Pen Y Fan

Pen Y Fan is the highest peak in South Wales and according to Wikipedia the highest British peak south of Cadair Idris in Snowdonia.  Not only that, it is also No 88 on my Day Zero List 😉 I’ve wanted to climb it for a while but I’ve never got around to it. So when one of my running club posted that he was thinking of running up Pen y Fan I over eagerly said I’d join him 😳

The day before I was so nervous about going. There would be 5 of us altogether and all of them faster than me. I thought about pulling out but I knew how disappointed I would be if I did. So I decided instead of putting too much pressure on myself to make it to the top as fast as the others, I would set myself a different challenge. If I let them run off, make the top and start coming back down then, as they passed me, I would turn around and follow them to the bottom. My challenge was to see how far up I could get before I had to turn around. 

On the day I dressed warmly but as it was pretty sunny out already I had hopes of stripping layers off. That was until the snow started to come down on the drive there!! There was a lot of nervous laughter in the car at this point. What on earth were we doing??? Then the guys started talking about going up one route and down another. That spoilt my plan. So I mentioned my challenge. I was going to keep it a secret so they didn’t think that I was wimping out by not making it to the top. As soon as I mentioned my plan G said that there was no way he was letting me come all this way and not make it to the top. They would wait for me! I can’t tell you how much this meant to me. 💕

We parked up and could see the snow on the mountain 

 I’m starting to wonder what I’ve let my self into!!

We crossed the bridge and off we went. Wow! It was so much harder than I thought! My legs were screaming from both the cold and the exertion and I could barely catch my breath due to the wind. I struggled on run/walking as best as I could. I was so in awe of the others who just kept ploughing on. 

The higher we got, the less views we had as the fog was hiding the beautiful surroundings. 


We passed a few walkers and they took pride in telling us we were mad! Lol! Says them who were up earlier than us to start out 😉

It got colder and colder and I did feel sorry for the guys who started out in shorts! Mrs C kept telling me “it’s just over the next ridge” except it wasn’t 😂 but she kept saying it. As much as I took the mick out of her for being so wrong all the time, she did an excellent job of keeping my spirits up when I could easily have said “stuff it, I’m going back down”


It was very hard going and I could easily have stopped but between Mrs C and the little part of me that would have been gutted not to reach the top, I kept going. Then finally I could see the top. A walking group laughed as I ran past them shouting “yeeeeeeeesssssssss!!!!!!!!!!” 


It was an absolutely fantastic experience and probably the craziest thing I have ever done. I would love to do it again. Although maybe not in as much snow. 

In the Company of Wolves

*Disclaimer – I was given free tickets for this event but I wasn’t asked for anything in return. I am writing this post because I had such a good time I want to share it with you. As always all opinions are my own, however, the photos are publicity shots taken by Theo Moye (Burn the Curtain Theatre) that were provided by the company after I asked for them.*

Last week the Run Director from my local parkrun offered free tickets to an outdoor theatre production designed for runners. It was based at Cwmcarn Forest Drive and started at 7.30pm. A few of the girls from my running club asked for tickets and so I did too. Mainly because I do enjoy the theatre and I thought this would be a different experience. I lived the closest to the Run Director so I went and picked up all the tickets. During the 2 days that followed my emotions ranged from excitement of doing something new to bricking myself at the thought of running through a forest in the dark!

We were asked as runners to wear red and the walkers to wear blue. We were told to expect around 4-5miles of running (2.5miles for the walkers) but apart from that I really didn’t know what to expect.

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Photo by Theo Moye 30/07/14 Burn the Curtain Theatre present a Company of Wolves.

We set off on the night clutching head torches and huddling together for warmth. We were welcomed and given hand stamps. We waited around til7.30pm when a man took us down towards the lake. There we met the priest and he was very excited that we were able to join him to witness the very special village wedding. He introduced us to the groom and told us that he would help us to warm up while we waited for the bride. What followed was the best warm up routine I have ever seen. He burst into song and had us doing all sorts of moves incuding squats and stretches as “actions” for the song lyrics. I have floated the idea that we should include the same warm up on club nights 😉

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Photo by Theo Moye 29/10/14 Burn the Curtain present ‘A Company of Wolves’ at Sharpham House, near Totnes.

After the warm up the Duke burst in shouting that the bride was missing and he was afraid she had been taken by wolves. It was at this point the runners and walkers were separated as the runners were tasked with finding the wolves and the walkers had to find the bride and return her to her groom.

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Photo by Theo Moye 31/10/15 Burn the Curtain present ‘A Company of Wolves’ at the Forestry Commission’s Haldon Forest Park near Exeter.

