Done, memory lane, festive ramblings. It’s not about the running!

It seemed like a simple challenge; 2012 human powered miles in 2012. In theory, it is. I was pretty sure that running and cycling would get me there around September time. In a mad rush to get miles under my belt ahead of Trail Marathon Wales, I rushed my training, over trained, got injured and that 2-and-a-bit months or recuperation put a heap of pressure on the targets.

I had to slack my definition off and include rowing and kayaking miles to the total. After getting some good achievements ticked off in the year my cycle home from work got me over the magic 2012 miles. So the total for each “discipline” at the finish line is:
  • Run: 1032 miles
  • Bike: 746 miles
  • Row: 184 miles
  • Kayak: 59 miles
 With time off work over Christmas this has moved on a bit too, but it is great to have nailed it.

I'm keen to have a go at the 2013 version too. Perhaps with a bit more maturity in the first part of the year. Why not have a go? You can always move the decimal point (either way) if you want to make it easier/harder!

Just before Christmas my Gran celebrated her 91st Birthday, it's been a tough year for her and it was fantastic to be heading down to Christmas for a lunch with her. Christmas is always mixed for me. I really feel the gaps at the table. Christmas was always a time when Mum, Dad and I had a few days together and lots of strong memories eminate from those times. It makes for a bit of a relective time.

I hadn't really expected to drop into a real memory lane run, but early on the Sunday morning I headed out for a run. Within a few hundred metres my head started drifting off through memories a couple of decades old. Nearly running over an Adder on my push bike, playing GT with a friends uncle in there, Tony whats-his-name who stole my Granddad's favourite hammer from my Dad's house, the route to my Mum's cremation, the venue for various wakes, my old squash club, the drive that had the steel boat being built, cycling with Dad on his brothers Claud Butler bike (and him falling off), Dad's red and black MG Metro Turbo, PYO strawberries with Mum. Not even close to half the thoughts; friends, families and solo missions add so many thoughts. Maybe everyone has these thoughts? I guess the visual prompts I've moved away from minimise my day to day recall but also bring things back in to clear focus when I'm there. I'd suggest to anyone that never letting these memories fade is something to aim for.

If Christmas sucks for anyone who has gaps at the table; time does help with the immediate pain, but the gap is just that, a gap. I like to celebrate, and for me that means remembering.

Mum, Dad, Doug, Dofey, Cyril, Matt, Pete – Never forgotten.

Anyway, this map has so many memories for me, I really want to just put it out there.

So from there, onto lunch. Being an only child, my cousins are really important to me. Matt was back from San Diego so it was a rare chance at my Gran's lunch to get the three Grandson's together with 6 great Grandchildren along with my Aunt and Uncle. All in all, a great chance to get all 15 of us round a table for a couple of hours. Really great fun, though photographing reluctant littles was hard. A poor effort on the photograph.

Christmas is, and I always want to be a great time for my girls, apart from a little illness from Katie. Good food, some proper relaxation time. My presents- running shorts and whisky. Got to wonder what that says about me. Really looking forward to some Peated Penderyn. Feel like I need to put in a big run first. Due to Christmas presents and bugs it wasn't possible to convince anyone to join me on a Boxing Day walk. So Casey (our Collie) and I had a nice walk through the moors above Llanfachreth. Large herds of deer were around on the flanks of Rhobell Fawr, a couple of impressive stags looking very majestic. Just beautiful.

The forecast is looking unkind for some comfortable long runs/cycles in the next little while. Looks good for boating though.

I thought Ciara's Christmas cracker present, a charades dice, summed up the festive season for me pretty well. 
Merry Christmas all!

