If I haven’t posted something Labrador-ebullient about running and how it’s making me totes emosh and my legs totes amaze for a few weeks then it’s a fairly good sign that the running has been going extremely badly.
Or just…not happening very much, which was what was happening when I went back to Hampshire to see my parents at the weekend. I’d been for one five mile run the previous Saturday, and just lost interest en route, so enjoyed a little amble down Herne Hill before bothering to pick my feet up and trot on home.
This weekend was serious though. It was serious because I was going sailing with my dad for the first time in a bajillion years (this was amazingly good fun). It was serious because I was going to dinner at my parents’ friends’ house and there would be highly competitive parlour games, and it was serious because I was finally going to do my first 10 mile run, and the longest I’ve done so far has been about 7 miles. I’ve already fallen slightly behind in my overambitious half-marathon training programme, so I should have been out doing 12 miles but let’s not get ahead of ourselves because that’s basically an ultra-marathon.
According to the legend on my Runkeeper app, these long runs are a chance for me to practise my hydration and nutrition. Blank face. I don’t want to use gels as they sound disgusting. I don’t have a fancy water bottle. What sort of nutrition? Can I take crisps?
As it turned out, I was far too monstrously hungover to go out on Sunday morning, so spent it sitting in bed with the paper feeling very, very quiet. I finally kicked myself out of bed, took a small bottle of tap water and one of my mum’s small and pointless post-tennis chocolate bar snacks (the sort where you need to eat five to tell you have in fact consumed any chocolate at all), merrily picked a 10 mile loop round Hampshire, and set off.
It all went rather well at the beginning. I clambered the hill out of the village and had this great sense that, actually, today’s run wasn’t going to be a problem. It went VERY WELL at the four mile point when I came across this tree shaped like a dinosaur. Or Nessie. Or a sock puppet.
And it really was a stunning day. Not too hot, not too windy, and the farmers were all out in force harvesting wheat and doing all kinds of chaff-y things with their massive tractors. Every time I looked left or right I was confronted with the true brilliance of the English countryside in summer, and for someone who used to be borderline agrophobic whenever she returned home after university holidays, it was such a treat to see it at a leisurely pace rather than whizzing past it in a car.
I mean, really. Ridiculous.
I ended up doing something of a detour when I accidentally missed my turn off and spent a good mile merrily running parallel to the A3, at which point I broke open the Pointless Not A Chocolate Bar and rewarded myself with “practising my nutrition.” At this point the water had reached boiling point due to being clasped in my volcanic hand for six miles.
When I finally got back on the right route, I started to feel a bit off. I finished my water, obviously couldn’t find anywhere to put it as country lanes are not usually decorated with recycling bins, and was immediately confronted by a series of REALLY LONG HILLS. Oh good lord, the hills. I did quite a lot of walking up these, mixed with some rather lacklustre jogging every few minutes just to remind my legs that this was a run, yes, really.
I realised my mistake when I started passing signs pointing to Butser Hill Picnic Area, and realised that when I had merrily banged out my Runkeeper loop, I’d failed to notice the fact that the last third of it took place up a gigantic bloody great hill. Huge applause for me! I nearly had hysterics laughing, but then I got to a flat bit – and oh my, then I got to this.
HELLO VIEWS! This is fairly crap when reduced to an iPhone picture, but the sight of my village nestled across the way, the huge deep landscapes, the fluffy crema of the clouds and those gorgeous rich colours almost took my breath away. And as a massive plus, this signalled the start of a really long downwards hill, which I duly ran down laughing, waving at sheep and singing along to Fenix TX’s excellent Phoebe Cates at breathy volume.
(I am one of those people who can’t pass livestock without doing one of those wiggly finger waves and trilling “HELLLOOOOO!”)
And then, this!
Oh hello your majesty, how beautiful are you. (More trilling followed.)
I soldiered on for two and a half miles more before staring at my phone until the golden sight of “10.0 miles” appeared and then immediately stopped. My hips and legs ached. I felt fairly sure I’d turned into a broken pepper mill. I texted my brother to apologise but that there was absolutely no way I was going to make the family Skype as it was going to take me at least half an hour to walk home. But my God, I had done my first 10 miles.
AND I FELT LIKE A BLOODY GODDESS!
Time til The Bloody Great Run: Seven weeks and three days. You can sponsor me here if you like.