Best foot forward

So having been cleared to run, you’re probably wondering why it took over a week for me to actually run. A stinky cold is the short answer. Having been cleared on Thursday to run, the plan was to head out Sunday and actually do it. However I’d had a cold brewing for a while and Saturday morning last week it lined up its final assault – which left me in no fit state to run on Sunday. Ho hum. What with that and a couple of all day meetings that sort of wiped the week out.

Yesterday, however, I was feeling much better. Even after a lovely lie in I woke to a world that had been dusted with glitter in the night; a very clear sky had resulted in a beautiful heavy frost. And what better weather to run in? I know – it’s one of the things that always makes me laugh about running – most people see a frosty morning and think it’s great to look at, or else needs 67 layers and a woolly hat before venturing out. I set out yesterday morning wearing 2 layers – although I did put a pair of gloves and a woolly hat on. And it was such a nice day for a run. Clear and still; it was nothing like as cold as the negative temperatures reported might sound.

Seeing it’s been over a month since I last ran, I stepped back a few time intervals. Having been at 10 minutes run to 1 minute walk when the ankle played up, I stepped that back to 3 minutes run to 1 minute walk. And I think that was about right. Managed the 3 minutes without too much trouble each time and used the 1 minute walk to cough, hack, spit and generally denude my respiratory passages of gunk. There really is nothing quite like a run for clearing the tail end of a cold. Snot-tastic. Should there be any high winds forecast, I can assure you that the shire will be in no danger – it is stuck to the map. Lovely!

It wasn’t terribly far, and it wasn’t terribly fast, but it felt just so lovely to be out. No worried at all in the ankle department, so that’s a relief. I took it quite carefully, as it was surprisingly slippery underfoot, with the frost causing a certain amount of slip sliding, especially on the smoother tarmac. But it places it was also making that crunchy noise as I ran over it. It was a fabulous day for a run, and I’m so glad that I was able to get out and enjoy it.

I will report that I was also a very good girl and did my stretches before and after the run, in order to warm up the calves and try to avoid a repetition of the pain. Just need to be diligent and do them every day… that might be a bit more difficult!

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

In fact all sorts of transport options were spotted on Saturday’s long run. Everything bar a traction engine, a pogo stick and a space hopper!

The husband was due to be bell ringing at Lockington, and then going on to his parents for the afternoon. So it was suggested that we both go to Lockington, with me then running to his parents, where I’d meet him. I could have a shower, and change and we’d then drive home once he’d done all the jobs that had to be done. I had 18 miles on the schedule for this weekend, so I plotted a route from Lockington to the River Trent, then along the river towards Nottingham and up to his parents from there. On paper and Google maps, the route looked possible. A quick question on the Runner’s World forum, asking for some local knowledge, found that most of the river path would be entirely suitable for running, so the plan was set.

Friday night and I prepared everything to take, as it was a fairly early start saturday morning, 8:30 departure, and I needed breakfast before then. 2 shirts, socks, gloves, shoes, hat, leg wear, 4xgels, waist belt & water bottles, £20 note, cash point card, charged phone, print out of the route to the river, Garmin, bag of clothes for afters. All of it collected and assembled OK. Saturday morning went to plan as well, and we set off on time, me with a bowl of porridge warm and comfortable inside me. I wore a long sleeved top, with a short sleeve and my wind proof gillet in the bag, which one to be decided on once we arrived.

The weather was gorgeous to look at, clear blue skies, heavy white frost, still air, just a picture-perfect winter morning. I decided against the gillet – it can be too warm, especially if it’s not windy, and went with just 2 T shirts. It was still cold enough to see breath in the air, but the sun was quite warm. After a quick look at the map, I set off in the right direction – away from the river. This sounds odd, but there is the small matter of a dual carriageway and a railway to be negotiated before I could reach the river. My best route over these two hurdles was not the shortest.

Headed up the lane and up a hill before heading across a field towards Castle Donnington and a second lane. At which point I could hear a tremendous engine noise, turned to see the tail fin of an aeroplane heading behind the hill. Of course! East Midland’s airport was just over the hill, the noise was as the plan turned to head down the runway. Form of transport number 1.

from there, into a village before turning and heading into Castle Donnington. From here I got to go through the industrial estate, before picking up a little trackway towards Clifford’s Bridge. This is a bridge across the Trent, but I wasn’t crossing it here, I was just going to join the Trent here. In the industrial estate, there were the obligatory cars and trucks and things that go. Including one posh looking Chelsea tractor on trade plates that I seriously hope was heading straight to the local garage, as it was pumping out enough oily smoke to make a pretty impenetrable smoke screen! hmm, I suspect it’s not supposed to do that…

On the trackway, I passed cyclists and horseriders (yet more forms of transport) went under the A 50 but passed over the railway without sight of a train.

