Baby it’s cold outside

It was, in fact, cold and very frosty outside. So frosty, in fact, that my car, on which I place the Garmin to allow it to find satellites while I tie my shoes, looked like it had a furry coat of frost. Very pretty, if rather on the cold side. So today’s random musing while out running is why I would usually set forth at this time of year wearing a minimum  of 4 layers, yet happily go out to run (and in fact slightly overheat) wearing at most 2 layers. The human body is an amazing thing, but at times it makes no sense at all.

I feel the cold. I think it fair to put this into perspective. I wear a cardigan all year round, and two for at least 4 months of the year. I don’t own a summer and winter wardrobe, it’s winter all year round. I don’t own any shorts – it’s never warm enough to swap long trousers for short ones. I sleep under the duvet even in the middle of summer. My feet and hands are, at times, the coldest things on the planet (that is according to my nice warm husband when he comes to bed). In short, I should have been born in a warmer climate than the one I currently inhabit.

And all of that completely goes out the window when I run.

Take today. If I went out to walk into town, or to drive somewhere I would no doubt have set forth wearing at least the following: fur hat, scarf, gloves, woolen 3/4 length coat, jumper, rugby shirt, T shirt, jeans, long socks (possibly even with tights on underneath).

So to run I set out wearing: long sleeved top, sleeveless gillet, gloves, tights*, capris, socks, bobble hat, shoes.

* yes, really, 60 denier opaque tights are a fabulous base layer.

I will admit that the first few minutes it was cold. Like really cold. Breath like a steamtrain in the cold air. But once I got moving, it suddenly wasn’t that cold after all. The tops of my arms were not exactly warm, and there was an occasional cold draft round my neck between the hat and the gillet, but my hands  – those things that usually do an impression of an ice cube – were sweaty in their gloves and the rest of me was fine. So what on earth is going on there? No idea.

As I got back towards home, one of the neighbours were setting out in their car. Cue waves and she wrapped her arms around herself as if to shiver, indicating it was cold out. To which I nodded, but with a big grin. Yes it was cold out., but it was lovely too and I had a lovely outing in my minimalistic attire.

The weather outside is frightful

and the duvet was so delightful that I nearly didn’t get up and go for a run this morning. Actually, once outside, it was gorgeous – blue skies, crisp frosty morning – simply lovely to look at. It was the temperature that was less than pleasant at minus 6 as I set off.

So what to wear? Well I opted for my long running tights, but put on a pair of thick winter tights underneath and wore 2 long-sleeved tops sandwiching a short-sleeved one. Plus hat & gloves. Lots of layers being the order of the day – thin layers trap air making them warmer than one thick layer. And, once I’d got going, that was about right.

What with the cold I’ve had, this was my first run in a week. I’ve had one of those colds where I’ve not had any symptoms below the nose, but from there up it has been stuffed solid with treacle – offer me a drill and I think I’d have done the deed myself. But it started to shift on Thursday and might not be pretty, but clearing it has felt loads better. There’s also nothing quite like a run to clear gunge from your head – as evidenced by the tissues I set off with not having the consistency of paper tissue by the time I returned.

Not a tough run, but I didn’t want to overdo it first run out. Just one of the occasional ladies runs with the club, which finish with coffee & cake – all very sociable.

Distance – 4.75 miles
Time – 55:05
Average pace – 11:40

Then we plonked ourselves on the squishy sofas and my hazelnut latte arrived with no difficulty. The trick for making sure you get your drink when in a group is to order something unique, then there’s only one of them and yours always arrives – try it, guarantee it works! Oh, and I quite like the combination of coffee & nut, even if it does sound like a bit of a fussy thing to order. After a good chat, we headed off and I returned to a bath and a nice soak to warm up the cold bits. A good outing for the first run in a week.

It’s cold out side

After a few days of beautiful winter weather, it was supposed to turn milder on Monday. I can report that it didn’t! Tuesday morning my car thermometer was reading -3C. That’s not mild, not in my book!. Tuesday night it was still cold, hovering at the 0 to 1 degrees mark. Not exactly toasty. But it was club night, so I wrapped up in 2 layers and my sleeveless windproof, gloves and hat and set off.

100 m efforts tonight – I hesitate to call them sprints, not at the speed I run at! Warmed up at a pretty fast pace over the river to the industrial estate on the other side. Fairly recently built, so good surface and well lit. All to the good. Someone’s been out with a measuring wheel and a can of spray paint, as there are 6 markers, each indicating 100 m further along. It’s uphill for the first 200 m, and this is where we concentrated ourselves. Started at 0 and ran 3 lots of 100 m efforts up hill, recover down, then walk to 1 and repeat. Final set were from 2 back to 0 for the effort and recover the other way. All good fun, and the walking to different start points allowed us to recover between sets, but stopped us standing about getting cold.

