Weekend 12: 11th & 12th June 2016

As a precursor to this blog, I recall being advised prior to the “run challenge” that I should “expect the unexpected”. This weekend certainly exemplified that statement, even though it is not always possible to expect the unexpected!! The weekend itself was also a paradox, which I explain later.

Saturday 11th June 2016: Pentraeth to Cemmaes (26 miles)

PAt start at Pentraethart of the wider challenge of the #MoonShadowWales challenge http://www.moonshadow.wales is the logistics of travel and accommodation. Certainly recent and forthcoming weekends will require us (Jackie {team Clio} and I {me the runner}) to travel several times from Cardiff to North Wales. Whilst we do pass through beautiful landscapes, it is nevertheless tiring (circa 5 – 6 hours depending on traffic). This combined with a “soft bed” on Friday night (I return to this latter point later) meant that on Saturday morning I was out of sorts.

My mood was not good, manifested by my intolerant and impatient remarks as Jackie was driving to the start point. Having spoken to Alex Jungmayr previously http://www.plasywern.co.uk/video/ , our mentor on this challenge, Jackie has come to understand that this is not my normal behaviour, it’s the nature of the challenge, the pressure, the foreboding……..because I know what’s coming!! I’m in my zone early mornings (I have to be) and only when I start running do I accept immediately that I’m beginning to eat away at the day’s marathon distance.

Pentraeth

Leaving Red Wharf Bay led to Benllech along Benlllech Sands. Prior to this point, I felt my left calve muscle go! It had been tweaked last weekend and gave way on Saturday morning. You can imagine what was going through my head. I paused for a moment, did some serious stretching and decided to “run through” the pain and the injury.

Arrival in CemmaesI texted Jackie who agreed to meet me at Moelfre with some “DeepHeat” spray and “roll-on”. Psychologically, this may have helped, as well as the fact that “DeepHeat” increases blood circulation to the damaged area. From here, I ran forward along the coastal path to Traeth Lligwy and Traeth Dulas. The latter inlet was impressive and because the sea was out (and I was in the mood), I traversed the Bay hugging the coast, passing Porth Bella, observing the silent outcrop of Ynys Dulas before re-joining the coastal footpath just beyond Trwyn Cwmrwg.

At end of marathon 26 - last run in red shoes
I cracked-on, heading workman-like towards Point Lynas, and then along the more rugged coastline towards Amlwch. From here the path edged Bull Bay before once again giving rise to more rugged coastline, especially onward from Porth Wen where the coastal footpath was certainly undulating. I arrived (with relief) in Cemmaes along Traeth Mawr beach.

 

Sunday 12th June 2016: Cemmaes to Holyhead (26 miles)

The alarm rang at 6.15am on Sunday morning (as per usual, 7 days per week since the Easter Bank Holiday weekend). The “soft-bed” I referred to at the very beginning of this weekend blog, maybe combined with the calve injury (affecting the disposition of my body), gave rise to my back being out of kilter on Sunday morning. As Jackie observed, I started running from Cemmaes with a very stiff gait. Some could say that I should not have started running, however, as was said by an ignominious sportsman “pain is temporary quitting is forever”.

Stretching calve muscles - day 2 of weekend 12

I ran out to Wylfa Head and then circumvented the Power Station before running on to Cemlyn Bay. I ran along the shale / pebbled beach that had been created, passing by the #Cemlyn Terns (@NTWelshCoast tweeted that 20% of Sandwich terns nest there). There was a cacophony of noise as I ran by. Running onwards, I knew that this would be relatively remote running today (compared with yesterday). And, before I forget, it was meant to rain yesterday (but was dry) but had been running non-stop today since I started (when it was meant to be dry). ‘‘Expect the unexpected’’!!!! For all that, I was enjoying the run, especially as I appeared to have overcome my “pulled calve muscle” problem and “stiff back”.

There is something about serendipity. I had run all morning and decided to call into the Wavecrest cafe at Church Bay https://www.facebook.com/Wavecrest-Cafe-319529728112875/?_fb_noscript=1 for a coffee (as is my wont). As I have explained in previous blogs, this gives me the chance to fuel-up, whilst mentioning the #MoonShadowWales challenge http://www.moonshadow.wales The cafe very kindly donated £10. My wife Jackie had arrived at the cafe by absolute pure chance and so we had a serendipitous meeting over coffee! Jackie was talking to a couple who expressed an interest in what I was doing. It transpired that they knew someone who had passed away as a result of MND http://www.mndassociation.org in his early 50s. They made a generous donation of £40. This was a “powerful stop” in many senses of the word because when I left I really motored on, uplifted by the support of the people in the cafe and their stories. The sea was out for this part of the run and so, yes, where I could I did full-on coastal trail running. It was fantastic and liberating. As I came round Cregiau Cliperau I was able to look across the water to Holyhead. In other words, I could see exactly where I was headed and that was a great spur. I enjoyed the sands at Traeth y Gribin and was able to cross the estuary prior to Y Fali. Running along the coast, the coastal path connected with the bridge (over the Stanley Embankment) leading me into Penrhos Nature Reserve, passing the “private beach” (as quoted by @AngleseyScMedia) before crossing playing fields leading me to Penrhos Beach, around Morawelon and into the town centre passed the station. Crossing the road bridge, and passing St Cybi’s Church, I ran to Marine Square where marathon 27 came to an end.

end of marathon 27 - joined Jackie in grounds of St Cybi s Church

This was an eventful weekend to say the least – but what of the paradox!! Well, despite the injury challenges, these two marathons were the most enjoyable so far!! Perhaps reflecting the intimacy, beauty, remoteness and friendliness of the place.

