I did it. I ran/walked my way from the start to the finish of our 11 mile route. Nothing seems broken or in serious jeopardy. I’m ok, I’m proud to have done it and pleased to be back on track. It was slow, very slow but I hardly care (I do a little bit but just because I’m an idiot). Our pace was about 15 minutes per mile but there are hills and gates and there were walk breaks all the way, sometimes additional short ones, sometines scheduled but slightly longer ones. So here are my thought on our longest training run so far:
I woke up after not a great night’s sleep (I think the kitten may have had something to do with that) and had a mug of hot water. Then I got up, had a porridge pot and another mug of water. Then I got dressed in what I think I will probably wear for the half marathon in a couple of week’s time (eek). Kath insisted on no back pack for me so we just took hers. You will have realised by now that I clearly wouldn’t be doing this without her. Basically, she carries my stuff, sometimes just keys, sometimes water, food, jacket…, she has the watch and controls pace, walk breaks etc and she keeps me going by almost constantly talking to me giving me encouragement, she also takes all my crap. There aren’t many people who’d do that and I don’t say thank you nearly enough. Thank you.
At Bolton Abbey we had the usual toilet stop and then walked to the top of the first slope, as we were walking we saw a deer off to our left and as we watched she moved gracefully away up the hill – bet I’ll be less graceful. We set off. I was anxious because this stretch is where it all went wrong before. I felt fine though. My right calf muscle felt tight but then it has felt like that on the last 3 short runs too. I was confident it would settle. We slowly plodded our way through the first two intervals. Last time I’d already been huffing and puffing here, today I felt fine. Onwards.
At ‘tantrum 1 point’ where I burst into tears last time I still felt fine. I made it up the slope, walked the ‘steps’ up past the Strid and off we went again. Still all fine. I managed the downhill bit and soon we were right next to the Wharfe with a huge swarm of goldfinches flying around us. Too many to count and far more than I have ever seen in one go. They were a noisy bunch and really made me smile. We were now approaching ‘tantrum 2 point’ where it had all fallen to pieces. I knew I was fine but it was still a relief to power past that spot. The route is stunning even if the path is a bit up and down. We’d stayed on the left river bank and just kept plodding along. All fine really. We came to Barden Bridge (see first photo – all pics from Wiki Commons – I don’t have the head space or coordination to take pics while running) and I was plesantly surprised. It came slightly sooner than expected. We crossed over the river using the bridge and then picked up the path again with the Wharfe now on our left (see photo – this must be a little further along). Still fine.
The Dalesway path isn’t a path as such for quite a lot of the way. It’s well marked but it is sometimes just a little track, sometimes very uneven, sometimes just a field so there were gates to negotiate, holes to watch out for and tree roots to hop over. It is utterly stunning. I now get muddled with how the path continues and what comes when etc but I was still doing pretty well. We saw a heron, a small rather scraggy looking one who flew off as we ran past. He looked grumpy. We had an energy ball (more on them some other time) which I don’t really like but they seem to work. I was beginning to find it quite hard going in places now and a couple of longer walk breaks sneaked in. At one point we’d done a little de-tour up the wrong footpath and then found the right one which suggested Burnsall was 2 miles away. That two miles seemed like a very long way. We approached Burnsall and my legs were tired. I was trying to be positive but I did wonder how I was going to make it all the way back. We crossed the bridge into Burnsall, found the postbox and turned round. I was excited to have come half way. In fact though it was more than half way. We’d done 6 miles.
We headed back the same way. I was struggling a little now but we just kept plodding from gate to gate, little jogs of 40 seconds or so. The route is gorgeous and it made me think that I want to get fitter so that I can run it while taking in more. I was getting to the point where it was just hurting. We had another energy ball and not long after that we had a series of about 4 pretty good running intervals. We’d done 8 miles. Then 9.5. The last mile and a half were awful. At around 8 miles my back had started to niggle, by 9.5 it was pain. When Kath said we had a mile left I didn’t know whether I’d make it. My left knee hurt, my right calf hurt and my back was in agony. I was also losing the battle in my head. I forgot about the mantra, I’d stopped counting, I was focused on the pain. I’ll learn from this I’m sure but it was awful.
The last quarter of a mile started with a downhill and then moved straight into the toughest slope on the route. I’ve not managed to run it even on a short run. I sort of gave up. But Kath wouldn’t let me, we walked but then she said we should finish with a run and set off to show me the finish point. I ran. I finished. I cried. Just after our finish there is a little shelter with a bench in – it seems to be a bird feeding station and we sat for a few minutes watching a nuthatch, robins and all manner of tits and other small birds. We had some water and some brazil nuts, almonds and pumpkin seeds. Then we walked the mile and a bit back to the car. I wrote my postcard to myself over coffee and we drove home.
I’ve had a bath and a rest. We’ve been to check and worm the sheep and the pain I had for that last 1.5 miles has gone. Yes I’m a bit stiff, yes I may be a little sore tomorrow but I’m ok and I ran/walked 11 miles!