Bokking the trend

Long term readers of FosterRuns will remember that I used to run a lot with the eponymous Bok (named after the mighty fast and tireless Springbok) and it’s fair to say that the speed of my running has probably declined in proportion with the frequency of our runs.

The deep rumble of a throaty V8 heralded the arrival of the Bok this morning and we were soon running down the road, already deep in conversation… but at a speed that made it difficult for me to talk!  After five minutes he casually asked if the pace was too fast for me, before continuing unabated in spite of my gasped response.


It was a beautiful morning to be out, especially as overnight rain had reduced the humidity and brought a little extra depth of colour to the countryside.  It also felt good to be running for a second time in the same week, rather than the recent bi-weekly nonsense.  More than anything else, it was great to run in such excellent company, a facet that my recent running has been sadly missing.

We followed my normalish route (which you can see here on Strava) but time seemed to pass so much more quickly than normal because of the focus on conversation rather than running.

Oh, and because we were running a little faster than I have been used to lately… 6.3 miles in 56 minutes, an average of 6.75 mph.  Of course, that’s not particularly fast… just faster than is normal for me at the moment, as you can see by all the PBs for the run below (added to which my phone showed PBs for 1km and half a mile too!).


When I suggested that the Bok run on at the end, he effortlessly made the leap to warp speed and disappeared almost instantaneously!

One thing did surprise me about my normally fastidious running partner… his runners are not as sparkly clean as they used to.  I used to derive great pleasure from taking him on particularly muddy paths in order to see the gleam of his shoes disappear into the murk, but by the following run they would be back to sparkling again.  Not so today… they were simply clean, the sign of a man who works hard at prioritising the important things in life.  Like staying fit enough to run faster.


My runners never sparkle, but there’s still a message hidden in there for me… if I choose to figure out what it is…

Conversational pace

Whilst I am generally up at 6am weekdays, I was clearly out of practice for early morning running, since Nick was gently tapping on the front door before I had even finished getting ready on Friday morning.

We took a road run around Burgess Hill that started at a pace that I had also forgotten… fast… such that I had to quickly deploy the sea anchors to slow us down to to a more conversational pace.  It was cold enough for longs, two layers and a jacket, hat and gloves… but of course the irrepressible Nick was wearing shorts!

After an enjoyable run we stopped for a brief chat before we went our seperate ways for breakfast and I then ran on back to the house.  A total of 5.2 miles in 46 minutes including our stationary chat, 6.78mph.

Five at seven

When I was staggering down the stairs at six o’clock this morning with stiff legs from Sunday and a painful back, the idea of going for a run seemed a little silly.

However, I had arranged to meet the Bok for a slow run (HA, there’s two words that rarely appear in such close proximity!) so I hobbled off down the road to meet him just after seven.

His latest road route took us around the town and whilst conversation helped the pace flow, it was clear that he could have sprinted off ahead at any point… such that we were two minutes down on his normal time after just two miles!

We still managed 5.34 miles in 45 minutes… which at 7.12mph is pretty good for me!

Bitten Bok bottom

After weeks of running once a week and on my own, I’ve now run with two different friends in three days.  This morning I met the Bok at 6.30am (eeek) for a quick run around the local area… and quick it was too.

We ran 7 miles in 1.01 which actually equates to an average speed in excess of 7mph if you take out the time spent trying not to be eaten by two big, poorly behaved dogs.

I actually felt teeth on my elbow at one point as the two dogs jumped angrily around us, whilst the Bok came away with skin missing on his butt… it was a really scary moment and difficult to erase from my mind so I really hope that he doesn’t inflict the view on anyone else!

I suspect that what happened was the owner saw us running up the field behind her and called her dogs to her, fearing for our safety… the dogs heard the fear in her voice and misinterpreted it.  Easily done, as we humans know all too well and no harm done, bar the lingering picture of a bitten Bok bottom!

Our route, for the memory banks, was out past Ote Hall and the pyjama-llamas, down Hundred Acre Lane and back down the Magical Path to the Bok sanctuary.  We were deep in conversation the entire way around, such that I was surprised both by the distance and the speed… and whilst I didn’t even think to take any photos, it actually felt like a walk in the park.  Must do that again… sans the dog bite, obviously.

Le retour de le Bok

Bonjour tout le monde!

After a particularly slow, frustrating afternoon yesterday, I actually contemplated going out for a run (and I can’t remember the last time that happened of an evening!), whilst dinner was cooking in the oven.

