Sunday, 30 March 2014

Sunday 30th March

Today I feel a little guilty - I don't like to let people down by not turning up,  a little envious - a fantastic weather day, for a fantastic run on a fantastic route and a little relieved - wasn't sure my knee was up to the distance, but! overall very satisfied it was the right decision,  Why? Because today was the Ex to Axe and I (we) were not there? Events over the past week with bereavement in the family followed by the usual aftermath of funerals etc. we made a quite correct decision to be DNS. This combined with niggly  knee, transport logistics made the decision even more correct. At this time families need support and to be at home is the best way to show it. So a 40 mile  solo cycle ride to view the aftermath of the Muchelney floods was my morning excursion, in beautiful weather, fantastic for the E to A, perhaps a little warm for 20 miles  running! The fields around Muchelney were very 'damp' but not many houses with skips etc. showing flooded properties. Roads were in good condition, and quiet, think clocks changing helped. I set a good pace, though not meaning to, with the 40 mile covered at 14mph +. I hope the runners had a good day, I will look forward to reading a race report. With 5 Tors next weekend cancelled, I have no running events planned, so back to cycling and Audax.

We returned home on Friday after a fantastic four days in the Lakes.

View over Windermere at Bowness when we got there, it poured with rain the next day!

 Great accommodation at Fallbarrow Park, Bowness, a large 3 bedroomed superior caravan, very warm with central heating and very clean, lots of space, far more than the old ones we used when the children were little! It made a nice change from using the camper. The journey up was extremely busy on the M5 and M6 but even worse on the way back, clocking up 300 miles each way.
I managed a couple of runs around Bowness, one in the rain! 3.5 miles and 6 miles, also a couple of low level walks round Rydal including coffee and scone at the excellent Rydal Hall tearooms,  Tarn Howes and Brant Fell above Bowness

                                                          View from Brant Fell, towards Ambleside

 we were lucky with the weather, managing to avoid

heavy showers whilst we were out. The countryside was beautiful, lots of daffodils and uninterrupted views as most trees were still 'leafless', but heavy in bud. Lambs gambolled in the fields, carefully looked over by proud mums. We were surprised how busy it was, people of all ages, showing the Lakes are an all year round 'resort' these days. We also made the compulsory visits to the gear shops in Keswick and Ambleside, however, no significant purchases were made, unless two pairs of socks count!
We also couldn't visit the lakes without lunching in Booths in Keswick.

Photo shows a view Looking over Rydal Water

                                                  mmmmm! Wilfs Veggie Chilli

or a veggie chilli from Wilfs at Staveley, we even treated ourselves to big veggie breakfast at Wilfs on the way home.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Monday 24th March

The weekend weather forecast was not good and knowing I needed to get in a last long  run, tried to gauge the best day. Getting up early on Saturday the signs were not good, Sunday seeming the better option. However, as always  with the British weather it changed, brilliant sunshine! So decided to get my bike out. A good 30 mile ride over and round North Curry, giving a stiff headwind on the way home. I was pleased as I had done 30 earlier on in the week so 60 miles on the bike. My right knee again had a 'niggle' which was a cause for concern, I thought cycling might have done some good.

Sunday dawned with grey skies and as I collected my kit, spots of rain tapped on the window. 17 - 18 miles across the Quantocks was my aim. Again as I drove across through Taunton rain was on the wind screen and as I pulled into the car park at Lydyeard hill a very brisk and chilly north westerly breeze made getting out of the car an unpleasant experience, especially as it was only 7am!
Several cars in the car park, one had someone asleep in the back, beer cans strewn around the outside. Just as I was getting ready a land rover drove in and a fellow runner stepped out, we exchanged greetings, Liz was doing a short run with her dog and was interestingly twenty seven weeks pregnant.

So I had company for the first few miles up and over Wills Neck, a stiff headwind  made running hard work, and I started to wonder if I had got my clothing right, Liz set up a good slow pace and we parted company on the drove with Liz heading back over the fields, which I think will have given her a good five mileish run, well done Liz.

