And Repeat

The run this morning was a repeat of last week, running to the Beacon & back with my 10lb+ pack.  The pack seemed quite a bit heavier as I started out and whilst it might have had a couple of additional things in it, I think it was just me finding it hard to get going.

It was also a little muggier than last week, which meant that I was hot way before I reached the bottom of the Beacon, although when I got to the top I was strangely not as melted as last week.  It took me the same 53 minutes to reach the Beacon, where some amateur radio hacks had set up camp and although I didn’t feel the need to remove my pack, I did stop for two or three minutes before starting the return leg.

Running back was harder work, although not in a wanting to stop kind of way… in fact I took 53 minutes to get back as well, although this was a few minutes slower than last week.

So 10 miles in 1.48 and certainly starting to feel stronger ahead of the TMB.

Congratulations to Mark Johnson today, who completed Marathon number 50!  That’s a pretty dedicated training programme for his 51st marathon which he should be able to fly in, say… what, 3.15 Mark?  Good lad!

PS, readers, that’s a stretch target for Mark, as he normally saunters around without really pushing himself in somewhere over 3.30 and, shocking as it might seem, sometimes considerably more… lazy git.  [that should stir him up a bit!]

J&J 9am

A  text from Mini-me Mark on Saturday night settled any question about where I was running this morning.  Jack and Jill, 9am.  Alas, the balance of the text outlined how far we would be running: 14 miles.  Ho hum!

It was a beautiful Spring morning and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the London Marathoners who might be dehydrating if it stayed like this.  Mark & I had no complaints on the matter though!

Our run took us along the route of the South Downs Way as far a the A27 and back again, though as other runners and regular readers will know, there are a couple of challenging aspects to this route.  Somewhere after the six-mile mark, there is a steep hill that really belongs in the mountains… and it becomes a tortuously steep descent on the way back… though, mercifully it is relatively short.

Worse, is that the first two miles of the return leg, barring the aforementioned, is a draining uphill slog, after which there’s another 5 miles to complete.

Still, Mark is great company and the miles fairly whizzed by, especially as he agreed to let me practice a presentation on him, as best as I could remember without the slides, for work next week.  Despite helping the time pass more quickly, this actually makes for a harder run since the dialogue is controlling the exhalation… I had the stitch for quite a while early on.

Our discussion inevitably got around to marathons (for the avoidance of doubt Mark, NO!) and ultra marathons (DEFINITELY NO!).  Mark has completed about 44 marathons (including Ultras) so far and is thinking about a three-day event later in the year which would add three to that number… circa 35 miles each day.  C-R-A-Z-Y!  Count me OUT for that one too!

So our 14 mile run took us 2.20… a shade slower than the leading woman took to make it round the London marathon course… but hey, we had more hills, and probably more fun too!

Of a cold dark dank groyne

If you are easily scared, I suggest that you might want to avoid looking at the photo of Mark and I below… though I have to say that I blame the photographer (me) rather than the subject matter!

I’d arranged to meet Mark after work so that we could run the section of the marathon route along Church Road in Hove, down Grand Avenue and out to the Power Station.

It was already dark and threatening rain when we set out, but I was still slightly overdressed for the occasion, what with the day-glo jacket from my car over my normal Gore jacket.  I tend not to run at night, in part because most of my gear is black and I wasn’t sure how visible I needed to be… m’Lud.  In retrospect I think I would have been okay in just my normal gear… built up area, street-lights etc.

By the time we reached the seafront I was already over-hot and at Hove Lagoon I HAD to stop to take a layer off… this left me wearing a t-shirt under the day-glo… not exactly an optimal combination, but at least I could tie my Gore jacket around my waist.

Despite my thinking that I would be happy to end the run at that point (even the jelly-babies came out!), we ran on down through the industrial estate and out onto the end of the groyne where I had met Matt and his friends on March 14th.

The view was somewhat different, on account of it being dark… the beach-looking thing in the foreground is the top of the wall that I was leaning on for a sharp picture and I was too scared to move the camera any further forward in case I dropped it off the other side!

The view in the other direction was…

… scaaaary!

We then ran back towards Hove and I realised that it had felt hot before because we had been running with the wind… it was now chilling my bare arms and blowing my oversized day-glo off my shoulder!  Okay, so it wasn’t bad enough to put my Gore back on, but I did don my hat and gloves to take the edge off.

Not being too familiar with the area, the end of the run appeared very suddenly and having said our goodbyes, I then managed to jump into my car just before the heavens opened with a gusto!

Distance: 8.55 (according to Mark and

Time: 1.13

Average speed: a healthy 7mph

Around the page… and some

There was a beautiful mist this morning when we got up and like yesterday morning, it was clear that the sun was working away to burn it off.

The task this morning was to run a short section of path running south from Ditchling that I’d not noticed on the map before.  In order to get there I ran down to Oldlands Mill, past my favouritist house and down to Ditchling Church.  Here I noticed a path running in the right kind of direction which took me down to New Road, just outside the village limits.  It seems an odd place to dump you out, with no onward paths and I struggle to imagine who would really use this little cut-through.

