Short and sweet(y)

This morning’s run was always going to be a short one.

For starters, I spent yesterday painting more of the house, managing to complete fully two-thirds of one side wall.  I’ll have finished by next year at this rate.  I then had to go to Kim’s rental flat to try to figure out why the cistern was leaking, which involved taking it to bits several times and still only figuring out what the likely problem was afterwards.  I need to return to both of these lovely jobs at some point, but between these exertions, I woke up this morning as if I’d be starched.

For another thing, it’s about 25 degree outside.  In the shade.  And humid to boot.

All things considered, it was pretty amazing that I got out running at all, but out I did get, clunking down the road like a Transformer in need of lubrication.  I was keen to stick to the shaded woodland paths, which meant the easy route was my 5.2 mile one and I staggered around this in a less than stunning 54 minutes… slowest time yet, I think and I’m still knackered.

Oh well, back the painting then…

PS. I wrote to this point earlier, but could not post it due to a net outage,.  I can now report that no painting was done on account of my being too knackered… and tetchy with it.

Still, since Kim very kindly and painstakingly removed the white paint that I sloppily applied to the black down-pipe the other week, I did get out and refurbish some of the UPVC window frames that were dirty in addition to having had paint splattered on them.

Before collapsing in the tea-house and falling asleep.  Happy days!

Common farts

I don’t know why it should be, but whenever I think of the word fartlek I get a really clear picture of Dai Thomas first explaining it to me.  Thus he was out there on the Common this morning with me, in spirit at least.

I was off to London, so I had to squeeze in a short run and based on my realisation that I’m currently running too slow to better 3.45 in the marathon, I thought I’d better use the time working on speed.

It was a stunning morning, hot even at 7am, with a slight breeze.

Fortunately the really fast side of the oblong was in the shade and unlike previous trips to the common, I managed to do four circuits without stopping for a breather, which I thought would surely give me a better time.  For some inexplicable reason however, the overall 4.5 run still took me 42 minutes, EXACTLY the same as last time I ran it on 20th May.

And despite the breathlessness and the sweat pouring from me, this speed (6.4mph) kept up across 26.2 miles will not even give me a sub-four-hour marathon.  Oh boy!  I have a LOT of training to do!

“Hi. Thank you for calling the Brighton Marathon…

… enties will go live from the 23rd June, at 10am.  For any further information please go to  If there are any futher questions, please leave a message after the tone.”

Blah blah blah…

So, after redialling about 120 times in about 40 frustrating minutes, I returned to the website which now had an Enter Now! button.

I feel a bit of a dullard for having wasted so much time, but maybe the email & website messaging from the organisers could have been a little clearer and the voicemail message could also direct people in a more forthright way… as in ‘to enter, please go to the race entry page on our website‘.

But here’s the real newsflash:  Kim and I have entered and are now officially in training!

London to Brighton bike ride

No, don’t be silly, although I did complete it once in 1990, the year that I bought my first house.  Maybe next year?

I’ve felt a general malaise over the last couple of weeks and I would have AGAIN happily not run… but for two things.  One, the need to write and two, the fact that there is now officially going to be a Brighton Marathon next year.  Places can be booked from Tuesday and I figured that if I couldn’t demonstrate to myself that I could overcome a little lethargy, I really shouldn’t be entering.

Lifting my legs as I ran off down the road required a huge effort and I thought this was going to be a short run indeed.  Since the bike ride was on though, I thought I should at least go across and see the fun before I threw in the towel.  I ran down through the new Folders Keep for the first time (last time I went through that way it was a waterlogged meadow) and across the the cyclists route.  There were more bikes going past than I expected for 9.40am.

Then I headed for Ditching on the east side of the road, round behind all the garden centres.  It was to be a farmyard experience.  First up, the young cows, which I came face to face with as they barred my way.  Ususally cows get out of my way, but this morning it was as if I had ‘breakfast’ written all over me and followed me on the other side of a fence before pushing forward to see how I tasted.  Spooked, I backed off and they decided to show what a great team they were by heading off around the perimeter of the field.  In a thundering, tight group.  As they headed back to where I first encountered them, I picked up my skirts and ran across the field for the next stile.

Further along I came upon a small flock of lambs, who crowded around me as if I still had the ‘breakfast’ sign lit.  As I stepped over a stile they tried to reach through to take my waterbottle and as I moved it back I startled them, otherwise this photo would be far sweeter.

Yet further along I was harrassed by some chickens who also chased after me… what’s going on here?

