Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Quantocks run and a bad day by the sea!

27th February 2017
Friday [24th] was a rest day after a hard week, so lunch down in Sidmouth was a good way to relax. So Saturday had to be a long run day.

Saturday I was driving over to the Quantocks by 6:30 in the morning and kitted up to run from Lydyeard Hill car park by 7:15.
It was a chilly grey morning and drizzle was cleared by the wipers as I drove across. But t had stopped by the time I had parked up, although there was a very cool breeze!  I went for a short sleeve Helly vest and a long sleeve windproof front Karrimor top. I took my Salomon small rucksack with a litre of water in a bladder instead of bottles. I carried a Montane Pertex windproof as well as an energy bar, jelly babies and Dextrasol tablets.
I set off to try to complete at least 14 miles the furthest I have run since last Octobers half marathon. The ground underfoot wasn’t too bad, except where the horses were collected. I ran through the forest and out onto the slopes of Will Neck the highest point on the Quantocks. The wind was now even cooler here! Down the back end and down to Triscombe stone and along the Drift. I was the only car in the car park when I arrived and I had not seen anyone in the last 5 miles! The sky continued to be grey and threatening, but fortunately no rain. Along the ridge great views both sides,  Crowcombe Park gate it was up to Dead Womans ditch and time for my first snacks of the day. Before heading back to the ridge, at Hurley Beacon , 7 miles covered I now need to ensure I run far enough along the ridge to ensure on return I manage my 14 miles plus! Over Thorncombe Hill and onto Beacon Hill at the end of the ridge, here I saw my first person of the day a horse rider, the summit of the Beacon was very blowy!! And cold so waited until I was below the summit for another snack. 9 miles covered and now I was heading back along the ridge, at Hurley Beacon I turned left towards Dead Womans ditch before turning back again to Crowcombe Park gate again. Back along the ridge I noticed the ball of my right foot was becoming painful, especially when on hard ground, I was getting tired now, so more, energy snacks needed before I ascended Wills Neck again, I was now walking up the hill, and legs were feeling it as well as my foot! Last couple of miles down through the forest and back round Lydyeard Hill, A few more people around now as I had taken over three hours, and my final mileage was 14.8 miles so a few more nearer the nineteen for the Grizzly, but I was very tired and don’t feel I could have run much more, not a lot of height gained just over 1200ft less than half that of the Grizzly.

Sunday was intended to recover from the run as my legs ached and my feet felt battered, the weather forecast was poor, but after lunch I though a spin on the bike would help aching legs so 21 miles around the levels on a very, very windy day making the ride home a good challenge. As I got home the rain came down!!! So a lucky escape.  The ride helped the stiffness in my legs, so a good ride, but hard in the wind.

Monday is normally long run day, but the weather forecast was poor and I had to train a School Crossing Patrol [lolly pop lady] in the afternoon. As it happened the weather wasn’t quite as bad as they said so I sneaked a 6 mile run round the town, it seemed to take me ages to get into the run, and although foot was hurting a little it didn’t seem too bad. And again as I got home down came the rain. I was also lucky with my SCP training as it didn’t rain, helpful for her first day!

Tuesday 28th Weather forecast was good for the morning but wet later, I was scraping the very thick ice from the vans windscreen, as overnight rain had frozen solid. I drove down to Seaton to do my twelve miler as a long run. Parking again on the front there was big surf with waves crashing high up on the shingle, only a few dog walkers about as I set off Westwards once again on my well known route, almost automatic!! This time as the Quantocks I took a small Salomon rucsac with a bladder, I find this time of year carrying a jacket, food, phone etc a bit of a squash in my usual waist pack, particularly on the longer runs. I wore a short sleeve Helly vest with a long sleeve Karrimor top, useful as it has a windproof front. Hat and gloves were needed as it was very chilly in the breeze. I also used my Salomon Speedcross shoes as using my Fellcross on the Quantocks seem to have made my feet ache especially on the balls of my right foot, looking it up it seems I have mild ‘metatarsalgia’ the Speedcross seem to be a little softer on hard ground, the problem is they are tight I think a half size bigger would help, but I am not buying new at the moment! Even though the uppers have a hole in the usual place, where the toes bend.