Also, for the athletic “geeks” amongst you, I ran my last marathon in my “red shoes” on Saturday – yes, my red Salomons – they’ve been on a journey from the start in Poppit Sands, Cardigan but it is now time to put them to one side because of wear-and-tear.

Weekend 11: 4th & 5th June 2016

Saturday 4th June 2016: Colwyn Bay to Abergwyngregyn (26 miles)

Robert ChapmanLeaving the Parc Eirias building in Colwyn Bay (or as we have come to know it – the Bryn Williams building!), it was a pleasant run along the sea front to Rhos on Sea. The early morning air was filled with sea-salt which was pleasant.

Proceeding across the Little Orme brought me out onto the road leading along the coast to Llandudno. I grabbed a quick coffee near the entrance to the pier before proceeding with the run around the Great Orme, the subject of recent debate because the National Trust is proposing to “let” the land (for conservation purposes) for £1 to a suitable candidate with farming experience. The road was closed to traffic. A brief conversation with a walker suggested that the circular route was 4.25 miles. I was wondering about this distance as a percentage of the whole #MoonShadowWales challenge distance (1,030 miles) http://www.moonshadow.wales

Rounding the Head, I was exposed to a wonderful view of Conwy Sands, yet another fantastic view on this challenge run. Today was hot so it was important that I should be drinking lots of fluid. I grabbed a quick drink in the cafe adjoining the carpark before “cracking-on” passed Deganwy to the bridge over the estuary at Llandudno Junction. Crossing the “tubular bridge” gave me an impressive view of Conwy castle, the focal point of this delightful town. Yet again, I acquired more fluid. In doing so at this stop and my various stops, it gave me the opportunity to leave a “moo card” which explains succinctly what I am doing: raising awareness of #MND and raising money for #MND #research https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Robert-Chapman12

r100

Running on from Conwy, I passed by the Marina and ran alongside the golf course heading towards Penmaen Bach point. I ran along the cycle path that provides an excellent conduit for cyclists connecting places along this part of the North Wales coast. The run along this next stretch of coast was more hum-drum. Putting my head down, I ran passed Penmaenmawr, through Llanfairfechan, and then on to the Nature Reserve carpark on the coast from Abergwyngregyn. It was good to achieve an early afternoon finish after running marathon 24 in hot weather.

Sunday 5th June 2016: Abergwyngregyn to Pentraeth (28 miles)

wra

Leaving Abergwyngregyn on Sunday, I have to admit to being tired. The challenge is relentless, in more ways than one. For example, it is neither a complaint nor a moan, but I mention it simply because sometimes people don’t quite understand what I am undertaking. Since the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, I have been running sequential marathons with the alarm going off at 6.15am every morning since then. This early morning start allows me to prepare mentally for each marathon.

Arriving at the first carpark on the Wales coastal footpath after the Pentraeth carpark, it then proceeded inland around the National Trust’s Penrhyn Estate. Mindful of the Trust’s raison d’etre, I was surprised that it could not facilitate an access across its land around the coast?? Leaving the small port at Penrhyn, I ran around the northerly coastal edge of Bangor, which took me through a nature reserve on route to the glorious Menai Bridge. What a wonderful structure. I stopped in Menai Bridge village for a coffee, again leaving a #MoonShadow card before pressing on to Beaumaris.

Yet another fine (hot) day meant that when I arrived in Beaumaris, I “fuelled-up”bulk1 before proceeding along the coastal footpath looking out over Menai Strait. Because of the height of the tide, and the poor path, there was an inland diversion for part of the way but I did return to the coast and enjoyed the view of Porth Penmon, before running on to Penmon Point enjoying the view out to Puffin Island. The well-placed cafe at this point was a good spot for an ice-cream to help me cool down.

I don’t know whether it was psychological, but there seemed to be a general incline from Menai Bridge to Beaumaris, and then from Beaumaris to Penmon Point. I was secretly hoping that the route would be level across country to Red Wharf Bay. Sadly, this was not the case!!! I was very workman like for this part of the inland path. However, I was glad when I rounded the Bwrdd Arthur fort which gave rise to wonderful (vantage point) views of Red Wharf Bay. Because of the heat of the day, I had already run out of water so at the next coastal car park I found a café. I had a soft drink on the go.

pentraeth

Circa 1 mile after this carpark, I was glad to be able to run along the low tide coast path (as opposed to the high tide path), which enabled me to run along the sea-wall……it reminded me slightly of the sea wall at Cwm Ivy, North Gower. Running on, I did eventually arrive at the next carpark on the beach (the bottom of Red Wharf Bay) where I was greeted by Jackie and Lynne. The coastal carpark at Pentraeth was a welcome sight as it meant the end of marathon 25.

PS: The unseen part of this challenge is the logistics. Having had a bite to eat in Caernarvon, we eventually arrived back at our home in Cardiff just after 11.00pm.

Weekend 10: 29 – 30 – 31st May 2016

Saturday 29th May 2016: Pool Quay to Trevor (27 miles…….actual 29 miles)

Start point Pool Quay

The dry, blue-sky weather on Saturday morning was to foretell the weather for the remainder of the bank holiday weekend: hooray! Leaving the canal at Pool Quay, I ran along Offa’s Dyke path following the river Severn taking me east of Ardleen to Four Crosses where it headed west onto the Montgomery canal towpath.

