Normally getting up at 4am would be a struggle but for the last seven weeks of my training plan my midweek runs have begun around 4am. With preparation I can roll out of bed, put on my running kit and be out of the door within 10 minutes of waking up.
One may question why I run so early – and technically I don’t need to get up that early – but it fits in with day. On the days that I need to perform a colostomy irrigation before work (which can take 45 minutes) I can get my training run done before and on the way to the office in Cardiff I like to fit in a bike ride to either explore Cardiff or feed the birds and squirrels in Bute Park. At lunchtime I like to relax by reading in the small park by the Museum of Wales rather than trying to fit in both a run and lunch within an hour. And after work I like to relax in the garden. Of course, this routine will change over time but right now it’s working well for me.
Looking through my activities on Strava, my last running running adventure in England was back on September 19th 2020 when I ran 18 miles between Chepstow and Bristol (ending at the Small Bar). Today’s running adventure was going to be similar with a long run starting at the seafront in Weston-Super-Mare and ending up at Bristol, and the Small Bar.
The weather for the day was forecast to be wall-to-wall sunshine and up to around 18°C by the afternoon. It was going to be perfect weather for a start at the seaside in Weston.
Heading out mod the house at 5am I was greeted with a dawn chorus and bright orange moon low in the sky above Twmbarlwm. With the roads being so quiet I could hear the birds singing the entire way to the railway station – something you never normally hear. And with so few trains at that time of the morning (and even less annoying announcements on the tannoy) you could still hear them on the platform.
Arriving at Weston, the weather was just as forecast with a vibrant blue sky and starting to warm up. The station isn’t too far from the seafront and even though I wasn’t heading in that direction I couldn’t resist taking a detour there. I believe I be been to the seafront before but it was probably as a young child so can’t recall it. I ran along a small section near the pier and then headed towards Bristol.
After around 4 miles the road encountered an interchange which links to the M5 motorway. OnTheGoMap indicated that there were paths through the interchange but I couldn’t see anything related to a path on Street View and OSMaps didn’t indicate anything either. OSMaps tends to display public footpaths rather than urban paths but this didn’t mean that they didn’t exist. OSMaps did show an old road that had been bisected by the M5 and indicated a route either side and Street View showed some sort of path on one side but upon arrival on the other side of the motorway there was clearly no path. I headed back to towards the interchange but the only path I could find was one that ran parallel to the M5 rather than over or under it. I was going to have to take a detour so using OSMaps I found a country lane and footpath (via a busy road with no foot way ) that would take me over the M5 and back to the A370 where I could rejoin my planned route. The detour added around 2 miles onto the route but it did allow me to see countryside that I wasn’t planning on visiting.
The A370 is a long road and busy road. The pavement is narrow, the trucks speed along at 50mph and there isn’t much to see but it formed part of the quickest route to Bristol so ran along it until the the foot way veered off towards Long Ashton.
Along the A370 I though I smelled something coming from my colostomy bag but as I had irrigated the night before I presumed it was just wind. A couple of miles later at the point where the path headed towards Long Ashton I was starting to feel a warm sensation — not a good sign! I’d sprung a leak but fortunately not much had leaked out. I happened to have stopped next to a dog poop bin so there was no need for me to care the poop bag for 6 miles like the last time I had a leak. It occurred at mile 19 so I didn’t have far left to go. I don’t have many leaks so only carry one spare bag with me and I was hoping that I wouldn’t have another leak.
I’d run this area before (Nailsea to Bristol) but rather than following the same route I took a detour up a mighty big hill to join the edge of Ashton Court. I presumed it would be scenic but there was a huge quarry which was noisy and very dusty. It was just 2 miles since the leak but I could tell that I had sprung another leak! All I had left were a few wet wipes which I used to limit the leak and hoped the hernia support belt would keep everything in place.
Beyond the quarry it did get more scenic with views overlooking Bristol and this was followed by the views crossing the Clifton Suspension Bridge. By this point I was keen to finish sooner rather than later based on the leak situation so picked up the pace. The original plane was to head south of the River Avon and passed the SS Great Britain but as I’d run extra miles at the M5 I decided to stick north of the river and headed towards my final destination — the Small Bar.
My aim was to get to the Small Bar in time for opening at 12pm as it was bound to fill up quickly (good beer + fried chicken + sun trap = the perfect place). I arrived just before and there was already a queue so the timing was perfect. Within an hour it was full with a large queue.
Apart from the leaks along the way, the run went really well and ran what felt a consistent pace throughout. Taking into account stopping for photos, the M5 diversion and the bag change and 2nd leak fix I finished in 4:16. I didn’t set out with a time in mind as it was just about the distance but it felt good finishing a decent time.