Thursday, 18 January 2018

The Weekly Runnin'tg Roundup # 3

It has been another busy week running wise, but then every week is busy at the moment.

Friday Core Session
This was my first proper workout as last week was an introduction to show me the exercises involved. This session was way more intense and man was I feeling the pain in certain areas, mostly my abs which really need some work, so I think some weekly home sessions are called for too.

Billboard picture
Also on Friday, one of the guys from the club posted a picture on the club Facebook group page. The picture was of me on a HUGE billboard located at the side of the Southern Distributor Rd by the Newport International Sport Village. As you can imagine, there was a fair bit of banter going on from this, which was pretty funny, but it is also good advertising for Caerleon Running Club as I was wearing our club shirt.

Riverfront Parkrun
As I was racing on Sunday, I didn't want to do a long run on Saturday. I'd done that the week before and I just didn't have the energy for the race on the Sunday, so I drove and parked by the canal and ran from there, which made my total run distance about 6.6 miles.

I didn't feel particularly comfortable as I ran towards Newport, my legs were feeling a bit tired and heavy and I was hoping that they would ease as I progressed.

I met up with Griff Harriers friend Cath, and her friend Helen, and I'd already promised beforehand to run at their pace, which I did until the return leg when upon reaching the George Street bridge, with about one mile to go, I decided to open up the taps a bit and see how far I could push the girls. Helen stayed with me for most of the way but Cath dropped back a little. Even so, Cath did manage a new 5k PB.

The run home was uneventful and done at a easy pace, looking at the wildlife along the canal makes this a very pleasurable run.

Welsh Buff 10k Trail
This was a fabulous trail run through the Afan Forest, just north of Port Talbot. There were 6 of us in our group, and one other, Rhys Knight from CRC who was there also. I didn't know he was taking part until afterwards.

The route begins with a long uphill section of about a mile, followed by a mile long down hill section, where I was able to open up the taps and make up the time that I knew I would lose on the  uphill sections. A fairly flat section followed for about 3 1/2 miles, before hitting one of the steepest hills I've come across on a race.

You can see from this that the 1st & last miles were the slowest, mile 2 was the long downhill section, and miles 3 - 5 were some of the fastest miles I've ever run on the flat.

And my heart rate was well within limits

Michelle & Charlotte

Me on the big hill

Rebecca was our first lady home

Fabulous views

I think Sally surprised herself with her own performance, and loved her first proper trail run

That super speedy man Rhys Knight who finished in 11th place. Well done Rhys 👍

Sally coming to the finish

Here comes Charlotte

Nicky too

A flying finish for Michelle

The three Amigos 

The Trail Crew

And finally for for this week I went out last night after work for a 14 mile LSR and increase my distance a little. The first ten miles were fine but after that my legs began to feel tired and my pace dropped off. Still, it was my longest run ever, but my mp3 player died after an hour, and then I tried to take a photo with my phone, but whether the cold air got to it or what I don't know, but as soon as I had taken a picture, the phone crashed and then showed that the battery was dead, which was very strange as there was 70% in it when I left home. Once home I plugged it into the mains and it woke up and after a minute or two showed that it had 50% battery.

You can see that I managed to mostly keep my heart rate out of the red zone

Friday, 12 January 2018

The Weekly Running Roundup #2

So here we are again at the end of another week and I shall begin with last Friday. This was my introduction to core/strength with Deborah at the Newport International Sport Village. Deborah had already read my profile and knew my goals and so we got straight into the session with a warm up, and showing me some of the warm up exercises that I should be doing before each run. We then moved on to various exercises, mostly on a mat and with no equipment so that I can be doing these at home, such as planks and variations on those. Also exercises to help strengthen my hamstrings and glutes.  We did then use a few light weights, and a medicine ball too.

It was a good session which clearly highlighted areas that I need to work on. I shall be back again on Friday to join in a class session.

