New splodge

I still have some old posts to catch up on, but I thought that I’d get some new ones down while they are fresh in my ailing memory!  Yesterday was a red letter day, as, after threatening for some time, we finally made it down to the Run Shop.  It was a great choice of day to go as both Kurt and Fred were in there.

I spend a lot of time talking to my clients about good strategy and I’m going to write a short piece on my other site about this place, as it’s such a great example.

Suffice to say that the range, though not vast, is carefully selected from the perspective of runners and the guys engage with each customer to find out what they really need… and quite simply help them buy it.  No pressure sales here, just good old fashioned, quality service!

Kim’s shoes, though not high mileage, were getting on a bit, having seen life before the Berlin marathon in 2004.  My runners, though only bought last October, have been used extensively right through the winter mud, have probably clocked up over 600 miles and have not been kept in pristine condition (especially in comparison to the Bok’s shoes) and have thus deteriorated… that’s my finger sticking through the webbing above and the other shoe has the same damage.

So, after five short runs around the block in different pairs of shoes we came away with some lovely Run shopping bags.

Imagine my surprise however, when I looked at what I had bought.

Okay, so I bought two pairs… and the other pair has an orange right shoe, before you start to worry.

The white ones are the updated version of the Saucony shoe I’ve been wearing since October (in fact, my last three pairs have been Saucony) and they are very light and yet sufficiently splodgy for the off-road terrain I favour.

The orange ones are going to sit and wait for the return of the autumn mud and a quick glance at the soles will explain why!

If you recall, yesterday was a beautiful day and I wondered idly how long it would take me to take the shine off the new purchases.  I guess that I needn’t have worried.

Bush Thwacker


It was another chilly morning in Sussex and the glorious sunshine was one of the two reasons that I wished I had worn my Oakleys (no, I don’t have Prada sunnies either).  The other was that the Bok was getting his own back for my mud splishing, by thwacking bushes across my face.

Mind you, part of that had to do with my proximity running behind him, itself the result of a reversal in fortune, energy wise.  Yes, let’s be clear about this: I was on form for a change.  I realised this when we got to the first hill (that’s a low rise to you Cliff) and the Bok started to push harder: where he would normally open up a lead, today I just went with him.

We went out via Ote Hall and around to the north of Wivelsfield, dropping through the middle of the village and heading south on Hundred Acre Lane where I was once again able to match his pace and raise it a little on the rise. 

An indicator that he was finding it harder by comparison was that the alarm on his heart-rate monitor, which sounds to warm of impending heart failure, kept sounding.  Beep beep BEEP!  Having slightly more energy that normal, I pushed the pace a little harder every time I heard the alarm sound, keeping it going off for as long as possible.  Beep, beep BEEP!  Beep, beep, BEEP!  You might say that this suggests a total disregard for his well-being, but I feel that he has proved pretty conclusively that he is virtually indestructible in this regard (note the qualifications on both counts!) so I felt no qualms about it, whatsoever!  When the sunne shyneth, make hey!

Heading back through the woods, we came across an old bike and since he was clearly finding it hard work running, he tried to cycle instead.  Despite being a mad keen cyclist as well as all-round mini Olympic team, the combination of the state of the bike and the gradient of the terrain proved too much for him and he had to lay down for moment, as you can see for yourself above.

The run continued in a similar vein, with me generally taking (and extending) the lead until we got to the home straight.  This is where he normally runs me completely ragged, so I thought I would play him at his own game and to the tune of his alarm, I gently upped the pace the whole way down the road until I was virtually sprinting.

Beep, beep, BEEP!  Beep, beep, BEEP!  Beep, beep, BEEP! 

Then nothing.

I thought it was the batteries on his watch that had expired, but I suddenly found myself running on my own.  More than slightly alarmed, I retraced my steps to find him walking along very gently, the power outage not in the watch, but in the owner.

I have to report that there were several perfectly reasonable mitigating circumstances (note that I deliberately went out of my way not to use the word excuses) as to why he had less energy than normal, but alas I am unable to make further hey under pain of extreme torture!

According to the beep beep watch we covered 7.12 miles in one hour and one minute, a speed of 7mph on the nose, which I am pretty pleased with personally.  His maximum heart-rate was apparently 193 – I’d welcome comments as to whether this shows that this 40 year old is fit, or just passing his perspiration date.

Post-script.  In the spirit of friendship, I told him about my having pushed harder when his alarm sounded.  As a measure of his competitiveness, he immediately worked out how to to turn the sound off!

