woensdag 30 december 2009

Geen Zin?

Start 16.30
The words in my head when driving back from Utrecht in the damp grey dusk were 'geen zin' which means I 'didn't feel like' going out for a run. I was hungry and tired and there was no chance of sunset skies to tempt me out. But missing a day will make it difficult to reach the 400 minutes I'd like to notch up this week in the week before the week before (huh?) the Halve van Egmond. So I found a nutty cereal bar in my bag to keep me going and just dragged my running clothes on anyway when I got in the door and went out again straight away as I knew if I stayed in and got warm and fed first I'd never get out later in the evening. As usual once I was out and had got going I was glad I'd made the effort. Scotland Outdoors podcast chuntering in my ears about hill-walking and badger crime followed by some good new music kept me going on an otherwise rather dull plod about the streets after a brief circuit of the Eng in the last light.

dinsdag 29 december 2009

Fish Curry

60 min
Start 16.45
Ran out to Carin where we ate fish curry and then she drove me home. Went via Soestdijk and various new-to-me backstreets in Soest. Met a young Afghan Hound. Had some music on the Introducing Scotland podcast which was impossible not to run fast to and was pleased that I was able to pound along at a good speed at various intervals.

maandag 28 december 2009

Theatrical Run

43 min
Start 17.15
Wasn't really planning on running today as I'd cycled a good bit in Utrecht and wasn't sure I'd be home in time but there was still some light in the sky at 5 as it was a clear afternoon so I did a circuit of the Eng and then decided to run down to the Idea theatre where I saw Scrooge last week to see if I could find the shortcut for bikes and to see how long it took me to run there. (15 min, so the 9 min per bike which the ANWB routeplanner indicated must be about right.)

zondag 27 december 2009

Week Total 286

50 min
Start 15.45
Had to avoid the well-trodden snow paths as they are now compacted ice - fell on my backside this morning when walking the dog round the block. But over the fields most of the snow is gone and it's back to muddy and sticky running again. Did find one bit down in a sheltered corner of a field where there was some snow left but I think tomorrow it will all be gone. Despite it being about 5 degrees now it felt colder as there was an icy wind and some sleety light rain for a while. Didn't really have any energy for anything other than a steady plod. Took me about 30 minutes even to get my second wind. Still, glad I got out before dark, even if it wasn't for so long. Met the young Ridgeback I've seen a few times before. Lovely loose gleaming coat and too big feet.

vrijdag 25 december 2009

White Christmas Run

76 min
Start 7.45
Still dark when I went out and the snow felt slushy underfoot. By the time we were out at the cyclebridge it had started to snow very lightly and by the road after the Klompenpad there was horizontal white stuff coming at us across the fields. Had the 'fitmusic' podcast on for most of the run. (Go to the iTunes shop and then podcasts and scroll down to the 'Runners' link and you can find loads of free music with different bpms.) Not as irritating as I feared it might be from the first track with the too insistent housebeat but a bit bland for me really. Too much synthesiser and drummachine for my liking. I'm used to hearing podcasts of varied new music with some interviews in between and this continuous anonymous drone is pretty boring in comparison. Running was steady plodding. Barely out of breath, just keeping going through the heavy weather. Stamina building rather than any attempts at speed. Sproet had a wee sprint now and then but he's got twice as many legs as me.

woensdag 23 december 2009

Sunset, Snow, Sproet, Soest

80 min
Start 15.30
Out to the cyclebridge, back via the Klompenpad. Slow and steady, snow is melting now, feels totally different underfoot.

New stuff on mYpod, including some new exercise music podcast I found free on Itunes. It just started when I was almost home. Not sure if I'm going to like the continuous housebeat but we'll see how it goes.

And there was a brilliant reading of a Burns poem when I was running along the Eem. Have to make sure I don't delete that one by mistake.

maandag 21 december 2009

Balaclava Breathing

Start 16.15
Went out with my balaclava on for the first time.

Breathing enough to run with your mouth covered is a bit of a problem so I ended up pulling it down a bit to give me some more air. Also discovered that the face recognition thing on the self-timer on the camera doesn't work if you wear it full face. I thought it reacted to eyes but apparantly it's the combination of eyes/nose/mouth which triggers it. First photo was taken by someone at the train station when I hadn't yet worked out why the timer wouldn't work.

Last photo was of a bench at the smith's behind the windmill.
Kept to the roads and paths this time as the snow is even deeper than yesterday and I may well have disappeared completely in a ditch if I'd tried any field crossing. Out past the bird sanctuary to the Eem and back via the fire brigade exercise place and the back streets before one last lap of the Eng. Steady pace, no real sprints though I did quicken my steps a little now and then to keep up with different bits of music.

zondag 20 december 2009

2 week total 472

17 min
Start 16.00
Picture was taken a few hours earlier during a walk with Dusty and Carin. Just to show what the weather conditions were. By the time I went out for my brief run at 4pm even more snow had fallen. I wasn't really planning on running today as Janneke was coming to eat here before we went to a carol concert, but due to the snow we decided it wasn't a great idea to go out on the roads unnecessarily. As the snow stopped falling briefly around 4 I decided I could go out for a run before dark after all. Went straight across the fields. Mostly about ankle deep powdery snow but at one point I stepped in a knee-deep ditch between fields and fell over so that I was covered in snow right up to my neck. Jumped up and down a bit to some good jumpy music to shake it off. Ah well, it keeps the well-wrapped up dogwalkers amused to see a daft woman in silver leggings dancing about in the middle of the field while they walk round the edges. Cut my circuit of the Eng in half when the snow blizzard started up again but was glad I went out anyway. Snow running is a novelty so best to make the most of it while it's still here.

zaterdag 19 december 2009

Sole Cleansing

86 min
Start 16.00
Running on snow fairly gets the soles of your shoes clean! They look like new, after spending the last few months mostly being very muddy or at least dirty. Had a great run out to the cycle bridge and back via the Klompenpad.
Running on this sort of snow is a good way to practise running light. It forces you to let your feet 'think' about how to land and to keep you safe they tend to do this on the front of the foot rather than the heel. If you let your body lean forward you get more forward-going momentum. But you have to keep jumping up to keep your feet out of the snow. This is exactly the method described in Born to Run. You run by keeping your feet off the ground by jumping upwards and letting your body fall forward. I had to try really hard to keep my mouth shut when I was in the running shop yesterday (getting a calendar for next year) when the man who was letting a customer see his running style on the video they'd just made was telling him how great it was that he landed on his heels. I wanted to tell him
that this is All Wrong and is just a nasty ploy to get us to buy expensive running shoes. I restrained myself to just asking him if he could get Chris McDougall's book in stock. Poor man doesn't know any better yet after all...
Anyway I enjoyed my run in sub-zero temperatures, although on the way back I could have done with thicker gloves as my hands were numb. The rest of me was warm enough with 2 thin layers top and bottom + a reflective vest, neck warmer and hat.