It was hard work on my outward journey, I was a little concerned on the stoney ground as it seemed to give a sharp pain in my knee, not a good omen. My turning point trig, was very windy and cold so no time to hang about, I ate whilst walking. The weather by now was improving with longer spells of sunshine, although dark clouds loomed up on the horizon before heading in the direction of he levels and Glastonbury.
I felt on my return run benefits of my longer excursions, but niggly knee had me worried. Back at the car park 16.5 miles completed, not quite as far as I had hoped. However, my main concern being my knee! I rubbed in some Voltorol to ease the niggle. Car park now very full, the sleeping car, disappeared leaving his/her beer cans behind for others to remove, very irritating and annoying!
Off to the Lakes this morning fr a four night break at Bowness, no camper van this time, taking advantage of a deal at Fallbarrow Park on a luxury caravan. Hope I can get some low level walks and the odd short run in it will give me an idea whether my knee would survive a hard 20mile on the coast.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Wednesday 19th March

After an early morning visit to a local town to monitor a School Crossing Patrol(lollipop person) which went well, even though it was a very busy main road. I quickly drove across to the Quantocks to complete another lengthy run in my build up to the Exe/Axe in a week and a half. My aim was around 16miles. I was surprised on reaching the car park at Lyyeard hill how many cars were there for midweek! There was a breeze, but the sun was threatening to come out. Three quarters again today with short sleeve jersey and arm warmers from my cycling kit. A camel back again with over a litre of energy drink, the marbles and some flapjack (home made of course).

I felt good running up to Wills Neck and followed a similar route to last time, it was sad to see a group of primary school children with hi viz vests on when I got to the drove, they were having a great time, but did they really need hi viz on the Quantocks? Elf and safety a little OTT!

I managed to get to Bicknoller post before I saw anyone else, strangely I saw the same couple on my return at Wills Neck, the lady commented she had seen me before earlier that morning, I didn't like to say, 'yes, that was 12miles ago'!!

My run was incident free, the sun came out which was nice and underfoot, was very dry and any mud compacted. 15.66 miles today at just over 11mins mile! Very pleased, knee niggle again, but not sure what it is. Quite tired, but also pleased that I was able to run all the way up Wills Neck, I am sure the gel I had ten minutes earlier helped! I also thought the energy drink helped (ISO from Holland And Barratt) and I had very little left in my camelback.

Still 4.3 miles short of the 20mile I need to do, and also a couple of thousand feet short of climbing.

I was pleased yesterday to be able to cycle to the Bikeability course at a local village school and clocked up 30 miles. Knees ached a little, but found I was cycling up some hills in higher gears.

Will do a short run on Friday evening and longer one over the weekend, probably my last long run as off to the Lake District Monday for a few days, short runs, and short walks with visits to tea and outdoor shops in between are on the cards.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Sunday 16th March
Spring has sprung or are we speaking too soon?
I thought I would report backwards on the week this week as today has been such a great day for running, weather and a rather splendid lunch/ carvery at the Eagle Tavern at Buckland St Mary, an unexpected treat as my daughter decided to drop by and suggested it. Very good nut roast for my wife and I and lovely cuts of meat for daughter, added to which were, roast pots,parsnips, broccoli, carrots etc!! Too be recommended at £10 a head.

I felt I had earned mine as I had burnt 1600 calories earlier this morning with a stunning run from Beer Head to Weston Mouth clocking up just over 10miles. As I drove down to the coast early I was locking the van and stretching by 8:00 in Beer Head carp ark, I wasn't the first but the sun shone in clear blue skies, with only a murmur of wind.

I set off up the track, very aware that I was taking a risk today by wearing my new Salomon FellRaiser trainers, nice and shiny in red!, however my worries were unnecessary as they were superbly comfortable for the whole 10 miles, I was very pleased with them,giving an excellent grip throughout, although the trails today were reasonably dry. I bought the shoes from Wiggle at a good price and were delivered on Saturday, excellent service. I decided drastic action was needed after my Speedcross 3 were on the way out ( I will follow a warranty claim,if I can find the receipt).

My new Salomon Fell Raisers

After a good pull up to Beer Head it was a cruise along the top before a steep and rapid descent to Branscombe Mouth, across the stream, cafe still shut, but a few cars in the carpark a steep pull( and a walk) brought me to the forested ridge, pleasant running, before turning off to follow the coast path up a very wet and muddy track,avoided by a bit of scrambling round bushes and trees.
Up on to Berry Fort with excellent views all around, the path here is near to the cliff edge so care was needed, I continued across the top, various ups and downs before reaching Weston Summit trig point, above Weston Mouth, the Gps showing 5miles run. The weather was stunning and I was glad I made the choice of 3/4 tights and short sleeve jersey, bum bag with jacket, ISO drink and faithful marzipan marbles, apparently Trail magazine in their latest edition stated  3x13g of Marzipan and raisins have 170 cals, 2.5g protein, 30g carbs, 5.5g fat.

