Stunning Running

Last weekend we went to a lodge on the edge if Kielder Water. It was our little anniversary get away. It was lush. We planned on a walk somewhere on the way on Friday, and runs on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

We set off Friday morning and drove north to the National Trust property Wallington. We had some lunch and then walked a little loop through the estate and woodland along the river. Then we had cake. This was a good start to the weekend! We visited the Kielder observatory in the evening but it was ridiculously windy and cloudy so we didn’t see anything much. The talks were interesting though

On Saturday morning we set off on a 7 mile loop around the Bull Crag Peninsula. The running was both harder and better than I imagined it would be. It was surprisingly hilly and it didn’t occur to me until about 4 miles in that one of the reasons the running was tough was because I wasn’t walking the hills. I was just running, looking at the amazing landscape and every now and again stopping for a photo. At the end my legs were tired and I was grateful to walk the last bit and look for red squirrels and very excited when we saw one!

The rest of Saturday was lazy and taken up with reading a whole stack of magazines which I’d left to pile up for ages and ages.

Sunday was long run day and I was anxious about this for some reason. We had decided to run out to Kielder dam and back – a total of about 13 miles. I prepped our tailwind for fuel, made sure watch and phone were charged and off we went. The first part of the route was the same as the day before but soon we were in new territory with Kielder Water on our left coming in and out of view as we zig zagged our way through the woods on the ‘waterside’ path.

I walked a few more of the hills on Sunday. I nearly had a meltdown in mile 2 because I seemed to be really feeling the uphill pull on that section. I got over myself and actually ran almost all of the first 5 miles which took us to the Tower Knowe visitor centre which was closed but did have some toilets that were open. From there it was another mile and a half to the other side of the dam so we jogged across, had a little break as we marvelled at the views and then set off back.

We took more pictures and walk breaks on the way back. By mile 8 though I was wondering if maybe I had bitten off more than I could chew with this pretty undulating 13 miler. For the next 3 miles or so I had a battle in my head to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Then we were nearly there anyway and we walked a bit through a section of wood just before the Waterside Park our lodge was part of, the bit where we’d seen the squirrel.

The rest of Sunday involved more reading, the hot tub and a bottle of prosecco. I felt properly happily tired. We did go for a little walk once it got dark to look at stars. Wow, even with the lights of the cabins, reception and pub/restaurant, we could see so much more than we can ever see at home. I couldn’t work out the camera settings though to get enough exposure to take pictures so gave up and just looked at the night sky for a while.

Monday we were going to have a little sunrise run. I was tired and my legs were heavy. It was also very slippery with frost on the tarmac bits and I was not at all impressed with that. We went the other way along the water this time and after not quite a mile and a half came to a road/tarmac bit which was frosty and we couldn’t really see how long the tarmac stretch was so we called that it, turned round and then stopped about half way back to watch the sunrise.

We had breakfast, got packed and headed towards home. It was a 23 mile weekend and while I was definitely tired I was not broken. I am getting fitter but actually the most important thing about the running over that weekend is that we were just running for fun, doing our thing and that on all of the outings bits of it were effortless, bits of it were really challenging and I loved every minute, even the hard and bloody awful ones.

Autumn Running Hamburg and Home

In the last post I mentioned our Ernie-cat. Ernie cat got worse. He was a really very very IMG_2284poorly cat. We finished his course of antibiotics but if anything her was worse – so back to the vet it was and this vet felt a mass in his tummy that shouldn’t be there. We put pretty much everything on hold, nursed Ernie for 48 hours and then took him in for surgery. Two big lumps were removed from his intestines and then the silly little bugger wouldn’t eat at all. It took us another 2 days to tempt him. Running was – unsurprisingly – hit and miss. I managed 5.5 miles on the Wednesday before his surgery but then nothing until the following Tuesday.

