A new week and a little bit more mileage this week both on the mid-week runs and the Saturday/Sunday runs. With warmer temperatures forecast I’m glad that I’m doing the mid-week runs early in the morning.
Tuesday – 10 Miles
The struggle was real for the first run of the week due to the decision to spend a bank holiday in the pub but being this far into training I wasn’t going to bail on a training session so got up at the usual time. Due to the nice weather and the sunrise I opted for the Riverfront Loops and surprisingly things went well with a speedier 10 miles with negative splits. I much prefer the impromptu faster runs than the planned ones which I always seem to dread.
It was reassuring to comfortably run with some speed and managed a 44 minute 10k in the second half of the run.
Distance: 10 Miles
Wednesday – 5 Miles
Another gorgeous morning with the sky turning all shades of yellow and orange as the sun crept over the horizon. 5 miles today so opted for my SDR 5 route which is a straightforward circular route with a climb over the SDR bridge. Things are feeling really good right now with no issues whatsoever and the legs feel great during and after runs.
Distance: 5 Miles
Thursday – 8 Miles
After two gorgeous mornings it was a more mizzly affair this morning but this did help cool things down. 8 miles today so opted for the longer Somerton route instead of the Riverfront loops as there wouldn’t be a sunrise to photograph. Like the other two runs this week, this one went really well with the legs feeling great throughout.
Distance: 8 Miles
Saturday: 22 Miles
With the weather forecast to be good (at least for the first half of the day) I plotted a route between Highbridge and Burnham station and Weston-super-Mare which would be between 20-22 miles. The route would be largely following the England Coast Path and would be a variety of terrains but I could be for sure how much would be running on the beach. The OS Map clearly shows the path on the beach but I wasn’t sure if anything had been built on it. Thankfully the sand was fairly compacted but it’s still tougher running on it than tarmac.
Along the way I encountered the grade-II listed wooden lighthouse at Burnham built in 1832 and the bones of the wreck of the SS Nornen which ran aground at nearby Berrow during a storm in 1897. Thankfully the tide was out and the mud wasn’t an issue so could get up close to it.
Running miles along a relatively straight beach takes an age and it seemed that I’d never get to Brean Down. The plan was to run out to the end of the down and explore the fort then double back to rejoin the coast path around the estuary to Weston. It was a welcome sight to see the steps climbing up to the down and a change of terrain. Luckily the cafe at the bottom of the down had a tap for water so was able to refill on the climb up and on the return.
The view from Brean Down is impressive and gave a look back from where I’d run and the next 10 miles to Weston via the estuary and Worlebury Hill. The fort was impressive and when I planned the route I didn’t realise it was there so that was a bonus.
After descending Brean Down there’s a footpath the teasingly leads up to the estuary of the River Axe with a matching path on the other side but trying to cross it will likely require being pulled out of the mud as people wanting to avoid the detour around the estuary have found out. I sensibly took the official route along a well-maintained path.
In the distance as you approach Weston is the Old Church of St Nicholas Uphill perched upon a cliff. The church has many Norman features and a tower but the roof of the nave was taken down in the mid 1800s and eventually closed when another church was built in the village. The church is open to visitors and I think I may have timed it right as the tower was open to visitors and I couldn’t resist climbing it. Safety didn’t seem to be a priority with a dark, narrow staircase and a tiny door to crawl through but the views of the surrounding area, including Brean Down were stunning. There was also the remains of a 13th century windmill nearby.
My route then passed through Weston which expectedly was extremely busy with sun seekers and was a stark contrast to run I started there a couple of months back. There was no time for stopping here and was heading beyond the promenade to the old Birkbeck Pier and then climbing up to Worlebury Hill with its remains of an important Iron Age camp. This was the last climb of the run and the route would then descend into the town. I love a good fast descent and got a bit carried away on a rocky path alongside some houses and tripped but managed to save it by using house wall for support! That fall could have been nasty.
The plan was for around 22 miles but had enough by 20.5 miles. It had been a hot run with some challenging terrain but is all good training for the upcoming challenge. Tomorrow, another running adventure.
Distance: 20.5 Miles
Sunday: 3 Hours
On July 3rd I’m running my first race (Cotswold Way Relay) as part of a team with the club. The 100+ mile route is split in 10 stages and I’ve been allocated stage two which is an ~12 mile hilly route between Stanway and Cleeve Hill. My training plan for the day is 18 miles so I’m planning on running the race and then running back to the start via a shorter route. It sounds like a plausible idea but it’s good to test it out beforehand so with 3 hours on the cards today I decided to give it a dry run.
On race day I don’t particularly want to carry a lot with me so took a litre of water with me in a handheld and Ultimate Direction belt along with some salt tablets, gels and colostomy supplies. Before starting the run I drove to the finish at Cleeve Hill with two bottles of Gatorade and a banana and stashed them in a bush. The plan would be to do the same on the day. I then drove to the start at Stanway and headed out on the route.
Rather than my usual long run bimble pace I thought it would be best to try and emulate the day so ran a bit quicker, but not race pace. I tried my hardest not to take to many photos but it can’t be helped sometimes and when I encounter a swing, I just have to have a go! There were some tasty hills along the way – one of which was at the beginning and quite a shock to the system, the other around 8-9 miles in and was a good opportunity to swap bottles between the belt and the handheld and have something to eat.
Overall there was over 1,900ft of elevation which you felt at times but with each up comes a down and there were was speedy downhill sections through woodlands which were so rewarding. There was a good mix of terrains with fields, tracks, woodland trails and country lanes and some interesting sights along the way.
At Cleeve Hill I walked to the bush where I had stashed my goodies and the Gatorade, which was still cold, was much needed after drinking a litre along the way. The route back is around 5 miles shorter than the Cotswold Way route and uses some of the paths I came along and passes through Winchcombe again but for the rest uses the Winchcombe and Isbourne Ways.
When I plotted the route I wasn’t whether I would encounter busy roads but thankfully there were pavements along the parts I needed to run along so the route was very straightforward. It wasn’t easy after the 12 hilly miles and yesterday’s 20-miler but I got it done and I feel confident about doing the same come race day.
Distance: 11.86 Miles + 7 Miles (18.86 Miles)