Anyway back to the plot!!! I walked the first few hundred yards to warm up, determined to try to take it steady this morning. It was a lovely sunny day, but as I ascended the hill out of Beer up to Beer Head things didn’t seem quite right, I was struggling to run and was soon walking, I didn’t seem to have any energy. I ran past the coastguard on Beer Head and as I went down Seaside to Branscombe had my first snack, thinking it might help, even descending seemed hard work today. The path up through Branscombe I was at a slow pace, finding it hard to up the game. I walked up the steep road past the school before The path up through the woods at Hole House, the garlic was now starting to show big green shoots, up over the top and down to the Fountains feeling decidedly tired and lacking energy, I did wonder whether to cut my run short and go back down the road, mind games ensued, and I found myself climbing onto the ridge once again and continuing my usual route, I walked up through the woods, snacking as I went, there was a distinct aroma of garlic now, a wonderful smell, spring is on its way. I was pleased to be on the down to the beach, but not looking forward to the half mile run along the shingle, the tide was quite high and waves crashing over the shingle creating an ear splitting noise. As I ran I had to take care as the tide did keep getting very close, I managed to run about half was before succumbing to walking, the half mile took me a good ten minutes!! It was nice to get off the shingle and away from the noise, but it was up hill all the way up and over the stair way to heaven, I walked a lot, still not shifting the lethargy, have I overtrained??? Have I picked up a bug? If I can’t run 12 miles the 19 for the Grizzly will be very difficult!!! Down into Beer at a slow pace before the final big climb over to Seaton Hole, I walked much of this again, I was pleased to hit the final slope up to Seaton, pleased I had completed the route but worried that my time and pace was way over a normal run. The final half mile along the esplanade was never ending, I was pleased to sit on the step of the van to recover before a change of top to a dry one before driving home.  This was very disappointing today as I have been working hard to get fit to enjoy the Grizzly next week, it was a long hard 12.16miles, I will rest for a couple of days but need one more long run over the Quantocks before the event, perhaps Saturday or Sunday depending whether we go to see the grandchildren, next week is out as I have a busy week with Bikeability on four days, the only day free is Wednesday which is a little close to the event. I am also worried about my foot as it is quite painful on stony ground, I have also had a return of pain in my right calf, I assume this is all because of the increase in miles in the build-up, if I don’t feel right I may have to think about the shorter Cub run on the day!!!

The month of February I ran 139 miles and cycled 235 miles, more than the previous Februarys! I should be very fit, but, don't feel it at the moment.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

More runs and a Park run

 Tuesday 21st February 2017

Wednesday [15th ] is normally Wobblies day but last Wednesday dawned wet, the forecast was to improve but there were heavy showers as the start time , so I bailed out, disappointing but didn’t fancy a wet ride. The afternoon seemed to improve so I decided to run and did my 12 mile road run round the lanes and the local reservoir. Lovely as the sun came out, and it felt quite warm, I seemed to be setting myself a good pace, at 9 miles the weather suddenly deteriorated and it poured down, even though I had my jacket and hat I decided to push on, the roads now running very wet! As I approached the local estate there was a fantastic rainbow, which I managed to capture on my phone!

