Monthly Archives: July 2011

Sprightly Shopping

Getting home slightly earlier than normal transferred, slightly irritatingly, into a later than usual run for reasons that involve a tree surgeon coming to give me an estimate for felling the willow that suffered dramatic leaf drop last summer and has never recovered as well as offering advice on the two pear and plum trees that are oversailing neighbourly fences instead of providing fruit within reach for harvest.

The wait and meet was worthwhile – I should have a reasonably priced, much reduced in height willow in a couple of weeks. If it ever recvers it’ll be manageable. If it doesn’t, it’ll provide good habitat for bugs and that and be fell-able by me for firewood when stocks run short. Bonus.

But the late run wasn’t needed, so I set of at an easy and reasonable pace (8.33/mile for the first, uphill, quarter mile) until I realised I was running out of evening and had better get going to buy some food and do some cooking.

Without realising I’d raised my game quite so much, four of the split quarter miles heading towards The Enterprising Scum Corner Otters were well below 7 minutes per mile which surprises as much as pleases me since I simply didn’t put that much effort in. It was an easy run at (at least what would, a year ago have been) a quick pace. But quick isn’t 7 minute miles any more, I guess. While I can’t sustain the speed for ever, my pace has naturally shifted up again as the summer has worn on. Sean Audiofuel asked if I had a sub 20 minute 5k in me after my last race. My immediate response is a natural no. A year ago I was happy with 6.30 as an individual mile pace. 6.27 for 5k seems impossible. But with a non-hurried quarter split quicker than that in a mid-week normal run then maybe with a good rest, some decent sleep, some luck and a bit of determination, it is possible after all.

Having everything come together for a race is unlikely, I’ll admit. But in just over a week, I might just have a pop at a swift race time on my way to a half marathon training schedule that probably frowns upon such fun. Good job I have as little idea of a schedule as I do how many weeks there are until the race I’m training for.

I’m enjoying running this summer.

387.15 miles to go.

A new destination

The weather made enough of a change for a trip to West Sussex to include a special trip for my Garmin yesterday, so the pedal cycle was loaded into the boot of the car before being reassembled and a 31 mile outing around Bognor Regis, Chichester and many surrounding villages was enjoyed.

Very pleasant it was, too, but not the only thing that’s needed for a successful half marathon training plan, so today needed to include a run.

A short night’s sleep made for little enthusiasm but as 10 o’clock passed I decided that it was then or never, so pulled on my running trainers and slacked out of the door for an uninspired 6 miles. I feel I should be upping my mileage more already but am both fearful of injury and have plenty of time, so a cut back to 6 it was.

The first two miles were very easy, the middle two saw a reduction in enthusiasm, the final two saw a drop in ability as both dehydration (got my fluid intake wrong yesterday, it seems) and fatigue in my legs grew. Still, as I didn’t finish the ride until 5 o’clock, the legs were allowed to be a bit weary.

And 6 miles is enough to keep me ticking along.

An uninspired post is about to be published to enable a trip out on the powered two wheeled transport before a visit to the local music festival to round out the evening.

Who decided weekends need to be this short? Idiots. Simply idiots.

395 miles to go.

I’ll slow down soon

SportTracks is a wonderful thing. Much as I love RunningFreeOnline, my long term activity tracker encourages me so much, it’s almost like it’s pushing me along.

Today was a return to my hill repeats but with an extra 500m as a warm down tacked onto the end – basically a jog up and back down the hill to empty my legs. The first 50m sprint saw me with a badly hurting buttock which I massaged out on the jog back down, the last 150m sprint gave me a bit of a jolt in my left thigh. I wanted to try and lose them before I left for home. The thigh’s still an ounce tight, hopefully more stretching will cure it.

Upon returning home I uploaded the run onto SportTracks and then compared the relative splits to my other repeat sessions. The tally shows that the final 50m was 1 second slower than last week but otherwise it’s the fastest I’ve ever covered all the splits. A poor slowing down was experienced last November but generally, the trend on the same course, same road, same intervals is of a good improvement overall both in splits and overall duration of the session, showing a similar improvement in speed down the hill while recovering but still allowing faster times.

