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.

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.

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…

Brief encounter

Janathon day 4

Exercise and I are only passing acquaintances today. The grand total of calories expended in exercising probably amount to no more than a cup of tea, of which I had several. Exercises completed included 10 squats, 5 pressups and 4 sit ups – it was a relatively light day on the 30 day challenge. It also accompanied by a good 6 hours in a car, as we trekked down to the West country for the husband to ring a peal, then trekked home again. I did manage some sightseeing in Glastonbury and meeting an acquaintance for lunch, but the weather wasn’t grand, so I decided against climbing the tor for some mouching in the town (they have some right weird shops in Glastonbury) and a pot of tea while reading a book.

Not a lot done, but something done to maintain the streak…

Not the best day

Some days are destined to not be the best days in your life. It seems yesterday was once such. One one level it wasn’t going to be a high point, as it was father-in-law’s funeral. Hardly the happiest of days. His coffin was received into church on the Tuesday evening, after which hubby and his sister and some local band members rang a quarter peal. I’d said that I would ring if needed, but I struggle to ring for that long – my hands hurt for several days afterwards. Fortunately, sufficient locals were available that I was not required. Not that being surplus to requirements stopped me heading down the pub with them afterwards – as is traditional in ringing circles.

So Wednesday morning finds us at his parents house, and all the family had congregated. I have to admit to being a little bit of a solitary soul, in that I can be sociable for a certain length of time, but after that I need my own space to retreat to. And when emotions are running higher than usual, that space on my own becomes more important. So after a few days with the family, I was getting a bit desperate for some time on my own. Plan hatched – I reviewed the map and plotted a route for a run. I used to live here, during my PhD, and all I can say is it doesn’t look very much like that any more! I’d hardly recognise parts of town and the new tram works mean that some roads and routes no longer exist, or are closed. Add that to my lack of navigational ability and you have a bit of a recipe for disaster. A simple route was planned, down past the station to the canal and back. Not the most scenic of routes, but not hilly or risky either.

And it was all going so well. I took it quite easy, intending to extend the run intervals to 10 minutes. In fact, by extending the first interval to the traffic lights (not being sure how long it would take me to cross) I actually ran for 11 minutes in one go. And then it all went a bit Pete Tong. Running down the railway bridge, I had this stabbing pain in my right ankle. On the back inside left of the right leg, just above the sock. ouch ouch ouch. Sort of came to a halt quite quickly and tried to work out what it was. I couldn’t stretch it and feel any pain, the only time it seemed to complain (which it did loudly) was after the weight had been transferred from the heel to the toes. I could point and flex the foot with no issues when no bearing weight, but put weight on it and lifting the heel was really sore. I tried a few steps onwards, but soon decided that was really not a good idea and headed back home. This was achieved at a sort of slow limping jog interspersed with lots of short walks. The 10 minutes run intervals were no more. I will not bother reporting time or distance, it’s simply not worth the effort. It might have been good while it lasted, but that was not a good run.

Having got home, my next concern was what on earth was I going to do about shoes for the funeral! I’ve got smart black heels with me to go with the black suit. And hobbling up the aisle after the coffin might not have been the calmness one had been hoping to achieve. Fortunately (and for reasons I fail to understand) wearing sizable heels was actually far easier then trying to walk in trainers was. I assume that the gait is quite different and the weight transfer and push off the toes doesn’t happen in heels in the same way as in flat shoes or when running. I will admit that the bottom of the calf did stiffen up during the day, and by the time we went out for a family meal in the evening (when I was in the third set of foot wear of the day – a pair of ankle boots with a small heel) the ankle was stiff and complaining in a more general aching manner. I could also feel a dull pain when trying to flex the foot or stretch the calf, so I know that it is something not right down in that area.

All of which leaves me in a quandary of when to try to run again. Leave it too long and I’ll have got out of the running habit, go out to soon and I risk making it worse. It’s sometimes easy to get caught up in your own problems, but I should remember that at least I’m alive and in sufficient health to be moaning about a sore ankle. Yesterday was possibly not the best day, but at least I have tomorrows to worry about and to enjoy.