I managed less than two hours for my run, which I was pleased about, thinking I might be getting a little fitter after all! Legs tired, but still managing to avoid any injuries.
Thursday was a rest day, the weather still not good although considerably milder than the previous weekend.
Friday [17th] I met up with Rachel to do my Neroche off road run, 7 miles, good to have company as all my running is on my own, R will be my running mate on the Grizzly, but! She was suffering a heavy cold, and with her hectic job as a teacher struggling to get out running, my experience of R is that she will be fit by the time of the race! She always is!!!!
The local cycle club usually meet on Friday afternoon to ride up to Langport, as the weather was really good, so as Mrs IanB was out I met up with them, [was this a good idea after an eight mile run in the morning?] there were eight of us, several Wobblies there but also some younger riders, we set off at a high pace, and I struggled to stay with them, I noted 25 mph on my Garmin several times!!! on the way to Langport, I did try to do a stint at the front [but on the downhills or flats] soon drifting to the back when the road went up again. I was glad to see the café!!! To recover, the ride home was just as hard except that towards the end we all came back together I think I was feeling the eight mile run I did in the morning, well that’s my excuse 37 miles of hard cycling.
Saturday my daughter was keen to do the Park Run down at Seaton, this was the first time either of us had done one. We drove down and parked on the front and walked down to the start, a briefing for us ‘newbies’ before we lined up for the start.
We were soon running down the esplanade with about another 150 runners. The course is two laps of the Esplanade that also includes two short sections of the dreaded shingle beach. We kept in the latter end of the group, my daughters running over the winter has only been once a week so she was doing really well. The weather was really misty with a light wind from the East creating a headwind. It was a good morning out and the 3.1 miles went quickly, we recorded 34 minutes for our first Park Run, something we can build on, interesting the Garmin said we had a total ascent of 99ft! Which seems odd along the sea front? We really enjoyed the run, and as we finished the mist lifted and the sun came out!! The rest of the day was lovely and warm with good sunshine.
Sunday [19th] I cycled with Mike, temperatures were still mild, but it was a very grey day with a light wind. A steady 31 miles round the lanes, again dodging the hedge cuttings, lots of lambs in the fields now, catkins and some pussy willow, loads of snowdrops in the hedgerows, hopefully spring is on its way, there is some warmth now back in the sunshine, so hoping we have escaped the worst of winter weather and so far only a light sprinkling of snow last month.
Monday [20th] was long run day, an early start saw me parked on Seaton sea front, and running by 7:45 am!! 

                                A grey dawn on Seaton seafront

The weather was mildish, but very grey again. It was lovely running down through Beer, no tourists yet, too early in the year, over Beer Head no dog walkers and descending to Branscombe it was deserted, I was moving well, the trails not too muddy. I climbed up past the school, which is perched on a hill overlooking the village, I got there just as children were arriving for the day, one parent commented ‘it must be Grizzly time as you’re the fourth runner we have seen this morning’  I was soon descending down to the Fountains Inn. The climb up to Branscombe cliffs was now starting to sprout the bluebells and garlic shoots.

                             steps down to Branscombe beach, the suns out!

 I ran down the steps to the steep field before the beach, just as the sun came out, a ‘proper’ spring day. I ran the beach, just as hard as ever, never gets any easier no matter where you run, each foot fall sinking in, like running on marbles, the climb out of the stairway to heaven made my legs ache. By the time I hit the steps out of Beer my legs were really aching, and the final climb out of Seaton Hole was even harder, even though it was very short. The sun was shining as I ran back to the van and a welcome mug of coffee.  I did try harder to make sure I ate and drank today, it was as hard as before, my time, no quicker! So another 12 miles towards my training, I must up the miles to ensure I can complete the 19 for the grizzly as well as the 3500 ft of climbing that’s twice as many feet as I do in my 12 miler. I will try to head to the Quantocks for a longer run at the weekend as it’s difficult to get the distance in along the coast without much more climbing!
Wednesday[22nd] dawned damp and wet, but the promise was it would clear later, so I out in my Paramo and headed to meet up with the Wobblies for the Wednesday morning ride, five of us headed over Combe St Nicholas and out to North Curry, started off wet, but by the time we reached Bickenhall the sun came out!!! Round through Five Head and Barrington before Tea and cake at the Community café at Seavington St Michael, lovely service, lovely tea and good banter! The start from the café is a steep uphill out of the village, but we were soon over the top and heading back along the cycle track and back into the wet weather!!! Apparently it had rained all morning at home so we were lucky and had the best of the weather! 35miles.
Thursday, 23rd, Morning spent doing my bit at school hearing the children read, the drive over the Blackdowns made a little scary at times with Storm Doris!!!!!  After lunch I headed off into Doris again, a hard head wind for the first couple of miles of my run and uphill, an 8.27 mile run round the lanes, made much harder by the strong wind. But at least the rain held off.

