Revenge of the Bok

Early on Thursday morning we experienced tremors which gently shook our neighbourhood from its slumber, the source being a deep V8 throb which heralded the arrival of my friend Nick coming quietly down the road. We’d been wrapped up against the November cold for days, but Nick casually stepped out of his car in shorts and a t-shirt as if it were a summer’s day.

I had sought a coffee with Nick with a view to bringing some of my MBA students to hear about his approach to market entry and the challenges that he has experienced, but the reply I received was ‘no run, no coffee’ so I had to dust off my running legs and go hunting for my shoes. So far this year I had run only six times, the last time with Daren at the beginning of September, so I climbed aboard the machine last week for a couple of ten-minute miles to remind myself where to put my feet, and what kind of pain I might experience afterwards.

Despite Nick’s assurances I took no chances on the temperature, donning longs, a jacket, hat & gloves… though I came to realise that his analysis was correct. Part of the reason for this was the ferocious pace that he set from the start and I was gasping for breath before we got to the start of the mud.

Nick’s pseudonym is the Bok and if you’ve ever seen a springbok running, then you’ll know that it bounces effortlessly along. This is exactly how Nick runs. When I used to run 20 or 30 miles a week I was able to tag along despite his pace being uncomfortable. Having run less than 50 miles this year I stood no chance and he eventually backed off what he thought was already idling along rather than run the circuit alone.

Whilst my lungs were desperately searching for sufficient oxygen to move my muscles, he reminded me that I used to play a rotten trick on him. His heart rate monitor would give an audible beep to alert him to the fact that his heart was reaching its upper working limit. Despite already running at an uncomfortable pace, I would take this as a signal to push ahead a little faster. Being hyper-competitive, Nick would dig deep and go with the charge rather than let me get away.

I actually find it remarkable that I was ever fit enough to be able to keep up with him, let alone press ahead in those moments! Although it was a fun trick, I remember a personal trainer doing something similar to me in order to help me push my aerobic limits, so did I actually think that it would be good for Nick… although I completely understand why he wants to return the, er, favour! As it was I needed to pause to recover on several occasions, with Nick waiting graciously each time for his geriatric companion to catch his breath.

Though damp (Nick called it soggy, though he might have been referring to my pace), the morning was warm enough for shorts & a t-shirt and we had a super-lovely run around a very muddy circuit.

There is a slight dispute at Strava as to how far our run was and how long it took us… Nick’s Strava claimed 5.4 miles in 53 minutes, an average of 6.11mph, whilst my Strava claimed 5.8 miles in 54 minutes, an average of 6.44mph. I’m wondering if Strava factors in the frequency of runs and creates a more encouraging result for those people who had to work harder, or have not run for a while.

After showers & breakfast Nick’s V8 briefly shook the whole town as he blipped the throttle for me on exit… music to my ears!

Postscript. As I sit here writing, three days after the fact, my legs are only just vaguely starting to work as they should, rather than like unbending stilts. However the pain has been positive and I even managed to get some potential dates for a talk to my MBA students.  So thanks to the run, the deep conversation and the ear-candy, I still have a big smile on my face 🙂

Two Daruns and a bunch of other odd things

Ahead of my more comprehensive post about Nick, it’s worth reporting that I had two runs with Daren from Jack & Jill whilst the weather was still warm and a couple of excursions in my kayak.

On 24th July we ran along to top of the Downs, past Ditchling Beacon and on the next gate before turning around and retracing our steps.  Daren kindly agreed to forgo our normal challenging circuit in favour of this more gentle run on account of my knees being painful… maybe on account of some gardening marathon or similar.  During the run we paused to marvel at a two-headed sheep that was sensibly sitting down so that it didn’t pull itself in two.  6.8 miles in 69 minutes, an average of 5.91 mph.

The 1st August saw me paddling a very dusty kayak for the first time in an age.  Daren & Charlie were feeding the other Martlet’s club members from a floating kitchen (strapped to the top of an open canoe) adjacent to the Palace Pier.  I have no pictures of this hilarious endeavour, but judging by the number of people and seagulls looking down from the boardwalk above, it was a spectacular attraction!

On the 29th August I joined Martlet’s for a second feast on the water, this time where a kitchen was hung from a tripod strapped onto two surf skis… very ingenious.  After a delicious light meal and as I finished eating a tasty piece of cake for dessert,  I vaguely heard Dai ask if anyone wanted to paddle to ‘the buoy’.  I finished my cake and chased after him and two others.  After what seemed like half an hour I was starting to get worried… I could see no buoys, only the wind farm in the distance.  They paused so that I could catch up and assured me that there was indeed a sailing buoy somewhere out there on this now glassy water.  We paddled on, maybe for another half an hour until the buoy came slowly into view.  Turning around for the paddle back, the view was stunning, with the coast from Worthing to Beachy Head arrayed in one long & narrow horizontal line, bounded top and bottom by acres of sea and sky.  As the sun slowly went down it was a magical view, though alas I didn’t dare risk taking my phone out of its waterproof bag to capture it.  That impromptu paddle is the furthest that I have been in my kayak in years… it was a really amazing workout for my shoulders, especially since I was trying to keep up with Dai & Charlie who were in sleek sea kayaks!

On 7th September Daren and I returned to our normal circuit, but at an uncommonly slow speed even for the extreme gradients… I kept my toe tucked under the accelerator pedal so that Daren could not push on faster :-).  6.5 miles took us 84 minutes, a rather pedestrian 4.64 mph!

Below are some other images I took over the summer… beware large bugs 🙂