Monday, 14 December 2009

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Cardington Cracker

Picking Mike up at 7.30 felt no different from any other Sunday morning run - no fog of tiredness to contend with this time... The drive up to Church Stretton was getting familiar - anticipation and growing enthusiasms.

Tap back into the exitement of heading away for the day on another micro adventure.

I'd been banging on about the joys of this race for too long to Mike. Had I blown it out of proportion? I was nervous it wouldn't live up to the build up.

"Alright, away you go then." No frills from the starter.

Across the field, bottleneck through the stile, squelch up a soggy lane and then start to find some rhythm across the fields.

Drop down through the wood with its carpet of larch needles and come out the other side to get the first view of The Lawley, the lead runners already getting on for half way up the slope.

Hands on knees, steady away, plenty more to come yet. Here's the guy I staggered up the last long incline of the Stretton Skyline with. We say hellos then break off the conversation to go onto all fours and grab grass to deal with a steeper bit. A dozen or so spectators sit in a line on the skyline and I turn around to take in the view they're enjoying.

Touch the pole on the top and then force legs back into a running action along the ridge. It's a long and gradual descent and I trade a few places on the way down. Ahead an Eryri runner's feet slide out in front of him and he falls down full onto his back, but there's no harm done and he's up and moving again right away.

Through the dark field in the shadow of the Caradoc. An ancient oak tree becoming a ghost.

Up the side of Caradoc I manage a direct line and make a few places. The view over to the Long Mynd is particularly fine.

Through the ancient ramparts on the top, Al Tye is there taking photographs...

... and then again, force the legs into a running action along the gradual drop that eventually steepens. The welsh guy who I finished the Cleevewold with comes flying past - not bad for a vet 60

Through the stream then a boggy bit and then onto the killer track, only a gradual incline but I know from experience that it can be sapping. Low gear. I run it all and overtake the Welsh guy again.

I'm closing the gap on the guys in front and catch them just below three fingers rock.

Over the next series of short climbs and descents on lovely springy turf I can see runners still coming down off Caradoc - at least I won't be last.

"36" "Thank you" voices called into the wind at the last checkpoint and then the last steep descent down through the muddy bracken.

Welsh guy comes flying past again.

I power walk the last long drag up through the fields and as a woman I passed ages ago comes past me again, I realise that I'm not really pushing myself as hard as I might. Somehow my brain is still telling me to pace myself.

Fields full of beet. Stiles. Sight of the church tower of Cardington.

Into the final field and someone says, "Now. Go!" So I do that, and really feel the disbenefits of missing all those sessions down the track with the Almosts.

The bloody finising line just never seems to get any nearer. But eventually I get there and feel like i've at least half earned the claps and the "well done"s. The plastic cup of water tastes great in the goodwill of post race chatter.

Mike's in a few minutes later, somwhat breathless after a balls-out sprint through the final fields.

There's a leg wash in a algenous cattle trough. There's a cup of delicious carrot and coriander soup and the warm ambience of the prizegiving in the village hall.

Mighty fine race. Mighty fine event. Mike liked it - but I don't think he would have had the heart to tell me if he hadn't!

52nd overall, 12th MV40 in a time of 1.34.19 - about three mins up on the previous year. Mike: 1.40.35.


Saturday, 14 November 2009

Sodbury Slog

The 'Slog'. It's a regional institution, and every year lots of members from our running cub take part in the 8.5mile run that is infamous for its muddy conditions. It's a multi-terrain race, but the emphasis is very much on the taking part and fun running.

The race is held on Rememberance Sunday, and the idea of getting over a thousand people together to enjoy a laugh and a healthy event is a fitting way to appreciate the sacrifice made by all those people. In a way, it reminded me of setting off early to walk up Great Gable on another Rememberance Snday too many years ago to calculate.

A two minute silence was observed and then, after a shuffle along the way for a bit, Mike, Nikki and I stood on the start line feeling the cold and breathing in the exhaust fumes of two Vespa mopeds that would lead the race along the road section of the run through the town. It didn't feel like fun running as I tried to keep up with Mike who had set off - shall we say - briskly in order to beat the bottlenecks that would form further back in the field.

