Sunday, 29 March 2015

Exe to Axe, done that!

Monday 30th March
Yesterday I did what I thought was one of the hardest things I have ever done! I completed the Exe to Axe run that is 21.41miles from Exmouth to Seaton along the coast with over 3500 ft of ascent. 
I did it with one of my sons, we started together and finished together, supported by Mrs B, Mrs son and of course our grand daughter, who I am told spent a long time in the gale force winds, cheering and clapping other finishers, thus, deserving the best clappers medal.
Our time was 5hrs and 3mins, the winner did 2hrs 41mins so not far in front! ( LOL!) we came 183rd and 184th out of 203, so we didn't come last, the last person took 6hrs 20mins.

It was a great day out, starting in rain and gale force winds, that blew us along at times, the rain eased but the gales got stronger, under foot was very slippery at times, particularly the descent to Weston Mouth, very muddy!! Then the climb out saw our pace drop dramatically, with the length, steepness and muddyness of the climb.
My legs still ache this morning and I feel tired. A great event, scenery was awesome as you are always on the Southwest Coast Path, but it was very tough, with big climbs after Sidmouth, not one I think I will do again, it needs lots of long miles in the legs.
I think it's back to cycling now for the summer, running is a nice way to keep fit over the winter without having to clean your bike each time you go out!!
I now have a day recovering, whilst son has a long day at work, think he will be tired!

Friday, 27 March 2015

Longest run

Tomorrow is the furthest I have ever run 20+ miles, unfortunately I haven't picked the flattest terrain on which to do it! It's the Exe to Axe run that is from  Exmouth to Axmouth along the coast path.
I have been building up and did my 17.4 mile run last Sunday, this week I have done 2 spin sessions and 2 short easy runs of 3 miles each trying not to overdo it but keep my legs going. I now need to sort what food I will take, my intention is to top up my 500ml bottle every five miles. The weather forecast is not good with showers expected and gales, at least that will be behind us !
The climbing starts at Peak hill before Sidmouth, followed by another straight out of Sidmouth. The hills then continue for the next ten miles with the climb of Branscombe probably being the biggest challenge at 15 miles.
I am fit enough, it's whether my legs can do it. At least one of my sons will be there as well, so some company.
I am looking forward to the challenge, and it will be I am sure. Niggles have been highlighting themselves, I still have hamstring tendonitis, my left knee has a niggle, and I noticed a slightly bruised toe!!
This time tomorrow ( 6am) I will be sorting myself out and preparing!

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

A trip to Deauville, France and a 17.4 mile run

Sunday 22nd March

What a week, its amazing what you can do in a week!
Last Sunday saw us driving to my sons near Wimborne to stay the night to catch the early Ferry from Portsmouth to Caen on Monday morning, for a 4 day break in Deauville in Normandy France, this was a 3 night Brittany Ferries break, so Mrs B had the pleasure of a hotel rather than the Campervan for 3 nights.
We arrived at the Port at 7 am ready for departure at 8:15, I was partly expecting to be the only car in the port given it was a cold, mid -March Monday  morning, who the heck goes to France then, apparently loads of people as we were way down the queue of cars!! Anyway we boarded and as always went straight up to the lounge to ensure we weren’t standing up all the way to France! But for once it was quiet, I am not sure where all the people went, but they weren’t in our lounge?? The ferry left 15 minutes late, due to a medical emergency! We didn’t find out what that was, as long as it wasn’t the captain found drunk at the wheel, or I suppose some poor soul will be glad they were ill this side of the channel.  As we finally set sail we managed to find the self service restaurant, serving breakfast, as we don’t eat meat or fish we had the veggie option with a coffee, nice but very luke warm. At least it staved off hunger for a few hours as it’s a five and half hour sail across to Caen, we tried the restaurant again for lunch, and had luke warm Tagliatelle with Ratatouille,  I am not quite sure why they have trouble having hot food, hot plates would help.
The ship made up time and we duly arrived in Caen at 3:15 French time, the port seemed in the middle of nowhere, out on a sandspit, so it was straight out on to a ring road round Caen, before ending up on a motorway [we didn’t intend to but missed the turning] that we had to pay to get off again, it was a good job we had a few Euros loose change from our last trip.