IMG_2825On the Monday though I did do something running related. I went for a counselling session to talk about the running meltdowns I seem to be having on every long distance run. It was really useful to chat things through. I can’t even recall the detail of our conversation now but the upshot is that I am probably just putting too much pressure on myself and that I have internalised some of the objective measures of ‘good’ running such as pace even though I would logically (and rightly) say that pace doesn’t matter and that #myrunmyrules is the mantra to run by. I felt loads better after that chat.


On Tuesday I was working home and Kath had already run in the morning but wanted to go to the gym so I said I’d run a loop and then meet her there. I ran 5k faster than for a long time. It’s not a PB as such I don’t think but I never really kept track – my Garmin tells me it’s a new record so it’s the fastest this year. I wasn’t trying to go fast. I just realised as I went down a gentle slope that I could just stretch my legs a little more and that felt good so I kept going. I felt it but it was a good sort of feeling it. Then on Wednesday I went out again to clear my head and switch from one work task to another. I felt strong and comfortable running and I purposefully didn’t look at my watch trying to get back to what a good run should be about – being outside and enjoying the movement. I felt really good until about 5 miles, then a few tummy rumbles and cramps set in and I started to feel quite uncomfortable. By 5.5 miles I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to keep running the entire 10k. I really wanted to though. By 5.75 ish miles it was clear that continuing running would be a mistake. I stopped to walk a little, and then alternated sprint/walk/sprint in short bursts until I hot 10k. Then I walked back home. A new 10k PB – and this might be a real PB. Again I’m not sure because I’ve never really kept track but I don’t think I have ever run 10k with a consistent 12 minute mile pace. It felt good.

IMG_2665I didn’t make it out on Thursday and on Friday we flew to Hamburg early in the morning. Very early. We had a lovely weekend staying at Dad’s, wandering round Hamburg a bit, seeing Cirque du Soleil’s Toruk and getting a couple of runs in. These were good runs in the real sense – not in the pace or distance sense. They were good because we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. On Saturday morning we set off from Dad’s flat and  went through residential streets basically in a straight line until we hit the Alster. Then we went clockwise round the Aussen Alster stopping for views and to take pictures and chatting away as we trotted along. Running didn’t feel hard, it felt like a nice way to spend a gorgeous sunny morning. Before we knew it we’d covered 3 miles and I still felt absolutely fine. Eventually we came up from the Alster crossed a bridge and stopped for a couple more pictures of the city sky line and then made our way back down and anti-clockwise round the Binnen Alster finishing IMG_2828on Jungfernstieg and getting the bus back. We’d just missed the number 5 bus which was the most direct route and while waiting for a bus for a whole 6 minutes might be nothing here, for the busiest bus route in Europe that just seemed unacceptable so we jumped on the number 4 instead. We then had to get off earlier than anticipated because roadworks meant the stop we wanted was out of action – that did give us the chance to go through Kath’s favourite and undoubtedly best named tube station in the world – Schlump.

The rest of the day was all views (from the Elfie), cake and afternoon naps before heading out to the Arena to see Toruk (it was fab).


Sunday was meant to start with a run but Kath had a nasty migraine type headache so running was out. After we established that horizontal was worse than sitting or standing we went for a walk and slowly the air and gentle movement eased the headache and nausea and she began to feel better. We walked along the Isebekkanal for a while and did a loop coming back past my Oma’s old flat and then did a loop in the park ‘Am Weiher’ opposite across the main road just because, said hello to a couple of geese and then headed back for breakfast.


IMG_2758A little while later Kath said she felt better and would like to run so we got ourselves sorted and got the bus out to Planten Un Blomen which, bizarrely, I had never taken Kath to before. We started off running round the outside of the park mostly stopping on and off to take pictures. We past the ice-rink that gave me the scar under my chin. I’d forgotten the ice-rink completely and if I’d thought about it at all I don’t think I would have said it was there but as soon as we ran towards it, I recognised it and remembered skating out into the middle, turning round to skate back, making it to the edge, reaching for the edge, thinking I had it and then searing pain in my knee. None of us realised until a good few minutes later that my knee wasn’t the problem
but that I actually had blood pouring out of my chin which had spectacularly split open. The only other thing I really remember about that day is that it ruined my at the time favourite yellow top because there was blood all down it and it had to be cut off me because it couldn’t go over my head.IMG_2752