This was a pleasant level run into Llanymynech before ascending onto Llanymynech Hill. Circumventing the golf course, I headed across country to Trefonen calling into the local post office shop for a coke. Today was going to be hot so it was important to take on board fluid, even though I had my 1.5 litre water platypus. A gentleman asked me what I was doing and kindly donated, whilst a woman asked me for one of my #MoonShadow cards http://www.moonshadow.wales/

From here there was a gradual ascent up onto the Bwlch on the west side of Oswestry. The adjoining slender shaped woodland gave me shelter from the sun, as I continued to ascend to Selattyn Hill, then Craignant. From here, I ran towards Chirk Castle crossing the River Ceiriog valley before ascending the permissive path into one of the National Trust’s fine properties. Crossing parkland, I then ran along the road and fields to the canal (Pentre to Froncysyllte) before running across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct to Trevor, marking the end of marathon 21. My Polar watch indicated 29.1 miles.

End point of Pool Quay to Trevor

Sunday 30th May 2016: Trevor to Bodfari (27 miles)

Setting off day 2 - marathon 2 - of weekend 10

Alex Jungmayr had pre-warned me that this would be a “long day”. Alex’s insightful comments and advice have been absolutely invaluable on this challenge. Even such a simple statement had me thinking (mentally prepared) that today was going to be a tough challenge. The path ascended out of Trevor. I have to admit to making an early off path error near to Trevor Hall but then sometimes either you can’t see the tell-tale signs of the path, or they have become camouflaged in vegetation, or (dare I say it) even removed! Anyway, my navigation skills always bring me “back on track”, and so I joined the road from Garth as it circumvented Creigiau Eglwyseg and moved around the base of Eglwyseg Mountain.

From here, it felt like the ascent was relentless, coming off the road and running along the base of the mountain to Craig Arthur and beyond. Running out of the woodland to the north of Eglwyseg Mountain (Craig-y-Adar etc) there is a stretch of road beyond the “parking” icon on the Harvey map. I had estimated circa 1 mile before (seeing a sign and) turning left. It wasn’t there and so, perhaps impatiently, I turned left too early and traversed what can only be described as very difficult terrain: uneven, tussocky, brambly and covered with the kind of vegetation typical of poor hill ground. On reflection, this was unnecessarily energy sapping because it was hard work crossing this terrain to get back on track. Having made the mistake, at least I should give myself some credit for once again getting back on track. I joined the path about 100 metres before traversing Llandegla Forest. It was pleasant running through this woodland because at last (at least for this part of today’s run) I was running downhill and to-boot I was in the shade for a while. This led to the village of Llandegla. I had already worked hard just to get to this point of the run so it was a delight to locate a recently opened community shop / cafe in the old Church School, operated by enthusiastic volunteers. It was lunchtime-ish so I had a cheese/onion pastry, chocolate caramel and cafetière of coffee. I explained to a number of local people, who asked, that I was running around the perimeter of Wales. One lady paid for my lunch (THANK YOU), another took my #MoonShadowWales card, whilst the gentleman operating the till took a photograph of me to put it on the community FaceBook page. Thank you to Llandegla community for your hospitality and interest in what I am doing.

The caffeine boast was welcome because if it had been hard so far, it was just about to get harder still!! Traversing fields to the east side of Moel-y-Waen, Offas Dyke path then gave a new meaning to the word undulating (ascending / descending): Moel-y-Plas; Moel Llanfair; Moel Gyw; passing by Gyrn & Moel Eithinen; Moel Fenlli Hillfort, Moel Famau (Jubilee Tower 558m); Moel Dywyll; Moel Arthur Hillfort and eventually Penycloddiau Hillfort before running around the base of Moel-y-Parc downwards to Bodfari.

The short description of my journey across the beautiful Clwydian range doesn’t do it justice but these were not normal circumstances. I was moving fairly swiftly and with purpose, acknowledged by Rob Dingle (@offasdykepath ). Also, Lynne John’s book on Offa’s Dyke path described this 17 mile section of the path “as extremely arduous walking requiring much balance”. I was RUNNING and was pleased to complete this 27 mile stretch when I arrived in Bodfari. This was undoubtedly the second toughest running day of the challenge so far, and didn’t I know it.

Trevor to Bodfari was a tough day

Monday 31st May 2016: Bodfari to Colwyn Bay (26 miles)

Psychologically, albeit tired from the previous two days, I knew that today I was going to reach the coast so this was a ‘spur’. The start was a rude awakening ascending from circa 54m to circa 290m as I marched / ran towards Rhuallt. I remember thinking as I ascended (yet again) the path to the south of Mynydd-y-Cwm that it must be the final steep incline of this 3-marathon bank holiday weekend! Ha!! As I meandered along the path towards Prestatyn I was to discover another ascent through woodland to a vantage point looking down over the town. It was great to see the sea and to know that it was downhill from here to the sea-front where (near the information centre) I found the sign pointing to Chepstow (182 miles). I had achieved another milestone.

@offasdykepath , who had been a constant Twitter companion on the Offa’s Dyke section of the perimeter run of Wales, stated that it was traditional to dip one’s feet in the sea water at the end of the path. I did this with glee and was accompanied by my wife Jackie to celebrate this moment because her support to this challenge has been IMMENSE. Post sea-moment, I was ready for some calories and hydration, so I fuelled-up to run the next 15 miles “on the level” to Colwyn Bay.

It was good to be on the Wales coastal path again, and there was something soothing about being able to glance to my right from time to time to see the sea. The path is absolutely on the front so I ran from Prestatyn to Rhyl, through Kinmel Bay to Abergele, Llanddulas and then on to the modern Parc Eirias (Bryn Williams) building in Colwyn Bay where marathon 23 came to an end………….marking the end of 3 back to back marathons (circa 80+ miles) over arduous terrain.