Running away from home

Unlike the song, I did not run 30 miles or more, although I was over 30 miles from home throughout the run. This weekend was our annual trip to Norfolk, to stay with Mike & Barbara. The boys go out ringing peals while Barbara and I don’t. I usually take to opportunity to go into Norwich for a mooch around, both for old times sake and because there are some lovely shops in Norwich. This year’s shopping list included more underpinnings (now I know the selected item is up to the task at hand, additional examples were purchased in order to give the laundry fairy a slightly easier time of it) and some new leather gloves for winter (seeing last year’s examples are falling apart at the fingers) and scarf to match. All exciting stuff. Generally I have a weekend of having to do very little and it’s lovely.

Sunday morning and the boys were going in to ring for service at Peter Mancroft. I decided against (as I usually do) on the grounds that they’re an awfully long draft and that is not within my comfort zone from a ringing perspective. The one time I have rung there, the ropes felt like they were stretching more like elastic than like rope, and that’s really not something I’m able to cope with. urgh. So after having been woken up by himself as he left, then faffed about for a bit, I decided that I may as well head out for a run. The thing about running when staying away from home is that the navigation has to be very easy. I get lost at the least provocation, so anything at all complicated is simply not an option. But a nice out and back run along a railway path is well within my capabilities in this regard.

The path was compressed earth and sand rather than tarmac, but it was fairly level and not difficult to run on. As was evidenced by the large numbers of people I saw out an about using the path. There were quite a number of runners out; some speedy whippets, others who looked worse than I felt (which is always nice). Two runners overtook me, one of them having the temerity to do so twice – that’s surely just being cheeky! Then there were a number of cyclists of all flavours, from the speedy to the family out for a rind – the youngest still with stablisers attached. Then there were those walking their dogs. Although in some cases, maybe that should be attempting to walk their dogs. Fozbow was not going to come, no matter how many times he was called or whistled for; while another owner’s pooch had decided that rooting about in the pile of what I assume was compost or manure for spreading was far more interesting than chasing the ball. Bet he was a delight when he got home. But there were some dogs that were entirely under their owner’s control, including one collie who you could see was just dying to chase something, be it me or the cyclist, but instead stayed down with his nose between his paws until we’d all passed, then headed off in hot pursuit of a tennis ball. That was probably more people in one run than I normally see in several weeks on my current usual route, which just goes to show how valuable paths of this type are. An ex-railway line could be a rundown, scrubby patch of ground that’s good for nothing, or it could be altered into a valuable off road route for  both recreational and more serious sporting users.

Being ex-railway line, the path itself does not have too much in the way of hills, although the three roads I crossed all required a rise up or dip down to. There was also one brick bridge that I passed under, with steps up, I was half tempted to nip up and have a look, but “up” didn’t sound too attractive a proposition by that point. The path is sometimes in a cut, at others it is embanked, so there’s plenty of variety to keep my wandering eye busy. Throughout the path has a hedge on either side, so it was never very exposed, while allowing a view of what was passing. It was also quite varied, wit houses, village green, open fields, a farm or two, a skate park and woods all being adjacent to the route. There was also some benches that caught my eye. Some were normal wooden ones, but some appeared to be made from what looked a bit like old railway tracks, parts of which had been twisted out of shape in an artful manner. I did not avail myself of any of them, but they did catch the eye, being a visual reminder of the provenance of the route being followed.

While heading out I had a debate with myself about when to turn round. I have a strange preference to turn round something, or turn round at something, hence running to the pylon (a fixed point) not just at a set distance from home at no particular landmark. Yes, I accept that sounds a bit weird, but that’s me. As I was getting to the end of the third run segment, and when I was thinking that I ought to make the turn soon, I spotted a road that was about to cross the path, so I turned at the crossing, just after the start of the 4th run segment. That meant that the run was the furthest and longest since starting back.

