20 Miles of Rhyming Running – Lee to Stokes Bay & back * 2

lee side pierlee pier Late 1930’s Lee On Solent Pier and cinema complex

As I run, I often wonder what my route would have looked like in days gone by, black and white photos can magic you back to that point in time, easy as pie. Once you have those pictures in your head, then your run takes on a new dimension, as the young person that took that photo, is now probably collecting their pension.

I wouldn’t normally run the same route twice but last weekends sun meant too much heat, there just wasn’t any fresh air, even though it was mainly coastal and only partly street. These 20 miles today mean vaseline on my toes, after all, you have to look after your feet. I’m running with Paul Coates and Rob Morgan, an entertaining combination, who’s company is hard to beat. Lee Rhodes also joins us for a few miles, we’ve only talked on twitter so it’s good to eventually meet.

The black and white photos show the atmosphere that the people must have felt, the station, cinema and pier now all long gone, theses are the blows the years have dealt. We maintain a steady pace along Lee On Solent shore, where later, the Park runners go full pelt. The cafes are opening, and wait, is that the aroma of cooked breakfast that I just smelt ?

The park run starts where the station would have been and what now is the car park near by, was where the tower cinema and pier, would of been seen. Ros Clarke kindly takes our photo as she waits to marshals, she’s keen, so who will win the park run, someone that’s fast and lean !!

The people in the photos do have largely the same view of the Isle of White, even if they don’t have a gps watch and a mobile phone, it is still quite a sight. They can’t google the weather or wear compression socks as we might, and I’m sure their tops wouldn’t have been florescent but just simply white. We see Nikki Yeo who’s also out on a long run too, she mentioned it on twitter the other night.

It’s starting to warm up as we reach half way, then we repeat our route from Lee to Stokes Bay. I can’t match the pace of Paul and Rob try as I may, but their encouragement spurs me on, it’s been that kind of day. Good company over a long distance run costs nothing but helps so much that I’d probably even pay.

We all finish together, 3.13 for me, 21 miles for Rob & Paul so a job well done, thanks for reading what goes through my mind on a long distance run, 20 sapping miles, but lots of fun.

Late 1920’s Lee On Solent railway station where the Park run starts and our photo from Ros.

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A hot morning’s run with plenty of humour, 15 & 1/2 miles covered


The plan for today was a sub 9 minute 20 miler, however, I’ve been on holiday, I set off too fast and it was very hot. There you are, all my excuses out of the way 🙂 I managed 15.5 miles in the end and it reminded me that you have to run to the conditions, you can’t just take your watch as the only guide. A timely lesson with 5 weeks to my marathon.

Robert Morgan, Paul Coates and Mark Greenfield joined me for a 7.30am start on a calm and hot morning. The temperature was already 15 degrees at this early hour and the cooling sea breeze was no where to be seen as we set off. Mark had already run to our Hill Head location and was sweating like a good’un so we knew what was in store for us. Paul was slightly late so he was the brunt of the initial banter as we ran along the coast.

The tranquil sea and early morning silence were only interrupted by the occasional seagull’s cry and the views to the Isle of White were clear. The weather would suit Mark’s Mallorca Ironman training and it would be a test for the 3 different marathons that Paul, Rob and I are running.

I think it’s fair to say that the stereotype many people have of us runners is that we are quite serious, today’s group couldn’t be further from that if they tried. We did have a laugh as the miles passed by, after all, when you are out for two or three hours with friends that’s what you would normally do. Lee on Solent passed by quite quickly, too quickly really and we were heading for Stokes Bay and the 5 mile mark. The shingle at our turning point was enjoyed by us all !!

I embarrassed myself a treat as we passed a lady and her partner who was wearing a pink top. A combination of sweat and sun cream in my eyes meant I was squinting and all I saw was the lady and the pink top, “Morning ladies” I said and then as my eye came into focus I realised the partner was a man and he also had a beard … Woops “Apologies” !! Needless to say I had a number of comments thrown at me from the lads for that 🙂

The return leg back to our car park base became increasingly harder for me and as I reached the 10 mile point Mark had carried on home and I told Paul and Rob to press on. I sat in the shade and gathered my thoughts, ok I hadn’t run for 11 days but I had made the mistake of running to my expectations and not listening to what my legs were telling me. If my previous marathons have taught me anything it’s never to give up. I chose landmarks ahead of me as markers and was thankful I now had my cap on. One other note was the number of cheerful Gosport runners out today, #community, good running 🙂

I’d averaged 9 & 1/4 minute miles for the 10 and in the end averaged 9 & 3/4’s for 15.5 miles. I was pleased to have motivated myself and even more pleased when I saw Paul and Rob returning from the full 20 miles, I’m sure they had motivated each other. With litres of sports drinks consumed it had been quite a testing day and as I got back in the car it read 23 degrees !! Mark’s earlier start and 18 or so miles looked to have been the best option but good work lads & cheers for the company………… P.S. I ran 4.5 miles late Sunday afternoon to make up the 20 🙂

“Feeling on Top of the World” …. Why hills inspire me



So, I’ve been down to Devon for a week and after sitting at the top of my favourite hill I’ve been reflecting on what they mean to me. As the acclaimed singer/songwriter Miley Cyrus once wrote “Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side, it’s the climb”.

