So, a weekend of running to update on, and as I sit here with beef roasting and the smell of victory all around (and a beer by my side as I type) I shall declare myself happy enough.
Saturday was a 15 miler. Friday afternoon, as I felt the sun fighting through the cloud cover that we had all week, I allowed myself to feel hopeful about the weather for the run; a quick glance at the weather forecast put paid to any optimism I may have had - rain, and heavy at that, all with a strong wind to boot.
Ah well, control the controllables as a wise man once said. One thing that is frustrating with weather forecasts is that they are always more likely to be accurate when they predict bad weather. And so it proved – I met Dave at the war memorial and we set off into the teeth of a gale. The plan was to run on the Cotswold Way to Tormarton and then back in via the Badminton estate. My word it was a strong old wind that we were heading south west into; at times, we were shouting to be heard – for the rest of it, we didn’t even bother!
Whilst the plan had been to stick to The Way, we decided (slightly unusually for us) that discretion may have been the better part of valour – I wanted miles, and I wasn’t as fussed over how they came. So, there was a bit of road work – this cut out the hill fort at Horton, as well as the descent into the village and, sadly therefore, Hollywood Hill.
We hit the Roman camp and then it was the Way; by now, it was clear to Dave that his knee was playing up and so he took the sensible decision to turn for home. That, of course, left your man to head out alone. The adverse camber on the field to Sodbury church was hilarious; I took the decision to focus on staying upright and so abandoned running. Believe me, just walking and not slipping over took all my powers of concentration!
And so into Dyson land, Dodington Estate; the grounds were as lovely as ever, the ascent up towards the A46 as hard as ever. A few sheep looked forlornly on as I climbed – by now, I had given up grumbling and was finding the whole thing funny in its absurdity. Of course, not another living soul had I seen; most were sensibly inside, and the even more sane ones still abed! Anyway, whilst Dyson is known for suction, this was full on blowing still!
Finally, out of Tormarton and some respite for the wind; amazing how it seems to drop as soon as it’s not in your face. I am sure that I had the benefit of it once I turned away from the M4 and had it at my back. Some easy miles therefore follow; a bit of back road work, and then Lime Avenue for a bit. I was pleased that the average pace responded as I had hoped – I sped up as the going got better, and then better still onto Roach Lane. Into Badminton estate and then the final slog through the mudfest of Swangrove and hence home. Just shy of 16 miles, and pleased enough.
Of course the thing that I always like to focus on is the back-to-backer. It’s been a mainstay of my trail running efforts for quite some time now; it doesn’t have to be as far as the first day, it certainly doesn’t have to be quick and it most (most!) definitely doesn’t need to be enjoyed. What it does need to be is done.
So, after a splendid meal cooked by our girls (and therefore a drop of beer and wine – how wonderful does the first drop of the week taste? Full of virtue and victory, if you ask me!) on the Saturday night, I managed to have my daps laced up and be out of the door by 9am. What a difference a day makes – the wind and rain had been replaced by dry and sun. I knew that the trails would take a while longer to dry and so opted for the back roads around Badminton. I wanted to do at least 10 miles; to help me, I went for a run (2 mins 30)/walk (45 secs) strategy. This has helped me greatly over the years where otherwise the tedium of tarmac may sap my willpower as much as the constant running would sap my legs. Into Badminton and then through the estate; how lucky I am to have such a place to run!
What pleased me most was the turn out of the estate; how easy it would have been to turn for home. But, steeling myself, I turned away and on to Didmarton. That of course meant the brutality of Beech Lane – see it at the start of a run and it would be a trifling incline perhaps; it is the nature of geography around here that it is always at the end of a run. It’s a constant drag up hill, usually into a wind. It gnaws at whatever remaining strength you have. From there, down Starveal Lane; determination renewed, I eschewed the turn for home and headed for Bath Lane instead. Up to Mrs.P’s and then home. A half marathon, sub 2.10! Boom!!
A good weekend of running, and all topped off with roast beef; days are made for this!
On a yard, one and all.
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