 View from our room towards Trouville
The Hotel Continental  - recommended

We arrived outside our Hotel in Deauville, having paid to park in the road only to be told as we were opposite the Police station it was free!!  A very nice room with dual aspect views of the town, the reception spoke very good English although Mrs B did very well with her French whilst I hid  behind her, in case I was asked something in French [not my strong point, in fact I am hopeless!!!].
We had a quick cuppa using our travel kettle and mugs from home before going out to explore the town, what was nice was the hour they are ahead of us meant it stayed light until 7:30 8 :00 ish.
The town of Deauville was the place to be in the 20s’ and today its well known for its big Casinos and designer shops, but this didn’t interest us, the houses were wonderful and the sea front has the ‘boardwalk’ 

 The Famous Boardwalk with the Film stars names

The Boardwalk on my early morning run

and bathing huts which date back to 1924, the beach here is massive and the sand wonderful, it’s a lovely walk along the boardwalk . Next door to Deauville is Trouville they are separated by a river and a lovely harbour, the housing is again lovely typical French. We spent the three days wandering about Deauville and Trouville. The weather was beautiful, with people out sunbathing, when out of the wind. It was quite busy for mid march. I did manage a couple of runs over the four days, I ran out along the front as far as possible before descending down back to the beach for a lovely 3 mile run back along the beach on firm san

 My beach run, 3 miles of firm sand
 Same beach run, other direction
 The bells island in the middle of Deauville

sharing at times with some hrse riders out for a gallop along the sea edge, 6.29 miles covered. I was also up early on our final morning for a 3 mile run along the front, a very chilly morning.
Our final morning before catching the ferry back was a trip to Honflur, a lovely town with some very old buildings in the middle and a harbour surrounded by five or six storey typical French housing with cobbled streets,  very busy with tourists, very cold that day and very grey.
The drive back along the coast to Caen took us through Pegasus Bridge, famous from the war. The roads were lovely and quiet and we arrived back at the ferry in good time, again expecting to be the only car in the car park!!! no chance! Where have all these people been???? This time we had taken our own food for the journey home, disappointing as the food was on the way out. We finally arrived back in England at 9:15, it took ages to get off the ferry as we seemed to be on a level that had to wait for all the other traffic to get off, then we had to queue to get through passport, BUT! The checks for illegal immigrants didn’t seem very thorough, lorries were driving straight out with no checks as were all the cars and  vans??

The Ferry docks at Portsmouth

The drama continued as we were diverted from the A31 because of road works shutting the road, last thing we want at 11 pm at night, as we went down the detour a deer jumped out of the undergrowth, I couldn’t avoid it  and hit it squarely on the front, it was killed outright and fortunately was knocked across the road off the highway, even more surprising there was a police car coming in the other direction, we stopped and checked the car, fortunately a cracked plastic grill was the only damage, we were very lucky, but not so lucky for the deer. The police were very good and they sorted it out as we went on our way, much shaken and taking it steady for the rest of the way home. A lovely few days away, sadly the incident cast a shadow on it all.
Saturday saw us taking the van out for a run down to Exmouth in beautiful sunshine.
Sunday had me doing my final long run before the Ex to Ax run next week. I was on the Quantocks by 7 am again, and again it was a very cold grey day, but at least there wasn’t any wind, I set off on the same route as before but intended to extend the mileage. I took a bum bag this time. I felt ok and didn’t have the same difficulties as last time; I managed 17.4 miles so pleased with that. Legs felt ok, except for my left hamstring which I looked up and I seem to have ‘hamstring tendonitis which they say you have to rest, it is just a nagging pain in my bum! If I can get through this week, its back to biking, this should be better for it.
So its been a very busy week, and I managed to get a few miles running to help me decide whether to run next weekend, I should be on the start line, weather permitting!!

