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Tuesday 12 July 2022

A Coventry Way: 40 Miles of Thoughts & Trails


Some days are run days. Sunday was one of these. Bright, sharp and cold, it started with birdsong and frost. I’d parked a mile from the start, in the centre of Meridian which gave me a mile of gently sparkling pavements, Spring flowers and cold nose and ears.

The start is from the Queens Head pub and you can start from any time between 0500hrs and 0900hrs, you just notify the marshals, handed your green direction book with a number on and you’re off. No race number on you to identify you from any other runner or walker and no starting gun. Also no pressure. Perfect.

I ran alone for almost the entire 40 miles apart from when I shared a word or two with other runners or a walker on a hill section. It was nice. There was nothing else to do except run. It was freeing. No chores to do, no commitments, no work. Just right foot, left foot.

40 miles of thoughts and trails.

There are frequent aid stations and I had a tuna roll - salty and surprisingly good for a long run. And some fruit cake - divine. And plenty of pick n mix - sour of course, my favourite!

Training hadn’t been ideal - I was relying on my cardio fitness to get me through as my longest runs had been 10 miles … in January. So the goal was just relentless forward progress. Just keep going. Run, jog, walk. Just keep going.

And it was lovely. I didn’t expect it to be but it was. There was even March sunshine so I ran in a vest for 20 miles. Quite different to the ice and frost of the morning. I spoke to everyone I passed and there were lots of familiar and friendly faces I was delighted to see. I didn’t want to run with anyone else today though. This was my day to have some solitude and find some peace in just running.

There were frogs early on. Burping in a pond. And woodpeckers in the distance. Things I had the chance to hear when I wasn’t concerned about time or pace or getting home for the school run or trying to fit in a bike session.

I have run this route 5 or 6 times but today I remembered it out of order. I was surprised what was around each corner. Like a book with the chapters mismatched. Each turn was into a section I didn’t quite remember being HERE. It was quite curious.

Each section held memories too. New friends made here while running. Racing this section with speedy people. Dropping snacks into mud in this section. Passing my husband at this point last time.

There were wet feet at Corley Moor as it really is quite impossible to avoid the swampy patches and my purple trainers were black until the mud dried and fell off again. The pub at the top of the hill always looks incredibly inviting but with 3 miles until the end, it’s never quite tempting enough to throw the race off.

The final few fields are uphill but knowing that the final mile is almost all downhill keeps my momentum going. Just over the next stile … well maybe the NEXT stile? Well ... certainly the very next one.

And then I was into the final mile and turning the corner to the Queens Head, the start and finish point in Meriden. And it was over.

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