Diolch & pob lwc!

8025DA4C-F504-482F-86B9-B1746DB39821.pngDon’t worry it’s nearly the end of these blog posts. Then you get the post race spam! After completing GL3D on Monday week I took all week off training. I ate and couldn’t stop. My body was recovering. I ran an easy 4 miles on Sunday and had a sports massage. My legs feel ready. I ran 5 miles on Monday and Tuesday.


I have prepared my kit. It’s all laid out, well was all piled up but now I’m ready. I finished a final week of work and now it’s  up to Conwy.

There’s not much more to say and I’m not renowned for emotion.  It’s been a rollercoaster of a year. I’ve explored a lot and managed to experience new races. It’s been a crazy adventure. This is where is all began.


It does seem like a long time ago and most of those 10Kgs are gone. I certainly don’t have much ultra pedigree to go on as the GB Ultras Snowdon 50is my only mark. I’ve lost a few pounds since that photo.

Actually, it was reading Mr Vassos’ book that started it. I’m re-reading it now and the Dragon’s Back is right at the start. It sounded horrific and I needed to change my life so sign me up! We had been in the UK 6 weeks after the Australian summer and I was in a tough job looking for a distraction to focus on. It took me about 6 months to really focus on the challenge. I’m thinking of putting it in my drop bag and asking him to sign it for me…


I’ve recced days 1, 2 and half of 3. During that time it hasn’t scared me. I’m nervous now though. Knowing I’m locking into the system with only what I have in my bags.  My feet are good now but what shape will they be in in 3 days time?  What pace will I be able to maintain then?  Well we’ll see.  This section around Drum was the bit I found tough on the recce. 


Follow the adventure at http://live.opentracking.co.uk/dragonsb19/number 330. Send me a dragon mail through the envelope which goes live on Monday.

Obviously no one is going to do this for me. It’s all on me. The volunteers, I know from GL3D, will be great and help but they cannot climb these mountains. The support I’ve had through the year from family has been amazing – a week in the lakes, in Aug, orienteering in the rain when it was 30 Deg everywhere else. Chasing me around Ogwen Valley with no phone signal (the infamous CP5) until 0300!  The random packages containing more essential kit!  


Letting me run, race and prepare for this mid-life crisis has been a sacrifice – gracias guapa!  It’s been fun getting the kids outside. Catbells, Snowdon, rock climbing – they’ve loved it. I think that support will carry me along when it gets tough! I’m really motivated to get outside. I’m not convinced this will be my last crazy adventure though…



In July, I’ve got the Centurion Wendover Woods 50km.  I want to do the Pico Veleta 50km in Aug and I’m keen to have a go at some more mountain marathons too. Let’s not get ahead of myself…

A final thought. I was brought up on the ‘clean shirt’ rules based adventures of scouting and DofE. I used to study maps linking routes but was stifled by a the rules. It’s only know that I know my limits and the margins of safety. This weekend Nicky Spinks is double paddy Buckley round. Impossible is nothing, anything is possible.  https://www.inov-8.com/blog/nicky-spinks-double-paddy-buckley/


“Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you’re right” Henry Ford.



Week 10 – GL3D

IMG_4673And just like that the work is done. From the initial drunken May deposit through fleeting fitness and sugar binges (those Mcvities dark choc thins are soooo good – 700cal per packet: that’s how I roll)! 

Week 10: 29 Apr – 5 May 19
Mileage: 53.7 miles
Ascent: 4,184 m
Rest: Mon, Wed, Fri
Weight: 76.0kg

I ran Easy on Tue after work for 30 min around the woods. I was clearly still tired after the three peaks.  I went climbing on Wednesday, taking DS2’s place at DS1’s birthday party!  On Thursday I ran to vote at lunch for 20 min and then got 30 min in around the bluebells of Whippendell woods while DS1 was at the scout site.  


Work is manic right now but I managed to get away in time to get to Pooley Bridge by 2000 for the Great Lakeland 3 Day Mountain Marathon. I got the tent up and I could feel the temperature dropping. I collected my pre-ordered food and watched some inspirational outdoor theatre which include a father and son paddle board adventure, Scottish skiing and a piece called Slaydies about some climbers’ holiday in Spain.  I slept well but it was very cold and chibbly – in May! 


I was awake at dawn (0500) and from 0530 sorted my kit.  I still had to pack as I was close to the weight limit and had struggled to close the dry bag. I left a ton of kit but decided to wear my buffalo jacket – I don’t regret that! I saw Sabrina Verjee had posted in the DBR group reminding people to go easy; I kept weighing up the pros and cons but eventually decided on the middle length – 37km, 23 miles for day 1.  Three decent days are far more important than one long day. The GL3D is an inclusive gentrified mountain adventure including navigation and hills. Pick your own adventure- you can run/walk a different length course each day but you won’t be included in the overall results which are just for fun anyway.  I am glad I didn’t do the long course which was nearly 50km.  I don’t need to prove I can do that distance 2 weeks out from the biggest adventure I’ve dared to attempt. 


