Around The Rugged Rock ...

Posted on: 07 Feb 2015

Sunday morning and the plan says 16 miles. Early start planned. Alarm at 6:00, porridge, and out for 7:00. I wake up and check the clock – must be getting close to six – bugger – 6:51 – I remember – I set the alarm back an hour on Saturday, so we're already running late. Porridge and tea made, and I sit down to eat them. At least this means my schedule matches that of last week's training partner Hayley, so engage in a quick bout of lighthearted FB banter, empty the dishwasher, and prepare to head out.

But what is the plan. It is a glorious morning. We'll start by heading over to Portland. There is some logic behind this. I was reminded earlier in the week of the need to be prepared to embrace the comfort stop. Know your body people say. Well one of the things I know about mine is that if I'm going to need a comfort stop, then the visitor centre on the causeway over to Portland, together with its 24 hour "facilities", is perfectly positioned. I head off, down the Rodwell Trail, and at Ferrybridge, head towards "The Rock". And, right on queue, reach the visitor centre at exactly the right time. Five minutes later, and a good deal happier, the serious running can begin :-)

Start talking to self. One of the presents I asked for at Christmas was some proper headphones, so I could play music and maybe podcasts on the long run, since (as explained elsewhere) I don't feel the same need to muse over the meaning of life, the universe and everything (and that's just for starters) this year. Memo to self – you really must sort out a play list and start bringing those headphones. After what felt like a successful running week, it really doesn't seem to be flowing today. Sixteen miles feels like a long way. But as I head over the causeway a eureka moment. I've walked around Portland and it's about a seventeen mile walk around the coast path from home, so let's go over and do a loop of the island by road and that should just about do it.

Then a familiar face – Mike the Weymouth parkrun director – heading back the other way. He tells me how tough it is heading back into the stiff biting wind. You sure know how to make a boy feel good Mike!! Although a creature of habit, I change things by heading out past the sailing academy, where the Olympic sailing was based. Previously I've always done this on the way back. Then start heading uphill through the little town of Fortuneswell (got quite a ring to it), which is alright. Then at the top, turn left and soon realise how steep this bit is. And there's me been expounding the merits of Lanehouse as a hill. C'mon that's just an ant-hill – Portland – now that's a real man's (and woman's) hill. And my reponse ... walk.

The opportunity to take a gel – thought I should get used to these again, and as the slope eases, I start to run easy, to the top of the "island" with stunning panoramic views all around. And now turn left and head off down the island. This is familiar territory from last year's around the rock 10k - one of my worst ever :-( But at least we got a good shirt (flourescent yellow) which I have worn just about every run this winter (including today). It is now all downhill and progress is much easier.  I head through Easton and Wakeham and now the sun is beating down and I marvel at the views of the sea on my left and think that there really are far worse things I could be doing on this Sunday morning. But how far to go? I fear that going all the way to Portland Bill will take me well over the sixteen miles, which I don't want. As I reach Southwell, Garmin tells me I'm about half way. So lets continue on the 10k route and head back up to the top of the island.

Last year I had to walk bits of this. But today I keep it going. I know I'm a much better runner than I was that day last year. But towards the top, as the road is more exposed, a taster of the cold biting wind I was warned about. At Portland Heights I turn left and back down the steep slope to the bottom of the island. My right ankle is feeling a bit stiff, but as I go downhill it eases. At the bottom, Chiswell, I take a detour to run to the end of the promenade and back. I'm sure I recognise that dog walker (from behind). Indeed it is Chrissie from skittles. A quick hug, and she assures me that she is following the blog - thanks Chrissie – I shall be testing you on this later ;-) And strike for home.

Mike was right. Althought it is a pretty nice day it can still be really windy on the causeway, and this is tough. I'm very glad as each km is ticked off, but feel I'm in a good place. After all, running distances was never meant to be easy was it? but I'm sticking at it. If I go straight home, I know I'll be a bit short of distance. So I head back up the Rodwell Trail and add in one or two little detours to add a few yards here and there. And I have a small chuckle as I head into a little housing development. I am reminded of our erstwhile next door neighbours who once told me that "people like you shouldn't live in a road like this". 'Cos this is where they moved to after we drove them away. I wonder if they are still there? And if so which house? If only I knew maybe I could go and have a pee on the driveway! C'mon – you need to get home.

As I get to the top of my road, Garmin buzzes to tell me that 26km is completed. Garmin also tells me I've averaged 6:15 mins / km, which is one second more than the plan said (I blame you Chrissie since I didn't stop the clock when I was talking to you). It's all downhill from here – sprint – for the record I didn't get it down to 6:14. Forgotten all about Andy Murray – how's he getting on? - alright at the moment – but we know what happened after that. So I reckon I had a rather better time than Andy did. But I think he earned more.

(that was last Sunday's effort - a nice "drop back" week for me this week - 14 miles on the plan tomorrow).

En Route Pour Paris,

The Ragged Rascal, AKA Keith

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