Deborah and I did have a good chat afterwards and she did mention something that I particularly found interesting. She mentioned about getting chest problems during the cold winter months, which is something I do suffer with. I usually end up having a few days off work because of a chesty cough in late January or February, and for someone who spends a lot of his working day on the phone, it isn't good when I'm having a coughing fit, and after a run in the cold air I usually have a coughing fit as soon as I stop, so Deborah advised me to use something to cover my nose and mouth when I'm running, this would help she said.

Warming up before a run is something I haven't really done much of before, and when I have it has usually consisted of a slow jog with knee raises, some side steps, and butt kicks, but now I'm going to spend more time before a run warming up those muscles instead of just exerting a heavy load on them whilst they are cold.

Extended Parkrun
Saturday was going to be my 50th Parkrun, and so I thought that I would include this into my weekly long run and run to the Riverfront.

I drew my bedroom curtains and the cars parked on the road were very frosty and there was also some frost on the grass, so I needed to dress warmly. As I walked out of the door, I was wearing leggings, a base layer, T shirt, jacket, gloves, a buff around my neck and another on my head. I plugged some music into my ears and went through my new warm up routine before beginning a comfortable 3 miles to the Wave at the Riverfront.

Due to Newport (Tredegar House) Parkrun being cancelled due to poor ground conditions, the Riverfront exceeded it's 350 runner limit with a total of 374 runners. Still, I didn't find it a problem. It was maybe a little slow as we began and negotiated the Z bend by the theatre, but the crowd soon spread out and it felt no different to any other Saturday.

I enjoyed this section of my run, being careful not to push too hard as I still had the run home to do, but I did finish in a respectable time.

Afterwards I went into the Riverfront cafe for a coffee and toasted teacake with a few friends before starting my run home.

Running along the canal I was nearing Bettws Lane and so I had to make a decision at this point. Do I cross the lane and continue along the canal for a total of 10 miles or, do I turn right and follow Malpas Rd, then Newport Rd down to Pentre Lane by the Three Blackbirds pub, then back along the canal for 12 miles? I opted for the later.

There is a bit of an incline in the last mile as I leave the the canal and head into the estate, and I was feeling it in my legs by then, but I just had to grit my teeth and push slowly up it, and I was thankful once I'd reached the top of the hill and the road had leveled out. This last bit then was easy, but I was still glad that I didn't have to run any further, and glad that I'd been sensible in my distance choice and didn't try to run further than that.

I finished off spending 10 minutes with some good stretching, some outside of my front door, and the others laying on my living room rug stretching my hamstring and piriformis, which have been groaning a little lately.

I did try pulling the buff around my neck, up and over my nose and breathing through that as Deborah had suggested on Friday. Wow, it really did work and I didn't have a coughing fit at all once I'd finished running. So I know what to do now in colder weather, even though I look like a running bandit.

GLCL XC Race 3 - 5 hosted this month by Spirit of Monmouth running club and held at TV presenter Kate Humble's farm, Humble by Nature at Penallt near Monmouth.

It was flippin cold with temperatures around 2°C. Puddles at the side of the road were frozen, the ground had a crunchy top at first, but was soft underneath, although the crunchy top had disappeared after the first lap. There were a few muddy patches, (it wouldn't be a cross country if there wasn't some mud), some sharp turns, mole hills and long but gentle inclines.

The race is 4 laps for the guys and 3 laps for the girls. Why? In this day and age of sexual equality, why is that? Many of the girls are as strong as the guys, and many of them stronger than me, which isn't hard.

The race covers three fields for a total distance of 5.45 miles, and my legs were really feeling it after  only two laps from my previous days 12 miler. All I could do was dig in and try to keep up the 10 minute mile pace I'd set myself.

Tis me!

