Long shot

That is actually short for Longs Summer Hibernation Over Today.

I had sat inside reading since just after 6am, watching the dawn break grey and cold.  Since the ice on the car outside still had not melted at 7.30am, I left the house wearing longs, my Thurloe woolen socks, two top layers plus my Gore jacket, hat AND gloves.  Oh, and my warmer, orange mud-plugging trainers.

This possibly sounds a little over the top, but I didn’t feel hot at any stage, so I feel vindicated in my decision.

I ran a very different way today.  Out to Ote Hall then left and across to Theobalds Lane.  Almost to the end then right onto a footpath across to Wivelsfield Church.  Right after the church then left and across to the north of Wivelsfield Green, dropping down through the middle of the village and up Hundred Acre Lane.  Right into the woods and along towards the industrial estate, but then right and right again in order to cut back across behind St Georges Retreat and down to the Royal Oak.  Then back the way I normally go out.

I’ve no idea of the distance at this moment, but it took one hour 15 minutes so I would guess around 7 or 8 miles.  (Postscript – it seems to be about 8.5 miles, although I went off the map briefly so I’m not certain)

Then I walked to the office and, losing my footing on the stairs, managed to wow the four people watching as I skied noisily down to land on my feet at the bottom!

Cross fertilisation

The Clustermap logs for my two sites were recently archived and it was interesting to see the different reach of the two sites.  I’m sure that much of this is because each of the sites probably appeals to different people, but just in case it’s because you didn’t realise that I have two, the other one is at www.davidjfoster.info.

This message is particularly for those folk in, for example, the islands of Hawaii, Iceland, Madagascar and Tasmania who are obvious on a map of this scale.  Alas, I should have taken a copy of the map at a larger size before it was archived so that you could see how much the red blobs elsewhere really differ.

Hot and wet

On a day that Lew was clearly sitting in front of the fire watching cartoons, I was out in the rain wondering whether I really need my jacket on, it was that warm.  At least inside my jacket!

I was in a wonderfully thoughtful frame of mind, brought on by my continued reading of The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb and my reaching a point where he posits a definition of an epistemocrat, with which I can associate.

I think that I finally got out at ten past eleven, choosing a moment where there was a squall in progress which helped me to decide which direction I was going to run.  For the woods!  I feel very lucky to have enough woodland in close proximity to be able to run for an hour under cover, which is great on hot days and on wet & windy days.  And I guess especially on days when you are both hot and wet, like today!

I ran to the Royal Oak and up through Hundred Acre wood, where I was delighted to see all manner of walkers, young and old, with and without dogs (it was a shame that two Wivelsfield ladies couldn’t be bothered to at least flick their dog’s poo off the path though!).  It might have been windy and raining but it really was beautiful out there!  And great for the soul!

As I ran along the magical path, I realised that it was a lovely metaphor for life.  The path winds ahead through the trees and you have a sense of where you are going, but not a clear view.  There are opportunities to turn off onto different paths along the way, but the path ahead is really intriguing.  Most importantly, you have to watch your step, ducking around the trees and under low branches.  

This is wonderful if you have your wits about you, but I can imagine it not being such fun if it were dark, or you were tired, as it would be quite confusing and dangerous.  I really must take a photo to show you what I mean.

I’m always keen not to run the same route twice, as the tendency is to compare times directly and today I had the additional incentive that I knew the easy way back would not allow me to reach the hour, a kind of informal lower threshold for a Sunday run.  So I ran on past the development of St George’s Retreat and back to the Royal Oak.

Here I took a Nietzschian decision.  Rather than stick to the calm shelter of the woodland, I would cut back across more open ground, in spite of the conditions, in order to experience the adversity of it.  I recalled cold, miserably wet walks in Wales, the Lake District and Scotland when I was young.  

As I pushed on into the weather, I was surprised that it still had a draining effect on my energy and I wondered how much of this was physical and how much psychological.  Even being aware of it, I still suspect it is the latter, as once I was back into woodland I felt fine and I was not exhausted on reaching home.

The distance was 6.75 miles and the time on completion was, er, ten past eleven.  That’s strange, it took me no time whatsoever.

Or maybe British Summertime ended while I was out.

Short Thursday run

Nick called yesterday to cry off this morning’s run, which was a really good thing as I had forgotten that we had changed it to Thursdays.  I didn’t tell him that though, rather allowing him to expand on his elaborate excuse, something to do with looking after someones bored nose, which was an entirely new one on me.

I twisted my ankle in the car park at work on Monday (I am reading The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb at the moment so I really shouldn’t be surprised by this, but if you saw the ‘stuff’ that I run on and compared it to the car park, you’d probably be amazed!) so I was not super-inclined to run anyway.

Furthermore, yesterday morning was totally brass monkey weather and the thought of getting supercooled in October did not appeal.