The race is long but in the end it’s only against yourself (and the cut offs).

The route was really nice and the chibbly-clear start showed off the Lakeland hills. I wished I had had a Wainwright quote for the moment – I’ve included some later to make amends. From Pooley Bridge we cut across Askham fell then up and along the High Raise to High Street ridge before dropping down to the pub at Kirkstone Pass.  From there it was straight up (and then down) Red Screes leading to Hartcrag and descent to Patterdale camping via Hartsop above How.  I had a delicious Lakeland ice cream from Patterdale post office before finishing in 5:40. This ended up being a nominal 8th place. A great day in the hills topped off by getting cake and drink on arrival!  I then met lots of Dragons in Training and former Dragons including Chris, John K, Paul and legend Joe F.  I chatted with fellow hill folk and discussed the day while enjoying food from the luxury food vans (cheesy chips)!  

IMG_4602 2

I slept really well on my 2 mats with down jacket on. I was surprised to wake without stiff legs.  I got sorted and had porridge with choc & peanut butter and a coffee before setting off at 0800.  I had a great day.  We climbed steeply out up towards St. Sunday Crag. I used my poles and made good time. The CP was on an eastern Wainwright rather St. SC. I contoured round under the summit saving height and time. The zigzag climb up Dollywaggon is steep but I poled straight up. It was quite cold but noticeably warmer than Saturday.  I chose to wear just a base layer and running jacket with tights. The next section bagged Helvellyn and then along to Stybarrow Dodd.  I saved more time by not visiting Raise.  From Stybarrow Dodd we dropped off the ridge and across open moorland towards Gowbarrow Fell. The view point of Yew Crag gave a great panorama of Ullswater.  We followed the Ullswater trail back to camp via Aria Force and Glenridding Dodd.  I was second back but that’s meaningless as people can start when they like – I only just made it back AFTER the finish opened 5 hrs after I started. I had a great day – 1st and 12 min faster than 2nd moving me to 3rd overall and an ice cream away from the lead!  It is just for fun with no prizes but nice to compare.

I enjoyed a lie in on Monday. While others got ready I stayed in the warmth of my sleeping bag knowing an early start would see me finish before it was open!

I set off at 0815 at 4:30 min/km pace along the roads to Patterdale to Place Fell.  From there we set off across Angle Tarn Pikes (Lakes 5 Day Orienteering 2018 Day 2) and then to Beda Fell.  I’d chosen to run in a base layer and shorts today which was liberating.  Hallin Fell was a pleasant peak with good views across Ullswater but the direct, full frontal assault up Bonscale Pike was Whernside-esque!  4 points of contact!


Anyway, I finished, before 1200 so I had some time added to my finish (3:37 for 15 miles).  3rd on the day and 2nd overall, an ice cream off the lead.  An excellent event which bodes well for the Dragon.  I was so pleased with how quickly I recovered and feel like I’ve lost more weight.  13 sleeps to go.  Now it’s time to pack and take care of my feet.

Here’s some Wainwright quotes:

Why does a man climb mountains? Why has he forced his tired and sweating body up here when he might instead have been sitting at his ease in a deckchair at the seaside, looking at girls in bikinis, or fast asleep, or sucking ice-cream, according to his fancy. On the face of it the thing doesn’t make sense.

Yet more and more people are turning to the hills; they find something in these wild places that can be found nowhere else. It may be solace for some, satisfaction for others: the joy of exercising muscles that modern ways of living have cramped, perhaps; or a balm for jangled nerves in the solitude and silence of the peaks; or escape from the clamour and tumult of everyday existence. It may have something to do with man’s subconscious search for beauty, growing keener as so much in the world grows uglier. It may be a need to re-adjust his sights, to get out of his narrow groove and climb above it to see wider horizons and truer perspectives. In a few cases, it may even be a curiousity inspired by A Wainwright’s Pictorial Guides. Or it may be, and for most walkers it will be, quite simply, a deep love of the hills, a love that has grown over the years, whatever motive first took them there: a feeling that these hills are friends, tried and trusted friends, always there when needed. 

It is a question every man must answer for himself.


Do take the children on the hills early, in a rucksack on your shoulders if they can’t yet walk. Children are born scramblers and don’t hurt easily: it’s yourself you want to watch, not them. They will be in the seventh heaven of delight. They don’t fear the elements or the mountains or monstrous apparitions in gas capes. Fear only comes with age. It always pleases me to see a family party on a mountain track. There, I think, goes a good father and an even better mother. They have the right idea. They want their children to know and love the quiet places before the noisy world offers less desirable outlets for juvenile enthusiasm and energy and enterprise. A child forgets many incidents of child had, but he will always remember the day his old dad took him along the Climbers Traverse on Bowfell and up the Great Slab. There are red letter days in infancy, too.