I was the last Caerleon runner to cross the line, but fortunately NOT the last runner in. Phew! Tea, coffee and cake followed before heading home to a nice warm shower, and then apart from sticking my running clothes in the washing machine, and washing the mud off my trail shoes, I did nothing more for the rest of the day. Nice 😊

Tuesday's club run - The Estate Run
I decided to go out with the earlier 6:45PM group instead of the 7PM group, for two reasons really. Firstly, some of my favourite running buddies were coming back to club for a run after not being able to run due to work and family commitments, and illness also, and I fancied running with them. Also, the 7PM group are just too damned fast for me. Most of them are doing 7 or 8 minute miles, whereas I'm a 9 - 10 minute mile runner, so I find that I end up running alone. Michelle arrived at the last minute and she asked me to hang on a minute and she'd run with me.

We caught up with the back markers in the pack who were running at a shade over a 11 minute pace and slowly we picked up our pace until we reached the first long hill on College Glade. I had a nice, slow pace up the hill, and I didn't walk at all, and we pushed on to the long downhill section on Lodge Hill where I was able to recover before tackling the steep climb on Trinity View.

Michelle dropped back here and so I pushed on up to the top of the hill where I had caught up with Tania. We had a nice chat as we ran down the hill and around Wentwood Rd where we caught up with another group who, some I'm sure, I had passed previously on College Glade. Now I wonder how that happened? 😉 Running with this group was Lowenna, (I hope I've spelled her name correctly), and we began chatting as we rounded the bend and the short hill leading us up onto Lodge Rd, and before we realised, we'd left the others behind and our pace had quickened to a comfortable 9 minute mile, and there we stayed for the rest of the run.

I have to say that I really enjoyed that run, more than I was expecting to when I began it, and it was due to being able to chat to several people along the way and not pushing myself too hard.

This Wednesday's Fartlek session with Jenny was a foggy one at the Riverfront where we just ran laps from the Wave, over the footbridge, along the path on the opposite side, then back over Castle Bridge to our starting point, running at a moderate pace and then speeding up for maybe 300m at a time.

You can see from the heart rate graph how my heart rate fluctuates up and down, and also the amount of time spent in each of the heart rate zones

And this graph shows how my pace fluctuates and the time spent in each zone

Thursday plod
As I'd done a speed session with Jenny the previous evening, I didn't want to do another one tonight, instead a nice, comfortable plod seemed like the right thing to do. This meant that I could also get out at 6 PM and be home by 7 ish instead of starting the club session at 7, which gave me time to do other things I needed to do at home, such as laundry, (yayyyyy, clean socks and underwear again 😂). 

Well the 7 PM finish didn't happen because I decided to run 10 miles instead of  6, but it was a route I hadn't done before and I did enjoy it. The route I chose stuck mostly to well lit streets and had undulations instead of hills.

En-route I bumped into Michelle and her daughter Maddy who were out running in the opposite direction, then just as I made the turn home out of Llanfrechfa Way in Cwmbran, I saw a bunch of about 20 runners in front of me, probably from Griffithstown Harriers. It probably took me a mile to catch their tail runners, who I scared to death as she didn't hear me catching her up, and the first she knew of my presence was when I spoke, "do you mind if a Caerleon runner joins you"? Well, she practically jumped out of her skin. At the top of the hill they all turned off Newport Rd into Malthouse Lane and I continued straight ahead towards Malpas Rd for the final 3 miles of my run.

Tonight I have a core class at the gym, then Saturday morning I'm going to run an extended Parkrun for about 6 miles. Then on Sunday I'm running the Welsh Buff Trail 10k, which I am looking forward too as I do enjoy trail runs, and there are a few of us from the club running together.

This is the view looking down the final hill of the Buff 10k, which we have to run up.

I shall be reporting on this race in next weeks Running Roundup. Until then, keeeeeeep running 😁

Friday, 5 January 2018

The Weekly Running Roundup # 1

Hey guys & gals, I'm going to try to create a weekly report of my marathon training from now until the end of April, as it is my intention to run four times per week, and go to the gym once a week until the beginning of April. It has been a very busy week so here goes.

