hit counter
Wednesday
Jun052013

Lazy run

I was feeling a little lazy this morning, so I told myself it was a perfect day for a dawdling run taking photos. What follows is a picture-heavy post!

I ignored the first mile, that's just houses and pavement and stuff. Yawn. This is the part it starts to get interesting. 

Path

Across the road

Yup, the oil seed rape is out, and all the other vegetation has gone woomf. Plays a bit of havoc with the hayfever, but the various drugs seem to be working ok at the moment.

Through the undergrowth

The top bit of path might be a little overgrown. It's been dry for a bit now - I've been running it in trail shoes until today.

Brighton

This is from the top of the field shown above, looking back towards Brighton. Look! You can see the sea!

Lewes

Turning 180 degrees, this is towards Lewes. The road follows the ridge between the two valleys. Makes it breezy. 

Amex Stadium

Same spot, just down the hill. I get the view of the other side of the Amex Stadium from my office. Personally, I think it nestles in there pretty well, but I know it isn't universally popular. 

Falmer

The first view of Falmer. You wouldn't believe from this picture that the A27 runs between the church and the white house on the hill behind. 

Village Pond

I was trying to get a shot of the church and the pond and the trees and everything. It didn't quite line up. Back on pavement here, the running takes a little less concentration with better footing. 

Dual carriageway

From the footbridge across the aforementioned A27. Today was such a lovely morning even a busy dual carriageway looks kind of nice! Well, kind of. 

I should have taken a picture of the Falmer village pub too, because it was looking very picturesque. The rest of the route is along the A27 slip road before I turn into campus, so not so pretty. Still, not a bad little run on a day like this. 

Here's the elevation profile, for them as likes that sort of thing (me!):

Yay for sunshine!

Tuesday
Jun042013

Learning from shoes

Last night I tried to run in my huaraches for the first time. I've been wearing a pair of Xero Shoes for the last couple of summers, and they are supposed to be running sandals, but I've never felt up to running in them.

I lasted about 1.3 miles. My left foot was totally fine, but my right foot was having some issues with the string cutting in on my second toe. I would stop every 0.2 miles or so, straighten the shoe out, start running again and it would shift. I've been thinking about it, and I think that means I'm landing on my foot with it pointing out slightly. Not a lot, but enough that I then twist it back in when I pick it up and that tightens the string to make it uncomfortable.

Would it be a problem barefoot? I'm not sure. But it seems like that it is a fixable thing, so I'll experiment a bit more and see where I get. I don't anticipate running a really long way in these, but I'd like to be able to do 3, 4 miles comfortably.

It seems like every time I've reduced my shoe I've learnt something and tweaked it. Initially it was calf strength. Starting with the Vibrams and then the 500 miles in Vivo Barefoot Evos, I thought I'd got it cracked. Then I switched to my Soft Star Shoes Runamocs, and learnt that I was still pushing off. Now I'm down to the sandals, and it seems like my alignment isn't quite there.

shoes

Has it been worth it? I've dropped so much off my pace without doing much speedwork at all, I can't quite believe that it's just practice. I know my form has changed as well, and some of that must be due to the change in shoes. Sometimes though I wonder if it would be easier to stick with more conventional shoes! I have 400 miles on the Soft Stars now, and need a pair to do the marathon in January in (oh, did I admit that? I'm doing Disney again). Conventional shoes are more widely stocked, and it would be easy enough to walk into one of the running stores in town, pick a pair and start running. Instead of which, I'm taking a wild punt on yet another quirky-looking shoe - meet the Freet Footwear 4+1 Barefoot Shoe.

(Side note on the name there. Yes, a barefoot shoe is an oxymoron. I prefer the term minimalist. But what are you going to do?)

On the other hand, who wants to be conventional anyway?! I'll write a review when I've worn them a bit. Let's see what they have to teach me!

(Speaking of unconventional, I've just bought a pair of Rainlegs... Hopefully it'll be a while before I can review them, but you never know!)

