So, a weekly progress report.
How’s it gone? Well, if I didn’t know that I had a slog in front of me before, I do now. The weight is hard to shift (getting old, slower metabolism), and what I had managed to lose was put back on again in beer at the Hawkesbury Show. Ah, but what a show – the longest consecutively running in the UK, 133 not out. To be fair to me and my resisting of temptation, they were the first beers of the week.
Anyway, runs-wise I have clocked up 4 this week, just under 40 miles in total. A couple of slogs around Briz during the working week between them made a half marathon; not a lot to say about them really, just that they got done.
Friday and Saturday were the days that I knew I needed to go longer. I am conscious that I need to be hitting 20 milers, back to back, and soon. But I also know that if I try and do too much, too soon, I run the risk of injuring myself.
So, after two 10 milers last week, I resolved to make them half marathons this week.
I have been reading a few ACC blogs. A few things stand out, but, foremost in my mind, is the elevation. Like all good (or bad…) coastal paths, there’s a lot of lumpiness around. Each day has at least 650m of climbing.
Now, where could I find hills? You know the answer I am sure. Hills are all around me, hills are the Cotswold Way and countless other trails for this man to run.
Friday, then, would be a lumpy day. The Cotswold Way is many things to me as you know, but one thing that it will always deliver is lumps. Funnily enough, the bit around Hawkesbury is “flat.” I didn’t want to waste miles on flat, and so I drove to North Nibley.
13 very hilly, very slow miles followed. Stinchcombe, Cam Long Down, Coaley Peak, Uley Bury and all the same again in reverse. There was never a flat section that was long enough to get into any form of rhythm at all. But rhythm wasn’t what I wanted (dad dancing means I’ve never had any anyway!), and so it didn’t matter. What I wanted was relentless forward progress.
As I ran, I thought a lot about the spirit of the trail runner. It’s encapsulated by the documentary that I had been watching on the Barkley Marathons – “Where dreams go to die.” I am but an amoeba in this wonderful pool of runners, but I share the spirit with the best of them – we all do. Keep the mind strong, and the legs can do extraordinary things.
I got back to my car at 12 miles. Ha! Only one thing for it – the long, tortuous climb up to the Tyndale Monument. All told, 13.1 miles done. More importantly, 690m of climbing. In a half marathon! Brutal.
As soon as I got home, it was running kit off and apron on. This man became a chef as he rustled up a quiche, a bread and some brownies for the show. All that zooming around the kitchen probably helped ensure I didn’t stiffen up too much.
Saturday morning, and the alarm was set early. When it went off, every fibre in my body bar one wanted to turn over and sleep some more. The one fibre that didn’t was the extra one that I, like you, possess. It’s the Buzzer fibre. It’s the one that drives us on.
Knowing that Max and Bolty were going to be on challenges of their own, I laced ‘em up and got out there by 6.30am. Sane people were still abed on a Bank Holiday weekend, but I was running.
I knew that I didn’t have as long, and so trails weren’t an option. I had to slum it on roads. Not that they’re bad roads; they’re Badminton roads. And, what a joy I had; I ran into the Beaufort hounds being exercised. As a dog lover (and not as a fox…), it was heaven. They’re so lush, and ever so friendly.
Anyway, I had set myself gold/silver and bronze targets of 10 min/10.5 min/11 min miling. I was pleased with how the legs kicked on given the beasting of the previous day’s hills. It soon became clear that if I wanted it, the sub 10 min gold medal was mine. And gold it was. 9.43 pace for a circuit that isn’t completely flat, but is totally beautiful.
So, with the spirit of the trail runner, and with the extra fibre that Buzzers have, there has been some progress over the last week. There is a titanic struggle ahead yet to achieve my goal of sub 20 hours, but this dream isn’t ready to go anywhere and die just yet.
Here’s to another week of the same; a la Freiheit, I'm keeping the dream alive.
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