Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Secret Monkey Mission

I was back on the Grand Union Canal (Paddington Branch) on Monday this week and boy did it feel fantastic to be there again.

I had been requested by a member of my extended family of long distance runners to do a reconnaissance on the section between Bulls Bridge and Little Venice to which I was more than happy to do if only to get me out on the canal again and also have some purpose in my training.

My original plan was to run from Bulls Bridge to Little Venice but on my way there I was contacted by my work and was pulled into the office to "fix" a wayward server. With this change in plans so I chose to change the direction to save time.

The recent wet weather and winds left the canal-side wet in places with puddles formed  in certain non-residential areas but as usual there were the usual sights and sounds. Cyclist whizzed by with a customary "ting-ting" of their bell, Polish fishermen were catching their supper, the occasional prostitute stood on a corner plying their trade and the boats sat in their winter moorings whilst the smell of burning wood hit the back of my throat. A normal day on the canal. The light was magical as you would expect on a cool winter morning giving everything a yellow glow and the boats form silhouettes in the water.

I had planned out a route of 21 kilometres on the canal and 2 kilometres either end to get between there and the stations. Yes, the run was hard, I am in no way at running weight yet and my cardiovascular is not at all good such that my pace was very slow but methodical, at best described as "ultra pace"

Swans hissed at me as I passed whilst I swore back at them, I overtook boats whose hippy captains tendered to their spluttering engines and the occasional drug addict looked up at me with paranoid eyes. I puffed and wheezed along inwardly smiling knowing where I needed to get to in terms of fitness and this run was the step up I needed.

Finding that I had bled my battery dry from taking too many pictures in regards to my Secret Monkey Mission I was unable to get my triumphant selfie at Bulls Bridge but happy to tell you it was still there but I can confirm it still is.

This run was a lovely run.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Now all pray to the Monkey Gods

On Tuesday evening this weekI was to be my first go as an official group leader after my recent qualification as a Leader in Running Fitness. As I am getting back to fitness I didn't want to be seen to flake out after a mile so asked to go with Group 2, usually comprising people new to running and making their first step up into a distance past 5km or people returning from injury. This is a nice group to lead as all they need to do is get some confidence that in fact they can do it and to realise speed and distance comes to those who are patient. My brief was to run 4.5 miles at 10:30 - 11:00 min/miles, nothing more, nothing less, so I had planned the route but had no Garmin GPS to use to pace so I chose to blag it and go with the flow!

It was much surprise when I was introduced as " Welcome Jezza on his inaugural run as Group 2 Leader" a large cheer went up and a round of applause rippled through the crowd that I introduced the run, speed and distance. Then the next surprise (and much relief) when a small group of about 12 runners gathered around me with expectant faces.

The run went well with a few stops for all to group together (at their request) and it was interesting that some of them were not sure where they were which is probably a good thing as I had planned a little treat of a local hill I call "Cardiac Hill 2" as it quite steep and has to be taken at the runner's own pace. When I told them what I had planned some of them them looked absolutely miserable so I told them "At your pace I want you to get to the top of the hill, you can run it, walk it or crawl it but I don't want you to stop" and off we plodded ( I was shamefully at the back as my hills are not great at the moment but I am good of the flat) as I reached the top I was met with a sea of smiling faces.

Then it was the last mile or so back to the club house with the pack happily chatting behind me such that with 800 metres to go I set them off on a chase back with "orders" to meet in the car park for a shake and stretch.

In the car park the pack now full of endorphins were set in a circle and I asked them to relax and blow out and stretch to the heavens to see if they could touch the Monkey Gods and then bend down and to all pray to them. There was a ripple of bemused laughter from a few of them as only a few knew about my Monkey Feet and the reference.

Monday, 7 December 2015

A morning marking a course

Like many races a competitor will tun up to the event, collect a number, get dressed in their kit and wait to start the race mostly unaware of the frantic activity that has been going on before the crack of dawn that day.

I turned up at a small village hall in Cuxton, Kent where there were a team of people scurrying around fixing tents, computers being connected and flags being raised. I walked in quietly and got dressed in my kit comprising my dear old Monkey Feet, a pair of Union Flag shorts and a light weight running jacket whilst the weather promised to be dry all day I put a pair of gloves and a Buff into my backpack along with a first aid kit and a litre of water.

