Monthly Archives: March 2012

Big blow-out before the taper, part 1

Three weeks to go before the big one now, so training wisdom dictates that it’s the start of my taper. I wanted some tough, back-to-back stuff to taper down from, so today’s part 1 of that was the Llanbedr to Blaenafon.

The description from the race blog gives you an idea of what’s coming –

Start from Llanbedr Village, up over Crug Mawr, then climb up the back of the Sugar Loaf, down into Abergavenny, out to Llanfoist and then up and over the KILLER – The Blorenge. Finish in Blaenafon

It’s a category AL fell race, A is the hardest category (there are also B and C), L is ‘Long’ (there are also M and S!) It is 15 miles and has 4500 ft of climb. AL indeed.

The weather was dull and cool and the cloud was on the summit of Sugar Loaf.

I had a fantastic race. I ran most of the climb up Crug Mawr and all of Sugar Loaf. I also enjoyed the feeling of ‘flow’ on the easier sections; a real pay-off from my training.

The Blorenge really was the killer, though. The climb onto it was a big wall; long and very steep. I ran up a good way before my will broke and I walked. Blaenafon is a lot higher than Llanfoist, so the descent off the back to the finish wasn’t very steep, although it was rather rough in its upper reaches.

Me at the top of The Blorenge - check out the slope below me, which I came straight up!

I almost caught a fellow runner on the home straight, sprinting furiously for the line, but he put on a good turn of speed and came through about 1 metre ahead of me. I came 30th out of 89, in 2:50:49. For comparison, Steven Cole won in 2:04:39. About 1/3 of the way down the field is ‘right’ for me in a fell race.

I enjoyed some excellent hospitality at the Blaenafon Rugby Club after the race, crowning a glorious afternoon.

Tomorrow comes part 2, the Combe Gibbet! I’ll report back on that when it’s over: I can tell you now the first few miles will be tough, but I hope my legs will resign themselves to what’s being asked of them and I’ll loosen up after that :mrgreen:


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Just in Case I Think I’m Having a Tough Time of it…

My legs were tired after the Hastings Half, and I do some pretty tough stuff, but I like stories like the one linked to through this picture to keep my sufferings in perspective.

Give Me Something to Pull With

I did probably my shortest ever run on Tuesday – about 2 miles because that’s all I had time for.

Yesterday I had a nice chatty 9 miler around the local lanes with Geoff.

Today I had a sublime 10 or 11 miles on the downs near Baydon, Wiltshire and part of The Ridgeway. Yet more sunshine, although a cool stiff breeze blew on parts of the run. It’s a route that I’ve been sussing for a while, and now I’ve worked all the parts out, I’m really pleased. It’s nearly all off road and the road it does use is extremely quiet.

This weekend I’m doing a 15 mile fell race on Saturday, the Llanbedr to Blaenafon, and a 16 mile trail race, the Combe Gibbet, on Sunday. Definitely time to taper then!

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Heaven & hell on the Hastings Half

Well, not much hell actually.

I waved goodbye to Saul and Rachel this morning at 8.45, which of course felt like 7.45 because of the clock change. I’d done nothing more strenuous than travel the length of the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway and eat fish & chips with them, which was lovely.

It was a little hectic getting to the Hastings Half Marathon parking and rushing about to find the registration desk to pick up my number, but, as is usually the case, I had some time to spare before the start to chat to other runners. I once turned up 25 minutes late to a small trail race, the Seaview 17, to find the race organisers had already gone and I was running on my own to catch the back markers, which I eventually did over 12 miles into the race, having drunk from streams to stay hydrated on a hot day! I wouldn’t recommend that.

It was sunny, but there was also a keen, cool breeze blowing, so I opted to wear my ‘tribal art sleeves’ top under my Chippenham Harriers vest. Strictly speaking any runner entered in a race as a club runner should wear their club’s ‘colours’, so even though the vest was only really holding my number, on it went.

The start was a bit slow and crowded, as they often are in races of any size, but that’s what I expected, so I was happy to warm up at a stop-start pace until the field thinned. Like many bigger races, this one had signs in the start area to indicate where runners should place themselves based on their expected finish time, but for some reason, many runners ignore these, so you have a lot of overtaking to do in the first mile or so.

The Hastings Half rolls a bit in the first 3 miles, with a couple of short, sharp climbs, then has a long steady climb for about the next 2. After that, it rolls a bit more, with a couple more short, sharp climbs and some quite big descents. The last 2.5 miles go along the Hastings sea front, back to St Leonards where the start/finish is.

I stuck with an official 90 minute ‘pacer’, who, like the last one I ran with at the Swindon HM, seemed to overcook it a bit in the first half, especially considering the big climb. After the big climb, his entourage pulled away from me by 100m or so, but he still seemed to be running over the pace, so I didn’t worry.

I kept up my pace pretty evenly and enjoyed the sunshine. On the last section, along the sea front, I faded a little, but I caught and passed the pacer, who didn’t want to drag his group along too quickly and probably lose some! I reckon I lost a minute in those last 2 miles, but I didn’t care because it was obvious to me I was going to beat my previous HM PB (1:29:46 from the Forest of Dean in 2010), and, as I was only using the event to judge my pace and and test my shoes, I felt I could relax a bit near the end!

My ‘chip’ time was 1:28:47 and I placed 129th! Last October, when I ran Swindon, I couldn’t stick with the over-fast pacer and eventually finished in 1:33:22. If I can gain four and a half minutes, on a tougher course, 5 months later, my training is definitely paying off and I’m chuffed!


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Mr Blue Sky

Wow, this weather makes training so easy.

I sussed out the other half of my ‘practice marathon’ on Thursday. Yet another sunny late afternoon. It does get cool once the sun dips, so I wore my new Canterbury top, which I’m only mentioning because it’s so good! The outer face of the fabric draws moisture off the inner really efficiently, so I thought I’d big it up.

I’m staying with my lovely friends Saul and Rachel in Hythe, whom I haven’t seen in 8 years. That’s why I thought I’d do the Hastings Half tomorrow; it’s just down the road, so why not?

I’ll have a nice day off today, then try to beat my HM PB, which is 1:29:46. We’ll see.

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Terminator Video

The race I did at the end of February, that is, not the killer robot from the future.

Track, Field & Road did a video feature of The Terminator on their website. The bog sequence is fun. I am very proud of my bog crossing: I don’t quite know how I managed it, I must have trod on the back of an unconscious runner. I cross the stream at about 10:15, just after the commentator says, “That’s a great one in the middle there,” make to go over the crossing on my right, then dither and decide to pass on my left instead. I must have been very lucky :mrgreen:

See –

Call me Legolas 😆

Check out the last person out of the bog, shot closer up: he has quite a time of it.

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Keep Pushing

After my easy run on Monday, I ran around my favourite Castle Combe run yesterday, running on my limit, which meant fighting the aches and tightness still left over from Sunday. I was blessed once more with lovely late afternoon sun and enjoyed every minute despite the discomfort.

Today a had a nice, chatty 7 around the lanes with Geoff, in glorious sunshine once more.

I still like my idea of doing the Hastings Half on Sunday, as I’m staying in Hythe over the weekend, so I’ll probably run gently until then. Doing the Hastings will give me another gauge for my training.

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Useful Information for Endurance Runners.

All you endurance runners out there – the West Highland Way Race has had a better store of on-hand medical wisdom than any other event I know for years now. The wisdom is not just for ultra runners. Take a look at the PDFs linked under ‘Latest News’ on the WHW web page.

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