vrijdag 18 december 2009

Snow Skipping

35 min
Start 16.45
Running in snow is... interesting. My stride automatically shortened to let me land more carefully on my toes on the hard packed bits on the road. On the virgin white bits over the fields where it was ankle deep, soft and dry, I picked my feet up high to leave clean prints instead of a slurred trail. When I ran back next to my tracks to see how they looked I was surprised at how great the distance was between footprints. So picking up your feet does seem to lengthen the stride.
I followed some hare prints for a while, thinking that snow lets us do what dogs can do all the time, follow the trail of an animal who has been there earlier. Did the Eng circuit with a few field diversions and the 'fast circuit' added on, but then very slowly. Glad I managed to get out in the last of the light..

woensdag 16 december 2009

Frosty Sunset

30 min
Start 16.30
Went so well earlier that I decided I could have another wee circuit with the last of the light. Took in a bit extra of the surrounding fields this time instead of just sticking to the paths.


19 min
Start 13.00
Week of rest due to various minor things. Driving back from Utrecht decided to go out early instead of waiting till sunset as it looks like it might possibly snow later in the afternoon. Just one gentle circuit of the Eng to get back into the routine of running again. Temperature is just barely above freezing so had lycra shorts under my normal running leggings to keep my bum warm plus gloves and an extra top layer. Forgot to put my headband thing on so had cold ears.

woensdag 9 december 2009

Window Shopping

83 min
Start 20.30
Out to Baarn via the Torenlaan, via the Laanstraat up to Janneke's. (Stopped briefly to lust after some shoes in a shop window - there are a lot of buckled tango style shoes in fashion at the moment, I may have to choose a pair before they all disappear again. I've been vaguely wanting shoes like this for years but have never found quite the right ones, not even during my last days in Buenos Aires - there's never going to be more choice about than now.) Quick drink stop there and then up round the streets with the big houses and then via the station and Soestdijk back here. Went really well with some good fast bits depending on what music came along. I'm better at running with music now - I used to find it confusing as I only really had the one gear (slow plodding) but now I can more easily switch between different speeds to suit the pace of different beats and find it's a good way of interval training. I've erased a lot of the talk programmes from mYpod and put more Introducing New Music podcasts on instead.

dinsdag 8 december 2009

December Lights

102 min
Start 16.00
First over to the windmill via the cemetery. Met an ancient spaniel, blind in one eye and with a wooly blanket on because his back was balding. He was very big for what looked like a Cocker and it turned out he was a cross with a Springer. Went on to do 2 fast circuits. First one 5.50, second 6.00. Although my recovery time is much better than it used to be
(I kept up at full speed for another 2 minutes to get down to the bottom of the hill again) I don't seem to be able to improve the speed at all. Went back to the house to get my camera and spent the rest of the time running about the streets, occasionally stopping to take photos of the various December lights on display. Unfortunately the one of the posh square from yesterday was a bit blurred. I like running at this time as it's almost dark and a lot of the curtains are still open. Lots of nice cooking smells too.

maandag 7 december 2009

Luxury Living

100 min
Start 16.00
Out to the cycle bridge, home via the Klompenpad + a few bits of the Eng and surrounding streets to make up the time. Including the fancy new square of houses behind the Boni which I like running through while trying to work out just what it is which makes it seem such a lovely place to live. It somehow manages to simultaneously ooze nostalgia whilst giving the impression of having every modcon going. Running went well - even at the start I felt I was bounding along, whereas it usually takes me the first 10 minutes just to get going. Did hear a very slight wheeze in my lungs at about 20 minutes but it went after I got my second wind. May have to take some Ventolin before going out when the temperature is under 10 degrees just to keep things comfortable.

zondag 6 december 2009

Week total 525

100 min
Start 16.00
Sky cleared a bit after hours of rain and meant that the sky stayed light longer to allow me to improvise various routes over and around the Eng taking in both 'hilly' streets and heavy plowed mais stubble fields (extra heavy now...) to complete another 100 minute run before it was totally dark. Nice blue/orangy glow for a long time and I actually saw a glimpse of the sun going under - a change from the usual slowly dulling greys of late. At one point a hare shot out from practically under Sproet's feet and all he did was watch it go and have a wee sniff at where it had been lying. It's clear he's a herding dog rather than a hunting one - he had no interest in pursuing the fleeing beast at all.
This is the first week I've ever run every single day. Usually I try to keep roughly to my 36 hour schedule but that's been fading recently with the limited daylight hours. I think my legs should be strong enough by now not to risk injury and it is easier to get the time in if it's spread over 7 days. Won't be doing this every week but can't do any harm to do some extra when I have the time.

zaterdag 5 december 2009

Sheepdog trials

100 min
Start 15.40
Out to the cycle path, home via the Klompenpad. Sproet galloped along the dijk barking at a field of sheep on the other side of a wide ditch. They trotted upfield and he looked pleased with himself. Muddy underfoot but almost no rain (few minutes of light drizzle) during our run. Back just before it was pitch dark, last bit over the Eng and up the Molenstraat.

Storrrum van 's Gravenzande!

88 min
Start 15.00 (Friday)

Ran down to the beach then headed upwind towards Hoek van Holland. It was like running into a big cushion (which was unfortunately cold and often wet instead of warm and fluffy). Kept chugging along into this for 40 minutes then turned round and flew back the same way in about 25. Did a bit of sprinting along the concrete slabs that form the road along the (now absent) summerhouses.I could tell I was going fast if Sproet had to break into a canter to keep up with me but I'm sure he was having a laugh a lot of the time as he just kept doing a faster and faster trot whilst I was bursting my lungs trying to get him to move up a gait. I had been planning on doing another half hour along the beach in the direction of Monster to make up the time before it got totally dark but when I got back to the exit point between the dunes there was a brief flurryof hailstones rattling in my left ear and I decided it wasn't perhaps really sensible to spend more time than strictly necessary running about in wet clothes in December. Headed back to the hot shower waiting at the end of the road. Julia took this photo of me as I came in the front door.

