Short Sunday run

The alarm was set for 7.30 this morning and I woke up ten minutes before it went off and went downstairs to find it was only twenty past six.  But I minded not, as it was a stunningly beautiful morning and the extra hour meant that I got to sit outside in the teahouse with my quadspresso and read the paper.

I duly met Andy & Paula at Jack & Jill and we were joined this morning by Ade and Garth, both of whom are also signed up for the Brighton marathon.  We contemplated a tortuous route across to Wolstenbury and all points West, but settled for a more straightforward out and back so that Ade could easily turn round at any point… this being one of his first runs after a long absence.

It was clearly going to be a hot day, but a brisk southerly kept us at a great temperature for running.  We ran along to Blackcap and the views were stunning… even if my panning suggests major tectonic activity!



It took us 47 minutes to get to Blackcap and we then set about trying to catch Ade, who had turned around early.  This was easier said than done, as he had a good head start and he wasn’t any much slower than us!

En route back we stopped to find out what the radio hams were doing on the Beacon, other than listening to the cricket and then caught up with Kjell and Gill from Burgess Hill Runners, out for a gentle run with their dog.

As we neared the end, Paula scooted into the distance on her bike and Garth also disappeared ahead on his younger legs.  Andy and I did our best to catch him, careering down the hill like madmen.  We reeled him in but he was  fast and was clearly not even trying, as he took the slower route around the windmills.  This left the way open for us to be sitting on the wall by the cars when he sauntered up.  Little things!

The distance was about 15km, or 9.35 miles and it had taken us 1 hour 35 minutes… at a pretty consistent, conversational 5.9mph, as it took us almost exactly the same 47 minutes each way.  So a short run for a Sunday, but it was warming up and I was still pooped, so that was okay.

Ade David Andy Paula Garth

A hill or three before breakfast

Daren, Andy and I met at Jack & Jill windmills this morning for a quick run before (a late) breakfast.  It was a beautiful morning, as can be seen from the photos.

The view from the hill

We ran up to the top of the first hill and left down the tank tracks to the gate at the bottom.  We made out to Andy that the gate was locked and ran back up the tank tracks to the top.

Despite being knackered towards the top, the testosterone still kicked in and Andy & I ended up sprinting for the gate!  Meanwhile Mister P was much more circumspect and gracefully gave me just enough time to take a photo of him.

The big man cometh

Gluttons for punishment, we dropped down Burnhouse Bostal with a view to coming back up that too, but on reaching the bottom changed our mind & ran along Underhill Lane to go up the Beacon path instead.

This time Andy left nothing to chance and gently pulled away from us towards the top, saving all of us some energy!

Short rest at top

We then pottered gently back along the top of the Downs to the cars.  All in all a thoroughly enjoyable run with a gratifying height gain of over 340 metres!

Our 6.25 mile (just over 10k) run took us one hour 17 minutes (4.87mph), which was clearly slightly slower than the 13.88mph of Kenenisa Bekele from Ethiopia who ran 10k in under 27 minutes in the World Championships in Berlin yesterday.

However, for the race to be a little more equal we would need to tilt his 400m running track to have one end 5m higher than the other and then make the surface a lot less pristine… let’s see him do 60-odd laps of that!

Speaking of which, Cliff & Pete are off to do some crazy race next weekend where they will have a gain in height of about 60 times our run today whilst completing a third of the distance I have run in the last year!  I have to sit down just to think about it!  Good luck boys!

Ooops… I almost forgot.

Caption competition... comments welcome!

Six go to Stamner

The six sans NikkiThe Stamner Six

This morning I drove down to Stamner Park to go for a run with a bunch of friends… Cliff, Andy, Paula, Nikki and the ever elusive Daren, whose head I seem to have squished in order to get Nikki & Cliff in!

You’ll notice a couple of things from the photos below… Cliff is wearing a red shirt to match his red shoes , whilst twins Daren and I apparently share the same tailor… and quite independently bought new Omni 8’s from Kurt at Run yesterday.

Clifford the RedThe TwinsNew shoes two of four

Also of considerable note is the sheer girth of my leg (in the white socks) compared to skinny Daren’s!  How totally bizarre!

We six ran out of Stamner Park, around the back of Sussex University and on up the hill past Granny’s Belt, through Moon’s Bottom and up to the dip between the Brows of Western and Home on the top of the Downs.

We then passed Ditchling Beacon and turned left to North Bottom… which is  a very deep bottom indeed.  Here there lies a steep hill, which Andy ended up pushing Paula’s bike up, having persuaded her that Cliff must have been pulling her leg when he suggested she stick to the contours and miss out the big hole!  Freud may have had something to say about all that, but he didn’t make it along today.

