but half run half walk and normally I cant get away from that “cheating” feeling when I walk but I figure its better to be out there doing something than nothing at all. I know Murph would prefer it!
So with 3 months to the first ultra and with a few fell races in between I feel like I cant get a solid training block started … and then i realise I havent really stopped and the fitness is there anyway so whats the worry.
Technically I shouldnt go out and run today but y’know…. techincally we’re all dead one day so im gonna seize this one
We’re still out there. And we’re just enjoying being out and training. By training I just mean running when we feel like it – which for Murph would be every day if he could but for his old man it means when I know the body can take it. No matter because we can always walk anyway!
It really is such a joy to be out with a dog again, I think I’d forgotten how much pleasure you can get just by making an animal so happy. Gotta admit Soaks is probably up there watching and thinking Thank God he never made me run like that, she was definitely a walking dog. But Murphy was born to run (to be fair its his genetics) and watching him bounce around and be a general lunatic with a huge grin on his face is a simple way of making any hurt I’m feeling disappear. It’s so easy to melt a mile away in his company.
I’m not really a christmassy person. However I do find it a good reason to be outside and getting in some longer runs while I have the time off. In the last week I’ve managed around 50 miles (not counting today – Im waiting on the tide) and have taken the days off as needed when I can feel that the legs need the rest. If I was the type to do new years resolutions then ths years would be to try not to be injured half the time. Sometimes you cant do anything about it – Some times you can – I’ll at least try! I have plans for 2019 but everytime I announce plans something tends to get in the way so I’ll keep them to myself until they happen.
Until then I’m just going to enjoy being out with Murph and doing whatever miles I can.
You cant teach an old dog new tricks? I dont believe in that or I wouldnt be running ultras right now and you can certainly teach a young dog lots of tricks. What I am learning is that I don’t really need to batter my body to pieces in order to keep at a good level of fitness, my running milage is lower but the quality is higher and I am guessing my overall milage if you include walking has risen thanks to Murph.
I could be running more but it seems less important than just spending time on my feet and making Murph happy, dont get me wrong he loves running too but sometimes its just nice to chill and enjoy watching him play especially when its hot. I can judge how im feeling and turn up and down the intesity but Murph doesnt have that option, he’s flat out no matter how hot it is and its the responsible thing to do not to push him. Its a nice balance im finding at the moment. Plus I’m suffering less pain in the ankle and toe and figure it cant be a bad thing to let things heal a little, it was a long hard training block up to Preseli and although its hard to switch off from that mentally its the right thing to do.
So I havent run all week but have been to the beach a dozen times and only this morning we ran and it was a nice change and was nice to run pain free, only 3 miles but enough
As for young dogs learning new tricks – This week we nailed sit!
A week afetr running the ultrabeast in Preseli I went back with Claire and the dogs to walk in the hills. To be honest I dont think i’d get bored of that place. Was strange in a way to walk the paths I’d run the week before and a damn sight easier. We actually ended up doing the Beast Bach 11 mile route with a bit tacked on so we could reach a rocky outcrop so a 12 mile walk in the hills on a sunny day – cant fault it. The dogs had a whale of a time plus (and this was intended) we didnt have to endure a single second of anything royal wedding related – Win Win!
I also realised yesterday Im doubly blessed – I loved running the ultra (Yes once again a week later I’m no longer saying never again and I’ve forgotten all the pain) and I loved walking up there with the dogs. I can do either happily and not miss the other. Thats lucky
Today I felt like running again, the legs have been a bit wrecked this week – monday was horrendous/hilarious depending on whether you were me or watching me. But today although they are still a little tired I could feel the spring is back and I can drive again rather than shuffle. Murph loves running – well he trots at a gentle pace, I think he’ll make a pretty good training partner.
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.