Archive for October, 2012

Henley Half Marathon

Monday, October 15th, 2012

John, Grit and Me before the Race

Grit with a Stag in the Flower Pot Inn

The wonderful Flower Pot Inn

The Start Line

Grit in the Clubhouse

When my body says NO I say YES

Liam before the Race

Sunday 14th October 2012
We scraped the ice off the windscreen and drove from Cholsey to Henley through a faint mist and a totally blinding sun. It had been a fairly wet week but it looked like it was going to be a great cool sunny morning for the run. Grit and I had been invited for dinner with the Halsalls on Saturday evening. We took the high risk option and accepted. Not that the food would ever be high risk, it is always amazing, but normally the main course gets served just after midnight and the alcohol can be, well lets just say, generous. Amazingly, we ate scumptious pasta at 8.30 pm (a personal best for John Halsall) and only had one beer! Honest! It was good to see Jack and Ella on top form.
There were about 1200 competitors in the races and we got parked just before the mad rush. It was well organised although the distinct lack of Ladies Loos caused a huge queue which must have been frustrating for some.
Grit, John, Liam and I found a position about midway in the crowd ready for the start. It was chipped timed so the fact that it took a minute or so to get over the start line didn’t matter too much. We looped around the Rugby Club grounds and then exited onto the road. The run was 90% on road which isn’t my favourite surface but it is a bit faster than running on trails. Grit was wearing Merrel barefoots and the rest of us wore trainers. We ran over the Henley Bridge then off onto a great little road heading towards the Flower Pot Inn. I was going for a negative split and only aiming to get within the 2 hour mark but it seemed quite fast and relatively easy. At the half way mark I guzzled half a gel ready for the 100m climb. I was well ahead of my planned time but felt OK and I prefer hills to flat.
About halfway up the hill I got one of my urges to go faster and started to sprint up past lots of runners but sadly I can’t sustain it for long enough and had to ease back I need to really practise more hills but because Greenwich Park has been closed this year it has spoilt my local hill training area. The hill was pretty easy and then there was a nice runnable downhill section for a few miles before getting onto the Fairmile for the last mile or so. I always like to sprint at the very end if possible but misjudged where the finish line was so I had to slow down a bit before the end. More speed practise needed! Liam had already romped in but I was pretty chuffed with my time of 1 hour 46 minutes and 35 seconds which was a personal best by a few seconds.

In fact we all did really well and we all came well inside the 2 hours we had set ourselves. We listened to the prize giving which was a strange affair because the lady announcing the prizes had to face backwards to speak into the microphone and most people just wandered off. It was a bit of a shame because I think all the volunteers really deserved a massive big clap for all their efforts. It was a great run. We celebrated at the Flower Inn, a favourite little pub near the river. Next is the Marlow Half Marathon on 4th November. It is meant to be hilly so it could be fun.

Cowes to Chichester

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012


One of the Solent’s Forts

Jet Skis frolicking while the “Strong Wind Warnings” were being issued. Hardly a puff of wind.

The Lovely Brimble off Osbourne Bay

Brawns Restuarant in Cowes with Selma and Grit

The Hovercraft off Ryde

Log ? 6th-7th October 2012
The journey to Cowes from London is rather spoiled by the poor link between the train and the ferry. I get the impression that Southampton would rather you stayed in town instead of spending your money on the Isle of Wight. In theory there is a free bus link between the train and the boat but there is no timetable to be found anywhere and even the bus drivers can’t say if the service is still running. The local taxis milk it for all its worth. It is all a bit of a shame because it adds just that extra hassle which makes leaving the Good Ship at Cowes too much like hard work. Still the boat ride is always fun. The slow boat leaves you in East Cowes, handy for East Cowes Marina, but as it takes about an hour it is only worth it during the daylight when you can enjoy the views. The high speed ferry ends up in West Cowes but costs more, actually it is really expensive. As usual there are a highly complex series of secretive deals to be had. None of which you will find if you use the automatic ticket machines. So to sum up, I left work at 1815LT and got to the rather clinical “Lifeboat” pub by the marina at 1045LT. That is an average speed of 14 miles an hour, about cycling pace.

We had a busy schedule for Saturday. I said I would look over a 38ft Swan with a friend of mine in the morning so the Water Taxi came to pick me up at 10am. A fine Swan she was too with lots of loving care put into her. The only negative bit was the mast step which is so often the case on lots of yachts. I suppose water will inevitably gets down the mast and with a keel stepped mast it is in a rather enclosed area ripe for a bit of corrosion. All repairable I am sure. Otherwise lots of new gizmos and lovely new teak deck and a new engine. My friend is now thinking about buying it!
After seeing the yacht, Grit and I went for a run from Cowes to Newport and back along the cycle path. It is a nice shady run but a bit flat for my liking. The best bit is towards the end when you can divert along a nice dirty trial by the River Medina. Our speed was pretty apalling at 9.33 minutes per mile over 7.57 miles. That would be a very slow half marathon.
We just finished the run in time to spot Brimble on the AIS entering Cowes so we waited to greet them before going for a shower. The East Cowes Marina was packed with Challenger Boats so Brimble had to snuggle in behind them. There is a bit of tide that runs through the marina and one poor yacht really fouled up trying to get into a near impossible guest berth. I felt a bit sorry for them.
Once we were showered, Selma and John and Grit and I headed to the bright lights of Cowes City Centre. As we are doing the Henley Half Marathon next week, in theory we shouldn’t be tanking back the beers but somehow we got a bit carried away and had a fairly boozy night. We had a great tapas/pizza meal in Brawns. Grit and I ate there the week before and would recommend it. John told us of the MayDay they had heard that afternoon. It was text book perfect, very calm with all the details, there was a man overboard in Osbourne Bay. The coastguard couldn’t make contact with them and asked other boats to see if they could help. After a fair while of MayDay Silence etc a yacht called in to say they had seen a training yacht in Osbourne Bay practising Man Overboard! Oh Dear, he must have pushed in the transmit button! All a bit embarrasing.
In the morning Brimble and Sumara left together at 0800LT to catch the east going tide. The sun was out but there wasn’t much wind. However there was enough to move and we weren’t in a hurry. Brimble peeled off North to the Hamble after an hour and we carried on, having to use the motor from time to time. As we ghosted along we listened to the usual strong wind warnings coming from the Met Office. It was like a lovely summer day as we neared Chichester Beacon and headed up the channel over the bar. We eventually moored in a very tight spot on a very very short pontoon in Chichester Yacht Basin at about 1600. It might end up being my last sail of the year. The boat is being lifted on the 23rd November. Awe.