Monday, 24 October 2011

Proper hills. Proper mud. Proper run.

I'll be the first to admit that my recent runs have been somewhat leisurely affairs. They've mostly been on roads and at a comfortable pace. I have justified this to myself by saying that I'm just getting over a cold, and am recovering from a calf pull and have to 'ease back into it gently'. But you can do that for only so long. Eventually you have to go back out and do it properly. And today was the day.
By lunchtime here at Hayfellaville the gloomy cloud had lifted somewhat. The breeze was picking up. The grass was drying out - a bit. So I decided to do my classic lunchtime route which I call the River Loop which essentially entails running up one side of the River Sprint and down the other. The river runs serenely down the valley, but the land undulates wildly either side of it, so it's always in interesting route to do.
I set off and immediately noticed the fatiguing effect of running on muddy grassland. I ground on along the river and past the sad little unofficial grave on the side of the path that I suspect is the last resting place of a local pet. I was shocked at how heavily I was breathing; but then, I always am. It's been a while since I've done the route and I was pleased to note that the dangerous oak tree bough that overhung the path, and forced you to limbo under it, had been removed. Also, the broken bridge that used to span a muddy stream has been replaced so the route is back as it should be. I managed to ease along up the hills, slowly but steadily, and had a lovely surprise as I bounded* down the grassy fields on the way home. In one of the fields I came across a few Jacobs sheep. For those that don't know, these are beautiful animals, white with chocolate blotches and short pointy horns. I've only seen a few in my time and they are rather splendid. I'll try and get a photo of one next time I'm out that way.

After about 29 minutes, I arrived back home. MY PB for this run is about 24 minutes, so it was hardly earth-shattering, but, with the hills, mud and buffeting wind, it felt like a proper run. I loved it.

*As in tottering in a rather more uncontrolled fashion

Smileyrating 9 for the run, 9 for the Jacobs'!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

If it's Thursday, it must be Middlesborough

Last week I ran in Sheffield for the first time ever. This week, it was Middlesborough's turn.  Mrs HF and I visited MIMA - the Middlesborough Institute of Modern Art - to see an exhibition by Ben and Winifred Nicholson - with  a couple of Alfred Wallis's in there for good measure. We drove over last night, stayed at the Thistle Hotel from where I set out early this morning.

I love exploring new towns and cities on an early morning run. This morning it was very quiet, with hardly any traffic. It was cold, crisp and clear with a bright blue sky. I've no idea where I went. I turned right out of the hotel and ran around following my nose, going down streets that looked interesting. I came across these bells on one street and liked the way they were silhouetted against the morning sky:

As it's not a very big place, it wasn't long before I came across MIMA, with a statue called something like 'Bottle of Notes' in front of it:

At the other end of the square is one of those random fountains; this reflected the light fantastically as the jets spouted and foamed:
All in all, this was one of those short, uplifting runs that felt really good. After the hills of Sheffield it was great to run somewhere that was absolutely pancake flat.

Smileyrating 8.5/10 (it lost a few points for being more of a sightseeing jog than a proper run)

Monday, 17 October 2011

Me and Jessica Ennis have a lot in common...

...well, she runs in Sheffield and yesterday... I ran in Sheffield. (Mrs HF and I were over in the steel city visiting our niece who is at university there). Though it sounds a tenuous connection, when I'm out running, especially on Sunday morning, I quite often find myself thinking of everyone else up and down the country who is out doing their Sunday run. I imagine I'm part of a virtual community; a 'runnerhood' if you like. We're all out, breathing the same air, feeling the same pains, getting the same benefit. It's kind of comforting and makes the miles ease by.  Also, I very often have virtual companions when I run. I have had for years. I've run with Douglas Wakihuri (remember him?) on many occasions. Similarly, Ron Hill's been known to materialise alongside for many a mile. Paula's looked in, head a-bobbing. And, naturally, the blessed Haile G has many times jogged along for a chat before effortlessly pulling away. Does anybody else do this, or should I be making an appointment with somebody with a couch in their consulting room?

Anyway, I was running around the steep lanes 5 miles outside Sheffield in a place called Dungworth. It was fantastic. As I left our hotel (The Royal, a very nice pub-with-rooms place) the sun was coming up in the east, and the moon was still pretty high in the sky to the west. I plodded up hill and down, following lanes, with no particular route in mind other than if there was a hill I went up it. I ran past fields of contentedly munching cows, and grazing sheep. I heard the sounds of the countryside waking up - dogs barking and cockerels crowing. It was lovely. Here's a pic that shows, er, nearly, just how lovely it was:

And naturally Jess (as I came to call her as I got to know her quite well) was running alongside for a while before disappearing off to do yet more reps around a track somewhere...

Smileyrating 9/10

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

That's more like it...

Peer out of window. Grey dominates. Wind swishing the trees about. Sheep snug fast up to the stone wall. Thirteen degrees. Not actually raining, but showerproof top put on just in case. At last, proper running weather.
Next up - careful stretches, warm-up leg swings and cautious arm twirls.
And then a nice, easy 40 minutes. Up the lane, along Potter Fell road, down to the river and back along the lane. It was the longest I've been out for ages and ages and it was fantastic to be back doing a 'proper' run; one where you have to work at it to get up the hills and where it feels just great to be easing along the flat bits.
It's been a while since I've done this route and I noticed the little changes; how well Paul's extension is coming along (he has a fantastic house which looks out over a distant Coniston Old Man), that there seem to be a few less chickens scratting about in the field just as you turn down by the wall where a squirrel ran alongside me on a previous outing. Where the stone wall looks a bit more precarious since the rains. The tree crashed to the ground by the tail end of the hurricane.
Back home, more careful stretches just as Roxy - my brilliant sports physio - has prescribed.  All in all, marvellous. No twinges, no creaks. Lots of puffing, but so what. I'm back running again.

Smileyrating 10/10