Sunday, 19 February 2012

A Circuit of the City

Once again, apologies for the dearth of blog entries lately, but I hope you have been amused by the candid shots of The Fairy! I have been continuing with my training, completing runs of 4.6, 5.4 and 3.6 miles this week, although since they were largely unremarkable and uneventful, I didn’t wish to bore you with the details.

I’m very aware that the race will be three weeks today, so I was determined this morning to have a longer run that would give me confidence that I would be able to attain the full distance on the day. My target was to run at least eight miles, but the difficulty lay with where I should run in order to complete the necessary distance without terminal boredom setting in. Where I live there is a lovely park, which you have already heard much about, but it is only 1.75 miles to its farthest extent, and I had little enthusiasm for running four to five loops of the same old scenery. For this reason, I decided to run a route I haven’t done for quite some time, and which I estimated to fulfil the eight mile criterion, perhaps with a little to spare.

The temperature had taken a severe dip overnight, and all was frost as I set out, sensibly (I thought) clad in my leggings and thermal top, t-shirt and gloves. My route took me in the opposite direction to the park, down the road and across the main junction (thankfully free of traffic this early on a Sunday morning), where I was then presented with the vision of a monstrous hill that climbed ever-skyward before me and lay down the challenge to my legs and lungs. I don’t dislike hills, and they are often good to start a run with because they get everything awake and working very quickly, but I knew from previous experience that this one was perhaps a little too steep for comfort. The initial, longer section is merely steep, but the final short section is (honestly!) virtually perpendicular, and your nose practically touches the pavement as you run up (especially if it is generously-proportioned, like mine!).

The junction at the top of the hill inches closer and my lungs are close to bursting point as I broach the summit and can finally suck in great lungfulls of air as I turn to my right and have a gentle downward slope to negotiate for the next mile or so. I observe that my fitness must be good, as I recover quickly and am soon again breathing normally. I’m aware that my pace is more of a jog than a run, but I have a long way to go and need to conserve my energy. Another reason for checking my pace is to reduce the impact of each footfall as I descend the long road, heading to the base of the great bridge that spans the river.

In the past, I used to run a slightly different route, but one that involved running beneath the structure, then ascending about a hundred steps to reach the eastern limit of the bridge, but I have since discovered a route that means I can avoid those steps, which sap the energy and would jeopardise my ambitions for a long run. Thus follows a long, steady climb across the span, with superb, broad views of the wide river below and the surrounding city. Some twenty five years ago, I would not have been able to run this route, since there was no bridge, and the only route across the river was by a ‘floating bridge’ – a chain ferry – hardly suitable for a distance run!

It feels good to reach the apex and descend again, down and towards the city centre. The city is blessed with a series of parks that form a green lung from one end to the other, so I can enjoy the greenery all the way through. As I pass the City Hall off to my left and behind the trees I can hear the bells chime the tune of ‘O God, our help in ages past’, which they do here on the hour, every hour. I estimate that I have run around three and a half miles at this point and am pleased to realise that I am feeling strong and fit, albeit a little on the hot side, and this gives my confidence that I should manage the eight miles envisaged.

From here, there’s a section of road to run along, until I reach the Common, where I decide that I have the strength and energy to do the wide circuit and return home via a reverse of the route I ran a couple of weeks ago. Although this means ascending another steep hill, from the top the remainder of my run will be largely downhill or flat. There are a few other runners here, some of whom I pass, and some who pass me. I’m aware I’m not moving particularly fast, but I have already attained my longest run of the year so far by now, and at 6.65 miles am also at half the half-marathon distance. I really ought to stop and check my blood sugar levels at this point, since I know that my levels generally start to fall after five miles, but I feel fine and don’t want to go to the bother of interrupting the flow.

As I leave the Common I find I have a problem to contend with. Although it is nice to see blue skies and have the nascent warmth of the early morning Sun, that big glowing ball in the sky is starting to make me feel ill as its light flickers and strobes through the denuded branches and confusing my pupils who cannot adjust quickly enough to the constant light/dark/light/dark. At least I am now descending, and well on my way home, and I try to seek out larger areas of shade to avoid the Sun’s rays.

Back in the local park and I see that I have now passed the eight mile mark – success! On race day I will ‘only’ have another five miles remaining! This morning, however, I am now virtually home, and arrive back with a great sense of satisfaction that I have succeeded! It would appear that most of the moisture formerly enclosed in my skin has now relocated to my clothes and I am literally steaming as I come to a halt!

Time               1:28:03
Distance        8.63 miles
Pace               10:12 per mile
BG before      8.1 mmol/l
BG after         4.6 mmol/l
Calories         1108

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