Unfortunately I got sidetracked, but the irrepressible Bok must have picked up the vibes, as about an hour later and completely out of the blue, he suddenly thought to call… to arrange a run!

And so at 7am this morning we set out for a delightful run around one of the old circuits: out to the (recently refurbished but now starting to look decidedly dilapidated again) Royal Oak, through West Wood to the industrial estate and back again via the Magical Path and Ditchling Common.

It was a lovely natterful run but, as in the excellent film Le Retour de Martin Guerre, I had to wonder whether this was really the same Bok that I used to run with… and like the film, in an entirely positive way.

I won’t bore you with the important stuff, but this Bok (quite possibly an imposter) did not lead the charge, actually stopped to catch his breath at one point and though he initiated a final sprint to the end, then didn’t have the famous speed of old.

And yet it took about the same 45 minutes to complete the 5.23 mile circuit as we quite often used to complete it in.  A merest snip under 7mph.

It took me quite a while to work my way back through all the references to the Bok in my blog, to the last time I actually ran with him.  I’m glad I was sitting down when I finally figured it out: 6th December, 2008… WOW!

That’s 2 years and 7 months ago… it may have felt almost like yesterday, but no wonder he seemed a little different!

The return of the BEEP!

After weeks of trying to match diaries, the Bok duly turned up this morning at the allotted time for a quick run.  The weather seemed relatively mild to me, but he must have been under the weather as he was adament it was freezin’, so much so that he had his gloves on.  He was sufficiently adamant to persuade me to wear my gloves too,

We set out, with him getting his excuses in early… pain in the back, pain in the knee, pain in the ar… oh no, that was the fact that the mini-Boks had woken him up five times the night before!  Bearing in mind all the pain and tiredness he was exuding, I was surprised that he still wanted to rush off like a racehorse on oats… although I reined him in and we settled into a more leisurely pace!

We ran an old favourite route, out past the Royal Oak to Wivelsfield, through the woods to Ditchling Industrial Estate, down the magical path & back across the common.  I quickly removed my gloves as it was much warmer than I had been lead to believe… which correlates (strangely) to the fact that later, over breakfast, he confessed that he had sweated buckets, putting it down to how fast we had run! 

What nonsense!  He was still sweating when I saw him last night and it was plainly that he was overdressed for the weather, trussed up as he was in a three peice suite.  I’m kidding, of course… no-one can wear more than a chair in these troubled times.

We we half way through the wood when I heard the first Beep beep beep BEEP, the telltale sign that his heart rate was elevated… and this on a flat section.  I duly increased my speed and was rewarded with a muffled expletive and a further two renditions from his heart rate monitor.  To be fair though, despite the beeps and the fact I was running straight through all the mud and he way tiptoeing around the edges (well okay, strategic mud-hopping), he kept up pretty well!

Along the magical path, which is also more or less flat, I once again heard the telltail Beep beep beep BEEP and I once again increased the pace.  You may think I am being very unkind, but there are some unwritten laws (well, actually they are not even unwritten now, are they?) and this is one of them.  Snigger snigger!

Over breakfast, which was achieved after running 5.2 miles in 45 minutes (6.9mph), he probabaly consumed more than the 658 calories he reckons to have burned off.


If like me, you find creative stimulation in the random juxtaposition of different ideas, then I’m sure you appreciate the FOSTER concept of post-rationalisation.  I guess that it could be taken to mean the hard times that inevitably follow when companies are nationalised, or even sending a letter detailing the ratio of n to a dog called Alice (think about it?).

But here I am simply using it as a proxy for catching up of two weeks of missed posts.  However, whilst I guess that strictly speaking the term suggests a certain correctness of chronological order, I make no apology for their randomness of time.

So it was that yesterday, after, what, two weeks off, I turned up at Bok Park and donned my runners.

You may remember that last time I ran here, the Bok got us hopelessly lost and I vowed that I would not return until he bought a map.  This he had done, and he had also mentally prepared a route for us of about the one hour mark.

Some early banter involved, once again, his old trainers… having bought new ones (pictured above) the last time he was in the States, he has so far only wafted them across in front of my eyes and as this morning threatened a vague shower of rain so they were once again left firmly tucked up in their shoebox.

If I ever see them in action, I think it would be rude of me not to christen them with whatever mud I can find… although I suspect that might involve my blood being spilt in the process!

Anyway, back to reality.