Then it was back along a grassy sprint and into Stamner Park, with it’s long gratifying downhill section back to the cars.

Of course, at this point Andy & I turned around & ran back up that very same (now) not so downhill section to the limit of the park, where he carried on along the Downs back to his house.  I meanwhile turned around yet again and dropped down into Stamner Village (where I mourned the fact that I had no money for an ice cream) and ran back down the park road to the car.

11.1 miles in two hours and two minute s is not the fastest time in the world, but it was such great fun running with a bunch of old friends.

Happy Second Blogthday

YES indeedie, two years have passed since I started writing this blog and if you’ve been reading it all this time, you probably deserve a drink!  To celebrate, of course!

Without the enigmatic Bok to keep me going through the winter, my results have been down on the first year, but only a touch.  In fact, I have been surprisingly consistent.

A quick run down on the comparisons show the following:

Writing is down from 156 to 102 posts, reducing the weekly average from 3 to 2, but then the first year there were a series of posts about films (we’ve not been going so often) and about the building of the tea-house.

Total mileage is also down, but only from 538 miles to 512, a reduction of just 2 miles per month… but WOW, that makes over 1050 miles in the last two years!  And if you take out all the time in between (that I was probably sitting down) it only took me 172 hours… a little over a week!

The slackest months were January 09 with 13.6 miles and February 09 with 14.3 miles compared to 22.3 miles in February 08 but, in my defence, I did do quite a lot of swimming in that period this year whereas last year we were away ice driving and skiing.

There were five months this year that I ran more than 50 miles (plus one at 49.3) compared to 4 the year before, but the best I managed was 62.75, where there were 3 over 66 miles last year.

Overall my average run was 8.14 miles in a time of 1 hour 20 minutes… just over 6mph, and 0.1mph slower year on year.  Of course what the figures don’t show is that I have been tackling more challenging runs.  For example, more than half of the difference in the average speed is accounted for by just one run: The Blighty Grouse Grind on the 26th July.

Since I have not replaced my splodge since the beginning of July last year, I thought today would be an appropriate day to visit Kurt at Run in Hove.  And as you can see, I now have a bright and shiny new pair of Saucony runners to add to the other four pairs I have bought from Run (and then slowly destroyed) in the last five or six years.

Five generations of Foster's Saucony shoes... shoes with sole

So another great big THANK YOU to all the readers of, especially the people who have made hilarious comments and the myriad of amazing folk who have allowed me to run with them.  I sincerely hope that you will continue to both read and run with me as we sprint, energenetically, into year three!

No sweat!

I wish that were true, but it’s not!

A local girl friend of mine has a running machine and she has agreed to let me use it whenever I like in exchange for a small charge to cover running costs.

So since I’d not had a midweek run this week I tried it out this lunchtime.

The view above was not as inspiring as my normal runs, but the result was 6.2 miles in one hour and this should be a useful facility in order to help me add an extra run to my current two a week… especially as the winter training push starts to kick in ahead of our April marathon.

Who am I kidding… I’m only trying find ways to get ahead of the Pac-Man in the local men’s fitness league!

Right now though I need to replace the 336 calories I used up, along with about a gallon of sweat… I’d forgotten how warm you get when you’re not outside!

An uncommonly on-piste run

Actually, maybe this should be called a post-piste run, in view of the fact that we enjoyed several bottles of wine with our friends Phil & Pam last night… which is several more than we normally imbibe!

Fortunately I awoke with no serious side-effects and Phil & I were out of the house, running down the road, shortly after eight.  Phil was keen to stay running on the road too, which had given me a bit of a challenge as to where to take him… clearly most of the directions I go are off-piste.

We settled for a general route out across Folders Lane, down Spatham Lane, west through Ditchling and Hassocks and then north up the London Road.  Phil had warned me that he normally listens to music… and had then been warned that I talk non-stop!  I think he was wishing he’d brought his headphones with him but as it turned out the conversation was very pleasant and carried us all the way round… with the occasional beep from Phil’s Garmin to notch up another mile.

On the outskirts of Ditchling we came across a couple, with a bed-sheet, collecting plums to make jam.  Moments later I landed on a ripe plum and shot the juice up the back of my leg… from then on I kept expecting wasps to chase me.

In the middle of Ditchling I felt the need to drag us up Lodge Hill and we then did the short off-road section across to Oldlands Mill before dropping down into Hassocks on the road the other side.

