Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Some You tube videos of the 2017 Grizzly

Taken from You Tube, not filmed by me, they do give a good 'flavour' of the day 

At the Fountains Inn 13/14 miles


The Stair way to Heaven and the Preacher!


The whole run!!!


Saturday, 18 March 2017

Grizzly day

17th March 2017
After the lovely sunny warm day on Saturday, Sunday[12th] dawned very grey and damp after overnight rain but only very light winds. I felt very nervous as I sorted my snacks and drinks etc. for the event later in the morning, have I done enough to get me round the 19.5 miles, 2500 feet of climbing, several river crossings including crossing the estuary twice, one of the hazards on Grizzly is the ‘bog’ which is a couple of hundred metres of  sticky mud, deep stream water and slurry type mud, but I will be one of 2000 other runners from all over the country and including several  teams from Europe.
An early text from my running mate Rachel, indicated she had the same feelings as me, nerves in the tummy!! I was trying to leave my breakfast until as late as possible before leaving, as the race starts at 10:30 and it will take us at least four hours to get round, which means crossing lunchtime!

A bottle of ‘tailwind’ energy drink, an energy bar chopped into small pieces to supplement the many jelly babies on offer on the race and the refueling checkpoint at mile 13 where there is usually a large spread of cakes!!! Race number 1816 pinned to my race vest, three quarter Ron Hills, Paramo long sleeve and my Fell Raiser shoes complete with my inov 8 gaiters to keep out the sand and small stones on the shingle beach. A change of clothes packed as rain was forecast. I took my ‘Hilly’ waist pack with my montane waterproof as rain was forecast, I decided to be comfortable if it did rain heavy for the bit of extra weight.

Breakfast was a large bowl of muesli with extra nuts and raisins topped with a banana, washed down with several mugs of tea.
I drove up the lane, picked up Rachel, we both chatted excitedly, but clearly we were both nervous about what was ahead. We were surprised getting to Seaton that there was already a queue to park, luckily we were early enough to park on the seafront, more convenient for the start and finish. We were there in good time so able to get the atmosphere of the event walking down to HQ at the town hall which was full of people dressed in running kit, buying last minute, gels etc, drinking tea, buying the event merchandise a real atmosphere. The weather was very grey with a hint of rain in the air, not too cold, but chilly.

All too soon the start time approached, the sky was still very grey with a light chilly wind ,we made our way down the front with the crowds of runners to the start line, positioning ourselves in the middle of the pack, [out of the wind] the announcer building up, the excitement. A final  cheerio from the town crier and we were off, it was several minutes before we hit the start line and before we actually started to run, down onto the shingle beach for a good half mile 2000 runners creating an ear deafening noise as they ran on the shingle , we managed to keep our position as we finally exited and hit the road, it was lovely peace and quiet on the tarmac, back through the cheering crowds, an amazing number of people turning out to cheer us on, it was a blur, but I did recognise several people from the cycling club.

 Up the first hill, past one of the many musical accompaniments, a drum band, the hill was familiar from my training runs, the first steep climb out of Seaton Hole had everyone walking , it was hard work with so many people trying to walk on the very narrow road. Down into Beer, again cheering crowds lined the road. The next hill we were walking again upto the first drink point in the Beer Head caravan park, first drink and jelly babies as we approached the first off road section, this would give us an idea how muddy it would be, we could see the front runner snaking up the hill as we struggled to gain grip on the muddy track, soon onto the top and running along Beer Head, again familiar from training runs, down Seaside, the track now very slippery, we were reduced to walking as there were so many slipping and sliding, but I overtook when I could.

