<Enters the confessional and closes the door>
“Forgive me Father for I have sinned, it has been 6 weeks since my last blog”
The good news is that apart from work and enjoying time with the family the main reason I have not been blogging is that I’ve been too busy running.
A few short runs in late March and a visit to the NHS Physio told me that the aggravation in my knee had been managed out and a measured return to training could commence. This nicely coincided with the start of WYASO and the million challenge which I determined to achieve this year.
However a measured return was called for and two lovely days in London with the family ensured I delayed the start. We stayed just south of Tower Bridge and crossed it each day, oh boy did it bring back good memories. I spent time with Jack at a computer games expo at Tobacco Dock on Saturday whilst the ladies shopped, then we met up for street food behind the South Bank centre before enjoying our first ever orchestral concert. The works of John Williams by the London Concert Orchestra was fabulous (I think they’re doing it again at the Royal Albert Hall later in the year), classic film tunes, beautifully played and more relaxed an atmosphere than I assume Mozart et al would have been. I mean I’m fairly sure that the conductor doesn’t rip open his shirt to reveal his Superman T Shirt in many concerts.
Sunday my Kim and Jack headed home early (so they could plan lessons and revise for GCSEs respectively). Annice and I went to the Natural Organic Products Show at Excel, it’s the big UK industry event for Pukka and we dominated centre space with a fab stand and café. We took our time wandering through stalls, collecting organic chocolate, avoiding dodgy coconut drinks and weird smoothies. Weird to think that 10 years earlier Pukka had been in a far corner, desperate to reach new customers. Who knows which of the stalls we saw will be the next big thing, but I’m fairly sure it won’t be the weirdest product at the event …..Vegan Lubricant .
I’ll just let that sink in.
Alright then on with the running and the comeback started on Monday 3rd April, 8 miles starting at 8pm and trying to avoid using the headlamp. I love dusky running and picking out the route to take (and the roots to avoid). I never run with my glasses so have a fairly poor long distance sight, so it took me a while to spot that the people walking towards me were actually two horses. I turned my torch on about 30 meters away from them and they got spooked and cantered down hill, and then I could hear snapping twigs and felt very bad for startling them. I made it up to the Roman Camp before heading back, avoiding the horses.
On the Tuesday I finished early from work and managed to get out by 5:30 and head up to Tresham, my legs were tired, my head not in the zone but as I reached the top I remembered that it doesn’t bloody matter. Here I was on a lovely spring evening, sun on my face and cows (safely behind a fence) enjoying the same lush grass I had run on. That’s what mattered, I was out doing what I enjoyed, clocking up another 8 miles.
On Wednesday no running as Annice fancied a walk. We did a nice 4 mile loop and met the horses from Monday. The young one was very inquisitive and trotted right behind me knocking my shoulder and clipping my heel before darting off, or maybe he had recognised me from before and wanted some payback. Either way it was good to see they were both OK.
Thursday was a 10 miler with a mix of fields, woodlands, farmyards and wonderful views of the twinkling lights of Bristol. Sadly no badgers spotted, but a good amount of bats.
Friday and a slow puncture didn’t start the day well, but later on as it was in Kwik Fit being fixed I got 5 miles in on a new part (for me) on the Monarch Way, with loads of sheep to chat to.
Saturday and I was pleased when Jim appeared out of the mist to join me on a trot out, round and back from Wotton Park Run. It had been a while since we’d run together and it’s always a pleasure. Cotswold Way was our pleasure, but after 5 miles we left it and found a lovely descent off the infamous Blackquarries hill. As ever the Parkrun helps keep the pace up on these runs, but Wotton has the added benefit of having a snack waggon nearby so after the PR, with 11 miles under our belts we declared it an unofficial CP and duly devoured coffee and a bacon roll. Then with a slightly sloshy tummy we headed back to Hawkesbury, via flat routes (to aid digestion of course), 17 pleasurable miles banked.
Sunday was a double run day (just). Jim and I had been blob watching a guy attempting the Cotswold Way double, 204 miles, 25k ft ascent. “Mitch” was raising funds for research into a rare strain of cancer that his wife has and whilst he had a rotating team of buddy runners, we couldn’t let his entry to Hawkesbury go unmarked, so at 00:30 we started out on a short run out of Hawkesbury, to meet up and escort him in. Following a bit of a “Dr Livingstone” moment we fell in alongside him 2 miles out and chatted away. He’d trained exclusively on the CW for months leading up, with most weeks clocking 120 miles, up to 150 on the peak weeks, this included a 60 mile Saturday run and a 30 mile Sunday run. I don’t know if we helped in any way, but when he reached HU and his support crew, we left him to continue. In the end, he didn’t manage the double, but managed 166 miles in 42 hours which is incredible. I realised I had had an insight into a whole new layer of “The Bubble”, but I think I’m pretty happy just looking at it. I finished Sunday with another short run, 58 miles total for the week.
This week saw a short fast one on Monday due to time pressures, a dusky run (with no horse shenanigans) on Wednesday, which included running through the preparations for the Badminton Horse Trials and another short one on Friday before heading to my parents for the weekend. Always lovely to catch up and enjoy Mum’s fab cooking and of course I can squeeze in a run back in my hometown. Saturday I decided to be a Parkrun tourist so headed out to Rushmoor (between Aldershot and Farnborough), via the Basingstoke canal.
Given all the hills around Hawkesbury it was lovely to have some time on the flat. I set off in good time to make the PR and was ticking along at 9 min miles, however the gurgling in my guts told me I needed to go a bit faster if I was going to reach the toilets in time. I realised I wasn’t going to, so started looking for suitable “cover”.
Now why is it that you can run for miles and see no one and then when you want some seclusion everything is against you. Firstly the airport perimeter road meaning only a few meters of scrub between road and towpath, then a canal boat with occupants moored up, then the Rushmoor arena carpark, then a blooming golf course. Just when I thought I was going to have to do the unmentionable in the sand trap on the par 5 15th, the golf course veered off to the left and I was left with suitable cover.
With that dealt with I still had time to get to Rushmoor, run past it to clock up some extra miles before the start. It’s a simple course and lovely in the dry, but I imagine in midwinter it might be a tad boggy. Around 400 runners and a lot I imagine from the army. I started in the middle and worked my way up the field, finishing just inside the top 100. Then I headed back home and getting 20 miles completed and back home just before Jack emerged from his bed.
A lush roast leg of lamb that evening washed down with a great red, more lovely chat and then the eyelids started dropping. Sunday after breakfast we headed home, but I was dressed in running gear. When we reached Leigh Delamere services on the M4, Kim dropped me off and I ran home, finding new routes including a bit of the Fosse Way (the Roman road from Bath to Cirencester (and onwards to Leicester)). The legs got pretty tired by the end, but I was happy run / walking back to HU and completing an HM. That brought up 54 miles for the week and without any niggles I can confidently say I’m back in training.
Training for what?
Well there is a self supported Green Man in a month, then another Escape from Meriden on 2nd June (with no planned route yet). After that the HU5k (17th June), Cotswold Relay (24th June) and then nothing…. I feel I need something to focus on, time to hit the ultra forums and see what’s about.
Before all of that is of course London and the chance to soak up the brilliant atmosphere it creates. We say it’s at mile 22.5, but given the size of the support crew this year we may be stretched all the way down to Westminster! I cannot wait.
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