On being half way – or not

Ok, well, we are half way through the calendar year. Nearly at the end of another academic year and nowhere near where I wanted to be in all sorts of ways. Earlier in the year I was storming ahead with ambitious research plans for my sabbatical, more ambitious plans for all the other things I’d do while not caught up in teaching and administration at work and with my bid to run 1000 miles this year. After a super successful December of running clocking up over 100 miles, January was the same (helped of course by Dopey) and then February and March also came close to the 100 miles mark. April was a little lower with tapering for London but still I clocked up nearly 60 miles. May and June were rather crap – I came in under 30 miles both months.

It’s not that I have just been sitting on my arse – although I have done rather too much of that too! So I didn’t run much in May, oh well, it was just after a marathon, perfectly justifiable rest. June – well, I started with some Washington DC running but then didn’t do much else. The running was all tourist running with lots of stops and excuses to catch my breath and if that didn’t work, I could always blame the heat. We did a few good walks on the rest of the trip and a couple of runs at Chesapeake Bay. Then we got home and I did nothing. I nearly pulled out of the Solstice Saunter on the 21st June because I didn’t like the idea of running 5 hilly miles on basically no training.

However, I did go do the Solstice Saunter and it was a beautiful run. It was hard but I ran quite a lot of it and just walked the hills really. I was expecting to be significantly slower than the year before but even with my stops for a few pictures along the way, a chat at the water station and walking the hills I was only about 5 minutes slower and I very much enjoyed it. Then I did no running for the rest of the month. I did do the 10k Leeds Legal Walk on the Monday after and I went to Pilates class on Wednesday and then we had a lovely 10 ish mile walk yesterday.

We drove up to Malham and parked up and walked to the cove. There were a few people about but not many and for a little while we had the cove to ourselves. We lingered and listened to the gentle gurgle of water and the birds. Then we made our way up the steps at the side of the cove to the top. We stopped to help some kids with a map who then got told off for asking for help. At the top of the cover we waited for the kids to get going and as we were about to set off a peregrine gave us a lovely little display before flying off into the distance. We crossed the cove and started our descent on the other side and because we were chatting went the wrong way.

We realised after about half a mile and doubled back and got ourselves back onto the pennine way and made our way onwards to Malham Tarn. There we sat at the water’s edge with a sausage roll enjoying the views before moving on. We headed towards Gordale Scar and started making our way down. I don’t really like down. We got to the first water fall and talked to a couple of people coming up – they said the next bit was wet and slippery and technical. We decided to turn back. When we got back to the top we had a little sit down and a look at the map. We knew where we were exactly but the path we thought we should take next rather than going all the way back to the road didn’t seem to be on the map. We took it anyway.

We walked along the ridge and eventually made our way down into the valley and bought an ice-cream at ‘Gordale Refreshments’. It was lush. We walked with it to look at Gordale Scar from the bottom. It confirmed that we made the right call not coming down the last bit. Lots of people were going up it and there was a bit of an audience and it was definitely wet and looked a bit steep and slippery. Up might be a possibility for another time but I am not sure I’d want to climb down it.

From there we walked on to Janet’s Foss and then back to Malham for a coffee and a chip butty and the Old Barn Cafe. It was a lovely lovely walk. We did very little for the rest of the day. Today was a complete waste of a day really. I never got going and got naff all done. At lunchtime Kath dragged my sorry butt round our sheep look and in spite of initially being anxious about actually running and finding it very hard it was good to be out and running. July starts more positively on the running front.

So half way. I am at about 420 miles. So about 80 miles behind my mileage target. I am disappointed. I started the year ahead and I let that slip. But I also think I can probably catch up if it turns out I want to. I’m not sure I do. I enjoyed the run today and I feel ready to run more again now but I might change my mind next time I run. So I am half way to wherever – it doesn’t matter. Let’s just see where I get to – miles, work stuff, other stuff. Or at least that’s what I keep trying to tell myself. In reality though I am grumpy. I am grumpy about the first 6 months of the year. I am grumpy about things not done and fitness lost and at the moment they are the things dominating my thoughts rather than the things achieved. Hm

Australia (Not) Running 2

After our Cairns run we headed north for a 4 night stay at the rather fabulous Silky Oaks Lodge. It was just a few minutes drive from a small town called Mossman but it felt a million miles away from everything.

We had a little treehouse and actually did very little while we were there.

I went snorkelling in the Mossman river twice

and we walked the grounds a fair bit often bumping into the brush turkeys (we’ve called them all Brian)

We also took part in a couple of the morning yoga classes which were a great way to start the day.

On our second day there we had a trip to north of the Daintree River for a 4 hour guided rainforest walk which was just amazing.

So it’s not like we did no exercise, we just didn’t run….

Walking in the Rain

The marathon training plan had a 4 mile walk yesterday and a 10 mile walk today. I was quite looking forward to both of these because walking isn’t scary – I can walk. The 4 miles yesterday we did once Kath had finished work and we fed the sheep on the way – it was just a nice little walk really even though neither of us could really be bothered. We just walked round in almost, but not quite, grumpy silence and ticked it off.

Today we had the 10 miles to do. We walked the 5 ish miles to Saltaire, had lunch and looked round Salts Mill (I bought a pair of shorts!) and then walked back. It’s probably a bit more than 10 miles door to door because the 5 miles were measured from the canal rather than from home when we ran it I think. It was drizzly on the way there but on the way back it was raining quite heavily for most of the way and we got soaked to our knickers. Still, it was nice to be out.

Walking doesn’t help with my depression/anxiety in the same way running does. Running gives me clarity and headspace that I am very conscious of, walking just helps me not think about anything at all. It’s probably at least as valuable because I suspect it is just letting my brain do its thing to get itself better. I noticed that after a little while surrounded by people I was overwhelmed by noise and busy-ness in my head. I was desperate to get back onto the near deserted canal towpath.

It was a good day for seeing birds along the canal. We saw a kingfisher early on and then a kestrel a bit further on. There were lots of ducks, geese and a few swans on the canal and we also saw some gulls. There were the usual blackbirds and blue tits, a few chaffinches and great tits but we also saw goldfinches and long tail tits. I do like them, they’re like little darts whizzing around and they always sound cheerful

It was good to get home and get into a warm bath and thaw out. It is funny how perception of distance changes – walking to Saltaire used to feel like a really really long way. Today walking there and back didn’t feel like such a big deal really. I was ready to be home with about a mile to go but that was just because I was soaked and getting quite cold. We’ve had a lovely tea of pasta with feta cheese, avocado and chorizo and are now both resting and drinking stupid amounts of water ready for our 23 mile training run tomorrow. I’d rather not think about that too much…