Week 9 – Three Peaks Fell Race

Week 8: 22 – 28 Apr 19
Mileage: 33.7 miles
Ascent: 1,762 m
Rest: Tue, Thu, Fri, Sun
Weight: 76.9kg!!!

4 seconds.  4th by 4 seconds.  Bank holiday Monday’s near miss was covered here.  I could feel my left foot’s tendon had been activated by the faster running on hard, dry ground.  I need to be very careful.  So with that in mind I rested on Tue and ran really easy in my Hokas on Wed for an hour.  I wouldn’t describe it as painful but irritating.  It is also rarely noticeable when actually running.  I will try to stretch more and be careful it’s near taper and recovery time.


That brings me to the weekend.  I drove up to Horton in Ribblesdale, Yorkshire, after work and arrived at the crazy campsite just before sunset.  I got my tent up and unpacked in less than 15 minutes and walked to the pub to read some motivational passages from Richard Askwith’s fell running homage, feet in the clouds.  I got to bed at about 2200 but the combination of banging tunes, decaying caffeine and an inability to get comfortable meant I definitely didn’t sleep until after midnight.  I was awake before 5 but managed to doze until around 0600 with the dawn chorus in full flow and light making decent rest near impossible.  I fired up the Jetboil and made a porridge pot and a coffee.  To avoid slumming it, Taylors do individual coffee bags.  After two coffees and two pots I was ready to face the day.  I packed the wet tent and loaded the car.  I made my way to the race car park and waited for registration to open.  I was one of the first to register and after a panicked moment where my envelope was missing (it had dropped down behind others) I was ready.


I looked around Pete Bland Sports which had some excellent offers on and discussed kit with some people.  The forecast was honking.  Gales, minus 10 windchill on the tops, low cloud yet in the valley the temperature wasn’t too bad.  What to wear?  Will I need waterproof bottoms? What about my jacket?  The race briefing and announcements stressed the importance of not skimping on carrying mandatory kit and the kit checks that would be in place.  It was at the Three Peaks in 1978 that someone lost their life to hypothermia and the reason we have the qualification criteria and mandatory kit that is commonplace today.

I got changed in the end settling for shorts until the final race brief when I decided to put my leggings back on.  I decided to start in a t-shirt with arm warmers and my Berghaus Hyper 100 jacket on.  I’m probably a bit soft because the front runners were in shorts and vest.  I guess they just ran faster when cold!

We were barely out of the tent when they shouted “Go!”.  I was outside the start tapes!  I ducked in and we jogged on through the village and up a lane leading to the ascent of Pen-y-ghent this first of the Yorkshire Three Peaks.  I remember as a Scout completing the walk.  We had to get a ticket at the post office stamped and then on the return get a clocking in stamp – the aim was to do it in under 12 hours.  I think we did it.  Today we were aiming for significantly faster.  I took it easy and walked early.  I have got quite good at this fell-run-walking style.  Bent double like Steve Birkinshaw or Nicky Spinks you have to remember you are not out for a jolly bimble but in a race or fighting cut offs.  You push down on your knees, maintaining a good cadence and rhythm, this is key.  It is too easy to just walk.  You should be above your respiratory threshold.  This is the point when breathing becomes tough, when you struggle to speak, think half marathon pace or faster.  I found out the hard way learning from books about fuelling when ascending – this only works if you’re walking!  Gasping for air is no way to attempt to eat a scotch egg – crumbs go the wrong way.  I got to the top fairly quickly – it was cold on top, windy – a bitter wind, clag and wet rock.  I was slow on the descent which lead to a long trail.

I hadn’t done enough research on the route which is unusual for me.  Maybe I thought I wouldn’t do it or just left it until the last minute.  Anyway what I found out the really hard way is that after PYG there is a long undulating trail section which is quite fast.  I was also overheating but whenever I took my jacket off a squall would come through and freeze the balls off my proverbial brass monkey.  The route goes past the beautiful Ribblehead Viaduct on way to Whernside.  I had been running at a comfortable pace attempting even effort for 4hrs but unfortunately the effort comes at the end of the race!  The sting in the tale.  Ascending, the start Whernside I checked my HR and saw it was around threshold and I was walking!  Not a good sign.  I knew the Whernside ascent was steep.  Ricky Lightfoot posted a picture on IG of him using his hands.  It is that steep!