Tuesday 2nd January
Tuesday is club run night and this week it is the Llanhennock Loop, a six mile loop which begins in the village of Llanhennock, near to Caerleon. The run begins at the Wheatsheaf pub and winds its way along narrow country lanes.

Usually we don't run this route until the clocks go forward in the spring and we have lighter evenings, but wearing hi viz and head/chest lamps it was plenty safe enough on those quiet country lanes. However, the weather was atrocious with strong winds, driving heavy rain, and torrents of muddy rain water flowing down the road like a river. Not pleasant conditions at all.

I was a bit slow on the up hill sections, (nothing new there), but I didn't stop and walk at all, which I have done in the past, and I did complete it in under an hour.

I didn't stay to enjoy a drink in the pub, and I think most of us just wanted to get home to a hot shower and warm up.

Wednesday evening is when I meet up with Jenny for a speed/interval session.
My plan was to go back to the beginning where I began with Jenny a few weeks ago and run the Riverfront Parkrun route, but dividing it into sections where we would run faster and slower alternately, getting that heart rate up and down, and considering Jenny was saying that her legs were feeling like lead, it didn't particularly show in her running and we still completed the course in under 30 minutes.

I think maybe we ought to try some hill reps next week!

Newport Live - EVERYbody campaign
You may remember that I won one of the five places available in this competition giving me three free months membership of Newport Live, along with a personal trainer and a training program, followed by nine months at half price membership. Well the publicity wheel has begun to turn and apparently my picture was seen on the big screen that they have at the Newport International Sport Village, and I have also been sent this LINK showing my profile on the website, check it out. On Friday evening I shall be going along to collect my membership card and begin some core/strength exercises.

Saturday and Sunday?
I shall be running my 50th Parkrun at the Riverfront on Saturday, followed by coffee and cake in the cafe afterwards. The Newport (Tredegar House) Parkrun is cancelled this week due to poor ground conditions caused by the amount of rain we have had this week, so the Riverfront could be busy this week, although I know the organisers are trying to persuade runners to go to Cwmbran, Pontypool or Rogiet as the Riverfront has a 350 runner limit. I shall report on this next week.

On Sunday there is a GLCL cross country race hosted by the Spirit of Monmouth running club and being held in the grounds of TV presenter Kate Humble's, Humble by Nature farm. I shall be reporting on this also.

So with all this going on over the weekend, I've been wondering when I can fit in a long run? It either has to be tagged on to my Parkrun or, I could could run to and from the gym this evening, and at the moment that seems like a good option, although I would have to stick to running on well lit streets as I don't fancy running along the canal path alone in the dark, even when wearing a chest lamp, it just seems a bit "dodgy". I shall consider this during the day.

Have a good weekend all. Happy running 😊

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Happy New Year

So here we are in a new year, and I just hope it will prove to be as enjoyable and injury free as my 2017 was.

I began 2018 without a hangover, fortunately, but feeling somewhat lethargic after having enjoyed a few drinks the evening before with family, although I didn't get to bed until about 3 AM and I had set my alarm for 8 AM so that I had enough time to sort myself out before doing Parkrun that morning.

My girlfriend, Michelle, had long wanted to join in with the New Years Day swim in the sea at Barry Island, and she was determined that she was going to do it this year, however, she has had a niggling cough for weeks which didn't seem to want to go away, so she was persuaded not to do it, for health reasons. But we decided to go to Barry Island anyway as there was a Parkrun beginning at 10:30 with the swim at midday.

The drive to Barry was dark with heavy rain clouds, and in fact as we drove through the town the heavens opened up again with rain and hail thrown in for good measure. I didn't have my waterproof running jacket with me so it was beginning to look like I was going to be in for a good soaking.

We had a few minutes to kill once we had parked the car, and there was no point just standing about in the cold and rain, so we didn't begin the walk down to the sea front until ten minutes before the start.

Michelle went off to find some family members who she was planning to meet and I reached the shelter where the run was to begin and I was pleasantly surprised to find friends Andrew, Catherine and Cath there. Then, all of a sudden, the black sky changed to blue and the sun appeared, so maybe I wasn't going to get a soaking after all.

