Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

Half Term Action

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

Although we had no particular plans, I had the whole of the February half term off work. We went over to Wales for the first few days. I had a lovely long run in the Forest of Dean on Sunday whilst the others went around the sculpture trail. Christine drew the short straw as she got to run back to Monmouth just as the Arctic conditions arrived.

The next day we had to shovel the snow off the driveway before heading over to Llangorse Activity Centre. Christine wanted to cement the skills she’d learnt on her rope handling course whilst her Dad was around. Sue and I went for a short walk up a snowy hill!

Unfortunately, the weather deteriorated again as we headed back to Southampton. Not surprisingly, therefore, we weren’t the only ones to have the idea of going to the Winchester Science Centre and it was Thursday before I could actually book a ticket. By this time we had blue skies but it made a nice change to actually be able to sit outside and eat our lunch. The children enjoyed the special ‘Secret World of Gases’ show even if only for the loud bangs. I was less sure about the ‘We Are Aliens!‘ film in the planetarium but you could always just lie back and close your eyes… The same was true of our rather belated trip to see Paddington 2 the following day!

Christine took up the reigns again at the weekend with a trip to Mottisfont. I only made it as far as the car park, running back home instead.

Marathon training begins

Sunday, January 14th, 2018

I finally cashed in my prize from the Hursley 10K for an entry in the ABP Southampton Marathon on 22 April. The entry may come free but sadly the training does not! This week I embarked on a training plan. My starting point is one from the London Marathon site. For me, it primarily means running one more day a week than I typically average and mixing things up a little with intervals and, of course, ever longer runs. On the few occasions in the past where I’ve followed a training plan, I’ve quite enjoyed the variety as, left to my own devices, I’m prone to just churning out the same old runs at the same pace.

Sticking to the plan is unlikely to plain sailing. There was already some flexibility needed this week with visiting colleagues disrupting my normal lunchtime routine. There are already a couple of overseas trips in the calendar for the coming months and the weekend of what is supposed to be my longest run, I’ll be racing four days at the JK! Sadly I’m also not entirely injury free, with a long-term problem with my left hamstring and my right knee never having quite recovered from the jar it took in the long grass at the Caddihoe Chase. Stretching and strength training therefore also form part of the plan and they’re probably the part that I’ll find hardest to keep going!

All of this begs the question “So do you have a target time?”. That’s a tricky one. Having finished the Clarendon Marathon in 3:26 at the end of last year, aiming under 3:15 for a London Marathon good-for-age time seems like a reasonable start. Back in the dim and distant past the power of 10 claims that I completed the distance in under three hours but I’m somewhat dubious about the course measurement. That was also over 10 years ago but this will be the first time I’ve run a road marathon so should I be aiming for something a bit more ambitious? Let’s just see how the training pans out…

First orienteering of 2018

Monday, January 8th, 2018

Some years seem to go by where we don’t make it to a single SCOA league event; this year there’s only been one Sunday so far and we already have one in the bag! As we pulled up at a sunny but windswept Cadnam’s Pool we certainly weren’t the only ones (there were over 90 entrants on the blue course).

Emma and Duncan zipped round the yellow and white courses respectively. (Kieran had been quite generous with the smiley faces on their courses given the difficulty of following paths buried in mountains of damp leaves.) Christine ran the blue and I tackled the brown (which if nothing else meant no queueing at the start). My legs were certainly tired from the previous day’s exertions but I suspect at least half of my eleven-minute deficit behind the winner was simply due to lack of concentration. I regularly run through the area (sometimes at night) without a map but I can’t claim that helped one iota. It was just nice being out in a lovely runnable bit of the forest though.

Hants XC

Sunday, January 7th, 2018

The Hampshire Cross-Country Champs were back at Fairthorne Manor again this year. With some heavy rain over the preceding few days, it was a return to the conditions of two years ago: mud and more mud. It could have been worse though as the route of the course steadily evolved over the day as the tapes were adjusted to avoid some of the stickiest spots.

As is customary, the ladies race went first and the children and I flitted from one part of the course to another to catch sight of Christine as many times as we could. I then left them to meet her at the finish whilst I stripped off more layers than felt advisable and had a quick warm up trying to find the toilets (they had been right behind me!). I started fairly steadily but, for a change, after the first two laps I was still overtaking people and wasn’t experiencing any heaviness in my legs or nausea. I finished in a fairly respectable 56th place, fourth V40 and, together with my Eastleigh teammates, we bagged third place in the veteran team competition.

(Photos are Copyright hammy8241)

Run some Pubs

Sunday, December 17th, 2017

Just to record the event for posterity, “Run the Pubs” did take place in 2017. As in the past few years, we deviated somewhat from the original format in that the pubs we visited on the run weren’t all those that we visited during our Tuesday night runs in the summer. This year,
we even went to one pub that we hadn’t been to earlier in the year but it made a nice loop of around 15 miles. Unfortunately, the heavens opened towards the end of the run but it made warming ourselves by the fire at the New Forest Inn all the more pleasant!

Elevation Profile
Speed Profile

Balaton Biking

Saturday, August 26th, 2017

For the final instalment of our holiday we headed north again to the shores of Lake Balaton. At 77km long it is the largest lake in central Europe and the closest thing Hungary has to a sea. We were staying in Keszthely at the western end of the lake. Having checked in to our accommodation, we went for a leisurely walk along the waterfront. Between the outdoor fitness equipment and the playground full of wet-play equipment, we whiled away a good few hours before heading in to the centre of town in search of food.

