links for 2007-07-12

The Forest of Dean / Pints and Fish / Perfect

So, we’re finishing up this afternoon, and one of the Daves I’m dealing with (Yeah, of the 6 or 7 guys I deal with over here, four of them are named “Dave”) mentions that he’s running this evening. Having spent the last four days studiously trying HARD to avoid being the “Ugly American”, I decided that it was time to play the “Rude” card. So, I asked if he minded that I tag along?


“Well, it’s a bit out of the way…” No, I insisted, I had nothing to do but get a good night’s sleep before heading into London in the morning for the flight back home. “Ok, then – we usually run for an hour or so in The forest of Dean.” I got directions to his house, and headed out.

Driving on the left – I think I’m getting the hang of it (I’m pounding on the table in the hotel bar as I type this – it’s big and wooden, and hopefully I won’t wreck on the way to Heathrow in the morning). So, the drive out was wonderful – the Severn in England beats the snot out of the one in Maryland. We headed out into the forest, and – well, man, we RAN. Instead of the usual constant effort that I run for, the folks I was running with were big fans of picking a path – pushing HARD to the end of the path, waiting for the rest of the group, and picking another trail.

The run was great. I apologize that I left my camera at the car – the picture above is about 200 yards from where we parked – I snapped it after we got done. The views from “The big chair” were spectacular, and I wished I had a chance to do the 10 mile (or so) loop around the valley the chair overlooked.

The run was a quality trail run – the biggest difference between it and my stomping grounds in Arcadia was that, somehow, unexplained to me – there are NO freakin’ Mosquitoes over here in the Cotswalds. Seriously – NONE. They try to explain it away as being too cold – but crimminey – I’ve lived through many New England winters at this point, and if that doesn’t kill mosquitoes, how can our summers bring them out in droves? I swear – if the weather had been anywhere as consistently nice as it’s been while I’ve been across the pond, I’d get eaten alive at home.

I thanked my hosts prolifically, and headed back to the hotel. Got back, showered, and headed down the street in search of cask ale and fish ‘n’ chips. THe folks at the hotel desk recommended a carryout place a couple of blocks away – unfortunately, I was looking to eat about 2100 on a Tuesday, so pretty much everywhere respectable in the city center was pretty much booked.

On the way down, I found the Bayshill Inn, and stopped in to see what was on tap. Yeah, real ale! I sat down outside, and was enjoying a spectacular sunset, a pleasant evening, and the afterglow of a great 5+ miles. I asked the barmaid if they were serving food still, and she said the kitchen was closed.

So, I hied me ho on down the road to the carryout place, ordered ups some fish’n’chips, and headed back down to the Bayshill. I made sure I set the package on the bar when I ordered another beer, and carried it back out to the beer garden. A couple of guys I’d been chatting with before I headed out to find food flagged me down, so I sat with them (One of whom I believe was Sir Toby Belch, and the other was “Lady Val”). Great discussion, great company, and an absolutely fitting end to my time in the UK.

I’m blogging this from the hotel bar – there’s Curtis Mayfield on the stereo, and a decent glass of red on the table (as opposed to the good belgian beer I’ve had the other evenings). What an absolutely great experience. I think I could get used to life in the UK….

Run Brittiania!

So, despite my navel gazing about etiquette yesterday, I’m completely smitten with running in the UK. I had the pleasure this afternoon of finding both a linear park – an abandoned rail line, paved and what we’d call a “Rail-Trail” in the US, and realizing that it was tied into a network of paved pathways that essentially ran through everyone’s backyard. Absolutely amazing network.

Which somewhat explains why I haven’t seen as many runners, on a per capita basis, over here. Back Stateside, we’ve pretty much got no choice but to take our exercise on the road or the sidewalk, so, if there’s a runner in the area, you’ll see them from the car.

The other bit that I’m sure plays a part is that a lot of folks actually walk as a form of transportation. So, they’re generally fitter based on lifestyle, and don’t need to run so much.

