Sunday, 3 July 2016

Let's Get Lost

I'm settling into a pretty standard routine for training, and there's not a great deal of interest occurring most of the time.

Monday was track, as usual. 3x1600, with 400 recovery. Despite feeling good on Saturday doing the hill repeats, I felt it in my legs on Monday and faded off pace on the final lap. Pretty windy at times, and a headwind on the final 100 certainly didn't help matters.

Tuesday and Wednesday, yoga and core respectively. Thursday was 3 miles at tempo and, satisfyingly, I ran it a shade quicker than previously and with a lower heart rate. Nice to have confirmation that my fitness is improving, even if only a little. Like I've said previously, I'm never going to be "fast": I don't have anything like the top-end speed of even a moderate club runner. Still, by making my fast faster, I hope to make my medium feel slower. That's the plan, anyway!
Friday, more core. Finished level 1 of Six Week Six-Pack. I believe this means I'm "well on my way to being ripped", or something. Core feels fairly strong, so it's doing the job.

On Saturday, I decided to sack off my LSR on the road yet again (yeah yeah... road marathon training: yer doin' it wrong!) and check out a new route that I'd plotted and loaded into my Suunto. This was due to start at a trailhead I've run past countless times but never investigated, before heading onto the moorland south of Slaley Forest for a bit, and then cutting back through the forest to the car.
I committed the cardinal sin. I relied on my GPS and didn't cast an eye over the map to remind myself of the route before heading out. Schoolboy error, and one I know better than to make. Nothing disastrous occurred, but that kind of foolishness gets folk killed on mountains.  Slapped wrist for Mr Heathcote.

Anyway, after some spectacular indecision regarding the wearing of my waterproof (in the end I stuffed it in my pack) I headed onto the trail. Came to a Y junction and did the back-and-forth dance trying to figure out which was the route the GPS intended me to take. That settled, I tried to find my rhythm but it wasn't happening. This was slightly-clarty-but-still-definitely-cruiser-grade fire road, and should not have had me blowing the way that I was. I think I had some kind of bug mid-week, and didn't sleep well the last two nights, so hopefully that was it.

The track ended at a farm. Ah, the fun and games of figuring out where the right-of-way goes... After more to-ing and fro-ing I took a punt on a gate into a field that seemed about right, and followed the edge for a bit. Sure enough, I matched up with the GPS, and then low and behold I spotted a stile which was obscured by a massive steaming pile of shit. Thanks, Farmer.

Running down the field, which was a reasonable incline, I suddenly lost the trail again, in the sense that the breadcrumb seemed to want me to turn left when I couldn't. Figuring I'd missed a track somewhere I swore, and began to run/hike up the field again. Nope, nothing. Back down I went, searching for a stile hidden by foliage. Anything.

Nothing.

This continued for a bit, and then I gave up. I was about to head back the way I came, more than a little frustrated, when I spotted a gate at the other end of the field that seemed like it might allow me to head in roughly the right direction once through. Sure enough, it did, and I was back on my way. Albeit, in a field full of cows. (Turns out, upon inspecting the map when I got home, I should have run straight through the farmyard.)

Reminded of the possibly apocryphal sign "If you enter this field you better be able to cross it in 9 seconds, because the bull can do it in 10", I kept an eye out in case I needed to add some strides to the workout, but didn't see any bull and the cows kept their distance.

Things seemed to be improving again, and then the breadcrumb disappeared off in a direction that seemed to just lead into undergrowth. I carried on a bit, and managed to pick up another fire road that seemed like it might have been the trail. Turns out it wasn't, and quickly deviated from the route, but at this point there was no way I could get back on track. I pretty much decided to just follow the road for a bit and see what happened, and sure enough it chucked me out onto Embley Fell, which was where I was aiming for, though not where I had planned to get onto it.

Again, I tried to pick up the breadcrumb, but I was completely off-trail by this point and the going was slow. I managed to rejoin the breadcrumb but was stopped short by a nice sign with a walker crossed out, in the direction I was supposed to be heading. Bugger. I thought I'd done my due diligence regarding Open Access when plotting the route but, clearly, I had missed something.

Once again, I nearly back-tracked but then decided sod it, let's go exploring. I knew roughly where I was (Embley Fell) and Slaley Forest is a pretty big landmark and clearly visible. I know the Forest like the back of my hand, for the most part, and so decided to head over the Fell and just find an interesting route into it and then head back to the car. Added to this mild sense of adventure was the fact that there was a massive weather front heading towards me from the North and I had no great desire to run into it, so waterproof on and East it was!

Embley Fell

Once I'd made that decision the run was fairly uneventful, and just a good blast through some nice scenery. The legs and the engine seemed to come around, and I made better time than I had feared would be the case. Once back at the Forest (passing by the quarry on the way; never seen that, so that was interesting) I decided to add on a loop including the incline I'd run hill reps on last Saturday. The legs might have been feeling better, but that's relative to feeling absolutely fooked, and they certainly didn't tolerate any kind of hard effort. Disappointing, but that wasn't the purpose of the run so no matter.

Picked up the road that bisects the Forest and ran the last mile(?) or so at a reasonable pace: 5.10 at one point, on a downhill, but mostly in the region of 6.30/6.45. Didn't feel especially tough, even after 10-ish miles of off-roading, so that bodes well for marathon pace, I hope. Regardless, it was a fun little "micro-adventure", and was good for the soul.

Sunday was a yoga day, and then Xander and I went along to support Rachel doing one of the Great Run Locals at Gibside Chapel (home of the excellent Fruit Bowl race in October, run by Blackhill Bounders). This was her first running event since Xan was born, and we were both super proud of her. Well, I definitely was. Xan may have had wind. Afterwards, we had slices of blackberry and thyme tray bake. They were tasty.

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