In which we storm a castle before breakfast

After my Friday learning stuff at Liverpool Uni, Ginge retrieved me from Kirkby station and we ventured down the motorway to Wales. We’re staying in Conwy for a couple of nights and Ginge very kindly offered to accompany me on an adventure run around the town.

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Our room is on the top floor of the hotel and Miles seem to appreciate being nearer to the sky so he can find those pesky satellites.

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I seem to be drawn to running near water – seafront, canals, rivers, wherever. Now, I’d love to claim there’s some deep psychological or meditative reason for this (though generally it does make me feel happy), but it’s mainly the simple fact that watery places tend to be flatter. Whilst Conwy does have enough water to warrant having a lifeboat, it’s also in Wales. Ergo there are hills. That’s not what I signed up for.

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Up and up the town walls we climbed…

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Up and up the stone steps, round and round the spiral staircases, until we were the kings of the castle.

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Working our way back down the uneven, slightly slippery stairways involved a little more caution (and downright girliness from me at times). Then it was through town, onto the quayside, back through the woods and up some more hills before returning to the hotel for a lovely breakfast.

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UPDATED – for Adele, yes we did see the smallest house!

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4 of 4

Running four times in a week should not make me as unfeasibly proud as I seem to be this morning. However, as it’s the first time in ages that I’ve managed it, you’ll have to let me have this one.

After the weekend’s autumnal runs, it was a return to darkness for the midweek ones. Tuesday’s intention was a 7 miler with Ginge after work. I am contractually obliged to try to weasel out of after work runs (the conversation tends to go something like “so we’re doing four miles tonight then?” “seven” “that’s three you say?” “seven” until one of us gets bored) and (even though I was actually looking forward to it) I duly obliged before getting changed. In the meantime it turned out tharp Miles had gone into hiding and it took twenty minutes of frantic hunting before he turned up in the pocket of my good winter coat (I still have no idea why), so we didn’t actually need my extra avoidance techniques.

After a mile or so, I looked at Ginge, Ginge looked at me and we realised that neither of us really wanted to do 7 miles in the dark and wet. We completely changed tweaked our route and diverted through the village. As we ran down a steep hill in the pitch black (both of us convinced that it had streetlights), Ginge remarked that the rain seemed wetter in the dark. When we returned to the lit path, we realised that the rain seemed wetter because it was wetter. With a mile to go, it was chucking down and we arrived home quite relieved that we’d adjusted our plans.

To reach my planned 4/4, Thursday morning was going to have to be an early morning one. I know I can do them, ultimately I enjoy them, but I hate the thought of them. Going to bed early would probably help, and yet at midnight I was still up (watching Batman of all things). I wasn’t optimistic for the next day. Normally, I wake up at 5.25, 5 minutes before the alarm goes off, and sure enough, I woke up before the alarm went off. Unfortunately it was half past two. And then four o’clock. And eventually 5.25.

I was dressed and ready for action in a record ten minutes. Unfortunately, once again, Miles had other ideas. Low battery and the presence of clouds caused us to go through the rigmarole of “are we indoors?” while he tried to locate his satellites. And then it started raining. Five minutes later I was cursing Miles for holding me up. Ten minutes later I was thanking miles for holding me as, in the time it took him to behave, the rain had stopped. I did my three miles and went home to read about the perfect porridge whilst eating my imperfect but very welcome bowl-full.

So that’s my week’s plan stuck to and completed. Tomorrow I will be running by the Welsh seaside and right now, this post is being brought to you from a a bench in Liverpool courtesy of my eGloves.

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The Fog

Or, thumbs up to thumb holes.

Oh, thumb holes how I love you

I woke up this morning to blue skies and sunshine at the front of the house. When I scampered into the spare room at the back of the house, I peered over the biggest ironing mountain in the world to see that there were frosty cars in the car park. This meant the first frost of the autumn and my first chance to wear my Mizuno long sleeved top with thumb holes. I adore thumb holes. Maybe it’s the inner sulky teenager in me, but I love being able to yank my sleeves over my hands…

Anyway, my plan for today was to do a quick three-mile out and back, just running, no photos, but seeing the frost made it seem like a good morning to have another soul run round the lodge. I decided to take my camera just in case there was some nice frost along the way and I’m very glad that I did.