I went to the visitors briefing before making my way to the rear of the pack of 430 runners and off we went. The course begins on a wide area of pavement before making a hairpin right hand turn where the path is on an incline. Once at the top of that incline, the path narrows and the marshals were indicating us to keep to the right as the faster runners were heading back towards us, so there was little or no room to be able to get past the slower runners. The path then reaches the Coastguard watch tower, turns sharply left with a short but very steep incline of about 20 metres before turning sharply left again and heading back along the narrow path. Once onto the wider section again, which is now downhill, I was able to get a better pace on. A hairpin left hand turn sees runners heading back to the shelter where cones and a U Turn sign guide us back to run a second lap.

My official time was actually 28:08 which shows how much slower this course is compared to my local run at the Riverfront, although there were many more runners there than usual.

Andrew, Catherine & Cath were taking part in the swim, as was Michelle's Auntie, so I thought that I may as well partake, although I'm a complete woos when it comes to cold water, so I thought that if I got in up to my knees I'd be doing well.

We assembled with hundreds of others on the beach, with hundreds more there to watch. In fact I heard many people say that they hadn't seen that many people on the beach even in the height of the summer holidays. Then, with a loud air horn blast, everyone began to run into the freezing cold water. Man was that water cold as I ran into it, and by the time the water had just about reached my knees, my feet had become numb with the cold, so I turned around and headed back.

After I had been out of the water for a few minutes, and I was drying my feet, I had the weirdest sensation of my hands feeling numb and tingly, even though they hadn't been in the water.

Picture courtesy of Walesonline

What a hoot that was and a great was of spending the morning.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

T'was the week before Christmas

The Riverfront Parkrun was fun on Saturday with many runners dressed in Christmas attire. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures to show you as I didn't see any posted on line, although I know some were taken. Anyway, the run was good, and then many of us went into the theatre cafe afterwards for coffee and a sing-along of Christmas songs. And that was also my 46th Parkrun completed so, I will be doing the run on the 23rd, then again on the 30th, the New Years day run at Barry, and so my 50th should be on the 6th January at my home run at the Riverfront, and a nice way to begin the New Year too, but, my friend and fellow Caerleon runner Michelle Clabon is also very close to reaching her 50th also, so we shall be coordinating our runs to coincide and run this together.

On Sunday I took part in the Christmas Tree race, organised by the Forest of Dean AC. This is a 5.5 mile trail run through the forest beginning at the Ellwood football club. To say that it was muddy and hilly is an understatement. My friend Daniela, (top sport massage therapist), was there also, after having done a fell race up the Skirrid mountain only the day before.

Daniela is a top ladies runner with Griffithstown Harriers and I'm glad that she had done the fell race the day before as she is a quicker runner than me and this was maybe a chance for me to beat her to the finish line. Alas it wasn't to be. I did manage to stay ahead of her until I'd reached about ¾ of a mile before the finish line but, there was this very long hill, and I just didn't have the strength left in my legs to be able to run at any pace along its full length, so I resorted to power walking, (which probably wasn't that much slower than I could have run up it), but that gave Daniela the chance to catch and overtake me. She probably finished about 30 - 40 seconds ahead me.

The course

Check out that long climb at the end

Daniela (in the red top) arriving at the finish

The set up was good for this race. I think it cost me £8.00 to enter, race numbers were collected in the football club on the day, and then the club was open after the race for refreshments. Tea and coffee were free, as were the vast assortment of cakes on offer, although they were raising money for Parkinson's disease and so a voluntary contribution of £1.00 was requested, and £128.72 was raised for this worthwhile cause. This is a race that I will definitely look at running again next year.

Tuesday evening's club run was the Village Venture, a 5.5 mile route around Caerleon village taking in that dreaded hill known as Trinity View.