When we finally got back into Burgess Hill we ran the long way round, via Leylands Road and Worlds End, to see a house that we had each owned at some point.  The current owners, or probably renters, are really letting the side down on the garden front… it’s a right mess!  I’m quite tempted to pitch up with my tools and blitz it… for the sake of the neighbours!

We were nearly home and the Garmin showed that we had not yet quite done 12 miles, so we ran along the road and back to make up the distance, Phil timing it perfectly so that we had only a short walk up the close to the house.

So, 12 on-road miles in one hour 56 minutes and just over 6mph.  Lovely run, great company and more than slightly warm… good job we didn’t leave any later!

Photos will follow tomorrow as I’m currently sitting in the garden, tapping this out on my Mac, having already had my increasingly common Sunday afternoon nap!.

Another flat run

I’m trying to remain aloof from Daren ‘I’ve run up a 1000m mountain twice this week’ Packham‘s various acerbic comments.  I’m sure that some form of bovine retribution (eg. a misplaced footfall in a recently deposited cowpat) will have to be forthcoming at some point.

I think the Girl Guides (who are in Division 2 of the Men’s Fitness League) are secretly pleased that Daren is putting some effort in again… they are tired of always being on top and are looking forward to him giving them a run for their money.  Very tempting spoonerism there!

This morning I embarked on yet another flat run… and short too.  I did my increasingly normal midweek mini circuit to Wivelsfield & back, the 5.2 miles taking me 45 minutes… just over 6.9 mph.

The weather was really strange.  At 6am it was the most beautiful summer morning but by the time I left the house at just after 7am it was cloudy and dark… like I should be expecting heavy rain.  The rain did not materialise but running through the woods I had to remove my Oakleys because I couldn’t see!

Five go to Falmer

I pulled up at Falmer pond behind a guy limbering up to go running and asked him if he was running with Andy? ‘Yes’, came the reply, ‘but how did you know to come here?’  It turned out that he had only just changed the meeting point and was waiting for a different Andy to me!

Cliff, Lydia, Andy and Paula duly arrived and we set off up the path alongside the Falmer road, Paula riding her mountain bike to make sure we kept a good pace… down the hills, at least!  Half way up the Falmer Road, the path turns left across to Newmarket Copse and you can see what we were in for.  For those keen enough to follow me on a map, Loose Bottom is in front of us at this point.

Paula had ridden half way up the next hill but we kept left and followed the South Downs Way down the hill to the main road… she had to work SO hard, for about a nanosecond, to catch us back up again, before racing on down the hill ahead of us.

On the north side of the road, the path ascends the ironically named Long Hill, which it is and at the top I found these to old men sitting down for a breather… though they reckoned they were just about to do sit-ups!

I didn’t wait to find out and after a steep descent through Bunkershill Plantation, I had a good head start up Balmer Down… which was a little like Long Hill, only longer and hillier.  About half way up I turned round & ran back down to rejoin the others and then ran back up again with them to the next gate.

Here we saved a father & son, out for a two-day cycle from Amberley to Eastbourne, from going the wrong way.

We turned left and ran down Buckland Bank, bearing right to Waterpit Hill and back down to Falmer… I make it about 7.25 miles.

Here I left the others to stretch out and set out to run for a while longer.  I went back up the Falmer Road and back across to Newmarket Copse, where I passed the original runner coming the other way on his own… I’m guessing that his Andy didn’t manage to find him after all.  I then ran around inside Newmarket Copse, trying to recall whether or not I had actually overnighted there as a Scout thirty years ago!

Then I continued down the hill to the main road as before, passing as I did a somewhat surprised father & son cycling up the other way… I have to conclude that it was they who had taken their time, as I was not going that fast!

At the A27 I turned left up the disused carriageway that serves the houses there.  It was here, in about 1980, that Ric, Tony and I were cycling, weaving around the cats eyes along the middle of the recently redundant road, when Tony ran over my back wheel.

The quiet road ended and I had the choice of running alongside the dual carriageway, or turning right up towards Balmer Farm.  I chose the latter, but having reached the trees, a horse rider kindly confirmed that the only way back across to Falmer way right to the top of Balmer Down where we had been earlier.

I tuned back down the hill & ran alongside the dual carriageway instead… not at all nice, but more direct.  When I got to Falmer I ran around to Cliff’s old house/shop, which to my surprise looked like a newly built house, or possibly two.  I then crossed the A27 on the road bridge and ran around the pond before finishing back at the car.

Two hours twenty minutes to do 12.8 miles is not that fast (5.5mph) but it was a REALLY enjoyable run.  It was a beautiful day with gorgeous scenery and GREAT company, which helped carry me effortlessly around the second loop.