Corner pieces

October 22, 2017 at 9:29 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

turn (1)

We’re well past the equinox now, turning the corner into autumn, but out running today the countryside is still having a Bucks Fizz moment about it, deciding what it wants to be.

Most fields are brown-red now and furrowed, but from the top of the hill the holiday parks are still growing neat rows of caravans. The bracken is turning, except in the deep wet lanes, but the nettles are still high. I happily kicked through chestnuts in the leaves, but I was startling butterflies in the long grass too.

I startled bigger things too, and they startled me back. Something large and grey (not me) cluttered through the woods, and reminded me that back in spring, I found a very dead stag here.

deerTurning the corner, I found eight very alive deer en famille (about eight times more than I’ve ever seen here), who rushed back for cover needlessly quickly given how fast I can run at the moment.

It’s not all rural idyll out this way of course, the hedges dying back now show the holly more, but also the beer cans and the McDonalds cartons. But, the pylons have ivy growing up them, and there’s enough lanes for me to lose myself before following the sea back again.

Running up almost the last hill, they’ve put a carved wooden owl on a post, and drilled a hole so you can look through its eye and see Berry Head about three hours running in the distance.

That’s part of the plan for next year, a run to there I think. It’s further than I can run, so I’d best start working on a me that can.

And that was what I’d spent a lot of the run doing already; not quite making race and other plans for next year, but at least thinking about the shape of them. Finding some of the pieces of next year’s jigsaw, at least one or two corners and some edges. And some bits in the middle that could go either way up, and might be sea or sky, and others that could be snow or clouds, and they can just sit in roughly the right place until I find the joining-up pieces (when I’ll probably find that those bits were sheep after all).

Slowest run of the year probably, but it was a run that I did, and they are always nicer than the ones I didn’t.

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Up a creek, didn’t paddle

June 4, 2017 at 10:22 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Gets deeper

So I find myself staying in a hotel in Plymouth, a couple of miles away from all three of my old schools, only two of which I was expelled from.

It seemed rude not to try a run that went to them all, even though the rain was a bit biblical, and I’m not that familiar with the bit of town that linked them all up.

I gave the map a cursory look before leaving it behind, planning a big loop, that just needed me to turn left at the right moment, not right at the wrong moment.

A quick potter round school #1, and the ruin in the trees where the nuns turned a blind eye to us smoking,  then down through Tamerton to pick up the fields to Whitleigh.

Following my nose, and following the stream on my left, the road seemed a bit more isolated than I planned, but it was too good a road for it not to go somewhere worthwhile.  Having said that, I also thought about a theory I have on paths through bracken in the hills; the ones that end up going nowhere look the best trodden, because they’ve been trampled twice by people coming back when they found a dead end.

And the stream grew to a creek, and the creek to an estuary, and my hopes of a bridge gradually dissolved, and I kept on going on because that’s what we do.

And after half an hour when I got to the dead end that we all know now was lurking all along, I did a loop through the woods and looked at the sea, and faced the facts about going back the way I came, and I stumbled across a mountain biker. I asked him whether there was some other way of going somewhere, and he said yes, you can do a loop through the woods and look at the sea, and go back the way you came.

And having redefined the idea of going back they way I came, from being the worst-case scenario into being the way I wanted to go all along, I ran back drenchedly, turned the right way down the other side of the stream that would become the creek and sea, and gradually found streets and houses that looked a bit more like where I wanted to be.

I left schools #2 and #3 for another day or year though, and the old lady who I asked the best way back to Crownhill told me there was a bus stop up the road, and I ran back the way the school bus used to take me. And still it rained, but I’d been wet through for ages, and quietly tired and happy for even longer.

On my marks

June 4, 2017 at 8:49 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Thinking about it

So somebody said to me, why don’t you write your blog anymore? And I gave this some thought, and realised that I do write it, but in my head.

When running or biking, and less so swimming (mainly because I do swimming rather less, and have to concentrate on legs and arms), I untidily file away thoughts and phrases for a sort of omni-blog that never gets written.

Thing is though, I slightly think that this is a bit like all those races that I plan but never enter, or worse still, enter but don’t race. Seems like I need to be more of a completer-finisher, or even just more of a starter.

So off we go again.