Which is nice but, with last week also being quick, I fear dejection next time I slow down (which is likely to be next week, the Tuesday and Wednesday night already being booked out). Still, improvement is good and it’s not as if I’ll ever challenge for any proper fast times or anything, but against myself, I feel improvement as I age is a surprising thing.

More cycling is on the wish list but I’d like some half decent weather to enjoy it in, really, so fingers crossed that something turns up soon.

432.02 miles to go.

Another Garmin oddity

My measuring device occasionally does odd things and today it performed the one that really gets me confused. My route was a loop to buy some milk (a loop with an extra tack-on to take it out to 4 miles) and the oddity was that the Garmin performed faultlessly for the run but recorded the stopped bit while purchasing milk in the running duration. It does this randomly – most of the time it’ll record the stop. Not today.

Bah. The “select manually entered values” bit of SportTracks adjusts it correctly, but why does it occur in the first place? Very odd. And why does it download to RunningFree as the automated value despite saving it in the manual form?

I suppose I’d work with computers and suchlike if I understood them. As it is, I’ll stick to running and merely blogging on them.

What was meant to be a slow-ish mid-week run turned out to be a bit of a surprise, as things turned out. My first mile was obscenely quick considering I put little real effort in – checking the watch showed a mile click past in 7.05. I started berating myself for risking injury when I remembered my running intent and merely resolved to keep breathing normally, enjoy the run and keep smooth. The second mile was at a more leisurely pace, thankfully, and a decent time was enjoyed on the whole. A little cooler for running seems to suit me well and before I knew it I was looping towards my milk supplier wondering where the effort had gone.

Slightly tight calves greeted me while I paid for my produce and a slower trot back home laden with groceries rounded out a “recovery” run in happy fashion before I slouched in front of the Tour De France highlights for an hour of leg tightening slovenliness.

Must go and water the greenhouse now, then it’s press-ups before bedtime to unwind from another poor day at the office.

436.05 miles to go.

Easy running if not an easy run

The world of exercise is always intriguing and this morning came along with a fresh head (was a little concerned after having a spot of Theakston’s Old Peculiar last night, only to pop over the road and wash it down with a pint and a half of Strongbow – small quantities of both seem thoroughly refreshing!) and an intention to avoid the showers that seem to be categorising this July as something of another April.

As well as this, I fancied a clear afternoon to allow odd activities to be fitted in without the usual running out of weekend rushing that has been 2011 so far.

So with a clearing in the cloud, 11 o’clock came along and demanded I slip into my running gear and head out of the door.

Strangely for a morning run (I ususally hate them aside from races and struggle to get going) I found an easy rhythm and settled into a decent pace, venturing on my little mile loop to increase the run overall from last week’s 6 miles to a more half marathon training like 7 miler.

The fresh wind that was in my face did nothing to dampen spirits, a little shower coincided with tree cover much like recent outings and as three miles hoved into view, I felt really really good and fresh. Which was silly considering I was just keeping a merry pace, not slowing down as I fear I should as run distance increases, but while enjoying my running I have little desire to make it less pleasurable.

Which is possibly my change for running from now. Whenever I set a goal and determine to achieve it, I seem to fuck things up (with the exception of the Royal Parks Half two years ago which went flawlessly). I set a goal, adjust speed/distance/training to achieve it and it all goes wrong along with the running becoming a chore rather than the pleasure which is what I’ve always done it for. This year, every run I enjoy will be done in the spirit that feels right. If everything goes wrong and I get injured, at least I’ll have enjoyed it up until there. If all goes right, maybe it’s the adjustments that are at fault. My thinking is that each time a marathon training niggle hit me it was due to slowing up to allow a longer run without injury (beacuse that’s apparently what happens), while the two hundred mile months preceeding the niggles have been healthily outed at sub 8 minute mile average pace.

