Monday, 24 February 2014

Monday 24th February

A busy weekend, although no cycling, Saturday saw Mrs B and I heading up the motorway to Gloucester to see our Grand Daughter, a pleasant day with a visit around a well preserved Gloucester Docks with a nice lunch in Dr Foster’s bar/pub. The docks and their buildings provide an excellent view into Gloucester’s past history as a valuable port used heavily for importing and exporting. Lots of preserved relics, well worth a visit.

Sunday was different with poor weather forecast with gales. I was determined to get a run in before the bad weather set in. So 7:30 saw me driving up to Staple Hill car park for a run at Neroche on the Blackdown Hills. Parking up I was the only car there, wind was howling through the trees, I was pleased much of the run would be in woods and therefore sheltered.

After setting off in drizzly rain, and high winds, the dog walk was exposed to the elements before entering the woods, underfoot was muddy, fortunately not too wet. I managed to run over to Neroche Castle before I saw people. In places the woods were quite spooky with creaking trees and wind whistling through the tall trees. On my return run up the hill at Mount Fancy farm I had competition from five MTB lads attempting to get up the hill without stopping, easy for me and I am pleased to say none came anywhere near me! When I looked back at the top there was no sign of them, but they seemed to be enjoying the outdoors with lots of banter between them as to who would manage a clear ride up the hill. I managed to avoid the showers this time, although the wind was a real challenge and did slow my pace in the last mile or so as I was running directly into it. Another great run with another 7:0 miles adding to my totals.

Today [Monday] saw a return to Bikeability in a village school near Yeovil, weather was really good with a real feel of spring, sadly it won’t last. Managed a few miles with the children, but not at any pace. Two more days of Bikeability in Bridgwater before a short break in Oxford!

Friday, 21 February 2014

Friday 21st February
What a difference a few weeks makes! Several weeks ago I was worried that I might not be able to run a distance again. BUT! Today I managed to run 11.32 miles off road across the Quantocks.

Parking at the Lydeard Hill car park I was surprised to see several cars there already [8:30am] most dog walkers but one a runner, be it with a dog. A brisk wind blew across the valley so I was glad I put on my cycling Gore Wear softshell top. The sun was shining but with showers forecast later I carried a pertex top, not waterproof but would keep the most off in combination with my Gore top. I also decided to use a small ‘Camelback’ well a Salomon pack actually, with a litre of water, some energy bars, gels and my latest trial, marzipan marbles, a recipe from ‘Train Running’ magazine, I was determined not to run out of energy!!.

I finally set off after some light stretching to make sure my calf muscles and Ham strings weren’t tight.

Not following the main track but went over Lydeard Hill my first height gain to 365 metres, the track was muddy, but not wet [if that makes sense] through the gate and along a very muddy track that seems to collect the water at all times of the year, first views towards Hinckley point, the levels, Glastonbury etc. A climb up to Wills Neck [386metres] raised my breathing rate and heart rate level, but I managed to keep it steady. A fabulous 360 degree view from the Trig point on the summit, a chat with an early riser dog walker before a stony descent to Triscombe Stone – by now the ‘sloshing water’ in my camelback starting to irritate, not sure  I would run with a Camelback again.  A really pleasant undulating ridge track along the beech lined Drove all the way to Crowcombe Park Gate, I had the track to myself, really nice to run on, soft but not too soft and puddles that were easily avoidable – I still had dry feet!