Facts & Figures:
Distance: 3.7 miles
Time: 50:13 minutes
Average Pace: 13:35 minutes/mile.

It felt good too. I had debated allowing myself to cut the run segments back from 7 minutes to 5 minutes on the return leg, especially if that had been longer – so as not to overdo it. But I’m glad I didn’t. It felt good at 7 minutes all the way, and I even managed to run up the final slope to the pelican crossing when I’d started my outing. Running when not at home can take some organising, you have to remember the kit and have an idea of where you’re going to go (or have a far better sense of direction than I do), but it can be well worth the effort.

Seven more days, all I gotta do is survive

Yes, one week and counting…

This morning, as we’d just finished ringing a touch of Stedman for Easter Sunday service, I was asked what I’d be doing in a week’s time. It was a few minutes after 9, so I imagine I’ll be heading towards the start line, probably at little more than a crawl, until the crowds start to open out.

At present all my worries are related to making the start. Curiously I have no worries about completing this marathon. All the fears are the things I can’t control. Will I miss the park and ride bus? Will we find a car park space ? This despite the fact I’ve bought and got a permit for one. Will Mum ever talk to me again once she discovers I want a 6:15 departure Sunday morning? She knows now… All these things worry me. And, I imagine, will continue to worry me until 0900 next Sunday.

And so to the last long run. Today had 10 miles on the plan, the last double digit run ahead of M-day. And it went OK. The husband, acting as chauffeur,  dropped me off on our way home from ringing, and I ran home. Weather was OK for running, cool but not cold, a breeze but not blowy, overcast and with just the hint of moisture on the breeze. Not the best for doing anything outside, but ace for running. A repeat order for next week would do nicely, if the weather gods are listening??? Tootled round the nature reserve, then up the railway path and home. Did run just beyond home to make the miles up to the full 10. I didn’t obsess about time, this was about running comfortably, not setting good times. But, as it turns out, the pace was pretty good too. No real niggles or aches, legs all loosened up nicely once I’d got going. Stretched out once home and had a few toasted hot cross buns for lunch. I’ll start on the Easter eggs later…

Facts & Figures:
Distance – 10.05 miles
Time – 1:56:10
Average pace – 11:33 min/miles

As I sit a type this, it’s 6:30 pm. In one week’s time I’ll have finished this marathon journey, in one way or another. Hopefully with a medal round my neck and my head held high. Between now and then there’s the small matter of 2 runs, a birthday and lots of rest and relaxation.

As I come to the end of something inspired by a milestone birthday, I must mention another of my friends who is embarking on a quest. One of my slightly nutty friends, it has to be said. Andy, who I run with at the club and has gamely been my partner at the back of numerous speed sessions, hits his 50th birthday this time next year. In the meantime he intends to run 50 different events, clocking up as many kilometers as the year of his birth (that’s 1963 for those not quick at arithmetic) and raise money for the National Autistic Society. His webpage is here and is well worth a look, if only to be inspired. No speedy whippet is our Andy, but his heart is completely in the right place and he deserves every ounce of support.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

In fact all sorts of transport options were spotted on Saturday’s long run. Everything bar a traction engine, a pogo stick and a space hopper!

The husband was due to be bell ringing at Lockington, and then going on to his parents for the afternoon. So it was suggested that we both go to Lockington, with me then running to his parents, where I’d meet him. I could have a shower, and change and we’d then drive home once he’d done all the jobs that had to be done. I had 18 miles on the schedule for this weekend, so I plotted a route from Lockington to the River Trent, then along the river towards Nottingham and up to his parents from there. On paper and Google maps, the route looked possible. A quick question on the Runner’s World forum, asking for some local knowledge, found that most of the river path would be entirely suitable for running, so the plan was set.

