Sunday, 28 November 2010

They're coming to take me away hee hee haa haa

So in case you hadn't been outside at all in the past week it's now properly Winter. Minus temperatures, ice, frost, snow, the lot (ok not snow in Berkshire, but in other places). And yet I am still going outside to run. I went out on Thursday night and ran possibly my best ever 2.5 miler route. It was cold, sure, but I felt so invigorated and it gave me confidence that my gym programme is helping me to improve. Unfortunately I can't confirm it was my best because I went out without my Garmin. But wow.

And so this morning I got out of my lovely warm bed, steppedinto my running gear and without trying to think too much, went to Frimley parkrun. It was my 10th, which means I'm 1/5th of the way to a t-shirt! Anyway I digress. Just before we started I saw a guy in a Grim 2009 Survivor t-shirt so I asked if he was doing it this year. He's done it 5 times but won't be taking it on this time, however as we set off I overheard him talking to a girl beside me, saying that they'll break the ice and if the pools aren't waist deep then they'll fill them up with a hose pipe... WAIST DEEP! That sort of caught my attention so I had a chat with the girl. Turns out she's doing it Sunday (I'm on Saturday) and now we're both pretty scared.

I over took her fairly early on but I've got into the habit of taking a walking break at the start of the second lap, especially just before we get onto the tow path as there's a little steep bit I don't like. I'd slowed down and this girl caught me up, touched me on the arm and said "Come on". And that was it, I decided I was going to keep pace with her and if possible beat her. I got a couple of feet in front so I could still hear her footsteps and kept it that way the rest of the course, even putting on a small sprint finish to pip her to the finish line. It was great! If it hadn't been for her I'd not have run so well and I told her so. I ran 28.03, just 1 second off my PB!

And I didn't even remember the cold! But I still don't want to do Grim next weekend.

Saturday, 27 November 2010


It’s not glass ceilings that bother me
It’s glass walls that infuriate
Glass walled meeting rooms
Glass walls dividing departments
Glass walls keeping me from the world outside.

It’s there, I can see it, but it’s just out of reach. I imagine the sun on my neck and the wind in my hair, the feel of the ground under my feet and dirt under my nails.
I dream of running as far and as fast as I can until my lungs feel like they’re going to burst, moving with abandon the way I did when I was a child and didn’t care about cuts and bruises.
I have a desire to be mountain biking through forests, making new bruises and aching muscles under dappled sunlight.
I think of being on the beach, sea salt coating my skin, wrapped in sweaters but barefoot, shoes neglected in the dunes, watching the waves and the sunset with chips and a bottle of beer, after a day of playing in the surf. In my imagination I’m surrounded by friends. We dance on the sands and collapse into each others arms giggling.
We have pitched tents but have no intentions of sleeping. As we lie in the entrances to our tents, our playful murmuring is the only sound for miles under the stars until the sun starts to rise.

I can feel my soul swelling with wellbeing and contentedness. It’s a blissful feeling.

Give me land, lots of land, under starry skies above. Don’t fence me in.
Give me a mountain and I’ll climb it.
Give me a road and I’ll walk it.
Give me a field and I’ll be happy.
Give me the sea and I’ll be lost forever.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Ugly Gear

I particularly like this article in The Guardian today about the design of technical clothing. The last sentence, I think, really sums up a lot of people's attitude towards outdoor activity.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010


Nocturnal creatures
Over eating
Velvet nights
Earmuffs rediscovered
Mornings frosty
Bonfire smoke
Embers glowing
Radiators on

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Snowdon 3.0

This weekend just passed I went to tackle Snowdon for a third time. I went with the Outdoor Duo group, of which a friend of mine from the recent National Trust holiday is a member. I was effectively gatecrashing their Christmas party (but I did pay).

After a night of cider and Karaoke at one of the pubs in Llanberis we set off up the Ranger path at about 9.30am, bellies full of porridge and toast. The weather was mostly fine, windy and cold but pleasant enough in the sun. I'd been down the Ranger path before but going up was tough. We hit the summit at about 1pm during the only half hour that it was sat in cloud. There were patches of snow all around and frost on the grass but it was still an achievement. I'd thought I was fit, but not compared to some of the people in the group!

After obligatory photos and a quick scoffing of sandwiches behind the now closed cafe (shivering set in within about 4 minutes) we descended via the Llanberis path, a longer but gentler route down. The group seperated a lot more on the descent as it's an easier path to follow and those who were more able put best feet forwards and got a shift on. I was towards the back but only because we had opted for comfort breaks. The rain set in during the last 45 minutes or so but it seemed a bit pointless putting on waterproof trousers at this point so I suffered wet legs and bedraggled hair whilst enjoying the comfort of my Berghaus waterproof jacket.

The dry room was made good use of back at base camp (the wonderful Boulder outdoor centre who looked after us extremely well and provided a superb Christmas Dinner). The following day some of us decided to do a "short 2-2.5 hour walk" beofre setting off home. This turned out to be a 4.5 hour jaunt up a slightly smaller hill but with added confusion where the path wasn't where we thought it would be. I can't say that we were all especially chirpy about this and I do feel a bit sorry for the leader who had obviously put a lot of effort into all this and was doing a grand job of encouraging everyone and keeping us together (even if our route did take us along the back of a farm were deceased sheep had ended up). Still, it was a beautiful walk, if slightly more slippery than the previous day. My legs were damn sore by the time we got back to the car. And we'd been stepping out because we had places to be!