I have no idea which route we took other than there seemed to be some vacillation of our being on and off of the intended course.  Off-course was worrying, as I still have tender (as in sore) memories of last time around, but the discovery (make that discoveries, as it happened several times) that we were in fact on route (read: in a place he recognised?), were moments of jubilation.

Would I be giving the outcome away if I said that the title of this post was going to be ‘that’s another fine mess you’ve gotten me into’?  Hmmm.

After thirty minutes we had covered 5km on the super-watch-me-satellite-tracker and had, I think, turned for home, but as the hour passed, the end was not nigh.  Worse, at various points we were breaking the sort of new ground that explorers would have used a machete to get through.  I kid you not!

And I always worry more when the ‘firing in progress’ signs are absent from the signposts, in case they forgot to put them out, or check for trespassing runners, before they started practicing.  Even if, in this case, they were only Sea Cadets.

Eventually, having passed a surprised David Bellamy a couple of times in the thicket, we reached a tall fence which was clearly meant to be very effective at keeping people like us out.  Or maybe in.  That wasn’t clear.

Fortunately, after a little searching, we found the local wildlife had managed to excavate a route underneath and the adrenalin made it easy to slip through.  Into what?  A deep, but (fortunately) dry gully.  In retrospect I am reminded of a computer game, where successfully overcoming each obstacle leads to a new set of challenges.  The satellite watch suggested we needed to cross the VERY big and slightly strange field, rather than slink around the edge… so off we set.

Who was more surprised I’m not sure: Nick or the guy with the 4×4 and all the pumping equipment?  Whoever it was, it was not me… right then pretty much nothing would have surprised me.  Except when I landed from the top the next fence and whilst trying not to end up in the stingers I’d noticed in free-fall, I felt the muscles in my undercarriage soak up the impact!

No matter. the man who was testing the nature of the gas & liquid output from this old landfill site (now a slightly odd looking, very large and surprisingly pretty field) had been very helpful.  And most specific with his directions, which encouraged me to ignore the Bok’s renewed sense of direction.  The way didn’t look right, but it was perfect and we exited through the one gate onto a road that didn’t entail any further adventures.  Unfortunately the road was nowhere near… well anywhere really!

At least the Bok knew the way back and only two things of note stood between us and a very welcome and tasty cup of coffee.  First, Mrs Bok phoned me on my mobile to ask a) if we were lost and b) if we needed to be picked up from somewhere.  This was said as if it were a regular occurrence.  Second, having said that we were very nearly almost back, we got lost in a housing estate!

Just over eleven miles were covered in a pedestrian one hour 54 minutes… what, 5.5mph or so.  Actually, bearing in mind how much lost we did, I think that’s pretty amazing!

Does anyone know a good teacher of map-reading to prevent Stanley getting me into yet another fine mess?

A Bok day

This morning dawned bright and slightly cool, but for once I had no problem getting started.  Unlike Nick’s car which was suffering from a garmin-esque loss of battery power.  Not a man to let such a small detail stand in his way, he duly arrived and we set out at a slow pace down the road.

The Bok didn’t get his name for no reason and whilst I have occasionally managed to develop tactics to slow him down to my pace, or unsettle him, he usually figures out what I’m up to.  Alas. 

Except that he’s been tres busy, and the easy way to catch up with his news was to chat during a run.  Why don’t you bring me up to speed, Nick?

Whilst he talked, we headed out to the Royal Oak and up through Hundred Acre Wood where, despite the rain that we’ve had recently, the going was not too muddy.  Not that this was a problem as he was wearing his old trainers again… although he did tease me by showing me his sparkling new ones in his gym bag before we left!

Shame really, because I’m sure that I could have found a lot more mud if he’d been wearing them!

Deep into the wood, it finally dawned on him that he was puffing away between words while I was coasting along uttering ‘uh-huh’ in the appropriate places.  He zipped up and I zipped off ahead for a few minutes before eventually having to stop for, er… a drink of water. 

And some oxygen.

We crossed the Common chased by a herd of bullocks (sorry, that’s a load of bo’ks actually, but it did make him look round sharpish for a moment) and then on through to Wellhouse Lane. 

It was odd that someone had stolen almost all the puddles along the track and had also filled in some of the resulting empty hollows with road aggregate.  As we ran, I tried to figure out whether travellers had done this in preparation for some neat summer quarters, or that the owners had got fed up with someone stealing their puddles.  Either might help to explain the car that was jammed up against the gate, sideways, designed presumably to block all but the most intrepid of entrances.