End of marathon 3 - weekend 10 - in Colwyn Bay

Weekend 9: 21st May 2016 – 22nd May 2016

Day 1: Saturday 21st May – Gladestry to Newcastle (Shropshire) 25 miles

Leaving Gladestry on marathon leg 19, my morning wake-up call was the ascent onto Hergest Ridge at 426m. I was feeling good so moved fairly swiftly cross the terrain before descending down into the village of Kington (184m). I had agreed to meet Jackie for a coffee – she was surprised that I had arrived so quickly.

Rob Stretching before run 19

Post coffee, I skirted Bradnor Hill to the east (passing the golf club), then Herrock Hill before heading north in overcast weather and drizzly rain. I needed my navigation skills as I meandered mile after mile through “the marches” countryside, ascending then descending Offa’s Dyke path eventually arriving in Knighton, the home of the Offa’s Dyke walking centre. In the town, I took on-board a toasted sandwich (calories) and water (hydration).

I popped into the Offa’s Dyke centre before taking the very steep climb out of the town. I’m familiar with running up hills but one of my ground rules on the Moon Shadow Wales challenge http://www.moonshadow.wales/ is that where there are steep inclines I march rapidly up without stopping.

Alex Jungmayr had pre-warned me that I would see excellent evidence of the Dyke on this run and he was right, evidenced by some of the video clips. Whilst enjoying the sight of a Dyke created many decades ago, I have to admit that marathon 19 was a tough and long day. Traversing Llanfair Hill, it was good to know that for the remainder of the day I would be heading downwards towards the RV in the Shropshire village of Newcastle.

Newcastle Shropshire

I discovered today that there are very many “not spots” on this section of Offa’s Dyke and on the rare occasion when there had been a signal, I received an e-mail from Jackie to say that she and Lynne would meet me at the pub in Newcastle, meaning that I had to “go the extra mile” (literally) to get there at the end of marathon 19. I’m always relieved to finish a marathon, but today more so because I had the feeling that I was half way.

Looking back over Run 19

Day 2: Sunday 22nd May – Newcastle (Shropshire) to Pool Quay 23 miles

Start of Sunday - Marathon 20

Leaving Newcastle on Sunday morning, I was confronted straight away by Graig Hill. Good morning marathon 20!!!!!!!!! As I’ve come to realise this weekend, running along this stretch of Offa’s Dyke is challenging because of its undulating nature, made clear by the contour lines on my Harvey map (Offa’s Dyke Path North).

Welcome sign near to start of marathon 20 on 22nd May 2016

As I climbed the hill, it was good to see a sign signposting Prestatyn 88.5 miles and offering congratulations stating “you are half way along Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail”. Onward I ran into this rural remoteness, marching quickly up hills and running down the other side – an elevational difference of 150 metres. My knee caps became sore as the downward pressure began to bite again. Yesterday had been challenging as well.

Eventually, I arrived at Mellington Hall where by pure co-incidence Lynne John was staying. Offa’s Dyke passes right by this property so I was able to pop in for a quick coffee and chat with Lynne. Having reached this point of today’s run – apart from Leighton Hill – I knew I had broken the back of the weekend. The terrain across the valley to the east of Montgomery was fairly level until I reached Kingswood where I began to ascend into Leighton Woods. This is where the heavens opened! Thank goodness for being prepared and having my waterproofs. Woodland running is a unique experience but I quite enjoy it. Reaching the road at Pant y bwch (283m), I then pushed on to the Beacon Ring and mast at 408m. From here, it was downhill all the way to Buttington (I quite enjoyed the downward rush of air passing by as I moved swiftly to the River Severn). Crossing the bridge, I turned right running across a number of fields before joining the towpath adjacent to the Shropshire Union Canal. From here, early afternoon, it was a pleasant run to the finish of marathon 20 in Pool Quay…..and guess what……..the sun began to shine.

Weekend 8: 14th May 2016 – 15th May 2016

Day 1: Saturday 14th May – Bigsweir Bridge to Pandy (24 miles)

By way of preamble – it is difficult to explain really – but every Saturday (and Sunday……..and when it occurs Bank Holiday Monday) morning when I am being driven to the start location and dropped off by Jackie (prior to the forthcoming marathon run), I have a sense of dread. I know that sounds awful but let me explain. In the comfort of a warm, dry car listening to music {and feeling tired} do I have the mental strength to open the car door, get out of the car and start running “Forest Gump” like?!!!!!! It’s almost become a kind of ritual. Then, when I get moving I’m OK because I know that step-by-step I am eating away at the distance.

This weekend was no different. A quick photograph by Bigsweir Bridge and then I was on my way, up the hill by road before entering into a fine (but unnamed Woodland Trust wood). I enjoy woodland running and at this time of the year it has been great to see the woodland floor carpeted with bluebells and wild garlic. There was quite a bit of woodland running this morning but as I entered Highbury Wood I knew I was close to Lower Redbrook. As one the video clips shows, as I pause at a vantage point looking down the Wye Valley to Monmouth above Lower Redbrook, I was confronted by a stupendous vista. Yes, running is an integral part of the #MoonShadowWales challenge http://www.moonshadow.wales but it doesn’t stop me from lingering occasionally to enjoy what I am seeing and to enjoy the “moment”. Enjoyment may sound perverse for such a challenge when in the very same breath I know very well that it is an incredibly arduous challenge……….in the widest sense.

