Frost, ice, sunshine & 17 solo miles

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With¬†the Race to the King double marathon in June the plan for today was 17 miles and 1,800 feet of elevation i.e. a third of what’s coming up in¬†Summer. After only a mile I reached¬†Fareham creek¬†which looked just like a Christmas card with a liberal amount of frost and ice on the¬†shoreline as well as the still water having a thin covering of ice too.

I’d loosely mapped out the route beforehand so that I could maximise Portsdown Hills trails as well as running it from different sides.

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Today would be the furthest and steepest I’ve run for a while but it would also be a good test of will power.¬†Clearly it’s more fun to run with others but¬†completing challenging runs on your own really adds “buckets” of self belief. I wasn’t worried about pace or even walking occasionally, today was all about getting the job done.

Once¬†I’d¬†left the¬†wintery¬†creek behind I joined Paradise Lane as it climbs out of Fareham. It’s funny how leaving the tarmac and houses behind immediately relaxes me. I find there’s no need to think about anything, just concentrate on¬†the best line and avoid any pot holes.¬†It’s a clich√© but time almost stands still, all you can¬†hear is your breathing¬†and the birds.

dsc00081Once I’d reached Fort Nelson and the top of the hill I followed a narrow trail¬†back down the hill, over the motorway¬†towards Portchester.¬†Naturally every downhill is followed by an up so I ran up Dore Avenue, followed by Hill¬†Road and again found myself heading for the top of the hill. At this point I saw Brian¬†from the club¬†but with him wearing a beanie I mistook him for someone else !! Hello Chris was soon corrected to hello Brian once he’d said “hello Rog” and I realised who it was ūüôā

I couldn’t resist¬†the chance to run down the other side of Portsdown Hill so I threw in Portchester Lane which was quite slippy what with the sun not having risen high enough yet. The telegraph poles show the ascent !!

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Back on the trails I¬†ran parallel with the main road and pondered to myself how long this track had been there, 10 years, 50, a few hundred,¬†who knows !! Dropping down towards QE hospital¬†I shouted encouragement to 3 cyclists and¬†then this lead me to¬†the steepest climb.¬†Instead of following the road I ran on the grass almost vertically up towards Micks burger van. The killer section was a series of steps half way up the hill that had to be taken slowly. I was reminded of the cycling phrase “Legs shut up” at this point and had to walk for a short while.

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Once at the top I spotted a sign I’ve never noticed before in front of a thicket of trees. Stopping for¬†a quick read as well as a couple of the fig rolls,¬†which were part of my on going “try eating on runs”, I was impressed to see that the trees had been planted in commemoration of the Falkland War servicemen.

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As the 12 mile point approached I decided to leave a second Portchester Lane and settled for 1,600 feet elevation overall.¬†As I retraced my steps I glanced at my watch for probably only the second time. Two hours had flown by !! Some days that sense of well being and contentment that you¬†are coping with what you have set yourself really does make time fly. It hadn’t been at a great pace but that wasn’t the point, it had been manageable and enjoyable.

All that remained was the trail back up to Fort Nelson which was “steady” and a few comments with some ramblers as I dropped into Fareham.

It’s hard to explain how a testing run can still be relaxing and as I sat in the back garden once I’d finished there was a big smile on my face¬†as I said out aloud “Good job Rog 17 hilly miles” , yes I have to confess to talking to myself¬†!! Thanks for reading.