*Ahem* (clears throat)...
Um... I know it's been four months since I was last here, but can I possibly stick my head around the door to say 'Hi'?
Over a period of time I have morphed from a 5 x a week blogger to one that has not blogged for four months.
I hereby offer up two hearty excuses m'lud:
1. I have been undergoing a dramatic transformation as a runner
2. I have been beavering away in my metaphorical laboratory to develop and launch my new running-related business
I think they're not bad as far as excuses go. Better than:
a) Forgot how to turn on the computer
b) Lost the use of my typing fingers
c) Couldn't be arsed
Yes, it's true. It's been a rather amazing few months in my life and I have re-merged out the other side all fired up and wanting to shout from the rooftops.
Shall I carry on? I hope you have a cup of tea on the go. An absence of four months has had negligible effect on my ability to go on a bit.
Since joining my local running club back in June last year, I managed to run twice with the road group before discovering the 'off-roadies' who are the spin-off group at the club who prefer to run off-road at the same time each Weds night.
Once part of the group, I started running with them every Wednesday night and have become totally and utterly hooked on off-road running. I now run at least 90% of all my running off-road and can't really imagine going back to being a pavement warrior.
There is something rather 'tribal' about running with this group. About 15 of us meet up at 7pm each Wednesday night, complete with high viz, headtorches and heavy duty trail shoes. Runs are between 6 and 8 miles in length, in and around Wiltshire and Somerset, and we wend our way across farmland, wooded trails, forests, fields of corn, fields of wheat, streams, rivers, mud up to our knees, cow-poo-filled piles of slurry (very bonding as you are trying to hold each other up to avoid falling in a giant pile of poo). We spend our evenings hoisting ourselves over stiles, squeezing through kissing gates, limbo-ing under or pogo-ing over electric fences, hurdling fallen trees (or usually crashing into them in the dark in my case) and tumbling down steep woodland tracks. We have moments of being chased by sheep across fields or shrieking in a very girly manner as we face a cattle stampede when only half way across a field (thereby introducing speed sessions we weren't expecting).
I've led one run myself and discovered that navigation by day when recce-ing a route and then leading a dozen or so trusting souls under the cover of darkness and some headtorches is an entirely different matter.
I've learnt a lot about my fellow runners as we chat during our outings. People are from all different walks of life, they have their own challenges or cool things happening to them, they run at different paces, yet we are all bonded totally and utterly by our love of getting off the beaten track and running in nature.
Most of us ran our most recent race on Sunday which was truly superb. Here is a photo of the last hill at the 'Slaughterford 9' to stagger up before the finishline:
So, it got me thinking about the difference between road and off-road running and I think this was how I would sum it up:
Get dressed. Put on shoes.
Go for run.
Resume daily activities.
Get dressed. Locate dark coloured socks as all white socks are now brown.
Find least muddy pair of trail shoes.
Bang them against side of house to remove clods of mud you should have dealt with after the last run.
Put shoes on. Realise they are too muddy and change for alternative shoes to drive in.
Drive short distance to off-road venue (or luckily in my case I can also run to the Longleat Forest from home).
Put shoes back on.
Go for run.
Get back to car. Endure stares from dog walkers who are mesmerised by my muddiness.
Remove trail shoes and socks.
Admire 'mud tan line'
Curse at the fact I forgot dry socks.
Sticks muddy feet back in alternative shoes.
Find a towel to sit on in car.
Lay towel on floor and attempt to minimise mud trail to utility room.
Undertake Houdini-worthy move to remove leggings without scattering half a ton of mud across hallway.
Place muddy clothing in washing machine and gloss over in my mind the thought of how I must be wrecking the family washing machine with mud and bubonic plague style germs from slurry/poo excursions.
Stagger up to shower whilst trying not to place muddy hand prints on walls.
Scrub feet some more.
Get out, dry off and get dressed.
Spend next 24 hours pondering the fact that my toe nails are never 100% clean.
You either 'get' off-road running or you don't
And so, onto the other notable news in my life....
I have finally launched my new business - a range of natural energy foods for endurance sports. Perfect for runners, cyclists, triathletes, climbers, hikers etc.
I'm getting some great feedback so far on the products which have been developed by me over an extensive period to get the fine balance between great taste and sustained energy release.
To say that I am a little bit excited would be an understatement.
So, on that note of shameless self promotion, I shall bid you adieu and I promise to blog again more frequently.
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Jul07201210:14 a.m.Oh where do I start? With the 76 notifications that await me in my RB in-box? With excuses for why I have not been on here since May 15th? OK, let's start from...