This last week or two has felt a little flat with a lot of stress at work and all sorts of life admin getting in the way of some real chill down time. So, this past weekend I decided that enough was enough and it was time for an adventure.
Now, an adventure doesn’t have to be far away or even very long. It can be simply finding a new route and going off the paths you know so well. My most lusted-after adventures are those that involve being out and about for hours on end, in the mountain sunshine…this was evidently not going to happen in Hampshire so I had to be inventive.
I decided to make a little day (afternoon, really) trip of starting to recce the Centurion North Downs Way 50 route, so starting at Farnham and going for a good few hours which brought me out at Ranmore Common. It may not be the most glamorous of routes but it was a perfect March day spent on the trails.
Let me be honest, recceing routes is something I am not great at doing. It’s partially a conscious decision, where on race day I almost like the surprise of what’s to come but I know that going longer and wanting to run faster means I NEED to sort-of know what to expect. Therefore, I made it into a weekend afternoon solo mission (with Dan & Albie-dog meeting me along the way…so semi-solo I suppose) to get to know the first 23 miles of the race route.
Upon arriving in Farnham, that impending feeling of excitement and slight apprehension set in. Even for a 3 hour run I get the butterflies. Long running is my absolute favourite and I will happily be out all day as long as I have enough food and warm clothes. I was keen to get going and see what was in store. I find my Ultimate Direction Ultra Vesta is perfect for those days where you may need to carry that little bit more – enough for some extra layers, waterproofs, gloves and of course all the snacks. Luckily, I only needed one bottle packed with my super-crew on hand to meet me at St Martha’s hill (about 14 miles in).
Setting off to find the start, weaving through traffic I was relieved to get off the main roads and into the lanes. The start is pretty flat so keeping the effort consciously low wasn’t easy but new surroundings slow me down. As I trotted through fields, villages and hill sides I couldn’t help but think how this could be a very different place come race day. I had to make a few diversions to avoid deep water and clamber out when the mud sucked me in but that’s all part of the fun…however, I am hoping that by May I’ll be basking in the sunshine on some dry, dusty North Downs trails.
The miles ticked by. My legs happily trotted along. It was exactly what I needed.
By the time I arrived at Ranmore Common I had filled my boots (pardon the muddy trail-shoe pun) and was elated to have spent so many peaceful miles in my own company but glad to be reunited with my gang.
I need to remember that adventure can be on your doorstep if you’re willing to see it as such and get out. This afternoon trail time was my much-needed meditation. Church of the long run had fixed me, ready for another week with a busy schedule.