Friday, December 8, 2017

The Seven Seas of Rye (and a couple more ultras)

With apologies to Queen as I know their version is 'Rhye' but my title refers to beautiful Rye Harbour again. We needed a walk to clear our heads and escape from any talk of hospitals/doctors etc. You know you need to escape when one nurse comes to see how your knitting is progressing and you bump into an eye specialist in the supermarket who says she likes your latest jumper!

I'll just help you get into the Christmas spirit with a couple of photos of my wreath for the front door. A couple of months ago I bought a cute little bunny ornament who was wearing ice skates and had a hat and scarf made of sparkly silver tinsel. Mike rolled his eyes at the concept but I ignored him as clearly an ice-skating bunny just had to come home with me.

I designed the whole wreath around him but guess what? As I was attaching the cord to hang the wreath the pin came out of his head and he crashed to the ground (stone tiles) and lost his face and 2 legs. Hey ho! Thankfully I had a sparkly silver butterfly to pin on instead but I do miss my bunny as he was dangling down inside the centre of the wreath and looked super-cute.

This is very different from my usual offerings which are very traditional using holly and berries with bright red ribbon.

Now it's time for the walk. We Brits always moan about the weather don't we and I was heartily fed up of rain and mud so when the sun peeped out last week we just had to go and make the most of it. I was so glad that we did as Rye Harbour was breathtakingly beautiful and I took loads of photos plus we spent some time in one of the hides watching the wildfowl whilst enjoying our flask of coffee with some homemade banana cake. I'll let the photos do the talking:

All along the access path there were empty mussel shells. The gulls pick them up from the water's edge and then drop them from a great height to smash open their shells so they can eat them.


The colour of the sky was reflected in the lagoons

Peeping out from the hide. Although it was bright and sunny there was a cold wind which was strong enough to whip up foam on the edge of the lagoon.

First to appear was a coot.

There was a group of Shelducks at the far end but I couldn't get a decent photo of them.

Then a pair of Tufted ducks came into view

The wind turbines were whizzing around.

After coffee we headed along the path towards Winchelsea but on the way back we went down onto the beach as the tide was far enough out.

The remains of Camber Castle

Can you make out the wooden posts sticking out of the gravel? We wondered what could have been there as they were nowhere near the breakwater. Were they perhaps part of an art installation?

Ditto my comments above.....

......and again here when my shadow became part of the picture.

As you can see, we were well wrapped up against the wind!

You can just make out the outline of Dungeness Power Station on the horizon

I love sand patterns made as the tide ebbs and flows and these reminded of of art nouveau trees

The shingle is really hard to walk up and gives your legs a good workout!

There were so many of these little birds scuttling along the shoreline (Possibly Sandpipers or Turnstones?)

I was fascinated by the line of pylons marching to Dungeness

That was a lovely morning out and certainly blew the cobwebs away.

Marathons (or rather ultra marathons) 131 & 132

These were the last 2 days in the 10in10 Challenges I wrote about in my last post. Both were at the same venue, Betteshanger Country Park where I celebrated my 100th marathon last year and I thought we'd be running the same trail route.

However, when Traviss and Rachel had arrived at the venue they found that part of our usual route had been cordoned off due to the ongoing reorganisation and so we weren't able to access one of the paths. 

This meant Traviss had to create a new route in a different area and with only a couple of hours in which to do it I think he did a grand job! When he announced the route, which had shorter laps, there was a collective groan but it was actually a very pleasing route and I managed a good time on it.

At the start there were the usual announcements but there was also a very special one as Sophie Goodwin became the youngest person ever to complete 100 marathons as she was 21 years and 156 (I think) days and earned herself a Guinness World Record. What an amazing achievement for one so young!

As we set off I felt really good, as the route was much quicker and had less hills, so good that I pushed extra hard reaching 16.5 miles in 3 hours, 1.5 miles more than the week before, went through marathon distance in 4:55 and finished 28.5 miles in 5:20. The next day we were back to most of the usual route with hills and mud but I still felt very strong and finished 31.1 miles in 6:28 which was very pleasing as it was very muddy with fog/heavy drizzle for the 2nd half.

I was very pleased with how my legs felt both days and had a lovely catch-up with my running chums with lots of chatter en-route which helped pass the miles. So that's marathons 131 & 132 in the bag. Onwards and upwards.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Now where was I?

How do the days/weeks pass so quickly? Is it because I'm getting older? I really don't know how anyone can be bored when they retire as there truly are not enough hours in a day to do everything I want to do.

I'll start with a bit of knitting, although I'm sure I've missed something I've made recently and haven't shown but can't think what it is! Mike wanted a new cowl and I remembered a brioche stitch cowl which I thought would be appropriate.

I picked this book up in a secondhand bookshop and it's got some lovely patterns.

On flicking through this caught my eye and has now gone on "to do" list.

I rummaged through my stash and found 3 balls of this suitably manly-coloured wool which I must have bought to make  a scarf/mittens. It got the seal of approval so off I went.