Prizes and Events

Its been a funny month, frantically busy at work, lots of miles in a van, but not as much training as I would like. Really pleased to receive my prize from Trail Running Magazine for the video I posted on YouTube. See my blog post for the video. The rucksack I got sent is the TNF Enduro rucsac. My immediate thought was that technology and design has come along way since I bought my last running rucsac. Even unladen the sac is stable, close fitting and super light. I decided to load it up and give it a long run whilst I was out searching for my
Its been a funny month, frantically busy at work, lots of miles in a van, but not as much training as I would like. Really pleased to receive my prize from Trail Running Magazine for the video I posted on YouTube. See my blog post for the video. The rucksack I got sent is the TNF Enduro rucsac. My immediate thought was that technology and design has come along way since I bought my last running rucsac. Even unladen the sac is stable, close fitting and super light. I decided to load it up and give it a long run whilst I was out searching for my “wall” more about that in a bit! I headed out, up through Coed y Brenin and out on to the moors by Trawsfynydd, I mixed the route up with a bit of road and a bit of trail and the sac was easily adjustable. I struggle a bit with the mesh pockets on the side of the sac, but this is my range of motion issues from kayaking, throwing and crashing bikes and not a big criticism of the sac. I’m keen to see if I can get a front pack to fit onto this as that will sort my carrying issues out for Marathon des Sable. Like my blog about the Salomon XR Crossmax trainers, the biggest compliment I can give the bag is that I didn’t notice it. I’ve been trying out various bits of nutritional stuff to try and help me out. Since Trail Marathon Wales in June, and the cramps I got after about 20 miles, I realised I’ve got to get my feeding strategy right. I’ve been trying electrolytes from Shotz – http://shotz1.com/ that I find pretty tasty and easy to glug down. They definitely get into the system quickly and I think keep me going longer. I’m trying to sort some energy gels that I find easy to get down. I’ve tried a few over the years and I don’t enjoy them but they definitely work. First of all I wanted to know where my “wall”is now I’m a bit older. The wall is effectively where all the stored energy (glycogen) in your muscles runs out and the body struggles for an energy pathway. Knowing where this point is helps inform you what your feeding strategy needs to be in longer races. I do things the simple way, to find my wall I skipped brekkie, only took a bit of water and went out running. My track is here. From 35km on I knew I was coming close to feeling the effects, and then at 37km it came at me like a steam train. My vision distorted, I started struggling with co-ordination and in my “Mary had a little lamb” voice check my speech was definitely not clear. I got home, blithered around the kitchen making some self made isotonic 50:50 Orange Juice and Water with a few tablespoons of sugar and a pinch of salt. Glugged this down with some crystalised Pineapple and felt normality return. I now know that when I’m relatively well prepared I can deal with 30km without extra fuelling. Hope I can stretch that out a bit! That run was the third day of the Strava Speedgoat 50km challenge. The aim was to run 50km in three days in “celebration” of the trail race in the states. I was pretty chuffed to rack up 79km and finish the challenge in 15th (out of 1282). Just heard that we’ve definitely got a place at the Original Mountain Marathon, and before then I’ve got the Helly Hansen “Beauty and the Beast” trail marathon in late September. For someone who isn’t mad keen on races its looking good. I’m also hoping this year to finish all of the Meirionydd winter series fell races for the first time. I often managed one or two but never the whole series. Finally, a quick update on 2012 miles in 2012, logged 1327 Miles so far. Starting to feel like it should be possible to get back on track. I’ve caught up from my month and a bit off so pretty chuffed. Head back down and on with life.  

Changing over to Strava

I've been playing around since the New Year trying to get the right way of recording all the information I want from training and fun sessions. As all the information is all over the place (MiCoach, Garmin Connect, note book) and lots of the information isn't exportable, Grrr! I'm drawing a line in the sand on the 1st July; everything will now go onto Strava. Unfortunately I can't work out whether I can import data to Strava yet. For now, my 2012 miles in 2012 log looks like 1648.4 km with 23,135m of ascent. So give or take 1030 miles. Nice to have the functionality on Strava to upload from a Garmin (with HR data) and also from an App on a mobile phone. The competitve bit of segment racing is a nice addition too. I'm trying to convince myself I'm not bothered, but I'm already trying to work out which bits of which routes have segments that I can race benchmark against. King of the Mountain (KOM), Course record (CR), Personal Record (PR) and Suffer Score, all nice training tools!!
I’ve been playing around since the New Year trying to get the right way of recording all the information I want from training and fun sessions. As all the information is all over the place (MiCoach, Garmin Connect, note book) and lots of the information isn’t exportable, Grrr! I’m drawing a line in the sand on the 1st July; everything will now go onto Strava. Unfortunately I can’t work out whether I can import data to Strava yet. For now, my 2012 miles in 2012 log looks like 1648.4 km with 23,135m of ascent. So give or take 1030 miles. Nice to have the functionality on Strava to upload from a Garmin (with HR data) and also from an App on a mobile phone. The competitve bit of segment racing is a nice addition too. I’m trying to convince myself I’m not bothered, but I’m already trying to work out which bits of which routes have segments that I can race benchmark against. King of the Mountain (KOM), Course record (CR), Personal Record (PR) and Suffer Score, all nice training tools!!