 Down to the beach at Branscombe where the split happened, Cub run back along the beach we would follow later, right for the full Grizzly where we had to cross the stream exiting to the sea, it was knee deep, and icy cold for about 20 metres! Then a climb up onto the shingle beach, welcome jelly babies here, the water starting to slosh about in the shoes and my feet were very cold, as we ran on the beach a drumming band were beating out a good rhythm, which they seemed to maintain even until we came back this way later, hard work I imagine, but a great motivator. Up the path to the village, feet sloshing around whilst the water escaped, as we got to the village hall it was uphill up a steep road, which after a few hundred metres lead us off road up a very, very steep track, we could hear a faint sound of bagpipes as we struggled up the hill, and around the next corner a man dressed in highland regalia was playing his bagpipes, very rousing!!!! The path was steep and very muddy, grip was difficult, we had no idea of our position now in the race now, but we did seem to maintain our position with the same people, so not losing places.
The tracks continued with a steep down before another steep bridleway which seemed to go on forever with those bends that you just cant see round, at one point there was a violin duo playing folk songs, a wave from Rachel and quick hellos as Rachel knew one of the players. We went on over very muddy and slippery fields until we came to a very muddy forest track that was difficult to run in as the mud was deep and slippery,it also started to drizzle a little at this point, on exit of this we were grateful for another water checkpoint, I had been sipping my energy drink, sharing with Rachel and trying to keep snacking on the energy bar as well as jelly babies on the way. A great folk band the ‘Fountaineers’ were playing at a farm at one point, several runners danced jigs as they ran past, I had enough trouble just running!!! the rain had now stopped.
We were soon at the dreaded ‘bog’ down a steep incline into the knee deep icy stream, wet feet again, before wading through a knee deep muddy slurry which went on for about 50 metres, before exiting up a steep hill that had a rope to assist us. Across off camber fields, making you run with weight on one leg, to stop sliding down and we came to the prayer flags and the Buddha!! Before the food checkpoint, strange coming across the Buddha in the middle of nowhere!

The food check point was most welcome, I forced fruit cake and flapjack down along with a couple of cups of water before yet another steep uphill track, I was on familiar ground now as this was my training run back to Seaton from here. I felt I was going well, bit tired, a little shin splint on my left leg, Rachel appeared to be going well despite ‘not doing any training’ then!!!!!! Crossing the field before the descent to the Fountains Inn, my left knee started to hurt, I couldn’t think what I had done, I hadn’t tripped?? Or had I?  The descent down to the Fountains Inn on the stony track was really painful, I had to walk. The Rock band were playing as we ran through the beer garden, crowds giving us a narrow passage way. Before the next uphill, I was worried now as my knee really hurt when I put pressure on it and found myself hobbling to try to keep up with Rachel, she was ahead and waited for me at the top of the hill, I found it easier going up than coming down and over the next stretch lots of runners overtook us, I did tell Rachel to go on, but she insisted on staying with me, the run down to Branscombe was excruciating, I hoped the next river crossing and the cold water might relieve it a little as we had three quarters of a mile of shingle beach to run, we continued to lose places as I was so slow, the drummers were still pounding out their beat, such energy, I couldn’t believe the pain, and didn’t know what I had done, I took a couple of pain killers to see if it helped [ it didn’t] but we were lucky that the tide was low and we were able to run mainly on sand.
There is a memorial on the beach you can tie a ribbon to remember a lost one, I had forgotten my contribution to my cycling mate Dave who passed away at Xmas, but I did ask him to help me get to the finish, I also had a heavy heart when I thought of him and felt a lump in my throat.
We were soon leaving the beach after a steady beach run, helped by the sand, my knee  hurt but I just plodded on. We worked our way on the under-cliff path to the bottom of the ‘stairway to heaven’ where we could hear the sound of what sounded like a preacher, casting out our sins etc. sure enough half way up a man dressed in full regalia [complete with hip flask] was spouting out words from the bible [I think!!]  we walked up the steps, my knee was ok going up here as long as the steps were not too high!  Across the top of Beer Head and down to the final drink station at the caravan park, before we descended to the crowds waiting in the middle of Beer as well as a great saxophone group,

 I ended up walking down on the road as my knee was painful. The steep climb out of the town and the last big uphill of the day wasn’t too bad and we seemed to be holding our position, down once again, this time a very steep road downhill, very painful ! the path through the woods to the road was our final walk before we jogged down to the park, here we actually overtook several people and finally the finish was in sight, crowds lined the road and cheered us as we went passed, we crossed the line together, before picking up our well earned tee shirt, banana and water! The fire service was there with hoses to remove the caked mud from our legs, I felt this really refreshing, and though it helped my knee.

4hr and 40 minutes for 19.5 miles and 2500 feet of ascent, think we were 1200 ish out of 1600,  some 35 minutes longer and 400 places lower than last year, but we got round, and with my injury, we like to think that if I hadn’t hobbled the last 6 miles we would have done a lot better, it was very,very muddy and slippery making it hard work, off camber fields trying to keep upright, perhaps this put pressure on my opposite knee??? Rachel did well for her ‘no training’!! and left over virus, but then she always does, a good running partner!!!
A really good day out in good company, will I do it next year? definitely the shorter Cub run !! But maybe the full Grizzly once I have forgotten the training and pain!!!! The winners did it in just over 2 hours !

The evening I couldn’t walk down stairs, Monday felt a little better, good job as it was two days of Bikeability aa local school, I did have trouble lifting my leg to get on my bike, it slowly improved throughout the day, I did rub ‘Volterol’ into it, not sure it helped though.