The front runner changed a couple of times in the valley past the water tower, with the Bok streaming ahead into the dip and me overtaking him up the other side… the real moment of glory (for me) was not that I reached the top first, but that his heart-rate monitor finally cracked under the pressure and emitted a solitary beep-beep-beep-beep, before he gagged it with a deft right-hander.

Despite his heart-rate maxxing out, I am sad to report that it was I who then had to pause for air while the Bok continued ahead.

He graciously paused for me to catch up and I then stayed with him for the sprint up past the station, but he stretched ahead once again for most of the way down the hill the other side. 

Alas for the Bok, my coup-de-grace was the application of some differentiated strategic planning.  We always stop on the same corner, which is what he did.  But I unilaterally decided to move the goalposts right up to the house and by the time he’d twigged that I’d sprinted on past, it was too late and victory (pyrrhic, of course) was mine!

We covered a satisfying 6.7 miles in 59 minutes and celebrated by eating toast with espresso in the garden.


After working on a project late into the night, the alarm seemed to go off all too soon this morning but though it was still dark, I alighted from the bed with a spring in my still-stiff-from-the-last-run legs and got the coffee pot on.  It’s amazing how much easier it is to run (or motivate yourself to do many other things) when there are two or more of you.

Nick duly arrived and we headed out into the grey morning, which was not as cold as I had anticipated.  He was after a short run so we looped across the Common as far as the industrial estate, but on the way back the Bok in him decided 35 minutes was too short so we continued on into Wivelsfield and came back via Ote Hall.

Lots of surface water & mud today so lots of slip-sliding-away (we know a song about that mate) and Nick tried patiently to explain the idea behind transmogrification, which I now reckon might have been one of the inputs that Philip Pullman had in his mind when creating daemons in The Golden Compass.  It comes from a comic book strip, but I’ll get him explain it to you some other time!

I can imagine that I was a bit like a sack of spuds for company this morning and having dragged the sack around most of the way, I think we were both surprised when I picked up my heels and sprinted (only for a minute of so) towards the end.

Overall, 6.06 miles according to super watch in one hour one minute makes 5.96mph and not, somewhat importantly, the 9 point something that the watch was claiming… which casts doubt on the Bok’s earlier claim of an 8.57mph run last week.  Some quick retro calculation puts the figure more correctly at 7mph for his run, which is still great by any standards after the excess of Christmas!

Showing the outgoing year a clean pair of heels


It was a really good start to the year… waking up about 30 seconds before my alarm went off at eight.  Not that early I know, but too early for most and a great time to go for a run.  

The morning was mild , quite still and slightly misty and sound seemed to be deadened, which meant that I probably scared the tails off about 20 squirrels.  As I ran out towards Ote Hall there was no-one around and the first person I saw was a farmer going about his chores.  There were a couple of cars on the main road at Wivelsfield, but I could have crawled across on all fours with no danger.

The Alpacas eyed me hungrily but I made it past both them and the sheep in the next field without becoming a tasty new year snack.  I passed a cheery family out for a walk as I dropped down into the village centre and then I headed out onto Hundred Acre Lane where I saw the bunny-rabbit tail of a red deer bounding into the undergrowth… clearly a relative of the Bok.  Down through the wood, a slight detour around a field looking for the exit and then back up into and through the wood along to the end of Spatham Lane.

From here I cut across the Common, over the railway line and down to Wellhouse Lane, past the water tower and over to the other railway line.  There I following the path alongside it to the station, stopping en route to take the weird photo above, before pushing up the last hill to the top of town and back down to home.

In all, I was out for one hour twenty-nine, covering 9.125 miles (or so!) at a speed of 6.08mph.  I was very happy with this, despite the fact that Nick had emailed me to quite frankly, er… gloat, that he had run nearly 6 miles in 45 minutes… a speed of 8.57mph.  I always said he was faster!!  Way to go Nick, although that was technically last year!

The rest of the day was spent relaxing in front of the… that’s rubbish, of course… we’ve been working our little socks off lately doing up Kim’s flat and today was no different: cutting down an old cupboard-side that I just cannot remove as it’s had the gas pipe and the dist-board for the heating system carefully woven through it; cutting the kitchen worktop (and pulling the muscles in my back trying to test it for size… which I didn’t manage to do!); working out where the tiles will go in the bathroom and fixing the first couple of rows; getting the bathroom door-frame ready so that I can hang the door on the other side; failing to remove the skirting and having to rebuild it (work in progress… sorry Kim!); drinking tea and occasionally swearing… though these latter seem to be the only aspects of being a builder that come naturally!