Tag Archives: running

Run 168 – Bath Skyline #4

Date:  Sunday 15th February 2015 11:00am

Distance: 10.00km

Time: 58:52

Pace: 5:53 min/km

Description: So, 7:30am, lying in bed thinking do I really want to do this?  Get up, go to the club and hope I can get a lift, or get a train and taxi?  Meh.  OK, I’m up.  Let’s get dressed and pack.  As I’m on the bus, I get confirmation that a lift is available.  I get down there and have some time to find some breakfast.  Which is harder to do before 9am than you’d think.  Betting shop is already open though!

So after a ham sarnie my lift arrives.  A pleasant journey to Bath race course with someone who’s occasionally running with TACH and who lived in Germany for several years.  Thankfully it’s warmer today, so no sheet ice to negotiate.  We arrive a bit later than usual, and chat with the other SRC people and Liam and his friend are here as well.

Only 10mins before the start, I do some very quick warm ups (not enough) and pop to the toilet just in time to make it into wave 1 before 30 seconds and the start.  We’re off and I want to be quick here like last time to try to get ahead of as many people as possible before the mud bath.  I manage to close the gap to Tom and Lee for a bit, but then after a couple of km I’m sensing my lack of warm up, energy and that ham sarnie still digesting.  Slosh, slosh, slosh as I bound down the big hill.  It doesn’t seem as fast or as controlled as last time, I’m using bigger strides.  But STRAVA tells a different story.  A very different story.  I smashed that today in 1:52 at 3:27/km pace. (Which almost seems slow as that’s downhill, and I’m doing that on the flat at WISE.)  But last time, I was nearly a whole minute slower on pace.  2:21 at 4:21/km pace.  Wow! Mark, the guy from B&WAC is #1 on this segment, Lee and Tom from SRC are 2nd and 4th respectively.  Only 10s off top place, but that was done at 3:09/km! Nice work.

It’s been cat and mouse with a guy from SRC, I’m just faster on the downhill, but I pay for that on the up hill.  I try to keep jogging, but have to fell walk the rest of it.  Then forcing myself back in to a trot.  Then comes the mud.  Not so much of it this time.  I have quite a gap in front.  There are still really muddy bits, where I think I’m gonna loose a shoe.  But it seems to pass quicker than last time.  However, coming up the hill towards 5k my legs feel like they’re full of acid.  Shit, too much too soon.  Lack of prep, lack of food, lack of hydration, this is my fault.  Similar thing happened at Sugarloaf last year.  It’s flat after 5k, but it just seems to go on and on forever.  I’m dreading the woods.  Eventually they come and I’m still slow in them.  There’s no queue but I get over taken.  Despite being drier, I still don’t trust this ground.  I can’t let go on this.  Going up is still painfully (yes, lower back hurts) slow.  I make it to the top and I’m shattered.  Speeding up as fast as an oil tanker on the flat.  Less confidence on the downhill.  This needs to be under the hour, and it’s looking extremely close.  I’ve just got to keep the pace up.  Approaching the last km I’m starting to catch the SRC guy I’ve been tailing.  As we both get on the final straight I tell him we should be under the hour.  Four minutes to go.  The closer I get, the more I know this should be under the hour.  I’m certainly not comfortable, but I’m not half a second away from death.  I pass a guy who’s just slowed to a walking pace and I tell him to keep going, he’ll be under the hour!  He starts jogging again J  I make it to the finish and see the clock is 58:40.  As I pass it, I know it must be under 59 minutes.  I’m happy with that!  I turn around and the SRC fella comes in and we shake hands.  Great race.

It makes a nice change to get to the tent and be very few people around.  I grab some food and my third medal and head back to the start.  On my way, someone comes up to me and says they recognise me from Pen y Pass.  I recognise him, but it takes me a while for the cogs to turn.  Then his wife turns up and yes, they are the couple from Bristol who were also at the Pen Y Pass YHA in Snowdonia when I was there.  Awesome!  Forgot she is a member of SRC.

I get to start and the others are there.  We cheer in the other runners as usual; “Sprint Finish!”, “Go on, get him!” etc.  We cheer Liam in and 118.  Great atmosphere.  And wearing my SRC Green jacket, it almost feels warm.  Great way to end what is likely to be my last Skyline for a while.




