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Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Forthcoming Races

I've just been going through my calendar to see what races I've registered for, as I seem to have booked so many that I've forgotten what I am and am not doing.

So here is the list.

Tuesday 1st August - Championship GLCL Road - Cwmbran
Saturday 5th August - Championship - Best Newport Parkrun (Tredegar House)
Sunday 13th August - Port Talbot Half Marathon
Sunday 3rd September - Cardiff 10k
Sunday 10th September - Simplyhealth Great North Run (Half Marathon) - Newcastle upon Tyne
Sunday 1st October - Championship - Cardiff Half Marathon
Sunday 15th October - Championship - Ponty Plod - Llandegfedd Reservoir (11 miles of multi terrain and hills)
Sunday 22nd October - Stroud Half Marathon
Sunday 5th November - Poppy Run

Have I overstretched myself? Mmm, we shall see.

December - Manchester Marathon training begins 😱

Monday, 24 July 2017

CRC Parkrun away day

Saturday morning can only mean one thing in the world of running, and that is Parkrun. And so on Saturday, a few of us from CRC headed off on an away day to try out the Parkrun course at Porthcawl.

The weather forecast was for showers but fortunately, it didn't rain until the journey home again but, for a mid July day, it wasn't particularly warm.

After parking the cars, we walked to the sea front where a crowd of the regular Portcawl Parkrunners were mingling before listening to the briefing given to those who had never run the course before.

The course began flat and we ran for a few hundred metres before coming back on ourselves and heading in the opposite direction. Then the path began to climb steadily up to the next turn around point where we headed back down hill to the finish line, against the wind. A simple, out and back course.

Me coming in to the finish line with a new 5k PB of 26:14

Fern pushing Sam to the finish line

New girl Suzanne looking strong and happy

Yangi always looks happy

Gritted teeth and sheer determination from Steve

Tania looking to overtake

And then goes flying past the guys

CRC Parkrun complete and the compulsory post run photo

 Andrew had just completed his 100th Parkrun, so a call for celebration 

Hungry runners awaiting breakfast

I'm sure there will be another CRC Parkrun away day very soon, possibly Barry of Caldicot. What this space.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Cornwall Weekend

I had a long weekend off work to go to Cornwall as it was my grandsons 10th birthday. I traveled alone and stayed in my small tent on a quiet, Camping & Caravan Club site at Indian Queens.

Whenever I visit another area of the country on a weekend, I like to try out one of the local Parkruns, and this trip was no exception, so I headed 20 minutes up the road to Lanhydrock House, near Bodmin, which is a late Victorian country house set in magnificent grounds and is now owned by the National Trust.

I attended the briefing for those who had not run the course before and I was told that this course was a little hilly. That turned out to be an understatement.

The course begins with a downhill stretch on a tarmac path, then it heads uphill onto a dirt track before a long downhill stretch as you approach the river. It then winds back uphill to a field, which you cross and join up with another tarmac path which heads uphill again. It is then downhill for maybe 150m before you veer off the path and onto the grass to the finish line.

The finish line

Me with the house in the background

Considering the hills and the multi terrain aspect of the course, I did quite well, coming in 65th place out of 219 runners in 27:43 minutes, and I was 9th in my age category. So all in all I was quite pleased.

Sunday morning was grey, but quite warm and very humid and, I was awake early so I decided to go for a long run along a route I had previously devised. This took in a road loop to begin before crossing the busy A30 road by a footbridge which would take me onto the Goss Moor Trail.

The trail was mostly on dirt tracks, although I did leave this a couple of times onto muddy tracks where horses had obviously been.

I was in no rush and so time was irrelevant and I just wanted a long, easy run, which this turned out to be. Except for losing my orientation at one stage and I ended up doing a unintentional loop around a pond. Ooops!

