|Early Purple Orchid in the woods|
|Female orange tip|
|Buff-tailed Queen Bee|
|Fuelling marathon training with Pop on the hoof|
|Making friends with a baby donkey|
|A Handy Puddle to cool down in at sixteen miles|
|Team Romsey Hardy Souls at the Marlborough Downs 20 mile yesterday|
|Team Romsey (including Poppy) at the Harewood Forest 10k this morning|
|First dog home! She got a medal and all :o)|
|Not to be left out of the medal action|
|Just making sure everyone knows who really won it|
A number of these woods have connected farmland whose hedges are home to singing yellow hammers and whitethroats and I've been enjoying listening to both species all week. Our resident cuckoo is also singing most days. Last night, M and I were eating supper outside when a swallow flew over. We watched as a bigger bird, hawk-like in flight, crossed his path, causing the swallow to change direction and fly after the bigger bird, driving it away. The bigger bird started cuckooing as he flew, and we realised what we were watching: something I've certainly never seen or heard of before, a swallow seeing off a cuckoo. Why? Cuckoos don't parasitise swallow's nests. Curious.
In the woods, the early purple orchids are flowering and speckled wood butterflies are busy twirling. I'm glad to have seen a female orange tip nectaring on the white bells at home. I will start checking the milk maids soon for her eggs. The hairy-footed flower bee has been busy on the lithodora, and the honey bees are going berserk for the apple blossom which has exploded this week.
Running-wise, I did my last twenty-mile run of pre-marathon prep on Saturday. I did three fast miles at parkrun in the heat, then came home and did another 17 with Pop round the lanes. It was hot but if it's hot on marathon day I can't wimp out because of the weather, and it's as well to get some training in in tough weather so I'm prepared. I took water for both of us and there were plenty of puddles along the route which Pop drank from and wallowed in, so she was fine. I finished it feeling strong, not especially tired or hungry or sore or over-heated. I had three doses of electrolytes over the course of the three hours we were running for, which I think helped, and a few jelly babies for added sugar. I've got used to doing the long mile runs now and really enjoy them. I'm thinking I won't stop once I've done the marathon as it's easier to keep marathon fit with one long run a fortnight than it is to drop down to short runs and then have to spend five months training up for the next one again (which we've booked for October. Exciting!).
Yesterday, M ran a twenty mile race over the Marlborough Downs in blistering heat. The second half had no shade. He ran an absolute blinder considering the hilly, hot and exposed conditions and completed it in a little over two and half hours. I've never seen so many runners collapse at the end of a race before though. They looked done in. There was also a 33 mile version going on. Hats off to those who tackled it. M wasn't fully well himself for several hours afterwards, a combination of having run London in hard conditions a fortnight earlier and probably being not quite fully recovered yet, and the heat washing salts out of his system. He's fine today but wisely gave this morning's race, which was part of a local village fete, a miss.
The honour there goes to Poppy, who was first dog home over a tough, hilly, hot six mile trail run through the Chalk and bluebells woods. She was a complete star, as always. She ran straight and fast and true, overtook loads of people and psyched many of the runners out as a result :o). Several people asked me how she managed it, they were all surprised when I told them it's because she's marathon training with me and she ran 17 miles on Saturday. I think people underestimate her because of her size, but Jack Russells are as tough as old boots. Good old Poppy. Ted was Chief Spectator along with M and both the dogs helped me eat my hot dog from the BBQ at the end of the race. A lovely morning out.
So, three weeks now till the mara and I've had a last-minute change of plan. The race M did yesterday runs over similar terrain to the Neolithic and it was stoney and rough in places. We talked it over and decided that wasn't the best ground for my knee (I've also still got a niggle in my big toe joint from the boggy half mara last weekend), so I've swapped to a road marathon instead. Same day, so all fine there. Just a mental/ emotional shift re preparing for a road race instead of a trail one in a different part of the country. It's all good though and the right, practical decision.
Hope you're all well?