Tonight was my second time at the local running club. The run I chose to join was described as a "comfortable 5 miles" - last week it was described as a "comfortable 4 miles" and ended up being 5 miles.
Very soon after starting we got to quite a steep off-road hill and I'll admit that I had to walk a lot of it. The level evened out and we did a bit of running through woodland than out on to fairly rural roads for a while. The footpath we were meant to take was closed - someone had put a quarry there instead !
We headed off on a likely-looking alternative route. This started off quite pleasantly, then took us through a field of cows, lying down peacefully. Except they saw us and decided they fancied a run too ! They were only youngsters and followed the faster runners then headed for the shade of some trees at the edge of the field. We crossed the field and ran into the woods. The footpath soon started to look a little unkempt and we were dodging branches, nettles, thistles and tree roots, plus the odd fallen tree. At times we tried to go around the outskirts of the woodland, only to find we had barbed wire to contend with. It wasn't possible to run all the time with so many obstacles - but walking was more challenging than just a stroll in the woods !
Eventually, we found ourselves on a track that looked as if a herd of elephants had got there first. There was a field with horses next to the track so I assume that the state of the track was actually caused by horses and not elephants, but you never know....As it turned out, the track led us to a farmyard full of more young cows so we started to retrace our tracks. Luckily, the very jovial farmer and his jolly wife came out of the farmhouse and directed us across their back yard and on to the road. I think they found us rather amusing !
Back on tarmac, it was time for proper running again. The route was still very scenic, we passed another farmhouse and ran up a long, unrelenting gradual incline shaded by trees, then onto a lovely mud track with lots of tree roots to dodge. I felt I was running quite quickly (for me) at this point - I was feeling more capable than I had at the start of the run. The track came to an end at the edge of the woodland - it was quite a magical moment. I jumped out of the shade of the woodland and into a hilltop field of buttercups with glorious views of the hills all around. We ran through the buttercups and into the next field and were soon back on rural tarmac again. After a gentle but long uphill we finally got to run downhill ! The sun was low in the sky by now and I kept seeing a movement out of the corner of my eye. I eventually realised it was the shadow cast by the man running behind me - it looked as if he was right behind my shoulder and I was surprised I hadn't heard him. Then I realised just how long the shadows we were casting were - he was actually quite a long way behind. He caught me up as we started going uphill, then passed me. I determined I was going to run to the top of the hill. Shadow man slowed to a walk and I passed him; the fast guys at the front were walking so I slowly jogged past them - I made it to the top ! I felt proud. A long legged bloke who had made it all look easy was waiting at the top of the hill to congratulate me before he ambled off again at great speed. There was a flat section now, followed by a hill. I decided to walk the flat bit then make myself run up the hill. I managed that as well so I decided my strategy for the rest of the route was walk on flat bits and try and run up all the hills.
I managed it ! Slowly but reasonably comfortably.
It seemed like a long five miles though. How far was it ?
"6.3 miles, sorry chaps" said the group leader.
So glad I joined this club