Finally I made it to Ditchling and there was a certain irony when the Marshall controlling the traffic at the crossroads waved the cars across just as I was about to run through following some cyclists as they whizzed through the village…. ‘sorry mate, I didn’t see you’.

I think you’ll have realised that by now I was past the lethargy and whilst not running strong, I was committed to Ditchling Beacon.  I took my favourite path up, getting admiring comments from some walkers and as I neared the top I dropped onto the road rather than get tangled in the spectators.  Unused to running on tarmac, I verily zoomed up, overtaking all the cyclists that were there and getting some funny glances from all concerned.

Making the Beacon at the 1 hour 7 minute mark, I turned back around and headed down again, this time down the next track to Westmeston.  From here I ran along Underhill Lane and turned right onto a new (to me) track that took me back to Ditchling.  Via a field with some hungry horses that ambled after me.

I then retraced my steps behind all the garden centres, noting a small room with a view en-route.

As I ran down a piece of unused road near St Georges Retreat, I tripped.  I’m forever reminding my parents that they need to exercise their quads to help stop them falling over when they trip, but even my well-exercised, if tired, quads did not save me this time.  I ran forward, trying desperately to gain control with my hands close enough to the ground to touch it, but realising that a crash was inevitable, I jettisoned my water-bottle and dropped into a low and uncomfortable roll.

I lay there, laughing and busily trying to take a photo as a couple with their daughter and two dogs walked gently up.  Sniggering.  It was quite satisfying that I had at least had an audience, even though I had to jump up before the dogs tucked in to my face.

Short run back across the increasingly fuller flow of cycles and back home for 2 hours, 17 minutes.

12.2 miles at 5.3mph.  NOW I feel lethargic, although at least I can enter the marathon with impunity!

Oh, by the way…

The day before we went to the Tate, Kim twisted my arm to make her some bookshelves for her study.  They’re fun and functional and whilst they might not be finished as well as a shop-bought piece of furniture, they have been designed to satisfy one persons’ particular requirements.  Price, say £30 (although I had most of the wood that bought left over afterwards) plus a day’s labour.

Sunday 14th

Apologies for the sporadic nature of the last few posts, to do both with missed runs and missed posts.  Although I didn’t run midweek (yet again!), last Sunday fell into the latter category, primarily because we rushed straight out to meet our friends Patrick & Sarah at the Tate Modern for lunch… and I’ve then had a manic week.

What makes it doubly difficult to remember what I did is that my notes from the run go as follows: 1.48, Noel, 11 dog walkers, 10.75.  From Cliff’s perspective this might make for a prefect post, but I feel at least some more colour is required, if only to remind me what I did when I cast my eyes back over this at some point in the future.

It was a lovely morning, accentuated by the 7.15am departure time and bearing in mind our plans for the rest of the day, the run couldn’t be too strenuous.  I headed out past Ote Hall, across to the pub at the bottom of Fox Hill in Haywards Heath and up into Colwell Lane, which you may remember is a really muddy lane.  I turned off early though, cutting through to Slugwash Lane, joined the Sussex Border path for a short distance and then headed into Wivelsfield from the north via Strood Farm.

There was a slight diversion when I tracked all the way around a huge field because I missed the path… the funny thing is that it’s not the first time I’ve done it… I just went round the other way last time!

I came out of Wivelsfield on Hundred Acre Lane and I was gently running up the hill, minding my own business when a training shoe appeared silently at my left… I nearly jumped out of my skin!  It was Noel, who was out for a three mile run and therefore running quite a bit faster, but I relish company so I sped up to his pace and we chatted for most of a mile as we ran down the lane.

I then headed back across to the magical path and across the common.  Between the common and the railway line is a path that takes less than 5 minutes to run down and in this duration I passed 11 separate dog walkers.  9.00am must be the time to go out and be sociable around here!

10.75 miles took 1 hour 48 minutes, pretty much 6mph.

A less than great advert for Burgess Hill

Some 18 months ago, I commented on the signage that welcomes most people to Burgess Hill and since then have commented on it several times to the leader of the Burgess Hill Business Parks Association.

This morning I had cause to run past Sheddingdean Industrial Estate again and found that a really discreet sign had indeed been added, albeit placed after the turning on the other side of the entrance road where it must be pretty useless to someone actually trying to find the estate.  Not that you could really miss the turning as the original, decrepid monstrosity had been left in place as before, only a little more dank, dirty and weathered.

