Monthly Archives: February 2010


And so it was a strange day.

Knowing I had a 17 mile outing coming up made me all out of sorts for the latter part of the week, I think.

I sacked off the Thursday run owing to a lack of enthusiasm to get soaked again – it poured down from about 4.45 until Friday morning and, to be honest, marathon or no I simply couldn’t be arsed with it again. Friday saw me jog to the shop for a pint of milk and dread the forecast for today and the big run and motorbike MOT.

And last night, to cap it all, I fell asleep in the chair approximately 3 seconds before I was going to get up and go to bed. Oops.

Still, an early rise this morning (well, for a Saturday it was early) saw breakfast done and me actually get out of the door before 9 o’clock. I saw a runner in the rain at 7.30 and thought better of it. I simply used the time in between for toast (2 slices), Orbana, banana, cereal, orange and tea. And coffee.

I planned a route to avoid the worst of the wind, heading into it while fresh, then gaining shelter from the local forest. It basically started towards and through Stubbs Cross, on to and through Shadoxhurst, through Orlestone Forest towards Hamstreet, across below Bromley Green, turning short of Aldington towards Mersham, looping back past Cheeseman’s Green and home. Simple.

And it all went nicely until about 9 miles when the rain started. Lightly at first but by the time I was 2 miles short of Mersham, it was hammering down. I had no raincoat and was feeling a bit depressed. My route around, instead of through, the village added misery in having to cross two rivers over the road, resulting in soaking feet to match my top and little cheer was had avoiding a roadworks gang blocking the road for tarmac repairs. They were repairing the most minor road I know while potholes abound on major routes throughout the area. Very odd.

And about here, I plumbed the depths of the run’s misery before things picked up a bit. Half a mile of exposed headwind and rain gave way to a really sheltered few corners where I realised my legs were feeling ok and I might actually make it home in one piece. Hope soon disappeared again, but not long after I turned into the final two mile stretch towards home, which was a relief for sure.

Everything hurts, including  the top of my right foot (played up after Wednesday and started aching at 7 miles today), but no more than i’d expect after 17 miles. As Mark pointed out on Facebook – if it wasn’t hard, it wouldn’t be a marathon.

Then this afternoon, the bike flew through the MOT having surprisingly got there in the dry, only to fail to start afterwards. Very strange after starting on the button before I left and then idling prefectly after it got going. I’ll book it in for a service and see if that helps. If not i’ll have to get handy with some tools and have a play myself. Least now it’s sorted I can go for a thrash when things become stressful. Which I think they might in the coming weeks.

Still, it’s only Saturday. Loads to do tomorrow including plans for conservatory floor starting and all sorts. Should be good.

Shall I compare thee…

To an otter’s pocket?

What a ridiculous training regime this seems to be – consistent snow, ice, freezing temperatures and far too many wet days seems to have consolidated into a miserable marathon campaign.

Right about 5 o’clock, the water on the windows of the office increased to monumental proportions and as I left around twenty past, I reckon I was soaked by about quarter of a mile in. My planned 8 miles leaned down to 7.6 after a shortcut or two – I simply hadn’t the desire to be out in it, combined with forgetting to take my water bottle in to work with me for the run. I’m amazed how dry I felt after each jelly baby without a sip of liquid – I felt hollow in the stomach, lethargic in the legs and generally rubbish.

Still, I went out. Not in the direction I fancied owing to it being all but dark from the off, but out all the same. I couldn’t be bothered to keep lifting the coat sleeve to check my pace and most of my woes are reflected in the first two miles being 7.26 and 7.29 pace – I fancied slowing things down but failed, clearly, so must address pace things on Saturday for my long run. The trouble was that without water, I flagged drastically on the uphill mile, recording my single slowest mile of my training. Ok, it’s still within my supposed “long, slow run” target pace if I look on the calculators and stuff, but it annoyed me. Still, I got home, didn’t stop and now feel fine.