Mornings are drawing out and so are the evenings light at 6:45 am and 6:00 pm, spring is on its way.

Monday, 13 February 2017

A cold week, More miles running, more miles biking!

13th  February 2017

Sunday [5th February] dawned frosty and after the overnight rain left the roads in an icy state, so a text from Mike put off our cycle ride till after lunch.

The lanes over the levels hatch Beauchamp direction gave us a 32 mile ride, roads were again wet and dirty after the ice had melted, this along with hedge cutting once again left us open to the ‘puncture fairy’, but we were lucky this time with no visits from her!!! We stopped at Westport to look at the remains of the old Langport to Westport canal, the bridges still constructed out of dressed stone etc, the canal although overgrown, still carrying water. The wharf warehouse buildings converted to holiday homes. The canal was built in 1840 and served the area bringing coal in and taking vegetables/produce out until 1874 when the railways started to eat into the trade. Ironically, the old canal uses the River Parratt for some navigation, which a couple of years ago caused much of the big flooding across the levels and all the pictures on the TV, I think perhaps the people who built the canal, had a better idea how to control water flow etc. and use it to an advantage.

Overnight again the temperatures plummeted to give a very heavy frost. I had planned to do my 12 mile run down at Seaton, I jumped in the campervan, to find the battery flat!!!! So reverted to the car. Roads from Axminster usually running with water were a skid pan, I negotiated carefully, there was a lovely temperature inversion in the Axe valley with a beautifully blue sky sunny day above it. Parking on the front at Seaton was difficult as the debri was still there from the storms. I kitted up and was away running by 7:45, dog walkers for company on the front.

As I climbed over Beer Head, the frost had melted making It quite slippery in places as was the Great Seaside descent to Branscombe. Branscombe was still in the icy grip with an icy path, very cold down here!!! Up past the school, the temperature rose again, I was enjoying the run, with only my heavy breathing for company.

I was soon running the ridge above Branscombe and dropping down to the shingle beach once again, as hard as ever, managing to run most of it, using the walk to have a snack.
Up the STH and back over Beer, the clouds had now started to build up, rain was forecast, would I get back before the first drops.

As I climbed out of Seaton Hole the legs etc were now feeling it, and by the time I ran along the road back into Seaton, I was very tired!!! Will it ever get any easier!!! The good news I don’t seem to be suffering any injuries this year, so fingers crossed, maybe I overdid it last year??

Another 12 miles in the bag and I was pleased to get a text from my partner for Grizzly saying she had run 11miles on her way home from school!!!!! In the pouring rain! And wind ! And it started raining just as I got home.

Wednesday Wobble was eight of us over the levels to Langport, via Long Sutton, a beautifully sunny but cold morning, but no ice, a ‘Langport bun’ and pot of tea in the ‘Bows Wharf’ café put the energy back for the twenty mile home ride. A lovely morning out in good company 38 miles covered, no punctures once again.

Thursday 9th February – the weather was dull, cold and dreary! But not doing my school volunteer bit today gave me an opportunity to get some more running miles in, having not been running since Monday. A 12 mile road run taking the lanes over Crock Street, and returning along the cycle track, round the local reservoir and back up through town. A reasonable pace [for me] taking a few jelly babies and Dextrasol tablets along with an ISO star drink.

Friday, trying to build up miles I had read somewhere the benefits of doing back to back runs, the theory that you are running on tired legs the next day, I am not sure it works for me feeling quite tired from the previous run. So another 8.27 miles round the lanes, starting with the steep off road bridleway, another very cold, dull day, just above freezing.

Saturday was a rest day, Mrs B was feeling under the weather, it was snowing, only very light, but a light covering none the less, and bitterly cold again. So a rest day!

Sunday was another very cold day, not my sort of day for cycling so I cancelled the usual Sunday morning ride, there were also signs of frost around, again not the best cycling weather. But as an alternative I drove up to Neroche and did my 6.5 miles off road run, I started well wrapped up and never really warmed up and got hot! Even though it was early Sunday morning there were a few dog walkers about, it was relatively dry under foot. I was quite slow! My time being greater than my last few runs up there. There was even a sprinkling of snow left in the woods.

