Mile 1: Lots of uphill, just getting into the run. Fend off barky jumpy dog, owner says, ‘ not again Lucy’- I met ‘lucy’ the day before and she was just the same then… I manage a grimace to Mr doggy owner.
Mile 2: More uphill and my first ‘break’ so I have some water, a candy kitten and take some pics. I move on to a fairly flat very very muddy path. It feels really remote (it is!!) and I am suddenly aware of my vulnerability but I plod on and try not to imagine all the scary people in the bushes.
Mile 3: I leave some flour right at the point I change paths so I don’t get lost again on the way back and then more uphill. I get to the plateau and watch the planes ( I am at the end of a runway!). So starts my descent… my ears pop!!! I look at Gary to work out the downhill so I know exactly how much it will be on my return. I pass a disused paintballing place…feels a bit eerie and the trees are really tall. I get to 4 miles as I join the road.
Mile 4: My second ‘break’ as I pass the road. I shout ‘hello’ to two walkers who jump out of their skin. I don’t think they heard me coming up behind them … panthers move quickly and quietly… I eventually I join another road and I have to run on the path for a bit. Ouch I don’t like the feel of the tarmac on my trail shoes- its so hard! Lots of downhill.
Mile 5: I just have to get to 5 then I can turn round…I’m feeling tired, my hair is soaked and thick with salt. I brush the salt crystals off my face as they have dried and it’s a bit stingy.. Eventually I turn and start my return journey. I wriggle my hips around, change my music and take more breaths than I need. That helps and I refocus and find my zone. I look up and see the trees way above and consider that I’m going to have get up there and it makes me worried so I get up the next hill by counting to 50 running and 20 walking and alternate. That gets me to my pile of flour so I know I can turn off.
Mile 6: So much uphill, I can really feel it in the backs of my legs. I have my third break, lots of water, 2 candy kittens and take some more pictures… I enjoy the bit of flat and allow my breathing to normalise again as I mentally prepare myself for the big hill.
Mile 7: Big hill, I knew it would be 0.7 of a mile so I check Gary and work out when it should end. I do a combo of running and walking as I am really tired now. I try and remember where the really steep bits are but its all a blur now. I have to make a point of lifting my feet up as I can feel them getting lazy not wanting to, and on a trail that’s when ankle twists etc happen and I really don’t want that.
Mile 8: ‘Come on panther, you can do it, not long now’ I shout out,’ I am strong, I am powerful, I can do this,’ I did a quick check to make sure there was no one about but at that point I really didn’t care!! I found the flour- hooray onto the last muddy bit then all downhill. This is soooo muddy. I take a pic standing in it ( see pic) and stopping gives me a chance to take a breath etc and that feels nice. Starting again just feels so hard.
Mile 9: all downhill but this feels hard. I start counting to 100 over and over again. Eventually the last corner… 20 left, 10 left, I countdown from 10 to 1 every step hurts and eventually I am there… 10 miles and I am completely spent.
So there we go…my ten mile trail tale