However, this morning dawned mild again so I decided that I would take my shorts for a quick run ahead of the approaching winter.

I took the same route that I ran with Nigel Woods a couple of weeks back which I reckoned was 5.2 miles so the 46 minute time gave me a speed of 6.8mph.

Slack week, chortle chortle

I didn’t get to run last week, but I did manage to walk to work four days out of five, which is at least 8 miles in total.  Cliff was impressed, but wouldn’t let it count towards my running total… don’t know why, as I walk as quickly as he and Pete were running the other weekend!

I started the weekend with a list of tasks to do around the house, mainly because we’d not planned to do anything else.  As I cracked into them on Saturday morning, I realised that they were not chores, but rather chortles.  Discreet tasks that had been hanging around looking at me for ages, were largely straightforward and were hugely rewarding on completion.

So while Kim immersed herself in her sculpting, I was left happily mending, painting, cleaning, hanging, tidying etc.  And despite a full day on Saturday, I still managed to get out for a run.

After the bright sun of Saturday, Sunday started mild with heavy threatening clouds around the edges.  I almost didn’t run, happily reading (Nassim Taleb’s The Black Swan, a VERY thought provoking book, by the way), but then I realised I’d not have anything to write about.

Not wanting to be out for long, especially after last weekend’s 16 miler, I ran over to the Common and did a loop with several sets of knee raisers and leg flips thrown in.  Then I ran across to Wivelsfield and up Slugwash Lane, hoping to take an updated picture of the Barbie (use my Search box above to find an old picture)… alas, it’s either no longer there, or has been subsumed by the hedge, which was a good few inches taller than before.

At the top of the hill I turned left and ran past Debb’s Da’Packa’s… it was odd to hear one almost chirping (I think it was a long and worried winney) and I realised they’ve always been silent before. 

As I dropped down to Ote Hall, the heavens opened with a precursor to a long and rainy day (or so it seemed at the time) but the shower passed.

I reached the house again at 57 minutes, but I’ve not checked the map to see how far it was… 6 miles, possibly a bit more.

The weather cleared and I resumed my chortling, with Kim getting stuck into some of the tasks I really don’t like.  Overall, very productive weekend, apart from on the running front!  I thought you’d like to see how tidy the garden was though, but it was dark.

Around the page… and some

There was a beautiful mist this morning when we got up and like yesterday morning, it was clear that the sun was working away to burn it off.

The task this morning was to run a short section of path running south from Ditchling that I’d not noticed on the map before.  In order to get there I ran down to Oldlands Mill, past my favouritist house and down to Ditchling Church.  Here I noticed a path running in the right kind of direction which took me down to New Road, just outside the village limits.  It seems an odd place to dump you out, with no onward paths and I struggle to imagine who would really use this little cut-through.

I ran down the to the junction with the Beacon road and onto the path that bisects the corner.  Narrow little path it was, twisting and turning behind the various houses (and an amazing tree-house too) until it finally reached the farmland behind.  When I got to Underhill Lane and Burnhouse Bostall, the sun was just lifting the lid on the morning and the view of the scarp slope was glorious.

I maintained a gentle jog as the bostall rose, keeping going despite the gradient.  As the slope began to flatten off, there was a curious gust of hot air, like I had just walked past a boiler flue and seconds later there was another.  The world above the mist-line was HOT and the hot air was tumbling down the slope to meet the cooler air below.  On reaching the top I just had to stop (and hold the gatepost up for a moment or three!) to admire the view.

I then decided to run to Jack & Jill & return north as directly as possible.  There are very few people who would have been able to turn me from my direct return, but Mark Johnson is one of them and he was stood at the next gate in parly with a cyclist friend of his.  He had only just started (ie, he was going in the opposite direction to me) so I turned around and ran with him.  Mark keeps a great pace and the couple of times we’ve run together, the miles just fall away with a flow of light conversation.  The same was true here and I suddenly found myself at Blackcap and the one hour thirty mark.

We parted and I retraced my steps towards the Beacon, dropping down to Plumpton Agricultural College and heading north, missing the path Northeast and thus having to turn East at Plumpton Racecourse.

I reached Streat Church just after two hours and was soon heading north on the Westmeston path… and fast running out of energy.  I made it to the ford / railway before I had to walk, but from there it was a real struggle.  I tricked myself into running by counting to 30 walking and then 60 running and repeated this all the way through Blackbrook Woods and back across the Common.

When I reached the house after 2 hours and 53 minutes I was too exhausted to even stretch, which I may come to regret and even sitting here now, some three hours later, I’m still feeling pretty weak.  The speed  for the 9 miles going out was just over 6mph, but I only managed 5.5mph on the 7.6 miles return leg.  The overall of 5.75mph is actually not bad all things considered.

