I have finally got here to update my progress from the last week. I have had a very good family weekend with Dawn, Pete, Gemma, Phil and the adorable Sophie. My diet plans have gone all astray with far too much alcohol and I hope to be able to rescue things before next weekend – although port and cheese lined up for later today!!
Had a good exercise week up until Thursday. On Monday I ran from Minsterley to the Castle Country Club – I had the hydration right and a gel at 6 miles. I thought I felt good but it was only when I checked my Strava stats that I found I had managed 11.2 miles at 10:40 pace. Very positive. I did a few google-less lengths of the baby pool at the club and enjoyed ten minutes in the Jacuzzi with inflatable swimming shorts – not a pretty sight!!
On Wednesday we had to go down to Pontesbury for Susan to see Dr B and so I decided to have another tapering run. Again I felt really good to start especially over my old nemesis the climb up to the road below Pontesford Hill. On the way out to Farley I was aware that I was trying a bit harder and as I approached Asterley thought I was struggling a bit. Persisted although the final rise into Minsterley really hurt. No wonder – I clocked 10K by the vets and when I checked the time I was still below the hour. Absolutely delighted (although knackered!). According to Strava it was my third fasted 10K but given that the faster two involved running downhill for three miles I think it is my fastest time for nearly 20 years!! At least my Forerunner recognised it as a new record although Training Peaks recognised my achievement by lowering my threshold value to 9m 30 sec so future runs are going to hurt!!
I got up early on Thursday and went for a BIKE RIDE!! I had planned to go up over Stiperstones, down to Wentnor and back up via More but was amazed at how different muscles made their presence known particularly on the steeper hills, Not wishing to risk any injury I turned at the car-park below the Devil’s Chair (of which more later) and headed back. Very slow average speed of just 10 mph!! New priority after the Marathon I think – particularly cadence. Perhaps I shall take up a spinning class after all although the long steady distance should help with weight loss.
Family arrived on Thursday and too much cider! On Friday we went over to Aberystwyth for a trip on the Vale of Rheidol railway. Excellent trip (video to follow) with spectacular views together with beer and chips at Devil’s Bridge.
Time for a change in the training programme as I begin to think beyond the Marathon to the next of my Treble Challenge – the London to Brighton Challenge. Knowing that Gemma would be up for practice I planned a route from home over to Carding Mill Valley. Once while there Gemma had said about running home and that has always been a thought in my mind. I plotted the route using the OS Maps site and also downloaded it to my hand-held GPS which I have been meaning to learn to use for about five years. I also printed off some paper maps.
We set off just after 8 and within 10 minutes had a phone call from home to say we had left the paper maps behind. No problem and we found the path over from Hope Valley easily and climbed up and past Bank Farm. Our first jog took us to the turn towards Stiperstones and we managed to avoid the scary horses. We made good pace and chatted about rucksacks and horses and future ultra-plans. We reached the first major decision point of the day and using the GPS for guidance I took the wrong turn!! It did not really matter as it meant that rather than descending before climbing back up through Stiperstones village we ended up contouring around before a very steep climb that stopped all conversation!!
We crested the ridge and were in a direct line to the Devil’s Chair which looked spectacular. Sadly we lost the path as we tried to find the cross-hill path to take us to the Shropshire Way. We passed the time trying to recall which Easter we had come down the path in the snow before Phil fell into a drift up to his waist. The following day, Easter Sunday, we had gone to Lyth Hill to try out kite-boarding only for Susan to fall when the kite caught a sudden gust of wind and break her arm. We decided it had been 2012 which is when this part of my recovery really started with me completing the Slateman Triathlon for the first time.
We found the path and were soon jogging down the east side of the ridge with 2 ½ miles of downhill to Bridges. We then followed the Shropshire Way up through Ratlinghope where the walking was very easy and picturesque. We encountered a short climb and found ourselves on the old droving road – The Portway. The views in every direction were outstanding and made the next couple of mills of gentle descents and ascents very pleasant. Eventually we found the main track along the top of the Long Mynd and soon the path down towards Carding Mill Valley. As we made our way down I realised that although I recognise that I am not built for uphill running I am particularly not built for downhill running – as Gemma “danced” her way down I struggled not to plough head-first into the increasing number of walkers coming up the path. As we descended the crowds got bigger and bigger and the car-park was absolutely packed. It was such a contrast to the isolation over Stiperstones that we had enjoyed.
We found the café and the family and re-hydrated! The main lesson was that although we had maintained a very good pace neither of us had really drunk enough during our effort. We were still very pleased with our pace particularly as we had achieved it despite having half of the total ascent of the London to Brighton in less than a quarter of the planned distance.
Saturday afternoon involved more rehydration as Phil and I discovered that the Stables pub just down the road which has recently changed hands is now open all day on a Saturday!! He took the car home and came back down to the pub on his skateboard!! That’s not an everyday sight in South Shropshire. We “rehydrated” for a couple of hours before being accompanied home by Pete and Gemma who had joined us (I think to ensure that we actually got home).
Sunday was a much quieter day with Gemma, Phil and Sophie heading homewards and us having an insect-heavy stroll around Ellesmere. A quiet meal out turned into a very loud evening in the Loopy Shrew in Shrewsbury with various celebrations drowning out our conversations. The food was good and followed by an early night.
I have recovered well from Saturday with only a slight twinge on my left knee (the downhill doesn’t agree) and am planning a gentle week leading up to next Sunday.
I shall probably post another update later in the week but in the meantime some more plodding and perhaps spinning but much, much less drinking!!