4 weeks to go until VLM so I thought i'd better get my last long run done. I thought it would be wise to leave the Lordshill vs Totton pub quiz early as I was very tired and I could have easily drunk another bottle of wine and then this run wouldn't have happened. We were thrashing Totton anyway and there was only one more round to go. When I got home I thought about the route. Shall I run the 24 mile run to Andover that I did before and get the train back? This was going to be my original plan but the route seems a bit long and hilly as soon as you get to Longstock and the Clatfords.
I had decided to run to Brockenhurst in the end but the long way round as I can't stand running from Ashurst to Lyndhurst on the boring and straight A35 road. Last time I did a similar route it was either 18 miles or 21 miles with Brockenhurst parkrun included. I just couldn't remember. I wasn't going to run down the A337 with Kevin Yates this time though. I was going to run on the bike trails. I never quite know where i'm going on the bike trails but I get to Balmer lawn eventually.
I woke up and it was pouring with rain and very windy looking. I wasn't feeling motivated. I had breakfast and did a bit of facebooking to postpone it a little. Maybe the rain and wind would die down a bit? I packed my rucksack with too much stuff I reckon. I had a pair of jeans, pants, socks, 2 t-shirts, a rain mac, Vaseline, Cake, a bottle of Drench fruity drink, phone, wallet, keys and even aftershave for when I arrived at the pub for lunch.
The plan was to run to The Filly Inn pub just past Brockenhurst in a place called Setley. I knew the guy who ran the pub and had been meaning to go out and see the place and him. Also a great excuse for a burger and a beer which would be the motivation I needed on the later miles. I had something to look forward to at the end.
I left my house and ran from mine to Lordshill and then Nursling. The rucksack was feeling pretty heavy already. I was half tempted to run back home and take some stuff out but I figured that my body would adapt and get used to it :) I ran past my works on Nursling ind. Estate and down to Test lane. Even though it was raining and a little windy, the Lower Test still looked lovely as I looked over the railway line at the River test and the reeds. I managed to spot a Grey Heron flying overhead too. Past the Anchor pub and the Ship Inn pub and up onto the main road towards Totton where another runner says Hello. I reply and he says "You're Jerry's mate aren't you?". "Yeah" I reply as I look back and keep running. Can't really have much of a conversation when two runners are training and running in opposite directions ;)
I get to Totton and run on to West Totton. I then decide to turn off at the White Horse pub at Netley Marsh and run through Woodlands instead of Cadnum. Woodlands is a lovely looking place but the residents didn't seem very chirpy or responsive unlike when I got to "Bartley" where everyone was full of "Good Mornings" and smiles. On this lovely bit I was able to spot a Woodpecker and then A Jay flies right in front of me and lands on a nearby branch. The colours are amazing when they're in flight. At the end of Bartley I cross the A31 and climb towards Shave wood. The wind is now very strong. I am running hard into the wind and using a lot of force and then suddenly the wind just drops and I nearly fall over because of the increased pace. At least the rain had stopped for a while now. At this point I had only hit 10 miles of my run and was thinking that I was only going to be at 17-18 miles by the time I reached Brockenhurst. I was feeling comfortable though and had no niggles of any kind. I wasn't exactly running fast though. I thought that parkrun the previous day with 2 miles of sub 7's might have had some effect on me. I may have used it as an excuse on a weaker day but today I was feeling good and mentally positive.
I ran through Minstead where I saw a coach load of tourists and my first pair of Pheasants of the day. I was a bit unsure of the route from here as I usually run this route in the opposite direction. I turned off where I saw a sign for some places I had never heard of. Was I running the right way now? I knew I was going the right way when I saw the Ford at the bottom of the hill. I got to the T junction and I knew to turn left but I could see a sign in the Distance on the right. I was curious to know where they lead to. I ran up there and it read: Acres down. I had been there once before cycling with my friend Russ but wasn't really familiar with the place.
