Less mud, more cold

This morning there was one of those chilly north-easterly winds blowing under a blanket of cloud and I decided to run out from my folks place for some variety. In the car I wondered whether I had overdressed, with a thick second layer plus a jacket, hat & gloves. Fortunately my Mother told me that it was just 2 degrees outside… not counting the wind chill factor. My extra layers were definitely needed.

As I ran across the common land towards the ridge, it was clear that the wet mud of the last few weeks had gone. In its place was firm mud with just a little give… a perfect running surface! Perhaps because of this I felt as if I was running a little faster than normal and Strava saw fit to award me a medal for my fastest mile since I’ve been using the app… though I’m somewhat surprised that it equates to 7.75mph.

I didn’t keep it up for long!

I ran down through the middle of Ovingdean to the sea and along to Rottingdean. The sea was nearly calm, which seemed slightly odd given the brisk wind, but I guess that the water was in the lee of the chalk cliffs.

Then it was the long slog back up the hill… this was always one of the downsides of living towards the top of the hill when I was growing up! As I cleared the protection of Ovingdean the wind was really chilly and as I neared Woodingdean so a shower of sharp sleet hit me, pricking painfully at my face. Fortunately it was short-lived and I was soon off the ridge & running back down across the common land.

According to Strava I completed 6 miles in under 59 minutes… an average a little over 6mph.

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More mud, less cold

One glance outside at the inclement weather this morning started me thinking about all the other things that I could more easily do for exercise… such as trying to repeat the Ashtanga Yoga routine that we did when we swapped classes the other week.

However, after a philosophical discussion on the similarities between organisations and individuals, when it comes to the trade-off between efficiency and flexibility, the rain had stopped and there was a trace of warm colour in the low cloud.

The warm colour was matched by the warm temperature… I could easily have gone out in shorts.

I started on the same route as last week and had quickly transformed my clean runners into dirty ones… in fact they seemed to change colour every ten minutes or so with the different kinds of mud.

I took the elongated route in West Wood and ended up running down Hundred Acre Lane.  Given how muddy my shoes were, I was dismayed when my shoelace came undone and I had to retie them… it’s amazing how much of your hands are involved in the process… and thus how muddy my hands were afterwards!

The Magical Path seems to have a drainage problem at one end and was particularly muddy, but at this time of year it still has something a special about it… it almost seems like a throwback to an earlier age.

Then it was back across to base for a bowl of warm water and a scrubbing brush to get my runners ready for their next mud bath.

According to Strava it was 6.4 miles in 66 minutes… not exactly but then it’s not so easy to go quickly when there’s this much mud around!

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My dear, what a run

Pronounced muddier water run.

After a frustrating day yesterday, where having too many work tasks to do meant that I failed to get into the flow of any, I felt it was super-important to get out this morning and run.

Despite being chilly, it was a bright spring-like morning as well… one of those mornings that just simply makes you feel better somehow.  This said, I knew exactly what the conditions underfoot would be.

I opted for a short local run… out to Wivelsfield, up through West Wood and back along the Magical Path.  As expected it was super-muddy.  This was the the kind of mud that has deep footprints & hoof prints, has then frozen, has then been filled up with water and has finally thawed… but only recently, judging by the water temperature!  Despite being deep in places and gloriously splashy, it was safer to run through the middle of it than risk sliding on the super-slippery gradients at the margins.

The photos below should tell you all you need to know!

5.6 miles completed in 58 minutes… not bad given all the slip-sliding around!

On another subject all together, whilst I still have your attention: we have a tradition in our house of ‘unexpecting the expected’.  The upside of such an arrangement is that there are occasional Tuesday or random day presents.  The flipside is obviously that cards or presents aren’t always forthcoming on those days when it’s traditional to give them.  Like today, for example.

So Kim, if you’re reading this… Happy Valentines Day gorgeous!

Sorry that the expected card is absent, but maybe there’s something unexpected hiding behind the sofa to make you smile?

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Glad of the gloves

It was a glorious day today, but there was a really chilly wind.  I ran from my folks place again and my brother questioned whether I really needed the three layers & hat that I was wearing.  Oh yes, I did!  In fact as I ran down the ridge path towards the sea, the wind was so biting that I was glad that I’d also sneaked a pair of gloves out with me!

