Another couple of weekends in the mountains doing Dragon’s Back recces then finally a couple of weekends of not driving hours and hours across the country. Felt like a bit of a rest after 6 long round trips in the last 5 weeks.
W/C 25th Feb
M – REST
T – 8 mile lovely run with mum along the beach, through Merthyr Mawr sand dunes, and back through the warren. Easy pace with a bit of fetching and one rep each of death valley and the big supper.
W – 4.5 mile run in Merthyr Mawr Warren. Originally planned 7.5 (yesterday’s run in reverse, a bit pacier, no stretching) but rolled my ankle 2 miles in and turned back.
T – REST
F – REST
S – Dragon’s Back Recce Day 3 Part 1 for 24.5 miles and around 7000 ft of climbing (by my watch – big discrepancy with others getting about 9000ft). I went with most of the same people as the day 4 recce in February, save a few substitutions. We climbed Cadair Idris to start the day, and then had another massive climb later in the wind and driving rain. I was very nervous on the descents, even more so than usual due to my rolled ankle on Wednesday; and could certainly have done better on the climbs with 2 poles. One is completely broken, and this one semi broken but vaguely usable. I had ordered new ones but they weren’t right for me, and my new new ones didn’t arrive in time. I was absolutely pooped by the time we got to the runnable section down into Machynlleth on road and couldn’t bring myself to just go. I was getting a bit down worrying about how we were only half way through one day of the race and I would have to do double this every day for 5 days. And would only tire and slow as the cumulative effects took hold so really should make the most of anything runnable. Although there was the promise of chips on arrival… We overtook the chip shop with tired, soggy bodies and kit. A group of old ladies looked quite startled when they came in to their table reservation. That night I cooked for 11 hungry athletes including a forlorn cyclist who had been stranded by the weather on his way to Bristol to pick up his brother, and then his dad to cycle down to the alps on the start of his round the world cycle challenge. Then I fell asleep on the sofa with the dogs. Bliss.
S – Dragon’s Back Recce Day 3 Part 2. We had planned an out and back to reduce the logistics involved in car shuffling involved in a point to point, but instead of going up and down a mountain twice, we decided to do some minor shuffling and parked a couple of cars at the reservoir and headed out to join on with the official route going in reverse to get to a clear track we could see stretching off into the distance. We eyeballed it and tried to commit it to memory, then went back through a forest to try an alternative route. It was an option from a very proficient fell runner and orienteer but really not for me. What’s ‘runnable’ for one person might not be for another. I christened it “rotten Narnia” because it was sort of beautiful with a mossy floor and lots of fir trees, but the floor was actually boggy and the trees mostly bald and basically snapped and fell over if you put any weight on them as they were so sodden. I compared it to Banksy’s version of Disneyland. I asked Alwyn (who turned 65 the previous day and said he couldn’t think of a better way to spend his birthday) if he was enjoying himself. “If you asked me if there was a place I’d less rather be, I’d be hard pressed to say.” Then as we were almost out of our fight through the forbidden forest, someone pointed out a waterfall. Bill’s response? Deadpan. “Great, we can all for to the beautiful sounds of a waterfall.” Back on track, storm Freya really started to roll in. We were being battered and made a group decision not to climb the mountain with the winds picking up, and instead headed back to the cars at the reservoir. All in all 13 miles, around 1600ft of climbing, and not an awful lot of actual route covered, but some important lessons learned – I won’t be choosing the forest route on race day! (Caveat – unless there is severe weather I need to shelter from for survival).
Total Weekly Mileage = 50 miles
M – REST
T – Club run was 5km time trial, with warm up, cool down, and running to and from the club house for just under 7 miles total
W – Circuits class and very easy swim, cut short when I found my fingers scraping the bottom as the pool floor had been raised beneath me, then I got booted out for a school group
T – REST (in work too late)
F – REST (travelling
S – DB Recce Day 1 Part 1 – 18 miles and around 6000ft of climbing. This was the official Berghaus Recce weekend. We were slammed with strong winds and snow on the peaks so plans were fluid. We set out all together from Conwy castle, but the group was getting quite strung out, so after just under 10 miles we divided into two groups, one forging on aiming to get to the hostel via the race route, and the other group dropping down lower and taking a different, shorter route. It was better after we split up, because even though we got higher, the snow started and the winds got stronger, we weren’t stopping so much or for so long to regroup. The descent was a bit tricky – definitely my weakness and the group were getting away from me. We got down to the valley the other group had been aiming for, and learned they had bailed out very early. Tryfan was coming up next but we only had about an hour and a half until dinner, and less than that until sunset. I wasn’t keen to go on – really didn’t want to miss dinner with no other food available locally; and I didn’t want to further delay the others with a final steep descent, especially in the dark which would make me even more wary. In the end, there wouldn’t have been time to go via the race route all the way to the hostel anyway, so an alternative was suggested but without the route recce benefits, interest waned and everyone chose to stop there at the valley. A hot shower and dinner with a glass of red was very welcome.
