Monday, 31 October 2016

Here Path Half week

31st October 2016
After the Stumble run last weekend I was feeling quite confident about the HerePath. Monday I had a rest day, the weather was still really nice to say it was late October, except Monday it poured down!!! All day, I could just imagine the HPH route being even muddier after the cattle had been there as well.
Tuesday I decided on one last long run before Sunday, so I was parking at Thurlbear church late on Tuesday after noon, it was warm and quite humid as I set off up the road. I felt ok and reached the Staple Hill car Park in a good time, deciding to avoid the muddy section. By the time I had got round to Bickenhall and 11 miles gone I was feeling it once again, despite a gel after the descent of Neroche, little did I know this was to repeat its self again in the race. I got back to the car 12.4 miles covered in 2hr 13 mins and a pace of 10.53. I told myself this was a training run and I would be quicker on the day!!! Famous last words me thinks!
below are several photos from the route

                                                    Thurlbear church, the starting point of the race
                              first hill
                         sign for another 1.5 miles uphill
              at last in the open
                        this is a steep track, much steeper than it looks in the photo, definitely a walk
                                            Part of the 2 miles down hill bit after Neroche

Wednesday was a Wobblies day, a good run down to the coast and Coffee and cake in West Bay, another 38 miles clocked up in good company, I am still riding my summer bike as the roads are not too bad, as well as wearing three quarter tights.
Thursday I did a short run round town to keep my legs ticking over 4 miles covered.
Saturday was visiting Grandchildren day as it was Mrs IanBs birthday on the Sunday. We were greeted by, banners and balloons! We had a lovely lunch and spent a great day with the twins and grand daughter, much cake eaten as well! The children particularly enjoyed the balloons and the year old twins, seemed to enjoy reading the birthday cards.
Sunday race day, the clocks had gone back the night before which meant an extra hour in bed, although I was up at 6 :00 thinking about the day ahead. Breakfast, energy drink made, gel in pocket and cereal bar ready to eat an hour before as it was a 10:30 start.
Picked up Rachel at the top of the lane, who informed me she hadn’t run this week and only once the week before!!! Ermmmm!
Parking was easy even though it’s a narrow lane, the joys of being early. Numbers collected, I was number 2 this time for some reason.
Race Director gave us the information as usual, then it was start line, we were quite near the front, purely by accident. The weather was misty, no wind and reasonably warm, unlike the cold wind at Minehead the week before. There was a full field of 200 today.
 We were off and the first mile is mainly roads so there was a fast pace, 8 minute miles! Too fast for me to keep up for very long , we hit the first off road section as the path started to climb, the pace still quite high, runners over taking us on the narrow tracks, as the paths went up and the miles increased we did slow a little and the field thinned out with lots of heavy breathing !! I kept trying to sip my ‘Tailwind ‘ drink to keep topped up.
We were soon at the first road where we turned off for the very muddy and wet section, the path twisted in and out to start with, through very wet dips before emerging onto the hillside and the narrow path that was a cattle run, full of deep mud and water, this was a walk, over the stile, but fortunately the runners were spaced enough to avoid queuing. The mud continued till we met the road again. My Inov8 gaiters now giving their worth by keeping it out of my shoes. The track steepens here and we were soon walking , as was everyone else. We continued to the top of the Blackdowns and Staple Hill before descending a little to the first water point, where we were greeted by Rachels schoolchildren cheering us on and at one point running with us! [ Rachel is a teacher in a local school whose children  man the water stop, she also runs the school running club] this did give us a boost. 6 miles gone, just over an hour so going well,  mostly uphill, I was feeling OK, a couple of sweets and a drink of water before descending on a steep downhill towards Britty Common, this is one of my routes so I was familiar with it. Crossing the road once again we climbed up to Neroche Castle before descending a good 2 miles down a good Stoney track to the road, I remembered my descent the week before on the Stumble, but sadly couldn’t replicate it, especially with 5 miles to go, so not as fast as I would have liked to pick up time.
  I decided it was time for my gel [ I had taken an out of date one May 16!!!] before the final 4 miles. As we hit the road section near Bickenhall I started to feel tired, legs were getting slower, Rachel seemed to be going well [ as usual] drink stop again before a mile of uphill road running, I could feel the energy starting to drain away and Rachel started to pull away, I couldn’t stay with her, we entered  Bickenhall woods which seemed to twist and turn for ever before emerging into brilliant sunshine and my most hated bit of the run round a field, quite sticky mud, just managing to lift my feet enough to clear it, back into the woods once again, lots of mud this time and more uphill, but!! I knew it was the last uphill and I know I always struggle on this section, only 2 miles to go and the last mile is down hill. I walked and Rachel did wait for me at the end of the woods. We ran together round the road to the final down hill through more woods on a forestry track, seemingly going on for ever. Time was moving on I knew I would be slower than last year. The fast start I think didn’t help. We finally came out of the woods and the final 200 metres uphill to the finish, 2h 22 min 58 secs that’s 6 minutes slower than last year. I was very tired, it had been a hard run! I still don’t understand how Rachel manages on so little training!! ‘youth and agility’ obviously outweigh ‘age and cunning’ !!
We collected water and our momento, this year a glass with the race and date on etc. before driving home for a well-earned shower and lunch!

