In which I get up very early to enable me to hobnob later in the day

During Sunday’s mudfest, I asked Ginge if he would be running with me on Tuesday, he agreed, we said we’d do 5 or 6 miles. Sorted. Until ten minutes later when I realised that I couldn’t run after work because I had won tickets to the preview evening at the new Booths supermarket that is opening at Media City in Salford (where half of the BBC has been redistributed).

This would be my first dark morning run since last winter (somehow I kept them up all through Janathon). The alarm went off at half five. I dragged myself out of bed and peered through the blinds. It was dark (which I had expected) and it wasn’t raining (which I had hoped). I scuffled round in the chaos of the spare room to find the rucksack that I knew contained my hi-vis. It wasn’t there. I went back to bed.

“I can’t go running” I said to Ginge “I can’t find my hi-vis”.
“It’s in the porch” said Ginge.
“That wasn’t the answer I was looking for” I said.

I got up again, went downstairs and found my hi-vis in the porch. I went back to bed.

“I can’t run because I don’t have any audiofuel on my shuffle at the moment” I said.
“zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz” said Ginge.
I realised that was a pretty shameful excuse not to run, so I up I got, rummaged through the kit drawer, got dressed, set Miles to do his thing, trainers on, out of the door at 6.00.

“Are you indoors?” said Miles…

After nearly ten minutes of lurking nonchalantly in the alley next to our car park waiting for Miles to get a signal, I set off without him (he caught up at 0.2 miles today) and only had time for a quick two-ish miles to shift the cobwebs. I’m very glad that I went because I know that it should be easier next time. I’m also glad that I went when I did because the rain came just as stepped foot back inside the house.

Anyway, the morning run freed me up to enjoy the champagne and canapés at Booths. For those of you who aren’t lucky enough to live in Lancashire (or bits of Yorkshire/Cheshire/Cumbria), Booths is a magnificent regional supermarket who specialise in lots of lovely interesting and local stuff. The branch in our town has always been frequented by older customers who can have a chat with the friendly staff and buy a couple of rashers of bacon for their tea (I have done this myself…) as well as foodie types, hip young things and the bloke who I saw buying 35 pots of hazelnut yoghurt (and 1 blackcurrant) a little while ago.

Mini-cake and champagne

The Media City branch is going more for the foodie/hip young thing market rather than the older/yoghurty demographic (although Ginge did overhear a couple of more mature chaps who were comparing it to other stores in their I-Spy Book of Booths; it lost points for having stairs). As such, the presentation just seems that bit sharper and more styled than other branches.

All very artisan and rustic

Welcomed with a glass of champagne and music from the BBC Philharmonic, we proceeded to circulate around the canapés aisles. More often than not, we found ourselves in the beer aisle (and with over 200 types of bottled beers, that’s a terrible hardship to bear) which was better than the times that we found ourselves thoughtfully perusing cat food.

I could have been 72p up on the night if Ginge would have sat nicely on the shelf

I entertained myself by playing Booths Bingo (spotting a set of slightly specialist items), scoring 3 out of 4 with Symington’s Table Creams (I’m now very disappointed that Dr Oetker has dumbed down and appears to have scrapped the maple and walnut flavour, damn you Oetker), Force Cereal and Milo (I couldn’t find Camp coffee essence to collect my prize). I also realised that I lack the grown up skill of sipping from a champagne flute without looking like I’m necking it back like an uncouth ruffian.

What a magnificent fellow!

It made me incredibly proud that we have a chain like Booths in the area. I love my trips to Waitrose when we venture down south, but this is proper local stuff and is proper good stuff. It makes me happy that there’s people who love food and somehow manage to balance the very traditional with the very modern, the everyday brands with the small local producers, the stylish presentation with the friendly service. They also gave me a lamb chop encased in pastry – this made me very happy.

In which I end up caked in mud to review my new trail shoes

Today’s run wouldn’t win any prizes for speed, but it was bloody good fun! We’re lucky enough to have a lot of fields, woodland and nature reserves round our way, and today seemed like a good opportunity to make my shiny new New Balance trail shoes a little less shiny and new.

I’ve only ever run through the fields when it’s been dry (I don’t think that I went through them at all this summer) and with the company of Ginge (due to fears about a. getting lost and b. men with dishonourable intentions). With the new shoes, the previous night’s rain wasn’t going to be a problem. I took Ginge because he knew where we should go (having spent his formative years climbing trees and causing mischief in these parts) and is excellent company (so you can rest assured that I don’t just take him as a bodyguard/satnav).


We have to do about half a mile on the road, to reach the fields and while we both missed the cushioning of our usual trainers, it was surprisingly comfortable. Especially as I had expected to be clattering along like a goat across a tea tray.

Low cloud over Rivington, there's a telly mast under all of that.

As we hit the mud (almost immediately after leaving the pavement), the next adjustment was learning to trust the grip of my shoes. I have never had a problem getting wet or muddy when I run, I just worry about the potential embarassment/A&E attendance involved with falling on my arse. Apart from one incredibly squelchy and slidey bit of field, where it all went a bit Bambi on ice, I felt pretty confident that I was going to stay upright throughout the run.

