Marathon season already?!

Posted on: 01 Apr 2018

Domestic matters first. I have set up 3 events in Buzz Word on Facebook for runners of the 3 big spring marathons to leave their numbers and so spectators can coordinate. Also two socials (Saturday and Sunday evenings) around London, again to help coordinate names, location and timings. If you’re on Realbuzz and want to join Buzz Word on facebook, just find us on FB and ask to join.

Then to other very domestic matters , 2 weekends in March were spent with Mum. The first with all the family and my sister starting to clear the 4 bed house and the second doing more clearance but also getting Mum to her “interview” at her new place so they could “approve” her. (In reality this is just checking that she is capable of independent living). I’ve therefore been handing off the contents of the Fleet house. 1960’s wooden ski’s to a mate. 150 drama texts to the school along with French language versions of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. 5 sets of ladies golf clubs to a local club and 450 sci-fi books to Oxfam. There is a fully functioning 1935 electrolux vacuum in its original box with all the gadgets including a paint sprayer, I’m seeing if a museum wants that. There is also a box of work related stuff including maps and reconnaissance photos from one of Dads’ postings that give a slightly disconcerting view on the past.

Sandwiched between those two weekends was our office move. I’m in charge of the project and along with my team we worked the evenings beforehand and then long days over the weekend to get everything moved into the new office. The snow came again which hampered the work a little and made getting home on the Sunday night “interesting”. However it all got done and everyone transitioned smoothly into the new space. I’m now enjoying using the 5 days off in lieu so a lot of 3 day weeks in the offing.

On the running front things started off slowly in March, but then have picked up. The heavy snow at the start meant the Green Man was cancelled. This was in hindsight a blessing as I would have run it and with my lack of proper training I would have probably broken myself on it and affected London badly.

Instead I managed a really fun run in the snow. Clambering over 6’ wind blown drifts and wading through 2’ snow down a path (on all fours at one point) and the next day ran with Jim with the snow fast melting around us. 23 miles in total. Mid week I managed 6 miles from the new office heading NW on the Bristol – Bath cycle path and 16 miles on a late and rather wet Sunday afternoon. Then a lull of almost 2 weeks before I got another early run in on Friday, heading SE on the cycle path. The views were lovely, as the Avon & canal loops around the path. 

On Monday I had taken the day off and after depositing various items off (see above) so about 10:30 I got out running. The day was the warmest for a long time with glorious sunshine, so gloves and sleeves were quickly shed. I’d planned to meet Jim around midday so planned to do about 10 miles. I took a slightly hilly route (not there is too much choice around our way) but decided to walk the ups to get in the practice of run/walk. I then met up with Jim and in our finest RNLI tops we headed out towards Badminton. 

We were following Jim’s 5 min run / 1 min walk strictly and I have to say having that structure really helped me. It broke up the run and helped maintain the legs (the fact that Jim has run the route so knew how best to match the walks with the uphills). We trotted through the Duke’s land and had a selfie at the same fence we’d taken photos at with Ben Smith when the 401 came to Hawkesbury. Then the tougher miles, as from the glutes down through to the calves the muscles were aching. However the pace was being maintained. Overall 20.5 miles at 9’ 36” pace. I’d dreamt of a pub meal most of the way round, but actually didn’t fancy anything so big much so sated myself on freshly made scotch egg from the Village Shop.

Wednesday night I managed to slot in a quick(ish) 4 miles and then on Friday the family piled in the car and off we went to the in-laws for the weekend up near Bolton.

A few weeks earlier Kim, my wife, could sense that I was concerned over my lack of running. I mentioned I’d take the running kit with me and Kim had the genius idea that I contact Jenny & David to see if they wanted to meet up to run. Therefore early yesterday I got up, had a rare breakfast and set off to Nelson Pit near Stockport. 

I arrived early and jokingly messaged to say I must have parked in the wrong place as it wasn’t raining. Seconds later the drizzle started. Thankfully by the time Dave & Jenny came into view the drizzle had stopped, however it was pretty darn chilly. I was both relieved and sad to see Dave in his civvies rather than the running kit, I can confirm he did not run a yard, but instead gave sterling support to our run.

Jenny and I started off on the canal towpath. The idea was to do 2.5 miles out, then back, see Dave and then do another 2.5 in the other direction before switching to the old railway track. We had a good catchup in this first section, running of course but also kids, work, pets etc. All this whilst puddle jumping and trying not to get the feet soaked in the first few miles. 

We met up with Dave who was absolutely focused on his responsibility for support and social media manager and we quickly had bottles filled and food dispensed. Given the mud we decided to move straight onto the railway path and at this point we split up as we headed south. The path was in a narrow old railway cutting and slightly oddly had one path for pedestrians and one for horses, sometimes these were side by side, but occasionally they separated. The horse track was the better one, except when it had horses on it, in which case I made my way on to the other path. The first time this happened coincided with the pedestrian path heading up a load of steps to follow the path from the top of the embankment for a quarter mile before dipping back down. 

I decided to employ a run/walk strategy taking a one minute walk at the start of every mile. This seemed to give the legs a breather without me beating myself up for walking. The path was quite busy with walkers, runners and riders as well as dog walkers, so there were plenty of people to chase down as well. Towards the end of my first “out” on the path I reached the village of Bollington where the path goes on the top of a lovely viaduct, giving fabulous views above the roof tops. Then with 4 more miles bagged I turned back. I caught Jenny up about a 1.5 miles before we’d meet Dave again a few quick words, health check on aches and onwards to choc brownies and a water top up. A half completed just under 2:10

I headed off again, north this time so into the steady breeze, past the Dad trying to teach his (crying) son to ride a bike, the workmen erecting a new gate, the boys on their bike’s pausing to read an OS map. Then suddenly houses appear and with it shortly the end of the path. Back I go, and see Jenny again, we both give each other that acknowledgement of “yes it aches a lot now”. Keep running, keep walking, the workmen have now gone, the son is no longer crying and the boys must have found their way. Then in the distance on the bridge above I spy a Dave and soon enough it’s time for a few more sweets before heading back out to meet up with Jenny. 

A final run walk with Jenny and we’re done. In my case 22 miles in 3hrs 33mins. 

A quick change and then into the pub right next to the path and then the most bizarre of experiences. I hear my name being called and there, at the far end of the pub is Anne, who lives in Hawkesbury and is a good friend. (She does have previous having bumped into someone in Adelade earlier this year.)

The lushest of pies were then eagerly devoured (steak, mushroom and stilton for me) as we sat as close as possible to the fire (none as close as Jenny’s trainers mind!). More chat and running plans before parting after a very fine time together (as it always seems to be when Buzzers meet).

On the journey back towards Bolton the mind starts to think about plans for London. I start with Jim, we’ll run miles side by side for sure. I’m there to enjoy it, to soak in the sights, to do what I failed to do the only time I ran it 4 years ago. The training is to make sure I don’t disrespect the distance, not because I am gunning for a time, but of course the mind starts to calculate and whir and as much as I tell myself time doesn’t matter, it will.

Tick tock time......

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