I’ve just looked through last year’s notes and see that after Saturday’s run last year (the 17 miler) things fell into disarray on the schedule – my injuries were mounting up and stopping me doing my stuff. I feel so much better this year, I hope things carry on like this. My ankles are definitely showing signs of fatigue, but not so far as straps, medicines or ointments are being sought. My muscles feel fine and dandy – loose, full of beans and strong. That said, I hope i’m sensible enough to listen to my bones if things do tense up. I’ve still a long way to go and some stupid long runs to partake in, after all.

Fingers crossed.

And will it stop bloody raining, please? I fancy a nice run for a change.


Had a bit of a tardy afternoon from site (could have been half an hour later, though – thanks Spencer for helping out) so didn’t get a chance to do my old countryside route before dark from site this evening – i’ll be trying to get out on time tomorrow to allow me to head off in an interesting direction.

For 8 miles.

Yep, it’s that time in the schedule where all runs are ridiculously long, these being the last two at 4 miles. Next week, a 5, 8, 5 combination will leave me hurting, i’m sure.

As it was, today I did 4 and it was dull, I felt bored and my ankles ached.

Ho, hum. Stay tuned for more dull mileage reports, perhaps interspersed with tales of hedgerow and pothole.

Rush minute

Following my cold last weekend, yesterday was a repeat of what would have come before. An 11 miler but instead of being around Maidstone after work, it was from home around the south of Ashford.

Basically a shorter version of the 15 miler, I cut off a short loop 2 miles from home and the nasty Park Farm housing estate loop at the end which  made it a pretty good run, all things considered. Fuelled by Orbana once again, I averaged 7.56 minute miles with no more than 16 seconds between quickest (mile 11) and slowest (equally miles 6 and 9 at 8.03) but significantly, felt pretty damn strong again during the first 8 miles.

Considering the cold and (despite it being mild) the effect that surely had, I don’t mind having felt tired after 8 miles, especially with the speed of the final mile despite not knowingly pushing on. It was just a nice run, albeit over a fair distance. In fact, the only fly in the ointment was a sudden surge in traffic as I got to Stubbs Cross – both directions had about 10 cars in a row just before the footpath started so I was forced to stop, slow, run on the superbly uneven verge and generally lose my rhythm just where I didn’t want to. But maybe, since the fastest mile was following this, I had lost form anyway and it shook me back to good running.

Who knows.

All I do know is that i’m struggling to find an attractive 17 mile route for next week and Cathy had a nice race in the rain and wind and cold during the Isle of Oxney 5 mile at Wittersham earlier today. Couldn’t be arsed to do it in the rain with sore calves on top of the runs i’ve set myself (sorry, did I mean schedule? That’s a bit formal, isn’t it?) so I chose to watch – never again! It was cold, wet, took ages (or seemed to) but kept me from injuring myself trying to do a justifiable time. Next year, assuming they do it again – i’ll race. It seemed quite a nice affair.

Ho hum.


Couldn’t post last night, the computer wouldn’t let me.

Not fair. Still, Cathy was at bookclub (No, I still can’t talk about it…it’s the rules) (I’ll not get spoken to, let alone anything else, for weeks now i’ve done that joke again. Ah, well. I like it!) so I had steak for dinner which made up for computer based problems.

It wasn’t a smooth run, though. About 5 o’clock, it started absolutely launching down the rain, I put in a few tardy e-mails to close out the day, drove home and ran from here. Later than i’d hoped to be, more tired and hungry due to the hour, and in the absence of an inspiring 4 miles, I did a dull out and back to the BP petrol station on the edge of town.

Wind behind me on the way, chilly on the way back. My ankles hurt all the way, my calves now feel sore (not boding well for a comfortable 11 miles tomorrow) but it was a run done.

They all count, don’t they?


I forgot to mention the amount of cars on the way to Morrisons during yesterday’s run that were either parked all the way over the path, pulling onto their drives and expecting me to give way to them as I would if it were the road I was crossing, parking alongside the path then opening their doors onto me or, in one case, stopping half on the path, only to pull forward and close the path completely just as I was at their bootlid. I’d glossed over it in my mind as typical.