The way I measure my runs, when I’m not running with someone sporting a GPS, is marking the route against the edge of an A4 sheet and I can happily report that 16.6 miles makes it all the way around and another couple of inches!  This is officially my longest run since I started my blog!

Running with the Woods for a change

Nick must have introduced me to Nigel Woods at some point last year and I’m pretty sure that at that very first meeting, Nigel said that he would come out for a run with us.  And so it was that, sometime over a year later, Nigel finally pitched up at the house at 7am on Wednesday morning.

Alas Nick had cried off and I wasn’t expecting Nigel until half past, so he found me deep (actually, not so deep as that’s pretty hard work!) in meditation and not at all ready.

Still, Kim came down in her dressing gown to amuse him while I got ready and we were out at a good time.

There was sufficient an autumn chill for Nigel to initially run with his sleeves covering his hands and he confessed afterwards that he had leaden legs along that first section, but it wasn’t really that cold and the sun filtering through the trees warmed our souls… and the run warmed the rest of us pretty quickly.

We ran out to the Royal Oak, up through Hundred Acre Woods and looped around the Industrial Estate before returning down the magical path and across the Common, which looked glorious in the morning sun.

Nigel had sought to manage my expectations about his running speed over the course of the last year, but he was ample fast enough for this morning jaunt and even demonstrated a Bok-like increase in speed ahead of the finish.

We ran for a modest 50 or 52 minutes (sorry, I forget now, sitting here in the teahouse tapping away on my lap-top) and covered 5.2 miles – at least 6mph, if my maths is correct.

There and back: a tale of crazy folk

Today was the day of the Extreme Running: London to Brighton race and I felt really sorry for the runners, including Cliff and Pete, who were tackling this 90km / 56 mile monster, especially as it was the wettest day since the day I ran with Cliff and Dai out from Lewes.  It was chucking it down for hours on end and I was very glad to be inside, looking out.

Alas, I had told Cliff that I would definitely venture out with some moral support as they would be passing within miles of the house on the way through.  Short of getting a heavy afternoon cold, there was no getting out of it!

So around 4.45pm Kim pushed me out of the car in Wivelsfield Green so that I could run a section with them.  The worst of the storm had actually blown away by then and it was quite a good temperature for running but oh boy, was it ever wet underfoot!

The first thing I realised was that Cliff had some hangers on… on account of the fact that he alone seemed to be able to read the map.  Shortly after this revelation, I came to the conclusion that whoever had decided the route must have been inhaling laughing gas.  The short section that I did was blithely labelled the ‘easiest part of the course’ but even now I cannot link up the points on a map that I know we passed.  It was convoluted in the extreme, to the point of torture, added to which sections were actually under water.

Mind you, I’m sure that’s not the main reason it took two hours to cover somewhere under 6 miles.  Ah yes, I feel I must mention my fellow runners, though prefacing whatever cheeky comments I’m about to make by reminding you that in the preceding nine plus hours, they had just run 45 miles: if you have run a marathon, some 20 miles shy of this distance, you can at least begin to understand how they were feeling.

The wusses!  Staggering along like they had zimmer frames!  Even I could keep up!  Although I too would have got hopelessly lost if it weren’t for Cliff’s map reading!  Even though even he managed to miss the correct path up the scarp slope to the Beacon, involving us in a slightly more, er, direct ascent!

Actually, Cliff looked in pretty good shape and Pete, who really wasn’t, had a genuine excuse: he ran in the barking mad Mont Blanc ultra marathon only a few short weeks ago.  In this company I appear decidedly sane for a change!

Anyway, we eventually reached the Beacon at 6.45pm with the light fast fading and I let the boys motor on while I turned gratefully for home.  And as I dropped off the Beacon, I finally picked up some speed.  But by the time I reached Ditchling it was dark and I had a stark choice:  Run back the normal way, which I know to be tricky even in daylight, run back on the road despite wearing a non-reflective black jacket, or call for reinforcements, which was very appealing under the circumstances.  

I’d like to say that I ran all the way back without stopping.  I would like to, and I did.  If Cliff and Pete, along with Dave and the other hangers-on, could run the last few miles to Brighton after a completely mental day, I could hardly wimp out now.  In fact, I managed the 5.15 miles in just 44 minutes, around 7mph.   Not at all bad considering I could hardly see a thing!  Note to self though: black jacket invisible to motorists at night: it was only fortunate that I was wearing shorts and they could see my legs!

Kim finally called to check I was okay when I was about five minutes from home… the advantage of which was that the remnants of Friday night’s Bolognese was already bubbling on the stove when I finally walked in.

Repen tense!

Please readers, may I repent?  More than ten days have passed since I last ran and I’m starting to morph into a potato of the couch variety!