donderdag 3 december 2009

Sproet en de Klompenpad

91 min
Start 15.15
Decided to take the current lodgerdog for a good long run to tire him (and me) out as I'm abandoning him this evening to go and visit another potential lodgerdog. Skies were various shades of threatening grey but not actually leaking and it was muddy underfoot. Very slow but steady run, Sproet enjoying chasing ducks into the water from the dijk along the Eem. Episode 22 of the Iain Banks Transition podcast in my ears - wonder what happened to the rest of them? Must be something to do with my I-tunes configuration... Anyway, not sure I'm keen - the man reading it obvioulsly likes the sound of his own voice too much for me to be able to enjoy listening to him. Various other bits and pieces, including christmas pudding recipes.

woensdag 2 december 2009

Lodgerdog in the spotlight

23 min
Start 22.00
8 degrees - gloves and 2 layers on top (+ 2 bras)
Decided that as I had to go out with Sproet for a last walk anyway I might as well pull my running shoes on. This isn't in fact quite as simple as just putting on a warm coat and clogs to go down to the end of the road and back as it involves a sports bra (on top of the t-shirt I was wearing already, too cold to get properly changed), finding a warm zip-up top to put on over that, my fluorescent vest and headlamp, and gloves and timer watch, but ach, once I'd made the decision to go I enjoyed being out. The dog enjoyed it too, instead of a sedate sniff about at the start of the fields we charged straight across them, him trotting along like an overgrown fox in the beam of my headlight a lot of the time. Out to the windmill, back via the allotments. Very slight sharp drizzle blowing through at first but didn't amount to much.

dinsdag 1 december 2009

Moonlight Shadows

60 min
Start 16.45
Driving home from Utrecht the sky was bright and clear as the sun went under and I could hardly wait to get home to get out for an hour in the last of the light. Across the Eng then a fast circuit in 6.03. Slower than usual, I could feel a light threat of a stitch in my side stopping me from going at full pelt. Ah well, shouldn't really expect great leaps forward this week, just keeping my legs from stiffening up after Saturday's exertions is enough. Down past the church and along the back narrow street, up through the village via the roundabout and the Boni and then over the Eng again where a full moon had taken possession of the sky and was giving so much light that the fenceposts had shadows. BBC Introducing with Tom Robinson on 6 music Really enjoyed various dancy variations on running as the Tom Robinson Introducing podcast threw a selection of totally differing tunes into my head.

maandag 30 november 2009

63 min
Start 16.30
No visible sunset, just an imperceptible fading of the grey. Did my fast circuit in 5.43. Ran for slightly longer than I planned as there was still enough light to see for a second round of the Eng. Then had a brief stop to do my good deed by taking the 4 bins for the block down to the collecting place for tomorrow morning. After this did another brief circuit down behind the Boni and round the nice new Georgian style yuppy flats - this is the right time to see in the lighted windows and see what the latest fashions in kitchen fittings are. Lots of conical type gleaming silver kettles were what I particularly noticed.

zondag 29 november 2009

Week Total 494

Start 16.45
Official time yesterday on the site was 4:53:30 so I rounded that up by a few minutes to include the skipping about warming up I did beforehand.
Woke up this morning with a tender feeling in my right ear. I suspect a mild infection from the chilly south-westerly that was blowing into it for most of the way.
Spent most of today on big cushions on the floor in my new naff Scotty-dog flecked pyjamas with my back against the radiator re-reading Born to Run (in English this time).

When the light started to fade I decided I should get outside for some fresh air and it was as easy to pull my running clothes on as anything else so took my well-earned new red reflective vest out for a sunset run over the Eng. Light effects were gratifyingly good and glittery, feathered red followed by muted blue and gold as the lid of clouds gradually closed. My ear already feels less sensitive than it did this morning and my blisters didn't object too much to my running after a few initial twinges. Leg muscles feel fine. What a difference from September when I could hardly walk properly for 3 days after the half marathon in Hattem. My body seems to have greatly improved its ability to recover from exertion since then.

zaterdag 28 november 2009

Zuiderzee Marathon - van Urk naar Zwolle

After getting up early to heat up the leftovers from last night's potatoes/onions/apples and cheese concoction for breakfast got to Zwolle in time to sign up, drink some tea, eat a banana and a nut filled energy bar before securing one of the front upstairs seats in one of the buses that was to take us to Urk. Nice atmosphere - like a school outing but luckily without the compulsory singing. The guy next to me had done the full distance in Amsterdam when I did my half there in October (and was going to a wedding in Scotland in the spring).

It was very grey and rainy on the way and there was a feeling of total absurdity that we were all voluntarily, no, pAying even for the privelege, getting on a bus that was going to set us down 42+ km away so we could run all the way back... At the start there was a run (ha) on the toilets as everyone made a last sanitary stop. The start was in some anonymous industrial estate where we had access to some sort of office/canteen block. Miraculously the rain faded to nothing by the time we were all ready for the off at 11am.Just plucked this pic from the site. I'm number 15. Note the neck warmer thingy which turns into a headband later when I get warmed up.)
The start shot was given by the mayor of Urk and before this there was a short silence as a mark of respect for the young boy who was murdered in the woods by another young boy in the village this week. (Huge news story here at the moment - nothing much ever happens in Urk usually...)

Ok, lets get the boring numbers bit out of the way before they slip out of my head completely.
5km 28.40
10km 59 +
15km 1:32
20km 2:05
25km 2:43
30km 3:19
35km 3:55
Missed the 40km board completely and can't remember what was on the one at 41km which I did see. Will have to check my finish time later on the site as I was too dazed to stop my timer, but I think it was about 4:53. There was one finisher after me who came in at 4.57. (She had a great finish with all the accompanying motorbikes and sirens! ;-)
Here a few more statistics plucked from the site. I came in 149th of the 150 finishers. Time 4:53:30 Average Speed 8,626 k/p/h Average time per kilometer 6:57

Did my usual too-fast start. Worst 5k was between 20 and 25. Took 38 minutes for this bit. I know a lot of people went past me here and I just felt I was dropping further and further back and it was still sUch a long way to the finish. At the end I was flagging seriously too - missing the 40k mark had me feeling that the end just kept getting further and further away...

But for the rest - it wasn't really thAt hard. The time mostly seemed to pass quite quickly. I never seriously thought I would have to stop. (Though I did occasionally think it was a very attractive idea!) The weather wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been. Stayed dry all the way, with even short views of the sun now and again through hazy cloud cover. Wind was sometimes quite hard, but not the gale force it could have been.