The job of a course checker/marker and indeed Sweeper are self efficient as you are working before check points are prepared or, as a sweeper, when they are closing down so it is best to carry your own. So with a pre-run briefing from the Race and Course Directors I stepped on the start line just as the sun rose up in the east, a glorious start of a run over the Downs.

Without a blow by blow account of what happened on the course (not very much by the way) it has certainly taught me a lesson not to:

  1. Over estimate my fitness
  2. Under estimate the Downs again
Yes it was tough, the hills sharp, the mud gloopy in places and the trail hardened such that my Monkey Feet were not protecting my sole as best they can.

On the more optimistic front I certainly began to realise that I had missed my opportunities to be trotting over the various hills, alone with my thoughts, a map in hand and a beady eye on the horizon.

It is the day after the run now and I have a blackened toe nail (from a trip) and tired legs but I am so very happy that I was able to run 14 miles at my ultra pace with little problems after apart from a pang to get back out there again

Friday, 4 December 2015

Optimistic post

The plan for Wednesday was for me to run a session with a group of runners and had set a nice plan to do parlaufs, fartleks and sprints to build up some power in their runs.

This was turned on its head when, after I had navigated (read as short cut) across the local park with my head torch I reached the arranged meeting point to find that only two people had turned up. Feeling a little disappointed we decided to go for a run being aware that one of the runners was new to the sport so took a gentle pace which I was secretly glad of as I am finding it difficult to drop my speed and so blow myself out quite quickly.

So we ran together for about 5 kilometres and dropped of a runner to their car when the remaining guy Peter, who I have run together quite a few times but you may remember helped mark a course with me in 2014  and so there is a kindred spirit of going "off piste" so we decided to go back the way I came, I with a head torch, he without. So slipping and sliding about in my Monkey Feet we hung to a tree line, ducked over to one side of a clump of bushes and then a new tree line to join the main path and out to the road.

We said our goodbyes leaving him to traipse up the local mountain (read as the steepest hill in the local area) and I to the downhill slope to my house where I jumped into the house feeling a little tired but elated that something good came out of a bad thing.

No track this week as I want to rest up as I am course checking a trail race route on Saturday taking me 21 kilometres which I am very much looking forward to.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Thoughts for 2016

I was once told by a competitor of the Grand Union Canal Race that it is a race that gets under your skin and itches away until you have completed it. Never has a truer word been spoken and so with 2015 nearly at the end I can only claim one trail marathon in my Monkey Feet I look towards 2016.

You will have seen my recent post that I have entered the GUCR 2016 and now to top it all I have also entered the Liverpool to Leeds 130 mile foot race to be held on Saturday 27th August starting at the Eldonian Village Hall, Liverpool.

I am totally up for these two and are my main athletic targets for the year with anything else incidental.

Roll on 2016

Friday, 27 November 2015

Shine on You Crazy Monkey

If there is one thing I have learnt this week it is about patience and that came from the most unusual places, my cat.

Mark Twain wrote:

"A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way."


This blog's image today is my cat ,Oliver, who can sit and watch a bird or anything food related for hours on end without moving a muscle. Here he is watching our beef stew cooking and he sat there for over 20 minutes looking through the oven door waiting for the meal to cook so that he could get some of it.

This is now my approach to running after my return a few weeks ago, nice and gently and not rushing things and already it is showing its dividends. As I am overweight at present, last week at the track I did a Pyramid Run which can benefit if the following three areas:
  • Strengthening my heart
  • Improve overall fitness levels
  • Burn off fat 
and this week I decided to do repetitions, run 400 metres at tempo, walk 100 metres, run 400 metres at tempo, walk 100 metres, and so on until I reached my goal of 8000 metres for the session. I usually chat with people when I run around but that run was important to me and I did something I have never done in running, listened to music!!!

So with Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here playing in my head at volume 11 I traipsed off plodding out my laps in my Monkey Feet and jumping into lane 2 when I was aware the other guys zoomed passed doing 800 metre reps caring not a jot as my focus was distracted from my legs but still aware of my heart rate. I hadn't realised until I was told, much to their amusement,  afterwards that I was singing very loudly on the back straight at one point so it does seem I was not feeling bad! 