I thought I would have gone better than I did, so a little disappointed, I think I went too fast too early and made a mistake of an old gel, clearly not as effective, in fact I didn’t notice any difference!
We did manage 113th out of 200 which was quite good and I noticed I was 2nd in the over 60 category, there were 4 of us.
Monday a nice surprise when I had a package delivered, it turned out to be a trophy from the Minehead  Stumble, for coming 1st in the over 65 age group, I didn’t know they had one other wise I would have stayed to have it presented! My first trophy for running, a very nice paperweight.

The HPH is possibly my last event before the Grizzly next March, what I do know is I need to get more miles in and hours running before then!

Monday, 24 October 2016

Hard cycle ride and the Minehead 'Stumble' run


After my struggle round the HerePath route on Monday a days rest required before joining the Wobblies on Wednesday morning, but! only two of us turned out with other Wobblers visiting vets, in Germany or in Scotland etc. the trouble is the other Wobbler was a fitness Instructor from the local Gym 1610, he takes the Spin classes etc. We decided to head over to Hestercombe House

by a circuitous route, it was a lovely morning, a chill in the air but the occasional view of the sun created warm spots!!! the trees were now turning very Autumnal so the ride over the Blackdowns was particularly colourful, a long down hill to West Buckland before crossing the main road and heading over to Bishops Lydyeard, 30 miles already completed, at a fast pace, [ remember I said he was a fitness Instructor] we finally arrived at Hestercombe where a welcome Latte and large piece of white chocolate covered apricot flapjack was consumed, to give me the calories to get home! and keep up with Paul!! its a lovely setting with the local Sandstone coloured buildings blending nicely with the autumn colours. We were soon off once again heading over Creech St Michael and North Curry, up over Rock Hill and back over the levels, all at a faster than usual pace for me 61 miles covered and over 3000 ft climbed, a good average speed of over 16 mph I was tired when I got home!! but a lovely hard ride with glorious views. A good morning out and good training I am sure.

Friday was fine tuning day before the Stumble on Sunday, so a 6 mile run around town.

Saturday was a glorious and sunny day so a little shopping in Exeter where I managed to get some Inov8 running gaiters to stop stones going down the tops on my shoes when running off road, will try them on Sunday and report back, they look good! we also managed a walk on the front at Exmouth where it was actually hot, and walking in short sleeves was called for.

Sunday dawned, cold, cloudy and misty with a cold east wind. I drove over to Minehead with lights on because of the mist.

Parking up signing on there was lots of hustle and bustle so after picking up my number I went a walk up to the start area 

Where this fabulously coloured leaved tree stood I walked further up the combe to remind me what it was like, it was very cold.
On return to the car park, discussion and banter between runners about how cold it was and what to wear etc. I felt quite chilly in my short sleeved tee, but confident I would soon warm up. I opted today just to take a gel, in case, having had my usual Jam sandwich 45 mins before the start.
The start time soon arrived and as it was so cold I did for a change do a warm up run or two!!!
we soon had the briefing to be told the course had changed because of permission form Crown Forestry wouldn't allow the run on their land!!
we were off and soon heading up hill, up a wide stony track, steep in places to the first ridge, it soon had people walking [ there were 93 in my event and 190 in the Stagger which went up to Dunkery Beacon, I will do that sometime!!] making it difficult to run myself, the singletrack made it worse and we were queing at one time so stopped altogether, a few minutes lost here.
the route up seemed easier that last year, and we were soon running along a 'Roller Coaster' of a ridge, I was still wary of any more big ups as I didnt know the route so cautiously didnt run quite as fast on the downs as I could. the half way water point 3.5 miles in was reached and I knew then there was little more up hill, we climbed back up to the main ridge, the route can be seen here:-

as we went along the main ridge I was feeling good despite the cold head wind and knew the down hill was coming up, not the usual descent, infact it was steeper and stonier, but I let it go and found my self descending fast, overtaking a few others, it was great!! the Speedcross shoes doing their job and the new gaiters excelling at keeping the stones out, I was soon averaging 7 minute miles at times and as I hit the tarmac at the bottom I looked at my watch and noticed and under the hour a possibility, I ran as fast as I could passing a few more runners, looking at my watch, to try the under hour, sadly despite my effort I finished the 6.3 miles in 1 hr 0 minutes and 39 secs a great time and 7 minutes faster than last year.

