You know its a muddy run when …

… when even the ditches at the sides of the lanes are full to the brim and over flowing over the road surface.

… when you get to the gate at the bottom of the field you’re going to run up, and the water is running down faster than you could run.

… when you spot a particularly swampy patch up ahead and decided you ought to double knot your laces to stop you losing a shoe to the bog. Then you realise you can’t actually see your laces.

… when the large muddy puddle that you would usually avoid becomes a chance to wash some of the mud off your trainers before you get home.

… you arrive home and you can hear the washing machine groan.

… you arrive home,  muddy up to the knees, with a big smile on your face.

Any definitions I’ve missed out?? Please add your in the comments below!

A really long run

Week 8 of my marathon training has gone well, with runs of 3, 6 and 3 so far. All managed despite the snow, which I’m pretty proud of. However the long run this week has been worrying me, well, all week. 14 miles – not the longest run on the schedule, not that much longer than a half marathon (of which I’ve run a few by now!), so why such a stress? I think it’s because in my interrupted training for last year’s London marathon, my longest run (well, run/walk) was just 14 miles. Anything longer than this, and I think I’ve been presuming my training is going better than last year and so this year’s marathon should be better.

Anyway to cut a long story short (but not cutting the run short!), I spent Thursday night plotting out routes to try and get the right distance, as well as one that wasn’t on snow, ice or (as the weather has been a bit milder) mud. So I decided to run towards town and hope that the pavements were clear.

I managed to find clear pavements, and snow, ice and mud to run on, so a bit of variety. I also managed to include a long hill on my route which was not a good idea!

So any bad points about today’s run? Well, my measuring last night was obviously not quite right, as my run was actually 15.2 miles long. It did feel hard, particularly after stopping for a comfort break in town. When I started again I felt very chilled, and my pace times were noticeably slower after this stop. There was an icy wind blowing, which meant I was constantly putting my gloves and fleecy headband on, then taking them off again, then getting cold and having to put them on again.

Best points about the run? Well, it turned into my longest training run, ever (so far!) And an most unexpected high light. As I was headed back out from town with just a few miles to go to get home, I came upon an old man out walking. All by himself, no dog. I called out ‘hello’ , as I tend to do when passing people in the country lanes. He replied, and stopped to ask me how far I’d run. When I replied “12, and a couple more to get home”, he said “I wish I was as fit as you!” He went on to tell me he’d recently had a big operation, and had been advised to get out and walk to help him recover. This was only his third walk. It struck me how lucky I was to be able to get out and run. How lucky I was to be able to push myself to go further, with nothing worst than sore muscles the next day (hopefully!)

Right, week 8 DONE! Thankfully next week is a step back week, so not such a long run. Phew. Right, off to eat some late night cheese on toast, as for some reason I’m starving. Oh, and another glass of wine (muscle relaxant, darling 🙂 )

Still managed to find some icicles

Badger or Beast?

So this is the photo of the paw prints I spotted today whilst out running. Quite wide, very distinctive claw marks. I was hoping it was a badger, as I’ve never found badger prints before and its years since I’ve seen a badger whilst out and about.

I was telling my son about the tracks, and he helpfully suggested it was the ‘beast’ – a wild cat which was reportedly spotted around here a good few years ago. I’ve only just got over my fear of the ‘psycho pheasant’ who attacked me along here several years ago. Now I’ve got a large (hungry?) wild cat to worry about as well!

I-Spy Animals

More snow, and a run that saw me on virgin, untouched snow. Just me and the animal tracks for company. The signpost looked like it was pointing of into the middle of nowhere.

Anyone help me identify the many animal tracks I saw? I’ll post a photo when my phone starts behaving itself. The paw prints were quite chunky, so pretty wide, with very clearly defined claw marks. Unlike earlier in my run, there were no “owner’s prints” next to these. I’m secretly hoping its a badger. Also saw some much smaller prints, obviously running, which I reckon were fox prints. Saw lots of rabbit tracks, and then a much bigger version which I presume was a hare.