From Lower Redbrook I ascended Offa’s Dyke to the Naval Temple at The Kymin, a National Trust property where I was able to take-in panoramic views towards Monmouth and beyond. I moved swiftly down the hill from the Kymin and after a quick coffee stop in Monmouth (not far from the Monnow Bridge) moved swiftly on to King’s Wood. There’s a video clip of me running through part of this wood!

From here, Offa’s Dyke took me westwards, across country to Llantilio Crossenny, White Castle (I passed-by the remnants of the castle) and then onward to Llangattock Lingoed. Amusingly, as I came to the last style just before the village, I spotted a photograph of a pint of beer on the post. It stated: “not far to go now” to the local pub. Ha, it made me smile but there was no stopping for an ale because I wanted to crack on to the finish point of marathon 17 at Pandy.

End of marathon 17 in Pandy

Day 2: Sunday 15th May – Pandy to Gladestry (28 miles)

Start of marathon 18 - Pandy

Crossing the field(s) and railway line after leaving Pandy, I made the mistake of going left after crossing the railway line and not going straight ahead. I don’t know why? Was I on “automatic pilot”? Was my brain switched-off? Was I too tired to notice / react? Navigation or map-reading is part of this challenge. I’m pretty good normally but mistakes arise when one is tired. The upshot of this mistake led to extra mileage and a very steep climb up onto the ridge before moving towards to Hattervel Hill. When I arrived on top and started running across very uneven ground, I went over on my ankle. This was painful but I managed to run out the pain / strain. An ibuprofen tablet was already alleviating pain from my sore knee caps.

Even though the weather was fine and dry, it was still fairly cool on top as I ran into a headlong breeze. It’s quite a long ridge run above the Llanthony Abbey Valley as one runs towards Pen y Beacon / Hay Bluff. From here Offa’s Dyke path descends northwards towards Hay-on-Wye. This route was well defined. I arrived in this well-known book festival village around lunchtime, proceeding to take on board calories and fluids, before continuing my trail run. My Polar watch indicated 17 miles!

Cloud cover disappeared in the afternoon meaning that it was hotter and I was drinking more fluid. Why? Apart from the warmer weather, there was a seemingly, constant incline from Hay-on-Wye (88m) heading north across country to Newchurch before traversing Disgwylfa Hill (highest point 391m). The uphill work required more effort, or more energy and with 4 miles to go I ran out of water.

Descending from the hill, I made my second big mistake of the day heading north-east to Huntington when I should have been travelling due north to Gladestry. Having had my mistake confirmed, I ran quickly (and angrily) from Huntington to the finish of marathon 18 in Gladestry. It was good to RV with Jackie and take on board immediately my routine end of run pint of protein drink ………on Sunday after having run 30+ miles.

End of marathon 18 - actually circa 32 miles - downing pint of protein drink

Moonshadow Wales ‘Nutrition’ Challenge

We are not experts in nutrition but we have read books, taken advice from our mentor Alex Jungmayr, learnt what does work and what does not, but most importantly of all have added in foods that lift Rob’s mood!!!

We are aware though that the most common cause of ‘hitting the wall’ as they say is muscle glycogen depletion. So the diet includes ‘Carbs’ because muscles are fuelled primarily on Carbs. Sweet potatoes an antioxidant, made into nutritious soups with carrots (as they promote a strong immune system) plus hot soup was very welcome on cold, windy and wet runs. Yes, pasta meals are included in the diet but healthy ones with lots of roasted vegetables, chicken and all home cooked – no processed foods.

Breakfast after trial and error (we started with porridge) was scrambled eggs (1 egg gives 10% of daily protein needs, plus essential amino acids which help muscle repair and recovery) and mashed avocado.

We used cheese for sandwiches for the calcium and as I am told it works with magnesium to maintain muscle function. Nuts were also integral to the snacks taken on the runs especially almonds as they are high in antioxidants, vitamin E and protein. Rob also ate salted nuts as the salt was useful when he was overhydrating or sweating too much (plus salt tablets). Bananas also, as they contain potassium which is also lost through sweating.

During the run, Rob ate ‘protein balls’ which contained dates, coconut, peanut-butter, covered in dark chocolate. Also, during runs it was important for Rob to have foods that he liked to raise his morale, for example, Snicker bars! If there was a cafe stop then hot chocolate, brownies etc were taken on board – all good for the mental pick me up.

Post-run, Rob has adapted to drinking a pint of Pharma whey protein complex drink. Whey protein aids muscle growth, so 2 scoops of this mixed with water after every run. Hydration is very important, normally measured by the good old pee colour test. He drinks circa 1.5 litres of hydrolysed water per run, taking on board additional drinks as and when appropriate.

In the days between runs, food was home cooked and nutritious with Salmon, lots of Garlic as this strengthens the CVS system, chicken for protein, fresh vegetables and fruit for vitamins.  Alcohol was not forbidden and in fact Rob enjoyed a real Ale after each run and hey it does give calories!!!

So the above is not wholly scientific but seems to work for us (at least so far). Rob also takes power gels, trek bars and sport beans on every run.

Jackie M Chapman

 

Weekend 7: 7th May 2016 – 8th May 2016

Day 1: Saturday 7th May – Tredelerch Park, Cardiff to Redwick (25 miles)

Today was marathon 15. Starting where I left off last weekend, I ran down Lamby Way, the industrial area on the east side of Cardiff before heading south-east to the coast. It was raining, but not heavily. The first stretch was level and straight comprising Rumney Great Wharf and Peterstone Great Wharf, with an outward vista to the Mouth of the Severn. Before I knew it, I was on the stretch of coast path south-east from St Brides, Wentloog heading towards the “mouth” of Newport and the River Usk. The coastal path took me inland towards the Pillgwenlly area of Newport. I’d had a decent run this morning so I felt it was appropriate to grab a hot drink at “Fanny’s Rest Stop”, opposite the Waterloo Hotel and on the leeward side of the landmark Transporter Bridge. A text to my wife at this point brought forward a degree of mirth!!

