Fitting it in

Posted on: 19 May 2019

Well 3.5 months between blog posts ain’t good, but so be it. Time for an update it seems

The Green Man at the start of March turned out to be a PB run. Which surprised both Jim and I. I had hopes of trying to match the sub 10hr of September run but expected it to be slower due to the ground conditions. As it was, we had a couple of weeks of dry sunny weather in Feb and so the ground was much better than normal. No wading through 6 inches of slurry mud near Keynsham, or sliding downhill whilst running uphill near Wick.

It was as ever tough, but mentally it felt like we both had the measure of it. The miles ticked by with a good bit of chat, or sometimes silence that is quite natural for us now and we had time for the obligatory pat of the Green Man’s head before coming home in 9hrs 39min. Happy days!

A bit of recovery time then a 17mile drop off and run home were squeezed into weekends.

In April my runs took me all over the parish (quite literally). Hawkesbury is in the Cotswold AONB and has a network of volunteer wardens who patrol public rights of way (PROWs) and carry out clearance jobs, or form work parties for bigger tasks such as installing gates. I’d decided that I wanted to put something back, given all the wonderful experiences I’ve had here, so after a few days training I became the Parish Warden for Hawkesbury.

I therefore spent a lot of time studying the parish boundaries and the “definitive map” denoting the PROWs and cobbled them together into a series of runs so I could check them all out. Mentally taking notes of areas that need work and putting it all into a spreadsheet (I love a good spreadsheet). Then following up areas that need clearing (such as overgrown stiles or low hanging branches) with a handsaw, secateurs, gloves and an official fluorescent vest 😊.  Overall I’m responsible for 81 paths, covering 31 miles and with all the comms with the rest of the Wardens the local council and parish council, I’m finding it very rewarding. It also helps that my company (Pukka Herbs) allows staff paid time off to volunteer if linked to environmental good causes, so I’ve been able to get trained and join work parties mid-week too.

Come mid-April, I sensed I needed to up the amount of running but couldn’t rely on weekends as I wanted to be more present as the kids both have exams that have now started (A levels for Jack and GCSEs for Annice). I still do one longish run at the weekend, but I’m making the most of the light mornings and running into work 2-3 times per week (12 mile trip) a lovely route mainly on cycle paths and away from traffic. Even managed a run in and out last Wednesday, although I must say the return leg was rather laboured.

60 mile, 56 mile and 35 mile weeks have occurred which I’m very pleased about and with the added bonus of reducing my carbon emissions. The next two weeks will be quieter as I taper ahead of the VOGUM (Vale of Glamorgan Ultra Marathon) on the 1st June.

It’s a mainly coastal run from Porthcawl to Penarth (just west of Cardiff) about 40 miles, run by Pegasus Ultra Running. They seem to have a good attitude, with plenty of checkpoints (6) and no cut offs, so plenty of picnic opportunities. The elevation profile is typically coastal (i.e. brutal) with a fair few steps, so the weekend runs have involved the Cotswold escarpment a few times for good measure.

During all of this time my wife Kim has been following a running program similar to C25K and just finished it this week. Having never run before she is now able to run for 30 mins non stop. I'm hugely proud of her and although she refuses to let me run with her, I have had the chance to do some "sheep dog" runs with her and been impressed with how she has built up. Even better I know she is planning to keep it going by doing parkruns fairly regularly.

Enjoy your running folks

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