Category Archives: Sheep

A spot of mis-placed rage

I’m getting slow in my old age.

Since the run around the hills on Thursday I’ve been mostly complaining that my left leg is hurting again. All below the knee, all a bit bloody frustrating. The run was fine and the recovery seemed reasonable but a pain each time I put my foot down isn’t something I can put up with for long.

So running took a back seat. Each morning the pain has stayed away slightly longer – from putting my sock on it eased out until I got in the car. But it’s always present.

Today was the day to get my motorbike serviced, however. Which meant either a load of faffing about driving there, cycling back, riding there, driving back and then doing the same again (it’s just over 4 miles away) to collect it. Or simply wearing a pair of shorts under my leathers and carrying some trainers in a rucksack and running home, leaving leathers helmet and boots at the workshop.

But that’s not an option on damaged legs.

So with some caution I left there this morning with dreams of a run, knowing I might have to stop if pain revealed itself.

So I kept the pace down (good job, since I’m a tad unfit after not enough running lately combined with floorlaying and gardening instead of cycling as a fitness offset) and eased out onto the road. And felt ok. I opted for the flat direct route which brought me onto the Greensand Way for about a mile of footpath through fields. A splash of rain last night softened the top but hasn’t begun to make puddles or close cracks in the soil (in April. We need rain. Lots of it. And fewer new houses to increase our demands on the resource. But there you go….hypocrisy at peak…maybe I should stop building them!) so a low impact mile was experienced. And very pleasant, too. Many stiles, a farmer fertilising his crop but not another soul for a few minutes made me feel good to be out.

And all too soon I was back home.

A continuation on making my floor trims was interrupted by JB demanding we go and see lambs so the closer lamb field was chosen just in case it had a few. They’re late around here, though – 10 miles away there are millions of them – all our local fields are sheep free areas at the moment. Probably waiting to build houses on them.

We saw a few far-away lambs and then returned. Whereupon my knowledge of road construction and traffic control technology demanded to be shared by a fellow who wasn’t too keen on the option. Arriving at the newly placed lights erected on a corner to allow more houses to mess up the countryside, I proceeded through a red light. Very bad, admittedly, but fair. The lights are controlled for priority by strips which detect metal; basically a detector recognises a lump of metal passing over it and lets the light control know there’s something waiting. Only a largely alloy pedal cycle doesn’t contain enough metallic element to trigger the system so common sense prevails and encourages caution to head around the corner and hope drivers can. Drive, that is. The road wasn’t light controlled until a few years ago, so all used to be fine. But today a prick in an 02 reg dark blue Rover 75 (I’ll probably find it next time I head into the new estate where he clearly came from) decided we were an obstacle he couldn’t avoid, so he chose to use his horn (to let us know he was there as is the horn’s use as identified by the highway code? I feel not since I made eye contact to make sure he was aware of me..and yes, I am aware of slight irony referencing the highway coed when I’ve run a red light!), then slowed and shouted at Cathy before swerving in towards me and shouting that I need to learn to obey the lights.

I am getting slow.

I opted for sensible-ness for a millisecond which was a millisecond too long with hindsight. I should have reacted as I used to in such a situation and eased right as he slewed left, placing my pedal through his door (DMR V12’s are great, pointy objects for such a purpose). Or reached into his open window as he passed amd shouted. Instead, having decided to avoid the risk of injury, I simply shouted for him to pull over. My intention was to educate him as to the vagaries of the traffic light detection system and ask if the delay he didn’t experience on a road plenty wide enough for a car to pass a pedal cycle justified being a knob. But instead he chose to speed off. Despite my best efforts my fully suspended knobbly tyred cycle wasn’t going to catch him without traffic intervention and he got onto the bypass before I could catch him. I’ll have to find his house and leave a note under his windscreen wiper.

And some dogshit all around his doorhandles and filler cap.

Upon returning home I headed back for the return leg of the 4 miler to collect my bike.

A little apprehensive with a slight ache in my shin, I once again took it easy. A gentle plod along the off-road bit again tied in well with my lack of fitness and keeping things steady was great for morale as the traffic of rush hour kept me diving for the verge to avoid vans and trucks.

Home again after a quick ride around and my legs feel fresher than I feared. A lawnmowing session has hopefully kept things free. I’ll see for sure tomorrow when a haircut might be the highlight of my activities.

Birthdays aren’t what they used to be!

Back to it

This week, i’ll mostly be off work.