I am amazed after just 3 weeks how much I have improved in my stamina (still a long way to go), I am losing some weight (My shirts are not so tight) and a general positive attitude towards running/fitness. I still have to battle my demons on a daily basis but that is the norm these days and just have to push them aside and try to live with the here and now

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Leadership in Running Fitness

So the training continues with some workouts and runs this week. On Thursday at the track I was determined to get a proper training session in and to refrain from walking. The difficulty I am facing is that I have the mindset of an Ultrarunner but not necessarily the physical conditioning and so when I run I think I can go faster than my body lets me. My strategy to prevent myself from losing breath is a pretty obvious one and is simply to come off the pace which is harder than it seems. So with me taking great effort to slow down I did a 1600, 1200,800,400, 400,800,1200,1600 metre pyramid run with a 60 second recovery in between each set, tough as it seems I cam e away from the track in a real high.

Leadership in Running Fitness

I have not mentioned this on my blog as of today as I was unsure whether I was going to be fit to do it but I undermine myself as the fitness is returning. I am normally critical of some courses but this one was brilliant. I turned up at my normal running track and was guided to the club house where I met the other 19 candidates ready to learn for 9.00 am.

The day involved learning: 
  1. The Role of a Leader, 
  2. How to Plan a Session
  3. Practicals
  4. Flexibility and Warm Up Drills
  5. Planning and Delivering a Session as a Team
It did not particularly help with the winds whipping off the park, the flurry of snow and quite cold temperatures but our boundless energy and comradery kept us going whilst jumping in and out to learn new techniques. I think the funniest part of the day was when we took over the men's changing rooms to do drills in the warmth and some lad walked in to see 20 people, 5 of them women, standing in rows smiling at him as he grabbed his dry kit and disappeared as quickly as he appeared.

Next question is to wonder whether to go for the Coaching course as I really enjoyed the day.

Hopefully I can take a group some time from now until Christmas.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Like two peas in a pod

No heel strike picture
As usual the arrangement for a muddy run with Duncan was its usual vagueness:

Me: "Sounds good, should we meet at Hangman's Corner?"

Duncan: "I will see you there...don't leave me hanging."

The last comment was a friendly nudge saying "Don't be late and don't blow out at the last moment" which I know I have been guilty of a few times in the past but these days I feel happier in myself and I am a bit more positive so made it my goal to be there on time.

Let's turn the clock back 4 hours when the following list was  dropped into my lap by the Delightful Mrs S as I took my first sip of morning coffee, it read:
  1. Mow BOTH lawns (I think the capital letters and underlining were a little rude but she knows me too well)
  2. Take rubbish down to the dump
  3. Take tiles back for a refund
Mine personal list was:
  1. Mow lawns
  2. Extend door by 7 cms and prepare it for painting
  3. Go for a run with Duncan
The final list was:
  1. Mow front lawn
  2. Go to dump
  3. Extend door by 7cms
  4. Mow back lawn
  5. Go for a run with Duncan
So this was my excuse when I saw Duncan running down the hill from Hangman's Corner pretending to be an aeroplane as to why I was walking up it feeling knackered already. Duncan and I were both dressed in red shirts and back shorts which was unusual as the steely eyed Zimbabwean is often dressed in leggings, two shirts and a hat if the temperature is below 25 C or it is November and December.

If you asked me what route we took I don't know whether I could actually tell you as we ducked and darted up this path then another path with no perception of direction chatting away or grumbling about dog walkers who could not control their yapping charges and questioned how far a dachshund would fly if we dropped kicked it (I jest).

So with Autumn mud in my Monkey Feet, the obligatory flesh wound from blackthorn and blood pumping I peeled away and took the scenic route home to discover my usual cut through was closed  for road resurfacing making me run that extra kilometre past the usual carload of dope smoking teenagers who smiled and waved as I passed (It must have been good dope!) to get me back to my house feeling pretty good. It appears the training is beginning to kick in.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

A Pilgrimage - The journey starts here.


