Monday, May 02, 2016

Hilliest flat run ever

A target of 4.5 mph. I scoffed at it yesterday but it was clear when I left the house that this run was going to be no speedier than any of my other long runs in the Peak. I still had Stockton in my legs and a hilly 70 miles ride but this is Ironman training. What was I expecting?

It's been 2 weeks since Brighton when I supported the marathon runners by doing a half but then I spent a lot of the day sitting around waiting.

The last time I ran over 10 miles consistently was 3rd April so let's not feign surprise at my slowness.

Most running from my house starts up hill. It's the quietest route out of town.  No surprise that I was dragging my feet. I gave up watching the speed and just concentrated on keeping my heart rate in tempo or less. There was a lot of walking up the steps to the golf course and a lot of walking over the tree roots alongside the golf course. That bloody heart rate alarm... but if I was going to make it today (and I was VERY determined) I was going to have to pace myself like I did at Stockton... but even more strictly.  Slightly easier with no-one breathing down my neck.

I started to think I was overdressed as I flitted through the sun dappled trees in a thin merino top and 3/4 leggings. I scoffed at golfers in down coats. I made it all the way to Redmires car park before I put on a Gilet. Sheffield looked beautiful below and there were a lot of smiling dog walkers out.

I dropped down to Headstone. Alone again. Just me and my buddy. A poignant piece of rock. Probably for more people who care to admit. We spent a very brief moment together as I took some pics and sorted out thin gloves and a banana as headstone kept the wind off me. Whaddaguy.

On down to the valley bottom then and over hollow meadows where I could watch the rain making her way over from Manchester to make my day a little more intense.

From the top I had to walk down to the farm at my 7 mile point. I didn't want to scatter the nursing sheep and their lambs so I picked my way through them, only disturbing a few families from their dry patches of grass as the driving drizzle moved in.

Over a dry stone wall away from the sheep, I sprinted for the next bit of cover, a long descent through woodland which I knew would delay me wearing my sweaty coat just a little longer.

It's my favourite running path and today it felt particularly safe as a little haven. Sadly it wasn't long enough and I stopped for a second banana before putting my coat on and stepping out into the rain.

The route I had mapped said right into the rain again. I opted for left, down the hill, into the friendly Loxley valley. I took a short cut through a field to make up for the diversion and soon regretted it when it turned out to be on very wet grass and my well-protected dry feet were now sodden through. Still, only 6 miles to go.

Down the hill to Damflask reservoir where soggy families, oblivious children and dogs and petulant teenagers in hoodies traipsed willfully, or otherwise, around the lake.  I ran by on the flat - finally injecting some 6mph pace into my running - my speed increased with the temperature.  Down in the valley bottom it somehow stopped raining for a few moments and I took my coat off and luxuriated in being in a single layer again.  I checked my watch: 12.2 miles run of my planned 14.  I'd get the miles in - and some more.

The dry spell didn't last long and I was soon wearing my rain coat and rather than praising the trees for keeping my dry I was cursing their saturation which dropped dramatically onto my head every time a gust of wind blew.  The river kept me company, it's various states of gushing providing a constant backdrop to the swish swish of my rain coat in my ears.  I engaged with my rhythm but had to stop myself when I started trying to beat the rhythm because I was the rhythm so trying to beat it would have been silly.

I had to pick my way around the fishermen at the pond, convinced that no-one would be out on such an atrocious day, they spread their umbrellas and poles and boxes of worms all over the footpath but at least they were apologetic as I passed.

A man and his dog (both?) gave me one of those sad, grave Yorkshire nods which very simply says, "I'd say 'what a glorious day' but clearly I'd be lying".

As I ran through the disused industrial estate, long closed to the discovery of asbestos and too many floodings, I knew I had to reach my distance soon but walking home from 14 miles wasn't really an option I relished so I kept on running and didn't bother to dig out my watch from beneath its layers.

A rumbling tummy made me scrounge in my rucsac pocket for a torq bar.  Rhubarb and custard - my favourite.  It went down a treat, to the extent that I nearly cried when I almost dropped it in a puddle.  The 3 second rule applies when it's raining too right?

Finally, into the Rivelin Valley and the long run up the river to the street that I live on.  I couldn't face the path and opted instead for the busy road and all the drivers splashing.  I avoided the worst puddles - at one point running down the central reservation and raised islands to avoid the biggest puddles.  I really didn't care though, just wanted to climb the final hills without a freezing cold shower first.

Then I did walk.  I walked all the way up the bloody hill.  All of it. I took off my wet clothes, had a pee, made a recovery drink and sat in the chair.  Then I made lunch and sat in the chair.  Then I had a bath and went to bed.

All of that and even if I take out 1.37 miles of the slowest movement, I still only get 4.3 miles per hour.  So no great performance then except for one thing.  I did 3 times more climbing today than I will on race day.  That is my only saving grace. That, and I really fucking enjoyed myself.  It would be wrong to wish I hadn't because I was running faster but I do wish I'd been able to run faster.  It would've justified how I feel, justified the time off, justified the effort I put in weeks ago.  I know I'm tired, end of a big weekend, need a recover etc. etc. yada yada but I can't help feeling flat about today.
Maybees it's the weather.  Bring on next week.

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