Friday night and I prepared everything to take, as it was a fairly early start saturday morning, 8:30 departure, and I needed breakfast before then. 2 shirts, socks, gloves, shoes, hat, leg wear, 4xgels, waist belt & water bottles, £20 note, cash point card, charged phone, print out of the route to the river, Garmin, bag of clothes for afters. All of it collected and assembled OK. Saturday morning went to plan as well, and we set off on time, me with a bowl of porridge warm and comfortable inside me. I wore a long sleeved top, with a short sleeve and my wind proof gillet in the bag, which one to be decided on once we arrived.

The weather was gorgeous to look at, clear blue skies, heavy white frost, still air, just a picture-perfect winter morning. I decided against the gillet – it can be too warm, especially if it’s not windy, and went with just 2 T shirts. It was still cold enough to see breath in the air, but the sun was quite warm. After a quick look at the map, I set off in the right direction – away from the river. This sounds odd, but there is the small matter of a dual carriageway and a railway to be negotiated before I could reach the river. My best route over these two hurdles was not the shortest.

Headed up the lane and up a hill before heading across a field towards Castle Donnington and a second lane. At which point I could hear a tremendous engine noise, turned to see the tail fin of an aeroplane heading behind the hill. Of course! East Midland’s airport was just over the hill, the noise was as the plan turned to head down the runway. Form of transport number 1.

from there, into a village before turning and heading into Castle Donnington. From here I got to go through the industrial estate, before picking up a little trackway towards Clifford’s Bridge. This is a bridge across the Trent, but I wasn’t crossing it here, I was just going to join the Trent here. In the industrial estate, there were the obligatory cars and trucks and things that go. Including one posh looking Chelsea tractor on trade plates that I seriously hope was heading straight to the local garage, as it was pumping out enough oily smoke to make a pretty impenetrable smoke screen! hmm, I suspect it’s not supposed to do that…

On the trackway, I passed cyclists and horseriders (yet more forms of transport) went under the A 50 but passed over the railway without sight of a train.

Joined the Trent path and it was just a beautiful morning. Not too many people about (which was useful when I stopped to, um, water the tree), and I counted only 2 sets of footprints in the frost ahead of me. Kept seeing lovely frost laden plants and views that, if I were a photographer, would have made lovely pictures, but I have neither the skill nor artistic eye to make it happen. Joined a tarmac pathway here, and encountered my first local. I did my second degree in Nottingham, and one of the first things you notice, as an incommer, is the bizarre greetings you get. “Eey oop me duck” being my best interpretation of how these strange northern folk say “hello”.  But it was such a lovely morning that it seemed to put everyone out in a good mood, such that most people were exchanging greetings as I passed.

Had a moment’s route uncertainty as I got to Trent Lock, where the Trent & Mersey canal leaves. I knew I crossed the Trent at Sawley Bridge, but I’d got it into my head that this was the first bridge I passed. But there’s a foot bridge at Trent Lock that I’d missed seeing. I made the right call, and stayed on the south side of the Trent at this stage and carried on. I knew I’d got this right when I got to the M1. Big old road, the M1, can’t miss it. Strangely, it was very peaceful right under the bridge. From there it was just a short run to Sawley Bridge, where I did cross the river and headed through the marina.

And here I ticked off yet another form of transport, with boats and canal boats being present on the river here. It was quite nice running through the marina, with the fires being started on the boats, and the passing smell of breakfast cooking. Up and over the arm of the lock, and under the second railway bridge of the day – still no trains.

Stayed on the side of the river all the way into Nottingham. Passed the power station at Ratcliffe on Soar, where I passed through a very cold shadow, cast purely by the gasses being emitted by the power station. Made me wonder if there’s a permanent cloud effect that rotates round the power station caused by this. However, shortly after passing this, I finally saw a train! Only passed 3 railway lines before I nabbed this on my lists of transport for the day.