And there was a much friendlier atmosphere than in the huge city runs. When people passed me today they always acknowledged me and sometimes asked if everything was ok. For a while I was just in front of a pair of men who were chatting away about various 100km races they'd done. (Grandchildren were also mentioned - these were true running veterans!) As if they were out for an afternoon stroll... I'm always amazed that people have enough energy/breath to talk when running distances. It was nice to hear proof that this event is indeed one which attracts the real hard-core ultrarunners.

Ah well, I made it to the finish without walking, that was the main aim. This last photo is of the goodies we got in a bag at the end. Nicely designed medal. Red reflective vest for night runs. Banketstaaf (pastry with marzipan in the middle - traditional around Sinterklaas time here.) There was also a smoked herring (Urk is a fishing village...) but I gave that to Riny as it's one of the Dutch delicacies I've never learned to appreciate.)

Went off to Riny's houseboat (10 minutes away) to use her shower. (There were shower facilities there but I suspected I wasn't up to a quick businesslike shower and wanted to have some more space to myself.) Just as well really as I had a bit of a wobbly once I got there. When I bent down to put the bags I'd brought in from the car on the floor I found I couldn't really stand up properly again. I felt like an 84 year old hunchback. All my muscles seemed to be objecting to being used. My legs, my back, my neck. Hobbled to the shower and managed to get it going good and hot before having to abandon any attempts at staying upright. Spent a good few minutes on hands and knees wondering whether I really needed to eat something or really needed to throw up. Managed to avoid the latter and eventually got myself together enough to get dried and half dressed. Collapsed on the big comfy couch and rubbed tigerbalm and lemon oil into my legs while Riny got me tea and some dry bread (which was all I trusted my stomach with).

I've got a big blood blister on the inside of the ball of my left foot. Probably caused by the plaster I'd put on it beforehand to prevent this happening... I'd put a plaster on a tiny blister on my other foot (this is now fine) and thought I'd pre-empt one forming on the left one. Bad idea apparantly. Had quite a lot of cramps in my feet afterwards which I don't usually have any bother with. But now that I've eaten properly they seem to have gone. Around the 25k mark I had occasional strange feelings in my feet. Began half way up my shin and felt as if there was a string there and that everything beneath this string was a large numb bit of wood. Mostly in my right foot but sometimes in the left too. Weird. Not sOre as such but a bit disconcerting as I couldn't feel my foot touching the ground properly. And I really should have had thin gloves with me - sometimes my hands were so cold that I could hardly get my gelsachets open. (I used 3 at just over hourly intervals - there were bananas and mandarins at the water posts too.) So that's my list of 'injuries' such as they were. Not bad at all considering I wasn't really ready for the whole distance and haven't done more than a half in 12 years. Despite feeling briefly quite mangled afterwards I did actually really enjoy the day. Might even go back next year...

vrijdag 27 november 2009

Nog één nachtje slapen...

32 min
Start 16.30
Gentle(ish) sunset run about the Eng and surrounding streets. (No visible sunset - uniform grey Novemberness.) Did my fast circuit in 5.32, which is 3 seconds faster than I've ever done it before so I feel I'm as ready as I'm likely to get for tomorrow.

This is the running belt I've prepared to take with me. Complete with camera, water, 3 gelbars, a tiny bottle of lemon oil, some tigersalve, big plastic bag to pull on if I feel I need protection from the rain, identification card and money for the entry fee. It weighs 660g and I've just had it out for a test run. I'm particularly pleased with the holder for the gelsachets I made by cutting the top off a water bottle. Have discovered what I've been doing wrong before. When I had it round my hips it jigged about too much and tended to slide to one side. I've now pulled the straps tighter and have it higher up round my waist. This feels much more secure and comfortable to run with.

woensdag 25 november 2009

Start 7.45
Woke up before the alarm and as there was no rain battering the windows got myself up and out into the greyness. Saw a promise of pale brightness on the horizon so headed out towards the cyclebridge to keep it in front of me. Right on to the Klompenpad, nice orangey red light strip as the sun struggled to disperse the grey. It got swallowed by cloud shortly after it made its first appearance but I'm glad I was able to see it at least making an attempt. Running went fine - lot of wind along the Eem but nothing really problematic. Kept to my usual steady plod most of the time, briefly speeded up on the way back when some good jumpy music came along on the Scotland Introducing podcast. Did my fast circuit in 5.50 on the way home - not bad after almost 80 minutes running.

maandag 23 november 2009

27 min
Start 15.30
Was planning to run for longer but it started pelting with rain and it was getting in my eyes and I could hardly see (remember to wear a cap if rain is likely!). Still, I don't really mind rain, but when I saw a huge fork of lightning and heard the thunder a few seconds later I decided that running about in a huge open space in a thunderstorm perhaps wasn't too clever after all. I gave up and went quickly back via the shortest route to the built up area of town. And ach, I should probably be having a bit of a 'rest' week if I am going to try to go the distance on Saturday. I'm never quite sure where the balance lies between 'resting' and 'keeping things ticking over'... Did my 'fast circuit' in 5.45. Not a PB but I do have to put a wee bit of a brake on at the downhil bit between the field path and the street as it's still covered in wet leaves and I always worry about slipping there. The house that was recently sold and which has quickly acquired small flocks of new geese and black faced sheep has now added a couple of turkeys to the field at the back. Wonder if they'll still be there after Christmas...

zaterdag 21 november 2009

Week Total 500!

106 min
Start 15.30
Out to the cycle bridge on over the Klompenpad towards Amersfoort, bit through the backstreets and then back to the Eng for a last circuit there to make up my time. Short bit of interval training on the bit of farmroad with regular lampposts but mostly just slow and steady, speeding up very occasionally with a few bits of music. Stopped to talk to a beautiful and impressively well-built Bordeaux Dog who was barking madly at a fence behind some stables whilst simultaneously wagging his tail happily.

vrijdag 20 november 2009

Sunrise in the Vondelpark, Amsterdam

87 min
Start 7.30
Clear light getting brighter by the minute as I ran past the Concertgebouw and on to the Vondelpark (5 min away). Enjoyed running about in the company of so many other runners, dogs, bikes. Unfortunately had to cut my run short as I could feel my bowels declaring they really, well yes, enough information already. I did actually contemplate going into some bushes at one point but there are hardly any leaves on said bushes now so they're all a bit transparant and it was really too busy for this to be a viable option. Should really have started back for Hanneke's house earlier but I've never had this before when running and thought I'd easily be able to finish my 100 minutes before things got too, um, necessary. What a disaster this must be if it happens during an official run... Anyway, should be able to regain the lost 13 minutes tomorrow afternoon (my goal was to run 5 x 100 minutes this week). Ach, I had my camera with me but was so concerned with other things that I forgot to make any photos.