(The view from the top of Acres Down)
I was thinking that there was probably another way to get to Emery down from Acres down but wasn't sure of the way and didn't want to get lost. I drank some fluids and took this picture while I did a bit of thinking about picking a direction. And then, all of a sudden I get jumped by a Siberian Husky. Scared the hell out of me and he was really strong. I started laughing when I saw the owner and this Husky was still jumping at me with lots of excitement. The owner of two Siberian huskies just so happened to be out for a run. A nice bald man in his 40's I reckon. I asked if he knew the way to Emery Down and he said about following the hill up to the top and turning left and then my brain just switched off. I was 13 miles into my run and already I couldn't process information..lol. He said he lived in Emery Down anyway so asked me to run along with him and his dogs. Well, run with him was kind of a loose term as he headed off and started to run on these muddy trails as fast as he could. It's pretty hard to run a sub 8 minute mile on these muddy trails especially after 13 miles but it was a nice change from my previous plodding miles. The funniest bit was running fast downhill on these trails and my eyes were watering so much because of the wind. I was struggling to see where to put my foot with each stride and if that was bad enough I had this Husky also running a sub 8 and jumping at me at the same time. I was laughing my head off. God knows how I didn't smash my skull in.
We stopped at the bottom of the hill. We shook hands and he wished me luck with the London Marathon. I then ran onto a familiar road that leads to Emery down and wondered why I had never seen the cutway before. I turned around and saw a sign that read: Private property. I got to Emery down and then to Lyndhurst where I decided to run through the town as it would be a nice change to see some life after 16 miles. It had been mostly New forest country lanes which was lovely but it's still nice to mix it up a bit. A ran through the tourists and onto the one way system and then towards the bike trails. The bike trails I found accidentally once. They are on a dead end road opposite the Foxlease place. I pretty much get lost every time I go there but you have a general idea where you are going as the A337 is on your right for some time and if you get lost you can usually hear the traffic from the main road. But not today! It was quite windy so all I could hear was the blowing of the trees. The trees were drowning out the sound of the cars. I was thinking I only had 3 miles to go, so should reach 19 miles at least. I thought I had got lost. I had certainly lost my sense of direction. You know when you're lost when you have to ask American tourists for directions to Balmer lawn. I got there in the end and knew the end was near. I was thinking about that lovely burger and beer but a pint of diet coke first of course!
I ran into Brockenhurst and had reached 20 miles. My hamstring twinged a little but all was fine. I usually get some aches in the hamstrings and calves but everything felt great. I think my fitness is improving and my body is getting stronger. My legs were not even aching :) I wasn't exactly running fast though but all the same. 3 hours on my legs and not aching! I didn't even know where this Filly inn pub was so I ran over the railway crossing about 4 times and then got my phone out for google maps. It was a 10 minute cycle. I ran down the A337 where there were no paths and busy traffic. I was beyond caring now though. I just wanted to reach the pub. That was my target and i'm too stubborn to change the plan now.
(In the garden)
Well I made it too the Filly inn. It was quite a posh looking pub and there I was drenched in sweat and covered in mud. I stopped my watch and sat in the pouring rain on a bench in the garden. I saw an employee and asked if I was allowed in if I changed into my jeans etc.. They were fine with it. I took my trainers, socks, and t-shirt off in the front garden in the rain while the people in the pub probably stared and thought I was crazy. It was so good to put on the clean socks, t-shirt, jeans and my rain mac though.
I had the diet coke, the burger came and then the real ale. My buddy Steve no longer ran the pub though and had left in November according to a waitress. He now runs a micro brewery type place around Lymington way. Oh well! The food was delicious and the staff very accommodating. I wouldn't recommend any of the pubs in the centre of Brockenhurst but this place is great.
(On my way back)
I managed to find a couple of alternative roads so I didn't have to walk back down the A337 and on the way I was very lucky to see a Male Greenfinch. Haven't seen one for years so that made the walk worth it. I got to the train station and caught the bus to Millbrook and then walked home via food shopping at Sainsbury in Shirley. I must walked another 3-4 miles on top of the run. It was a great day though and the weather really didn't make a difference. Just meant there was less motorists which is always a plus :)
I think the training went pretty well and it was a nice adventure. However, I don't think i'm on form to run another sub 3.30 at VLM. Maybe a 3.40? You know when you're running well as it's pretty effortless and you're relaxed and your breathing is pretty much silent. I'm not there yet and there's no point in killing yourself for a pb is there. Plenty more races. Think i'm just going to enjoy the day and not put too much pressure on myself. I will run pretty hard, just not flat out ;)