The images above were taken on Friday of last week on a much anticipated run that lived up to and exceeded all my expectations. We had been on our annual jaunt to Purbeck Valley Folk Festival, where we work as stewards, along with a load of our mates, which I thoroughly enjoy, but the icing on the cake, for me, was this run along the beautiful ridge which is the boundary between the magical kingdom of Purbeck and ordinary old beautiful Dorset.
When I started running four years ago, it seemed like a necessary chore to try to maintain my stamina and stave off the ravages of increasing years………...I had no idea that addiction was around the corner. After graduation, new runners go off in all directions. Some love competition…...not me…...I tried one organised 10k run and all it did was confirm all my prejudices that, on the whole. I prefer to run by myself. So my running has evolved so that I do 2x 5k runs each week and a longer run, from 10 to 16k. While I live in glorious Mid Devon and am lucky enough to have some beautiful routes to run from home, my real joy is running away from home in stunning surroundings.
I am convinced that running heightens the senses, once the heart rate is increased, otherwise, why would running through such magnificent landscapes be so much more exciting than merely walking through them?
My preplanning for this run meant that I knew it was probably going to be the longest run that I have done this year, so I made sure I had 750ml of very dilute apple juice and a handful of dates for refuelling en route. I will here make a confession. This run was very likely going to exceed the 10% rule about increasing distance, which exists as a guide to keep injury risk minimal, since last week I only ran 23k in total. Knowing that the top of this ridge is the perfect gentle grassy running surface and telling myself that I could always walk back if I became exhausted, I headed out from the campsite and negotiated some shady lanes before climbing up onto Brenscombe Hill.
The top left photo shows the view Northwards over Poole Harbour from Nine Barrows Down. The one below is the view of the ridge looking West and you might just pick out Corfe Castle, the Gateway to Purbeck, standing sentinel in one of the breaks in the ridge. The other two pics were taken at the eastern end of my run, on Ballard Down, with the top one looking out over Studland beach toward Bournemouth and the other, South over Swanage.
The views are breathtaking all along this ridge and I would have liked to continue to the spectacular Old Harry Rocks, but realised that was going to be pushing things and Ballard Down was my main target. So at 8.74k I turned round to retrace my steps, still feeling pretty fresh, despite the heat, which I had not fully anticipated. There was an inadvertent detour through Ullwell, when I missed my path, but apart from that, it was back the way I had come.
I cannot convey the joy that these sorts of runs give me. The deep life affirming pleasure that life is to be lived and I am doing my damnedest to live it, exudes from every pore along with a very large amount of sweat. I was a bit concerned that 750ml was not enough fluid, considering the temperature, but bearing in mind that I don’t normally carry any fluid for a 12k run, it actually worked out well, with regular rehydrating from 5k in. Refuelling for longer runs has always been an issue, but having had breakfast beforehand, whereas normally I run 10k on a banana, the dates kept my energy levels up and I was really pleased with that aspect.
You can tell from the photos that I stopped. I also walked some very steep and loose sections of rocky path. I have no idea what my pace was, I haven’t looked, but the entire run, from start to finish was about 2 hours 22 min and I covered 17.48k, which is indeed my longest run of the year. My knees ached a bit on the 5 mile walk the following day, but apart from that my old bones and sinews stood up well. What got a real boost was my sense of being really alive, at one with my environment and my thankfulness that I can actually do this.
Where will your running take you? You may not know yet, but it will give you memories and a sense of achievement that is difficult to equal. That is my running highlight of the year…..so far……..next week I am off to the Lake District and have my eye on a pretty little run along the shores of Coniston Water……….watch this space.
Keep running, keep smiling.