Running challenge

Strava has various challenges you can sign up to. One of them, the Adventure Running Challenge, is to run for at least 90 minutes along a new route some time in November. I foolhardily signed up to it a few days ago.

Last week, I ran really far. I looked at Google Maps afterwards to plan a better route along the country roads. Despite the near-death brushes with lorries and tractors, I seem to prefer country roads to village roads. Perhaps it’s because I have to keep going, no matter what. I saw a nice circuit, but it was ten miles long. I can’t run ten kilometres, never mind ten miles. However, that Strava challenge was in the back of my mind when I set out today. I started off on the ten mile route with my iPod Shuffle playing tunes to keep me going.

The route starts the same way as last week’s long run, but goes past the drove and along a road which wasn’t actually that much farther past it. That road was a horrible road. It sloped upwards — it seemed steep by East Anglian standards — and the relentless wind was blowing in my face. More than once, I wished I’d started off in the opposite direction.

I’d nearly reached five miles, then saw a level crossing in the distance. I was flagging by this point, what with the wind and the gradient and the having run five miles already and the not being very fit. A train passed one way as I trotted on, then another in the opposite direction. I thought there probably won’t be any more for ages. I was wrong. When I was only a few yards away, the lights started flashing and the barrier came down: I had to stop.

Stopping was the beginning of the end. I was so knackered by then, I couldn’t even jog on the spot. I leant against the sign and caught my breath. After the train had passed, I wanted to stay where I was, but I forced myself to go on.

The river.

I really wanted to stop again after that, but I managed to get myself to the next stand of trees, to the next telegraph pole, round the next bend. When I got to the next village, I could go no further. Plus, I was confused about which way I was supposed to be going: I hadn’t checked the map before I left to refresh my memory, and all my blood was going to my running muscles, not my brain. There was a street sign with the name of the road I was expecting, but the road it sign-posted was a dirt track, not a proper road. Still, it went the right way along the river, so I took it — despite the no-through-road sign I’d been leaning on.

I ran for another half a mile, until I had to stop and walk. In some ways, it felt almost worse to walk: my legs felt like jelly and I noticed my shoes were rubbing where my socks had slid down. I adjusted them, and kept going.

The part of the route that I ran.
Image from Strava.

It took so long to walk. I passed the odd house and a few farm entrances. I finally reached the proper road I had thought I would be joining. I finally knew where I was. And it turned out that the river I’d been following was a familiar tributary of the Great Ouse, not the Ouse itself. When I checked the map later, I saw that if I had’ve gone along that road, I’d have had to’ve gone even farther than I did do. So that was a relief.

Strava adventure running challenge badge

I finally reached the bridge across the Ouse, but never had the walk from there to home seemed so long. It took me two hours or so; the exact details of the entire route I don’t know: I had to stop tracking my route after 7.6 miles because I’d forgotten to recharge my Garmin. I’d rather it saved the running part of the epic journey than forget the whole thing. But it did record 94 minutes of running and walking, which was enough to earn me my Adventure Running Challenge.

Now, hours later and after plenty of stretches, I can barely move my legs. I could really do with a nice hot bath, but the bath is in the living room.

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