My non running friends thought I was mad running whilst on holiday but, I was on my own and had time to kill, so why not. I saw some lovely scenery on both runs, and I chatted to some people at the Parkrun, although I didn't see a single soul on the Goss Moor Trail run, so that was peaceful.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Wales Half Marathon Report

Saturday was a lovely morning as Michelle and I headed to our little camp site at Manorbier, near Tenby. We were diverted around the country lanes a little as that day was the cycling part of the triathlon weekend, and as it turned out, the cyclists were passing the entrance to the camp site I was staying at.

Once we had erected the tent and been suitably refreshed, we drove to the leisure centre in Tenby, which was being used for registration purposes for the weekends events, and I collected my bib number.

Whilst we were there, we bumped into a few friends from Griffithstown Harriers, Cwmbran who had gone there first before going to their camp site. I was the only runner from Caerleon attending this event so it was nice to see some friendly faces.

We spent a couple of hours in the town, watching the cyclists coming through the finish line after completing either 45, 66 or 112 miles, and also licking an ice cream whilst strolling on the golden, sandy beach.

During the evening we decided to take a walk into the village of Manorbier and to the beach there, but also to see what the hill was like coming through the village as I knew this was on my route the next day.

The road begins to climb with Manorbier Castle on the left

And still it goes up

At this point there are still seven miles to go. Phew.

Sunday morning and the weather was cloudy with a few spits and spots of rain in the air, just as the forecast predicted, and after a breakfast of porridge and a banana, Michelle drove me to the race meeting point at Pembroke Castle. 

Competitors began to arrive in dribs and drabs and I latched onto those friendly faces, the girls from Griffithstown Harriers.

From left to right: Paula, Cath, Katy, Jenny, Daniela, me and finally Lena

Then at 11:40 we were paraded through the town to the start line as the full marathon competitors were coming through. These had begun their race at 10 am in Tenby and Pembroke was there half way point.

Then at precisely midday, our half marathon began, and within a few short minutes I found myself running through the narrow country lanes.

From here to Manorbier, there isn't much to tell, except that I was feeling good and that the sun had decided to make an appearance, but fortunately we were sheltered by trees from the worst of the midday sunshine, for a while anyway.

Steadily the road climbed but it wasn't difficult, in fact I was feeling that it was pretty easy. Then the lanes became open to the sunshine and I heard some people around me saying that they were feeling hot. I don't appear to mind the heat, as long as I sip fluid regularly and keep myself hydrated, and I was carrying water with me, so i was feeling good still.

We reached the top of a hill and I could see the sea and the beach below, meaning that we had a nice, downhill stretch towards Manorbier.

Short, baby strides and that hill was ok, although it was really hard work. And half way up were crowds of people, some were spectators but, most were runners about to begin the 10K race and they would begin once we had gone through. The top of the hill came into sight and with it a sense of relief. Phew.

I had a mile, maybe a mile and a half respite before I turned a corner and saw the next hill, and every last runner in front of me was walking. I carried on running up and around the next bend and saw that the hill just kept going on, at which point I gave up and began to walk too.

Someone with a sense of humour had used white spray paint on the road, writing;

Think happy thoughts. Think beer. Think wine. Think chips.

Eventually that hill leveled out, but my legs were now feeling tired, but I persevered. 

The road then was a bit undulating but I remembered thinking that the worst appeared to be over, and there were only about another two or three miles to go.

From the top of the next hill I could see Tenby in the distance, which certainly lifted my spirits and the road began to go downhill towards the town and a main road where I could see race marshals and police controlling road traffic. There was just half a mile to go but one last, steep hill heading up to the town centre.

I tried to run all the way up it but I just didn't have the strength in my legs, and so I had no choice but to power walk until the road began to level out, and I could see the crowds cheering and shouting and I knew I only had a couple of hundred metres left to run, and then the finish line came into sight and I put a spurt on with only 100m left to run.

Oh my God that was a tough seven miles. The first six miles felt really easy but those hills in the second half were just so tough.

