An update to the Preseli Ultra training including a youtube video!
New post on Laterising – Training others
New Post at Laterising.com
Head off to the new site at www.laterising.com or straight to the post at
New post on laterising.com
Ive posted my thoughts on metrics and measurements on the new site at
Moving on, changing up
As you may (or probably haven’t) have noticed I don’t post here anymore. I was finding far more enjoyment in just doing things and not writing about them. After all there are only so many things you can write about going for a run.
And I guess there is more out there than just running. And although I still focus on running I have found other outlets along the way.
And because shortly wordpress will want to rebill me for hosting the blog again – which as we know I rarely post to – It makes no sense to continue it. At least here anyway.
For fear not I’ve actually spent some of the intervening time archiving all the posts from this blog )and the number surprised me) and moving them to a new (and much cheaper domain)
In fact my new site contains a little more than just running (though there is/will be plenty of that I’m sure) Currently I’m focused on a year long fitness project incorporating strength, mobility, diet and core work to complement my running. There’s more detail on the site itself but really all this is just for me now as I wanted to document things rather than write a blog for others.
You are of course welcome to come along for the ride – the site is at https://www.laterising.com
Currently there is no way of subscribing to notifications when I make changes or new posts so you’ll just have to pop in every now and again. I will also work on a way to comment too but as ever feel free to email me.
It felt like an odd week last week, after the disappointment of a DNF at Preseli (yes I still count the beast finish as technically a DNF) it left me kind of flat for a few days. All sorts of thoughts were wandering around my head as if looking for something to do. At times I was even thinking Christ perhaps I’m too old for this ultrarunning shit and hey why do I even need to put myself through it anyway. I could take it easy, laze around a bit like I see everyone else doing. Just be … normal or something.
But when I thought about it and I mean really thought deep down about it I couldn’t be happy returning to the lazy way of living. Something changed back in 2015 (have I really been running 7 years?) and I don’t think its ever likely to change back until something really derails me and I don’t think coming up short a few times counts as a derailment. It’s more of a pull your head out of your ass issue.
So back to the running I went, easy at first, a few miles here and a few there as I recovered from Preseli. Then a series of slightly longer runs over the weekend. It’s time I was a little more consistent. They all count not just the long ones. I need to keep remembering that.
I also invested in some poles, giving me plenty of practice time to see if they will make a difference when things get steep. All i need to do is to go and find some very steep terrain where Murph can also be off lead as I’m not sure I can pole and hold him at the same time.
I was up this morning at dawn to run to the beach and back. only two or three miles but it makes such a difference. It’s never particularly easy getting up, lacing up and going straight out but I have never once failed to be glad I did it.
Last Saturday was the Preseli Ultrabeast run. As those who have followed the blog for a while will know I love the races in Preseli, I’ve run the shorter versions of the Beast Bach (11 miles) twice, the Beast (24 miles) and the Ultrabeast. As this was the first year the Ultrabeast has been run since covid and the first time I’ve been able to run it since 2018 due to injury I was very excited to be going back out there.
I got my ass kicked.
That’s the short version – you may want to scroll down to the photos as the rest is just a post mortem for future reference.
I’ve spent the last few days trying to work out what happened and what went wrong. But first I need to explain what actually went down on the day. Although I don’t think I’m quite sure myself.
The Ultrabeast is a 32 mile race through the Preseli Mountains, I don’t think there is a flat section over 200 metres in the whole thing. A couple of the climbs such as the one up Carn Ingli feel vertical and the top of that climb is a rocky scramble. Put simply it is indeed a beast of a course. And I think I forgot just how hard it was.
It was a hot day too. And I don’t deal with heat well being fair skinned. We started at 10 and it was already feeling like a temperature I wouldn’t normally run in. And I’ve not run in any heat since I got Murph as he doesn’t like heat much either.
So from mile one things already felt off, I seemed to be putting out far more effort than I needed to just to trot along. I was already sweating profusely and had a feeling it might be a long day. Then after 7 or 8 miles my stomach went south, by now I had already removed my shirt just to try to keep cool. I started getting stomach pains low down, especially on descents and any water I was drinking was either just sitting in the stomach causing more pain or making me feel nauseous and coming back up.