Returned to base the long way round, at which point the benefit of good paving became apparent when one of the group caught their foot on a lip in the pavement and went down. Sore hands, grazed knee and a bit of dented pride, but nothing severe. A reminder of the importance of watching where the feet go occasionally. The longer run back to base took me to 5 miles for the night. Finished up plenty warm enough, despite the frost starting to form.

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…

Just a perfect day

No Sangria, movies or animals, but a stonking good run in just the most perfect winter weather.

Slightly complicated weekend started with me dropping the husband off to catch a train (in a very heavy frost) down to the west country. I then headed on down to Mum’s, and I’d then collect hubby from a train later. That left me with the day to run, and do family duty. The plan said 14 miles, so a little discussion with Mum suggested I go down to the shore, then along to Langstone and pick up the Hayling Billy trail to the sea. Turn round and back the same way ought to be close on 14 miles.

I headed off to incredulous looks from Mum and the neighbours – I was never the sportiest person, to be running is somewhat out of character! And I wasn’t swathed in 4 layers like any sensible human being about to head outside. 2 tops, one long and one short-sleeved, beanie hat and capris did the job.

Down the to shore and along the path. The tide was out, the sun shining and a clear blue sky overhead, it was quite lovely out. I headed along, past the bridge, with the bar we used to somersault round (I did pass up that opportunity) and the stream we used to wade up and through under the bridge. The through the edge of Nore Farm woods, where we used to collect wood for Guide campfires on the shore. mmm, toasted (OK, burnt) marshmallows on a stick, I could almost taste them! At the end of the wood I was faced with the decision, round the point, or across the Bunny fields. The tide was sufficiently out that i thought I’d try round the point. I have misjudged this in my youth, and ended up wading through an incoming tide – not a nice experience, but I was safe enough this time. Funny how the sea wall didn’t seem anything like a high or intimidating today as it did on that occasion.

At the end of the sea wall, it was back on top of the defences and along to Langstone Mill. There was quite a lot of seaweed on top of the shore path, only to be expected after the recent spate of high winds and storms. but it wasn’t dreadfully wet to run along. After threading my way through Langstone Mill, it was along past the Royal Oak, one of my teenage haunts. It was the college local, despite being nowhere near college and local to no-one! Bought my first drink in here (no age, no pack drill!)

I was then misled by my instructions, which where not to cross the road bridge, but cross the road, then turn left and take the bridge to Hayling. Well I would have done, had there been a bridge, but I didn’t fancy the swim. So I crossed over to the island on the road bridge. It was far more windy here than it had been comming along the shore. I’d been protected by the island so far, but crossing the bridge it was very windy indeed! I remembered why the lamp-posts were the slightly strange shape they are – it’s aerodynamics to prevent them being blown about quite so wildly.

Found the Hayling Billy trail OK, as it was signposted. The following day was the Portsmouth Coastal marathon, which was using this trail for part of the route. In effect, I joined before mile 10, and ran to the turn at 13.1. However, they turned and headed back before reaching the sea and I decided that you can’t some to Hayling and not dip your toes in the sea. So I carried on to the beach, over the dunes, through the gorse, across the pebbles and down the sand to the sea. I dipped a toe in the surf (still in a shoe) and headed back up the beach – this time at an angle, up is much harder than down on sand and pebbles!

From here it was back the way I’d come, again, narrowly avoiding being blown off the bridge. From just after Langstone Mill I recalled that this stretch formed part of the cross-country course that we’d used at Secondary school. I disliked all sport at school, but especially loathed cross-country. I’d have found any excuse to sit it out, but here I was, running, and thoroughly enjoying myself doing so!

I noticed that the tide was coming in, so decided to head back across the Bunny fields to the Church, rather than risk the sea. The farm was as fragrant as ever. The one thing that had slipped my memory was the number of kissing gates and similar that were along this route. Not that they’re particularly difficult to deal with, but they do break the rhythm. This brought me back at the top of Nore Farm woods, so from here it was  simple trip back home I got to the end of the road slightly short on miles, so did a lap round the block just to make it up. 14 miles came up just as I crossed the main road, so I then walked up the close and home.

Facts & Figures:
Distance – 14.0 miles
Time – 2:52:22
Average Pace – 12:19

Not too muddy by the time I got home, but I did have wet feet. There had been a number of puddles that were unavoidably large, and there comes a point where it’s just easier to splash through them than it is to tiptoe round the edge. Bath, followed by a roll and an Apple doughnut did nicely. One of those days when it was just beautiful and felt wonderful and makes you really happy to be out there – hence the title: a perfect day.

