Another Monday – another creaky leg day! Considering I ran 25.7 km yesterday (16 miles!) up hill and down dale my legs are feeling surprisingly ok today. Left ankle is a bit stiff, and left knee a bit sore – but overall everything is FINE!! And what a fantastic run it was, starting and finishing in the lovely town of Ashbourne, ‘Gateway to Dovedale’, or Gateway to the Peak District. I arrived the day before, and met up with my son Tom and two of his friends Rob and Jess who were also running. We decided an early night was in order and ate an early dinner at a very nice Thai restaurant – loading up on noodles and rice! And nothing too spicy 😉 Rob and Jess were camping (brave) but Tom and I stayed at the George and Dragon pub in the centre of town and only a few minutes walk from the start of the run.
Sunday morning dawned sunny and bright – I know because I was awake at 5 o’clock! I was really nervous about this run – last week I was literally having sleepless nights worrying about it! In hindsight that was a bit unnecessary – but you know what they say about hindsight…
Breakfast was a pot of instant porridge and a banana in the room. Then an eternity of faffing about what exactly to carry in the backpack… There was a strict kit list including waterproof jacket, trousers, warm top etc. But surely we wouldn’t have to carry all that on such a sunny day? In the end we took it all, and left half of it in the lockers at the Leisure Centre!
We started at 8.40am along the Tissington Trail which is an old railway line, now maintained as a path for walking, cycling and running. It started with an atmospheric section through a tunnel, before heading up into a lovely path lined with trees and wild garlic. The first 8 km or so were quite flat, and easy running. Then we headed off road – literally across a field of sheep – down towards the River Dove.
The Dove Valley must be one of the prettiest places in England. It is so pretty it almost looks stage managed! The river flows and splashes, sparkling in the sunlight, and the trees cast dappled shadows along the path. The limestone ‘cliffs’ beside it look dramatic but not overpowering. Altogether beautiful. Just when I was thinking ‘well, this is going to be just fine after all’ there was a sharp left turn. Up a very, very steep hill. Although some extremely fit people were actually running up it it was all I could do to keep walking. The views from the top were definitely worth it, but my lungs were bursting!
The most difficult thing about trails I think is that when your legs get tired it’s very hard work negotiating even minor obstacles like rough ground or stony paths. I suspect my ankle is sore today due to losing a little bit of balance countless times. Shortly after running across a couple of rough fields, and a road, there was a welcome feed station with drinks and snacks. And then we were back on the cycle trail and more even ground. But in the final few kilometers there were more hills – and stiles! Believe me, climbing a stile after 13 miles of running requires great effort and concentration not to just fall over it!
The final section took me back through the welcome cool of the tunnel and to the cheers of Tom, Rob and Jess – who of course had all finished earlier. Of course they had – they are all 25 years younger than me! I was very happy to complete in 2 hours 49 minutes and 32 seconds. And celebrated with a lovely cup of tea and a piece of millionaires shortbread.
I can’t believe I was so worried about this run – it was very enjoyable. The views were fantastic, the route was lined with flowers and trees. There were friendly (or at least not unfriendly) sheep, and friendly people. The weather was perfect, and I managed a time of under 3 hours and got a Silver Award certificate – yay!
I am so grateful to everyone who has sponsored me so far. I am hoping to raise £2000 to help find a cure for Type 1 diabetes by running a half marathon every month in 2019. Here’s a link to my fund raising page.