Tuesday mile

After a Bank Holiday Monday feeling wan and lifeless (which didn’t stop me cutting the hedge, edging and cutting the grass, teak-oiling the floor of the tea-house and poly-filling some irritating holes around the place) I woke up with stiff shoulders and calves this morning.

The only thing I could think of to start to loosen me off was a quick run on the machine, so I completed a mile in 9:06.

It being a crisp and beautiful morning, we then had breakfast on the deck… all in all a glorious start to a short week!


I couldn’t work out where to run this morning and having poured over the maps trying to decide and seen some new paths in the process, I felt I couldn’t just go & do a standard circuit.

I ran down Junction Road and out on Rocky Lane as far as the tunnel under the railway line.  The last bit where the road twists is perilous and I had to cross the road twice in order to stand any chance making it alive.

The reason for this, in part, is due to the way that the council aims to keeps speeds down on country lanes… by allowing the undergrowth to grow up to the apexes on corners and not leaving a verge.  This narrows the vision of motorists in the vain hope that they will feel less comfortable and slow down.

Actually, I think it scares the pants off drivers, particularly in the dark and in the winter.  The by-product is that you need to take your life in your hands if you want to cycle, whilst pedestrians must be mad to even contemplate walking.

Sad really, in view of the number of commuters who travel between Burgess Hill & Haywards Heath every day and have no real alternative to driving.  I have suggested they install a graded cycle path, but I don’t suppose that would be contemplated any time soon… maybe once the new section of road from Bolmore Village to Rocky Lane has been completed.

On the map there is a path that links the corner by the tunnel to Kiln Wood,  Rookery Way and the Haywards Heath end of Rocky Lane.  Eschewing the road, this is the route I took.

This gave me an opportunity to see the new roundabout at the top of Fox Hill and also to realise that there is a link through Southdowns Park to the Hospital, rather than negotiating the oblique right turn near the Birch Hotel.

I’ve not see Southdowns Park up close so I ran around both that and the hospital grounds before running off along the Lewes Road.

My aim had been to run to Scaynes Hill and then back along the Sussex Border Path, but I missed the path and rather than going back to look again, I continued out towards Chailey as far as Pound Common… despite the verges not being particularly welcoming.

Bearing in mind the hype around being green, there is not much encouragement to travel by foot around here!

At Pound Common I turned right towards Wivelsfield and bore right again onto the Common where I promptly got lost, running hither & thither to try to find a way that took me South or West.

I eventually happened on the road that leads to (and ends at) Holford Manor, but alas the path from there was not obvious.  I ended up running all the way around a very large field (which I hate doing) before I took a gamble and ended up going through Wivelsden Farm from the wrong direction, which meant I missed the path West that I could have taken.

Instead I dropped back onto the road by St Peters & St James’s and headed towards Wivelsfield.  I was way past knackered by this time, but curiosity still led me to turn left onto a path on the outskirts of the village and I ended up taking a circuitous route back onto the same road again where staying on the road would have actually better suited me.

From the Recreation Ground I took a straightish zigzag line back across the Common to the railway foot-crossing and back to home.

This pretty rambling route was somewhere in the order of 13.7 miles and took me 2.24, giving an average speed of around 5.7mph… not bad for all the twists & turns.

Sad to report that I did pause for breath on a number of occasions, although I could probably justify it as stopping to figure out where I was supposed to go next!  And I’ve been banned from groaning around the house (quite right too) so I aim to do the next best thing and sleep it off on the sofa!


With a delicious tell-tale stiffness in my legs after all the hills yesterday and to save myself from a repeat of last week’s silly walks, I returned to the running machine for the first time in ages this morning.

1 mile in 9 minutes flat followed by a whole ten press-ups (wow, but I have to start somewhere) has left me wide awake and ready for the busy day ahead.

Have a great week peops!

Cyclists, please shut the gates

For the second week running I have come across cyclists, out on the Downs, omitting to shut the gates behind them.  I sympathised last week, as it was clearly a race and there was a whole stream of them, but this week there were only a few cyclists out and I’m sure the farmer has enough of a problem keeping tabs on his lambs without the gates being left ajar.

