R.E.D. January for MIND, Week 2, & QECP 13 miler

Red

Day 8

Charged around to make time for a run and then it was the slowest 5K I’ve done so far … ha ha … made me laugh 🙂 Still, it’s all for a great cause !!

Day 9

It’s surprising how you speed up when you realise the battery is running out on your garmin. I hit my first target of £50 today so I’m looking at £100 next 🙂 I’ve been surprised that my legs are coping with the number of tarmac miles. The cycle commute to work does help free them up !!

I’m pondering on a longer run at the weekend now that my legs are starting to get used to daily miles. It’s all going very well. 31.6 miles in total ….. that’s my smileage !!

Week 2

Days 10,11,12

More street running, building up to my first long steady run.

Day 13

I decided to head out into the countryside today with two of my trail running friends, Paul and Nikki. Our distance, well, if it was day 13 then 13 miles seemed appropriate. This distance also conveniently fits as a half marathon. My chosen route was the first half of Second Wind Running’s Spring marathon.  It’s a varied run with hills, mud, woodland and with it being located within the Queen Elizabeth Country Park (QECP) there’s easy car parking and a tea room to reward yourself with, at the end.

Paul and I have run this a number of times but Nikki had only run sections. The sunrise had just about appeared on our arrival and conditions looked perfect with no rain forecasted and a chill in the air.

DSC00973

QECP has a number of trails that crisscross the 1,400 acres, not least of which, the South Downs Way. Just off the A3 and three miles from Petersfield QECP is also only a 25 minute drive from us. The park is also within the East Hampshire Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). You’d think it had been there “for ever” but in fact most of the Beech trees were planted in the 1930’s.

Talking of AONB’s, Paul and Nikki were in fine form, banter wise, as we set off up the initial steep climb out of the park and alongside the A3. There was much talk of upcoming races and the R.E.D. initiative Nikki and I are supporting. So, for us to stop running after 3 miles to take a look at the new adventure trail that’s being built, “well”, it must have been impressive. There were 20 or so obstacle course type wooden structures that will be opened soon and Paul videoed a few of them.

DSC00977

As we dropped down towards the bottom of QECP, where they hold the parkrun, Nikki (not for the first time) mentioned she’d have liked to of run the 5K, however, we’ll save that for another day and I think I won her over in the end with 13 miles of varied trail.

We even ran past the parkrun start before another of the steep hills that helped make up 2,111 feet of elevation on our run. Nikki’s strategy of fast hiking/walking on some of the hills was almost as effective as a slow running pace. The advantage of a long striding hill walk is that it also stretches out/loosens up your muscles, so that’s something to consider.

Just in case it sounds like all we did was run up hill, I liked this photo of us descending.

DSC00986

We joined the SDW and then pealed off to head down towards Chalton. The conditions underfoot were actually quite reasonable and in no time we were approaching 10 miles.

Our route passed various countryside views of open fields and wooded sections which will be more apparent in Paul’s video, which I’ll add to this blog depending on when he has time to edit it.

I haven’t run with Nikki for a while and it was noticeable that on the steeper sections she would let out a Michael Jackson style “whoo” I found this quite amusing until she told me she has breathing issues so …. note to self … never make assumptions.

Heading back from Chalton another of our trail running friends Dean passed us along the long drag that follows the Staunton Way back towards the parkrun area. This photo from Nikki and mine below sum up why we trail run on a Saturday morning 🙂 Both Paul and Nikki showed that off road running requires strength as well as running fitness.

us

DSC00993

As we approached the QECP centre I couldn’t resist free wheeling down the last hill after all the inclines !! We then decided to treat ourselves to a refreshing cup of tea after our 13 miles and 2,100 feet of elevation. Some of the parkrunners were still chatting in the tearoom so it was great to see Joanna and Dwayne that we know.

I have to say the staff were very cheery and welcoming in both the café and on the help desk where Paul and Nikki organised their car parking passes for the year ahead. Paul often compares himself to either Brad Pitt or George Clooney and the lady on the desk said she could see the likeness …… now that’s customer service 🙂 !!

Day 13

After a great mornings running and laughter I was reminded of the phrase I’ve used before in blogs, “you only really start running when you’ve forgotten that you are running”. This sense of freedom and enjoyment comes with running in the countryside with friends. Today was one of those days. Many thanks to my running pals Paul and Nikki.

PS If you’d like to sponsor me for RED January and Mental Health that would be fantastic, I’ve reached £130 so far, here’s the

LINK

Many thanks

Roger

PS Day 14 ….. 5 miles = 60 for the 14 days 🙂

60

 

 

Meon Valley Half

dscf4985

The Meon Valley is a beautiful part of Hampshire, set in the South Downs national park, with rolling hills and a network of trails for us to run. Second Wind Running’s Phil and Teresa are well respected race directors and today they had both a half and full marathon on offer.