I came 40th out of 93 finishers, but the icing on the cake was i came 1st in the over 65 catagory  even though there were only 3 of us!!! but! no prize except another Tee

A technical one this year and quite a nice fit. Tea and cake followed before my drive home. a great event well organised and run by Minehead running club, perhaps next year I will manage the 15 mile 'Stagger' !!!!

Just the Herepath Half Marathon next week now, I hope I can get a run of the route tomorrow as its pouring down with rain today, this will prepare me well for next Sunday.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Herepath route run and coffee in Lyme Regis

17th October 2016

Since my last outing to the Quantocks I have been able to get out with the Wobbly wheelers for a lovely ride over to Lyme Regis, 8 of us were out , via a number of back lanes I had never been down before , after  climbing Lamberts castle Hill we then crossed the A35 to go down a long winding hill through Harcombe Bottom and Rhode hill, a lovely road in pleasant sunshine,but! The dappling on the road making it difficult to spot pot holes!! We exited at Uplyme where we continued into Lyme down the main street, surprisingly busy for a Wednesday morning. I was also surprised that I wasn’t feeling the effects of my previous days run on the Quantocks, but I seemed to be going well, climbing as well as the others.
We cycled down the narrow street to the   Town Mill Bakery

a quirky coffee shop where you take what you want ,pastry, toast etc. apply your jam, peanut butter or whatever , order your coffee and pay on exit. Great atmosphere and lovely pastry, my cinnamon whirl and latte certainly helped get me home!!! I can recommend a visit but I think its busy at times ,we were very lucky to find it reasonably quiet.
When we were all fed and watered it was time to move on, as we were at sea level, the only way was up!!! But we managed to find a steady climbing route out, going round the lanes once again through Shapwick and under a superb Via duct that used to carry the old railway line down to Lyme, still in great condition, sadly there is no access to it, make a great cycle route into Lyme. We climbed Combpyne hill before descending past River Cottage HQ to Raymonds Hill crossing the A35 once again and heading for Blackpool corner. Heading back down the lanes through Tudhay , crossing the river Axe at Broom before the long stepp climb upto Tytherleigh , on into Chardstock and picking up the NCN route back to Chard. 36 miles covered on a lovely cycling morning but also 3000 ft of climbing, I felt surprisingly good so pleased with the effort.

Friday I decided it was time to revisit the Here Path route

being as its only 2 weeks to the event. I parked at Staple hill which is the highest point on the route. The weather was decidedly poor, there was thick mist and there was also slight drizzle as I ran across to Neroche, a route I have done many times. Down the fast couple of miles to the B road before ascending on the road towards Bickenhall Farm, my least favourite part of the route.
I was soon into the woods before emerging into a large field with a path around the outside, very hard work this bit!!!
At the road once again and after a few hundred yards turned off for a nice downhill it to what is normally the finish at Thurlbear, but not today as I still had another 6 miles to go back up to Staple Hill carpark. After Netherclay it was all track, climbing steadily until I hit Underhill lane where the organisers send us on a loop through some very muddy areas before the final climb to Staple Hill. It was particulary muddy as cattle had clearly been along to path recently, their hooves turning the path into a very wet quagmire that took some negotiating to keep my shoes on in the glutinous mud. Once through it the hill steepened to the highest point on the route and fortunate for me back to the car. I was tired with 13.6 miles covered and over 1300 ft climbed, but it was a good run and the sun came out just to round off the day.My time wasnt great 2 hrs 33 mins 

Sunday a 32 mile cycle ride to try to loosen my very sore/tight right calf muscle, it seemed to do the trick until later in the evening when it returned!!