IMG_2774Anyway, I digress. We ran past the site of my first ever sporting accident (hm) and chatted away, stopped for pictures and looked at the autumn colours. It was stunning. We made our way past the museum of Hamburg History and looped round the end of the park before doing another little loop just for fun so we could run on a little trail and cross some stepping stones. Then we looped randomly round the gardens stopping to spend some time in the Japanese Garden with stunning colours. Then we hopped on the bus back, had some food and later drinks with the parentals.  Monday we flew back home.

Mid July to Mid August Round-Up

Wow, nearly a month without writing about running. That usually means I have fallen off the running wagon. Not this time really. I’ve been ticking over nicely. So here’s a summary with links to the more detailed posts about recent running.IMG_1952 2

So our Australia running adventures continued in Brisbane after a few days of not running as we completely relaxed in the rainforest on the Atherton Tablelands. We walked a lot but no running.

In Brisbane we had several plods along the Southbank and into the Botanic Gardens including a lovely parkrun meet up with our friend Jenny.

After Brisbane we had another stint of not running as we joined an Uluru tour out of Alice Springs although we did manage a plod in Alice Springs itself and did some walking during the trip.

Our final stop in Australia was Sydney where we managed a bit of running including one stunning 6 mile loop of Manly North Head before my ankles went a bit niggly and I mostly left Kath to it.

39515394_265814414237648_2206717328685531136_nSince we’ve got back we’ve not done too badly at all. We have managed to keep to a pretty good routine for both running and cross-training to support our running. We are on track with our Dopey Training (oh yeah – we signed up for that little 4 day adventure again) and getting sort of ready for the Great North Run which is scarily soon.

I’ve even managed to speed session last week – the trusted fartlek I’ve done before and then we had a lovely little adventure on Ilkley Moor where we tried out a new path which made a lovely little 6 mile loop and is certainly one we’ll do again. I also thought it was about time I ran 45 minutes continuously rather than stopping for photos etc so I tried last week but didn’t quite make it on the hills. Yesterday though I ran it all.

So it’s all going pretty well and we’ll just keep plodding along.

Australia (Not) Running 4

Following our 2 nights on the beach we moved inland and headed to Rosegums Wilderness Retreat. Just such a gorgeous place. We had three nights there in a tree house from which we could just see rainforest.

We didn’t run but we walked the 4 walking trails the retreat listed – 2 shorter ones and 2 longer ones. We looked for wildlife and hoped to see the inhabitants of platypus creek. We saw turtles there but no platypuses so here’s one from Yungaburra instead.


So while we didn’t run there, it did us good to relax, walk, sit and watch the rainbow lorikeets, sulphur crested parrots and countless small birds, listening to the rainforest noises and searching for the rather shy musky rat kangaroo.

All too soon it was time to leave and head for Brisbane where we did run. After Brisbane we headed for Alice Springs to join a tour to Uluru. We didn’t run on the tour. We had taken our gear just in case the opportunity arose but it didn’t. Although if we had thought about it more carefully we probably could have run round the base of Uluru – we walked it and just had a meeting point at the end of the walk so we could have just waited for everyone there. I have the GPS from that walk but I’m not sure if the satellite image includes any sacred sites which shouldn’t be depicted so I’m not posting it here. If anyone knows if it is ok to post the image let me know, we were careful not to take pictures in those areas and if the satellite picture from Strava is not ok I’ll delete it off everything. I just don’t know and google isn’t giving very clear answers on this.

After several hours on the minibus on day 1 we arrived at Kata Tjuta and had a little walk. Day 2 we did a walk round the base of Uluru at sunrise and had the chance to hear from an aboriginal women who showed us some of the rock drawings and told us about her people’s history and traditions. On the final day we had a longish walk at Watarrka with some stunning views most of which my phone camera has completely failed to capture. I was actually really happy with my fitness level as the steep steps up didn’t really bother me at all.

