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Monday 18 March 2013

Week 13 Day 7: Not Going on a Bear Hunt

Week 13, Day 7

Goal: 22 miles in 8:30 min/mile with final 5 miles at sub 8 min/mile.

Actual: 17 miles in 8:30 min/mile with a dash to find some streetlights then 5 miles at sub 8 min/mile and 1 mile cooldown.

I tend to enjoy my long runs. They’re a couple of hours of peace away from everyone else where I can ponder the unanswerable questions of the universe. Do ducks all speak the same language? If a duck from France says ‘Quack’ to a duck from England, is one trying to talk about bread while the other one thinks he’s trying to find the way to the bus station? Do pigeons poo on each other while they’re flying? And if they can hold it in, why do they save it for when my washing’s on the line?

There was a reason all my questions were bird related – I was doing my long run around Draycote Water which is a large reservoir and nature reserve of 4.75 miles around and apart from the odd cyclist or walker, the only other signs of life were ducks (timid) and geese (hissy and bolshy). The route is a lovely one and it’s very peaceful. It’s all on smooth tarmac paths and one side is slightly undulating and windy, shaded by trees and the other side is straight and flat. There aren’t any dogs allowed around it either, so I can ponder my completely useless questions without any fear of being tripped, maimed or jumped on and licked. Unless one of the cyclists gets a bit over-enthisiastic.   

Today’s route was to be nearly 5 times round the reservoir with a final half a mile trot back to the car after I’d finished the run, as a cooldown. I started off comfortably, but I’d made the same mistake as I had at the track on Thursday and I’d dressed too warmly for the weather I’d taken the threats of snow seriously and as well as wearing a jacket, buff, gloves, headband and long running tights, I was also wearing 2 tops underneath the jacket.

It wasn’t too bad as the weather outside was pretty chilly but for some reason I had sweaty inner elbows. Nice. I looked rather bizarre, running along quite normally but with enormous sweaty lower jacket sleeves. Rather as though I’d dropped my keys down the loo and had been fishing around for them before I’d come out for a run. 

I quite enjoy lapped runs normally as although the first few are hard knowing you’ve got to repeat the run again and again, the last two laps always feel great as you know you’re almost done and I can tell myself “I only need to pass that tree once more” or “Next time I pass those rocks I’ll be on the way back to the car”. However, I soon noticed that rather than passing geological features, I was rather bizarrely passing packets of gel. Yes … that’s right. My new gel belt was dropping my gels rather like a trail of breadcrumbs … but for runners rather than ducks. Glad that 1) it was a lapped course and I could retrieve my belongings and 2) that I trial all my gear before my big races. This wouldn’t be quite so amusing if it happened in Paris. Unless I was running behind someone with the same problem and I could eat all HIS gels.   

I soon hit a snag. I had been so busy pondering my useless and unanswerable questions I hadn’t realised that it was getting quite so dark. I still had 5 miles to go and I couldn’t see very far in front of me.  Draycote, while beautiful and peaceful is also secluded and completely unlit. Unless I fancied doing the last 5 miles at 5k pace - not going to happen after 17 miles - I was either going to have to complete it in pitch blackness and probably fall into the reservoir and be eaten by a flock of Canadian Geese or I was going to have to get somewhere with light and do the final 5 miles there.

Bother. I pelted to the car and decided I could get to my normal mile loop in under 20 minutes if I went straight there and parked at the pub.

Got to the car and threw myself in and started up. The car park was completely deserted and absolutely pitch black now. Got out of the carpark and down to the main gate. Oh. That great big metal gate wasn’t there earlier. I drove up to it expecting it to slide aside. It didn’t. Oh yes. There had been something on the carpark ticket about leaving by dusk …

Oh look! An intercom thing at the side. I’ll push the ‘help’ button. I’ll plead ignorance and I’m sure some helpful chap will be able to push a button and slide the gate aside for me. Pushed the help button. Help meant a recorded voice telling me to push the arrow keys for the directory.  I pushed the arrow keys and a helpful message popped up telling me the directory was empty. Bugger.

Right. Time to start thinking outside of the box.

I can’t lift the car over the gate. I can’t go under the river. I can’t go under the hill. Can’t go through the pampass grass. Hang on. We were slipping into Going On a Bear Hunt. Time to think. (Thought) Gave up. Went to sit back in the car and slammed the door behind me. The noise activated something on the gate and it slid smoothly aside.

Got to the pub and did 4 laps of the housing estate at sub-8 as my final 5 miles of the 22 miler. It wasn’t an all-joined-together run as it should have been with my brief drive in the middle but hopefully that won’t cause a problem. I’m not planning on stopping for an ice cream break and hopefully there won’t be any electric gates blocking the way in Paris. If there are I’ve probably gone the wrong way …


Distance: 22 miles (+ 1.03 miles cooldown)
Time: 2:57:51 (+ 9:34 mins cooldown)
Average including last 5 miles is 8 min/mile

First 17 miles:
Distance: 17.00 mi
Time: 2:20:04
Avg Pace: 8:13 min/mi

1 8:16
2 8:15
3 8:16
4 8:18
5 8:18
6 8:19
7 8:11
8 8:08
9 8:13
10 8:14
11 8:15
12 8:10
13 8:07
14 8:16
15 8:18
16 8:17
17 8:15

Garmin Here (17 miles)

Last 5 miles at sub-8:
Avg pace: 7:36 min/mile
Time: 37:47

1 7:40
2 7:38
3 7:43
4 7:42
5 7:02

Garmin here: (5 miles sub-8)

Cool down: 1.03 miles in 9:34 (9:17 min/mile)


  1. glad you stepped away from the bear hunt! unless it was to give a bear a hot chocolate of course!

    Personaly I think ducks all speak same language but just different accent

    1. Or a tub of Hagen-Daaz! :) You could be right about the ducks. Some of the Mallards have a distinctly West Country accent I'm sure ...!