Crowcombe car park was deserted, as I climbed towards [but not to] Hurley Beacon, always a stiff climb on the MTB as the track has a difficult camber that forces you into the stony bottom of the track, no such difficulty running though. The sun continued to shine, but the wind was now a little stronger with a definite chill when you stop, just to remind you that spring is not here yet! Views around were very clear today, so an occasional walk/stop to admire views was welcome, after all that’s why we come to these places. Down to Halsway post, again a quick breather to admire the view down into Halsway and the valley below, along with the distant view of the edge of Exmoor. My next target was Bicknoller post which I was going to use as a turning point, for my return run I had estimated it to be around 5 miles, I wasn’t far out it was 5.6 miles. Splendid views down over Minehead and the Butlins tent, my only company two grazing ponies who carried on munching what little grass there was , refusing to acknowledge my presence even though I wished them 'good morning' several Marzipan marbles, a drink and off again to start my return run. I felt ok, considering I was near to my furthest run since injury, I think the weather was definite help, although I did discover on the turn that I now had more of a head wind. Views continued to unfold, I still had not met anyone since Wills Neck, if fact the only other person I met was an MTB rider as I descended to Crowcombe Park Gate. I decided to revisit Wills Neck on my return, telling myself the hills would do me good, again had the peak to myself. Down and back round Lydeard Hill, returning to the car park, just over 2 hours, not a great time but, I did walk some, stop some, chat some etc. and the aim of the run was to get 10 -12 miles in which I did comfortably with 11.32 miles. How did I feel? Fine, nothing hurt, not too tired, so all in all a great day out and a good achievement, good prospects for the Exe to Axe after all as I can build on the miles it’s only another 8.6 miles and about 2000 ft climbing more than I did today.

The marbles worked well and remarkably I finished with dry feet, good stone hopping round the puddles. Car park was now busy, but no sign of people!

A fabulous run to inspire me, sadly next week is a busy week with Bikeability, so not sure when I will get daylight runs in again L

Sorry no pictures, I didn’t take my camera

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Tuesday 18th February

Yesterday was a horrid day weather wise, heavy rain all day, even though the met office was telling us it was better [not sure for who!!! Certainly not Somerset].
Spent much of the day trying to inspire myself, Kilian Jornet book on the Kindle, a start to re read ‘Feet in the Clouds’ – brilliant book that sets a really good scene of fell running, making you realise how hard off road running is. This was followed by a quick check on the Blogs I follow, John Kynaston seems to run miles and miles up and down mountains in Scotland on a daily basis, whilst Muddy runner runs around muddy areas of Gloucester, Old Running Fox despite being Octogenarian continues to get the miles in across the moors. At the other end of the speed scale, Chris Townsend tells us about walking in Scotland and Sharkeys dream shows us the beauty of the Lake District. The thing they have in common, enthusiasm for the mountains. But, the difference is the amount of training and the ‘end product’  John Kynaston [ I am staggered at the mileage John does, but I suppose he is training for Ultras] and the Old Running Fox are careful to keep an eye on their pace etc. Muddy runner like myself, just enjoys getting out and about and entry to the odd event to prove to ourselves we can rise to and complete the challenge, without coming last! Chris Townsend and Sharkey walk and explore mountain areas on a regular basis and capture the results on film with excellent photos. A diverse group of individuals all getting pleasure out of exercise and above all mountains!

So when today dawned bright and sunny I was determined to get out and run. I headed up to Neroche, just in time to catch a heavy shower, so an extra five minutes sat in the car till it went through. Its half term so expected more cars, but only the usual dog walkers. Sunshine was back, so I set off at a steady pace determined to make sure I complete at least 7 miles. The run was uneventful, several patting of dogs as I went past [the friendly ones], one stick throwing episode for a grateful dog! And a chat with a man I met on the trail last week. Today I took my ipod so was in a ‘cocoon’ with earphones and hat. It was very warm today. 7.2 miles, did think of another circuit of the doggy path but decided not worth it for an extra mile! Home for a shower, tea and digestives. Hope I can get a longer run in this week.