Friday mud fun

Pressed for time on Friday morning, Nick and I managed only a quick run around.  

His trainers arrived dirty and thanks to an excellent run, left looking like they were no longer new, though I feel sure that over the weekend they will have be reborn in the washing machine! 

Mine, by contrast, are camouflaged in case I need to hide at any point.  This is mainly because, between deliberate offensives and genuine slips (of which there was one today), I regularly splatter Nick in mud and I’m sure that at some point his trademark good naturedness will snap and I’ll need to disappear before something hits the fan. 

We covered just over 5 miles on our 45 minute run at an average speed of 6.9mph.

Splish splash splosh

I ran earlier.  Much earlier.  Before eating Kim’s delicious chili.  Before spending the day tiling the bathroom at the flat and working out what still needs doing in the kitchen.  Before hand-washing my mudden (my new technical term suggesting muddy AND sodden) running gear and showering me off too.

Eight ate handsomely at Grant & Karen’s last night and we were treated to a riot of flavours along with some of Grant’s friends that we’d not previously met.  Grant, a chef of some renown, was in a Moroccan mood and whilst I can’t begin to remember what any of the dishes were called, they were certainly very tasty!

After such great food and a late night (and after a heavy day working at the flat), the alarm went off too early this morning and I took the tiny window of opportunity to get up, otherwise I would have fallen back to deep sleep!  The espresso machine dished up the goods and I sat supping it until I was at least half awake.  Then I was out the door!

I quite fancied a long run, but I really didn’t feel up to it, so I started with a short run instead, thinking I would see where it got me.  It had to be the wettest morning underfoot so far this year… thank goodness for Kurt’s woolen Thurlo’s, otherwise my poor little toes would have been washed away in all the cold water.  If you’re precious about how your trainers look, running in the countryside at this time of year is probably not for you.

I ran South towards Ditchling, thinking I would then track East as far as the tunnel under the railway line and then come back via the Common, but when I emerged onto Spatham Lane with a choice to head North or South, I had only been out for 25 minutes so it seemed churlish to head for home so soon.  So I headed South again towards Westmeston at the foot of the Downs.

After trying one or two paths that didn’t take me in the right direction (a habit of mine), I eventually found myself running up the scarp slope of the Downs and arrived at the top between Blackcap and the Beacon.  There’s more to say about the climb, of course.  It was muddy, very muddy and I reckon that Dai’s new shoes would have been a real boon!  As it was, I had to stop running several times on account of nearly falling flat on my face, each foot sliding out behind me quicker that I could replace it!

I ran towards the Beacon, but was pretty knackered so took the path down before I got there.  Having overtaken a couple of horse-riders, I then slithered down the muddy track using skiing techniques as much as running ones!  The track returned me to Westmeston and from there I paddled down to Ditchling… I kid you not, the path was sub aqua much of the way.  Splish splash splosh!

Energy levels really were on LOW by then, so I took a rare decision and took the roadhome.  I’m not a great fan  of running along the side of the road, but there was not much traffic and whatever getupandgo I had remaining was at least applied with good traction, so the going was faster than it would have been… shortening the agony.

By the time I’d nearly got to our road, my legs felt like they did at the end of the Barns Green half marathon… pretty much lifeless!  But I kept the machine running right up until the end and was pleased to see two hours and seven minutes on my watch. 

Having stretched and peeled of my mudden kit, I sat down with the map and a couple of slices of toast & peanut butter to find that I had run 20km, or 12.5 miles.  Despite the sodden going, the muddy climb and run home on empty, I had averaged 5.9mph.

Slip-sliding away, la la laaaa…


As I sit here, quickly recording this morning’s activity so that I can get back to work, the sun is streaming through my study window.  Beautiful!

I think there must be a new moon about now, as it was super-dark when I got up and even when Nick arrived it was cold and grey with little prospect of good cheer… as was his mood!  It’s amazing how quickly the weather, and our moods, can improve and surprise us!

I didn’t really assimilate the information when he mentioned that it would be muddy out today and I have only just remembered, hours later, that it was throwing it down with rain for England last night.  And so it was muddy!  We headed out to the Kings Head, along the secret path, before turning and coming back across the common.

At some point, on an incline, I experienced a little ‘wheelspin’, which unfortunately showered Nick in large globs of mud and later he accidentally ran through a puddle, drenching my leg in very cold and watery mud!  Fair is fair!  And to be honest, we were both so covered that it would have been hard to determine which of the mud was inflicted!

Anyway, the result today was 4.7 miles in 47 minutes… a very straightforward 6mph, which was not at all bad considering that I had to pause a couple of times to catch my breath and we were both slip-sliding away!