About ten minutes after leaving my folks place, running out towards the radio mast above Woodingdean, I saw that I had missed a message from Cliff inviting me to run from Lewes.  I called him & we arranged to meet to the north of the Newmarket on the South Downs Way… he was coming the other way via Blackcap, which had been my destination.

I ran down past Newmarket Copse, over the A27, up the long hill to Bunkershill Plantation following the South Downs Way, down the steep hill the other side and up as far as the next gate where the old South Downs Way route meets.  It was perfect timing as Cliff and Joe were just coming down the hill in the other direction.

I turned round and we ran together back down the hill, up the steep hill and down the long hill to the A27, then across and up towards Newmarket Copse again, but for the sake of time, then turned left and ran down to the Newmarket Inn.

For simplicity we ran along the A27 towards Lewes, so that they could head back to the prison and I split off right before the roundabout and ran up Ashcombe Hollow towards Kingston… turning right again at the top of the hill to Kingstonridge.

This is a special path as it has a lovely big hill to run up in order to reach the ridge.

The hill, which is about 500m on the map, took me nine minutes… it’s pretty steep, but really good fun!

From there I continued climbing, albeit more gently, past the top of the Castle Hill reserve and on to the radio mast, before I had earned the final downhill section to the end, although with the wind full against me.

10.4 miles in 1.54 is only an average of about 5.5mph, but this is not bad bearing in mind all the hills… overall it was a really most enjoyable run!

Foster walks again!

It took me about 25 minutes this morning to walk quasi-normally. In fact, Kim and Karen were laughing at me half the afternoon and all evening yesterday as I hobbled around.

And yet my run with Mark yesterday was not particularly out-of-the-ordinary.

The missing link is my playing tennis on Saturday. At the risk of sounding smug, I am pretty good at hitting a tennis ball, as was evidenced by the three that I hit not merely outside the court fence (I hit loads of those), but over the hedgerow as well and into Rachel & David’s neighbour’s garden.

No, tennis is not my game, but I thoroughly enjoyed trying, despite falling over twice… one of which even tested my ability to roll to order. And when Rachel went off to tend to dinner and Kim went with her, I was left playing solo against both David and Pauline, which meant that I had to run around the court at double time!

All of which counted for only a poor excuse yesterday morning – although to be fair, at that stage my legs had not yet seized up.

So the run started with Mark just after 9am at Jack & Jill with the aim of doing our (increasingly) normal 14-mile route, but with the likelihood that we would bump into Cliff running in the opposite direction from Falmer. This we did on Streat Hill and it was great to see Andy and Paula (on her bike) too.

After a quick discussion we decided to follow Cliff’s nose, which took us down past Streathill Farm to St. Mary’s Farm, then east in an off-piste manner in order to pick up the path that then took us to the top of Waterpit Hill. Here we parted again, after a quick team photo, Mark and I running up the hill towards Blackcap.

Alas for my legs, rather than run straight back to the cars, Mark insisted on putting a couple of extra loops in, the first being to take the South Downs Way down the long hill of our normal route, albeit only as far as the first (double) gate… and back again. The back-again bit was made more interesting by our swimming against a tide of death-wish cyclists, presumably on a race… and sadly having little thought for the local farmer and his sheep as they were not closing the gates behind them. I say death-wish, as they were scooting past us on a narrow, uneven path at 20+mph, with inches to spare.

When we reached the top of the hill, Mark’s second loop was to take us to the top of Blackcap and back, before we finally headed for home.

Somewhere between Streathill Farm and the Beacon, the combination of tennis and long run reached my head and the internal (and then external) voices started up, with their suggestions that I stop running and start walking instead. I think I managed to overcome them as far as the Beacon road, but then I did actually walk for a while, at least as far as the top of the next hill, before I got moving again.

I had one more short walk, but otherwise managed to keep going to the top of Home Hill where a cyclist thankfully asked us for directions… I was very happy for the conversation to continue longer than was really required (actually, until someone else walked up who actually knew the answer!) and managed to regain sufficient energy to finish the run.

