Forget the Spice Girls – When (twenty) one becomes (twenty) two

This week saw the last long run on my homemade training schedule. I ran 21 miles last week, so thought I’d better run at least this far this week. I also wanted to run a new route, just to give myself a change. After much plotting on an online route mapping website, I stitched together a route of 21 miles that included many bits I’ve run before and a few new streets. I even printed myself off a map and a basic list of directions in case I forgot where I was going.

Route Map. See that elevation - uphill all the way home
Route Map. See that elevation – uphill all the way home

It was a good route. I ran on little country lanes and along main roads, by the side of the canal and up a by-way, past a filming location for the next day* and one that was already set up** as I trotted through.

In Lacock. Read closely. I think the cat is running a sneaky sideline
In Lacock. Read closely. I think the cat is running a sneaky sideline

It was hard, it took me a long time, but it was surprisingly okay. The sun came out, so it was warmer than last week but I had plenty of water and fuel with me. Actually I did wonder if I should have had more fuel, as I only ate two gels and half a sandwich thin over these 22 miles. One to ponder. I was very pleased that I managed to create this amazing route which didn’t overlap itself at all, until I got home and realised I was just 0.4 miles off a massive 22 miles so (of course) I had to run up the lane and back down just to round it up. What do you think of that, Spice Girls – “When (twenty) one becomes twenty (two)” is much better than your version.

An upsetting recurring theme to this run was dead animals. I seemed to regularly pass corpses – squirrels, a rat, a pancake-flat hedgehog and worst and smelliest of all a deer. I was nearly at the bottom of the last hill back home, on a remote footpath, when I realised I could see something on the path ahead. As I got closer I realised it was a deer – and it was alive! I started walking and fumbling to get my phone out to try and take a picture, and as I tried to focus my bleary eyes I realised there were actually 3 deer. Of course as I got closer they ran off, but I managed to see them again in a neighbouring field.

Deer. You'll have to take my word for it
Deer. You’ll have to take my word for it

I always say if you see a deer it makes it a special day – so to see three, on the day I ran 22 miles … wow!

* Hartham Park
** Lacock

A long run. With many photos

I ran 19 miles yesterday. Well, I walked a bit, had a couple of stops, but mostly I ran. I also took a few photographs as I went along just so I could share them with you. Not because i wanted a rest, of course not.

The route I took went along a disused railway line which is now a cycle path that links Chippenham to Calne. My turnaround point was Black Dog Halt, complete with platform and beautiful gates. My son used to be train mad when he was little, my parents live very close by, and it was always a good day if they took him up there.

At this point I was heading to Calne (5 miles) not Chippenham (1 mile)
At this point I was heading to Calne (5 miles) not Chippenham (1 mile)
The start of Chippenham's very own "Love Lock" bridge
The start of Chippenham’s very own “Love Lock” bridge. I love Wilkos too
The view from the Love Lock Bridge
The view from the Love Lock Bridge
Everything but a train
Everything but a train

I used the platform to lean against and do some stretches, then turned around and ran back home.

Black Dog Halt. best gates ever
Black Dog Halt. best gates ever
Arty grasses. Just because.
Arty grasses. Just because.
Well of course I "woo hoo"ed through it
Well of course I “woo hoo”ed through it

Back home after a shower and a change, I loaded up a tray with lunch and retired to the sofa. Even Big Cat joined me – a rare treat.

All the essentials. Don't judge
All the essentials. Don’t judge

 

Purring massage
Purring massage

Cows, barbed wire and a life lesson

Something funny happened to me on my long run today. I’m taking it as a life lesson, so I’ll share it so you can learn from it as well.

I decided I’d better fit my long run in today, and planned a beautiful 10 mile route from Chippenham along the River Avon, then along the Wilts and Berks canal to the National Trust village of Lacock. As ever, I just can’t resist taking photographs as I go:-

A previously neglected corner of Chippenham
A previously neglected corner of Chippenham
Rebuilding the top lock
Rebuilding the top lock
A boat - never seen one on the canal before
A boat – never seen one on the canal before

Shortly after this section the path crosses several fields before eventually winding down to Lacock. As I entered the first field, I spotted this:-

Cows - my nemesis
Cows – my nemesis

Look closely –  yes, cows. I am scared of cows. Well, I’m reluctant to run through a field of the bovine monsters – have you seen how big they are, close up?! After a close encounter with a pair of amorous bulls on the Marshfield Mudlark in 2013 I reserve the right to stand on my moral high ground and refuse to run near them.

