Off the beaten tank tracks

I woke early this morning and headed out to the tea-house with my quadspresso to contemplate the day… which was beautiful.  It was already nearly 20 degrees and there was a light mist giving the morning a delightfully ethereal quality.

I came to the conclusion that a day like this, so late in the season, was really deserving of a long run.  I wasn’t sure that I could deliver this, but when I got to the end of the road my feet took me right, to all points south, rather than left towards my recent wooded circuit.

On my route at the edge of town there is a collection of workshops which I must have run past more than 50 times in the last seven years.  It’s amazing that despite knowing them really well, I’d never noticed before that there’s a huge Victorian house adjacent to them.  Someone had clearly cut back a hedge and there it was, like magic!


At Oldlands Mill I paused to soak up the mill and the view that I was about to run in to.


Then it was off along the view-side of the hedge (I normally run on the other side so I can see a house that I particularly like) and down Lodge Hill into Ditchling.  Rather than run down the high street I opted for the path that cuts round the back of all the houses and then, at the bottom of the Ditchling Beacon Road, I took a path which does the same again, ending up at the bottom of the Downs further to the west than the Beacon road.

I then followed a path that I’ve run down from Home Hill before, but took a wrong turn and ended up with a huge expanse of scarp slope to run directly up.  I was surprised that the climb was so easy (taken very slowly, of course) and I was soon on the intended path (which was steep in it’s own right) which took me to the top of Home Hill.


I normally arrive here having run up the fabled tank tracks with Daren, although there was one mad day when I ran up and down them 7 times to replicate the height gain of The Grouse Grind, a run in Canada that he had done.

I decided to run down the tracks, north towards home, but detoured to the right to find a track that I had seen horses on during my steep scarp slope climb on the other side of the valley.


It was then a simple case of running down the farm road to Keymer, where I followed the paths back to Oldlands Mill where the view was still worth soaking up.


Then I retraced my steps past the magically appearing house and back to base.  The run took me 2 hours and 7 minutes, the longest for ages, and covered a distance of 10.6 miles, an average of 5 mph,  Not bad bearing in mind my recent short runs.  Mind you, I did need to imbibe some protein PDQ… before taking a cold shower (a normal feature of my life since the day before my 50th birthday) and going out to cut the grass and the green and do a load of gardening!


Well, it really was a most beautiful day!


Fresh weather

After the muggy summer extension that we’ve been fortunate to have, this morning was breezy and cooler.

In February, my Mother sent me an interesting book about three men who drove a 1958 milk float from Lowestoft to Lands End. Part way through their unusual journey I had started reading Richard Askwith’s new book and Three Men in a Float had thus sat on the coffee table, unfinished… as did Running Free while I was in research mode across the summer.

Yesterday I finally reached the poignant end of their journey, having over-nighted on Burgh Island, which I think I visited with Dai and the Martlet Kayak Club some years ago, and then passed very close to the home of my ancestors on the Lizard Peninsular.

This morning I started reading an intriguing little book called Tuesdays With Morrie that my pal Pete kindly gave me for my 50th… I suspect that I will have a lot more to say about this in due course!

So out into the fresh weather I went this morning, my head filled with new thoughts. I followed my now-normal route, an elliptical anticlockwise circuit, with Ditchling Common Industrial Estate at one end and the edge of Wivelsfield at the other. However, today I extended it a little by running out to and along Hundred Acre Lane and slightly further into Wivelsfield.

It was a lovely day and the cool breeze was hardly noticeable in the sun-dappled woods.


The route was about 6.4 miles in total and it took me 62 minutes to complete it, an average of 6.2 mph.

Heavy legs


This morning I finally finished reading Richard Askwith’s amazing book Running Free.  Running Free is beautifully written and rich in insight about not just running, but also about the way that we live today.  It’s actually taken me months to find the time to finish it (I actually started it on March 9th!), but part of me didn’t want to reach the end at all… it really is that good!

But reach the end I did, after which it seemed appropriate to go out for a run.

Being inspired was apparently not enough to prevent my legs from feeling heavy for no apparent reason.  I did cut the lawn and the grass on the green yesterday, but that is little more than walking up and down pushing the mower… hardly a recipe for heavy legs.


Today’s route was the same 5.75 mile circuit I’ve been doing recently, so not much to report there other than I was surprised that, despite my legs, I completed the route in 58 minutes which is actually faster than some of my recent runs.

Mind you, the Bok must have been physically pulling me along last week to have got me round in 50 minutes… maybe my legs were heavy to stop me making that kind of speed a habit!

Eight Days In

I’m now eight days into my fifties… so far, so good!

My new decade started with a lovely family lunch gathering where we toasted with a particularly delicious bottle of Dom Perignon that had been patiently waiting for such an occasion since before my forties.


Then a quiet dinner for Kim and I turned out to be a surprise gathering of close friends (mainly old school friends) at the Coach House in Brighton.  I’m being deliberate in saying ‘old’ on account of being the youngest person in my year.  It was a totally brilliant surprise… thank you guys… especially as I had seen many of them at Pete’s party two days earlier!


A few days later I was helping my wonderful folks to reduce clutter and came across a resting butterfly and then, later the same day, a Sparrowhawk (according to my learned friend Lucas) in my garden.


I woke up at 5am on Saturday in order to drive to the Porsche Experience Centre at Silverstone, where I spent the morning essentially going around in circles of various speeds and sizes, with Eunan MacGuinness gently correcting my foibles.  BIG GRIN!  I then spent the afternoon driving around a series of beautiful local villages with a friend in a Boxster.


Sunday then became a day of rest (I was royally knackered) but this morning started early with the rumble of a V8 and a run with the Bok himself, Mister Broom.


We ran my most recent normal route, but there the similarity ended.  For starters we had audible conversation, where the voices are normally only in my head.  More noticeable was the speed of progress, which was closer to the speed I was going around the ex-Lombard Rally special-stage-track at Silverstone than to any kind of running that I’ve done recently.  It must have approached Bokwarp on occasion by all accounts, which sort of explains the photos…


5.75 miles was duly dispatched in about 50 minutes… an average of 6.9 mph.

Eight days in… may the rest of my fifties continue in a similar vein!