As an early trip for Christine’s birthday, we headed up to London on Saturday. Things didn’t get off to a great start as we just missed one train and then we had to stand/sit in the aisle the whole way as the next train was parked (Saints were playing at Arsenal later in the day). The main attraction of the day was to be the London Eye. We had to queue for tickets as we were intending to use a 2 for 1 offer as a result of coming by train. It then transpired that you need to have tickets to show for both of the people. Duncan being under 5, didn’t have a train ticket but, being over 4, would have had to pay the full child’s fee. In the end the lady behind the counter took pity on use and we got our 4 for 2.
After a quick detour in to the “4D Experience” (worth a look if only at no extra cost!) we queued up again to get on to the Eye. The queue was mercifully quick and within about an hour of getting off the train we were on board. The last time I went on the London Eye was part way through my stag weekend so I was looking forward to remembering more of the experience on this occasion! Although the blue skies from earlier in the day were starting to cloud over, there were still some good views to be had and everyone enjoyed the ride.
Our second stop was the Natural History Musuem where we got to join another long queue which meant lunch was a little later than planned. As we were sat in the restaurant Duncan declared that he was going to be sick but thankfully rallied in time to eat the large bowl of ice cream, sprinkles and chocolate that arrived!
The dinosaur exhibition is usually a must but having to queue yet again and then trapse round at the same speed as everyone else took the edge of things. Duncan was starting to flag at this point so we made a quick visit to the blue whale before starting to wend our way back home. Thankfully we made it to Waterloo before the defeated Saints supporters so had a peaceful seated journey back home!
Today was the day of what I believe was my first road half-marathon. I was taking it fairly seriously having picked a (hopefully) fast course at Gosport and had been following a Runner’s World training plan for the past couple of months. The final few hours of preparation weren’t ideal though: Emma had been up in the night and was then sick in car on the way to the event (as she was for my last half marathon!). My warm-up consisted of standing in the queue for the toilets, buying some gels to replace those I’d left at home, and then standing in the baggage queue before fighting my way to somewhere near the front at the start.
Going in to the race, my best guess was for a time somewhere in the range 80-85 minutes. I decided to hedge my bets and start out a pace for the first few miles that would bring me back in 82 minutes and take it from there. That pace felt pretty comfortable and it wasn’t long before I was dreaming about beating my PB of 79:06 from the Forest of Dean Trails Half-Marathon some 8 years ago.
Although I put in some good miles, I was struggling to push hard enough to maintain that pace and in the last couple of miles I was finding it pretty tough. My attempt to cross the line ahead of what turned out to be the third placed woman (!) had me bringing back up the last of the gels before picking up my medal.
All in all, I can’t not be pleased though. My chip time was 79:34 which was absolutely at the right end of my range of predicted times (indeed, much of my speed work had been done assuming a time much closer to 85). I’m currently showing as 49th which would also be great but there are a few people I know were there missing from the results. The main detraction from the day? It took us nearly an hour to crawl through the traffic just to get back to the far end of the course!
Last weekend was an orienteering double-header. On the Saturday, SARUM had put on an urban race round Salisbury. We took the train up there which the children enjoyed even if it was a rip off and I had to stand all the way from Romsey. Christine and I had split starts although her parents did arrive part way through. It did mean that the children and I got to sit and have lunch inside whilst the rain passed over! My run was decidedly average – no major blunders and only a couple of 30 second errors but, with 40 controls, the 5 seconds here and 10 seconds there all added. The 8k course length also ballooned to 13k by the time you took in to account all of the impassable routes. In the end, I finished in 10th place and 10 minutes down. You can see my scrappy route on RouteGadget.
On Sunday it was the November Classic, based at Round Hill campsite. We were responsible for the string course and were slightly concerned by the heavy rain falling as we drove to the event. Thankfully the clouds parted and we were treated to blue skies for the morning which, combined with our position adjacent to the finish and assembly, undoubtedly helped with the healthy turnout on our space-themed string course (prizes courtesy of Astrium). I had an enjoyable run (not much technical navigation to be done) on the Brown course with only a couple of errors putting me 30 seconds behind Richard Barrett. Looking at the routes suggests he had a few blunders but likewise I could have easily made up that time on the long leg to 14 if I’d just stuck to the path route. He’s an M40 anyway so I could still claim a SCOA Championship medal! The only downer on the day was that the rain returned before we had everything packed up but we were extremely grateful to the other club members who took the kit away to dry it.
