|Baby Goldfinch (note the lack of red face)|
We have a saying in our house: 'It's A Dad Ten Minute Walk.' This refers to a memorable Scottish holiday years ago when a short walk was proposed by Paterfamilias to aid digestion after supper. The kids eyed the Gathering Dark doubtfully but agreed, and an hour a half later we stumbled back down off the mountain in the pitch black.
It's been part of the family lexicon ever since. Mind you, with two of them holding certificates in Advanced Teenager and one being 21 and All Sophisticated, they've long since forgotten what it means to use your legs to walk in the company of your parents, let alone in the countryside.
I mentioned over the weekend that I wanted to do a longer run of 8 miles on Monday, bearing in mind the potential half-marathon target next year. I've got a couple of 6 milers and a few 5 mile runs under my belt in the past fortnight and not found the upped distance too hard. M eagerly agreed (which should have been my first cause for alarm) then said he'd work out a nice off-road route (which should have been my second).
We got up promptly yesterday and set off across the fields. It dawned on me after we'd been going for ten minutes or so that it was mainly up hill and I was struggling to run. I had put in a fair few miles the previous week and it was taking its toll. Mindful of advice from more experienced runners, I decided not to worry about the time and concentrate on the distance instead, walking the bits where I needed to catch my breath.
On we went (still up hill) until we reached the brow of a beautiful open field with views across the country. I was starting to relax when, bridging the brow revealed the biggest hill you've ever seen, fully cloaked in mud and chalk, stretching up for miles in front of us. It looked like the farmer had spread chocolate mousse dotted with flecks of cream all over it, smoothing the surface with a spatula.
M trotted up it with the dogs as if it were a mere molehill. I managed to run about half of it before succumbing to an undignified breath-heaving walk. M, in the mean time, had reached the top, turned round, trotted back down, and then trotted back up again beside me, chatting all the way while I gasped for breath and just about managed to make barely-audible half-grunts in reply. Hmmm.
After about 6k it dawned on me that the entire run to that point had been more or less of an inclining upwards nature and I was knackered. My 4.5 - 5.4 minutes per km times had long since gone out the window and the GPS was beeping 6 and then 7 minute kilometres. My legs felt alternately like jelly and lead, although interestingly my lungs were fine. This is where being
At 6.7k we breached the top of the Down and at long last began to run downhill. Something strange has been happening to me since I upped my distances. I am finding the first 5k of any run hard, mentally and physically, but when I reach 6k suddenly all the hard work feelings vanish and my body starts to work in a smooth, steady rhythm. Ted has a labour-saving jog he does and I liken it to that. The annoying voice in my head that has spent the past 20 mins nagging away saying: oh, I'm tired, this is hard work, or: let's walk for a bit, or: even better, stop and go home and try again tomorrow completely disappears and my km times start to improve.
So it was with Monday's run. Once we were over the Giant Mousse Hill, I overtook M and found myself flying along the edge of another Chalk field beside a belt of ancient woodland, buzzards mewing overhead, Poppy zooming in front of me and Teddy running along behind his Dad. I couldn't quite believe I was the same woman who, barely ten minutes before, was really struggling to put one foot in front of the other.
I ran the next km in 5.15 then had a small sit down on a stile while Pop, who had disappeared into the wood and could be heard merrily and systematically putting up pheasants as she quartered her way through the trees, was relocated. The next km flashed by in a steady 5.05 and the one after that as well. Then came a nasty hill pretending to be a gentle slope but with such soft ground it was worse than running along a pebbly beach (I walked up it with my hands on my knees while M trotted to the top and came back for me, talking merrily all the way. Grrr), then it was downhill through a farmyard, uphill across a corn field, along a field with Curious Cows, through a wood, past a pheasant cover strip, through a pathway full of nettles and thistles, and out onto a lane which we followed until we got back to the car.
As we got close to the car the GPS said we'd run 12km, which is about 7.5 miles (and short of my target of 8) in 1.22 hours which is the furthest I've yet run (and the slowest!).
Despite feeling the distance in my legs there was no way I was going to stop before I'd done 8 miles, so I ran on, while M put the dogs in the car (much to their bemusement) and caught up with me further down the lane. I waved him on because although the GPS now said 12.8km (which is about 8 miles), I still had energy left and wanted to see how far I could get. I turned left onto the main road and ran steadily up the footpath to the crossroads where M was waiting for me. At that point the GPS told me I'd run 14.07 km, or 8.74 miles. I felt I'd done enough to stop and my legs and lungs were all saying they'd more or less had enough too.
Well done, said my grinning husband, as I crawled into the car, that was not an easy run. In fact, he added cheerfully, it probably equates to more like over ten miles on a flat road.
It was definitely the running equivalent of a Dad Ten Minute Walk. The lesson here is if you want an easy introduction to upping your distances, don't put your speedy-marathon-running-hill-conquering husband in charge of the route. On the plus side, having had such a hard introduction to a 14k run, it can only get easier from now on!
We got home, stretched out in the garden and did ten mins of yoga (which is not easy when you've a Jack Russell determined to lick the salty sweat off your face/ hands/ arms as you do Downward Dog and Pigeon) and I lasted the rest of the day without collapsing or struggling to walk. I even ran up the stairs to give L his night-time hot water bottle. Even better, my GPS told me I'd burned off 900 calories so I felt justified in a homemade peanut butter and white chocolate brownie :o).
This week's targets- to survive yoga on Thursday without being an aching bundle of muscles for three days afterwards, to improve my Parkrun PB of 24.38 on Saturday and to run 7 miles along the lanes with M. On the flat with not a mousse-laden hill in sight.
Hope you are all well?