One thing about running along a river is that navigation is fairly simple, don’t fall in seems to work fairly well! As I passed the junction of the Erewash canal, again it was a bridge over the side arm and continue along the river. This was heading along the edge of Attenborough nature reserve. There were more people out and about here, such that at times it was a bit like trying to run along Piccadilly Circus! And some people have no idea! One group of birdwatchers stopped, blocking the entire path. I don’t dispute they have a right to be there, but I do deny that they have the right to use the entire path, blocking it for other users. A yelled “excuse me” provoked minimal movement, so I just hurtled through the  middle of them to some of their evident dismay. Part of me thinks “sod ’em” they should have been a bit more considerate in the first place. One pair with their dogs did amuse me though. I came up behind them, so again an “excuse me”. They moved right, the dogs moved left, I wondered if I was supposed to skip over the leads! But we managed to untangle ourselves and I went on. Approaching Beeston lock, I heard my phone go with a text. Hubby had said he’d let me know if there finished early, just so I knew. I didn’t check it until after 12 miles, as then I slowed to a walk for a gel and a drink, and checked the phone at the same time. It was him, and no need to reply. At this point there’s a weir and a canal cut. I needed the extra miles, so headed over the canal and round by the river towards Clifton Bridge. I passed very close the the weir, and it’s at times like this that you see the real power of the river. It had seemed very peaceful and static on the level, but where it cascaded over the weir, there was a tremendous roar of flowing water, and considerable movement thereafter. Very impressive – but not a place to get caught.

The final stretch was just round the playing fields to Clifton bridge, then back by the canal. From here it was into ton and to his parents. I crossed the railway one final time (over a nasty bridge – who put that there?!) and arrived at their front door with 17.4 showin on the watch. This confused me slightly, as I’d mapped it at 18.5 miles. But, to be on the safe side, I did a loop round the houses for the final 0.6 miles, making it to 18 run and recorded.

Facts & Figures:
Distance – 18.0 miles
Time – 3:38:13
Average pace – 12:07

The distance is actually more than that. when I got home and uploaded this to the Garmin software, I discovered that I’d managed to stop the timer and had missed about a mile out of the run! As I came through Clifford’s bridge, I passed a pub. I thought about going in to use the loo, so stopped the watch while I took the detour. only the pub was closed, and so I carried on – without turning the timer back on! It wasn’t until sometime later that I saw the watch wasn’t running that I realised. Working on the fact that the route I’d mapped was 18.5 and I only recorded 17.4 miles, I think I under-recorded by a mile, meaning I ran 19.1 miles. Which is all to the good. When I stopped, I was ready to finish, but I certainly wasn’t anything like as tired as I had been a fortnight ago, when I ran 16 miles.

It’s 90 days to go. As I write this, in 3 months time I expect to be reclining in a bath with a glass of something containing alcohol and bubbles to ease my weary self. I wouldn’t have necessarily volunteered to run the extra 7 miles yesterday, but I’m beginning to feel that this might well be achievable…

And the bells were ringing out for Christmas day

Allow me a little poetic licence – I know it’s only Christmas Eve, but there were bells ringing. And I suspect that the family would be considerably less understanding of me setting out for a long run tomorrow…

The husband was ringing at the next village, so when he set off there, I dressed and set out to run. Adjusted the usual route a bit, so that I’d run past the church while they were ringing. The tower is just over the ridge from most of the run, and the wind was in the wrong direction to carry the sound towards me, but they were going along nicely for the 30 minutes or so that I was within earshot. Nothing nicer than hearing the sound of bells drifting across the countryside.

I’ve had a cold this week, which has receded as the week’s progressed, but I’m still clearing the tail of it at the moment. And I must have cleared half a hundredweight of snot and gunge from the nose & throat on today’s run. Yes, I know it’s not at all ladylike, but better out and in the verge than siting in my throat. I don’t half feel better for having cleared it!

It was obvious from the paths that it’s rained a fair bit recently. The local clay has turned into a lovely sticky, slippy mud that’s trying to grab your shoes off you one minute and remove your legs from under you the next. Makes for a great core workout, just trying to stay vaguely upright. Then, having got wet, muddy shoes from near the lake, I headed up the ridge onto the finer soil – which decided to stick to the shes further. You know how those keen on aerobics sometimes progress to wearing ankle weights in a class? I have an alternative – try running  across a field. Achieves the same effect, but it’s the shoes increasing in size and weight with added mud!

