Saturday, 5 March 2011

Tale of Two Runs

My first attempt at trail running...in glorious technicolour
With only 5-weeks to go to the Brighton Marathon, I wanted to do something a little different with my long run this week. I couldn't face another long slog up, down and around the seafront so decided to head up into the beautiful Sussex Downs for my first attempt a trail running.

Started at Devils Dyke with its stunning views across Sussex, unfortunately there were no handgliders soaring across the sky this morning, but the sun was out, the grass was green and it was a delightful change from urban running (even if you have a seafront to throw into the mix)...
...I wasn't quite sure exactly where I was going, but looking at the maps it seemed if I got to the Dyke and went "Left" (into the distance on the image) I'd eventually reach the River Adur which I could then follow down to Shoreham.

What a sense of liberation!

Warm weather and warm welcomes from passing hikers and mountain bikers - an absolute joy. Didn't need the iPod, just enjoyed the stillness and occasional sounds of being out in a lovely rural setting. I see why some of you do little more than trail run, this was a true delight, and I surprised myself by keeping up a respectable pace as well.

7-miles lovely miles that I didn't want to end, but end this had to as I went past the Hogwartsesque Lancing College as I came down the river into a busy Saturday afternoon high-street in Shoreham...
...and this is where the run went downhill (rapidly!)

First half of the run was a joy, second 7-miles a battle all the way. Not sure what happened, but the change in surroundings seemed to coincide horrendously with a very real change in my mental state. Seemed to lose a certain je ne sais quoi somewhere very quickly on the road to Brighton.

After the relaxation and stillness of the South Downs, I was now faced with a grim 4-mile stretch with industrial buildings on my left, a dour port on the right, constant traffic coming directly at me and wind coming straight through me.

Suddenly everything seemed tired, the kick wasn't there and all I really wanted to do was stop and go home.  "Luckily" the only way to get home was dig in, concentrate on left-right-left-right and run, coz while its not a nice place to run, its certainly not somewhere you want to be stuck walking.
Didn't help that I wasn't really sure where I was. I wasn't lost, I knew if I just went down the road I'd get to Brighton, but never having been along there before I had no landmarks from which to gage distance and boost what was dwindling confidence. Thankfully the port finally came to end, I knew where I was and feeling slightly buoyed I pushed on with the final 3miles to home, finishing with a sense of relief and into a bath my 4-year old would have described as "hurty hot".

Distance: 13.94miles
Time: 2:15:34
Avge Pace: 9:43

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