Wednesday  19th February

29.76 miles on my bike today. I headed over towards the levels, Hatch Beauchamp through to Curry Mallet, Westport before turning back to the hills through Barrington, home of Barrington Court National Trust. Many roads were flooded and Barrington seemed to have had a rough time with lots of water flowing through the village and a number of trees down as well as landslides on the exit route towards Shepton Beauchamp, A climb up to Kingston before a steep descent to Dowlish Wake, a village that used to flood badly. But, seems to have escaped lightly. On to Knowle st Giles, before carrying my bike down the steps from the bridge that crosses the Chard –Ilminster cycle path, an interesting route that shows much of the ‘Stop Line’ from WW2, many of the relics and defences still in place. Many roads were covered in debris and not helped as some farmers had decided to cut the hedgerows, leaving the roads strewn with hedge cuttings. I had several lengthy stretches of water where I had to half pedal to avoid wet feet. Never the less a great ride, then it always is!!! 
Committed myself once more and entered the 5 Tors on Bodmin moor, unfortunately its the week after the Exe to Axe.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Sunday 16th February

A bright and sunny start to the day, BUT! the thermometer says its 0.1 degrees outside.
Usual dressing up with long sleeve thermal vest[ North Face this time] and my Gore Cycle wear 'Tool' soft shell jacket - brilliant jacket that is plenty warm enough on very cold days and is shower proof, providing you wash and update the waterproofing. DHB Roubaix tights and my trusty Shimano Goretex boots bought several years ago as I was fed up with cold wet feet, they have been excellent over the years, I don't get cold feet and unless the water comes over the top always have dry feet. A buff with a polartec piece around my neck and another Buff under my helmet to keep my ears warm.My Altura 'allegedly waterproof' night vision gloves kept my hands warm,despite 'the waterproof' not appearing to work last Thursday!!

Mike was already on my doorstep waiting, reporting that the roads were a little slippery. We set off in the Pilsdon Pen direction, meeting lads from the local cycling club returning [we learned later they had abandoned because the roads were icy] as we headed towards Winsham, roads indeed were icy where the sun had not managed to penetrate trees or in high hedge sheltered areas. a slow pace followed, with a few scary moments as we met ice patches where water ran over the road from the flooding of the previous week. Not until we were turning uphill at Broadwindsor to Pilsdon did the roads start to thaw and we noticed the road had now been gritted. A fabulous sunny day and the view from Pilson Pen towards the coast was outstanding, Colmers Hill above Bridport standing out. A quick slurp of drink and an energy bar and we were off, thankfully the down hill back to Birdsmoorgate was ice free, thanks to the gritting. 

The ridge past Sadbarrow had a fine display of snowdrops in the hedgerows. The descent through Thorncombe had lots of debris on the road, making a speedy descent awkward over stones and gravel washed out of the fields. The road at Forde Abbey was particularly bad with a very large puddle across the road. The rest of the ride home was uneventful, needless to say the average speed for the ride was not one of our best, but compensated for by the fantastic weather and beautiful country side, 23miles clocked up and it was home for coffee.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Saturday February 15th

After a very stormy night that brought down trees at the top of the lane pulling electricity cables with them [luckily not affecting us down our lane] an afternoon run, only a road run round town but included 'Snowden hill' [no not that Snowdon!] 5.6 miles at a very steady pace. Shin OK, Knee OK, sun shone all the way round and being low in the sky quite dazzling on the way back up the hill and home. Nice red sunset though now as I type this. Hopefully a cycle ride tomorrow and then fix up for a longer Quantocks run in the week, just need to sort the best day weather wise and decide on whether to drive to 'Brum' for Caravan and Camping show, calling in to see Grandaughter on the way back.

That makes a good 16 miles  running, and 51 miles  cycling this week, getting back to normal, I now need to raise the game and increase the miles, but not too much, too quick. Got to get near to 20 miles by end of March if I want to succeed on the Exe to Axe. More time on my feet required!