Which, as far as dedicated exercise goes, can be taken as both good and bad. Good that yesterday was the first for ages that i’ve had the energy to properly weight train; good that today I went for a proper training style run; good that I also went out (in a fine old fashioned, knuckle-dragging “get your knee down everywhere and anywhere you can, you slacker! style) on the motorbike, despite the good being tempered by getting soaked on the way home, which incidentally was done by the shortest possible route (24 miles) owing to a nail in my back tyre (3 punctures in 5400 miles having been 18 years previously without one. Something’s not right!) and a desire to not have to push; bad because my 16 mile cycling option for exercise isn’t done on auto pilot.

Okay, then. On balance being off work is a great thing.

Still, I couldn’t summon the enthusiasm for the run this morning, so went at my usual after work time, partly out of habit, partly because it works for me and partly because it’ll feel natural when I start to pick thing up in mileage ready for the Royal Parks Half. I think there’s 14 weeks to go, so it’s about time to start, I guess. I’m not going to try and stick to any co-ordinated training plans this time. I seem to be stuck in the above a novice but not intermediate runner capability. I know i’ll get injured or worn out or both if I go for 5 runs a week, know i’ll perform badly if I use a pure novice plan, so have decided to do what I feel to be right in order to enjoy the thing.

If that means not running for a bit, that’s what i’ll do. If it means running more because I feel like it, then so be it – but i’ll keep an eye on both plans to ensure I neither slip under the novice or exceed the intermediate plan in any time period. My difficulty is going to get the balance right for doing a good time. I fancy a sub 1.40 time if I can, but know this will be at the sticky edge of my performance envelope. It corresponds to the equivalent time on McMillan’s running calculator from my poor race in the Ashford 10k last year (felt slack and pace-less), so should be achievable with a good performance on race day, but I just don’t know.

Guess all I can do is try. And today, my 4.2 mile loop was outed at a surprisingly quick 7.15 average pace, so at least I know i’ve got the pace at the moment, albeit for about a third the distance.

It feels nice to be in control of my running, though. After the stick-to-the-programme London plan that went awry to getting fed up with Juneathon, it feels nice to just make it up as I go along. Almost back to the spirit of four years ago when Geoff called the Canterbury half marathon out of the blue when I wasn’t training at all, with 8 weeks to prepare, when a time of 1.48.15 for the hilly course was a miracle of effort over preparation.

I fancy a bit more of the same. Shame it’s with a bit less youth!

Juneathon, carpentry and into the sixes

So little time!

Left home early to do a day with Geoff making his pergola, got held up a bit by a sheep named Fred repeatedly saying hello (but everytime Geoff went for the camera, he went shy. Typical) and didn’t get home until nigh on 6 o’clock.

And my girlfriend needs taking to the pub. And for food. Desperately.

So, as if carpentering for a day (at super speed when we weren’t sheep stroking, of course!) wasn’t enough, I needed to go for a mile. Only, frustratingly, I felt like going much further.

Still, as I set out, a slowish run seemed on the cards. Until about a tenth in, when I felt good so accelerated a bit. Then realised as I got to about 0.4, I was going reasonably quickly and still felt fresh. So, after turning around, I got a wiggle on. And got home in an average speed of 6.51.

Which now begs another question when Juneathon’s over…as well as how quickly can I average the 3.5 mile route (7.02 average done the Sunday before June in the rain) and how high is my peak heart rate, just how fast can I run a single mile? It’ll take practice, but i’m up for a go. Just before training for the Royal Parks half commences, I think.

Oh, yes. The sheep was great to stroke. As was his mate. Now tomorrow, I must get a jump in – there’s a fantastic plane waiting!

Self loathing and ibuprofen

Last week was a low one, morale wise, excepting a happy half hour on the mountainbike, and not wanting to flow into next week on a negative, I set myself up for plenty of gardening and the prospect of a Turkish restaurant in Islington as the potential high points of the weekend.

A bit of research on that internet thing, as well as advice from the font of all knowledge over such things, lead me down a path I fear treading. But the marathon means a lot to me. You see, about a year ago, when injured during training for the Hastings half, Cathy suggested ibuprofen for the inflammatory reduction effect. I dismissed it, knowing it also kills pain and i’m stupid and if something doesn’t hurt, despite the knowledge it’s still healing, i’ll abuse the lack of pain and kill myself.

I repeat, i’m stupid.


Those who meet me next week at Reading will be able to verify this fact for themselves.