What a difference a day makes

This week’s away runs went fairly well to plan, although in a different order to last week. Wednesday was with Janet. She’s at that lovely stage where she’s rapidly regaining the running fitness, and managed some distance further before stopping to walk than last week. Same route as last week, but a slightly faster time. 3.1 miles in 37:27.

Thursday was, therefore, me on my own. It was noticeable how very much more windy it was on Thursday, it really did cut through to the bone as I set out. Fortunately, after the first mile or so I’d warmed up and was fine in just the long sleeves. My head seems to think it is colder than it actually is once I’ve warmed up. Makes the first mile pretty uncomfortable, but that just gets everything moving quicker. Due to being a disorganised clot at times, I headed off sans Garmin (doh!) and I’ve not run that route before. So I’m not entirely sure how far it was, as it was a mixture of the route run with Janet and my usual head into town, round the park and back. I’m going to guesstimate 6 to 6.5 miles in a smidge under 70 minutes.

Then followed it up with a yoga session again. I can feel that working bits of me that don’t usually do much – last week I could feel it the day after in the arms & shoulders. Some moves carried over from last week, some new (to me). We did the sun salutation, which is beautiful to watch when it’s done in an apparently effortless manner. I may not have done this sequence justice – and forgetting which leg to bring forward in the second half never helps either! Hey ho, keep going and I’ll be able to knot my ankles behind my back in no time…

Diary disaster!

I was merrily tapping away at the PC at work today when someone mentioned a meeting next Monday, 21st. No, I said, 21st is the following Monday. They were adamant, so I checked my diary. By some random brain wave, I’ve managed to insert an extra week into November! This has relevance for a running blog because I’ve got a half marathon on the 20th and I though that was over a week away. It isn’t; it’s this weekend! So, instead of a full running week, I find myself on a slight taper down to race day. Which, in fact, puts my slightly short run on Sunday into better light – I had planned 8 for the long run a week out, and did 9.

But that makes little difference to Tuesday’s club run, sprints this week. Long warm up run to the park, and it needed to be the long way round, as it was really cold out. We’d had beautiful clear skies all day, so by the time we were setting out to run the sun had been down several hours and the warmth of the day had vanished to the stars. First really winter run. I may have been shopping for running goodies (shhh – don’t tell the husband), and one of my purchases was a gillet. For those (like me) that aren’t sure what that is, it’s a sleeveless jacket. In this case light and windproof, with a zip all the way up the front. The idea is to keep the body warm. I decided it was cold enough to try it out. The trouble with sprints tends to be the standing around, sorry, that should be recovery periods, between exertion. It’s very easy to get cold.

Sprints were from start to various lampposts, the recover back to start & go again. Repeat until a sweaty mass of humanity collapses on the floor. 3 minutes rest, then do it again – oh joy! We finished up with a bit of a relay race. 2 teams, 4 people at each end, person 1 sprints to the other end, person 2 runs back etc. I managed to line up against Alan. He’s one of the club’s elder statesmen, but he has a lightning fast turn of speed when he wants to. His team was marginally ahead by the time we were the next to go, so I jokingly suggested he give me a chance & wait for me. To my surprise, he did! This meant that I was then left trying to keep up with him over the distance. I will admit that he beat me, but not by an embarrassing amount.  

Facts & Figures
Distance – 3.1 miles.
Time – 52:39
Average pace is fairly meaningless for a sprint session, but I do love the fact that my darling Garmin has reported my best pace as 5:02 min/mile. I don’t care if it’s a technical aberration, or was achieved for no more than a few meters, that says I ran at almost 12 miles an hour! Wow!

Going clubbing

Club run last night, which I was debating going to after the monumentally hard downpour late yesterday afternoon. But, after leaving a casserole in the oven, of I went the car with the winter gear. Long sleeved shirt, extra layer, high vis-vest and head torch. Yes, I run along looking like a Christmas tree! But, what with the council’s drive to save money by turning off street lights, the torch is most certainly a useful investment. 

It’s a fine line, timing arrival at the clubhouse. You want to get there, sign in and then have time for a loo stop, but not be hanging around too much. That was last night’s issue – I was there early enough that I stood outside for long enough to get cold; changed my mind about wearing just long sleeves, and popped that extra layer on. Didn’t need it.

A loop run, with a series of pauses to allow the group to catch up. We escaped without getting rained on. I found myself not able to comfortably stay with the front of the group, but falling back into the gap between the front and the back. But a few weeks ago I was anchored at the back of the group, so that’s progress, at least.

Facts & Figures:
Distance – 5.44 miles
Time – 1:03:00
Average Pace – 11:35 min/miles.