The course wound its way across fields, through ditches, and along a purpose made slop trench before returning to the town.

The high volume support from the Almosts just before the finish line was a real spur to sprint over the line!

Mike and I were the first Almosts home - clearly a bad day for the club...

Monday, 2 November 2009

Easing back into it

Post viral fatigue or something similar had struck me low. My whole body ached and a chest infection that was the legacy of a wet week in the lakes lingered on. I was short of breath and without drive.

The clocks went back and, as always seems to be the way, my enthusiasms waned.

Another 5.45am alarm call from the boys and as I blunder to their needs sounds of wind-lashed rain on windows permeate a soup of still half asleep thoughts.

Tentatively I ease my stiff limbs out through the sleeping estate and onto the fields, following the footpaths up to Lecky Hill.

On the top the rain comes in sheets, each stinging droplet travelling parallel to the ground. I take a photograph, just about touching the moment, before cutting the planned route short and running for home.

High Raise

The best part of a week in the spiritual home that I share with several million others: the lakes. It rained a lot, but no matter, we had a fine family time in our rented house in Clappersgate.

One evening I had an hour to myself and headed up the footpath by the house for some gentle orienteering practice on the hummocky tops of Loughrigg.

Another morning I set off early to run out from the Dungeon Gill. I made my way up to angle tarn, failed to find a path that should have been very obvious according to the OS, and then, aiming off a little bit, followed a bearing to connect with the footpath at the top of High Raise. I cut my planned route short and headed back over Thunacar Knott on another bearing and got satisfyingly disorientated trying to find the summit. I remember the wind moaning with depth as it came up and over the top of Pavey Ark and later a party of schoolchildren emptying water out of their wellies whilst tired-looking teachers/instructors looked on.

Photos and route

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Recent runs

Duller than average post this one.

Have become concerned that my children will evolve extended lower lips from all the filtrum slurping they've been doing of late.

Last Thursday saw another visit to the track for awful speedwork. 6x800m:first 200 fast, next 400 slower/recovery, last 200 fast. Nasty medicine.

Saturday: didn't go to the Worcestershire Beacon Race due to ill children and demands of parenting. Mike put in a good performance, about four minutes faster than his time from last year.

Sunday eve: metMike for a run up and around Cleeve in the dark. He is going very well. I struggled to keep pace with him and he'd had a fast race the day before.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

This week's running

Monday - felt a little better after Sunday's tiring run and so headed up to Lecky Hill and back. Good to run alone with the headtorch on. Felt a little stronger but didn't push it. There was a nice sunset
and as I ran up the final steep bit to the top by breath came and went in time to the Munsters theme. On the top I stood enjoying the views out over the nightlit town. The sound of tyres on roads floated up to me on the breeze. The moon was out so I took a picture

Wednesday - drove to Daisybank for another headtorch run of about thre quarters of an hour hill reps.

Thursday - to the athletics track for speedwork with the Almosts. Great fun. Hard. Felt like part of the club. Pyramid of 400m, 800m, 1000m, 1000m, 800m, 400m. We aimed for 1:20/400m, adding 5 secs to the timesfor the longer distances. I nearly did a 'Paula' and had o run off to the toilets inbetween the laps!! Still, at least it wasn't as bad as this poor fella:

Sunday: an early morning 13miler out along the Cotswold Way with Mike. Route

Monday, 28 September 2009

Bude and Widemouth Bay

Evening on the beach at Bude

Widemouth Bay

A couple of days and a night in Bude. Great to see The Williams get married. It was a fine time.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

This week's running

The after effects of the stretton skyline led to en enforced week off

Monday night I set off, headtorch in bum bag, to run up lecky hill and back.

View from leckhampton hill

Sunday I ran with mike off road from his place and then ran out of fuel by about mile ten. He looked after me well, holding the gates and talking me on. Kate gave me some juice and a doughnut when i got back which just about stopped me from keeling over.

I am not feeling very fit.

Stretton Skyline race

It had fired the imagination as an achievement that might one day be attainable ever since the first drive up to the Shropshire hills with Guy Sabey a few years ago. It was spoken of as a classic. This was good - i like classics...

