Great to see so many blogs on here, I hope the numbers keep up post VLM. I am getting worse it appears, like the Garmin the stats do not lie. I’ve had a nice afternoon catching up on blogs and then the frustration of losing my blog, ho hum.
Last time I posted I was on a run streak, and this continued to 20 days total (dust in the wind to a certain man called Ron Hill) but the best I had ever managed, combined with my 21 mile trail run on 8th Jan, I had also racked up 3 back to back 50 mile weeks. It certainly helped stave off the worst of the festive excesses.
A good base to start the New Year, but not a base I could build on for 3 weeks. Long days at work and two great weekends away from home meant few miles were run. I did enjoy partially excavating what we believe to be a WW II bomb shelter (it may have been a mausoleum but I discounted that) on the first weekend. Then the long awaited “lads” weekend at Butlins, it was great fun. A 60’s weekend with bands like The Animals (or rather the last original one) and Gerry & the Pacemakers meant that most other residents were a good 20 years older than us (I have never seen so many mobility scooters in use at one time). That said they were rather more sprightly than we were on Saturday morning whilst we played the slowest ever 5 a side football match amongst ourselves.
These weekends have also put a dent in my weight loss challenge to get down to my “fighting weight” of below 15st. (32 pints on the Butlins weekend is definitely not going to help now is it). I have shifted a few pounds, but I went in to my first race of the season ‘comfortably’ above my target. Mind you I had my new race vest on, replacing my backpack, which meant the waist strap that so nicely highlighted my belly was gone. Mind you the vest does act a bit like a wonderbra for my moobs, so it will be a while before I can take to the catwalk.
I also went into it with a cold and a niggly knee, but it’s a trail run so the time is in the background rather than front of mind.
Yes it was time for Rok the Stones, a firm date in the diary, fairly local, very welcoming, smashing catering, organised by runners, supported by the whole village of Stanton Drew and a tough but stunning course. Jim gave me a lift in the Landie (a 4x4 is an advantage given the state the car park field can get in) so we had plenty of time to chat about the race.
The three differing loops with a mid loop aid station means the race nicely chunks down so I decided to just run and see how I got on. The ground was pretty muddy, but better than last year and the organisers had marked more of the course and increased the marshals, who also gave great encouragement (much needed at times). I also aided my fellow runners navigation by leaving a regular trail of glistening snot on the ground. It would be fair to say the cold “shifted” itself during the run.
Jim and I ran together for half of loop 1, I started to pull away and then had kit malfunction as my 2 litre bladder managed to unzip itself and flop out the back of the race vest.
Luckily I caught it and with Jim’s help managed to get the vest off without bursting the bladder. I spent some time wrestling the blubbery bladder back into its pocket, zipped it up and this time tied the zipper to a spare dangly thing (all good kit comes with dangly things for no obvious reason until you find a good use for it).
I got going again and caught up with Jim just as we reached the descent into Pensford and then I was off, like a charging rhino, down the hill.
Loop one done and it was then up the beast of Dundry magnificent views from the top rewarding us all for a beast of a climb.
The downhill was lovely to the aid station but then the wheels started to wobble, the cold was turning a bit cough like and I was starting to lose motivation.
I did a quick turnaround at the end of loop 2 and got going on loop 3 (fuelled by a magnificently sticky chocolate brownie), waved at and got a wave back from Jim from two fields away as he returned from loop 2 (just one of the many advantages bright orange shirts bring us). However anything with the slightest of inclines I was walking, I was just not enjoying it now.
Tough couple of climbs didn’t help the motivation and I was not feeling the joy at all as I reached the final aid station. A bit of a chat with myself and a check of the distance meant I left in a better frame of mind and whilst walking was still needed, I ran more and I suppose finished relatively strongly compared to the earlier part of the loop.
All done, 27.2 miles in 5hr 23min, which whilst my slowest of 3 runnings on the course, I was happy with. I had a look back this morning, at my best run from 2015, when I was 40 mins faster and it made me realise how good I was at that point. Sure the conditions were better underfoot, but I was better trained and lighter.
The Green man is the next challenge, just as it was in 2015, so whilst checking out the old stats I noticed that the day after Rok the Stones I went out and ran, my first ever back to back. Well that thought combined with HD going out for his first race of the year got me out of bed and out the door.
I had no plan but I decided to stick to the roads and also not to walk any of it, whatever “it” turned out to be. I did stop a mile in to chat to a guy erecting a temporary radio mast. He is an amateur radio enthusiast and they have a competition to see who can reach the furthest verifiable contact. His rig can reach up to 4000km so who knows who he got talking to today, a mile further on I met another chap that I'm sure I had met before, but couldn't remember his name, but he obliged with a selfie.
In the end I did 9 miles, running the lot, which has shifted the last of the cold and ensured tonight’s beers in the pub have been earned.
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