As we split off I wondered if it was a good thing to chose the runner group as the faster runners all ran off and I was struggling to keep up with them especially as the paths were so steep. As it got darker however, everyone tended to stick together more and we ended up running more as “a pack” so to speak. Even though the faster runners ran off at first, the slower runners didn’t miss anything as nothing happened until the whole group was together which was obviously a bonus.

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Photo by Theo Moye 29/05/15 Burn the Curtain present Company of Wolves at Longleat.

We met back up with the walkers at about half way, we were provided with hot chocolate and told to mingle and share any information we had learnt so far. The hot chocolate was very welcome as it was so cold at this point, although I was glad they had only given us half a cup when we started running again and it was sloshing around my insides!!

Peter The Priest walking with the Village

Photo by Theo Moye 29/08/14 Burn the Curtain’s A Company of Wolves, Riverside Valley Park, Exeter.

Once it was completely dark I have to admit I was quite nervous. We met a wolf lady who made us turn all our torches off and that was quite scary. It was weird. As much as I knew that nothing would happen to me/us, there were still a lot of things going around in my head. I’ve come to the conclusion that I have an over active imagination lol!

Runners Running in to the Night by Theo Moye

Photo by Theo Moye 30/08/14 Burn the Curtain’s A Company of Wolves, Riverside Valley Park, Exeter.

I won’t give away spoilers in case any one wants to go and see this production on one of the future dates but I will say that I didn’t expect it to take the path it did.

The Duke 2 by Theo Moye

Photo by Theo Moye 30/08/14 Burn the Curtain’s A Company of Wolves, Riverside Valley Park, Exeter.

Having said that, I enjoyed it immensly. I would definitely do it again. Some people said they would like to do it as a walker next time to see it from the other side but I could quite happily do it as a runner again.

The Duke Addressing the Village by Theo Moye

Photo by Theo Moye 29/08/14 Burn the Curtain’s A Company of Wolves, Riverside Valley Park, Exeter.

I did find the run get easier as we went along. Could be because the pace slowed as it got darker I don’t know. It was very cold though. Out in the forest at 10pm it gets pretty cold! I was shivering getting back in the car.

The actors were amazing. They kept in character the whole time and either ran with us or between our group and the walkers. They obviosly have a high fitness level and I’m pretty sure they have as much fun doing it as we did.

If you get chance to see something like this then definitely go for it. Even if you can’t run, pick up a walker ticket. Just wrap up warm and bring spare underpants (joking!)

It was the best fun I have had in ages! I can’t wait for the next one. 🙂

IAAF World Championships

My third half marathon done and dusted. You can read more about my first and my second in their respective posts and you’ll find they are the same route. Although very different races for me personally. In the first I was relaxed and I enjoyed almost the whole run. The second? Well that was a nightmare from leaving the house! 

I swore I wouldn’t run the Cardiff half again after the disaster of HM #2 but was convinced to have another try by someone telling me I shouldn’t leave it on a downer. Which kind of made sense. I had a discount code for the IAAF World Championship Half Marathon which is basically the Cardiff Half with Mo Farah (other elite athletes also available 😉) so I signed up. 

I was really dreading it but one of the girls from my running club said she would run with me and that made me feel a bit better. Although as the day got closer I started to worry that I would spoil her race. 

The race started at 2pm (what a stupid time that is!!) so a group of us caught the train into Cardiff and set about meeting up with the rest of our club. We dropped our bags off and queued for a wee (very important lol!) then waited around for the call to the pens.   

Once in the pens the rain came! And it rained off and on the whole race. We had rain the size of marbles, hail and sideways winds of over 20mph!! Nightmare! There was a point that I actually couldn’t see as the rain was hitting me in the face with such force and my feet got so wet they are still covered in blisters a week later!

The barrage was the worst as its open to the weather on both sides.

 Some of the faster runners in my club bragged of tail winds at this point. Unfortunately for me it had changed direction by the time we crossed over it. 

The run itself was quite pleasant. I seemed more relaxed this year and I even stopped to have my picture taken with this guy. 
   

He is amazing. He carries a full sized cross with him. It extends well behind him on a little wheel as he runs. He was very gracious to pose for photos with me. 

Roath Park tried to kill me off for the 3rd year running and the hill on the way out was worse than ever. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry at the comment on this mile marker half way up the hill!!

  
This hill defeats most of the runners! I don’t know whether it’s because it’s a pretty steep hill or whether it’s because you’ve just run 12miles before hand. Both probably!

At the top of this hill my running partner and I managed to find a second wind (we were nearly done!) and we picked up the pace. Strava was working in KM’s and the last km was our second fastest. We were on a mission! My legs were dead, I had pins and needles in my feet and I could see the blood coming out of my sock. We had to finish! 

