Only three weeks left to go before the Thames a path 100k so time for a catch up on what I've been up to for the last couple of weeks. Thanks ever so much for the training feedback on my last blog, I really appreciated that
My new boots arrived midweek and I was very keen to try them out so next day we took the advice given and did our first back to back training walks. On the Thursday night we had dinner as usual then got geared up for a late walk (that did feel odd setting out on a full stomach!). We started out at 8.35pm to do a local walk of roughly 10 miles that we've mostly done several times before. Much of the the walk was along main roads so not terribly pleasant amidst the traffic fumes although we did manage to take a wooded section away from the road early on. It was interesting to wind our way through a woodland we hadn't walked through before when it was very almost dark, not using the head torches because we wanted to see if there were any glow worms about (sadly not). Back onto the main road after that and at least we were lucky in that there is a combined cycle path/footpath along that section. On reaching the outskirts of Woking we turned off to complete the next section along the Basingstoke Canal. This section was much better and good practice for using the head torches. Several times on this section, inebriated young people came lurching towards us out of the dark. I'm surprised that some of them didn't end up in the canal they were so unsteady on their feet! They must have wondered what on earth was approaching them as these new head torches are pretty powerful. There were one or two interesting sights - the family of swans gliding silently down the middle of the canal as well as good sightings of Daubentons Bats skimming the water surface in their quest for moths to eat. It really did surprise me that given the very bright head torches, neither of us were bothered by flying insects.
We were soon back at a more minor network of roads, which were very quiet by now apart from one fox who stopped to give us a good stare. I must admit it felt surprisingly good to be out being active when others were either slumped in front of their TV's or asleep already. We're both looking forward to the night section of the challenge just because it will be so different to be out walking at night and it could be an opportunity to see things we don't usually see. 9.95 miles done in 2:58 with just a short break of 14 minutes on top to put on head torches and have a cheeky cup of coffee from our flasks. The new boots were perfect so that was a big relief.
Next day we went out for our long walk, choosing another one we've done a couple of times before, but this time in reverse which felt and even looked surprisingly different. We set out from home and walked down to the Basingstoke Canal, then joined the Wey Navigation and followed it south all the way to Godalming. It was a hot and humid day with crystal clear blue skies but there was a very nice cooling breeze from time to time to make it more bearable. There were loads of dragonflies and damselflies around, plus we were treated to the sight of 7 Red Kites hunting in a field next to the canal where the farmer was cutting a hay crop. It also has some very picturesque locks en route so all in all it was a very pleasant walk indeed.
At one point we were diverted off the canal towpath as repair works were in progress. This brought on a fit of the mutters from me as we were diverted along the very busy main road into Guildford. Every cloud has a silver lining though as the petrol station that we passed just happened to sell White Magnums
By the time we reached Godalming and had bought train tickets to get back to our nearest station then walked into the town centre, the coffee shops were closed so no more treats for us! I thought I'd really stiffen up on the journey back and would find the last few km home quite a trial and was pleasantly surprised that after a few stretches, they weren't a problem at all. As we approached home I knew at we were going to be a couple of km short of the target I wanted. Mr K decided that his need for sustenance was greater than the need for distance, so I did the extra distance alone, but that did mean a cup of coffee at exactly the right temperature was waiting for me when I got back 42.2km done in 6:57 moving time plus 2:06 stopped time, so a good amount of time on the feet and still no problems at all with the new boots
This week we intended to follow the same kind of plan but one look at the weather forecast for Friday changed our minds. This time we'd do the long walk on Thursday and a shorter night walk on Friday after the rain had passed through. Yet again we chose a route we've done a couple of times before that includes part of the Thames Path which we'll be seeing again all too soon! Another very hot day but this time it was mostly cloudy and seemed far more humid. Back down to the Basingstoke canal again then this time, turning northwards up the Wey Navigation to meet the River Wey. It's not possible to join the Thames Path directly from the river but it is a very pleasant route across the large open meadows of the flood plain between the Wey and the Thames. As time on the feet is as important as distance at this stage, we spent a fair amount of time collecting wild flower seed for the small wildflower meadow next to our house that we've been maintaining for the last 15 years. A quick picnic lunch when we reached the Thames before pushing on up to Runnymede. It took until the third ice cream van on that section to find one that sold White Magnums and at £2.20 each they seem to be getting more expensive the closer we get to London! As well as the usual Swans, Canada Geese, Mallards, Grebe and Cormorants, we also saw a small family of Egyptian Geese - they always look like they're wearing mascara!
There was also this surreal bit of graffiti under the M25 bridge that made me smile
As we approached Runnymede it was on both our minds that in three weeks time we'd be doing this for real and would be just approaching the half way point! For now though, a great cup of tea from the cafe there and some home made energy bars made for a pleasant short break. The walk back seemed to go more quickly than the walk out, maybe because we piggishly had a second White Magnum each on the way back - hope they still have plenty left by the time we reach them during the event itself No extra loops to walk to make up the distance at the end either
42.7km covered in a moving time of 7:33:30 plus stopped time of 1:42.
Just one slight problem with the boots this week which was entirely my fault. It started about 5km from home when I felt a little bit of irritation under my little toe but it didn't seem like much so I left it for 3km before checking. Too late! A small piece of wood had lodged in my sock had created a very large blister under my toe which had then burst. Lesson now learned - check out any sense of irritation as soon as it starts as I know my foot sensation isn't great. So yesterday's additional night walk was replaced by a five mile gentle daytime walk instead as I don't want to make it any worse right now. I'm sure that with care it'll all be healed by the end of the week
Lastly I'd just like to send MAHOOSIVE good luck wishes to our fantastic Ultra Superstar, Mr Bolt! Come Friday evening I might still be out walking when you'll be standing on the start line of the UTMB listening to that incredible music before the start. Wherever I am at 5pm UK time, I'll be standing still, facing southeast, playing that music and sending every positive vibe I can muster towards you, shoulder to shoulder 💪 💪 💪
Happy training everyone