Tuesday, knee was much better I could now walk up and down stairs without too much problem.
Wednesday was Wobblies ride day, the weather was looking good, so eight of us headed to a new community café at Kingsbury Episcopi a village on the levels, however, by the time we were cycling through North Curry it was getting near lunch, so we stopped at the Community Café, a lovely place, lovely people, lovely cake and good price!Back through the lanes, only 30 miles this morning, my knee felt fine and we set a good pace, with the sunshine allowing several group to wear shorts for the first time this year. The café at Kingsbury will have to wait.

Wednesday afternoon my stitches were removed, so now just a scar left from my BCC removal, all painless and all involved from start to finish were great, nice to see the NHS working well after allyou hear about it.

Friday dawned very bright and sunny, Mrs B was out coffeeing with friends so I was up for a cycle ride, Kingsbury Episcopi was my destination to try out the new café my route went through South Petherton and East Lambrook, the café was quiet and a large fruit scone and mug of tea went down well, good price, nice café, will visit again. I headed back over Burrow Hill where they produce cider and onto Hambridge, back through Isle Brewers and Curry Mallet [ all nice village names]  and crossed the A358 [a very busy A road] and back through Horton and over the hills through Crock Street. It was a beautiful spring morning, warm for a change 35 miles covered.  The afternoon was a lawn cutting session as its now growing regularly.

Saturday I had thoughts of trying the Park run down at Seaton, to try out my knee, it was a very damp morning, wind a brisk wind.  I decided to go for it and hurriedly drove down to Seaton to arrive on the front just in time for the start and just in time for the drizzle to start.
120 hardy runners lined up at 9:00 and headed off up the front into a head wind, round the turn and a tail wind took us down to the turn at the sailing club and onto the shingle back up the front for the first time then once more before the finish on to the Shingle once again, I was going well, no knee problems, I felt ok, keeping my pace around 8:30 a mile. The last few metres were the hardest, over the shingle, reminders of the previous week on the Grizzly!!!!
25 minutes 53 secs, 37th out of 120 runners, 2nd in my age category! My best time for 5k

So a good running and cycling week, injuries seem to have gone, pleased that we got round the Grizzly and two cycle rides went well, icing on the cake was my Park run.  So back to cycling to prepare for my Audax rides in April and my French trip in may.

Friday, 10 March 2017

More running, back to work, no cycling and a minor operation!

2nd March 2016
Well another birthday passed, but no new age category this time in races! I had a lovely day down in Exmouth even though the weather was rain!  Some lovely cards from my family and the grandchildren. It seems ages since I ran even though it was only a couple of days recovery time!!!
So the day after my birthday it was time to run off my birthday cake, only a 6 miler round the town, to see how I felt after my efforts on the coast etc. which didn’t go well.

Saturday I was keen to get a final long run in, so determined to make a real effort I was parking on the Quantocks by 6:45 am[the only car there]  on a bright but cold morning with frost on the grass. I was unsure what to wear, as there wasn’t quite the wind, but I took my rucsac and water bladder again which had about three quarters of a litre of water, I was determined this time to eat better so chopped up a couple of Fruisli bars and jelly babies that I could grab and eat.
The ground was decidedly muddier than my last trip, and where the ponies had been, well churned up. I set off at a slow pace trying hard to be positive and focus on a big distance today at least 15 miles.
As I approached the top of Wills Neck the sun came out and there were glorious views all around, not a person in sight anywhere, I descended down to Triscombe stone, enjoying the sun and feeling comfortable, I had walked up some of Wills Neck , which I normally run.
It was quite muddy up to Dead Womans ditch and the sheep scattered at my approach, the sun was directly in my eyes so had trouble seeing the ground in front of me as I ran, several detours round very muddy areas and large puddles., skylarks were singing their song, this is always welcome when out on the moors. I normally snack at Dead Womans but today I had already snacked twice, still managing to keep my pace steady. On to Beacon Hill, this time I ran round the base and ascended up from the West, steeper and longer as I had lost height, the sun had now gone but there was still spectacular views down over Minehead, Butlins standing out, but, not out of place, Dunkery Beacon could just be made out as the highest point on Exmoor.
More snacks and drink before I headed back down to the ridge track several deer crossing the track in front of me, keeping a wary eye on me before bounding off down the combes. There was a head wind for my run back, a slight detour around Crowcombe to increase the mileage. I was feeling fine, legs, feet etc after 12 miles and I knew I would do more than 15 miles. I walked up most of Wills Neck, finishing the last of my Jelly Babies to get me over the last couple of miles, the final path was very slippery, so I had to take care. Finally arriving back at the car after a good 16.21 miles a good run, feet and legs were a little tired but not too bad. I am sure the extra food helped and the constant sipping from my camelback. As well as walking more of the hills. Time wise I was ok, just over 3 hours, which gives me a Grizzly time well in the 5 hour time [did 4hr 6 mins last year for the 19.5 miles] I was pleased with the distance as I am only 3 miles short of the distance so confident that I can get round the Grizzly once again.