That way to London

Ginge’s local knowledge took us into one of the nature reserves (where our planned loop was blocked by the presence of great crested newts), across the railway, through some fields, back through a bit of woodland, through some more fields, along a lane, back into the original fields and then home. It was a mix of paths, nearly paths and mud. There were quite a few stops to look at things, a few to marvel at how much more knackered we both felt (Ginge’s official verdict was that 4 miles off road felt like 10 on pavement) and a couple for me to question whether Ginge’s 25 year old mental maps were correct (they were). The running bits in between felt fantastic.

Ginge takes me to the nicest places.......

When we were nearly home, we passed two girls walking their dogs. They were wearing wellies and carefully picking their way through the field, occasionally squealing at the drama of being surrounded by mud. As we splashed past, I overheard one of them say “uuurgh, look at them”, but I think that she was just jealous.

This bridge is deemed a danger to the public. Health and Safety gone mad.

Shoe-wise, my 749s felt comfy and supportive. When I’d tried other shoes on, my ankles had immediately felt precarious but after this first trial I would heartily recommend these to any fellow over-pronator looking for a trail shoe.

Ginge's feet post-run. Note the whiteness of the Gortex clad socks.

Ginge (who’s more of a neutral to under-pronator) also loved his 573s. When we bought them, he was offered versions with or without Gortex and only went for the Gortex because he had no choice (they didn’t have his size in the others). With hindsight, he is extremely happy about this and says they’re really good because you can “run through what you want; the deepest puddle, the muddiest puddle – your feet will be dry, even if they seem as if they shouldn’t be”. Apparently the Gortex sock inside the shoe makes it a bit more snug and takes some getting used to, but it’s definitely worth the extra money. I wouldn’t know…

Compare and contrast the above with my non-Gortexed feet.

I’m struggling to convey the utter joy that I felt in just pelting along, not caring about anything (especially not pace or distance). I felt free and happy and childishly giddy. Even hills didn’t seem so bad. I honestly don’t think that I have ever grinned so much whilst out running.

Marvel at the amazing over pronating lady! Gasp at the fact that she ended up even muddier than this by the end of the run!


All you need is glove

On Monday, I received a pair of these from the lovely people at eGlove:

eGloves waiting for action

Basically, they enable you to stay warm and use your touchscreen gadgetry at the same time.

On Thursday afternoon, my iPhone had a brief but dramatic interaction with some tarmac and now looks like this:


Between Monday and Thursday I spent brief spells:

a) Pretending to be a supervillain
b) Doing jazz hands
c) Being a mime artist trapped in a box

A more comprehensive review will follow once I’ve battled the labyrinthine technicalities of O2 customer services and have a phone that doesn’t shed shards of glass.

In which I explain how I have been double crossed by my Garmin

I wish I could claim that my last one line post was part of an elaborate teaser campaign to generate interest in the next post. It wasn’t. Put simply, I am a numpty who cannot remember to set the post status to ‘draft’ when using the WordPress iPhone app.

Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, Miles and I have fallen out.

For the uninitiated, Miles is my virtual training partner on my Garmin. I rarely race against him, but sometimes he nags me to go a bit faster and often he surprises me by reporting that I have not run as far as I thought I had. He cheerfully bleeps at me, I mutter dark curses and threats back at him. He paced me well through the Blackpool 10k, but after a couple of miles at Folkestone, it became apparent that we had entered the race with very different expectations and I threatened to throw him into the sea if he didn’t shut up.

I thought that we had got over this disagreement, but it seems that he’s been brooding on our last argument. Yesterday’s early run didn’t happen because of laziness my energy efficiency plan and was replaced with a three mile post-work there and back in the company of Ginge and his ruby slippers.

Miles went outside to get a signal. No luck. Try again. Nope. “Are you indoors?” he enquired. “No, I am not bloody indoors. This is outdoors. It is dark and raining, those are the clues”, I snapped back (Ginge distanced himself from me at this point, even though we were in the back garden and no one could see or hear me). We tried again. And again. By this time, Ginge was getting a bit restless and, through gritted teeth, I suggested that we set off without a satellite signal. I knew that this was going to end in tears.

After half a mile or so, Miles managed to find himself but it was too late; I didn’t know who to trust anymore. I know where the turnaround point at 1.5 miles is, but Miles said something completely different. We went to see some pigs at a farm (but could only hear them in the gloom) which added another quarter of a mile (ish) to our route, so I had even less of an idea about our distance. As we got nearer home, I knew that we had done more than 3 miles, but Miles said less than that. I was torn – do I trust my own knowledge or do I round up to 3 miles as according to him? Even though I knew that would be more than 3 miles…

I took a deep breath. And stopped. With Miles saying 2.88 miles. I can’t tell you how twitchy it made me by not rounding up to three. Miles also said that my first half mile was at a blistering pace of 15 minutes/mile, which is a bloody outrageous lie and I’ll have him for saying that.