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Thursday 3 January 2013

Week 3, Day 4: Nine Springs & Abandoned Christmas Trees

Week 3, Day 4

Goal: 5 miles with middle 3 miles at half marathon pace (7:30 min/mile)

Actual: 5 miles with middle 3 miles at 7:15 min/mile

Top of Wyndham Hill
Decided to use Yeovil Country Park as my route today – known locally as Nine Springs. It used to be a mud bath when I went there as a kid in my wellies and clutching a bag of bread for the ducks. But apparently they’ve tarmaced all the paths since then and wellies are no longer compulsory … or even required.

I parked at the train station and walked up to the start of the Country Park path alongside a gaggle of kids on pushbikes and waited to cross the road. Across from me was Wyndham hill with the distinctive 4 trees on the top. The trail is where a railway used to run so it’s fairly flat and fairly straight. The route is mainly tree covered and feels quite remote and it’s difficult to tell you’re close to a big town.

The start of the path ...
A few dogs came to greet me – apparently lycra attracts them - and I had 2 large wet pawprints on my running tights before I even set off. A smiling corgi and a happy Jack Russell who was apparently 16 years old but was rolling around in the muddy grass, happy as a puppy.

The first mile was a warm up mile so I just ran at a comfortable pace for a mile. I had a tributary of the River Yeo on my left and high banks on the right for most of the way and then all of a sudden I came out next to the Cineworld Cinema and got a glimpse of civilisation briefly before the path wound behind some buildings and I was back to being surrounded by wintery trees and a wet gravel path.

The path opened out briefly and there were high hills on my left with old, tall trees and a playground with plenty of toddlers shouting and enjoying the equipment despite the damp weather and then I was passing a brown lake with ducks I could hear but not see. There were a few people about, bundled up in coats and hats and children weaving around on pushbikes, but it was a good path to run.

Over an arched wooden bridge and it was time to start the 3 miles at Half Marathon Pace. I had to restart the Garmin to get to the average pace for this (yes … will get out the Garmin manual tomorrow…) and set off at about a 7:15 minute/mile aiming to keep it between this and 7:30 min/mile which had been my pace for Bristol Half Marathon. 

I passed several families walking 3 or 4 abreast with toddlers running all directions, but the verges were low and not too muddy so I could avoid everyone fairly easily and stick to pace. Passed the leisure centre and empty swimming pool on my right and some runners doing some hill sprints on my left. Watching them run up a very steep hill made my run seem a lot easier …

Under an old railway bridge built of enormous blocks of stone and between high brick walls to the end of the Country Park … and it was only about half of a mile into the 3 mile half-marathon pace section … so onto the pavements and along the A3088 and instead of wintery trees and ducks and rivers, I was accompanied by 4 lanes of traffic and Morrissons and B&Q and abandoned Christmas trees leaning against railings in children’s playgrounds …

I had 1.7 miles of running on the (thankfully wide) pavements, only having to stop once for cars and wave at another runner but I was glad to be back on the gravel paths and under the shade of the trees for the final 8th of a mile at HM pace.

I completed the final mile at an enjoyable pace and was back at the gate near the bottom of Wyndham Hill. I had a slight twinge at the back of my right knee which was new but I thought maybe a walk to ease my legs? I looked up at the hill … well it would be a shame not too … 

Wyndham Hill

 … 10 minutes later I was running down the hill at top speed knowing that the steep walk up was DEFINITELY worth the full-pelt, mad dash back down to the bottom on the tufty grass of the field!!

I’ve imported the run into Garmin Connect and the pace looks a bit choppy but I think that was because the path was mainly covered by trees and the signal was maybe dropping in and out. I used Steve Smythe’s advice and kept it on average pace for the timed 3 miles in the middle to get more of an idea of the overall pace. I wasn’t sure how to program this session into it with the slower outside miles so maybe a sit down with the manual and some patience will provide the answer tomorrow and I can do that for the next session.

Lap 1             Dist 1mi      Pace 8:23 min/mile     Garmin Connect
Lap 2             Dist 3mi      Pace 7:15 min/mile (7:19, 7:14, 7:11) Garmin Connect
Lap 3             Dist 1mi      Pace 8:08 min/mile     Garmin Connect

This run is in 3 different sections in Garmin Connect as I didn’t want to get a false average pace that took into account the slower miles 1 and 5.

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