On the way out to catch a movie last night, Kim asked if I was running with anyone today and the answer was a forlorn negative.  But on checking my phone having watched the excellent Salt with Angelina Jolie, there was a text from Mark asking if I wanted to run in the morning.

I’m not really sure where I’ve picked it up from, but I seldom like to suggest running with people as I don’t like to trouble them… invite me and I’ll move heaven & earth to be there.  Unless it’s any of the races that Mark was suggesting I enter… I’m not sure when they are but they unfortunately coincide badly with other things I need to be doing.

It was grey and blustery when I met Mark at Jack & Jill and I was wondering whether longs might have been a good idea, but once we got going it was okay… partially because the wind was behind us.

Mark regaled me with the story about last weekend’s Seaford Marathon (I was very busy last weekend) and we made good time chatting as we ran out past Ditchling Beacon.  At the gate before Blackcap, we turned right and ran mostly downhill all the way to the A27 at Housedean Farm.  At 7 miles and 1.06 this was our turning point.

We then turned and ran mostly uphill for about 2 miles back to the gate, before turning directly into the wind for the section along the top back to the cars, which was tough going.

The last uphill is an old favourite of mine so I found some energy to pick up the pace here, but otherwise the speed was, er, shall we say gentle.  It actually took us 13 minutes longer to get back, than to get there.

So 14 miles in 2.25, 5.8mph average (6.36mph outbound but only 5.32mph homebound) and highly enjoyable regardless.

As I sit here, trying desperately to come up with a witty little title, my ickle peepers are starting to close and I may just have to have a snooze.  Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

Doubly downhill

It had been hissing down with rain all last night and generally blowing a hoolie, so it was with some surprise that the day was glorious by the time Daren and I met at Jack & Jill.  That doesn’t mean fabulously sunny, mind, but rather just that it was marvellous to be out in!

We followed the same route as last week, the only difference being the amount of mud and general slipperyness underfoot… requiring a degree of circumspection lest one of us oldies did ourselves an injury.  [you can see already that I’m setting the scene for a slower time!]

We chatted amiably as we ran up on to Wolstonbury where the view was sublime.

We ran gently down the rather slippery grass side of Wolstonbury and into the next valley… the one that would be great for sledging.

It’s hard to believe how deceptive this looks… what may look like a short bank is actually a deep valley with steep sides.  In fact, the other side was steep enough to cause us to stop just beyond the stile to get our breath back… not even the tank tracks do that!

Then it was across through Clayton and up, up and more up the tank tracks, up to the very top, from where we looked across and down onto Wolstonbury.

From here it was all downhill to the cars.

In fact, the round trip was something like 900 feet of descent, so apart from it being slippery underfoot, it was probably pretty easy.

So 6.25 miles in 1.10 or 5.35mph.

Can I just say, that despite all the downhill, I had SUCH an enjoyable run… thanks Daren!


I’m clearly exaggerating, but it was (just) a little like running out into a swimming pool this morning.  It was warm and humid and everyone who said good morning to me spoke in a soft tone as if they didn’t want to disturb the surface of the water any more than they had to.

I ran over to Ote Hall and out around Wivelsfield church, before running across to Wivelsfield itself.  The church bells both welcomed me and then followed me on across the fields and the rain, when it finally came, did so in a similarly gentle, tinkling way.

It may have reduced the temperature slightly, but the rain made no difference to my energy levels, which were similarly subdued.

I ran on down Hundred Acre Lane then doubled back in order to run through a field that used to be sapling oaks, now ten-footers.

Then it was down the Magical Path and back across the Common.

7.8 miles in 1.15 – 6.24mph.

Little wonder

Earlier in the year circumstances conspired to prevent me from accompanying Daren on one of his new running circuits and rather than try to figure it out on my own, I waited patiently for his return.

Today we ran that circuit.

Daren was describing how amazing it was swimming in the sea this morning despite the low water temperature… and how quickly he changes into dry clothes on the beach afterwards.  He said it was a small pleasure, although I might have got this muddled up (as if), and maybe it was Claire who called it a small pleasure.  I know it might seem like a trivial point, but if the water was cold then it’s probably a little wonder.

Our route took us down through the golf club and into Pyecombe village before we started the long drag up to the top of Wolstenbury Hill.  Daren had persuaded me that it was warmer out than the car-park at Jack & Jill would indicate and by the time we reached this point I was inclined to agree.

From there we dropped down into a valley that would make a perfect bowl in which to sledge in the snow… before we found how hard it was to run up the other side.

We soon got back to Clayton at the bottom of the hill beneath the windmills and then, opting for a slightly longer return, we ran along to the tank tracks.  Readers might remember that this was the location for the Blighty Grouse Grind (inspired by the route that Daren found in Vancouver), but fortunately we chose to make only one ascent today.

It was a good job that we were both there, as we each suspected that we would have otherwise paused for a rest half way up.

The great thing about the top of the tank tracks is that it’s all downhill back to the cars.. just as well!

Daren’s delightful circuit was 6.3 miles and we completed it in 1.06 (my watch said 1.10, but the difference is that he stops his Garmin when he pauses to look at the view).  A great pace either way, bearing in mind the severity of the hills that were included and a fantastic start to the year!