The 'Stretton Skyline' is also a benign name for a challenging route that if underestimated might render you into an undignified state.

The route leaves the Cardingmill Valley and follows incised valleys up onto the top of the Long Mynd from where it descends to the valley floor at Little Stretton. A well-marshalled crossing of the A46 followed by a steep climb up Ragleth Hill and some lovely running along the top before another descent into Church Stretton. Leaving the town, the course then heads up and over Caer Caradoc and then up to the top of the Lawley, retracing steps back down. A waymarked section across fields and another well-marshalled main road crossing give way to a long uphill section back up onto the tops of the Long Mynd. A final couple of downhill miles back through the popular Cardingmill Valley leads to the finish on the town playing fields.

It was hot and I went off too fast, following a friendly vet lady called Joan whose legs looked like - and I mean this as a compliment - knotted gristle. Leaving the road at Pole Cottage the slight breeze was welcome in the gathering heat of the day. We ran a strong pace over the cross dyke and around the side of Callow and down to the valley floor.

Ascending Ragleth, the dry turf felt like a crust underfoot. Trading places with a woman in a yellow Mercia vest.

Coming into Church Stretton other runners, benefiting from their local knowledge, appear out of side streets. Steady up Caer Caradoc and through the ancient summit earthworks, remembering colder conditions during the Cardington Cracker. Lose time and places by following another first timer instead of reading the map at the foot of Little Caradoc. Make places back climbing up the Lawley and enjoy running back down strongly.

View from Lawley summit, Caer Caradoc beyond

But then...

Cramp began to set in across the fields although I'd been drinking my nuun solution. I was beginning to feel 'out of it' at the second A46 road crossing. A gel helped a little at Dudgeley Farm and a chat with Craig from Amazing Feet through Gogbatch pulled me out of myself temporarily. The climb up to the top of the Long Mynd from here was hard and relentless and I was fast running out of fuel. I walked and chatted to the guy I'd taken the long cut with off of Caradoc. There were cramps down the outsides of both legs as I forced myself to shuffle into some kind of a run as the ground levelled out before the final check point.

"At last", I was thinking. "All downhill from here. Just get back to the start and then sit in the stream for half an hour. Ice baths. Mmm... Lovley ice baths."

Clearly delerious (i'm far too nesh for that) I forced my way on. I was going to do it. I was going to get there. "Mmm... lovely ice baths", my brain kept saying. "Just keep going..."

And then, there was the start. There was the promised stream. There was... no-one.

"Shit, I've just remembered the finish is down in the town", said my mind. So, I forced my way on until I just had to stop. My head went down, my hands went up to hold my head. My sudden stop sent a Calder Valley runner I hadn't known was there into a fall. The woman in the Mercia vest materialised also, and then the two of them were off, racing for the finish. I shuffled on, round a corner and followed them over the line.

An excellently organised race. The food in the goody bag at the end was so welcome. Spreadeagled on the grass watching the white cotton wool clouds morph their ways through the blue I realised that from now on I would know to treat BL races with the respect they demand.

I was 33rd overall in a time of 3:25. Photos.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Gloucester airport

In-between home duties, I took the boys over to the airport on a blustery day watch the take-offs and landings.

This week's running

Tuesday saw the start of the as yet unformed grand new regime. In other words, Mike was uber busy with family and work so wasn't coming out and the Stretton Skyline was getting uncomfortably near. Like a headless chicken, I did some random speedwork.

A mile at 6:15 and then a series of six fast minutes interspersed with a minute of fast walk in-between followed by a gentle jog over the next two miles. I aimed to do the last mile at about 7:30 pace, but it came in at 6:40.

As i finished the air was filling with a warm fine rain and Leckhampton Hill was just a grey outline in the gathering mist. I closed my eyes, and let the droplets on my face bring thoughts of Scotland.

Not really the ideal preparation for the...

Cotswold Farm Park

A day out with wifey, children and grandparents that will be remembered for all the right reasons.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

This week's running

A poor show this week in terms of mileage. There are plans afoot to have a pop at doing the Stretton Skyline run next weekend - family committments permitting - so I hope that standards haven't been allowed to slide too far.