I maintained good rhythm and had fuelled well but when I got to the top I wanted to be sick.  I struggled on the descent but focused on foot placement.  We passed a fallen runner who had fractured their cheekbone after a fall and got airlifted to safety.  The only injury I think.  I was fuelling quite well and once down the technical sections I was able to run along the limestone pavement quite well.  The final climb we were warned about.  We were told that if you’ve gone out too hard you’d get found out here.  I don’t think I did too bad on the way up, holding my own and moving well.  After this checkpoint (in sleet) I really struggled to keep pace.  My foot placements were careless and my paced had dropped.  I knew I only had 6Km at most but I struggle to exceed a jogging pace.  I was also trying to be careful the whole way as I knew this was just a good bit of training before the Dragon rather than the goal.


I really enjoyed the race.  Afterwards there was a rocking party and people drinking the Northern Monk brewery’s special edition beer which has a picturesque landscape design on the can.  I got changed, had my included Wilfs veggie chilli and drink before heading back down the M1.  My glutei did not enjoy being sat down for the journey home.  I slept well.

Surprisingly, I am near pain free today.  I know I did some exercise yesterday but I think I have recovered well.  It will be a very easy week as I have the GL3D next week.  We spent the day at Legoland but didn’t walk too much.  The best time of year to go as the queues were well down.  All in all a good week.


Oh and on the weight loss… On Tue I weighed 78.9Kg.  I ate no breakfast on Tue intending to fast (my fasts are only every 24 hours to the minute – ie. Dinner Mon to Dinner Tue – I’m not a sadist and I’m not sure I could sleep easily hungry); I lasted until lunch when I had to go home anyway but while there I sneaked a bowl of soup and two rounds of toast.  Healthy dinner.  On Wed I had a fruit salad breakfast and soup lunch with normal healthy dinner.  Thursday was a repeat.  No snacking at all.  By Friday morning I weighed 76.9Kg!  Today I weigh less than that but I think that will bounce back after the hard run.

3 weeks to go… last week of hard training then recovery!  I’ll be eating all the chia seeds!

Week Focus Race? Risks
1 – 7 Apr 19 30+ miles Easy No Last week of work
8 – 14 Apr 19 Week in Wales Llangollen Fell Race (14th) Injury
15 – 21 Apr 19 Long and easy with hills then Jk JK Orienteering 21 – 22 Apr 19
22 – 28 Apr 19 Recovery then 2x long Three Peaks Fell Race Back to work
29 Apr – 6 May 19 GL3D last hard week! GL3D 4 – 6 May 19


JK Orienteering – Week 8

I haven’t too much to blog about this week as it’s been a lighter week.  My legs were heavy and I was tired after the Llangollen fell race. I ran easy for 30 min on Tue and did a longer 12.5 miles off road on Thu before the JK at the weekend.  My legs were a lot faster than my brain and I made too many mistakes.  Still I got plenty of distance exploring more of the map than the planner intended.  My strength didn’t wane much on the long course which I remember wheezing round last year.  

Week 8: 15 – 21 Apr 19
Mileage: 31.4 miles
Ascent: 822 m
Rest: Mon, Wed, Fri
Weight: 78.9kg


An average performance individually and I was gutted that we finished 4th in today’s relays by 4 seconds.  I have mellowed since looking at the results as I was very disappointed by my errors. (I went to 13 when I was going to 10?!).  I finished 5th on my leg and gained a position so I don’t need to beat myself up too much. The young lady who was ahead of me on the run in and didn’t get closer despite my sprint is in the GB talent squad – I can’t be disappointed at that.  Yes, I made mistakes but my Km splits were 6:01 per km! That’s a lot faster than my long course average. 


Looking at the positives, the weather was fantastic and it was an awesome family atmosphere. Tents, banners and sport in the outdoors.  Lovely.  The boys loved following their route and then tried their hand at the string course. They both got course victories in their age groups following the string.   

It is a great sport for all the family.  Check out https://www.britishorienteering.org.uk/event to find your nearest event.


4 weeks to go…

Week Focus Race? Risks
1 – 7 Apr 19 30+ miles Easy No Last week of work
8 – 14 Apr 19 Week in Wales Llangollen Fell Race (14th) Injury
15 – 21 Apr 19 Long and easy with hills then Jk JK Orienteering 

21 – 22 Apr 19

22 – 28 Apr 19 Recovery then 2x long Three Peaks Fell Race Back to work
29 Apr – 6 May 19 GL3D last hard week! GL3D 4 – 6 May 19

While this year has seen blazing sun, the emit system has not covered itself in glory. Late results, a slow website, no split times errors from mispunching, open starts have all contributed to a less than ideal experience.  When BOF needs to retain its younger athletes alongside the lure of more technologically adept sports poor implementation by emit will not help.  The fun is comparing splits and routes. The emit system doesn’t ignore controls on your course and creates a random split making comparison difficult.  Route gadget, winsplit, splitsbrowser options are currently not available as there have been so many issues.  


None of that excuses my poor navigation of course! 

