Tiger feet

There was a larger number than normal against today in my running schedule and I was interested to know whether I was going to be able to complete it… and if so, what state I would be in afterwards.

I’m waiting for Kurt at Run to get some new woollen Thurlos in for me and my mother had kindly darned my current pair ready for me… thanks Mum!

The one thing I love about going from Woodingdean is that you have to start by running downhill and I made Rottingdean in about 20 minutes.  From there I headed West along the coast and it was another chilly day, with shallow icy puddles in places on the pavement.

The sun had come out briefly when I was having breakfast this morning, but by the time I got out running it had disappeared behind a blanket of cloud… and one which kept spitting snow at me at that!  But the breeze in my face was only gentle and as I wear all the right gear it was actually a good day to run.

There was about the same balance of unsociable runners as last week, but enough people waved back at me, smiled or simply nodded to keep me happy and I reached the pier in 52 minutes.  I continued along the seafront and past the peace memorial where I turned around last week.

I continued on.  Past the King Alfred centre.  Past rows of colourful beach huts huddling together in the cold.  Past the tennis courts.  And then… some git deliberately ran into me.

Actually, that’s an example of the writers imagination… Cliff didn’t run into me at all, but rather made out as if he was going to, while Andy, Clive and Garth looked on!  I’m still amazed by their sense of timing.  I had said that I was going to run to the Hove Lagoon and they had set out from the kayak club around the time I left Woodindean, had run right up past the old power-station to the very end of the spit and arrived back at the lagoon just before I got there.  They even humoured me by turning around and running back to my turning point with me!

Alas, in the hubbub, I forgot to make a note of the time, but I do remember thinking that it was an awfully long way back to base from there… and how much my legs were already hurting!

Garth, Andy and Cliff quickly drew out a lead, leaving Clive to run back with me… I’m not sure how well that suited Clive, but it suited me fine and it’s always great to catch up with him… which I finally did when we got to the kayak club!  En route he saw first hand how unsociable the other runners are, although I did manage to get a few people to say Hi back to us.

Here I paused for a few minutes to be sociable, asking for a stretch to ease my painful thigh… Andy showed me the magical stretch and Marina, a physio who just happened to be standing beside me, told me how to rev it up a bit.  AAAARGH was all I could manage by way of thanks when it hit home!

Actually, looking at this photo, is it any wonder that people don’t say Hi to me!

I left the ensemble, thankfully noting the time (1 hour 55 minutes) and headed East, passing more self-absorbed runners, along with a good few who were thankfully more engaging.  And then, just before the Ovingdean roundabout, my faith in human nature was completely restored by a lady on a bicycle who slowed up beside me to ask what I was training for and then wished me luck before pushing on again.

It’s about 2.5 miles up the hill from Rottingdean and my legs were openly shouting how painful they were, but I pressed on.  I’ve probably said before that I find it really interesting trying to figure out what is holding me back at any given moment.  Here it was not my heart or my lungs, both of which seemed to be purring along quite happily, nor my running muscles per se… although they were clearly tired, they seemed very happy to continue pushing me up the hill, step after step.  The limit really seemed to be the tightness in the tendons in my right hip and my knees… more stretching required!

I made the end in 2 hours 55 minutes, overshooting my target by covering 18.35 miles in total.  This is an average of 6.29mph, which is mildly disappointing when compared with the 6.7mph last week and the 6.48mph the week before and is not fast enough to gain the marathon time I require.  Still, this did include a social stop at the kayak club, and also two subsequent stops to get something out of my sock.  The fact that I covered 5.5 miles in the final hour  means that I covered the previous 12.85 miles at 6.7mph… which makes me happier again!

By the way,

新年快樂

Which I think means Happy New Year… it being the start of the Chinese year of the Tiger.  So Gung Hay Fat Choy and Xin Nian Kuai Le!

Happy Niu Year

Hot on the heels of Burns Night this year comes Chinese New Year, or rather Niu year as it’s the Year of the Ox.

The calender, started by the Xia people circa 2,205 BC, is based on astronomical observations and celebrates the start of the Lunar New Year.  Each new year commences on the second New Moon after the Winter Solstice.  The Winter Solstice is when the apparent path of the sun reaches it’s lowest point to the horizon in the Northern Hemisphere, which is around December 21st.  Depending on the “age” of the moon at this point, the second new moon could arrive any where from 30 to 59 days later.   

In the calendar, days are measured by the duration of one self rotation of the earth, months are measured by the duration of the rotation of the moon around the earth and years are measured by the time it takes for the earth to rotate around the Sun.

Most people agree that this year is the 4706th year of the calender (or if you really want to be confused, it could be the 4705th or even the 4645th), but it is fortunately not recorded as a straight number, rather being broken down into two main cycles, one of 12 years (the Chinese animals) and one sexagesimal or of 60 years.  

The 60 year cycle is a combination of the 12 animals (Rat, Tiger, Dragon, Horse, Monkey, Dog, Ox, Rabbit, Snake, Sheep, Rooster, Pig),  the five elements (metal, wood, earth, fire and water) and either Yin or Yan.  

This year, starting 26th January 2009, is Ji Chou, the 10th year of the cycle and is Yin, Earth and Ox.

According to Feng Shui experts, it should be a much better year than 2008.  Last year (Earth Rat) was (apparently) marked by the instability of earth over water, whilst this year combines like elements, which portend peace, harmony and recovery.  It is a time for healing and reconstruction of the previous damage done to human relationships, ecology and economy.  Phew!

All that is left is for me to wish you Kung Hei Fat Choy… Congratulations and be Prosperous!

For further reading, look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_New_Year or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_calendar