Woke up at 7:30 for my run along the river Thames. First item on the agenda was fuelling, so I had a banana and a glass of milk. Item number 2 was placating the dog so I walked her up to the field and let her commune with nature. It was a lovely frosty morning with a bit of a nip in the air so when her ablutions were over and I dropped her off at home, I grabbed my new Aldi jacket and gloves (£9.99 and £2.99!) fired up endomondo and set off.
Today was a day of firsts, as after half a mile I ran out of pavement and had to run on the road for the first time ever. I was very glad of my new fluorescent yellow jacket as as I approached the river things got misty and I had a couple of blind bends to negotiate.
I managed to not get run over and after a mile or so I reached the pub and bridge where I could join the Thames path. I ran a red light (what are the rules for runners?) managed to open a gate (1st of many) without looking too daft and hit the path. I had timed things just right as my arrival coincided with a swarm of fishermen arriving for a competition and if I had been a few minutes later I would have been stuck behind a slowly moving convoy of anglers hauling their all-terrain shopping trolleys full of rods, maggots and Thermos flasks.
The river was beautiful as always and the going underfoot good. I clocked 2 miles in just under 21 minutes so my pacing was OK. I entered a field full of cows, but I wasn't too worried as they are used to fishermen, dog-walkers and boaters. However one cow that was standing on the path was not like the others. As I lumbered towards him I noted the ring in his nose and the fact that he was roughly the size of a transit van. However he seemed friendly enough so I greeted him with a cheery morning and made a slight detour.
Un-gored I soon reached Radcot Lock and I was ready to cross Old Man Bridge. It looked so beautiful I decided to take a picture whilst running (another first). Trying to get perfect shot I almost missed my third first of the day, the cattle grid. I'm still not sure how I managed to run across a slippery grid whilst taking a photo without breaking my ankle, but somehow I did (see attached photo).
As I crossed the bridge I realised how it got its name as it was so slippy I had to slow to a snails pace and use both hands. As I left the bridge I joined a field full of...
The footpath through the field would have taken me right through the middle of a herd of about fifty teenage bulls, so I took a less beefy path around the perimeter. However one young gun obviously took offence to me and started running towards me shaking his head and bellowing, so I had no choice but to take a short cut through a flooded section of the field towards the gate
I shall never forget the invigorating feeling of icy water shooting up the leg of my shorts or the adrenaline rush of being chased by someone's Sunday roast (ironically I have been vegetarian for 30 years). The water got to about a foot deep so I slowed to quick wade. Looking back I saw that bully boy was not keen freezing his hooves off and was content to show off along the shore line.
I reached the gate without further bovine botheration, climbed over it and I was now safely back on my usual running route. Other than my frozen feet I was feeling a little warm so I shed my gloves and jacket and settled down to the home run. 4 miles popped up at around 44 minutes, so even with gates, bridges and wading I was keeping up a reasonable pace.
The last mile was easier than I thought it would be and I even tried to up the pace a little for the last half mile. I was ready to stop when I heard robo-Laura (the endomondo lady) intone 5 miles, but I was within a 100 yds of my regular finishing line so I pushed on to achieve 5.07 miles in 55 minutes 34 seconds.
Woo-hoo! my first 5 mile run (8K for the metroids), all done without Laura holding my leash.
For my final first of the day I bumped into one of my mates in the village walking his dog. He looked at me and asked "have you been running?". As I was dressing in my C25K top, with soaking shorts, muddy running shoes and a fluorescent jacket around my waist I could only answer "yes". So I guess that I have officially come out of the closet as a runner too.