After Alice Springs we headed for Sydney and more running.

Australia Running 5 – The Towns and Cities

Brisbane running was fun. The Southbank was fun. The conference was rubbish but it didn’t matter. We just did our thing.


The first Brisbane run was on a Friday morning and we plodded along the Southbank a little, crossed over a bridge and went back in the opposite directions along a footpath and eventually into the Botanic Gardens. The cyclists were a little annoying but it was nice to be out and about. Cyclists were a theme in Brisbane – fast, rude and not always competent – and I didn’t really get used to them.

Saturday we met our friend Jenny who lives in Brisbane for the Southbank parkrun and Kath set off running and Jenny and I chatted and walked round. We’d never met in real life but we got on well and had breakfast together afterwards. On Monday we ran a loop very similar to parkrun and then on Tuesday we thought we’d go a bit longer and I really wanted to run 10km without walking. Well, not quite. I was defeated by the slope up onto the bridge on the way back. Things had got hard at about 4.5 miles (it was actually quite hot) and the slope at 5.5 miles made my legs go to jelly and refuse to carry on. I walked a bit, grumpy and then ran the rest to take us to 6.21 miles.

All in all Brisbane was good for running.

Alice Springs is a funny place and even after having spent time in Sydney after and now IMG_1724being home for 2 weeks I am still not sure how I feel about it really. It’s the place where ‘the State’ meets aboriginal culture and can’t cope so throws some tourists in for good measures. It feels like a microcosm of something although exactly what I can’t quite put my finger on. After sitting on a minibus for most of the previous afternoon, getting up and heading out the door for a little run felt both alien and exhilarating. We plodded along next to the river bed – the sandy dry river. It hadn’t rained since February and there was no water to be seen. We had a little cheer squad of parrots in a couple of places and as the sun climbed so did the temperature from a pretty cold few degrees when we set off to a pleasant warmth in the sun by the time we got back an 40 minutes or so later. It was good to be moving again.

IMG_1757Sydney was great for running. Our hotel was in a perfect location, close to the opera house and then the botanical gardens. We kicked off our Sydney running with a 4.5 mile plod across the Harbour Bridge and back down to the opera house and into the gardens. A proper tourist IMG_1761run with photo stops and stops to look at things. I struggled to get going a bit but it was fun. Running across the bridge was a very tourist thing to do (and possibly a commuter thing to do, too) and the views were great but in terms of running, it’s not actually that nice – it’s noisy and polluted! The climb we did a few days later was fabulous (and a little terrifying) though.



The next day we got the ferry to Manly and then set off on a run round Manly North Head. I was struggling a bit, feeling a bit tired and we ended up walking quite a bit and stopping for photos of course. It was a stunning route that started at Manly Beach and went along the coast a little to Shelly Beach before climbing up the edge of the cliffs and then heading inland a little. Going through the North Fort parade ground was a little weird and at some point we got our loop a little wrong but it was all fine and it ended up being a gorgeous run which we finished  with scrambled eggs on toast and coffee from a lovely little cafe back at Manly Beach and a walk in sand thus ensuring my happy feet.

After that my Sydney running dipped. My feet and ankles felt sore, maybe from running on hard surfaces more than I was used to. So on the next day I sent Kath off on her run and I jogged to the opera house, did a loop round it and then went back to the hotel. It was nice to be out but that was enough. On the last day I wanted to have a nice run following the route Kath had told me about along the edge of the gardens. However I hard a cracking bruise on my left knee, not sure where from but I’m blaming the bridge climb and it hurt with every step. My ankles were still tired too. I made it to the opera house again before deciding that being miserable is not part of my running deal – I persuaded Kath to keep going and waited for her on the opera house steps. I did a few stair repeats while I waited but they were a bit half hearted and in the end I just sat and watched the world go by.

Australia wasn’t a high mileage month at all but we did run and we had some really nice runs that made me realise how much I can enjoy it and that is something worth hanging on to – I like tourist runs!

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