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Thursday February 13th

A morning helping children with reading in the Primary school, my weekly task [I am a volunteer], its great to see them making progress. Drive over the Blackdowns first thing was through a snow storm – but it didn’t last, much to the disappointment of the children!
A foot of snow!!!
A quick lunch, then trainers on and headed to Staple Hill car park, just in time for a hail shower, but like the snow it didn’t last. BUT! There was a foot of snow! Well that’s a foot in length rather than a foot deep, small patches around he car park [see photos].
Set off at a slow jog to warm up the shins, today’s run was minus the neoprene sleeve but plus some compression socks, that seemed to do the trick and I felt comfortable the whole run, great to be injury free!
The run started round the main dog walk route, the beginning of the Herepath Trail and through the trees [hail shower at this point],  good views over Taunton Vale and the floods on the levels, patches of snow in places, before heading off down hill towards Mount Fancy Farm and then onto Britty Common, not too wet, trying to step between stones to avoid really wet feet. Crossing the fields was slippery in the mud, but the Salamon Speed Cross 3’s were really good and grippy. Down the forest track to the ‘River B3170’ I drove up yesterday, only this time no river. A pull up and round Neroche Castle continuing to follow the Herepath Trail until a sharp right uphill, I have decided to call the ‘stairway to heaven’ because of its steepness, narrowness and position in the run [I am always tired and achy legs by this point]. Into Neroche Castle car park, to check on ‘crims’ breaking into cars [my friend PC Ruthi would be proud of me], had a word with a person in a van about leaving van unattended after my break in. Leaving the car park the sky turned very dark over the Vale, luckily the squall was moving up the valley rather than over the top of the Blackdowns. A return route the way I came, but decided to finish with an extra muddy run through the woods giving me a total of 6.94 miles [why didn’t I run round the cp to clock up 7 miles!]. A really enjoyable run, no pains, felt ok, glad to see I can run 7miles – so I am on the way to building up the miles. What is amazing is how it was much easier running on soft ground rather than tarmac, much more interesting, much less pressure on the legs, I am not a road runner.  I managed to take a few photos of the route [photos below]. so a good steady run. Perhaps I will be able to manage Tim’s Stroud to Gloucester 18 mile run soon.  

Link to Herepath Trail information

My Jimny at Staple Hill car park and a 'foot of snow' in the background
Start of run
3 spots of hail as I enter the woods
Nice single track
Into the dark woods
A squall over Taunton Vale and a 'sprinkle' of snow in the foreground
Down the hill
Down to Mount Fancy farm
Through the gate towards Britty Common
Across the fields
A muddy bit! through a previously fallen tree
Down to the road crossing to Neroche
                        A selfie!!!!
Entering the Neroche tracks
Start of the stairway to heaven and Neroche castle summit
Steepening stairway with roots to help the grip
Entering the final gully of the stairway

Near top of Neroche castle

The top!
Start of the way back from the top of Neroche
Heading down a muddy bit, quite steep here
Track back to the junction before turning left back to Staple Hill

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Friday 7th Feb to Thursday 13th Feb

Friday morning coffee was on Beer Head as the usual Seaton Front was closed due to storm damage, debris on the road, broken walls and toilet doors damaged from the stones thrown up, but the compensation for us was  great views from Beer Head.
After lunch I braved Neroche for a run as the weather was good, but parked at Staple Hill instead of Neroche castle, 5.5 miles and the last 1 mile in pouring rain [message to self run faster to miss rain!!!] also, I managed to trip on a tree route, falling on an inconvenient stone, result painful swollen knee! Will I ever be injury free??? Bathed in Witch Hazel, not sure when I will run again. Really nice run otherwise, although quite wet underfoot [more smelly trainers drying].
Text from running friend Ali says, she has a heavy cold and strained ankle so it gets to us all, and she has the Grizzly at the beginning of March, at least Exe to Axe is at the end of March, giving me a little longer to train, but as an experienced marathoner she will probably have the fitness to back her up.
Tim continues to tell me how far he is running, so managing to avoid injury.

