01 February 2009


February started cold and windy, but I am not going to allow winter to defeat me. There were a few flakes of snow in the air when I left home for the first Sunday morning long run in some time, and I was prepared for the worst - hat, gloves, leggings, thermal top, windproof jacket. I needed them all.

I'd forgotten to charge the Garmin, so made the best of it and merely noted my departure time for comparison with the time when I arrived back home. I planned to run very gently anyway, so the absence of my virtual partner was not unwelcome. Distance, not speed, was my goal, so I carried on over the field instead of turning right to Richardsons.

The going was good, especially considering how much rain we've had recently. What moisture there was - and there are still big puddles on the track - was frozen. The wind was from the east, bringing Siberian temperatures and threats of snow, and it was strong enough to make progress slower than normal. But it meant that I didn't overheat, although when I reached the drinking water tap provided in memory of Dr Basil Phillips, general practitioner, of Newbury (1914-1995) I was thirsty enough to try to extract refreshment from it - a forlorn hope in freezing temperatures.

I think about many people on my runs. Dr Phillips is one, Lieutenant Hugh Frederick Grosvenor is another - I always note the stone that marks approximately the spot where he died in an armoured car accident on 9 April 1947, and wish I knew more about the circumstances: today, I noted (because the grass had been cut, or died back) that there are three or four little wooden crosses and a poppy lined up in front of it. And I think about friends with whom I have run this route in the past, and other friends with whom I have run elsewhere. Today, though, for no paticular reason, it seems right to be alone.

Next week I have the challenge of Dursley, where the route (according to one of my running mates) heads off uphill from the start and gets worse from there on. I won't be satisfied with 10 minute miles next Sunday.

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