Thursday, January 06, 2011

Janathon #5 - Lily the Pink

Day 5 and I'm starting to feel the pinch of the Janathon. I'm not sure, even back when I used to orienteer regularly, that I've ever run for 5 days straight. normally 3, then a rest day, then another 3. Needless to say, things are starting to ache.

Fifth run of the year was down to be a general run, at least in my Rough Plan, which I composed yesterday morning to try and bring some order to the chaos, so I laced up my boots and pottered off towards the park. The effects of five consecutive days of abuse showed: My calves, thighs and lower back were all vying for my attention in their own special ways; unlike my fourth-day Two Trigs, I had ceased to be a singing, bouncing, lycra clad almost-superhero and had regressed to a lumbering, shambling lump. It became fairly obvious, halfway down the grassy path towards the corner of the woods, that I could do with a short recovery run some time soon. So, back to normal, then.

I ran this loop, or a variant of it, a few weeks ago, when there was a foot of fresh powdery snow on the ground. I stumble down across the grassy pathway, push for the short steep up to the fence at Beckett's Park sports pitches (wincing at the entirely predictable burst of pain from my calves), around the top of the embankment, through the old turnstile, then along through the dark woods to the old gateway/folly/thing, a memorial to a visit from a Queen. Every time I come here I try and remember which Queen and when. I never manage...

Here I've got to stop and stretch: My calves are tight as a really tight thing, and in the interests of not damaging myself it's probably worth it. A few awkward, unbalanced, wobbly stretches later, and I'm loosening a little, so onwards, through the Leeds Met campus and across the other bit of parkland. The surface is curious, wet underfoot but with a permafrost hardness beneath the inch of waterlogged grass. Where people have run or ridden more it's cut up and soggy, in other places it's pristine and hard. Seems like a fairly good analogy for the British winter, all-in-all.

I'm still shambling as I come to the edge of the allotments behind my old house, and follow more fence-edge singletrack through more wet woodland to drop out at the bottom of the hill below the cricket ground. I'm more cautious than last time I ran here: Then it was ankle-deep snow and hard frost, now it's wet leaves and clay; then I had my Mudclaws on, now I'm wearing my trail shoes and the grip level isn't quite the same. Onto the tarmac to clean the clinging mud out of the treads, feeling the pinch in the calves again as I trot up the short hill then limp back round to the middle of the figure-8. Turn the corner, feeling my shoes slip slightly and noting the subtle glossy sheen of ice on the road, then along the pavement on the side of the park. From this edge of campus, I dive into the network of ginnels and snickleways across the back of the park, the church and suburbia. There's a couple of paths that are new to me, that I'd seen on the map but never used, and they're a handy connector to keep me off the main Otley Road. They are also, in a burst of almost inadvertent good planning, relatively flat. I'd picked a route with not much in the way of climbing, which can only be a good thing for my legs. I'm soon back out onto the road for the short jog back to the house. I stop the Tracker and walk a couple of laps of the block, aiming to warm down a little more thoroughly. I stretch some more, then unlock the door and drop back into the warm comfortable fug of home.

All in all day 5 was not particularly quick and even less graceful, but I'm still in the game and I'll have a recovery run for day 6. Scores on the doors were 5.5km, 38:15 including time spent stretching. So far, so good, although nothing has yet explained why I had Lily the Pink stuck in my head for the majority of the run. Ho hum...

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