The others had already de camped to a coffee shop as it was so cold and wet so we rang our order in as we crossed the line. Thank you Mrs C I owe you one (or is it two now??) We collected our medal, t shirt our bags and various other bits then made our way over to the coffee shop. I was soaked through. The plan was to strip the wet top off and change into the new one but I was wet right through so there was no point. We were given a poncho though so I wore that for warmth!  

Stunning isn’t it?? Hahahaha!!

It was horrible weather but overall I did enjoy the race. My time showed 1 minute slower than my best but 10minutes faster than my awful race last year. 

  
I’ve got another half booked for end of August and the Cardiff half booked again for October. I’m hoping to beat my PB in October so I’d best pull my finger out and keep up the training. Let’s hope I can keep it up. 

  

Pacing myself

A couple of weeks ago, I volunteered myself to pace 35minutes at the Pontypridd parkrun pacer day. I’ve taken part in pacer days twice before at Cardiff. The first time I got sub 32 and the second time I got my one and only sub 30. The Pontypridd organisers were looking for a 35minute pacer and I decided to give back and volunteer.

As soon as I had offered my services I started to doubt my ability to keep to the time. I still remember very vividly how hard a 35 minute 5k used to feel. This post shows how pleased I was to smash my PB and I still wasn’t near 35minutes!

The only way to put my mind to rest was to go out and run a 35minute 5k and I was really surprised by how easy it felt. I could see how far I’ve come and I prayed that it would still feel as easy on the day so that I could chat my way around and keep to the time.

I arrived earlier than normal so that I could attend the volunteer briefing and hopefully settle my nerves a little bit. This is the park that we run around.

Once I had identified myself to the Run Director I was given a lovely bib to wear and stood in a huddle with others wearing a similar bib with varying numbers between 21 and 35!

At 9am on the dot we set off and I was a bit disappointed that no one had wanted to run with me. I still kept to my 35min target though and ran the first smaller lap on my own and the start of the first bigger lap. Then I caught up with a friend who was struggling to get back after an injury. She had gone off in front of me but was struggling to keep up her pace. As I passed her I offered some encouragement and she decided to stick with me. Less than 200m further on I picked up Gemma who was also on a return to running after a break and was struggling. We ran on, me chatting and joking with both the ladies and a family who we kept bumping into.

The family consisted of a mum with 3 young boys. We had had a chat earlier in the run and the mum had said they would probably only do 2 laps as she didn’t think the little one would manage the whole course. Every time I saw them I offered encouragement to each of the boys as they were doing fantastically. There was no whinging or complaining. They were so focused, it was humbling to see on children so young. They were so determined.

As we rounded the last corner and the route drops down towards the finish line I pushed the ladies to sprint finish. As they set off in front of me, the young boys overtook me. They were flying! I shouted encouragement at them and the ladies as we came down the last straight and I was so proud when both ladies came in under 35 minutes! Perfect!

After the run I congratulated both ladies that had run with me and I also went over to speak to the boys to tell them how fantastic they had been. They seemed pretty pleased with their achievement and rightly so.

I then went home and showered and changed and later on in the afternoon I was browsing on Facebook when I saw this posted on the local parkrun page.

It really made me smile. Thank you to the mum who took time out to post this. It really made my day. 🙂

Gym? Who’s he?

Argh! I finally bit the bullet and joined a gym! My aim is to use my membership to build up some strength in my arms, legs and core and to use the treadmill when I can’t run outside. I’m hoping that the membership fee will pay for itself through improved fitness and running performance. I’m not necessarily concentrating on times but more on stamina and how I actually feel when I’m running. I tend to get tired easily and then get a poor posture when I run so a stronger core will help with that. 

I’ve been twice now since I joined end of last week and I’m starting to think I’m not cut out for the gym. 

  
I think I need to go on a diet too looking at this photo!! 

Yesterday I went with the intention of doing a quick 5k on the treadmill before I went to treat my mum and sister to afternoon tea. I put my running kit on and packed a change of clothes and shower stuff. 

I got on the only spare treadmill to find myself between two very fit runners! I sorted out the settings on my treadmill and set off. Less than 5 minutes later one of the fit guys is speeding up to the same pace as me and the other one is speeding up to be faster than me! About 3.5k in I was knackered but there was no way I could slow it down as I was wearing my running club vest and I didn’t want to shame the club 😂 so I kept going! I did 5k but it was hard work. I kept worrying about what would happen if I fell of the end! Next time I’ll wear a normal top so if I can’t keep up the pace it doesn’t matter 😂 On the upside I did manage my fastest 5k since I got my sub 30 last year. 