RUN 152 – Not the Little Stoke Park Run

Date:  Saturday 10th January 2015 4:00pm

Distance: 5.00 km

Time: 20:34

Pace: 4:07 min/km

Description: Not bad. Pretty happy.  11 seconds slower than the perfect Brighton PB, but still 34 seconds faster than my Little Stoke PR PB in Nov. 17 seconds faster than fastest Aztec.  But this is the place where it counts.

Today, if I’d been in the same place mentally as Thursday night, this would have been a PB. Probably much closer to that two zero.  But Thursday and Friday eating didn’t turn out too great, and despite going to bed early and enjoying the sound of the wind outside, I didn’t get a great night’s sleep.  So I wasn’t as fired up physically or mentally as I’d hoped.

I seemed so slow to get off the mark, and the first kilometre seems harder than it should have been.  The head wind on the subtly uphill straight didn’t help.  Second km seemed a bit better and I told myself that my body and heart rate just need to get up to speed and then it’ll be easier.  It was a little, both just under 4:00min/km, until the third, when my pace went off to 4:20min/km. That’s it I thought, no chance of a PB today, and I started the fourth km with a little less fire and a little less speed.  Fourth was still slow, but steady. If I can keep this up, maybe it won’t be horrendously slow.  Fifth and final I tried to speed up a bit, put in a bit more effort.  But I’ve left my warm flat, there’s no one here physically to fight and chase with, just me and my mind.  And a few dog walkers to avoid.  It might have been better if I’d been chased by a dog, but no such luck. But the time wasn’t too bad, and the distance was quickly passing.  Try as much as I can up the final straight, over the little ramp and thankfully at 5k I have a time of 20:34.  Bloody pleased it was under 21, and under my Aztec PB.  Would have been great to be 4 seconds faster, but I can live with that.  On a good day, there will be a better time!

Lessons. People can slow you down to begin with, but they can make you faster overall.  Perhaps the slight ease off of the third km gave me breathing space to attack on the final km.  I might get this PB if I do the first 2 on pace, 3rd just off, maybe 4:10, 4:15, then try and get back on to pace for the 4th and then just give 150% until you throw up or black out on the final.  We shall see what it takes!

Clothing: So, it’s been blowing a gale here, and although it’s mild for this time of year, I was considering my clothing options carefully before today’s run.  I’ve found the Helly Hansen tops fantastic, but wonder how they compare with my merino tops.  Should I wear the merino next to skin with HH on top, or vise-versa? This article helped: http://thenextchallenge.org/comparison-base-layer-materials/.

I’ll concur that merino is GREAT for low stink.  But I don’t expect it to be so great at drying out when wet, but it’s warm and feels good next to skin.  So, it’s not raining, just windy and a bit chilly.  So put on a HH t-shirt with a merino longsleeve over the top.  Also wrapped up a lightweight running jacket with hood around the waist (hardly felt it).  And great.  Jogging out I could wrap the long sleeves over my hands, buff keeping my neck warm, running fast I could roll up the sleeves, buff wrapped around wrist to wipe away the sweat while the HH shirt kept me fairly dry.  Then at the end, sleeves go back over the arms, the buff goes on the head, and the jacket on and hood up. Walking back home in to the wind was fairly pleasant as a result.  Win.

Recovery: One mug of Cadburys Hot Chocolate = 15.5g of protein [6.8g from 200ml semi-skimmed milk + 7.7g from a serving of hot chocolate!] Plus 27.1g sugar (~100kcal).  Not to mention 0.53g sodium, or ~8% RDA. (Which surprisingly is the same as a small bag of Walkers Salt & Vinegar crisps! Go figure!)

My whey protein mix has around 20g of protein and only 2g sugar.  If I were to mix that with water, I’d be better off with the hot chocolate, especially after a winter run! Similar level of protein, but more sugar and calories, and it’s hot.  And tastes damn good too!