Weds, I joined the Almosts for a run in heavy rain and winds over the top of Cleeve Hill. About an hour of running in all.

Saturday early morning I took the dog up Leckhampton hill and repeatedly went up and along and down again. Wore the smelly helly and got too hot, but enjoyed the clear air and the views from the top of the scarp.

Then Midge managed to cut his hind leg quite badly on some glass and so it was straight back down and to the vet's for stitching and, later, an eye-watering bill. Again about an hour's running.

There's a lack of focus about the running at the moment and I am concious of the need to tap my self back into the core reasons for doing it.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

... and still going strong

Lounging in cafes

Disgracefully, the more important aspects of life have been neglected on this blog of late in favour of the frank monotony of a running diary.

On a different slant, the best coffee bar in the world, on the basis of my so far less than extensive research, is the Midnight Espresso at 178 Cuba Street, Wellington, NZ. Sadly the practicalities of international travel stop me calling in that often so it's lucky that the second best coffee bar in the world, again on the basis of my less than extensive research, is called Mocca and it's just a half hour walk away. Newspapers, paintings, writings, good music and cool-looking people making steam from the big machine make it a fine place to hang out when the kids are dozing n the buggy.

This week's running

Post Brecons, I joined the Almosts on their weds night run from the golf club at Cleeve Hill. It was good to see some familiar faces, and as someone who attends very irregularly, I also really appreciated the frendliness of the group that i ran with. It was raining on us before the set off so I had a chance to try out my very specialist-looking OMM rain top and attempt to look the part - as you would expect, sortly after setting off I was way too hot. Had some interesting conversations about how to get better at running - intervals and speedwork and fartleks seem to be the order of the day. Perhaps I should get more structured about how I run?

Friday, I joined Mike for a trot around Cleeve. It was a good, sunlight soaked and windy evening.
The evening shoe wash through the damp thistles on the lower fields was taken at high speed in the gathering dusk. The nights, as they say, are fairly drawing in.

No run on Sunday - the lie in was great.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Brecon Beacons race 2009

After a wee holiday in the very fine Dordoigne region of France where the extent of my exercise was limited to leisurely lengths of the pool and interval training on the cheese board, I was in no fit state to have a go at this race.

Needless to say that it turned out to be my favourate hill run so far!

Any minor worries about forgetting my safety pins faded into a grin as the organiser drew race numbers onto the backs of hands. It would have been a nice deliberate touch at a very understated and low key event, except that nobody seemed to show signs of this being in any way unusual. Other concerns about my ability to navigate us across sections of fairly featureless bog weren't relevant - the sun was out and the clouds high in the sky as we set off at a steady trot.

The circular course heads out from just below the dam of the Talybont reservoir and is run in opposite directions year on year. This year was anti-clockwise.

Bracken and cropped turf sprinkled with a light dusting of pelleted sheep turds gave way to tussock and smooth curves of hillside horizons.

The cairn on top of Carn Pica - which is a fine piece of work - arrived after a couple of miles of ascent and the bog trot over Waun Rydd was unproblematic in the good visibility. We ran with a Welsh veteran along the crest above Cwm Oergwm and he told me that he'd done every one of the Beacons races, lamenting, "I used to manage under three hours but expect I'll barely get under four today." I told him I thought it was better to be slower because then there was the advantage of spending more time on the hill. "That's one way of looking at it, I suppose," he said. Ruefull.

The course bypasses Fan y Big ('no sniggering at the back Jenkins') but takes in Cribyn, Pen y Fan and Corn Du. There were many laden cadets and groups of young backpackers in evidence as well as families and other groups, all of us enjoying a fine day out in the hills.

I had pulled away from Mike over the Beacons so trotted slowly along the spittle-sprayingly monikered Rhiw yr Ysgyfarnog enjoying the views until he caught me up. The descent from the ridge to the valley floor was steep, muddy and hard on the legs.

Crossing the dam of the Lower Neuadd reservoir, I suggested to Mike that we could put on a spurt for the next mile or so as it flattened out. I was surprised when he just gave me a look.