Later: on the way home spotted a rather nice bookshop so went in and bought myself an English hardback edition of the book I raved about after I got the Dutch paperback for my birthday.

woensdag 18 november 2009

101 min
Start 20.45
Ran about the hillier parts of town, keeping mostly to the better lit streets, bit of interval training when there was an inviting row of lampposts through a park. Last bit with my headlight on over the Eng. Went really well, steady pace without too much effort apart from the brief interval bits.

dinsdag 17 november 2009

An Impish Run

101 min
Start 15.00

Inspired by one of the women on the runners messageboard I also contribute to, who did a very muddy cross-country 15-mile challenge at the weekend (and whose board name is Impish) I decided that I could go for a run behind the stables when Julia was having her riding lesson this afternoon. It's vEry muddy there and usually I saunter along reading a book with my wellies on, whilst Dusty tippytoes around the edges of the worst bits in her supermodel greyhoundy way. Today I just stomped through the mud at speed, getting my shoes spectacularly dirty (note the contrast between the first and the later pics). Did 40 minutes with Dusty on the road first. Being a fast and long-legged type herself she looked very amused at my attempts at 'speed' and generally seemed to enjoy the novelty of me moving faster than I usually do when out with her. Then had a cup of tea and a biscuit (another very civilised element of the run Impish did - they were offered a teabreak along the route, I thought this was an excellent idea...). Then Julia and I went off to the stables and I ran for an hour there, first through the muddiest bits and then on for 20 minutes along the cycle path, doing an interval training between the lampposts (first 4 fast, 4 slower, later 5 fast, 4 slower). Reached the start of the polder and could have run round through the village on the way back but wanted to retrace my steps and take in the muddy bit again. Went really well, I enjoyed the contrasts of different sorts of running.

maandag 16 november 2009

105 min
Start 7.30
(Photo is to show the weird clashing collection of colours I pulled on this morning...)
Ran out to the cycle bridge via the klompenpad (53 min, first a warm-up circuit of the Eng) then turned and came back the same way (more or less, came straight across the main cycle path instead of going round by the allotments on the way back). Means I have a good 40+ minutes of the muddy/grassy paths. Should maybe think about going in to the woods to find some more off-road routes as I enjoy that better than having to share the road with all the illegal early morning traffic which uses the farm roads to avoid the tailbacks on the main roads.

zondag 15 november 2009

Week Total 310

Plus few minutes warming up yesterday then, but no watch so no real idea of how long. 10 minutes at most.

zaterdag 14 november 2009

(Bijna) de halve van Houten...

115 min
Which would of course have been a wonderful time IF I'd done the full distance. But apparantly something went wrong with the route because someone didn't point me in the right direction for my distance at the right time and I ended up doing 3 and a bit smaller circuits instead of the 2 larger ones I should have done. I'll have to look at the map to see what went wrong but the couple of people I spoke to at the end thought I must have done about 19k, which is about right for the time. (Have just looked at the route and according to my calculations based on the distances given it works out at 20k give or take a few hundred meters, so it looks like my 'real' time would have been comparable with Amsterdam.) Ach, I'm not really that bothered. I had a good trainings run of almost 2 hours in a place I don't usually run in. Lot of wind along the canal, but the rain stopped miraculously just before the start (it had been pouring when I left home) and the sun even came out now and then. I'll probably go back next month and see if I can do the correct distance then.
This photo was taken on the first circuit, most runners did 5, 10 or 15km so it was a lot busier at the start than at the end. (I'm the one with the snazzy silver and blue legs.)
Few technical points - forgot to take my Ventoline but had absolutely no problems with my breathing so I think I've got to the point now when I don't need it any more. Also forgot my watch so had no idea of what time I was doing. Found this a bit annoying at first but since I didn't run the official route the distance marks on the ground didn't make any sense anyway. I took a blackcurrant energy gel thing with me and took wee slurps of that regularly during the second hour. Finished feeling fine so maybe it helped.

woensdag 11 november 2009

100 min
Start 16.00
Was planning on doing the Klompenpad circuit but half way out noticed that there was a beautiful red gap in the all-grey cloud cover just above the horizon that the sun was sinking into so turned round so that I would be running into that rather than having it behind me. There was also quite a lot of (illegal - passing cars are not supposed to use that road between 4 and 7 in the evening) traffic which made running on the narrow road a bit dodgy; one white van came worryingly close, despite me running on the left to face oncoming traffic and having light-coloured clothes on. So went back to the Eng and ran about there till the last of the light was gone. Did 2 fast circuits with half an hour in between. First was 5.37, second 5.57. So not as good as yesterday, while weather conditions are more or less identical. And I took some Ventolin today, curious to see if this would be 'performance enhancing' as it is one of the banned drugs for some athletic events. Apparantly not with me then...

dinsdag 10 november 2009

95 min
Start 10.30
Great run. First 10 minutes warming up over the Eng then did my fast round in a PB of 5.35 (have done it once before in this time). Went on to do a steady Klompenpad circuit of about an hour, occasionally speeding up depending on what music was on. Back to my fast circuit and did it in 5.45 this time. I didn't even feel I was running flat out as there are a couple of downhill bits with wet leaves where I have to be careful not to slip. And this with no Ventolin. I really think I've more or less built up my condition enough to do without it now. I'll see what the lung specialist says when I see her next month but I definitely feel as if everything is working like it used to again now. Last bit home diagonally across the fields jumping over the rows of maize stubble.

zondag 8 november 2009

Week Total 310

90 min
Start 16.15.
Had planned to run in Amsterdam in the Vondelpark the morning after the night before but had forgotten to put the rest of my running clothes in the bag and only had my shoes with me. Shame because it was beautiful weather there and yet as soon as I got on the motorway to come home the mist came down and my run in Soest was very foggy indeed. Went great though. Had good music on the ipod and bounced along over the path (Klompenpad) from the edge of Amersfoort along the Eem to the cyclebridge. Was muddy but firm enough to run on.

vrijdag 6 november 2009

68 min
Start 16.45
So-so. Couldn't really 'get going' somehow although did manage a quite energetic spurt now and then when some good music came along on miPod. Realised after a while that I'd forgotten the Ventolin (again) and that I could hear a tiny whistle at the bottom of my lungs occasionally. However I suspect it's a good sign that I can forget to take it and still run a reasonable distance without any major symptoms. Shows that my lungs have built up a fair bit of strength so that they can now operate better without the medication which allowed them to be exercised properly again in the first place.