“All types of milk, from whole to nonfat contain 18 amino acids: all nine of the essential amino acids; six semi-essential: arginine, cysteine, glycine, proline, serine and tyrosine; and three nonessential: alanine, aspartic acid and glutamic acid. These are the same amino acids found in eggs.” – http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/amino-acids-contained-milk-eggs-3992.html

Looking at the back of the whey protein tub, there’s a load of amino acids on there.  And I usually mix the strawberry flavour with milk anyways, which would give me 35g of protein in a glass.  But if I’m on a run away from home, but near a café, I’ll be trying to order a hot chocolate, if not a latte.  Maybe I’ll have a protein shake with milk after a particularly punishing run, or when I want something cool and refreshing.  And who knows, I may get a tub of chocolate whey protein and add a scoop and experiment.

Looking at the Twining Swiss Hot Chocolate info, it also contains a load of vitamins and minerals crucial for metabolism of carbs, proteins and fats, as well as ATP release. We’re talking around 30% of RDA! Looks like I’ll be defecting to Twinings Swiss Hot Chocolate as my recovery drink of choice this winter!

Keep warm.  Keep running.


2015 – Goals and Race Calendar


Sub 20 5k
Sub 40 10k
Sub 1:30 Half Marathon
Sub 3:30 Marathon
Complete 12 Marathons
First Ultra-Marathon Race (75km)
Complete the “Big Three” British Mountain Races: Scafell Pike Marathon, Snowdon Race, Ben Nevis Race
Run Mount Olympus!

18 of 53 weekends already “Race Weekends”. Still to be included are the Blaise Blazers, Towpath, Relish Cheddar and Bath Running Festival races. I’m sure the summer will fill out with more marathons, club races, fast half marathons and hiking, biking, scrambling, climbing weekends! Following Athens, I’ve realised that if I dream of travelling the world and running sky and ultra races, I need to step things up!

I need to be faster. I know I can do those times, I just need to prove it by action. And that should improve my fitness. End of 2014 saw me shave a minute off my 5k PB down to 20:23. Two days later I ran 75km, besting my distance by over 30km! (So much for the 10% rule.) Having completed the original Athens Marathon, Portsmouth Coastal and Greenman in the space of 7 weeks, I want to build myself up over the next year, so that running marathon distance is a regular thing, so that 2016 I can start hitting the international sky and ultra races.

And ultimately, I want to run higher. Since a kid, I’ve been fascinated by the sky, the clouds and beautiful views. Those trails and summits are really calling to me! What better way than running up into them? Olympus (2919m) and Teide (3718m) are two mountains I want to run in the next couple of years. My first run was to discover if I could one day run 10km. I found out very quickly I can. The question for me now is whether I will one day run Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc or Western States 100. Every step of every run gets me closer to my dreams.

So dream big people!


Week 01
Week 02
Week 03 – Sun 18th – Bath Skyline 10k Trail #3 – ENTERED
Week 04 – Sun 24th – Rok The Stones Trail Marathon – ENTERED Week 05 – Tue 27th – Aztec West Fast 5k


Week 06
Week 07 – Sun 15th – Bath Skyline 10k Trail Race #4 – ENTERED
Week 08 – Sun 27th – Heartbreaker Trail Marathon – ENTERED
Week 09 – Tue 24th – Aztec West Fast 5k


Week 10 – Sat 7th – Green Man Ultra-Marathon – ENTERED
Week 11
Week 12 – Sun 22nd – Bath Two Tunnels 10k #1 – ENTERED
Week 13


Week 14 – Sat 4th – Sugar Loaf Mountain Race
Week 15
Week 16
Week 17 – Sun 26th – Hamburg Marathon – ENTERED
Week 18


Week 19 – Sun 10th – Bath Two Tunnels 10k #2 – ENTERED
Week 20 – Fri 15th – Towpath Series 10k #1 – ENTERED
Week 21
Week 22 – Sun 31st – Bristol 10k – ENTERED


Week 23 – Sun 7th – Scafell Pike Mountain Marathon – ENTERED Week 24 – Fri 12th – Towpath Series 10k #2 – ENTERED
Week 25
Week 26 – Sun 28th – Mount Olympus Marathon – SPECTATOR / VOLUNTEER
Week 27


Week 27 – Fri 3rd – Towpath Series 10k #3 – ENTERED
Week 28 – Sun 12th – Bath Two Tunnels 10k – ENTERED
Week 29 – Sat 18th – Snowdon Mountain Race
Week 30
Week 31


