Out today after work for a saunter along the canal on my normal route.
According to my Runkeeper stats I ran it in my 4th fastest time of 55 mins dead. Considering it is a trail run just over 10k I ideally would like to be running this in around 50 mins before I step-up to the marathon.
I took some photos en-route of a few sights from the run just to put the trail in a bit of perspective. The course can be viewed here should you desire. Apologies for the quality of the photos, but taken on the hoof they are a bit blurred!
The trail to the motorway with some of the resident ponies
Pony munching happily away as I pass
The curly-wurly footbridge over the motorway
Atop the bridge
A woodland trail not yet turned into the ankle deep mud of winter & spring
Across the river Whitewater
Crossing it a second time
King John's Castle from where he rode-out to sign the Magna Carta at Runnymede
I think the Basingstoke canal rocks. From here you can access the whole of the country via the same footpath. As well as running the last few of miles of it I have cycled the length of it twice, the first nearly resulting in my death from hypothermia!
I set out before dawn one new year's eve and was at the Wey navigation before sun-up to commence the ride. The thing is it was in the midst of a big freeze and the temperature was -5 degrees C with the canal frozen over and a couple of inches of ice. Instead of swimming the ducks just stood there on the ice looking mournfully at their feet. The warmest it got over the course of the ride was -2 degrees C.
Over in Frimley there was a fishing contest about to start. The fisherman were having to use ice-anchors to break the surface and dangle their rods.
Anyway, I did the ride on an empty stomach with just a bottle of energy drink and pushed my body to the verge of exhaustion where a voice in my head was telling me to stop and lie down in the frozen grass for a short sleep and when I wake up I will be fine to continue. Anyone who has looked into survival situations involving cold will recognise that as being one of the major sign-posts of the body going in to shut-down and you should NEVER give in to the voice, no matter how tempting it is... It took me 4 hours fully clothed in bed to get my body back to normal. Moral of the story: don't go riding for long distances in sub-zero temps!
Earlier this year I cycled the length of it again but in sunshine this time and with the company of Dean & Rob as a silly cycling challenge. The previous year the two of them had completed the South Downs Way in 2 days, so this early morning start and finish in the pub for lunch was a mere stroll to them. It goes to show I am not the only one out there prone to bouts of sporting lunacy!
I've decided that my first marathon is to be an unsupported effort along the canal from Brookwood Station to home, giving me the correct distance on a relatively easy flat terrain. I'm aiming to run this as early in January as possible so I will have got one marathon under my belt asap and give good time for prep for the next one and the psychological advantage knowing that if I have done it before I can do it again, no matter how hard the terrain!