Having got ‘back in the saddle’ on Monday, I couldn’t get out again for the next 2 days. Two days’ rest after a hard 20-mile race and a recovery run doesn’t sound too bad to me, and my irregular hours and family life mean being hard on myself for missing runs would be pointless, so I’m happy enough with that.
I went out with my club, Chippenham Harriers on Thursday, ‘club night’, and combined amiable ‘running at the speed of chat’ with ‘pushing the tempo’ on some of the hills. I had some good company from a friend and Excellent supporter, Mark Hooper: he’s turning into a proper hardcore runner and I reckon next year he’ll be tearing it up on some of the tougher races I amuse myself with.
On Friday I had a ‘driver’s mate’, in the form of my top ‘special needs’ running buddy, Ian Trussler, also an Excellent supporter. He needs to use up some of his annual leave before the end of March, and fancied a day off driving into London with me, with the promise of some running on the way home, even if his feet were still ragged around the edges after The Grizzly. Once I’d got my pesky earning a living out of the way, we parked up at Sparsholt Firs on The Ridgeway and ran towards Uffington Castle and White Horse (both on my slideshow at the bottom).
Much of the long, continuous section of The Ridgeway between Streatley and Foxhill, near Swindon is gently rolling, but this particular section of about three miles has unusually stiff gradients, although still gentle by the standards of proper uplands or many parts of the South West Coast path. A final pull brought us to Uffington Castle, earthworks that are all that remain of an Iron Age hill fort.
We trotted over the fort and onto the steep hillside above the horse, which is ancient, unlike some of the white horses for which this part of England is famous. We picked our way down past it, to the minor road that winds below it and up the hillock on the other side, to see if we could get a decent view of it, but we couldn’t. It’s amazing that ancient people could create a chalk figure that needs wings or a large distance to be appreciated. The Grizzly was still in my legs, so I had to slow to a walk part-way up the steep slope back to the hill fort.
As we neared the end of our return, I was pleased that Ian caught back up with me after I’d gained a bit on him on the way up the last hill before the car park. He had more in his legs than he thought he had. It had been a pleasant run because of the scenery, but rather grey and chilly.
Yesterday morning I got out on the lanes north of Kington St Michael, my village. I was sussing out part of a marathon distance, all road route from my back door.
Last month, after my South Coast training run, I was having a curry with Helen and her friend, Rich, who is very knowledgeable about running. He mentioned the idea of ‘super conditioning’, that you can set your body up for a race by running the same distance 2 weeks before, not fast, just doing the distance. From this conversation, I’ve decided to do a slow marathon-in-training, 2 weeks before London, hence my recce run today.
I wanted a route I could run in my marathon shoes, which are only really suitable for roads (see last paragraph). If you head north from my house for a couple of miles, then cut across east for a couple more, you get to Grittleton. From there you can head north once more to meet the Fosse Way, a Roman road which has tarmac on it for much of its length. I followed that for a couple more miles until it ran out of tarmac! I then reversed my route, running about 15 miles overall.
It had been wet overnight, but it was now dry with a cool breeze, although the sky was vaguely threatening a shower. I was out for 2 hours, which passed quickly: it’s great to ‘lose yourself’ in a run as I had.
I also had the pleasure of trying out my new, super jazzy top, which is actually Canterbury of New Zealand cold weather rugby training top with tribal art sleeves! I’ve put together a little slide show, below, to show off my new top, Merrell shoes and Injinji ‘frog feet’ socks, because I’m a poseur! For all you anoraks out there, as well as having very little cushioning and being ‘zero drop’, only the green parts of the Merrell soles are hard wearing rubber; the grey parts are just mid-sole material, making them even lighter, but I reckon they would get chewed up on rocky trails (even if grip wasn’t an issue), so they really are a pure road shoe.