Week 32 – Fri 7th – Towpath Series 10k #4 – ENTERED
Week 33
Week 34
Week 35 – Fri 28th – Towpath Series 5k #5 – ENTERED
– Sun 30th – Severn Bridge Half Marathon – ENTERED


Week 36 – Sat 5th – Ben Nevis Mountain Race
Week 37 – Sun 13th – Bristol Half Marathon – ENTERED
Week 38 – Sun 20th – Bath Two Tunnels 10k #4 – ENTERED
Week 39
Week 40


Week 41
Week 42
Week 43 – 25th – Bristol and Bath Marathon – ENTERED
Week 44


Week 45
Week 46
Week 47
Week 48
Week 49


Week 50
Week 51
Week 52
Week 53

Featured photo is by Sakis Pallas:

Run 106 – SRC Chocolate, Nightingale x2, Leigh Woods

Date: Thursday 19th June 6:30am

Distance: 12km

Time: 1:06:49

Pace: 16:13min/km

Description: I felt fine on the Monday after the Scafell Marathon. Good to know for next time. But I was up in Worcester on Tuesday so the next SRC I could make was Thursday. And I wanted to do a mixture of Towpath, with technical Nightingale Valley stuff, combined with a few intervals. So I plucked up the courage at the SRC meeting to say what I wanted to do. A couple of guys joined me who were after a faster paced run. Well these guys gave me a run for my money. The interval stuff on the way out was new to everyone, and bloody tough. Made going up nightingale, not once but twice extremely hard going. I want to throw up. Just as I’m ready to head back to the club for the England game, one of the guys says he knows Leigh woods very well, so we have a cruise around there for a while as I recount my learning experience of the past weekend. Turns out they guys a fell runner. As we run back, we join another group along the Chocolate Path. The game was tense, but a fantastic evening.


Run 104 – Keswick Stone Circles

Date: Saturday 14th June 7:30pm

Distance: 12.90km

Time: 2:32:01

Pace: 11:47min/km

Description: Given the amazing scenery of the Lake District, and finding there was a Stone Circle not so far away from where we were staying in Keswick, it was hard to resist going for a gentle run this evening.

Not quite as mystical as we’d hoped, given the sheep, photographers and tourist, but still very cool. We make it back and grab a Chinese and eat it on a bench overlooking Derwent Water as the sky is still light at 11pm.

I ask what do you see when you see those hills and mountains in front? A 50:50 mixture of apprehension and excitement. For me, those thin track lines meandering up the side to the top are just calling to me. The cloud veiled summits are the goal. I want to be in the sky.

Can’t wait to get to work on them in ten hours!



Run 103 – Towpath Series #2

Date: Friday 13th June 7:30pm

Distance: 10:00km

Time: 45:27

Pace: 4:33min/km

Description: So, it’s absolutely boiling. I haven’t carbed up. And I’m running a trail marathon up the highest mountain in England in two days time. But I want that time!

Today is an interesting lesson in negative psychology, as well as heat. Having pulled such a surprising PB out of the bag a month ago, I struggle to see how I can top that. I’m almost scared to try. My close finish last Monday makes me even more despondent, and I’m worried about who may be here. Today is looking like certain failure.

But I try my best, and have to grab some water on the way round. 45:27 is slower than I wanted, I would have been more comfortable with a 44:30. Being sprint finished by an old guy from Westbury Harriers didn’t feel too great either. Maybe that’s for Monday?

But let’s focus on the weekend in The Lakes…



Run 102 – Merthyr Jog & Hike

Date: Saturday June 7th 12:00pm

Distance: 42.27km

Time: 9:36:01


Description: Yet another slog! May have miscalculated this, but it turned out to be a weekend of adventure! The plan, was to run the 40k from Merthyr, Pontsticill, Talybont, Gwaun Cerrig Llwydion, Fan y Big, Cribyn, Pen y Fan, then back along the western ridge of the horseshoe back to Pontsticill and Merthyr. Total around 6-8hours.