Today was a special day when the Delightful Mrs S, my eldest daughter and I went to Birmingham to visit my youngest daughter who is studying mathematics in the University of Birmingham. It appears she had organised a "Grand Tour" of the city centre which involved the Christmas Market (a Germanic affair with beer, street food and local sellers), to a viewing tower above the famous library, shops and what I was waiting for, the Grand Union Canal by the Gas Street Basin.

"It main take the pain away but it won't take the killer"

The weather in Birmingham was grey cloud, wind and rain, so nothing new there then! By the time we had got to the canal my family were looking for lunch but I was not going to be swayed away from stepping on the start line of the infamous GUCR so my daughter and I were seen to shuffle off to get some photographs. I was also quite pleased to hear that she was also interested to see this hallowed ground and to see what all the fuss was about.

In the picture on the left I am looking a little wet but strangely excited to be there, as I looked down towards the bridge under Broad Street I could almost see Dick Kearne, the ex-Race Director and "God" of trail runs in my opinion, standing to one side welcoming us to the start with his lecture on the dangers of pain killers still ringing in my ears, "It main take the pain away but it won't take the killer", Dick is a wise man.

So for the first time in 6 years the Delightful Mrs S now knows with 6 months warning that it is my intention to run the race again which is going to be a tough job now that I am 50 but maybe I should put this challenge to rest in 2016.


Saturday, 7 November 2015

GUCR 2016

So after a year in the wilderness I have returned to the bosom of that lovely band of eccentrics that compete in the Grand Union Canal Race.

Yes, Dear Reader, you have heard me right, after proclaiming to the few people who listen to me that I was never going to attempt it again I entered the entry ballot at 22:37 hours on Wednesday 4th November 2015 by sending an entry form to the new Race Director, Keith Godden. 

The ballot was held at 19:00 hrs in:

The Woolpack, 
Well Street,
Buckingham, 

MK18 1EP

Which is a beautiful pub and sells Tribute brewed by the St Austell Brewery whom my Grandfather was the Master Brewer in the first part of the 20th Century....I digress.

In a moment of excitement when I discovered I was in I punched the air followed by the next hour scurrying through my old training plans.

Time to focus my training methinks

Friday, 6 November 2015

Even the worms mocked me.

As we approached the track it became obvious that we were going be very wet by the end of our run that evening as drizzle floated pass the floodlights. 

The track sparkled as through its beautiful new surface and it was good to see a good crowd of my fellow runners met at the 3,000 metre line to chat about upcoming races and the latest sporting "must have."

I bid my farewells to start a few gentle warm up laps and noticed the number of worms that had crawled off the infield and for some reason had joined me on my laps. As I went on I began to realise that this was not going to be a good session for me as I was pretty well whacked from a very busy week at work and not enough hours sleep. 

As I trudged I began to realise that the reason I was feeling out of breath was because I was just running too fast. In my head I have the mentality of an ultrarunner but my body has one of a slightly overweight middle-aged man who hasn't trained for a few months. Even the worms mocked me as they lapped me on a number of occasions but I had decided to run 300 metres and walk 100 metres to keep my breathing settled and my run consistent, during the running sections I calculated that I was running 8:30 minute/miles and was probably the reason I was breathing hard but by the end I was running evenly and unlaboured.  

These are the first two weeks of my training and I am going to keep going as I know it will become easier as time goes on.

Next time I will ignore the mocking worms and concentrate on lapping them.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

A flurry of activity

My newly found zest has seen me feeling pretty good at the moment, my legs felt pretty well after my 21 km run through Saffron Walden at the weekend but work life got in the way a little on Tuesday so I was unable to get to the club on time but that is not a bad thing. I realise I have a long way to go before I can comfortably run at pace whilst my body adapts to my running again.

This hasn't stopped me entering a few Long Distance Walking Association challenges so to have something to aim for and to toughen me up again. I always mention "toughen up" but that is the best way I can describe it when preparing for longer races, you have to feel the tiredness in your legs, you have to feel out of your comfort zone in training sometimes because that is what it will be like in the main event. I have entered two winter events and will leave it until the day of the runs to decide if I should drop down a distance, after all it is for fun and not about damaging myself.

I have entered a third event which I will talk about at a later date.....I shall leave you hanging and come back soon on it

Monday, 2 November 2015

The Monkey is Back

Imagine the scene, since the death of my Father at the end of November 2014 my life turned on its head abruptly and found that at that time I had other priorities and turned to my family for mutual guidance and support. My thirst for running dwindled and I soon fell out of the habit running but still yearned for the chance but never quite made it to the door.