Mega Welsh Warm Up

This week was the first week of the Easter holidays.  We’d booked into some cheap family accommodation in North Wales in the hope of a good outdoor holiday with some training in the margins.     

Week 7: 8 – 14 Apr 19
Mileage: 54.9 miles (plus 8 miles for Snowdon walking)
Ascent: 5095 m
Rest: Tue, Thu, Sat(?)
Weight: 77.6kg with clothes on when I got back home

IMG_3771After completing Snowdon via Crib Goch on Sun night I completed day 1a on Monday morning.  19 miles from the walls on Conwy Castle to Ogwen Valley with nearly 2000m of climb.  An excellent day’s training.  I set off too fast and nearly got caught out. 


Beating Jez Bragg and Marcus Scotney (DBR record holder) over a 4 minute strava segment probably isn’t a smart way to start a 315km stage race!  The first 10k are fast.  There are a few choke points but nothing too bad.  The climb to Drum and then on to Feel Fras is soul destroying!  I didn’t carry enough energy and really suffered.  I carried a litre of water which was borderline but I might be able to make that work.  

The descent from Pen Yr Ole Wen was tricky and in my sugar deprived state I really had to focus.  I ate lots of delicious treats from the Ogwen cottage cafe (known affectionately as CP5 in our household after the GB Ultras CP from the Snowdon Ultra).  We never actually met each other there after various CP name changes and a lack of tracking or control meant we were never in the same place at the same time.  Anyway, they had had a nice day out at Conwy Castle and surrounds.

On Tuesday, I had a rest and we explored the Llyn Peninsula with help from the Wild Guide Wales.  It was a fun trip to some lesser explored areas and old haunts.  Black Rock Sands was revisited for the first time in years.  We had an amazing lunch at a local cafe in Aberdaron.  


Wednesday, temperatures had dropped but I got up at 0530 and was at the base of Tryfan before 0630.  I wasn’t first out the car but I think I was first to the top.  The inov8s gave great grip and I felt really confident.  The ascent to the Glyders was far easier than last year – part route/part fitness? 


Up on the plateau it was pretty harsh and I was glad I was wearing my buffalo jacket.  It was frosty and there was poor visibility.  I even used my compass!  Incredibly, I saw someone else!  I realised I was moving slowly (with the night before’s curry bubbling away) and chose to descend into the Devil’s Kitchen and the CP5 toilets before getting back to the car.  I enjoyed listening to the family that turned up, very well attired in a nice premium fast estate car; the father remarked “I think I’ve been up the gliders before…”. I thought “Mate, if your calling them the gliders you probably haven’t!”

We were out exploring south Anglesey by 1030 and went to Beaumaris and Penmon Point before buying some fresh mussels.  We satisfied the kids’ desire to visit the local climbing wall before dinner.  I had a strong fever by now and hoped to recover by the morning.

I slept okay and awoke refreshed on Thursday to news of the Brextension.  We spent the day exploring waterfalls and gorges of the Conwy Falls and Betws y Coed region.  A delicious salad (buddah) bowl in Caffi Gwynant preceded a visit to Tryfan Fach (Little Tryfan) and a quick top rope session for Andrew.  He sped up the 10m ‘diff’ route I’d very carefully and nervously soloed to set up a belay!  


Charged up with cough drugs I went bed happy after a great day of dadventures!   

Friday dawned and after some consideration we decided on a way to allow me to explore the end of day 2.  We drove down the very narrow farm track to the day 2 support point.  From there I left the boys to explore Harlech while I headed south.  I charged up the Roman Steps beating some of the top times again.  I had a great time and think I have the descent from Rhinog Fawr nailed after trying to walk off a cliff.  There is probably a quicker route down if you are confident but following the path is safe and 80% quick.  I have to confess that from an orienteering, scrambling, mountain background I wasn’t too concerned by the terrain although I hadn’t just run 20 miles or done day 1!  We’ll see how long it takes in May.


I finished in under 4 hours, had a lovely ice cream at the George III pub at Penmaenpool and awaited pick up.  

Saturday was meant to be a trip to Holyhead but when Andrew saw that the 9 year old at our accommodation was going up Snowdon his eyes lit up.  Gentle teasing established a change of plan was needed and the two of us set off up the Pyg Track towards snowdon.  We got up and down in good time (under 5 hours) and he was extremely pleased with his accomplishment.  It was a chilly day but the blue skies meant it was very busy.   Sadly, the cafe and shop were closed but we got down fuelled on our sandwiches and had a post walk feed in Pete’s Eats.  I could feel my legs (and feet) after the effort and would like to rest on Sunday but need the Llangollen fell race to be able to take part in the Yorkshire 3 Peaks fell race in 2 weeks’ time.  