Sunday, 15 March 2015

A hard week


No Bikeability this week gave a bit more time, weather wise not been great, started off being mild and by yesterday was bitterly cold with the easterly wind. Coffee in the van down Seaton when the weather was nice and a trip to make sure the egg and chips were up to standard in Sidmouth.
Training wise, after last Sundays 12 miler Monday was a rest day, Tuesday I cycled over to Muchelney and Drayton to see how they had raised the road to avoid flooding, I am not sure what they have done will have the effect they are looking for, but what do I know!!
It was a mild day and I was surprised how hard the 39miles was, I suppose again, my running doesn't seem to match my cycling. I also went to spinning in the evening and was surprised how well I went. Wednesday saw me running round the town clocking up 6.2 miles in a good time for a training run. Thursday was spinning day once again and Friday after a very wet cold  miserable day it was 6.2 miles run again. 
I really needed a long run on Saturday so back to the Quantocks, parked up by 7am, a bitterly cold morning with a nasty wind from the East, a very grey morning. It took me some time to get warm, and it was Wills Neck before I was truly warm. I did my usual route but went further along the ridge to the Trig point at the end, I noted at this point I had run 8 miles, so a return run would give me 16 miles + I had my snacks but found after 12 miles I was struggling, fitness wise great, leg wise they were very heavy, aching etc. I struggled back over Wills Neck and by the time I got back to the car my legs were shot! After a coffee and cereal bar, change of clothes I did feel better and the rest of the day my legs felt ok, still 16.36 miles covered, so pleased with that.
This week I have run 41 miles and cycled 39 miles + the spinning miles so maybe over done it!!. I tried the back to back I.e. 6.2miles Friday and 16miles Saturday making 22 miles in two days.
I am not sure I am cut out for the distance, cardiovascular I am fine, clearly spinning helping, but I do lack miles on my feet! Will have to look at my options for Ex to Ax, not quite as keen or positive as I was, particularly as E to A is only two weeks away!!
I think a steady week ahead is needed.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Foggy 12.67 miles

It was a very grey morning as I drove over to the Quantocks on Sunday morning, and as I climbed up on to the hills from Taunton the mist got thicker. It was 7am and the car park at lydeard hill was empty except for three empty Easter egg boxes blowing around in the brisk wind. My aim today  was to run at least 12 miles.
I had 2 vests, my long tights along with hat and gloves, and of course my trusty buff to keep the drafts out!
I walked the first couple of hundred yards to warm up with a few dynamic stretches( been reading these are good to do) it was quite muddy as I started to run along the boundary,disturbing four Exmoor ponies across the track, they nonchalantly moved to one side and carried on munching. I could just see down into the Combes through the mist. This got thicker as I started up Wills neck, by the time I reached the summit I could just make out the trig point luckily I know the route well and the correct track of the summit was found without any problem. I did drop out of the mist as I ran along the ridge before closing in again approaching Deadwomans ditch. After a snack of marzipan balls I headed off towards Halsway Post, I hadn't seen anyone since I set off from the car park. On hitting the main ridge again I decided I would run an extra mile northwards to give me a couple of extra miles and ensure I hit my 12 miles. The mist was now thicker and turning into a drizzle, and by the time I was back under trees, they were now dripping. I bumped into several runners on the way back. I was still feeling ok as I hit the 10 mile mark, even though it had taken just under 2hours. I knew I would now hit the 12mile + .
Even the pull back over Wills Neckseemed easier than before. I ran the last couple of miles at a 9.45 min mile, which was excellent.
The Car park was quite full when I got back, stretching before I got back in the car to drive home ( I have found this really works to stop stiff muscles)
I was really pleased with my efforts 12.67 miles.
A good week overall after the Grizzly, two spin sessions and two 5.35 mile runs along with a good Bikeability couple of days. I think I am now getting fitter, I need time on my feet before the end of the month.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

My Grizzly

Tuesday 3rd March

It was still dark when I got up on Sunday morning, the dawn sky over to the East was just starting to lighten, the good news it was pinky blue rather than thick black cloud!! It looked promising. A quick look on the iPad at the met office website showed a window of good weather until about 2 or 3 pm, that should see me finish my race.
Trying to ensure my food intake to take account of the 10:30 start was a challenge, too early and I would be hungry half way round, too early and I wouldn’t have time to digest it. I decided to have two breakfasts in smaller portions, so a small bowl of muesli with blueberries and a banana and a couple of mugs of tea for starters and take a small portion to eat in the carpark about an hour or so before the  start. Parking in Seaton would be at a premium today as building was taking up most of the only large car park in the town, with 2000 runners and their supporters I needed to get there early to feel comfortable. I am one of those annoying people who has to get there very early!! as I am worried I won’t be able to park.

