Tuesday, 29 September 2009

This week's running

Monday - felt a little better after Sunday's tiring run and so headed up to Lecky Hill and back. Good to run alone with the headtorch on. Felt a little stronger but didn't push it. There was a nice sunset
and as I ran up the final steep bit to the top by breath came and went in time to the Munsters theme. On the top I stood enjoying the views out over the nightlit town. The sound of tyres on roads floated up to me on the breeze. The moon was out so I took a picture

Wednesday - drove to Daisybank for another headtorch run of about thre quarters of an hour hill reps.

Thursday - to the athletics track for speedwork with the Almosts. Great fun. Hard. Felt like part of the club. Pyramid of 400m, 800m, 1000m, 1000m, 800m, 400m. We aimed for 1:20/400m, adding 5 secs to the timesfor the longer distances. I nearly did a 'Paula' and had o run off to the toilets inbetween the laps!! Still, at least it wasn't as bad as this poor fella:

Sunday: an early morning 13miler out along the Cotswold Way with Mike. Route

Monday, 28 September 2009

Bude and Widemouth Bay

Evening on the beach at Bude

Widemouth Bay

A couple of days and a night in Bude. Great to see The Williams get married. It was a fine time.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

This week's running

The after effects of the stretton skyline led to en enforced week off

Monday night I set off, headtorch in bum bag, to run up lecky hill and back.

View from leckhampton hill

Sunday I ran with mike off road from his place and then ran out of fuel by about mile ten. He looked after me well, holding the gates and talking me on. Kate gave me some juice and a doughnut when i got back which just about stopped me from keeling over.

I am not feeling very fit.

Stretton Skyline race

It had fired the imagination as an achievement that might one day be attainable ever since the first drive up to the Shropshire hills with Guy Sabey a few years ago. It was spoken of as a classic. This was good - i like classics...

The 'Stretton Skyline' is also a benign name for a challenging route that if underestimated might render you into an undignified state.

The route leaves the Cardingmill Valley and follows incised valleys up onto the top of the Long Mynd from where it descends to the valley floor at Little Stretton. A well-marshalled crossing of the A46 followed by a steep climb up Ragleth Hill and some lovely running along the top before another descent into Church Stretton. Leaving the town, the course then heads up and over Caer Caradoc and then up to the top of the Lawley, retracing steps back down. A waymarked section across fields and another well-marshalled main road crossing give way to a long uphill section back up onto the tops of the Long Mynd. A final couple of downhill miles back through the popular Cardingmill Valley leads to the finish on the town playing fields.

It was hot and I went off too fast, following a friendly vet lady called Joan whose legs looked like - and I mean this as a compliment - knotted gristle. Leaving the road at Pole Cottage the slight breeze was welcome in the gathering heat of the day. We ran a strong pace over the cross dyke and around the side of Callow and down to the valley floor.

Ascending Ragleth, the dry turf felt like a crust underfoot. Trading places with a woman in a yellow Mercia vest.

Coming into Church Stretton other runners, benefiting from their local knowledge, appear out of side streets. Steady up Caer Caradoc and through the ancient summit earthworks, remembering colder conditions during the Cardington Cracker. Lose time and places by following another first timer instead of reading the map at the foot of Little Caradoc. Make places back climbing up the Lawley and enjoy running back down strongly.

View from Lawley summit, Caer Caradoc beyond

But then...

Cramp began to set in across the fields although I'd been drinking my nuun solution. I was beginning to feel 'out of it' at the second A46 road crossing. A gel helped a little at Dudgeley Farm and a chat with Craig from Amazing Feet through Gogbatch pulled me out of myself temporarily. The climb up to the top of the Long Mynd from here was hard and relentless and I was fast running out of fuel. I walked and chatted to the guy I'd taken the long cut with off of Caradoc. There were cramps down the outsides of both legs as I forced myself to shuffle into some kind of a run as the ground levelled out before the final check point.

"At last", I was thinking. "All downhill from here. Just get back to the start and then sit in the stream for half an hour. Ice baths. Mmm... Lovley ice baths."