Now some of the pain has gone away and the fifth rude bastard told me that I was getting fat to my face I used it as a spur to my bloating flanks that the time was the time to start but knowing the first run was not going to be great. So two weeks ago I went to my usual track run and amazingly pulled off a 5 mile (8 km) run sounding like  wheezing old dog during it was happy that I got it out of the way.

Probably in the quickest turn around in history I ran 10 km last Thursday and then 2 days later on Saturday I got up at 5.00am and drove to Bishop Stortford and ran 21 km doing course checking for a big race that day. You can see by the accompanying picture I didn't seem too tired but I have to say I loved every minute of it which underpinned my need to get out there with a map and compass, my Monkey Feet and a litre of water more often.

The Monkey is Back

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Do or do not...

A rather smart friend of mine told me that if I want to get back into running I must first do it for fun and then build on it with the addition of a sentence that really sank home:

"Stop setting yourself up for failure, temper your goals."

This has turned out to be some great advice.

My regular readers will remember a post I wrote at the beginning of the year called GUCR 2015 and other ramblings and my breakdown in 2013 Depression, running and its aftermath and the problems that for now are hidden away but as I have noticed recently they are only a tear drop away.

I have noticed that my drive to run is as obsessive as it was and tells me that is was more a symptom of my depression and was an escapism to get away from my rambling, cyclical thinking and weary mind. In fact it was a self-fulfilling prophecy which in turn made me tired physically whilst my churning thoughts battled with it to make me tired leading to the symptoms of stress and tiredness, a perfect storm.

These days I think of the opportunity to run again and start making plans to train, some weeks ago I buckled under peer pressure by some friends to run the Gatliff Marathon (31-37 miles) but had to be realistic when whilst running on 2nd August 2015 ran about a mile and had to pull out as my breathing was horrendous.

Some of my running peer group post on social media mellifluous and ubiquitous "motivational quotes" and rally people to races which I jump at and then realise that I have no hope in hell to complete the event with my current level of [un]fitness. I have learned not to enter any "long" races until at least I have had a 24 hour cooling off period and know in my heart of hearts I will not be fit enough for Gatliff this year. This and my embarrassment to actually be seen in running kit which stretches over my ever growing stomach known as the middle-aged spread confirming my dread that there is a very long way to go before I am fit enough to even contemplate a return, if at all and as the great Yoda said:

"Do or do not, there is no try"

I feel that I should stop fooling myself and for the time being not even try.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Run Monkey, Run!

I must apologise to all my Dear Readers who have been so loyal over the years of my Blog writing and my obvious lack of posts recently, to be frank I just lost the enjoyment which could be caused by a multitude of things in my life in the past year.

Why Run Today?

Some of you will remember a post I wrote back in November 2012 named "Run Fatboy Run" coined from a film of the same name but related to why I started running again on 24th April 2007, have a click of the link and have a  read but take note of the picture.

I had already organised a run with my good pal Duncan for today but our personal lives can be so hectic that it can be gard to get a mutually accepted time to run. Today was no different when the start time was moved due to both of us trying to get back from a shopping spree with our respective wives.

Today, was my Run Fatboy, Run moment that really crystallised my need to get back running regularly, that moment was when I went to buy some clothes and my waist size had widened out to the next size. If I am truthful, in my heart I knew it had but it is this type of shove that needs the initial motivation.

The Run

After ascending a hill to our meeting place I was glad to see that Duncan was in the process of looking for an errant cricket ball that had escaped the local match so I used this moment to be "Really helpful" and help them but he was wise of it and we were soon running off to the woods.

The run wasn't great, I huffed, puffed and wheezed my way around whilst we broke into our usual philosophical chats about fatherhood, about being 50 years old ("We are NOT old, we are older"), to children driving the family car("They are taught to control a car but we teach them to drive the car"). We watched a Heron fly away disturbed by our footfall to be told there were two nesting nearby.

