Wanting to do stamina today I decided to swap from the route that I graduated on as even when doubling back it is only ~3.2 miles, and I don't like re-tracing my steps. So I planned a 3.4 mile circular route. As this involved some running along roads I tried to sneak out this morning without the dog. However despite me putting on my dressing gown and stuffing my running gear (including new graduation top) inside, somehow she twigged that I was going for a run and followed me downstairs.
I hastily re-planned my route to cut down the amount of road and use a bridleway instead, and we set out.
The brisk walk to the beat was a bit of a surprise, but nothing I couldn't handle and soon I was up and running and the going was good. First mile bang on 10 minutes despite having to stop to put the lead on. Then we hit the bridleway.
I say bridleway, but it appeared to be the scene of a recent WW1 re-enactment. Anyhow somehow the beat and Laura gave me wings and I fair skipped over the shell-holes despite gradually getting taller and my feet getting heavier. After 3 minutes we joined the route of an old railway line and so the next mile was a respectable 11:34, which given that I had had to negotiate 3 gates and was carrying 4 pounds of soil on my feet I was happy with.
Time to leave the railway and cross the fields.
Now I grew up in Walsall, and should I have wished, I could have walked to the Bull Ring in Birmingham without ever passing a field or a farm, but I have lived in rural Oxfordshire for the last 17 years so I have no excuse for not knowing that farmers plough fields at this time of year. Also it is worth noting that I spent a pleasant day yesterday at the local ploughing match. So it was with great surprise that I found that the footpath across the field had disappeared under a sea of brown waves that lapped against the hedgerows. Bugger.
Ignoring all evidence to the contrary I like to think I am prepared for anything, so I dutifully set off along the 8 inch field margin and called up BackCountry Navigator (OS maps on your phone) and determined the route I needed to follow. However running and navigating wasn't a great plan and after slipping and staggering for 10 yards (in a sequence reminiscent of the famous "Bambi on ice" scene) desperately trying to neither end up face down in mud or drop my precious I decided to fall back to carbon-based navigation.
Plodding along what I though was the right route I noticed that the corner of the field was under about a foot of water so I decided to cut across. Running over a freshly ploughed field is an interesting experience as all traction is lost and that 100 yards was the hardest I've ever done. Rejoining the field margin I forged on to where my trusty brain had determined I would pick up the path again, however when I got there, path there was none. I shuddered to halt, put Laura on hold and fell back to trusty Silicon.
I had just taken a 1/3 mile detour, so I walked back to where I had gone wrong and fired up the podcast again. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to re-start running after stopping but I was OK.
Now don't think for a moment that I was keeping up with the Salsa going on in my earphones, but I can say that every time Laura counted out the beat my feet and their cargo of clay picked up the rhythm for a few yards at least.
When Laura called time I was delighted to find that I had managed 3.1 miles (last mile 13:32), but I was still far from home and by now a weird thing had happened. Rather than being a revolting offence against nature, running the remaining distance seemed the right thing to do (a bit like driving in the right gear). So I carried on.
We reached the end of my route and rejoined the road, so I stopped Endomondo and nearly fainted when I saw that I had managed 3.79 miles (6K!) in 44 minutes. That's over 1/2 mile and 10 minutes longer than previous bests. Also allowing for the stopping and starting after my initial 10 minute mile I'd actually kept up a pace of ~11.5 minutes/mile.
Speed next and I'll definitely go back to my tried and trusted route, but despite the mud and the horror, and the state of my shoes (see pic) I've got a yen to run today's route again.
What is wrong with me?