The weather changed for the better from here (blue skies and sunshine) as I crossed the Pillgwenlly Bridge, running through and around the industrial areas before passing through green fields in the vicinity of Pye Corner and Nash. The Newport Wetlands National Nature Reserve was a real surprise. I didn’t know it, but following the coastal path gave me a useful insight into its scale and character. A “must” visit for another time.

From here, the path led me to the small hamlet of Goodcliff. Just before it, looking seaward, one can see the remains of a Benedictine Priory on Gold Cliff point. The path from here was fairly straight and level. Just before Portland Grounds (on the seaward side of the path), a path pointed inland towards Redwick. As I arrived in the village near the church, the church bells rang out……..seemingly announcing my arrival (ha, ha)……..but actually announcing a newly wedded couple. Marathon 15 DONE.

Day 2: Sunday 8th May – Redwick to Bigsweir Bridge (25 miles)

Traversing the fields from Redwick to join the coast, the uneven nature of the terrain “grated” on my knees (knee-caps), a forewarning of an uncomfortable morning ahead. Joining the coastal footpath, I ran passed the Sewage Works to Caldicot Moor, crossing the M4 for the first time today, edging Caldicot before crossing the M4 again. The path from here gave me an oblique view of the impressive “new” Severn Bridge before crossing underneath it on route to Sudbrook.

From here the route ahead led to Chepstow. My knee-caps were causing me a lot of pain so I was running on automatic pilot at this point. Running around the industrial estate (Newhouse Farm), the Bulwark area led me to the end of the coast path by what I believe is known as the Welsh bridge……at the end of Bridge Street. From here, I doubled back to cross the road bridge where I joined the Offa’s Dyke footpath. The transition from the coast path to Offa’s Dyke also meant that I reverted to a different map. The Natural Resources Wales (Wales Coast Path) maps were swopped for the Harvey’s “Offa’s Dyke Path South” map. I meandered out of Chepstow, enjoying some fine views of the River Wye before entering into woodland at Dennel Hill.

This woodland running led me to the Devil’s Pulpit where I was able to enjoy a fantastic view down towards Tintern Abbey. Running on from here, I discovered that I had already drank 1.5 litres of water in my platypus so I stopped at the pub in Brocksweir, downed a pint of squash in one, before running on …….taking the lower path adjoining the river. As I ran parallel to Llandogo, I knew that I was within touching distance of the finish. So, I kicked on for the final mile running until I touched Bigsweir Bridge which signalled the end of marathon 16: a tough day.

Weekend 6: 30th April 2016 – 2nd May 2016

Day 1: Saturday 30 April – Mumbles to Rest Bay, Porthcawl (27 miles)

I was joined by Rebecca John (TJ’s third eldest daughter) for the run from Mumbles to Porthcawl. I must admit to being a bit apprehensive about the run. Rebecca is a fit and regular runner, and I had visions of her disappearing off into the distance whilst I “stuck to my ground rules”, hammered home to me by Alex Jungmayr. As it turned out, we had a really good day’s running and I really enjoyed it. Apparently, we completed 26.9 miles in 4 hours 17 minutes.

It was great to have Rebecca’s (respectful) company (the running rules), tinged though with poignancy that she was joining me on the #MoonShadowWales run in memory of her father who succumbed to the insidious Motor Neurone Disease (MND) last year.

We set off from Mumbles and before we knew it we had unwittingly joined the Swansea Parkrun. Was this our attempt at a “gorilla run”??!! Ha, ha. On we ran to a pre-arranged meeting with Dr Ruth Williams @ruthrwltd at Marine Walk. I am most grateful to Ruth for her promotion of what I am doing http://www.moonshadow.wales Before taking our ‘cordial’ drink, Ruth captured a magic moment of me running with Rebecca and her son Llewellyn, with Lynne John in the background: a wonderful moment for the John family in memory of Tony John (TJ).

We circumvented the Prince of Wales Dock, with the coastal path taking us across a bridge over Fabian Way towards Crymlyn Bog National Nature Reserve. Up until this point, I had been talking quite a lot: the novelty of having a companion, but also the opportunity to explain to Rebecca why I was doing what I was doing. We crossed the old bridge over the river at Britton Ferry, and then took the “low-tide” route towards Baglan Bay. It was a glorious moment when we came through Baglan Burrows onto Baglan beach, turning left to run along Aberavon Sands before meeting with Lynne, Llewellyn & Jackie for a hot chocolate at the seaside cafe.Aberavon Sands

At the end of Aberavon Sands (Port Talbot), we turned left, passing through the urban landscape of Sandfields Docks, onward through the residential area of Margam before turning right at J38 of the M4, heading west towards Margam Moors, Margam Burrows and thence Kenfig Pool & Dunes. The coastal footpath at this point was slightly inland of Kenfig Sands beach so it was a nice change to reunite with the coast again, near Sker Point, before running the final stretch to Porthcawl, overlooking Rest Bay. An enjoyable day’s running: great weather, great coastal landscapes and great company.