Monday [13th February] is long run day, it was really good as the weather had changed to be a sunny warmer day, even though there was a chilly East wind.

Seaton again this week, I had thought about the Quantocks but decided that exposed ridge would be too cold. The usual route, saw a few other runners out, possibly Grizzly training! As I descended above Branscombe into the cold East wind I made the decision to run back along the undercliff, rather than the beach as it would be more sheltered. I found it hard today, and didn’t feel great, and although I seemed to walk a lot my time for the twelve miles my time was better than before. 12.25 miles covered as I parked at the far end of the Esplanade to give a few more metres in each direction. As I got back to the van and had my coffee and flapjack, I was surprised to see how busy the town was, a few years ago the place would have been deserted. 

Saturday, 4 February 2017

A wet week, some running, some decorating, bit of cycling

4TH Feb 2017

It’s been very wet week this week, not great for an ageing athlete!! Spent too many days out in bad weather in my younger days, don’t need to do it now.
After the Wednesday Wobblies ride from the last post, I decided I needed to get more running miles in so managed another 12 miles on the road around the lanes and local reservoir, timing although not great was considerably better than the off road 2 hrs 10 mins compared to 2hrs 40 mins for off road, admittedly there was considerably less climbing a 1000 feet to be exact. Although it did seem harder on the feet.
Sunday was a complete washout with heavy rain setting in early in the day, Monday was off road day once more so another drive to the coast, this time Seaton Hole for the 9 .5 mile run over to the Fountains Inn via Hole House etc. and back along the beach. It seemed a very hard 9.5 miles today!!! And I got back to the van just as the rain started to get heavy. I ran the half mile beach this time; it kills the legs on the shingle.
Tuesday was a wet day again, so some decorating in the bathroom to spruce it up a little for when we eventually do put the house up for sale.
Wednesday, was Wobblies day, the day started with a fine drizzle, but soon brightened up and five souls headed over Drimpton, Cheddington, Halstock pas t Sutton Bingham reservoir to ‘Goose Slade Farm’ at East Coker  for coffee. Very nice it was before the return over the hills to West Chinnock, Merriot and Hinton St George; 40 miles covered, on very dirty roads, only one puncture, which was good as there is much hedge cutting at the moment, the farmers’ last chance before the bird nesting season starts.
Thursday afternoon I managed to get a 5.4 mile run in before the rain set in again. I felt it was a hard 5.4 miles at a quite slow pace; I did seem to struggle and did cut the run short. My plan was for 6+ miles.
Friday a very wet and windy day, so much so that the Park Run at Seaton had to be cancelled on Saturday because of debri on the sea front. I drove over to meet up with a Friend at Dunkewell Aerodrome for coffee. Dunkeswell is on the top of the Blackdown Hills and played a significant role in the D Day activities in WW2.  So the car was somewhat battered by the wind and horizontal rain.
Saturday was much calmer [today] so a trip to Sidmouth for coffee on the front, and lunch in the Whitehorse café. The sun was very warm as we sat drinking our coffee on the sea front, no wind and few signs of the storm, unlike Seaton. The afternoon, trainers on and 7.5 miles round the lanes before once again the rain came in!!! I was pleased with the run and felt much better than Thursdays run, although it was hard work and doesn’t seem to get any easier and I don’t seem any faster. My confidence for a good time in the Grizzly is shrinking, in fact at the moment the 19 miles and 3500 feet of climbing seem out of reach, even though I did it last year. My thoughts of another crack at Exe to Axe have all but disappeared. I will do my 12 miler on the coast again on Monday and see how I go, I am struggling to see any improvement in either fitness, stamina strength etc. I have also still to lose the weight from Christmas!!!
Tomorrow will get out on the bike for 30 – 40 miles to keep up my twice weekly ride and 3 times run each week.
So this week 22.5 miles run and only 40 miles cycled

Lets hope the weather is better this week to give me more opportunities to get out.