Sadly Sunday was a very wet day, but the good news the grandchildren came for the day!! What a brilliant day we had and sad to see them go, the twins are very active now and full of life, interested in everything, Granddaughter now helps Grandma with Lunch even though only 4 years old. So no cycling today!

Monday was a Bikeability day over in Wellington and although I should have gone for a run, was lazy and tired from a day out with the school children, on a windy blustery, rain threating day.
Tuesday although Bikeability again, I decided I must get out and stretch my legs, so home for a cuppa, then running gear on and out of the door for 6 miles before tea, and it was hard work, it started to rain and the wind was against me coming home, the 6 felt harder than the 16 from Saturday !!!

Wednesday was a very wet day  and I had a small operation on a skin cancer spot [BCC] on my face, five stitches, so no cycling once again, that’s nearly two weeks since I was on my bike. I plan one  more run before the weekend and the race on Sunday, this is dependent on my operation and whether it allows me to get out. Bikeability again for Thursday and Friday, the weather was very good and the children well behaved making life easier!

Also paid my final payment for my Manche to Med trip today as it’s only a couple of months away now. After Grizzly I must get the miles in on my bike to prepare for the ride.
Friday, a short 4 mile run in the mist and drizzle with my running mate for Sunday, it felt as though I had never been running.

Saturday 11th March, The day before the big event, the Grizzly, 19 miles across the south coast near Seaton in Devon. The weather forecast is poor, but not heavy rain, so trying to be optimistic, we will have wet feet anyway from the river crossing and bogs! I will make sure I take food and probably a pertex top to keep the wind off, especially when wet. It’s going to be a long day I keep telling myself I have done the miles over the last month or so, even though this week I have only run 10 miles! Slow and steady will be the plan, and hopefully the other 2000 runners will inspire me.  My next post should have a Grizzly report!!!!!

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Quantocks run and a bad day by the sea!

27th February 2017
Friday [24th] was a rest day after a hard week, so lunch down in Sidmouth was a good way to relax. So Saturday had to be a long run day.

Saturday I was driving over to the Quantocks by 6:30 in the morning and kitted up to run from Lydyeard Hill car park by 7:15.
It was a chilly grey morning and drizzle was cleared by the wipers as I drove across. But t had stopped by the time I had parked up, although there was a very cool breeze!  I went for a short sleeve Helly vest and a long sleeve windproof front Karrimor top. I took my Salomon small rucksack with a litre of water in a bladder instead of bottles. I carried a Montane Pertex windproof as well as an energy bar, jelly babies and Dextrasol tablets.
I set off to try to complete at least 14 miles the furthest I have run since last Octobers half marathon. The ground underfoot wasn’t too bad, except where the horses were collected. I ran through the forest and out onto the slopes of Will Neck the highest point on the Quantocks. The wind was now even cooler here! Down the back end and down to Triscombe stone and along the Drift. I was the only car in the car park when I arrived and I had not seen anyone in the last 5 miles! The sky continued to be grey and threatening, but fortunately no rain. Along the ridge great views both sides,  Crowcombe Park gate it was up to Dead Womans ditch and time for my first snacks of the day. Before heading back to the ridge, at Hurley Beacon , 7 miles covered I now need to ensure I run far enough along the ridge to ensure on return I manage my 14 miles plus! Over Thorncombe Hill and onto Beacon Hill at the end of the ridge, here I saw my first person of the day a horse rider, the summit of the Beacon was very blowy!! And cold so waited until I was below the summit for another snack. 9 miles covered and now I was heading back along the ridge, at Hurley Beacon I turned left towards Dead Womans ditch before turning back again to Crowcombe Park gate again. Back along the ridge I noticed the ball of my right foot was becoming painful, especially when on hard ground, I was getting tired now, so more, energy snacks needed before I ascended Wills Neck again, I was now walking up the hill, and legs were feeling it as well as my foot! Last couple of miles down through the forest and back round Lydyeard Hill, A few more people around now as I had taken over three hours, and my final mileage was 14.8 miles so a few more nearer the nineteen for the Grizzly, but I was very tired and don’t feel I could have run much more, not a lot of height gained just over 1200ft less than half that of the Grizzly.