End of run from Mumbles to Portcawl

Day 2: Sunday 1st May – Rest Bay, Porthcawl to Rhoose (27 miles)

I can’t explain why but today I was “out of sorts”. I was tired. Running marathons at weekends after busy working weeks is not easy, but that smacks of being an excuse. Team Clio (Jackie) and I arrived at 8.30am. Lynne arrived shortly afterwards. A friend of Lynne’s with the early stages of Motor Neurone Disease (MND) had come down specifically to meet me and to say how much he appreciated what I was doing to raise awareness and to raise money for MND research. It is such “snippets” that reside in my brain and drive me on at low points during the #MoonShadow challenge. Yes, it is not all ‘plain-sailing’.

Leaving Porthcawl, I ran across the beach below Merthyr Mawr Warren heading towards Ogmore-by-Sea. My knees were sore and I could feel the pain. It also didn’t help that I had left my mobile in The Clio! Definitely “out of sorts.” Despite this, the exemplary support & good humour of “team Moon Shadow” meant that when I arrived in Ogmore I was greeted almost simultaneously by Lynne……..with my mobile in her hand……and her daughter Rebecca. Great communication, great teamwork. The coastline from Ogmore was much more undulating evidenced by the word “Cwm” on my map. There were several of these!!

Passing Dunraven, I ran on to Nash Point (near the Lighthouse) where I had a hot chocolate at a bijou cafe before continuing on Valeways Millennium Heritage Trail, running passed the castle at St Donat’s towards Col-Huw Point, Llantwit Major. I stopped for a coke at the beach front cafe. Today had been challenging with my patellas causing a degree of pain. However, having reached Llantwit, I knew that I was substantially on the way to completing the run. I guess you would call it psychological milestones. I ran towards, and round, Aberthaw Power Station on the coastal side. I knew that I had competed marathon 2 this weekend when I spotted an inland footpath towards Rhoose station. What a relief!!! Today had been difficult.

 

Day 3: Monday 2nd May – Rhoose to Tredelerch Park, Cardiff (26 miles)

This was marathon 3 of this Bank Holiday weekend, but marathon 14 in total so far. I felt different today. Jackie dropped me off at the same point where she had picked me up the day before. I was on my way by 8.30am, down to the footpath, and then running with intent and purpose towards Porthkerry. My knee caps were sore but the Ibuprofen tablet I took after eating my scrambled egg & avocado breakfast helped to lessen the pain. The sea was out so I was able to run along the “pebble beach” onto The Knap, and then onward towards Barry Island.

Returning from the Island, I stopped for a coffee at The Pump House (Academy Espresso Bar). I was introduced to the owner who revealed that her father’s father had succumbed to MND. It is interesting. What I have discovered is that MND http://www.mndassociation.org/ is not talked about (it’s devastating impact must traumatise people / families) but it remains just beneath the surface. Yes, I hope to raise £25,000 for research into this debilitating disease https://www.justgiving.com/Robert-Chapman12/ but equally important (as I am discovering) is awareness.

I don’t know what Academy Espresso Bar put in my coffee (ha,ha) but I really moved on after that pit stop, moving swiftly through the urban & industrial environment of Barry to the coast overlooking Sully Bay, with Sully Island in full view. I rounded Lavernock Point and was encouraged by the sight of Penarth Pier. Passing the Pier, I ran across the beach beneath the cliffs (the sea was out) aiming for Cardiff Bay Barrage. At this point, the drizzly rain combined with stronger winds became horizontal rain as I ran around the coastal path of Cardiff Bay. Thank goodness for my water-proofs. Running passed the landmark Millennium Centre towards Atlantic Wharf I knew that the remainder of the run would be mundane. More importantly, I knew that I was near to the end of my 3rd consecutive weekend marathon, with the mudflats at Lamby telling me that this run was over.

Marathons 12, 13 and 14 this weekend (30 April – 2 May) signify that I have now completed ONE THIRD of the #MoonShadowWales perimeter run. Whilst there is still a long way to go, I was glad to arrive in Cardiff (where I live and work) – achieving another milestone.

Weekend 5: 23rd and 24th April 2016

Day 1: Saturday 23rd April – Llanelli to Hill End (29 miles)

Starting where I left off the weekend before at the Discovery Centre (located right on the millennium coastal footpath), I enjoyed the view across the estuary to Whiteford Burrows, Gower where I was headed.

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As a carry-over from the “aggressive” coastline in Pembrokeshire (especially North Pembs) I still have sore knees (knee caps) so the morning run was accompanied by uncomfortable pain. It is also a pain when things do not go according to plan. Passing the Wales National Wetlands Centre, I must have missed a sign so spent an uncomfortable, wasted 40 minutes working my way through bramble and briars around the boundary of the Sewage Works as I headed for the coast to get back on track. This was compounded by over-running the road run in Lougher which took me on to Gowerton before I doubled back! Prior to the start of this “journey”, I was warned that things would go wrong and that I should expect the unexpected. Voila!!

I ran to Penclawdd before stopping for a hot chocolate. I always take the opportunity to leave Moon Shadow cards in such places, which I hope helps to spread the word for the “cause” http://www.moonshadow.wales/ . Onward then, rounding Crofty heading toward Llanrhidian, enjoying wonderful views across Llanrhidian Marshes, Llanrhidian Sands and the Lougher Estuary. My enjoyment was enhanced when I had my lunch on the go (protein balls, energy gel), including an ibuprofen tablet which took away the pain for the remainder of the afternoon.