Clearly delerious (i'm far too nesh for that) I forced my way on. I was going to do it. I was going to get there. "Mmm... lovely ice baths", my brain kept saying. "Just keep going..."

And then, there was the start. There was the promised stream. There was... no-one.

"Shit, I've just remembered the finish is down in the town", said my mind. So, I forced my way on until I just had to stop. My head went down, my hands went up to hold my head. My sudden stop sent a Calder Valley runner I hadn't known was there into a fall. The woman in the Mercia vest materialised also, and then the two of them were off, racing for the finish. I shuffled on, round a corner and followed them over the line.

An excellently organised race. The food in the goody bag at the end was so welcome. Spreadeagled on the grass watching the white cotton wool clouds morph their ways through the blue I realised that from now on I would know to treat BL races with the respect they demand.

I was 33rd overall in a time of 3:25. Photos.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Gloucester airport

In-between home duties, I took the boys over to the airport on a blustery day watch the take-offs and landings.

This week's running

Tuesday saw the start of the as yet unformed grand new regime. In other words, Mike was uber busy with family and work so wasn't coming out and the Stretton Skyline was getting uncomfortably near. Like a headless chicken, I did some random speedwork.

A mile at 6:15 and then a series of six fast minutes interspersed with a minute of fast walk in-between followed by a gentle jog over the next two miles. I aimed to do the last mile at about 7:30 pace, but it came in at 6:40.

As i finished the air was filling with a warm fine rain and Leckhampton Hill was just a grey outline in the gathering mist. I closed my eyes, and let the droplets on my face bring thoughts of Scotland.

Not really the ideal preparation for the...

Cotswold Farm Park

A day out with wifey, children and grandparents that will be remembered for all the right reasons.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

This week's running

A poor show this week in terms of mileage. There are plans afoot to have a pop at doing the Stretton Skyline run next weekend - family committments permitting - so I hope that standards haven't been allowed to slide too far.

Weds, I joined the Almosts for a run in heavy rain and winds over the top of Cleeve Hill. About an hour of running in all.

Saturday early morning I took the dog up Leckhampton hill and repeatedly went up and along and down again. Wore the smelly helly and got too hot, but enjoyed the clear air and the views from the top of the scarp.

Then Midge managed to cut his hind leg quite badly on some glass and so it was straight back down and to the vet's for stitching and, later, an eye-watering bill. Again about an hour's running.

There's a lack of focus about the running at the moment and I am concious of the need to tap my self back into the core reasons for doing it.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

... and still going strong

Lounging in cafes

Disgracefully, the more important aspects of life have been neglected on this blog of late in favour of the frank monotony of a running diary.

On a different slant, the best coffee bar in the world, on the basis of my so far less than extensive research, is the Midnight Espresso at 178 Cuba Street, Wellington, NZ. Sadly the practicalities of international travel stop me calling in that often so it's lucky that the second best coffee bar in the world, again on the basis of my less than extensive research, is called Mocca and it's just a half hour walk away. Newspapers, paintings, writings, good music and cool-looking people making steam from the big machine make it a fine place to hang out when the kids are dozing n the buggy.

This week's running

Post Brecons, I joined the Almosts on their weds night run from the golf club at Cleeve Hill. It was good to see some familiar faces, and as someone who attends very irregularly, I also really appreciated the frendliness of the group that i ran with. It was raining on us before the set off so I had a chance to try out my very specialist-looking OMM rain top and attempt to look the part - as you would expect, sortly after setting off I was way too hot. Had some interesting conversations about how to get better at running - intervals and speedwork and fartleks seem to be the order of the day. Perhaps I should get more structured about how I run?

Friday, I joined Mike for a trot around Cleeve. It was a good, sunlight soaked and windy evening.
The evening shoe wash through the damp thistles on the lower fields was taken at high speed in the gathering dusk. The nights, as they say, are fairly drawing in.

No run on Sunday - the lie in was great.