Civic pride

It was such a glorious morning and there was ice on all the cars so I dressed warm for a short run.  The first thing that hit me when I went out into the sun was how warm it was.  Odd really, as whilst all the shady parts were slippery with ice or crunchy underfoot, everywhere else had that look of Spring having arrived.  And the depth of the mud attested to how unfrozen it was!

Still knackered from my Friday run and from refurbing all week, I fancied a short, unhurried run around town.  I quickly revised my intentions when I realised how slippery the shaded pavements were, so I headed for a more forgiving surface… mud is always slippery!

I ran out towards Keymer  and then round to the South of the town by Tesco’s.  There was a rumour of a path being created so that people could walk right around the outside of the new perimeter road and a few months ago I managed to get lost whilst trying to discover where it went.  That was August and uncertain whether the local Council acts quickly or slowly in these matters, I decided to try again.

The path has certainly been extended, but only as far as Gatehouse Lane, but I persevered by trying to get around the back of St Pauls School again, to no avail again.  Chastened by the memories of getting caught astride a barbed wire fence last time, I sheepishly retraced my steps and ran along the rest of the perimeter road.

I continued through Sheddingdean Industrial Estate.  I think it is such a shame when an estate such as this, with some excellent companies such as Sussex Sport KTM and the wonderful Earthworks, has so little self esteem as to allow an age old and decrepit sign to herald the entrance.  Far worse still, it’s one of the first things that visitors see as they enter Burgess Hill.  If anyone from Burgess Hill Town Council reads this and wants to understand how a few small (and inexpensive) changes might make a large difference to the feel of the town, please get in touch!

Beyond that, I ran past Burgess Hill Football Club ground and on through the tunnel to Valebridge Road. Here I was tempted to run through the twitten and up to Ote Hall, but to be honest, I was knackered, so I ran back up Junction Road instead.

In all I was out for one hour twenty minutes, covering about 7.4 miles at a sedate 5.55mph.  I’m not sure where the boundary between short run and long run is, but it sure felt like the latter!

The day has turned grey now, so I’m really glad that I made the effort while the sun shone… and my Oakley’s were happy to get a breath of fresh New Year air too!


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!

Hi Chris!


Kim very kindly dropped me off at Jack & Jill windmills this morning.  And what a beautiful morning it was too, as you can see from the pics!  The only people I normally share running space with on a Sunday are dog walkers, which was why bumping into Richard last weekend was so cool.  Today there were a plethora of other runners, cyclists and dog walkers out and about and a real sense of bonhomie!

One of the benefits of wearing an extra layer (it was a frosty morning) was an extra pocket to put my mobile in, which enabled me to take some photos for a change.

I made good progress along the top of the Downs past Ditchling Beacon as far as Blackcap.  Kim and I used to train along here in preparation for the Berlin marathon in 2004 and so it holds memories as well as being a good firm surface to run on.  After Blackcap I dropped off the top and headed north, breaking new ground and finding some beautiful houses, farms and churches surrounded by lush Sussex countryside!

Eventually I hit Plumpton and followed my nose as to the route out, running up what looked like someone’s driveway.  A man with a dog approached me in the opposite direction and I felt it may be pertinent to ask if this was a public footpath and not his drive!  I was totally amazed when, taking off his Walkman, a most cunning disguise, it turned out to be Chris Burt, an ex corporate bank manager of mine.  Both stunned, we stood to chat and it was really great to see you Chris!

One of the benefits of being comfortable with ambiguity is that it doesn’t really matter where you end up running and I ended up running into the same junction of paths as I had found when I’d exited the golf course a week or so back.  Pleased at having joined up a few more dots on the map, I then knew I was homeward bound, but right about then I had a strong urge to eat something – toast and peanut butter!  Not having said sustenance and knowing that my reserves were now low I had no alternative other than to press on, slowly and regardless.

By the time I reached home I was knackered!  Deducting the estimated ten minutes talking to Chris, I had run for two hours twenty and covered 13.5 miles, or 21.5 km.  One of the reasons for the post being a little late is that I ate my toast & peanut butter and promptly fell asleep in the sun!

Don’t forget Barns Green next weekend… hope to see you all there!

Excited feet!

Kurt at Run has just emailed me to say he’s managed to get hold of a pair of Woolen Thorlos for me – to keep my toes warm through the winter.  Man! I just love that shop!  Review to follow when the weather turns cold.

PS if your toes are jealous, speak to Kurt…