Joined the Trent path and it was just a beautiful morning. Not too many people about (which was useful when I stopped to, um, water the tree), and I counted only 2 sets of footprints in the frost ahead of me. Kept seeing lovely frost laden plants and views that, if I were a photographer, would have made lovely pictures, but I have neither the skill nor artistic eye to make it happen. Joined a tarmac pathway here, and encountered my first local. I did my second degree in Nottingham, and one of the first things you notice, as an incommer, is the bizarre greetings you get. “Eey oop me duck” being my best interpretation of how these strange northern folk say “hello”.  But it was such a lovely morning that it seemed to put everyone out in a good mood, such that most people were exchanging greetings as I passed.

Had a moment’s route uncertainty as I got to Trent Lock, where the Trent & Mersey canal leaves. I knew I crossed the Trent at Sawley Bridge, but I’d got it into my head that this was the first bridge I passed. But there’s a foot bridge at Trent Lock that I’d missed seeing. I made the right call, and stayed on the south side of the Trent at this stage and carried on. I knew I’d got this right when I got to the M1. Big old road, the M1, can’t miss it. Strangely, it was very peaceful right under the bridge. From there it was just a short run to Sawley Bridge, where I did cross the river and headed through the marina.

And here I ticked off yet another form of transport, with boats and canal boats being present on the river here. It was quite nice running through the marina, with the fires being started on the boats, and the passing smell of breakfast cooking. Up and over the arm of the lock, and under the second railway bridge of the day – still no trains.

Stayed on the side of the river all the way into Nottingham. Passed the power station at Ratcliffe on Soar, where I passed through a very cold shadow, cast purely by the gasses being emitted by the power station. Made me wonder if there’s a permanent cloud effect that rotates round the power station caused by this. However, shortly after passing this, I finally saw a train! Only passed 3 railway lines before I nabbed this on my lists of transport for the day.

One thing about running along a river is that navigation is fairly simple, don’t fall in seems to work fairly well! As I passed the junction of the Erewash canal, again it was a bridge over the side arm and continue along the river. This was heading along the edge of Attenborough nature reserve. There were more people out and about here, such that at times it was a bit like trying to run along Piccadilly Circus! And some people have no idea! One group of birdwatchers stopped, blocking the entire path. I don’t dispute they have a right to be there, but I do deny that they have the right to use the entire path, blocking it for other users. A yelled “excuse me” provoked minimal movement, so I just hurtled through the  middle of them to some of their evident dismay. Part of me thinks “sod ’em” they should have been a bit more considerate in the first place. One pair with their dogs did amuse me though. I came up behind them, so again an “excuse me”. They moved right, the dogs moved left, I wondered if I was supposed to skip over the leads! But we managed to untangle ourselves and I went on. Approaching Beeston lock, I heard my phone go with a text. Hubby had said he’d let me know if there finished early, just so I knew. I didn’t check it until after 12 miles, as then I slowed to a walk for a gel and a drink, and checked the phone at the same time. It was him, and no need to reply. At this point there’s a weir and a canal cut. I needed the extra miles, so headed over the canal and round by the river towards Clifton Bridge. I passed very close the the weir, and it’s at times like this that you see the real power of the river. It had seemed very peaceful and static on the level, but where it cascaded over the weir, there was a tremendous roar of flowing water, and considerable movement thereafter. Very impressive – but not a place to get caught.

The final stretch was just round the playing fields to Clifton bridge, then back by the canal. From here it was into ton and to his parents. I crossed the railway one final time (over a nasty bridge – who put that there?!) and arrived at their front door with 17.4 showin on the watch. This confused me slightly, as I’d mapped it at 18.5 miles. But, to be on the safe side, I did a loop round the houses for the final 0.6 miles, making it to 18 run and recorded.

Facts & Figures:
Distance – 18.0 miles
Time – 3:38:13
Average pace – 12:07

The distance is actually more than that. when I got home and uploaded this to the Garmin software, I discovered that I’d managed to stop the timer and had missed about a mile out of the run! As I came through Clifford’s bridge, I passed a pub. I thought about going in to use the loo, so stopped the watch while I took the detour. only the pub was closed, and so I carried on – without turning the timer back on! It wasn’t until sometime later that I saw the watch wasn’t running that I realised. Working on the fact that the route I’d mapped was 18.5 and I only recorded 17.4 miles, I think I under-recorded by a mile, meaning I ran 19.1 miles. Which is all to the good. When I stopped, I was ready to finish, but I certainly wasn’t anything like as tired as I had been a fortnight ago, when I ran 16 miles.

It’s 90 days to go. As I write this, in 3 months time I expect to be reclining in a bath with a glass of something containing alcohol and bubbles to ease my weary self. I wouldn’t have necessarily volunteered to run the extra 7 miles yesterday, but I’m beginning to feel that this might well be achievable…