Then I buggered up the map reading when we left the road and headed up to Pant y Creigiau. Climbing over a fence, the inside of my right thigh cramped up excruciatingly. Mike, who was going through a bad patch, struggled with a second fence at the top of the slope. By this point the Welsh veteran and his mate hove into view climbing steadily, watching our antics and making pointed comments about people taking unnecessary short cuts. Ah well, you live and learn...

There followed a grim process of digging deep and digging-in as Mike's bad patch continued to weigh him down. He hung in well though - I hope I manage as well as he did when my time comes to hit the wall. It was a case of, "run to that lump of horse crap then walk for a bit" etc etc.

The pull up the last hill, Tor y Foel, was probably pretty mirthless for Mike. I somehow managed an aesthetic appreciation of the lovely sound of the wind through the grasses.

The tall thin figure of the marshall at the final checkpoint stood out on the skyline. He had a wee radio on the cairn that was tuned-in to test match special. It was the penultimate day of the deciding test in the ashes series and he gave me a good update on how England were getting on. "Trott's doing well..."

Thankfully the race organiser had cleared and marked a way through the dense undergrowth on the lower slopes!

I followed a Walsh footprint into head high bracken and popped out onto the end of the dam. "Well done," said someone as he passed me on his warm down jog. I managed a fair pace for the last 50m or so. Called out "11" for the last time and headed for the water table to enjoy a drink and a complimentary Mr Kipling cake.

Mike came in after a couple more minutes, finishing strongly. A drink and a bite and he was right back on form!

More pictures courtesy of the crap argos camera can be viewed here.

We were 31st and 32nd out of 54 finishers. My time 4:09:55

Sunday, 26 July 2009

This week's running

Weds - Mike and I headed out from his house and up to Cleeve. We took a wrong turn off the top and came down through woods before picking up the cleevewold route back onto the common. I encouraged a slog up to the trig point and then we pushed it a bit too hard along the scarp before dropping back down through the woods to Southam. Both felt like we'd overdone it after the exertions of the weekend.

Over the next couple of days I experienced a real low which I think was just the effects of being worn out. Tired and thin skinned, Iwas not in the best of places to deal with various controversies that all reared up similtaneously at work. No run on friday.

Sunday - we did a bit of a different route. Mike still talking about the uber Cotswold Way run and hs roped in a few others. I've put my name down as a supporter/pacer!

The next race is we're aiming towards is the Brecon Beacons if it can be fitted in around family comittments.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Snowdon International Mountain Race

A long car journey up through Wales. Heavy showers and scenery that becomes more and more removed from the sanitised tame boring prettiness of the Cotswolds. Streams of water mark white lines down hillsides, the cloudbase sags like a bloated underbelly.

Down through the Pass. Familiar looking crags bring back memories of camping holidays in the '90s. It's good to be back - older, balder, slightly wiser and definitely happier.

The new surroundings of the Beris youth hostel challenge my instincts to be self-contained, so it's good to be with Mike who is naturally enthusiastic and an experienced hosteler. Whereas I'm internalising what's coming and failing to attain a state of zen-like calm, Mike shares out the excitement of the anticipation with the new people we meet. Over breakfast the following morning, an Australian evangelist claiming the ability to speak in tongues matches Mike's enthusiasm with his own. The exchanges to an fro like a tennis rally as they good naturedly yet persistently power their respective interests backwards and forwards; attempting to find the angles and make the passing shot.

Warming up in the field behind the fairground where the race starts, the Welsh international runner, Math Roberts resembles my spaniel Midge when he ferrets at high speed through the rushes before circling to a halt and doing a wee.

The proud Welsh countdown to the start sets the adrenal glands to 'Flow' and, with a blast of a fire engine's siren, we're off between the cheering crowds up and out of Beris.

Over to one side the TV helicopter blaps away. I can't find a rhythm in the congestion so sometimes make my way along the larger stones marking the edge of the path. The air becomes clearer and cooler. The landscape opens up and is welcome after the confines of the town. The bulk of the hill appears into view.

I snap away on the crap argos camera [photos] and chat intermittently with other runners. The route is heavily populated with walkers and spectators, the train chuffs away. Numbers feel incongruous in the setting.