Which is a long paragraph way of saying that while I wasn’t flying, I kept the pace decent all the way home, enjoying seeing a vole scatter from the road in front of me, seeing a rabbit dart for a section of hedge only to execute a u-turn when it realised the gap wasn’t where he was heading and seeing but 8 cars on the whole 7 mile outing.

Very satisfying.

A slight tightness has crept into my calves which wants another stretch but otherwise it’s hard to tell I’ve been out by my physical demeanour. Which belies the 7.31 average pace I toured around at. More cycling equals easier running, it seems. And long may it continue.

440.21 miles to go.

Improvement over time

This has been another blog that simply won’t flow off the keyboard. Maybe this is related to the fact that last night was a bt late to bed following a trip to Ashford to see JB’s story being acted out. All very exciting, and viewable for everyone here.

Go on, have a look. It’s really quite okay!

I have an idea what I want to write but no structure will form to the words that makes it flow in any readable way.

My running endeavour today was a return to hill repeats on the road we made in Rye (I say “we made” – I mean that I managed, ordered in materials for, set-out, made design decisions where necessary and co-ordinated in with the highways authority along with our structural engineers while the groundworkers and tarmacers did the physical get it on the ground bits).

For those not familiar with my outings, it’s a pyramid series of shuttle runs starting at the bottom of the hill (after a warm up from the top) with a 50m sprint up followed by a jog back down, continuing through 100m, 150m, 200m and 250m legs before shortening the legs through the same 200m, 150m, 100m and 50m runs. The steepest bit is from 125 to 250m at a steady 1 in 11 incline.

And it hurts.

The theory, as with most interval sessions, is that no matter how fit I get, the effort will never diminish beacuse I’ll simply be able to push harder for longer. The restrictor is generally motivation and the self-preserving instinct to not hurt myself. Tonight this was eased by the presence of Spencer, my finishing foreman. Nothing like someone else there to assist in pushing oneself harder, I feel.

And tonight I pushed myself harder than the last outings. My overall time is flattered by the speed I was able to maintain on the jogs back down as I recovered a bit – if speed of recovery is fitness then I’m doing ok. But the intervals aren’t bad either, all being consistently higher with the 100m uphill coming in at below 6 minute per mile pace. The first 50m outing is the most disappointing, clearly well before I hit my stride, with the first 200m hit being 6.07 average which, with the hardest bit of hill included, is pretty bloody satisfying.

Only 1.7 odd miles, but a hard outing and very different from just plodding around the lanes. Fair play to Spencer – he kept at it through the session and had a good sprint even in the last 50m with his first 50 being  the equal of mine in every respect. I guess he’ll be beating me in a few weeks if we stick at it, being the youth he is!

So a good run and a bad blog. I’ll have to be happy enough with that, I guess.

452.64 miles to go.


Work isn’t doing my motivation any favours and plans for world domination at home this evening have fallen a little by the wayside as priorities have changed.

Busy doesn’t do work justice, everything is a dash and with holiday season doing us no favours at the moment it’ll take a while for the dust to settle, but at least I still managed to get away around 5.30 tonight with some plans afoot.

I got home and pulled my trainers straight on, heading out for a 3 mile loop encompassing The End Still Cries Out to purchase essentials. Which is where things went awry. A bit.

The loop out was ace – full of beans, I set a decent pace and ran very easily with zero reference to my Garmin, no traffic and a spring in my step. Shopping was for pasta for dinner, dry cat food and surgical spirit. The assistant behind the chemist bit interrogated me whilst I was dripping onto the floor about what I wanted the spirit for and she seemed a bit taken aback when I explained – I don’t think she expected me to say that one of Cathy’s friends has suggested it may help remove the smell the cat seems to have taken a liking to which means she shits on the rug in the living room instead of her tray now. But mum told me not to lie, so that’s what she was told.

Twice I’ve rubbed her nose in it but that doesn’t seem to be working so if I can’t convince her to stop, carpets simply aren’t going to be purchased only to be ruined by a stinking mog so solutions must be found (she did the same to the last rug and we had to bin it – the new one’s too nice to not try pretty hard to rescue). The chemist type person-assistant thing sold me a bottle, though, so the excuse couldn’t have been too implausible but her “Good Luck” send off meant I also purchased some proper cleaner, so between the two something must work, surely?