As I ran down the hill out of the village, a thick fog cloaked the road and into the valley.

The view from the road into the valley...

...and the valley back up to the road

I couldn’t see across the car park and the view that met me at the top of the steps was a little different from yesterday’s run.

Compare and contrast with Saturday's version...

The greyness surrounded me (and everything else) and made it a little eerie. There were plenty of dogs (and their people) around and when one of them barked, somehow  it sounded loud but far away at the same time. It was calm and still, cold and bleak, but all the while I ran with the knowledge that there were blue skies just waiting to get through.

Foggy ducks

The, um, view across the water

So that’s two days of mojo recapturing done – this week I’ve got an after work 7 miler planned with Ginge on Tuesday and then an early Thursday to make four sessions this week. Oh and, I wore my new running shoes and didn’t notice them at all. I think that this is a good thing, but will give them a few more outings before I decide on my final verdict.

Make a little birdhouse in your soul

When I only have weekends to run in the daylight they start to take on far too much significance. From the middle of the week I think about it, just so that I can be certain that I will make the most of the day. Everything is invested in this one run. It must be perfect.

Well, there’s nothing like putting pressure on yourself is there? If everything did turn out perfectly, this would be great, but if the run’s not perfect (and inevitably it isn’t) then I feel let down and miserable. Or even worse than that, I spend so much time tying myself up in knots about going out at the perfect time on the perfect route, that I don’t even get out of the door…

Today I wasn’t going to fall into that trap. Today was all about running a familiar route and appreciating it. This is what caught my eye…

There were lots of autumn leaves...

...and lots of sheep...

...and some very serene swans...

....and the Green Man in the playground...

...and even more leaves...

...and the view that always tends to lift my spirits when I run this way...

...and of course, the aforementioned birdhouse.

A few weeks ago, PeopleRun wrote about rediscovering your running mojo and included my contribution – Run somewhere different, preferably somewhere scenic. Only about half a mile of today’s run was somewhere scenic, the other 5.5 were on the road, running (for the most part) the same routes that I hack out time and time again. I do stand by my own advice, but wonder if maybe sometimes it’s a question of looking around you and appreciating what you see?

PS. After my last apologetic post, abradypus asked that, if I found my missing running mojo, could I send some her way? I’m not claiming to have rediscovered mine (just as one swallow doesn’t make a summer, one run does not make a regular training routine), but I hope that this morning’s run helps both of us.

In which I apologise for being a slacker this week

I hate writing posts where I try to make excuses for malingering, but I haven’t posted for a bit and I suppose that it’s better than nothing (other people may beg to differ).

Miles is glaring at me reproachfully from his shelf in the kitchen. If the radio’s off, I can hear him, whispering. “Slacker” he says. He looks a bit sad. Sometimes he sighs. I try to convince him that I’m giving him a week off for his own good, but neither of us truly believe it.

I’ve not been in a good running routine since my dodgy ITB got in the way and this week I’ve not run at all.

The daft thing is, when I have been out, my pace has been good (for me), I’ve felt pretty good and (most importantly) I’ve enjoyed myself. It’s just that small but important part where I crowbar myself out of bed or shove myself out of the door that is letting me down. I even have a lovely new pair of running shoes to try out (forsaking my trusty New Balance for a go in a pair of Asics), but even that isn’t enough to persuade me. Like the ever radiant Dolly, I work 9 til 5 which means that my midweek runs are guaranteed to be in the dark. I don’t mind running in the dark when I get out in it, but at one end of the day I’ve grown very attached to my bed (the thought of my alarm going off at half five makes me shudder) and at the other, I’m just glad to get home, draw the curtains and have a lovely cup of tea.

I know that I can run consistently during the winter, Janathon proved that, I just need a big kick up the bum.