Duncan, the ever patient, walked when I gasped out that "I..HUFF..am..PUFF..fine..WHEEZE" and slowed his pace when I said I was OK. I am pleased I managed just under 7 miles and that I am re-purposed  Now all I need to do is to start in getting back my waistline to its previous size.

Thanks Duncan

Monday, 3 August 2015

Run, wheeze, walk, wheeze and crawl.

The plan this weekend was to meet up with some runners at the now hallowed High Elms car park now called The HEROS car park. I had volunteered myself to be the "leader" or better known as "Follow Jerry he has planned a route".

Much to my joy twelve other runners joined me in the car park and at the stroke of 8.00am I called to gather and blurted out the route and we were off. I felt great as we strutted up the hill but then noticed my breathing was becoming very laboured, my pulse rate was going through the roof and I then started wheezing. I decided to take a breather but my heart rate was still up and much to my embarrassment the pack were all waiting for me at the top such that I tried to take the lead again but the wheezing was getting worse and so I called to  Brian who has years of experience running in the area to take over.

Bidding my farewells I limped off to the car park feeling utterly miserable that this was the last nail in the coffin for my running and that I would have to start all over again.

Probably the worst run in the history of this blog. 

Friday, 24 July 2015

The Monkey and the Dog's B******ks

These days it is a very rare thing to see me at either the track or the club running, this is down to one of two things, either I am working or the Delightful Mrs S is. Tonight, however, my luck was in and I was able to get the car for the evening as Mrs S had taken some much needed leave.

The weather has been very humid and the temperatures were in the mid 20's and I was actually looking forward to a gentle run with no specific goals but to say I had run for the first time in a month. So, running into the house, I grabbed a pair of shorts from the draw, a shirt and my Monkey Feet, as usual I drove barefoot with the intention of putting my MF's on at track side.

Bumping into one of the regulars in the car park we strolled in, paid our entry fees and went to the meeting point. There whilst others mingled and chatted happily I got me Monkey Feet on and bid my farewell as I jogged around the track. My plan was to do  400 metres, rest, 400 metres, rest etc. until I was happy that I had done 12 laps or more if I felt like it.

It was only until my third lap that Mike, the coach, whispered to me that my wedding tackle had been hanging out in front of everyone!

I must remember to throw them away sooner rather than later! 

As for the running, what did I expect, it was slow, tough and very disheartening but at least I have made a start and will now try to keep to a regular training regimen from now on, even if it is to try and shift some of this weight I am carrying.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Monkeys, Music and Mirth

And so the evening arrived when we were to meet outside the Queen's Head public house in Downe, Kent. There is always that slight doubt that anyone will turn up to it as people who say they will come have change in plans.

So as Duncan and I pulled up in my car we saw three people bedecked in running kit approach the pub and then two others scuttle from different directions to join us all.

As we stood there waiting for the church bell to strike 8 we chatted and laughed we were approached by a colourful local gent (read as the village drunk) who was attracted to our gathering. It was here I interrogated the poor soul on his local knowledge which was pretty impressive but it became a little uncertain when he mentioned that the pub we were running too was hit once by a jet and that 747 jumbo jets could land  at the local airport. Luckily the bells chimed and we jogged off into the hot and humid evening.

We were aware that there was loud music being played from some far away place and assumed that it was a local farm who once had demolition derby's  and concerts but as we dipped away from Charles Darwin's house into the local valley the music was muted by the trees. Everyone was chatting and laughing about things and it was turning out that the pack was beginning to enjoy it even as we took the sharp ascent to Bigging Hill Airport. As the route for night runs is a closely guarded secret until the day a few of the experienced trail runners in the group were not aware of the path that runs around the perimeter of the airport which was so pivotal in WWII as a first line defense against the invading armies, around it are remnants of buildings rotting away in the woods which now hide the scars of many a bomb. In fact little did the pack know but we ran past 5 locations within 100 metres of us where a HE bomb exploded between Oct. 7, 1940 and June 6, 1941 

Now the music got louder and as we ran around the border and into a waist high corn field it slowly dawned on me that is was the pub we were going to that was the source, we joked that it was almost a good reason not to wear headphones.