woensdag 4 november 2009

78 min
Start 12.30
Out along the Eem over the muddy sheep path. It was too slippy with well diluted sheep sh*t to be safe so I soon moved down to the grassier path at the bottom of the dijk. Got heavily rained on for a wee while but then the sun came out and my shirt was almost dry by the time I got home. Forgot to take my Ventolin but can do OK without it now that my lungs are in better condition, at least if it's not too cold and I don't try to go too fast. Did the 3min straight sprint in 3.10 with a headwind on the way back.

maandag 2 november 2009

74 min
Start 17.00
Good sunset run about the Eng and the neighbouring streets. Did my fast double circuit in 11.50 (1st 5.50, 2nd 6.00) After 35 minutes got a sort of stitch in my side, higher than the few other occasions when I've had this. Just under my ribs on the left. Kept running slowly through it, didn't get worse but didn't go away for a good while either. Ah well, maybe good for me to know what this feels like. It did eventually subside. Ipod stopped after 30 minutes. I'll have to take it back to the shop again...

zondag 1 november 2009

2 week total 299

Last week 158, this week 141, tissue-filled gap of a week.

Maple Leaf Cross

Start 14u
Ran this 3 x 3km route over dirt and grass paths this afternoon, even some soft sand now and then + one steep hill in each circuit. I took a wrong turning on the way there on the bike and arrived fearing I'd be too late to sign up as it was supposed to close for entry half an hour before the start. But it wasn't a problem and I just had time to pull off my long sleeved shirt, pin my number (with built-in chip)
to my shirt and get to the start. I've never seen one of these built in to the startnumber chips before, having only ever used the bigger ones you tie into your shoes.
I wasn't aiming for a fast time (ha, chance would be a fine thing! ;-) I just wanted to see how it went, was quite prepared to stop after 3 or 6k if I didn't feel great. At best I thought an hour for this 9k over rough ground would be fine, considering I do about 10.3kph over the half marathon on the road. First circuit I passed the finish at 17.30. Second was at 35.50 (18.20). Third (18.42). Hmm, still starting too fast then, whereas I felt as if the start was hard and it got easier as I went on. Must see if I can do something about this - the idea for running distances is that you keep enough back to be able to get faster as you progress. But anyway, I was delighted with the time, hadn't really expected this, so it looks like my week of little running because of a head cold hasn't really damaged the fitness I've built up over the summer. Cycled home in pouring rain and wind (the rain started falling lightly during the last circuit) soaked through to my underwear.

vrijdag 30 oktober 2009

61 min
Start 6.45
Heavy mist meant no visible sunrise and very visible beads of moisture in my hair when I got home. Took it easy, at the start it was still pretty dark as I went over the Eng. Then out to the Eem as it gradually got lighter, though visibility was still down to about 20m. Felt myself getting lighter and moving more easily as I warmed up (like a dodgy diesel engine...) Did a 'sprint' on the long stretch back to the village - it was odd not being able to see the end of the road. I was thinking of how being able to set goals makes things more achievable - just running into a wall of mist when you can't see where you're aiming for isn't very inspiring. Still did it in my 'usual' 3 minutes so I seem to be back on form after my snot-induced break.

woensdag 28 oktober 2009

25 min
Start 17.15
Gentle start after a week of blocked up head and general unfitness. Had a good long muddy walk with Dusty yesterday and decided I felt better enough today to try a short run. Beautiful coloured sky with raggy bits of cloud filtering the sunset. Slight technical problem in that the volume switch on my headphones is now refusing to work in the downwards direction. Had to keep skipping through my podcasts till I found one I could bear to hear at such high volume. (Sandy Toksvig laughing at full strength directly into your ear is not an experience I can recommend.) Ended up with the Huw Introducing music choice - haven't had such a ringing sound in my ears since the time I stood directly in front of the speakers at an AC/DC concert... Running itself went fine - even managed a short faster bit when a particular bit of music inspired me to run up a row of stubble skipping back and forth over it in time to the song.

vrijdag 23 oktober 2009

Snot fair.

No running today. I have been invaded by A Virus. That'll teach me to plan 2 half-marathons in 2 weekends. My brain must have signalled my plans to my body and the whole system has shut down in protest. So I'm swapping my running shoes for blackcurrant Coldrex and tissues for the time being...
Here's a link to an article about exercising with cold/flu symptoms. Actually I suspect my symptoms are safely 'above the neck' at present so it probably wouldn't do me all that much harm but on the other hand I don't want to risk getting my lungs giving me problems which might drag on and make me get even further behind in my running schedule (such as it is).

woensdag 21 oktober 2009

35 min
Start 18.30
Felt heavy and sluggish. Vague tiredness in backs of calves and front of thighs. Nothing terrible but I wasn't bouncing along like yesterday. Not eaten too well today, that probably has a lot to do with it. Did a bit of jumping through the ploughed fields but my heart wasn't in it. Ha, that'll teach me to have Woman's Hour gibbering away in my ipod instead of Tom Robinson! Did one 'fast' circuit in exactly 6 minutes and decided it was getting too dark to safely do a 2nd one (well, that was as good an excuse as any). Home via the Molenweg.

dinsdag 20 oktober 2009

123 min
Start 11.15
'Accidentally' ran for 2 hours. Only meant to go out for about an hour to see how my legs felt almost 48 hours after the main event on Sunday. But it was beautifully sunny and fresh and I found a new grassy path along the Eem just before the cycle bridge so followed that all the way to Amersfoort and back. Good music on theBBC Introducing with Tom Robinson on 6 music podcast had me fairly bouncing along at some points. Shame I can almost never remember the names of the bands I hear on there as sometimes there are things I want to look up afterwards but by the time I get around to looking them up online the programme I have on my ipod isn't online any more. Anyway, it's a great way of doing some natural interval training and enjoying it. Did 15 minutes barefoot running in a grassy field but my feet were definitely getting chilly towards the end and I was glad to get my shoes and socks on again. Did a field length barefoot 'sprint' twice. 1.07 the first time, 1.01 the second.

maandag 19 oktober 2009

Week total 428

Including some warm-up and cool-down time yesterday.

Amsterdam 2.02.57

Saturday afternoon dropped my stuff at Hanneke's place (conveniently near to the Stadion) collected my startnumber and cycled round the route, which for the half was actually a bit of a dull one. The full marathon has a long open and quite pretty bit along the Amstel but the half is mostly through not very interesting parts of the city. (Apart from the last bit along the Stadhouderskade and the Vondelpark, and the finish in the Olympic Stadion of course.) Anyway, it was handy to cycle it beforehand with the map as I knew then where the few 'hilly' bits (couple of bridges) were and roughly where the 5km stages could be expected.