We woke early and drove the 90min from Anglesey to Llangollen.  Arriving early I got my number and the kids played football in the sports hall.  After a quick brief we set off at 0900 on a 17 mile route around the Llangollen hills.  It was a great route with 1000m of hills.  I started slowly, it feels wrong to walk within the first Km, and this helped me conserve energy.  I was overtaking all the way until I ran out of steam a few Km away from home.  I spectacularly face-planted descending one of the hills.  I managed to get up and continue without losing a place.  I finished in 8th in 2:21 which was a lot faster than the 2:50 I expected.  It was very runnable and fast.  I was quite tired after the week in the hills and am glad it’s over.  

Sunday to Sunday I’ve managed 70 miles including walking Snowdon. 

I saw a post from someone on FB that they were planning an 8000m week.  I had been working towards a 6000m month but actually this week (Sun to Sun) won’t be far off.

Sun 7: 8 miles/900m

Mon 8: 19 miles/2000m

Tue 9: Rest

Wed 10: 6 miles/1000m

Thu 11: Rest 

Fri 12: 12 miles/1500m

Sat 13: 8 miles/900m (walk)

Sun 14: 17 miles/1000m

Total: 70 miles/7300m

I watched a video by the Dragon’s Back Race with 4-time finisher Joe Faulkner giving some solid advice on completing the DBR.  I couldn’t agree more.  An easier week coming up and a chance to sort some admin out.

5 weeks to go…

Week Focus Race? Risks
1 – 7 Apr 19 30+ miles Easy No Last week of work
8 – 14 Apr 19 Week in Wales Llangollen Fell Race (14th) Injury
15 – 21 Apr 19 Long and easy with hills then Jk JK Orienteering 

21 – 22 Apr 19

22 – 28 Apr 19 Recovery then 2x long Three Peaks Fell Race Back to work
29 Apr – 6 May 19 GL3D last hard week! GL3D 4 – 6 May 19

One last thing and inov8 still don’t pay me, but after posting praise for the Terraultra G 260’s last week the sole came away from the upper!  Doh!  Super glued they were fine for today’s race – I might need a new pair for this Dragon thing!


Woah! We’re halfway there!

Halfway.  Six weeks down, six to go.  I was determined to have a strong week after a lighter week pre-BUCS.  I got in a few midweek runs, a leaving do as well as meeting my boss in town at the last moment one night.  


Week 6: 1 – 7 Apr 19
Mileage: 36.2 miles
Ascent: 1,399 m
Rest: Mon, Fri
Weight: Fri 79.2, Sat 78.2kg all to play for!

That’s a good tick against my goals for last week.  I did the Ricky Parkrun and got a recent and course PB of 18:18 with a 3.5 mile warm up and cool down.  I’ve had to make a few changes as I will only make 2 of 4 days at JK and I am going to try to do 2 laps easy at Wendover next week.  I’ve come off the wait list and had my experience accepted for the Three Peaks Fell Race.  At 25 miles it will be an excellent run – a blue riband event – it’s about the journey.  What a journey this Dragon thing has been.  Tubby @totriornottotri (less than 6 months ago) would not have dreamt of having these adventures – well he would have dreamt!  Caution! My increased speed, fitness and confidence needs reigning in.  My goal is to finish.  Beating Jez Bragg, Sabrina Verjee and Marcus Scotney’s times on the first segment of the day isn’t recommended the best idea!


Week Focus Race? Risks
1 – 7 Apr 19 30+ miles Easy No Last week of work
8 – 14 Apr 19 Week in Wales Llangollen Fell Race (14th) Injury
15 – 21 Apr 19 Long and easy with hills then Jk JK Orienteering 

21 – 22 Apr 19

22 – 28 Apr 19 Recovery then 2x long Three Peaks Fell Race Back to work
29 Apr – 6 May 19 Recovery/easy GL3D 4 – 6 May 19

On Tue and Wed I ran my 7.2 mile loop and on Thu did an easy run in the woods.  Saturday’s Parkrun was designed to be a confidence booster – it certainly did that.  On Sunday we travelled to North Wales.  Arriving in glorious sunshine and on receipt of evidence that the snow was retreating I set off up Crib Goch towards Snowdon and then descended via the Llanberis path.  My times were much improved on last year and it gave me some confidence.

One last thing and, no, inov8 don’t pay me or give me free stuff but if they want to…

The  Terraultra G 260’s are amazing on rock!  Scrambling (and descending) was so easy.  The grip was honestly as good as wearing rock shoes when smearing.  It gave me a lot of confidence.  I know which shoes I’ll be wearing on day 1 and 2!  


The antithesis of tomorrow

Another week down.  Tired after the fell race and stressed with work I struggled to run much or focused on a healthy diet.  I dare not step on the scales.  Anyway, like a resolution tomorrow is April 1 and while I’m sure I’m a fool it also means I can mentally refocus for my final 5 weeks of training.  Don’t panic dragon charmers! There are still 7 weeks to go but I am going to ‘chunk’ it to make it easier to think about.  Five weeks of training concentrating on weight loss and quality hill days.  Thirty five six days which will finish at the GL3D on early May Day bank holiday Monday.  Then it’s two weeks of recovery.  So although this week has not been the best, I will concentrate on making the next 5 better.  