Between Cliff’s off-piste stage and my inability to recognise which field boundary Mark and I ran down the hill to, I’m actually uncertain how far the run was… between 13.3 and 14 miles is my best guess… I’m going to call it 13.5 miles for simplicity. The time was 2.28 which makes the average speed about 5.5mph… about right given the number of chat stops and my slow return pace.

It was a great run and a really fun weekend and judging from the effect on my legs after playing just a bit of tennis followed by a pretty normal run, it shows how right Cliff is… I need to find a regular circuit training class to attend!

Weedy wheezie

I have been suffering from a tickly cough for a while and in an attempt to clear it have been taking Antihistamine, despite the fact that it tends to send me to sleep the moment I sit down to relax!

On the whole it has started to work, but the exertion of running was always likely to bring it back… and so it was this morning!

It had been raining overnight and I chose to do a road run for a change, taking the 5.5 mile route to Clayton followed by the 5.5 mile route back again.  I always have a challenge remembering the time at the mile markers, so I decided I would take a quick photo and let my Blackberry do the remembering.

In light of the sticky experience with the gel last week, I decided to test two things: whether it made a difference (slightly subjective as experiments go) and whether I could use it without getting sticky fingers.

At this point I had just managed to catch up with another runner, David from Hurstpierpoint and was finding the going pretty tough, particularly wheeze-wise.

In lieu of any sage advice on using gels from readers last week, I squeezed the whole lot into my mouth in one go and stuffed the packet back in my pocket before it could leak over my hands.  95% success in this department just left me with one challenge… swallowing the stuff!  YUK!

I think it’s clear that the gel really did help, although by the time I got back to base I could hardly breathe.  Still, not a bad showing for a muggy day: 11 miles in 1.42, 6.47mph or 9.27 minutes per mile, even counting in the gel-stop.

One thing you may unfortunately deduce from my pictures is that the verges of Burgess Hill are full of weeds and in need of more than a little trim.  Is the grass cutter on holiday?

Friday treat

As I was busy working away on Friday, I had a call from Lucas (http://www.lucascookguitar.co.uk/) to say that he was going to chill out at Wakehurst Place for a while and could he pick me up en route?

One of the advantages of being a season ticket holder of ‘Kew at Wakehurst’ is the ability to drop in and have a wander for a while without feeling the need to stay and make the most of the entrance fee.  The place is gorgeous at the moment and we spent a relaxed hour walking and talking.

I even got to continue some of the work I had previously been doing, preparing for a workshop next week, by presenting some of it to Lucas… although his daughter probably thought I was a bit odd!

Thanks Lucas… great tonic ahead of the weekend!

Sticky Fingers

I was at my folks’ house for 9am yesterday, ready to run, despite the fact that I had not yet decided which way I was headed.

For those of you without the benefit of a map, or even a vague sense for the world around Woodingdean, I went for a run of downs and prolonged ups, in the countryside.

For the very small number of people not fitting into this group, my route was as follows: up Falmer Road, Drove Road, Newmarket Hill, Juggs Road, Swanborough Hill, down to the pretty village of Iford, Northese, up, up the long White Way, down into Breaky Bottom (nice farm!), up, up and then down into Standean Bottom, around Cross Dyke, up, up, up Bullock Hill, Norton Drive, down Falmer Road.

It was a windy day, but otherwise bright and warm, and the running was a pleasant following of my nose on some paths that I’d not previously discovered.

On the hill above Breaky Bottom, I decided to try the gel that Kim’s sister Linda had given me from her leftover London Marathon stash.  I didn’t really feel the need, but felt that I should at least try one.

It was about as disgusting as I had expected it to be, but nothing had prepared me for how sticky!  Maybe the manufacturers expect you to throw the package straight away (seems unlikely) but even before I had rolled it up to go back into my pocket I had coated my fingers in the stuff… and my phone… and my water bottle… which contained Powerade so no, I couldn’t use that to wash my hands!

Maybe there’s a trick… if so, please DO tell!  I’ve got a small bag full of these things to get through!

I was finding the running easy anyway, but whether the subsequent long uphills were equally as easy due to the gel, my current level of fitness, or the distracting effect of my sticky little fingers, is difficult to determine

Overall, 11.4 miles in 2 hours, 5.7mph and washing my hands has seldom been such a relief!