Monday, another HPH route day, this time starting at Thurbear, it was a lovely bright sunny morning as I set off, determined to take my time, I did the long climb up to Staple hill and felt fine, but!! As I hit the last 4 miles from near Bickenhall, it all started to seem very hard, I was struggling to keep a pace and found my self walking where I normally run, jelly babies, dextrasol and energy drink didn’t seem to address the issues, so I was pleased to be on the final descent to Thurlbear. I had missed out the very muddy section today but still managed  12.7 miles. I was very tired when I got to the car and recovered slightly after a granola bar and a bit of stretching. I can only assume I hadn’t recovered enough from my efforts last Friday. I will give it some rest for a couple of days before a short run, before the ‘Stumble’ at Minehead on Sunday. My calf muscle is very sore so will have to get the foam roller out and massage it to see if I can improve it before the Sunday run.

Its been a good week all round with a trips to Exmouth and Seaton  in the van, coffee overlooking the sea etc. I even managed to get a bargain at Cotswold Camping at Darts Farm, a Montane featherweight windproof with a full zip. I have an overhead one that is getting a little old now so the zipped one with be more practical, but, it doesn't fold as small as the overhead one, but still fits in my cycling jersey pocket. 

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Plymouth 10k and a run on the Quantock hills

Today was a contrast to Sunday! I drove over to the Quantocks at 7:00 just as it was getting light, well, it would if it hadn’t been for the thick mist on my drive through Taunton. My aim to run 12 miles across the Quantock’s as preparation for the Here Path Half at the end of the month, 13 miles with lots of climbing!! More later ???
Back to Plymouth 10k  - it was my daughters second 10k and she had put in lots of work for the event after Taunton, despite a heavy workload in her job as a Primary Teacher. I had spent the time since Taunton 10 k getting out a couple of times a week for 6- 10 miles round the lanes, as well as some Bikeability at several village schools. The weather has been really good lately, even with a chilly easterly wind. But I am finally in long trousers; last week’s Bikeability was a little chilly in the morning.

Mrs IanB and I were booked into a Plymouth Hotel for Saturday night as daughter and her bloke were also staying over, but our plans for her to have a night in a 4 star hotel were thwarted when my son and the grand children came down for the weekend for the local Carnival on Saturday night. So after a busy day looking after the twin boys whilst mum, dad and Gdaughter went shopping in Exeter I drove down to Plymouth on my own and checked into the already paid for room. A pleasant evening out in Plymouth with daughter and boyfriend, at the ‘Wildwood restaurant’ Pizza etc.
The dawned beautiful, sun and no wind, a lovely day ahead. The start for the event was close to the hotel so we could stroll down to the start at 8:30 just in time to warm up. There were over 2000 runners involved and street in the town were closed off.
We lined up mid-way down the crowd and we were soon off, trying not to get caught up in the rush, it was good to be in the middle of the runners of all shapes, sizes and ages. The weather was just right for running, no wind and at times it was a little too warm. The run was down one side of the road and back up the other side, but we ran along the picturesque embankment, with good views over the river. As we approached the 5 k mark we could see the leaders going the other way, daughter’s boyfriend included, he was clearly doing a good time! We felt good as we hit the turn and it inspired us when we could see all the runners behind us. There were several long slopes on the return from the 5 k mark and we found ourselves walking just to gather breath and take on board some water. We were soon on the final descent before the final climb to the finish so an extra spurt was needed. 1hr and 5 minutes!!!! That’s a minute faster than the Taunton run, we were pleased with that! We came 1600th out of 2100 so a good finish. Daughter’s boyfriend came 26th so a good run by him at 36 minutes, the winner did 32 minutes.

                                                        Taunton medal left, Plymouth right

A really nice medal [compared to the plastic Taunton one] see photo, a goody bag and tee shirt. A good day out in fantastic weather. I got home in time to spend an hour with the grandchildren before their return up the M5 to Gloucester.
In contrast my run across the Quantocks started in thick mist and a cold easterly wind, in a long sleeve jersey, Gilet and a hat! The run up Wills Neck was chilly the mist finally clearing as I dropped down to Triscombe stone, it was starting to warm up and as I ran my usual Dead woman’s Ditch the sun felt quite warm. It was interesting running along the side of the road, as people were driving to work. The ground was very dry  throughout the run, I had applied DEET around my legs as a precaution against Ticks as I was brushing bracken and heather.

On the return I walked up Hurley Beacon and managed to snack on jelly babies  and for the first time washed down with flat coke [ the first time I had tried this] I still felt ok as I had run over 7 miles and hitting 10 miles before my final climb up to Wills Neck , I walked in places, the wild ponies completely disinterested in this mad person running!! I got back to the car, 11.63 miles covered in just over 2 hours, the weather was a fabulous with great views all around, it had been a few months since I had been on the Qauntocks , I will certainly revisit as soon as possible, perhaps on my MTB!!!!