Week 5: 25 – 31 Mar 19
Mileage: 20.9 miles
Ascent: 1412 m
Rest: Mon, Thu, Fri
Weight: Couldn’t face it


The antithesis of tomorrow.

Amazingly, despite my concerns I actually got some quality ascent in.  The weekend was spent in Scotland competing against universities in an orienteering competition.   We were extremely lucky with the weather giving us amazing views and great conditions.  I made some silly mistakes but it was nice to compete against a quality field on amazing terrain – excellent training for the dragon. I am sure people thought I was a little odd and possibly out of my depth.

Week Focus Race? Risks 
1 – 7 Apr 19 30+ miles Easy No Last week of work
8 – 14 Apr 19 Week in Wales  Llangollen Fell Race (14th) Injury
15 – 21 Apr 19 Recovery/steady then Jk JK Orienteering 

19 – 22 Apr 19

22 – 28 Apr 19 Recovery then 2x long No Back to work
29 Apr – 6 May 19 Recovery/easy GL3D 4 – 6 May 19

IMG_3558 So that’s the plan.  I will need to properly diet to get anywhere close to race shape.    

Training my alpha…

While running today I realised that obviously to train a dragon you need an alpha dragon.  Anyway… 

Another 2 weeks down.  8 weeks to go.

Week 3: 11 – 17 Mar 19 Week 4: 18 – 24 Mar 19
Mileage: 39.4 miles Mileage: 36.3 miles
Ascent: 1275m Ascent: 1715m
Rest: Mon, Wed, Fri Rest: Mon to Wed
Weight: Mon 78.2Kg Weight: Mon 78.2Kg

It’s been a busy 2 weeks at work and I have been fighting swollen glands.  I have mainly been medicating with excessive calorie intake.  Not good but at least I maintained weight.

My weekend sessions were excellent.  Last week I spent a few hours training around Wendover Woods.  I’d planned 2 laps and 20 miles but after a fast 1st lap I bailed at half way – 15 miles and 800m of climb.  I made sure I ran a solid 13 the next day to make sure I’d done 28 miles over the weekend and it counted.

This week has been tiring and hard work.  Early starts and late finishes.  I squeezed in runs Thu-Sun.  Friday we went to see England win 5-0 which was an amazing experience.  A great atmosphere.


Yesterday DS2 had his party so I got my magic tricks out.  DS1 was very curious to help.  After dinner I drove to Stafford to break my journey up.  I’d got a place in the Edale skyline fell race off the wait list.  

What a day.  21 miles, 34 km, 1300m of climb.  Clear skies but quite windy.  I did run a little fast at the start but figured it’s all good training. 

I promise I’ll run slower for the dragon.  The G260 Inov8s were amazing – definitely explored the limits with some leaps and know I can trust them now.  There may have been a few hot spots but no blisters still.  First toe and outside of ball of foot are key areas.  I may try talc next time and get some of those lady feet sandpaper things.  Lovely pie, mushy peas and gravy at the end with a sweet tea.


I learned quite a lot.  I can see why those long ultra bottle straws are cheap on eBay – it was like running whilst being hit with a plastic phallus.  I definitely need to run slower and keep calm on the hills.

I experienced the beautiful runner’s high of narcoleptic post run warmth, sadly I was driving but it was lovely!


I also recommend the ‘Don’t Tell Me The Score’ podcast especially the Fear and Legacy episodes.

8 weeks of training to go…


There are good people too

There are still good people in the world.

Since taking part in the OMM last year I have been stalking eBay with saved searches for a light mountain tent.  The guy I ran with last year had a Nordisk Telemark 2 which was beautifully spacious and importantly, light (880g).  https://nordisk.eu/telemark-2-ulw/forest-green/p/364/

I had a good night’s sleep.  It normally retails at around £300-400 and Cotswold recently had one for sale at £237.  I didn’t have the courage to pull the trigger on that occasion.  Anyway, not wanting to give up on my tent dream I posted in UKClimbing forums enquiring if anyone had a lightweight (less than 1Kg) tent they wanted to sell.  

Screenshot 2019-03-13 at 13.40.06

Within 24hrs I had an offer.  It was a Nordisk, but not the Telemark.  You see there is a little brother tent called the Lofoten.  https://nordisk.eu/lofoten-2-ulw/burnt-red/p/361/ Named after the impossibly beautiful Norweigan Islands it takes lightweight to another
level.  It is closer to 500g than 1kg! The price on offer made me feel guilty – it is currently for on Wiggle for £620!

