Not so cold

After more than a week in which I complained about the cold and wimped out on several opportunities to run, I can at last report I ran today. Not only did I run, but I ran quite a bit further than I had intended!

We live on the top of a hill, at the bottom of which is a river and what used to be gravel pits, but is now a series of lakes. Some are used for fishing, others by the sailing club. And round the lakes there are a variety of footpaths, such that I can run in loops to vary the distance but without running miles from home. When I was in training, I used to be able to get to over 10 miles without running the same path twice and without being more than 3 miles from home. I also used to know the distances of each of the various loops and segments, such that I could piece together a run of the required distance. That information has clearly leaked from the brain, as I miscalculated the route by over 20%!

It was still showing frosty in shady spots when we got home from ringing this morning, but I was determined not to have another weekend playing at being a sofa bear. I’d already spent Saturday on the sofa, in front of 2 rugby matches. Which meant I made progress on a baby blanket I’ve been supposed to have been embroidering for over a year now, but it didn’t involve any exercise more taxing that shouting at the TV occasionally and fetching another cup of coffee. So, in changed and out the door before the sofa could exert its gravitational influence and suck me in…

It was fresh out, and the hands certainly took time warming up, but it was quite warm in the sun and not too windy out. Lovely blue skies, and the river and lakes were showing very blue in the sun. Except where they were showing frozen, leaving the seagulls looking most bemused and standing on the ice. The ground was a similar mixture. In some places it was still crispy underfoot with the frost, in others is was just very very wet and squelchy. Being on clay,a lot of the paths just tun to a fine sludge when they are wet and it retains the water so you have puddles on top of a layer of mud. I remember why I don’t own any running socks that stay very white…

Plan was to run down the hill, round past the sailing club, then cross the river and take the far side of the nature reserve, before crossing back over the river and coming back down the railway path before heading back up the hill home. About 5 miles, said my mental arithmetic. That would be over 6, in fact. oops. The idea was to run 10 minute periods, which I mostly maintained. The walk intervals were augmented by walking to get over stiles, through kissing gates and crossing bridges. The muddy conditions meant that all the bridges were very slick, as were the steps up and off them. There’s no point going base over apex by trying to run on a poor footing – that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. What with the effort of running through a significant amount of mud, the run sections may have been kept to about 10 minutes, but the walks did tend to increase over the 1 minute. But as a first run of this duration or distance, I think 6.07 (at least half off road) miles taking less than 90 minutes is reasonable. It was lovely out once I’d got myself out there and warmed up. Must plug in some more willpower and go for a run more often…

Janathon round up

Janathon summary

I think at best I could mark my Janathon effort a B minus. Good start, but could certainly do better. However, it certainly got me doing more exercise than I would otherwise have done for the first month of the year. I sort of scraped over the bare minimum of exercise for 23 days. I’ve never exercised for 23 consecutive days, so that’s a positive. But having fallen off the streak, I completely fell off the streak. In part that may well be due to the January squats, pressups & situps challenge having got to a timeconsuming and somewhat arduous level. In which case I just gave up rather than try and catch up. Now that is typical.

Take this weekend as a case in point. I should have run Friday, but it was really cold and we had snow, so I stayed in and worked all day, safely tucked up next to my radiator. In fairness I was shattered and promptly ran out of steam in the middle of ringing Friday evening, when I found myself yawning all through a touch of Stedman Cinques. Saturday I could have run, but again, had a fit of the really don’t want to be cold and can’t be arseds. Sunday morning we rang, then went shopping. Home and lunch meant it was an afternoon outing, if at all, but the sofa and a book seemed far more attractive than a run in a freezing cold wind.

I keep hoping that the weather and lighter evenings will mean that my desire to get out and run will be met more often and less easily put off. Janathon was interesting and I certainly enjoyed reading some of the blogs and exploits of the more committed participants, but ended up being rather so-so on my part. Could do better – should do better. Time to get myself in gear again.

Just a run to the library

Today I wanted to get out for a run when I got home, but I also had 2 library books to return. So, thinks me, why not run to the library, return the books and then run home again. I found the books to return and located a rucksack to put them in. It was possibly a rather large backpack for the size of the books it had to contain, but I decided I didn’t want to run holding a bag in one hand. I’ve not tried running with a backpack before , but thought it had to be worth a go. It was gone 5 by the time I got out, so I went for the full night time running gear – bright outfit and head torch. The torch did decide to work this time, so I could at least see where I was going – even if I had to wait for streetlights to see the Garmin – I never can remember which button turns the backlight on! Just the long way into town, which is downhill all the way. I was not far from the centre of town when the 10 minutes was up, but I decided that as I would have a longer break than just 1 minute (I know the library self service is quick, but it’s not usually that quick – and certainly isn’t when one of the titles refuses to scan and needs to be taken to the desk to be checked back in) I’d run all the way to the library. 13 minutes running, albeit gravity assisted, makes this the longest run stint since I started back again.

