26 December 2010

Mr Cool

Why did I think a few inches of snow was any sort of excuse not to run? I set off this afternoon for a gentle exploratory effort - a jog, even, given the conditions, though I usually only ever jog before or after a race - and as Mr Garmin told me he was out of battery it was only ever going to be an ephemeral run: here today, gone tomorrow.

I wrapped up well, as the temperature was a couple of degrees the wrong side of zero: green hat and gloves, of course, as immortalised in Runner's World, but a fleece too, and tights (which might have been tight 12 years ago, but you know what I mean). The road outside the house is hard-packed snow along which (in a car) I crawl, foot off the accelerator, low ratio if in the Subaru (though it is suffering from the notorious Subaru overheating malaise just now, so going nowhere, hence the exciting blast to Bristol airport and back by MG this morning, the return journey with roof down and heater on full - the best way to travel). I definitely jog on that. But past the church and through the village hall car park, I thought maybe a few laps of the playing fields would meet my running needs for the day. The snow, though, was too lumpy to run on, the product of much dog-walking I suppose. So over the footbridge to the road up to the Ridgeway for some 1,000m reps, though not at the pace Rach once suggested I should be doing.

The surface gave just enough grip to enable me to run fairly confidently in my trail shoes, so I went up and back, stretched a bit, then went up and back again, and was taking another rest and stretching my soleus muscles when a couple of runners appeared from the direction of the tunnel. I invited myself to tag along with them, to which they raised no objection: they were heading for the Ridgeway, from which they would descend by our field, making something very like my regular route but in reverse. I thought I'd accompany them to where I'd already turned back twice at the end of 1,000m, but when we reached that point it felt so good I had to carry on.

The hill becomes much steeper after my turnaround point, and the surface goes from good tarmac grotty ruts, and I laboured up the climb, but I'll cope better with it after a few weeks' practice. I reached the top last of the three of us, but my new friends waited for me and we trotted along the Ridgeway exchanging notes. Then we picked our way down the slope to the tunnel - a feature lacking on this course years ago, one of my companions told me, which made the A34 a test of sprinting ability - I recalled one of my glamorous running mates in London showing an impressive turn of speed across Hyde Park Corner in similar circumstances. I was just saying how much I enjoyed the climb when I felt fit, when my feet went from under me and I ended up lying on the hard ground, laughing despite my right knee feeling rather sore.

I walked the next hundred yards or so, then we all jogged down the hill where the snow was still powdery enough to give us enough purchase, and back to the village. From the point at which I'd had in mind to do a couple more 1,000m reps I'd put in about 6 miles, proved that except for one stretch it was runnable in the snow, and made a couple of new friends. A good afternoon's work - and a great feeling of well-being.

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