I ran down the to the junction with the Beacon road and onto the path that bisects the corner.  Narrow little path it was, twisting and turning behind the various houses (and an amazing tree-house too) until it finally reached the farmland behind.  When I got to Underhill Lane and Burnhouse Bostall, the sun was just lifting the lid on the morning and the view of the scarp slope was glorious.

I maintained a gentle jog as the bostall rose, keeping going despite the gradient.  As the slope began to flatten off, there was a curious gust of hot air, like I had just walked past a boiler flue and seconds later there was another.  The world above the mist-line was HOT and the hot air was tumbling down the slope to meet the cooler air below.  On reaching the top I just had to stop (and hold the gatepost up for a moment or three!) to admire the view.

I then decided to run to Jack & Jill & return north as directly as possible.  There are very few people who would have been able to turn me from my direct return, but Mark Johnson is one of them and he was stood at the next gate in parly with a cyclist friend of his.  He had only just started (ie, he was going in the opposite direction to me) so I turned around and ran with him.  Mark keeps a great pace and the couple of times we’ve run together, the miles just fall away with a flow of light conversation.  The same was true here and I suddenly found myself at Blackcap and the one hour thirty mark.

We parted and I retraced my steps towards the Beacon, dropping down to Plumpton Agricultural College and heading north, missing the path Northeast and thus having to turn East at Plumpton Racecourse.

I reached Streat Church just after two hours and was soon heading north on the Westmeston path… and fast running out of energy.  I made it to the ford / railway before I had to walk, but from there it was a real struggle.  I tricked myself into running by counting to 30 walking and then 60 running and repeated this all the way through Blackbrook Woods and back across the Common.

When I reached the house after 2 hours and 53 minutes I was too exhausted to even stretch, which I may come to regret and even sitting here now, some three hours later, I’m still feeling pretty weak.  The speed  for the 9 miles going out was just over 6mph, but I only managed 5.5mph on the 7.6 miles return leg.  The overall of 5.75mph is actually not bad all things considered.

The way I measure my runs, when I’m not running with someone sporting a GPS, is marking the route against the edge of an A4 sheet and I can happily report that 16.6 miles makes it all the way around and another couple of inches!  This is officially my longest run since I started my blog!

Wind at Mark two

This morning dawned windy and Kim decided that she would run/walk along the top of the Downs to break in her new shoes… and start to get back into the swing of things since hurting her knee skiing earlier in the year.  Despite new shoes, I wasn’t really in the mood, but she kicked me out into the ferocious wind at Jack and Jill anyway and off I ran.

The first thing to report about the new shoes is that they feel pretty much like the last ones… which is a good thing.  They really are extra light and super comfortable bearing in mind the range of nasty surfaces I run on.  My right shoe grazed my left heel a few times and I started to think the soles were spread more than before, until I realised it was the southerly wind blowing my foot across… it really was blowy up there.  I had fortunately opted for my Gore jacket this morning and iQ beanie and I really needed both!

I reached Ditchling Beacon in 15 minutes (I’m sure that we used to take 20) and continued east at a good pace.  The rain was sporadic at first, but every drop was supercharged by the wind and really stung my bare legs.  There was some kind of Horse event on, but it must have been organised by the queen from Alice in Wonderland as they were all going in different directions.

Having reached the Beacon so quickly, my plan was to head for Blackcap so that I could see just how much I had improved… progress certainly felt good.  I was busily tromping along, thinking that my pace was now strong enough that I should call Mark Johnson to arrange a long-overdue second run… when there he was, running towards me.  SO bizarre!

Deciding that Blackcap could wait for another day, I turned round and headed back towards the Beacon with Mark.  We passed Kim on the way, who was still heading out towards Blackcap, and the conversation helped to lessen the impact of the rain, which was starting to increase… or it might have been that Mark was running on the windward side of me!  We parted at the Beacon, agreeing to organise another run.

From here I ran down the track underneath the road and despite the stony conditions and exposed roots, I let the brakes off.  My normal speed is around 6 or 7mph, but the average for that one kilometer section was 9.375mph… I reckon some of my more intrepid peers could have run down quicker still, but not without being on the raggedy edge!

I dropped into Ditchling and climbed back out up to Oldlands Windmill.  I feel really sorry for these guys.  They had an open day a couple of months back but it was a glorious day without a hint of wind to turn the sails.  The people attending the one today were all huddled in the marquee out of the rain and wind… too much wind to allow the sails to turn!

Heading back towards home, I had to pass a dog-walker with her hood up… I was hoping that she or the dog would notice me approaching from behind as I didn’t want to just run past her in such a narrow space.  As it was, neither did and my spoken warning caused her to jump… visibly!  Very sorry ‘n all Miss!

The rest of the route home was as uneventful as it was windy and wet, but I finished at an acceptable pace and quickly jumped into the shower before I got cold.  The morning’s exertions had netted me 10.5 miles in one hour 35 minutes and had elegantly taken the shine of the new runners, shown below with Kim’s colour co-ordinated and equally wet & mud-splattered pair.