I stood on the edge of the field and dithered for quite a while. I didn’t want to abandon my run and turn back, but I really didn’t want to go past the cows. Inspiration struck, and I decided to leave the footpath and make a detour through some neighbouring fields. Unfortunately this meant crawling on my belly under a gate adorned with barbed wire, running along the rough edge of a field of maize, crashing through a scrubby hedge with another wriggle under barbed wire, then around another field. Success!
I made it to Lacock and ran though the village, no doubt spoiling several tourists’ photos, past the National Trust tearooms (showing great willpower) and then headed back the way I’d come. As I crossed a field on the edge of Lacock I had to overtake a couple of walkers, the sort of walkers where the man has a large floppy brimmed hat, and the woman has sensible walking shoes and a floral top.* I said “hello”, they said “good morning” in a slightly snooty way, and I ran on.

At the bottom edge of the cow-infested field I again set off on my detour through hedges, maize and barbed wire. I was just crawling on my belly under the final gate, when I looked up and guess who had caught me up? Yes, Mr and Mrs Slightly Snooty.

“I see you braved the cows!” I called out whilst casually brushing mud off my legs.
“They’re only heifers” I was grumpily informed. I sighed, and made a mental note that it’s hard to take the moral high ground when you’ve just been spotted face down in the mud under a gate. I think that’s a good life lesson to take away from that incident.

* I’m making no judgements, just setting the scene.

Juneathon Day 30. Last Chance Saloon

Day 30. We made it to the end of Juneathon. Well done everyone! To celebrate, the sun has got his hat on (all together now “hip hip hip hooray!”) and the weather is beautiful if a little hot for a run.

Never mind, time to go out with a bang*. 11 mile long run – done! Yes it was hot, yes it was sweaty, yes I wore my dorky cap and hydration backpack and yes there was some walking involved, but done.

See how much I'm enjoying this?
See how much I’m enjoying this?

And just in case you’ve not had enough of the kittens, just time to sneak a few more photos in

The paws just kill me
The paws just kill me everytime
I wouldn't want to be that close to my trainers after that run ...
I wouldn’t want to be that close to my trainers after that run …

Off to cool down. Juneathon round up tomorrow.

 

* If I’m honest, it was more of a whimper

Juneathon Day 22. Long run with helpers

I have been neglecting my long runs. My run streak has led me to focus on short (but speedier) runs so I was determined to get a longer run in today. It was hard to get out the door as the following video shows:-

I ran 8 miles, it was hard, it was slow, but I did it. I also managed to tie my laces.

Janathon Day 14. Tired and snowy

We woke to snow this morning. I got up and put my running gear on determined to find a route that wasn’t too snowy, icy or wet. Then our boiler stopped working. Hardcore running in the snow is one thing, doing it when you won’t be able to have a hot bath afterwards is quite another.

So I took most of my running kit back off again and rang British Gas.

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Rockin’ the Compression socks with jeans look

Brilliantly by eleven o’clock I was back in all my running gear, ready to set off with the promise of heating and hot water on my return.

Ten miles I managed today. Ten long, hard, tired, slow miles. I would have said “ten miles in the snow” except the snow petered out just outside the village and most of my run was on wet roads in sunshine. Fortunately I managed to capture photographic evidence so I could claim my hardocre “running in the snow” points.

SNOW!!!

 

 

Janathon Day 9. It was either very windy today …

… or there was a wheelie bin killer on the loose.

Dead Wheelie Bins
Dead Wheelie Bins

Nevertheless, 8 miles were run today. By me. In the wind. It felt hard, but the last time I ran this far was early November, so that was hardly surprising.

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Wind blown waves on the muddy puddles

Another big tick was that I managed to avoid the wheelie bin killers as well.

What any Sane, Normal Person would do

As Thursday’s long run was the longest run I’d had for months,  I resolved to take it slow and steady and allow myself tobe easily distracted. After spotting myself in a mirror designed to help someone trying to get out of their drive safely I pondered for some time about safety when running and the usefulness of hi-viz clothing.

Running on down a quieter lane, with wide grassy (muddy) verges I was surprised to spot a sword. A kid’s plastic sword, unbroken, abandoned and just lying flat on the grass.

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Abandoned sword

I eyed it up for a few moments, just lying there, then did what any sane, normal person would do*.

