There & back a different way

It’s been a really interesting week with two student business pitch events at Brighton Business School and a day spent at TEDx LBS, held this year at the Royal Geographic Society.  Whilst the former are always brilliantly thought-provoking, the latter was really excellent brain food.

The speakers are generally talking about really challenging subjects and the fascinating conversations with the other delegates between sessions are icing on the cake.  I could happily spend a day every month at one of these events!

The hard-working LBS students who organised the superb event
The hard-working LBS students who organised the superb event

You can see the talks from last year on the site at the moment and I’m sure that in due course they will add the ones from Friday… I can highly recommend listening to Shoshana Clark talk about her work in Kabul which I found incredibly inspiring!

I was immersed in an HBR article this morning, sitting in the sun on the deck and could happily have stayed there reading the whole day.  But a run was needed to stay in shape and to keep the writing here going, so on went the running shoes and off I ran.

It was a beautiful sunny day but there was a distinct chill in the wind… not enough to make me regret wearing shorts and a tee-shirt, but enough to give me painful ears and make me fantasize about ear muffs!

To start with I wasn’t really sure where I was going, so I followed my nose out onto Folders Lane, across the common and down the Sussex Border Path to Ditchling.  When the ground is wet, this path is a quagmire but the recent dry weather made it a really enjoyable route, along behind the garden centres and right into the middle of the village.

Even the route South across the fields here was firm going, which is rare indeed and then I was faced with a choice.  I could turn left or right and still do a lovely loop, but instead I chose to go straight on and up the Beacon… there’s something about the lure of a steep hill!


I reached this halfway point in 57 minutes and set about retracing my steps.  With the chilly breeze now behind me and the sun higher in the sky, my ears started to warm up, though I now noticed that many of the walkers I passed were wearing jackets and trousers.

Mown paths... Ditchling really is a lovely place!
Mown paths… Ditchling really is a lovely place!


The route through the vale is normally all like this... yuk!
The route through the vale is normally all like this… yuk!

I found the return leg to be harder work, despite the absence of a big hill.   I’m definitely fitter than I was (maybe last year) as I was still able to keep pushing ahead, but there was nothing left to really push hard over the last quarter-mile.

Surprisingly this route is slightly longer than the one via Oldlands Mill, so I ended up running 10.5 miles in 1:53… averaging just over 5.5 mph… and I’m definitely going to run this way to the Beacon again as the weather warms up.

Short run & spring clean

It was a beautiful Spring weekend and breakfast was consumed outside both days.  But this shouldn’t lead you to think it was a relaxing weekend!

Last week a visitor asked how often I cleaned the deck and whilst he seemed satisfied with my response, I now knew that it wasn’t only me that thought it needed attention.

Worse still, I knew that it needed resolving before I put the garden furniture on it for the summer.

It’s a horrible job, trying to wash off two years of weather & wear with a broom and a pressure washer.  But Karen was down so it became a group activity and by the end of the afternoon we had completed the top deck.

My Sunday run then was a barrier to further progress so I made it a short one.  I chose the Wivelsfield/Ditchling Common circuit and then added the loop out to Hundred Acre Lane for good measure.

It started cold (in my shorts & tee-shirt) but I soon warmed up and had fun in the remnants of sticky mud that barred the path from time to time.

IMG_0119 IMG_0117 IMG_0115

I estimate that the route is 6.2 miles so the 58 minutes it took to complete meant that I averaged 6.4 mph.

And then it was back to the deck washing and treating, which meant that by the end of the day I was pooped!

The deck now looks like this…


… which is hopefully sufficiently nondescript for no-one to notice it for another couple of years!


Shorts on 2013

Finally the wind blew from Southern climes and after a day of rain yesterday, Spring sidled in and made its mark on the weekend.

And what a day it has been… windows open, sitting outside to eat, car washing, grass cutting and prefacing all this, the first run of the year in shorts and a tee-shirt.

In a nod to those friends who were running in the Brighton Marathon today, I took to the pavement for a 10-mile run down to Hassocks & back.

The first couple of miles were hard going and then I started to run into a warm southerly wind which meant that it didn’t exactly get easier as I warmed up.  Somehow I managed to reach the turn-point in 46 minutes, just outside of a 9 minute per mile pace, which gave me an incentive to push a little harder on the way back.


Out of interest, you’ll note from the pictures above that the hedgerows and trees and all still brown… the photo in my post from the same run on April 15th last year shows a thick green hedge!

With the wind now behind me I did my best to make up for the lost minute as I retraced my steps.  A quick glance at my watch with one mile to go showed that I was back on track, but alas not ahead.

That meant that I had to push really hard up the steep part of Junction Road and keep the pressure on when I reached the flat part at the top.  Knowing that I couldn’t possibly do it, my subconscious was telling me to slow down and take a breather, but I pushed on through regardless.

And somehow I managed to do it!  10 miles in 90 minutes… a full 10 minutes faster than that same Brighton Marathon-day run last year!

One thing was clear though… I would never have been able to run the other 16.2 miles!  Congratulations to all those who did!

Spring ahoy!

I’ve had a really interesting week, but it’s been infeasibly cold for April… bleak grey skies, snow flurries, Siberian winds.  In fact it was a great week to have good excuses to be inside… and I was particularly glad that a walk down amongst the Seven Sisters was postponed at the last minute!

Yesterday we were treated to a sibling visit, with Debbie and John arriving in style… on the back of a low loader!


It was really nice to see their smiling faces emerging from the truck… they took the whole incident very well, despite a two-hour delay to their arrival and a £200 bill for emptying £20 of petrol from the diesel tank!

By the time we woke up this morning the sun was well in control of the day and though it was still chilly, I couldn’t resist a run outside.

Two layers was not really enough, though I’m not sure whether this was for the obvious reason, or because I was sweating and the cold wind was supercooling me as a result.  Either way I resisted the temptation to don the jacket I took along for spare.

I headed out to Oldlands Mill along a path with mud the consistency of chocolate icing.  The lovely panoramic photograph I took is unfortunately too big to upload to this site… you’ll have to take it from me that the white windmill looked beautiful, while the view to Jack & Jill across the Weald was lovely in the sunlight.

From there I ran down into a bustling Ditchling and up towards the Beacon track.  The track itself seemed really steep after so long away whilst the top layer of permafrosted ground had melted to make the surface very slippery in places.  Despite this it was great to be back and I managed to reach the Beacon without stopping.

Looking north from Ditchling BeaconLooking south from Ditchling BeaconThe bloke on the top of the trig point

Running back down the track was harder work in some ways, since the brakes had to be full on to offset the questionable grip, but I made it down without incident.

As I retraced my steps I reaped the benefit of all those recent magic carpet sessions… despite the additional distance, gradient and rough ground, my legs felt really good.  I even managed to increase my pace towards the end.

So 10 miles in 1:44 (53 minutes out, 2 mins taking photos on the trig point and 49 minutes back) gives an average of 5.77mph.

One odd aside… I’m not sure when I last had a pair of scales in the house (at least 20 years ago), but our new scales show that I lost 2 pounds during the run, despite drinking half a litre of water en route… no wonder my shirt felt cold!

As a further sign that Spring is nigh, Kim and I then sat outside to eat brunch… it wasn’t spectacularly warm, but warm enough while we ate.  Though as I write this we are admiring the sunlit garden from inside with the doors closed!

I’m inclined to make the most of it as the forecast for the rest of April (starting Tuesday) is for as much rain in three weeks as we normally have in four!  Spring ahoy!