20 Hilly miles up/down and around Portsdown Hill – a real confidence booster

With 3 weeks to the South Downs Trail marathon, today was all about elevation. In the end the best part of 20 miles and 2,000 feet were the result. Portsdown Hill is not only close at hand but offers many different routes up and down, basically it’s a win – win, beneficial and beautiful.

Setting off early I passed Fareham creek via Bath Lane recreation ground and was soon running the lower slopes of the hill within 2 miles of leaving home. Paradise Lane is an old track that I imagine is seldom used, with it skirting a large field, that’s away from the main road, ideal !!  The peace of this track was then lost as I got back onto the main road, it gets steeper but it’s a fairly short route to Fort Nelson and the monument to ‘said’ hero.

Across from Nelson’s monument there’s a style and a good ‘metre wide’ track that runs across fields with various crops until you reach Portchester Lane that’s also close to Crooked Walk Lane. I ran up and down both of these testing climbs and was off towards Southwick Hill that backs onto Portsdown Hill (PH from now on !!) The fact that I had the company of numerous cyclists meant I knew I’d chosen the right location.

Once Southwick Hill was run and I’d said hello to Charlie Fuller, who was out cycling, it was down and up QA hill and across the top of PH then down towards Cosham and back up. The temperature which had been rising was luckily replaced with cloud and I could retrace my steps back towards Crooked Walk Lane. Crossing the fields and back to civilisation I was grateful that the cricket pavilion was open at Bath Lane, as I topped up my drink, “thanks to them”.

All in all I was in a ‘world of my own’ for well over 3 hours running up and down testing hills in the countryside. Hills are very similar to life in many ways, they are a challenge but can boost your confidence once tackled, bring on those SDW hills 🙂 Next week, reps up and down the best of today’s 7 hills, the 3/4’s of a mile and 270 feet elevation that is Portchester Lane

DSCF3938   DSCF3943

11 miles of “Back to basics” , no garmin, just running in the sunshine

Today’s run was quite simply a pleasure. I decided to leave my garmin at home and just set off, no pace indicators, no stopwatch, no miles covered, not even really a plan of where I was going. Running in it’s simplest form equates to freedom, you step out the front door and off you go. Today I was “unplugged” and “stripped back” the only measure of my performance would be getting home in about an hour and a half.

The first couple of miles had a gradual 100 feet elevation (Gudge Heath Lane/ Highlands Road) and by the time another mile or so had passed I was leaving the Wickham road and heading across the tracks of farmer’s fields. The sun was shinning and as my girls would say I was “Loving Life”. The wide open fields and a slight breeze meant you could smell the lush green countryside and appreciate the space that you simply don’t get running along a pavement, with houses either side of a main road.

The next gradual incline towards Knowle village was alongside a hedge full of chirping birds, no doubt protesting at my very presence in their field. The crops to my right swayed in the breeze and could almost be mistaken for the sea and it’s tidal movements, a “sea of green” !! I crossed a road and joined the footpath towards the Bluebell woods which is a shaded area that I’ve seen deer in before now, none there today, had I frightened them off ??… “Oh deer” 🙂

Emerging onto Mayles Lane there are two descent hills and then you pass what would have been one of the old railway line station buildings, I do like the thought of running past some of the local history. Crossing the new railway line takes you onto the old track that used to head out up the Meon Valley. Today there were no steam trains just me puffing along. Under the motorway tunnel and I was onto a footpath that’s  parallel with the motorway and Henry Court school.

This track wind it’s way down to the bottom of Titchfield Hill and is quite uneven with bricks and stones that stick out at different angles, a technical section you could almost say. I ran the half mile hill on the grass verge so as to make it a bit more challenging and then all that remained were the couple of miles along The Avenue (again on the verge) back to Fareham. So as it turned out 11 miles of relaxing running in the sun, on a Bank Holiday Monday. I do appreciate how lucky we are to be fairly close to both the countryside and the coast 🙂 This is why Irunoffroad.

but Tuesday night, Butser Hill trig point !