If you went down to the beach today…

May 15, 2016 at 8:18 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
swim

going to need a bigger wetsuit

 

…then first thing this morning you could have seen:

  • prams, pushchairs, rubber rings, buckets and excitement
  • two magpies (I know what they’re called)
  • a robin (another easy one)
  • a long-legged sea-bird hiding in the bushes (and which I didn’t know the name of, but neither did the bird, and we agreed not to mind)
  • rabbits (unsurprisingly, seeing as I was at the Warren)
  • no jellyfish
  • a runner, of sorts, leaning into the slope down to the shore, making happy plans for the summer.

And, if you got up even earlier, you’d have seen two swimmers with ice-cream-faces in the water that hasn’t felt the summer yet, thinking about the Keswick tri next week.

Don’t let the (cow) bells end

December 31, 2015 at 8:10 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

12465581_10203688535972172_1150985057_oSo that’s the cyclocross season done, although with me doing only three races it went not with a bang but a splatter. I did get a bit of a bike-carrying opportunity today though, where the river had escaped, or perhaps it was the sea, and it all got a bit more triathlony than it has done for ages.

So 2015 is finishing much like 2014, with me being fat and happy. Although not happy about being fat. So, time to blow the cobwebs off my running shoes – Anniversary Waltz in April, and an anniversary race in October. I’ll do some thinking later on about how to join the dots between here and there.

Things we like

July 10, 2015 at 6:37 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

dawlishSo after a long period of fingernail-paced drift in this direction, we finally moved to Dawlish last year. In a big house, sized for noise, bikes, happy people and stuff.

And Dawlish suits us (until Threlkeld drifts nearer and all the short people drift further). It’s a ladybird town here in lots of ways, with a beach, and a bandstand, and a toy shop that sells sweets in jars as well as jigsaws in slightly faded boxes. There’s also the screamery that sells ice-creams bigger than my face, as well as cake, pies and beer <swoon>.

About the same time as we moved, here, the sea wall moved into the sea, leaving a railway-sized hole for a while. They’ve even nearly fixed it now. We can see the sea from bed, spy distant pirates with the telescope, and taste salt in the air (and wipe it off the car in the morning).

Sea-swimming off the beach is just a skip-and-a-jump away, and we have even been known to skip and jump when walking there with wetsuits on all ready. Swim one way hugging the shore and we see the far away bits of France that aren’t there, swim the other and we see trains creeping up behind children with buckets and spades. Don’t look down or the jellysharks will get you.

If I cycle to work (12 miles flat or longer with hills. Never do the hills, obv), then the coast path means I may only get passed by two cars. More often, I see no cars at all, because I’m on the train. Lazy. Get a grip.

Oh, and I’m meant to run too.

On that note, I’ve realised that it’s 8 weeks to Helvellyn Tri (paid for it now), 10 weeks to Dawlish Tri (rude not to), and 13 weeks to the Kirkfell race (which happens to be the day after a small-and-perfect wedding in Wasdale Head church, where me and Becki will make honest fellrunners(ish) of each other).

Got some training to do, and some plans to make.

Finding my range

December 30, 2014 at 12:21 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It was somebody else’s idea to do a Dartmoor bike-run session, and while they subsequently decided to swim-run instead (ewww, swimming), I decided it was an idea with legs. Cold ones, mainly.

I suppose it’s the sort of thing I ought to be doing more of, with next year’s Keswick tri including Newlands, Honister and Latrigg. I may work out some resolutions next week.

friends. Pony friends.

When I left Belstone I was slip-sliding upwards on the tarmac hill, not entirely sure how this would work out. As a runner on the moors I’ve always tried to avoid the tracks, so I’ve been crossing them rather than following them, and never really looking at them as potential cross-bike ideas.

As it happened, it was a bit brilliant. The coldest day of the year gave stony tracks layered with ice, and icy ones layered with stone. All rideable (apart from that carry bit), and quite a lot of it glideable. Instead of cracking ice being ominous, this time the excitement started whenever the cracking stopped and I silently slid.

The military track stops in the col by Yes Tor, and from there to High Wilhays it’s a scrappy patchwork of granite lumps and icy clumps. This took more work than anything, especially now I was being glared at by sticks and mapcases, and knowing that I couldn’t possibly fall off in front of the judgemental multitude. The answer in the end was to go faster, faster, with momentum and adrenaline being my friend.

selfie

selfie

After stopping for a selfie (a shadow of my former self), downwards sort of accelerated the complexity that had previously been upwards. I did have a brief flirtation with being upside down (nobody saw), but the main issue was a pinch flat on a more-than-usually-hideously stony bit, bunny-hopping the granite drainage setts. Back wheel, so probably brought on by me eating too many Christmas pies (and I haven’t finished yet).