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The sword in the stone (mud)

I must go back that way and see if Arthur has reclaimed his sword.

 

* My daughter disagrees that this is the action of a sane person. But teenagers have to be contrary, it’s in their job description.

Emergency Half Marathon Training Plan #2

After the upset and stress of the past week,  even my Emergency Training Plan went out of the window in a flurry of hospital trips and plaster casts.  Emergency Training Plan #2 needed to be brought out of the small dark place at the back of the wardrobe where I keep such things (behind the old running shoes and race t-shirts worn for going to the allotment).

This plan kicks off with a ridiculously long run 9 days before the race,  followed by some gentle recovery runs and a speed session if the long run hasn’t already killed my legs. A couple of days rest and I’ll be good to go.  (‘Go where?’ is a question I haven’t asked myself yet,  as I’m worried the answer might be ‘to the knackers yard’). Friday was the start of this plan, as it was the day I’d got the boy and his cast into school uniform and back to school. Breakfast at 7.30 was a rushed affair as it was interrupted by the boy needing a clean dressing on his knee,  and wanting a packed lunch making,  and needing help doing up his shirt buttons and putting on his socks.  We finally got out of the house and I delivered him and his sister to school.  I then returned home and tried to get myself in the right frame of mind for a long run, when I haven’t done a long run for weeks.

I suddenly remembered the Beet Shot concentrated beetroot juice I had to try before the race next week, so I grabbed it and slugged it down.  It didn’t taste as bad as I thought it would,  but next time I might try it chilled as ‘cupboard warm’ was a little strange.

I was finally ready to step out of the front door when my tummy gurgled.  I looked at my watch and saw it was 11.30 – breakfast had long since gone down but if I stopped for a snack now I’d never get out.  Exasperated with myself for taking so long to get ready,  I dashed back into the kitchen to see what I could grab to eat.  5 Veggie Percy Pigs seemed like a good compromise between a quick energy boost and something I could eat on the go, so that’s what I grabbed.

I set off on a route that I hoped would be at least 10 miles and hopefully more like 11 in order to really get my body ready to run half marathon distance in 9 days time. The sky was dark and it was threatening to rain as I set off,  so it felt great not to have to fuss about suncream or sunglasses. Of course, a couple of miles down the road the sun came out. This is a strange talent I seem to have, not so useful when out running though!

The Percy Pigs seemed to do the trick, and most of my run was okay.  I felt tired,  bits of me were aching by the end,  but with a Gel after mile 6 and some unusual tunes on my ipod I ran 12 miles. Yay!

So just a couple more runs next week and I’ll be ready for a half marathon next Sunday.  I’ll let you know then how well Emergency Training Plan #2 prepares your body for a race …

Things I spotted on this new route

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What an inviting footpath …
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All roads lead to Thingley
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Miles of Fibre Optic Cable

If a huge drum of Fibre Optic Cable isn’t exciting to you, then you obviously don’t live in a village with snail’s pace broadband but with the hint of Fibre Optic Broadband coming this month *does a little happy dance*.

    Things I learnt from this run

1. 5 Veggie Percy Pigs are a good source of energy
2. Concentrated Beetroot Juice tastes better than expected, but sadly doesn’t give you ‘Barbie-Wee’ despite the warning on the bottle.
3. Dolly Parton singing ‘Jolene’ is surprisingly good to run to.
4. Dolly Parton singing ‘I will always love you’ isn’t.

Juneathon day 18. A long run

A day that starts with going back to bed is never going to be a great one,  unless you’d planned a lazy ‘slump’ day and have nothing else to do. I was really tired but couldn’t get back to sleep so gave up, and got up again.

Then I decided I’d better get my Juneathon done for the day so I climbed into my running gear.  Then I thought maybe I’d feel better if I took my ipod. Them I realised it was probably out of charge as I’ve not used it for so long.  Then I realised that actually I haven’t done a long run for … ooh quite some time.

Finally stopped pfaffing about and got out there. 10 miles done, all of them horrible, and I truly hated every step. None of this “once you get out you’ll enjoy it” nonsense here! Ah well, its done, and it was the longest run I’ve done since Brighton Marathon back in April, so I guess it was long overdue.

Gone
Gone

Oh – the best bit of this run? The hot chocolate, and toast with peanut butter with extra salt crystals sprinkled on it, that I had when I go t back home. I would have taken a photo, but I was too slow and it went.