Life in many ways can be compared to running hills, a daunting prospect and an uphill battle, but, equally a sense of achievement once you have reached your own personal summit. On any other day I’d be too busy pushing myself to limit any lost time on the way up and then concentrating on my foot placement for as quick a descent as possible going down. However, when you’re sitting there with the warm breeze blowing and the world passing by below then there’s time to reflect on what a hill represents.

Just by their very size and the fact that they dominate the skyline, hills have a presence, they make a statement, you can almost hear them say, “We were here first and we aren’t moving, scale us if you can, or take the longer route around us” !! But, at the same time hills can be tamed and taught a lesson, so my reply is …. “I will shorten my stride and step by step I will reach the top”.

Run if you can, walk if you have to, the secret is just to keep moving and before you know it, even if it takes a while, you will have met the challenge that you’ve just set yourself. The sense of pride, the rush of adrenaline and the knowledge that you have tried and succeeded are all channelled into one simple reaction, a great big smile 🙂 Once you are armed with the knowledge that hills are no longer your enemies, then they can become your friends, and there’s no stopping you from that point onwards. The effects on your legs and your breathing are simply your “inner hill spirit” coming out.

I’ve noticed the light and the sun are strangely different at the top of a hill, especially at sunrise and sunset so in order to experience hills at their best, either go early or late to capture that spirit and make them your friends, while feeling on top of the world.

The photos in this blog are from Cobben Hill near Barnstaple which is 629 feet above sea level and gives you views or Exmoor, Dartmoor and the North Devon coast. Go and find your hill 🙂


5K speed work, “Absolute Running’s” race & a 2nd 5K as a test

I decided to mix up my marathon training with some speed work last night. The perfect opportunity for this was Absolute Running’s Gosport 5K Summer series. Absolute Running (AR from now on) are a driving force in running and triathlons locally, with a shop in Gosport and numerous initiatives all based around community involvement. This might sound like an advert for them but AR’s Nick Carter and his enthusiasm have made a big impact. While warming up you could see lots of local club vests and it was good to see Mike Bell from Stubbington Green runners, who I haven’t seen for a while.

DSCF4142    ar1

The 5K course has plenty of parking, the Bayside Cabin Café for registration, food and drink before and after, as well as sea views and it’s completely flat. I met Nikki Yeo beforehand who was returning from holiday (tanned) and as we set off AR’s Nick was leading the way on his bike.

The light rain was actually quite refreshing after the recent heat as we ran along Stokes Bay promenade. The two loops around the field, just back from the coast, meant the leading runner overtook me but then again it does mean every one sees each other more, rather than the “whippets” disappearing into the distance and the “steady” runners loose touch. The marshalling was very good and all of them were encouraging.

Time wise I dug in for the final few hundred metres for 23.14 which I was happy with, as I couldn’t have done much more. The race had certainly given my lungs a good work out. We had a handful of runners from the club so well done to Paul, Lee, Mark, Nikki and Joy with a special mention to Liz Farquharson who won her age category. The café was doing a good trade when I set off on my 2nd 5K which I did in 25.59 so as to help my endurance. I am trying more speed work than I would normally in my marathon training and it is definitely helping. All in all a friendly 5K with everything you need and a great work out 🙂 Thanks to AR’s Nick & the marshals.

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16 Coastal miles & Mike Harper’s 150th Park Run

The thinking behind today’s run was to log a solid 16 miles towards my flat marathon goal and to support Mike Harper, a long standing friend of mine, on his 150th Park Run. The starting point of Lee on Solent was an easy choice due to the Park Run starting and finishing there. The plan was to set off around 6.50am and be back for 9.10am to cheer in Mike and all the other Fareham Crusaders.

Rob Morgan joined me again this week and we were met with the Solent looking like it was a boating lake. We were heading for Hill Head and it’s attractive shoreline, with beach huts and views across the Solent. Sights such as a huge cargo vessel on the horizon, that gradually got bigger as it made it’s way towards us and Southampton docks, are one of the many distractions that a coastal run gives you, as the miles tick by.

The temperature was rising even at this stage and as we retraced our steps back towards Lee On Solent the sun was already shimmering off the sea. So 5.5 miles done and were on course for supporting our fellow club mates. Stokes Bay was our next port of call and once again the world was still largely asleep as we ran through.


The circular curve of Stokes Bay leads to Gilkicker Fort that looks out towards the channel and in Victorian times would have been as a deterrent to any invading French vessels, today it was just us and we posed no treat 🙂 The sea water was noticeably clear and I can see why our Triathlon friends use this area to sea swim. In no time we were approaching the fort, which also meant crossing a golf course “carefully”, “four” !!! Time was getting on so we decided to slightly shorten our miles and in the end it was 14.5 as we returned to the Park Run. This decision was well founded as we could see the leaders as we approached.

We shouted encouragement to numerous club mate friends with the biggest smile coming from Ladies Club captain Louise Riches. Mike Harper was in full flow and by the time he approached us, at the end, he certainly looked inspired from all the well wishers, even if he appears to have lost his right hand !! I took a Team photo of Stubbington Green and our Crusader runners, both who he has run for. Well done all, it was hot today.


Rob and myself finished off our 16 miles with a descent flurry, after the spectating rest, and all in all a 9 minute average pace for the total distance still keeps me on track for a sub 4 marathon and Rob’s Bournemouth marathon, will be quicker again I suspect. So, a really good “running” morning which was capped off when I hear later that my friend Alison had completed her first Park Run. They really are opening up people to running, “Welcome to my world Alison” 🙂