Well. Ibuprofen plus a large dose of stupidity plus a huge dose of self hate and a small desire to explode myself equates to some nice counting statistics.

Today, I was passed by 172 cars. 5 motorcycles. 4 cyclists. 1 pedestrian. I passed 1 man fixing his gate. The same man who’s usually weeding his verge on his knees. I ran 20.04 miles in 2hours, 48 minutes and 51 seconds.

And now, i’m going to walk to the village, buy a paper and crawl home.

I’m in pieces, but have run 20 miles. Before, I felt I was in pieces, but hadn’t. I wonder how much i’ll hurt when the drugs wear off?

Oh, and Cathy – there were fields and fields of lambs, all chasing after the little stick man plodding beside their pasture. It was ace.

48 miles. 7 days. Phew.

I think that just about sums things up.

Having put off last week’s run until Sunday, it crunched things up a bit, I guess, and even though it’s only a day, the recovery time seems non-existent.

But today’s run was good.

A bit breezy, but my route didn’t have any long straights and was all sheltered by hedges and rolling landscape, sunny intervals kept my spirits up and the pace came easily. My first two miles was broken by a road full of trainspotters for about half a mile and I was granted a view of what they were waiting for just before the line went out of sight as a steam train (green, sleek with a familiar sign – maybe the Golden Arrow?) rolled past. It was pleasant enough to see, I can’t see the attraction in videoing it, but it takes all sorts and they were possibly just as bemused by my running.

Then it was a bit frustrating. There seemed little traffic, but every time some arrived, it was met by a vehicle in the opposite direction right where I was, so I had to keep stopping in the verge. Right through miles three and four, just when a nice rhythm was settling in.

Ah, well, they were all very courteous, at least. I added a never before run route to add 5 miles to my known route, which spiced things up well. One of the fields had a vast quantity of new lambs in it, so hopefully i’ll see the return of the sheep to the field behind my house before too long. The little linking road doesn’t look like it’d had a vehicle on it for years, so was well worth finding, and the run in when I knew the last 2 miles went by very rapidly, so all in, it’s looking very good for 20 miles next weekend.

13 miles, 8.20 average pace, time for a shower. Then a paper, some gardening maybe, a beer then a curry. Last night saw more energy bar baking, so hopefully a milk/white chocolate mix with no plain will be the nuts. Maybe Jogblog will let me guest write the baking on Planet Veggie sometime, if i’m a good boy. But there again, maybe she won’t want a good blog ruined by an idiot…

Mince pies to bake tomorrow night. If I hoover, too, will that make me some sort of domestic God? Oh, no. It’s called cleaning up, isn’t it.

Super smashing splendid great.

Busier than a bumble bee

Ok, work has officially gone mental, I don’t even have time to think any more and have now taken to turning off computers and stuff to allow me to get on with things. The phone will be next.

Still, i’ve entered the Reading Half marathon to spice up my routine of long, slow runs in the run up to London as well as to encourage Cathy into a pb, meet Red Bucket and his associates (with luck), bump into whichever of the three peakers Cathy manages to talk in to going and almost certainly post a personal worst time in my striving to keep my pace down to about 9 minute miles. Man, it’ll take a long time to get around. Still, better than injury, I guess.

So, tonight saw a 4 mile seafront run, complete with a strange pain in my right rear thigh area and still stinging calves. Still, it was ok, with added fun in the police pulling two random vehicles on the seafront to help take my mind off things.

And then to shopping, clothing washing sorting, cooking, eating, washing up, putting the bin out, making lunch for tomorrow and now blogging. I wasn’t going to, but Cathy insisted.

And I think next year, I will count my mince pie consumption. Two years ago, there were only 3 weeks when I couldn’t get any. Last year wasn’t quite so good. This year, I struggled in May and October, early November time. Next year, I guess i’ll be changing shops as my site location changes but still, mince pies are essential – i’ll be disappointed with fewer than 100, to be honest. There, the marker is set!

Oh, and the sheep look fat, i’m guessing pregnancy. Smart, might be more next year. And not just for a few weeks, either!

The 2.48 from Headcorn

So another Saturday dawned, more rain has been falling all day after yesterday’s 13mm, so wet just about sums it up, I reckon.

