Monday, November 26, 2018

Planning time

The Running Part

Here it is at last, my 2019 Challenge for Alzheimer's Research UK with full details of my intent. I haven't publicised it before now as I had to make sure that I was fully committed to the enormity of it.  I've always said I would run the London marathon, when I could, until my dream of a dementia charity being their featured charity was realised and now it has so this will be my last London marathon (yep, OK, I might be eating those words sometime in the future but that's the plan at the moment!).

Part 1 - I am going to try to get a personal best (pb) time of 4:30 or faster at the London marathon.

I've tried to do this twice before at the London marathon and each time I've tried to go faster something bad has happened:

  • attempt number 1 - I was tripped up by someone dressed in a Little Miss Grumpy costume and ended up sprawled on the ground with bloodied hands and knees. I was whisked off to the medics tent and cleaned up before I was sent back out on my way to finish in 4:58.
  • attempt number 2 - I was doing sooooooooo well until my chest started to feel tight and I had a massive asthma attack at mile 18 and had to stop for what felt like an eternity whilst people came and kindly tried to help. Stupid asthma! 4:55 for that debacle and I was absolutely gutted as my training  had been really good and I'd felt strong.

The last time I ran London was in 2015.  It was my 3rd marathon in 4 days and I had no thoughts of going faster. So what happened? Yep, I got a pb, finishing in 4:42. Until then my fastest time had been 4:52 set back in 2006. So the moral of this story is to train hard, run multiple marathons and just run how you feel on the day with no pressure!

Can I shave those pesky 12 minutes off my time?  Well, I'll have a jolly good go at it.

Part 2 - I am going to complete another 100 mile event.

"Yeah, yeah, you've done that before" I hear you cry. Yes I have but this is one heck of a different sort of event than the last one which was a nice, safe, lapped event with no navigation and a nice warm barn and an aid station nearby. This event is not like that as we will be self-navigating along the footpath known as Harold's Way, climbing over stiles, scrambling across fields so will have to carry the supplies I need.

I spotted this new event when I was pottering around looking at future events and as soon as I saw it I knew it just had to be done - it's the 1066 100 mile ultramarathon and it starts in London then follows the route Harold marched his army to take part in the Battle of Hastings. The finish line will be the entrance to Battle Abbey which you'll see in the link above if you scroll down.

Why did I choose this? Because it is truly an awesome and daunting 'challenge' and will test me on so many different levels, not least because the time limit is 30 hours.

One really good thing is that the route will pass through our village so Mike will be able to come out and cheer me on as I navigate the last 10 miles or so of the route (which has umpteen stiles to negotiate and believe me they will not be welcome after a 90 mile trek!).

"But you've already completed 161 marathons (I sneaked in another the other day as a training run, see below!) and you did a 100 miler earlier this year didn't you" I hear you cry. Correct on both counts but, and it's a great big 'but', both my target events are going to be so much tougher for me and I don't just mean because I'll be another year older (62 next year)!

Let the training begin.........actually I've already started with marathon 161 the other day down at Samphire Hoe. It's a route I know well so I have plenty of benchmark times there and I'd only ever gone below 5:30 before (5:29). The weather was absolutely perfect (not like when we were there 2 weeks ago in my previous post) with a gentle breeze along the seawall and glorious sunshine making everywhere look beautiful. I deliberately left my camera at home so I wouldn't be tempted to take photos but Claire sent me these photos showing how different the conditions were:

11th November

23rd November

It was an 8 lap route and I set out with the intention of running 10 minute miling for the first 4 laps, to take me up to 13.1 miles, which I managed quite comfortably in 2:10 then I just slowed down, took a few walk breaks on the uphill sections and was delighted to finish in 5:15 which was a course pb by 14 minutes.

At my next marathon I will try to maintain 10 minute miling for another few miles, unless it's trail where I will have to go a bit slower.

The Knitting Part

I started the Hryggir jumper a few weeks ago and had made good progress, having nearly finished the lacy part of the yoke. Note my use of the past tense there. I'd spotted an error in the chart so that didn't cause me any issues and I was feeling good about it.

Tilly and I were sitting together happily with her on my lap whilst I knitted away. The phone rang, we both jumped and Tilly got her back leg caught in my knitting as I got up to answer it tripping over her in the process and the rest is a bit of a furry/yarn/needle/stumbling blur. Suffice to say there were rather a lot of stitches no longer on the needle and a few gaping holes where there shouldn't have been any.

What do they say about pride and falls? LOL!

I surveyed the scene as I chatted on the phone and when the call ended I decided it was wine o'clock (well it was the evening so it's allowed in an emergency) and gathered it all up to be dealt with the next day.

What a mess it was too but I just started carefully ripping back several rounds to see when I could make sense of it. When I got back to the rounds below which I thought everything was OK I looked closer and found several of the yarn-overs had run down too in one section and it was too complicated to get all the stitches back on the needles without a great deal of concentration and time.