Back on Track & when Nikki met Paula

Depending on who you ask, the answer to the question “How long should you rest up after a marathon” will vary, as with most things in life my motto is “If it feels right  – Just Do It.” So with Tuesday night being Fareham Crusaders main training night I decided to stretch my legs and get back into the groove. Cycling to work & back had certainly helped and apart from the dark clouds over head, I was looking forward to running.

After a busy weekend for the running club, Fareham Triathlon, Netley 10K, Bognor 10K and our marathon there was much to chat about. The group I chose ran around the Summer time trial, a largely off road route which by now had glorious evening sunshine.

Running and chatting with different club members is at the heart of a good club. We label ourselves as “All inclusive” and long may it last. I moved around the group and ran the later stages with my friend Nikki Smith who will be writing an article in our local newspaper, on the build up to, The Great South run. This also included the launch with none other than the current ladies marathon world record holder. She’s a great girl and I’m sure Paula is very nice too 🙂

I definitely made the right decision to run quite soon after my marathon and for “The day Nikki met Paula” just follow the link to her great Blog….. “Happy Running”


Arun River Marathon – I had a “shocking run” but there’s always Positives to draw on

The morning started at 7.20 when Mark Greenfield picked me up along with Paul Coates and Dave Fuller, we would be meeting Lucy Peazold and Sharon Gwynn at Littlehampton marina, the venue for today’s marathon. Spirits were high in anticipation of our challenging cross country run with the 14 degrees temperature, at 8am, being a talking point around what to wear. Much banter was made of my comment from the evening before that I couldn’t decide what to wear, deva/tart and “it’s not a fashion parade” were comments that I took on the chin 🙂 The best decision I made was to wear my cap, this proved a huge benefit !!

A group photo was taken outside the Boat House and it was 9am and we were off, a small field limited to 100 runners. The Arun riverbank has clumpy grass and nettles in places but in the main was fine to run on in road shoes. Running along the river was just  beautiful.

Arundel Cathedral and Castle came into view at 4 miles and a short detour through the town brought us back onto the riverbank heading for the first feed station, the Black Rabbit pub at 6 miles. I was aware that my legs had felt “heavy” today for no particular reason so Mark and Dave started to disappear into the distance, as Paul had earlier, and I slowed down a little.

We crossed the river at 8.5 miles and ran through a wooded cops with narrow tracks and a very bouncy bridge. On leaving the shade and approaching Amberley at about 1o miles it was clear the field was well strung out now and my legs weren’t getting any looser. The next section saw us joining the South Downs Way and the rise in elevation that was capped with Amberley Mount. I walked in a number of places were I would normally run and by the time I was approaching half way with 13.5 miles to retrace I seriously considered dropping out, something I haven’t done in nearly 30 years of running. Words of encouragement from our runners going in the other direction were greatly appreciated and it was good to see Luke  Ashton in 3rd place.

It’s at times like this you discover “What you are made of”, not everything in life goes to plan and how you deal with it is what’s important, “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger” etc. Added to this the views from the top of Amberley Mount reminded me why I run off road and how much I enjoy it.

As our two lovely ladies Lucy and Sharon overtook me at about 15 miles Lucy kindly gave me two paracetamol which did help, they too disappeared into the distance so it was now down to me and the conversations with myself, that I was having 🙂 The temperature must have been around 20 degrees and I knew I was on for the slowest of my 7 marathons to date. “Come on Rog, just keep at it, keep going, everyone else will be waiting for me” I mumbled these words to myself for the remainder of the run to keep motivated as the 12 minute mile pace on my watch wasn’t a pretty sight 🙂

The Black Rabbit pub at 20 miles gave me some much needed humour as I took the wrong path and ended up in the middle of the beer garden, much to their amusement and mine. At the feed station on the other side of the pub I was greeted with enthusiasm from people I’ve never met and will never meet again, so I’d like to say a big thank you to them, especially young Madeline who made me laugh. Buoyed by their enthusiasm and my dogged determination I was off heading for Arundel. With 4 miles left I had to start mixing walking with my very slow running. This part of the riverbank seemed to go on for ages and more “talking to myself” was required !!

