I am not going to waste much keyboard time on my thought about the way the third lockdown was introduced but needless to say with-in a couple of days I needed to respond with something positive for my personal ‘sanity’. So on Monday 21st it was time to act, a review of my annual running stats showed a total year to date of 1,683 Miles. I did the Maths, 1,800 by year end? That would mean 117 miles in 11 days, I got on with it & went for a run.
Now that might not sound a lot for a bloke who attempted & failed 100 miles in a day back in early August but it would mean very high ‘training’ mileage for me & would be a significant turnaround from the injury induced low mileage months since then.
It was a good start, a 13.9 mile tour through the CyB which was followed up the next day with an 11.55 miler again in the CyB, pleasingly the tight & troublesome right calf was if anything becoming looser as a result. Running was by now clearly playing with my mind as Wednesday I awoke at about 5:00 am & began to toss & turn thinking of what the days route would be. Soon enough was enough, just before six I was kitted out, headtorch on & out the door Dolgellau bound. This was a largely tarmac route albeit mostly on a deserted back road but the loop around Dolgellau’s square at circa 7 o’clock did give me an added sense of pride. Some two hours 4 minutes later with 13.2 miles covered I walked back through the door & upstairs to a still slumbering Angel.
Christmas Eve I needed to be at the Café to say hi to any Takeaway customers who’d come out to exercise/support us. Knowing that to slot in a run would be difficult I came up with a cunning plan ‘Dorina, drop me off at the top of the Crimea & I’ll run over to the Café from there’, a good plan that failed to factor in the weather! As Dorina drove away I noticed the wind & was soon battling my way into a full on 40mph cold Northerly headwind. To add insult to injury I looked over at a snow capped Siabod only to see a wintry shower skirting around it & heading in my direction, oh what fun! In truth it only clipped me & after 2K or so into my descent the wind eased & I began to feel better about my predicament. From Dolwydellan I took the direct line shortcut across the flank of Siabod, my predicted mileage of 10 miles was in reality only 8.1 taking 1 Hour 20 Minutes but the run was in the bag & Christmas Eve pleasantries could commence.
Christmas Day was my usual schedule, Dorina cooked my poached eggs on toast, I prepared the Goose & was then out the door just before nine & heading for the CyB centre where I’d run the Trail Half Marathon race route. Didn’t see a soul for the first 12 miles & was pleased to stick at it, despite feeling tired, by taking on the Sting in the tail thereby avoiding the direct short cut home. I walked back through the door having 16.65 miles under my belt at 11:45. The Goose was in the oven at 12:03 just 3 minutes later than planned. A lot of prep & cooking followed whilst lady luck read her book by the log burner but the reward of the Goose on our pallet remains a treasured memory for yet another year, the skin is to die-for!
Boxing Day at the Café with storm Bella heading our way led to a day of rest, 63.4 miles in the previous 5 days meant the next 5 days needed ‘just’ 54 more.
The 27th led to more thinking outside the box ‘Dorina, drop me of at Dolwydellan Castle & I’ll run to the Café on a road route via Betws’, 12 more miles were soon behind me.
The 28th brought the wonderful sight of a lot of snow higher up, I set-off from the Café with a plan of doing a circuit of Capel & Swallow Falls but early on decided I wanted to run under snow covered mountains so at Plas y Brenin I thought on my feet & turned left away from Capel & the Falls & instead down the road to Pen y Gwryd. Initially it was just me & the mountains but gradually more & more sight-seeing cars passed me at a courteous distance, who can blame them for simply wanting to see a sight for forlorn eyes. 10.05 miles in a winter wonderland.
The 29th would prove to be the crux of mission 1,800, I awoke feeling tired, there was a cold dampness in the air my options felt heavy. Run in the morning before doing the food shop or food shop first & then an afternoon run, neither felt an attractive prospect! Thankfully I made the right call & took the run first option. Even then I knew I’d have to go for an out & back plan which helps to avoid taking short cuts & truncating the mileage achieved so I repeated the Dolgellau run of the week before & was pleasantly surprised that despite my fatigue I arrived back home in a time that was 3 minutes faster. Looking back I feel sure that if I’d opted for the food shop first the afternoon run would not have happened, ‘good tick Paul’!
With a plan for New Years Eve already in focus the 30th was just a tick-over event. Donning road shoes once again I set off from the Café after several hours on the chainsaw (a separate story). Immediately I realised I felt good, no idea why, & thought just go for this! The plan was for Dorina to set-off in the car 35 minutes later & she’d pick me up by Fairy Falls 9 or so K later. I hit the 5 mile mark of Cotswold Outdoor in a pb & carried on at pace until the end. I passed Dorina on the back road to the Falls with 9.94K on the watch so waved & ran on until it reached 10K & then stopped. What followed was a surreal ‘stand-off’. A runner thinking ‘you parked in the wrong place, I’m not walking back to you’ & a driver thinking ‘he’s after miles, he’ll run back to me’, waving hand became shaking fist. A truce was instigated after a couple of minutes by the driver (of course) & soon laughter filled the car. 10K in sub 46 minute pace felt good, 6.25 miles nearer my goal.
So by New Years Eve only 12.4 miles were needed, the pre-decided plan was an out & back Half Marathon down the beautiful Mawdach Estuary a repeat of my pre-first Lockdown training pb of 1:31, again this would rule out any short-cut capitulation. On a glorious afternoon Dorina decided to join me with ‘you go at your pace, I can turn around earlier at the gate’, ‘thought you wanted a Half Marathon’ I replied & furthered ‘I’m not going at pace I’ve done that yesterday, we can run together’.
That is exactly what we did but un-beknown to me on the outward journey Dorina began to get competitive with her watch as 8K in she confessed ‘I might be able to beat my 10K pb?’ My thoughts were trying to beat a 10K pb during the first part of a 21K (your longest run since July) might not end well but I decided to let her have her head & hope she wouldn’t lose her legs. A 59 minute pb was her reward & half a K later at the turn around point during a two minute rest I presented her with the Gel I had smuggled into my waist bag (a little earlier than my plan but at least it would set her up for the beginning of the return).
Just before we were halfway back a voice chirped ‘can I have a quick breather’ which she did. Then 3 or so K further on at the George 111 I instigated a further breather for her before the final 2K to the car. At 20.1K my 1,800 mile target was achieved & saw me celebrate as I launched into a sprint finish my shepherding work being done. To think that I ran at that pace for the full 21K back in March seems like a whole world away now.
It had been a make the most of your circumstances 11 days covering 118.5 miles or just shy of 190K including 5 runs exceeding Half Marathon distance. It had been a job well done, an injury behind me & I’d had more than a little help from an Angel.
However you ended 2020 & started 2021 lets make the most of the positives which are within our control & hope that those controlling us soon implement a plan that benefits us all.