Many of us were dressed in festive garb, including myself in my Christmas pudding outfit. And it was a mild evening, so by the time I reached the top of Trinity View, I had to stop and cool off a bit. I could actually see the steam rising from my head and body.

Pre run photo

On Wednesday evening I met up with Jenny at the Roman amphitheatre in Caerleon for our weekly speed/interval session, and as the last three weeks have been on a nice flat course, I decided to up the anti and throw in some hills this week.

I don't know what possessed me really as I ran up a big hill the day before, and several big hills on Sunday, and my calf muscles were now aching and tired. So my plan was to take a nice and easy pace along Ponthir Rd before turning into College Glade and hitting that first hill.  Then a little respite before tackling Trinity View, then once at the bottom, take Roman Reach and Home Farm to get to the cycle track and back to our starting point for roughly a 4.5 mile distance.

All went as planned and I have to say that my calf muscles, (which had been achy all day), felt fine on the run, and in fact I felt better and stronger than I did the evening before, (maybe due to the slower pace),managing both hills without having to stop or walk. And Jenny did a great job too. She's actually quite strong and she didn't stop or walk either, and just for good measure, we finished the run with a sprint along the Fosse section back to the car park.

I'm really impressed with Jenny. She is totally focused on her marathon training and keen to do anything that will help her improve her speed. She doesn't moan or complain and she's actually quite inspirational to be around.

Wednesday's run route around Caerleon

And the elevation graph

Yesterday a friend told me that she didn't know where I got my energy and motivation from, particularly as I have run five days in a row this week. I don't know where I am getting my energy from either but, the motivation is knowing that in about three months time I have to run 26 miles. That is motivation enough for me. The only things that will stop me completing the course will be injury or illness.

I am resting this evening and tomorrow evening, (party night 😃), then I am running a extended Cwmbran Parkrun with some of my Griffithstown Harriers friends. So my plan is to run from home to Parkrun, partake in the after run Christmas singing and a bacon butty, then run home again. I've worked out the distance to be approximately 12.5 miles. I will try and post this over the weekend as my final post of 2017.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

This weeks news

Last weekend I traveled to Cornwall and took part in the new Eden Project Parkrun. I was fortunate as the Eden Project is only a five minute drive from where my son lives in Luxulyan.

It was a nice morning, although pretty chilly, but not as chilly as back home where most Parkruns had been cancelled due to icy conditions. I think I'm right in saying that only Cwmbran still went ahead.

The Eden Project course begins just below the car park, then takes a down hill path into the bowl where the "biomes" are situated before the path then begins to zigzag its way uphill again. Once at the top it then heads downhill again. There is then a slight uphill followed by a short downhill, then you do two more laps of the zigzag course again.

I was a bit slow stopping my watch and my official time was 25:36 and only 8 seconds off a 5k PB. It didn't particularly feel fast, especially with the uphill sections, and we all know that uphill isn't my forte but, I must have made up the time on the long downhill stretch.

I did like the course although I'm not really a fan of running laps, but I hope to be back again at the end of May when it is my intention to run the Ocean City half marathon in Plymouth. 

Jenny met me on Wednesday evening for another Fartlek session, so it was back to the Riverfront in Newport to run the Parkrun course, and this time we ran at a steady pace up to the George St. bridge, then we picked up the pace until reaching the SDR bridge where we dropped back to an easy chatting pace up to the turn around point and back to the SDR bridge, where we picked up the pace again until reaching the George St. bridge, then an easy pace back to the Wave, our starting point.

You can see from my heart race analysis the peaks and troughs, with a little sprint finish at the end just to finish off.

We have one session left to do before we take a break for the Christmas and New Year celebrations, so I'm thinking that it's time to toughen things up a little and do some hills, which will be as beneficial to me as well as Jenny, but don't tell Jenny, it'll be our secret. 😉

The Weekly Runnin'tg Roundup # 3

It has been another busy week running wise, but then every week is busy at the moment. Friday Core Session This was my first proper worko...