From Fan Dancing on Pen Y Fan to running in all colours of the rainbow

It was a tough week to get the miles in, some long days at work meant for a real push to get out at all. So I was pleased to have a tough event scheduled for Saturday to push my limits. Hubby and I had entered The Fan Dance, run by Avalanche Events, a 25km mountainous run in Brecon Beacons taking in the summit of Pen Y Fan (3000ft ascent) twice. This course is designed and used by the SAS as their training and testing ground, so we knew it was going to be tough. BBC news story – http://t.co/hBIGcGVYjT Didn’t think we’d make it to the start line after our supposed 3hr journey turned into 5, if sat nav told us our route had been recalculated due to traffic one more time I think we might have turned around and gone home! Pleased to say we didn’t and we arrived at the Premier Inn Merthyr Tydfil just in time for a steak & chips dinner. As we had to be up and gone before breakfast was served we tried out some our rehydrated meals. I had Bla Band potato with beef and bearnaise sauce, and Dion had the Extreme Adventure Food Mexican Chilli con carne. We needed to try these put to see how they sit in our stomachs. They both tasted great, with no ill effects. Read my review on Bla Band here and Extreme Adventure food here.  After filling our camelbaks with Nuun cola flavour and another couple of bottles of water (we had to carry 3L & have and additional 2L to hand in for the mid way checkpoint), we headed off to the start. From the start it was a direct steep incline that nobody ran, we all walked and believe me this was tough going enough! The route was immense, steep, rocky climbs followed by steep descents absolutely caned the calves on the way up and the quads on the way back down. Once over the summit of Pen Y Fan for the first summit, we went the wrong way slightly (taking in an extra big hill-just what we needed), still ended up on Roman Road where we had to be but had lost a good 10mins and quite a few places. Luckily Roman road was a rocky downhill stretch so we hot footed it along here at a blistering pace, leaping and bounding over rocks and holes, somehow managing to stay upright! This brought us to the 7.5 mile checkpoint and turnaround point. We’d seen as people were doubling back past us that I was in 4th female position with 3rd not too far ahead, so that pushed us on to run hard back up Roman Road, which was more uphill than it had felt coming down. It was pretty energy sapping on the legs and hubby pushed ahead of me at this point, leaving me to try and catch third female. I was pulling her in as she was slowing up Roman Road, but kept looking back and seeing I was catching was making her push harder. By the time we got to Jacobs Ladder for the last serious assault of ascent, I was only 100 yards behind her, I kept this distance going up this gruelling incline but once I got to the top it was shrouded in cloud and I again went the wrong way and descended the alternate path to the finish line, losing any chance of catching her up! I was pleased to hear I wasn’t the only one who’d taken this route. What a run! 3hr 11mins of hardcore mountains, definitely be back to tackle this one again. Finished off with a tasty hog roast and a special edition Fan Dance beer before a much quicker 3hr drive home!  Lesson learnt – drink! I had only drank about 200ml of my camelbak, and drank 3L of water on the drive home without needing to go to the toilet, dehydrated perhaps? Not wise, must learn to drink more, I’m normally actually quite good at doing that, not sure what made me not drink.

At the start

At the start

On route, massive ascents

On route, massive ascents

Dion on Pen Y Fan

Dion on Pen Y Fan

Finished!

Finished!

Pretty knackered all in all, but hubby got us out first thing for a 6 mile recovery run before breakfast which was painful as the quads in particular were pretty tight. Tried to ease this with the foam roller, but that was killing! I had a little 5km event planned that afternoon, so I ran another (slow) 6 miles to Etihad stadium from Didsbury, and then joined my fellow Bioticfitters for The Color Run. What an awesome way to finish a tough weekend, a fun 5km running around Etihad stadium, wearing white and being powder paint bombed every kilometre! Dubbed as ‘The Happiest 5k on the planet’ I’d have to agree! No garmin watches or chip timing here, just pure running for fun. Surprisingly the paint powder washed off easily which was a relief. I did get some strange looks wandering into Tesco being all colours of the rainbow and then some!

Me and some of the Bioticfit gang at the finish

Me and some of the Bioticfit gang at the finish

All colours of the rainbow

All colours of the rainbow

55mile week. Happy with that after a weak start. Legs have been well and truly caned, need to keep stretching them out this week ready tackle Adidas Thunder Run next weekend.

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The best laid plans…..

I was rocking my training plan quite nicely until the end of June, when my boss rings me on Friday afternoon (28th June) and asks *tells* me my assistance is required in Edinburgh, as my company is due to re-open their hotel as a newly branded Crowne Plaza hotel, and they need the big guns in, aka me. Now normally I would jump at the chance as I love a change, but leading up to my Kalahari Challenge I am pretty keen on routine. Routine training plans, routine eating, routine sleeping patterns, you get the drift…boring I know but needs must. How do you say no? You can’t, so off I go, to Edinburgh the next Monday for a week and then again the week after. I do have a serious chat to my boss to say whilst I am happy to help out & as busy as the hotel is, I must train every night and most weekends I have events booked as part of my training that I can’t/won’t cancel. We have an understanding.

Luckily Edinburgh is a great city and with the fabulous Holyrood Park with the impressive & imposing Arthur’s Seat (251m elevation) right in the heart of the city. Coming from Manchester and accustomed to running on the flat, this makes a lung busting & calf straining change to my running training! I think this is actually going to be positive for my training plan as long as I don’t let the nutrition side slide whilst staying in a hotel during the week. 
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I’m managing regular runs in Edinburgh, trying to get in a couple of 10 miles through the week before starting work, and when time is of the essence switching to some hill reps after work, a half hour of these and you know about it! I’ve also just bought some resistance bands to try and keep up some muscle tone along with press ups and burpees on the hills (which gets me some strange looks from by-passers).
As for big mileage, I had a 25mile walk for Children Today charity with my team in Manchester on 6th July, which was the Bolton Boundary walk, taking in Rivington Pike on Winter Hill. It was tough for me to walk instead of run, so this was a good training day with some rough terrain and hot temperatures.
 
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Not really big mileage, but a 13 mile run around Ladybower reservoir with a friend, Gillian Haworth, brought my mileage up For the week ending 14th July. Some great company, hills and hot weather made for a great day out in the Peak District.
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Now back to Edinburgh for another jam packed week, got to get back early this week as we are heading off on Friday afternoon to Brecon Beacons in Wales for the which is a 24km mountainous route used by the SAS for their training.  Bring it on!