Run 166 – Team Athens Monday

Date:  Monday 9th February 2015 6:15pm

Distance: [2.11] + 9.1 [+ 2.51] = 13.72km

Time: [13:17] + 1:00:56 [+ 14:32] = 1:28:45

Pace: [6:18] + 6:46 [+5:48] = 6:28 min/km

Description: This was a great run! Got the bus down to the Arches and had a gentle jog up Redland Road up to Whitetree Roundabout and my friend Ella’s flat. Then after a change of shoes from road to “off-road” (you have to say that slowly in a deep), “off-road” shoes, a check of headtorches and we’re both out the door. Two-thirds of Team Athens warming up across the Downs.

Nervous about the timing, had hoped to be out and across the Downs before 7, but still, running down a dark corridor of trees with head torches and a friend is pretty damn cool. First challenge, Bridge Valley. To balance the effort, I say that I’m gonna jog to the bottom and run all the way up, but that as she jogs down and sees me coming up she should start running at that point. The idea being we should reach the top at a similar time having started a different places.

I wanted to get this done and be outta here as soon as possible so the jog down was actually a pretty fast run, using my arm and lamp post to swing me back up for the powered ascent. I’d gone past a couple of runners on the way down, so they are something to aim for on the way up. Adrenaline and fear fired me up that hill, felt like immense speed. I pass Ella who’s taking a photo of the Bridge and the first runner about halfway up. Oh crap, only halfway up and my minutes reserve of superboost is gone and power is dropping like a stone. And then comes the steep bit. I still don’t want to be caught out on this, so I grit the teeth and carry on. As I near the last bit I’m catching up with the runner in front. A mixture of relief to have made it nearly to the top, and shear sickening exhaustion, I lift off the gas down to a jog. I’m coasting behind this guy and only just overtake him right at the end.

Getting back and looking at this “Bridge Valley Road” STRAVA segment I realise I really should have powered through ALL THE WAY to the top until something exploded. It’s fun looking at the leaderboard and seeing familiar names from SRC with their best times.

“Bridge Valley Road” 3:08 at 4:23/km rank 35th.

“Bridge vally rd Lights to Tree at Top” 3:10 at 4:33/km rank 40th on 16th Dec 2014.

“Hill Climb” 1:30 at 4:14/km rank joint 18th on 16th Dec 2014.

The last one is particularly satisfying, but I’m also thinking that that was not tonight, but actually a few weeks ago doing Bridge Valley reps with SRC and co. If I REALLY give it everything, I can be faster. I’d probably pay for that later on in the climb, but that may help get my overall time closer to 3mins. That involves cutting the pace down to a 4:00/km UPHILL! Call it a long term project. The gradient profile is also saying the gradient in the last 150m is 30%. Not sure about that, but seems fun!

Anyways, back to the run, once I reach the top, I turn round to check how Ella’s doing. She’s doing well, good effort. After that it’s time to get a bit more technical, so it’s in to the woods along the undulating Greenman Path along the cliff top. Then it’s back on to the verge of the swirly road that takes you to the dodgy bit with doggers and the icecream van. Not sure if those two are connected.

Anyways, I find the entrance, as it were, to the deer park valley that does down to the Portway, with the railway tunnel air shaft halfway down. We get through the gate, and my eyes light up like a kid in a sweet shop. Yes, it’s steep! Yes, it’s technical. Yes, it’s slippery. PERFECT! We walk down carefully and assemble at the bottom gate, the road and river just ahead. We turn around and look up. This is crazy/fantastic. It reminds both of us of the steep bit at Cheddar Gorge. I let her start and go on a bit before I start. It’s probably best to keep people within sight, as this place is really flippin creepy! I run up, and it’s great fun. I can try to sprint and use short sharp bursts that really demand power from my legs, which needs to be built up if I want to achieve my long term goals. I get to the top gate and feel sick. Good work. Ella’s still got a bit of a way to go, so I jog back down just past her and again try a second hill sprint up. I love this place! But we’re both happy now to just get back home.

Across the Downs, there are some marked football pitches, so after catching my breath I’m restless again and try some sprints. Out ahead, and returning to make sure I keep with Ella. I think it’s a great way of sharing a run. And it’s cool to be so close to home and civilisation, but staying just so far away from the roads to need a headtorch makes it feel more like a trail run.

9km in total for me, followed by some amazing chilli made by Ella and then a cool down down hill jog (complete with awful stiches) down to the bus stop. Job. Is. A. Goodun! I think Liam will enjoy these Monday runs as well!

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