Monday, 7 May 2018

Last Week :o)





Early Purple Orchid in the woods

Female orange tip 

Buff-tailed Queen Bee


Fuelling marathon training with Pop on the hoof



Making friends with a baby donkey
A Handy Puddle to cool down in at sixteen miles
Team Romsey Hardy Souls at the Marlborough Downs 20 mile yesterday

Team Romsey (including Poppy) at the Harewood Forest 10k this morning

First dog home! She got a medal and all :o)
Not to be left out of the medal action

Just making sure everyone knows who really won it
The bluebells are out here in Hampshire. We're lucky that there are several fine bluebell woods off the beaten track within striking distance of home and I've visited lots of them.

A number of these woods have connected farmland whose hedges are home to singing yellow hammers and whitethroats and I've been enjoying listening to both species all week. Our resident cuckoo is also singing most days. Last night, M and I were eating supper outside when a swallow flew over. We watched as a bigger bird, hawk-like in flight, crossed his path, causing the swallow to change direction and fly after the bigger bird, driving it away. The bigger bird started cuckooing as he flew, and we realised what we were watching: something I've certainly never seen or heard of before, a swallow seeing off a cuckoo. Why? Cuckoos don't parasitise swallow's nests. Curious.

In the woods, the early purple orchids are flowering and speckled wood butterflies are busy twirling. I'm glad to have seen a female orange tip nectaring on the white bells at home. I will start checking the milk maids soon for her eggs. The hairy-footed flower bee has been busy on the lithodora, and the honey bees are going berserk for the apple blossom which has exploded this week.

Running-wise, I did my last twenty-mile run of pre-marathon prep on Saturday. I did three fast miles at parkrun in the heat, then came home and did another 17 with Pop round the lanes. It was hot but if it's hot on marathon day I can't wimp out because of the weather, and it's as well to get some training in in tough weather so I'm prepared. I took water for both of us and there were plenty of puddles along the route which Pop drank from and wallowed in, so she was fine. I finished it feeling strong, not especially tired or hungry or sore or over-heated. I had three doses of electrolytes over the course of the three hours we were running for, which I think helped, and a few jelly babies for added sugar. I've got used to doing the long mile runs now and really enjoy them. I'm thinking I won't stop once I've done the marathon as it's easier to keep marathon fit with one long run a fortnight than it is to drop down to short runs and then have to spend five months training up for the next one again (which we've booked for October. Exciting!).

Yesterday, M ran a twenty mile race over the Marlborough Downs in blistering heat. The second half had no shade. He ran an absolute blinder considering the hilly, hot and exposed conditions and completed it in a little over two and half hours. I've never seen so many runners collapse at the end of a race before though. They looked done in. There was also a 33 mile version going on. Hats off to those who tackled it. M wasn't fully well himself for several hours afterwards, a combination of having run London in hard conditions a fortnight earlier and probably being not quite fully recovered yet, and the heat washing salts out of his system. He's fine today but wisely gave this morning's race, which was part of a local village fete, a miss.

The honour there goes to Poppy, who was first dog home over a tough, hilly, hot six mile trail run through the Chalk and bluebells woods. She was a complete star, as always. She ran straight and fast and true, overtook loads of people and psyched many of the runners out as a result :o). Several people asked me how she managed it, they were all surprised when I told them it's because she's marathon training with me and she ran 17 miles on Saturday. I think people underestimate her because of her size, but Jack Russells are as tough as old boots. Good old Poppy. Ted was Chief Spectator along with M and both the dogs helped me eat my hot dog from the BBQ at the end of the race. A lovely morning out.

So, three weeks now till the mara and I've had a last-minute change of plan. The race M did yesterday runs over similar terrain to the Neolithic and it was stoney and rough in places. We talked it over and decided that wasn't the best ground for my knee (I've also still got a niggle in my big toe joint from the boggy half mara last weekend), so I've swapped to a road marathon instead. Same day, so all fine there. Just a mental/ emotional shift re preparing for a road race instead of a trail one in a different part of the country. It's all good though and the right, practical decision.

Happy Days!

Hope you're all well?

CT :o)

25 comments:

  1. Always a joy to read about Poppy's running adventures<3!
    And her mummy of course:)

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  2. I love the bluebell wood. Looks absolutely stunning.
    Lovely capture of the female orange tip.

    Your dogs are just so cute....great they got a medal too!!

    Well done all.

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  3. Lots of holly blues in the garden but yet to spot an orange tip. Glad all is going well despite the heat. Probably a wise decision to change course for the marathon. I dare say your second one will be a trail! Good old Poppy, such a star. B x

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    1. Second one is another road race up country. Third one may be a trail.... 😬

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  4. I take great delight in seeing photos and reading about your running dog Poppy. A well-deserved medal as always!

    Penn Common looks my kind of ground, a super place to stretch the old legs. I'm energized when I get to run on such terrain in such weather. I bet Poppy is too.

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    1. Landscape does have an impact on runs for sure. Penn common is one of the ancient forest commons. Wonderful spaces. 🤗

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  5. A busy old week by the sounds of things with lots of colour running alongside. Medals all round, Hurrah! x

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    1. Glorious time of year to be running. I forgot to post a pic of a George VI post box I found in Marlborough- your post made me notice it, thanks!

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  6. I have always wanted to see a field of bluebells in a forest. Just beautiful.
    Daughter is here for a visit and home shopping, she loves your sweet puppies. Especially the medals !

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. Bluebell woods are magical places. I just know you would love them. Have a super time with your girl x

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  7. Good old Poppy getting a medal. I think Ted should have his own for being Chief Spectator - it's a tough job and someone has to do it! Goodness, I wouldn't have liked to run in today's heat. We went kayaking, but it was quite cool on the water. Beautiful bluebells. xx

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    1. Kayaking sounds wonderful. Was that sea or river? X

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  8. What a family of superstars you all are. The bluebells are magnificent this year and we keep stumbling acrross bluebell woods as we explore our new patch. We have a scattering of bluebells on the woodland edge in our garden - as well as a tangle of bramble and nettle - and the other evening we heard one single cuckoo. I listened hard for the repeat but none came so perhaps he or she was flying over. I am loving the new house and garden but goodness me it is hard work - I think I may explore electrolytes to get me through the 12 hour days in the garden! I am hopeless at pacing myself ...

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    1. Keeping fingers crossed you get a regular cuckoo soon. Really looking forward to hearing more about your new place x

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  9. Poppy really is a little star isn't she and a well deserved medal too.

    Mitzi

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  10. LOVE that Poppy got a medal for First Dog Home, nice going Pops. And well done both you and M on great races, particularly M in all that heat. I pottered in the garden a bit and got in the car to go to Tesco and that was almost too much for me, so I am mightily impressed that he ran 20 miles in it. I hope he's all better now. It sounds like a good choice to avoid tricky, stony ground for your first marathon. Keep up the good work, it sounds like you're very well prepared. CJ xx

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    1. Being in cars and shops in hot weather is no fun at all. Thanks for the encouragement xx

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  11. Gorgeous photos CT. Wild orchids are just my favourite flowers. If you walk at Butser Hill do keep an eye out for them there too. And well done you and Pops on your running achievements. Great to hear that you are still doing a marathon. With the miles you've done it will be a breeze. xx

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  12. Poppy...the stage is yours little one! x

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x