Thursday
May232013

Picking up the pieces

The problem when I've had a very busy period is that I find they need a recovery period afterwards. I need to find all the things I ditched as being not immediately useful or relevant, and try and get them back under some sort of control. 

In some ways it's interesting looking at what got dropped, and what order they got dropped in! As best I can work out, anyway. It seems like the very first thing to go was my university blog. I was happily bumbling along giving weekly updates, and then suddenly I wasn't. That's fine, I was mostly doing them to give myself a sense of progress. Clearly I didn't need it any more. The question is whether I start doing them again or not? I'm not sure yet. 

Next on the list was this blog. Now part of that was that I didn't want to think on the weekends. The other part was that I wanted to blog our Berlin trip first, and somehow didn't feel up to it, and then everything else got put on hold behind it. Silly really, but it happens. Clearly I've blasted through that particular block now, so this is back on.

Cleaning hit the discard pile a few weeks back, sadly. I'd got into a nice routine where the kitchen and bathroom got deep cleaned on alternate weeks, and shallow cleaned on the other. Then they both just got a shallow clean. Then they got a wipe occasionally... Then Clarkie had to do them. On top of the cleaning she normally does. That's ok, for a really short while, and I take up the slack sometimes when she's got too much on. But not ok for the long term. So that is clearly back on my to do list.

I'd sort of got my email under control, then suddenly not so much. I went through it all yesterday, and was slightly startled by the number of read emails I had no memory of. If you think I owe you one, sorry, please try again now!

I had built up a nice little 10 minute mediation practise on a lunch time. That went, but fairly late - post-CHI. So the thing I was trying to turn into a habit to help in times of stress got ditched when times reached their most stressful. Go figure. I feel like I should try to get that going again, but it's taking more effort than the other stuff.

Sadly over the last couple of weeks running went too. Now that was more of a side effect of the cold I had; I couldn't run! I can't wait to get back at it, and hope to later today. Cycling also went, but that came back slightly earlier - as soon as I felt close to well enough. Granted it was very slow cycling, but that's better than nothing.

So what didn't change? Personal hygiene, you'll be glad to hear, remained right at the top of my priorities! A no-shower day is a very bad day indeed. Eating got a bit reduced (yes, I seem to have lost a little more weight - which is bad, actually) and main meals featured a lot of pasta, but at least 3 meals a day were consumed. And strangely, my lunchtime blog catch-up didn't go away. A little mental downtime seemed to help quite a lot, so that stayed. And my buy-nothing challenge was just fine! I still knitted, but switched to a more straight-forward project (plain stocking stitch) in the end, and did some other making-stuff sessions on the weekend (but very quick and simple ones). 

Hopefully I can get and keep things ticking again for a bit now. Bit worried I might swing back too hard the other way, but fingers crossed balance will be restored soon!

Tuesday
May212013

Hither and thither

Well, that was an unintended hiatus. Life has been happening at such a rate of knots around here that when I've stood still long enough to blog I've needed to just collapse! I shall try to fill in some of the highlights.

We went to Berlin at the end of March, for Clarkie's birthday and because we'd not been before. It was chilly, but sunny, and we walked everywhere. It felt like we covered a lot of miles, which was mostly because we did. I found it really interesting, but didn't fall in love with it. We did manage to get to a lovely free viola and piano recital at the Berlin Philharmoniker, and I took lots of photos of bears.

Berliner Bar

(The rest can be found here. Clarkie took much better 'serious' shots here.)

We managed to join my Grandad for his post-birthday golf session in early April. My Grandad is now 91, and still regularly plays at Haywards Heath golf club. By regularly, I mean twice a week for preference, either 9 or 18 holes, walking the whole way. He does now use a motor on his buggy at least. We joined him for a family match, with my Dad and Uncle playing against him, and my Aunt, Clarkie and me caddying. Given the weather we'd had up until then, we had a beautiful day for it even if underfoot was a little boggy. By any way that they tried to add it up, Grandad won.