Cleaning the car this morning, I find someone’s smacked into the front bumper, crushing the number plate holder and scratching across the section of bumper around it. Must’ve hit slowly but firmly since the inner recessed section is scuffed, too. So, half an hour with some filling compound, colouring tools, waxes and polishes was wasted making it look invisible – at least, in the appalling light today brought. I’ll have a further look if the sun ever comes out and do the necessary then. Well, Mike Baldwin wouldn’t have a scuffed motor now, would he?!

So papers were bought, shelves made (hoping i’ll get a chance to fit them) and lunch eaten before a bit of house work lead to leaving the door at 10 to 3, resplendent in tights, tee, jumper and rain jacket since it was launching it down at the time. And still damn cold.

Still, I felt reasonably lively, noticed the river was high on the road at the bottom of my hill, then saw it was in the second flood stage as I ran alongside it. Banks have been exceeded, it’s taken over the low lying fields, the sheep are being hemmed into a small corner of their field, but as I crossed the first bridge, it hasn’t yet got up to road level in full flood status. Still quite impressive to look at, though. And not running away very fast, so I guess the tide is high and not too much rain could make it all the higher yet. Smart, diversions a prospect to get to work on Monday.

Still, I had another 4.4 miles to run, so carried on, walked past two very nervous looking horse riders, couldn’t believe how muddy the roads are, felt good as I turned around, flagged a bit in the middle of the return leg, perked up considerably when I took my hat off, cursed the rain for stopping and making the jacket an annoyance rather than an aid, increased the pace for the hill home while wondering if the ambulance car with his siren was really that late for his tea and looked intently at my watch for my finish time.

Now, i’m hoping i’ll be bothered to get a Garmin soon, then i’ll know my accurate distance, but aside from that, the same run used to have a pb of 41.05, set twice – once last November, again 13 months previous. today, I set 41.01. Oh, yes, a whole 4 seconds quicker, just one week into my new running technique. Not a great increase, but quite pleasing since I didn’t feel that much effort in the run. Strangely, this is over a minute slower than my equivalent 10k pb which doesn’t make much sense, but I guess that is a race, this just a training run. Good, though.

Oh, and my nice new trainers already look very second hand and worn, so it’s all good. Time to wash some running kit now, I guess. Ah, the joys of winter.

And the ram has left, so it’s just 10 sheep in the field, now. Wonder when they’ll go to their winter home, leaving me properly lonely?

A 5am sheep

After a week long drought, claimed to be a taper before Sunday’s race, I thought i’d better ease the legs out with a jog along the seafront of sunny Hastings before the weekend to blow out any cobwebs and check how my foot is healing.

But following an evening out and an amusing comment on my jumper status, I felt the need to consume 1835 calories for lunch in the form of the nicest M&S sandwiches I could find. Oh, and a bag of crisps and an apple pie. Rude not to, really.

So work was truly hectic, to the point of can’t keep up but with the sun out, the sea as calm as a millpond and no breeze, I wasn’t going to miss the run even if I was really really really tired. And after changing boots back to my trusty riggers to try and repair my struggling ball/big toe pain, I was eager to feel if there was any benefit.

Well, after about half a mile, my foot was letting me know it isn’t right still, but it’s definitely improved, so i’m confident it’ll be fine soon enough, but I knew I was tired with the slow pace I selected being all I could really put in. Which, when all the dogs and owners were factored into the route, possibly wasn’t such a bad thing. Still, the run was pleasant enough, I did get diverted by and old RD 500 LC in the classic bike shop window, but the frame was scruffy in all the wrong places, even if the yokes had been polished and the exhaust housing in the seat unit was immaculate. I guess after 20 odd years, it has every right to be a bit scruffy, but it’s still a shame.

So, this put me on the other side of the road, the run seemed to flash by without the sea to stare at and all too soon, really, I was back in the office, packing things up and coming home.

Now, i’m knackered so am headed for bed. Strangely, even though it feels ok, my foot has started clicking lots. Odd. Still, 69 cars. 1 sheep comment. Happy days.

3 Peaks, part 3

Mmm, the Welsh hotel. Walking into reception proved to be a horrible disappointment, but I guess after Hermons Hill, most places would. Still, despite a 3 mile walk to our room in a seperate annexe, it actually turned out to be ok.

Llanberis seemed quiet really, proving to be much the same all the time we were there, but it’s an ok place. Eating in the Indian restaurant turned out to be fine (lucky really – we were back on Monday night to a cheery “hello again” welcome from the waiter), the walk up the mountain something of an oddity.