Oh bother (that's the polite version!).

So I bit the bullet and ripped right back to the end of the ribbing which made it quite easy to pick up the stitches again. I stuck it back into its project bag and started work on some Christmas gifts instead (I can't show them 'cos the recipients will see).

Yesterday I felt ready to face it again so picked it out and started the pattern section again:

I'm hoping not to have to redo it this time!

A Walk Round Rye Harbour

On a rather dreary day last week we spent a lovely morning wandering around beautiful Rye Harbour followed by lunch and another wander in the town centre.

Flotsam or Jetsam?

There was a lot of this particular seaweed on the shore

It looked a bit like an Andy Goldsworthy installation

The sand patterns fascinated me too. Look how the little pebbles created the pattern  and were left like an adornment at the top of the sand 'tree'. The blueish tint reminded me of the works by Japanese artist Hokusai.

Horse riders on the other side of the Harbour along Camber Sands

On look-out duty!

Wandering around Rye I still spotted things I haven't noticed before such as this wonky chimney.

I always like to walk by this gorgeous tree and this is my favourite time of year to see the bark all exposed.

It's such a beautiful colour and gloriously tactile

I know I've shown it before but the peeling seemed extra special this year.

Lots of small mushrooms growing along the root line in the grass and on a grave.

I think they are Glistening Inkcaps (you can just make out the deliquescence on a group to the far left)

The clock on top of the tower in the Church of St Mary was looking magnificent

You can climb to the top of the tower and get magnificent views

The photo of mushrooms reminded me of a little treasure I found in our garden a few weeks ago. I was digging near the front hedge when I spotted a lump of what looked like charred conifer branch.

On closer inspection I realised it was indeed a chunk of conifer branch which was supporting this little beauty - Candlesnuff fungus (Xylaria hypoxylon) which I've never seen before ('xylon' is the Greek word for wood). Apparently when it's ripe you can blow on it and it releases the spores which look like the cloud of smoke when you snuff out a candle, hence its name.

Monday, November 12, 2018


Armistice Day 100 years on, 1918-2018

There has been a national effort to make this year extra special to honour a whole generation of young people who lost their lives in such horrendous conditions.

They Shall Not Grow Old, Peter Jackson's amazing treatment of old black and white footage has captured a snapshot of every day life back then.  What touched me was that they all looked so cheerful even in the hellhole they found themselves. How can we ever thank them for giving us the freedoms we enjoy today.

Special events have been taking place up and down the country, for example 'Shrouds of the Somme' is an installation of over 72,000 figures wrapped in shrouds. This is the number of allied troops who lost their lives at the Somme and whose bodies were never found, so were never buried.  Towns and villages have been decorating their War Memorials and commemorative services were held.

Here are some photos collected by me over the last few months and from the day itself:

This group of photos was taken in August where the whole of Sevenoaks town centre was themed in red:

Images like the one below have appeared alongside war memorials throughout the country

The war memorial in a nearby village was decorated and the names and details of all the fallen recorded individually. It was incredibly moving to read the details.  The following photos have come from various different sources as we were unable to attend.

In the evening people gathered at the memorial, torches were lit (one for each local life lost) and carried by villagers to the beacon nearby followed by a service in the church.  Sadly we were unable to attend as I was marking the occasion in a different way and didn't get back in time (more on that later).

My Armistice Day was commemorated by taking part in a running challenge event at Samphire Hoe near Dover and I can't think of a more moody place to be on such a sad day. The weather contributed to the atmosphere by being epic - I can't think of a better way to describe it. 

The route had to be changed due to extremely high waves along the seawall. We were up on the top of the hills and could see them about 30 feet high on occasion. When we set off there was torrential rain followed by hailstones which hurt!  The wind was really strong no matter which way the route took us and you were battered from the front, back and sides at different points throughout the route. Again the photos have come from several different people.

Once or twice the sky cleared and the sun came out briefly before the sky went black again and the the rain came.  

There was some slippery mud to negotiate.

Somehow it felt right that conditions were tough but they were nowhere near as tough as the trenches. I felt really reflective and wasn't quite as bubbly as usual.

We had been told that we'd hear the canons fired from Dover at 11am and that the marshalls would blow whistles so we could pause for 2 minutes silence.  However, the wind was too strong and very noisy so Traviss positioned marshalls along the course and they held banners up when the time came and we held a mass race freeze.  That in itself was really moving as even the dog-walkers joined in and stood in silence, but also looking out over the channel at a roiling sea and thinking about the fallen soldiers was incredibly sad.

This wasn't the only marathon held on the day and my talented friend Heather had created 2 magnificent cakes, one for each event:

This was for our event.

This for Rik's event.  There were over 1000 poppies were all handmade of sugar paste.  Seen here with the medal.

This was our medal.

I don't know what my official time was yet but it was somewhere around 6:11. It was a tough day both physically and emotionally for marathon 160.