Sunday dawned wet and windy [again] so had to wait until the afternoon for a bike ride – Very windy!! a ‘Billy no mates’ ride up over Combe st Nicholas, round past Ferne animal sanctuary, down through Chardstock, a steep descent, dodging gravel and debris on the road, followed by a steep climb from the ford up to the village and Tytherleigh. A descent again to Broome and cross the River Axe, which although flooded was not on the road. A climb up to Holditch and on to Thorncombe a couple of miles but not too steep and a nice tail wind. Left through Thorncombe and down past Forde Abbey, the Creamery at Chard Junction then back over Whitegates and  Forton, 24 miles a good ‘South Somerset alps’ ride with over 2000ft of climbing in a short distance. Hills combined with gales was good training.

Monday, looked a decent day weather-wise, decided no running as knee still swollen and painful, but not when cycling. Headed out up over Sticklepath and down Barley hill [returning later back up! all 1.5 miles of it] Horton and Broadway, Bickenhall [nice tail wind] Hatch Beauchamp, Curry Mallet, Ilton then back through Horton and up Barley Hill, a struggle today, road running with water and pothole dodging but clocking up 27 miles, lots of flood water in places and half pedalling to keep my feet dry. Cycling doesn’t seem to affect my knee, no pain but can still feel it, might be ready to run again by Wednesday [I hope].

‘My fitnesspal’ log continues to show calorie intake is down and balances well with regular exercise and I am down to 12st 2lb losing 5lb in 2 weeks. Think I can stop at 12st and then try to maintain it. Cake and biscuit reduction has good results, can I keep it up?
Wednesday 12th Feb
After a very stormy morning doing a Bikeability course in Taunton we had to abandon at lunch time. The drive home found me driving up through Corfe along the ‘river B3170’ average of 6 inches of water all the way up and deeper in places. Glad I was in the Jimny a great little vehicle in any bad weather, excellent in snow. Inconsiderate drivers still seemed to think a good bow wave throwing water all over every other vehicles coming in the other direction as well as impacting on nearby houses is ok – why do they do it?

When it had all eased off I managed a 3.5 mile road run around the town, very windy, but dry! – Knee ok, shin ok [I think?]

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Monday January 27th to Thursday Feb 6th


I can’t believe it’s a whole week since my last input, quite hard to think what I have done over the past week and a half!!


Been quite lazy this week as far as ‘official training sessions’ go, after my car break in I lost a bit of enthusiasm, as I took to running the roads round town managed 2 runs [3.4 miles and 5.5 miles]  the second being more interesting as I included a run up ‘Scotties’ a half mile off road track up ‘Snowdon hill’  [not the real Snowdon!!] The run was a good 5.5 miles as I wanted to include roads I was unsure of, as part of my risk assessment for the Bikeability course I ran in the town this week –shin seemed ok, using my neoprene sleeve, unfortunately its now 4 days since I last ran. The weather is horrendous with severe gales and heavy rain, much of Somerset is flooded and the railway at Dawlish has been washed away. I cant seem to enthuse to go out in the this weather in the dark, so telling myself I can wait till the weekend but will have to work harder, 30th March is getting nearer. I did manage to get a bike ride in on Sunday 35 miles with Mike and Jason, Jason being very fit and active losing 4 stone and going to spinning classes each night!!

The Bikeability course planned for tomorrow and Friday in a local village has been cancelled as the school is shutting for 2 days due to flooding in the area, so hopefully might get a chance for a run, cant see me getting a  bike ride in as weather forecast is very poor, although Sunday looking better.


We also had a good walk at Sidmouth on Saturday [photo below] nice bright and sunny J
 Sidmouth looking West towards Ladram Bay
Sidmouth Looking East from below Jacobs Ladder

Thursday February 6th

Finally got out this morning, 3.88 mile run at 6am this morning good pace 9.53mm, well, good to say I am not pushing the shins. Shin seemed ok, just hoping I have now recovered. Need to build up my miles, will try to get out tomorrow and perhaps a coast run at the weekend as not been down Beer Head for months.