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.

A big fat Zero for the last fortnight on 2012 miles in 2012! I’m back!

My wife says I go at everything like I can do it, without even considering I might not. Marathon training-I can do that, I used to be able to run a fairly respectable 3hr15 marathon... 12 years ago. So 2012 has seen me getting back in the groove for Trail Marathon Wales in June and asr a milestone on the way to Marathon des Salble. It seemed easy.
My wife says I go at everything like I can do it, without even considering I might not. Marathon training-I can do that, I used to be able to run a fairly respectable 3hr15 marathon… 12 years ago. So 2012 has seen me getting back in the groove for Trail Marathon Wales in June and asr a milestone on the way to Marathon des Salble. It seemed easy. “Just start banging the miles in on a programme” I thought. A quick 44 mile round trip cycle to work on a rest day, got to be good for you! A jarring pain 3 weeks ago in my calf stopped a run, go on the rest, ice, compression, elevate. Some gentle walks and tthen last Saturday headed out for a gentle, 20 minutes later, my right calf twanged again. My wife and the two girls came to pick me up in the car, with Katie (2) saying “pwore diddy, sore leeg” on the way home. Living in rural Wales is great but access to things like physio’s isn’t so easy. Monday night, Matt from The Physio Clinic Bristol came to the rescue with a SKYPE consultation. Matt explained about Myofacial release using a foam roller, talked me through calf guards-I think they’ll make me look like a drag act pulling off Britney in her bald phase, but if it stops the pain then great! Then he talked me through poor biomechanical allignment- how to identify it and eradicate it. Add some dynamic warm ups and reassuring me that the rest of my proprioception and stretching is probably ok was a great comfort. Now, I’ve always been a a fan of putting my shoes on and going running. Nothing fancy. Turns out I need to be a bit more sophisticated to get this body back to where it was. So Matt gave me a plan to get my body sorted- it’s definitely working. The foam roller, though sore in some places is defitnitely working, started on gentle explosive drives this evening and there is no pain. I’m going to get on the rowing maching soon and give that an easy try. I’m missing my cardio. I’m sure it’ll come  But my brain turned downhill massively. I don’t quit. But, my head just lost motivation, doubt, loss of belief. All really crappy. I think mixed with a lack of exercise it was just the right recipe. But on Wednesday morning when I work up my email said someone had donated £150. One hundred and fifty pounds! Initially I thought it was a scam, but checking into JustGiving revealed that an old uni friend, Jon Bauer, had made a donation. Now knowing, Jon he probably planned it, but it really helped. This guy, marketeer turned author, now living in Oz showed me a spark of belief. That was enough. Negativity went and I decided, training could be rehab too, it doesn’t have to be pounding the pavement. Matt said 1 week in 6 should be a rest week at high intensity, well rehab is my training until I’m fixed. I’m really going to try and get a copy of Jon’s book “Rocks in the Belly” for one of my weeks of- the Guardian thought it was quite good! A massive thank you to those two guys for keeping me going early days; I’m sure there are tough times ahead, but getting me back on track is a good foundation for the dark days to come. So my 2012 miles in 2012 is on pause, no pressure to get the miles back. I’m going to do it. Thats just it. In North Wales today, it was warm, time to get the little boat out and get some flatwater work in. Katie had her first trip up to one of my local spots with deepwater and a slight flow. At two she is showing some adventurous streaks, and takes after me wanting to strip off whenever possible. Not a bad fortnight really.

3/26 2012 in 2012 and One Great George Street

Been a bit of a battle getting 63.9 miles in the last fortnight. Work has been keeping long hours, and my cousins weding-which was brilliant meant swapping a few dates around for long runs. I really don’t want to pick up an injury at the moment so I dropped my daily miles as I hadn’t the chance of getting a rest day in for 8 days.

