Well I ended the last blog mentioning that the stats don’t tell the true story and my last two Sunday’s have reinforced that.
The midweek running has been replaced by long days in the office, and the last two Saturdays have also been worked. I’m not complaining, it’s a busy spell in the project(s) that I’m leading and I always like to feel like I’m comfortably swimming rather than drowning, so keeping ahead is good for my own state of mind. Those Saturdays I’ll get back as holiday too, so a 2 week Xmas & New Year break is now planned in.
Therefore Sunday has been long run / only run day and with Snowdonia rapidly approaching they also demanded to be hilly. Sunday the 9th was also my 401 Challenge Virtual marathon. I was looking forward to it, despite it being a solo effort I knew the Wigan crew would be out there doing the same thing, I knew I would be running on bits of the route of #383. Unfortunately I put the cart before the horse and celebrated the run the night before I actually ran it. I had a lovely meal out with my wife, involving lots of meat, minimal carbs and drinks that looked like I was following the Marc plan on steroids.
A late night, a sluggish start and glorious sunshine greeted me on Sunday morning. The kind of sunshine that I’d normally run around in and tell you all how lovely the countryside looked, but not today. It was the kind of sun that hurt the eyes, that drank all the water from the bottle before you even got it to your mouth and that made you think you were born part vampire.
Suffice to say the run was not a good one. The first 10 miles went by okay, but as I carried on the aches and pains mounted. Niggles of course, nothing serious and nothing that would ever get in the way if I was focussed, but I was far from focussed. The head was down, there was a lot of walking, a lack of pace and for the second time in a month I took my ball home early. No amount of “what would Ben / what would Hollywood do” could get me into the right frame of mind to cover those last 6 miles.
20 miles had been done but there was no pleasure taken, just that nagging voice in my head, my own voice of course, but nagging all the same. I suppose the good thing about being busy at work is that I didn’t have much time to stew in my own pitiful juices.
This Sunday and I controlled the controllables. Sensible carb loading, one drink only and an early night. The weather when I woke up was enough to make me want to crawl back in bed, heavy rain. More pasta for brekkie and a crumpet to ensure I kept the energy up then out the door in rain, that had at least eased a little.
I knew Jim was out ahead of me and I knew I’d see him on one of a couple of hill roads, sure enough as I went down he was coming up and we had a quick chat before heading off, only to pass again twice more (he was doing double reps with the steeper St Mary’s combined with Cold Change Hill which I was on - that’s commitment to hills for sure).
The rain eased, layers were shed and after 3 reps I headed out to Hillesley. The same route as the week before and whilst the speed was little different, it felt better because I’d prepared better. This time I could look at the man in the mirror with honesty not shame.
The miles ticked by, a water refill at home and then onwards to Horton to add a race onto the end of my run. The Horton Winter Bull Run is a 6 mile course, half quiet road and half trail, starting 2 miles from home and running in a loop up onto the Cotswold way, back to Hawkesbury, along the “yellow brick road” and down St Marys and then back to Horton.
Met up with Rich and Amanda, fellow Hawkesbury runners, good chat before we set off, well almost set off, we waited on two ladies who were in the toilet, who then got a lovely round of applause as they joined us at the start line (I’m sure they loved that attention!). We set off and the 40 or so runners headed off. The first part was on a lovely piece of trail uphill, but very runnable and the cows (but no bulls) were well behaved). I had started slowly, I’d 14 miles in my legs already so maybe slowly was the only speed I was ever going to start at, but it was comfortable.
We then got onto the Cotswold Way, and local knowledge took over. I walked the up the field, a muddy slope churned by cows, taking a wider line to firmer footing whilst other slithered and in one case fell about me. I suppose its schadenfreude, but that local knowledge saw me steadily move past folks after we reached the top of the hill.
Along the yellow brick road and a good bit of local support from locals out walking the dogs and by Rich’s wife and kids. Then my friends potential energy & momentum came out to support me as I thundered past 3 runners down St Mary’s hill.
Left turn and then 2 miles of undulating road before back down the earlier new trail and then a final short section of road where I managed to reel in one last runner.
Sub 9 min average – I’ll take that. A nice chat with Rich (who’d come third) and Amanda who’d had a cracking run. Then despite the offer of a lift back by Rich, I started back up the hill to head home.
As I trotted up the final section of hill the right calf decided to clamp up, so the final two miles home were a slow trot / walk but thankfully it has eased off today.
The two Sunday runs had virtually the same pace per mile, but I think you can guess which one I enjoyed the most.
Taper time I suppose, if I felt that I’d earned it
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