Favourite run getting harder, much harder

Strava screen shot

Strava screen shot

This is my favourite run which I had been planning to run at night time with my friend Jon, who unfortunately has gone down with the dreaded flu and consequently whimped out.  I decided to still go ahead with the run, albeit in daylight.

I have run this route many times, or variations of it. Add all the variations of the basic route and I have run it hundreds of times.  I know it well and yet every time it is a little different; the seasons, the weather and how I’m running.

So on Monday morning, just a few days ago I decided to run it alone.  A nice way of starting my week’s annual leave at an otherwise drab time of year.

After a mile of running along the A5 through a particularly drab Dunstable, I headed up Beech Road and into the countryside; this being the first proper hill.  As Beech Road and the subsequent hill is about a mile from home, at this stage I am not warmed up or running at my best.  Nevertheless I confess I had to stop at the top for a breather.  It is a short, sharp hill which has always tested me and I’ve certainly enjoyed running up it (especially when I overtake cyclists!).

Hollicks Lane is the next hill and probably the steepest in Bedfordshire at about 1:4 (or 25% in new money).  Again it’s short and steep.  Again I had to stop and catch my breath at the top which is not good news at all. There were some builders doing some work on a driveway there and they were surprised to see someone actually running up the hill which made me smile.

The route then turns right and is flat, running through the outskirts of Kensworth to Land Park Lane which I think has now been de-listed as a road.  It is gradually returning to nature and this is where the nicest part of the run starts.  I absolutely love running through the woods and eventually out onto Dunstable Downs – this is always the highlight and my pace often quickens across the Downs footpath before dropping back down into Dunstable and plodding home.

The run’s main features were:

  • Hard going, especially up the hills
  • Quite a lot slower than years gone by.  My average pace was 9:26/mile. My fastest pace for this exact route was 8:35/mile and that was in 2015.
  • Muddy in the woods.  But then I quite like getting splattered with muddy water.  As for my running shoes, well they look well-used nowadays.  Even my feet were muddy when I took my socks off!
  • Missed running with Jon
  • Uplifting, making me more thoughtful for the day
  • Gave me a nice gentle runner’s high buzz for several hours after.  Not blowing my brains out this time but a nice feeling nevertheless
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