Race Report Trail Marathon Wales-an excellent run!

Today was Trail Marathon Wales, held in Coed y Brenin. I was a little apprehensive about the race, my injury has meant I haven’t put in the miles I really wanted to.

The last few days have been really wet in South Snowdonia. The rivers have been up and kayaking has been really appealing.

Coed y Brenin is great for events, loads of parking, good facilities and a great setting. The guys and girls have obviously worked hard to get loads into the event and done lots of planning. It shows. Foresty Commission Wales did a great job of parking people, and despite registration and the safety briefing being a bit delayed, the gamekeeper loosed off a shell from his 12 bore to start the race almost exactly on time.

There had been a late route change, mainly due to the exposed slopes outside of CyB being soggy (under water). It meant a small repetition of the route for the full Marathon, but the course was so good that it made no difference. I was expecting the second lap to be pretty cut up where it had been shared with the half marathon course but, all in all, it was in good shape.

All the race numbers had first names on them; this meant that South Snowdonia Mountain Rescue and the marshalls would give a welcoming shout to people. Can’t fault the volunteers involved in providing support. The feed stations were well spaced, stocked with a variety of Electrolyte, Carbo gel, Banana’s, Jelly babies (my favourite) and water.

If there is any doubt that this isn’t a road race check out my elevation profile from today, just over 1200m of ascent meant pacing was important.

Whilst I can’t fault the feed stations, I can fault my use of them. Lack of conditioning meant that I didn’t take on enough electrolyte early on and that, with the up and down meant a brutal onset of leg cramp around mile 20. I never got my rhythm back from that but did have a nice chat with a few runners from Eryri, Cerist Tri and other clubs all struggling with the same problem.

Crossing the line was a great experience, the technology meant that nearly every runner was encouraged over the line by full name over the radio mike- iPad and data tags on the back of the numbers, great stuff.

I picked up my bottle, wooden medal and flapjack-lots of goodies at registration (T shirt, socks, energy gel, etc..) Had a natter with a few friends and then made a move to get home.

Admittedly, my drive home isn’t too far, but getting a text as soon as there was reception with my placing and time was great and I’m sure those with a longer journey would have really appreciated it.

Impressions of this as a first time running the event? Brilliant.

A massive thank you to Matt Ward and all the people involved from Forestry Commission Wales and Meirionnydd Running Club. The volunteers, the sponsors the SSMR team all did a great job and it was great to run in the inaugral event. I hope it will build and build. It should get a reputation as a very special, if tough, trail race.

Well done all, organisers, supporters and runners.

Given what could have gone wrong for me today, I’m pretty pleased with my finish. It was supposed to be a training run, and to be fair, it probably was. In amongst a field of racing whippets, as a 90kg recently injured runner, I was pretty pleased with the result.

Bring on next year!

Last long run

50 year storms rolled across the UK last night. Summer hasn't come yet, we had some warm weather but nothing long enough to call a season. I was out the door this morning for my last long run before Trail Marathon Wales. I've really enjoyed coming away from
50 year storms rolled across the UK last night. Summer hasn’t come yet, we had some warm weather but nothing long enough to call a season. I was out the door this morning for my last long run before Trail Marathon Wales. I’ve really enjoyed coming away from “the” training programme. Todays run wouldn’t have been on the schedule. I left the house just before 0545 in a bright patch between showers. I wanted to run slow and steady but somewhere new. I headed roughly NE out of Dolgellau on to the side of Rhobell Fawr. Then tracking round on a bridleway that follows the 300m contour round the West side of the hill. My one whinge with this bridleway is the fact there are ladder stiles crossing stone walls. Bridleways are usable by bicycles and horses, the latter, I suspect would find this “countryside furniture” a little tricky. Anyway, when Victor (Meldrew) quietened down in my head the run passed quite quickly. The main memory on this run was the beautiful sight of a Doe with her Fawn just short of Abergeirw before I climbed up onto mountain bike trails for the run back towards home. My legs felt good when I got back to Glasdir copper mine, so I chose to climb steeply up to the precipice walk. From here it’s a nice fast road run home, though by now the rain was heavy, the wind strong. Longer strides were the order of the day! A good stretch and foam roller relaxed my still slightly tight calf, but overall a great last long run. My new trail shoes are still brilliant, absolutely no complaints! This week will be one run. I really want to do more, but I won’t. Lots of roller work and stretching. Race report next!