I probably should have got the earlier train, but starting at noon should give me enough time to get back. The run from Merthyr to Pontsticill along the Taff Trail is steady. Weather conditions are variable, sunshine and showers. That’s 10k, and I’m already pretty tired. The bag, with a few kilos worth of water makes a difference! Rather than exploring the reservoir now, I defer to see it on the way back. So up to Cerrig y Llwyni. This I am NOT running, which is a shame. I just don’t have it in me. But you get above the treeline and every meter you climb, the view just gets more amazing. I’ve never seen the Brecon Beacons from this angle and it all just looks fantastic! Pen y Fan and Corn Du looking so distant at the end of the valley. I have my work cut out!

Steam train whistles echo across the valley. I see rain coming my way. Out comes the lightweight jacket. Does the job! Then I get a bit more adventurous and curious, so a brief scramble up the rocks to peer down into the Cwar yr Ystrad quarry. Again, a complete change of scenery. I have a bit of a cautious explore down into the disused quarry. It’s like Amon Hen from LotR, surrounded by rocky cliffs. I bump in to three girls hiking up to Cairn y Bugail. But I’ve got to get to Talybont!

But it was Pen Bwlch Glasgwm that offered the first opportunity for some “sky” running. The path crosses over into the Talybont valley and weaves along the steep sides. Sheer drops to the left side. It’s FANTASTIC running this part.

The route down through the forest is slower, as it’s a stream bed that’s pretty slippery. And the Talybont reservoir is beautiful, even as a hail shower hits. But it’s now 4pm and 22k down. I realise the run is on hold for a while as I start the steep ascent to Twyn Du. To add insult to injury, a fell runner passes me on the way down. (Maybe I should have done this the other way round.)

As I get to the top by Cairn Pica a massive boom of thunder comes from the storm that’s now grown over Sugarloaf, not too far away! I’m running out of time and I’m knackered, on top of a mountain next to a thunderstorm. Hmmm. So I consider my options. I could get back down to Pontsticill and Merthyr. Or I could get to Storey and get a bus back to Merthyr. It’s flatter at the top, so I can at least get back to jogging. I find the Wellington Bomber Memorial, as I see another heavy looking cloud over Brecon. There doesn’t seem to be anything coming my way in between, but as I run up to Bwlch y Ddwyallt, the black clouds come over the top. Jacket on! I’m rather concerned that I’m on top of a mountain, surrounded by thunderstorms, with two hiking poles poking up from my bag. What could possibly go wrong?

It’s now past 6pm. The clouds clear. I can get data and phone coverage up here. I decide to check the train times from Merthyr back home. 8:30. No way am I gonna make that. I could stay in Cardiff, or I could see if the YHA at Llwyn-y-celyn. Luckily I still have their business card. I ring from the top of the mountain and they have a bed free. If I make it by 10pm, I’ll get dinner as well! Now that’s motivation!

Another fantastic moment of sky running along Craig Cwareli. This time the drop is on the right. I run as close to the edge as I can, not the most sensible thing to do, but I’ve rarely felt so alive! Learning to love the exposure!

It’s a return to the Fan y Big diving board before bounding down to Bwlch ar y Fan and then a gentle walk around the back of Cribyn. Pen y Fan and Corn Du looked mystical, rising up into the cloud skirting their summits. Feeling calmer about making it back to the YHA, I’m less worried and stressed about the run, and instead I’m enjoying the amazing scenery and solitude. What an amazing thing, to be in present in this place. Calm.

I make it up a bit further and can see the cloud swirling off the top of Pen y Fan. At the top of the steps, I sit and take in the experience. Through the breaks in the cloud, I can see the cloud tops are not much higher. Feeling on top of the world. The circle of the low sun can be seen through the mist, drifting in front. It’s quiet up here.

I spend a short amount of time at the summit, as I’m keen to make it to the YHA with enough daylight. I don’t have my head torch. As I start my jog down, out of the mist comes a walker, stark bollock naked. That’s different. As I jog further down, I emerge from under the cloud and the sky and landscape seem dramatic. I get to the bottom and walk up to Storey Arms. I notice some girls wearing race numbers, and ask what they’ve been up to. They say they’ve been doing a 30k walk. They ask what I’m doing, and I tell them I’m doing a 40k jog and hope to make it to the YHA. They give me some giant chocolate buttons to spur me on 🙂

I pass a couple of wild horses along the track to the YHA, but the light is good. Across the field and the bridge I’m so glad to get to the YHA door! What an amazing place this is. I have a dorm to myself, I can borrow a towel to have a shower, fish and chips for dinner. What a fantastic end to a great day of running and amazing scenery. And despite feeling like a failure, I’ve managed 42k, marathon distance, with 1,500m ascent in 9 and a half hours. Completing Scafell Pike Marathon seems doable, given decent conditions!