I ran down to Ovingdean Church, on down to the Undercliff Walk and then along to Rottingdean.  There are days when I have less physical energy, but today it was more like I had less mental energy as well.  I even stopped at the window of an Estate Agent to look at the houses… a very thinly veiled excuse to pause for a couple of minutes!

At the top of the High St I turned left onto a path I’d not been along before (which is always odd when you’ve been in an area for 50 years!).  It turned out to be a middle path between the one I normally take past the windmill and the main road up the hill.  After a slippery ascent, it eventually led to the top of Ovingdean, from where I ran back up onto the ridge.

It was at this stage that I received an apologetic call from someone at Barclaycard.  They have been inundating me with direct mail for the last couple of years and my cheerful calls asking to be taken off the database last year obviously had little effect.  A month ago I asked in a more pointed way.  Yesterday I received another letter so I had another more robust conversation… the last two of the three agents I spoke to across 30 minutes assured me that I was no longer on the list as of the beginning of January, but that they print mail 8 weeks ahead so I may even receive another letter or two before they stop.  The nice lady today (remember that it’s Sunday), called to say that the job had not been done properly in January after all, so the 8 weeks would start from today.

I mention this simply to point out how effective having a phone conversation is at taking your mind off running… by the time she rang off (having presumably endured the sound of the biting wind that I mentioned earlier in the earpiece for at least five minutes) I was almost at the top of the hill.  The rest was easy.

According to Strava I ran 6.3 miles in 63 minutes.

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Sneaking a run into January

Last weekend I decided that, having not run yet this year, I should at least get one run in before the end of January. I’m sure that I could have chosen a nicer day, but it was the 31st, so needs must. As you can see from the photos below, it was a mirky day, but at least it stopped raining before I started out.

I ran from my folks place down to Rottingdean the muddy way and then ran back up the road.

According to Strava I ran 5.9 miles in 61 minutes

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Hill Running (sort of)

After a GREAT party in London last night and a 3am bedtime, I didn’t much feel like a run this morning… mostly because I was still asleep!  When I finally did get out it was for a short run around the local roads of Burgess Hill.

The weather is still crazy warm so my shorts and t-shirt got yet another unseasonal outing.

I would show you some photos but new settings in BlueHost or WordPress today (dropping file upload size from 10mb to 2mb) make this too much hassle… any recommendations for a new host gratefully received.

According to Strava I ran 4.1 miles in 37 minutes, an average of 6.5mph.

Shorts, eight for the road

My friends will tell you that I rarely drink and that I will often drive so that I have an excuse which is plausible for those people who have already started drinking (if you follow the logic).  Part of the reason for this relates to an intense dislike of hangovers and part to a preference for retaining my faculties in unpredictable environments.

This said I do really enjoy an occasional G&T (Blue Sapphire of course), a few glasses of wine over dinner with friends, or a glass of Hepworth’s Old if I’m cooking Bolognese sauce (which gets the rest of the bottle).

All of which bears no relation to my post this morning… I’d be under the table (rather than writing this blog) if I’d drunk eight shorts.

The unseasonably warm weather has continued and I couldn’t face the thought of wearing my longs again today… so the shorts made a reappearance.  Not that I particularly wanted to run this morning and though Kim assures me is a normal Sunday sentiment, this was a different kind of reluctance.

Nevertheless, after imbibing a couple of quadspressos and a chapter of a good book, I duly turned up at the front door in my running gear.  So clean was I when I returned to the front door 80 minutes later that Kim actually accused me of having sat the around the corner for the duration.

Good idea (for future reference) but not what happened.  Instead I opted for a rare road run, choosing a boring out and back route which simply saved me the effort of thinking where to go next.  Added to which I know roughly where the mile markers are, so it’s easy to gauge when to turn around.

I actually turned around at the 4 mile mark, scaring a few people by stripping off my base layer and putting just my t-short back on.  Then, feeling slightly less hot on this December day, I retraced my steps, most of which looked a lot like this:

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Overall, according to Strava, I completed 8.2 miles in 75 minutes, an average of 6.5mph.  Now for another drink… maybe a tea without the G.

Shorts required

After a day of unseasonal grass-cutting yesterday, I felt as if I had already done enough exercise for the weekend.  Sadly that’s not how this running-blog thing works, so still I had to go out for a run.