Anyway, today’s run was great. I’m becoming a pretty big fan of “overtraining” while on business travel – turning some of the commute time I save into mileage doesn’t seem to hurt. 4.5 miles today, and 5+ yesterday gives me one of my biggest running weeks in a while, and it’s only Tuesday.

In other news, the folks I’m over here visiting took me out to a quite literally ancient pub – there’s been a building on the site since Roman times, and the building we were in dated to Tudor times, which, if I recall, came somewhere in between the Stone Age and Dutch Modern periods in interior design. The pub also featured Real Ale, which was one of my personal goals for this trip. Absolutely fabulous – all of the taste of quality homebrew without the downside of having to deal with two cases of terrible beer when a batch goes wrong.

Great Big British Book of Running

So, I’m looking for a little bit of input from you runners over in the motherland – what exactly is running etiquette in the UK, specifically England? I’m over here for business, and, after surviving the drive out of Heathrow and finding my absolutely wonderful (and that’s not sarcasm, the hotel I’m in is exceptional) hotel, I went for a run today.

The hotel’s in what I guess you’d call a city center, smaller town out in the Cotswalds, and, until I got past the parks, etc, I felt like I may have been out of place running on the sidewalk. It wasn’t exceptionally crowded, and I tried to avoid shops as much as possible, but I still felt like I was invading someone’s space. Am I just overly self-conscious ’cause I don’t want to appear rude in what’s got to be the most polite place I’ve ever been, or are there rules about where it is and isn’t appropriate to sweat like a pig?

Other than feeling kind of akward, which may have been a side effect of my continued disorentation about driving on the wrong side of the road, the run was great. Good sidewalks, predictable drivers, great weather… What’s not to love? The five miles were over too quickly, though I felt every yard of the last mile.

World’s Shortest Marathon

(N.B. – Mark and Jeanne: I’m not avoiding you, I forgot to tell you I was going on Vacation)

Hey, dig this – After a bunch of years of pretty much working and going to see family, we’re on vacation! A whole week up in Stowe, Vermont, with nothing to do but enjoy the mountains, and run, bike, and swim.

Actually, it’s breaking down kind of like this: Missy is doing a TON of running. Well, not a ton, but, as expected, she’s hewing well to the whole marathon training plan. Run faster with less.

The boys and I have been doing a ton of swimming. But by swimming, we mean fooling around in the condo pool. Diving to touch the bottom, playing “Monster”, and soforth. I tried a couple of laps, but jammed my finger touching the wall. Who’da thunk that those lines on the bottom could be so useful?

And I’ve been biking – one time seriously, and a bunch of times with the family on the bike path. Good stuff. Friday, during Missy’s long run, we’ll bike down to the river that runs through town and spend a couple of hours crawling along the river bed looking for trout.

Oh, and I ran a race: Each July 4, there’s a race from Stowe Center up to a bar at noon. 1.7 miles. Missy talked me into running it – I was pretty much just aiming to go out and meander for an hour or so, but sitting at the starting line got the old competitive juices flowing.

The course is up VT 108 from the covered bridge in the village center to Gracie’s Restaurant. It starts off with a decent grade, and then kind of levels off. The initial climb felt good – I started mid-pack in the 100 or so runners, and pretty quickly got to about #25 or so. There was a woman a couple of years older than me who I used to set my pace, right on the edge of really sucking wind but not really being able to recover to a one breath (In and out) every 4 steps sort of pace.

Life was good until she passed me by kind of cutting a corner. Not an illegal move, by any means, but I stayed in the westbound lane, and she cut the corner across the eastbound lane and passed me and accelerated. All was not lost – before the finish, I picked off a guy in a blue shirt who’d gotten up to 200 yards in front of me.

After the race, I decided to try to tack on another couple of miles, but it just didn’t feel right. After about another 1.5 or so, I knocked it off and walked back to the condo. Sprinted up the hill, but slowed when I thought I was going to chunder.

Need to run more…