I found that 3 books I’d had reservations on were ready to collect, so I now have Sarah Waters’ “Fingersmith” on CD (for listening to in the car), Hannah Kent’s “Burial Rites” and Horace Walpole’s “Castle of Otranto” to entertain me for a bit. The last of these is an edition published in the 1930s and has some relics of past library systems inside. I do love older books, they have so much atmosphere about them, and that’s before you get to read the story they contain. These were stowed in the rucksack, and I headed back home.

There are advantages to living on top of a hill. If the river that flows through town should ever flood, I know that most of the shire will be under water before we are. We get the best of the sun being at the top of the hill. The downside is that it means I have to run home back up hill. urrgh. I made it 7 minutes before I hit the steep section and allowed myself a minute walk. I did then get going again and run home, but I certainly need to get some hills back in the legs – they’re just too much like hard work at present.

Practically, combining the library and the run made sense, but it wasn’t a comfortable experience. Running while wearing a backpack felt really weird. I don’t know if that is related to the fact that the bag was mostly empty, so the books bounced about inside it; or if I move my upper body too much, and the bag is bounding about on my shoulders. I felt I wanted to tighten it further, but it wouldn’t go. I don;t know if a smaller bag would give less sensation of movement, or if having the straps across the body, rather than round the arms, might make it feel more secure. Either way, I’m not sure I want to try that on a regular basis, it was just very very odd. Just 2.15 miles run, but it was a mid week run and I’ve not been getting them in as often as I’d like. Need to keep the discipline up and make the time to run.

Buts and butts

Janathon day 24 & 25

So it had to happened at last, day 24 of Janathon I did nothing that can realistically be classed as exercise. It was always going to be a busy day; setting the alarm for 7 am does not usually herald a day of relaxation. Walked into town and back for the shopping by 9 am, unpacked all the goodies and was out the house by 9:30. First stop was a new event, a monthly area 10 bell practice. The poor husband had been “volunteered” to run this, so not going wasn’t an option for either of us. There were a lot of people there, must have been 35 or so, but it wasn’t a bad practice. Not too many people trying to ring beyond their capability, but an awful lot of people with nil or very limited experience on 10 – we’re an area of mainly 6 and 8 bell towers and ringing on higher numbers is a different kettle of fish in so many ways. I got inveigled into ringing a number of times, managing to muck up Yorkshire Royal when both my course bells went missing in action. oh well – that’s what practices are for…

From there it was to the pub (as is traditional after ringing) and we had some lunch. The afternoon was another ringing event, this time the branch AGM, with ringing, service and tea before the meeting. I gave the ringing a miss here – long draft and cramped ringing room are two things I really don;t enjoy ringing on, the long draft especially. I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy them when I saw a central tower and a ground floor ring. Give me stairs any day – the more the better – it means the ropes are shorter. Fortunately there were enough people that I wasn’t required to ring, saving that over production of adrenaline for another day. The tea was a classic of the species. If you’ve never had a ringers’ tea, you’re missing out. It usually comprises buckets of tea, sandwiches (and other small savories) followed by loads of home made cakes. This spread did not disappoint, and I enjoyed an excellent sampling of cakes.

Meeting finished in good time and we headed off for the third event of the day, the church quiz. These are usually good fun, and so it was. After 2 rounds we had the lead by 1 point, but round 4 was questions on The Bible. Ringers are not renown for their diligent attendance at church, and we didn’t upset the demographic. 5 out of 10 was better than we expected, including a complete fluke relating to what the 10 unprepared virgins forgot. What made it more amusing was that we scored the same on that round as the team including the vicar and curate! oops… From the 8 question rounds we were half a point behind, but there had been 6 sets of puzzle sheets, that were worked on between the rounds and during supper. On these we headed the field by 4 points, so emerged as winners. Hurrah and general rejoicing, with an unexpected prize of a bottle of prosecco and a box of chocolates each. Some of the answers exercised the brain somewhat, but the body did very little in the way of exertion all day. By the time we got home it was approaching midnight, and straight to bed, ready for another 7 am alarm call on Sunday morning…