In the morning, I end up talking to a veteran hiker. He hikes alone now, following the death of his partner. But we compare notes about why we hike, and both agree there’s something bordering on spiritual being alone in this landscape so close to the sky. I catch the bus and end up watching a film at the cinema in Cardiff before making it home in the evening. A great weekend!

I’ve leant a lot. And had a lot of fun.



Run 101 – Dresden Park

Date: Thursday 5th June 8:30pm

Distance: 7.28km

Time: 43:06

Pace: 5:55min/km

Description: My last visit to Dresden. I’ve wanted to see what the park is like. It’s been raining it’s humid and I’ve been travelling for 12 hours. So maybe I shouldn’t expect blistering times, and I need an early night, so I can’t go too far either. This jog was a combination of shopping, getting lost, and doing a very small number of interval sprints. Not very fast tonight. But it was nice to see the park.

Auf wiedersehen, Dresden.



Run 100 – Blaise Blazer #1

Date: Monday 2nd June 7:30pm

Distance: 5.85km

Time: 29:54

Pace: 5:08min/km

Description: A very special run. A very special race.

17,000m ascent

1,200km distance

135 hours spent running

100 runs

19 races

15 months of training

2 people

1 second

That’s right, after 15 months, 1,200km, 17,000m of ascent, 135 hours of heavy breathing, sweating and calorie burning, I reach my 19th race and 100th run! A century!

I wasn’t even sure I was gonna run this race, bearing in mind 24hours ago I was dragging my feet up nightingale valley exhausted, and dripping with sweat after 28k! But it was looking like a great Southville turnout, and I was looking forward to the technical off road bits. So despite the heat, the soggy mud and what little energy I had, I thought what they hell…

…It was a great SRC turnout. A warm up and a recce up those final steps to the finish, it’s time to start. Nervous, conscious of the formidable competition present. Part of the reason I think I did so well at the one last year was a blistering start and no other option but to hold on till the end. I don’t want to spend this entire race being distracted and worrying about other people. So I just edge my way to the front, and then run like fuck. Just get out in front and try to stay there!

It’s tough to keep up. One blessing is that I’m in a group of two people from SRC I get on well with. We occasionally swap positions over the undulating terrain, but we cheer each other on with “go on Southville”.

I’m still in front of where I want to be. I’m not gonna look back. I’ve just got to believe and keep running. I overtake one SRC on the long straight field, and then when we get to the final steps I overtake the other. The last few steps are pretty muddy and I have to slow a bit to get traction. I keep pushing up those last steps, but I think I must have this in the bag now. I probably ease off a few percent as I can see the light through the trees. Past the treeline, I’m onto the final flat to the finish. Nearly there.

After a slog up the steps, my mind dull, warms to the relief of seeing the finish. It wanders, thinking of the relief of walking and sitting down once through. But now there’s a knife at my back. I can hear breathing behind to my right. That’s got my attention back. I turn my head. OH FUCK!


“COME ON!!!” I scream.

I run, I sprint for my life.

“COME ON!!!”

Arms, legs flailing, saturated with adrenaline, I charge my way to that line. I’m so close. The stewards are waving at me to slow down through the funnel. No fucking way am I slowing down! I shoot out the back of the funnel like a raging bull and don’t look back. I manage to slow down before I hit the trees. But there was no one in front of me when I crossed that line!

That’s for that ParkRun!

After gasping for air like a fish out of water, finally getting my breath back, I stagger back to the SRC gang. They say they have never seen anyone sprint finish so fast.

On the bus home, I sit on the top deck and reflect. What a run that was! I was faster, but only by a whisker. I was so close to losing out on that. I walk away from that thinking that was too close. There was nothing really in that, but to me the glass seems half empty.

No let up.