The whole thing slightly reminded me of a bad idea I once had when working at Wasdale Head in the late 80s, and I painfully wrestled my steel road bike up Styhead Pass. This time on the cross bike was how it should have been back then. Today might have been easier on a mountain bike. It wouldn’t have been such an adventure though.

Belstone Cleave

Belstone Cleave

Back at the car, there were decisions to be made. Cake and warmth? No. The temporary luxury of dry socks, and on for a run up Cosdon Beacon. First it’s a drop down into Belstone Cleave, which is the coldest place on the moor. And then some. Then up up up, on a good path that turned into a bad path and then no path, struggling through the tussocks long before I got the chance to struggle through the heather.

Walshes turned out to be a lot less grippy than cross tyres, which made life interesting on the straight-up-and-down navigation I’d gone for (saves reading the map). The weight of pies didn’t help either, where the thinner bits of ice stood on top of some startling-cold bogs.

from the top

from the top

Downhill was downhill, some blur and some slog, and back to the car for crossmass cake and for warming up that took until about now.

PS – re the title – check before you go.

Catching myself by surprise

June 3, 2014 at 7:25 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It was absurdly beautiful in the early morning at Sourton Tor the other day.  Can’t really add to that, except that I interrupted myself by taking some pictures on the way up.

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First swim of the year

May 8, 2014 at 7:42 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ARCTICROLLIt was murky in the Teign today, murky and cold (which is always the worst kind of murky).

Edging into the water, it took a stumble of faith to get my head in-and-a-bit-under, and from then on half my world was river-green (and the other half was being rained on).

Cold? Face-bitingly cold, and murky too, (which is the always the worst kind of cold).

Did I say it was murky and cold? I couldn’t see the bottom, and I couldn’t feel my bottom (perhaps because my hands were so numb).

Still, the face pain distracted from the shock of the slow, and the fact it was a short swim meant that it was also an everyone-stays-together swim. Becki was an added bonus to shepherd me, keeping me to the right side of the boats that were shivering in the tide.

Afterwards was made better by cake (there aren’t many places where you can wear two hats at once, dress in rubber and eat cake).

Murky and cold and fun, which is sometimes the best kind of lovely.

Three falls, but no submission

November 17, 2013 at 10:14 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

After detouring off-road on the cross bike with some mountain-bike-(ish) orienteering earlier this year, part two of bending the edges of my comfort zone was to actually race some cyclocross.

I did a little bit of practising with Roy, who did his best to teach me not to do a Joey. And, I did find that the cross mount/dismount is very handy for free speed in T1 & T2 at tris.

Wellington was first, in September; I’d fancied cross because of the potential, er, crossover with fellrunning. Wellington turned out to have about 20m of running between barriers… hey ho.

I did a practice lap and had to wipe the blood off after stabbing myself in the face with an overhanging branch, which reminded me of getting lost on the way to orienteering.

Loved the race though, especially once I’d remembered some of the training advice, such as looking at where you want to go rather than where the bike is pointing.  First two laps, I kept on trying to wear a certain tree. Third lap onwards, my mantra was “don’t look at the tree Tom, don’t look at the seductive, siren, tree”. Miracle. As was my puncture saving itself for the last lap.

Bit of a gap after that because of poncing round in girly socks at the Dawlish and Dartington duathlons, but today was back to mud-dling through at Chard cyclocross.

Someone said the course was fast and slippy, and I sort of half agree. My tyres stayed up this time, even if I didn’t.

Becki was supporting, if ‘supporting’ means laughing hysterically when I fall off.  One or two slides round grassy corners were the normal sort of knockabout fun, but when I hit the sandpit for the third or fourth time, something went a bit more spectacular than I was planning.

I do know that sand is all about going in a straight line, so I didn’t consciously fling the bike left. That would have been silly, and would surely have meant that I would have done a sort of sandcastle-face-plant. And would have heard Becki trying to hold the camera still instead of rushing to help…

But, as my parents would say, “apart from that Mrs Lincoln how did you enjoy the play?”

Got back on, fell off a bit more, worked like a worky thing to try to get back up where I had been. The best races are sometimes where I cross the line with a big smile, a little bit of sick in my mouth, and maybe a tiny bit of wee down my leg. Tick.

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