Preseli recon and newfound common sense!

I was down in West Wales yesterday and as you do figured I could add an hour or two to my journey to get to the Preselis and have a bit of a practice ready for the Ultra there in May.  I know most of the course and only intended on running the Beast Bach course which is around 11 miles and I was fairly sure I could navigate that.  By the time I got there around half two I noticed that the clouds were covering the peaks. Ah well let’s go up and see what happens.

Clouds – bastards
One of the nice things about the Preseli races is the variety of terrain, it isnt all fell. At the start (and end) there are some lovely forestry parts
And you get to run through and old slate quarry
Then a right bastard of a drag up and up and up the neverending drag bastard hill
So I got to the top of the bastard drag where the Beast and beast Bach split and this was the view – around 20 yards visibility and everything pretty damn boggy.  Now I don’t care about freezing cold bog water, In fact i kinda like it in an odd way but the fog? I know the route – I don’t know it well enough to navigate sheep tracks in order to follow the route safely. I know from being up here on fine days the place is massive and I was likely to end up lost.  So for once common sense kicked in and I took a route that followed a fence and bridleway. At least I could easily retrace my steps and had a landmark.
A few miles later I was glad I did – This is a completely different section of the fells … note similarity to first photo. I would have been totally lost up here. It all looks identical in the fog
Following the fence was one thing – running through the streams and marsh was loads of fun though.  I really do love it when it’s a path less trodden
Out of the fog and the panorama google made me looks kinda cool
On the way back down I passed the beautiful wild ponies I’ve seen a number of times.  The thing about training here yesterday was there was no rush, no other people and it was more of an explore.  When I race here there’s no time to take photos or just chill out.  I honestly couldn’t tell you which I prefer.  I only covered 9 or 10 miles but it was a breeze compared to the 32 to come.


More fog and hills and sheep and stuff

Start as you mean to go on and as soon as I was finished with work for the next two weeks I was out to get some miles in. I knew I’d done the run as my watch told me I had but I couldn’t really see much of it.

Thats the sea there on the right and ahead you can’t see the cliffs

I like running in fog to be honest, even if there are other people about I don’t have to see them, I’m not antisocial honest. Plus its true that as with running at night it’s less percieved effort, you just run to the immediate surroundings and don’t worry about distances to things. Hard ot explain but it really is easier to maintain pace when you can’t see.

I climbed up witches point past a new fallen tree obstacle


Realised I was not alone up there. But then again I don’t mind my little buddies and they don’t seem to mind me anymore


Then a slip slidey route home incorporating death defying downhill skiing techniques on the mud paths of the cwms


And a good decision to forget the paths on the way up and climb stright up the grass.

Now all I need to do is to remember to post and not get behind as it’s going to be a busy running two weeks

One more for all the mist lovers!

I know some of you out there – Yes you CeejayKay – Seem to love mist. I gotta admit it has a charm all of its own and every now and again its kinda nice to run in for a change …. but this is getting ridiculous!

Horsies! I think …. behind them is a looming medieval dove cote – i’ll need to remembe to photograph it in sunlight
Ok so not as bad as wednesday but still …
I did found these barnacle type things growing on some polystyrene. I utterly despise the rubbish in the sea and on the coast but at least these guys have made soemthing of it.

So 7 miles and it felt pretty easy so I as doing some speedwork on the sand. I feel like its time to shift emphasis slightly from the base building plod to subtly improving. Slowly and steadily of course, Im so so so wary of my bodys limits these days

I can see improvements but thats all

So I was looking forward to running after work yesterday, the sun had been out all day and it was likely to be a good tide to run. Until I got nearer home … Wick and the surrounds have their own microclimate and by the time I arrived home visibility was pretty dire.

This is the sun attempting to shine through the mist
The good news was that I covered 7 miles and felt fantastic all the way even after a full day on my feet running around like the proverbial blue arsed fly.

This was the view on the sand …. It was odd running and being able to see nothing but the small circle immediately surrounding me.

It got even worse further along. It’s lucky I know the coast by heart and naviagted the full seven miles with no issues at all

Sometimes its the steps you dont take

I was supposed to run the Hoka winter half at Margam Park on saturday. On friday I woke up to pai9n in my right foot – Not the foot thats supposed to hurt! It came from nowhere and I was worried it was the onset of plantar fascitis in my only non hurty body part. It ached for most of friday so sadly I made the decision that although I could probably run the half I would be doing myself no favours in trudging round it in pain. I took the sensible option and didnt even try. Meh. Still to be fair its a non technical run on gravel roads so barely trail at all so I wasnt missing much.

On sunday the pain was gone so I ventured out on a short test run to see how I fared. That was pretty much alk I saw due to fog but I suffered no more pain so we’ll have to chalk that one down to a mystery niggle (thankfully)

Path to nowhere
Half a gate is better than no gate at all

Misty day & clear mind

After four days off due to worries over the state of my legs it was time to go out on a slow test run. I’m glad to report that there doesn’t appear to be anything wrong apart from the usual slight foot pain on left and knee pain on right. I’m used to these two, I can live with them.  The run was about clearing the worry of injury as much as anything which it did. However that was about the only clear thing today.

Misty morning – The fields are out there somewhere
Mist in the woods always creates a lovely feeling of freshness though
Misty cliffs
A dash of colour amidst the clouds

This route takes me past a spot where a friend died in a car crash a few years ago. He was a real lover of life and I always stop to say hello and remember that life’s short and can be taken at any time. We were talking about him not long ago and someone said that he was essentially uncoachable at rugby as he could only play utterly flat out, he would give everything possible for as long as he could and then would have to be taken off completely spent. Ultrarunning wouldn’t have been his game, patience and restraint was never his forte; but the way he approached sport was admirable. No matter the game or challenge he went headlong into it with utter conviction and gave everything.  We live in a tight knit village and although we all miss him we can be grateful for having shared in his love for life.

I’m not sure why I’ve brought this up, I’ve stopped at the spot many times. Perhaps it’s only now I’m appreciating the lessons that his life and death have taught. Give everything you can while you can … but learn to see when the costs are simply too high.

Cheers Rhod