Next time I run, remind me to take my animal footprint chart with me, so I can tot up my Wildlife Points as I go along.

Road to Nowhere?
Just my footprints and some animal tracks.

Dancing on Ice

Week 8 of my training schedule starts with ‘just’ an easy 3 miles today. The snow and ice of the weekend has now frozen hard, so even with my Icebiters strapped to my running shoes it felt like I was dancing on ice for parts of my run.

Important discovery made today. In the soggy field, under the snow is ice, and under the ice is mud.

Snowy Footsteps

LSR = Long Snowy Run

Didn’t make it out for my run on Friday – not only did the promised snow arrive, it also brought a blizzard and a child demanding help with building an igloo.

By Saturday, I couldn’t put my run off any longer. The snow had stopped falling, but the ground was snowy and icy.

Luckily I had my Icebiters (see below) at the ready. It was cold, but I had my new jacket on again, fleecy head band and gloves. Somewhat nervously, I set off up the lane. It was hard work, but exhilarating. The Icebiters lived up to their name, and it was reassuring to hear a faint ‘click’ noise with each step as the metal studs dug into the ice.

I wasn’t so keen on the ankle deep loose snow though, as it was very chilly on the inch gap of exposed skin between the top of my socks and the bottom of my tights.

Schedule had said 12 miles, I reckon 8 miles in those conditions counted. My legs certainly felt like they’d run 12 miles, with strange aches in my backside and the backs of my thighs.

Snowy miles run: 8
Scheduled miles : 12
Number of photos taken of me : 1
Number of bemused walkers passed : about 10
Number of walkers who told me they should have been running : 1
Hardcore points : about 1000
Smug points : about 1000

Icebiters – what a great invention

Maybe my New Best Christmas Present?

Trying to settle to sleep, wondering if the forecast blizzard is actually going to arrive in the early hours, thinking that if it does it might make my scheduled 12 miler rather tricky, I suddenly remember another of my Christmas presents, so far unopened.

They *might* just become my new, ‘best ever Christmas present’ ……

To My Husband

To the long suffering Mr B&T, I need to say a huge ‘Thank You’ for the best Christmas present of 2012. My lovely new running jacket. Its light, non-rustley, soft, warm, waterproof and such a great colour (most important!)

I was trying to *only* get the jacket in – please excuse the gormless look

Best of all, it means I can set off for runs on cold and frosty mornings (like yesterday) feeling comfortable and relaxed, rather than hunched and cold. It means if I spot the sunrise and some cold frosty sheep through the hedge, I feel like stopping and taking photographs of them rather than keeping my head down and shivering on by.

Bet the sheep wish they had a jacket like mine

So sorry, the jacket will mean more photographs of frozen fields and sunrises. Taking them makes little ‘easy’ 3 mile runs (like yesterday) feel like more of an adventure.

Just need to find my better gloves now to sort out the frozen fingers I got as a result of taking this photo. Well, it is my birthday soon.

Attempted Sabotage

Finally completed a full week of my marathon training. After running just 3 miles (in total) last week, today”s long run of 10 miles did feel hard at times, especially after runs earlier in the week of 4,5 and 3 miles.

I managed not to see the boar despite running right by where it was seen Read here if you missed my boar news . I managed to wear my lovely new running jacket, and then got too hot after just 2 miles and had to stash it in a hedge for retrieval on the way home. I managed to get all round town still feeling quite sprightly.

However, when turning for home, I found the following lying in wait on the pavement:-

Banana splits

Now I may be paranoid, but instantly I thought someone was trying to sabotage my long run. I may have watched too much slapstick slipping-on-a-banana-skin gags when I was younger. An alternative suggestion is that someone has been playing Mario Kart for real.

Whatever the reason for the bananas, I managed to avoid them and made it safely home to tick another run off my schedule.

Roll on Week 7!