Ate a huge plate of pasta and went to bed reasonably early with Abdelkader Benali's 'Marathonloper' In this book each of the 42 short chapters is written around a kilometer in a marathon race. I soon realised that the route he was describing was in fact Amsterdam, though this isn't actually mentioned in the book by name. So even more appropriate reading material than I'd thought it would be beforehand.
Sunday morning ate some leftover pasta with yoghurt, cottage cheese and jam + bananas, bread, lots of tea. Went to the loo about 26 times. Dithered about whether I would take my running belt with water bottles and camera. Decided in the end not to as I thought that any brief advantage of being able to choose my own drinking moments would be negated by the extra jiggling of having to have it with me all the time.

Cycled off to the start in good time and got my bike parked in the free guarded stall. Weather was perfect for me. Not too warm, not too cold. Went to the loo yet again (portaloos are always spectacularly disgusting but ok, there were at least enough of them to avoid the long queues I've seen at other such events) and found my section of the start funnel. Talked to one of the pace setting runners who were there with big yellow balloons tied to them so that they were easily visible. She was pacing for the 2 hour finish and explained that she'd be doing exactly 5.40 per kilometer. Hmm, interesting, I thought and then shuffled off to the front of the section. Didn't see her again till approaching the 15k mark...

And this is of course where I went wrong. If I'd been 'sensible' I would have stuck with the pace setting team and may well have been able to finish inside the 2 hours. But no, I charged off on my own daft race, did my first 5k in less than 27 min instead of the 28+ it should have been. At the 8k mark I had 44 minutes and thought I was going wonderfully well - hey, this was EAsy - I'd be able to run at this pace for Ever! At 11k I had 61 minutes and still thought I was on course for a great time. The drink posts had been well-placed and had also provided pieces of banana so I decided I wouldn't need the powergel sachet I'd been saving for if I had an energy dip in the second hour. Gave it to one of the kids along the side of the route who hold out their hands to be slapped by passing runners. And about 5 minutes after this realised that I was being overtaken by more people than before. I was definitely slowing.

Approaching the 15k mark the yellow balloon pace setters passed me. I tried to keep them in sight for a while but it wasn't going to happen. In the Vondelpark, with 12 minutes to go to the 2 hour mark decided that I could push it a bit, just think of it as a Cooper Test, I told myself - 12 minutes at full speed must be possible? Yeah, but 'full speed' after 19k is not the same as full speed after a brief warm up run. Ah well, never mind - I learnt a lot and I still finished a good 9 minutes faster than in Hattem last month. Here are the official times from the places along the route where my chip registered. Bit irregular as they're placed for the whole marathon, but the times in brackets are for 5k intervals. I can see here how I slipped backwards as the race progressed.

8,9 km 49:03
13,9 km 1:18:50 (29:47)
18,9 km 1:49:19 (30:29)
Netto tijd 2:02:57
Bruto tijd 2:11:15
Snelheid 10,296 km/uur

The grand finale in the stadium was actually not as grand as I'd hoped it might be. The tribunes were barely half full. The crush to get out of the place afterwards was a bit messy (though to be fair, with so many people it could have been worse). There was a light rain just starting to fall. (Beautiful lowering iron grey clouds had been threatening rain for the past hour but nothing had come of it, perfect running conditions really, very little wind either, so I can't give anything the blame except my own lack of timing.) Back at my bike rubbed tigerbalm and lemon oil into my calves and pulled on warm trousers and top.

Cycled back to Hanneke's house. She'd been outside the stadium but hadn't been able to get across the road to get inside. More tiger balm and oil for my legs. After a while Rianne arrived bearing white roses which I put in a vase beside the hot bath I was running. Sank into that for half an hour for another few kilometers of my book. After we'd eaten big plates of curry and naan bread Rianne went off home and Hanneke revealed hidden talents as a masseuse and gave my legs a good seeing to. Thigh muscles felt a bit tender in some places but nothing too painful. I don't know if it's due to the massage, the tiger balm, the hot bath or the increased training since last month (no doubt a mixture of them all) but today my legs feel fine. Huge contrast with the few days after Hattem, when my thighs felt like lead and my calfs like cotton wool. I can feel a very slight tiredness in the backs of my thighs but nothing in the least painful and I could cycle and go up and down the stairs this morning with no problems at all.

So where am I going to do my next half...?

vrijdag 16 oktober 2009

60 min
Start 18.30
Along to the postoffice with a couple of things and then back to the Eng via the back street then the Dalweg up the hill. Did 12 minutes barefoot over the grass by the horses' field then on to my fast double circuit. 11.28 today but it was getting dangerously dark under the trees and I almost fell at one point when I tripped over a fallen branch + there was a fair bit of wind so I was pleased enough with this time. Back via the Molenweg, rain was just starting when I was almost back. I'm as ready as I'll ever be for Sunday.

donderdag 15 oktober 2009

55 min
Start 18.30
Here's a bit I wrote in the online runnersclub before I went out:
"I'm going to sneak out for an 'illegal' run in an hour or so. According to my self-imposed schedule for this week I 'shouldn't' really go out till tomorrow, but ach, it's a beautiful evening, the sun goes under at 18.44 so if I go out 10 minutes before this till half an hour or so after it I should get the best of the light. I feel like a kid who wants to go out and play. Which, according to the writer of Born to Run is how we should feel about running if we're doing it 'right'."

Great dancey run (huh?) about the Eng with a golden and lilac backdrop and various good tracks from the Scotland Introducing Podcasts to help me leap about over the fields. Did my 'fast 12 min' bit in 11.22! First circuit in 5.35, much assisted by the thrash metal track in my ears and the second circuit in, em... that would be... 5.47. This is my fastest time yet for this bit so I'm hoping this bodes well for Sunday in Amsterdam.

I'd passed an incredibly georgeous young dog twice on my fast circuits and managed to gasp 'Mooi hond!' to the owner on passing him the second time so I was pleased to catch up with him later when I could allow myself time to stop and ask what he was. Looked like a young Great Dane but there was something too short about his muzzle so I thought some sort of Mastiff. A south american mastiff apparantly. Brindle gold and black in an almost tiger-striped pattern. He was playing with the big black giant schnauzer I often meet. Anyway, enjoyable brief dog-interlude.