Well, tonight, that was proved. Having decided on last week’s 7 miler backwards, I was about 4.5 miles in when a car pulled from their works car park toward the road (a busy one way traffic light junction) and stopped at the back of the path. Innocently enough, I decided they were a) waiting for a gap in the traffic and b) letting me use the bit of highway I like to consider the pedestrian’s domain. I carried that thought right up until I was level with his passenger light. When he pulled forward. No reason, except to maybe look closer at the line of cars doing 30mph in front of him. No reason other than to test my reactions, combined with my desire to not want to be pushed into the road in front of a queue of moving traffic. No reason, except to have my fingerprints thumped into his bonnet as I used it to lever myself away and around his front end which was the only way I could avoid a diversion into the traffic stream. Parkour it wasn’t. Effective it was.

My favourite bit of the couple of seconds of excitement was being so blasé about the situation, I couldn’t even be bothered to stop, drag him out and punch him for being a twat. I merely ran on.

All very composed and civilised. Must be getting less aggressive in my old age.

Still, the run was ok in that I kept the pace down owing to a lack of get up and go in my legs on the back of the cold but still finished feeling as though i’d tried a bit. The final 2 odd miles is uphill and unpleasant but, having started in daylight and relative warmth, I finished pretty bloody freezing. Don’t know how I consistently get colder despite loads of calories being burned but with the temperature having dropped to minus one while I was out, I know this contributed.

My right ankle hurt to start with, too. A result of a bruised heel, I think, but magically it seems better now than before I left. Something to keep in the back of my mind as the mileage goes crazy, I guess. No blowing up before May this year. Honest.


I’ve been quiet over the weekend mainly because what I thought might be a cold coming on over the course of Friday made me feel rough enough on Saturday (when, incidentally, I had to work) to give up on the idea of an afternoon run in favour of seeing how I felt on Sunday. The answer was about the same, but not enthusiastic or lively enough to bother going out.

So I had the weekend off.

Probably could have done something but it felt fine to not go out and, resuming this evening with a nose full of grot and a chest that was enthusiastic about not much but coughing, I think on balance the weekend decision was correct.

This evening was a journeyman 4 mile out and back on the slopier of the work routes. Tomorrow my 7 miles will be last week’s course backwards, a route that will involve the best part of 2 miles uphill for the finish, a fact i’m already concerned about – how many coughs per mile will it be? Or how slow will I have to go in ensuring I can still breathe tomorrow?

On a brighter note, it won’t be long before the country lane option opens up again – it’s borderline already as to whether i’ll make it to a footpath before it gets too dark to avoid the cars – another week and a whole new world of runs will be there for me to enjoy. (Well, ok, I did them all through the summer preparing for Royal Parks Half but the darkness seems to have been here for so long, they’ll feel like new routes for sure and there’ll certainly be some new potholes to enjoy.)

Lorry mirrors

I hate the word lorry but when legs ache as mine were this evening and I spot another broken, knocked off, discarded mirror on the pavement, as I did last night at the opposite end of town, it’s the most natural word to spring to mind. Quite why there’s such a proliferation on Maidstone’s paths remains a mystery.

But my leg ache isn’t such a mystery. Mainly, I believe it’s the mileage. Second on the suspect list is the cold. I got back into the office at about 4.45 and hadn’t warmed up as I got changed which resulted in a mental note of how my legs felt tight as I bent to pick my bag up. Not tight as in shortened muscles, just in a reluctance to move beyond the frigid rigid stance they were locked into.

I’m pissed off with being cold now and will sulk until I sweat. I dislike being too hot normally but as I drove from site, I had one of those moments where I couldn’t truly remember what it feels like when I climb into the car and can’t decide whether to whack up the air conditioning or open all the windows to get cool quickest.

Just couldn’t positively associate the memory to the feeling.

The run was shit – my sore lower legs shortened my mental ability to 3 miles. I could have plodded on but wouldn’t have got any benefit, I felt, so I didn’t. Just came home, had the athlete’s dinner of lasagne and chips and beans (all warmed up – no fuss over cooking for a change, simply couldn’t be bothered. It’s been weeks since ready meal heaven, so it’ll do no harm, i’m sure) and here I am, waiting for the washing machine to finish so I can retire to bed.