The omens for a good day were mounting up what with the fine weather and me bagging the second to last car parking space in the tarmac car park. The temperature was a balmy 2.5 degrees when I arrived and frost was clear to see in the hedgerows that weren’t in the sun. I arrived a little early for the half so that I could wish my marathon friends good luck with their earlier start. Paul, Dave, Kate, Kiernan, Nikki and Dean were all in good spirits.

mmm

I chatted with my friend Ros from Gosport RR just before Phil’s 10am race brief which was the usual combination of humour and facts. He warned everyone that race signs had been tampered with the previous day but as of an hour earlier they were in tact. The Meon Hall made for an excellent HQ what with plenty of space, catering and even heating !!

Knowing that the trail narrows quite quickly once we joined the South Downs Way (SDW) I started further forward than I normally would so it was no surprise that Terry Arnott from Gosport RR passed me at about half a mile in with a “morning” and that was the last of him that I saw (he came 10th !! – great running). Conditions meant I started with gloves but these soon came off. The trail was very good underfoot so we could pay most of our attention on the tree roots that the Autumn leaves were potentially hiding.

The winding gradual climb up the lower reaches of Old Winchester hill saw me making reasonable progress ahead of the steep climb. I decided to walk this section as the majority of the other runners were. As we headed away from the hill a group of walkers seemed surprised to see us running but to their credit they encouraged us as we passed them. Crossing the road I saw Paul Jeffrey and his crew, they’d made signs of encouragement like, “well done random stranger” nice one Paul.

During an enjoyable downhill section towards Meon Springs I was first made aware of a fellow Fareham Crusader running behind me. Alan White and I then swopped positions from that 4 miles, or so, right until the end. The sun was quite low in the sky so it was noticeable that your vision was occasionally marred, but hey, sun in November, I wasn’t complaining.

By about six miles we had a long and steep county lane to negotiate and I managed to run the vast majority of it. These small victories can give you a huge mental boost. The temperature certainly warranted my long sleeve helly whenever we reached the higher ground of the downs. Again the right kit choice can have a psychological boost to your mood. The section up to the 8 mile drinks station included a couple of cheeky short hills and then we turned right onto a track that’s on the edge of a large wide open field. I distinctly remember this trail from last years marathon because I was really suffering.

It’s at points like this in a race that you simply have to rely on your training, block out the pain and almost move into auto pilot, knowing it doesn’t last for ever. Joining the road and heading left back towards Meonstoke meant the 10 mile mark appeared on my garmin “deep joy”.

At this point course knowledge is a wonderful asset, I knew the worst was over and it was a case of hanging on. I pondered how close Alan was to me but seeing as he is quicker than me I fully expected his tall shadow to appear sooner or later !! With about a mile and  a quarter to go we were treated to a downhill section but as before the leaves needed respect what with the hidden potential dangers. Here, I became aware of heavy breathing behind me. Was it a crazed axe man, was it the leader from the marathon ? no it was the tall shadow I was expecting. We exchanged a few words of support and pressed on towards the last 300m that was around the football pitch.

I made my play as we entered the field and knew immediately I’d done the wrong thing as a stabbing pain in my calf shouted “you silly old bugger what are you doing going quicker in the last point one of a 13.1 mile race” That tall shadow eased by and I followed Alan in by about 50 metres. On the positive side, today took me through 700 miles in 2016. The 1,000 miles may be a step too far after time missed in the Summer but I’ll keep at it !!

71

 

I shook Alan’s hand, had a chat with Phil the organiser to thank him for a great race and just had time to shout encouragement to my friend Ros as I she was finishing and I was leaving. Also before leaving I had an interesting chat with the Xmiles chap about nutrition.

A great race in beautiful surroundings. This is why I run off road. The results are in and I came 90th out of 188. I hope to add a photo of me and Phil here but seeing as it was on his phone he’s probably celebrating a great days racing.

If you liked reading my blog please vote for irunoffroad here by scrolling down to my name. Many thanks http://therunningawards.com/vote/109/110#vote

 

SDW Winchester Hill – towards Butser & back – 14/2/15

This is my first Blog post and I’m doing it as a record of why running isn’t my hobby, it’s my passion. My girls would say “Blah, blah, blah” and “if it makes you happy Dad” but they are always interested to hear what I’ve been up to and yes it does make me happy 🙂

Starting from the Old Winchester Hill car park on a damp morning the 13 miles of mud and hills were defiantly testing and ultimately a guide to my fitness. The rain easing off after the first couple of miles had only topped up the saturated fields and tracks. The going was heavy underfoot to say the least and this did mean the pace had to drop mainly to stay upright in some places.

There’s quite a mixtures of muddy downhill, farmyard roads, chalky climbs and boggy sections to enjoy so, you do have to concentrate. Running off road isn’t about pace, I’ve found out to my pleasure, that it’s more about finding out about yourself. The early morning birds, the sights, sounds and smells of the county side (both good and bad) all bombard your senses at a time when your heart is pumping and your lungs are working hard, you quite simply feel “alive”.

The mud up the back of your legs and the water in your shoes are badges of achievement any scout would be proud of.        This is why “irunoffroad”…. Happy running ….. Roger T