Today I had some firsts. I ran my first 10 mile run. I did my first bit of trail running (just three of the ten miles). I ran in my new trail shoes – my first ever pair of trail shoes. And I tackled a particularly impressive hill, which my son has been telling me to try for some months now.
When I left the house this morning I didn’t really have a plan other than to try the new shoes out on a bit of trail, and see how I felt. Well, I felt pretty pretty fabulous, and had fun making things up as I went along.
I headed first to Shurton, about a mile from home, where a public footpath skirts round the edge of the construction site for Hinkley Point C power station. I know, sounds idyllic. I’d been that way previously on dog walks, and it is actually quite pleasant, has a reasonable surface to run on, and leads to the England Coast Path.
I followed the footpath around the edge of the construction site, heading west. Then out onto a rough track, heading towards the coast. At the end of the track, turning left, there was a ridge with fabulous views of the Quantock Hills to one side and the good old muddy Bristol Channel to the other. After this, a rough track led down to the coast, and then I followed the coast west. At this point, the path had disappeared and I was running through longish grass. I felt comfortable and energised.
The experience reminded me of my teenage self taking off into the Warwickshire countryside on my bike on a Sunday afternoon. I’d take an apple and 20p to buy a drink (this was the 80s), and have only the vaguest idea where to go. This run was one which my seventeen year old self would have relished. I ran through the grass (walked a bit when it got too long) without really knowing where I was going. My son runs this route, and had told me roughly where he goes, so I wasn’t being entirely irresponsible. But it was fun being out on my own exploring. I passed a bench where my son likes to sit and read and sleep when he comes this way, so I knew I was on the right track.
I passed through several fields, enjoying the views of hills, rolling countryside and the sea. Eventually, after about three miles of trail, I reached a gate that led to the footpath to Lilstock Beach.
I left the lovely fields behind me, had a look at the beach, and ate a Nakd bar (I’m experimenting with fuelling in readiness for marathon training). Then I set off again, down the track from the beach car park to the road. I could have just run straight back home from there, about another three miles. But I still felt really fresh, and was thinking that it would be good to cover ten miles, so I continued on a little further.
The next point where I needed to decide which direction to take was at Kilton. One road led towards home, the other led to a hill which my son has been talking about for some time. A hill which was, apparently, really rather big. ‘Let’s have a look at this hill,’ I said to the clouds.
The hill was steep and the hill was long and the hill was high. How my son runs up that I have no idea. I walked some, ran some, walked some. It just went on and on, no end in sight. Because it curves around, it is impossible to gauge how much more there is going to be. This is it, I thought. The world is just going up now. No more down.
Eventually, there was a top. And there was a down, which I really enjoyed. And it was down most of the way home. I even toyed with the idea of adding a detour to make up a half marathon distance. But as I entered the ninth mile I found I became fatigued. So I made the sensible decision to head back to the village and home. As I approached my house I took out my phone to check Strava. I watched 9.9 miles roll into 10 miles as I approached my front door. I couldn’t have planned that better if I’d tried.