All I could take were small sips every now and again. Unfortunately with the amount I was sweating out I knew I was going to dehydrate. By now there was a lot of walking involved. There’s a lot of a walking on that course anyway so the difference in pace wasn’t really noticeable anyway.
Things improved temperature wise at around the 12 mile mark as we climbed to the tops and mist fell, I was able to cool off a bit up there but the legs were now having none of it. The really steep climbs were feeling much tougher than I remember and I think the hydration and sickness issues were taking their toll in general.
At this point I’ll admit I just didn’t want to move anymore. It made no sense at the time in my head, I had been flying on the South West Coastal Path only a few weeks earlier with similar climbs and today I had nothing, zero. It was hard enough just to get to the top of Carn Ingli and there was no respite on the descent for as soon as I started going downhill the pains would return. And of course as soon as I descended into the valley the heat returned. Going from cool mountain mist to baking hot sunshine in a matter of minutes probably didn’t help my confused system either.
I wish I had an answer to what really went wrong, I could maybe blame undertraining but I should have had enough in the bank, especially after the South West Path. Perhaps I went in sick, perhaps it was just the heat and definitely some dehydration. Perhaps we are looking at a combination of everything going tits up at the same time. The next day the sunburn on my shoulders and face was pretty impressive and painful which is a definite clue. I don’t run with a hat as it chafes and makes me even hotter – that’s something I need to reconsider for sure. Same with running shirtless, ok it cools me but I burn so easily its dangerous.
It was unfortunate I couldn’t drink enough to stay hydrated, the plan was there and I tried But I just couldn’t keep enough down. I have no idea where I was at medically but I’m guessing looking back I had some sort of heat exhaustion or minor sunstroke going on, certainly I had a headache which I put down to dehydration at the time.
One of the quirks of the Ultrabeast is that it is the same route at the Beast race run at the same time, the ultra route adds an 8 mile loop near the end and the option is there if you are running the ultra to not do the loop and claim a Beast finish. I spent the miles leading up to this point trying to work out what to do for the best. Oddly enough the choice to just DNF and get a ride back from the aid station didnt actually cross my mind. Just switching to the Beast was a hard decision but one I reluctantly made.
It was incredibly disappointing at the time and in the immediate aftermath. It felt much like a DNF as even though I completed the 24 mile Beast race I hadn’t achieved what i set out to do. But after feeling wiped out for 3 days and now 5 days later I’m still sunburned it was the right decision to make. At least another 8 miles and 2 or 3 hours in the sun would have been a stupid decision and I’m glad now I made the right one. The last 5 miles once the decision were made were bad enough. There’s no shame in failure but there is in being a prideful idiot and having to get carried off mountains.
So that’s the tale of the Ultrabeast. But by writing this and spending some time looking at the lessons learned I think there are many positives to take from it. I can’t do much about sickness if I carry it into a race but I can do something about heat. I can make sure I’m trained for hills and not just hills but steep hills – I intend to take a look at how poles will work for me. I may not have run the 32 mile but I got through the 24 version which I guess most people would be more than happy with. I also learned once again when to call it a day at the right time.
So I have 2 Beast Bach finishes, 2 Beast finishes and 1 Ultrabeast finish. I have a year to get ready to make that 2 2 2.
I cant finish without saying how special this race is. The work of Carwyn to put it together and of all the marshalls and helpers out there on the day is incredible. Plus the support from the local communities. It makes it a carnival feel at times, the moments when you run past an accordion playing lady riding a red dragon at an aid station you don’t forget in a hurry. (No that wasn’t sunstroke). The support, encouragement, kids with supersoakers and smiles were probably all that got me through some parts. If you ever get chance to run one of these races, please do, you won’t regret. I don’t and I had the day from hell out there.
Glamorgan Ridgeway – Section 2
On friday we were back out to do section 2 of the Glamorgan ridgeway walk. Again we weren’t sure of how far we would get but the idea was to pick up at the exact point we stopped last time, leave the car and reach a suitable starting point for section 3. We succeeded – eventually!