Sunday was a different story. Ringing in the morning was followed by getting home and changing to go out for a run. Exercise can be had, I just need to be disciplined about making time for it – and not have my days booked up doing other things! I headed out with a plan to extend the run and to up the run interval. 10 minutes run intervals, went OK for the first two, including the nightmare that it getting across top field. The farmer must have worked really hard on this field, as the soil is so light and fine. It was also wet still, so that I again ended up wearing most of the shire on my feet and a significant portion of it up my legs. Instead of heading right up the track and into the village, I’d checked the map, I could go straight on (ish) or right (ish), both of which would take me into the village and each would make the loop progressively bigger, thus extending the run. I opted for the straight on path. The first field was OK, the crops are clearly ahead of top field and the farmer has cleared the crops from the path, so clearly showing the correct route and (I assume) limiting damage to the crop by errant walker drifting in the wrong direction. The corner of the filed I had to hop over a ditch, trying to avoid putting a foot in the stream at the bottom, then climb over a stile. Then a second stile and into a smaller paddock. Here things took an odd turn. There was a hut with chickens and a solitary sheep in this field. They took a bit of an interest in me, and I soon found myself being surrounded by chickens and followed by the sheep. And then the sheep headbutted my behind! That wasn’t very nice, but I got butted 4 times as I crossed the field. I ended up shinning over a 5 bar gate to get out of the paddock, as the path wasn’t clearly marked, and heading for the gate seemed the safest option. At least it wasn’t a boy sheep! But I’m not risking my behind being subject to that again and will not be trying straight on path as an option again.

That kind of put me off my stride (well, wouldn’t it you?). The third & 4th 10 minute run intervals were rather disjointed, what with sheep, stiles, ditches, roads, gates, steps and the like. After starting and stopping a number of times, I allowed myself a bit of a longer walk break, the ran a 5th set of 10 minutes, 1 minute walk and 5 more minutes to run home. So I started and ended in reasonable shape, but the middle got a bit messy for multiple reasons. The run lasted over the hour, making that the longest run, both in time and distance, since I started back running.

There were a mixture of people out today, a couple of walkers, including a most elegant elderly lady in a fabulous purple coat and hat who was serenely gliding along with her dalmatian as I lumbered past, pink & black lycra abounded and blowing like a steam train. Then there was the lady walker who held a gate open for me, to allow me to run through it. I could have done with the 10 seconds respite to stop, open the gate and close it behind me; instead I had to just keep on going while she smiled broadly. But I wasn’t the only nutter out in lycra, one friendly cyclist, one miserable cyclist and a friendly (rather more speedy) runner were all passed today. The weather was a little less cold than it has been, although there was still a chill breeze that made me glad of the two layers. All in all, rather an odd day.

Get on with it

Janathon day 23

Friday and I’m working at home. My husband decides to take advantage of this and I’m told there are 2 parcels to arrive. Both on guaranteed delivery before 1 pm. Hmm. Well they’re certain to arrive just when I’m on the telephone, that’s sod’s law. But at least a 1pm end tome means that I can take advantage of being able to go for a lunchtime run again.

1 pm arrives and only one parcel has arrived. The tracking number says the second is on its way, but that’s not much help. the dilemma is: do I wait for the parcel, then run and have lunch, or have lunch, wait for the parcel and run later. I’m tending to the former as I know myself a little too well – if I put it off from lunchtime, I’ll put it off from later in the afternoon as well and suddenly my run wont have happened. The parcel eventually arrived at 1:15, which isn’t before 1 pm, but at least it wasn’t 3 in the afternoon, with me still having not run or had any lunch.

Quick change from jeans, jumper & slippers (I know my colleagues tease me that I work from home in my dressing gown & slippers – they have the slippers right, but I do get dressed!) and into running gear. 2 layers, gloves & beany hat today. It had been bitterly cold first thing, with the frost persisting in shady spots all afternoon – certainly there was ice still on the puddles and in the ditch as I ran. There was a cool breeze, but the sun was out and it was a pleasant day to be running. Just to the pylon and back again, using the same 7 minutes run to 1 minute walk that I started last week. And it all went surprisingly well. 2.7 miles in a smidge under 34 minutes puts my average pace at 12:36 minutes/mile. Which is pretty speedy for me, most of them have been in the 13s. Got to be pleased with that. It is indeed time to move up and stretch those run intervals – 10 minutes here we come…

Other than that, it’s just the challenge exercises to report: 160 squats, 88 situps and 27 pressups.

Oh, and I’ve finished the Christmas chocolates. That took longer than it usually does – I can polish of a box of Ferrero Rocher in about 10 minutes, so making a box last nearly a month has to be some kind of record for me.