Third birthday statistics

This is more a mental note for myself, but you might also find it interesting.

Number of posts: 110 ( 102 in year 2, 156 in year 1 – I’ll report the figures this way around below to make it easy to see any progression)

Number of runs: 92 (63, 67) although to be fair I did lots of short ‘day-after’ runs this year

Mileage: 726 (538, 512) due largely to the training for the marathon

Hours spent running: 113 (84, 87)

Average run: 7.89 miles in 1.24 (8.14 in 1.20, 8.07 in 1.31).  The short day-after runs have carried the average distance down

Average speed: 6.38mph (6.05, 6.15) which is surprising as in the main I was focussing on distance rather than speed

Average minutes per mile: 9.4 (9.9, 9.65)

Worst month distance: 10.4 in May (13.6 Jan 09, 22.3 Feb 08).  I was away for a  month from 10th May this year

Best month distance: 157 in March (62 Apr 09, 68 Nov 07).  This was in the lead up to the marathon

Total mileage to date since start of blog: 1776 miles

Time spent running since start of blog: 285 hours

Visitors according to Clustermaps: 1479 (the dates don’t match up but the numbers are roughly 1496 for year 2 and 2906 for year 1, the first year being higher as a by-product of my work with Qype.com)

From number of countries: 38 (as above)  Bizarrely, the old davidjfoster.info/runs site has received 590 visitors from 47 countries since October 2009, even though I’ve not posted there at all!  I think it’s time to re-direct them!

All in all, a really most enjoyable year for me and I hope that you have also enjoyed sharing the experience, albeit vicariously!  My sincere thanks to you for reading and to all those people with whom I have run this year… you’re all FAB!

Happy Birthday

I’ve got a little behind.  So says Kim.

It’s late and we’ve been out for a delicious dinner at Cliff & Nessie’s place but I need to quickly write about today before it passes and I get behind again… you may have noticed that the previous post, although dated Wednesday, has only just hit the airwaves!

So this is the third birthday of www.FosterRuns.com and though most of the annual numbers are complete, I just haven’t had a chance to tot up to be able to comment… that will have to wait for another day.

I did get out for a run with Mark Johnson this morning though.  We met at Jack and Jill at 9am, which just happened to be at the same time as Burgess Hill Runners – note Colin from the Wivelsfield Woodland Wobble in the foreground.

After talking a load of nonsense for the first five minutes, we actually settled down into a more serious conversation while we ran out past Ditchling Beacon.

It would be easy to make fun of Mark for wanting to turn around early (again), but alas it was because of a phone call conveying the sad news that his best friend’s son had just died.  Pretty much nothing I can add to that, beyond my sincere condolences.

We ran back in a more sombre mood, covering what I calculate to be 7 miles in 1.15.

Manila antelopes

I think there must be something decidedly odd about my mind.

The short trail of words that links Manila to manilla to envelopes to antelopes via envelops (which is what antelope poo does when you tread in it), is indicative of how my mind views the world given half a chance.  Which it often gets.

And I shudder to even think of mentioning philistines, which is what Manilan greenkeepers use to aerate, right?

Anyway, at short notice on Wednesday afternoon I was forced to change my work plans.  The conversation went something like ‘fancy coming for a run David?’ followed by my affirmative answer.

And so it was that I met Daren (fresh from the Philippines) and Dai for a run on the Downs.

I often think that the Downs are a contradiction in terms as there generally only appears to be Ups and today was no exception.

In essence, the three of us, accompanied by much hilarity, ran from Dai’s place to the Beacon.  The snippet above is indicative of the conversation we were having so you can see that we were in high spirits.

It’s largely uphill all the way to the top and then the way back again is most assuredly uphill… in fact it was on one of the uphill sections on the way back that Dai actually slowed down enough for Daren and I to catch him… before he powered off again!

Although there was a dispute between Garmins, as far as I’m concerned we managed pretty much 7 miles in 1.12.  Not superfast, but really good value!

Oh, I almost forgot.  At one point Daren was gliding along beside me and in that moment he really did remind me of an antelope… which would be kind of appropriate since he grew up with Nick, the man known in these pages as Bok.


I’m finding it difficult to see what I’m writing on the computer this morning.  This is not my eyes playing up, but rather a combination of a highly reflective screen and a bright Paul Smith striped shirt!

I have a couple of good reasons to be stiff tomorrow, so I got on the running machine this morning and jogged out a mile (in 9.49) to loosen some of the potential aches.

The run with Mark was one good reason, although I’m still confused as to why the overall pace was SO slow given how hard work it was.

The other main reason is that I spent a few hours both Saturday and Sunday sculpting.

In case you’re finding it hard to imagine what this involves, here is a quick photo.

This is not an ideal way to work for a whole series of reasons, but the alternative is building and storing a work bench that I could stand at… maybe next year!  Either way, the mallet is not light and my technique not yet well developed so I’m feeling a little tension across my shoulders.

That’s a clue, by the way, in case you’ve not already figured out what I’m working on!

Have a great week peops!