Sunday was intended to recover from the run as my legs ached and my feet felt battered, the weather forecast was poor, but after lunch I though a spin on the bike would help aching legs so 21 miles around the levels on a very, very windy day making the ride home a good challenge. As I got home the rain came down!!! So a lucky escape.  The ride helped the stiffness in my legs, so a good ride, but hard in the wind.

Monday is normally long run day, but the weather forecast was poor and I had to train a School Crossing Patrol [lolly pop lady] in the afternoon. As it happened the weather wasn’t quite as bad as they said so I sneaked a 6 mile run round the town, it seemed to take me ages to get into the run, and although foot was hurting a little it didn’t seem too bad. And again as I got home down came the rain. I was also lucky with my SCP training as it didn’t rain, helpful for her first day!

Tuesday 28th Weather forecast was good for the morning but wet later, I was scraping the very thick ice from the vans windscreen, as overnight rain had frozen solid. I drove down to Seaton to do my twelve miler as a long run. Parking again on the front there was big surf with waves crashing high up on the shingle, only a few dog walkers about as I set off Westwards once again on my well known route, almost automatic!! This time as the Quantocks I took a small Salomon rucsac with a bladder, I find this time of year carrying a jacket, food, phone etc a bit of a squash in my usual waist pack, particularly on the longer runs. I wore a short sleeve Helly vest with a long sleeve Karrimor top, useful as it has a windproof front. Hat and gloves were needed as it was very chilly in the breeze. I also used my Salomon Speedcross shoes as using my Fellcross on the Quantocks seem to have made my feet ache especially on the balls of my right foot, looking it up it seems I have mild ‘metatarsalgia’ the Speedcross seem to be a little softer on hard ground, the problem is they are tight I think a half size bigger would help, but I am not buying new at the moment! Even though the uppers have a hole in the usual place, where the toes bend.

Anyway back to the plot!!! I walked the first few hundred yards to warm up, determined to try to take it steady this morning. It was a lovely sunny day, but as I ascended the hill out of Beer up to Beer Head things didn’t seem quite right, I was struggling to run and was soon walking, I didn’t seem to have any energy. I ran past the coastguard on Beer Head and as I went down Seaside to Branscombe had my first snack, thinking it might help, even descending seemed hard work today. The path up through Branscombe I was at a slow pace, finding it hard to up the game. I walked up the steep road past the school before The path up through the woods at Hole House, the garlic was now starting to show big green shoots, up over the top and down to the Fountains feeling decidedly tired and lacking energy, I did wonder whether to cut my run short and go back down the road, mind games ensued, and I found myself climbing onto the ridge once again and continuing my usual route, I walked up through the woods, snacking as I went, there was a distinct aroma of garlic now, a wonderful smell, spring is on its way. I was pleased to be on the down to the beach, but not looking forward to the half mile run along the shingle, the tide was quite high and waves crashing over the shingle creating an ear splitting noise. As I ran I had to take care as the tide did keep getting very close, I managed to run about half was before succumbing to walking, the half mile took me a good ten minutes!! It was nice to get off the shingle and away from the noise, but it was up hill all the way up and over the stair way to heaven, I walked a lot, still not shifting the lethargy, have I overtrained??? Have I picked up a bug? If I can’t run 12 miles the 19 for the Grizzly will be very difficult!!! Down into Beer at a slow pace before the final big climb over to Seaton Hole, I walked much of this again, I was pleased to hit the final slope up to Seaton, pleased I had completed the route but worried that my time and pace was way over a normal run. The final half mile along the esplanade was never ending, I was pleased to sit on the step of the van to recover before a change of top to a dry one before driving home.  This was very disappointing today as I have been working hard to get fit to enjoy the Grizzly next week, it was a long hard 12.16miles, I will rest for a couple of days but need one more long run over the Quantocks before the event, perhaps Saturday or Sunday depending whether we go to see the grandchildren, next week is out as I have a busy week with Bikeability on four days, the only day free is Wednesday which is a little close to the event. I am also worried about my foot as it is quite painful on stony ground, I have also had a return of pain in my right calf, I assume this is all because of the increase in miles in the build-up, if I don’t feel right I may have to think about the shorter Cub run on the day!!!