Before the start of the race I had been asked what time I was expecting to complete the race in. I had completed the Swansea half marathon in 2 hours 2 minutes, but that was a flat course, so I was guessing that I should be able to complete a hilly route inside 2 hours 15 minutes, and I completed this race in 2 hours 13 minutes, so I was a happy bunny.

You can see the huge dip in elevation, in the middle of the graph, as we dropped down to sea level at Manorbier, then it climbing again up through the other side of the village. Then there is that last big hill at the very end.

With the race over, it was time to head back to the camp site for a well earned shower and a cup of tea before meeting up with the Griff girls, which were also now joined by Catherine Spencer who had run in the 10K, and her husband also.

Suitably attired in Hawaiian dress, we ended the day with a few drinks and a few laughs.

So the question is, would I do it again? Hills and all? You're damned right I would. I'll be back again next year along with the Griff girls and hopefully some of my own club mates from Caerleon.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

GLCL Road Race # 4 Pontypool

Yesterday evening saw approximately 500 runners from ten local clubs from the former county of Gwent, take part in the fourth in a series of five road race league events.

Everyone gathered at Pontypool Park for this run that begins in the park, but then quickly leaves it for narrow foot paths, a long steep hill, a canal path with low bridges, (mind your head), then back onto narrow footpaths before heading back into the park to the finish line. In all, a full 10 km course.

There was a good turn out from Caerleon Running Club as usual and I was ready and raring to go in the dry, warm, evening sunshine.

Caerleon lined up for the obligatory pre race picture

3 - 2 - 1 Go and we were away except, silly me had forgotten to get the GPS signal on my watch, so I moved to the side of the path and had to wait maybe 15 - 20 seconds before my watch got the signal, and then I was away and I quickly caught up my original position.

Through the narrow park gate we went, having to slow right down to walking pace so that we could get through, and then there were cars parked at the side of the road, so we were limited to keeping to the pavement on that first uphill stretch, which did slow me down a little.

I did manage to get past a few people as we headed down the hill towards the dual carriageway, where again we were not allowed onto the road, (for obvious safety reasons), but I did manage to get past a few people.

Then we turned left onto a country road where I was able to get off the pavement and onto the road. After a few hundred metres this road began to climb, for quite a way, and many runners decided to walk. I was having non of that and saw an opportunity to pass a number of other runners. This is a race after all.

The course then turned onto the canal path, where I had to duck as I passed below the arched bridges, then it headed back onto the first pavement we began on and then back into the park.

With just a few hundred metres left to run until the finishing line, I spied a Lliswerry runner in front of me, and as often happens at this point in a race, the competitive side of me really came out, and I thought, " I'm having you sunshine ", and I accelerated to a point where I was slowly catching him, and then went past him. So then I set my sights on my next victim and took him too.

With just a couple of hundred metres left and I could hear footsteps behind me. I glanced behind and I could see some others who could, conceivably catch me, so I increased my speed just a little and ran through the finish line.

Glancing behind to see how close the others are

Race over, sweating profusely, and breathing very hard, I wandered over to stand with my club mates.

One of the things I love about these races is the atmosphere, with runners from every club lining the road before the finish line and, not just cheering their own club mates on but, cheering everyone on too.

I don't know exactly how many runners actually took part yesterday but, it's usually around the 500 mark, and I came through the finish in 336th place. But more importantly, I improved on my 10k PB by 20 seconds. No. it isn't much, but this course did have a big hill which my previous PB was on a totally flat course, so I felt that was a good achievement.

Miles 3 - 4 were on the hill section

And me having a laugh photo bombing this pic

There is one more league race to go, on the 1st August at Cwmbran and hosted by Griffithstown Harriers.

So now I am ready for my next half marathon which is this Sunday, 9th July, running from Pembroke Castle to Tenby and is part of the Long Course Weekend. No doubt I shall be posting a story about this early next week.

Autumn Catch Up

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