Physical Ramblings
Up and Down and Up and Down
May 18, 2017

(Subtitle – Offa was a fit man!)

Sorry to my reader that I have not been about for a week again. Once again very busy at work with trips to Stoke, Wolverhampton and London today. Also at the weekend a trip to Surrey for Sophie’s birthday – eight hours of driving.
Over the last week I have moved the emphasis of my training to longer distances with walking but including some hills. But very little other running or exercise.
The main events were a walk with Michael Carter south of Clun. It wasn’t a huge distance (10.5 miles) but very hilly and scenic. I hadn’t realized how much I missed our walks and the wide ranging, slightly eccentric conversations that take place. Also Michael is very good at pointing out the details (Lady’s Shroud) that I am completely oblivious about. The walk was very rewarding with a wide range of environments and capped with very good soup and cakes in Clun.
Then on Wednesday I set out for my longest walk prior to the actual London to Brighton. The plan was to start from home, go over Stapely Common to Churchstoke. I would then head south until I reached Offa’s Dyke before following that and the Shropshire Way to Clun. I would then make for Bishops Castle and if time permitted in my planned ten hours I would head on for Stiperstones.
I also planned to learn to use my SatNav so that we would have it as a back-up on the L2B. This failed immediately as I was unable (or did not RTFM) to get it to follow my planned route. I then got lost while descending from Castle Hill and had to head back up to Stapeley from Rorrington. No problem as the next four miles were mainly downhill and although the jiggling of all my gear in my gilet was irritating I jogged / ran all the way to Harry Tuffins café in Churchstoke where I indulged in the veggie breakfast. A treat but I feel that it sabotaged the next part of my journey as I started to climb towards the Kerry Ridgeway. The clue is the title and as I picked up on the remains of Offa’s Dyke I also picked up on my first 20% climb of the day. More of the London Marathon foot watching ensued.

Up and Down Offa

I finally crossed the road at the top and after an enjoyable bit on the level there was a very steep descent. This hurt even more as did the prospect of a very steep uphill on the other side of the valley. As I tackled this I realized it was steeper than the first one. I crossed the top looking forward to the descent to Churchtown only to find that it was very nearly vertical. Whilst glad I wasn’t walking up it I struggled not to fall while wondering how people are crazy enough to ski down slopes like this.
The next climb was hidden in a wood and turned out to be even steeper. It was also in the shade which meant that every creepy crawlie, stingy insect made a bee-line (sorry) for my sweaty face. I staggered to the top and was relieved to emerge into the open. Wondering at how Offa had managed to built his boundary over such difficulties terrain. Had I been him I would have let the welsh keep it!!
The next descent was easier and then a gentle rise as I joined the Shropshire Way. After a brief climb I set out on a long gradual descent through a series of small fields. Ah, I hear you say – time to run but two factors limited me. The first was that as I had drunk all my water I wasn’t feeling too energetic and secondly each little field boundary brought a stile!!

Up and Over another stile

Any rhythm across the field was lost as I tried to get my leg(s) over!! After the ground leveled out I followed a really nice walk alongside the river into Clun dreaming of the different drinks I would have when I got to the shop. It turned out the shop was being renovated and I was not able to choose anything to eat or drink.I finally went to the riverside café and the man there made me a toastie and provided an endless pot of tea.

The River at Club

After a short break I then picked up the path to Bishops Castle and have to say that although this was a very scenic walk with different terrain nothing very exciting happened and after 6 miles I reached Bishops Castle. I had decided to finish here for Susan to collect me and it seemed entirely appropriate that I finished after 26.3 miles. It had taken me just over 8 ½ hours averaging out at just over 3 miles an hour (excluding stops). The only difficulty that I had was a blister on my right foot caused by my socks rubbing after my foot got wet.

End of the Walk

I had made a couple of important learning points for the L2B including the need to carry extra water and less useless objects such as camera, spare mobile phone and GPS that I did not know how to use!! The walk was certainly tiring but as I had competed twice the climbing of the L2B in less that half of the distance it made me more confident. Sadly Gemma hurt her knee on her training walk/run and so we have revised our strategy for the actual event which is a week on Saturday.
In the meantime this weekend I am set to take part in the Slateman Savage which includes both the sprint triathlon on the Saturday and the full Slateman (including quarry run) on the Sunday. Expect a tired update early next week. I have also extended my season by entering the Sandman Legend (a half-Ironman Triathlon) in September and interestingly the Tough Sh!te south at the end of October which is a muddy obstacle race over 10K. Time to start on the dreaded strength training and body-weight exercises.
Oh dear, oh dear – see you next week!!

On a final note about the marathon I am including a link to the Shropshire Star article that appeared a couple of days before the London Marathon.

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