Temporary support

Andy P was (and probably is still) running the Extreme Running London to Brighton event today.  Cliff had suggested that we run a section with him to boost his spirits so we went to find him in the largely unexplored territory beyond Forest Row… in fact we only narrowly missed leaving the county of Sussex, that’s how far north we were.

We were hampered in our quest to find Andy by the fact that we didn’t know the route the race was following.  This led to an interesting tour of narrow, only vaguely metalled roads and a short stand off with a 4×4 with a wood trailer attached… eventually the guy reversed the few necessary metres, albeit with surprising difficulty!  Cliff was not about to reverse as the next passing place was about a quarter of a mile away!

We eventually found Andy who was running with Daniel from Jersey, which meant that I could put in a plug for Gemma at Orchard Chiropractors in St Helier!

Bearing in mind they had got lost early on and were six hours in, they looked to be moving pretty well.

We ran with them for a short while, during which time they paused several times to discuss the direction and eventually went the wrong way (yet?) again, but they were clearly not alone in this.  Various other runners caught up and then scattered in different directions… most of them incorrect too in retrospect!

After half an hour we left them turned & headed back to Cliff’s car… an easy 15 minute run when you know where you’re going!

So a very temporary support crew but it’s the thought that counts!  Thank goodness for Paula doing the proper job… otherwise Andy’s crates of spare gear & dry trainers would never have made it!  I’m still thinking of him even now and he’s probably still counting down the miles to Brighton!

Our run was about 3.5 miles in 50 minutes… time well spent though!

5 mile breakfast

After a couple of weeks off (read whatever poor excuse you like!), I broke my fast this morning with a five mile run, performed in 42.41, an average of 7mph.

However, while Mark chose to get his legs shot-blasted with the first heavy rain of the autumn, I chose to run indoors on the machine… call me what you like, so long as it’s prefaced with ‘sensible’!

Six fix

A weekday run with Daren is always a great way to fix the cognitive fog which afflicts us all from time to time, although you can clearly see from the photo above that any fog could only have been on the inside!

We run so infrequently that we’ve not yet tired of our simple six mile route: starting from Jack & Jill, dropping down to Pyecombe, running up Wolstonbury, dropping steeply to Clayton, running along the the bottom of the Downs and up the ‘tank-tracks’ that rise directly up the scarp slope and finally dropping back down to Jack & Jill.

It’s not lost on me that this is the third windmill (technically the forth) that I’ve passed in three runs!

We were particularly appreciative of the rough steps that have been installed on a short and often slippery uphill section below Wolstonbury (Daren thought this might have been big bearded Charlie at work) and otherwise just generally laughed our way round, appreciating the weather, the view, our open schedules, life in general and so on!

We even had an unseen audience… Maria (from the top of the Men’s Sussex Fitness League) arrived back in the car-park ten minutes after us and said that she had seen us running up the tank tracks.  She had heard us first, of course… probably on account of our chatting loudly to be heard over our own panting up the hill!

Six miles in a leisurely 1:25, 4.2mph average or so, TOP value!

Pull your socks up!

My Mother sent me an email earlier which mentioned Ofsted Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw’s comments from the Andrew Marr Show this morning… which she paraphrased as ‘pull your socks up, satisfactory is not good enough!’

She had taken it as a personal admonishment and though I didn’t see it until I got home, the cognitive essence of the message clearly came straight through to me as I ran the last few steps to the top of Ditchling Beacon.

It was my birthday yesterday (thank you all SO much for the myriad birthday wishes!) and this morning I was reflecting on my chosen career path, which seems to involve a greater number of ups and downs than those of more conventional 48 year-olds.

No prizes for guessing that I’m currently on a down, though, if I remember rightly, Malcolm Gladwell says that the path to excellence in any field is a steep, gruelling, arduous and inordinately lengthy 10,000 hours of lung-busting effort, being forced to stumble and fall at every turn, etcetera… so I’m pretty stoic about it.

It had been flat grey outside threatening rain (likewise in my head) as I downed two quadspressos, and as I changed into my running gear it started raining, so I left in a hat and jacket.  The rain was really light though and within half a mile I had removed hat & jacket so that I didn’t overheat… it’s clearly not autumn yet!

My plan was to run to Ditchling Beacon & back and I soon found myself passing Oldlands Mill where there is a lively open day today if you’re interested.

Ditchling was looking pretty, despite the number of houses being redeveloped and for sale boards… I’m sure that sometimes people are so fearful of change that they choose to (in this case) move, so that there is at least the perception of control.

The bare chalk on my favourite steep and gruelling route up the Beacon was damp in the occasional light rain and thus very slippery and I was glad that I discovered this on the way up the hill!

I reached the top in an underwhelming 55 minutes (5.45mph average for the 5 miles) so with little view to appreciate and presumably sensing my Mother’s thoughts, I turned round without a rest for the return leg.

It was not a good day to go quickly down this hill but I wasn’t feeling tired so once I got to the flatter ground at the bottom I started to push on a bit.  Nothing heroic, just a little more effort.

I laboured momentarily up Lodge Hill (if you’ve ever seen it, you’ll know why) then resumed my slightly faster pace, passing an already busier Oldlands Mill.  When I got back to the tarmac of Ockley Lane (with the rain now coming down a little more heavily) I pushed on a little harder still, though still not beyond a comfortable jog.

And thus I finally returned to the house, 10 miles in 1:41.

The quick mathematicians amongst you will notice that my return leg was 9 minutes faster than the outbound section… 6.5 mph average for the second 5 miles.  That gave me something to smile about!  Even the combined average of 5.95mph was faster than last week’s (brilliantly enjoyable) run.

Maybe my running mojo is getting its socks on ready to return… and maybe, with a little more effort on steep and slippery paths, that bodes well for my work too!  Thanks Mum!