Finally the last 100 metres came and in true Fareham Crusaders spirit, even though I’d kept them waiting my team mates were there to cheer me in , we have a great club, full of great people. Shattered but pleased to have battled through, my energy levels and sense of humour returned with South Downs Water and a cooked breakfast from the Boat House café bar (included in the entry fee). Great event, Great organisation and Great running/times for 27 miles from Paul 13th in 4.08, Dave 28th in 4.33, Mark 36th in 4.43, Lucy and Sharon 74/75th in 5.27 and me 80th in 5.37 but “That’s life”, it was a “tough day at the office” for us all . Role on the South Downs marathon in 5 weeks time, I will be looking for some payback after todays blip, having said that, I still love to @runoffroad !! 🙂

I learnt today that “The Voice” may have “Will-I-Am” but I have “Will-Power”

DSCF3925 DSCF3930

Taper 10 miles – QE Park run was the jam in a SDW Sandwich

Today was a 10 mile taper run ready for the Arun River marathon next Saturday. Rod Nairn was fresh from completing the 3 Forts marathon last week and joined myself and Paul Coates for a largely steady run. We parked at the Sustainability centre and followed the South Downs Way country lanes across to Butser Hill, were we met Paula & Darryl, who were also adding extra miles before the 9am QE Park run. Darryl had run the 3 Forts marathon the week earlier too !!

I persuaded our growing band of runners to pose for a quick video blog, so as to take in the view from Butser, (the highest point on the South Downs). The wind was blowing at the top of the hill but by the time we reached the park run start line it had calmed down. More Crusaders gathered at the start so Jim, Paul & Gary are in the photo below. The 5K park run was very well organised so thanks and hats off to them. It’s a “scenic” course which is estate agent “speek” for hilly. Great to see Emma Beattie too, who was running with her dog, (4 legs must be an advantage up hills).

Our return back to the car meant 3.5 miles with “only” Butser Hill left as the  main obstacle. The second part of my video shows the “Hell”- evation that awaited us. We all gritted our teeth and gave it most of what we had left 🙂 The light rain that greeted us towards the summit was quite refreshing along with the satisfaction of not walking. All in all a perfect way to prepare for the upcoming marathon, running hills with friends 🙂


15 miles : Coastal shingle, riverbank, 2 hills and great views from start to end


8am saw myself and Paul Coates arrive at the Warsash Rising Sun car park. This area is famous for sailing as it marks the end of the river Hamble, that then widens out to the Southampton waters and the Isle of Wight. Today we were running 15 miles as it’s now only two weeks to the marathon. Shingle coastal trail, riverbank and twice up a good hill, were on the menu.

The starter “as it were” was 1.25 miles, out and back, of varying amounts of shingle (see the photo below). As the wind was against us the harder going, under foot, meant a double dose of resistance training and the really exciting fact was that it would also be the “cheese board” of our route i.e. we would be repeating it as the last leg of the run. A good steady pace was maintained along the riverbank with wildlife and dingy traffic to watch as well as chatting.

The “main course” for our run was the 230 feet elevation hill from Lower Swanwick up to the Windhover Manor that we would run twice. This climb is in two halves with a false flat in the middle. The first time up was quite manageable and the second was just what we needed, “a good test”.  Ten miles done and still averaging 9 minute miles talk turned to the race its self with kit options and shoe choice discussed and in no time we were running past the boatyard and pressing on.

A small wooden bridge at 11 miles provided the ideal opportunity for a gel break and a quick video. Paul is convinced he looks like Brad Pitt, I will leave that up to the viewers decision/imagination 🙂 We passed the pink ferry that takes foot passengers cross the Hamble river and both agreed the earlier resistance training would be a fitting end to a good run.

After a bit of a laugh with two lady walkers and a group of hikers the shingle was concurred and the 15 miles done. Great company, great run and role on the taper with 10 miles next week. All this talk of food has also wet my appetite for replacing the 1,800 calories that I burnt 🙂