Getting home laden with shopping (ok, some Whiskas, pasta, surgical spirit and cat cleaner might not be laden but with no bag, it was quite a juggling match!) made me resolve to get the rug immediately and take it upstairs for stage one of the cleaning which involved the shower, some disinfectant in a spray bottle and amazement at how heavy a rug is when soaked – the smell of it when it got wet tells me action may not be a moment too soon. And how tricky it is to get downstairs without it dripping everywhere. Unfortunately, this and my half hour in the garden along with washing up, eating and blogging means the toilet will stay un-repaired for another day and no other chores got done.

Pesky bloody cat.

Ah, well. 460.15 miles to go, a plan to cycle tomorrow but a weather forecast showing rain for 07.00 and 17.00 might make me postpone it until Friday. But that will be after hill rpeats so I’d rather get the cycle out of the way first, really!


My post Juneathon activity has been a bit slow, to be fair. A run on Tuesday has been combined with a week off the bike to alleviate feelings of boredom and hatred towards all things pedal-able which, along with two mid-week social outings, has kept activity to a minimum.

Yesterday saw a return to form-ish with a cycle to the paper shop, a superb outing to Hyde Park for a jog around the perimeter before the Juneathon picnic and follow-up pub visit (a few pints of Doom Bar went down very nicely on a July afternoon).

3 miles wasn’t enough to keep me bubbling along ready for a half marathon, though, so today saw a 6 mile outing on my favourite countryside loop past the best tree houses in the world, the local owl sanctuary and several fields. It was a bit warm this afternoon but the morning was filled with shopping and DIY, so was the only time remaining.

The other thing I’ve not had a chance to update on, and not had the opportunity to slip into a post, has been the purchase of two new running tops. I’ve been a fan of my Helly Hansen short sleeved tee (and been wearing it to death) for over a year now and, since it still performs perfectly I added another to my wardrobe. I have a winter warmth Ronhill top from a couple of Chrstmases ago that also gets a caning in the cooler weather but thought, with my increased cycling, I’d try a crossover top, hoping to combine a bit of wind stopping with a modicum of warmth. I hunted down and settled for a Ronhill half zip thing which I tested yesterday on the paper buying outing and perfectly it performed, too. Not too warm for a summer morning, a strong wind blowing against me on the way to the shop revealed it to arrest most of the blast which should make it pretty damned good in the winter months.

The purchases were from, a company JB used a short while ago and suggested for a try-out. And well worth it they are, too. A very well organised site, good images and descriptions, helpful sizing advice, everything I’d hope for in an online store. But with the added bonus of simply the best order update, information and delivery service I’ve ever experienced.

Chain Reaction were my previous benchmark (a cycle store based in Ireland who manage to do most things very cheaply, efficiently and with good back-up) and simplysweat easily match them from first experience.

JB was delighted to see some of the tops I looked at had a “Catwalk” option to see the product being modelled…the girls department doesn’t, but it’s clearly worth a look if you’re either interested in seeing the cut of the cloth or just fancy a perv at a fit bloke!

I’ll be using them again, for sure, and have no hesitation in recommending them to anyone…I’ve even added them as a link over on the right of the page in case my auto link loses the details. And that’s not a common occurrence.

So back to normality and next week will see a short run on Tuesday, a cycle to work Wednesday and some hill repeats on Thursday if all goes according to plan. Will see if it all works out.

463.15 miles to go.


After Juneathon and the race on Friday, I seem to have become a little burned out. Or is that burnt out? Frazzled, anyway.

Probably more mentally than anything but I’ve been enjoying a rest, all the same. Zero miles over the weekend (apart from on the motorised variety of two wheeled transport) brought me happily to Monday where a niggling headache saw me enjoying half an hour of watching cycling on the tv before bed beckoned.