Reading through the notes, it looked run-able. Having been frustrated on the previous two mountains on the way down, I was seriously considering a jog challenge. The legs were fine, if needing a stretch, and it later transpired Danny (the American on the event) was also considering the option, but both of us decided to ascend with our ladies and enjoy the stroll. Which was the right thing to do all ways around, despite the mountain really being akin to a theme park, our route following the railway, not really getting beyond a steepish slope, finishing with a set of properly constructed steps at the top, accompanied by the sounds of construction and builders right at the summit. The wind and cloud from just over half way up were a bit special (Cathy got blown over at one point), the temperature at the top prohibited a long stay (just long enough for a photo), but the trip back down was the best of the lot. Being easier than the others, luck brought a nice slot in the weather and Cathy got some fantastic photos (with a bit of help on the ones involving standing near the edge of the steeper bits!) and the trip back belied the 9 miles the route turned out to be.

Oh, and the sheep aren’t as pretty as those on Scafell, are definitely more camera shy but also certinly more vocal.

A proper enjoyable mountain to finish? Yep, it seems odd that someone died off a steep bit on the other path on the same day we were there – how? springs to mind, but apparently the other side is a bit wilder, so maybe that’s the route for next time. Ah, no – next time i’ll be running it.

And to finish the weekend, a round off meal in the local cafe seemed perfect. Congratulations and thanks to Pete and Alan for their organisational idea and effort were warmly given by all, the photos on Facebook say the rest, really. Bits of it seemed frustrating at the time – like all good holidays, with hindsight it was ace. Smart, even.

Still, while we were away, August ended. With no significant rain over the last weekend, rainfall for the month ended at 69mm (but with rain on 14 days, it’s no surprise it felt rubbish) – compare 56mm last year and 101mm in 2006 (over 21 days…who can remember it being that wet, everyone just talks about the record breaking heat that year!). And the cars keep coming down – just 138 left. Still to decide what to do at the end.

Who knows, if my foot repairs (pass as to what went wrong on Friday, hopefully it’ll heal by tomorrow) I may be able to blog a run before too long (with the Ashford 10k in less than 5 weeks, I need to if i’m to get under 45 minutes…).

Holiday Tuesday

Somehow today doesn’t feel like a Tuesday, partly due to enjoying yesterday (enjoyment? In my life? Shorely shome mishtaik [to quote the late great JC]) with Cathy, partly due to still having a week off work.

My mystery “I feel crap but can’t put a finger on what it is” ailment still seems to be hanging on, i’ll go all day with no problems then start coughing and blowing my nose as though it is a cold after all. I’m getting frustrated, it must be said. Last night, I was up 3 times, at about 4 o’clock I thought i’d be getting a complaint from the neighbour, so severe was my hacking, so when the alarm went, I didn’t notice i’d turned it off until i’d wasted half an hour of the day. And getting up, I felt awful again. Compounded by the news i’ve probably given a portion of whatever I have to Cathy, who now sports a sore throat and cough. I hope it’s unrealted.

So, my last run before the mountain adventure wasn’t being looked forward to but, having cleaned the bike and hung the washing out and all the other essential holiday activities done, I got changed, coughed some more, put the trainers on, grabbed a drink, coughed again, blew my nose and ran.


It was rubbish. I was wheezing down the hill from the house, got half a mile in and changed plans from a 5.4 to a 3.8 or 4.2, depending how I was at the top of the hill a mile in. Which wasn’t good. To the point of turning up the road at the wimp out cut off point to convert all my effort into an amazing 2.5 miles. Yep, 2.5 miles. Wheezing, sweating like a horse and knackered. Man, am I pathetic. Didn’t even feel good overtaking a pair of overweight pikeys on their horse and cart (black and pink contraption, actually looked well made but why the desire to put a “Sindy” fake number plate on it? Pure cheese.)

So I got home, sulked, sweated, sulked some more, went into the village (sheep purse based emergency), had lunch, went for a 60 mile motorbike ride, still didn’t smile as much as I should, so set about cleaning the windows. Which are now clean on the outside, tomorrow will see the inside done, shopping, ironing and hoovering brought up to speed ready for the weekend abandonment and week of tiredness I anticipate ensuing.

If the chest thing clears, i’ll run and blog again before the weekend. If not, i’ll bring you up to speed on our 3 highest mountains (assuming we make it to all of them!) after my return. Assuming Cathy doesn’t use all the interesting stories for herself and copyright them first, of course…

155 cars, by the way. And a trace of rain.