Broken buses, mud and blisters
It's been a while since my last update, only because I have had nothing very exciting to write about. Training is still plodding along, I should be doing more obviously, but then I always feel like that. Work-wise, things are getting busy at Brutal HQ as the event season ramps up. This can only mean one thing... my training starts to be pushed to the bottom of my long to do list and my pre-event anxiousness increases. My 2015 challenges are a little overwhelming to say the least but I can cope with them mentally as long as I am training consistently. So the main goal at this point is to not allow work to take complete priority as it has done in the past - the hours on the trails, road and in the pool have to get done too.
I'm continuing to work on my stroke and I do feel faster / more streamline. I find swimming the hardest (most boring) part of my training and can come up with massively inventive ways to avoid it where possible. Especially the long pool swims, which leaves me looking and feeling like the Elephant Man. I am allergic to Chlorine and any session that lasts more than an hour makes my eyes swell up, my nose stream, my head pound and I am not a good person to be around. I am looking forward to when the local lake opens and I can transfer my long swims to a more natural environment. Never thought I would say that!
After an age on the Turbo, I have now started to build up the Avon Tyrell laps. I am lucky to live 10 minutes from the Enduroman HQ in Burley and once a week spend hours going round and round the bike course, like a demented hamster, dodging the New Forest Ponies and New Forest Old People Who Shouldn't Really Be Driving. It's great fun!
I have recently been spending some quality time with the Jurassic Coast Path, which is one of my favourite places to train. It really has everything... stunning views, monster hills, crazy weather, woodlands, beach sections, bergen carrying army boys, crazy toenail ridding descents and mud. Lots and lots of mud.
Last week I ran the Portland section. The weather was normal Portland stylie - wind, rain and fog and by the time I reached the Bill I was soaked through and couldn't feel my fingers. Still, I was enjoying myself and plodding along nicely whilst listening to Maximo Park. I made it back to my car with no navigational errors, which for me is awesome. However, it was daytime and as all previous Oner runners know, Portland 'changes' at night.
A few days ago, I took to the coast again, this time hoping to do the first marathon section - Charmouth to Ferrybridge. I left my car at Weymouth and caught the X53 Jurassic Coaster bus which goes all the way to Exeter. Once I was sat down (at the back of course, that's where the rebels would always sit at school and I think that's the last time I was on an actual bus) I asked myself why had I not done this before? It's so simple and meant I would not have to do the dreaded out and back. Feeling pretty happy with life, I sat back to enjoy the view (and my Marmite sandwiches) when after an hour or so I noticed the familiar smell of an overheating engine. I dismissed my worries as it would be very unlikely that the first bus I get on in years would break down... Two minutes later the bus ground to a halt and the driver announced that 'he'd broken it'. Seriously?!
The engineer apparently would take 45 minutes to arrive. Sod that... we were almost at West Bay so I hopped off the bus and headed for the coast. The weather was amazing and I felt pretty good. I was even prepared for 'Hells Beach" where there is over a mile of huge, evil cobbles, almost up to your ankles (ok, maybe exaggerating a little there...). I also navigated the Abbotsbury section without any 'detours' and managed to stay upright when the mud started.
The mud on the Coast Path during the Winter / Springtime is something else and running long distances requires certain things - good balance, core strength, a plethora of great swearwords and the ability to look cool whilst one half of your body is covered in brown shit. It also helps if you can run through it with confidence... I struggle with this bit as when I was 6 years old and on a family trip to Manorbier Beach, I fell into some sinking sand. I had been told clearly by my parents to not go near that area when the tide was out, but not one to listen to such tedious advice, I set off to explore. I don't remember much about the experience other than being really upset that my favourite Mr Man swimming costume (with a frilly white skirt) was ruined forever (it wasn't) and that the men that pulled me out had hurt my arms a little. Since then however, mud has always made me nervous, like it's going to pull me under and envelop me into its dark world of, well, mud.
So after running for 20 odd miles, I made it to Ferrybridge and headed back to where I was staying that night. Luckily, it was still early so I didn't experience the Drunken Idiots Of Weymouth, which was a relief. Once back at my digs, I removed the lumps of mud on my feet that used to be running shoes and assessed the damage. One blister and one knackered toenail (which had me whimpering in a very un-brutal fashion over the last few miles...)
Not bad considering... I sorted things the best I could, and then ate everything I could find and fell into a coma.
The next morning I gingerly got out of bed and immediately stubbed the manky toe on my shoe. This is the equivalent of stepping on lego for a long distance runner and I was forced to use some of the new swearwords I had created the day before. Once I had pulled myself together, drank some coffee and forced down some toast, I set off another day of fun. I had no bus this time so was forced to do a hateful out and back. As I was uninjured from the day before (bonus points) I planned to 'run' from Weymouth to Lulworth and back again. This day was very similar to the one previous, except that it had HILLS. These are real hills, proper chunky bad boys that you do not run up! My friend The Mud was plentiful again and I was also slower, feeling the day before in my legs. But the sun was out and I had a whole bag of Liquorice Allsorts to myself, so I was a happy bunny. The last few miles though, heading back into Weymouth, were pitiful to be honest. But I was pleased that I had got through two days without injuries or wimping out.
Now, I really must get to the pool (or maybe I could clear out the shed...)