S – DB Recce Day 1 Part 2 – 6 miles and about 1500ft of ascent. The weather forecast was worse today – colder, higher winds, more snow, and lower freeze level. Crib Goch was off the agenda (if you Google Crib Goch, the autocomplete suggestions begin with ‘Crib Goch deaths’). We instead headed up the Miner’s track to pick up the Snowdon Horseshoe then dropped down into Nant Gwynant – where we will camp at the end of day 1. We managed to stick together more as a group today – a few hadn’t come back out for day 2, and it was less runnable so less separation in that respect. There were moments where I just stopped and hugged the mountain because the winds were so strong. Then as we dropped below the snow line, the sun came out and it was simply gorgeous. Despite low mileage and not an awful lot of running, plus skipping Tryfan and Crib Goch, I really enjoyed this weekend! Now pondering if I can fit in another trip up there to do that little section so the first time I tackle the beasts isn’t on race day.
Total Weekly Mileage = 30 miles
M – 16 mile run divided into two parts: 1) 11 miles slow plod with a full, heavy pack including a gander at the giraffes in London zoo and 5x1mile laps of Primrose Hill (around 1000ft of elevation I think – watch said 3000 but then when it synced to strava it went down to 800ft – normally it goes the other way and I often get lower elevation than others – so confused!). 2) Then stashed the pack and joined Asics run club from their Oxford street store for a 5 miler around Hyde Park which we could maybe call Fartlek as it was quite pacey but stopped and started and did some slower loops back to fetch.
T – 4.5 miles out and back along the canal near Tottenham with 7 hill reps in the middle.
W – REST
T – REST
F – REST
S – DB Recce Day 2 Part 1 (16.5 miles) – Another weekend of high winds and inclement weather. Started with wading through a flood above knee level, then spent all day thoroughly soaked. I’m sure I’ve been drier in triathlons where a bit of hair has stayed dry inside my swimcap! We had to change the route and not pass over the Moelwyn mountains due to the winds.
S – DB Recce Day 2 Part 2 (12.5 miles) – Today we worked through wind, hail, and snow. We were making such slow progress and I was getting really frustrated because while the terrain definitely wasn’t unchallenging, there were no big climbs or terribly technical bits. I was getting cold with the unneccessarily frequent and long map checks, and clashed with the guide then got upset with myself for being intolerant (though it turned out it was not just me!) and wanted to just quit thinking about how long we had to go at that pace. Thankfully we picked things up a bit pace wise and summited Rhinog Fawr to complete the weekend, but weren’t able to get Rhinog Fach done in time. I quite enjoyed scrambling up the steep technical climb in spite of the snow, but I hated the tricky descent. Technical descents are definitely my weakness, and funnily enough Miss naggy ‘let’s all stick together’ and complain if someone picks a parallel line literally 5 metres to the right sped off out of sight. Hmm.
Total Weekly Mileage = 49 miles
M – Running club hill reps plus there and back for 7 miles total.
T – Pilates + run there and back + running club flat efforts making 8.5 miles for the day.
W – Circuits and Pilates classes.
T – REST
F – REST
S – Dunstable Downs parkrun plus a couple of laps of Ivinghoe Beacon to bag a course record on a segment I’d had my eye on. 7 miles for the day.
S – Long slow run out along the canal, met with my club and joined them for a bit, but had lunch plans so couldn’t do their full loop so turned back along the canal home alone to get to 16 miles.
Total Weekly Mileage = 38.5 miles
M – Running club loop run leading the second group so quite a slow run, but ran there the long way round and set off feeling good so pushed the pace for a pre-club 5k time trial and started the week with 10.5 miles in the bag.
T – Bit of cycling between hospitals, and a short home yoga session.
W – Short home circuits session in the morning; and 14 mile steady run in the afternoon, setting off in the sunshine, running through sunset, and finishing faster as it got a bit chilly.
T – REST
F – 6 mile evening run.
S – Aylesbury parkrun plus running there and back. It was so lovely, I ran back a really long way round with a couple of club mates, getting up to 9.3 miles.
S – 10 mile club offroad run.
Total Weekly Mileage = 50 miles.
Total Mileage for the Month = 213 miles and about 26,000ft of ascent.
Kind of scary to think Dragon’s Back being basically that distance and double the elevation over just 5 days in 7 weeks time. Though I think my watch significantly underestimates elevation compared to others, so perhaps not so bad in that respect.