The Von Martin Family Golfers

(Again, I am extremely grateful for Clarkie's camera work. These are some of the best shots I've ever got of my Grandad.)

At the end of April I was off on my travels again. Paris this time. If only I'd made it to London at some point. This was for a conference. CHI is THE big conference in my research area. I only had a workshop paper in, but it's still the first time I've had to stand up in front of a group of researchers (outside of my lab group) and present, so that was quite important. Fortunately it went pretty well (I think!).

I was staying about 3 miles from the conference near La Defense, and with our previous happy experience of cycling around Paris I decided to take my Brompton rather than figure out public transport. I'm really glad I did, it's such a good little urban bike. And I wasn't the only one who had that idea - the other one (with the white helmet attached) had a "Drakes of Cambridge" sticker.

Two little Bromptons

After Paris, Clarkie picked me up from Ashford and we went straight up to Cambridge for a long weekend with my parents, and my other Uncle and Aunt visited from Australia with my Grandad. I don't seem to have taken any pictures, but it was a fabulous weekend with lots of amazing food (Mum may have been slightly incapacitated after a minor op on her legs, but she still catered magnificently), wine, and great company. On the Sunday I had a lovely run with Denise (who is my aunt by marriage, and only 10 years older than me so she doesn't really like me calling her aunty!). I was thrilled to find that I could keep up and maintain a conversation. To be fair, she's coming back from a serious achilles injury, but still!

Since then, work on the project has been at a real peak. I'm just surfacing from that now, so hopefully (PhD-willing) I'll have slightly more time/energy to blog for a bit. I don't have any more international travel planned until August at least!

Saturday
Mar232013

Woooosh...

Hark! Is that the sound of time's winged chariot whizzing past once more? I believe it may be. Whoops. Time for a quick round up, I guess. 

The weekend after the Bath Half it was Clarkie's turn. The Cambridge Half this time. The weather had changed somewhat, and not for the better. It snowed for the build up and the first... oh, hour I'd say. Wet, sleety snow. I, however, was perfectly dressed for my role of jumping up and down and cheering like a loon as all the runners went filing past. 

Numpty

Note to self: Get rid of that hat. It doesn't fit. In that jacket and my waterproof trousers I often feel like I'm in my own reeeally small tent. I stay so dry and cosy. I had a cracking time, and it turned out I knew about 6 or 7 runners. Plus the first three home were from Brighton Phoenix, and at least two are regulars at Brighton & Hove parkrun (not that they knew me - they normally whizz past so fast they can't possibly see anything...). Sadly, although I had Clarkie's big camera with me I failed to take any decent photos, because she'd been playing with the settings and I didn't think to check. She didn't do as well as she'd hoped, but did finish in spite of the awful cold she had and the atrocious weather, so I'm calling that a win. She even (apparently) indulged in a sprint finish, due to a slightly larger gentleman trying to overtake her. Nothing if not competitive. 

Clarkie'd been playing with the camera settings to take photos while I indulged in a spot of parkrun tourism at Cambridge. Fortunately I thought to take my trail shoes, because it was fun! Oh, and muddy. 

DSC_2062

A fellow runner told me it was the first time they'd seen someone running in a woolly cardigan, but it was colder than I had expected. I think I took around 4 minutes off my Cambridge PB, but it's been around 3 years since I last run it which is cheating. Actually I beat my Brighton PB too. Looking forward to getting back to it. 

Last weekend I was a bit tired. I didn't exactly mean to, but I went and spent Sunday making a new cover for my Kindle. It worked out rather well in the end. 

Patchwork kindle cover

The material was a birthday gift 2 birthdays ago from Emma, so that's probably why they tone so nicely. I followed a tutorial from Clover & Violet, and I am really pleased with it. 

Tomorrow we are off for a few days in Berlin. Should be... Well... A little chilly I suspect. But fun even so. March has been really quite a good one so far!