The month of February I ran 139 miles and cycled 235 miles, more than the previous Februarys! I should be very fit, but, don't feel it at the moment.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

More runs and a Park run

 Tuesday 21st February 2017

Wednesday [15th ] is normally Wobblies day but last Wednesday dawned wet, the forecast was to improve but there were heavy showers as the start time , so I bailed out, disappointing but didn’t fancy a wet ride. The afternoon seemed to improve so I decided to run and did my 12 mile road run round the lanes and the local reservoir. Lovely as the sun came out, and it felt quite warm, I seemed to be setting myself a good pace, at 9 miles the weather suddenly deteriorated and it poured down, even though I had my jacket and hat I decided to push on, the roads now running very wet! As I approached the local estate there was a fantastic rainbow, which I managed to capture on my phone!

I managed less than two hours for my run, which I was pleased about, thinking I might be getting a little fitter after all! Legs tired, but still managing to avoid any injuries.
Thursday was a rest day, the weather still not good although considerably milder than the previous weekend.
Friday [17th] I met up with Rachel to do my Neroche off road run, 7 miles, good to have company as all my running is on my own, R will be my running mate on the Grizzly, but! She was suffering a heavy cold, and with her hectic job as a teacher struggling to get out running, my experience of R is that she will be fit by the time of the race! She always is!!!!
The local cycle club usually meet on Friday afternoon to ride up to Langport, as the weather was really good, so as Mrs IanB was out I met up with them, [was this a good idea after an eight mile run in the morning?] there were eight of us, several Wobblies there but also some younger riders, we set off at a high pace, and I struggled to stay with them, I noted 25 mph on my Garmin several times!!! on the way to Langport, I did try to do a stint at the front [but on the downhills or flats] soon drifting to the back when the road went up again. I was glad to see the café!!! To recover, the ride home was just as hard except that towards the end we all came back together I think I was feeling the eight mile run I did in the morning, well that’s my excuse 37 miles of hard cycling.
Saturday my daughter was keen to do the Park Run down at Seaton, this was the first time either of us had done one. We drove down and parked on the front and walked down to the start, a briefing for us ‘newbies’ before we lined up for the start.
We were soon running down the esplanade with about another 150 runners. The course is two laps of the Esplanade that also includes two short sections of the dreaded shingle beach. We kept in the latter end of the group, my daughters running over the winter has only been once a week so she was doing really well. The weather was really misty with a light wind from the East creating a headwind. It was a good morning out and the 3.1 miles went quickly, we recorded 34 minutes for our first Park Run, something we can build on, interesting the Garmin said we had a total ascent of 99ft! Which seems odd along the sea front? We really enjoyed the run, and as we finished the mist lifted and the sun came out!! The rest of the day was lovely and warm with good sunshine.
Sunday [19th] I cycled with Mike, temperatures were still mild, but it was a very grey day with a light wind. A steady 31 miles round the lanes, again dodging the hedge cuttings, lots of lambs in the fields now, catkins and some pussy willow, loads of snowdrops in the hedgerows, hopefully spring is on its way, there is some warmth now back in the sunshine, so hoping we have escaped the worst of winter weather and so far only a light sprinkling of snow last month.
Monday [20th] was long run day, an early start saw me parked on Seaton sea front, and running by 7:45 am!! 

                                A grey dawn on Seaton seafront

The weather was mildish, but very grey again. It was lovely running down through Beer, no tourists yet, too early in the year, over Beer Head no dog walkers and descending to Branscombe it was deserted, I was moving well, the trails not too muddy. I climbed up past the school, which is perched on a hill overlooking the village, I got there just as children were arriving for the day, one parent commented ‘it must be Grizzly time as you’re the fourth runner we have seen this morning’  I was soon descending down to the Fountains Inn. The climb up to Branscombe cliffs was now starting to sprout the bluebells and garlic shoots.

                             steps down to Branscombe beach, the suns out!