 
Happy with that I get in the shower to wash and change for afternoon tea. I get out and dry only to realise I’ve forgotten all my underwear!! No Knicks, bra or socks!! 😱 I had left them all in a pile on my bed at home. Thankfully I had fur lined boots with me so the socks thing didn’t matter as much but I drove home so carefully praying I didn’t have an accident and therefore revealing my underwear-less position to the emergency services! 

Maybe I’m not cut out for the gym!!!

A tale of 5 parkruns

Number 90 on my Day Zero List is to Run 5 Different parkruns. My home parkrun is classed as Cardiff although a closer one has started since I joined up. To be fair, for the amount of time I’ve been signed up, I haven’t actually participated that many times. This is mainly due to the fact that Little Lady has always had swimming lessons on a Saturday morning which has clashed with parkrun. She’s now finished her lessons as the next step is competition which she isn’t interested in. 

This has opened up a lot more time for parkrunning so I’ve been trying to go more often. 

So which parkruns did I run?

1. Cardiff 

Cardiff is an out and back route and is very flat. It was here I got my one and only sub 30 5k  and the one that I am most familiar with.  

2. Porthcawl

Back last Easter we were lucky enough to be offered a caravan near the sea less than an hour away. I packed my running stuff in the hope of running along the shore line. Then Friday night I realised that there was a parkrun in Porthcawl. A few tweets later and I found out where the start line was. I decided to go for it. It was a lot different to Cardiff as it was so open to the elements but it was lovely running along the cliffs near the sea. 

 
3. Penallta (Caerphilly)

parkrun number 3 was the newly started Penallta parkrun. This one was the hardest one as it is quite hilly and has a lot of doubling back which I’m not keen on. However it runs through a country park and has gorgeous views. The cows and the ducks watch as the group runs past as do the fishermen on the lake. Little Lady and I ran this one to celebrate her birthday. I printed out race numbers and the volunteers were kind enough to agree to present her with a medal I had provided so that it could be like a proper race for her.   

4. Pontypridd 

That was pretty much it then as I don’t really like the stress of driving somewhere I don’t really know. Especially if there’s a deadline for getting there. New Year’s Day I went to Cardiff parkrun with a friend. She usually goes to Pontypridd parkrun but this was an extra one for New Year’s Day. She managed to persuade me to go to Pontypridd the next day. 

Little Lady came to run with me and it was absolutely bucketing down with rain. We spent 2 laps dodging massive puddles and the last lap we just decided to run right through them. We were already wet by then anyway and Little Lady absolutely loved splashing through the puddles! A few of my running club were also there and fair play to them they waiting to cheer us over the finish line. Little Lady thought it was brilliant.   

5. Newport

Which left one more for me to visit. The opportunity for some parkrun tourism came about thanks to the weather. Last weekend was so icy that most of our local parkruns cancelled. Newport however, is all trail so the icy conditions didn’t affect the course. 

Saturday morning was so cold as we set off

 
And I made sure I wore my woolly socks.   

The course itself was lovely and we ran loops around this rather lovely lake.   

Completing Newport gave me my 5parkruns and I get to cross off an item on my Day Zero List. 

Since then however I have heard of a few more within an hour’s drive. Can I make 10 different parkruns before the year is out? 

Cardiff Half Marathon 2015

Back in October I ran the Cardiff Half Marathon. If you remember I ran it last year and loved it. I had high hopes for this year and was especially proud to run with Lucy as part of her 13×13 challenge.

But what a disaster it turned out to be!! We left the house at the same time as I did last year and yet hit all the traffic in the world meaning the starting gun had already gone off as we were still fighting our way to the start! Thankfully we passed one of my running club watching the start, who took our bags off us and we finally made it to the start ready for our wave to be sent off.

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Smiles of relief!

Well then it went from bad to worse. I hated every minute of it this year and could easily have given up at mile 5 which is never a good sign. I really felt sorry for Lucy having to listen to me moan the whole way around! She deserves a medal just for that!

We stopped to use the portaloo and queued for about 10 minutes. While using the facilities I noticed that my water belt had rubbed my side raw. Once I had irritated it, it really hurt. Two months on I’ve still got a mark there!

We finally finished what felt like 5 hours later and I felt sick, I felt dizzy and most of all I felt pretty disappointed in myself. Has to be my worse race ever. My watch gave me 10minutes slower than last year but it might as well have been 100 minutes the way it felt.

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Finished!

I felt so guilty for spoiling Lucy’s race even though she was gracious enough not to show it. I need to run with her again to make up for it but I doubt that’ll be an offer she takes me up on lol!! Roll on next year 😉

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