This evening saw me wanting to run but not having the last bit of mojo to get out of the door until I remembered I needed to buy some bananas. And that it was raining and I sometimes like running in the rain in the summer. And that the only way to find out was to get out and go.

So I did. And I have.

Nothing special but a decently pleasant 3 mile jog out on the lane, back through the housing estate, a pop into The Ever Stressful Cock Office for 6 of those yellow curls of grassy goodness and a trot home.

The warmth of the rain even had me voluntarily brushing through a few low hanging branches despite the extra moisture that inevitably found its way onto my glasses and a refreshed and re-invigorated man I am.

I now have two days of booked evenings so may pop in a small run on Friday before the weekend allows a proper trot out and, possibly, a few miles on the pedal cycle once more. I must sort out a training schedule for my upcoming half marathon; maybe that will be the thing to do on a tired Friday evening.

481.34 miles to go.

Shome mishtaik, shorely?

Juneathon being over and all that, my weary legs were demanding both rest after 130 odd miles since Monday and fluid where I constantly seem to be dehydrated. JB, however, had other ideas. Despite coming home and finding her lounging in the conservatory and hoping for a relaxing evening, she said she wanted to do the local 5k race which we’d been agreed on doing all June.

A local 5k after work seemed a good idea; just not on my weary June addled legs. I was all for a rest.

Still, she won and off we went. Arriving early, we hesitated before entering since we were among only a few runners but by 6.30 the ranks had swelled enough for us to think we might not come a shameful last and laster. These local 5k’s have a habit of being fast with a capital F. The Rye summer series last year had winners around 15 minutes. F fast.

Still, as time wore on, the 2 junior runners did their lap to much applause before we assembled for the off. And as predicted, some super fast boys were crowding the front ready to go. And they went. The start was hard to pace. Weary legs (not excuse finding, just stating soreness!) and downhill starts are odd and 5k isn’t a race distance I’ve done before (except in a santa suit). I just ran freely. The field thinned out and I was among 4 runners feeling comfortable. Two of the group fell off around half way and I was left following a gent who was half a pace slower for a few yards, only to open the gap before I could pull alongside. I couldn’t find a rhythm to pass him and checking my Garmin showed I was happy with the pace, so I continued to follow.

Around 2.5 miles I got a silly little stitch (same distance in as in the Hamstreet 10k, oddly enough) but with half a mile to go I couldn’t let it stop me. A quick joke with the bloke in front, a question from him as to whether I fancied a sprint (my answer was if he was ready now, he should go since I was fading and stitching!) and an upping of pace from him that I couldn’t match saw me alone for the final couple of hundred metres which made a sprint finish difficult to say the least.

I felt I’d done my best, though and settled for a medal and a banana and a wait for JB to come over the line.

A chat with a few other finishers revealed a junior who’d finished in 17 minutes (my own time was 20.44) and a winner around the 15 minute mark. He looked ridiculous during the race – massive strides, fast tempo, simply crazy. Overall it seemed a nicely organised run in a nice setting, local and reasonably well represented from club runners to first timers.

Cathy finished well, overtaking a girl on the final park bit and everything, even if she couldn’t hear my shouts of encouragement over her i-pod. And upon finishing, she asked should we leave when I said they were about to do the prizes and since we’ve only seen one prize creremony we might as well hang around.


After the first three home were awarded their bottles and the first 3 ladies were honoured in the same way, something odd happened.

The winners name of the over 40 category was…Shaun Burgess. Who?! I looked around suspiciously. The race director looked at me. I looked around again. He looked at me again and called me forward.

Oops. I seem to have won my age category at a race. Only a small local race, but look.

 Winning wine and everything.

How shocked am I?

So 130 cycling miles, no rest, no food, work and an inpromptu race and all of a sudden I’m excited and all sorts.

Small race it may be; not a scintillating time, maybe; best old-ish bloke on the day it certainly is.

iliketocount…minor category minor race winner.

YAY! I’ve got to climb down from my excitable perch and relax, eat and sleep now. While trying to stop JB quaffing my winnings before I’ve looked at it a bit more!

486.33 miles to go.