It strikes me as odd that, with an economic down-turn starting to bite, the people who should be taking a pro-active and strategic approach to encouraging commerce in our town, should allow this advert for despondancy to remain.  Aside from which, this is surely not a great advert for ANY of the businesses on this sign?

Come on Peter, can’t you bang some appropriate heads together and do Burgess Hill a REAL favour before this sign does any more damage to the fortunes of the town?

Feeling less than energetic

After a really fun but quite intense week at work, I have pretty much collapsed this weekend.  However, I was up at six this morning and sitting in a chilly tea-house by half past planning for next week.  In stark contrast to last weekend, I did not want to run and this was reinforced by how incredibly clunky I felt when I finally did jog off down the road.

It had been raining and I was not in the mood for mud, so a plan formed to run round a few pavements and go back.  I was soon enticed off down a little path however and ended up running on the paths that frame the south-west ring road.  

For a small town set in beautiful scenery, there are fewer paths than I would ideally like.  It’s easy to follow paths from Ockley Lane (and all points to the east of the town) to Malthouse Lane, but then it all goes wrong.  There is no way for a runner to safely get from there to Isaacs Lane, other than coming in to town or going for miles out into the country in a most convoluted way.  It’s a double shame, as the Triangle Leisure Centre is in the middle of this section, which means that more people drive to it than is absolutely necessary.  Just one more mile of pathways here would make it possible to circumnavigate the town and encourage a much more outdoorsey culture.

I did not have the energy for the alternatives, so I ran along the verge on the ring-road, dodging onto the road where necessary to avoid the low signage.  At Isaacs Lane I cut through the industrial Estate, behind the football club and across to Valebridge Road, going round behind Steve & Maria’s place.  I then took a detour to run past my old house, looking in amazement at the overgrown garden, before running home up Junction Lane.

My one hour 12 minute, 6.5mph run had only been 7.8 miles, but I was worn out as if I had run twice that distance.  Still, at least the sun was out, a real bonus on a day that was forecast to be gloomy.  Unless of course you were running the Seaford half marathon and wishing it were a little cooler!  Hey ho, can’t please everyone!

Have a great week everyone peops!

A most enjoyable run!

I’ve recently been sitting out most mornings in the tea-house enjoying the early morning sun.  This week the weather warmed a little and one morning I was sitting in shorts & t-shirt by 7am.  Yesterday however, I walked straight out in my running kit at 6.30am and it was already gloriously warm!

Learning from last week how uncomfortable it is running in the heat, I was out on the road before 7.15am, but it was already warm from a running perspective.

With no time pressure, I headed out to Oldlands Mill and up through Ditchling to the Beacon.  I love running through little villages when there are no cars around but I do appreciate seeing a few lone souls to say good morning to.  I was surprised therefore that the car-park at the Beacon was already mostly full – there was a gathering of 30 or so people on the Beacon itself and I wasn’t quite sure whether it was the ramblers club assembling or a church service waiting to start.  I certainly got a couple of looks as I looped around them & headed back the way I had come.  49 minutes is not my fastest time to here, but acceptable.

The sun was hot as I ran East along the top and there were several other runners and loads of cyclists out enjoying it.  The white path along to Blackcap felt longer than I remembered but I reached it at 1 hour 15 and turned back again to put the sun behind me.

I caught up with a runner who had paused momentarily at the gate and ran on back towards the Beacon with her, chatting as we went.  It is so much easier running with other people and though you sometimes end up running more slowly as a result, the time passes much more quickly and any running pains are anaesthetised.  Claire appeared to have a similar resilience to Cliff, which showed from the fact that when in training for the London Marathon, she used to run from Lewes to Brighton pier along the road… and back again.  The road element of this is significant to me, as there’s no escaping how far you have left to run!

I left Claire at the top of the Beacon at 1 hour 45 and crashed down the Beacon path and on down to Ditchling.  Up Lodge Hill, back past Oldlands Mill and back to Ockley Lane, where I suddenly felt very tired in the leg department.  I pushed on regardless and made it back to the house in 2 hours 27 minutes.  A quick measure on the map puts the distance at 15.25 miles and the speed at 6.2mph.  Both distance and speed are better than other similar runs recently.

I normally have a quiet afternoon after such a run, but instead I spent the afternoon up the ladder painting the house… and since it was quite windy, I found time to also paint the windowpanes, the driveway, the down-pipe etc!

While I remember about it, Claire is running in the Seaford Marathon next weekend, so good luck to her and the rest of the runners!