 I ran down the steps to the steep field before the beach, just as the sun came out, a ‘proper’ spring day. I ran the beach, just as hard as ever, never gets any easier no matter where you run, each foot fall sinking in, like running on marbles, the climb out of the stairway to heaven made my legs ache. By the time I hit the steps out of Beer my legs were really aching, and the final climb out of Seaton Hole was even harder, even though it was very short. The sun was shining as I ran back to the van and a welcome mug of coffee.  I did try harder to make sure I ate and drank today, it was as hard as before, my time, no quicker! So another 12 miles towards my training, I must up the miles to ensure I can complete the 19 for the grizzly as well as the 3500 ft of climbing that’s twice as many feet as I do in my 12 miler. I will try to head to the Quantocks for a longer run at the weekend as it’s difficult to get the distance in along the coast without much more climbing!
Wednesday[22nd] dawned damp and wet, but the promise was it would clear later, so I out in my Paramo and headed to meet up with the Wobblies for the Wednesday morning ride, five of us headed over Combe St Nicholas and out to North Curry, started off wet, but by the time we reached Bickenhall the sun came out!!! Round through Five Head and Barrington before Tea and cake at the Community café at Seavington St Michael, lovely service, lovely tea and good banter! The start from the café is a steep uphill out of the village, but we were soon over the top and heading back along the cycle track and back into the wet weather!!! Apparently it had rained all morning at home so we were lucky and had the best of the weather! 35miles.
Thursday, 23rd, Morning spent doing my bit at school hearing the children read, the drive over the Blackdowns made a little scary at times with Storm Doris!!!!!  After lunch I headed off into Doris again, a hard head wind for the first couple of miles of my run and uphill, an 8.27 mile run round the lanes, made much harder by the strong wind. But at least the rain held off.

Mornings are drawing out and so are the evenings light at 6:45 am and 6:00 pm, spring is on its way.

Monday, 13 February 2017

A cold week, More miles running, more miles biking!

13th  February 2017

Sunday [5th February] dawned frosty and after the overnight rain left the roads in an icy state, so a text from Mike put off our cycle ride till after lunch.

The lanes over the levels hatch Beauchamp direction gave us a 32 mile ride, roads were again wet and dirty after the ice had melted, this along with hedge cutting once again left us open to the ‘puncture fairy’, but we were lucky this time with no visits from her!!! We stopped at Westport to look at the remains of the old Langport to Westport canal, the bridges still constructed out of dressed stone etc, the canal although overgrown, still carrying water. The wharf warehouse buildings converted to holiday homes. The canal was built in 1840 and served the area bringing coal in and taking vegetables/produce out until 1874 when the railways started to eat into the trade. Ironically, the old canal uses the River Parratt for some navigation, which a couple of years ago caused much of the big flooding across the levels and all the pictures on the TV, I think perhaps the people who built the canal, had a better idea how to control water flow etc. and use it to an advantage.

Overnight again the temperatures plummeted to give a very heavy frost. I had planned to do my 12 mile run down at Seaton, I jumped in the campervan, to find the battery flat!!!! So reverted to the car. Roads from Axminster usually running with water were a skid pan, I negotiated carefully, there was a lovely temperature inversion in the Axe valley with a beautifully blue sky sunny day above it. Parking on the front at Seaton was difficult as the debri was still there from the storms. I kitted up and was away running by 7:45, dog walkers for company on the front.

As I climbed over Beer Head, the frost had melted making It quite slippery in places as was the Great Seaside descent to Branscombe. Branscombe was still in the icy grip with an icy path, very cold down here!!! Up past the school, the temperature rose again, I was enjoying the run, with only my heavy breathing for company.

I was soon running the ridge above Branscombe and dropping down to the shingle beach once again, as hard as ever, managing to run most of it, using the walk to have a snack.
Up the STH and back over Beer, the clouds had now started to build up, rain was forecast, would I get back before the first drops.

As I climbed out of Seaton Hole the legs etc were now feeling it, and by the time I ran along the road back into Seaton, I was very tired!!! Will it ever get any easier!!! The good news I don’t seem to be suffering any injuries this year, so fingers crossed, maybe I overdid it last year??

Another 12 miles in the bag and I was pleased to get a text from my partner for Grizzly saying she had run 11miles on her way home from school!!!!! In the pouring rain! And wind ! And it started raining just as I got home.

Wednesday Wobble was eight of us over the levels to Langport, via Long Sutton, a beautifully sunny but cold morning, but no ice, a ‘Langport bun’ and pot of tea in the ‘Bows Wharf’ café put the energy back for the twenty mile home ride. A lovely morning out in good company 38 miles covered, no punctures once again.

Thursday 9th February – the weather was dull, cold and dreary! But not doing my school volunteer bit today gave me an opportunity to get some more running miles in, having not been running since Monday. A 12 mile road run taking the lanes over Crock Street, and returning along the cycle track, round the local reservoir and back up through town. A reasonable pace [for me] taking a few jelly babies and Dextrasol tablets along with an ISO star drink.

Friday, trying to build up miles I had read somewhere the benefits of doing back to back runs, the theory that you are running on tired legs the next day, I am not sure it works for me feeling quite tired from the previous run. So another 8.27 miles round the lanes, starting with the steep off road bridleway, another very cold, dull day, just above freezing.