view towards Sidmouth from Weston summit, my turning point

A drink, snack and photo before turning to head back the way I came. I turned off though at Fountains inn to run down trough Branscombe village, a pretty village, sadly with many holiday homes. Down past the blacksmith before turning to run back to the coast, easy running as it was down hill. At Branscombe Mouth, descision time, straight up, bridle way or stairway to heaven( the track at the end of the undercliff is very steep and is called stairway to heaven by the Grizzly organiss!)
I chose the straight up route, which was a steep, 1/2 mile that took me a good 10minutes walking, the steps at the top being particularly difficult as they were too big for my short legs. I was tired by now so was pleased to gain the summit. Finished off my iso drink and several more 'marbles' to get me back. I had seen few people and was surprised to only see two couples before finally descending back to the car park. I felt good, no pains anywhere, slight twinge in my right knee, but that's old age!
I was tired, but pleased. It will be good to download from my gps to see feet climbed.
I had run part of the Exe/Axe route. A great run in stunning weather,with stunning views.

Looking towards Seaton from Beer head ,on my way back

Earlier in the week the fog, spoiled what promised to be a week of good weather. 4 days Bikeability in fog is not easy. However I did manage 3 runs of 5.5 and 3.1 on the road and 7 miles off road on my Neroche route, so a good week, few cycling miles again though, but guess focus will be back on cycling after E to A to prepare for Audax rides. So my total this week was 25.6 miles, pleased with that and my new shoes. Last big run next weekend, so must hit 15 or 16 miles in one run.

I still need to add photos to last post, will try to sort tonight.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Sunday 9th March 2014
The weather has taken a change for the better over the last couple of days and the forecast for today [Sunday] was for wall to wall sunshine all day! Has spring sprung??

Got my kit together last night with the intention of a quick getaway in the morning and up to the Quantocks, usually warmish, dry Spring Sundays up there means full car parks and loads of MTBers.

So it was 7:05 when I drew into the car park, only one other car there.
There was a chill in the air with a cooling breeze, so hat and gloves were necessary, but managed with a helly short sleeved vest and my Karrimor long sleeve running shirt. Decided not to go for ¾ as it’s generally chilly along the ridge. Had my camera with me today so quick photo of the car park before setting off.
 Lydyeards Hill CP

 First Hill

 Local Exmoor Ponies

 Wills Neck

 Near Triscombe Stone

 The Drove

 On the way to Dead Womans ditch

 My Turning point Trig
Final track back to CP

Walking off to warm up round Ldyeard hill, past a group of Exmoor ponies, with the common ‘nose in a bag of flour look’ and quite playful with each other, before my jog up Wills Neck, beautiful morning clear skies and sun! skylarks were all ready up and twittering away, lovely sight to see down and along the drove stopping occasionally to take a photo, views either side were a little hazy, but never the less stunning. At Crowcombe Park gate[car park empty]  I needed to extend my route to increase mileage so  I ran onto Dead woman’s ditch along an undulating path, crossing Ramscombe and weaving in and out of small groups of sheep who decided that carrying on eating the grass was more important than moving out of my way.
Crossing the road, the track past Robin Uprights hill along a good track to Halsway Post, still not seen anyone and three quarters of an hour into my run. Time for an energy top up so popped a couple of marzipan marbles with some dried fruit and a little water from my Camel back.

Another detour to increase mileage took me over Thorncombe Hill and Beacon, quite muddy and churned up in places by the horses. A drop back down to the track brought me up to Bicknoller post. Views down Weacombe and excellent descent on an MTB and over towards Minehead.

Beacon Hill beckoned, and on reaching the Trig point a sharp breeze reminded me it wasn’t summer just yet, at least I ditched the hat earlier but kept the gloves. Another energy top up, this time with a ‘Zip gel’ Blackcurrent and quite thick. Found it best to walk whilst trying to tear the top off, other wise it goes everywhere! Back across the top of Smiths Combe another well known MTB descent.

Start of the return journey once again had me running into a head wind till the shelter of Thorncombe Hill. A climb up to the Trig point at point 358 I was walking as tired legs were starting to show with approximately 8 miles done.

The car park now showed more cars although I had still not met any other walkers/runners/MTBers. The first people I met were back along the drove, that’s over 2 hours on the Qs’ with seeing anyone!
The pull up Wills neck on the return was a struggle and the descent down the other side was welcome. The sun still shone and the temperature was rising. Slightly longer route back round Lydyeard hill to up the mileage a with a final result of 14.29 miles. I was glad to see the car as my right knee had developed a pain and I was tired despite all my efforts to keep the energy up.