It's too steep to run so I power walk with hands hips, hands on knees up into the cloud.

The path narrows and the volume of users on it increases. It's cold enough for breath to come out in clouds.

Marshalls' whistles up ahead and the lead runner Andi Jones comes past. More whistles, more runners going at speeds you really wouldn't want to get in the way of. We're supposed to be keeping to the right, but it just isn't working. Laura Kent comes past totally focused and I shout encouragement in the moment before she's gone.

The summit comes and goes. People in hoods, the chip timer mat bleeping as we run over it.

I'm gathering speed and momentum when the track narrows ahead. There's a big boulder in the middle, runners on the left and walkers on the right so i go over the boulder and through the gap between the bodies. "Good running," someone says as I pass. I'm tanking along, I see Mike working hard, coming up through the mist, he gives me a huge, "Go ON, Matt!" and I say something similar and then I'm coming down out of the cloud and trying to work the argos camera at the same time.

Eyes and mind and feet co-ordinate faster than I can process thought (which isn't saying much I suppose).

At the Clogwyn drink station I take a cup, get a mouthful and throw the rest to one side - unfortunately it goes over a watching kid. I hear the mother's instantaneous "Oh" and see her reach out to her child but I'm gone and all I can do is raise an arm by way of apology.

Still going flat out, I'm trading places with an Eryri runner, when karma strikes back. My shoe leaves a wet smear across the dust black plastic of a drainage pipe and I'm over, twisting and distorting, somehow rolling as I fall. I'm looking at the stones of the path in front of my face, my forearm has taken the worst. Immediately I'm up and going at the same speed as before, the Eryri runner ten metres ahead. I hear woman shout, "Well DONE!" and a marshall shouts to me that there's first aid just ahead, but I'm ok despite the the sudden cramping in my calves.

The steep road section back into the town is awful because it makes leg muscles go into reverse to slow down the momentum.

We're running down the street into town and everyone is out of their houses clapping all the runners as we pass. Turning the corner onto the high street and the cheering gets louder and my legs just dissolve. The Eryri guy goes away from me as if i'm stationary and I want this all to stop right now because I can't go on. But then we turn off into the park and I can see the finish and hear the crowds cheering us on either side.

I'm determined to smile as I finish and just about manage it. Someone presses a bottle of water into my hand and a cadet snips the timing chip off my shoe and then I just stand, looking up, pouring water over my head. Utterly, utterly knackered.

Then the melee of the end. Everyone euphoric, Laura (who managed 4th lady) and her husband are nearby and we wait for Mike to come in.

In Pete's Eats we gulped pints of sweet tea and wolfed a veggie breakfast each, high on the afterburn of the run and savouring the atmosphere of the place.

All of the above self-centredness falls into perspective with the news that one runner suffered a massive heart attack just below the summit. He was given first aid and airlifted off but very sadly died. RIP

Laura on her way to 4th position

Mike descending

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

This week's running

Friday I went up Leck Hill and back. Needed to get back in time for the test match highlights so cut a few corners off my usual route. I climbed the gate at the top of the fields onto the road instead of going up and through the gate and also took a direct line up 'erosion groove' rather than the longer but less steep route beneath the cliff edges. I was at the top in about 27mins and back at the house in 52mins.
Filled in the questionairre for the Snowdon commentators this eve - well it was the third time that they'd emailed it to me - bet they don't use it!!
Friday, I ran out with Mike up Nottingham Hill and accross to Cleeve and back down to Southam through the woods (great descent).
No more running until the big race!

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Runs like clockwork -

Today Chris and Belinda and Paddy and Fergus came around and we ate some good food and hung out. Happy days...

This vid was taken on Tuesday earlier in the week.

Jen and Christian have had their baby

Saturday, 4 July 2009

This week's running

A heat wave sits over Britian. Andy Murray rises up through the Wimbledon tournament only to crash out, beaten by Roddick who was the better player on the day. The boys sleep in their nappies and run out of season colds and temperatures that encourage worries of swine flu. It is, in the words of David McComb, too hot to move and too hot to think.