Running nowhere

Janathon day 22

Can I count a day at work where it felt like I spent the day running from one meeting to another as exercise? No, I thought not. So it’s a good thing I did today’s challenge exercises isn’t it? 150 squats, 26 press ups, 84 situps.

Failing to deliver

Janathon day 21

You know I promised a run in yesterday’s post… well I’ve not run. The problem with dealing with the US is later afternoon teleconferences, in this case two of them 3 until 4 and then 4 until 5. Leaving at 5 I hit all the rush hour traffic, meaning it was well a truly dark by the time I got home. So I did 30 minutes step on the Wii while the lasagne was in the oven, then the challenge exercises. The schedule has a rest day today, but I missed Monday, so I made up for that and did 120 squats, 20 presups and 45 situps.

We’re due to have the shower installed at work this week, so maybe I can be uber organised and take my kit with me to work. Maybe not a lunchtime run, but running after work then driving home would make it a bit lighter and brighter. hmmm. I’ll have to think about that one.

It’s as cold as ice

Janathon day 20

When I went out this morning, the car told me the temperature was -4C. It was frosty and a bit slippy and the heating in the car got whacked up to full. By the time I came home this evening the temperature had clambered to a whole balmy 1C, but I was not upset that it was the local monthly 8 bell practice tonight and I wasn’t able to squeeze the time to¬† go for a run. Oh shucks. So you’ll have to count some ringing as exercise (take my word for it, it certainly counts) and today’s challenge exercises of 145 squats, 25 pressups and 80 situps. Run scheduled for tomorrow night – weather permitting, there’s a forecast for the white stuff tomorrow…


Janathon day 19

Just the exercise regime to report tonight.140 squats, 24 press ups and 76 situps. I don’t know who thought this daft idea up (nor which idiot thought it would be a good idea to join) but I’m bored now, can I stop?

Fabulous day for a run

Janathon day 18

Today was one of those days that are just fabulous to be out running. As we set off for ringing this morning, it was below zero and the world had turned white under a hard frost – fortunately the husband was in change of defrosting the car. By the time we got home, by way of ringing, Costa and Sainsbugs, it was gone 11 and the car’s temperature was showing we’d reached the balmy heights of 1C! How positively hot! The sky was blue, the air crisp and the frost remained heavy in sheltered places. What a great day for a run!

Off I went. Double layer of shirts, a hat and my gloves, just to be on the safe side. No error on starting the Garmin today, every inch was going to be counted. I start off running along a road that has a tall hedgerow on the south side, and I usually run along the sheltered side. In the summer this is great, as it keeps the sun off. Today this was less good, as it meant that the frost had remained untouched and there was, in places, a layer of ice on the pavement. As I got to the roundabout I passed a lady walking her bicycle, she’d just come off on the ice, so warned me to be careful. I was sticking to the verge side of the path, as the encroaching greenery at least meant that the path was a little less slick. The first run section, until I reached the turn, was more about staying on my feet than about progressing at pace. From there, the road heads more northerly, so had been exposed to rather more sunshine and was a lot less slippy. I’d decided that I would run the longer loop today, so at the Pylon it was across the field. I am seriously considering taking my camera with me next time, just so that I can take a picture of how much soil ends up adhering to my shoes after a run across a fairly recently ploughed field. It is no exaggeration to say that I barely kept running, due to the extra weight I was lugging about on each footstep. From there, the track was better, but the mud was slick and slippery, so yet more of this outing was spent trying to keep my feet under me.

After returning to the tarmac, it all felt a little easier, especially after having shed half a field along the path as I went. I was, however, feeling rather puffed by this stage. I allowed myself an extra long walk break at the furthest extent of my run, but promised myself no more freebies on the way back. And I stuck to that. As I returned to the last section, I decided that I’d try running on the sunny side of the road, to see if that was a little less slippy. I never run this side, but it seemed worth breaking that habit today. For the most part the sun has been on the path, so there was a much more secure footing. That felt a lot better and I reached the end of our road having clocked up 4.05 miles in under the hour. No, not terribly fast, but considering the conditions underfoot I think progressing at a faster than walking pace is about as much as could be expected.

It does make you wonder at the sanity of the runner though. It was cold out, and here am I saying what a great day for a run it was. There is something about being out in all weathers that gives you a distinctly warped view of what good and bad weather is. It’s certainly different from my everyday view of what good and bad weather might be. The dog walking couple I saw by the church described me as brave, as they passed with their wellies and waxed jackets. Off my rocker might be a more apt description. I love it!