It was gear sorting time, what to wear? Will I be cold? Too hot? Running tights with compression socks on my legs, the socks seem to help my calf muscle and stop the shin splints I had last year. On my top I went for a sleeveless vest with a short sleeved jersey and arm warmers from my cycling box, this should give me flexibility, I would wear my gloves as they fold up small, the short sleeve jersey is good as it has good pockets to carry a gel, my car key and a short zip if its too hot. I was also taking a bottle of ISO drink in my Hilly belt, not relying on spilt cups of water. I pinned my number on my shirt, making sure it was low enough not to irritate as I run.
It was getting light now and the signs were good, sunshine and a stiff breeze.
Bag packed, change of clothes, pertex windproof should I need it, and my second breakfast, along with a flask of hot water and coffee.
The drive down, the roads were very quiet and I arrived before 9:0 am, the car park was nearly full all ready, people wandering round in trainers, some in shorts, tights, duvet jackets whist others already looked as though they were heading for the start line!!!
I went for a walk down to the front to get the atmosphere, it was very cold with a brisk sharp wind, but! Very bright and sunny. The organisers were putting up flags, barriers, setting out the refreshments etc. a really nice feel to the day. I bumped into my neighbour Rachel who was doing the full Grizzly, big respect to her, we joined forces and agreed to meet on the start line and at least start to run together. We had been exchanging emails [even though we are only 4 doors down!] encouraging each other with our training for the last week or so.
I had my second breakfast, by 9:15 giving a good hour or so to digest. I was ready to run, feeling very nervous, but excited. I wandered over towards the start line just after 10 and sheltered in the warm sunshine out of the wind, feeling very comfortable, but! Its strange how muscles start to ache that didn’t ache before, pains in knees that weren’t there before. The start time approaches, 10:20 I lined up with the other 2000 runners on the sea front trying to position myself about half way down the field, I met up with Rachel, we both engaged in nervous banter, it was surprisingly warm in the sunshine in the middle of the large crowd of runners, all shapes and sizes and all dressed differently, shorts, tights vests, coats all colours, young old etc….. The town crier and organiser were giving instructions over the tannoy, nothing which I could hear because of the noise of the crowd of runners. Spectators lined the seafront hanging over the barriers, a fantastic atmosphere, I felt even more nervous, would I get round? Can I do a decent time? Where will I come as there are approximately 500 runners in my event, will I be 499th??