So two days of walking under my belt I was looking forward to some rest and recouperation in Dorset which admittedly I did get... I'm not sure I saw a morning in those three days, but they did feature a beach walk from Sandbanks to Bournemouth and a short walk at Lulworth Cove. The beach walk was especially lovely and I was brave enough to remove my shoes and socks, paddle in the sea and feel the sand between my toes. Very refreshing. Another 4 hours I think. Lulworth Cove was barely a walk at all but I awarded myself the prize for Most Inappropriately Dressed Hill Walker of the day (a game my friends and I play whenever we engage in this sort of activity) wearing as I was knee high boots and a denim mini skirt.

So now I'm enjoying not walking much place. Parkrun resumes tomorrow and gym resumes next week.

Friday, 19 November 2010


Remember how back in June I took part in Juneathon? Well I'm going to be doing it again in January with the aptly named Janathon. I'm registered participant number 29 and during the month opf January I will be once again attempting to run and blog every single day. It's going to be horrible :)

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Pine Ridge 10k

I've been a bit slcak with my posting of late. I'd scheduled a few bits and pieces for when I knew I would be busy but suddenly realised I'd not updated you about the Pine Ridge 10k I did back on the 6th November.

Well it was a superb morning for it, cold and crisp but sunny. There were about 1200 participants of all abilities and a few dogs as well. The course was a bit slippery and muddy but very pretty and not so bad that I noticed anyone stack it. There were a few hilly bits that I wasn't really prepared for but I decided to walk those and run a bit faster down hill. Generally it was all very well organised except that they should have started herding people over to the start a lot earlier. We ran 15 minutes late because people were still making their way to the start line which was a good 10 minute walk from the car park and area where we collected out timing chips. Either that or we should have just started without them. Harsh but fair on those of us who got there on time and had warmed up.

There was some good comaraderie and I was quite amused to find myself playing tag with a chap in a yellow t-shirt who seemed to run for a while, then walk and wait for me to catch up or over take before sprinting off again. I completed in 1:06:47 and wore my green t-shirt with pride the rest of the day. I think the course was slightly longer than 10k but all in all, a great event, well organised, enjoyable and I'd recommend it to people for next year. I probably won't be doing it again, but only because I've other events to try :)

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Sonnet in C

I sit in this office of glass and grey
Pretending to type and email and file
When all I want is to escape and play
Out there; to cycle, swim and run for miles

The sky is clouded and grey as the walls
That contain me from nine to five each day
But the lure of wide open spaces calls
And I find it’s all I can do to stay

One day I’ll escape from here to the wild
Feel sun on my skin and wind on my face
Be as carefree as I was as a child
Run far away from this time and this place

And I’ll breathe this motto when my lungs hurt
Of all the paths you choose let some be dirt

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Bunnies in bags and Grim Challenges

I just had to point you in the direction of JogBlog's post today (note, those who are especially fond of Bunnies may find this upsetting). I love her writing style which makes me laugh almost every time.

I hadn't realised that she was also doing Grim Challenge (which I need to do a bit more training for) so you never know, I might see her there.

This weekend I've got the Pine Ridge 10k. I should be ok. I've done one of my new super-brutal gym workouts this week already and I'm headed for a double whammy of gym classes today plus one more tomorrow. Awesomeness!

Monday, 1 November 2010

Halloween 5 Nite Run

Yesterday I ran the 2nd Halloween 5 Nite Run in Reading. It was a 5k race (as the name suggests) and a fantastic alternative way to celebrate Halloween. It took place in Thames Valley Park at 8pm and fancy dress was strongly encouraged. We had a lot of rain over the weekend but the evening was thankfully dry. I was glad I turned up early to take in the atmosphere. Jack-o-lanterns lined the path from the car park to the race HQ, there was spooky music being played (everything from the Munsters theme to The Automatic's Monster and more) and punpkin soup for sale. A lot of people had gone to some effort with their costumes. I hadn't given it much thought but found some white face paint in my makeup bag so at least looked somewhat ghoulish.

It was an off-road course, flat but slick with mud and wet grass. As we set off I knew this wasn't the evening to be attempting any heroics or PB's. Staying on my feet was challenge enough! Every one of the 480 runners had to wear a headtorch which made for some pretty spectacular sights as we rounded corners and could see the trail of lights behind or ahead. The marshalls did a great job of warning of slippy spots, sharp bends and generally being encouraging. The course was well marked with signs and yellow glow sticks, tree roots painted white and other obstacles marked with orange glow sticks. There were "sheet ghosts" in the trees (very effective) and a drum band dressed in black with skeleton masks playing, which could be heard across the whole course.

I had such a brilliant time. I managed 29.38 which I was pretty happy with, but I now realise that if I can do that in those conditions I have no excuse for poor times at parkrun any more. Also I could really do with some trail shoes. Everyone got a souvenir mug and I'd bought one of the skeleton race shirts too as seen below in the very unflattering photo I took of myself post-race.

Brilliant event, thanks to the organisers. Might well do it again next year!