The good news my new Garmin 110 worked well showing a heart rate of 143 and pace of just over 12 mins per mile , not bad to say I did walk and I did stop to take photos.
The bad news was my Speedcross 3’s showed signs of a hole in the upper where my toes bend, very disappointing as this happened with my last pair, and I hadn’t done many miles in these, less than a hundred miles, I will be writing to Salamon to complain. I now have to get new trainers quickly so I have time to get used to them, new shoes for a 20 mile run is a none starter. I think I will have a look at Inov8 295’s, my son seems to like them and they get a good write up, but I need to try them on to ensure size is right.
That 20 miles still seems a long way off I am still 5 .3 miles short and struggled with that – only 3 weeks to go.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Friday March 7th

Working 5 days this week has been hard (supposed to be retired) so very pleased today when the Bikeability finished at lunchtime, we had both exhausted the junctions we could use and also the children! Very few level roads around the remote  small village school on the Blackdown hills with rush hour when the bus comes through, combined with Mole valley deliveries and tractors on their way to muck spreading. The weather has been very warm too, in contrast to yesterday with low cloud, drizzle and a stiff breeze. I was also able to cycle to the school today, being only 6 miles from home, however, it was 800ft of climbing to get there, but a good descent on the way home.

Good week running with two round town runs of 5.5miles in the dark. No injury issues, set now for another Quantocks raid on Sunday to try to up the mileage again to 15miles. But! My Garmin forerunner 110 watch decided to give up the ghost, blank screen, wouldn't charge, nothing. So immediately googled to find a replacement, amazon at £90 best price, I already have a HRM from my old one. I liked the 110 as it was easy to use, gave me the information I need and also I wore as a watch as it didn't look too sporty and was a good size, as well as a good time keeper being satellite controlled . I got it delivered next day (today) and is charging as I type this. I do like to know how far  I have  run. Will look into getting my old one repaired at Garmin.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Sunday March 2nd

A very busy week but managed to get 14 miles running and a few miles cycling through Bikeability. The real bonus being a 12.47 run across the Quantocks again today [not included in the 14 miles]

2 road runs around the town helped keep the mileage up even after 3 full days of Bikeability and some different unconventional training, walking round Oxford for 2 days, it was nice to get away for a couple of days and celebrate another year passing! The Bodleian and Ashmolean were interesting places and the various colleges made Oxford a lovely place to visit, we must go back when the weather is better.
The weight still continues to fall following the ‘myfitnesspal’ app, think I have lost 8 pounds now so getting very near my 12 stone target.

The months totals have been down on last year and the year before, mainly due to work and secondly the weather. February 58.7 miles running, 157.47 miles cycling compared with 79.2 miles running and 192.86 miles cycling last year. The Grizzly next week, but sadly I wont be there after failing to get a ‘lottery’ place, which is why we entered the Exe to Axe.

The run today across the Quantocks was hard, this time I managed 12.47miles and reached the Beacon Hill trig point at 310 metres – in very windy and very wet low cloud. The run started in poor weather with the climb up Wills Neck 384 metres in low cloud and poor visibility, but the wind was on my left rear side making running a little easier on the outward journey, quite muddy along the drove today, seemed lots of boot and hoof marks as well as MTB tracks. No view today as the cloud was so low. Over Halsway post, past Bicknoller and onto climb Beacon Hill, a couple of marzipan marbles and a drink from the camel back [thanks Muddy runner for the tip on stopping water sloshing, it worked well] below the summit sheltered from the wind and rain – I only saw one person the whole length of the ridge and that was on the summit.
The return run was hard, running direct into the wind and rain much of the time I was pleased to have my ‘Buffalopertex Mountain Shirt, not waterproof but kept most of the rain off and did keep me warm.   Some walking at times was needed. The final pull up Wills Neck was very hard as it’s so exposed. Several MTBers passed on the way back, but no walkers, clearly they thought better. The final mile was a struggle and indeed a walk!  1100 ft climbed today, but somewhat short of the Exe to Axe ascent. Felt ok after and recovered quickly,  I was tired, heart rate was still averaging 146 with a maximum of 164 well below my maximum of 174. 20 miles along the coast seems a long way.

Heavy week of five days Bikeability this week, so running will be limited to road runs around the town, but should get a few miles cycling in each day, be it at a slow rate.