As I rounded North Hill Tor (the sea was out), I took my “runners” and socks off and walked, ran and scrambled over the marsh and the squelching, mud-banked rivulets. Bizarrely, I enjoyed the experience (the beauty of trail running) eventually arriving at Whiteford National Nature Reserve. Coincidentally, between 1985 and the very beginning of 1990, I managed a portfolio of property for the National Trust…..including this one. The Reserve is covered in Pine woodland. I rounded Whiteford Point before doubling back along Whiteford Sands to the expanse of Broughton Bay: a wonderful experience. I reconnected with the coastal footpath at Broughton Burrows and ran out onto the small island of Burry Holms before turning south and running the final stretch of a 30.5 mile day (!) to Hill End, west of Llangennith.

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Day 2: Hill End to Mumbles(26 miles)

It’s not often that one can wake up to the prospect of running along a glorious beach, with the receding waves lapping the shore. This was the case on Sunday morning 24th April, with blue skies and sunshine to-boot.

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Rounding the medieval field system at Rhossili, I ran along the Gower Coast National Nature Reserve to Port Eynon, catching up briefly with Jackie and Lynne to have a hot chocolate. Crossing the beach, I re-joined the footpath at Horton, running forward to Oxwich Point. Passing through woods at Oxwich Point, the ascents and descents were “aggressive” and my knees (knee caps) knew it. It was warm on Sunday so I took on board more fluid in the form of a coke at an Oxwich cafe before traversing the beach (below Oxwich Burrows) to

Crossing the beach, I re-joined the footpath at Horton, running forward to Oxwich Point. Passing through woods at Oxwich Point, the ascents and descents were “aggressive” and my knees (knee caps) knew it. It was warm on Sunday so I took on board more fluid in the form of a coke at an Oxwich cafe before traversing the beach (below Oxwich Burrows) to Nicholston Burrows, and onward towards the iconic Three Cliffs Bay.

I scrambled up Shire Combe to the footpath prior to Southgate where I had a lunchtime sandwich, crisps…..and an ibuprofen tablet to take away the pain of my sore knee caps. Running was easier (pain-wise) from here as I passed Pwlldu Bay, Caswell and Langland. In the latter place, I had a ginger beer (good for energy) at the beach cafe, before running to Mumbles Head, Mumbles Pier and then ending the run outside Verdi’s, the completion of marathon 11.

This weekend marked another milestone: the completion of circa ONE-QUARTER of the entire distance of the perimeter of Wales.

Weekend 4: 16th and 17th April 2016

Day 1: Saturday 16th April – Laugharne to Carmarthen (24 miles)

Saturday 16th April - Rob checking running poles before Laugharne to Carmarthen

Starting from the car park below the castle I ran passed Dylan Thomas’s boat house where he cogitated over so much fine poetry. And what an outlook from this vantage point. Today was very much an estuary-run across fields adjoining the estuary which at their edges were wet and muddy. Travelling north, I crossed the River Taf at St Clears and then traversed agricultural land as I headed south-east following the “path” as far as I was able to do so. At Pentowyn, I looked across the estuary back to Laugharne: a stone’s throw away compared with the distance I had just run! Onward then to Wharley Point (National Trust property) where I enjoyed spectacular views across to Worm’s Head, Gower before arriving at Scott’s Bay (and the beach) by St Anthony’s Cottage. This is where I ran along the beach to Llanstephan, stopping for a welcome hot chocolate.

The run from Llanstephan to Carmarthen was uninspiring simply because the “coastal footpath” was anything but as it traversed roads and fields some distance from the estuary.Rob arriving in Carmathen

Day 2: Sunday 17th April: Carmarthen to Llanelli (27 miles)

Jackie (team Clio) has been a “rock” in helping with logistics, food, clean kit (and sometimes the ‘moods’ of a runner under stress) etc while I have concentrated on the running. I stepped out of the car in Carmarthen and actually didn’t want to run today. It was one of those moments and I was “out of sorts” with myself. It didn’t help either that my ‘nano’ (music player) wasn’t working. And my knee caps were sore (still recovering from the undulating coastline in Pembrokeshire). I ran through Croesyceilog to Ferryside (circa 8+ miles) and wasn’t particularly in a good place. Some food, coffee and an ibuprofen tablet helped immensely because the pain eased away and I was able to focus on running again without pain. Ferryside, Llansaint (views across to Pembrey) and then Kidwelly where I had a welcome hot chocolate. Onward then, running through Pembrey Forest (Pembrey Nature Reserve), a run that seemed to go on forever before arriving at Cefn Sidan Sands. And what a moment. I was in a remote place with nothing but the most extraordinary and breath-taking views: one of those magic, uplifting moments especially after my malaise earlier in the day. I ran along the beach to Pembrey Country Park (the recreational area). Just before the coast path I bumped into Phil Cooper, a business acquaintance. What were the statistical chances of that happening! Onward to Burry Port where I bumped into Phil again. He took a photograph for his web site / Facebook page and congratulated me on my extraordinary challenge to raise research funds for MND (Motor Neurone Disease). At Burry Port, I had run out of water (my 1.5 litre platypus water holder was dry) so I popped into a local cafe for a Diet Coke. From here the way ahead was clear as I could see my destination in the distance: the Discovery Centre on the millennium coastal footpath. Yet again wonderful views across the Bay (and the River Loughor) to Gower: Llanrhidian Sands and Whiteford Burrows. I was greeted at the centre by the smiling faces of Jackie and Lynne who congratulated me on my 9th marathon run.

Final reflection: the weather had been kinder this weekend. My mentor Alex Jungmayr had thought that Saturday would be easier than Sunday. In fact, it was the converse especially as I had to overcome my Sunday morning lethargy. The challenge of doing something that paradoxically I wanted to do (as part of the Moon Shadow Wales Challenge) whereas my “being” didn’t want to. The ‘ups and downs’ of life!