Slow and steady

Moving slowly through the UK countryside


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A good start

First complete week of my January challenge to do at least three runs a week.  In December I ran a mile only half a dozen times, and haven’t done 5k since the end of October.

Saturday – mile run: 15 min 36 s

Monday – mile run 15 min 17 s

Wednesday – 15 minutes stair circuits (very, very tedious, but avoided the cold, dark and wet) – 40 times up and down, including the landing

Friday – 15 minutes stair circuits

Today (Sat) – two consecutive mile runs in glorious sunshine (took off fleece, coat, hat, gloves and binoculars after first mile): first mile 17 min 7 s, second mile 13 min 58 s, and feeling good at the end of it.  Very pleased with myself.  Now wondering whether the Garmin just malfunctioned, but it did feel a lot faster, and curiously, easier.  Beginning to remember that I do actually enjoy running once I’ve settled into it.

I ran in a city park, and it was lovely watching children learning to use their Christmas presents – several very wobbly in-line skaters, and new bicycles and scooters.  Only a handful of runners, but lots of walkers, which made me feel as though my slow running was really speedy.  🙂  I also enjoyed the sight of a wedding party having photos taken (men in white suits – very jazzy), and then seeing the hugely stretched limo in the car park.

There was a lovely technicolour sunset on the way home.  I took quite a few pictures with my phone, but overloaded it, with the result that it now won’t let me download them.  This one has arrived here via being sent to my daughter’s phone, and she then emailed it back to me.  My phone won’t let me email.  However, I do now have the internet working – a couple of hours ago that was refusing to cooperate too, and I was getting seriously fed up with technology.

Sunset

Sunset

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New Year’s baseline and floods

Back again after the Christmas break. Quite a few stair circuits done over the last couple of weeks, but barely any running, until today.

I got out and did a mile at a very gentle jog (15 min 36 s) and about a mile walking. Then I redid the 3-minute step test, but got a much less impressive recovery rate than last time – 102 instead of the seventies. But when I looked at the graph, I realised that I’d started at a much higher heart-rate rate (not long after I’d finished the mile run) so hardly surprising it was a slower recovery. Anyway, that’s my baseline for this year. It shouldn’t be too hard to improve on this.  And, just for the record, my resting heart-rate is about 68 first thing in the morning.

Step test

3 minute step test and one minute recovery

A quick edit (after reading this blog by fitfor365 ) – my Garmin-recorded runs for 2013 came to 68 runs, 116 miles in 28 hr 48 min, average speed 4 mph, average heart rate 147.  Which isn’t much by most runners standards, but is probably a lot more than most mid-50s women’s standards, so it’ll do me fine.  I wonder if I’ll manage more this year?  Plus, no injuries beyond occasional aches.  It would be good to do a Parkrun or two, but I’ll see how I go.  For now, improving my mile run pace will do, with the intention of upping my exercise time towards 30 minutes per day by the time the 5×50 challenge begins at the end of March.

Everywhere in England has had a lot of rain recently – here’s what our nearest stream looks like at the moment.  It’s usually only a metre or two wide.  Fortunately it hasn’t got high enough to get into anyone’s house this time.

Flooding under the bridge

Flooding under the bridge


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Red-gold glow

Two people at work asked me whether I was still running today, and one of them had run for 16 minutes yesterday.  I did run for five minutes on Sunday, which really isn’t much, but at least I knew I hadn’t lost the running action completely.  As I was about to leave work, I couldn’t resist taking some phone-photos of the autumn colours in the evening sun.  I realised it would be dark by the time I got home, so I stopped off at a park and got my legs moving.

Autumn leaves

Glowing autumn leaves

I kept going for 17 minutes, in three chunks. Apart from ear-ache from the cold, it was good, and I enjoyed this sunset view too.

Sunset silhouettes

Sunset silhouettes


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Look closely and weeds are jewels!

In our garden, weeds are allowed to flower, so the bees can visit them. This one is really pretty when you get close to it, with star-like calyx and white stripes on the dark purple petals. The leaves smell quite strongly, and look fairly similar to stinging nettle leaves.

Hedge Woundwort

Hedge Woundwort, Stachys sylvatica

This little shieldbug is pretty jewel-like too – it lives on the woundwort, and is called Woundwort Shieldbug…

Woundwort Shieldbug

Woundwort Shieldbug – about 1/3 the size of my little finger-nail.

Well, that was in response to the Daily Prompt – The Natural World which asked about early memories of nature.

I grew up on a farm, and I can’t remember the first time I was interested in nature, as it was so much a part of everyday life.  However, I do remember vividly the thrill of finding an orchid growing amongst scrubby bushes in a woodland. It wasn’t in my flower book, which made it even more exciting, and nobody had shown me where it grew; I’d found it all by myself.  On on of our occasional trips to London, we visited the Natural History Museum, and in some wall-mounted display-cases I found a picture of ‘my’ orchid – a Man Orchid.  The flowers are greenish-yellow, with red edges, and look like tiny little men.  Such an amazing plant.

They are fairly rare in the UK, and although they have been found in quite a few nearby sites to my one, I don’t know whether anyone else has ever seen the plants that I found.  So – that was a significant waymark on my journey to being a nature geek.