Pretty happy to be 288.1 miles year to date 56 miles ahead of target. Hoping the weather will warm up a bit and that I can start banging in lots of bike miles too.

I feel pretty confident that the volume of training going in is having descent results and I think my head game is getting stronger all the time too.

My cousin got married this weekend. The wedding was beautiful, and I’m sure Mr and Mrs Cole will be very happy. The venue  was stunning – One Great George Street which is the HQ for the Institue of Chartered Engineers.  It was cool to have a look around at some of the displays, and to learn that Isambard Kngdom Brunel was the son of an Engineer who was fairly talented in his own right. I’m guessing he had pretty high hopes of his Son, having Kingdom in your name must pile the pressure on.

The ceilings all had massively different styles, vaulted, painted, fresco and panneled. I particularly liked the one with great British designs on it with a (I think) Sopwith Camel in it.

A contrast of Engineering design to all the traditional was staying in the shadow of the Wembley Stadium and the arch which is the longest single span roof staructure in the world.

2/26 2012in2012, Tikka, Brecon, and Brenig

The last two weeks have been hard getting the miles in, first of all really cold, then really windy, then really wet and then chilly again.

At least good kit means that the cold stay outside, though Mrs C was pretty “impressed” when I came home with little bits of frost on my shoulders. For impressed read that she thinks I’m a little unhinged but then she is a tropical flower by her own admission.

Work got in the way too with a few 16hr days so I’m pretty happy that in the last two weeks I’ve managed 94 miles 2916m of ascent. That means year to date is 219.4miles and 5679m of ascent which is 64.6 miles ahead of schedule.

This mornings run was really nice, I felt strong and the hills were easy. I’m happy with where I’m at right now.

I broke my old head torch (a Petzl Tikka) this last week too, it’s an old friend that has done some special trips with me, Alps, Scotland, Mountain Marathons, got me out of scrapes night riding and been around Morocco on a motorbike. I’ve replaced it with the updated Tikka XP 2 against alot of advice that the Myo XP is the way forward. I’ll do a little write up when I’ve put some miles in with it.

I had a trip to Brecon with work promoting the tourism opportunity for Paddlesports in Wales with Visit Wales. I had a few spare minutes and wandered along the canal. I’d never realised that Aberhonddu (Brecon) is the end of the Taff trail- I really like the topographical casting they have outside the Brycheiniog Theatre. I can feel a family trip coming on!

Today we managed to get out in brilliant weather to Llyn Brenig. I can’t being really frustrated when I visit places like Brenig on clear bright beautiful days. The fact that the lake is not being used is an absolute disgrace-not by choice but by restriction. Amazing resources that could be unlocked sensibly for no cost. They stayed locked up with objection on Health and Safety grounds and from others who aren’t prepared to share – neither of which sit comfortably with me.

1/26 of 2012 in 2012

I’ve decided to update my 2012 in 2012 blog fortnightly-none of my training at the moment is in the daylight so it seems silly to just put an endless pile of stats up without any nice pictures.

As long as I’m staying ahead of my required average at this time of year I’m pretty happy-this fortnight gone has been generally pretty mild, wet, windy. There are already some Dafodills out, but the crispness of this mornings early run was great. Having slipped a bit in some ice on a road section of run I’d relaxed as I went down some trail. Whilst watching the IInternational Space Station loop across Cader Idris, though, I made a classic school boy error and slipped one ankle down a cattle grid in the dark. Only a bruise though.

The last few days with a really bright moon and a clear sky have meant gloves on, but head torch off.

Generally I’m trying to run in the evening to fit in better with the family, but I’m definitely a morning-is-better kind of guy. Saturday are my long runs so I still try and roll out of bed before 6am, then I’m back for a family brekkie.

Any way 1st fortnight of 2012 I’ve managed to add 119.3 miles to my diary which puts me comfortably on target so far. Happy with that. The coming week has a quite a bit of travelling at work so I hope to stay on it.

I’m trying to be a bit better with the camera too so here’s a few shots out and about in the same fortnight (but not part of any training)