Monthly Archives: May 2016

And Just Like That, Summer Arrives

After a long and enjoyable Springtime in Pennsylvania the summertime heat is finally upon us. Gone are the gentle cool morning runs through the refreshing morning air. 

Today I ran a 13 mile route along the Schuylkill River Trail, along past Reynolds Dog Park, along the shaded canal, up past Lock 60 in Phoenixville, then along the river bank to Upper Schuylkill Valley Park, around a field along a little bit of Route 113, then back down the other side of the river. 

They’ve done some really nice work on the trail up this end now. It still isn’t suitable for cyclists but most runners should be able to enjoy this. 

On the way back there was one short section where I had to climb up a stony bank close to a railway line to cross a spur of the river, but there was plenty of space and no danger (plus it is a freight line that doesn’t have too much use, especially on a Sunday morning of a holiday weekend). 

Another section was through quite an overgrown Pathway that required me to slow down a couple of times as it became so thick. Time for a tick check when I get home, me thinks! (All fine).

Once I got back close to my starting point, the last half mile was across an open car park with the sun in full blaze. So, I opted to walk and found a shady route behind all the local big box stores. My final destination: the Starbucks counter in Target. Ah, sweet blessed relief by iced decaf Americano. 

I stopped off at a rest room during my run and had to take a photo of the toilet roll dispenser. I’m not sure I want to slide the door on my bottom, no matter how emphatically they propose it. 

Changing gear a little, it is Memorial weekend so a big shout out to all the Military Vets out there. Thank you for your service and for ensuring our freedoms. 

12.8 miles of steamy woodland running completed. 

This also led me to complete one of the #mapmyrun annual challenges, albeit quite a light challenge of 1000km in a year. 

I’m not sure if I posted my April mileage but it was significantly lower than previous months at just 113 miles contributing to my total of 525 for the year. It’s good to have a bit of a rest and in glad I did most of my running during the winter coolness. 

Where have these days gone? Brr. 🙂


Units Matter

I’d love to pretend that this is my ancestral home and spin you all a story about my entitled life. 

However, that is not the case. I’m in the UK as an elected official in the British Computer Society’s Council and we are at Heythrop House in Oxfordshire for a planning away-day. 

I do not want to give the opinion that this was a frivolous use of charitable funds as it was far from that. This was the first away-day that council has had in over ten years, and having the opportunity to step back and plan the direction of a group as influential as BCS is a real honour. 

We achieved a lot in our meeting and the outcomes will shape the group for a long time ahead. This is, however, a running blog so I shall refrain from entering into the gnarly details of our discussions. 

Of course, while I was here I had the chance to run around the extensive grounds of Heythrop House. 

Their running map shows a one and a four mile route. Clearly I chose the longer of the two. 

When I stepped out the front door it was raining; hard. And it must have been doing this for some time. Ah, England, you never fail to disappoint. 

I did not fear because there was a well-marked and establish trail laying ahead of me according to the literature. 

Yes, well. Not so much. 

The first part of the trail was on a service road and was fine. The sign for the first turn off was hidden under a tree at the side of the road and was positioned at a slight angle that didn’t really infer a direction to head. I continued straight until I found a locked gate and realised my mistake… Back to the sign and to follow the other direction. 

This trail was a grown-over dirt path with large puddles, running alongside a Man-made lake. The trail climbed a little and then dove down to the side of a stream. 

At this point the surface was very eroded and there was a significant amount of water streaming across the trail. Under foot it was still gravel, so it wasn’t too bad until the inevitable happened and the gravel gave way to mud. 

Deep. Wet. Sticky. Slippery. Mud. 

How can it be both sticky and slippery? It was the kind of mud that would try to suck the shoes off your feet, and then let you slip backwards as you attempt to escape its clasp. Suction and no friction. Fab. 

The trail got wetter and deeper. After a while it climbed and the mud gave way to deep puddles and a few more uncertain directional signs. 

Despite the tempest underfoot, the rural scenery was gorgeous, with bluebell woods, verdant trees and a rich canopy. This is, of course, all fed by the rain that was currently usurping my life from my feet up. 😉 

I eventually ended up on the main road back towards the hotel and headed off that way. 

Halfway up the hill to complete the loop the entire road and pathway were under water. 

