Saturday, November 11, 2017

Takin' it easy...

Not a lot to report today. Ran an easy 10km in a slow time round the forest. It was warmer than I thought and I was overdressed.

Stay tuned for my first 13.5 mile run ever next week.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Dumfries and Galloway - the secret coast, forgotten corner of Scotland. We just spent a week there in the van with the dog.

It's a relatively small area and we only really explored from Dumfries in the east to the Galloway forest and the Rhinns - Scotlands most southerly point at East Tarbet.

The hills are gentle and the coast is peppered with beaches, cliffs, rock needles and peninsula's. The Corbett 'Merrick' is the highest hill in all of Southern Scotland and at 850 metres is more of a pleasant stroll than a chore. It gives good views of Ailsa Craig, a volcanic cap 7 miles out into the Irish sea, which we saw, rising from the horizon like a death star, the day we climbed Merrick. A chance meetings with a lunatic cyclist at the top and a cold war era Nuclear missile technician and his dog Hamish on the way down revealed all about this ominous rock.

Galloway is home also to several of the famous 7Stanes mountain bike centres. I ran on two of these this week. Firstly at Dalbeattie forest, where the running was sweet - I was there before 8am and the undulating flow of well etched, pine-softened single track beneath my Walshies was a pleasure, as was the occasional rock drop and technical boulder section. Awesome for running over and no doubt killer on a bike.

At the end of the week I did my LSD at another of the 7Stanes centres at Glen Trool. A somewhat different beast, it took me through the remnants of an ancient sessile oak wood where Robert Bruce's ragged band smashed an English army with rocks and guile, and down to a section of the Southern Upland Way.

This was hard going as I am not used to running fire roads but I managed a good 12 miler in 2 hours 20 minutes.

All this was a welcome antidote to the shameful debacle at London's Anarchist Bookfair the day before we left, which left me saddened and demoralised at the actions of an actual baying mob of fanatics. I support people who identify as Trans everywhere, and feel there needs to be a dialogue before the descent into hardened factionalism solidifies further.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Feel The Darkness

No, not Poison Idea's riot inducing 1990 late classic but the half moon-lit LSD I did last night. I have had to squeeze my training together a little, as I am about to head north of the border for a week and wanted to maximise my running up there. More on that next time.

As mentioned I returned to the forest tracks this week and headed out along the flow of the bike tracks into the forest.  I left at 18:15, as dusk was falling, and under the canopy the clocks had already fallen back.

I decided to try a new headlamp, as my old tech Petzl just doesn't cut it any more so I have gone entry level and picked up a Unilight H1, mainly because it's as cheap as the chips you used to buy in the eighties, when you'd been sent down the road to the local chippy. It's also hi-viz yellow, bright as a single AA powered 175 lumens Cree LED can illuminate and it's highly waterproof. I found myself using the 20 lumens setting along tracks out of the canopy and only amped up for detail work finding junctions.

It seems my ears interface with the tri-glide band adjusters a little bit but I didn't really notice that until much later in the run and it didn't bother me much. The strap grip is buffered with a line of silicone and didn't move once, and the 45degree rotational head was ample for seeing the state of the tracks ahead.

Thanks to @UniliteUK for that.

The forest soon gave way to the common above Jevington and I found my route onto the Weald Way, which was a muddy mess, preferable to the ice rink chalk. After a good twenty minutes of that I started to rise up above Folkington and the A27 and was reminded of that hill above Keighley in the dark.

I was due to pass under the Long Man and was amazed when the headlamp picked out it's chalky feet fro the path below. A slog up the side took me back to the South Downs Way, which I skirted around for the final four mile descent back home.

There is a point just by the nature reserve at which my GPS shows a path that doesn't exist. If you follow this advice you will come to a three foot fence with double strands of barbed wire, to pass which you will need to bend double thru an old hawthorn glade to find any kind of crossing. The hawthorn trees will hate you and try to scratch you to a bloody pulp, but eventually one will provide a way out. I'd suggest avoiding it.

After passing that trial I fled down to Charlotte's Bottom and home in time for bed.

11.1 miles, LSD constant in a horrendous time. It's not the distance but the speed that kills you. Start slow, relax and forget about it.

Feel The Darkness

PS it's the Seven Sisters Marathon today but I'm off to the Anarchist Book fair which I haven't been to for nearly 20 years.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Hardcore Punk Rocky roads

So, Brian the Storm is present here in sleepy Sussex-shire. The trees are bent over and the rain is like Tā moko i'm sure. Perfect running weather. 

Trig point at Firle Beacon
This run takes me up to the highest point in the local area - Firle Beacon - which overlooks the Low Weald at a modest 217 meters. It's all off road and in the dark I only made one navigational mistake, which is how I overshot my target distance by nearly a mile. The paths, unsurprisingly, are mostly chalk-y flint and grassland. There are ponies and juggalo cows.

I have been getting debris in my shoes so I decided to try a low profile running gaiter from after checking out various available gaiters from companies like Inov8 and raid light - none of which were ever in stock anywhere. @ULTRAmarathonR are the connect for the Dirty Girl in this country and, even though he was waiting on a re-up in the size I needed,I decided to go with this brand.

