01 January 2013


I can leave behind another bad running year, and set my sights on having a good one: and if it's a good running year, it will be a good year in other ways too. To strengthen my resolve I signed up for Janathon - not for the first year, but in the past injuries have intervened and I have not been able to run every day of the month - and this morning I got off to a good start. My resolve should be even more strengthened, as I have also entered a January Marathon (a rare thing, in this country) - Gloucester, on Sunday fortnight, 20th. Well, having proved that I don't actually need to train to run a Marathon, what possible harm is there in that? (Please don't answer.)

Another reason for getting out running was to try out my latest acquisition - Vivobarefoot Breatho trail shoes.  They don't look quite right, fresh out of the box, but don't worry - they didn't keep their pristine appearance for long.

 I could have joined my clubmates for a New Year Run - but Wittenham Clumps, where the run was to start,  is reported to be extremely muddy and I can imagine that, down by the Thames, it is impossible. Anyway, I felt like a good, unsociable, solo run - with Hugo, but that's different. I definitely had some blues this morning which needed blowing away.

Hugo and I headed out towards the Ridgeway in a generally westerly direction - up the road past the village school. Except that we had not long left the playing field before he decided to relieve himself, and I had to scoop up the product and retrace my steps (he retraced his too) to the other side of the playing field, where the dedicated bin can be found. Then we set off again. The road has quite a good surface for the best part of a mile, and I have used this for 1000M reps in the past, but after that it deteriorates and takes a distinctly upward course. The hill really finds you out, and in my case I knew exactly what it would reveal - that I need to do repeats on it many times to get back to something like the level of fitness I once had, and to which I aspire. I stopped part-way up to arbitrate in a canine convention, and to chat to the owner of three dogs she was taking for a walk - she told me she often ran with them. After that, I ran steadily the rest of the way up the climb (the Garmin data suggesting that this was where I failed to start the device again, which accounts for the sudden jump in elevation and the 0.62 mile difference between out and back!).

When I reached a point which I deemed to be the top of the climb - where the track becomes grassy again, and a sign on the left indicates the existence of a nature reserve, the purpose of which escapes me - I paused, and a passing walker remarked "well done, you!". I wished her, and her family, a happy New Year (with what breath I had), as I did almost everyone I met - the main exception being the man whose dog lunged at me and had to be fended off, and who did not even apologise for his dog's behaviour.
Just before the car park we paused again. The wind, from which we had been shielded on the way up, was now quite strong and coming from where we were heading, which does not go well with a tiring climb, general unfitness and basic tiredness, not only from a late night. I persuaded Hugo to stand still for long enough to snap a photo of him looking resolute, but unfortunately when I crouched to try to get a better angle he immediately tried to get onto my lap so this shot has to do.

Through the car park, where the driver of one car had ignored the "no motor vehicles" sign to park a few yards further on beyond the official parking area - obviously, the rule was made for everyone else, like so many rules are these days - and on through mud and water for a few miles to the Wantage Memorial, the intended turn-around point. It's normally five miles from home, but today it was four - a Garmin operating problem, I think. I got the photographic evidence, which also shows what a lovely blue sky and clear day we had.

On the return leg the wind disappeared, suggesting it was blowing at running speed (about 6 mph - not fast for wind, nor for running, come to that) and with the sun on my face I felt I was flying, at least until I passed a couple walking in the opposite direction and recognised one of them as an old acquaintance, so stopped to talk again. They had come from as far away as Islip to find reasonable walking conditions in the present flooding, and the Ridgeway, for all that it was soft and muddy underfoot with a lot of standing water, certainly drains well.

Not a hard effort, but a very satisfying excursion in excellent weather - reminiscent of the first day of the Millennium, on which perhaps I should do a retrospective blog post. The church looked lovely in the sunshine, although my Blackberry doesn't really do it justice (and it would be good if the hedge could be made to disappear).

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