I hadn't tried Brioche stitch in the round before but it was really easy and perfect TV knitting over a couple of evenings. I was very pleased with the colour progression and the yarn is lovely to work with. best of all, Mike was very happy with it and has requested some mittens to match.

Then it was my turn. "Do you really need another poncho?" asked Mike; I gave him the glare of disdain that such a question deserved - a girl can never have too many ponchos can she. I'd seen a knitted sample of this lovely poncho in Hoop a few months ago and I really loved it but it was knit in Rowan Valley Tweed and I've been trying not to buy any more yarn (yeah, that's going well!) so I resisted for a while. 

When all the "sale' deals appeared on-line recently I realised I could get the yarn with a  30% discount so the only decision was which colour to choose. After much deliberation between Litton and Malham I opted for the latter as I don't have a poncho in such a pale colour - it's a very pale grey/blue with little white flecks.

It's such a simple stitch but is worked on small needles. I swatched with 3.25mm needles as stated but found I was just over the size so decided to go down to 3mm as it's a very generous fit anyway.

Last night I wound the skeins into balls whilst watching "Fantastic Beasts and where to find them" (I love that film) and made a start on the body. It will probably take me a while on such small needles but at least I'll be able to do it whilst watching TV.

I've just signed up to Kate Davies latest knit club, West Highland Way, which marks the launch of her new yarn which looks beautiful. It starts early next year so it's something nice to look forward to.

Now for a bit of running stuff. I found myself without a marathon one weekend a few weeks ago and noticed that the local 10k was taking place on the Sunday. I've won my age category a couple of times in this but thought that it would make an excellent training run if I ran there, ran the race and then ran home. I did the same thing a few weeks ago with another local 10k and it's a great way to get your mileage in with something different in the middle.

This one was a bit further away than before though so I left myself plenty of time to get there as I had to go up quite a few hills and the 10k route itself is quite hilly too. It was 6.5 miles there which was  a bit less than I'd expected so as I had plenty of time before the start I headed off to do another 3.5 miles to make it up to 10 miles.

I met several people I knew at the start which was nice and chatted with quite a few people during the race. I held a good pace throughout but didn't push too much, finishing in 1:01:31 and was 2nd in my category, being only a few minutes behind the other lady. I usually manage around 55 minutes so was pleased with that.

After I'd had a drink and eaten some cake, which is obligatory, I headed for home with my final mileage being 21.5 so a jolly good long run.

Next were 2 ultra marathons which marked the start of the '10 in 10' Challenges organised by Traviss and Rachel. You can enter as many or as few of them as you like and run just one lap to get a medal, run a marathon or run an ultra marathon (that's anything over the standard 26.2 miles and on this route was 30.5 miles). 

Last year I ran 6 out of the 10 events as marathons but this year I'm preparing for my 2018 Challenge so needed to go ultra and opted to do the first 2 and the last 2 in the series. Both of them were held at Samphire Hoe which has appeared a lot on my blog and I made the unusual decision not to take my camera with me as I waste far too much time taking countless photos of the sea, the seawall, lichen, wildflowers etc. I also decided to be completely self-sufficient in my hydration/feed so that I didn't waste any time visiting the aid station for cake/crisps etc. I did bake my usual banana cake for day 1 though so nobody else missed out!

Now the weather can be pretty unforgiving at this venue with gale force winds and waves crashing over the seawall but on day 1, the Samphire Challenge, it was the best we've ever had; cool but with the slightest breeze ever.

I decided I was going to run it hard and with purpose and that's exactly what I did. I maintained my target pace all the way through, stopping only briefly to have my card punched (7 laps for a marathon, 8 laps or more for an ultra).

There was lots of catching up with chums to be done as I've missed them a lot this year, having had to pull out of many events due to hospital stuff, and everyone kept commenting on how strong I looked. I felt strong too but didn't want to get too cocky as pride comes before a fall doesn't it!

Mike phoned me after I'd passed the halfway mark and at that stage I knew I was on track to beat my course record of 5:28:33 but also for a distance pb if I could maintain my pace and so I jolly well did. I passed marathon distance in 5:05:31 and came home in 5:58:04 which is a good 30 minutes faster than usual. Hoorah!

Of course I had to go back the next day to do it all over again and this time the weather was back to normal. Day 2 was the Fudgeathon so I'd made my special chocolate and roasted hazelnut fudge to share (leaving some for home-alone-husband of course!).

We'd had the first really heavy frost when I left home the next day and it was jolly cold too. Even worse, the wind that had left us alone the day before was back with a vengeance which meant that we were running into it on the return section of the seawall. Lots of us spent the whole time with a buff pulled over our face to help warm the air before it hit our lungs. Being asthmatic, my chest was quite gunky to begin with but eased off as the day progressed. I knew right from the start that it would be back to my usual time so didn't push hard and pootled home in 6:23:05.

2 lovely medals and a trophy for 'Best Fudge'

Next up I have another 2 events at the weekend and am hoping to go for ultras on both days again. Fingers crossed........