As we got to the pub the band had just one more track to do before it too had a break and we were able to tuck into our ales of choice, I decided to go for a very cold cider as the evening was hot and humid such that I was dripping wet. So, with the sun setting over the pub we got up to leave but not before one of the other colourful characters (read as the other village drunk) told me "To look out for the wild boar in the woods" I smiled and replied "I think I have just met it" and left through the door sharpish.

So the run went on but not before Duncan and I made a detour and ran up to a 10 bar gate to the bemoans of Karien who has fell victim to some of my "detours" but Duncan soothed her furrowed brow by telling her this was part of the original recce and without question we all clambered over it to continue our run along the tractor tracks. I got lost in the moment and enjoyed running my hands through the ears of the wheat whilst the others laughed and chatted behind me with their bellies full of beer.

As the dark began to fall, running under the trees was becoming more difficult such that a torch was needed for parts of it but in open arrears you could still navigate. After a quick break to look at a bomb damaged derelict building we continued on running through a golf course and up the valley to retrace our steps to the pub we stood outside a few hours before to take in one more ale or cider pleased with our run together.

Great times, great run, great company.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Should I pursue a path so twisted?

And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.
Khalil Gibran

Today's run was simply described by my buddy Duncan as "It was one of those feel good runs for sure." Picking him at 7.30am we got to our destination to do some route planning and reconnaissance for an upcoming night run. The route that I planned was along a few paths that I had never run on before and it felt strange that I had crossed them on many occasion but had never explored them. Some my Dear Readers who live around these parts may recognise the path in the picture above but may have not run off some its tributaries as we did today. 

Duncan and I have a similar philosophy when trail running, calling it free spirit or the need to play, to discover and find something new. In my Magic Forest blog there are many examples of this such as Let's Make a New One Then and it was no different today as we ran a border path we both saw a path leading of at right angles and was not that made by animals but by foot fall of a human, we both promised that we would investigate it on our return journey.

We arrived in good time to the chosen pub that was to be the halfway mark, one that boasted Real Ale and knowing there was some interest in the drinking part it was important that the hostelry was as important as the route.

So the first part of the route agreed as suitable with a nice hill, some rough path, mud and woodland we traipsed off on the second leg of the route. The pace was up a little but the run stopped at various viewpoints or areas of interest and so our attention was drawn to the path that needed to be explored.

I often think that had Duncan and I been to school together when we were younger that we would have probably been the two kids at the back chucking paper at each other whilst our teacher tried in vain to get us to travel what ever educational path she wanted. We are never interested in the path in front but the one leading off towards some dark area of the wood. So, following the route layed out by the path we initial thrashed our way through the weeds and nettles and it was only until we discovered that a land owner had taken great effort to block the way that we turned back but not until the flash of "how can we get over this fence?" popped into our heads but even we saw sense when we noticed that there 2 metre tall stinging nettles on the other side. As we turned back and were about to hit the original path, there was a flash of orange/brown as a Roe Deer ran past and we then heard it thrashing at a fence to escape us but then turn and fled, bouncing and jumping over the corn fields and we stopped and just savored the moments as it got out of sight.

We returned to our route planning and plodded out the final 3 miles ducking and diving through the golf course. I am not always enamored to golfers, I find it a decadent pass time but today, the golfers waved to us and let us run through which is very rare on some courses where they have been known to play through you.
  
As Duncan said "It was one of those feel good runs for sure."

On our way back to reality we laughed about how much our legs itched and stung caused by our little deviation in the woods but it was worth every moment.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Athlete's Monkey Feet

It still amazes me that of all the miles I have run in sometimes horrific conditions where my feet have been have been wet through for over 24 hours, pounded through raw silage, stagnant mud or just sweating from a long distance run that I have never suffered from fungal infections.

I always wash and thoroughly dry my feet after a bath or shower post-run but I had a tell-tale sign last night when I noticed that my foot was itching and on looking a crusting around my little toe...Athlete's Foot or to give its posh name tinea pedis but just be careful how you say it as it can easily be mispronounced and mean something completely different!

All I can guess is that I have picked it up on my muddy run last Sunday and maybe left my feet damp for a bit. Anyway, there is no stigma to the disease, I just have to put some spray on it once a day...and, boy, does it STING and some medicated talc in my Monkey Feet shoes.

Another thing I learnt today was NOT to put "Athlete's Foot" into Google images, it put me off my food!