They attach in the usual manner at the front and with a little hook and loop at the back, and they weigh, oh, nothing really. They rely on a small mod to yr running shoes and provide the sticky backed velcro to do just that. I got a camo version, cuz i'm tuff.

The Sun and Brian vie for attention
In use they do exactly what they should and for the kind of trails I run on around here, which are mostly gritty rather than sloshy mud, they did an admirable job this morning. Sometimes I kick my own ankles so we'll see how durable they might be. 

My long term running goal at the moment is to run a marathon distance across the South Downs from my front door to my partners front door in Brighton and this is the second recce run up the downs. It's hard going, and I have to be careful not to just run junk miles on hillsides, or to dive in too soon, so next week I will return to the forest tracks at home. Friston forest is full of MTB trails which are perfect for running, as long as I don't head-long into some lycra girl on her XC machine.

10.7 miles today, continuous LSD. Legs need to relax more but it's getting there. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

It was cold at quarter to six this morning. A bit too warm for anything other than shorts and vests though. I had added another layer - my crisp packet thin wind-proofs - and by the time I got to the first rise of the Seven Sisters I was ready to chuck 'em off. But, as the right 'onourable Naylor says, you have to keep warm so the body can concentrate on keeping moving.

The blank and black cliffs were thrown up before me and the ocean was illume'd by the moon. Some stars were still out but the sun was due to rise, and as it did it became less likely I'd out my foot in a rabbit hole. Last week I stepped on a rabbit on my long run. It bounced off like a weird ricochet, hopping vertical and sideways at the same time.

An early ferry in the distance, returning from Dieppe to Newhaven Harbour.

There is a lighthouse on the eighth of these Seven Sisters, but it wasn't doing it's thing. The sun lit up the cliff edges as I turned north away from the sea and back towards the forest. Down to Butchershole, up Snap hill and all the way up Charlotte's Bottom.

9.3 miles continuous, eight hills - some of which I ran up - and home in time for second breakfast.

Above is the Seven Sisters cliffs, snapped from Seaford Head some time last summer.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

A long time ago, when I lived in Leeds, I would occasionally loose my mind and either drive for an hour and more to run in the Lake District or I would go out to the moors at 3 in the morning to run in the dark and the snow and the freezing air. I remember cycling from where we lived (round the corner from Sned if that means anything to you) allllllll the way out to run on the Chevin. It was no great distance - 11 miles or so - but at that point I wasn't a cyclist. I think I'd bought a Raleigh racer to get to the ambulance station I worked at.

So, that was all well and good, except at the point I twisted my right ankle on the rootsy, off camber side paths that i'd run on on that hillside. I don't remember how far I had run that day (although I probably still have my running diary) but, however far it was, I had to ride home. Lame. Literally.

I'm not sure either if that was the beginning of my ankle trouble or a continuation but periodically I would have recurring ankle problems. No big deal right? Everyone that runs has some kind of complaint with an ankle or some complex of issues.

I'd run for another six years or so, variously nursing my problems or strapping them up. By 2009 i'd done a few competitions, and run nice long slows in the Hebrides and along hill ranges. I started to experiment with altering my cadence and bare foot running and, lo and behold, the troubles started again and it just became harder and harder to run thru injury - always a stupid idea.

This morning I did a long, slow run / walk of 8 miles. It took an hour and a half. I was out by 5:30am and ran through the forest, and the gales, out to the Long Man of Wilmington and down to the Cuckmere river. past the cows and the cattle egrets, the White Horse and then back in to the forest and home for an omelette.

My ankle is fine.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

uh, what happened?? Just now it was seven years ago. I hurt myself and had to radically alter course to avoid crashing on the rocks of life's chaos.

And now?

Now it's 2017. 2017 I tell you. I have a new pair of Walshies. All my old running gear still fits me, although it's a bit too tight for comfort. I live in the South East again after five years in Bristol, which is possibly the greatest city on earth, and I can run in the forest I live in.

I have a dog. She doesn't like to run with me it seems. Sometimes she doesn't even like to go out for walks. What a weird dog. She is half boxer, half labrador and her name is TessyDog. I think the boxer half keeps her lazy so I'm not going to encourage her to run with me if she doesn't want to. She'll just slow me down, like being a stone over weight. Which I am.

My plan is to run gently for the next five weeks and then - BANG! - i'm gonna run a marathon distance across the South Downs.

I might write about that endeavour.

This morning, in the blowy forest and drizzle, I ran easily for half an hour and 2 1/2 miles. The chalk of the South is slippy and even with PB's you have to be cautious at times. Fortunately the rain stirs up the mud and that's sticky for the most part.

I'm following a Jeff Galloway plan which emphasises the importance of walking in my training sched. I've been on it for four weeks and my long run / walk is 7.4 miles. The rest of the week i do two runs - both 30 minutes alternating 2mins walk, 3mins run.

I think it's good to err on the side of caution right now. You know how hard it is to reign in the brain, and that ultimately screws over the body.