Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Cleevewold 2010

Was disappointed not to be able to run in this race this year. Well, disappointed is a bit of an understatement. I'd been laid low with a mystery illness that might have had something to do with eating some past-sell-by date pate. Half a stone lighter, I was in no fit state to have a go so I gave my number to Nick and felt sorry for myself.

On the day I took the boys out to spectate and really enjoyed the experience. I enjoyed it so much from my viewpoint on top of Cleeve Hill that I raced round to watch everyone later in the course below Belas Knap.

I had a go at doing an Al Tye - and now have a much better appreciation of what a good job he does (to see Al's website, follow the link under 'Well worth a look' over on the RHS.

So: illness, apathy and general lack of motivation on the running front.

On Saturday, I shuddered a slow three miles up and down the road outside our house, sweating and generally having to put in a lot of effort. On sunday, I switched on my funky new Garmin thingy and ran for an hour (6.5m). Tonight I'll join Mike for a brisk one around the top of Cleev Hill.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010


Peter and Rob did Corination Street last week. Five and a half hours of cold, showers and hanging belays. Well done!

Always wanted to do this route but now, post kids, am sure I will never again have the balls to try.

Paddy power

Men wearing high viz and helmets were erecting some kind of high pylon things on the hill under the glare of floodlights as Mike and I headed up Cleeve for a 'brisk' ten miler.

Legs felt strong but heavy and in need of a rest. The stars were so clear in the cold night sky...

"What're they doing?"

"Don't know, but it's a right ****ing eyesore. If it was up to me I'd get my chainsaw and cut the lot down..."

Let me explain:

Every year approximately half the population of Eire pop over to watch some flea bitten nags run around in a big circle, occasionally jumping over some artificial hedges. They drink a lot, spend a lot and generally have a great, if somewhat alcomessy, time. I quite like the shoggle that their arrival gives to the town. The races: a legacy of the days when there was serious competition between spa towns to draw in the punters. Nowadays there is no spa but the races remain.

St Patrick's day coincides with the event. During the day, I'd bumped into Chris (a man proud of his Irish heritage) who'd sourced Irish crisps ('Tayto') and bonafide "orange lemonade" (now there's an oxymoron). The crisps were good.

...up the hill we go breathing hard, working hard.

Mike's saying little which is uncharacteristic. I'm putting this down to his recent run with Nick whose good nature and humour can contain a degree of brevity.

I rabbit on about watching Eddie Izzard's marathon running tour of the UK on the i-player. For me, it has to be the most inspirational high profile account of a runner's journey. He had a cause to champion and heartfelt memories to reconcile himself with. No training to speak of, just immovable determination and a little bit of help from his back up team: 1% fitness, 99% mental strength.

We run over to the gate to the butterfly meadow reserve and then cut accross the common and descend to the sheep dip. Head on past the farm near Postlip Hall, looking out for the sheepdogs that can roam untethered, looking in on the cows and enjoying the sweet smell of the sileage.

Over the stream and up the climb. Pass a stable where I hunt unsuccessfuly for a tap to get a drink.

Up the zig zag climb and onto the top again.

We push it hard all the way. Every time I start daydreaming, Mike begins to draw ahead.

A good brisk run... Drove home listening to 5Live broadcasting from a pub not two minutes away.

Then, the next day, the mobile rings.

"Those pylons? They've only gone and put a great big ****ing sign that says, Paddy Power."

Sunday, 14 March 2010


With Mike upping his mileage for his Cotswold Way ultra attempt and myself conscious of the need to listen to my body, I decided to pass on the very early start he had planned and head out on my own.

Mike and Nick, an accomplished ultra runner himself, were heading south on the Cotswold Way. I decided to head northwards and meet up with them.

Left the house at six and made the old familiar way up to the top of Lecky Hill. It promised to be a good day - bands of cloud like raised eyebrows in the dawn sky - it was good to be out.

Spring was springing and it felt good to be out alone, poddling along listening to the birdsong: magpie chattering away, wood pigeon cooing warmth into the first rays of sunshine, robins, blackbird. Spring: like a sigh of relief. And about bloody time too..

At the trig, the rump of a deer disapparing into the scrub echoed the white backsides of the bunnies. There were Yellowhammers: I took a pic on the crap argos camera.

I had been hoping to meet Mike and Nick after about an hour and a half so that I could turn round and run back with them, but here they were already... They'd met up at 5.30 and had covered getting on for ten miles. In contrast to my dawdling, they were looking keen, fit and driven. We stopped to catch up for a bit and then went on our ways.

I ran on for another twenty mins or so and then turned round and headed back (meeting up with the guys again).

Was back home for 8.30 and a busy day...

...Not as busy as Mike who, after his early morning marathon, spent the rest of the day shifting mixed cement up the incline of his back garden. I went round to borrow a wheelbarrow at 6.30 and he was still going strong; albeit with a jaded look about him.

Sunday's training involved digging a big hole in the back garden and barrowing everything out.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Gentleman Gym

Mike had a cold and pulled out of the hill reps we had planned so rather than going up and down Lecky Hill I headed for the gym instead. Put the running machine on maximum incline (not very steep) and did an hour of 5 mins brisk 5 mins steady to the strains of Dance TV. All a bit hectic really. Then some long stretches and core work. Then showered me legs with cold water with a view to combatting stiffness.

Three Peaks is beginning to become my motivation...

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Midweek training

In the gym: half an hour on the cross trainer, legs only. Set the machine on 3/4 full resistance on the funky dunky 'Kilimanjaro' setting which imitates a convex slope. Pull ups 12,10, 8, pushing dumbells above my head 12, 10, 8, more pull ups 12, 10, 8, crunches 12, 10, 8, core work with a big plastic ball until I got bored. Loads of good leisurely stretching.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

This week's running

Wednesday I went to the gym - half an hour on the cross trainer without any hands, some core excercises and lots of stretching.

Thursday - hour and a half of steady hill reps on Lecky Hill above Sandy Lane with mike

Saturday - a two car day. Met mike at 6am in Winch and drove to Chippy in my car to run the Cotswold Way back to Winch again - 18m.

We came across a sheep caught by the neck in a wire fence a drool of spit hanging from its mouth - we went to free it but it must have strangled itself a short time before our arrival.

Later, we passed within a few feet of a roe deer. It couldn't get away from us over a fence and into the woodland so went to ground under a hawthorn.

On lower fields, lambs were butting their mothers' undersides. Higher up, the sheep gnawed away in a field of turnips.

We took a steady pace, but I found the last few miles hard.

Sunday's run made me appreciate the need for a lot of hard work before the Cleevewold 14 at the end of March and then the Three Peaks a month later.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Back to it

Felt very tired for a long time after the may hill. I managed an insipid hour and a half on Cleeve in the week following the race and then family, Rach's work, intensive DIY all combined to put a stop to running.

Good old Mikey broke me back in gently with a 6.30am start and a two and a half hour run from Winch up to Stancombe along the Cotswold Way. The weather was great, it was thoroughly chucking it down and low cloud. Mike wore his strangulator neck-slung map case. He's going for the ultra distance, Cotswold Way-in-one attempt this May

Siezed-up, sodden and covered in clart, I eventually gurned my way back to my wreck of a motor. Was back at home for 9.30 and energetic toddlers.