Positive view: this allowed me to get my shoes cleaned from all the mud. 

I’m going to stick with that and say no more. 

I soon got back to the start of the loop and the lady in my phone announced: 2.5 miles. 

Eh? This was marked as a four mile route. Turns out they meant four kilometres! A rookie mistake on their part. Did they not know the stories of imperial vs metric differences causing issues for space flight and channel tunnel digging? 😉

So, I sucked it up and prepared to dance with the slimy mud beast again. To battle. For honour. For victory. 

Here are a few snapshots of the hotel and park. 

If you have reason to visit, you should as it is spectacular. If you wish to run, be forewarned of the signage and the true distance and condition of the trail. I will mention the inaccuracy to reception but doubt the map will get fixed in any short time. 

And may you have a dry trail on your lap of the grounds. 

 Did that staircase move? (Harry Potter)The view from breakfast. 
I’m still waiting for my shoes to dry 24 hours later…

It’s a Small World After All

My travels to England have brought me first to Wokingham and my family home. 

I set out on my run realising that u hadn’t brought a water bottle or phone holder with me on the trip. It’s 78F and sunny here and I hadn’t expected that when I was packing. 

I ran out towards Binfield, then on through Hurst to a village called Whistley Green. 

You can always tell you’re in England when there’s a gentle ripple of applause for a youth cricket team to you right and a  cacophony on your left from the village duck pond! 

There were plenty of cyclist out on these country roads and the occasional runner. 

British roads are hire narrow so you have to be on the look out for approaching cars and to try and get out of the way, if possible. Some of the twisty country roads don’t have pavement (sidewalk) and you are out in the traffic. 

I gave way to a couple of tractors and a few fleet cyclists. 

After Whistley Green (sorry, I love that name), I turned and head toward Winnersh and the Dinton Pastures Country Park. As a child we used to bring our dog out here for walks around the lakes. 

En route to the lakes I ran off down a few random public footpaths that twisted through some bluebell meadows that were in full bloom. It is a pretty time of the year to be England. 

The lakes at Dinton Pastures have been made more people-friendly since my youth, which is to protect the grounds, I suspect. There were quite a lot of dog walkers and some more runners out here, and they have an ‘activity centre’ for boating and fishing. 

There were junior ranger nature walks and an epidemiology  centre for people to learn more about the world around them. We just used to have books with us. 🙂

After this, I asked directions back to Wokingham (as I don’t have phone service and wasn’t 100% sure which way to turn). 

I picked up a bottle of water at an Itlaian deli on the main road back to town, then took a back road off through the woods by what used to be the local all-girls school (clearly something that stood out in my childhood memories). 

This lead back through another recreational ground towards my parents home. 

13.8 miles most of which was on unfamiliar roads. Most relaxing and it seems like a very small world with hardly any distance between the local villages. 

Now to clean up and go out for a pub lunch! 

Trucking Away

Well, following my running relapse I have managed to get back into things. 

Last weekend was a write-off running-wise as my wife was away in Cincinnati running a half-marathon with a bunch of pigs (not derogatory, it is a pig-based theme run). This left me home with the kids and no chance to run. 

On the positive side my wife did bring a lot of pig related paraphernalia home with her; t-shirts, mugs, pens, etc. Bacon the most of a pork situation… (Sorry, I couldn’t resist a few swine puns). 

Fortunately this left me fresh-legged for my Monday morning run with my friend so I made him pay for it with a higher pace seven miler. And to give him his dues, he did stick with it although I’ve heard that he suffered a but for the rest of the day. 

To be fair, he is also suffering because he has upped his weekly running by adding a weekend trail run through Valley Forge Park. 

I also managed to get out on Tuesday and Thursday for 8-9 mile runs so I feel like things are back on track. 

Now I’m heading off the England for a week to do some work with the British Computer Society (BCS) and to catch up with my ‘rents. It should be a quiet week with a couple of days in London and at my family home, but here should be plenty of opportunity for running and I’m looking forward to it. 

I’ll also have a day out in the countryside of Oxfordshire and I’m definitely going to run while I’m there! That should be beautiful. 

I’ll try not to be so much of a stranger to the blogosphere and to get back on track. 🙂

Now I’m going to trot (oink) off to my plane and stop this tripe.