Saturday was a rest day, Mrs B was feeling under the weather, it was snowing, only very light, but a light covering none the less, and bitterly cold again. So a rest day!

Sunday was another very cold day, not my sort of day for cycling so I cancelled the usual Sunday morning ride, there were also signs of frost around, again not the best cycling weather. But as an alternative I drove up to Neroche and did my 6.5 miles off road run, I started well wrapped up and never really warmed up and got hot! Even though it was early Sunday morning there were a few dog walkers about, it was relatively dry under foot. I was quite slow! My time being greater than my last few runs up there. There was even a sprinkling of snow left in the woods.

Monday [13th February] is long run day, it was really good as the weather had changed to be a sunny warmer day, even though there was a chilly East wind.

Seaton again this week, I had thought about the Quantocks but decided that exposed ridge would be too cold. The usual route, saw a few other runners out, possibly Grizzly training! As I descended above Branscombe into the cold East wind I made the decision to run back along the undercliff, rather than the beach as it would be more sheltered. I found it hard today, and didn’t feel great, and although I seemed to walk a lot my time for the twelve miles my time was better than before. 12.25 miles covered as I parked at the far end of the Esplanade to give a few more metres in each direction. As I got back to the van and had my coffee and flapjack, I was surprised to see how busy the town was, a few years ago the place would have been deserted. 

Saturday, 4 February 2017

A wet week, some running, some decorating, bit of cycling

4TH Feb 2017

It’s been very wet week this week, not great for an ageing athlete!! Spent too many days out in bad weather in my younger days, don’t need to do it now.
After the Wednesday Wobblies ride from the last post, I decided I needed to get more running miles in so managed another 12 miles on the road around the lanes and local reservoir, timing although not great was considerably better than the off road 2 hrs 10 mins compared to 2hrs 40 mins for off road, admittedly there was considerably less climbing a 1000 feet to be exact. Although it did seem harder on the feet.
Sunday was a complete washout with heavy rain setting in early in the day, Monday was off road day once more so another drive to the coast, this time Seaton Hole for the 9 .5 mile run over to the Fountains Inn via Hole House etc. and back along the beach. It seemed a very hard 9.5 miles today!!! And I got back to the van just as the rain started to get heavy. I ran the half mile beach this time; it kills the legs on the shingle.
Tuesday was a wet day again, so some decorating in the bathroom to spruce it up a little for when we eventually do put the house up for sale.
Wednesday, was Wobblies day, the day started with a fine drizzle, but soon brightened up and five souls headed over Drimpton, Cheddington, Halstock pas t Sutton Bingham reservoir to ‘Goose Slade Farm’ at East Coker  for coffee. Very nice it was before the return over the hills to West Chinnock, Merriot and Hinton St George; 40 miles covered, on very dirty roads, only one puncture, which was good as there is much hedge cutting at the moment, the farmers’ last chance before the bird nesting season starts.
Thursday afternoon I managed to get a 5.4 mile run in before the rain set in again. I felt it was a hard 5.4 miles at a quite slow pace; I did seem to struggle and did cut the run short. My plan was for 6+ miles.
Friday a very wet and windy day, so much so that the Park Run at Seaton had to be cancelled on Saturday because of debri on the sea front. I drove over to meet up with a Friend at Dunkewell Aerodrome for coffee. Dunkeswell is on the top of the Blackdown Hills and played a significant role in the D Day activities in WW2.  So the car was somewhat battered by the wind and horizontal rain.
Saturday was much calmer [today] so a trip to Sidmouth for coffee on the front, and lunch in the Whitehorse café. The sun was very warm as we sat drinking our coffee on the sea front, no wind and few signs of the storm, unlike Seaton. The afternoon, trainers on and 7.5 miles round the lanes before once again the rain came in!!! I was pleased with the run and felt much better than Thursdays run, although it was hard work and doesn’t seem to get any easier and I don’t seem any faster. My confidence for a good time in the Grizzly is shrinking, in fact at the moment the 19 miles and 3500 feet of climbing seem out of reach, even though I did it last year. My thoughts of another crack at Exe to Axe have all but disappeared. I will do my 12 miler on the coast again on Monday and see how I go, I am struggling to see any improvement in either fitness, stamina strength etc. I have also still to lose the weight from Christmas!!!
Tomorrow will get out on the bike for 30 – 40 miles to keep up my twice weekly ride and 3 times run each week.
So this week 22.5 miles run and only 40 miles cycled

Lets hope the weather is better this week to give me more opportunities to get out.