Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Autumn Running - I Love It!

As our permanent move across the Pond gets closer, things are starting to get sorted much more quickly than anticipated, and although my training had been going well, it has inevitably suffered somewhat the past couple of weeks. A trip to Canada for a “meet and greet, look and see” visit a week or so ago, and then the strike of the dreaded lurgy resulting in a chest infection and snotty nose, has meant that it’s been a bit of struggle to get any decent running in at all.

Our trip to Canada was amazing and we felt so at home for the few days we were over there that it certainly felt like we are doing the right thing. I even managed to get out for a few runs whilst over there and unlike some places in good old Blighty, I didn’t feel out of place or experience any heckling or abuse whatsoever.

Just before heading back to the UK, I came down with a really bad chest which made the 8 ½ hour flight back home even more uncomfortable. I missed a few days running, and when I did get out for a run, my breathing was appalling.

But being a runner makes you do stupid things, so when my good friend Julia Race asked if I fancied a run at the weekend, I suggested that we run the Flying Fox 10 mile road race. I had no intention of racing it, so offered to keep Julia company and just have a leisurely jog round.

Race day came, and it was a beautiful autumn morning – clear blue skies, gorgeous sunshine, and barely a breath of wind. I was actually looking forward to the run, especially with it being on country lanes, but Julia was actually quite nervous with not racing for ages, plus she was also suffering with a chest infection.

It was a good crowd that turned up for the race, and I didn’t realise how many fantastic people I actually know on the local racing scene. It was great to see everybody with not doing so many local races this year, but also a little saddening as I knew that this would likely be the last road race I do in the UK for a while and I wouldn’t have the pleasure of racing against these folks next year.

The race route is more undulating than hilly, and Julia and I had a good natter on the way round, although at half way we were both struggling with our breathing which soon shut us up. I was feeling quite good otherwise, and it was such a shame that I couldn’t have raced properly. We were knocking out 8 minute miles which is somewhat slower than what I’m used to, but it was great to be able to have a chat with the other runners around us and have a bit of banter – something that isn’t quite as common at the front end of the field!

Too busy nattering rather than racing!
We finished in a little under 82 minutes, the run made more worthwhile for Julia as she got a bottle of wine as a spot prize which certainly went down well!

Talking about runners doing crazy things, I had a text off another good friend on Monday, asking if I fancied doing a night time run around Hanchurch Woods. This time it was Kate Bailey – a superb Moorlands runner who has had great success on the fells and trails, and who I got to know much better when she ran for England at the Commonwealth Trail Championships in Anglesey back in September.

We met at 6.15pm at the woodcutters lodge and not surprisingly it was dark – not just dark, but pitch black. No street lights, no lights from nearby houses, no moonlight – nothing. We had our head torches, but even they didn’t seem quite bright enough for us to find our way.

I know Hanchurch Woods like the back of my hand when it’s day light, but running in the dark adds a different perspective to things. The fact that I can’t see a damn thing in the dark at the best of times didn’t bode well and I guessed that at some point in the next hour or so, I was going to find myself tumbling to the ground like a sack of spuds.

We decided to follow the perimeter of the woods as we knew this was approximately 6 miles of undulating trails, and as Kate had to head off for a meeting afterwards, we were on a time limit.

The woods were deserted except for the wildlife, and whilst we didn’t actually see anything roaming around, we heard the odd crack of a twig and birds flapping about in the trees. It was weird running along with just the shadow of a head torch, and it made it difficult spotting tree roots and stumps in the dark. It was also muddy underfoot in places so it was quite heavy going. We certainly found ourselves ankle deep in mud a few times, although I did find myself covered from head to toe in mud having fallen over a tree stump, gashing my hand in the process.

I absolutely loved the run, and it was great to be in such pleasant company once again for a thoroughly enjoyable run on the trails in the dark. It certainly beat running around the City streets again where I’m usually deafened by the noise of the traffic and then have to do battle with cars when trying to cross a road. Hopefully we’ll get more of our moonlight runs in before I leave the UK – maybe I’ll organise a midnight run around Hanchurch for my leaving do, followed by a few tinnies in a tent somewhere!

So what’s next on the agenda? I’ve got a few cross country races coming up, plus a couple of fell races, and I’m also hoping to do the local Apedale 10k Multi-Terrain race and the Roaches Christmas Cracker. I love this time of year, and love being in the outdoors, so am really looking forward to the next few weeks, regardless of how the training goes.

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