Well with the rain never ending it made for a very wet Gade Valley Harriers organised 17m London Training Run today. This event is first class and very good value. Every year in the lead up to London they organise a 12, 17, and 20mile training run to fit in with the 16 week marathon training schedule. And for a £5 which includes a well marked course through Ashridge estate in Herts and all finished off with steaming hot coffee and more cakes than you can shake a stick up (I consumed a large chocolate muffin and 2 danish pastries today :-P
But back to the start it the pouring rain. We set off along the grand union canal from Boxmoor, Hemel Hempstead towards Berkhamsted, and this set the scene for the rest of the run. Ankle deep puddles for the entire length of this 3 mile stretch before we headed up onto the roads. Many try to avoid puddles by going left and right, but its really all in vain. I instead adopt the pough strategy of going straight through them and keeping my stride and pace consistent. Yes very wet feet but better this than a sprained ankle from all that twisting and turning.
I was looking for a 8 minute mile pace today, but despite wearing the Garmin to measure this didn't intend to look at it, instead wanting to get a natural rythum and just seeing how it goes. The previous 4 days of little running due to feeling a little under the weather were telling in the early miles, but I hoped this was just a case of finding by sea legs and I would get more comfortable as the miles wore on. And so it was that this is what happened. After the first 5 miles were out the way things calmed down and I found my stride.
The route itself it a large loop that takes in some significant long hills that test ones reserves. I have learned to love hills and found that they are actually one of my strengths. Both up and down I try to up the tempo which is great for morale. A map of the course can be found here -
Back to the road and off the canal and the first impressive hill of the day was upon us - Bullbeggers Lane. At this early stage in the run it calls for a bit more caution as blowing yourself up here would lead to certain difficulties later on. The rain was relentless with the lanes resemebling small streams. The rest of the course cuts through Ashridge and the many small villages that are dotted around including Frithsden, Great Gaddesden, Nettleden, and Potten End before coming back down along a steep downward finish towards Chaulden and rejoining the canal path back to Boxmoor.
The highlight of the day (apart from finishing) was seeing a hurd of 20-30 deers strong running at full pelt in a line through an open field and into the woods. I certainly wished I had their speed at that point!
All in all this was a strong run for me especially considering the conditions and my lack of any real running since the previous Tuesday. My time for the 17miles was 2h 7min. Avg pace 7:30 m/m. My mile splits were:
8.45; (Slowest - bullbeggers hill!)
My next race is the MK half next Sunday where I hoping for a new PB and go under 1h 30m for the first time. We shall we....