Last weekend it was the CompassSport Cup final over in the Forest of Dean. Southampton had failed to make it to the final but we went and spent the weekend there all the same as a) lots of Christine’s relatives were competing and b) it was her cousin Cath’s birthday. All in all a good excuse to have a bit of a family get together. We were staying at CSMA Whitemead as on previous occasions. With two Wilson children, two Currie children and two Ashton children they could amuse themselves for much of the time.
A few of us went to the warm-up orienteering at adjacent Park End on the Saturday afternoon. It was quite fun although there was a torrential downpour for about the last third of my course. Christine and Ian even ran back to the accommodation as they were too wet to get in the car! On the Sunday, I went for a long run around the forest whilst others went off to the CompassSport Cup final. I’d failed to really plan a route before setting off so it was a bit shorter than intended.
It was sad to leave after lunch on Sunday when the children were having so much fun together but it was probably no bad thing as the heavens opened again soon after.
Duncan turned four this week and boy did he get to celebrate it: nursery, home, playgroup and then a party today! With Tree Fu Tom as the theme, inspiration was lacking when it came to cake decorating and we decided to just order a cake topper. Unfortunately when it arrived, they appeared to have inserted “6th” in-between “Happy” and “Birthday”! They agreed to send another and so I get to test out the faulty one on the cake that we had at home on his birthday. Barring the white space that you can see in the photo, it looked pretty good. Sadly, when it came to the cake for his party, the topper was a little more stubborn in leaving it’s backing paper and needed piecing back together again. I suspect we managed to whisk it away to be cut up before anyone really noticed!
The party seemed to go well enough otherwise. I think we were all glad that we only had 10 children in the end (plus parents) and it remains to be seen whether we have any more parties at home! Duncan (and Emma) seemed pleased with the selection of presents and, in particular, the Hex Bugs that we bought appear to have been a hit. Duncan hasn’t yet mentioned the lack of a gun that he coyly asked his granny for. Hopefully that was just a passing phase! Now we can relax for 7 months until the next party!
We’re on the hook for organising the string course at the November Classic spurred on by the fantastic courses on offer at the Scottish 6-Days. The event will be based at Round Hill campsite in the New Forest and we headed down there today to do some surveying for the map and plan a course. Despite the morning showers we were treated to some beautiful blue skies and, as well as discovering lots of exciting control sites, we filled a few tubs with the end of season blackberries. I also managed to squeeze in an hour’s run so all in all it was a good day out. Let’s hope the day itself is equally enjoyable.
It was the Hursley 10K today and this year the weather was a bit kinder to us. It was my turn to run in the main race and I felt pretty good as I set off out the field in second place. The guy out in front just continued to pull away and eventually finished two and a half minutes clear. I and another run exchanged places for second up until around 6k where I started to get a splitting headache. This was bad timing as I just couldn’t push myself up the hill on the gravel track. There was then a steady stream of runners passing me and I ended up finishing in 8th place. My thanks go to the runner from Lordshill who encouraged me on across the last field which meant me finishing time of 38:45 was still marginally quicker than two years ago. Still not sure what brought the headache on (it still hasn’t quite left me yet). It may have been a lack of fluids (it felt very humid and I was certainly sweating buckets at the end) or it may be the start of a cold (I’ve certainly had a sore throat the past couple of days).
Emma was entered for the fun run and was determined to run round on her own this time. However, she met a school friend when warming up on the bouncy castle (!) and they ran round together. She had a big smile on her face at the end which is the important thing.
I’ve been past it numerous times when running from Rufus Stone, including last Tuesday, but I’ve never been in to Furzey Gardens. It’s probably not the best time of year to visit plant wise but that’s not the main reason for visiting. Interest peeked by the two at the Royal Oak, Fritham, we went in search of fairy doors! I thought we were going to get round in no time at all given the small size of the site but we managed to occupy ourselves for nearly three hours (just as well given the £18 it cost us to get in). There are supposedly around 40 doors to be found. We weren’t counting but I don’t think we were anywhere near discovering them all. It was amazing how much delight both Emma and Duncan had in finding each tiny door and they also approved of the tree houses and boat in the play area. I don’t think we’ll be regular visitors but it was a fun way to spend a morning.