Monday, 17 May 2010

Training - Long Mynd 15/05/2010

Saturday afternoon presented the opportunity for a nice long slow run to recover from the sore quads after the Caradoc Classic. So I headed out to the Long Mynd and parked up at Robin Hood's Butts.

My route took me north west along the Portway over the Betchcott Hills to Thresholds. I crossed the road and had a quick (but naughty - no public right of way) skip up to the Tumulus on Wilderley Hill. The top part of the hill is lovely lush pasture which is carpeted in dandelions at the moment and looks almost yellow from a distance. There are good views, especially towards Pontesbury Hill, the Stiperstones and down the East Onny Valley.

Trig on the Betchcott Hills

The Stiperstones from Wilderley Hill

East Onny Valley

I ran back to the car at the Butts (about 5.75 miles so far) and changed my shoes: I've been having problems with my MudRocs giving me blisters and was trying some Hilly Twin Skins - largely successful but I didn't want to overdo it. Anyway the Kanadias went on and off I went. Over Pole Bank and on down toward the fantastic Callow path, but this time I left the path at the twin trees just east of Nills, and climbed to the top on sketchy sheep track through deep heather (slow going). At the top it was time for a picture looking across to Yearlet and Caer Caradoc.

Yearlet (left) and Caer Caradoc from Nills

This was followed with a nice run back, this time skirting the north side of Round Hill instead of going over the top (better path, more scenic, less effort - an all round win!), and going over Pole Bank again. Total distance 13.2 miles, 1,910' of ascent, in a nice leisurely 2 hours 30 minutes. The climbing / speed log and the splits from are below.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Race - Caradoc Classic 12/05/2010

Hi and welcome to my fell running blog. I'm far from an elite runner - a bit too big and a lot too slow - but I have been fell running for two years now and training two or three times a week (mostly) for the past nine months or so. I've just joined Mercia FR, and a very friendly lot they are too.

I want to use this blog to record my races and the best training runs, so to start with a few entries will go back in time to my first race, which was Titterstone Clee in February 2008.

Anyway, today's entry concerns more recent history, and yesterday's Caradoc Classic Fell Race. This is a straightforward (if steep in parts) up and down from the east side of the A49 in Church Stretton.

Rather tired and very old picture of Caer Caradoc
from beneath the Gaer Stone. The race descent
comes pretty much straight down from the top
towards Cwm Farm, bottom left. The ascent is
up the skyline from left to right.

The race starts and finishes at the junction of Watling Street North and Cwms Lane just east of the A49. 300m of road and about 750m around the gently rising path at the edge of a couple of fields leads to the gap between Helmeth Hill and Caer Caradoc. The route goes steeply left here, directly up to Three Fingers Rock, a pretty brutal ascent, climbing 125m in a horizontal distance of about 250m. Everyone at my end of the field was walking!

From Three Fingers Rock a series of gentler rises leads just over 1km north east to the summit (459m). The descent is initially parallel to the ascent route and about 50m to its left, but then falls rapidly to a farm lane at Cwms. After a few hundred metres this reaches the point where the steep ascent started, and there's just the field edge and road as a run out to the finish.

I started quite well, using experience from my last short race that it's better to be a bit further up the field when everyone's reduced to walking on the steep bit. However I could have pushed a little harder here which might have given me 20 seconds advantage. Pretty soon I was reduced to a walk, slogging up the steep ascent. I was quite pleased with the recovery at the top of this and ran (slowly) most of the less steep bits between Three Fingers and the summit, and turned around ahead of John N, who I've been a minute or two behind on previous races.

The descent began well, over the gently dropping grass slopes to the edge of the iron age fort where the descent becomes much steeper. Then the wheels came off! For some reason I was concentrating on one particular runner close by and didn't really attack the steep descent at all. I probably lost getting on for a minute and five or six places in not more than half a kilometre here. I then compounded this by taking it fairly easy down the track to the Helmeth/Caradoc gap, trying to recover from the shredding I'd just given my quads (still sore today). By the time I'd recovered all I could do was run the field edge and the lane in probably about 9:00 pace, with a brief spurt of energy on the lane to overtake the guy I'd been paying too much attention to further up.

Most of my training has been distance oriented recently (trying to build back some endurance after Exe to Axe) and I haven't done any speed work or specific descending practise. So I was moderately pleased with the first half of the race and a bit disappointed with the second. I know what I need to practise over the summer series...

Anyway, for the record my time was 36:34, annoyingly a few seconds short of 70%. Given that it's 3.5 miles and 880 feet of ascent, that's a good improvement on 32:41 for Titterstone Clee earlier this year which is a mile shorter and 130' less ascent. I now have a counting race for the Shropshire Summer Series and for the Mercia Champs!