The forecast had been for rain (hence the grass cutting yesterday), but there was obviously a change in plan and it was warm (like early October) when I left the house… though the sky was still very dark to the north.  Still expecting rain, I had my longs, a hat and a jacket on… all were superfluous and I could easily have run in shorts and a t-shirt.  In fact, by the time I got back I was wearing just the t-shirt… the other two layers tied around my waist.

The mud underfoot was much more seasonal (apart from being far from frozen) with some firm going and some squidgy, sploshy, slippery stuff… I was quickly splattered from ankles to neck (including the phone in my hand).  It was really lovely out there though, such that I would have stayed longer if I’d had more energy.

As it was, I took the shortest variant of the local loops… according to Strava I completed 6 miles in 60 minutes… an average of, er, 6 mph.

I was going to say that it seems unlikely the grass will need cutting again this year, but having just glanced at the forecast it seems that we are in for at least another couple of weeks of relatively mild (though wet) weather… maybe there is still time for a shorts & t-shirt run before Christmas!

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Windy day run

After a really lovely meal with my school friends on Saturday (aka a late night, for me), meeting Daren at 8.30 on Sunday morning at Jack & Jill was a bit of a stretch.  I got up at 7am to make sure I was fully awake by the time I left the house… though I very nearly fell asleep again whilst imbibing a quadspresso!

The weather forecast was for gusts of 40 mph, but that wasn’t quite right… it was a steady 40 mph wind and it kindly blew us up the hill, across to Ditchling Beacon and then on to Streat Bostall with barely a chance to get Daren’s new runners dirty.  Running down the bostall was also easy, but then we had to run back along the main road as far as Westmeston.

The current breed of (nameless and faceless) UK road planners like to slow cars down by reducing the sight-line at the apex of corners… once you know this, you tend to notice the way that hedges, trees etc are allowed to grow out just where it would be helpful to be able to see ahead.  This obviously means that runners (or walkers, cyclists etc) are effectively hidden from view along roads like this one.  Cars also can’t see if there’s anything coming the other way, so they are forced to stay right in (& justifiably so), close and personal, when they come across pedestrians.  Not nice for either party, but better than crashing into someone driving the other way.

In the scheme of things, however, it was of little consequence.  We were soon onto a quiet narrow lane and enjoying ourselves again.  In the lee of the Downs, the wind was barely a breeze and we trundled gently along until we reached the bottom of the tank tracks.

Then the really hard work began… the path goes directly up the scarp slope, which makes it steep, added to which we have a rule that we’re not allowed to stop until we get to the gate at the top.  I think that we were on comparatively good form and we made good progress right up until the ground flattened out at the top… and we got the full force of the wind against us!

From the gate at the top it’s downhill all the way back to the cars, which allowed us to really enjoy the wind blowing any remaining cobwebs from our heads!

According to Strava, we ran 7.7 miles in just under 80 minutes, an average of 5.8mph.  Despite having had only one early drink the night before, I then spent the rest of the day recovering on the sofa as if I had a hangover!  Oh the joys of getting older!

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Longs on 2015

The mild weather clearly could not last for ever and finally ended yesterday… this morning there were seasonal ice-covered puddles along the road.  Thus my longs and other warm gear were retrieved from the bottom of the drawer and replaced by my shorts, which I dare say will not now be seen until the Spring.

I started out on the normal muddy tracks… it obviously wasn’t quite so cold in the woods, though it certainly felt as if it was.  Surprisingly though, once out of the shade it was super-warm, no I didn’t feel over-inclined to remove either of my layers!

When I reached Wivelsfield I decided to run on the road for a change.  I ran through the village for a way then turned up Hundred Acre Lane.  Half way along there I paused to take a photo of the landscape just as a beautiful old car drove past, honking it’s horn at me in a good natured way.

Rather than return to the mud I ran to the other end of the lane and turned right along Middleton Common Road (or similar) which took me right back into Burgess Hill.  The houses along Folders Lane have changed so dramatically over the past few years, with plots being subdivided to form a series of small cul-de-sacs, or pairs of new houses.  Some of these are actually of a more contemporary design, unlike the hundreds of boring cardboard rabbit hutches that the mainstream house-builders have foisted on the town recently, with seemingly little push-back from the planners.  Burgess Hill could so easily have been a beacon for contemporary & sustainable design, but instead its design standards appear firmly rooted in the last century.

According to Strava I completed 7.2 miles in 65 minutes, an average of 6.65 mph.

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