Then just ran randomly about the fields, varying between stubble and grass. Finished off going down the hill behind the allotments and back up the hill street. Didn't look at my watch at all, just kept going till the light had gone.

woensdag 14 oktober 2009

Start 17.45
Took my Born to Run promotion t-shirt for a test run to make sure there were no annoying seams or threads in it to irritate me while running.
Dry, sunshine, field with freshly cut grass. Decided it was time to try some barefoot running. Soon decided that there were too many hard stubbly bits in the grass and put my shoes on again. Skipped about in the maize stubble fields for a while, choosing the lines with the highest stubs (about mid calf) to jump back and forth over as I ran. Later by the grassy field next to the horse paddocks did 10 minutes barefoot as the grass was softer there. Did make my feet feel... energetic? Did my 2 x 6 minute hill circuits in 11.35 - no doubt much assisted by the enthusiastic lodgerdog tied round my waist. I've realised there's a change in my attitude to running since reading the book. I now enjoy the running itself more. Not just the feeling of having run.

maandag 12 oktober 2009

83 min
Start 18.00
Over the Eng then out to the cycle bridge and back, keeping to the grass verges as much as possible. Followed by a random criss-crossing of the various maize stubble fields which are now fairly sticky after the heavy rain. So first half easy, second half hard. I like the uneven running as I can feel my feet having to 'think' about how they land. It also has a definite effect on the calf muscles. I've rubbed some tigerbalm (diluted a bit with neutral vaseline type stuff) into my lower legs to counter any possible ill effects. Had my ipod loaded with fresh podcasts so was accompanied by a re-run of the Friday Night punch-up at Grey Gables followed by Lesson 20 of Coffee Break Spanish, some Gerry Anderson nonsense and Mark Lawson chattering to the man who's just written a biography of William Golding. And Sil the Lodgerdog.

zondag 11 oktober 2009

Week Total 379

All Along the Watchtower

100 min
Start 7.00
Flying start along the dijk with Sil tearing along at a gallop tied to me. When it was safe to let her off the lead she enjoyed haring (rabbiting?) after rabbits in all directions for a while so that by the time I clipped her on again to go through the nature park bit with the Highland Coos she'd calmed down a lot. Detour round behind the golfcourse on a new path I hadn't taken before and then back on another newly mown path along the canal. Came to a birdwatching tower which I'm sure wasn't there last time I came that way in the canoe.
Hadn't had any breakfast before I went out and felt a wee bit queasy after about 20 minutes but since I'm currently reading about the traumatic wanderings of the Lost Boys of Sudan I told myself not to be such a wimp and carried on and soon felt fine. I had a liquid Power Gel thing with me that I bought in Beversport when I was there getting the mad shoes the other day. I promised myself I could have that after an hour. I wanted to try it to see if it didn't have any bad effects on me as I'm thinking of taking one on the half-marathon next week to give me an energy boost for the second hour. I kept reading about these Carbohydrate Gels in Born to Run and had never heard of them before. At first I even wondered if you were supposed to rub them into your legs as Gel is not something I've ever thought of as edible. It was very tasty and I certainly didn't have any digestive problems with it so I'll take one with me next week.
I was vaguely aware of having used calf and buttock muscles (or just under, top back of thighs) which possibly hadn't had the same use before. Not pain, just an awareness. From Friday's experimental beach run. I did think of having another 10 minutes barefootshoes trial this morning but it was still dark when I left and I just didn't fancy the extra complication of taking them with me and changing shoes for the short stretch of sand.

vrijdag 9 oktober 2009

Vibram5Fingers Test Run

94 min
Start 17.00
Along the beach from 's Gravenzande to Monster and back. First via the soft sand, back along the shore line. Tried out my weird new shoes for 8 minutes + 8 minutes in bare feet. The idea is to get used gradually to barefoot running. Not sure yet how far I'm going to go with this but I do like the idea of using the muscles in my feet more as they are supposed to be used instead of letting them deteriorate in too-rigid shoes. Enjoyable slow-but-hard-work sort of run.
The current lodgerdog behaved impeccably, racing about but always coming to my side immediately when I called her.

woensdag 7 oktober 2009

I Pod You Pod We all scream for My Pod!

The return of the I-Pod...
Finally got round to taking it into Hilversum yesterday. (They wanted to charge me 10 euros just to look at it in the MacHouse in Utrecht but said it would be free in Hilversum, where I bought it. Now that I think about it, this is odd - shouldn't the gaurantee be valid anywhere? If I could be bothered I really should write A Nangry Letter) So after playing about with it while I went to drink an excellent cappucino at Ingrid's cafe across the road they gave me new earphones/switch cable and off I went. They did ask if it was ok if they reset the ipod, therefore removing everything and I said it was fine as I put new podcasts on all the time anyway. It wasn't till I wanted to take it for a test run this evening that I remembered I didn't have time to put new stuff on. I was curious to know what they'd put on to test it. Alicia Keyes... oh well, it could have been Celine Dion I suppose. Very much a novelty run for me to have her warbling away in my ears - I'm more a Rammstein sort of girl myself. Let's just say it was - interesting.

Meanwhile, away from my ears and down at my feet, the run itself went wonderfully, despite most of it being in pouring rain.

92 min
Start 18.30
Out to Baarn and back, stopping off to get some safety pins from Carin to keep my yellow fluorescent tabard from flapping so much. Lots of nice little incidents on the way. Finally met the enormous blue Great Dane I've admired from passing glimpses in the car a few times. Magnificent big beast with a character to match. Friendly but reserved as befits a dog of his size and noble bearing. Went on through the polder, rain getting heavier and Alicia getting warblier. (I could of course have just turned her off, but I like a challenge...) At one point a hooded teenager cycled past - he turned round and said hello as he passed me (an event in itself as most of them don't do greeting strangers) and gestured to his baggage rack to ask if I wanted a lift. I laughed and said 'No, but thanks for the offer' and off he went. I don't think he quite got the concept of running through the rain for fun. I quite like rain running though. As long as you know how far you have to go and that there's a warm shower at the end of it, it's actually very refreshing. (Mind you, it's not properly cold yet... I may feel differently next month.) I was frequently rattling through the running control list mantra I picked up from my favourite book of the moment:
1) Easy
2) Soft
3) Supple
4) Fast
as I went. Easy means going at a pace where breathing is not laboured. Soft means thinking about how my feet land, not thumping down, but brushing the ground with forward moving impetus. Supple means paying attention to posture - straight back, look ahead, hips forward so that the feet land in the right place directly under the body. And Fast? If you get the first 3 right the best possible speed should come automatically. It felt like something was clicking into place, I really was enjoying myself and felt I was running well.