Perhaps i’m paranoid but there seems to be a deliberate attempt to prevent walkers using this path, locked gates, extremely hard to climb stiles (for dogs), unfriendly signs. barbed wire where therre should be no barbed wire, missing signage. it’s as if landowners don’t want people using the rightful path through their land.
But maybe it’s just me – we knocked off another 4 or 5 miles (we have to retrace our steps each time to get back to the car so in effect we are doing it all twice) so around a 10 mile walk for all the dogs so they were happy! So next time we start from betws.
Success/failure is not black/white
One of the beauties of ultrarunning and I guess life is that you live and learn. And they say you learn as much of not more from failure than success. And I think I agree.
Yesterday was the run “over the other side” for a 40 odd mile run along the south west coastal path in Devon. It was all planned, I had my friend Claire as my support crew, the two dogs were going to spend the day traveling with her to various support points. All that could go wrong would be my legs giving up, or I could fall off a cliff or something.
The landscape was beautiful and so much fun to run through. As I had never been there before it was like exploring as I went. The photos below really don’t capture the scene.
I set off around seven and was in a groove much sooner than I expected. I was expecting hilly and I certainly got hilly, with a mix of long drawn out drags and really steep stuff. It was all technical and I was loving all of it. I was alternating between shirtless down in the wooded valleys and a waterproof jacket up on the highest hills as it was drizzling up there.
Then the derail began. Not with the legs, not the heart or the head but upon reaching combe martin to meet Claire and pick up more food and water it was clear murph was an unhappy dog. He’s been on crew before and was fine but yesterday he wanted none of it. He was crying and whining all morning while I was gone. He was barking at people when parked up. He is a nervous dog because of his rescue past and it displays in ferocious displays of false bravado which to the outside world can be quite intimidating and frightening.
I continued on and at the next stop they met me on the path so he was happy to be away from people but as I stocked up and then moved on his crying broke my heart. Suddenly the joy of running where I was became joyless. I turned it all over through the next section which as it turned out got me near halfway. This was because Claire couldn’t get the van near enough the path which stressed her further. I was oblivious as there is no mobile signal. It seemed like a long leg but as I pulled into the next stop I could hear murph barking before I saw him and the decision was made. It was over there and then
The time to think on the last leg brought me to the only possible conclusion. I could continue in my own world and selfishly push for the 40 mile achievement I wanted so badly but only at the cost of the happiness of the others.
It was a no brainer. I checked how they all were and climbed in the back with the dogs and called it a day. I’m not going to lie it was disappointing. I was having the day of my life as far as running goes. It was all clicking along. I had a few back issues with the downhills but not enough to stop things. I was driving the uphills hard, too hard perhaps and who knows if the wheels would have fallen off eventually. It doesn’t matter because in the end it turned out not to be a day about running. Ultrarunning is about making decisions, hundreds of tiny decisions throughout the day all leading to success or failure.
In the end I only had to make one decision yesterday. And even if today I feel like a failure I know deep down making the right decision was the only way to really win.
Glamorgan Ridgeway Walk
So for a change we did some walking. Well we walk a lot anyway but this was pre planned walking so its different. My friend heard of a long distance footpath called the Glamorgan Ridgeway which runs from Margam Park in the west to Caerphilly Castle in the east. There isn’t a huge amount of info about it online and from what i can make out parts of it are run down and wild.
The plan is to walk its length with the dogs over a period of time. So we will head off along the path until we find a suitable spot to begin the next section in a few weeks and then walk back to that sections start point where we left the car. This way we should actually manage to walk it both ways at the same time. Follow me? I wouldn’t we get lost a lot. Well on our initial recce visit we did get lost because we weren’t really trying and didn’t have great maps but on the inaugural first section last Sunday we made good progress and didn’t get lost at all.
So far we have around 5 or 6 miles done. We found a spot to pick up from last time and overall we were out for 4 hours and 20 mins which is probably enough for the dogs – well actually they were fine even the little one … see below
We will keep you updated with progress, im also going to work on a route guide and publish it online for anyone who wants to follow in our footsteps/pawprints