Finally the town crier gave the final bell ring to a roar of the crowd and the runners and we were off, walking at first, as we went over the start line, I started my watch, we were now a slow jog, getting quicker as we approached the first hurdle after several hundred metres turning onto the shingle beach.
The noise of hundreds of runners on the shingle was deafening, slower runners were already dropping to the rear of the field, runners of all shapes, sizes, colour and sex, their bright jerseys bobbing up and down as we all tried to find the best route to get an easier run across the shingle. We were soon at the sailing club where we finally came off the beach [about half a mile] which was very welcome; I did feel I had warmed up now, legs feeling less stiff. Rachel and I were now able to bask in the cheering of the crowd as we ran back through the start line and the first hill of the day, the pace dropped and it was difficult to keep up a reasonable pace as there were so many runners in the road.
We were soon dropping down to Seaton Hole; people still lined the roads cheering us on, a couple of drummers at one point creating a great noise to cheer us on. The hill out of Seaton Hole was very steep, very narrow and we were reduced to a very slow walk because of the shear volume of runners all trying to get up the hill at the same time. The drop down the hill into Beer was a little slippery in places on the loose gravel, I still felt ok warming up nicely, breathing steady, a couple of miles covered by this point, we tried to keep the pace steady, knowing we had a long way to go, Beer was full of people cheering us on in the bright sunshine, it was a blur as we ran past and on to the next hill out of Beer, Rachel and I agreed to run to the first turning then walk as the hill got steeper at this point, and start running again as we approached the Beer Head car park at the top we could see the trail of runners in front of us already climbing on the skyline. Down through the caravan park with the first offering of water and jelly babies before the next steep up hill and the first off road section. We walked again as we headed up a very steep field and the first signs of mud, marshals were there to point us in the right direction, and encourage us, the field now thinned out a little but still bunched together, we overtook some runners and other runners over took us. We were soon on Beer Head passing the old coast guard station a brisk headwind keeping us cool, fabulous views towards Sidmouth, another decent down a steep and very muddy, slippery track slowed the field of runners to a walk as some had trouble getting a grip, on through muddy fields and the final decent down to the beach at Branscombe. Here was a real bottle neck , as it was very steep, very narrow and very slippery because of the mud and very crowded, all trying to get down as quickly as possible, we lost a lot of time here as people were pushing past rather than waiting their turn, this was the split the Cub in one direction the Grizzly to continue on in the other, we had covered about 4 miles at this point, I wished Rachel the best of luck and waived cheerio as I headed off along another shingle beach, for approximately three quarters of a mile, single file, legs feeling it now, I decided it was time for a gel to ensure it had time to enter my system to give me a boost before the finish in 5 miles time, a swig of Iso star to wash it down and hopefully give an extra boost. The beach was hard work and I tried to keep jogging along, to stop myself sinking. The waves crashing on my right and the cliffs rising on my left with the beautiful clear blue skies and sunshine, what a great place to be!!

I was glad to get back on the trail, even if it was up hill, again runners in front on the single-track forced me into walking, jogging when the path widened a little but as we hit the ‘Stairway to Heaven’ it was a slow pace, the steps as usual were hard, but my breathing was steady and I didn’t feel too bad. There was a photographer at the top asking us to smile! As we popped out of the undercliff I was able to pick up the pace, I was on familiar ground, and downhill across the grassy cliffs, I managed to overtake several runners and as we approached the caravan park overtook others as they stopped for the water and jelly babies. A short climb before the steep decent into Beer and the cheering crowds outside the Anchor Inn, it was really nice, especially as I was on my own at this point, back up hill, but at least it wasn’t the steps, I walked the steep bits and ran others, this was the final big climb, I wasn’t feeling too bad but try as I might my legs would not go faster?? We were now on the last leg along the road, usually by this time I am on my last legs, but today felt ok  and as I ran down the road heading towards the finish on Seaton front, I was catching two girls and used these as an incentive to get more speed, as I entered the sea front I could see the crowds and they were cheering me on, two other runners overtook me on the last straight, but I was having none of this and actually ‘sprinted’ yes! Sprinted on to beat them to the tape, I was glad to finish, one final photo as I crossed the line I  really enjoyed the event, I was handed water as I went through, along with a banana and collected my tee shirt.[which turned out to be too large!! And the colour didn’t suit me !!]
What a great event, I felt ok and probably of the four I have done this was the one that I actually felt ok at the finish rather than struggling to finish – don’t know why, as I had flu two weeks ago, I am thinking the spin class may have helped as I have run less miles in preparation than previous events.

According to the results I came 152nd out of 446 with a time of 1hr 49m 28secs – not as quick as I would have liked and felt very frustrated at the slow pace and stops at times due to other runners, but! Hey ho, we all had that and I am pleased with my position. The winner did it in 1hr and 6 mins!!
My neighbour Rachel completed the full Grizzly in 4 hrs and 6 mins, so respect to her and she came 847th out of 1422, the winner completed the course in 2hr 17 mins! I now have to ‘doff my cap’ as I go past her house!!

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Mission accomplished

sunday 1st March

Completed Grizzly Cub Run today!! 9 miles two weeks ago I was going to pull out, really enjoyed the event over 2000 runners including the Main Grizzly at 20miles. Weather was fabulous for running, chilly but bright and sunny.
Will add race report in the week when I know how I did, time not great, but lost time 'queuing' to get down to the beach a suit was so slippery with mud, I reckon that and other bottle necks cost me nearly 10mins.
My time was 1hr 48 mins.
A good way to celebrate my 64th birthday!! Today