So that’s Christmas 2019 done. It has been a quiet one. After a Christmas Eve pottering about in the kitchen making oatcakes, the last batch of mince pies, chocolate mousse for our Christmas day pudding and what turned out to be delicious braised red cabbage, Christmas day started slowly. We woke up later than we normally do, had two cups of tea and mince pies in bed before opening our presents from each other. Then we set off for our Christmas day trot – our sheep loop backwards to end up at Kath’s mum’s for bacon sarnies and more presents.
The run was lush. Slow and with plenty of walking because my calves are still playing silly buggers and my feet aren’t much better either but we ran down to the canal. We were treated to an absolutely gorgeous sunrise with stunning colours. We stopped for a photo and as we set off again Kath spotted some deer. We stopped to watch them a little while and then were about to set off again (again) and I saw the blue flash of a kingfisher streaking through the air. It landed on a branch just a little further along the canal and we slowly walked towards it watching it. Such a stunning sight. Eventually it flew off and we went on our way too following it and being lucky enough to catch it take off and land further along a couple more times.
The rest of the stretch along the canal was a pleasant plod as we chatted, said Merry Christmas to the ducks and made the one or two dog walkers we met smile with our Santa hats bobbing along. We crossed the bridge over the canal and started walking up the hill. We stopped to watch squirrels and small birds and then saw a woodpecker. As we reached the top of the golf course we met a dog and his human who cheerily informed us that he had already escaped the kids to the lovely peace and quiet of the outdoors. As we made our way out of the wood at the other end we met some more dogs one of which was terrified of us in our Santa hats and after staring at us for a while she pinned her ears back and ran past us as fast as she could.
The rest of Christmas day was basically making food and eating food. Then came my birthday and another morning of tea and mince pies in bed. Eventually we got going and set off to Bolton Abbey for our Boxing Day/ my birthday trot round the Strid Wood/Aquaeduct loop. My calves were not playing in spite of starting with intervals. I made it run/walk about a mile before I admitted defeat and we walked the rest of the loop. Still, somewhere along that first mile I hit the 500 miles for the year. I should of course be excited about that. 500 miles is a lot of miles but it’s bitter sweet. At the start of the year double that number was on the cards. I was running the weekly miles needed with ease and was having fun. And then I wasn’t – running or having fun and getting to 500 miles seemed unlikely – so I am pleased to have got there. Anyway, I’ll leave the reflections on my 500 miles til the next post maybe.
I am sort of ready to end this running year, to re-set and start again, to work with the excitement of the endless possibilities a blank spreadsheet and no miles on the clock for the new year brings. The thrill of runs not yet had and adventures not yet started, the fun of planning, the routine of sticking to the plans and the rebelliousness of changing plans, breaking the rules and doing something different. I will end the year on 500 and a few miles but next year just imagine… maybe I will run 1000, maybe I won’t run 500 but just imagine the adventures that await.
After a totally inactive week I was actually looking forward to a run. I did run on Tuesday and Thursday this week with Thursday being a bit of a crap run with lots of walking. Still, technically I am on plan but having spent most of the week sitting on my arse on the sofa had made me stiff and achey. The plan has us running an hour today and an hour tomorrow. We decided we wanted to run together so I suggested doing the sheep/trail/canal route but backwards. I am keenly aware that I avoid going up hill as much as I can and that I need to keep trying. So the planned route was to run down to the canal, along the canal towards Silsden and then cross the canal at the farm/few houses about 2.5 miles in. Then the route goes across three fields, into the wood, up a steepish trail through the wood, through a field and through the old Riddlesden golf course and back home following the last part of our ‘sheep loop backwards’ route. The route would have me running a fair amount of flat to just practice keeping going, some uneven paths – also good for just keeping going, then a steepish walk uphill and then some downhill running through the field/golf course and then back up. It’s probably about 5 miles ish so would take me a little over an hour but it’s a nice circular route.
It all went to plan for a while. I ran the first two miles quite speedily for me at just a smidge over 12 minute mile pace (12.03 and 12.09) and the 3rd which had the uneven bits and a few brief stops while Kath opened gates at 13 minute mile pace. We saw a heron along the canal and a little further on we saw a kingfisher – such amazing creatures. I was really happy with the first 5km – might not look it, but I was!
The walk up the hill was also fairly positive and Kath took the two woodland pics below as we reached the top. Then we climbed over the stile in the wall into the field and I was quite looking forward to a little jog down and then hitting the golf course and turning for home. But there were cows. Frisky looking cows and they had little ones. We didn’t fancy making our way through a field with cows and calves so we climbed back over the wall and looked for an alternative route. We found a sort of path running parallel with the field wall. It was steep in places and clearly not much used. I am such a downhill wimp! We walked almost all of this and there were a lot of sections where I picked my way down very slowly holding on to trees for support but I also began to realise that my shoes were gripping and I was ok. I got a little more confident as we went on. Towards the bottom we even had a little jog when we spotted a gate into a field that ran down to the canal bank and a bridge across the canal. However when we got to the bridge, the gate blocking the path off the bridge was locked and not climbable because it was reinforced with barbed wire. We found another gate and entered another bit of wood and found another gate which turned out to lead to the field we often see a heron in from the other side of the canal. The field is actually much bigger than I realised and we jogged straight across to investigate getting over the wall at the other side which would take us into a little wood/nature reserve from where we could pick up the path home.
Top of the path in first wood
I was struggling a little here. My hip was beginning to niggle a little as we walked up the hill along the wall and I felt a bit apprehensive about climbing the wall, what would be on the other side, whether cows could come down the open gate into the field we were in and whether we were going to be shouted at by landowners. Kath found a spot where the wall was relatively easily climbable and once on the other side we made our way through the wood. It took a little bit of scrambling through the undergrowth until we eventually found the path. Then we had a little jog out of the wood, walked up the golf course, and jogged to the sheep field and fed Dino before jogging home. Our Garmin’s have a bit of a disagreement. According to mine I did 6.2 miles with a moving time of just over an hour and a half and according to Kath’s we did 6.55 miles with a moving time of 1 hour 49. Doesn’t really matter. We were out for just over 2 hours and my feet and ankles got a work out on the uneven ground and I am pleased with how much grip my Mizuno trainers have. I wasn’t so sure about them as we were making our way along the canal but was so glad I’d worn them as I “bambied” my way down the trails and through the woods.
Anyway, I have bramble scratches down my legs so I must be a proper trail runner now.