Salomon XR Crossmax neutral

In two other posts (here and here) I've written about the problems I've been having with my trail shoes and damage to my feet. Choosing shoes for Marathon des Sable is something that is making me think carefully about what I need. I need a comfortable shoe, that is something I can forget about. About 12 years ago I had a pair of Salomon trail shoes that I used for an approach shoe, but never as a running shoe. I remember the last being really comfortable. I had a few reservations about the width of the heel before buying as I'm used to a narrow fell shoe and the Crossmax is more like a road shoe. I picked a mixed 8 miles for my first run in the neutral version of the shoe. About 3 miles of tarmac, 2 miles of forest track and about 3 miles of singletrack. It was wet, really wet. So wet that the area made the news for evacuations due to flooding. The quicklace system tighten the sensifit system, is a quick system, There is quite a lot of lace on the system, but it all tucks away nicely into the lace pocket. I'd say on the sizing that this shoe comes up a bit smaller than I'm used to, but not to a point of being uncomfortable. I think I'd pick a metric size up next time round. Out the door and into a slow warm up on the road. The shoes feel exactly like a road shoe, Good cushining and light and it wasn't wrong before I wasn't thinking about the shoe at all. After a little climb up to the start of the fire trails, nothing really changed, the sole unit has enough protection that big rocks don;t penetrate at all, making for a comfy ride. The singletrack starts with a downhill that loses about 100m in 500m, and here I was thinking about the shoe again. The reason is that trail shoes always have a lower profile tread pattern and I was expecting to slip and slide a bit on the really wet top surface on the singletrack. Pretty quickly I built confidence in the sole and it was biting nice through and finding loads of grip. I quickly got back to picking lines and not thinking about the shoe. So first impressions- the Salomon XR Crossmax Neutral trail shoe is pretty forgetable, and that is a massive compliment! I've added the shoe into my miCoach so I'll be able to keep an accurate log of the distance I do with the shoe.           
In two other posts (here and here) I’ve written about the problems I’ve been having with my trail shoes and damage to my feet. Choosing shoes for Marathon des Sable is something that is making me think carefully about what I need. I need a comfortable shoe, that is something I can forget about. About 12 years ago I had a pair of Salomon trail shoes that I used for an approach shoe, but never as a running shoe. I remember the last being really comfortable. I had a few reservations about the width of the heel before buying as I’m used to a narrow fell shoe and the Crossmax is more like a road shoe. I picked a mixed 8 miles for my first run in the neutral version of the shoe. About 3 miles of tarmac, 2 miles of forest track and about 3 miles of singletrack. It was wet, really wet. So wet that the area made the news for evacuations due to flooding. The quicklace system tighten the sensifit system, is a quick system, There is quite a lot of lace on the system, but it all tucks away nicely into the lace pocket. I’d say on the sizing that this shoe comes up a bit smaller than I’m used to, but not to a point of being uncomfortable. I think I’d pick a metric size up next time round. Out the door and into a slow warm up on the road. The shoes feel exactly like a road shoe, Good cushining and light and it wasn’t wrong before I wasn’t thinking about the shoe at all. After a little climb up to the start of the fire trails, nothing really changed, the sole unit has enough protection that big rocks don;t penetrate at all, making for a comfy ride. The singletrack starts with a downhill that loses about 100m in 500m, and here I was thinking about the shoe again. The reason is that trail shoes always have a lower profile tread pattern and I was expecting to slip and slide a bit on the really wet top surface on the singletrack. Pretty quickly I built confidence in the sole and it was biting nice through and finding loads of grip. I quickly got back to picking lines and not thinking about the shoe. So first impressions- the Salomon XR Crossmax Neutral trail shoe is pretty forgetable, and that is a massive compliment! I’ve added the shoe into my miCoach so I’ll be able to keep an accurate log of the distance I do with the shoe.           

New video, work and @2012milesin2012 update

Work has been cycling up with a good bit on recently, the World Cup in Cardiff that starts tomorrow is taking everyone’s time up, but it is an amazing event to have in Wales. I had a break from my normal job, last week with the Mawddach Paddlefest. It’s really good to see so many happy faces on the water. And the weather came good, with the wind dying out on Sunday for some stand up paddleboard action.

The chart above shows the big dip in hours spent training since tearing my calf muscle. I’ve taken my eye off the challenge of 2012 miles in 2012. So I thought that as the end of a month has passed, I should have a quick check of how far behind I am. Whilst I’ve been doing my rehab, I haven’t been logging my miles too diligently, but I’m at 493miles so far. That means I need to fire some miles out over the next few months, while the weather is good to stand any chance of getting there.

Silly things like minor injuries are a real annoyance, but the don’t stop me getting out. 

Got to do something about my old, badly fitting trail shoes!

I’ve had a another go at putting some running footage together, definitely got some things right, but also got more to learn. On the plus side, I like the fade across big areas, and I like that I’ve cut the time down. On the bad side, I don’t like that the render changes the frame size when panning and zooming. Also hadn’t realised that the copyright on some music tracks means that YouTube won’t deliver the clip to mobile devices.

However the clip looks, it was a nice day to be in the hills, first day of the year for me when a vest and shorts was plenty all the way to the top and back. It was actually much harder to get the footage on the hill as it was, in effect, a really long, hard, set of hill intervals.

Looking forwards to Trail Marathon Wales in 3 weeks.