Race for Life report

The other news today is that I did my Race for Life – and I DIDN’T WALK!  It wasn’t fast (about 46 minutes – last time I did RfL I took 53 minutes to walk it) but it was mostly very sunny and warm, so I’m happy with that.  The first ten minutes were really hard work, and I wasn’t expecting to manage to run/jog it all at that point, but I just kept doing a bit more and a bit more, and got the whole way round.  Hurrah!

RfL shirt and medal

Race for Life shirt and medal

I don’t know how many women were there, but pretty sure it was well over a thousand.  I was fine though, didn’t even need to use the loos (sorry, if that’s too much info) which is most unusual – and a good thing, as the queues were about 30-deep.  Maybe that was the most significant acheivement of the day!  The running and walking didn’t get started until about twenty minutes after the official start time. Maybe that was to allow everyone to visit the loos?

It was a lovely day to be outside, mostly sunny and with a good breeze.  Uphill through the meadow was pretty warm, as the wind seemed to have dropped there, and there was no shade, but I kept plodding on, thinking I’d walk after the 3 km mark.  But then it was flat, and it seemed a pity to stop.

After 4 km it was pretty easy.  I almost missed getting a medal, as I was still jogging past the finish and had to stop and go back for it.  I was really pleased that I didn’t feel worn out at the end. After clapping some of the walkers in, I jogged part of the way back to the carpark.  I would have jogged it all, but suddenly felt as though I was showing off, so I walked the rest.

So, Juneathon may not have gone quite the way I’d envisaged, but I did manage to end it with a 5k run in the sun, and feeling good at the end. So I’m a happy bunny, and I’ve raised quite a bit for Cancer Research. 🙂

Race for Life hat

Sunhat with pink feathers – fallen from a tutu


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Misread the calendar

Hmm.  Went off to a grass identification workshop this morning (I like my plants).  However, when I arrived, I found out that I’d misread the calendar (another senior moment), and it isn’t until next week.  So, as I’d driven all the way to the nature reserve, I thought I might as well learn about dragonflies instead…

Very interesting they were too, with beautiful photographs, but as it was overcast by lunchtime, I didn’t stay for the dragonfly hunting, but went for a walk round on my own.  I didn’t see any butterflies or dragonflies, but I did see some good birds, and I walked 2.6 miles, so good exercise.  I wore my running trainers, so my feet felt ok.  I even jogged a little bit.

I heard a cuckoo, which was great; that’s the third time I’ve heard them this year.  As I went into the first bird-hide, I was told that a kingfisher had been around earlier, but they’d been waiting about twenty minutes and it hadn’t come back – but I was lucky enough that it returned while I was there.  Just a fast flash of blue – stunning.  There was a reed bunting there too.

At another hide I saw a reed warbler, and then on a different lake, with a mudflat, there was a wonderful range of birds, including two I don’t think I’ve seen before – teal and little ringed plover.  All quite a long way away – and the plovers ran around really fast, like little mice!   Sixteen species altogether.  So, even though I didn’t get to the grasses, I had a good day out.

Lapwing

Lapwing and reflection

male Teal

A male Teal duck. Gorgeous patterning on the feathers on its side.

Little Ringed Plover

Little Ringed Plover staring at me.


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Moths and butterflies

Well, not many moths and butterflies, but I did see two Green-veined White butterflies, quite a few Burnet moth chrysalises and a Yellow Shell moth.  I walked just over 3 miles, which included edges of wheat and rape fields, a stream, a path through a meadow with buttercups and clover – just beginning to flower, and the edge of a lake at a stately home that is now an art gallery (Compton Verney) and some woodland.  Later on, I went to see a friend in the village, and jogged most of the way home, including a short steepish hill.

 footpath bridge

Footpath bridge over stream

footpath direction

Footpath direction post

Burnet moth chrysalis

Burnet moth chrysalis on Meadow Foxtail grass

hawthorn blossom

Hawthorn blossom

Green-veined White

Green-veined White butterfly on Cow Parsley, Anthriscus sylvestris

pink Hogweed

Pink Hogweed flowers (just part of the flowerhead) – usually they are white

Yellow Shell moth

Yellow Shell moth

 


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Distracted by butterflies and damselflies

Any excuse.  I went to bed much too late last night, fiddling about with garden bioblitz stuff, so it was  a struggle to wake up this morning, and I really didn’t feel much like any form of exercise.  However, another gloriously sunny day, so rather than go straight home, I went for run/walk round a nature reserve on the way home from work.

River Leam Cow Parsley along woodland path

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quite a few butterflies and damselflies about, which kept stopping me from running…  I am a list-maker and can’t resist recording every butterfly I can identify.  (Warwickshire butterfly records here.)  However, they don’t always want to cooperate, so I had several bits where I ran backwards and forwards trying to take a photo so I could figure out whether they were Large Whites or Small Whites – or Green-veined Whites, or possibly female Orange-tips (which don’t have any orange).

But didn’t catch any of them, so those are all are now Unrecorded Whites.  But I did see several Peacock butterflies, one Comma and one Orange-tip male.  Plus several Banded Demoiselle males, which are really spectacular. Pictures are less than spectacular as they’re mobile phone ones.

Peacock butterflyBanded Demoiselle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyway, I was active for about 45 minutes, almost 30 of which were slow running/stop/start/butterfly chasing.  Grand total of…  3.7km, including the walking which is not at all impressive, but it was hot, and I was tired.  Better than nothing anyway.