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Monday 10 September 2012

Coastal Runs, Ice Cream and a Poorly Knee

I’d popped to the beach in Porth and while not deliberately scouting for run routes, I’d spotted the coastal path while lazing around on the beach. It seemed a shame to come to Cornwall and not take advantage of the opportunity for a bit of off-road running. Besides, there might be an opportunity for some Cornish ice cream at some point along the route …

I’d meant to start early but that didn't happen as there was an unexpected chance for a holiday lie-in. Lie-ins are few and far between for me so I pulled the duvet over my head and finally got my trainers and kit on about 10am after drinking a lot of water, a coffee and a big bowl of cornflakes. The day was going to be a hot one and I didn’t really want to have to carry water with me.

I started from the car park by the beach and ran up the hill on the pavement for about 200 metres – almost the only part of my route that was on a paved path. I crossed in front of a refreshments hut and onto a sandy path bordered by smooth rabbit-nibbled turf.

It was beautiful and the views were straight from a holiday brochure. I ran too fast for the first part but it was so much fun and knowing that I didn't have a time limit for my run made it all the better. Usually I have to fit my runs into a lunch hour at work or before everyone’s tea or bedtimes. It was bliss knowing I could run for as long  - or as short! – as I wanted to.

There was an iron-age fort on the point so I ran over the bridge and up to the top of the island and down to the end. I couldn’t help it. I stopped and looked at the views and the sea crashing around the rocks. It was beautiful.  

I followed the path up the hill past the hotels and following the line of the coast. A lot of walkers were out and all were pretty friendly and most greeted me and got out of the way when they saw a runner coming by stepping off of the path or moving to one side. In most places the path was only wide enough for one person – and at some points hardly that so it was most appreciated!

There were some gorgeous views. It was such a warm day, but clear with no mist over the hills or hiding the views. I took a few photos but not as many as I would have liked. The sea was a perfect bluey-green and with the sandy beaches and craggy cliffs, it hardly looked real.

The coastal path was really steep as the path followed the coastline and ran over the cliffs. The trail was hard going and very damaged in places. I had to watch my step and the path was often very deep and rutted. Other places the path was paved or maintained gravel. It differed very much over the double 9 miles. Even with the heat, there were still muddy patches. The hardest parts were the natural stone steps going up and down the cliff sides but there was no chance for getting bored of the path or scenery at any point. 

Coming in towards Watergate Bay the path disappeared and I had run down the main road for about 100 metres. The path wasn’t clearly marked and there wasn’t a pavement which wasn’t great as there were a fair amount of cars coming down the road on both sides. It was difficult to re-find the coastal path even though I’d checked the satellite maps previously and knew the markers to look out for (Car park on right, villas on left). I went up the road too far and had to re-trace my steps.

I found a nice beach in Trenance after about 5.5 miles and spotted an ice cream shop. It seemed silly to pass up such a good opportunity so I stopped. I decided on a scoop of the apple crumble flavoured ice cream and a scoop of the orange fudge with chocolate bits in. It was delicious and I made a mental note to return at some point for more ice cream. Had a chat to an elderly couple who were staying down here for a month from Manchester. Had to stifle my jealousy. Just think how many miles I could do in this gorgeous area if I had a month’s worth of running! 

I had to run across the sandy beach and up Bedruthan Steps to rejoin the path. It felt strange to be out in the middle of the day dashing across the beach past all of these people in swimming trunks and bikinis! I’d rather be running than lying on the beach.

My knee started playing up at about mile 6. It hurt when I walked or after I stopped for any reason but when I ran on it, it seemed to improve and didn't hurt at all. Obviously not something I could maintain indefinitely though and it became a pain when I had to let people pass on the path or go through a gate. 

Ran on and decided would make run up to 18 miles - the long run I'd had to miss because of my cold last week. I went past an estuary at Craigmorrick at mile 8.5 and decided I would turn around at the top of the opposite hill to have a nice downhill as my return run.

My knee really starting to play up and every time I had to pause – to tie my shoelaces, to take a photo or go up steps it started really throbbing and felt weak and wobbly. After about 10 steps of running, the pain eased but it was very sore when I started running or walked.

I spotted an ice cream van on top of one of the cliffs and stopped for a coke and just sat and enjoyed the view. I just couldn’t get over how gorgeous it was. I wasn’t even finished yet, but already it was one of my favourite runs ever.

I was meeting everyone else at the beach and got a call when I was about 2 miles from my finish point to say I'd passed them all at the last bay! Whoops! Would have waved if I’d known! I had meant to run back around the iron age fort but decided that I shouldn't really aggravate the knee any more than necessary so I ran straight back to the starting point and had a well deserved cold drink.

Got back and realised I hadn’t been quite as careful with the sun cream as I’d meant to be. I was burned in all places open to the sunshine today from the run. The weather had felt hot but not burning hot but it obviously was as I now looked as though I still had my running gear on. White, outlined in red! Not a good look.


Distance:                    17.35 mi
Time:                           3:21:26
Avg Pace:                  11:37 min/mi
Elevation Gain:           2,390 ft
Calories:                     1,666 C

Time:                           3:21:26
Moving Time:              3:13:50
Elapsed Time:            4:06:12
Avg Pace:                  11:37 min/mi
Avg Moving Pace:     11:10 min/mi
Best Pace:                  4:05 min/mi

Elevation Gain:           2,390 ft
Elevation Loss:           2,375 ft
Min Elevation:             6 ft
Max Elevation:            278 ft

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