On weds night I set out from the house to run up Lecky hill and back. Heavy legs, heavy heat. It was a real 'training' run. In other words, enjoyment was not the motivating factor. Still, the summer evening views from the top were as lovely as ever and I felt good when it was over. I'd mislaid my watch, so that was my excuse for not being able to work to hard. On the way past the church, I saw a group of scouts all out doing some kind of activity - looked like they were having fun and it reminded me of the Scouty phase of my youth...

Friday eve, Mike and I powered around the Sandy Lane loop. The idea was to push it, so the conversation was a bit limited. Being skinnier I make it up the hills quicker so I did a few 'gate waits' and slowed over a few sections. There wasn't much time for aethetics and the heat was a good incentive to get it over with as quickly as possible. End time 1:11:51.

Sunday morning, 6.30, Mike drove to ours and then we dropped my car at Daisybank Road before heading back up to Cleeve Hill. We ran the Cotswold Way from Mike's house Southam to Leckhampton Hill, which is apparently one of the finest sections of the path in terms of views. The flowers in the limestone grassland were little pinpricks of colour, the tree leaves - verdant. We made stops to enjoy the views and, all in all, had a good recovery run.

Mike, king of the ultras, is planning a run of the entire Cotswold Way and keeps trying to rope me into it too. Now whilst I don't want to feel left out, and while it's really nice to be asked, the thought of a 24 hour run of over 100 miles is about as attractive as, well... as it sounds.

Nearly time to begin the taper for Snowdon...

Coming up to the edge of Cleeve

Through Linover Woods

Getting hotter...

Looking north along the scarp

Beeches above Daisybank car park

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Cotswolds in the summer

Took these on my travels today...

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Snowshill Manor and out for lunch

A really good weekend, despite our uncertainty about Rachel's job simmering in the background.

We took a trip to the gardens of Snowshill Manor, a perfect place to enjoy a relaxing summer's day - perfect that is, unless you have a child buggy too wide for an arts and crafts design and two inquisitive todders keen on detailed investigation and independent travel.

In the evening, we chargrilled and barbequed and watched Neil Young make a fine big noise at Glastonbury on the TV.

After my philosophical jog, we went to the Pheasant and met up with Pete and Sian and Julie and had a fine time with the kids in the play area out back.

Life is good, just not quite so secure as it used to be...

Saturday, 27 June 2009

This weeks running

Took a trip on wednesday to joint the Almosts on an off road run from the Patesrugby club, except that when I got there - they weren't! Apparently they're currently running out from a car park up by the Air Balloon that's informally known as 'Doggers Central.' Uneasy about IT band pains in my left knee, I nearly just went home but after some relaxed stretching i decided to take a jog around the Devil's Chimney race route. It was a fine run on a hazy sunny evening and with a nice breeze on the top just to add to the enjoyment. The knee held out well and I trotted back into the rugby club a full ten minutes behind my race time! Had a fine laid back pint in the bar watching wimbledon and chatting with the squash players.

On friday, I hooked up with Mike and we did the old familiar Sandy Lane loop. The idea was to bez round and incorporate some speed work. We got a bit knackered by the second hill and speeded up and slowed down for the rest of the run. Close and sticky, running through long grass and nettles. Put on a bit of a spurt towards the end and then drank odd homemade isotonic whilst the steam rose up from us. We're getting exited about the Snowdon.

Sunday AM, we took two cars and, leaving mine at Stanton our previous northermost point on the Cotswold Way, drove on in Mike's car up to Chipping Campden and the start of the 'Way'. Half asleep, I'd managed to bring my platypus (looking like a colostomy bag fit to bust, it being filled with a homemade isotonic of apple juice water and salt) but not my bum bag, so ended up running with a wee rucksac for the first time.

It was a good run, but very hot and very humid. Sweat stang the eyes and we made no effort to push the pace.

The petrified heritage and exclusive affluence of Chipping Campden and Broadway seemed surreally English. The wider landscape that we moved through had a similar sense of neat proporton and assured charm. I'm not sure that avarice will ever let me love the Cotswolds but I am becoming more fond of them - time will tell, I suppose.