Saturday, 1 December 2012

A Not Quite 20 Mile Run

Today's long run was more like a comedy of errors than a training session. I'd plotted a route following mystery tracks and by-ways and had uploaded it onto the garmin so I could go out without getting lost. A few snacks went into my little bag and I was gloved, hatted and ready to battle the cold.

My trail runners had been stored neatly in a thick plastic bag for two weeks. I'd 'accidentally' left them at a friends house after a boggy, wet 16 miler and she very kindly bagged them up for me and returned them last weekend (along with freshly laundered socks, she's a good'un!). They had stayed in a dark corner since then as I've been working away and had conveniently forgotten about them, again. I expected though, after two weeks, that they might have dried out. I was wrong, and on after removing them from the bag in the same way I extract hazardous material from a tube in the lab, I decided they were far too offensive to even contemplate running in.

Begrudgingly, I donned my nice,clean, new, shiny trainers and set off. On hitting the first bit of trail only 2 or 3 miles in, I knew wearing these trainers was a mistake. Not because they were getting all gross and dirty, but because they really were not designed for this level of muck and I was slip sliding all over the place. It soon became a game of how contorted I could make my running style whilst retaining some level of balance and hopping from side to side. It didn't take me too long to reassess my route and make a beeline for the road.

On the next section I did make a slight navigational error. I veered off onto the wrong path and ended up having to cut across a farmers field to get back on track. Down the side of the field was a dirt road of sorts, I started running down and could see the gate at the bottom leading me back en route. I was getting a bit carried away with this lovely bit of downhill and had startled one of the sheep in the field. Once that one started running, it set off a mini sheep stampede where they were bizarrely running about in all sorts of directions. Whilst that was happening, my trainers had clogged up with mud again and I was swiftly losing traction. On each subsequent step my feet started skidding out further and further and I couldn't stop myself as I'd built up too much downhill acceleration  I ended up performing a quite spectacular backward lunge type thing as one foot skidded way out in front of me, but was very fortunately stopped as I skidded into a frightened sheep.

I decided to steer well clear of any trail from here on in and got myself to the nearest bit of road, and back into a proper running rhythm. The next animal-related incident came about as I ran past a little row of cottages. A gorgeous and very, very friendly spaniel puppy came hurtling out of somewhere and was determined to come on the rest of my run with me. I tried to shoo it away but each time it just rolled onto it's back and demanded a belly rub. I tried running away, I tried running back. I tried running into each of the (very long) driveways and hoping it would find it's home again. Nothing was working. I literally spent about 15 minutes going up and down a little section of country road with an over-excited puppy tearing up and down beside me and regularly throwing itself at my feet. Eventually I found a local person who knew the owner, but I had to physically accompany them to the right house as every time I tried to run away, the dog just started pegging it after me.

By the time I'd wobbled around off-road, got lost, skidded into a sheep and been distracted by beautiful floppy-eared spaniel, it was starting to get a bit late and I was starting to get tired. I made a move for home knowing that I was going to come up a couple of miles short but my legs were feeling battered. Due to very slow progress through mud, finding some killer hills (by mistake) and having incidents with animals, it was in fact (in terms of time) by longest ever run, by a good 20 minutes.

Let's hope the 22 miler next week goes a little more smoothly!

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