The next day we made use of the facilities provided by our ‘wellness hotel’. This included free bike hire and we spent the morning cycling along the long-distance path that heads around the lake. This was obviously a popular past-time as there was a steady stream of cyclists, including many carrying their camping gear. When we stopped for lunch I was approached by a man to ask why we were there! It was a reasonable question: he was English and was the only English person we’d met since leaving Budapest. Keszthely was full of tourists though – just mainly German-speaking including, we suspect, many of them Austrians from just over the border.

Back at the hotel we checked out one of the three pools at the hotel. Whilst this may sound very grand, the combined volume of the three pools was probably half that of the learner pool at our local leisure centre! They were perfect for cooling off in though as the temperatures were once again on the rise. Having worked our way through table tennis, table football, pool and darts we walked in to town again and wandered the grounds of the magnificent Festetics Palace. I managed to persuade the family not to have pizza or pasta for dinner again: instead we went to a Mexican restaurant!

The next day was our last in Hungary and we started to wend our way back towards Budapest, taking the scenic route along the north side of the lake. We stopped at the Tihany peninsula which was a real tourist honey pot. We had intended to go for a walk but spent most of our time there in the Lavender House Visitor Centre. We’d really only intended to go in to use the toilets but the entry fee was such that we stayed to watch the film and then wandered around the exhibits. We did make it up to the Abbey briefly before continuing on our way to the airport.

And so concluded our holiday, only slightly marred by a long drive home when we discovered, rather too late, that the M3 was closed for overnight works. We’d thoroughly enjoyed our time in Hungary despite the heat and would certainly consider a return visit although there are so many other countries still to explore…

Orfu Orienteering

Friday, August 25th, 2017

The next leg of our Hungarian adventure took us to Orf?, a small tourist village, half an hour north of the city of Pécs (where we stopped briefly to stock up at Tescos!). Orf? sits beside a string of lakes on the edge of the Mecsek hills (the highest mountain in Hungary is only just over 1000m). We checked in to our shady apartment and then walked down to the village hall where registration for the Hungaria Cup was taking place. There was a bit of queue for the ‘foreign clubs’ and we didn’t help! We had underpaid and, to make the sums harder, I’d paid in Hungarian Forints but the transfer had arrived in Euros, and I wanted to pay the balance in Forints!

The next day, we walked to the assembly area for the orienteering and then promptly had to retrace half our steps to the start which was high on the hill above the apartment. Thankfully they had decided to let the open courses start whenever they liked so Emma and Duncan went to the start with Christine and set off together. They were on the taped course, a great idea which allowed them to either follow the tape the whole way (as they did on Day 1) or make the course significantly shorter by following the obvious shortcuts on the map (as they did on subsequent days). I struggled on the steep climbs in the heat but, at least travelling slowly, I didn’t waste much time on navigational areas. Afterwards, we cooled off in the aqua park by the lake which was free to competitors.

Day 2 had the same assembly area but we drove this time as, with starts after twelve, we didn’t want to walk there in the midday sun. Thankfully my course was 2km shorter but I still didn’t manage to break 10 min/k. Emma failed to punch one of the controls despite having been with Duncan but the organisers were sympathetic and reinstated her. After the day had cooled a little, we climbed up the lookout for views over the surrounding hills.

The assembly area moved for Day 3 and the courses got shorter again for a blast around an area filled with massive sink holes. The terrain obviously suited Christine as she won her course bringing her up into third place overall. We didn’t discover this until after the prizegiving though (which took place every night at the event campsite followed by a disco until midnight which we could hear across the valley from our apartment). We headed into Pécs to take in the Turkish architecture and an ice cream. With temperatures still in the high 30s we didn’t last long though.

The assembly moved again for the last two days to the neighbouring village of Abaliget. Christine was off early and took the children with her. She improved her position again, finishing second. The children made it back before her though and even had an interview with the commentator. I had a late start and, after some early blunders, was caught four minutes by the leader of my course. I was pleased to be able to hang on to him for the middle section. We made a return trip to the aqua park afterwards.

The final day of the orienteering was a chasing start, or at least it was for Christine. My cumulative time was more than 40 mins behind the leader which meant just starting off at minute intervals. We were back with the sink holes again and I had a pretty clean run, finishing second on the day which brought me up to seventh overall. Christine was also second which meant she retained her third place overall and secured a place on the podium. Thankfully she didn’t win the 12 (screw fit) light bulbs the men got but we did have a bottle of wine and 3 litres of apple juice to drink before leaving the country! We took the cave tour afterwards which was an interesting experience given it was all in Hungarian. If nothing else, it was nice and cool.

After one last night in the apartment, it was time to say goodbye to Orf? and head north for the final chapter of our holiday…

For those who are particularly interested, these are my routes from the five days (although my GPS failed to get a lock at the start of Day 1).


Sunday, June 4th, 2017

Emma reached double-figures last week and, conveniently, the school had scheduled an Inset day so that she and her friends (and Duncan!) could celebrate by going donutting at the dry ski-slope in Southampton. They all had a whale of a time although, with the requirement to wear helmets and full body cover, frequent refreshment stops were required in the midday sun. (Also, drag lifts require a little more effort when you’re not actually wearing skis!)

Thankfully the chalet where party tea was held offered plenty of shade. The activity also made a good theme for the cake although I think I put about as much effort into constructing a sloping stand as actually decorating the cake itself! Once we’d seen everyone back home we packed up the car and joined the Bank Holiday traffic for a weekend of camping near Corfe Castle.