I encountered a few people while out today, including a lady who asked me the strangest question I think I’ve had so far. “Help, where is my car?” hmm. She was obviously not local – I’m thinking southern European, and she was with a small boy, about 5, that I’m assuming was the grandson. I asked a few questions, and the little lad remembered they’d parked near a bridge with ducks. I decided that they’d probably parked by the sailing club – it is the obvious place to park to walk round the lakes, and sent them back in that direction. I have no idea if they got there, but I do hope so.

Finished the run by heading into the Co-op for a Telegraph. I love the big general knowledge crossword they have in the last Saturday edition before Christmas, so treated myself. I’d come prepared, had my bank card in my pocket, so nipped to the cash machine then into the shop. I did get a few odd looks… Me, wearing a short sleeved shirt, mud splattered to the thigh, and half a field on my shoes maybe wasn’t dressed like your usual Christmas eve shopper, I admit. Last half mile home with the paper in a bag was really very strange, completely knocked my rhythm!

Facts & Figures:
Distance – 12.0 (excluding walking round the co-op!)
Time – 2:34:24
Pace – 12:51

That’s about 5 seconds a mile slower than the bottom end of Long run pace, but I’ll take it for today. I did stop a few times and I’m clearly not 100% over the cold. But it’s done and dusted and next week will be better.

Nothing left now but to wish you and your families a Merry Christmas.

Busy busy

I thought weekends were supposed to be relaxing?! I seemed to dash about like a mad thing. There’s an element of being out of routine, which always makes things seem different. Started with a more relaxing early morning,  not having to be out of the house quite as early as usual. Ringing was for the Remembrance day service, so we didn’t need to be there until 10:15, rather than the usual 8:45. Half muffled ringing sounds lovely, but we don’t get to practice too often.

Home, then a bit of a potter about until the Grand prix started at 1. Lunch during the preamble, so we were ready for the off. It wasn’t a cracker, but had moments of interest. Would have been interesting to see if Hamilton could have stayed with Vettel, but the puncture at least gave us a different winner. Then, as soon as they’d finished, I started sorting out to get off for a run. Downed a pint of squash, but didn’t have quite as long to let it settle as I normally would; what with needing to get the joint in the oven for dinner and the darkening evenings I had to get on with it.

Went out in short-sleeved top, as I need to save the three long-sleeved versions for the evening runs in mid-week. But I did add my new lightweight gloves to the ensemble. I did think that was a mistake initially. For someone who always has cold hands, they seem to overheat very quickly when out running. Within a mile they were sweating, and I did think this was going to be uncomfortable. But they seemed to stay at that state, and not get any hotter, in which case that was bearable.

Set off aiming to do 10 miles. Down to the sailing club lake and round there as usual. However, the last 3 or so miles of the usual route are along a fast back road with no lights and no pavement. I’d not put the reflective vest or head torch I would usually wear in the dark on, as it hadn’t been dark when I’d left, but it was getting dark now. I decided to change plan, and headed back towards town. I figured that I could run around town, keeping to footpaths in a bit more safety than a dark road. And so the last few miles were a bit made up as I went along, and I got back to the end of our road with 9 miles showing on the Garmin. Made a decision to call it quits at that point – not as far as I’d have wanted, but far enough.

 Facts & Figures
Distance – 9.03 miles
Time – 1:50:54
Average Pace – 12.17 minute miles.

Which is reasonable. Brings me to what I’d be prepared to bet is my highest weekly mileage, at a grand total of 23-24 ish (a bit ish due to 2 Garmin-less runs). The intention for this week is to try and run 5,6,5 during the week and 8 at the weekend. It’s my next half in 2 weeks and I want to have an all out go at that before knuckling down to Marathon training as of the 28th November. It’s getting awfully close now!