There were no photos just the promise it had only been used 3 times and wanted it to go to a good home for a good price.  It seemed too good to be true.  I checked their profile – he appeared to be a regular poster meaning he wasn’t a likely scammer.  I took a risk.  Within 24 hrs he’d posted it and within 72 hrs it arrived.  


Oh it’s beautiful.  It’s so light.  It makes me want to hit the hills now.  He included a note saying don’t put the pegs with the inner as they rip easily.  On the back of the note was a timing plan for the Josh Naylor round.  That made me smile and think of the adventures to be had fast packing.


Anyway, not feeling smug but pleased that there are great people in the world.


How to train a dragon.

How to train a dragon: The hidden world.

We went to the cinema to watch this film today.  Not much ultra running in it. 

If I was pretending to have a 12 week training plan, I’ve completed the first two weeks.  10 weeks to go.  

Week 1: 25 Feb – 3 Mar 19 Week 2: 4 – 10 Mar 19
Mileage: 31.7 miles Mileage: 43.8 miles
Ascent: 897m Ascent: 1370m
Training days: 4 Training days: 6
Rest: Mon & Tue  Rest: Mon
Weight: Mon 79.2Kg  Weight: Mon 78.6Kg
Weight: Sun 78.4Kg Weight: Sun 78.2Kg


Week 1 started terribly.  I had just got back from my DBR day 3a recce and had struggled halfway round an orienteering event.  I rested on Monday and tried to get my inbox sorted after a week off.  Within 5 minutes of getting home I was on a diet accelerator meaning I needed to take Tuesday off to recover.  On Wednesday I felt much better and went for a sunny lunch run around the woods.  Despite being inside the M25 and within a mile of 3 tube stops you could be miles away.  It is the best way to spend lunch.  I want to treat this 12 week block like a marathon prep period so on Thursday I went for a steady 7:20m/m run for an hour.  The purpose of this run is to improve my aerobic fitness.  I took Friday off as my only window to run was early in the morning and I had a drive north later that day.  I also wanted to make the most of the weekend up near hills!  Saturday was a nice 1:17 at easy pace around Cannock Chase which still managed to climb 250m. 


I had signed up to the Cloud 9 fell race weeks ago as an excuse to get hills into my legs.  I ran at race pace and surprised myself.  I had to fight for position in the first miles as it was a pedestrian pace on approach to Bosley Cloud.  I was pleased that I managed to keep pace and not lose any places on the ascent.  I was about 13th at that point.  The long descent was where my pace and lack of endurance speed (lactate threshold) was highlighted.  I pushed on and finished 20th in 66 minutes.  I was delighted I knew sub 75 and top 50  was possible but that time and position was incredible.  My training has obviously been going ok!  


How good are fell races? £9. Free soup and roll.  Great course and company.  What no medal? No worries. No t-shirt? Yeah Marie Kondo that shit.  It’s hardly sparking joy, is it?  Oh and the cake stall was the best!  Donation based and all varieties!  


I didn’t feel too bad at the start of this week.  I took Monday off as usual and then ran my easy 4 mile road recovery loop on Tuesday.  On Wednesday I’d had to dine al desko as I had a visit to deal with which meant I ran when I got home.  I left in the light for a longer 4.5 mile road loop again at an easy pace.  Steady Thursdays are starting to be a thing and 7:20m/m pace for just under an hour is starting to feel more comfortable.  I managed to get out for an easy hour on Friday afternoon although I perhaps should have waited longer after eating tomato soup.  Yesterday I returned to South Oxhey Parkrun for the first time in over a month.  I ran well and finished 1st by over 3 minutes which made pushing the pace tough.  I was happy with my fastest time in a while although officially the finish funnel’s strange placement meant I wasn’t actually that quick.  It’s a cross country style course over fields and a small incline which tests the legs on lap 3!  19:15 was my GPS 5Km time which means I’d like to think I could get close to 18:30 on flat paths.  Today I knew I needed to improve my ascent numbers.  Wendover Woods had an event on so I stayed clear and I’m also not sure I’m up for 34 ascents of Gnarking like James Elson!  I went to my local woods and did 15 reps of a 50m hill over 0.4 miles.  That took 2 hours and although I slowed down and was glad to finish I really felt like I could have kept going.  My recovery time was 43hrs which means I’d probably paced my effort about right.


Weight loss has been positive with around 1Kg lost and post run weights being below 78Kg.  

More positive vibes – I’m 14m off the Strava hill climb challenge (new earliest completion) and halfway through the 200Km month challenge.  I’m very lucky!  I’ve also been watching hyper light tents on eBay but not found one yet so I asked on a forum

I now have two weeks with no racing before an important orienteering competition at the end of the month.  I would like to try to get a day’s recce in, probably day 5b, and also get some solid ascent at Wendover.  Keep calm have a cuppa and carry on.