Hey, ho. Let’s go. (To bed).

Running in circles

Circles with a 7.3 mile circumference, that is.

I didn’t fancy any of my existing routes for my 7 miler tonight so, with seconds to go before I left, I checked Pedometer for a route and found a rough 7 miles by heading into town, heading out on the A20 towards Bearsted, heading back along Willington Street and back to site via the shortcut of Pheasant Lane.

It was nasty. Alex said it was “raw” as he came back in from a fag just as i’d got changed, so the rain coat was worn to keep the wind out and a hat applied. To my head. And still the first mile and a half (downhill – should’ve been a breeze) was nasty, fighting into a headwind that summed up the run. My hands froze, I got no core warmth going and wasn’t happy. So a quick diversion into the housing estate eased the wind in my face problem but added a few yards which allowed me to warm a bit but dread the A20 stretch due to the wind worry and traffic.

It turned out to be ok. Not as nasty as I feared, the uphill to the traffic lights was possibly the first time a hint of warmth got to me but this was soon eradicated as I ran (wind behind me) toward the dip at Downswood. This was a horror to run down (never run it before, cycled it once many years ago) with every step jarring my ankles which felt fine until now but at the bottom, a mile of uphill commenced. The first couple of hundred yards are waaaaaaay steep, thighs burning and everything, then it flattens to grind out the climb to the highest spot in Maidstone. By the top, I was hot. But knackered.

I’d like to describe the last two miles as a relief but Spencer’s disbelief at the frost on my hat when I got in to the office summed things up perfectly, I think.

It was a business like training run for a longed for race. Nothing more.

And then, halfway home, I encountered the snow that’s been pelting itself at East Kent all day. Halfway between Smarden and Bethersden I went into one corner on a clear black road and came out spinning up on the white stuff. The last 6 miles took 25 minutes and I don’t much fancy it improving overnight.

Good job I held off booking the bike in for an MOT at the weekend – think i’ll wait until it gets there without crash damage.

Paving Slabs

I meant to run yesterday evening to give myself a bit of recovery but the discovery when I got in that I was up for the six o’clock finish (should have checked on Friday, I guess) put the mockers on that, so I went today instead.

To be true, the thought of a run in the snow wasn’t really inticing anyway and tonight had at least the benefit of being dry so I guess I should thank small somethings.

Anyway, I decided on a slow 4 miles to Morrisons and did it just over 30 seconds slower than last Thursday. My ankles were feeling a bit distressed so a plod was the order of the day. But the reduced pace alllowed my brain to work out why I found such a nice rhythm for a few yards last week. The same happened today. It’s because, around the mile and a half mark just as I got warmed up, a section of paving slabs opens up and they happen to draw me in with the length of stride matching the slabs in an accelerating effect. They’re slightly uphill, 500mm slabs (a bit smaller than standard 600mm items) and my footfall on the upslope appeared to be about 1150mm – every third stride, i’d gain an “extra” slab – the effect drew my eyes, made me smoother and pulled me along. Annoyingly, as I worked out that it really worked, I looked forward to the downhill section but it all fell apart. My stride got so long (i’ve always been criticised for my huge stride compared to my short frame) on the downhill, no decent rhythm revealed itself and when I shortened my stride, it felt like I was tottering along for no effect.

If London’s 26 miles were on small paving slabs, I reckon i’d have a chance of a sub 3 hour time. As it is, i’ll settle for four.

I used to have a similar feeling running past the 3m sections of railing/fence type stuff alongside Alexandra Park in Hastings, but in the downhill direction. I just don’t know why it’s taken me so long to realise what it is in Maidstone that feels different. Must be the slope because the seafront sections in Hastings didn’t have the same thing when  I ran on the paved bits there.

Hope it’s not some paving based obsession that’s drawing me in. With a good couple of months marathon training ahead of me, maybe i’ll find true insanity yet. Must keep the long runs confined to the country.

The loneliness of the long distance runner? Maybe insanity would be more apt.